Chapter 1: The Masquerade Ball
There was no traffic on the way to the masquerade, but Mazelina was an heiress. This meant she had to arrive in style. The helicopter landed fashionably late, just as she had planned.
Too late to be announced, like the rest of the attendees. Her arrival still stopped everything. Conversations dropped, and everyone turned to look at her.
Her mask hid most of her face, but she could still feel several sets of eyes burning into her as she walked. Her friends, Janet and Tiffany, fell back to let their friend soak it all in.
She scanned the room for Bret and found him easily, despite his mask. The broad shoulders were a dead giveaway. She had laid her head on them so many times. He moved as if in slow motion to take a bite from his caviar crostini.
“Bret looks great, doesn’t he?” Janet smirked, her lips twisting with malice.
“Not as good as that guy standing over there,” Mazelina shot back.
She was already concocting a plan to make Bret jealous.
She glided across the room and grabbed a champagne cocktail on her way to her target. He was a tall, athletically built man with dark, tousled hair. As she drew closer, she saw playful green eyes sparkling through his black phantom mask.
He smiled, taking her in with his eyes. It was as if he knew she was headed toward him. Even so, he didn’t attempt to meet her halfway.
She stopped right in front of him with a flirtatious smile. “Hi, I’m-”
He put his finger to her lips. “Don’t ruin it,” he said with a half-smile. “Tonight, we are nameless and faceless. It doesn’t matter who you are.”
Standing close to him, the earthy scent of his cologne intoxicated her. She struggled for coherent thought.
“Are you sure?” she asked. “You might find that who I am is-”
“You picked me out from a crowded room,” her phantom smirked knowingly. “Can’t we just leave it at that?”
His gaze was magnetic.
She smiled back, although she couldn’t quite explain it. She knew their fates were sealed. Theirs would be a whirlwind romance. What started as a ploy to make Bret jealous had somehow become so much more.
Her stomach was a flutter. She was absolutely giddy with his presence. To be all with this stranger was all she could think about. To get him alone…
“Is it me or is it suddenly really loud in here?” he asked, as though reading her thoughts.
“Very loud,” she gave a lopsided half-smile that suggested more than she would dare say.
He took her hand and led her briskly out to the balcony. The hum of voices melted into the background as he turned to look at her.
His face was serious, his eyes searching. And then, just as suddenly as they had found each other, his lips found hers.
His mouth captured hers, catching her off guard at first and then slowly stirring her passions. She pressed her body to his, softly parting her lips and allowing their tongues to dance. The kiss was slow and patient. Reeling her in, making her dizzy with a desire.
She couldn’t think of a time she’d felt that way. Not with Bret, and certainly not with any men she’d only just met.
He withdrew from their kiss, watching her intently as if he expected to see a change in her.
“What do you say we get out of here?” he asked, his voice suggestively low.
Mazelina looked back at the party and tried to decide. What should her next move be? The floor was lit up with dazzling lights and sparkling dresses. Champagne flowed and tables were decked out with oysters, caviar, and mouthwatering morsels from all over the world.
“You know,” she said, turning back to face him, “My friends and I have been looking forward to this night for months. It’s one highlight in our social calendar.”
The mysterious stranger scoffed lightly. “Something tells me you’re on the most exclusive guest lists to the most exclusive parties all year round.”
She dipped her head seductively. “So, what if I am? What’s your point?”
He reached out and snaked his fingers between hers. The touch was like pure electricity, jolting through her body from the tips of her toes all the way up her spine.
It damn near took her breath away.
“My point is… Instead of doing the same thing you always do, why not try something new?” He leaned in, bringing his mouth to her ear. “Something exciting.”
There was very little fight in her at that moment. But Mazelina prevailed, for what it was worth.
“And you think that’s you?” she asked. “Something exciting, I mean.”
He chuckled. “Something tells me you’re the kind of woman who knows what she wants and gets it every time,” he said with a knowing smile. “Let’s just say we have that in common.”
“My dear phantom, I commend your confidence,” Mazelina smiled, leaning into him for another quick kiss. “And your powers of observation.”
He nipped her lower lip between his teeth and gently tugged. “I take it that’s a, yes?”
It was the most resounding yes, she’d given in her life. And in no time, they were gone from the party and getting hot and heavy in a swanky hotel room on the estate.
His hands smoothed their way up her thighs as they kissed. Her hands grazed the tight muscles of his chest, caressing the pulse beating against her palms.
She reached for his mask, wanting to see the man who made her burn.
“No,” he whispered into her neck. “Keep the masks.”
She obeyed wordlessly. This was a new thrill. It made her pussy tighten with desire.
