Fates Fulfilled [Eldritch Legacy 3]
Click on image to enlarge.
by Katrina Strauss
Category: Erotica/BDSM Erotica/Romance
Description: Series: Eldritch Legacy; Previous Book: Lessons Learned
Genre: BDSM Paranormal
Marissa Blackwell and Devon Eldritch are first cousins, best friends, and heirs to a winery fortune. Before claiming their inheritance, they must survive for two years without their family's money.
Street-smart Marissa is up for the challenge. By day, she works in the corporate world while by night, she explores the BDSM scene. Gorgeous photographer Gareth Neville lures out her Dominant side, but it's a mysterious masked Dom who learns her most secret desires. Torn between two men, undecided between dominance or submission, Marissa must choose the lover who truly meets her needs.
Meanwhile, rich and spoiled Devon is free to embrace his vampire fantasies and study the path of the Magi. When he meets fetish model Celeste Dupree, he finds a woman willing to explore his darkest dreams. But as he and Celeste ride the razor's edge together, they must control the dangerous power their passion unleashes.
Drawn to the dark side of the underground, each cousin finds the darker side of man. After a set of grisly murders, Devon is tagged the primary suspect. In proving his innocence, Devon and Marissa's unusual legacy unfolds, and the fate of the Eldritches comes full circle.
Surviving it is only the beginning.
Publisher's Note: This book is a re-edited, revised version of a title previously released by another publisher, and contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations some readers may find objectionable: Anal play/intercourse, BDSM theme and content, knife play, spanking, vampirism, violence.
eBook Publisher: Loose Id, LLC, 2010
eBookwise Release Date: March 2010
3 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [409 KB]
Reading time: 245-344 min.
As they rode up in a rattling freight elevator, Devon was further impressed and reassured. He knew the building to be a refurbished shoe factory that now housed the most in-demand studio space in Eventide. The lift screeched and jerked to a halt at the top floor--level thirteen, though numbered fourteen per the old superstition. Devon slid the accordion gate to the side. To his shock, Marissa didn't balk at his ladies-first approach and stepped out ahead of him.
A raspy feminine voice drifted toward them, one that sent pleasant tingles through Devon's spine and called to mind the taste of warm honey or butterscotch liqueur.
"I really like how this one came out. I actually have cleavage!"
A soft masculine baritone responded, the tone one of encouragement, the words clipped with a slight accent.
"I told you the photos would turn out fine. Your fan base doesn't bemoan your supposed lack of cleavage like you do."
Entering the loft, Devon stepped onto planed, polished hardwood, the way his and Marissa's floor must have looked once upon a time. Three times larger than their lopsided apartment, the spacious one-room unit was tastefully decorated in varying shades of black, gray, and red. One brick wall was adorned with framed photographs, simple headshots of attractive models, a few of which Devon recognized from Gareth Neville's online gallery. The adjacent wall was lined entirely with books, the shelves so tall that they required a ladder to reach the top. In one corner, a black backdrop, wooden platform, and lighting equipment formed a photo studio. Another corner featured an upright piano.
In the center of the open sitting area, Devon spied a guy and girl on a red leather loveseat, hunched over a coffee table, a set of 8x10 photos spread over the black lacquered surface. Devon noticed that Marissa hadn't been exaggerating about Gareth's silver hair, currently pulled back in a ponytail. It took him a few moments longer to comprehend that the young woman beside the photographer was Celeste Dupree.
Even more beautiful in person, she was a dazzling vision in black vinyl, leopard print, and platform pumps. Pale platinum tresses cascaded down her back in a smooth, straight sheen, a layer of bangs cut evenly across her expertly arched, drawn-on brows. Unaware of his presence, she stood and stretched, her tall frame that of a lithe dancer, elegantly slender yet undeniably female. Skintight hot pants displayed a pair of legs that went all the way up. Devon's eyes immediately lighted on her famous tattoo.
Wistfully, he followed the vine of scarlet roses and black thorns, its coveted path memorized from studying her Web site for countless hours. While Celeste had never posed fully nude, her costumes often left little to the imagination. Starting at her outer left ankle, the vine disappeared where it twined around her calf, remerging around her knee, then again at mid-thigh. Devon's face flushed hotly as his gaze trailed up to her hip, his mind filling the naughty blanks where the ink wove beneath her shorts, and reappeared on the right side of her exposed, pierced navel. Dipping around her narrow waist, his eyes cupped under her breasts, small but perky beneath her leopard-spotted halter top. He felt the faint stirrings of a boner.
