The rush of power was immediate and Bronte’s senses increased ten fold. She could hear where Felix was upstairs on the third floor, she could smell Cyrus’ skin, and she knew where Mimi was from the smell of her sex. She was with Felix. Bronte wondered if Cyrus knew. He must know, she reasoned, he had these senses all the time.
The glass fell and she heard it shatter as though each piece echoed as it hit the cold slab of marble. Her sudden and deep intake of breath brought in the smell of the burning wood in the fire, Cyrus, the house, her food, and her own scent of vanilla and flowers that she had grown so accustomed to she did not recognize it before. It was all so overwhelming she wavered where she stood and when she would have fallen she felt the heat of Cyrus’ body as it captured her and lifted her in his strong arms. He carried her to the sofa and put her down. She did not want him to let go of her. She was didn’t know how to handle all of these feelings and thought she would be lost if he left her this way.
“What have you done?” she asked as she caught at his sleeve and kept him from rising. He did not fight her and kneeled down to look at her. He knew exactly what she was feeling. For the next few minutes she would feel as a fledgling vampire feels.
It was discovered many years ago that humans could take the blood of vampires as a drug. It would give them temporary strength, heightened senses and the rush of power. There had been a time when such a thing would never have been considered. Humans were only given the blood of a vampire during an exchange when a vampire’s intent was to create a fledgling. Now there were those who would take the blood of a vampire and use it like a drug. And, there were vampires who would sell their blood for profit although it was strictly forbidden.
Cyrus looked down at Bronte and saw that she was more frightened of her new senses than enthralled by them. That would pass. His blood was powerful, more powerful than any vampire on earth. Only a few drops in her wine and even the most powerful vampire would not be able to force his or her will on Bronte. Cyrus gave up one of his most powerful tools over her and he wondered why. He could not use his compulsion to make her give herself to him, but he could use it to make her see seductive images, and feel desire.
“Once the initial effects have worn off,” Cyrus was speaking to her softly, knowing that her heightened sense of hearing would have a difficult time with any loud noises, “your senses will dull and you will be left with only a few side effects.”
She still held on to his sleeve, but let go long enough to take his hand. She threaded her fingers through his to secure their connection. She did not want him to leave her like this. She couldn’t help but wonder what she had done to herself. She knew vampire’s blood without a full exchange would not turn her, but she worried that she would become a servant to him and she worried what it might mean to him that she had taken it.
“How long will it last?” she asked, trying to stay calm and focused. He had said it would wear off and she hoped it would soon. She was not prepared for any of this.
Cyrus pulled her hand to his lips and rested their joined knuckles on his lip as he looked down at her. He had not counted on this. He had not thought about how she would react to his blood, how she would need him. For a short time she would feel dependant on him. He wondered what he should do with such an opportunity.
“It was not much,” he said to her quietly. He became thoughtful as he considered it seriously. “Perhaps no more than an hour. Do you wish for me to stay with you until this passes?” he offered.
Her first thought was that he had ulterior motives. She wasn’t sure she cared at the moment. She did not want to be left alone with all these senses to decipher. It was maddening. She looked at him and nodded.
“How to you bear it?” she asked of him.
“It is frightening and overwhelming now,” he said to her as he began to rub their knuckles back and forth across his soft lips. Her eyes were immediately drawn to it, but when he spoke her eyes snapped back to his. “It is foreign to you and you cannot control it, but if you were to truly become a vampire you would soon learn how to harness those senses and it would be glorious.” The tone of his voice said that he believed that to be true with all his heart. He loved the power of his senses, and she wondered how strong he must be to have harnessed such a thing.
“It’s too much,” she said to him and his eyes found hers and looked at her with a curious tenderness.
“Close your eyes,” he told her.
At first she only looked at him. She did not feel compelled by him and she wasn’t sure she wanted another of his “lessons”. Still, she wanted him there to help her and it would make no sense to ignore what he told her, so she shut her eyes.
