Dark Deception [An Immortal Realms Novel]
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by Suzanne Rock
Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance/Romance
Description: After being plunged into a chaotic and deceitful society, Maria Guerrero finds comfort in the arms Enrique Torres, a man she believes is innocent of her world. She keeps him ignorant about her inner monster, and the blood oath she took to save her brother's life. Instead she prefers to use their sexual play as an escape from her supernatural world. When her secrets catch up with her however, Maria is forced to confess her sins. Will Enrique find it in his heart to forgive her deception? He must, before her vampire master demands her to pay him his due. With the help of a disillusioned fey warrior, she convinces Enrique that vampires are real, and danger lurks around every corner. Enrique can't allow himself to fall for Maria charms, or he'll risk revealing secrets of his own -- secrets which would not only scare her, but put his mission in jeopardy. He hopes that by forming a physical connection with the young vampire, he'll lower her defenses and earn her trust, for she's the only one who could help him bring peace to the Immortal Realm. As they play out their sexual fantasies, her true identity is uncovered. On impulse gives her his trust, only to be repaid with her betrayal. Now he wants revenge? but what will be the cost? As the Immortal Realm descends into chaos, Enrique and Maria must choose whether to trust each other again, or fall victims to the dark deceptions that rule their world. To My Reader: I've always loved a good vampire story, and I'm excited to be able to share this one with you. Both Maria and Enrique are chained emotionally and sometimes physically to their sense of duty and honor. As their world turns upside down, the line between right and wrong becomes blurred. How they wade through the lies and deceit to rediscover each other touched my heart. I hope it touches yours, too.
eBook Publisher: Red Sage Publishing/Red Sage Presents, 2010 2010
eBookwise Release Date: September 2010
2 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [225 KB]
Reading time: 150-210 min.
Dark Deception: Chapter One
Just outside Barcelona, Spain 1812
"Bite it." Enrique's thick Spanish accent poured over her like warm chocolate--dark, decadent and forbidden. The cherry swung gently from his hand as he waited for her to sink her teeth into its rich, juicy, center. He shifted and pressed his chest against her back, sending tingles of excitement up and down her spine.
Curling her fingers on the desktop, Maria moistened her lips in preparation. Her lover's heat and sweet scent surrounded her. Anticipation rippled through the room. She arched her back and pressed her backside against his groin, causing a hiss to escape his lips. The cherry slipped closer to her mouth. She reached for it, but at the last moment he pulled away.
Maria loved the games they played when they were alone, each one carefully designed to torment and build their need. Enrique knew what she liked. Every night the man stroked that spark of desire into a burning inferno. When they were together, she felt warm, safe, and loved. Unfortunately, this relationship was nothing but a lie.
No. She refused to let her somber thoughts ruin the mood. Enrique wanted to play one of their games of passion and she wasn't about to deny him. If things continued down this path, he would soon lead her away from his study and up to his bedroom, where they wouldn't be disturbed. She preferred it there, away from the curious eyes of the staff. Down here, any of the other servants could walk in on them. What would they think when they saw one of their own cavorting with the master of the house?
It was better not to think about it. Maria rubbed against him, feeling the ripple of muscle through his waistcoat. The cherry wavered and he hissed out his breath. Lifting her hands from the desk, she reached behind her waist and rubbed her palms over his hips. He groaned and pressed his hardened cock deeper into her flesh. The cherry bobbed toward her head.
The knock on the door chilled the temperature in the air. As the door opened, Maria straightened and smoothed her hands over her maid uniform. Enrique crossed the room, clearing his throat as he met the head servant at the door.
"You have guests." The maid handed him a card and scowled at Maria. "I left them in the blue room."
Enrique frowned at the card and handed it back. "Very well. I will be along in a moment."
The servant's eyes flashed from Maria to Enrique and back again. Did she suspect? Maria arranged some papers on Enrique's desk in an effort to look busy.
"That will be all."
"Yes," The servant's frown faded as she focused on her master. "I will inform the cook to prepare tea."
When the door finally closed, Maria breathed a sigh of relief and let go of the papers she was holding. They scattered on the floor. "Oh, I'm so sorry." She stooped to pick them up. With trembling fingers, she replaced them on the desk.
Enrique closed the distance between them and took her hands. "I'm sorry, querida. I must see them."
"But it's so late. Who would visit at such an hour?"
"Unfortunately, it's not a social call."
"One of the senators, then?"
Enrique pressed his lips together for a moment in thought. "Yes, I'm afraid so." He wrapped his fingers around her arms and kissed her forehead. "Wait for me here. I won't be long."
