Blood and Sex, Volume 3: Blane [MultiFormat]
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eBook by Angela Cameron
eBook Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance
eBook Description: In the third book of Angela Cameron's steamy trilogy about a vampire mafia, we discover Blane's hidden passions and struggle to succeed within the vampiro hierarchy. We get glimpses into Michael and Tori's established relationship, and learn more about the opportunities and threats that the vampiro faces as they journey to Venice. Will the Alleanza survive the modern pressures of the vampiro cosca? Will Blane be able to break through the guarded reserve of Christiana, the beautiful woman the vampiro leader has sent to educate the newest vampires? Or will her sense of duty be stronger than the passion that threatens to sweep her away? Don't miss this exciting continuation of the series Romance Junkies named a "debut that rocks"!
eBook Publisher: Ravenous Romance/ravenous romance, Published: 2009, 2009
Fictionwise Release Date: September 2009
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15 Reader Ratings:
Christiana stepped into the immaculate foyer of the mansion owned by Michael, the new vampiro leader of Collins Bay. It had been years since she'd seen him. Her work for Khalil, their leader and her creatore, kept her too busy to make social calls, but even in South Africa, she'd heard about the overthrowing of Castillo, Michael's former padrone. She wasn't keen on seeing anyone die, but she was glad to see that particularly twisted vampiro go. Unless he'd changed, which wasn't likely, Michael would be a much more suitable padrone.
She glanced at Jonas, the uniquely pale vampire who moved past her carrying the two Louis Vuitton suitcases into which she'd managed to pack most of her things. In all her years, she'd never seen anyone like him. The white hair and ancient tattoos on his face and neck were too like the ancient Viking warriors of his human line, and the dark, hollow eyes made him look as sinister as the reputation that preceded him. To top it off, there was no emotional feedback from him. Christiana's power allowed her to feel the emotions of others. A few could block her, those who didn't know what they felt could confuse her, but from Jonas, there was nothing but static, like a television between channels.
When he put the bags on the floor and glanced up, she smiled at him. "Thank you again for driving me up from the airport. I really could have stayed in the jet."
"It's too dangerous to stay there during the day and there's more room here than we'll ever need." Jonas turned his attention toward a room at the end of the foyer that leaked digital noise. It sounded like someone was playing a video game. "Blane!" his voice echoed through the house.
A hulk of a vampire skin glanced around the corner. His skin was a little too tanned for him to have been full Caucasian as a human. His green-tipped black hair was a little too long, shaggy enough to fall around his face. He was sexy in a bad-boy sort of way.
Jonas motioned toward the bags. "Blane, carry these up to her room."
He glanced from her to the bags, and then disappeared again. His voice boomed from the other room. "I'm busy, J."
"Blane." Jonas's voice was harder this time and left no room for negotiation. It was an order, a threat, and a promise all in one word.
There was a long huff in the other room before the vampiro appeared in the hallway. This close, he was even larger than he'd initially looked. Blane's arms were wrapped with thick muscle that pulled his T-shirt tight over his shoulders when he moved. When he bent forward near the luggage, the pistols in his shoulder holsters drew her attention. Without a doubt, he was a member of the defensive portion of Michael's cosca.
Blane grabbed the bags, his muscled arms flexing, and headed up the staircase without a word. She didn't need to hear his heavy steps to know how agitated he was. She could feel it radiating from him. He was angry, probably for having to help her, but there was something else. Something below it that felt heavy and sharp in her mind. Distrust.
Christiana followed him up the stairs, down a hallway, and into a large bedroom. It was plush and decorated in shades of cream and sage that gave it an airy sort of feel. The huge bed with its billowy duvet and matching throw pillows added to the effect. Blane looked odd in such a feminine environment.
She walked to the bed and ran her hand over the soft fabric as he put her bags at the foot. "It's marvelous." She watched him from the corner of her eye. "Thank you for bringing the bags. And for being so welcoming."
