The Edge [Stalking Royal Blood Book 1]
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by Belladonna Bordeaux
Category: Erotica/Paranormal Erotica
Description: Their love is defined by the undiluted truth. Royal Vampire, Princess Rhine Cordaire will forever suffer from the effects of the dreaded Blood Poison, an infection that leaves her unsure, and at times lost to logic. It is an aspect of her life she'd rather not consider, but what else is there for the pampered princess? Nothing. That is, until one dark night, she meets a man who isn't afraid of the infection. He isn't afraid of anything. Hailing from the Royal House of Dragul, Prince Nikolai Vladstock understands Rhine better than she does herself. His family is attached to her family by a common thread; one forged thousands of years ago. Though his family's secret delves deeper, more abhorrently so, into the history of the wives of Adam than hers, he must follow the one thing that has guided him to the truth; his instincts. How will he ever get her to accept the fact that she is married to a creature? One born from an atrocity that had no name because she repulsed the first man.
eBook Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press, 2010
eBookwise Release Date: August 2010
4 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [87 KB]
Reading time: 48-68 min.
Stupid is as Stupid Does
* * * *
Tenez-le directement la, la chienne.
Hold it right there, bitch? Her Royal Highness, Princess Rhine Cordaire, quickly translated the mans statement and turned it into a question. A small smile crept across her lips. She stopped walking before she rounded the corner into the dingy, dark alley that led her to the Parisian Paranormal Club, LAutre Cote, The Other Side. She turned her head slightly when the words hit her ears.
Mugger? She could only hope.
Ever since Madeira, her eldest brother and Sovereign Ruler of Cordoba, had restricted her to the consulate earlier in the week, shed been sporting for a fight. Shed also been gnashing her teeth waiting for the opportunity to sneak out.
Rhine loved the Parisian nightlife and two of her best friends lived in the city. It wasnt fair she couldnt go clubbing with them.
The miscreant moved up behind her. His hot breath against her abnormally cool skin sent her instincts into the stratosphere. Her talons began to grow as her hands touched the soot-covered bricks of the building.
It isnt in your best interest to mess with me, Rhine stated snidely.
Mess with, in her mind equated to anger, which when reduced to its simplest form, included being robbed.
The miscreant snickered at her threat.
You will give me your purse, he ordered her. Now.
Her purse fell from her shoulder with a simple shrug to cling to her wrist. Her hand fisted, hiding the obvious change to her appearance. She let the designer handbag fall to the ground.
Rhine felt his eyes planted on the back of her head which kept him ignorant of not only who she was, but what she was.
No sooner had he reached down to grab the bag, than she attacked. It took no effort to plant his back on the cracked sidewalk and curl her hand around his throat. The shocked expression on his face would have been comical if she had been playing. Unfortunately for him, she wasnt.
She raised her free hand, all five of her eight-inch long talons gleaming death in the low light cast by the street lamp.
Dammit, the slithering slide of her vampiric side hissed.
Her vibrant onyx gaze coursed down the boyand he was a boy. He was pierced in the strangest places, his clothing black as night and his hair spiked like tiny needles atop his head.
Get out of here, she commanded, releasing him.
Slowly, her fangs retracted and her fingers turned back to normal.
My sentiments exactly, Rhine remarked.
She picked up her purse and looped the long gold chain over her shoulder as she listened to the brat scurry away. With a satisfied smile, she pivoted on the toe of her stiletto heel to complete her journey.
Very good, your Highness, a deep, rumbling voice congratulated her.
It echoed from near the entrance to the club, but in the next breath sounded closer. Your brothers would be proud of you.
Rhine spun around, her long sable hair arcing over her shoulder to land heavily against her breast.
Who are you?
Rhines gaze wandered the shadows as her instincts raged. Then his words registered. Rhine felt true fear.
You obviously know who I am so its only fair you tell me your name.
Startled by the scratch of a rodent near her foot, she quickly headed toward the entrance of the club less than thirty meters away.
Are you one of my brothers friends? she asked nervously.
Her chaotic brain searched the latent files of her memory for a clue as to who this gentleman was. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Her instinctive warning senses had failed her. There had been no jingle, jangle or nerve-wracking tremor to speak of. Still, what was the worst that could happen? A shiver ran the length of her spine. Worst case scenario, he was one of her brothers enemies and hed come after her on a personal vendetta against the House of Cordaire.
