The look in her eyes stil ed him, made the chamber itself seem suddenly quiet, the air fil ed with a sense of silent expectation. “Perhaps it is the Crusades again.” Her voice was a whisper. “You are part of an invading army. You are merely a foot soldier, a poor knight. Yet you breach the wal s of the sultana, and for the next few moments, she is all yours, before your generals or kings find her. For this moment, she is your treasure.”
The dress molded every curve, and it made his mouth dry, but he saw the tenor of it change in her mind. Her fantasy merged with the reality from long ago. “There you stand,” she continued softly. “Dusty, bloody. Sir Knight. And my heart opens in a way I didn't know it could.”
He swal owed, but instead of taking her to that other time, he brought her back to her fantasy. “The sultana is perfect, disdainful of me,” he said, in the same low voice. “But as I look at her, I see her tremble, just a bit. I watch her press her lips together, moist, and I know she could be mine. If only I reach out to take.”
Her mouth curved. Power emanated from her.
Every inch his queen. He moved forward. When he reached her, he dropped to his knees, looking up at her face for a long moment from that reverent position. The slope of her abdomen, rise of her breasts, the line of her hip and thigh, so close. He'd been with her when she'd given birth to Kane, had seen those thighs tremble, her stomach contract, her throat arch back in a cry of pain but of determination as well.
Bending forward, he brought his lips to her insole, her ankle. When she shifted, he was ready. The foot that would have planted itself on his chest and shoved him back slid under his left arm. He caught it there, tugged the other one out from under her. When she fel to her back, trusting, he used a servant's speed. Her skul fel into his waiting palm, his body stretched over hers, one knee between her thighs.
Lifting her chin, she regarded him with sparkling eyes. “Clever knight,” she repeated.
“I have no cleverness left. Only need. I want to use you, and use you hard. Then I want to build you back up again and make you scream. I want your tears, your laughter. I want the softness in your eyes as well as the violence.”
“I will come before you do, Sir Vagabond,” she said in a near whisper, looking up at him. “Because I can hardly bear another moment without you inside of me. Your sultana is helpless beneath you. For the moment.” Her eyes consumed him. “Do your worst. Or best, as the case may be.”
He knew how much the dress cost. He didn't care.
He tore it to tatters on her body, exposing breasts in one impatient rip, letting them spil out for his hungry attack, tongue and teeth moving over them. Cradling her hips, he tilted her up, lifting his upper body enough that he could gaze down at her as if she was a prize he'd conquered in truth. Then, when her lips parted, he drove into her.
Sheer, utter bliss. No one knew the power of denial the way a vampire did. Everything he'd done tonight at her behest had been about this. She had her arms above her head, mock surrender, though he knew he was the true slave here. He thrust deep, and forced himself to the rhythm he knew would take her with him, no matter that he wanted to rut upon her like a beast. She arched up to him, her pupils dilating so the green was almost gone.
She was true to her word. No more than a dozen thrusts, and she rippled around him. Her fangs elongated, and the cries in her throat became that helpless little symphony as she squeezed around his cock.
“Let go, my lady,” he urged in a hoarse voice.
“Give me that gift. Let me hear your pleasure.” You with me, Jacob. You come with me.
He could refuse her nothing. They went over that cliff together, and at the pinnacle of it, she reared up and sank her fangs into his chest, just above his heart. They were of one mind, a pair of winged creatures fal ing into pleasurable oblivion tangled together.
And the way they felt for one another, they'd let the ground break them before they let go.
Once they'd ravished each other to exhaustion, his lady wanted two things: her son, and a cup of tea, in that order. Had it not been for those desires, Jacob knew she would have chained him to the wheel rack, a standard amenity in Belizar's old chambers. The way her gaze lingered on it overlong, told him her desires clearly enough. Sometimes he didn't need to be in her mind to read her thoughts.
The first night they'd met, Lyssa had chained him, giving him an unforgettable lesson in accepting submission. He'd changed a bit since then, the idea of her putting him on the device and making him wait on her pleasure making him more aroused than apprehensive. But perhaps she'd changed as well , since she ruled in favor of Kane and her tea. Either path would bring her pleasure, so both worked for him. And knowing his lady's diabolical mind, she'd probably mapped out a later time for the wheel rack.
