My eyes fluttered open to the quiet sounds of someone walking through the room. I rolled over, instinctively feeling for Alexander lying next to me, but the bed was empty. I frowned and sat up, forgetting that we had fallen asleep without our clothes. A blush crept up my cheeks as my lips curled into a grin, remembering the events from the night before. A low growl alerted me that Alexander was across the room dressing. I blinked and he was in front of me, taking my face into his hands and kissing me thoroughly. I felt a heat ignite in me at his hungry kiss. My hand reached up to grip his arm and I let out a low moan against his lips. He slowly broke from my lips and a small huff escaped in return at his absence. I wanted more. He pressed his forehead against mine, breathing slowly as he tried to steel himself.
“If you don’t get dressed, we will never get out of this room. I can’t resist you when you blush, much less naked.”
I grinned and looked up at him through my lashes. “I was blushing because I was remembering what happened last night.”
I felt his grip tighten against me and his breath increased. “There’s nothing I’d love more than to give you exactly what you want, but if we’re late, my father will be furious. We have to be there in thirty minutes.”
I frowned and settled up onto my knees, facing him fully so that he could see me. Another growl rumbled in his chest and his hand shifted to the back my neck, tangling into the loose strands of my hair. Heat slowly began to build at my core as another growl escaped from him, sensing my blood flushing the surface of my skin. His canines dropped and he licked each of them seductively.
“If you don’t stop that, I won’t be able to stop myself from taking you right here little inger, and I’d prefer to be able to take my time when that happens.” His voice was gravelly and I gasped at his wording.
“When?” My confidence stalled and my heart began to race at the thought. I’d started the game and wanted badly to finish it.
He smirked and leaned in, his canines grazing my skin just above my collarbone. He breathed in deeply and I felt his tongue flick against my carotid artery. My skin ignited and I let out a low whine.
“Yes, when. But not before you’re ready, and definitely not rushed.”
My pulse was racing, but I felt it slowing at his reassuring words. When I was ready. Feeling my confidence surge again, I brought my lips to the base of his neck and kissed against his skin, featherlight. His breathing increased and I felt his body stiffen at the sensation. In an instant, his free hand reached down to brush gently across my breasts, teasing my nipple as his fangs traced against my skin. A gasp escaped my lips and I kissed harder, my tongue flicking against his skin. His free hand trailed down my stomach before finding my warm center, massaging against it gently. Heat pooled to my core and my hand flew up to pull him against me, desperate for more contact. My hand held tight to the back of his shoulder as his fingers worked between my thighs. my mouth and my head fell back in pleasure, my hips rocking against his hand. I felt his hand grip harder against the nape of my neck. His breath was hot against my skin and I felt his warm tongue gliding across my collarbone, causing every nerve to tingle as his hand slid the crotch of my underwear out of the way to continue massaging my bundle of nerves more intensely. His fingers immediately slid into my opening as his thumb continued to work in tandem at my clit.
“Xander...” I mewled in pleasure and gripped hard against his back, rocking my hips harder with his movement. My hand instinctively moved down to unbutton his jeans, hung low on his hip, letting them drop to the floor as his firm manhood sprung out willingly. My fingers reached down with a mind of their own, closing around his shaft and immediately stroking down and up to match his rhythm. He growled against my skin and I felt his body tense in response. I inclined my neck further to give him full access and felt his canines press against my skin with intent. He hesitated and I felt him waiting for my response.
“Xander...I’m...” I let out another moan and shuddered as I felt myself close to the edge.
I felt him shudder against me and I knew he was close, his skin electric beneath my touch. He growled again and I felt two sharp pricks into my neck, followed by a dull pain. I cried out and stroked harder down his shaft. The pain released and was replaced with bliss before I felt myself fall over the edge, consumed by pleasure. My entire body quivered and was matched by a loud growl of pleasure from Alexander as his warm liquid shot between our bodies, mixing onto our stomachs. My chest heaved as I tried to fill my lungs with air, and I felt Alexander’s body shudder against mine as I released him. I winced as I felt his fangs retract from my skin before he licked the two small holes. He pulled his hand gently away from my now sensitive center and bit into his other wrist, bringing it to my mouth.
“This part I may never get used to,” I muttered before taking two long drags and feeling the warm thick metallic liquid slide down my throat. My nose wrinkled at the distaste and I felt a quick burning itch where the wounds were healing. His mouth came down to find mine in a gentle kiss and I hummed in contentment.