Maria turned her head to meet his gaze. "Always."
He brushed his finger down the side of her cheek. "That's my girl." After a chaste kiss, he moved to the door, and then paused with his hand on the knob. He glanced at her, a worried crease forming along his brow. "Don't concern yourself about the servant gossip. I'll handle it."
Maria turned her gaze away from his perfect angular features and nodded. No doubt the head servant was already telling the others of her find. Not that it mattered. The staff in this house didn't care for her, anyway.
Enrique took a hesitant step toward her, and she held up her hand. "They're waiting for you."
"Right. This will only take a moment."
When he left the room, she rushed over to the door and threw the lock into place. Why hadn't she remembered to lock the door before? Leaning back against the cold, hard wood, she wondered how on Earth she was going to get out of the mess she'd created.
Every living female within the Torres Estate had fallen hard for Enrique's dark, handsome looks and giving nature. Maria was no exception. The kindness he had shown her and the other servants was far more than what most noblemen did for their staff. Many of the other women openly talked of the countless females he had refused to bed, and speculated whether they could change his mind. Maria didn't have time for such foolishness, however. There were more important things to think about than love or even lust--like survival. Not a trivial task under the present circumstances.
"Got ourselves in trouble again, I see."
Maria froze. "Carlos." How did he get here? She was alone in the room and the door was locked. Her gaze tore away from the tall, lean vampire and settled on the open window. Damn, she knew not to be so careless. Knowing Carlos, he'd probably watched her whole exchange with Enrique. He would want a full report, but Maria was in no mood to give one.
The vampire crossed his arms in front of his chest. "So, you remember me. After not seeing you for two nights, I was beginning to wonder."
She turned on her heel to face him. "I would never forget you, or the kindness you've shown Frederick and me."
He pressed his lips together and shook his head, his dark brow arching over his amber eyes. "You need to work on your lies, Maria."
Her breath caught. Leave it to him to bring up her immaturity. She carefully schooled her face into a blank mask, as she had been taught.
His features softened as he approached. "You're still a very young vampire and unable to hold your mask." He stopped, his face inches away from hers. Crooking his finger under her chin, he turned her head first to the right, then to the left. A frown creased his perfect features. "You look gaunt."
She jerked her head from his grasp. "It is nothing."
"I've heard that you haven't been going to the feedings."
"They are innocent people."
"They're food, nothing more." He sighed. "At this rate you are going to collapse before your second year." He let go of her chin and trailed his finger down the side of her face. Maria forced herself not to flinch. "It would be a pity to lose such wonderful vampire flesh."
She bit back a retort. Arguing would accomplish nothing. Carlos was a master of words and would use her arguments to manipulate her.
Then an image of her brother appeared in the forefront of her mind and she strengthened her resolve. She reminded herself that at her darkest hour, Carlos had rescued both her and Frederick from the brink of destruction. The vampire leader was now securing their future. Under his protection, Frederick would remain safe. She would remain safe. Frederick's dealings with the underworld had put her in danger more than once when she was alive. Now that they had the protection of the vampires, they wouldn't be touched.
Carlos slipped his hand lower, catching the 'V' in her dress. "You can't keep denying our desire for flesh and blood, Maria." He leaned in close, his warm breath gliding against her cheek.
Maria shivered as his icy fingers danced over her skin. She was grateful for his protection, but would never ... could never....
"One night with me and I can take you away from all this." His voice was soft and filled with promise. Maria resisted the stirring in her lower abdomen. "Think about it, no more accusing stares from the servants, no more chores."
No more Enrique. She had always loved Enrique's handsome features, but now that she had spent more time with him, her feelings ran much deeper than lust. He treated her like somebody--somebody who mattered. He was so different from Carlos, who only wanted to use her body to further his agenda.
Maria stepped back from his touch. "Why do you have me stay here at all? I mean, you say you want to trap Enrique--Se?or Torres--but wouldn't it be easier to send in vampires to capture him?"
Carlos smiled, showing each of his perfectly white teeth. "Ah, my dear. It isn't enough just to capture him." He took a step forward. "I want to humiliate him." Golden flecks danced across his eyes. "Ruin him."
Maria's back hit the wall. She was trapped. "Why?"
He stepped closer, his chest even with her head. Her skin tingled at the power before her. She felt her fangs lower in response.
"Why?" He slipped his fingers under her chin and tilted her head up to his gaze. "Because I loathe him, Maria." He lowered his head until it hovered inches above hers. "As every vampire should." His lips brushed against her mouth. Maria felt the cold press all the way to her toes. "The fool will destroy us all." He kissed one cheek. "If he knew your real identity.... "He kissed the other cheek. "He wouldn't hesitate to put a stake in your heart."