Cyrus took his free hand and laid it gently on her cheek. Her eyes snapped open at his touch and he held very still until she closed them again.
“Close out everything else, but the feel of my hand on your skin,” he told her.
She tried, but it was not easy. She could hear Felix and Mimi having sex upstairs now. It was distracting to know that they were locked in an impassioned embrace, their bodies naked and rubbing against each other. She heard Mimi’s impassioned moan and her whispering Felix’s name. She forced the thought away when Cyrus began to slowly caress her cheek.
His hand was soft and gentle. It was large and warm and as he stroked her face she began to luxuriate in the feel of it. She wanted more as his fingertips stroked her jaw and her bottom lip. She began to move her cheek into his palm and he caressed her there. He slid down to her neck and he lightly took her throat in his hand. He held her there in a show of dominance and then allowed his fingers to stroke her skin there slowly. The feeling was so intense that she sighed and his eyes were drawn to her parted lips. Her eyes were still closed and he leaned over her until his face was over hers.
She had never felt anything like this. A simple touch was so exquisite she didn’t want it to stop. All she could feel, all she could sense, all she knew was his touch. Then she felt the heat of his breath and opened her eyes to stare into his. They were so lovely, those green eyes. She could get lost in them and not care. Her eyes fell to his mouth, full and sensuous. They would be soft. She knew from experience that they were soft and she wondered fleetingly what they would feel like on her skin while she was like this. She unlaced her fingers from his and brought her index finger to his mouth to caress the fullness there and to imagine those lips on her skin. Everything else in the world was dwarfed by this one sense; touch.
“Cyrus,” she whispered, but forgot what she was going to say to him. She let his name fill the air between their lips and could say no more, but the name came out like an entreaty and he answered it by kissing the finger that ran along his lip.
His hand came up and moved her finger and his lips came down upon hers. Her entire body came to life and her arms brought him closer to her. His strong, broad chest now covered her upper torso, but he did not move to lie with her on the couch. He did not want to go so fast that he frightened her away. He felt his heart begin to beat of its own accord and the rhythm was frantic with the wanting of her.
Her lips were so sensitive that she could think of nothing but his kiss. It was gentle and soft and when his velvet tongue came to search her out she opened for him and welcomed his with her own. She felt his hands go in her hair and she loved it. Everywhere he touched she came alive.
“Want me,” his whisper was a plea as he kissed her again and again.
There was no compulsion, but his nearness caused the same effect. She wanted him more than anything and she had all along. Her arms pulled him closer still until his body was upon hers and the feel of his warmth caused her grow wet with desire.
“Let me touch you,” he asked as he continued to kiss her. “Let me show you what it could be like between us.”
His hand moved down to find the hem of her dress. He caressed her bare leg and moved his hand upward along her thigh. He could smell her desire for him and he grew hard in anticipation. He wanted to taste her, but the sofa did not afford them much room. His eyes scanned the room. He did not want to lay her in front of the fire because he would have a hard time gauging when it was too hot for her. He would not put her on the floor and his eyes moved then to his long, large desk. He looked down at her and kissed her lightly before he rose.
“No,” she said as she opened her eyes and saw that he had left her. She felt bereft and wanted to feel the weight of his body on hers again. He stood there beside the sofa and she watched him as he removed his shirt. She wanted to run her hands over his hard body, but she remained very still waiting for him to tell her what to do. He stepped backward then turned toward the large oak desk. She didn’t know what he was doing, but she knew she needed him to touch her again. There was so much heat and wetness at between her legs that it was becoming painful. She knew instinctively that he could help her.