Blane's emotion shifted. The distrust became the dominant feeling as he stood tall in front of her, folding his arms over his chest. His face was casual. Too casual for the negative attitude rolling off him.
Her attempt to disarm him hadn't worked. Instead, the remark cemented his feelings. Christiana smiled and tried for a sincere tactic. "Thank you for bringing up the bags," she repeated.
He nodded and let an awkward silence pass before he said, "So, you're Khalil's kid."
That wasn't exactly how she'd put it, but--"Yes."
"Why did they send you to work with Elena?"
As if it were any of his business. "I help all of the neonato." It was true; she did help all of the new vampire to control their urges until they were strong enough to do it themselves.
Blane narrowed his eyes. "How old are you?"
He was getting too personal. "Old enough. Why?"
"You didn't come when I was changed."
"I've only been doing this for the last decade or so."
"After the problems with the succubus, then."
Smart guy. "I suppose so. I haven't really thought about it."
"So, you're a spy for Khalil."
Christiana fought back the urge to deny it. No one had ever put together the timing between the start of her services to the new vampires and the effort to rid the world of the out-of-control succubi. It was better that they hadn't, too. But Blane broke that record. He'd caught on to her position as one of the unpopular spotters, those who pinpointed the succubi in order to contain them.
So she sidestepped. "Why are you so suspicious?"
He ignored the question. She felt the shift in his mood, the change from suspicion to accusation just before he said, "Your gift's knowing what we're thinking?"
She sighed. If she wanted to keep him from being an obstacle, she needed him to back down. The problem was that Blane was too smart for his own good. She had to be careful and give him enough information to keep him from suspecting her of lying, but not enough to have him alert Michael. "I can only sense feelings, and only when they're strong."
Blane smiled, then relaxed a little at that. "So, it's more like reading auras."
"If you found a succubus, what would you do?"
Ah. So he hadn't given up the suspicion. "I would be forced to tell Khalil."
"Even if she didn't use abilities?"
"I suppose. Better safe than sorry, as they say."
His anger was like a hot flash through the room. "What makes you think you have the right to do something like that? Do you know what they do to vampires who have that particular gift?"
Christiana grabbed a bag from the floor and put it on the bed. She had to calm him. They weren't going to have this conversation. Whatever Blane's issue was with The Alleanza and how its laws were enforced, she didn't have to defend it to him. She had a job to do, to help the new vampiro through her first weeks, then move on to the next one. It wasn't her personal crusade to rid the world of those sexual predators, the incubus and succubus. She only had to let her creatore know if she did find one because they were illegal--dangerous.
"So, you do know what they do to the ones they round up." He stepped closer.
"I know they're contained."
"I don't know anything about that." It wasn't a lie. She didn't know, only suspected. Still, guilt twisted Christiana's gut as she pulled a blue sweater from the suitcase.
Blane was close, crowding her. "You always do what you're told, don't you?"
Anger bubbled up. She tossed the shirt onto the bed, then whirled toward him. "Why are you doing this to me? Did I look at you wrong when I came in or do you do this to all of your guests?"
His eyes widened a little. "No." He got control of his face again and managed to look angry again, but the anger waned. "I don't trust Council spies who come into our home under the guise of helping."
"I am here to help." Christiana closed in, invading his space. He didn't move, but she could feel his aversion to being so close to her, a stranger. "I can leave if you want, but do you think Michael will like that? And I think Jonas might be a little upset if his new compagna goes on a killing spree and has to be put down."
He leaned forward, so close she could see how green his eyes were, and it forced her to take a step back. "Just don't start anything, Princess. I'm not intimidated by your daddy, and I will be watching you."
Christiana leaned in, too. She wasn't going to be intimidated either, even if the larger male triggered every flight response she had. "Good. I'd hate for you to miss anything. Maybe you can even learn something."
He glared at her for a long, silent moment.
Then his lips cracked into a smile.
"What?" She leaned away a little.
A wave of pleasure rolled through the room, and his eyes swept down and back up her body. "You're kind of hot when you're mad."
