Friday, May 22, 2009

Will of the Stone by Brenna Lyons

Lorian panned his gaze over the packed nightclub, biting back the urge to laugh at the young pups playing at ‘creatures of the night.’ He supposed he should be thankful that humans found such a fascination with the occult that this garish display of that fascination had lasted for almost half a century.

Lorian hated the term “vampire.” Overall, it was a foul, over-commercialized bastardization of his kind, but playing vampire had its uses. It was a simple way to find willing, young women without coercing them—or even hiding what he was.

Not that Lorian had problems attracting women. Quite the contrary. Even in his earliest days as a Cursed Warrior, the days when he was still known as Dado, Lorian had no difficulty having nearly any woman he wanted for the evening. Meeting a woman’s eyes and smiling his wolfish smile was typically enough to send her tumbling into the closest bed with him. She would survey his six-feet-three-inch frame, muscular from his years of training, and mentally gauge his sexual prowess in thoughts so loud a first-turned couldn’t miss them.

He started moving through the club, rejecting one possible female after another. The one who grasped his backside through the simulation of his jeans was tainted heavily with drugs. The one who murmured an invitation was with someone, and Lorian was in no mood to play at stealing another man’s property tonight.

That one... He shuddered. Despite what he was, Lorian occasionally encountered a woman who was more bloodthirsty—he scowled at the pun—than he was. Sometimes, he took the time to educate them in true fear, but tonight was not the night for that.

Tonight, Lorian was restless. He wanted something different. But what? After fifteen hundred years, what hadn’t Lorian encountered so many times that he was weary of it?

He paused, scowling deeper as he gave a wide berth to a female protected. One would think that she would avoid places like this, having been bitten once, by one of the remaining turned, but what had she to fear while the Cursed Warriors protected her? She was in more danger from a human pretender than from Lorian.

A woman laughed, and Lorian perked, turning eagerly to the sound. There was something pure in that laugh, something young and full of life, something Lorian hadn’t tasted in a very long time. Yes. A touch of innocence was a rare find in this circle.

Lorian had grown complacent over the years. He’d fallen into the habit of taking what was easy to take, what threw itself on him like a bitch in heat instead of what he would have to entice to his bed. He’d forgotten how sweet the blood of a pure heart could be. It was time to change that.

She came into view, a beauty with strawberry blonde hair, pale green eyes, and a spray of freckles over her nose and cheeks. She was dressed in a pair of black jeans and a black satin, boned bustier, but she shifted uncomfortably, as if she was embarrassed to be seen in it.

He moved closer, searching her mind and chuckling at her train of thought. Lorian let his fangs extend just far enough to peek past his lips, his beast as pleased as Lorian was with the possibilities this woman represented.

{Why did I let Angela talk me into this? How is a man supposed to take me seriously in this getup?} She glanced at Lorian and swallowed hard, smoothing the front of her bustier nervously. {Especially a man like that!}

Lorian swallowed a laugh. Innocent or not, she was no more immune to him than dozens of other females he’d brushed away as he walked across the club, but this was the one that Lorian wanted. The thrill of the chase was with him, and there would be no settling for what was readily available tonight. That road led to pain and anguish, and Lorian had learned it well long ago.

He put his hand out to her. “Would you care to dance?” he asked in a voice rough in arousal and rich in his old-world roots. Very old, he thought without humor.

Her eyes widened, and a pretty, pink blush stained her cheeks. The woman beside her shot her an acid look as she placed her hand in his.

Lorian ignored the other woman studiously, refusing to meet her eyes when she made obvious overtures for exactly that. Her emotions were dark and twisted: disbelief, envy, hatred. She was Angela, the one who’d invited this lovely creature out tonight, certain that her diminutive stature and lack of sophistication would make...{Haylie} the perfect offset to her own allure. It galled Angela that Lorian preferred her plain—

He furrowed his brow. Plain? Angela found Haylie plain? She was anything but the typical fare this crowd offered him, and for that reason, she was anything but plain.

Lorian led Haylie onto the dance floor and pulled her close to his body, her face only reaching his mid-chest. Haylie hesitated, winding her arms around his neck and stretching her back uncomfortably to accomplish it. He guided her hands to his chest, pressing them to the heat of his body. Haylie gasped at the connection then again as Lorian wrapped his hands around her waist, brushing his thumbs over her hip bones.

He guided her through a sensuous brush of his body to hers. She licked her lip slowly, pressing her crotch to his thigh as he slid his knee between her thighs. Lorian had danced this dance many times, tens of thousands of willing women over the long centuries. The ones who were new to the dance gave him the greatest thrill—the ones like Haylie.

