Sabrina married Mark after only knowing him for two weeks. Although he’s the man of her dreams, the man she loves more than life itself, she’s started getting strange vibes from him. Sometimes, she could swear he moves faster than the human eye can follow, and she’s sure she’s seen him change into something with wings. Could he be a vampire? A gargoyle? She tries to tell herself she’s being ridiculous, that those things don’t really exist. But when a strange being bursts through her bedroom window and kidnaps her, Sabrina is forced to admit the truth—not only are the creatures from her nightmares real, her own husband is one of them, and he married her for reasons other than love…
Sabrina carefully made her way to the pink painted stairs and sat down, careful of her evening dress, and hugged her injured knee with her hands.here’s a vampire in Cape Town,” Sabrina said out loud, desperate, so desperate for it to sound ridiculous, for her suspicions to be preposterous. “Vampires don’t exist and even if they did, they wouldn’t come to sunny Africa,” she told the wolf who followed her out the door of her colorful, pink and purple little house in the Bo-Kaap in Cape Town.
“No.” She made a shooing motion toward the dog that hated her. “You sit over there, you sharp toothed wolf in dog’s clothing. I know you’re just waiting for a chance to bite me.”
The dog gave her a taunting toothy grin and sat down on its haunches a little farther away. An uncommonly large wolf dog with a pitch black coat, almost the same shade as Sabrina’s hair, no one would convince her he wasn’t one hundred percent wolf. Or something more supernatural. She inched back a little more.
With the back door locked and the front door behind her, no one could get inside the house without her knowing about it. This time Mark wouldn’t be able to appear out of thin air and pretend he’d come in through the door.
The aroma of Auntie Koen’s cooking wafted over from next door. Colorful houses sloping up toward the mountain sparkled in the sun, looking like fantasy dwellings painted in bright crayon colors. This area had become trendy in the last decade, with foreigners and young professionals moving in. Sabrina was glad that the houses in her street were still mostly occupied by the people who’d lived here when she came to visit her Ouma as a child.
Auntie Kotie’s television blasted out the local soap opera for the whole street to hear and Sabrina smiled. She remembered this, coming to visit Ouma, smelling spicy cooking, over-loud televisions broadcasting for the whole street, Ouma’s terrible off key singing. Except for Sabrina’s husband, the people in this street were her family.
“This time he has to come in through the front door,” she told the wolf.
He made a snorting sound, suspiciously like a laugh. The wolf sat regally on his haunches, looking down at the road, like a king awaiting tribute.
When Mark had introduced her to his wolf dog, the animal had taken one look at her, and she’d known if Mark wasn’t there, it would’ve been hate at first bite.
Sabrina leaned even farther away from it. “I think my husband is a vampire and the question becomes, will he suck my blood or am I delusional and soon to be taken away by the men in white coats.”
It sounded so ridiculous, her suspicions preposterous. Vampires didn’t exist and even if they did, why would one of them marry her?
It was almost a relief to tell someone about her ridiculous suspicions, even if it was only the dog. “I’m being silly. If I tell anyone I suspect my husband is a vampire, they’d send me to the funny farm. And stop laughing at me.” She narrowed her eyes at him. “I can change your diet to dog food.”
It growled at her. He hated dog food and the one time she tried to give him a doggy treat, he’d nearly bitten her hand off.
She drummed the flat heel of her evening shoes on the step. She’d love to be able to wear sexy high heels again, but with her knee that was impossible.
“If he’s a vampire, it would explain his eyes.” She massaged her achy knee, trying to act as if her husband’s wolf dog didn’t scare the spice out of her. As if it was normal to say crazy things to an animal who always looked as if he wanted to take a bite out of her. And more eerily, as if he understood every word she said. She’d hoped Mark would leave the vicious dog somewhere else since her house was small with no garden. Wolf made up for the lack of a garden by visiting with her neighbors, who all spoiled him with choice pieces of meat. Sabrina sighed, she was the only one he hated.
“Hi, Wolf, looking good,” Yousef, the sixteen year old son of the couple living opposite her, shouted.
All knees and elbows, his skin was copper brown like hers, but his short curly black hair softened his angular face, while Sabrina always thought her straight hair she wore down to her waist made her prominent cheekbones appear austere.
She smiled at him and waved. “Hi, Yousef.”
Wolf barked, visibly lapping up the adoration.
“Who are you talking to?” Mark asked behind her, sounding like sex with the armor- clad lord of a stone castle, old world charm, and lethal danger.
That first time she’d met him at the Christmas bazaar his voice had stroked her nerve ends.
Sabrina jumped on the hard cement stair, her butt coming down again with a small plop. Wolf growled at her. With her hand over her heart she stumbled upright. He stood inside the front door, tall with his aura of danger surrounding him like a dark cloak.
“Mark, you startled me.”
The moment she’d first met him his unusual eyes had struck her. White lines flaring out from the pupil cutting into the blue iris like little shards of ice. He’d told her it was a genetic defect. Even though she feared they were vampire eyes, she still thought them beautiful. Those strange eyes of his had a hypnotic effect. Sometimes they mesmerized her until she lost herself, her identity, until she was only aware of belonging to him.
He stepped forward and steadied her with one of those lightning fast movements that wasn’t normal. “Careful, you got up too fast.”
His hand on her waist was warm and solid. Wouldn’t a vampire’s hand be cold? Maybe slimy. His thumb moved in a subtle caress, and she relaxed against his solid body. She was average height for a woman and her head only reached to his wide shoulders. Dressed in his usual tailored suit and scuffed boots, he looked like a cross between a modern day pirate and a business man.
“How did you get inside the house? Everything is locked.” The knee she’d injured in the car accident, sent pulses of pain through her leg, and she held onto Mark to stay upright. She’d locked the back door, sat on the steps leading to the front door to make sure she saw him arrive. This wasn’t the first time he just materialized like a character on a Star Trek episode.
At first, she’d shrugged it off, thinking he must’ve come home without her noticing. She sometimes got so involved in her sewing that she lost touch with what happened around her.
The sun set, streetlights came on, and Sabrina shivered, clutching her silk shawl closer to her body. The fact that he always appeared at sunset was just a coincidence.
“Kiss me, Sabrina.”
The intense way he’d look at her, kiss her, stole her mind. Whenever they’d been apart, when they locked gazes, she always felt like a coveted prize won by a knight about to grab her in his armor-clad arms and ride off with her on his war horse. It was a kind of seduction, being made love to as if she was a prize of conquest.
“Tell me how you managed to appear behind me?”
“You were so busy talking to wolf, you didn’t see me come up the veranda stairs.”
It was a plausible explanation, but she didn’t believe it. She wasn’t that distracted by the wolf or Yusef.
He drew her closer and skimmed a hand over her silk clad hip. “Love the dress.” His voice turned husky—bitter chocolate and red wine caressing her senses.
“Kiss me, Sabrina. Now.”
He kissed her, the way he always kissed her when they had been apart for even an hour. Passionate, addictive kisses that claimed her as his all over again. Hot kisses that made all her doubts disappear, a hot melding of their lips and tongues. If she stuck her finger into a live wire, she doubted her system would get the zing it got from his touch. Each kiss from him was lovers-meeting-in-secret hot. Each time he did that, he stole a little bit of her soul. She’d never get enough of his taste—dark bitter chocolate and sweet red wine, that’s what he tasted like. His body was taut and warm against her, inviting her hands to roam over his biceps.
She loved that he was muscled, almost bulky, stronger than any man should be. Until she’d noticed his odd abilities, it made her feel safe.
