Count Vladimir Dracul tilted his head a minute inch as the scent of leather and hay filled his lungs. He scanned the interior of his stables for the source of the soft thudding he could hear. The rapid beat called to him, enticing him to hunt it down like prey to a predator.
But the beat was unfamiliar, no scent to go with it to identify the cause. Vlad couldn’t even hone in on a thought pattern. It was as if that which he hunted was just out of his reach, teasing him…taunting him.
“Boris, all is well in the stables?” Vlad’s fingers smoothed over the long neck of his favorite stallion as he turned to look at his stable master. “My horses are all in good working form? No illness or anything?”
“Oh yes, my lord.” Boris’s ruddy cheeks wobbled as he spoke and nodded at the same time. “Your horses are in the best of shape, sire, couldn’t be better.”
“Hmm.” Vlad glanced toward the back of the stables once more, positive that was the direction the heartbeat came from. He stepped away from his horse, wondering why the beast wasn’t concerned over the slight disturbance Vlad could feel in the air. It made the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end.
He started toward the rear of the stable, his steps slow and measured, his head slanted to the side to catch the slightest sound of movement. Strangely enough, there was none, just the soft but persistent beat of someone’s heart.
When Vlad neared the back wall, he pinpointed exactly where the heartbeat was located. He shook his head and pursed his lips. In the far back corner was a stack of hay bales. There was nothing unusual in that. Vlad was standing in a stable, after all.
What was starting to alarm Vlad—no easy feat considering he was the prince of his coven—was the fact that one of the hay bales was moving. Vlad stared at it in bewilderment, watching little bits of straw dislodge and float to the ground.
When curiosity—and the cold chill starting to creep up his back—became too much, Vlad reached over and pushed the hay bale, using all of his inhuman strength to send it flying across the barn. What he found behind the hay bale made Vlad’s mind race.
A creature, covered in mud and grime and torn clothing…and little bits of hay, scurried toward the corner as he hissed at Vlad like a feral cat. Vlad stood to his full height of six foot one, not huge but enough to intimidate the little creature cowering in front of him.
“Who are you and what are you doing in my stables?” Vlad asked, baring his fangs.
Vlad wasn’t positive what he was dealing with until the little thing tried to race past him, but the panicked emerald-green eyes told the story. Vlad swung his arm out and caught the guy around the waist to prevent his escape.
He immediately knew that might not have been his best choice when the smelly creature went insane and started biting and scratching every bit of skin he could reach. Vlad wrapped both arms around the little spitfire in a protective hug, trying not to hurt the creature but keep himself from being hurt as well.
“Restrain yourself!” Vlad snapped as he shook the man in his arms. Vlad’s eyebrows shot up when the guy went as limp as a dishrag.
He didn’t trust the quick compliance.
Vlad’s eyes darted around the stable until they landed on a saddle blanket hanging over the edge of one of the stable doors. He carried his capture to the hay that had scattered over the floor when he had flung it out of the way. Vlad gently laid the creature down then went to grab the blanket.
Vlad heard the faintest rustle of straw and spun before he took a step. Vlad’s surprise gave the creature enough time to dart across the room. He squatted down and pressed himself back against the wall as if trying to make himself the smallest possible target.
Vlad moved as well, putting himself between the scared little thing and the door. Despite his concern for the fear he could see in the man’s deep-green eyes, Vlad knew letting him leave was the last thing he should do. Taking a slow step backward until he could reach over and grab the horse blanket, Vlad tossed the scratchy material at the intruder.
“You appear cold.” Hell, the creature looked downright frozen. The man’s skin held a pale-blue tint that worried Vlad. While Vlad could hear the man’s heart beating at a rapid pace, his chest was rising and falling so quickly he looked ready to pass out.
And what would Vlad do with an unconscious human?
At least, he smelled human.
The sad little thing smelled like a whole lot of other stuff, too, stuff that reeked. Vlad really didn’t want to get too close. Although, as he glanced down at himself, he realized that his brief encounter had gotten dirt and grime smeared on his crisp, clean clothes. Vlad smelled like a dung heap, which meant the human was a hundred times worse.
Vlad motioned with his hand for the human to come toward him. “Follow me. We both could use a bath, and I will find some food for you.”
Wide panicked eyes just stared at him.
Vlad gestured again.
