Read This Man and Woman Online

Authors: Jackie Ivie

Tags: #duels, #paranormal romance, #vampire assassin league, #vampire romance, #cavalier, #ninja, #novella, #short story

This Man and Woman

BOOK: This Man and Woman
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This Man and Woman

by Jackie Ivie

A Vampire Assassin League Novella

“We Kill for Profit”

6th in series

 

Copyright 2011, Jackie Ivie

This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or portion thereof, in any form. This book may not be resold or uploaded for distribution to others.

This is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author's imagination, and any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

Ah…women. The fruit that puts sweetness to this sad sordid life! The light that heralds the breaking of dawn. Sweet flesh that takes a man’s soul, and—

No. That wouldn’t work. He’d already used the word sweet. He’d begin anew.

Women. The fruit that puts sweetness--

What was he doing? This woman was old enough to be his grandmother. No. Jean-Pierre corrected it as he peered through the slats in their closet door. She was old enough to be his great-grandmother. Of course, he’d have to factor in that women began having their babies at a much younger age when he’d been birthed. And they rarely lived to the age of this lady back then, too. There wasn’t much sweetness to her wrinkles and sagging skin. His ode to the females, and the pains that ensue from loving them, would just have to wait.

Jean-Pierre hunkered down, leveraging his buttocks atop his boots. Everyone mocked his attire, but the large folded top of these knee-boots made a great shelf for perching atop when one had nothing better to do than sit and watch an old woman flirt with her much younger new husband. She seemed to take forever with her evening toilette, plying her skin with creams and potions, before mercifully going behind a screen to don a lace-bedecked negligee. That was a distinct favor to Jean-Pierre, her inadvertent voyeur.

A woman this old should be sitting in a high-necked dress, glasses perched atop her nose, hair a frosted blue shade, a pair of knitting needles in her hands. Or perhaps she’d be holding a hoop about her needlepoint. She really shouldn’t be exchanging passionate glances with a man of Jean-Pierre’s age. The lad looked about twenty-eight; ripe, fit…his blood would be a pleasure to consume. His physical perfection only made the woman’s lack more apparent. She’d probably been a fine-looking woman in her prime. But now?

Jean-Pierre noted how the husband moved to the champagne bucket, turning the bottle in its ice, hovered at the light controls for a bit, making the room dimmer and dimmer, until shadows leapt from every corner, checked the lock on the bedroom door of their suite. Then he went behind the screen to join his bride, his movements done stealthily on stocking-clad feet. Odd. The man hadn’t even undone his tie from the reception. Hard to feel skin-to-skin contact through a tuxedo and under garments that way. Jean-Pierre lifted an upper lip in revulsion. It was a travesty of nature to put such a virile specimen with such a bride. A woman that age should be rocking a great-great-grandson in his cradle, not on the verge of tragedy because said heir got tired of waiting for a natural order of things. Of course, if she had been rocking a babe she wouldn’t be preparing to get bedded by a husband who definitely worked hard for his coin. Just listening to the man’s oiled tongue was enough to make an assassin gag.

Jean-Pierre fingered his mustache, pulling one end into a thin, perfect curl. The contract was quite succinct. The woman wasn’t to be harmed. Much. The contract was for the new husband. Even if she had changed her will, dead men didn’t inherit, and they wanted this one very dead.

Such an odd couple. But not rare. This one was definitely a headboard match, so-called because a copy of the will might help with performance if it got affixed to the headboard…easy reference for a man when needed. The other kind was a ceiling match. Jean-Pierre had seen enough of those, as well. If a young woman wed for money, the copy got adhered to the ceiling. That way she could view it every time she was on her back. Either definition was distasteful and ruined any mental prose Jean-Pierre might be on the verge of creating.

A variety of bumping and furniture shifting noises slid through his ears next, coming from behind the privacy screen. There was a whisper of fabric getting shifted, a cut-off cry followed by a series of moans. It sounded like the new husband liked it rough and passionate. Jean-Pierre’s lip lifted higher in a sneer. Distasteful. Obscene.
Merde!
This assignment was an inferior one. Why had they thought Jean-Pierre a good fit with such a thing? Ah…yes. He remembered. He’d wanted a young mark, in excellent physical condition. For the challenge. Why…if his luck held, the man might even share a bit of fencing skill.

The moan went silent. Worse and worse. Not only was the new husband rough, but he was quick. No female deserved such a fast tumble. They deserved lengthy, soul-searching kisses, touches of homage and adoration to their skin as a lover sought out every erotic zone…legions of time devoted to their satisfaction.

The sounds of drawers getting pulled and the contents dumped had Jean-Pierre turning his head. A glance showed the upper body of the new bride flat on the floor, strangled with her own strand of pearls, while her husband seemed to get more and more frustrated in his search. A flare of emotion filled Jean-Pierre, making his ears hum, his senses heighten, and his canines long and sharp. There was nothing better than avenging a wrong – especially one done against a woman. Gone was any allusion to the woman’s age and desperation and wealth. She became the epitome of all that was frail and lovely and precious in a female, anxiously awaiting the love of her husband.

And she deserved justice.

The closet slid silently open, attesting to the perfect maintenance of the bridal suite. Jean-Pierre had his sword pulled next in the same motion he gained his feet, proving not only the perfection of the blade and scabbard, but his skill as well. He loved this new sword, procured for him at auction. It was a real Samurai sword, smelted over a period of months during the reign of the first Shogun of the Tokugawa dynasty. The blade was listed as a five-body one, capable of slicing through five criminals with one blow. The red lacquer beneath the sword wrapping, known as
Tsuamaki,
proved it. This sword was the only one seen outside of a museum in over two centuries. It had cost a fortune.