She loved this beautiful man of hers, and she loved the way he kissed, but this was also a chance to explore. She swept her tongue over his teeth, tapping his incisors. He drew back and frowned down at her. “What are you doing?”
She widened her eyes, tried to look innocent. “Nothing.”
“Why do you want to feel my teeth?”
“I didn’t. I just got lost in the kiss.” No way was she telling him she thought he might be a vampire.
Lately. that sense of something ominous about her husband had intensified. His gaze would burn, and more than once he’d appeared out of thin air. An aura of danger surrounded him—a sense of danger more intense every day.
She smoothed the cream and gold woven material of her evening dress over her hip. His dark eyes followed the motion, heated until they scorched her. His desire for her she never doubted. She moved her hands up, and cupped her ribs, her fingers against the underside of her breasts, enjoying the way he followed the movement—hopefully forgetting she’d tried to feel if he had vampire teeth.
“So you and Wolf are talking now.”
“He was his usual friendly self.” She gestured vaguely behind her to the dog at her back, while she faced the predator in front of her.
“You’ll get used to him, eventually.”
“I failed my very first girlfriend test because of him.”
Did he realize that her smile was forced? Could he see her suspicion at the way he materialized behind her?
Mark took the long black strand of hair she’d left hanging at her temple in a sixties style hairdo, playing it through his fingers. “You can never fail any girlfriend test.”
Only that small touch sent flutters to her stomach.
Sometimes when he held her, she had the impression of enormous strength held in check. It always gave her opposing feelings of safety and danger. The dog growled and she jumped, half afraid it would bite her in the butt.
“He’s harmless, Sabrina.”
It wasn’t his behind that was in danger of having a bite taken out of it. She made a gesture toward the dog behind her and then thought twice about waving her hand anywhere near those teeth. “Tell that to your wolf.”
“He’s just a dog, Sabrina,” he drawled in that sexy faintly accented voice.
Ukrainian by birth, he’d left the country young to explore the world. Developing that generic English-almost-American accent travelers usually acquired.
“I don’t think I’ll ever believe he’s just a dog,” she said.
“Forget about Wolf. I approve of the dress.” He moved his hand up and down her waist, pressing and gliding over her flesh. She loved the way his gaze heated, the sheer lust she saw whenever he looked at her. Pleasure exploded everywhere he touched and she moved closer to his seductive heat.
“Thanks. What time do we have to be there?” She’d rather stay at home and spend a quiet evening with Mark, or a not-so-quiet evening, making love, but he insisted on these business functions. They’d only been married three months and, sometimes in her darkest moments, she wondered if she made a very dangerous mistake marrying someone she only knew two weeks before their marriage. Their lovelife was better than she ever dreamed of having. Sometimes she’d find him looking at her with a kind of ruthless purpose that scared her.
Once she’d seen him change. It had happened so fast, afterward she’d doubted what she saw. But for one moment, she’d thought she saw his teeth grow, like those of a vampire. At his back two shadows, like wings, had moved.
He let go of her. One moment he stood next to her and the next he stood at the front door. “How—” She moistened her lips and tried again, had to try a few more times to manage it. “How did you do that?”
“Do what?” he asked. He locked the front door and turned back to her.
“How did you—never mind.” She was vaguely aware of Simon driving up to them in the sleek black car Mark liked to use when they went out. Either she was schizophrenic or her husband had just moved faster than her eye could follow. He hadn’t been a blur, he’d literally disappeared and reappeared at the door. Needles pricked her spine. Who did she marry, what did she marry?
He pocketed the keys and helped her down the steps. “Yes.”
Even now that she’d seen him appear and disappear in that eerie way, her arm tingled where he touched it. “Why do we suddenly have to go to these endless functions? What are you looking for?”
His hand on her waist became heavy. “Why do you think I’m searching for something?”
She looked up into a gaze burning with suspicion. What was he hiding from her? “I don’t know, it’s just an impression I got a few times.” She didn’t want to admit that she’d been hurt by the way he zoomed in on any woman under thirty. This almost daily rounds of parties and formal functions had started a month after their marriage.
She didn’t understand his interest in the women. Always young, very beautiful women and, though they flirted with him, he’d look at them the way a scientist examining an interesting bug would. The clinical detached way he regarded them upset her. Sabrina had a feeling something much worse than a husband flirting with other women was going on. She never thought there could be anything worse until she’d begun to suspect he wasn’t human. Still, it hurt to see her husband of only a few months flirting openly with other women. The pitying glances she received she hated most of all on these endless evenings. She wanted to shout at them that something more terrible than flirtation was happening right under their noses.
“The only thing I’m searching for is to get this function over with so I can make love with my wife.”
He leaned down and kissed her. His hand cupped her shoulder and then moved until he cupped her breast, his thumb rubbing her nipple through the thin material of her evening dress and gossamer bra. She shivered and clung to him, pleasure stealing her mind. Even as she trembled in his arms, she knew he hid something from her. This bitter chocolate and red wine kiss that owned her body was a way to distract her, and it hurt. It hurt that he didn’t trust her enough to tell her the truth. Though if he hid the fact that he was a vampire, ignorance might be bliss. Sometimes late at night, it kept her awake, the thought that she might be living with evil. If vampires existed, what else was out there?
A shrill whistle from across the street broke them apart, right at the moment she broke away from Mark. Her cheeks burned. “We’d better get going.” She stepped back with a nervous look up and down the street. “Not here.” She’d forgotten where they were while she kissed her husband. Her vampire husband.
They’d been as intimate as a man and woman could be, their chemistry super nova hot from day one. They’d been married two weeks when she realized she never saw him in daytime.
Mark swung around and stepped between her and the street. His body held ready as if the whistle signaled danger to her. For a moment, so fleeting she knew it had to be her imagination, the texture of his skin changed, appeared like black marble.
Sabrina waved at Yousef, turned, and then swore in a mixture of Afrikaans and Klingon, when her knee tripped her up. Mark grabbed her arm and held her until she was steady on her feet. She hated this clumsiness she’d had to live with since the accident. It reminded her she had no family.
“DenIb Qatlh?” he said, very polite.
Sabrina could feel her cheeks heat even more. “Denebian slime devil in Klingon,” she mumbled and ignored his laughter. Being a vampire was much more freaky than speaking Klingon.
“I have to be the only man with a wife who swears in Klingon.”
“I have a friend who speaks it. She’s married too.” Could she sound any more nerdish and awkward?
“Maybe we should invite them over sometime,” he said politely.
Sometimes she worried that it bothered him that she was such a nerd. Her friend Mikaela always said she could be hot if only she would stop being so geeky.
He took her arm and helped her to the car, the wolf at her back and Mark’s chauffeur in front of her. Samuel, a tall muscled, black man who never smiled, stood at attention next to the car. She’d met Samuel after she’d married Mark. His unblinking stare had unnerved her and she’d chatted to him in an overly friendly way that came across as false. She’d mentally cringed at her behavior the whole time. Now Mark’s unholy dog and lethal-looking chauffeur both hated her.
“Good evening, Samuel,” she said and widened her smile. It might be childish of her, but she enjoyed irritating him with friendliness. She had a bet with Mikaela, her best friend since childhood, that she’d get him to smile at her before the end of the year. He had no idea how stubborn she could be. She’d get him to smile at her if it’s the last thing she ever did.
He ignored her and looked at Mark. “Good evening, sir.”
“Samuel,” Mark said, but he’d tensed and looked around, as if looking for something. Every now and then, when he acted like this, tense with his body held ready as if for battle, he reminded her of a warrior of old. He was a business man, but to her eyes also a modern soldier and a warrior from times gone by, when men fought with swords, and going to war meant riding off on a horse in heavy armor.