She couldn’t take her eyes off of him and when he turned her eyes caught at the markings on his back. She had never seen them before. When she had seen him without clothes he never let her see his back and now she knew why. All of the kings of the Circle of Seven had markings. They were located in different areas of their bodies, but they all looked similar in that they appeared to be tribal. Anyone who did not know who the kings were would have thought the markings to be a tattoo, but she knew better. Her father had a marking on his arm that was similar to that on Cyrus’ back. His began at his shoulder and traveled over the base of his neck to the other shoulder. Looking at it she began to think about what he was. He wasn’t just a vampire, but the king of all vampires. He wasn’t preparing to make love to her, she thought as she watched him sweep his arm across the desk to clear it off for them, he was going to fulfill his need. The desk held no promise of passion now, it looked like an alter and Cyrus thought to sacrifice her to his own selfish power.
She could still hear movement in the house, but she was no longer sure of whom it was. She could no longer smell Felix and Mimi. Her body was still on fire, but she was beginning to come to as though she had been in a dream. She inhaled deeply in alarm when Cyrus picked her up off the sofa and carried her to the desk to sit her down. She looked frantically about. Not everything had fallen from the desk. There were still some papers and her eyes spotted a letter opener that was very close to the edge of the desk. Her attention was brought back to Cyrus as he pushed her dress up to lay his hands on her thighs.
“I can’t do this Cyrus,” she whispered to him, but wasn’t sure if she believed herself.
He went very still. She watched him close his eyes as though he had to concentrate or gather his thoughts. His body tensed and she knew this was not over.
“You use your virginity like a shield,” he accused as his hands caressed her thighs and slipped higher. She was torn between wanting him to assuage the heated excitement she felt near his hands and wanting to scream at him to leave her alone. She wanted him, and she wanted him to leave her.
“That’s not true,” she said and it came out on a whispered breath.
“What do you think will happen if you give yourself to me?” He asked as his hands moved further still to find her silken panties wet and warm.
“Stop it Cyrus!” She said and it came out so quiet she wondered if he heard her at all.
This time he did not stop. His hand began to rub the soft hot flesh and she could smell her own desire.
“I will not stop,” he told her, letting her know that he had heard, but chose not to honor the request. “I will not take your precious virginity, but I will not stop.” His hand tore the silken cloth and freed her tender flesh to the mercy of his touch.
She was soft beyond belief and he felt himself grow hard again at the feel of her; the smell of her invading his senses. He forced her to lie back on the desk and leaned over so that he could watch her face, so he would know when he had brought her to the knowledge of passion. He felt his fangs elongate as the sexual tension rose between them.
She tried to tell him to stop, but the words never left her lips. As she gathered the courage to protest she felt his finger part her gently and find that place where all passion met in insanity. It stole her breath as he glided within her softness. She had never felt anything so intense in her life. It was incredible, but it was maddening. It caused more confusion, more feeling, more anger at her own weakness.
“Look at me Bronte,” he commanded as his face hovered above her own. Her eyes snapped up to his and she was lost in them. “This power doesn’t come from being a vampire,” he promised her and moved his lips closer to her own. “But, it is potent, and I can master you with it.”
Her breath was labored and her mind was in a haze of passion. At once she pushed at him, but her body betrayed her as her back arched and her hips moved of their own accord against his strong hand. The power he claimed to have there was stronger than any she had ever known. It was growing warmer, hotter, more powerful until she thought she would shatter from it.
She lay there unable to stop him, unwilling to stop him, wanting him to allow that power to explode there and offer her release. As she looked into his green eyes she saw his triumph, his arrogance, and she hated him for it. At that very moment she hated him.
“No!” She managed to breathe out through clenched teeth.
“Yes,” he said and she felt him quicken his strokes and they became harder and more demanding until the entire universe centered there and she felt herself falling into it. Her entire body was centered at that one point and she cried out as the softness at his hand convulsed again and again, even after he had stopped.
She closed her eyes so he could not see into her soul. She did not want him to know what he had just done to her, yet she knew without a doubt that he already knew. She couldn’t face that arrogance. She didn’t want to face his mastery of her body. It would be admitting defeat, and she was not ready to do that.
