London, England, 1812
Elise McNeil’s heart skipped a beat. She could hardly breathe, unable to believe what she’d heard. What she’d seen.
The man she loved and hoped to marry, the man she wanted to father her children, stood before her with silver eyes and…fangs?
Had he actually said he was a…vampire?
No, that couldn’t be. Vampires weren’t real. Yes, her brother believed they existed, and she knew others did as well, but they were foolish. Hunting myths.
But proof stared her in the face.
Bastian Evanko’s eyes glowed in the candlelight like a wild animal’s under the moon.
Is Bastian truly the devil incarnate? My Bastian?
A cold chill crawled up Elise’s back. “How…how do you expect me to believe such things?”
He reached for her and took a step forward, but she instinctively drew away.
“Please, Elise, allow me to explain.” Pain laced his words.
For a moment, she had an urge to caress his cheek, though with the way he looked… Should I be frightened? She lowered her head and backed up a few more steps.
“My love, do not fear me. I would never harm you.” His gentle tone was almost convincing.
“I want to believe you, but…how can I?” Elise trembled, tears threatening to fall. Her heartbeat thundered, and the walls seemed to close in.
When she turned to the door, Bastian grabbed her from behind, trapping her arms. It happened so fast. One minute he stood halfway across the room, the next, he had her locked in his iron grasp.
She struggled to break free, but it was futile. Bastian’s strength had always been immense, and her slight frame stood no chance against it.
His breath heated her ear when he exhaled. “Be still. I cannot allow you to leave in this state, and not with my secret. You must understand how important it is not to divulge the information I have shared with you.” He nuzzled her neck and held her closer, gentler. “I want you to know what I am, to love all of me.”
The tenderness in his voice soothed her, slowing her heart rate. What was she thinking? She did love Bastian. How could she fear him? They had been together for well over a year, and he’d been nothing but a gentleman.
Standing wrapped in his warm embrace reminded her of the man she fell in love with. The moonlit nights walking hand in hand as they talked, laughed, and stopped for the occasional soft kiss. Horseback rides through the countryside. Dreams of having their own land.
Not to mention how wonderful Bastian treated her parents the few evenings he had visited. He’d made her mother blush when he told her she was too young and beautiful to have an adult daughter. And he had won her father over by helping him chop wood and tend to the horses.
Bastian was a good man. He’d promised to love Elise forever. He would never hurt her.
Relaxing, she leaned her head back against his broad chest and closed her eyes. “I do love you, Bastian, but…I do not understand what is happening. How is this possible?”
His fingers slid up her arm, and her body tingled. He brushed her hair aside then feathered kisses along her neck. She melted into him while their bodies swayed to non-existent music.
He was still her Bastian.
Though she wished this was merely a nightmare, she knew better. All the unexplained circumstances of the past year and a half began to add up. His aversion to the sun. His peculiar eating habits. The odd hours he kept. The list went on.
Everything made sense in some strange way. Elise attempted to put the pieces together, but Bastian apparently had other plans.
His roaming hands sensually glided across her stomach before dipping lower. He continued seducing her neck with steamy kisses. For a moment, she could have sworn something sharp grazed her skin, but when his strong hand slid between her legs, nothing else mattered.
The rhythmic seduction of his fingers stroking her through the thin fabric of her dress, along with his hard shaft grinding against her rear, made her moan with need.
She reached back and grabbed a handful of his long sandy hair. “Oh, Bastian…I don’t think I can wait…any longer to have you.”
The growl that rumbled from him shook her to the core. It was animalistic, raw, and hungry.
A dizzying rush swept over her. She opened her eyes and the room spun. Slight pressure built along her throat, then a quick pinch followed by burning pleasure as he sucked on her flesh.
Bastian pulled up the flowing material of her dress and slipped his hand inside her drawers.
Her aching desire grew, throbbing deep within. She needed to be filled, of this much she was certain.
He continued his ministrations, his other hand sliding upward to cup her breast. Slowly, torturously, his touch moved into the fabric’s neckline and found her hardened nipple. He plucked at the sensitive nub and her body tingled in response.
Again he kissed her neck, occasionally licking along the sore spots he’d created. The wet heat of his tongue caused a burst of pain, but it was countered by an unfamiliar, yet pleasant sensation when he plunged his fingers into her slick entrance.
Her breathing hitched at the sudden invasion. God, she’d never been touched in such a way before.
Whatever he’d done to her throat no longer mattered, not when his hands sent waves of pleasure through her.
“I love you, Elise. You believe me, don’t you?”
Her words came out in a breathy whisper. “Yes… And I love you.”
His thumb did things below she could barely comprehend, moving in maddening circles until she thought she might explode. And the way he played inside her made her eyes nearly roll back. Of their own accord, her hips rocked in time with his motions.
What is he doing to me? Did she even care?
He rolled her pebbled nipple between his thumb and forefinger, and she turned her head to claim his mouth. His hard length, still trapped in his breeches, rubbed against her at an intoxicating pace while his tongue danced with hers.
With his hands making love to her, his kiss devouring her, she teetered on the edge of something wondrous. Her muscles clenched around his fingers as her core burst into rhythmic spasms. She gasped, moaned into his mouth, and felt him shudder against her in a similar fashion.
He groaned and shifted his fingers inside her, hitting a sensitive spot that pushed her into almost convulsive thrusts. Waves of pleasure crashed over her as her body rocked in time with his.
When the ecstasy subsided, he slowed his strokes, and then withdrew his fingers. She nearly fell limp in his arms.
He gently turned her, and upon facing him, she couldn’t deny what had happened. The slightest bit of blood lingered at the corner of his lips, nauseating her. His eyes and teeth remained eerie to behold.
How had she not noticed those things when they’d kissed? Licking her lips, she realized they were sore. Most likely from being scratched by…
She lowered her head.
Vampires did exist. The stories she’d heard must be true. They were not human. They were blood-thirsty killers.
Bastian had actually consumed her blood. She shivered. How repulsive. He was a creature from a horror tale.
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