Shit, not here, not now, he chided himself, shifting his feet, readjusting his stance.
He knew the rest, that the tendril of roses brushed over the cap of her right shoulder and tapered down her willowy arm, finally ending at her delicate wrist. But his stare was now fixed on her heart-shaped face, pouty red lips, and hazel eyes that changed color from one shoot to the next, sometimes green, others brown. Today, they shone somewhere in the middle--and were directly meeting his.
Devon's gut lurched, his heart lodged in his throat, and he froze, trapped. If he looked away, the fact that he'd been leering would be obvious. But he couldn't just stand there gawking, either. Nervously, he smiled, waiting for her to dismiss him with an impatient roll of her eyes and a toss of her silken mane.
Instead, she smiled back. Her hips swayed as she strode toward him.
"Hi," she said. God, that sexy rasp. "I love your suit. Is it vintage?"
"Yeah," he mumbled. "I found it on the Net at an auction site."
Celeste stopped just inches from him, her eyes drawing level with his, her height surprising him. He knew she was tall, even without the platform shoes, but not that tall, yet everything about her was proving a pleasant surprise, like her sultry voice, or how much silkier her hair looked in person, and the fact that she smelled faintly of sage and patchouli. She's real, Devon realized, his private fantasy girl standing before him in the flesh.
Reaching out, Celeste took hold of his tie and stroked it between her fingers. Briefly, Devon entertained an image of her stroking something else, and he grew painfully hard beneath his trousers.
Oh fuck...oh shit...
"Wow, hand-painted silk. Very classy." She peered up at him and batted wispy, mascara-coated lashes. "Did you find this on the Net, too?"
Devon swallowed, his throat gone dry, and tried not to sound like a total dumbass when he opened his mouth.
"My father brought it back from a trip," he said. "I sort of borrowed it."
"Your father has excellent taste." She grinned, her face lighting up, and for the first time, Devon saw the personality behind the face. "Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to be rude." She stepped back a few paces and extended her hand, her long nails painted cherry red. "Celeste Dupree."
Daintily, Devon took her fingers, fighting a ridiculous urge to kiss the back of her hand. Some girls in the goth set liked that sort of thing, but others, like his cousin, found the antiquated gesture cheesy, campy, even insulting.
"I...I know," he stuttered, dropping her hand, failing to offer his own name. "I love your work." Okay, I've officially achieved dumbass status.
"Thank you." Beaming, she tilted her head toward Marissa, whose presence Devon had momentarily forgotten. "Brother and sister?"
Glancing aside, Devon saw his cousin step up beside him. Her eyes shifted between him and Celeste.
"Cousins," said Marissa, her smirk barely suppressed, one eyebrow cocked. "But everyone thinks we're siblings."
"The resemblance is amazing," said Gareth, who had joined their little circle.
At the photographer's accent, an uncanny sense of deja vu passed over Devon. While he tried to pinpoint what seemed familiar, he watched, fascinated, as an instant transformation overcame Marissa. Her posture heightened, her eyes darkened--good God, had they just flashed black?--and her very aura grew emboldened. And Gareth was staring at her intently through his glasses, thoroughly captivated, practically drooling, much like Devon knew he must look standing next to Celeste Dupree. After four years of trying to figure out what made his cousin stand out from the crowd and lure one boyfriend after the other, it finally hit him.
She embodied that same unnerving confidence usually reserved for the men in their family.
Great, Devon thought. It had skipped over him and gone to his girl cousin instead.
The photographer tore his eyes from Marissa, only to study Devon with similar interest. He extended his hand cordially. "I'm Gareth Neville. I'll be working with your lovely cousin today."
Devon offered his own hand, feeling an instant affinity with the photographer but trying to shake off an odd vibe of--attraction? No, it wasn't that. Devon was an open-minded person, but despite his habit of wearing eyeliner and, sometimes, nail polish, he didn't play that way. Perhaps Gareth did, though, or maybe the other man's lingering gaze was simply due to having an artist's eye. Either way, Devon introduced himself.
"Hi. Devon Eldritch."
The loft went quiet. Gareth blinked, his handshake faltering, and he glanced in question at Marissa. In turn, Marissa glared at Devon.
Devon braced himself for the usual snide questions. Slumming, are we? Can you hook me up with some free wine? Is it true your family owns half the city? It was nearly as annoying as the shit people outside of the scene asked, like: Are you goth or did I miss Halloween? Do you wear black because you're a goat-killing Dark Magi? Do you sleep in a coffin?