"No." Enrique was kind and thoughtful. He loved her.
And he only approached her after she became a vampire and used her charms on him. His caring words, his gentle touch, all of it prompted by the magick Carlos bestowed on her. Certainly Enrique had always kind to her, but it wasn't until she became a vampire that his interest turned sexual.
Maria straightened and tried to pull away, but it was no use. The weight of her burden felt like an anvil on her shoulders. The only reason she was allowed to stay the Torres estate was because Carlos decreed it. At any moment the vampire lord could take the privilege away from her. Then what would she have?
Carlos's grip tightened. "You know it is true. Don't deny who you are--or your destiny." He pressed his lips together for a moment in thought. "You must drink my blood before you become too weak to be of any use."
At his words, hunger, pure and raw, blossomed in her core. Only a select few were allowed to feed directly from the vampire leader, but Maria had no illusions as to why she was bestowed such an honor. Vampire feedings were steeped in sexual energy, and it was no secret that Carlos favored her.
Her master tilted his head to the side. His long dark hair fell away from his shoulders and exposed the smooth ivory skin of his neck. "Now feed."
Maria's fangs throbbed as she stared at the pulsing vein. "No."
"I will not have you eating from those blasted animals the fey and werewolves force us to eat."
She tried to turn her head. "No."
"Your affection for these humans is making you weak. Soon you will be too weak to go to your lover. Is that what you want?"
With a hiss, she pulled from his grasp. "Why don't you leave him alone? He can't hurt you."
Carlos straightened as he laughed. "But he already has, my dear. He has hurt all of us."
"I don't believe it. He's only a human."
Carlos made a tsking noise. "My dear, Enrique would never love one such as you. Not without your magick. Don't waste your time." He grasped her fingers and pulled her to the open window. "You deserve better. Someone who can appreciate your talents."
"Someone like you?"
He smiled. "In time, my dear. All in good time." He ran his fingers through her hair as his gaze took on a far-away look. "You are so beautiful. No wonder you have Torres wrapped around your little finger." He sighed and returned his hand to his side. "You will continue to seduce Enrique as I have planned. When the moment is right, you will be the one to lure him into my trap." He traced a trail of fire along her jaw. "To be betrayed by the woman he loves, so tragic." He lowered his hand. "So fitting. I can hardly wait to see his expression as he learns the truth. It will make the moment that much sweeter."
"Shh." He leaned in close and rubbed his cool cheek against hers. His breath flowed in a warm rush past her ear. "Enough now, he's coming. You must feed from me, or you will be too weak to go to him tonight."
She tried to pull away, but couldn't. "I'll never feed from you."
With a curse, he stepped back. "Do you wish to become ill? Who would take care of Frederick?" He ripped the sleeve of his shirt and bit into his forearm. Maria stiffened as the metallic smell of blood filled the air. Her fangs elongated even more.
It was no use. She was too hungry and Carlos's power too strong. Tears stung her eyes as she dug her teeth deep into her master's skin.
Pleasure roared through her body as she drank her fill. Heat rippled over her skin as it sprang to life. Her hearing sharpened, her eyesight cleared. Desire swelled inside her abdomen, slipping through her center to pool between her thighs. The vampire's low chuckle vibrated through her as he ran his fingers through her hair. Need burned in her core with every stroke of his fingers. She knew what she was doing would only bind them closer together, but she was unable to stop herself. Bastard.
"By placing wards around the humans, the Immortal Council thinks they have weakened us," he said soothingly. "Now that I have one of their own under my control, we can break the wards and strengthen our clan." He formed a fist in her hair. "They will never know what hit them. The fools will go crying to Enrique, but he will be as helpless as they." He let go of her hair and she raised her head from the wound, licking the last drop of blood from her lips. "Finally power and respect is in our grasp." He placed his hands on either side of her face. "Can't you feel it, my love?"
Maria's head spun from the infusion of blood and life. Carlos must have recently fed to be able to give her so much power. Words escaped her. She ran her hand over her mouth as new strength pumped through her veins.
"Don't betray me, Maria." He slid his hands from her face, over her breasts, dipping to trace her abdomen. Finally they rested on her hips. Desire flowed freely and sparked the air between them. "You will regret it." He curled his fingers into her hips and pulled her to him. "Enrique and your brother will regret it, too." He kissed her forehead and leaned back to catch her gaze.
