Over the next week, Laurissa stayed by Lord Dunkan’s side, allowing him to travel and make preparations for the next stage.
She watched and listened to his thoughts and paid attention to Keres’s routine. She knew Dunkan’s females would fall with him, but she did not know how Keres viewed everything. She loved Keres like a sister. Laurissa does not remember living in Dunkan’s home as a child, but a shadow of a memory would come showing Keres caring for her when Laurissa was very young. She hoped Keres would be willing to leave Dunkan and let the humans live. Laurissa wanted Keres to experience freedom and enjoy a life she has been denied.
Vass and Edna never returned, and Boros distance himself from her. She hopped Edna and Vass were well. It pained her to think she caused them to leave. She told them they were fools to be near her. It seems they finally decided to leave her. Perhaps they will see each other again one day after she is free of Dunkan.
Laurissa sat near the fireplace listening to the world. She could faintly make out human conversations in Madwell and listened to any conversations the females were having. There was nothing of consequence or valuable enough to learn about.
The door to the manor opened, allowing snow flurries to enter. It had begun to snow outside. The clouds are dark and threatening. Emerick stood in the doorway. Laurissa slowly stood and met his gaze. He closed the door behind him, and Lord Dunkan came around the corner.
“Welcome, Emerick. Ladies, it is time to set up the banquet.” Lord Dunkan looked to his females then motioned for Emerick to sit near the fire. Laurissa quietly stood behind Dunkan as he sat across from Emerick.
“Tell me what is happening in Norstrom.”
“I have three males under my care currently. All but one pregnant female has given birth. The other will deliver in a few months. Unfortunately, all the young are female.”
“That is not unfortunate. One male can breed with two females if need be. This will only increase production. What else?”
Emerick became tense and glanced at Laurissa. “We have been losing females.”
“What do you mean, you have been losing females?” Lord Dunkan’s smooth voice had the edge of danger. Emerick will need to tread carefully.
“While my female tends to the pregnant humans, we count the livestock each day. After I transferred the women from Madwell to Norstrom, we had five hundred humans of various ages living in Norstrom. That number has been dwindling for almost two weeks. Before I left, only three hundred humans were remaining.”
“Do you know where they are going?”
Again Emerick glanced at Laurissa. Lord Dunkan grabbed the cuff of his shirt and brought him inches from his face. “I am talking to you, Emerick! keep your eyes to yourself!”
“Forgive me, my lord.”
Lord Dunkan released Emerick. “Where are the humans going?”
Emerick squirmed in his chair. “One of my males witnessed a rogue male taking females out of houses. He tried to capture the rogue, but he escaped. We have lost most of the elderly humans, all of the young virgins, and a quarter of the females that were set aside for food and crafts.”
“I see. What did this rogue look like?”
“Adolescent, short copper hair, hazel eyes, medium height.” Lord Dunkan sat back in his chair. “We are patrolling the town twenty-four hours a day, now, my Lord. I hope to have him captured by the time I return.”
“You will bring him to me.”
“Yes, my Lord.”
“The other masters will arrive in the next day or two. Make yourself at home in Madwell or in the farmhouse.”
“Yes, my Lord. Thank you.”
Emerick stood and completely ignored Laurissa.
“Oh, my dear, you are good!” Lord Dunkan chuckled through the tendril.
“I have done nothing, my Lord.”
“This rogue is not yours?”
“I know who he is, but I did not send him to Norstrom.”
“No, my Lord. I lost contact with him just before I meditated near the shack in the northern part of Madwell.”
“Why would he leave his queen.”
“I am not his queen, my Lord. I never have been.”
“And what of Edna, your charge?”
“She is no longer my charge. I have not seen her for almost two weeks.”
“Strange, is it not?”
“Yes, my Lord. Perhaps I was too rigorous in my training to notice she defected.”
“It seems they both have not defected, my Queen. They fight your cause.”
“So it seems.”
By the end of the day, two more masters arrived. Ian from Skogall to the far northeast, and Garreth from Kilhurst in the southwest. Lord Dunkan greeted them warmly and told them they were welcome to stay in his manor. Lord Dunkan became more restless and continued pacing the house. Laurissa calmly watched him. She knows what ails him. His death is near, and he knew it. Her cage will be his grave.
Lord Dunkan busied himself going over the contract again and again. He knows it is flawless. His beautiful mate lay on his bed, watching him. He could feel her piercing eyes on his very soul. He is tempted to pay her price just to keep her. The other masters will never allow it. Laurissa would be quick and merciful. The master will see he suffered before he met his death.
Lord Dunkan took a deep breath to clear his mind. He hated the conflict and how she made him feel. Laurissa makes him feel weak, and he felt he should be on his knees in front of her. A male, such as himself, bowing to a female is ridiculous.
Lord Dunkan wonders what Laurissa is waiting for. It is apparent she waits for her moment. What would her moment look like? Could he somehow thwart her attempt?
This last week has been everything he could want. Laurissa did not defy him, she lived with him as a mate should, but those cold eyes told him she was not there by choice. They were once so full of wonder and innocence. He truly missed that chapter of her life. He had to know what she was capable of. Now that Laurissa has bloomed, he wanted to nourish her and grow her into the queen he knew she could be.
Lord Dunkan stood and smiled to himself. Kissar will not have a choice but to bow to Laurissa. Sualet is as good as his. He approached Laurissa and caressed her cheek. “Will you stay and call me your own?”