“I’ll be right back.”
He walked away to the bathroom and returned with a warm rag, cleaning my stomach before cleaning his.
“I hate to say it, but we really do have to go. If we don’t leave soon, we’re going to be late.”
He kissed my forehead and helped me off the bed. My legs were a bit wobbly still and he smirked. I rolled my eyes playfully before heading to grab the blue dress Alexander had given me. I ran a brush through my hair and brushed my teeth quickly and slipped into my shoes in record time.
“Ok. I’m ready.” He was standing in a dark tee shirt and his jeans were back in their rightful place. He held his hand out for me to take as we walked out of the room, and I did, gladly.
As we made our way down the long hallway, my stomach began to flutter. I wasn’t sure what the inspection would entail, or how thorough they would be. I was so enveloped in my own thoughts that I did not realize we had arrived in front of two large wooden doors, carved ornately with the crest of Alexander’s family. I recognized it instantly from when we’d studied the book of prophecies in his library. The doors creaked open and he pulled me through gently, squeezing my hand reassuringly.
My stomach flipped at the sight of the giant room we’d entered. Each wall was painted with murals of battles, some between creatures I’d never seen. My eyes zeroed in on one between vampires and humans, showing a scene with the humans cowering beneath their conquerors, naked and wearing collars. My stomach lurched at the horrific sight and my eyes followed them up to the ceiling to see giant glistening chandeliers, showered with dim candlelight. The room itself was dimly lit, curtains drawn over huge windows.
The candles were placed in a large group to show a large table in the middle of the room. My heart leapt into my throat as I noticed there were at least six vampires in front of me, including the King and Queen. They all exuded authority and I knew they were not to be trifled with. This was serious to them, and I was a human in their domain, nothing. As we walked up to the table, the man to the right of the King snapped up to meet my eyes, seemingly searching. His eyes raked over me and I fought to stifle a shudder of discomfort. Xander squeezed my hand gently, sensing my tension. Remembering my instructions, I gave a slight curtsey and lowered my head and eyes in submission.
Alexander gave a brief nod and spoke with authority, holding tight to me. “Your majesties, council members, may I introduce Emmaline Hastings, the human I’d called to inquire about.”
I heard the King speak first, his monotone speaking in disinterest. “Yes, yes. We know who she is Alexander. Let’s get this over with.”
Two men at the end of the table stepped around us, facing the table as they flanked each side of the two of us. Alexander tensed and gripped my hand, giving a low warning growl to the men. They didn’t budge, and instead looked to the King. He nodded shortly and they took a small step back.
“Father, I assured her this would be at her pace. She came willingly and has cooperated completely. There’s no need for this.” His voice was stern as tension rolled through his body.
The king rolled his eyes and huffed. “Alexander, I don’t have time for this nonsense. It’s clear why she came willingly. Let’s move this along already.”
My eyes went wide, but I dared not to look up at Xander. Did they know something had happened between us? Xander glared at his father, but made no move to proceed, waiting for me to decide. I interrupted the visual standoff with a nervous cough, gently squeezing his hand.
The queen sensed my change and leaned across the table, smiling softly. “Are you prepared to begin the inspection dear?”
The king grunted again and waited for my response, glaring at me.
I nodded shortly and squared my shoulders, drawing myself up to my full height. “Xander has explained what the inspection is, but could you please tell me what you need me to do first?”
The queen nodded and held my gaze. “You will need to disrobe so that we may inspect your full body for any types of markings to explain your unique gifts as a human.
I inhaled sharply, but did not break her gaze. I felt Xander’s body become rigid, but he did not move to stop my movements. I stepped slightly away so that I could remove my clothing, and reluctantly released his hand. I took a calming breath and slipped the dress above my head before stepping out of my shoes. I then reached up and unclasped my bra, followed by sliding my underwear off of my hips and stepping out of them. I stood still, waiting for my next instructions, but none came. My eyes snapped up to see Xander’s jaw clenched, staring down the entire table, daring one of them to touch me inappropriately.
Finally, the man to the right of the King stood and stalked around the table before closing the gap between him and I. I shifted my weight uncomfortably under his intense gaze. My eyes drifted to the floor, but I felt his eyes raking up and down my now naked body.
