He relaxed his grip and nuzzled into my hair. “You done?” His laugh was low, seductive. “Or do you have some more lies for me?”
My body warmed under his touch, his breath, his voice. I willed the memory of him whipping me into my mind, the memory of him showing me the contract where he’d bought me from my father. I wouldn’t fall for his tricks. Not again. I was done being his plaything.
He released me for a moment and gripped the white duvet, throwing it over us and marring it with blood. I edged away from him, separating our bodies, but it didn’t matter, he reached across me and turned off the light with the remote before crushing me against him. This time I felt his half mast dick pressing into my ass.
“Stop.” My voice quavered, the turmoil inside me spilling out in uncertain notes.
He spread his fingers along my bare stomach, his index finger brushing against the bottom curve of my breast. “Tell me to stop again. Please, Stella. Tell me again and see what happens.”
His words were a dark promise that sent a thread of electricity straight between my thighs. I was in his web again, caught and cocooned as he slowly sank his fangs into every bit of me.
I remained silent. I had no other choice.
“No?” He teased his lips down my neck. “You don’t want to find out? You don’t want me to put you on your stomach, slap your ass, fist your hair, and fuck your tight pussy until I make you come on a scream? Tie you up, make you come again and again while I’m deep in your ass until you beg me to stop? You don’t want all the things you just lied to me about? I can make them true, Stella. Every last one.” His fingertip moved back and forth against the sensitive skin of my breast, every nerve in my body focusing on that one small movement. “I could break you and you’d love every minute of it.”
“You will never break me. Never.” The venom in my voice surprised me. I realized then how much I meant it. How much I intended to fight. There would be no more sinking to the bottom of the pool. No more toying with death over drinks and dancing. I intended to walk across the room, wrap my arms around death’s neck and pull him down to me. Kiss him like there was no tomorrow and dare him to do a thing about it. Fuck him. Fuck Vinemont, too.
“We’ll see.” Though his voice spoke of exhaustion, his grip on me didn’t falter.
He fell asleep soon after, his breaths becoming deep and even, tickling my neck.
I tried to slip away twice after he lost consciousness, but I only managed to put a few inches between us before he wrapped his arm around me like a vise and yanked me back, a growl in his throat.
Eventually, I drifted off to sleep, awash in Vinemont, regret, and the faint scent of Lucius.
Stella slumbered peacefully on my chest, her red locks fanned out along my upper arm as if entwining with the vines that covered me. The sun had risen without any more bloodshed, though there had been plenty the night before. I’d killed men. My fair share, maybe more, to keep the Vinemont stronghold alive and well.
I didn’t blame the farmers, or the instigators, or even the paid mercenaries our competitors hired to keep the unrest churning. No, I blamed the Sovereign. If Cal wasn’t squeezing us for an even bigger cut of profits, then none of this would have happened. The farmers were just collateral damage, pawns in a much larger war that was going on hundreds of miles north of here in the bayous of Louisiana.
I smoothed my hand down Stella’s back. The tiny ridges marred her skin like braille beneath my fingertips. I’d written our story on her fair flesh in blood and violence. Regret tolled in me, but what I’d done was necessary. Just like all the trials.
Her eyelashes fluttered against my chest and she let out an angelic sigh. Her breasts were pressed into me and her smooth thigh was slung over mine. She was soft and warm, a wet dream come to life in my arms. I breathed her in, her hair smelling of lavender and vanilla.
I moved my hand back up and dug my fingers into her hair. I didn’t want her sighing. I wanted her screaming, my name on her lips, my ecstasy pulsing through her veins. But it wasn’t so simple. It never had been. I needed so much more from her than simple surrender. And the past two weeks without her under my control had been nothing short of torture.
She had run away. My fist tightened.