Her body responded to the dark, predatory look on his face by hardening at the nipples. The small space between them seemed to heat up. She gaped at him for a second, staring into those green eyes.
Then Christiana turned on her heels and went back to the bed. She busied herself by refolding the sweater she'd tossed in anger and refused to look at him. "Don't get any ideas, vampiro. I don't mix business and pleasure."
Blane walked to the door. "Wow. That must be painful."
Christiana glanced over her shoulder to him. "What?"
"Walking around with that stick up your ass."
She snarled and tossed the sweater at him, but he slammed the door shut. After the soft thud, she heard his chuckle from the hallway.
That vampiro was going to be a real problem.
Blane chuckled to himself again as he moved down the stairs. The sorella was going to be a pain in his ass--even if she was hot. Her perfect body and long blond hair were sexy, even when she tried to hide behind black framed glasses and a business suit.
And it didn't take a genius to see she'd spent far too long kissing the asses of too many old vampires. She was one of them, one of the inner circle who thrived on power and using others to their own advantage. Plus, she was there on official business. As long as she was around, they'd all be tiptoeing around the rules.
Michael would have to be warned. He had guarded his secret for too long to let them find out about it now. And Jonas would see Christiana as a threat to his compagna's life, which would probably set off Luciano.
Blane shivered at the thought. No one wanted Luciano involved. He could rack up a body count faster than anyone else. To keep him out of the situation, it would have to be handled delicately. Maybe if Blane just kept a close eye on Khalil's progeny, he wouldn't have to warn them.
It was too big of a risk. They needed to be more careful with that spy than with the other vampires in the cosca. As new as Elena was, that was going to be next to impossible to hide what she really was. Then if they found out she was a succubus, Michael would be outed, too.
He hit the ground floor and went straight to Michael's office at the end of the hall. He knocked on the big wooden door.
After a few seconds, Michael answered, "Come in."
Blane opened the door to see his padrone sitting behind a massive desk in a gray button-down shirt. Michael managed to look casual, but his compagna, Tori, was blushing a little as she sat on the edge of the desk adjusting a button on her red blouse. What was so embarrassing? It wasn't like he'd never interrupted them before. Besides, they could all hear them going at it on a regular basis. With Jonas and Elena added to the mix, it was like living in the Playboy mansion from hell. Everyone was having sex under this roof except him.
"What is it, Blane?"
"Oh. Uh. Sorry to interrupt, but we need to talk." He walked toward the desk.
"Well, then, go ahead," Michael said.
Blane motioned his head toward Tori. "It needs to be private, boss."
She sighed and stood, but Michael caught her hand. Tori smiled down at him. "It's okay. You deal with business, and I'll get a bite to eat. Just call me when you're done."
Michael kissed her hand like the romantic sap that he was. "I will."
Tori left the room quickly. Blane began to pace.
Michael said through gritted teeth, "It better be damned important,"
"She's a spy."
"That woman." Blane pointed at the ceiling. "She's looking for succubi."
"So?" Michael's voice was calm, almost mocking. "No one will let our secret escape."
He turned toward the padrone. The soundproofed room would keep anyone else in the house from hearing what he was about to say, so he let it fly. "Look. I know about the little power boost Elena gave you."
The other vampire's eyebrow rose slowly.
Blane held up his hands. "I'm not going to say anything about it, but you need to know because Elena might not be able to hold it together."
"How do you know?"
"I'm the genius, remember? It didn't take long, especially after that little display at The Dungeon the night she came into the cosca."
Michael smirked. "I assumed as much. I meant, how do you know that Christiana's a spy?"
"Why does everyone always question how I know? I just know."
"I forget your instincts at times." Michael sounded tired. "Did you confront her?"
He sighed. "Did she admit it?"
"Call in Jonas."
Blane went to the door, cracked it open, and yelled, "J, Michael needs you."
