Chains of darkness, p.14
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       Chains of Darkness, p.14

         Part #2 of Men in Chains series by Caris Roane
 
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  Eve unwrapped her blond ponytail from around her arm. “I’m thinking three, plus one for the photo shoot. I’ll tell Arsen and Salazar that I’m holding a private auction after the show, that I’ll have several clients on the line with photos I’ve sent to them. I’m sure after the third change, they’ll be ready to bid on you anyway.”

  She glanced at Lucian. “And these vampires are in the sex trade?”

  “Two of the most formidable. They process more women in a year than most, though still far below Daniel’s average. Which means, if we pull this off, we take them out of the game at the same time. It will make a huge difference on every level. Once we gain control of them, I’ll have Gabriel move in and dismantle their organization.” His gaze softened. “We’ll be saving more lives tonight.”

  Rumy nodded, suddenly serious. Meeting Lucian’s gaze, he said, “All these years, your father has protected both these men, supported them in their slavery efforts. So getting them out of circulation will be a real coup. But this other thing?” He shook his head several times. “Any vampire with even a small piece of sense knows that once Daniel gets his hands on the extinction weapon, he’ll hold it to all our heads. He won’t stop till he owns everything, which means that he has designs on human-earth as well. Our world is just the beginning for him.”

  Claire gripped Lucian’s hand. He met her gaze and nodded. “All right. Let’s do it.”

  Eve nodded, glancing from Claire to Lucian. “I like your woman, boss, a lot. And if you take my advice, you’ll put her on my table. Say the word, and I’ll lend you one of my specialty rooms, no charge.”

  “That’s enough, Eve.” Lucian spoke the words, but Claire heard the sudden hoarseness in his voice and the chains vibrated heavily against her neck. She felt his desire for her spike sharply, which of course sent hers reeling. The marble island had been one thing, but what would it be like for him to strap her down and have his way with her.

  The idea sent desire flowing through her so quickly that she felt dizzy.

  Lucian squeezed her hand. What’s going on? What are you thinking?

  Claire looked up at him, but she didn’t think it wise to tell him her thoughts, at least not now. She’d come to know him a little, and her instincts told her that he would benefit from exactly the kind of scenario that just ran through her head.

  But right now she had a job to do, so she strove to block her desire. Nothing important.

  It feels important, and remember the chains don’t lie.

  I know, but this isn’t the time so if it’s all right with you, I’d like to focus on getting through the next few hours.

  He nodded.

  Still holding his hand, she turned to Eve. “I think it’s time to take a look at your collection.” Of course the image of “straps and rubber-bands” made her cringe inwardly once more.

  But she drew her shoulders back and when Eve suggested they follow her, that she had the costumes in a special location, Lucian held his arm out for her. She rose to her feet.

  Because she’d grown accustomed to flying with him, she stepped up on his foot and slid her arm around his neck. He held her tight against him and with Eve leading the way, Lucian flew her in the sex goddess’s wake.

  * * *

  Lucian held Claire close to his side. He trembled, but not from blood-starvation. She kept blindsiding him with things, like how easily she slid her arm around his neck and stepped up on his foot as though she’d been doing it for the last century.

  And she felt so right against his body. She fit him, her height, the curve of her hip resting against him, his hand splayed over her flat, tight stomach.

  He liked having her there too much.

  She’d also proved her worth again, willing to sacrifice her modesty to bring a couple of lowlifes to earth, maybe get information that would help locate the extinction weapon and possibly save the world.

  Rumy was right. His world was on the brink of falling under the control of the worst vampire to rise to power in its long history.

  And Arsen and Salazar were on the brink of handing over the location of the extinction weapon to a psychopath. They needed to be stopped, and Lucian needed to find that weapon first. He couldn’t allow Daniel to get hold of it. If Lucian was clever enough, he’d set the trap for Daniel and get rid of him once and for all. That Daniel held Zoey captive was an issue he had no idea how to resolve, but he couldn’t think about that right now. God willing, there’d be enough time down the road to separate her from Daniel before things went south.

