'Does the ends really ever justify the means?'
On a blood-soaked balcony in Rio de Janeiro, Josephine made a desperate bargain with a vampire named Julio Alberto. Her life for another. He accepted and promptly whisked her away to his isolated plantation far from any hope of outside help.
Now over twenty years later, Carnaval looms and Josephine still waits for the night when Julio Alberto will finally tire of her. Quick to dismiss his affection as a game, Josephine uses her wits to push her vampire away, unable to believe in his or anyone's love.
Undeterred, Julio Alberto strips Josephine down, forcing her to finally admit to the shameful darkness buried deep in her soul. Broken and pushed past her limits, will Josephine accept her heart's longing for Julio Alberto or will she remain forever love blind?
“Where o’ where did my little kitty go?”
Josephine slipped off her heels, knowing she had a better chance of making a good show of escaping if unhampered by gorgeous yet crippling footwear.
“Is she waiting for me in bed?”
She fixated on the door, eyes gone dry in the need to keep away from the impeccably dressed creature come like beguiling death. He hovered just inside the mosquito netting enveloping the bed, making a great show of looking for her under the crisp, cotton covers.
“No, she’s not here. Hmm…could she be hiding under the bed? Maybe in the armoire?”
Josephine didn’t need to look directly at the aristocratic planes of his beautiful face to know what was there. She had seen the landscape too many times to count. Even now wicked humor burned mad bright in his ebony gaze as they swept the rarely-used guest room. His full mouth curled in dark, anticipatory pleasure that marked him as a predator ready to hunt.
It’s always a game to him. It’s as if nothing in life is of any interest unless it’s wrapped up in blood and sex.
“She’s not in the bed or under it. She’s also not in the armoire. Where o’ where can my little kitty be?” He turned away from Josephine and rocked back on booted heels. She watched the broad shoulders rise in an easy shrug. “I know she couldn’t really be hiding by the window. Only stupid little girls would do that and my kitty isn’t stupid, is she?”
Josephine edged away, careful to keep the drapes from sweeping across the floor. Her hand slid down her thigh, fingers unlatching the strapped knife, and readied herself for the bloodletting.
“I’d be so disappointed if my kitty hid for nothing. I’m sure she would too because then I’d have to take my disappointment out on something else…pity.”
Josephine dashed out from behind the curtains, right hand curled hard around her dagger as she made for the closed door. Delighted laughter hissed in her ear scant moments before Josephine’s arm swung out in an arc. She felt the blade cut through fabric and flesh but knew it wouldn’t be enough to stop him.
Shit! I didn’t hit deep enough!
Yanking the door open, Josephine didn’t have time to waste in slamming it shut. Instead she scrambled down the pitch-black hallway and pinpointed the end as a lifeline. Each second counted and no moment could be wasted. Adrenaline pumped hard, making her vision just that much sharper and her legs that much faster.
Josephine didn’t have to look over her shoulder to know he was there. She deadened the instinct to drop to the ground and beg for mercy.
Can’t think of it, can’t do it. It would only make him angry and might just finally destroy me.
The wooden floors thumped with each macabre step, mimicking her rabbit-fear heart while drowning out her doomed, racing strides.
Josephine stretched her arm, empty hand flexing its fingers in the hopes of touching the wall, when it was all over.
Not enough time!
He hauled her against his chest, back to front, and whispered in her ear, “So close, my little kitty. So very close. You did well tonight.”
Josephine instinctually struggled, only to freeze when she felt his tongue lave the juncture between shoulder and neck. The knife dropped to the floor. “How many?”
“How many, querida?”
Josephine wished she could be confident in his endearment. She wished she could be sure of being his darling. She feared how such overconfidence would result in the spilling of blood—namely hers.
“Yes! How many did I save?”
He sighed, heavy and disappointed. “Is that the only reason you play with me, querida?”
“You know why I do it.”
“I know but that’s not the only reason, is it? I think you know it too, don’t you?”
Josephine’s breath wisped, tiny tendrils of life shrinking ever so quickly. “Julio Alberto…please…”
“You know I love to hear my little kitty whine. Come, let’s see if I can make her do it again.”
Josephine dropped her head back onto his shoulder. Closing her eyes, she surrendered to the intoxicating sensations created by his kisses peppering her neck.
“I need to know, Julio Alberto.”
He licked a delicate path up to her ear. “Five, querida. You saved five.”
Julio Alberto nuzzled the sensitive skin beneath her earlobe. “It’s okay, querida. You don’t have to fight anymore.”
“Thank you.” Her legs succumbed to the exhaustion pressing hard. “I’m so glad. If I hadn’t gotten away from you…if you had won it all tonight…”
“But you did and I didn’t.” Julio Alberto wrapped his arms around her waist, taking all of her weight. “You care so much after all this time. Every year I wonder if it will be the last and it never is. My little patron saint…”
He gently scored a fang across her lobe. Josephine shuddered uncontrollably. A needy moan escaped her. Regardless of what they were, of where they started, in this she was always open and honest.
“Do you want me, querida?”
Josephine pushed her bottom back against his hips. “Yes.”
“Enough to keep doing this with me?” His slim, elegant hands reached around to cup her breasts.
“Oh, yes.” Josephine sighed raggedly when he started playing with her nipples, pinching and pulling them as he saw fit.
“Do you like it?” Jose Alberto pressed his lips against her neck, keeping the sharpest part of his kiss away for the moment.
Josephine panted her pleasure. She reached up and pulled down the gown’s thin shoulder straps. Emerald satin fell into a shimmering puddle around her bare feet.
“I see that you do.” His fingers returned to tug harder. “You are such a strange girl, querida.”
Josephine whirled about and threw herself into his embrace. Their kiss sparked the ever-present ember between them. Mouth open, tongues sliding slickly, they devoured the other, trapped in a netherworld where passion had no limits or tie to dubious morality.