He closed the door and waited for the other vampire to join them. When Jonas entered the room, he glanced between the two, then glared at Michael. "What do you mean 'we have a problem'?"
"It's always so fucking creepy when you do that. Especially when you look like that." Reading minds was Jonas's specialty. It was unnerving, particularly because he looked like a dead, tattooed elf from Lord of the Rings. Yeah, it was cool to see him embracing the side they'd all known as Luciano, but he still gave Blane the heebie-jeebies.
Michael rubbed his temples. "Jonas, Elena and I ha--"
"What!" He stalked toward the desk.
Blane took a step toward Michael. He wasn't sure if they could take Jonas together, but he wasn't going to stand by and watch Luciano rip their padrone apart.
Jonas glanced at him, then stopped moving. "She knows?"
It was always such a pain to follow J's conversations when he was reading someone's mind. Especially when he was pissed. He was all reaction and no explanation.
Jonas pressed his palms on the desk and leaned toward Michael. "And how did you both keep me from knowing?"
It was Blane's turn to sigh. "You always underestimate us. It's not that hard to keep you from knowing everything we think."
"Apparently," Jonas said.
"Why didn't you just read her mind?" Blane asked, pointing to the ceiling.
"I'm trying to let everyone have their privacy."
Blane laughed. Jonas hadn't bothered with giving them privacy in decades. "I'm glad you're trying to be polite, but you don't have to include total strangers sent by those nosey o--"
"Enough." Michael groaned. "We don't have time for this nonsense." He leaned back in his chair. "Jonas, do you think Elena can keep the secret? If they find out what we are, I may be able to keep my position because they've known me for so long, but I don't know that I can protect her."
Jonas grunted. "I think so. She's been fine for ... what ... four nights now?" He glanced toward Blane. "The woman can't read minds, can she?"
"She said she senses our emotions, but she can't read thoughts." Blane slid his hip onto the edge of the desk.
"Khalil told me she could manipulate emotions, which was why I agreed to let her come. I thought it might be easier for Elena."
"Well, she's here now." Jonas walked to the window. "I'll talk to Elena. When I'm not around, Blane, you keep an eye on her."
"And it would help if you could use some of that charm to put her at ease instead of confronting her at every turn," Michael added, throwing a loaded look in his direction.
Blane shrugged. "I don't have the same skills you do. Casanova wasn't in my gene pool."
Jonas laughed. "I've seen you working the humans. You do just fine."
"It only works on them."
Michael sat forward, propping his arms on the desk. "The powers are different for each of us. Your mental capabilities are no small thing."
Blane nodded, but it was only for Michael's benefit. His abilities weren't a huge help. Telekinesis and instincts that bordered on being psychic weren't exactly going to help him seduce a spy.
"Jonas, go talk to Elena. Blane, go see if our guest would like to visit the club. The less time she spends here, the easier it will be to keep our secret." * * * *
Christiana tucked the last suitcase into the closet, then slid onto the bed. It was soft and much more comfortable than the one on the jet, but it still wasn't home. She needed a place of her own, somewhere that was a real home. Somewhere she would want to go. Even Khalil's estate didn't feel like home anymore. She couldn't quite put her finger on it, but something was off.
A knock came from the door.
She sat up, pulling her shirt back down into place. "Please, come in."
Blane poked his head in the door; a brilliant white smile was plastered on his face that was offset by a toothpick that he pulled out to speak. "Are you still mad?"
"Frustrated, perhaps. I don't appreciate being treated that way."
"Let me take you out. As an apology."
She eyed him. There was nothing in his emotions to indicate an ulterior motive. Still, something felt wrong. "Why? Not even an hour ago, you were ready to burn me at the stake as a spy."
"You can be an informant and have fun, too. Besides, I can't pass up taking out a hot woman when I have the chance."
Oh. So, that was the reason. "Look. I appreciate the offer, but I'm not into casual sex."
Blane let out a sharp laugh. "A little vain?"
