Twice Tempted Page 37

He bared his teeth in a charmingly ferocious grin. ’’My dungeon, my rules.’’

Mentally, I cursed him in English and Romanian, but out loud I said, ’’Would you give me some of your blood to heal me?’’

Another flash of teeth, now with fangs. ’’Come and get it.’’

I approached him the same way I would a swaying, upright cobra - with extreme caution. Being in close proximity to Vlad was dangerous, especially since we both still had feelings for each other. The odd sort of ’’time out’’ we'd experienced on the plane was over, so touching him now was playing with fire - literally - and he'd made sure that I had no choice.

Yes you do, my inner voice hissed. Take a beating instead!

I paused, considering that, and Vlad yanked me to him. Despite my anger, I was the one who felt like shocks of electricity sizzled into me when his body touched mine. For the briefest second, I closed my eyes, savoring the sensation. Then I snapped them open and stared up at him in challenge.

’’Going to give me your blood or not?’’

His grin was gone, replaced with a tight-lipped, savage intensity. Then he brought his wrist up, bit down deeply on it, and held it over my mouth.

I didn't look away as I parted my lips, taking in that warm, sharply flavored liquid. I never thought I'd miss the taste of blood, but with one swallow, I knew I'd missed his. My eyelids felt heavy with the strangest sort of bliss, yet I refused to close them. Keeping them open proved almost as treacherous. The look in his eyes when I sealed my lips over the punctures and sucked sent heat rocketing straight to my core.

Have you missed this, too? a dark part of me whispered. It wasn't my hated inner voice;it came from somewhere else. A place that felt like it only flared to life when Vlad was near.

His lips parted, showing the tips of his fangs. ’’Ask me again and I'll show you.’’

A threat? A sensual promise? Both? I moistened my lips. Even both would give me more pleasure than I could stand -

’’No,’’ I said, the single word echoing from my vehemence.

His embrace was my drug of choice, and as any addict knew, one sampling was too many - and a thousand never enough.

Then I pushed him away. Something dangerous smoldered in his gaze but he did nothing to stop me. Several torches flared to life, allowing me to find my way to the exit without tripping or groping about. Once I reached it, I turned back to him.

’’I meant what I said. We still need to talk.’’

’’Be in my private lounge at ten tonight. Otherwise, I'll consider the matter closed.’’

His private lounge, the same place I used to cross every morning because it bridged his bedroom with my old room. I'd sooner face a firing squad than go there, but if I refused, Maximus could stay locked in this dungeon for centuries.

The smile Vlad flashed me before he disappeared into the darkness said he already knew what I'd choose.

Chapter 21

I entered the lounge at exactly ten p.m. Vlad was on the sofa, two wineglasses and a bottle on the obsidian table in front of him. The TV was off and the light from the fireplace cast a soft glow over the rust-colored couch.

Memories assailed me as mercilessly as I'd feared. Vlad and I had spent many evenings unwinding with a bottle of wine on that couch. We'd done other things there, too. Unbidden, warmth crept through me that had nothing to do with the blazing fire.

I tried to squelch it with bluntness. ’’You didn't misunderstand why I wanted to see you, did you?’’

He laughed, and that half growl, half-amused purr played havoc with my senses even as my hackles rose.

’’You think I'm trying to seduce you? How presumptuous, considering I've never allowed an ex-lover back into my bed.’’

I glanced at the wineglasses, the romantic lighting, and finally back at him. If Vlad wasn't trying to seduce me, then he was taunting me with what I couldn't have. I'd dressed in a simple navy sheath that rose no higher than my knees. His black pants molded to his lower body, while his white shirt contrasted like snow against his tailored ebony jacket. That shirt was open, revealing all of his throat and the first few inches of his chest. Platinum cuff links winked when they caught the firelight, and his long, dark hair was combed back, all the better to highlight his lean, sensual features and arresting copper eyes.

The only thing missing was him slowly pouring hot fudge onto that bare expanse of chest. Then any court in the world would consider this se*ual entrapment.

His smile widened. Crap, I'd forgotten to sing to keep him out of my thoughts.

’’Fine. We're both here for platonic reasons and we'll leave it at that,’’ I said, hating how husky my voice had become.

’’Fine.’’

All of a sudden he was inches away, bringing me eye level to his open collar and the skin I'd just imagined drizzling with chocolate. I swallowed. Think of the dungeon and his broken promise, not how intoxicating he tastes even when he's not covered in dessert!

The dungeon image helped. ’’You need to let Maximus go,’’ I stated, my voice stronger now.

’’No. Wine?’’

I blinked, anger covering my desire. ’’You promised you wouldn't torture him, but being imprisoned in a dungeon for centuries counts as torture.’’

Vlad held out a glass and then drank from it himself when I refused with a sharp shake of my head.

’’No it doesn't,’’ he said, still in that damnably unruffled tone. ’’Since I've firsthand experience with both, I assure you that torture and imprisonment are very different.’’

’’You're splitting hairs. You knew exactly what I meant when I asked for your promise.’’


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