He was mere inches from me, looking over every inch of flesh before demanding, “Turn.”
I did as I was told and heard him inhale sharply, his finger stroking between my shoulder blades. My spine arched in reflex, trying to pull away from his foreign touch. I could see Xander in my peripheral, his fists clenching and unclenching as tension rolled through him.
“She appears to have some form of mark here, but it’s hard to see. I’ll need more light!” His voice was thick with his Romanian accent as it rang out and he nodded toward one of the attendees along the wall.
He stepped away as they opened one large curtain panel, strategically releasing a beam of light directly onto my back alone. I jumped at the sudden change in lighting as my eyes tried to adjust. The man peered from the shadows, inspecting my back carefully. His eyes fell to a white birthmark seated in the middle of my shoulder blades, roughly oval shaped and no larger than a silver dollar. I’d had it my entire life.
“Well, what the hell is it Armand?” The King’s deep agitated voice commanded from the table.
The man, Armand, snapped his eyes to Xander and hissed, “Did you know she had this mark your highness?”
Xander met his eyes with confusion, before turning to anger. He didn’t appreciate the assumed intimacy we’d shared. He walked stiffly over to inspect the spot in question, covering my body from Armand’s prying eyes. His hand reached up to touch the spot between my shoulder blades, but suddenly I heard loud cries of pain, followed by a distant feminine scream. The smell of burning flesh was thick in the air. I immediately spun around to see Xander crouched on the ground, his face in agony as he clutched his arm tight to his body. I gasped as I saw the destroyed flesh of his arm, the one that had reached for me. I dropped to my knees, searching for the cause of his pain and met his eyes.
“Oh, Xander! What happened?” Tears filled my eyes, threatening to fall.
“The sun. It...burned me.” He gritted his teeth and attempted to control his breathing. His arm was beginning to heal, but it would take some time.
My jaw dropped as I realized what had happened. “Wh-what? How is that possible?”
He shook his head, opening his mouth to answer but was cut off by the King’s booming voice.
He’d flashed to stand just in front of me. “It’s not! Alexander has never had any issue to sunlight. So why now, when you are now around him?”
I stared up at him, eyes wide, unsure of what to say. His firm hand reached down and yanked me to my feet, causing me to wince at his touch. He abruptly turned me around in the light and inspected the mark in question. I fought the urge to pull away as his finger roughly touched between my shoulder blades, tracing my birthmark.
“It can’t be.” The king growled.
My hair stood on end as he leaned down and inhaled, just at the base of my neck. My pulse raced at his close proximity. He pulled away abruptly and turned me harshly to face him.
“What is your lineage girl?” He eyed me warily, studying me as he waited for my answer.
I twitched at the question, ringing my hands anxiously. “I don’t know sire.”
He narrowed his eyes at me, searching for truth.
“All I know is, my parents died when I was young. I was in foster care after that until the age of 18. That’s it.” I kept my eyes to the floor, trying to fight the tears threatening to fall.
He looked over to Armand who nodded briefly before cutting his eyes to the two men standing behind me. Abruptly, I felt their hands secure me and I instinctively writhed in their grasp, trying to break away.
“What is the meaning of this? Get them off of her or I will!” Xander’s voice snarled, standing in a lowered stance now. His arm was still injured but he wasn’t going to let it stop him from fighting.
The king snapped at his son, speaking with authority. “She has the mark of the prophecy. We cannot take a chance until we know more about her. She will be taken downstairs.”
“Like Hell she will! She came here willingly because I told her she’d be safe and taken care of. I won’t allow her to be taken to the dungeon. You’ll have to go through me to do it.” He flashed in front of me before his first met one of the men holding me square in the face, sending him flying across the room. The other stood stark still, challenging, waiting for his orders.
“Alexander, if you do not stand down, you’ll end up in a cell of your own. My word is law and I say she will be detained until we can decide how to deal with her.” The King spoke with unquestioning authority, but Xander responded with a growl before his fist met the chest of the second man holding me. He flew ten feet away as Xander positioned himself in front of me, snaking an arm around me to hold my body against his.
A feminine voice rang through the violence, attempting to soothe her husband and son as she flashed to stand in front of the two of them.
Her voice spoke calmly, “Alexander, we don’t know what about her caused you to become sensitive to the light, or if it’s permanent. We can’t have her around you until we know what it is about her that caused this to happen.”