  Then there was Claire.

  Feeling so right in his arms.

  Did she realize that with her free hand she was fondling his chest again, rubbing over his pec? God help him if she tweaked his nipple.

  He thought he should warn her. Careful.

  About what? The costumes?

  No, what your fingers are doing to me.

  She drew them back, clearly startled. I’m sorry. I was touching you. Again.

  As he flew, he caught her hand and pressed it back to his chest. I liked it. That was the problem.

  He heard that sound of hers, like unh, as she nuzzled beneath his chin. This is nice, flying with you. I can’t believe how quickly I got used to it once you became an Ancestral.

  I admit, it’s pretty great.

  Yeah, it is. And it’s fun taking it slow as well.

  The absolute worst thought went through his mind: He could get used to this, used to having Claire next to him, flying with him. He could get used to heading into a dangerous situation with a woman who could handle the pressure.

  Which brought him full circle, to that slice of anxiety that lived inside him. He needed to guard himself against Claire because he had no future with her—not with any woman. He couldn’t be trusted, not when he’d already proven more than once that he had a monster living inside him, a dark entity that liked dominance and control, that would take and take until he had Claire at his mercy.

  He flew through another tunnel and cave, following Eve’s glittering ruby-red signature. Eve was taking it slow as well, maybe thinking, planning, strategizing. Eve always had one card up her sleeve, always a new idea, a twist on things.

  He wasn’t surprised when she doubled back more than once, finally landing them in a really dark cavern suite, without drywall, something that had been carved out of a shelf of black granite with lots of rough edges and a tall, rugged ceiling. There were hooks in the walls and several sets of thick iron chains, similar to the ones he’d been bound with in India.

  He stiffened as Claire stepped away from him, her brows high on her head, her eyes wide. He watched her turn in a circle then did the same. Eve had told them to stay put, that she’d be right back with her team to get things started. First up, they’d need to do a quick photo shoot, with Claire in costume. Her picture would be Photoshopped into an invitation and emailed to Arsen and Salazar. Hopefully, the men would take the bait and come to The Ruby Cave for the private show.

  He also thought he understood part of what Eve was up to. He was pretty sure she wanted him to have a good look at this room, at the chaining-up potential. Eve had more than once told him that he could benefit from a few dominance sessions, just to clear his head from some really rotten memories. He thought she was out of her mind.

  On the other hand, as he glanced at Claire, something inside him warmed to the idea, especially as memories from the night before rolled through his mind.

  Claire walked away from him exploring a secondary room through a short, arched hall opposite.

  When she returned to him, her eyes glittered and the chains at his neck vibrated in a way he’d never felt before. “What’s going on?”

  He knew whatever had set her off was in the adjoining room, but she drew close then slapped a palm hard on his chest. “You’re not to go in there, not yet. We have work to do, but when the time is right, I want to bring you back here with me. But I have one question.”

  “What’s that?”

&nb
sp; “Do you trust me?”

  He looked into her light-brown eyes, dilated and heady with a desire for more sex. Did he trust her? Something inside his chest gave way. “Yes, Claire, I do. Even more than most vampires.”

  “That says a lot.” She was tense head-to-foot as she continued, “Do you trust me enough not to go in there right now? To wait until the time is right?”

  He moved back in her direction and caught her arms in his hands, gripping her firmly. “What’s in there? Is someone in there?”

  She shook her head. The sweet, rich scent of her sex poured off her now. “Just something I want you to do to me, that’s all.”

  Something she wanted him to do to her.

  His chest seized.

  Maybe it was her aroused state, or that he could smell her desire, or the glitter in her eyes, but another tremor went through him, of hunger and blood-need, that lingering blood-madness that had turned into some kind of crazy Claire-madness.