Celeste, however, seemed unfazed. "What a cool name," she purred, breaking the awkward silence. "Eldritch--eerie and unearthly."
"Yeah," Devon said, impressed. Not many people were familiar with the archaic adjective.
Gareth cleared his throat. "I've always been curious. Are the Eldritches of Eventide any relation to the former Eldritch dynasty of Aranvale?"
Now it was Marissa's turn to look startled. "One of our great-aunts researched the genealogy but couldn't establish a direct link. She stopped cold at Stefan and Camille's arrival in the Northeast."
"Ah yes, the founders of Eventide," Gareth said. "Do you know there was a small hamlet outside of Aranvale called Eventide before that area was encompassed by the city? It's part of the Kingswood district today."
"Really?" Marissa turned to Devon. "Maybe that's the link we've been looking for? Stefan and Camille came from somewhere before they got on that boat."
Devon shrugged. While the tale of his grandsires' rise from penniless Western pioneers to wealthy vintners was an admirable one, he'd never been too keen on any other aspect of his heritage. Unlike Marissa, he'd grown up in his family's midst and had long tired of boastful stories about rich, snotty ancestors and their countless successes in wine and real estate.
"Our aunt passed away last year," Marissa continued, turning back to Gareth, "but I've been meaning to pick up her research and transfer her records to a computer program so I can plot the family tree."
"In that case, I have some books you might want to borrow," Gareth said, his manner suddenly cryptic. "For now, let's look over your model release before you sign it, then we'll go through what I call the toy box and select props for your shoot."
"I brought a few of my own," Marissa said, indicating the bag slung over her shoulder. Devon noticed the grip of a riding crop protruding from the opening.
He really hadn't needed to see that. Tuning out his cousin, he directed his attention back to Celeste. With a deep, calming breath, he attempted to get his own conversation going.
"Um, you were looking at pictures when we came in?"
"Yeah!" she said excitedly. "Gareth made some prints from our digital shoot. I'm trying to decide which ones I'd like him to use at his Lucky Thirteen showing in a few months. Maybe you could offer your opinion?"
"M-me?" Devon sputtered.
Celeste smiled. She stroked one fingertip down his tie again. "Any man who wears hand-painted silk has my trust."
Man? Devon smoothed the double-breasted lapels of his jacket as he stood just a little taller and straighter.
She pivoted and he followed, appreciatively watching her hips roll. For a slender woman, she had the fullest, tightest ass he'd ever seen.
God, I'm such a pig, he scolded himself. Just because she dressed like that didn't give him permission to gawk. She was obviously an intelligent woman with more than looks working in her favor.
And yet he couldn't stop staring, what with her hip-hugger hot pants riding deliciously up the swell of her cheeks, and his maddening boner now raging out of control. Devon wondered how it would feel to trace his palms over that ass, explore its contours, sink his claws in with a possessive grip. Maybe smack it around a little, get it nice and red while she tilted it up in the air to let him have his way. He thought of how it would cushion him while he fucked her from behind, his hips slamming against her, one thrust after the other as she cried out his name.
Shocked by his own wayward musings, he attempted to distract himself and studied her other well-known tattoo, the top of which peeked above the band of her shorts. A line of elegant script, in some archaic language.
"I've, um, I've always wanted to know," he said, frustrated by the squeak in his voice, hoping she hadn't heard it, "what does your tattoo mean?"
Devon nearly collided with her, his errant cock leading the way, as she stopped and peered over her shoulder. It was then that he noticed a new piece of body art--a pentacle, one vertex pointing up, near her left shoulder blade.
"You mean the one above my ass?"
Devon nearly choked. "Yeah, that one."
She tugged her shorts down an inch to the scant top of her crack. Squinting downward, Devon managed to keep his tone even as he read the inked phrase out loud, unsure as to the exact pronunciation.
"Taj sto kash slabiti, ist staviti sila."
Celeste hitched her shorts back up, then turned and plumped her shapely rear on the sofa, sparing Devon further torment.
"It's an ancient adage of the Magi," she explained. "'That which destroys me, empowers me.' I've adopted it as my personal credo. When times get rough, I try to think of it as a learning experience, sent by the gods to test and strengthen me."
At the mention of Magi, Devon's curiosity was piqued. He sat beside her, his knee brushing hers and inducing more shivers. "I thought that phrase was coined by an Aranvale philosopher?"
