The corridor was dark, damp and smelled of blood--both fresh and old; it reeked. Fear and panic gripped Aria. She froze. A steel hand banded around her upper arm, propelling her forward.
"This is a mistake. I've changed my mind. You can have your money back," she told her customer, her first and only customer.
His charming smile contorted into a menacing grin. She tried twisting her arm to free herself, but his hand held her in place. He dragged her now. They came to a set of steps.
"I'm not into any twisted shit. Let me go," she snarled at him.
She heard that kind of laugh before, a you're-more-than-fucked laugh. Instinct kicked in, curling her hands into fists. She twisted sharply, ramming a bunched fist into the man's solar plexus. The man grunted, winded. His grip loosened. Tearing herself free, she spun on her heels and ran. Her foot twisted in those damn heels she'd borrowed from Mae; she gasped as she stumbled, slamming hard into the stone floor. She whimpered in pain as the unforgiving hard floor scraped her knees and the palms of her hands. Fuck.
"I admire your fight, little whore, but it won't save you."
He stood over her and reached down to grab her by her upper arms. He lifted her, shoving her face first into the brick wall with both arms pinned behind her back.
"I'm not a whore; I've never done this before. I-I thought I could, but I can't. Please, let me go." She felt his hot breath on her ear.
"I know that; every nervous movement you've made told me you were no whore. So much so, I couldn't resist. But you're not here to be fucked, as tempting as you may be."
He anchored one of his hands on both her wrists to keep her pinned, his other slid up over her hip and lower stomach to cup her breast. He squeezed hard.
"Hmm, very tempting. It's getting harder and harder to find fresh young innocents. I couldn't believe my luck when I saw you on that street corner. You are beautiful, little dove."
She shivered as his tongue darted out and swirled around her ear; goose bumps broke out all over her body. "Wh-what do you want?" It was a struggle to keep the fear from her voice.
He pulled back, taking her along with him as he headed in the direction she had run from, pushing her down the steps, and keeping her moving. If he hadn't been holding her so tightly, she would have fallen down the spiral stairs. The only light came from sparsely scattered bulbs.
"I have a guest downstairs; you're going to keep him company."
What kind of guest would be put up in a dark, horrid-smelling hole? In a large place such as this, there was only one word for the place he dragged her to. "What kind of guest do you keep in a dungeon? What will he do?" She was trying to keep the panic from her voice. With each struggle, he twisted her arm painfully, so she ceased her efforts lest he should break her arm.
"Whatever he likes, I suppose."
The casual way he spoke only increased her fear. With the first door unlocked, he shoved her inside, pushing her away from him.
Aria rubbed her arms, putting as much distance as possible between herself and her abductor, as she watched him lock the door with a heavy, old, iron key. The door was the only way out. In the dim, electric light of this modern dungeon, she could barely see a row of solid steel doors.
He walked to one and inserted another key, but he didn't unlock it. He turned to her, crooking his finger to beckon her forward.
"Be a good little girl now and come here."
Aria shook her head. "Go to hell, you bastard. The cops are going to track you down and see you rot in prison." Her words only seemed to make him smile that same sinister smile.
"Oh, little dove, you do like to make things hard on yourself." He stalked forward.
Aria evaded him as best as she could, until he had her trapped in a corner. She kicked and punched at him, but he was ready and quick. She found herself grabbed and flung over his shoulder with her head hanging down. She beat his back with her fists. His strong arms banded around her legs. For good measure, and as if to amuse himself, he slapped her ass several times as he approached the door with the key.
It all happened way too fast. The door was opened, Aria was tossed inside--falling hard on the concrete floor--the door was slammed shut, and she heard the key in the lock, twisting with a firm click. Trying to contain the panic fighting to break free in the complete pitch-black of the cell, Aria scrambled along the floor, feeling with her fingers until she reached the metal door. She rose to her feet and loudly pounded on it.
"You son of a bitch, you'll pay. I swear you'll pay!" She felt anger, fear and helplessness. Oh, God, she was going to die here. A sudden awareness that she was not alone made her freeze. Even with the blood rushing in her ears and her heart pounding, she could sense it--sense him. Aria turned, pushing her back into the wall, as if she could melt herself right through it to safety.
"Who's there?" She swallowed hard; whatever it was in this cell with her, it was dangerous, deadly. A soft shuffling of feet made her heart pound louder in her ears, and her breathing accelerated. She felt along the walls, inching back until she hit the corner and could go no farther. Then she closed her eyes, trying to get them to adjust to the dark.
"Please, don't...hurt me." Her whole body trembled; she knew it had moved closer. A breath caressed her face. Aria's eyes flew open; she wanted to see who it was. Still nothing other than darkness, but every other sense heightened. Cold fingers touched her arm.
Aria let out a strangled scream. As she was pulled forward, her body hit a wall of solid, naked, hard-muscled chest. Her hand pushed against the cool flesh as an arm banded around her back, tilting her, making her arch backward. Hot breath, cold body? She didn't understand how that was possible. This man, this thing felt big.
She tentatively ran her hands over the wall of muscles she was pressed against. His chest expanded and deflated with each breath he took. She felt that hot breath fan across her throat; she felt his cool lips against her skin. He kissed her throat, like that of a gentle lover, confusing her even more.
"Hungry, so hungry. I am sorry. I-I need, I need..." The voice was a hoarse, deep whisper.