Her eyes were wide in wonder, her breathing edgy and uneven. Lorian heard the rush of blood in her veins and felt the pounding of her heart against his chest. Yes. Her blood will be sweet in her innocence and wild in her—not fear—apprehension. It had been well over a century since he’d tasted that combination, and his cock ached in need.

As a Cursed Warrior, he’d believed his drive would make him mad. The drive of a damned beast was easily ten times as uncontrolled. He forced his fangs back, denying his beast’s demand to taste Haylie. A prize like this was not to be rushed.

“Do you honestly enjoy these things?” Haylie asked suddenly.

Lorian looked down at the mounds of her breasts, shelved in the bustier, and smiled. “What would those be, my dear?” he teased.

She followed his line of sight and blushed again. “Not— Oh, for pity’s sake!”

“Forgive me. Do I like what, precisely?”

Haylie reached up and touched his lips, searching out the tips of his fangs. Lorian shivered, taking the opportunity to suck in her fingertip, savoring her unique flavor on his tongue as he caressed her.

“These,” she whispered so low that Lorian would not have heard her over the low throb of music were it not for his superb hearing. Haylie raised her voice, believing him ignorant of her first statement. “Do you really enjoy this scene?”

Lorian nipped playfully at her finger and released it, sighing at the restraint he was showing. “It is a game,” he admitted. “It could be a very exciting and erotic game,” he offered.

“This?” she asked dubiously.

“This.”

“How?”

“Let me show you.”

Haylie glanced at Angela. The dark-haired woman practically bled and perspired thoughts of wrath. Lorian set his jaw in fury. He would have to educate Angela in fear another night.

He turned Haylie’s face back to his gently. “Trust me,” he mouthed.

Though she didn’t verbally agree, Lorian felt her interest peak. He led her into the dark recesses of the club, corners that were all but unlit. In twenty years, this club hadn’t changed much. The recesses were notorious for exhibitionists and voyeurs alike. Over the years, Lorian had taken at least three dozen women in this place, in these dark alcoves.

Haylie lost herself in the gyrations of his lengthening cock against her stomach, pressing herself against him in silent invitation. When the wall met her back, he pressed hard to her, smiling as she moaned. Her scent had the beast all but mad for her.

Lorian cupped Haylie’s face, kissing her slowly, dragging his teeth over her tongue and lips. He moved to the line of her jaw and up to her ear. Haylie’s hands fisted in the illusion of his black t-shirt and jacket.

“Pretend,” he whispered, drawing her earlobe into his mouth. “A vampire wants you. He wants to taste all of you.” Lorian trailed his tongue over the seam of her lips. “Your mouth.”

She opened for him, sucking at his tongue as she pulled him closer, caressing his fangs with the tip of her tongue. Lorian pulled her into his arms, lifting Haylie until he pressed her to the wall as if he was locked inside her, her legs drawn up over his hips.

“The honey deep inside you,” he offered. “He wants to taste that, too.”

“And my blood?” she managed weakly.

Lorian kissed at her throat, tracing the tip of his tongue over her. He suckled at her, teasing her with more, marking her in the human way. Haylie pressed to him, grasping his hair and holding his head to her.

He eased away slowly. “Are love bites really so bad?” he asked.

“No,” she admitted, panting.

Lorian teased her nipple through the black satin. “Let me teach you. Let me teach you what loving a vampire is.”

She shivered. “Soulless. Heartless. Dead.”

“No. Alive and warm. A vampire isn’t cruel. He hungers. He needs, and he will give you as much pleasure as you give him.”

That was a lie. Not even Haylie could give Lorian true pleasure. She could still the need for a night or two. She could ease the emptiness and longing for everything he’d lost when he went beast. He could live vicariously through her pleasure, tasting distracting shades of kind emotions while he fed from her.

Any strong emotion in feeding charged him beyond the taking of blood, but kind emotions were best. The faint touch of what Lorian couldn’t feel alone anymore drew him to Haylie. He hadn’t felt pure desire without design in a long time, only once that he could recall in his lifetime as a Cursed Warrior—and that had been a lie.

Lorian eased her breast out of the bustier, lowering his mouth to the peak. “He wants to taste all of you, Haylie. Can he?”

“Here?” she asked nervously. She looked around, gasping at the sight of the couple further down the wall. They were just barely visible in the near darkness for her, though they were fully on display for Lorian.

Haylie’s reactions were a jumble of half-formed impressions that tickled his dark sense of humor. She was horrified and amazed, repulsed and aroused.

Lorian suckled at her breast more fervently. Haylie moaned, her fingers winding in his hair as the other woman dropped to her knees and took her lover in her mouth.

The fool. Never trust a woman who is that eager to pleasure you.

