Act 1

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chapter 6

Xavior stood in the once peaceful meadow. A small number of policemen examined the three dead men lying bloodied and smeared with dirt. Hired help wrapped the dead bodies up and transferred them into the mortician's large four horse drawn cart.

Xavior sighed inwardly. America was already moving past horse powered transportation. England needed to as well.

Henri walked towards Xavior with one hand stuffed into his pocket. He rubbed his chin with the other. "She killed all these men in self-defense?"

"The men attacked her and would've raped her had she not fought for her life. When I arrived one of the criminals had her at gunpoint. She would have died had I not intervened."

"You shot him."

"It was either her or him."

A humorless chuckle escaped his throat. "I believe it would've been better if she had died. It would save whatever foolish suitor wanting her hand his life." He ran his hands through his unruly curls. "This could work to our advantage. She is in your debt now..."

"So she is."

"She has to be brought to justice. This," Henri gestured towards the field, "is proof of what she is capable of."

Xavior had witnessed firsthand the extent of Bedelia's capabilities.

"Three years I've been after her. Ever since the death of her third husband. I won't rest until she's behind bars." The glint of determination in Henri's eyes pleased Xavior, but at the same time, it troubled him. He couldn't possibly be worried about Bedelia. Could he?

XXXXX

Two weeks passed and Xavior had yet to contact Bedelia. The police had come and she had played the part of a trembling woman hiding behind a shaky foundation of strength. They believed her story and left her physically in peace. Mentally she was far from a peaceful state.

She paced across the fine rug of her study. Agitation and anger swelled through every pore of her body. She was in Xavior's hands now. There was no telling what he would ask of her. The man was friends with Maxwell, the man who wished her confinement.

She stalked towards her bar and poured herself a glass of wine. Xavior was toying with her. She raised the glass halfway to her mouth.

"Damn him!"

In a fit of frustration she threw the glass across the room. The glass shattered against the wall. Bedelia Bathory was no one's fool.

She yelled for her maid whilst she stomped up the stairs to her room. Throwing open her closet doors, she yanked out a velvet blue backless dress. The old spinsters would no doubt try to give her an earful. Too bad she didn't give a damn. She wouldn't hide in her home like a coward.

She ran her hands down the smooth fabric of her dress. A wicked smile played on her lips as she turned to see how her backside looked. The dress clung to her shoulders and sides, leaving her back bare.

Her maid arranged her curls in an elegant updo with diamond pins.

"The carriage is out front my lady."

"Good. Tell the staff they have the rest of the night off. I want the house empty by the time I return tonight. Understood?"

The maid curtsied. "Of course my lady as you wish."

XXXXX

Xavior and Henri sat in the corner of the grand ballroom, drinks in hand.

"Why haven't you contacted her yet, Xavior?"

Xavior smiled at him. He had made progress with the dark haired man over the past weeks. They were becoming good friends. He was positive Henri would abandon his obsession and modest life style. He would show him all the pleasures life had to offer. Together they would leave their mark upon the earth. Loneliness would be a distant memory.

"Patience, Henri, I'm sure she will come to us soon."

Xavior brought his glass to his nose and inhaled the aroma of the rich wine. Bedelia needed time to decide what course she would take. She had two choices, one she would wait for him to come to her. The other she would go to him. Xavior was certain she would come to him.

Henri cleared his throat and straightened in his chair.

"You were right, she has come to you."

Xavior's eyes darkened as he devoured the woman in blue. She moved like a shark in an ocean full of bloodied prey. Not once in her grand entrance did she acknowledge him. Men and women flocked to her side, flirting and bringing her drinks. The fools were blind to her true form. Where he saw reality, they saw the fantasy she had created. He saw a predator and they a defenseless lamb mauled by wolves.

Bedelia played her part of recovering victim perfectly. Her excuse for her unexpected presence was she wanted to move on. She didn't want to give her attackers any more power over her.

Henri Maxwell was wrong, she had not come to talk to him. Bedelia had come to send a message, she wouldn't submit to him.

The beast within the man growled possessively. Bedelia had targeted a specific male from the group surrounding her.

Xavior set his glass down on the table with a thud. He refused to play her game. He wouldn't go to her. No matter how much he wanted to rip the young man from her side.

As the night continued he discreetly made his way to Bedelia's side. Henri was otherwise entertained with an attractive dark haired woman, Morgan Waters. He had been gazing at her in between watching Bedelia. He had all but split in two when the woman approached them. Her eyes had burned holes in his fine suit, but Henri was far too blind to notice where her attentions were. She was the daughter of a wealthy merchant and beautiful. Xavior's attention was elsewhere. It wasn't until he signaled for Henri to ask her to dance that he finally able to escape.