The terror already swimming in the man’s eyes grew the moment Vlad moved forward. The creature’s eyes darted wildly around the small space, and Vlad knew the human was looking for an escape route. And Vlad knew the moment the little thing realized he had to move around Vlad to gain his freedom.
For a fraction of a second, the man’s shoulders slumped as if he was resigning himself for the fight to come, but then he seemed to bolster himself. Vlad cocked an eyebrow when thinly developed muscles tensed.
Did the little human actually think he could beat a vampire?
Did he have a death wish?
“Béla not share Vlad?” Clearly it was a question and not a statement. Béla wasn’t brave enough to make it a statement.
“I should hope not!”
Béla was so overcome with joy that he grabbed Vlad’s face between his hands and kissed the vampire. It wasn’t until he felt Vlad’s tongue brush against his own that he realized what he had done, and he slowly pulled back, watching Vlad’s reaction carefully.
“Don’t stop now, Béla,” Vlad said with a grin. “That was just getting interesting.”
Never before had Béla even considered taking such liberties. He had never wanted to. Sex had been nothing more than grunting and mounting a ton of pain. It was Vlad who had taught him that sex could be tender, not rough. Taking in a deep breath, Béla leaned up and closed his eyes, brushing his lips over Vlad’s the same way the vampire had done to him.
“Béla.” Vlad’s voice was a mere whisper, but held so much passion, so much fire, that Béla threw caution to the wind and grabbed tufts of dark hair, pulling Vlad closer. Vlad’s breath skimmed across Béla’s cheek before Béla closed the distance, pushing his tongue inside the man’s mouth.
Vlad let out a low groan, the razor clattering to the sink as Vlad wrapped his arms around Béla’s body. The shaving cream smeared between their faces, but Béla was too lost in the aching need coursing through his body to care. The only thing he cared about was being in Vlad’s arms.
“I need you, my beautiful Béla.”
A shiver of sensual heat had Béla moaning in agreement. His cock was a wedge of hard steel, straining in his pants as he opened his mouth to say, “Béla need Vlad.”
Vlad licked at his lower lip, his hands gripping Béla’s hips tightly. A sharp breath exhaled from Béla’s lungs at not only the sensation of Vlad’s erection poking him in his side, but at the heat he could see scorching the man’s eyes.
Vlad’s tongue trailed down Béla’s neck, making Béla arch back, letting out a low moan. There was nothing so sexy, so completely filled with driving lust and sensual excitement as the man kissing his way across Béla’s throat.
His breathing became ragged when Vlad pulled away and spun Béla around, yanking Béla’s pants down to his ankles. He could have sworn he hear an animalistic growl fall from Vlad’s lips.
He was bent over the counter with his ass pushed out and his hard cock jutting between his legs. Béla heard Vlad’s zipper lower, and then the man grabbed Béla’s hips.
Vlad’s hands were shaking.
Béla had never been more turned on in his life. His body ached to be filled, to feel Vlad’s hard cock pounding deep in his ass.
“Hard and fast, Béla,” Vlad panted as his fingers dug deep into Béla’s hips. “Brace yourself.”
Béla groaned as Vlad’s cock sank into his ass. His head spun and his pulse raced as his skin stretched wide. Béla’s lips parted as small, panting noises escaped.
Vlad had the best dick in the world. It wasn’t too big, wasn’t too small. It fit perfectly inside Béla’s ass, filling every inch of him until he wanted to scream out his pleasure. He opened his eyes and glanced over his shoulder, seeing the sexual haze in Vlad’s red eyes. A course of lust shot through Béla groin, making his cock throb with his heartbeat as Vlad’s fangs became prominent.
Béla had to slap his hands against the tiled sink backdrop to keep from sliding forward as Vlad slammed into him from behind. The hands digging into his hips only added to the pleasure rocketing through Béla.
The scent in the air was wild, untamed, and pulled at Béla’s heart. He had gone from hating vampires to loving Vlad to the depth of his soul. Pushing his legs further apart, Béla damn near climbed onto the counter, wanting to feel Vlad go deeper.
“You are truly a beautiful creature,” Vlad said as he scraped his fangs along the nape of Béla’s neck. “So exquisite.”
“Vlad, please,” Béla groaned as he reached back with one hand and wrapped his arm around Vlad’s neck. He wanted to feel Vlad’s fangs sink into his flesh. He wanted to be claimed again.