It was worth it.

Jean-Pierre froze one step in the man’s direction as a buzz permeated the air. The man jumped and then grabbed for his shirt pocket, pulling out a phone that rivaled the Vampire Assassin League’s in its diminutive size.

“What?”

Words answered him. Jean-Pierre took another step.

“Not yet. I haven’t found it. Give me ninety seconds.”

More words answered him.

“Of course. That was easy. Just make it look good. I don’t mind a broken bone or two. Shows I fought the intruders. But hey, don’t harm my face. I need—.”

The man was facing the same huge mirror his bride had used earlier. Jean-Pierre had no reflection, but the gaping maw of the closet door gave him away. The man spun, giving Jean-Pierre a perfect glimpse of desperation and fear, and then pain as the blade sliced right into the man’s abdomen with the move.

Merde!

This sword was sharp. It might be a five-body blade in the hands of a mortal, but there was no telling how many men Jean-Pierre could slice through with it. He had the man slammed to the ground and his fangs into the jugular while his heart still pounded, pumping life fluid through veins and to an already gaping wound. Nothing was worse than feeding off a dead man. He wasn’t waiting. The bridegroom/murderer was already shivering with the shock, and his heart rate slowed.

The phone had fallen somewhere on the floor, and the distinct low rumble of a name kept infiltrating the scene.

“Mason? Mason, you there?”

Gurgling noises came out of the man’s throat in reply. Jean-Pierre lifted from the feast and patted him on the chest, and then pushed until his cavity flattened with a whoosh. It was done. Nothing remained of life. He’d fulfilled his contract and avenged a murder at the same time. And he’d fed to his fill. It couldn’t get much better.

“Mason? I’m calling 911 if you don’t answer! You hear me? Mason?”

Jean-Pierre swiped his blade on the man’s suit coat before working the sword back into the scabbard. Owning the sharpest blade in the world meant making certain of its placement before insertion. He’d earned a few cuts before figuring that out. He still wouldn’t trade it for a rapier. Then he picked up the phone and put it in Mason’s outstretched hand. The authorities could figure out what happened. He wished them luck with it, and when he stood up a star-shaped object slammed into his chest.

“What in the world?”

“Give me the
katana
or you die.”

The voice echoed in a low tone from every shadow. Jean-Pierre had the speaker in his sights as soon as she spoke. She was dressed in full black and seemed to cling in the upper corner of the room, just above and to the right of where the closet door still stood open. He plucked the metal from his chest and looked at it, waiting the few seconds for his wound to close.

“What, pray tell, is a
katana
?” He asked nonchalantly.

“The sword.”

“Oh. In that event…
non
.”

Another star hit him, this one just beneath his throat, and since he’d just fed, blood immediately seeped onto the fabric. He pulled that projectile out, too, and took a few moments hooking it together with the first one, making the combined unit just a slight bit thicker. Interesting design. Easy to open and retract. Compact. He clicked them together and apart three times before looking right at her.

“This is one of my best shirts. Woven of the finest linen, using sixteenth century methods. And look here. You tore it in two places now. And then you stained it.”

Three more stars came at him in such rapid succession, they were probably sent with one toss. She was amazing. And skilled. Jean-Pierre deflected them with a blur of movement, using the entwined mass of metal he already possessed. He dodged the next four or five she threw. He no longer counted. But the next series he caught. One at a time. And that stopped her. For a moment.

“Now, see here. You’ve put several rents in my coat. This one is particularly special. Made of super-fine wool, and fashioned in the style of King Louis the fourteenth. Very expensive. Time consuming to manufacture. And yet look. You treat it like so much pig offal.”

Her next projectile appeared to be a mini-scythe secured at the end of a chain; very lethal…if he wasn’t agile, and if he could be killed. As it was, Jean-Pierre grabbed it, not bothering with how it sliced into his free hand as he yanked, ripping her from her perch, but enjoying how inelegant she appeared as it happened. She hadn’t been expecting that.

She landed soundlessly in another deep pool of shadow, low to the floor; nearly invisible, if he didn’t possess vampiric sight and hearing. She was very slender, extremely fit, and yet curved in all the proper places. Especially in the spread-out flattened position she’d assumed. He smiled, displaying blood-stained fangs, and wondered how good her vision was.

“Interesting weapon. What do you call it?”

“Give me the
katana
.”

Jean-Pierre tucked the star things into his belt before pulling her little curved blade from the back of his hand. Sharp. He ran his thumb along it, opening a light cut as the first wound closed. He hoped she could see that, as well.

“You didn’t say ‘please’.”

A hail of more star things flew at him, making him twist and contort in evasion. He could hear them hitting the walls behind him with a sound akin to a hatchet chopping wood, while one hit the glass enclosure leading to the honeymoon suite’s bathroom with a shattering that had nothing melodic about it. The woman meant business, and she was getting annoyed with him.

Ah…women. The bane of a man’s existence and yet…at the same time, they engender such joy. No man can survive without such a thing. Her touch. Her scent. Her essence. Such a thing crosses time. Provides succor. Heals broken hearts. Cures life’s empty void with an eternity of warmth, and bliss, and the eternal happiness of belonging.

Words hammered through his skull, sent with lightning rapidity that seemed to match how her heart seemed to pick up speed while her breathing matched the pace.

“You have to be running out of these things soon.
Non?”

Her answer was a sword coming through the dimness, aimed at his lower legs and genitalia. And that was just going too far. Jean-Pierre slapped at the blade and watched it tumble through space as she lost grip. He didn’t watch it land. His adversary was already crouching, while another blade glimmered in her hand.

BOOK: This Man and Woman
6.29Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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