The handsome waiter blushed as Bedelia took a glass of champagne from his tray. Xavior, hidden behind a large decorative plant, strained his ears to hear her low words.

"I will be leaving in a few minutes. My carriage is the one with blue trimmings near the large tree. "

Bedelia smiled as the young man became redder as he departed. He watched as she too departed.

Xavior balled his fists in anger. Making sure no one was watching he followed Bedelia as she walked towards the powder room.

Bedelia had barely stepped out of sight of the guests from the ballroom when an arm wrapped around her waist. A muffled scream crossed her lips as a hand covered her mouth.

Xavior dragged her down the hall to an empty closet. Shutting the door he whispered in her ear.

"It's me, Bedelia, don't scream."

Xavior uncovered her mouth, but he did not release her from his grasp.

Her back was flush against his front. Xavior inhaled her distinct jasmine scent.

"You know most gentlemen ask the woman to dance if they desire her attention."

She suppressed a shudder as his breath tickled the back of her neck.

"It was very rude to ignore me, Bedelia."

"Oh, and what you did wasn't? Were you giving me time to think? Time to decide what I would do? I am no one's fool, Xavior."

Xavior kissed her neck. "No, you are no fool, but you do belong to me."

She snarled at him. "I'm beholden to no man."

Turning her in his arms he slammed her against the wall. He silenced her protests by crushing his lips against hers. He pushed his body flush against her own.

Bedelia didn't respond to Xavior's insistent lips nor did she acknowledge his wandering hands. When she felt his arousal pressed against her hip she placed a firm hand on his shoulder and pushed him back. Xavior bit back a groan as his lips were pushed away from her succulent lips.

"If you're done with your impulsive display of masculinity, I have somewhere to be."

Bedelia left him with a great desire and words in his mouth. After composing himself, he followed her to the ballroom.

Henri approached him with a questioning look on his features.

"Bedelia just left. Did you get to speak with her?"

Xavior shook his head. "No but I plan to."

Bedelia was grateful for the cool air. She took deep breaths as she neared her carriage.

She didn't quite understand the fluttering in her stomach, but the moisture she felt between her legs was all too familiar. He had aroused her with his forcefulness. Odd. She was the dominant one and the one who intuited everything in her sexual encounters. There was something about his forceful grasp and frenzied kisses...

She touched her swollen lips. Shaking her head she reached for the door of her carriage. A smiled curled at her lips as the door opened and a hand from inside the carriage helped her in.

"I hope I read your words correctly-"

The handsome waiter looked at her with a nervous expression.

Bedelia signaled the driver with a tap of her hand on the wall of her carriage to take off.

"You did."

XXXXX

Pulling down her dress she propped herself up on the bed and watched Richard button his shirt.

"My driver will take you wherever you wish to go."

"Don't trouble yourself my lady. I can manage on my own. "

She stood from her bed and approached him. "As you wish."

Richard smiled as he brushed his hair back. "May I see you again my lady?"

She smiled and brushed her lips against his, but gave no reply to his question.

Richard whistled while he walked down the center of the long deserted trail. Lady Bathory had not answered him, but he hoped to see her again. Images of supple flesh and cries of ecstasy consumed his thoughts.

The sound of approaching horses pulled him from his musings. He moved to the side of the road.

The ebony carriage pulled up beside him, dark curtains were pushed aside.

"It's a bit late to be walking down such a dark road." A thundering voice came from the dark carriage. The moonlight was covered by a stray cloud.

Richard smiled; he was in a great mood. His happiness blinded him to the ominous danger close at hand.

"Yes it is, but the night is lovely, my lord."

The dark door swung open.

"Hop in. I'll give you a ride."

Richard froze. A small voice nagged at him to refuse the offer. "Thank you my lord, but I prefer to walk."

The man, shrouded by shadows, chuckled darkly. Two men exited the carriage. "I believe you mistook my order for a question. Get in. We're going for a ride."

The door closed softly behind him and he found himself sitting between the silent henchmen. The man tapped the carriage. Within seconds they were moving.

"Now, isn't this better? You never know what type of unsavory characters you'll meet on a night like this."

The young man gulped silently as the moon began to break through the clouds. "My name is Richard Mathews. May I inquire yours? "

"Of course. Please." The moonlight revealed the man from the party. "Call me Xavior."


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