When the limo stopped, Leslie released me and opened his door. He got out, and I looked out of the car door to find that we were inside a driveway enclosed by stone on two sides. Both walls had doors in them, so I knew we weren’t under an overpass. Only the entrance and exit were open to the outside, and dawn was upon us.
“Where are we?” I asked.
Your carport?” I went on full alert. “Well, that explains why it’s a tunnel, but why are we here? I thought you were taking me home.”
“You can’t go home.” He held a hand out for me. I didn’t move. “You bit Luc. You drew his blood?”
“I spit it out,” I said, indignantly.
“It’s highly likely that you swallowed a little. Besides, he, ah, had some of yours, too. A blood exchange in either direction is enough for a vampire to track you. Do you want Luc paying your family a visit?” That was about the last thing I wanted. I shook my head in the negative. “Right, so, if he wants you, he’ll have to come to my house to find you, which is where you should be if you’re my mate.”
“But, they need to be warned.” I felt desperate. “They’ll think something went wrong.”
“One of my calls was to Selene to let her know what happened. She has taken Justin back to your family. I hope that they were able to explain our situation. If so, and if they want to be safe, they will come here. They’ll have to move.”
Leslie motioned with his hand again, and I accepted it this time. With my hand in his, I followed him through the middle door and up a flight of stairs. We emerged into a large, three-story living room. Windows covered most of the far wall, both on the main level and higher. Thick material hung over them, completely blocking out the sun.
“You’re a vampire,” I whispered. “Why do you have so many windows?”
Leslie let go of my hand and rubbed the small of my back. With his free hand, he indicated three humans, two females and one male, who were milling about in the kitchen. They looked at us and smiled in welcome.
“For my family. Good morning,” he said, addressing them. “Camellia,” he began, sliding his arm around my waist and squeezing me into his side, “has had a very rough night, so I’ll save proper introductions for later.”
He steered me to the stairs that went up to the second floor. Leslie held me close as he opened a door on a large room with its own fireplace and a soft-looking bed. Once we entered the room, he released me.
“I’ve made a room for you in hopes that you’d want to stay here with me. Things worked out in my favor, despite the necessity of it.”
Terror made my blood run cold, and despite the warmth of the house, I cupped my elbows in my hands and hugged myself. The rational part of me understood that no one in the house would harm me, but I was still too wound up from the evening to listen to it.
“Don’t leave me in here.” I lurched at Leslie and grabbed his hand.
Leslie took both my hands in his and looked into my eyes. Very calmly, he said, “There are things I need to see to, and you need to eat, bathe, and rest.”
“Okay,” I shook my head in agreement, “but don’t leave me here.”
“I wanted to give you some privacy. This is the only other private room.”
“What’s the other one?”
I bobbed my head. “Take me there. I’ll be safe there.” He closed his eyes and nodded.
After backtracking to the living room, Leslie led me down a different set of stairs to the above ground basement. An unassuming door led into a vast room, more than a quarter of the size of the main floor. Full bookshelves lined the walls. A sofa and chairs welcomed guests to come in and read, listen to music, or watch TV. Leslie guided me past a table covered in maps and other papers to a room of slightly smaller size divided into a kitchenette, a bedroom, and a bathroom. Leslie motioned toward the bathroom.
“Go ahead and have a bath. I’ll bring you something to eat and some clothes to sleep in.”
I nodded and waited until he left to take off my dress. I wadded it up and hurled it into a corner. I ran the elaborate spa tub full of warm water. Warm water! As I sank in and my bones warmed, I felt as though I might melt into the bottom of the tub. I refused to close my eyes, but I did begin to relax.
After soaking for a few minutes, I took the soap and shampoo that were sitting on the tub decking and got to work on myself. Although I wasn’t dirty, I felt like I needed to wash away the horrible night and the disaster of my makeup. My wrists bruised from where Luc held them, and I scrubbed as if I could erase the marks. I inhaled the aroma of the soap, and realizing the soap was what Leslie smelled like to me, I smiled to myself. The shampoo smelled like his hair, and I took my time, massaging my scalp and taking out the three stray pins I found.
I held my breath and dunked myself to rinse away the shampoo. When I came up, Leslie was standing just inside the door holding a tray. I shrieked.
“Sorry. Food.” He looked down at the tray. “Clothes,” he jerked his head toward the other room.
