Authors: Crystal-Rain Love
ImaJinn Books, Inc.
Copyright ©2010 by Crystal-Rain Love
First published in 2010
He came to her at night, when the moon was high and the rest of the world was at sleep. This was when he prowled, as all bad things do. She sensed the darkness immediately, yet she couldn't restrain the carnal hunger surging through her body as he stepped through her balcony doors, entering her bedroom without invitation.
Eyes closed in sleep, she couldn't see him but she felt him, every part of him. The desire that burned deep within him, the taint of darkness lurking in his soul, the pain and longing that cried out to her, obliterating her instinct to run. She could feel his strength, the intoxicating allure of his aura, the raw masculinity that seemed to spill from his pores.
She knew she wanted him without even a glimpse of his physical appearance, even though he wasn't an ordinary man. He was . . . immortal? The word pulsated through her mind as she snapped open her eyes. Immortal? Not possible. She moved her gaze from the ceiling down toward the foot of her bed. There he stood, illuminated by the moonlight like some dark angel. But, he was no angel. There was a coldness about him, a dark beast that lurked inside. She stopped breathing as her body ignited with a desperate craving, an aching need unlike anything she had ever experienced.
He was over six feet of dark-haired, brooding perfection. Dark, stormy eyes stared down at her from within a tanned, chiseled face complete with the most enticing mouth she had ever seen. His bottom lip alone, she could suck between her teeth for days. She ran her tongue over her own lips just thinking about it.
He took a step toward her and her gaze roamed to his broad shoulders. Although sheathed in a loose white silk dress shirt and black pants, she knew every inch of his body was rock hard. Especially the part that bulged beneath the fabric of his pants, she noted, as her gaze fell there.
"Rialto,” she breathed as a suffocating heat took over her body, surprising her with the knowledge of his name. She knew the man, or beast, behind it. She remembered the heat of his lips pressed against her stomach, the soft whisper of his breath against her collarbone. She had cried out that name while staring into those tempestuous eyes, emblazoned with passion. She didn't know when, but she knew she had . . . many, many times before. And she would again. Tonight.
"You belong to me,” he said, standing over her, his voice a sensual melody of deep, rich tones. “You cannot run from the craving."
And, oh, did she crave. The desire to possess and be possessed gnawed through her like a ravenous beast, intent only on feeding its hunger. She didn't recall moving, but she found herself against him, her legs wrapped around his waist. Then she was lowered back to the bed, the fever inside her body growing as he branded her skin with hot kisses and deftly ripped away her chemise and panties. Fully exposed to him, she felt no shame. The midnight stranger washed away her inhibitions as he laved her body with his tongue.
Once he'd tasted her from toe to neck, he rose to his knees and tore his shirt from his body, baring the hard, sculpted torso she had known was hiding beneath the silk. Impatient and dying to feel him inside, she quickly helped him dispose of the remainder of his clothing before pushing him onto his back.
"No, we can't!” The storm clouds in his eyes parted, replaced with a lightning bolt of fear.
"The hell we can't.” She took the opportunity to taste that juicy lip, biting down just hard enough to scratch the skin. A drop of blood touched her tongue and sent an electric shock jolting through her body, causing her to gasp. Her body quaked in response to the jolt of hunger that started furrowing low in her belly.
"No,” Rialto pleaded as he looked into her eyes. “We must stop.” He pushed up to his elbows and started to scoot backward toward the other side of the bed.
"More,” she growled, frightening herself with the guttural sound of her own voice as she impaled herself onto Rialto's erection, stopping him from fleeing. She rocked back and forth on him with a speed she had never known she possessed. The hunger inside her intensified; the world around her ceased to exist as she concentrated only on the friction between her and her midnight lover, the pleasure pulsating through her body, but there was something else she needed to truly go over the edge. She needed the sweet taste of his blood.
"No,” he protested, his own voice growing stronger and deeper. Looking down into his eyes, now burning with the same desire she felt, she knew he wanted her as badly as she wanted him. Then her gaze fell to the trickle of blood slipping from his bottom lip.
Without thinking, she sucked at his lip, drinking in the blood, feeling it flow through her body, intensifying her every emotion. She couldn't pull back no matter how much Rialto pleaded. The blood was her drug. She would kill for it.
She heard a deep growl and then she was against the wall. Her legs were wrapped around Rialto's waist and he was thrusting inside her with a force that should have hurt but instead sent her into one orgasm after another, until she experienced a level of ecstasy that left her mind empty. She could only focus on the sensations rolling through her body, knowing the blood had heightened her sensitivity, increasing her pleasure.
She wanted him to feel what she felt, to share the gift he was giving her. As she rode out another orgasm she screamed his name and used her nails to cut through the skin at the base of her own throat, offering the dark creature of the night her own blood as thanks for giving her the ultimate in pleasure.
Rialto froze mid-thrust. His eyes began to glow with his dark need, his nostrils flaring as the smell of her blood reached him. “I'm . . . so . . . sorry.” He lowered his head to lick the red droplets from her fresh scratches. Another orgasmic shock hit her body as his tongue licked over the open skin, filling her with a warmth that turned bitter cold as he threw his head back and roared like an animal, giving her a clear shot of the two gleaming white fangs descending from his upper gum.