Terror raised its ugly head. She again scanned the alleyway. The glimmer of low lights from windows hit her optic nerve like a jolt of lightning causing her to wince in pain. The stranger snorted as he took the single step required to exit the shadows. He picked up the sunglasses shed dislodged when shed laid the boy flat on his back and handed them to her.
Princess? he asked when she started to back away. Are you afraid?
Rhines breath caught in her chest. Her dormant heart gave a slight chug. Dont beat. Dont beat.
Please, answer my question.
She hated the begging note entering her tone, but understood a singularly terrifying fact: she was young and untested. Against a mortal she was the top of the food chain. Against another immortal she was shark bait.
Insane. That was the only explanation for her long, thorough perusal of this mysterious man. She had to be completely insane.
He was quite handsome with his reddish-blond hair and deeply tanned body. A sexy aura clung to the breadth of his wide shoulders, and danger glimmered in his enticing light-blue eyes. He was a bad boy dressed up as a gentleman. His long, wavy hair was pulled back to show off the chiseled planes of his handsome face. He wore a tailor-made ebony suit which accentuated his physique perfectly. A crisp, clean, snowy-white shirt highlighted his deep bronze skin while displaying the twinkle of a gold medallion. A pentacle perhaps? Maybe he was a wielder. Or not. It was the or not that started her second-guessing her decision to leave the consulate without an escort.
Who...who are you? Rhine asked again.
The mysterious stranger didnt answer. Instead, he strode forward with an arrogant swagger that would have turned any womans attention to his taut thigh muscles. His eerie gaze raked a slow path down her body as if he was drinking her in. Without warning, his eyes snapped upward to focus on her face, his pupils suddenly widening.
Rhine felt her mouth gaping but couldnt scrape her chin up off the pavement. He had the sexiest voice this side of the Seine. Add to it his Slavic accent, well hell, it was a case of, Oh my God and how do I get you out of your suit?. Her fingers sought for an anchor against the fear and want suddenly coursing through her system. She clutched only thin air for a moment before forcing her back ramrod straight. If she didnt know better, and she didnt, shed swear she was caught in the throes of her first mating cycle. Primal need filled her completely.
Nikolai chuckled. He cornered her easily, step for step, backing her until her retreat was halted by the brick wall of the building. He propped his hand on the wall just above her head and leaned in close. The tickle of her talons scraping against the skin of his forearm and wrist caused his body to jerk.
Sheath your claws, Princess. I mean you no harm.
Leisurely, he ran his gaze down her body, every inch of him hardening with desire. He remembered the first time hed seen her. A happenstance meeting at an American fundraiser for some charitable foundation where hed hobnobbed with the mighty of Washingtons elite. Bored by their snobbery and loosely veiled arrogance, he had been ready to tell some mighty politician the populace would be better served if they used his head for a football when Rhine had appeared standing at the top of the ballroom stairs. He knew it, right then and there. Regretted the fact. She was his mate.
Forcing his mind to work on the problem at hand, Nikolai maintained his cool demeanor for a scant moment longer. His eyes trailed over her leather jacket, across the slight wisp of her blouse to the swell of her breasts barely exposed by her demure decolletage. It was on that night, long ago, that he had found himself entranced by her beauty and mesmerized by her grace. She had greeted people with a regal bearing, and a natural charm. Her commentary rang in his head and echoed in his soul. He desired her like no other woman hed met in his long life. She started a fire raging inside him that could only be distinguished by her. The memory of his body reacting to her presence came back with cutting clarity as his cock strained against the fly of his pants. The fact that their families were at war meant almost nothing. Almost, he had clarified, but not quite.
Prepared to pay the price for denying his beast, hed walked away from her ten years ago. He couldnt risk her getting caught in the crossfire of heated words and painful physical fights. The anger between their families hadnt dulled one bit until a few months ago. It was a far more dangerous enemy that now brought them together.
My name is Nikolai Vladstock.
The urge to take her, right there, in the dingy alleyway overwhelmed him. The fire she represented, and he had banked, was rekindled once again by their chance meeting. Unbidden, his body tensed tighter.
Rhine shivered, her unbound breasts straining against her thin silk blouse. Like many of her kind, she hated the restricting bras and other undergarments mortals wore. In this case, she despised the preference wrought from the wilder side of their beasts. Her brain, however, had other ideas. Images slipped past her minds eye so fast she struggled to keep pace with them. All of them depicted the two of them together in what could only be described as Tantric sex. Sweaty bodies intertwined as shifting flares of lips locked in a sensual dance of passion. Damn, she could feel his hands on herhis cock in her.
