His ass to the sand and his back against a palm, Lucian had shut his eyes for only a moment. But a moment was all it took for him to dream.
This time, he was in the ocean, standing upon a rock, not cold but shivering nonetheless. On the shore stood a goddess, dressed in nothing but her long dark hair and an expression of such intense desire he would’ve drunk the entire sea to get to her. But his body wouldn’t move. His legs were affixed to the rock and if he struggled any farther to reach her he would fall into the water and, unable to swim, drown.
She smiled at him then, her fangs descended, and she called to him, “Lucian! Lucian, come to me.”
He couldn’t resist her plea, her need of him, and he dove under the water. But his feet remained affixed to the rock and with the power of his dive, he curled under and into himself and smashed headfirst into the stone beneath his own feet.
“Oh, God, Lucian!”
Blood spread in the water like gathering thunderclouds and his eyes went dark. Yet still he heard her calling him…
“Lucian! I’m begging you.”
Fuck…Would he forever hear her calling him…
“Please, you have to wake up…It hurts.”
He came awake with a jarring lurch, back into the reality that was really no reality at all. Something heavy was on his chest, something sweet burned his nostrils and made his cock stir.
“Shit, no!” Oh, God…Bronwyn was on top of him. “Not good, Veana.” His fingers gripped her upper arms and he eased her off of him and onto the sand. “What are you doing? Are you trying to send us both to hell?”
On her knees beside him, panting, her tongue lapping at the tips of her fangs, Bronwyn stared at his neck. “I…I need you.”
The scent of her supreme hunger hit him-hit his nostrils, the back of his throat, the heavy organ between his legs. “You need blood.”
Her lids flipped up, and her dark eyes pinned him where he sat. “Your blood.”
His cock pulsed against the thin fabric of his boxers. This was bad, dangerous…delectably dangerous.
“The hunger,” she moaned, her eyes glassy now. “It really hurts. It’s been too long.”
Lucian stilled. “How long?”
“Weeks. I waited until the Veracou.”
“No.” The word came out in a rush of heat and regret.
“I thought…” She shook her head. “God, I don’t know what I thought.”
Lucian cursed again, dark and loud and angry. “You and your primitive ideals.” He smashed his fist into the sand, which was growing warmer by the minute as the morning progressed. “Virgini foolishness. Where do they get you when you’re in trouble?”
She let her head fall back. “I was trying to stay pure.”
“For him,” Lucian growled. Her pain and need were eating at him, making him rage with the desire to shake her and then take her. “He is not pure. Why must you be?”
With another moan, she crawled atop him again, lay against him, belly to belly, her face in his neck. “Lucian, please-“
He didn’t stop her. How the hell could he? “So I am to feed another paven’s true mate, then?”
His cock was hard as stone now, like the stone he’d bashed his head against in his dream-and he knew she could feel it, pressing against her stomach, warning her. Goddamn it! Didn’t she get it? If she put her fangs in him it was over!
“Don’t beg, Princess, Christ!” he snarled, her breath doing a sensual dance against his skin.
“Why not?” she uttered. “Does it make me look weak, desperate? Good, because I am!”
He took her by the arms and lifted her off him once again. “No, it makes you impossible to resist. It makes you a challenge I will not lose.” He forced her gaze to meet his. “We should wait to feed…”
“I cannot.” She sounded close to tears.
“Fuck!” This was bullshit, impossible, and the most delectable need he’d ever felt. He shoved his arm toward her, offered her his wrist. “Fine. Do it. Take it. Take what you need. But come no closer and control your thoughts.”
“Why?” She grabbed his wrist.
“Because the hotter you get, the more impossible it is for me to not take you.”
At his words, her scent rose up and slammed into his nostrils. Arousal. Sweet, heady…
“Like that,” he growled. “Goddamn it. Stop thinking about anything but the blood.”
Her eyes on his vein, her tongue lapping at her dry lips, she whispered, “You flatter yourself.”
He yanked his arm away from her and challenged, “Tell me you’re not thinking about getting fucked right now.”
She inhaled through her teeth, her fangs. She was about to dive for him. “Maybe I am, but maybe it’s not you I’m thinking about.”
“Since when?” he uttered and thrust his arm back under her waiting lips.
She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply through her nose. “I’m sorry. That was a terrible thing to say.”
“Not to mention a huge motherfucking lie.”
“Stop it, Lucian.”
“Hey, you can always wait for him to show up with the blood.”
Her answer to that was a swift and hearty strike into the flesh of his wrist.
“Ahhh, God…” Lucian uttered, his mind going black, his eyes widening as he watched her feed, watched her drink from him. Again. It was beautiful-she was beautiful, and rabid, and hot as the sun.
Goddamn, he wanted to moan, cry out as she drew on him so heavy and hungry, her fangs working him like the best fuck he’d ever had.
Turn away, he warned himself. Turn away before you mount her and take what has always belonged to you.
Oh, those fangs, moving in and out of his vein. They were dangerous and luscious and would surely lead to his demise-but wasn’t that true perfection for a dickhead like him?
A low growl sounded. For a moment, Lucian thought it was himself. Then, when he realized it wasn’t, he looked to Bronwyn.