It should have sent another wave of panic through her, yet, strangely, it calmed her. If this would be her death, she wasn't going to greet it like a victim. She relaxed into those strong arms. Instead of pushing in hope of escape, she let her hands feel the bare, smooth, cool flesh. Even though she could not see him, she knew he was incredibly well-built by the definition of his pectorals. Her hands searched higher, finding more bunched muscles at his shoulders, and she explored around his back. His hair was soft, thick and greasy; her fingers smoothed up and into it.
He stilled, but did not remove his face from the crook of her neck. His breathing became harder, almost labored. His cool, hard body trembled under her touch, but still he did not release her from his tight embrace. This man, this thing was in pain; she could feel the hurt radiating off him.
"It's all right," she whispered. Why? No logic came to mind. This man was in need of something, of help--her help. "If you need me, take me." Had Aria totally lost her mind? More than likely. Shutting down her brain, she allowed herself to simply feel: to feel him, to feel her acceptance. Something about this felt right; whatever he wanted, she wanted to give him.
Those cool lips brushed against her neck. Giving a sharp gasp, she felt his lips widen on her throat. His placed his lips on the side of her neck and felt hard, sharp-tipped daggers sink into her throat. A flash of pain, then a burst of pleasure ripped through her body, making every nerve ending tingle and zing with delight.
Aria moaned and clasped him tighter to her, curling her fingers in his hair. Her skin overheated. She wanted skin-to-skin, flesh-to-flesh contact with the man who made her feel like this; she wanted to press her breasts against his chest. She shifted her hips against his, desperately, wantonly, feeling his hard erection straining against his clothing. White-hot, searing, blind lust ruled and drove her, making her hungry for completion. The more he tugged on her skin, the higher she climbed toward the pinnacle. Her body was weakening, now completely at his mercy; he held her firm in his arms. As he gave another long tug on her throat, she let out a strangled cry and everything exploded. White lights flashed before her eyes, her body shuddered, and then she moaned. She was falling, unable to stop it. Unable to think or feel, she had no choice but to let the darkness take her.
Ethan ripped himself from the woman with a hoarse roar. "Mine!" Her blood was so rich, like drinking ambrosia itself. He would not, could not, take her life--oh, no. She was his, her blood and her body. She would live and live for him; he would make sure of it.
Never had any of the others reacted to him like she had, their fear drawing him like a bee to sweet honey. She had feared him at first, then everything changed and the fear left her. He felt her heart beat: strong, willing and giving. Ethan wanted her, wanted her blood and wanted her fulfillment. Why? Why is she different from the others? But she was. She was not the usual whore his jailer brought him, those he mindlessly killed, unable to stop himself, never truly sating his bloodlust and leaving his mind still snowed in a fog. But he had stopped. Why? Hardly aware of his prison, the other women had been but a blur. He was always so hungry. Now with her lovely, rich nectar running through him, every sense sharpened; he felt strong and restored. How long had it been since he had felt this whole? He wasn't sure.
Taking in the vision of the woman in his arms--her hair a mass of honey-brown curls tumbling down over his arm--he breathed in the scent of a flowery perfume, her skin soft, now pale because of the blood he took. Her heartbeat, although weak, labored on. If he took any more, she would die.
Her face looked painted, large eyes tinted in a shimmering blue, long, black-tinted eyelashes, high cheekbones dusted with pink rouge, lips full and reddened with a glossy red substance. He ran the pad of his thumb over them, smudging the color. She was dressed like the usual whores he had taken. She wore a tight, blood-red top stretched across beautiful, ample breasts and a short black skirt, revealing the curve of her well-rounded hips and lovely long legs.
Ethan was very certain she was no whore. He scowled at the scrapes on her knees and on the palms of her hands. Someone had caused her harm in bringing her to him--his jailer. This woman's blood roused him from the nightmare keeping him in this state... He would need more. There was no way he could destroy the one thing which just saved him. Every instinct he possessed screamed at him to claim her; she was a blue blood and she was his.
The lock clicked in his cell door. Ethan set his woman down on the floor; he had to act now and quickly. He hung his head down so his jailer wouldn't see the change in his eyes. Long-suppressed powers surged to the surface. Ethan closed his eyes, harnessing them. The door swung open and faint light flowed in, not that he needed it. There were only two things on his mind now--getting out, and taking his woman with him. He needed her blood; he needed her. Ethan crouched down, every muscle in his body ready for action.
His jailer sighed. "Damn, I thought this one was different." He had assumed he was looking at another dead body.
"Oh, she is." Ethan raised his head, leaping at him before he had time to react, slamming him back against the stone wall four feet from his cell door; the fledgling's head hit the stone with a heavy thwack, knocking him clean out. Ethan had a mind to finish off the bastard; obviously he had been bringing his meals to him, the one who had hurt his woman. Instead, Ethan quickly stripped him of his clothing, passing on the tight, restrictive-looking material covering his cock. The shirt and jacket were a tight fit, but would have to do. Relieving him of his keys and other possessions, Ethan dragged the man into his old, dank, dirty cell, dumping him there before picking up his woman. With her secure in his arms, he carried her out and locked the cell door, hoping his fledgling jailer rotted in there like he had for so long. Ethan unlocked the last door of his prison and started up the steps to freedom.