Think, idiot. Think. The order chimed through her head, but all she could concentrate on was the mental picture of his hands caressing her skin, his tongue teasing her nipples.
Stop. Her silent order practically echoed down the alleyway. Gulping down a huge lungful of air, Rhine shook her head; a lame, yet valiant attempt to get away from the images. Swallowing hard, she peeked up at him. Damn, why did he have to be so handsome?
Are you going to the club?
Her question came out as a croak.
Of course. Would you care to join me?
Nikolai offered her his arm.
Rhines gaze bolted from his strong hand pressed against the wall to his face, then back again. Okay, his statement clued her in to the fact that he was a paranormal, or at the very least, understood the L'Autre Cote, The Other Side, catered to the paranormals in this section of Paris.
Uh? Great comeback, Rhine.
She swallowed hard before accepting his offer. The feel of his muscles playing beneath her fingertips did odd things to her blood pressure. The sensation intensified as he walked her closer to the steel door of the club. Foreign twinges jerked across her nervous system in a wonderful and terrifying synaptic thrust.
This is bad. This is very, very bad. They finished their short walk. She stilled his hand before he grabbed the door latch, her inquisitive eyes gazing up at him for a poignant pause.
Why didnt you help me back there?
You had everything under control.
Rhine noted how a slight catch entered his voice, almost as if he wanted to say more. When he didnt, she prompted him.
For some unknown reason, her hand rose to rest on his chest. A heartbeat. She felt the firm thrum beneath her palm.
Nikolai stared down at her before shifting his attention to the muted music escaping the club.
I was more worried you would kill him.
Snatching her hand back, Rhine nibbled on her lower lip for a moment.
I know better.
Not all paranormals do, especially those as young as you.
There he went again with that familiarity that made her nerves jangle.
How do you know so much about me?
I work for IPCIC.
A groan rushed from her chest. How could she have been so stupid as to not see the signs of a special agent? Shoot, her own brothers hung to the shadows with an alacrity that scared her. They tracked their prey with deadly precision. Some of those aspects they were born with, others the International Paranormal Criminal Investigation Coalition, or IPCIC for short, had instilled in them.
How long have you worked for the Corporation? she asked.
The same amount of time as your brother, Nikolai informed her.
Madeira, Andes or Gethsemanie? she inquired, naming the one of her siblings recently retired from IPCIC and the two who were still on the Corporations payroll.
Your eldest brother, Nikolai said. Only we worked for different divisions at first.
Do you work with Andes or Gethsemanie now?
Your Highness, it serves you no purpose to fish for information about me. I have told you, I work for IPCIC, that is all you need to know.
You also said you werent here to hurt me.
That depends on if you get into anymore trouble.
Rhine was about to give him a piece of her mind when he pulled the door open and ushered her unceremoniously into the club. She was instantly pummeled by crashing music. Raging with anger, she turned to tell him off, only to realize, hed disappeared.
Of all the gall, she huffed.
Trouble? Trouble? She was the one who had been accosted. True, she wasnt supposed to show her paranormal form to a mortal. That rule included if she was in danger, but like hed said, shed controlled her rage. If nothing else, shed been on her best behavior.
It only served to prove she could take care of herself in spite of her brothers claims she couldnt lift a teacup without assistance. Next time, shed just use her enhanced strength to subdue her attacker. Thats what Madeira would tell her to do if she ever bucked up and admitted shed snuck out of the consulate. Hell, it would take a pack of wild werewolves to get her to admit shed gone out when hed strictly forbidden her from leaving. Sure, she understood the restriction wasnt because shed broken a house rule, it was because of the Paranormal Hunters. It would make little difference to Madeira. Going against his order was a big no-no.
Im not a child, she muttered, heading for her two friends sitting at a table near the rear entrance. Carly and Mika stood when she joined them.
Please dont curtsy. I dont think I can handle that tonight.
Hows good old Brother Pain in the Ass? Carly asked.
Out of the direct line of fire from the floor to ceiling speakers so they didnt have to screech at the top of their lungs to hear each other, or use their telepathy, which was an invitation for a psychic attack.
Madeira is Madeira, Rhine stated with a shrug.
Overprotective. Ever watchful. Demanding. That was the Sovereign Ruler of Cordoba in a nutshell.
Hows Andes? Mika asked.
Shes still got the hots for him, Carly stated before she giggled.
They stopped the chitchat as a waiter approached their table. He set down a fresh drink for Carly before weaving his way back into the crowd choking the dance floor.
Okay, so I got it bad. More like, I want him to give it to me good, Mika admitted.