“Will you release the humans and destroy your contract?”
The temptation came stronger. Each time she asked, it became harder to deny her. Her gaze demanded he submit to her. He saw a God being brought to his knees.
His inner god screamed to stop as his knees hit the floor and his eyes lowered before Laurissa. Her eyes followed him with curiosity. Lord Dunkan put his head in her lap. He could not allow it. She must kill him. His inner god screamed his death and quieted as Dunkan submitted. He will not tell her that his life is hers. He felt broken and defeated.
“Please, my mate. I am begging you. Accept me. I can give you the world. I would be your slave.”
“You know my price.”
’ You idiot!’
Lord Dunkan looked up at Laurissa. He is willing to pay her price. If death is his choice, he will at least control who does it. As strong as Laurissa is, she will not survive an entire house of masters.
“The remaining masters will arrive tomorrow. The day after we will have our meeting. You have until the last vampire signs his name in blood. If you do not choose me, I will be forced to destroy you. My work is too important, and you are much too powerful to allow free reign. I can no longer risk you being captured or sabotaging my goals.” Lord Dunkan’s grip on her hands increased. “Please, Laurissa. I am on my knees in front of you. Do not force my hand. It will grieve me.” He no longer cared about the contract. It is set in motion. If she did not kill him, he would have to kill her. Perhaps he can defect and take her somewhere. With her, by his side, he would be unstoppable.
Lord Dunkan’s plea touched Laurissa’s heart. This is the second time he has been able to touch her in that manner. She almost believed he would leave this madness and love her as a mate should. He withered away before her. She could see a conflict within. If he could not let go of his dream, then he is lost. He gave her a time limit. He will die before her time runs out.
“We are at an impasse, my mate. I will head your warning with extreme caution. Until then, come to me. Allow me to please you and make you forget your burden.”
Lord Dunkan rose to his feet, feeling numb, and joined Laurissa. It may be the last time he felt her hug him in a way that maddened his mind. Her blood calls to him, and her power covers him intensely. Love and joy and the strongest desire threatened to consume him. He moaned with pleasure. Her body caressed his as she embraced him tightly. Her silky skin made him feel elated, and her wildflower scent filled his nose. He imagined making love to a beautiful female in a field of tall grass with wildflowers opening for the sun’s kiss.
The world disappeared as she nibbled on his neck.
The female’s skin seemed to glow in ecstasy and invited him to kiss and taste every inch. Her moans were musical and her voice flowed through in a spring day’s breeze.
Fingers combed through his hair, sending him further into his fantasy.
Eyes so blue they pail the sea looked at him with a love so deep he could drown. Beautiful fangs bit into his wrist, making him moan, “Oh, Laurissa!”
The beautiful female arched her back, offering perfect, full breasts to enjoy. Her hips thrust into him as a vibration went through her. The most delicious sound escapes her and the spring day becomes even more alive. Pure joy like he has never felt, and dare he say, love poured from him as he released his desire.
The day faded into reality. Lord Dunkan laid on Laurissa, enjoying the precious moment and the feeling of her body wrapped around him. The warm feeling he felt gripped his heart. He could feel himself falling deeper into Laurissa’s spell. Her price is little compared to what he would receive. Yes, he could end the contract and send everyone back. He could release the humans and happily live off Laurissa’s veins. However, he would be hunted, and they would both be killed. She may have found a way to kill him, but she is not strong enough to kill vampires hundreds of years older than her. Lord Dunkan sadly kissed Laurissa’s lips and curled next to her to sleep, allowing her scent to comfort him.
Late into the night, a light tan tendril requested connection. Laurissa allowed the connection and sent hers to connect to Edna. “Sister! Are you well?” Laurissa said excitedly and sent her joy and love to Edna.
Edna giggled and felt joy that Laurissa care for her. “It is good to see you are well. I have come to tell you of our success.”
“Forgive me, Edna. Boros said I sent you to Norstrom. I do not remember doing such a thing.”
“We can talk about that later, sister. For now, listen to me.”
“Yes, Edna, what is it?”
“Master Emerick left Norstrom, and his vampires have defected.”
“All of them?”
“How did you accomplish such a feat?”
“Please listen. I do not have much time. Masters Kissar and Garrath have left their homes. Vass is in Kilhurst, freeing villagers. I must go to Berogen to work there. Emerick’s vampires are quickly working to free villagers in Skogall. They are sending the humans to Norstrom.”
“If, Kissar has left, then the remaining masters will be here tomorrow. Garrath is already here. The next evening I will be free of Dunkan. Come find me after that. Please be careful of the traveling masters. And avoid Madwell. Dunkan has a house there run by a young master. Those vampires are loyal to Dunkan.”
“No. They are not, sister. Not all of them. I will find you in a couple days. Stay safe.”
“And you, Edna.”
The tendril left Laurissa. She is completely stunned by the news. How is this possible? Has she missed judged the vampires? Her whole being is shaken. She began to question her path and decisions. Perhaps she will not need to kill Dunkan and the masters. An uprising could resolve her battle.
She made a promise to kill Dunkan. She always keeps her word. The other masters are too dangerous. The other vampires are all young and could be killed. The masters would simply be forced to suspend their goal until a new generation could be built. Laurissa felt justified in her decision. They have all been warned. Those that appear to sign the contract will die with Dunkan.