“Get into the car, Sabrina.”
The alert way Mark scanned the street outside the car window reminded her of a predator scenting prey. She stiffened, conscious of the way both Mark and Samuel tried to shield her with their bodies. He murmured something to Samuel that she didn’t catch, his body tense.
Samuel opened the car door and, mindful of her knee, Sabrina carefully entered the car. She rubbed her arms. It was getting chilly at night. Soon, she’d have to wear a coat when they went out in the evening. Though this chill felt different, as if premonition manifested as cold. She shivered, in spite of the warm interior of the car. It was as if the air around the car turned to ice. Mark was about to get in, but he stiffened and stepped back, looked around again, his hand inside his jacket.
Did he have a weapon? He stood like that for a long time. Samuel turned and scanned the street as well.
“Better get in, if they’re here, we’ll be safer in the car,” Samuel said.
Samuel closed the door and went to the driver’s side, his body as tense as Mark’s. Like this, Mark was the scariest man she’d ever encountered. His driver was without a doubt the second scariest. “Who was he talking about?”
Mark settled back into the leather seat, trying to appear relaxed, but she could see the alert way his scary eyes observed their surroundings. “No one you need concern yourself with.”
She clenched her hands in the silk shawl her grandmother had given her on her sixteenth birthday. “Please don’t brush me off. What’s going on?”
“Why would you think anything’s going on?” He took her hand, opened her fingers. He sat so close their thighs touched, but suddenly there was miles between them, in spite of the fact that he held her hand in his.
The car melted into the Cape traffic.
“I’m not blind. A lot of strange things are happening.”
“It’s your imagination.”
The shivers down her back felt like ice cold blood. He’d said that a lot lately, and she was starting to fear her marriage to Mark had drawn her into a very dangerous world. One she would’ve preferred to remain ignorant of. “You can’t keep telling me it’s my imagination when I notice what’s happening.”
“What do you think is happening?”
“That’s not—” She stiffened when she recognized the street they turned into. “Where is this function?”
He mentioned an address and she relaxed, it was far away from the house she and her parents briefly lived in before they moved into her grandmother’s house in the Bo-Kaap.
They stopped in front of a large mansion with rolling grass lawns, lanterns lighting the garden, and young men in white uniforms available to escort guests inside and park their cars.
Her parents had almost broken up because of an endless round of parties at houses just like this.
And ever since this frantic socializing started, Mark had changed.
“This discussion isn’t over,” she said as they stopped in front of an impressive gate that stood open to admit a long line of expensive cars. Mark helped her out, all the while scanning everything around them. She thought Samuel would park the car, but he handed the key over to one of the young men and accompanied them to the imposing front door. They kept her between them, almost shielding her body with theirs. She shivered again and drew her shawl tight over her shoulders. What could scare two dangerous men like Mark and Samuel?
Sabrina wanted to walk with her hand resting lightly on his arm and her chin proudly held high. With her knee, she had to cling to him and look down to carefully watch where she was going. The way up the long agonizing steps was illuminated with beautiful wrought iron lanterns.
Inside the foyer, a portly man and two beautiful women greeted them. Mark had told her on the way here their host’s name was James Greyling, owner of one of the biggest transport companies in South Africa. His wife was tall and thin and, though Sabrina thought she might be well over sixty, she obviously had the money to keep the wrinkles at bay.
In spite of her expressionless botoxed face, she had kind eyes. The daughter had her mother’s excellent bone structure and was stunning, with blonde hair that had a golden tint and big brown eyes. Her skin was a beautiful porcelain color. Beside her, Sabrina felt short and uninteresting with her long straight black hair, light brown skin, and washed out blue eyes she inherited from her father.
Mark dipped his head at the beautiful woman. “Jo.”
“Mark, I’m so glad you made it.” She rushed forward and kissed him on the mouth. She lingered for a few moments, her body rubbing subtly against him.
Sabrina heard someone gasp and realized the sound came from her. It was wrong. A heart breaking didn’t sound like a gasp. It should sound like crystal when it shattered. Like her heart just shattered. The woman kissed her husband as if they’d been intimate before.
Like a crystal statue dropped from a great height, Sabrina shattered into a thousand little pieces.
The sound of people talking, the soft chamber music, and their hostess’s voice receded until she only saw her husband through a long dark tunnel in the arms of another woman. The tunnel evaporated and the scene flashed like garish disco lights in front of her. Sound rushed back, assaulting her ears with the chink of glasses, conversation, music, and the very faint hum of arriving cars.
Sabrina’s heart missed a beat when, instead of moving back after a perfunctory kiss, Mark stood staring down at Jo. Big and masculine opposite Jo’s slender model-perfect figure, he drew several envious female eyes. Jo’s golden hair formed a foil for the darkness of his.
Sabrina stared at her husband. Something was off about the look on his face. She knew what he looked like when he desired her. That was not the way he looked at Jo. Those dark hooded eyes gave the impression of slumbering sensuality. She’d been so shocked by his behavior, it had taken her a few minutes to realize the look on his face wasn’t that of a man attracted to a beautiful woman. If Sabrina had to describe it, she’d say it was the look Van Helsing gave Dracula right before he staked him.
Mark gently put Jo away from him and she shook her head, as if she’d been in a trance, golden hair rippling around her face in a beautiful display that made Sabrina check her nails to see if it had actually turned into claws. Jo looked around as if dazed and then visibly shook it off. “Let’s move inside. Would you like a drink?” she asked.
Sabrina was left standing there. Humiliation burned in her gut, bubbled into her throat and up, until she feared it would burst through her skull. How could he do this to her? She didn’t care if he desired Jo or not. Sabrina was not like her mother, who’d smiled and glossed over Sabrina’s father’s love of other women.
With great care, Sabrina moved forward on the flat evening slippers, feeling frumpy in her sensible shoes and with her limp next to Jo’s feline grace in her elegant high-heeled sandals.
Sabrina was tempted to just leave, to call a taxi, and go back home. She started to carefully turn toward the door and then hesitated. This had something to do with the way he sometimes moved so fast, the way his incisors seemed to lengthen.
The look Mark gave Jo had scared Sabrina. Not hatred precisely, but something akin to it, mixed with pity. If she hadn’t seen the speed with which he moved, the way his eyes sometimes glowed, she might’ve thought he was about to cheat on her with Jo.
At first glance, Jo looked like a woman flirting with a handsome man. The way she watched him without taking her eyes off him reminded Sabrina of a snake mesmerized. Sabrina had the strangest impression that Jo had no choice in what she did, as if drugs or some compulsion drove her.
Jo’s mother smiled at Sabrina, clearly uncomfortable at her daughter’s behavior. “Welcome, Mrs. Dimir. I’m Joyce Greyling.”
Sabrina forced a smile. “Please call me Sabrina.”
“Sabrina, what a lovely name,” Joyce Greyling said and then seemed at a loss for words.
They both stared at Mark and Jo, who was oblivious of the world around them. When she was a child, Sabrina frequently had the feeling of being an interloper and always had the vague fear that she’d be discovered and sent away from gatherings like these. For the first time in years that same feeling of not belonging settled over her.
“The Bothas have arrived, my dear,” James Greyling said pointedly.
He didn’t have a kind gaze like his wife.
“Please excuse me, Sabrina. If you need something not served on the trays, a waiter will get what you need from the kitchen.” Joyce turned away with a thinly veiled look of relief.
Sabrina walked through the foyer and limped down steps into what looked like a big old-fashioned ballroom. Glittering crystal chandeliers hung from the ceiling and marble floors shone with a beautiful rose sheen beneath the expensively shod feet of the guests.
