Twice Tempted Page 72

’’If so, I'll have to get over it by watching you kill her later.’’

He stared at me in a penetrating way that measured my words against pieces of me only he could see. I stared back. If he thought I didn't mean what I said, he was wrong.

At last, he inclined his head, the barest smile ghosting across his lips. ’’As it happens, I do have some chain.’’

Chapter 42

I looked around Cynthiana's old bedroom with cynical curiosity. So this was where the witch used to stay.

Like all of the rooms in Vlad's house, it was opulent. It also had an obvious feminine theme with the lilac and cream decor, lace draperies, dainty crystal fixtures, and a balcony that overlooked the exterior garden. Dried flowers shot through with web-thin gold strands adorned the fireplace mantel, scenting the room with a pleasant, natural fragrance. I was beyond glad I didn't smell Vlad's scent, bless his diligent cleaning staff.

’’How long ago did you two break up?’’

My voice was casual, belying the inner battle within me. Spiteful Leila was gleeful that Vlad kept Cynthiana two full floors below him on the same wing that all his guests stayed at. Practical Leila was deciding which fixture to touch for a sufficient essence impression.

’’A few years ago.’’

I gave him a jaded look. ’’Pretending she doesn't matter enough to remember? Then why did you keep her bedroom exactly the way she had it when she lived here?’’

He folded his arms, the silver chains he'd draped over his shoulder rattling with the motion.

’’If she still mattered to me, I wouldn't have married you. This room remained unused because you were my next lover and you slept with me.’’

I glanced away, my gaze drawn to the bed. Gossamer material wrapped around the bedposts before pooling at the floor in elegant heaps. What would I see if I touched that bed? Cynthiana had over three hundred years of experience on me. Maybe I'd see Vlad looking happier with her than he did with me.

’’Leila.’’

I glanced back almost guiltily. That's when I became aware that my fangs had come out and I'd been grinding my teeth so hard, I'd ripped open my bottom lip.

’’Sorry. I don't know what's wrong with me,’’ I muttered, sucking my lip so I didn't drip blood on the thick white carpet.

’’Don't apologize.’’

No censure colored his expression, and the emotions that slid over mine had the soothing caress of satin. ’’All vampires are overly possessive when it comes to what's ours.’’

I could blame my seething jealousy on vampirism? Done!

Then Vlad began to bind my wrists with multiple lengths of chain. With how strong he was, I doubted this was necessary even if Cynthiana had managed to add a vampiric form of hara-kiri to her linking booby trap, but if it made him feel better . . .

’’Going to save some of that for later?’’ I joked.

The look he gave me made me forget how unpleasant the silver felt against my wrists.

’’When I tie you up, I'll use silk, and I'll leave your hands free because I love to feel them on my skin.’’

Not if. When. Despite the erotic promise, being chained up while in his ex's bedroom should've cooled my response. Instead, I felt all the desire Vlad usually elicited in me along with a visceral urge to assert my claim on him in the very place that someone else had dared touch him.

Overly possessive? Yeah, I had it bad.

’’If you leave my hands free,’’ I asked in a throaty voice, ’’what's the point of tying me up?’’

His wicked smile affected me as much as the heat that swept over my emotions, lashing me with thousands of invisible, sensual whips. Then he leaned in, the soft sandpaper of his jaw grazing my cheek.

’’Why tell you when I can show you?’’

I closed my eyes, taking in a breath to smell the rich spiciness of his scent. Now I knew how I wanted to spend the rest of the evening, but first things first.

He drew back, continuing to drape chains around me until they went all the way up to my elbows. If I still had circulation, my hands would have been numb. Then he threaded more silver through them to secure my bound arms to my body with more loops of chain. Now all I could do from the waist up was wiggle my fingers and bite.

Satisfied, he dropped the remaining chains onto the floor and went over to the bed. I tensed, but all he retrieved was a lamp from the night table.

’’Gently,’’ he warned as he held it out to me.

Did he think I'd never touched something fancy before? I grasped the smooth crystal base with my right fingers - and it shattered like I'd smashed it with a crowbar.

’’What the hell?’’ I exclaimed.

He gave me a sardonic glance as he brushed the shards from my hand. ’’You're not used to your new strength. Until you are, treat everything as though it's more fragile than eggshells, and whatever you do, don't touch a human.’’

I looked at the glittering shards with a wince. Now I had another reason for not giving my sister a hug good-bye later.

’’Were those dried flowers on the mantel hers?’’ I asked, seeking something that wouldn't cost a lot if I broke it.

’’She picked them, yes,’’ Vlad replied, pulling a chunk out of the arrangement without care for how that spoiled it.

I told myself it wasn't petty to enjoy seeing something of Cynthiana's ruined. She'd killed me, after all.

I stroked the flowers when Vlad held them out. Most of them disintegrated on contact, telling me I was still using too much strength, but something flared in the remaining batch.

There you are, I thought with dark satisfaction, and then everything around me changed.


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