His hand fell to her thigh and caressed her there. As she felt the wetness on his hand that had come from her she became angry. He had no right to do what he had done. He had no right to touch her like that, to make her feel something like that. She did not want to want him like that. Her mind was dizzy with the implications, the confusion and the frustration at having allowed him something so intimate, when she knew it did not matter to him that it was her he touched. It could have been anyone. Anyone he wanted something from. He had just shattered her entire world and she knew it was of little matter to him. And, she could not bear it.
She tried to role away, but he lay atop her upper torso and would not let her move. She didn’t want to look at him, but knew she was going to have to face this. She opened her eyes and saw him staring down at her. His expression told her nothing. They could have just been discussing the weather and his expression might have been the same. Something in that knowledge touched her heart and made it ache. The ache grew to anger and her eyes narrowed on his beautiful face.
He had won, and there was nothing she could do to change that, but she could even the score. She moved her right hand beside her and felt about the desk until she found the metal object she had seen just moments ago. Her fingers identified the object and closed around it.
Cyrus saw her movements, but the letter opener was already in flight. He moved with great speed to withdraw himself from harm and stood only a foot away before he realized he had not been the target of her fury. The small sharp blade had impaled Bronte’s soft skin just above her left breast. It had gone in deep and Cyrus felt cold fear steal into him that he may have pushed her too far and she had meant to take her life. He took one step toward her and she let go of the blade, leaving it in place at her breast.
“No,” she told him as she put her hand up to stop his progress and sat up. She looked at him then and saw something she had not expected; fear and concern. He thought she meant to harm him, then he thought she meant to harm herself. He was wrong on both accounts.
“No Cyrus, this isn’t to harm me,” she told him as she grasped the handle of the blade. “This is for you.” She withdrew the blade and let it fall to the floor. At first Cyrus was confused, but then he saw the blood. The wound was deep and it filled until it poured out like wine from her breast.
She saw his reaction immediately. She could tell by the hardness in his dark pants that he was still excited, and she could see that his fangs were sharp and expectant. It was when his eyes snapped to hers that she knew he smelled it. The blood of a virgin, an innocent; her blood. She saw his nostrils flare to take in the sweet fragrance. His beautiful light green eyes began to change and she went very still as she watched a blood red ring emerge around his irises. He looked shocked, and although she feared him, she was glad.
“What have you done?” He demanded harshly. She could see him fighting himself. He moved forward toward her, and then screamed out in rage as he forced himself back again.
“If you take my blood now, you will break the agreement and I will be free of you,” Bronte said with uneasy triumph. She knew that Cyrus not only needed her permission and acceptance, which she would not give, but that his taking of her blood had to be done as he took her body, and that was not going to happen. She would never consent. He had to choose now between having the nectar that ran in wasteful streams and pooled on the floor, or waiting for the chance to win her and claim his prize.
His eyes were riveted on her bleeding breast and followed the path to the pool of blood at her feet. When his gaze lit upon her face again she saw pain there, and anger. His fists clenched at his side and his lips pulled back from his fangs as he dropped to his knees in front of her.
“Go!” He commanded as he fought off the need to taste her, the desire to taste her.
Bronte moved, but not away. She walked to him and fell to her knees in like fashion to his own. He was amazed at her decision to approach him when he was like this, but he was also more aware of the intoxicating aroma and power of her blood.
“No Cyrus, I will not go,” she told him as she dipped her finger in the warm liquid at her breast. “You see, Cyrus, this is power,” she said indicating the blood on her finger. His eyes followed the deep burgundy as she lifted it to her lips and painted them red with it. “And, I will master you with it.” She leaned into him and pressed her painted lips to his, and felt his strength of will crumble as he tasted her.
* * *
Bronte could taste the metallic saltiness of her own blood as they kissed. To her it was a lesson for him. She would heal, but he would know that his games could be turned against him. It took only a moment to realize that she had made a terrible mistake. Cyrus tasted her blood and lost his control.