A white clad waiter hurried over to offer her a drink from a gleaming silver tray. Sabrina took a glass and looked around, a little lost. She clenched her hands around the stem of the elegant flute, not caring if she broke it, Mark hadn’t even spared her a glance when he went off with Jo.
Sabrina stumbled, and her aching knee gave way under her. Desperate not to fall flat on her face in front of everyone, she grabbed the arm of the waiter next to her. The silver tray and glasses shattered on the floor. Alcohol fumes drifted up from the mess on the floor. Everyone turned to stare while Sabrina desperately clung to the waiter’s arm. She swallowed tears of anger and humiliation, wanting to crawl into a deep dark hole and just curl up and cry. “I’m so sorry.”
“Not a problem, madam.” The waiter was stoic and several of the catering staff quickly cleaned up the mess.
Sabrina closed her eyes, took a deep breath, opened them, and stepped away from the waiter. She stilled, unable to take another step. Cold dread suddenly slithered down her spine. She forgot her embarrassment, even her hurt over Mark’s behavior. The awful feeling of dread and evil hung over the large ballroom like a specter hiding in the rafters at a feast.
A woman screamed and, at first, Sabrina thought it was because of the dropped tray, because no one seemed to feel the same chilling presence she did.
“The window, my God there’s glowing red eyes staring right at me.” There was something beyond hysteria in the woman’s voice, a primal fear.
Mark stood with his arm around Jo, his hand resting intimately low on her hip. His eyes narrowed on the woman behind Sabrina who’d screamed. The other guests either laughed or discreetly turned away from the hysterical woman. Mark seemed deadly serious. He followed the woman’s terrified gaze to the long windows.
“It’s a bat, a giant bat,” the woman screamed. “It’s staring right at me.”
Letting go of Jo, Mark came over to Sabrina, Jo shadowing him. Sabrina faltered. His eyes glowed white hot, nearly no blue visible, backlit like a cellphone.
Sabrina looked around, but no one seemed to think anything strange was going on. Maybe she was schizophrenic? Did she see glowing eyes where none existed? No one took notice of the hysterical woman, her husband leading her off while she still insisted she saw a bat as big as a man. If it wasn’t for that strange moment of recognition, Sabrina might have thought the woman was hysterical over nothing.
“Are you all right?”
She couldn’t break the hold that glowing gaze had on her. Slowly, so slowly, the white fire dimmed until he looked at her with intense, but normal blue eyes. Normal for him, anyway. The strange hold he had over her lessened as his eyes dimmed.
“I’m fine, I’m afraid the glasses didn’t fare that well.”
How could they have this inane discussion while Jo gazed up at him with an unblinking adoring gaze, as if he was a single man?
“Do you have an injury? I noticed you stumbling before,” Jo asked.
She didn’t seem aware of the woman who was still hysterically crying over the giant bat that stared at her through the window. Sabrina shuddered. Jo sounded like an animated corpse. Sabrina had the impression she only showed concern toward her to get Mark’s attention again. Sabrina wanted to push her away from Mark, and not only because he was her husband. She had the strangest feeling that she had to get him away from Jo, that she was transmitting some evil to him. More than that, she sounded dead.
“My wife sustained a knee injury during a car accident.” Mark said. Such simple words to describe the horrific events.
She’d lost her only living relative, her cousin Jennifer. She’d even lost her cousin’s fiancé Christopher who’d been heartbroken and lost after the accident. Sabrina had woken one morning, and he’d disappeared from his home. It was as if he never existed, never loved her cousin. It had been a betrayal, him leaving as if he could leave Jennifer’s memory behind.
“I have to powder my nose,” Sabrina murmured.
She had to get away from her husband who had glowing eyes, moved faster than any human could, and still had his arm around another woman. Mark nodded, but didn’t look away from Jo. A look of such contempt flashed over his face, Sabrina faltered, but Jo didn’t react.
What was going on here? Why would he zone in on Jo and then look at her with such contempt? He’d done the same at the other functions they’d attended this last month. Honed in on women, but almost immediately moved on. This time, he didn’t move on, seemed intent on getting something from Jo. That look disturbed Sabrina greatly. Again, she had this sense of danger simmering under the surface of this polite gathering. Something so evil, her creepometer was screaming.
No matter what this was about, when they got home they’d have a serious discussion. About the future of their marriage. I’m not like my mother, she reminded herself again. I won’t try to seal over the cracks in my marriage by looking the other way. It was almost a relief not to have to wait for the moment when he realized he didn’t love her and left her.
“You’ve got the right idea,” Michaela said behind her.
Sabrina smiled and carefully turned. She didn’t need to kill any more champagne glasses with sudden movements. “When did you get back?” She hugged Mikaela who pulled a face.
“Yesterday. I was going to phone you, but I fell asleep.”
They’d kept in contact via What’s Up and Skype while Mikaela was abroad, but it was wonderful to have her back.
“I’m just glad you’re back at last, I’ve missed you,” Sabrina told her best friend. She didn’t begrudge her friend the job in London, but her leaving after the accident had felt like a betrayal. Sabrina had to work hard at not resenting her friend going off to London when she needed her the most.
Mikaela rubbed her tired-looking eyes. “I missed you too, I can’t believe I gave up all this sunshine to live in a lonely rainy city for two years.” She didn’t sound happy at all, didn’t look like the optimistic and perpetually smiling woman who left two years ago.
“You sounded as if you enjoyed London when we spoke over the phone.”
Mikaela shrugged, and there was something different in that shrug. Something Sabrina couldn’t put her finger on. “I’m just tired. It was great and good experience for when I start my own business.” Her smile was forced. “Enough about me, you’re married, girl.”
In spite of her words, Sabrina saw the sharp look Mikaela gave her.
“Sometimes I can’t believe I’m actually married.” And sometimes, when she saw Mark move faster than her eyes could follow, when he brought out evil in a young woman, she feared for her marriage. For her very soul.
An uncomfortable silence fell between them. Mikaela must’ve seen Mark hone in on Jo, and Sabrina didn’t know what to say.
“So, what do you think that woman saw that made her scream like that? My mother would kill me if I acted like that,” Mikaela rushed to say, obviously trying to fill the uncomfortable silence, both of them aware of Mark standing much too close to Jo, not far from them.
“Introduce me to your friend,” Mark said and put his arm around Sabrina.
She stiffened, but leaned against him, her knee aching from standing so much. She hated that she enjoyed the feel of him against her when she was so mad.
Mikaela smiled her wide friendly smile. “You must be Mark, I’m glad to meet you at last.”
Did he tense slightly?
He nodded at Mikaela, shook her hand, and gave her a measuring look. The same look he gave every young woman he met. “I’m glad to finally meet the woman who once walked backward with my wife for a whole three months.”
Jo stood looking at Mark, seeming unaware of anyone else in the room.
“We were ten years old, we thought we’d discover the world from a different viewpoint,” Mikaela said. She widened her eyes at Sabrina, the way she always did when she saw a handsome man and couldn’t tell Sabrina in words.
“Instead we got aching necks from looking over our shoulders to be able to see where we were going,” Sabrina said.
They all laughed while Jo stared up at Mark with an eerie unblinking gaze, not reacting to the conversation. After a while he and Jo moved away.
“Is it just me or is Jo acting odd,” Sabrina asked her friend.
“I used to go to school with her. She didn’t used to be like this,” Mikaela said.
Sabrina merely shrugged. She used to tell Mikaela everything, but she couldn’t tell Mikaela that she suspected her husband was a vampire, that Jo was probably his next meal, and that he’d hold her in thrall until he’d drunk his fill.
