For once the grand fireplace hadn't been lit but a scattering of candles competed with the pool of light from a single lamp. He was waiting for me. He very often did once his business was concluded when I would lay bare my throat to the rapture of his mouth.
He nodded when he saw the set of my jaw. He'd denied me the intimacy of his blood for months but tonight I was collecting payment.
'Not yet,' he reminded me in a low voice edged with a note of warning. 'You must play according to my rules.'
'I only play by my own rules,' I replied. I crossed my arms and tipped back my head against the doorframe as I regarded him evenly. 'Check mate.'
Dark eyes glittered softly as he turned away. A deliberate gesture. I was dismissed.
'Give me your blood, Armand, or I'm going to take it.'
'You need to learn patience. Sit down'. He gestured gracefully towards a chair as if giving me benediction.
'I'm finished with lessons.'
'But the lesson has just begun.'
He had crossed the space between us to lay a cool hand on my chest. There was the suspicion of a smile on his lips he exerted considerable force, pushing me in the direction of the bed. Hard pressure, soft eyes, infinite promise. My thoughts danced ahead and I found myself moving at his bidding. My lust ramped up a notch. One step, then two then a brush of silk against the backs of my legs.
Abruptly, I twisted away. Armand found himself sitting on the end of his behemoth bed. His smooth brow furrowed as he tried to read me. His fingertips traced the line of my throat.
My turn to smile. 'I'll tell you when the lesson is over.'
If I had expected any resistance there was none. I pressed his body down with my own, mouth hungry on his, my hands sweeping his hips, arms, tight in his hair.
For love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.
He tensed as my hands squeezed his arms grasping onto me instead, levering me away. I quickly bit into his lower lip and moaned at the lash of sensation. This is what I want! But he had reversed our positions, mouth pressing down hard on mine, slender hands unbuttoning my shirt.
This was our ritual; I floated on the familiar song of it as he fastened against my neck as if he was about to take a chunk of my flesh. His mouth was wide to taste the skin before he struck. My skin quivered. I heard the soft gasp of his breath and my eyes flew open.
I moved on instinct, shoving him so hard that he flew off the bed and I was on him again, pressing my advantage. We rolled into the wall, cracking the plaster. The lamp blinked out. My teeth scraped his throat.
Then my back hit the door, splintering through the frame. The great oak panel dangled from one hinge then fell on top of me. I let out a laugh and got to my feet before he was on me again. I spun him around, and his own back met the wall with an audible thump and I dodged away from his kicking feet, pushing hard to keep him in place. I took hold of a thick knot of hair, yanking his head to one side.
Before I could close the gap between us,he jabbed at my jaw with the force of a sledgehammer. I staggered back, my fist smacking hard into that tender little mouth.
We stared at each other.
Then his mouth was on me again, a smear of taste and scent and hunger and his hands clawed at my flesh. I pushed for his throat again and again and he pushed me back, our bodies smacking into the wall of the narrow hallway. I heard a window smash. My hand caught the wall light and that shattered too, our feet crunching on dark glass. A table upended then a vase, no doubt priceless. I picked up its twin as it rolled to the edge but Armand hit it from my hand to break into shards. Then with a forceful twist we both fell. I crashed through the banister, pulling him after me until we both lay in the wreckage below.
Immediately I levered myself atop him, batting away his fists. He was a wild thing, the whites of his eyes flashing in fury but now I had him fast. The room spun. His face settled into sweetness, the sharp fragrance of jasmine rose around me and the distant sound of the sea intensified to a lulling rumble. His mouth was whole again where I had broken the skin, whole and benevolent, but this just wasn't how it was. I shook off the spell he had cast and my senses reaffirmed him, bloodied as he was beneath me. The waves receded.
Instead, he lay still, his arm stiff and torn, the padlock of his mind broken, his eyes defeated. I felt a numbness from him. I felt his fear.
And as I bent my head to claim what was mine he didn't move a muscle. My teeth touched his flesh, and still nothing. Was this surrender? I was no longer sure. I lifted my head again, my breathing still hard. He looked through me, lost and uncaring as I had seen him before. I sat up and stared.
Then I wrenched myself away, up to that square battlement and the salty wind that whipped up from the sea below. My heart was hammering. He appeared soon after, his contained power restored to him and a silent voice sounded in my head. A command. An entreaty.
I left him there.