“What are you, a caveman now?” I sassed. He smiled and set the tray on the bathroom counter. When he turned to leave, I felt panic rising again. “Don’t go,” I barked.
He pointed. “I’ll just be out in the main room.”
“You won’t stay with me?”
He frowned slightly. “It’s better if I don’t.”
“Why?” I felt ridiculous for acting so childish, but I was unable to stop.
“You’re a highly attractive woman. You’re naked, wet, and frightened. The combination makes you too tempting.” I finally noticed that his fangs had extended just a bit. I gulped. He pursed his lips. “It will be better if I go sit out there.”
“Yeah,” I said quietly.
Once I toweled off, I stuffed the food in my mouth, too nervous and jittery to pay attention to what it was. I dressed in the flannel pajama bottoms, white long-sleeved T-shirt, and thick socks he had set out on the bed for me.
Clean, fed, and clothed, I joined Leslie on the sofa. He didn’t speak but drew me into his arms again, stroking my wet hair and humming that same song again. I felt myself drifting away and fought it.
“I’m afraid to sleep.” Leslie stopped humming, and I straightened my back so I could look at him. “Can you help me?”
“Are you sure that’s what you want?” He searched my face.
“Yes,” I said forcefully. “I need to rest.”
He stared into my eyes for a few moments and then said, “Camellia.” The tone brought me even more to attention. I suddenly felt as though doing whatever Leslie asked would make me the happiest woman on the planet. Doing what he wanted was the only care I had.
“Relax for me.” His breath flowed over my face as the softness in his voice made me feel safe and comfortable. I began to drown in the pools of his eyes. My body felt loose and easy.
“Mm, Leslie, you are very pretty,” I heard myself say. His request relaxed my hold on my feelings as well as the tension and fear in my body. He had taken off all the pieces of his tuxedo except for the shirt and pants. The top two buttons of the shirt were open, and I rubbed my hand over his shoulder. “Your eyes are like the Caribbean Sea.”
“Have you seen the Caribbean?” he asked.
“I have a picture I tore out of a book. I hid it in my journal, but I don’t need it now that I have your eyes.”
His hand swept over my cheek and through my hair. His touch left my skin warm and a little tingly.
“Oh, that feels nice, almost like when you massaged me that time, but that was better.” I wrapped my arms around his neck and gave him my killer smile.
“Camellia, you’re supposed to be relaxing, remember?” he warned.
In my sexist voice, I said, “Oh, I’m relaxed, Leslie. It feels so good when you touch me. It makes me want you to touch me in other places.”
The need to be held and touched, specifically by Leslie, was so strong. He hadn’t suggested these needs and urges to me. They were there, buried, waiting for my consciousness to be weakened enough for them to surface.
I moved so that my knees straddled his lap, and I hunched my back so that I could find his lips and kiss him. My mouth moved hungrily over his. His arms shot around me as he responded to my needs with needs of his own.
I held his face in my hands and angled my head before I dove into the kiss with renewed vigor. My tongue explored his mouth, and I let the tip of it slide over his teeth. I felt his fangs grow as his desire intensified. The entire time I stared into his eyes, unblinkingly.
I pulled back from the kiss. “Luc asked me if you had long fangs. Do they have a saying about vampires and their fangs like they do about human males and their feet?” I looked down to his lap. He laughed, and the sound made me quiver in arousal. My eyes nearly rolled up into my head. I ran my hands into his hair and gripped tightly. “I want you.”
“I know, but we’re not doing that now. You need to sleep.”
Flustered, Leslie tried to be serious. He gripped my upper thighs, and, as he stood, I wrapped my legs around his waist. I locked my ankles as he carried me to the bedroom and lay me down on the bed. I grabbed the front of his shirt and ripped it open, giggling when I heard buttons bounce off furniture and walls.
“Camellia,” he chided, clutching his shirt closed. He put a hand to my chest, holding me firmly against the bed even though I tried to push up from it. “You’re making this very hard, you know.”
I smiled at him and looked at his lips. They were so soft, like his hair. I wanted to make us both happy, and I knew sex would certainly do that. I bit my lower lip in response to remembering our kisses. I reached down to feel the bulge below his waistband. “Yes, I am.”
“Look at me,” he commanded. My eyes shot to his. “Sleep,” he said, and I dropped out like a light.
END CH8, P2