An hour later, her knee aching, Mark found her still chatting with Mikaela. Sabrina expected him to put his arm around her, the way he usually did when he’d been chatting up all the beautiful women in the room. This time, she was ready with her elbow if he tried, but he stood a distance from her.
Mark looked down at Sabrina, his face expressionless. “I won’t come home with you.”
Her heart missed a beat and then she could literally feel the muscles around it contract. Her breath left her with a soft whoosh without her volition. She was so sure he had no interest in Jo. That his actions had something to do with his strange abilities. Never did she think he was capable of humiliating her like this in front of her friend.
“What?” she tried to say, but no sound emerged.
She’d thought they’d go home and have an epic fight they’d tell their grandchildren about one day. He’d apologize and make love to her, and she’d forget that sometimes his eyes glowed and he appeared and reappeared in different places. That he’d looked at Jo with that disturbing mixture of distaste and intent. Deep inside, she’d feared he’d pack his bags and leave.
“You heard me.” No inflection, no guilt or discomfort.
“How can you do this?” The words escaped her before she could stop them. She was relieved to see Mikaela had withdrawn a polite distance.
Ice cold gaze, his face expressionless, Sabrina couldn’t believe this was the same charming man she married.
“Samuel will take you home. He’s waiting for you at the door.”
“How can you do this?” she asked again and blinked angry tears away.
“He’ll stay with you until I’m back.” Again, he ignored he question, the hurt he had to see in her eyes.
She lifted her chin, squared her shoulders, and thought she saw admiration flash briefly in his eyes. She didn’t care. He sent her home alone so that he could be with another woman. “Don’t bother ever coming home,” she said through clenched teeth. Dismissing him, she turned to Mikaela. “I’m going. I’ll phone you tomorrow.”
Ignoring the sympathy in Mikaela’s eyes, Sabrina went in search of her hosts.
She found the Greylings saying goodbye to departing guests and quietly took her leave of them. Samuel waited for her at the door and escorted her to the car parked at the bottom of the imposing stairs. She would’ve preferred not to go home with Mark’s henchman, but she wanted to go home. She needed to be in her workroom, maybe the lingering presence of her Ouma will soothe her.
The pity in Mikaela’s eyes, the concern on the Greylings’ faces, stung her pride.
Samuel held open the car door for her and she got in, her fists balled, jaw clenched so tight her teeth ached. Married three months and it was over already. She hurt so much, it manifested physically. When he got home she’d have a thing or two to say to him. Before she kicked him out of her house.
At the house, Samuel walked inside with her and went through the house, while she stood impatiently waiting, tapping her foot, too angry to care that he didn’t talk to her. When he’d gone through every room in the house, he went to stand at the door, silent, his face expressionless.
“I don’t want you inside my house. I’m kicking Mark out, and you and the wolf can go now.” She waited for him to fight back, to say something that would give her an excuse to scream like a demented person.
Instead, he merely stood against the door, staring straight ahead. The dog sat next to him on his haunches and, so help her if that was a smirk on his face, she’d shave him, paint him pink, and put a dress on him.
With a last glare at both of them, she stormed up the stairs to her workroom, her aching knee dragging more than usual. She needed the calm her sewing brought her. Halfway up the stairs, she stopped and took off her shoes. Her knee ached and the shoes made it worse. She couldn’t let her anger and hurt cause her to make her injury worse.
Barefoot, she carefully limped up the stairs to the second floor where the two bedrooms were and up another short flight of stairs to the attic and into her workroom.
Inside the room that spanned the length of the house, she stood against the wall, battling tears, trying to soak up the peace in the room that had been the sewing room of the women in her family for more than a century. This was the one room in the house where she still felt Ouma’s presence. Tonight she needed it as much as she’d needed it after the accident.
Sabrina switched on the light, let the shawl fall on the floor, and limped to the rocking chair Ouma used to sew in. Sabrina sat down and massaged her aching knee. “How dare he?” She sighed. “Ouma, I wish you were here,” she whispered. Ouma had always know just what to say and do to make everything better.
Sabrina had resisted marrying Mark at first, especially because they knew each other such a short time. She’d still been reeling from the accident and Jennifer’s death. It was as if everyone she dared care for left her, even if they had to die to leave her. As if fate decided to take everything at once, it took her mother then Jennifer. When Mikaela suddenly left to live in London, Sabrina had felt betrayed, but also relieved. If Mikaela was far away from her, maybe she wouldn’t die.
Mark had convinced her, didn’t give up on her, and now she was married to who knows what. A creature that could move like lightning and make his eyes glow like a freak show. Who enthralled young women and left his wife alone to go off and do who knows what?
Sabrina grabbed the measuring tape and threw it against the wall. It plopped down on the red Indonesian kilim before it reached its target. Furious she threw the scissors, and they hit the wall with a satisfying thump. “I’ll show him, I’ll kick him out of my house so fast his evil vampire head will spin.”
She grabbed a spool of thread and threw that as well. Humiliating her in front of her best friend. The thought of him alone somewhere with Jo made her look around for something else to throw. Something that would make a satisfying shattering noise. Maybe then her heart would stop trying to break into a million pieces. Sabrina took a deep breath and picked up the scissors and the measuring tape.
“Deep breaths, Sabrina, sit down and look at the patterns,” she said out loud.
The words Ouma had said to her so many times. Sabrina sat down and picked up the pattern she’d cut earlier.
Was fate telling her she was to be alone for the rest of her life? That she wasn’t meant to have love. Maybe there was a higher purpose waiting for her. She picked up the paper pattern she’d cut the previous day and folded the material that was cut slightly bigger so it would fold over the paper pattern.
Her hands only shook a little. Breathing in and out, focusing only on the texture of the material, she pinned the material to the paper and then threaded her needle. Sewing everything by hand was a long process, but she enjoyed doing it this way. She’d made a name for herself creating handstitched silk quilts with traditional patterns.
Sabrina closed her eyes and forced her breathing to calm even more. This time, she managed to thread the needle with steady hands. Was he kissing Jo? Her hands trembled again and she stuck the needle into her finger. She swore, blinked away tears, and doggedly continued sewing.
The way the pattern came to life piece by piece soothed her.
Maybe she’d call this one blood and tears.
“I thought I’d find you here.”
After one quick glance, she focused on her hands. He leaned a wide shoulder against the door, arms crossed over his powerful chest, not one ounce of guilt or discomfort on his face. The rat.
Sabrina held the needle so tight, it was a miracle it didn’t break. Focusing all her concentration on the material in her hand, she stitched with slow deliberate movements. If she stopped sewing, she’d gibs slap him and, with her luck, his teeth would grow and he’d bite her.
“I didn’t expect you back this soon. Or is cheating on your wife done faster these days?” she sniped.
He sighed, as if he was the wronged person. She had to breathe very deeply for a moment to stop herself from jumping up and pummeling him.
“I didn’t sleep with Jo.”
“I don’t believe you.” Actually she almost did, but wasn’t about to give him the impression he could treat her like dirt and get away with it. She’d seen what it did to her mother. She wanted to know what was going on, exactly what was going on. “I want the truth.” She might sound hoarse, but at least her voice was calm. She’d be dignified through this. No hysterics. No throwing things at him and screaming like a broom seller. “Why did you have me come home alone so that you could stay with Jo? And don’t deny you wanted to be with her.”
“It’s not what you think.”
“So what is it?”
Did he really think there was any way to misinterpret his actions?
He hesitated, a strange way for him to act. “You have to trust me.”