Jacob found Kane up on the castle wal s, with Daegan. The assassin was holding the toddler on his shoulders and jumping the wide spaces between parapets, making him think they were flying. Kane was delighted, whereas Jacob hoped Lyssa never saw it in his mind or she might decide to beat the assassin to a pulp. He gave Daegan his thanks. The vampire touched the boy's head fondly, nodded to Jacob, and then was gone, probably moving swiftly to join Anwyn and Gideon, to make good on the erotic threat he'd issued earlier. Given that it involved his brother being naked and at the mercy of two Dominant vampires, Jacob banished that visual from his mind pretty quick.
Instead, he hugged the boy tight, rubbing his back, inhaling his baby vampire smel and enjoying the smal hands on his neck. The boy's cheek pil owed against his shoulder as Kane settled down and started feeling the exhaustion that came with being the center of attention for the past few hours.
Delivering the toddler to his sleepy lady for a feeding, Jacob headed for the kitchen. The sooner he brought back the tea, the sooner he could enjoy the domestic bliss of being in bed, dozing with and holding the two people he loved best.
He was surprised to find Mason already there. The male vampire wore a dark robe loosely tied so his chest was exposed, his long hair tied back carelessly to keep it out of his way. He didn't turn as Jacob entered, but Jacob knew he'd heard him approaching the moment his feet turned down the corridor to the kitchen.
Smel ing the aroma of rich hot chocolate, he saw Mason drop a handful of marshmal ows into the mug.
“You know, I've heard that chocolate depletes male virility.”
“Is she okay?”
Mason locked gazes with him. As the silence drew out, Jacob was keenly reminded that, while he considered Mason a friend, he was stil a vampire.
Lyssa had warned him countless times that humans should never forget that. His brother had told him the same thing. He understood that. But, as Dev might say, he wasn't a wuss, either. He wasn't going to dance around this.
“If you want to take a piece out of me for it, take a piece out of me,” he said. “But she held together tonight. She's a fucking incredible woman, and she loves you enough to do anything to stay by your side.
That's what we do. That's what being a servant is about. And she knows it.”
Mason continued to study him with that dispassionate expression that could hide a variety of things, including whether or not he was considering breaking Jacob in half like a pencil. At length, he turned back to the chocolate. “The hot chocolate is for her. And no, I didn't care to bother a house servant to make it for me. It's been a long and exciting night for everyone.” He paused. “It helps with nightmares. She did well tonight, but this has been difficult for her. Her sleep has not been easy. There is such a thing as too much courage, and loving someone past the point of good sense. Past the point they deserve.”
Jacob's jaw tightened. “Singing helps my lady,” he ventured after a pause.
Mason turned around, his brow lifting in surprise.
“Lyssa has nightmares?”
“How can you see all she's seen, and not have them occasional y?”
Mason acknowledged the truth of that with a grunt.
“I haven't tried singing. I have a passable voice.”
“Doesn't matter if you're off key or not. It's your voice that makes the difference. It even works when she's asleep and just starting to get restless. I learned that with Kane. If you start singing when you see the signs, it'l sometimes work without waking her up.”
It was an odd moment, sharing common ideas for soothing the women they loved. For Jacob, it was his Mistress, the woman who owned his very soul; for Mason, it was the woman whose soul he owned, who belonged to him utterly. But in the end, Jacob knew it was all the same.
As if reading his mind, Mason gave a faint smile, lifted the cup. “Good morning to you, then.” As he reached the door, he stopped, looked back at Jacob. “What Lyssa did yesterday—it gave me a few bad moments, her and Jessica both in the line of fire, but it was needed. She has my ful support, unquestioning.”
“I don't think she'd ever doubt it, but good to hear it out loud. And congratulations on the baby, my lord.
She and Kane can grow up together.”
“If all ah be merciful,” the male said. “But all ah preserve me if it's a girl.”
Jacob grinned. “I'm sure Kane will watch out for her.”
“That's what concerns me.” A quick flash of fangs, and then Mason disappeared down the hal way.
A smile stil playing on his lips, Jacob downed the glass of ice-cold water he'd been seeking for himself, then prepared a chamomile tea for his Mistress. Shutting off the kitchen lights, he headed back to his own favorite female, knowing there was no where else he'd rather be.
Lyssa had taken Kane out of his crib and lay with him on the bed. She wore a loose robe, and the toddler had pushed aside the silk impatiently to nurse, giving Jacob a pleasurable view of her breast.
When Lyssa reached out to him, Jacob came to the bed. Sitting with his back against the headboard, he slid his lady and son in the space between his bent legs, holding them both.
After he placed the tea on the side table, she pressed her cheek into his heated palm. Catching her fingers in the waistband of the jeans he'd pul ed on, she teased the muscle there while he stroked her wrist, feeling the steady thud of her pulse.