With a gasp, she started. "Oh God, what you do to me." She pressed a hand to her chest as if to ease her breathing. "You don't.. make me react like this, do you? I mean, last night, when you were in my head.."
"I planted the sensations in your mind. Your reactions were your own." He burrowed his finger deeper into the wet heat until he was rubbing against the slick nubbin.
She let out a long moan.
"Your reactions are so beautiful." His finger was drenched. The scent wafted up to him, heady and rich. His groin hardened, urging him to get on with it. He eased her underwear over her hips and down her legs, then dropped it on the floor.
She welcomed him between her legs, spreading them for him, then wrapping them around his waist. His erection was damned uncomfortable, but before he did anything, he wanted to see her. He bent over and brushed back the damp curls. There, there was the sweet flesh, swollen and glistening with the dew of her own desire. Desire for him. It was almost too much to bear. He clamped down on his own raging need. Not yet.
He wanted to taste her first.
He slipped his hands under her rump and lifted her to his mouth. She cried out. Her legs wrapped tighter about him, then trembled with each slow lick. He began a tender exploration, but soon, Shanna's little cries incited him to push it harder and faster. She dug her heels into him and writhed against him. He held on to her hips and applied vampire speed to his tongue.
With a jolt, she screamed. A gush of her sweet fragrance covered his face. She was quivering in her release, panting for breath. Her swollen sex was pressed against him. Engorged, red, and pulsating with blood. He turned his head, trying to escape the inevitable reaction. But her thigh squeezed against his nose, the blood in her vein throbbing against his skin.
The instinct to survive roared through him. His fangs sprang forth, and he sank them into the rich vein of her inner thigh. Her blood filled his mouth. Her scream filled his ears, but he couldn't stop. The hunger-lust was upon him, and he couldn't remember ever tasting such rich, delicious blood. She yelled and struggled to pull away. He clasped her leg to his mouth and drew a long, succulent gulp.
"Roman, stop!" She kicked him with her free leg.
He froze. God's blood. What had he done? He had sworn never to bite a mortal again. He ripped his fangs out. Blood dripped from the punctures on her leg.
She squirmed on the chaise to put distance between them. "Get away from me!"
"Sha - " He realized his fangs were still extended. With the last, dying remnants of his strength, he forced his fangs to recede. They didn't want to. He was so hungry. So damned weak. He needed to get to the counter where he'd left a bottle of blood.
Something trickled down his chin. Her blood. Goddammit, no wonder she was watching him with such a stricken look of horror. He must look like a monster.
He was a monster. And he'd bitten the woman he loved.
He'd bitten her.
Shanna saw him wandering toward the wet bar as if nothing was wrong. Nothing? That was her blood on his face. She stared at the punctures on her left thigh. Thank God, he'd stopped before draining her dry. Otherwise, she'd be in a coma right now, waiting to be transformed.
Oh God. She lowered her head into her hands. What did she expect? Dance with the devil, and you're going to get burned. Surprisingly enough, it didn't bum, didn't even sting. The pain had been short-lived. It was the shock that had terrified her. The shock of seeing his fangs spring out, of feeling them pop through her skin. And then she'd seen his fangs dripping with her own blood. At least she hadn't fainted. Her instinct for survival had kicked in.
He had lost complete control. Normally she would love the notion that she could totally unhinge a man during sex. Who wouldn't want that kind of sexual power? But unhinging Roman meant unleashing a vampire who thought she was breakfast.
Oh God, how could such a relationship work? As much as her heart longed for Roman, the only safe way to deal with him was at a distance. She could accept his protection for the time being, but not his passion.
And that hurt. It hurt a lot more than the damn pricks in her leg. Why did he have to be a vampire? He was such a wonderful man. He would be perfect for her if he weren't dead. She gazed at the ceiling. Why? All I wanted was a normal life, and You give me a vampire? What kind of divine justice is that?
A loud thud was her response. Shanna twisted on the chaise to look behind her. Roman had collapsed on the floor a few feet from the wet bar.
"Roman?" She stood. He lay still, facedown on the carpet.
"Roman?" She approached him slowly.
With a moan, he rolled onto his back. "I.. need.. blood."
Good God, he looked terrible. He must be starving. He couldn't have taken much from her. She spotted the bottle on the counter. Blood. A full bottle. Yeech. She didn't want to do this. She could dress and bring in the guard from outside. She glanced at Roman. His eyes were shut, his skin pale as death. He couldn't wait. She had to take action. Now.
She stood there frozen, her heart hammering in her chest. For a second, she felt as if she were back behind the potted plants, watching Karen die. And she had done nothing. She'd let fear keep her from helping Karen. She couldn't do that again.
She swallowed hard and walked toward the bottle of blood. When she reached the counter, the smell of it brought back wretched memories. Her best friend lying in a puddle of blood. She turned her head, trying not to breathe in the aroma. She had another friend now, and he needed this. She closed her hand around the bottle. It was cold. Should she warm it up so it would taste fresh? Her stomach churned at the thought.
She glanced toward him. Roman was struggling to sit up. Good God, the man was so weak. So vulnerable. Maybe it wasn't surprising that he'd bitten her when he needed blood so badly. It was more surprising that he'd managed to pull away from her. He'd put himself at risk.
"I'm coming." She knelt beside him. With one arm, she supported his shoulders, and with the other, she lifted the bottle to his mouth. Blood. Bile rose in her throat. Her hand trembled, and a few drops rolled down his chin. A memory flashed of blood oozing from Karen's mouth. "Oh God." Her hand shook.
Roman reached up to steady her hand, but his was shaking, too. He drank long and deep, his throat moving with each gulp.
"Are you helping me do this? Mentally?" He'd used mind control at the dentist office to help her overcome her fear.
He lowered the bottle. "No. I wouldn't have the strength." He raised the bottle back to his mouth.
So she was overcoming her fear on her own. She still felt a little nauseated, watching him guzzle down cold blood, but she hadn't fainted.
"I'm better now. Thank you." He raised the bottle one more time and finished the last of the contents.
"Okay." She straightened. "I guess I'll be going then."
"Wait." He rose slowly to his feet. "Let me.." He took her arm. "I want to take care of you."
"I'm all right." She didn't know whether to laugh or cry. She was standing there half-naked with holes in her thigh. Maybe it was shock. It felt more like grief. Like a heavy, black stone, crushing her heart and constantly reminding her that a relationship with a vampire could never work.
"Come." He led her into his bedroom.
She glanced sadly at his king-sized bed. If only he were mortal. By the looks of his bedroom, he was neat and orderly. He drew her into the bathroom. And look, he even kept the toilet seat down. Who could ask for more? If only he were alive.
He turned on the water faucet above the sink. There were no mirrors, just an oil painting of a pretty landscape. Green hills, red flowers, and a brilliant sun. Maybe he missed seeing the sun. It would be hard to live without the sun.
He dampened a washcloth and leaned over to clean her thigh. The warm cloth felt soothing. She had a sudden urge to simply fold up and collapse on the floor.
"I'm so sorry, Shanna. This won't happen again."
No, it wouldn't. Her eyes filled with tears. No more loving, no more passion. She couldn't afford to love a vampire.
"Does it hurt?"
She looked away so he couldn't see the gathering tears.
"I guess it does." He straightened. "It should have never happened. I haven't bitten anyone in eighteen years, not since the introduction of synthetic blood. Well, that's not quite true. There was one emergency transformation. Gregori."
"Radinka told me about it. You didn't want to do it."