The water had washed all the blood off me by the time he lifted his head. Very slowly, he lowered his arms, allowing my body to slide along his until my feet touched the ground. All the while, his mouth dragged from my breasts to my shoulders and up to my neck. When it finally slanted over mine, his kiss was more demanding than sensual, as if his need had long since transcended passion and burned with something far stronger.
I shoved my hands into his hair and opened my mouth to take him in deeper. He tasted like wine-soaked fantasies mixed with dark, unspeakable cravings. It wasn’t enough to rake his tongue with mine, or have my head fall back at the bruising intensity of his kiss. I wanted more, and the moan that vibrated in his throat as I pierced his tongue so I could suck his blood only inflamed my need.
Far too soon, he tore away, his grip on my hair keeping me from resuming our kiss. With his other hand, he pulled my dress and underwear off with a single, impatient tug. Now I was only covered in the water that continued to spill over us, and I drew in a sharp breath as his gaze raked me with palpable hunger.
I said his name more pleadingly than anything else. Gooseflesh broke out on me, as if my skin were finding its own way to beg for his touch. His clothes were soaked but he hadn’t taken them off yet. When I started to, he caught my wrists. Then his hands settled around my waist as he knelt in front of me.
My name was a growl that had me shivering before his mouth even touched my stomach. When it slid lower, those shivers turned into shudders. All thought fled at the feel of his tongue probing me. I couldn’t even form words as he continued to lick, suck, delve, and sensually torment my flesh. Then I couldn’t stop myself from clutching his head, and when he yanked me closer and buried his tongue deeper, my moans turned into sobs of pleasure.
The ecstasy that followed made me feel like the glass he’d melted; one moment I was solid, the next, I’d dissolved into liquid heat. Dimly, I was aware of him holding me up, followed by a rending sound and the slap of wet fabric at my feet. Then he swept me into his arms and carried me out of the shower.
I barely registered the mattress dipping beneath our weight. His mouth covered mine before I could moan his name, and the feel of his hard, naked body was almost too much for my senses. His skin was so hot, I expected steam to replace the water clinging to him, and when he moved between my legs, I arched upward in desperate need.
His mouth absorbed my cry as he cleaved into me while dropping his emotional shields. For a few, dizzying moments, I drowned in an ocean of fierce need and overwhelming pleasure, mine or his, I didn’t know. Each new thrust intensified the sensations, until I lost myself in them. Our emotions were so deeply entwined, we didn’t feel like separate people anymore.
My nails raked down Vlad’s back, and he arched at the sharp bliss of them scoring his skin. He moved deeper inside me, and I shuddered at the rapturous clench of my flesh around him. I urged him to move faster, and he slowed because he needed to hear me beg from pleasure instead of pain.
When he finally released his control, the climax that had him shouting brought me to my own shattering release as well. While I was still shuddering from ecstasy, he rolled me on top of him and brushed my hair out of my face. With our emotions still inexorably entwined, I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that if Szilagyi had killed me, Vlad would have burned the entire world down if that’s what it took to make him pay.
I had never loved him more, yet in that moment, part of me was also afraid of what he’d become if something did happen to me.
Dawn wasn’t far away. I sensed its approach in the lethargy that crept up my limbs, making them harder to move.
Of course, that could also be from over-satiation. Vlad had wanted to hear me plead from passion several times, as it turned out. I’d been drowsily tracing my hand behind his neck when a familiar essence trail flared beneath my fingers, reviving me as if I’d been doused with a bucket of icy water.
“I forgot to tell you something,” I said, then cursed at my choice of words, not to mention my lack of tact. Way to ease into a highly personal, traumatic subject, Leila!
“What?” he said, and though his tone was normal, his shields went back up.
I closed my eyes, still cursing myself. “First, let me apologize for not telling you sooner. It’s not that I forgot, really, it’s just . . . well, a lot’s happened, as you know, and—”
“What?” he repeated, his tone sharper now.
I opened my eyes, not surprised to find him drilling me with his Interrogation stare. Under that hard, unrelenting gaze, no one in their right mind would give him anything less than the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, which is what I’d intended to do anyway.
“It’s about Clara.” When he showed no reaction, I amended, “Your first wife, Clara.”
That widened his gaze a fraction, though he still didn’t blink or look away. “What about her?”
I don’t know why, but I touched the spot on the back of his neck before I spoke. The first time I’d felt it, I’d known it was hers. Though faint from age, the essence imprint still pulsed with the kind of love that time could never fully erase.
“When Szilagyi found me during the castle attack, he said he was going to kill me just like he’d killed your first wife.”
“Clara wasn’t murdered, she jumped to her death,” Vlad said, unknowingly echoing the same denial I’d made.