Impossible. Within the second it took before he tore into her jugular, she blinked, trying to dispel the image, but it was too late. She had become the monster's prey. As her veins flowed with the strong sexual desire that came with sharing blood, she realized this had to be a dream. It was impossible for her to desire this creature. He was a vampire.
She was a vampire hunter.
Rialto woke with a start, sitting straight up in the cramped confines of the small cave he had hidden in the night before after failing to beat the sunrise. The dream followed him no matter where he went. It was getting stronger.
was getting stronger, whoever
was, this woman who'd crept into his dreams over the past two decades, enticing him with her golden skin, long, dark hair and crystal green eyes. She mesmerized him, and how wonderful was that. A vampire hunter!
He rose to his feet, wiping the sweat from his face as he inched his way down the cave's long, narrow tunnel. His inner clock told him the sun had fallen completely. It was safe for him to find her.
As he stepped out of the cave and breathed in the twilight air, he wondered at his own stupidity. He couldn't control anything in the dreams. They were never exactly the same but all very similar. In the more recent ones, he came to her at night while she slept and found her in an aroused state. He was always in her head. He saw himself but he couldn't feel anything, only what she felt. And she felt him. She
him. Right down to his name and what he was. She knew he was immortal before she even opened her eyes, before her eyes adjusted to the moonlight spilling through her balcony doors and allowed her to see him clearly. Sometimes they made sweet love for hours before the bloodlust set in. Other times they pounded into each other like rutting animals, pleasuring themselves with the pain. He tried to escape before the hunger for her blood overtook him, but she managed to overpower him every time. She was too strong, she, a mere mortal. What did it mean?
He never finished the dream, always startling himself awake when he plunged his incisors into her neck, so he didn't know if he killed her or pulled back while she still had enough blood to survive. He didn't know why the thought of killing her devastated him so. The dreams were going to drive him insane if he didn't find her and figure out why she had invaded his mind every night for the past several years.
He stood on the cliff close to where he'd hid his rental, gazing over the state of Maryland. He could feel her more strongly here. It wouldn't be much longer now.
He should have his head examined for going after a vampire hunter who could overpower him so easily in his dreams, but he'd received a direct order from the Dream Teller to find the woman. He couldn't refuse. He was going to find this so-called huntress and discover her secrets.
He was going to finally discover how she knew who he was and how she managed to engulf him with raging lust when he didn't even know her damn name.
Making her way past a group of tourists who had joined together along Cathedral Street, Aria pretended not to notice the elderly woman who waved her hand in her direction, undoubtedly about to ask how to get to Edgar Allan Poe's grave site or one of the many shops which dotted the road along the Inner Harbor.
She didn't really mind the tourists; she herself had been one when she first came to Baltimore. She'd give anything to go back to the days when the artistic little shops, delightful smells, and eccentric characters of Inner Harbor, Little Italy, and the assorted other neighborhoods of the “Charm City” mesmerized her with their beauty. Baltimore had been her haven back then.
She thought she'd escaped all the ugliness of her childhood when she and her mother uprooted from Indiana and flew out to Baltimore, taking up residence in a small downtown apartment. She still lived in that apartment, but her mother would sleep forever in her silk-lined casket beneath the earth. Because of that, she ignored the tourists as she made her way toward the Enoch Pratt Free Library. She didn't want to remember how, like them, she had once been too mesmerized by the city's charm to see the danger lurking in its shadows.
"Aria, I have some more books that might help you with your research!” Curtis, the carrot-topped librarian's aide, called out to her as she stepped through the front doors. Winding her way back to the table in the far corner of the room, she aimed a polite smile his way as he rushed to check out books for a woman standing at the counter. She barely managed to remove her black leather jacket and rest her bottom in the chair before Curtis appeared at her side with a stack of books.
"I've got it now,” he said, beaming while he deposited the books on the table in front of her. He had been trying for months to figure out why she was researching vampire lore so heavily.
"Well, the other day there was a drop of paint on your jeans. You're an artist and you're doing a vampire-themed collection.” He rocked restlessly from foot to foot with his arms crossed over his chest, the light of excitement and admiration shining in his pale green eyes.
"Very observant.” Aria nodded her head in approval. “But not entirely correct."
"So you are an artist though, right?” He pulled out the chair next to her and sat, planting his elbows on the table so his hands could cradle his chin. Aria almost smiled at the way he watched her in fascination. He obviously had a crush on her, and that dampened her spirits immediately. It wasn't that he wasn't even remotely attractive or that he wasn't at all her type. What disappointed her was the knowledge that once the summer rolled in and its sun darkened her skin, he would no longer want her.
"I'm an artist, yes.” She winced at her harsh tone, feeling like a jerk when she saw the hurt flutter through his eyes. She tried to smile sweetly to offset the bitterness that had erupted within her. “But that isn't why I'm researching vampires."
The light slowly left his eyes as they lowered to a book he had taken from the stack. He was holding onto it almost as if he didn't want to part with it.