Only problem is he doesnt even know you are alive, Carly added. What is it with him? Is he gay or something?
Andes? Gay? Be serious. Anyway, youre purring after the wrong vampire, Mika. Andes wont date another paranorm.
Ever since Mika had met the second oldest in the brood, shed about fallen over herself every time Andes passed by her. At first, Rhine had pitied her friend for wanting the man. Today, however, she was tired of Mikas torch carrying ways.
If you want to prove it to yourself, here.
Rhine rifled through her clutch for a moment until she came up with Andes business card.
Give him a call, but Im warning you, its now or never and you dont have time to sit or debate.
Rhine shifted the conversation to the recent events with her brother.
He finally broke up with the countess. I cant tell you how glad I am to have that simpering wannabe princess out of the castle. If I werent a lady of good breeding Id have nibbled on her neck just to stop her constantly moving mouth.
Thanks, Rhine. Mika slipped the card into her purse.
Unlike many of the other paranorms who frequented The Other Side, the trio wasnt hunting for men. They came because the bar catered to their species and allowed normals, like Carly, to enter too.
Half listening to her friends discuss work and other stuff Rhine rarely partook of, she noticed her eyes drifting to where Nikolai Vladstock stood chatting with another man. Damn, he was just too handsome for her senses. Every once in a while when Carly or Mika directed a question to her, shed force her brain to concentrate on what they were saying. It was then that the dash of a flash snippet of the fantasy would strike her again. Squirming in her seat, shed smile, shrug, and then blow out a sexually frustrated sigh.
Who is he? Mika inquired casually.
There wasnt anything mildly curious about her gaze though. Rhine felt a twinge of jealousy rush over her.
Some guy I met in the alleyway.
Hes got the look of a prince. That guy can grace my doorstep any day.
You mean your bed. That is, if you werent still hot for Andes, Carly stated with a sly smile.
Rhine rolled her eyes. Now was not the time for Mika to turn matchmaker on her.
Hes not in my league.
I think its romantic to picture you married to someone not in your league. Rugby player? Corporate tycoon? A regular guy off the street? Who knows what could happen, Rhine? You might actually find love.
I know what would happen. Big Brother Pain in the Ass would lock her in the castle and throw away the key. Carlys tease didnt help the situation.
Its a lot more complicated where Im concerned.
Rhine opened her mouth to try to explain her situation when an instinct strong enough to knock her to her knees overwhelmed her. Both Rhine and Mika perked their heads at the same time. Rhines gaze traveled to the entry door. Mika growled low in her throat.
What? Carly asked before taking a sip of her drink.
Grab Carly and dont let go of her, Rhine commanded Mika.
The glass in Carlys hand fell to the floor with a crash, pulling every patrons attention to them.
Ill run interference until Im sure you are both safe.
Get ready for a ride, baby, Mika said.
She pulled Carly toward the rear entrance with a firm grip on her wrist.
If I tell you to duck, you better do it.
What the hell is going on? Carly shrieked.
The dance floor started to clear. Paranormals of all shapes and sizes made their way toward the doors. Before Rhine could comprehend the situation, she realized she was being shoved toward the exit.
Time to move, Princess, Nikolai ordered.
He had her walking for the door before she could even yelp for help.
Where did you come from?
She tugged against his iron grip clamping down on her upper arm.
Now is not the time to argue.
The blaring of sirens and telepathic shouts of panic brought reality to the fore.
Can you morph?
Nikolai stopped them halfway down the adjoining alley. When she didnt immediately answer, he shook her shoulders to get her attention.
Can you morph?
I have to find my friends. I need to know they are all right.
Carly was relatively safe from the police. There was no crime against fraternizing with a paranormal. At least not yet. Mika was a whole other worry. At her young age, she instinctively shifted into her cat-form whenever the heat was on.
I have to protect them.
There are Paranormal Hunters bearing down on the club, Rhine. You have to get out of here.
Logic warred with her protective instincts until she realized she didnt have a choice.
I can morph.
What about you?
Ill be fine.
She felt her swarm come up around her. Through narrowed eyes she watched Nikolai take his immortal form. Gone was the tanned man. In his place stood the awe-inspiring visage of another eternal blood suckera beast she knew only by reputation.
Dear God in Heaven, she whispered before darting away.
Rhine considered whom shed met. Nikolai Vladstock was a member of the Royal House of Dragul. Her heart started to violently pound in her chest. Less than a moment ago shed come face to face with her immortal enemy and hed let her survive.
It was nothing short of a miracle.