She lifted her head. “What is it?”
His blood dripped from her lips, teeth, fangs, and all he wanted to do was bare his tongue and taste himself on her. But then the growl sounded again. In the distance, but close enough to set off his instincts.
He pushed Bronwyn behind him and stood. “Don’t move,” he commanded in a whisper. “Don’t make a sound.”
An animal, he thought, hearing it again. That was no human or vampire. An animal was in this reality with them, and it sounded feral.
Fucking Cruen. When Lucian got ahold of him, he was going to wish he had a feral animal on his ancient ass…
Lucian’s thoughts trailed off as something came bounding out of the forest toward them. On four legs, tan with spots and fangs like a saber-toothed cat. It was trying real hard to scare the shit out of them, but Lucian knew it would never hurt them-Cruen wouldn’t ruin what he was protecting, saving…Problem was, Bronwyn didn’t know that.
She screamed and took off running, away from the beach and into the forest.
“Bronwyn!” Lucian shouted after her. “Goddamn it!”
The animal slowed, waiting. It was a panther or some type of cat hybrid. Its blue eyes watched Lucian to see what he would do next, his mouth nearly curling up in a grin.
“What the fuck are you, kitty?” he said with a snarl.
With that, the animal growled again, then turned tail and ran after Bronwyn. Something clicked inside Lucian, like a flipped switch of blinding ferocity he had no idea he possessed. Animal to animal-predator against predator.
He took off, running at top speed into the forest, the forest he’d checked out several times during their stay here. Over small peaks, past palms and other trees he didn’t recognize but scented. His awareness ratcheted up, he scented everything now, intensely, including the cat and the veana.
His blood jumped and pumped in his veins as he ran, as he slowed-as he spotted the cat through a stand of trees, running as he was running. It was like he was competing with this fur asshole for Bronwyn. Something his rational self would never do. He knew it and yet he couldn’t stop it-stop himself.
The sounds of speed echoed in his ears-whoosh, hiss-and he took off again, running toward her, her scent-and the scent of his own blood.
The cat swerved in front of him, cutting him off, and Lucian reached out to grab it, haul it to the ground, but he missed, his hand grasping at air. He growled in defeat and the cat cried out in triumph as it got lost once again in the woods.
Lucian picked up speed-pure instinct now-leaping over a stream and heading down a hillside. Bronwyn was close; he could feel it, feel her. And her scent…God, his mind and body were reeling from it.
Then, from overhead, the cat leaped from a rock and onto Lucian’s back. Nails dug into his skin and he went down. But only for a second. With sudden fierce strength, he reached around, grabbed the animal, and tossed it off his back, his flesh ripped and bleeding and stinging like a motherfucker. But he didn’t care, didn’t slow. The thing went rolling away and Lucian prepared for another battle. Then he saw Bronwyn. Down in the gully, near the creak. She’d fallen over a thick root in the ground, and was on her hands and knees. Her bare ass exposed, his shirt nearly up to her neck, ripped apart by branches or whatever had barred her way as she’d tried to escape the animal.
He was down the hill and on her in seconds, rolling her to her back-initially out of protection, his eyes shifting every which way to search for the cat.
But it was gone.
That animal was gone.
The one that remained, however-the one that raged inside of Lucian wanted what he’d caught. Snarling down at her, he ripped the rest of his shirt off her and bared his fangs, ready to strike-ready to have her.
MINE. Panting with hunger and the need to claim his kill, Lucian hovered over her. Mine, he thought wildly. Do it! Take her now!
Breathing heavily, Bronwyn stared up at him, her eyes wide with fear and excitement and hunger. She licked her dry lips.
Oh, God…Oh, shit. He shook his head, tried to clear his mind, force it to think, to process-to reason. He knew, understood what was at work here. The animal-whatever it was-had been sent here to push him forward, torment him, get him inside Bronwyn Kettler once and for all. With or without her consent.
But he wasn’t the goddamn Breeding Male.
Panting and cursing, Lucian closed the fabric of his shirt as best he could to cover her, then pushed himself off of her.
For a moment, he sat there, his chest rising and lowering, in deep pain-his cock harder than it had ever been, his balls twin rocks of misery.
He heard her sit up beside him, the scent of arousal encapsulating them, making it nearly impossible to breathe.
He uttered a pained, “I’m sorry, Princess.”
“I shouldn’t have run,” she said, her own pain evident in her raspy tone.
“I may be an asshole of epic proportion, but I’m no rapist.”
“Oh, God, Lucian.” Taking a deep breath, she said softly, “I wouldn’t have resisted.”
He turned to her, saw her cheeks flushed. “Don’t say that.”
“Why not? It’s true.” She shook her head miserably. “My body wanted it. Still does.”
Her words tore at him, dug into his need to make her his. Every second, every moment they remained on this island was borrowed time.
“You know it and I know it,” she said. “We’re never getting out of here unless…”
“Don’t say it, goddamn it!” he begged harshly.
But she didn’t have to. As they each took their next breath, the truth was carved in the rock before them.
No way out for the Breeding Male but to breed.