"Apparently he studied ancient Magi beliefs."
"You're Neo Magi?"
Celeste nodded. "For a few years now, though I don't strictly follow the path per se. I'm what you'd call an eclectic solitaire, with a dab of Eastern mysticism thrown in for good measure."
"I've experimented a little myself," Devon confessed. Along with his cutting habit, he'd been forced to hide his spiritual leanings. He'd barely discussed them with Marissa, a staunch atheist, although she'd simply proven skeptical. His mother, on the other hand, had totally freaked after she'd searched his room, convinced her bloodletting son must be on drugs, and had discovered his secret altar.
"Experimented, huh?" Celeste said, eyeing him with interest.
Devon meant to respond but grew self-conscious again beneath her gaze. Shifting his eyes, he found himself distracted by the photos spread on the table. Celeste peered over her shoulder at the camera, her body draped with a white gauze sheet in strategic locations, her hands knotted at the small of her back with rope. Soft lighting infused her hair and the sheet, lending the images an ethereal glow. Provocative yet tasteful, the black-and-white set captured a more elegant side of Celeste than her work with previous photographers.
"Those are--" Devon faltered. He was too shy to tell her the photos were absolutely breathtaking. He was too polite to admit the sheer sight of her, half-naked with her wrists bound, made him want to ease her back on the loveseat, right then and there, and explore the subtle dips and swells of her body with more than his eyes.
Like clay beneath my sculptor's hands... Shit, where did that cheesy line come from?
"--very nice," he finally offered.
"Honestly?" she asked. "Please, don't mince words. You haven't seen the rejects. I looked horrible!"
Devon looked at her, startled. "A gorgeous woman like you, insecure about her looks?" The compliment slipped before he realized he'd made one.
Celeste tucked her chin, and a pink flush infused her cheeks. The effect was utterly charming. She spoke in a near whisper. "I was the ugly duckling that everyone teased back in school, and it's always sort of stayed with me."
"Well, you don't have anything to worry about now," he murmured. Celeste's blush deepened. As the blood rose to his own face, Devon turned back to the equally maddening photos. His sights landed on one that captured her graceful form and best displayed her tattooed vine.
"I like the second one from the left," he said.
"Wow. That was my first choice, too." Celeste picked up a cell phone from the corner of the table. "I hope you don't mind, but I need to call my roommate. She borrowed my car today because hers is in the shop. She should have been here to pick me up by now."
"Don't mind me," Devon said.
Thanking his lucky stars--or perhaps the gods as Celeste had termed it--that her roommate was running late, he pulled the pack of cloves from his front pocket and lit one. Leaning back against the sofa, he crossed one leg and tried to appear casual and relaxed. Now if only his hard-on would go away.
"Mmm," Celeste said dreamily, her phone pressed to her ear. "I don't smoke, but I love the smell of kreteks."
Wow, Devon thought, duly impressed that she not only knew word "eldritch" but the original native term for cloves. He wondered how many other guys got past her looks long enough to admire her knowledge of oddball trivia. He decided that could work in his favor.
Celeste's perfectly sketched eyebrows puckered in a scowl. "Strange, she's not answering. Amelia's one of those uncouth people who keeps her phone on no matter what. She's so bad, she evens takes calls at the movies."
In a flash of inspiration, Devon seized a window of opportunity. "I'm about to bail so Marissa can do this shoot. Gareth is taking her out afterward and bringing her home." Steeling himself, he inhaled another drag of his clove and blurted his suggestion before he lost his nerve. "I can give you a ride."
"Could you?" she asked, sounding genuinely grateful. "I live over in Erinville, but I can give you gas money."
Erinville? He'd assumed she must live in a trendy place like Gareth's, or at least a rundown one like his and Marissa's but still near the urban core of the city. Not the outlying suburbs--certainly not one he'd once voted for on a call-in radio show as the "Armpit of Eventide."
His smile broadened, his confidence growing. "I wouldn't be much of a gentleman if I asked you to pay for gas."
Her hazel eyes lit and sparked green. Leaning forward, she reached out and brushed the tip of her index finger across his lower lip, catching him off guard, sending a jolt not only to his restless, aching prick but throughout his entire being.
"Nice fangs," she said in a teasing lilt, playful, not mocking. "Are they real porcelain?"
"Yeah." She liked his fangs?
"You don't bite, do you?"
The reply slipped from his mouth, sure and smooth. "Only if you want me to." He grinned wider, baring his canines in full.