Maybe she’d gibs slap him, after all. He straightened and paced up and down, making her workroom seem small with his towering presence. In a strange way, he also fitted among her grandmother’s antique desk and cutting table, the pieces of their family history displayed. A small silver cup, said to be from Indonesia, a patchwork blanket framed and hung on the wall, made by her great grandmother for her first child.
“Do you believe I didn’t have intercourse with Jo?”
What an old-fashioned way to put it. Sabrina hesitated. Did she believe him, or was she so desperate to believe he wouldn’t do that to her, that she closed her eyes to the truth? And why was she suddenly the one being interrogated?
“Don’t play games with me, Mark. You went off with another woman tonight.” She very carefully stitched a seam into where she’d folded the material over the paper. “If the positions were reversed, would you meekly go home and accept me going off with another man?”
He checked and swung around, fixed her with a ferocious glare. “Don’t you ever dare—” Realization dawned and his shoulders tensed even more. “I can’t tell you what’s going on, but I’m not interested in Jo in any carnal way.”
Her eyes played a terrible trick on her and his skin changed, as if parts of it struggled to stay human. It became like granite, his eyes glowed, long incisors gleamed in the artificial light. She really was going crazy, because, for a fleeing moment, she’d also seen wings.
Sabrina whimpered and pierced her finger instead of the material. She didn’t know if she was turning schizophrenic or if he was a monster. “Please stop.”
As sudden as the illusion started, it disappeared.
Mark prowled to her with an eerie soundless stride, his eyes flashing backlit white. He took the material and needle out of her hand and carefully put them on the little table where she kept the scissors, silver thimble, and other precious items she inherited from Ouma. He kissed her and this time it was more bitter than chocolate.
She drew away from him. “You don’t go off with another woman and then kiss me.”
Before she realized his intent, he picked her up.
“What are you doing?” She wanted to stay mad at him, not feel a thrill at being carried as if she weighed nothing. Not after he’d changed into something that scared her out of her mind. “Put me down, I’m not done telling you off.” She narrowed her eyes at him. “Are you laughing at me?”
“This room is too small. We’ll talk downstairs.” He carried her to the stairs.
Sabrina glared up at him. “That room is not too small. It runs the length of the house.”
“It’s small and I’m not having this conversation. I’m not fighting with you over the size of a room because you are mad and want to pick a fight.” He reached the bottom of the stairs, walked to the living room, and lowered her carefully down on the couch.
He paced up and own before her, the way he’d done upstairs, acting like a man under a bigger threat than being accused of adultery. Pushing a hand through his short brown hair, he picked up the remote and switched on the large television he’d installed in her cozy living room, even before they got married. Sabrina thought it was more a case of wanting to do something than a need to watch television. She’d never seen him like this.
Her stopped and nailed her with a look that burned. “It’s not what you think. I’m not interested in—” He stiffened and turned towards the television.
A young newscaster gazed at them from the television screen. A picture was shown behind her and Mark stopped and stared at it, his skin paling. “Translate that, now,” he clipped out.
Sabrina listened to the Afrikaans news cast and translated it for him as best she could. “John Chamberlain, the documentary film maker, famous for his work on Pangea, infamous for his claim that intelligent life existed on the first continent, was found dead in his home this morning.”
Mark swore with an inventiveness that made her blink. On the television screen, the newscaster continued in Afrikaans, and Sabrina repeated in English. “Mr. Chamberlain was found under gruesome circumstances. His corpse found a dry husk. The coroner is at a lost for an explanation of the condition of the body.”
Mark watched the whole program, listening to her translation without moving or even blinking. He paced in front of the television, his gaze fixed on the screen. What made her breath catch and induced the desire to whimper like a child, was the way his body changed between human and something else. In her darkest moments, she’d feared vampires existed and she’d married one. Now she wondered if maybe she didn’t marry something worse. She wanted to run but her knee made moving at more than a slow limp impossible. Even if she could run, her legs had gone boneless. They wouldn’t hold her weight.
Mark spat out something in a language she didn’t understand. Lowering the volume on the television, he threw the remote on the couch where it bounced a few times.
“Why are you so upset over his death? Did you know him?” She’d been married to Mark for three months, had made love with him, but at this moment all she wanted to do was run from him. Screaming. Maybe she could sneak out when he wasn’t focused on her.
In the background, the newscaster reported about several young women disappearing in the Cape Town City area. Sabrina’s heart ached for their families. She couldn’t imagine the fear they must feel at this moment.
He stopped pacing, and she could see him gathering his control.
“No, I didn’t know him.”
“Then why are you so upset?” And why was she having this conversation instead of throwing the rat out of her house? She’d promised herself that she would never put up with this kind of nonsense. She and Mikaela had promised each other to be stronger than their mothers. They’d only been twelve when they made that promise, but Sabrina always intended to keep it. Except, how did you throw out a scary-looking creature with wings?
He leaned over her, his attitude so intimidating she had a hard time staying upright and not cringing from him. “New rules. You never go out alone.”
“Why?” At least he didn’t turn scary looking.
He continued as if she hadn’t spoken. “From now on either me or Samuel is always with you. When you’re here, Samuel will be at the door.”
“Oh joy.” She couldn’t imagine anything worse than having Samuel on her heels all the time. That man had a way of making her feel lower than a worm.
“You even feel vaguely threatened, you call him.”
“What’s going on?” What kind of enemies did a creature like Mark have? For that matter, what kind of creature was he? What would he do to her if he knew she’d seen his natural form.
“Nothing that needs concern you. You’re not in danger. I’m just being cautious.”
“Not concern me? We’re married. On top of that you just spent the evening with another woman.”
He brushed his hand over his hair. “Not that again.”
“Yes, that again.” She jumped up, groaned, and clutched her knee. Still glaring at him, she crumpled back onto the couch.
He knelt in front of her and gently massaged her knee, looked up at her, and she saw guilt. Every now and then, when she struggled with her knee, she’d seen guilt on his face. As if he blamed himself for her pain. It didn’t make sense, just as the glimpses of hatred she sometimes saw in his eyes didn’t make sense.
“What are you?” she asked him.
She didn’t think he realized, but for about a fraction of a second his hands and eyes had glowed. Her knee didn’t ache as much anymore. If he was something evil, he wouldn’t make sure she was safe. Would he?
“I’m your husband, that’s all you need to know.”
“Oh no, I’m not about to make like a mushroom.”
He suddenly smiled. “Make like a mushroom?”
“You know what I mean.” What was she supposed to do? She was married to some winged Dracula creature. You can’t divorce Dracula. Chills crept down her spine as if a needle scraped her back, leaving a drop of chilled blood to slowly bleed down her spine.
“I can read your thoughts,” he said with sibilant softness. He picked her up and stood, as if standing up with her in his arms took no effort at all.
“No you can’t.” Several times these last few weeks he’d said or done something that eerily echoed her thoughts. She didn’t want him in her head. Her thoughts were her own. “I don’t believe you can read my thoughts. You’re just trying to mess with my head.” Thinking of those wings and glowing eyes of his she added, “And if you could, I’d expect you to respect my privacy.”
He walked to the stairs and climbed them effortlessly with her secure in his arms. “You wondered if you can divorce Dracula. You’ll never divorce me, wife. Ever.”
A weak part of her loved that he was so adamant that they’d stay together. Being married to a winged Dracula that could read her mind, not so much. “I wasn’t thinking anything about Dracula. I don’t even like watching vampire movies.”
He set her down next to the bed. “Have you met supernatural creatures before?” There was a watchful tone in his voice now. She could almost feel him delving into her mind, had the feeling that he was frustrated.