"That's a huge assumption. Either you get hit on so much that you assume everyone wants you, or it's been so long since a man really hit on you that you don't know the difference from an attempt at an apology."
Eeesh. Was it that obvious she hadn't had a real date in years? She was really beginning to suck at keeping her personal life a secret, especially with Blane around. Christiana sighed. "I'm sorry."
"Well, do you want to go out?"
"No, I need to introduce myself to Iuliana. I am here on business."
He opened the door a little more, stepping inside. "That's not her real name. It's just the one they use for her in public. Because of all the problems with her human life."
"Oh. Yes, of course." She remembered that from Khalil's briefing. Her name had been Elena, a well-known doctor before the change. An immunohematologist, to be exact. There was a huge cover-up that went along with her change, forcing the necessity of the new identity. "I should have remembered."
"They are at Jonas's club now. Would you like to go? I could introduce you."
If he wasn't going to stay away, she might as well keep him around where she could see what he was doing. "Sure." * * * *
Christiana glanced down at her silver watch. It was two in the morning, and The Dungeon was alive with vampires pretending to be humans and humans pretending to be vampires. It was all a strange fašade that allowed the vampiro club owner and his cosca to casually mingle with the humans without risking The Alleanza. Somehow, it worked. Khalil would be proud of their ingenuity.
"You're not leaving, are you?"
She glanced sideways at the human man on the barstool beside her. He smiled, his face moving enough to force the ring in his eyebrow to move. That taunting little piece of silver gave her the strangest urge to reach up and jerk it out of his face. Maybe that was because he'd spent the last two hours annoying her by trying to pull her onto the dance floor, flirting incessantly, and forcing drinks on her. Luckily, the bartendress knew what she was and gave her the appropriate drink.
He draped an arm around her back and whispered, blowing the scent of vodka toward her. "Come back to my room. We'll party the rest of the night."
She shrugged his arm off. "I told you, I'm here with someone."
Well, she was ... kind of.
Christiana pointed toward the door, where Blane stood talking with a slender bleached-blonde. "That guy with the green hair."
The human leaned in closer and planted a kiss on her neck. "Looks like he's busy."
Lips touching her skin was too much. She shoved him back onto his stool and grabbed her drink from the bar. "Thanks for the drinks."
When she turned to walk toward the door, Blane was standing in front of her. He was glaring down at the human. "Problems?"
She smirked. "Yeah, he doesn't seem to believe that I'm here with you."
Blane grabbed her around the waist and jerked her body against his. His mouth was suddenly on hers, giving her a long, deep kiss that made her head swim and her legs flex.
He pulled away, keeping one arm around her waist.
Christiana blinked up at him.
"Sorry, dude. I didn't want any trouble," the human said. He grabbed a drink off the bar and headed off into the crowd.
"Then buzz off," Blane said.
His words pulled her attention back to his arm around her. Blane was just trying to help, to rid her of an annoyance. Nothing else. So there was no reason to keep standing here so close to him. And no reason to be licking her lips, taking in another reminder of the minty taste of him.
She straightened, pulling from his grip, and took a cleansing breath. "Thanks."
Blane shoved his hands into his pockets, flexing his biceps. "Yeah. You're welcome."
"I'm ready to leave."
"Jonas wants me on the door until four."
"Then I'll call a cab." She turned toward the bar again.
"Wait." He slid up beside her again. "I'll take you back."
"It's okay. I don't need an escort."
"But I'm responsible for you."
She let the words hang there for a moment. They were a harsh reminder of the true nature of their relationship. She'd let her lust get the best of her, hadn't she? The kiss wasn't about anything other than his assignment to watch her. He was her protector while she was here, that much was clear.
Blane's hand touched hers. "Let me take you home."
Her skin warmed under his touch. He'd fed much more recently than she had, and it made him feel almost human. Under different circumstances, she'd love to have those hands--No. She couldn't think like that.
Christiana pulled her hand away. "I need to introduce myself to Elena. Is she there?"