He turned her around, unzipping her dress while he trailed kisses down her shoulder. Her skin lit up as if she’d stepped into a raging furnace. She pressed into him, his need urgently prodding her from behind.
The heat of the moment flushed through her in waves. His hands, his mouth, his body, his touch, quelling her need before she even felt it fully.
She slipped out of her dress and turned to unbutton his shirt.
Their lust burned through the masks.
Her fingers moved quickly, revealing his bare chest.
Mazelina kissed her mysterious lover’s neck, tasting his sweat, licking her way down to the tuft of fuzz just below his belly button. On her knees, she unbundled his belt and unzipped his trousers, watching as his mouth gaped with anticipation.
She massaged his member through his briefs, watching with wonder as he grew even larger in her hands. She slowly lowered his briefs to find him engorged by her efforts.
He stepped out of his briefs and pulled her up into a passionate kiss. He sucked and bit her lips as he peeled off her lace panties, holding her steady so she could step out of them without breaking the kiss.
His hands explored her waist and then squeezed her ass. Slowly and tentatively, his fingers moved over the smooth skin of her pussy and then delved deeper between her lips.
The sudden flurry of pressure coaxed a deep moan of pleasure from her.
Mazelina could feel the warm wetness of her desire grow as he touched her, his hands massaging her while his mouth sucked her nipples. A finger slid into her center and she felt her body tense.
Her mind went blank. The room disappeared before her. His exquisite touch was the only thing that existed. The warmth of his body against hers.
Crushed under the wave of her building orgasm, Mazelina fell onto the bed. Her phantom lover followed to brace himself on top of her.
He pressed into her, her warm, wet twitching sex enveloping him.
“God, you feel so good.” He nipped the soft flesh behind her ear.
She sucked in a breath as he thrust into her again, groaning as her walls tightened around him. Moving determinedly, their bodies melted together with every thrust, taking them closer and closer to the edge.
“Harder,” she breathed into his neck.
Her phantom gave a low growl and pushed into her with such force she cried out. The sound of bare flesh smacking and sex juice mixing between them filled the air. She shuddered into a series of toe-curling orgasms.
Her pleasure hastened his own, and she felt his body tense. The sexy stranger’s movements were deep and stilted as he spilled all of himself inside her.
They tumbled in the pitch dark, tangling into the sheets. He snaked his arm around her and pulled her close. Their masks were discarded now, but the night hid their faces.
The night, and the cloaking heaviness of afterglow. Nothing mattered other than that they were utterly spent.
By the time morning rays broke through the curtains, Mazelina felt like she’d had the best sleep of her life. She felt the naked warmth of her lover still asleep beside her and rolled over.
Finally, she could look at his face.
She raised on one elbow, the ghost of a smile starting on her lips. But her blood ran cold the instant she laid eyes on him.
It was the only thing her brain could conjure up at that moment.
Shaken with panic, she stumbled from the bed and started rifling for her clothes.
This wasn’t happening. Of all the men in the world…
She hadn’t met him in person but knew enough about him. That face had graced many news articles. She’d heard her father rage against him, his arrogance, his callous ethics… Uriel Randwulf.
Her lover for one night. The man who had stirred her passions from the moment she first laid eyes on him. He was the same man who had stirred her father’s ire for years. She couldn’t stay, she couldn’t wait for him to see her.
She had to run.
The slamming door jolted Uriel from his slumber. He reached across the bed and found nothing but rumpled sheets. They were still warm, but the room was empty.
It was like the beguiling woman from the night before never existed.
A light knock on the door broke the silence.
“Come in, Ronan,” Uriel shouted irritably.
He was usually the one sneaking out on a one-night-stand. Not the other way around.
“I brought your coffee,” Ronan, his bodyguard, said. “Well, half of it, at least.” He motioned at his once crisp white shirt stained with black coffee. “Some crazy woman ran into me in the lobby.”
“Where did she go? Did you see her? Did you get her name?” Uriel asked hurriedly, getting dressed.
“Get her name? I barely saw her, she was out of there so fast,” Ronan complained.
His words were barely cold when Uriel shot by, making the rest of the coffee spill all over him.
Out of breath, with a stitch in his side, he burst onto the street just in time to see his mysterious woman disappear into a cab.
“Do you know the woman who just left?” he asked the desk clerk. The urgency in his voice was alarming.
The clerk shook her head slowly. “I- I’m sorry, no. I didn’t see anyone leave.”
Uriel cursed under his breath and made his way back to his room. He found Ronan mopping at himself with some towels.
“I’ll pay for a new suit,” he said, picking up the woman’s discarded mask from the bedside table. He gently brushed a thumb over the delicate velvet. “Right now, we have more important things to worry about.”