“Yeah, I had tea with a werewolf just the other day.”
He slid down the zipper of her dress, but she stepped away from him. “I’m not making love with you.” She glared at him. “Ever again.”
“Are you sure?” His eyes glowed and she resisted taking a step back. “I could change your mind. You know you want me.”
Arrogant son of a vampire. Did he really think it would be that easy? “I want you to leave.” It cost her to say that to the man she loved. Even while she was this angry.
He ignored her statement. “Have you met supernatural creatures before?” he asked again.
“Of course I haven’t, and anyway there are no vampires in South Africa. They spawned in Europe and everyone knows they moved from there to America.” Now she sounded like an idiot.
He lifted a brow and his lips twisted. His eyes, that lately had been darkened by some intense emotion twinkled. “I stand corrected,” he said, his accent more pronounced. He lifted a strand of her midnight black hair. “I don’t want to talk. I want to make love to my beautiful wife.”
“No,” she whispered. “I won’t let you manipulate me with sex. You are to leave this house.”
He leaned down, spoke with his lips hovering above hers. “I didn’t touch Jo in any sexual way. She’s poison now.”
“What does that mean?”
Jo’s eyes had been dead, her skin oddly pale. Did he suck her blood and leave her a zombie?
“I don’t want to talk about her, I want to make love to my wife.” He pulled her against him, drew the zipper at the back of her dress down, and pushed her dress from her shoulders down her breasts and hips until it fell at her feet.
She slapped at his hands. “Stop that, I’m not done talking. You won’t manipulate me with sex.”
He didn’t even seem to notice her slapping his hands. “I’m impressed that you think I can.”
He cupped her breast and just that simple touch thrilled her.
“Don’t…uhm…don’t use my own words against me.”
His palm shaped her breast, his thumb very gently flicking over her nipple. It pebbled and she moaned, electric pleasure shocks coursing through her body.
“This?” He bent his head and kissed the nipple he’d stimulated with his thumb, kissed his way up. “Or this?” He claimed her mouth. Wine and bitter chocolate, seduction and delicious sin. His hand moved to give her other breast the same treatment.
What was she doing? Kissing the man who’d sent her home so he could stay behind with another woman. Sabrina pushed him back.
She crossed her arms over her breasts and stepped away from him. Considering everything that had happened this evening, it shouldn’t be this hard to resist him. “Don’t think you can just kiss and touch me and I’ll forget what you did with Jo, all the crazy things you said. Your eyes glowed.”
Damn, she didn’t mean to admit that.
“Did they?” he asked.
He sounded as if he barely concentrated on their conversation. Pulling her close again, he kissed the space between her shoulder and neck and she shivered.
“Yes, and your hands glowed too, my knee stopped aching.”
“It’s all you, Sabrina, you make me burn, let’s see how much of me we can light up.” His smile was wicked temptation.
“You can’t seduce me into forgetting that you’re whatever you are. That you sent me home tonight so you can spend time with Jo.” Never as long as she lived would she forget having to walk out of that door alone while everyone there witnessed her humiliation.
He tightened his hold, not hurting her, trapping her crossed arms against his chest. “Jo is the absolute last woman I’d ever want to spend the night with.” He kissed her neck, moved to the spot behind her ears that always made her knees weak. “Trust me.
“I wish I could believe you.” She wasn’t this weak creature that could be seduced out of a discussion. “I’ll never trust you again.”
He bit gently on her ear and pleasure raced down her spine. “I need you to trust me.”
He kissed her, a determined kiss that conquered and seduced and she forgot about vampires and strange creatures and only remembered that the man she loved with every fiber of her being made love to her.
No! She wouldn’t be this weak. Sabrina pushed him back. Or tried to, he didn’t even rock back on his feet. “You go off with another woman and I should trust you?”
“Sabrina, I didn’t touch Jo.”
“I don’t believe you, get out.” Anger so intense she could kill him suddenly shook her body.
He picked her up, put her on the bed, and lay down with his body half over her.
She glared at him, at this rate her eyes would explode from the flames she was sure was shooting out of them at her arrogant husband. “Let me up.”
“Make me.” He played with her hair, for all the world as if he didn’t just pick her up and put her on the bed in the middle of an argument.
“You’d force me?” She’d stake him with a wooden ruler.
“Never.” He leaned down and kissed her. “But I will seduce my wife into making love with me.”
He kissed her again and this was the man she loved. His bitter chocolate and red wine kisses seduced any thought but pleasure from her.
“Are you a vampire?” she asked when he lifted his head at last. She didn’t realize she was going to ask him that, had been lost in his kiss and then the question just popped out.
“No, I am not a vampire.” He stood and slowly took off his clothes. Seeing his beautiful dark body, with its light scattering of hair revealed so slowly was a seduction in itself. A seduction that excited her body, in spite of her resolve to remain unaffected. She frowned, what resolve? He’d lied about not being a vampire and still she lay here, waiting for him to make love to her.
“This doesn’t mean our discussion is over.” She could barely force the words out. He might be a vampire, but there was something worse wrong with her, because she couldn’t resist him.
He kissed her neck and she pushed his head with all her might. “Stay away from my neck.” Just in case.
His lips twitched. “We’ll talk about that tomorrow.”
He moved away from her neck, down to her breasts. She knew, with a strange intuition that he had no intention of discussing anything with her. He planned to keep her safe, but in the dark about what was going on.
“All right, oh yes there, touch me there.”
He’d found the spot behind her knee that sent tingles through her whole body. Tingles of pleasure. She was such a pushover. One sucking kiss behind her knee and she was gone. He moved up, kissed her thigh and she grabbed his head.
“Don’t kiss there either.”
There were arteries there that would be a feast for a vampire. She’d seen it in a vampire movie once. She didn’t want to go to that movie, but Mikaela pleaded until she gave in. Sarina didn’t sleep for easy for a long time after that.
He sat back and smirked at her. “Maybe you should point out the safe zones.”
He might be a vampire or some other creature, but at that moment, with him crouched between her legs, that teasing look on his face, she fell in love with him all over again.
“Can I kiss here, or here?” He touched the inside of her knee, moving closer to the juncture of her thighs and then retreating to caress the sweet spot behind her knee again. “Maybe I can kiss those beautiful breasts you so diligently barricade.”
His hot words seduced her more than the way he worshiped her breasts. She still had her arms clasped over her chest.
“Maybe.” She wasn’t sure what kind of veins ran through her breasts and in that moment didn’t want to know anything that would force her to stop him kissing her there.
He kissed his way up over her hips and sneaked under her crossed arms. “You are so beautiful, you make me forget my duty.” His eyes narrowed and then something flared in the dark depths. Something so hot it could melt steel. “Offer me your neck.”
“No, why should I? What do you want to do?” The temptation to offer him her neck was overwhelming, her own desire to do it shocking. She narrowed her eyes at him. “Are you using vampire mind tricks on me?”
“Yeah, vampire mind tricks. Not chemistry at work,” he said with awful sarcasm.
In spite of his teasing words, he sounded so strained, almost needy. As if offering her body to him would save his sanity. His gaze burned her, staring at her hands cupping her breasts.
He lifted a hand, already cupped to shape her breast, then clenched his hand into a fist and lowered it.
“If you really don’t want this, say so now. We’ll go to sleep.”
She could see the offer cost him.
“I want you.” She couldn’t hold back the words.
With a gentle almost reverent move, he pulled her arms away from her breasts. Cupped and squeezed and flicked his thumbs over her nipples. He pinched them until they were pink and stiff on her plump breasts. “Offer me your neck. I’ll be gentle when I bite it,” he teased.