"Then take me to the estate." * * * *
"Fine. Let's go." Blane stood straight and pulled his arm away from Christiana's just as she pulled away. Her body stiffened, too, and her head turned toward the door.
That kiss had been a mistake. He had to get control of himself. She was a professional, an extension of their leader, and here on business. What had he been thinking?
That was the problem; he hadn't been. The only thing that had been a factor in that kiss was some strange random need to display his claim on her to that fucking human, like she was his. That was a joke. She didn't even like him.
He turned toward the sound of the high-pitched female voice and saw the tiny blonde who'd been hounding him all night. Apparently, she'd been to the back with him before. Damned if he could remember it, though. After a few years, all those random girls he'd fed on started to look the same, like trying to remember what one particular hamburger looked like when you ate hamburgers every night.
"You're not leaving yet, are you?" The girl crushed her body against his. "I thought we'd go into the back first."
"Not tonight." He peeled her hand off his chest and caught a glimpse of Christiana's glare as he pushed past the girl. Christiana was pissed, though hell if he knew why. Hadn't she just made it very clear that she had no interest in him beyond what her job required? Maybe it was just the fact that a human was interrupting them. She was probably like those old vamps who refused to see humans as anything more than lapdogs and servants.
He grabbed Christiana's hand and tugged her toward the door. "Come on."
She resisted little until they were outside, but once they were in the darkened parking lot, she jerked her hand from his. "Don't pull me around like a child."
"Fuck. What is your problem?"
"I don't like to be led around like that."
"Excuse me for laying a hand on the royal skin." Blane clicked the remote and unlocked the doors to the black Escalade he'd borrowed from Michael's growing automobile collection. * * * *
"Don't pretend that you didn't enjoy yourself."
"Ugh!" Christiana stormed up the stairs inside Michael's mansion. "You left me there with a bunch of ... miscreants!"
"Oh, come on." His feet were falling in heavy steps behind her. "I couldn't help that they left when we got there. Jonas doesn't ask my permission. And he ordered me to watch the front. What was I supposed to do?"
She huffed. It was more than a coincidence that Jonas decided to leave with Elena just after they'd arrived, leaving her to spend the evening in Jonas's silly vampire-themed club. Of course she'd stood out in the crowd while the wild-haired Blane had fit in perfectly. "I don't have to read minds to know you're trying to keep me from doing my job."
No, that was all too obvious from the way he'd sent over some strange human with a ring in his eyebrow who flirted incessantly, bought her drinks, offered to take her out, and even pulled her toward the dance floor a few times, attempting to make her break the ironclad "I don't dance" rule.
If Blane tried any harder to distract her, she'd lose her mind.
That nagging little bit of deception filtered through his cool arrogance. "I'm not trying to keep you from your job. I just wanted you to--"
"Don't lie to me." Christiana reached for the doorknob and turned.
It didn't budge.
She jiggled harder, but it still didn't move.
Blane cleared his throat to her left.
Christiana glanced just to her left and saw his hand held out in an odd angle, as if he were gripping a doorknob. He was a telekinetic. She groaned. "Release the door."
"No." Instead of doing as she asked, he closed in, trapping her between him and the door. "Let me make it up to you."
She ignored the way his muscled chest pressed against her back. "I want to go in my room."
He leaned forward, pressing the length of his body to hers. When she tried to pull away, he grabbed her around the waist with one arm and whispered, "You could come to my room instead."
Christiana took a deep breath and tried not to think about how long it had been since she'd had someone else pressed to her like this. Blane had one mission: to keep her from finding out if Elena was a succubus. Anything he did was just to distract her, including his attempts to seduce her. She took another breath, then said, "I told you, I'm not as easy as those human girls who were falling at your feet."
"I know. I'm willing to work for it." He exhaled, forcing his warm breath across her neck.
"How long has it been?"
There was no way she was going to tell him that. Not only was it none of his business, but he would just use it against her.
"That long, huh?" His lips brushed her earlobe. "I could give you a night worth all that wait."