Maria went weak under his stare. "I would never betray you." Her words sounded hollow, as if they weren't her own. She could feel his presence at the edge of her mind, waiting. With each feeding it would become stronger, and she would lose a little more of herself.
He smiled. "Good." A knock sounded at the door. Carlos's smile faded. "Find out what you can about his business in the senate during the day. He is up to something. I can feel it. It's like a poison in the air. I'll send Frederick to you later to get your report."
The knob shifted, but the door was locked. "Maria, are you there?" Enrique's voice poured through the cracks and hung heavy in the air between them.
"You won't hear my report yourself?" Maria felt the panic rise in her chest.
He pressed his lips, cold and hard, against hers. "The fey we captured is becoming difficult. I must attend to him. Never fear, I'll return to fetch you before the sun rises." He let go of her and drifted toward the open window. "Don't disappoint me." Then he was gone.
A soft click brought her world crashing back around her. Enrique's tall frame filled the entryway for a brief moment before he stepped inside and closed the door behind him. "They've left." He pocketed his key and frowned at the door. "You didn't have to lock the door."
Maria didn't say anything. She couldn't, not when Carlos's blood sang in her veins.
Enrique shook his head and reached for her. "Forget it. I'm sorry about the interruption querida, but we're alone now."
She stepped out of his grasp and tried to shake Carlos's spell. "No, the servants will--"
Enrique lowered his hand. "I told you, I'll take care of them."
Time, she needed more time. A blood feed was a natural high, like drinking an entire pot of tea. It would be awhile until she could get her cravings under control. She walked to the desk and tried to gather her composure. "What did you talk about with your guests?"
"I told you, senate business." He closed the distance between them. "Now, where were we?"
Maria remembered Carlos's orders and put on what she hoped was a convincing pout. "You never tell me about what you do in the senate."
He paused mid-step. "I never thought you were interested in Spanish politics."
"Well, I am."
He studied her for a moment, considering his words. "The senator just got back from the states. He claims to have seen large blood-sucking monsters who wish to take over the human race and use them as their own personal food supply."
"No." She gasped, placing her hand to her chest. Was Carlos found out? That would mean that both she and Fredrick could be in danger. She had to warn the others.
His expression softened and humor lightened his eyes. "No." Taking her hands, he squeezed her fingers. "Don't be silly," he soothed, misreading her expression. "Really, querida, you should stop listening to servants' gossip. There's no such thing as blood-sucking monsters." Pulling her into his arms, he placed her head on his chest and smoothed his fingers through her hair.
"Vampires," she whispered against his chest.
He gently pushed her back and looked into her eyes. "What did you say?"
"They call the blood suckers vampires."
He chuckled and pulled her back to his chest. His touch felt so warm and inviting, so right.
"You're toying with me." She wrapped her arms around his middle. "You hope to scare me so I will spend the night with you."
He stilled his fingers in her hair. "Did it work?"
So tender, so caring, so different from Carlos. "You didn't answer the question," she whispered.
He leaned back, sliding his hands down her arms to her hands. "Question?"
"What do you do in the senate all day?"
He kissed her fingers. Maria moistened her lips as she watched him tend to each finger in turn, starting with the innermost finger and working his way out. The last of the feeding effects faded and true warmth and desire spread through her veins. How she loved this man. No one else made her feel so good, so normal. If she closed her eyes then maybe, just maybe, she could go back to being human again.
After kissing the last finger on her left hand, he looked up. "I'll tell you what I do all day in the senate when you tell me where you go when the sun comes up."
She pulled her hands from his grasp and turned away. "I stay here at the estate." The lie felt thick and heavy on her tongue.
He placed his hand on her shoulder and turned her to face him. "No, you don't. I've searched for you."
"I have chores."
"I asked Roberta and she said that you are never around."
Every muscle in her body stiffened. He asked for her during the day? She'd thought he would be busy. She searched her mind for a plausible explanation.
"An impasse, then." He took her hands again as the tension eased out of her shoulders. "Let's make a promise. What we do during the day is our own business, if--"
Maria slanted her eyes into seductive slits. "If?"
He kissed the insides of her palms. Tingles of pleasure ran over her skin, sending warmth and fresh need through her body. The devilish gleam in his eyes spoke volumes. "If you promise to spend the nights with me."
"Of course." She curled her fingers around his hands as he pulled her close and gave her a tender kiss on the lips. The light press heated her body, and the air electrified around them.
He left her mouth much too soon and tugged her gently toward the door. "Let's finish this upstairs."
"Won't we be seen?"
"Not in my personal chambers." His lips twitched. "I have already ordered more cherries sent up to the room."
* * * *