He freed her other breast, smiling as he licked at the hard bead of the nipple, ready for him before he touched it. She shivered, her gaze darting between Lorian’s mouth and the length of the other man disappearing between the kneeling woman’s lips. Haylie’s inhibitions were being forgotten, her objections falling away. She stroked his cock distractedly, but her mind still rebelled at the woman on her knees in the dark corner of the club—thank the gods.

The other man pulled his woman to her feet and captured her in a bruising kiss. He whirled her around and pressed her hands to the wall, mounting her with a grunt of satisfaction. Haylie shied, shaking her head. The image was too much for her.

Lorian nodded. “I agree. Not here. Name a place,” he offered. “I am not like that beast.”

Liar. How many times have I taken pleasure like that—in the early years before I learned control of my beast...and even recently with a willing wanton? He was undeniably a damned beast, but Lorian hadn’t taken a woman like Haylie with so little regard in a thousand years. Not since he had gotten over Riberta—

He winced. He wouldn’t think about Riberta now. His only regret in how that particular woman had died was that Jörg hadn’t known about her talents. Lorian would gladly have told his esteemed youngest brother all he knew just to watch her die in a way more fitting of her crimes.

Haylie met his eyes hopefully, her quaking fingers still laid over his rigid length. She was confused, afraid to believe him, though she ached to experience what he offered.

“Anywhere,” he offered. “Anything you want, Haylie.”

She nodded. “My place is close.”

Lorian smiled, arranging her breasts carefully back into her bustier. He slid her down his body until she settled shakily on her strappy heels. He steadied her for their trek across the club.

Halfway to the door, a vision from Lorian’s darkest nightmares appeared in the form of a Night Warrior—a young one. Lorian held his breath for one heart-stopping moment while he assured himself that it wasn’t Hunter of König-Crossbearer. Hunter was the only Warrior alive who had a chance of killing Lorian.

He scowled, wishing he had paid more attention to his enemies in recent years. The boy was either one of Stephen or Colin’s sons. There were so many Jäger boys, Lorian hadn’t seen the point in identifying them all, and taking the time to ask one of his turned to identify the boy was worth even less of his time.

It wasn’t unusual for a Warrior to show up here. The club was a perfect cover for beasts, and what better break for a roving Night Warrior than coming to this club? Lorian wondered, not for the first time, if the Warriors made use of the dark recesses to find release while they were here.

Lorian smiled. He could ghost them both fully and slip past the unsuspecting young Warrior, but there was a better option, a way to humiliate the pup and teach that vicious she-beast Angela a lesson at the same time.

He picked his two subjects carefully, sending a powerful coercion over them. The pup raised his head, bloodlust swelling in an impressive Blutjagd for one so young. There was no searching. The Warrior tracked the coercion back to his location without difficulty. That not an issue, Lorian released the light ghosting he’d been maintaining all evening. Warriors would scramble to the location, but he was certain the pup was the only one close enough to be of concern.

The first of Lorian’s puppets reached Angela, sweeping her up with offers of sex and more. The fool was flattered—until the second man reached her, doing the same. The duo pulled at her and punched at each other. Angela panicked at her inability to escape them.

The Warrior unsheathed his weapon and pushed his way through the crowd toward his ‘prey.’

As if I am prey to the likes of you, infant. Lorian smiled, letting his fangs extend fully. He jerked his head toward the struggling trio as he sent another flurry of coercion to still the bouncers and management heading into the fray. The struggle grew from three to five to nine bodies in the blink of an eye.

The pup faltered, gleaning the challenge at last. He had a choice—his duty to end Lorian or his duty to protect the humans being injured by the elder’s actions. Even if the Warrior killed Lorian, a bar fight like this wouldn’t end with his death. Lorian had chosen his coercion well. The combatants became more numerous with every passing moment. Too soon, even the bouncers wouldn’t be able to stop it, even without Lorian’s push to continue fighting.

Lorian chuckled as the Warrior sheathed his weapon and turned into the fray with a series of curses, doing his best to end it without injuring the humans further. Good choice, Warrior. You have no idea how close you came to dying at my hand tonight. Lorian was an elder, and he was fated to die by König hands. No mere Jäger pup could stand against him.

“Something wrong?” Haylie asked, struggling to peer over the shoulders of the crowd.

“Bar fight. We should go before the police get here.”

She nodded. “Or before we get our heads broken open,” she agreed.

Lorian cast one last mocking smile at the pup’s back. He’d hold his coercion for a few more minutes before he let the humans come to their senses. In the end, the Warrior would suffer instruction at his lord’s hand, and Angela would think twice about baiting men. Perhaps she wouldn’t die as Riberta had.




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