  He drew her into his arms and kissed her. He needed this—being with a woman who desired him as fiercely as he wanted her, who even sought his darkness, encouraging him to let go.

  She moaned softly as he deepened the kiss and drove his tongue into her mouth. He shifted his right foot and pressed his hips against hers so that she could feel him.

  I love how you feel, your cock so hard, right against me. Lucian, I don’t understand this madness between us because all I want you to do is jump me again.

  He forced himself to draw back. Eve would return any second and he wasn’t in a state that could be easily hidden. He leaned his forehead against hers, then drew her tight against him.

  He just held her. She kept things simple as well. She didn’t rub up against him, or dip her hips into him, or fondle his arms or back.

  He felt her thoughts, her feelings, grow very quiet.

  When he’d calmed down, he drew her to the side of the room where a bench sat against the wall. Clearly this was one of Eve’s workout suites, where she either brought her private clients or enjoyed her own liaisons.

  He supposed in human terms Eve would be considered a high-class escort. But she was so much more than that, a businesswoman in her own right, with a very free lifestyle, who didn’t mind accepting large amounts of cash to entertain her special people. But she always stayed in control, preferring to dominate, which was probably smart in her profession.

  He sat directly across from the short, arched hallway and wondered if he’d find one of her tables in there. Probably.

  He cleared his throat and crossed his arms over his chest. Like hell was he going to start thinking about something like that, or even doing it. Maybe he should set Claire straight. After all, how wise was it to keep tempting the darkness that lived inside him?

  He was about to address the subject when Eve returned with an entire crew, including a rack of clothes that had, yeah, straps and a few narrow bands and some feathers attached. A string of curses flipped through his head. He stood up and paced in front of the bench.

  Eve, however, was nothing if not professional. She knew what she was doing. Her makeup team took charge of Claire and whisked her away, taking her into an opposite suite of rooms. Staff kept arriving, including a lighting expert.

  Eve approached him. “This shouldn’t take long, but it has to be right to tempt Arsen and Salazar to leave their fortress.” She smiled suddenly, “Your woman’s good people, Lucian. You need to think about keeping her.”

  Before he could start arguing the point, however, she disappeared into the makeup room as well.

  Lucian wished he smoked, wished he had something to do to occupy his mind.

  It got worse.

  Claire emerged, surrounded by at least one cross-dressing vampire and two who swung for the other side, proclaiming how fabulous she looked. And she did, like a dream that would wake him up in the middle of the night.

  She wore a deep purple bustier that lifted and pushed her breasts into two beautiful swells of flesh divided by a heavy line of cleavage. A small ruffle of lace lay against her creamy skin. He wanted his tongue beneath that lace.

  Must gain control.

  She wore sheer black thigh-highs, the tops lined with a narrow purple ribbon. At least she had on some kind of underwear that covered her cleft, but even that was sheer and showed the auburn landing strip he knew so well.

  She had on black lace, fingerless gloves, with long purple feathers that reached the length of her forearms. His eye was drawn, however, to the small silver chains that looped from finger to finger, the sight of which, maybe more than anything, got him going all over again.

  His heart rate increased so that she came to him first and planted a hand on his face.

  It’ll be all right. I’m thinking of Zoey and getting that weapon. You need to do that as well.

  He nodded, a sort of rapid-fire jerk of his chin. The makeup artistes led her in the direction of the photographer, telling Lucian they’d take good care of his woman. But because she walked away from him, he saw that she was bare-assed with the tiniest line of a thong rising to the back of the bustier above. She wore purple stilettos as well, with shiny silver heels.

  This was too much, all of it, as though fate had intervened in his life just to tempt the hell out of him. He had to stay focused, had to remember who he was, why he was here, why she was dressed like this. He had a job to do, and once they’d somehow found a way to wrest Zoey from Daniel, Claire could go home for good. He’d be rid of her and he could go back to his life, to battling on behalf of his world.

  But right now, he was in pain.