Xander stood still for a moment, tension rolling through his body as he gripped me tighter against him. The King stopped and peered into his son’s eyes before flicking to me and back again.
A knowing grin crept up his lips. “You fed on her didn’t you?”
Xander nearly vibrated with anger. “I did not feed on her. I did drink from her but it was only a couple of sips.”
The King’s smile grew as his eyes snapped to meet mine. They were suddenly changed, full of bloodlust.
“She’s the cure.” His voice spoke low, but was defined and certain.
The entire table behind him gasped and the queen clutched his arm, eyes wide. What could that mean, the cure?
Xander stood still, holding me firm.
“Fallon, get over here,” the king commanded.
In a blink, a younger male with a lean muscular build stood in front of me, his playful violet eyes meeting mine. He smirked at me as he stepped around Xander. I heard him let out a warning growl in response, but he didn’t move to fight him.
“Hold still my beauty. This won’t hurt.” His voice was smooth and low, and I felt myself relax before his hands came up to take my hands into his. His violet eyes closed and he appeared to be concentrating. I waited as the seconds drug by.
After a moment, he scowled and stepped closer to the king, shaking his head. “Sire, I can feel nothing from this young woman. She must be completely immune to all of our gifts.”
I stood frozen, waiting for what could possibly happen next. Anxiety rippled through me as Armand stepped closer to me again. He stood nearly flush against me, causing my heart to race. He gasped and his nose promptly pressed into my neck, breathing in deeply. Xander let out another low warning growl. I felt his tongue glide across my skin before his fangs dropped to drag down my carotid artery. A hard shiver ran down my spine as I fought the urge to pull away. I shut my eyes tight, waiting for his vile touch to move away from me.
Finally, he stepped away and purred, “Your blood smells incredible under that gorgeous skin. It’s like it’s calling to me to bite into you, draining you of every last delicious drop.”
The King stepped in to inspect for himself and I flushed again at his closeness. The King’s actions nearly mirrored Armand’s and I gasped as he nibbled against my skin, testing my reaction. I stiffened but did not move away. As he pulled away, a knowing grin curled up his lips.
“Alexander, step away from the girl. She has the marking of the prophecy and I know exactly what she is. She is immune to your gifts as well as Fallon’s because she is the cure. You burned in the light because her blood reduced your immortality. She cures vampirism, turning anyone who drinks from her weak or human if they drain her.” The king’s voice was low and smooth, purring over every word as his eyes filled with bloodlust. “I know exactly what to do with her. She’s the most powerful weapon any of us could hope to wield.”
Xander’s hands were abruptly yanked off of me by three guards as they forced him to the ground. He growled loudly and fought hard against them, kicking two away before three more pounced onto him to hold him down.
“You will not use her! I won’t allow it!” He snarled from the ground.
The king smirked and grabbed my arm. “I’ve decided her judgement.”
“NO!” Xander’s voice boomed, his face being pressed hard into the ground as he struggled beneath the guards.
“She will be held as my pet, to be used as I see fit.” The king’s fingers traced my jaw as my eyes widened, holding his gaze in terror.
My body shivered but I refused to look away. I wouldn’t let him see my fear.
“Oh, she’s brave is she? Well, we can remedy that. It won’t last long.” His fingers grasped hard to my chin before pushing my face hard away from him.
I stumbled back into the arms of two waiting guards, their gruff hands holding tightly onto my arms. This time, I did not move to fight against them, but instead snapped to see Xander pushing hard against the guards on top of him. One was flown into the air while his fist met the stomach of another. The other two fought to hold him but he bucked against them, flinging them against the wall as he snarled. He flashed to my side and his fist connected with the nose of the guard on my right. As he prepared his stance to fight the second guard, a hand came down hard onto the back of his head, causing him to drop to the ground hard. He moaned in pain as my eyes flashed up to see a towering male standing in front of me. He had been sitting at the other end of the table, observing quietly. His body was thick and rippled with muscles, the body of a warrior. His shirt had military embroidery and he smirked as he met my gaze.
“It would be best for all if you’d not fight anymore Xander. The king will have his prize.” His voice was authoritative and deep.
“General Cole, have them take her to my suites. I will have her fitted appropriately and meet with you shortly after.” The king eyed me before turning to speak to the council, leaving me to my new fate.