If he had asked her to offer her breasts, it would’ve been less shocking and filled with danger.
From the beginning, their love life had been perfect. He’d been generous and just adventurous enough to be slightly shocking. Dominant enough to excite her, but he never hurt her. Now his demand that she offer him her neck, so vulnerable now that she suspected he was a vampire, excited her instead of frightening her as it should.
Her hips twisted with need, his hands aroused her beyond bearing. “Mark, I need you.” She needed his hands, his lips on her. His body merged with hers.
He paused in the act of leaning toward her, his hands on her breasts, squeezing and thumbs alternating between flicking her nipples and stroking the underside of her breasts, driving her wild. “How much?”
“So much I can’t bear it.” He started to smile and she hastily added, “Not enough to offer you my neck.”
“I wanted you the first time I saw you,” he said. “You, not your blood.” His grin was pure evil. “But if you want to offer, I’m sure it’s delicious.
“Is that true?” Some part of her doubted him. He’d married her for reasons of his own. The tender kisses, the walks on the beach, the dinners over candle light. The evenings they played music and talked about their favorite artists seemed unreal somehow. How much of that did he manipulate? “I know you married me for reasons of your own.”
He looked almost violent. “I will pay for this, I will burn in hell and take it, but I have to make love with you. Tonight I will show you how much pleasure your body is capable of.”
He kissed her and it was violent, passionate, the dominant male staking his claim. When they came up for air they both breathed too fast, his harsh breaths loud in their bedroom.
“What do you mean? Why would you have to pay for making love with me?” Her body was on fire with need for him. She knew his words were important, but couldn’t concentrate.
He kissed her neck and she was tempted to let him linger, but pushed him away.
“One day soon you’ll offer me your neck and I’ll know you’ve forgiven me, that you trust me at last.”
She frowned up at him. “Promise me you didn’t sleep with Jo.” Even with her body clamoring for his, she couldn’t bear the thought. Didn’t know if she could forgive him the humiliation she’d endured.
“Believe me, I wouldn’t even stand next to that…woman if I could help it.”
She’d expected him to sound mad or disgusted, instead he seemed unbearably sad.
Sabrina frowned up at him, her desire and need for him receding. “Is that the truth?”
“Kiss me, Sabrina, kiss me as if I’m a man entitled to this,” he said. He took her lips and it was desperate, as if he wanted to lose himself in her.
She reached out and touched his chest with a trembling hand. “You’re so beautiful.” Every muscle clearly defined. Not an ounce of fat on him. He had dark olive toned skin. She still sometimes pinched herself to make sure it was real, that this man belonged to her. No matter what, she didn’t think she could give him up. If he needed blood she’d provide for him or find a synthetic alternative. She pulled his head down and kissed him. “You’re mine.” She deepened the kiss. “My beautiful man.”
He snorted. “Women are beautiful. I’m manly and muscled.”
In spite of his humorous words, she thought she saw disappointment in his eyes. She should tell him she loved him. He was her husband. She did love him, but somehow the words just wouldn’t come. He’d married her without telling her what he was. What else was he keeping from her?
She smiled and shook her head at his irreverence. Maybe he had a split personality. The one crazy and under the delusion that he was a vampire and then this Mark, passionate and tender and funny. With sadness buried deep beneath the fearsome white light that sometimes burned in his eyes.
After what he did that night, she should push him away. Fight him tooth and nail. Not admire his manly chest.
“Manly chest?” He lifted a brow.
She slapped said manly chest. “Stay out of my mind.” She shook her hand. “Ouch.”
She may as well have slapped her hands against Table Mountain. It was just one more reminder that he wasn’t quite human.
He rubbed her hand between his. “Only flesh and blood.”
He kissed her, red wine, bitter chocolate, and decadence, a kiss so potent she melted into the bed, her bones the substance of jelly.
“Tell me your darkest fantasy and I’ll make it come true,” he said in a deep dramatic voice, sounding like Bela Lugosi.
She giggled, a soft girlish sound and his face softened. Brick wall, think brick wall, she chanted in her head. She didn’t want him to see her darkest fantasy.
He threw back his head and laughed. “The classic brick wall. It doesn’t work against a vampire.”
She pounced on his words. “So you admit it, you’re a vampire.”
He shrugged. “Just giving you what you expect.
He stilled and smiled a wicked sensual smile, as if he’d discovered something very naughty in her mind. “Why would you try to hide such an innocent fantasy from me?”
“Innocent,” she exclaimed, her face on fire just thinking about it.
“Very innocent,” he said.
When his eyes twinkled with humor like that, it was hard to believe they sometimes had a backlit glow, or that his teeth could lengthen like a vampire’s. Or that she sometimes thought she saw hatred glaring at her. And that he could read her mind.
Still smiling he moved down her body, kissing her breasts, her naval. “When did this particular fantasy come to you?” he asked as he kissed his way over her stomach.
“Stop calling it a fantasy. I saw a picture of a celebrity doing it to his girlfriend.” She had to find a way to keep him out of her mind. How did he expect her to have a conversation with him when he did that?
“I like your mind. It’s so deliciously naughty.”
“It’s not, you’re just saying that to make me blush.”
She felt him smile against her thigh. He moved down until he could reach her toes. Slowly, his gaze fastened on hers, he sucked her toe in his mouth. She whimpered and her body jerked, if she wasn’t a puddle of pleasure, she’d be afraid of bouncing off the bed.
“What—” She swallowed, moaned, and struggled to think what she was going to say. “What are you doing?”
“Giving you your fantasy, though next time I think I’ll make you tell me.” He sucked her big toe into his mouth again. When she thought she would explode, he moved up her body and kissed her calf, her knee, then the inside of her thigh. She should stop him, she knew there was an important reason she shouldn’t allow him to linger there, but her mind was a puddle of pleasure. Veins…it had something to do with veins.
He cupped her sex and she panted with sheer lust. Slowly he parted her folds and then inserted a finger, moving in and out, mimicking the motions of sex. Her body didn’t want his finger. It wanted more.
“Please, Mark, don’t tease me, I need you.”
“Not as much as I need you to.” There was something almost driven in his voice. Almost self-loathing, but she was too caught up in their lovemaking to focus on it. “I need you to crave me, to feel empty when I’m not inside you.”
“I am empty, Mark, please, come inside me. I need you so much.”
He inserted another finger, increased his pace, her hips keeping time with the rhythm he set.
She clenched her thighs around his hand. “More, please, Mark, I need more, I need you, not your finger.”
“Will you let me suck on your neck?” His voice was pure sin and temptation.
“No, maybe, I don’t know. Please be inside me, Mark.” She needed him so much, wanted to be close to him, share this special pleasure with him so much, she would’ve promised him anything.
He clasped her knees, slowly pulled them open and back.
Sabrina moaned when he entered her, his gaze holding hers captive while he pushed deep inside her. She wrapped her legs around his waist and held onto him.
“Move, Mark, please.”
She came at the first stroke. He thrust deep, seeming almost desperate to claim her as his, to make it last.
She felt his teeth scrape her neck and, in that moment, if he’d wanted to suck her dry, she’d have let him. He stiffened against her, groaned, and increased his pace, and, when he came, she peaked again. He fell over her and she loved his heavy weight on top of her, even if it made breathing difficult.
When his breathing slowed, he rolled off her and dragged her close to him. “We can’t stay in this house.”
She stared up at him, at his glowing eyes and growing incisors and her whole being shrank back from his words.
“This is my home, the only place I ever had a family.”
Copyright © 2017 Marie Dry