He had no doubt that her blood held power. It tasted like nothing he had ever known. It was liquid energy so hot he thought his body would catch fire if he were to drink her in. It was sweet and as she kissed him he felt an incredible surge of sexual power and the desire between them flamed to life uncontrollably.
She felt the desire and knew she had to get away from him. She feared her own loss of control as much as she feared his. Her mind replayed the scene on the oak desk again and again promising he could make her feel even more.
Her skin burned as he left her mouth and began to kiss the column of her neck. She was trapped in his strong embrace and the first signs of panic began with the frantic beating of her heart.
“I am going to have you,” he whispered in ragged breaths into her ear. She swallowed hard trying to calm herself enough to speak, and trying to ignore the way her skin felt as he breathed upon it.
“Stop Cyrus,” she tried to reason with him and push him away, but he was like stone and did not move, “It can’t be like this. You said it yourself. You won’t receive the power if you do it this way.” She hoped to stop him before it was too late. She had taken things too far and she was losing control entirely.
“I don’t care,” he rasped out as his lips moved lower until they came down on the wound and she felt his tongue lap seductively there. The pleasure was immediate and when she looked down at him his eyes were staring up at her, and they were as red as her blood.
“Power or no,” he said seductively as he moved away from her breast, “you are going to be mine.” She had not time to stop him. She saw him bare his fangs as his hand grabbed her hair and bent her neck toward him.
The sound of the door crashing open brought them both around to see Carol standing in the doorway with a large revolver in her hand and the sharpest looking stake Bronte had ever seen in the other. Everything seemed to move in slow motion to Bronte. Carol threw the stake to Bronte and in surprise she caught it. She heard Cyrus hiss his rage at Carol, she heard Carol cock the gun and then her vision turned dark and Cyrus grabbed her and shielded her with his body as shots rang out into the room. Cyrus’ body convulsed harshly forward when the large caliber bullets hit him. Bronte screamed and pushed at his chest as she could see what was happening. Her eyes locked with Cyrus’ and his were now the soft pastel green she so loved, but they were not filled with rage now, they were filled with pain and shock. As she pulled away she saw the stake sticking out of his chest. In the confusion she had held on the sharp stake and when Cyrus went to protect her from being shot at he was impaled.
“No,” she whispered into the now silent room. It was an accident. She did not want him to turn her into a vampire, but she did not want him dead. As her hand reached out to him it was caught by another’s. Bronte looked up as Carol jerked her from where she kneeled in front of the bleeding Cyrus.
“He was going to make you a vampire Bronte!” Carol screamed at her as she pulled her away. Cyrus’ hand reached out to Bronte and she grabbed it, but it was covered in blood and the slickness caused her fingers to slide away.
“Bronte,” Carol pulled her around so that they could look at each other now. “This may be your only chance to get out of here. Let’s go now.” Carol was talking as though she were about to become hysterical. “Do you want to be free of this house?” Carol shook Bronte by her shoulders.
Bronte did want to be free. She did not want to be forced to remain here, but she did not want to leave Cyrus like this. She felt confused and torn. She tried to turn around and look at him, but Carol shook her again.
“Will you come with me?” Carol asked. “Do you want to be free?”
“I want to be free,” Bronte began and before she could say another word Carol pulled her by her arm toward the door of the dining room. “Wait,” she said before they had crossed the threshold of the room, “We can’t leave him like this. We have to help him.”
Carol was strong, stronger than Bronte would have imagined. She continued to pull Bronte along and toward the front door of the house. Bronte looked back one final time and saw the vampire king still kneeling in the center of the dining room, staring back at her, bleeding and enraged. He slowly stood to his feet and Bronte watched as he withdrew the stake and threw it to the floor. The look on his face put terror in Bronte’s heart and she turned to Carol and began to run.