  He worked on his breathing, one in, one out. He ordered himself to hold it together.

  Eve positioned Claire on the simple stage with a gray background, a dark ladder-back chair, and smoky gray carpet. Eve positioned her with one knee on the chair, encouraging her to lean forward while arching her back.

  Lucian experienced a new kind of torture as desire raced through him and new tremors started up.

  Suddenly Claire’s voice was in his head. Lucian, how about you turn the volume down a little. I’m starting to ache for you in a way that will soon be obvious to everyone.

  She shifted slightly to catch his eye, but frowned at him.

  Lucian had been so lost in his lust that he’d forgotten about the blood-chains and how they communicated everything he was feeling.

  Sorry. I’m going to find some cold water.

  Good idea.

  He turned away from her, grateful that the double-chains gave them a good sixty feet of distance, and headed to the only bathroom in the suite. He took a few more deep breaths, then literally splashed cold water on his face and neck. He was a mess, a hungry, needy mess, and unable to do a damn thing about it.

  Did Eve know that she tortured him like this? The woman was devious in unexpected ways. He could easily imagine that she’d suggested this whole operation just to heighten his awareness of Claire. But my God, he was in pain.

  He stayed put. He had to, otherwise he’d be punching out part of the cave wall or, worse, hauling Claire away from the photo shoot and taking care of business then and there. He only left the room when someone else needed the facility. But he returned right away each time to splash more water on himself, afterward to sit on the floor, trying like hell to hold it together.

  He laughed at himself more than once. He realized he’d never really been in this place before, this connected to a woman, not in all his four centuries. The chains had forced him to it, of course, but now that he was here, being with Claire wasn’t anything like he’d expected. On some level, he now knew what he’d been missing.

  At last the shoot ended, and when he returned to the main room, he found Claire covered in a white terry robe, thank God. She chatted quietly with Eve, and because Claire seemed so intense and because Eve looked conspiratorial, he didn’t extend his hearing. He was afraid he’d hear something that would once more put his groin in agony.

  That each, more than once, glance
d in the direction of the forbidden room told him Eve was probably explaining a few things to her, like how things worked.

  A few minutes later Eve and Claire approached him. Eve had a knowing smirk on her face. “Claire did really well, though I know this must have been so hard on you.” Of course she emphasized the word hard. Of course. She was Eve. “But you can be proud of her. I’ve already shown her the outfits she’ll wear.”

  “So what happens next?”

  “I’m going to keep working with Claire on the runway part of the show, just a few tricks. We’ve already sent the invitation out.” Eve had a great staff. “Now all we can do is wait and hope. I’ll give Rumy a call and let him know what’s going on.” She stepped away, pulling her phone from her snug leather pants.

  Claire drew close. “Hey. How are you holding up?”

  She swept her hand up and down his arm so that he felt the small chains hooked to her lace gloves. He repressed yet another groan.

  The photographer and her crew passed by, so he spoke quietly. “The gloves you’re wearing are magical.”

  She smiled, her light-brown eyes carrying a warm, affectionate light. “You really are in a sad state.”

  “I am, especially since all I can do right now is imagine what your costume actually looks like beneath all this terry cloth.” His gaze drifted down the fabric covering her chest.

  Claire looked around. Seeing that everyone had left, she slowly pulled apart the upper lapels of her robe.

  He groaned softly, his gaze landing on what had tempted him from the moment she’d first walked into the room. She had a beautiful cleavage. He licked his lips, wanting to be licking her.

  I can feel your desire. It’s hitting me in waves through the double-chain. I’m not sure anything could be sexier, especially seeing the look on your face right now.

  He lifted his gaze back to her lips, then finally her eyes. This is new for me, desiring a woman like this, repeatedly hungry for you with an intensity I’ve never experienced before. I think what this really means is that we need to get your double-chain off, the sooner the better. He needed her to remember just how temporary their relationship was.

 
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