Bewitching Purpose [Blending Bloodlines Book Two]
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by Destiny Blaine
Category: Erotica/Paranormal Erotica/Dark Fantasy
Description: The Blood Countess comes to call. Armand and Matilda are faced with a future they cannot control. When the elders hand down the order to revisit yesteryear and shift through the memories of one of the most dangerous vampire witches to ever live, Armand recognizes his own fate is just as damning. Transforming into the very vampire Erzsebet Bathory couldn't have, Armand understands the future they're set to claim. He's troubled by history and the order to revisit a past his elders want him to change. And to make matters worse? Matilda believes she's not only destined to step into the role of Erzsebet Bathory, but also fated to carry the title of another very famous vampire. *Publisher's Note: This is an updated version of a previously released title.
eBook Publisher: Resplendence Publishing, LLC, 2011 February
eBookwise Release Date: May 2011
1 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [89 KB]
Reading time: 51-72 min.
"Woman! What you need is a good stiff one in your mouth, perhaps even one like mine! I have the perfect size to entertain your feisty little tongue. Maybe then you won't have time to spray venom from those poisonous lips!" Armand trailed behind her, gaining ground one minute and losing his footing the next, if only because of a simple hesitation between strides. What he'd give to cup her neck and bite some sense into her.
"Leave me alone," she called out, climbing higher through a maze of rocks. Long black waves of layered curls tumbled around her face when she took a hard right and peered through the curtain her gorgeous silken hair provided. Oh how he'd love to knot her locks at her nape and look into those damning eyes.
Shit, he thought. He never could make up his mind. First, he loved her. Then, he hated her. Sure enough, they were destined to be lovers--mates--and bound together by torrid emotions and couple customs as old as the vampire elders who threw them together.
"Matilda, I don't know what your problem is," Armand grated out, still following her. By the time he reached the hilltop where Matilda stood, his anger held him hostage. He was completely imprisoned by his fury. All he could do was grit his teeth and clench his fists.
"I'm not the one with significant issues," she snapped. "You're the one who can't seem to grasp the concept that I don't want to be here. I have no desire to live in this country. I don't want you!"
"We both know that's not true," he finally said, putting a little swagger in his walk. The wind lashed at his back, warning of upcoming storms. He could smell the rain, the fresh scent of nature reminding him while he might have been dead, for the lack of a better term, he was still very much alive.
Armand tried to regain his composure, which wasn't easy after the difficult task of jogging straight uphill. While breathing presented a challenge, his nostrils continually flared, allowing him the opportunity to enjoy the most exhilarating scents. The cool, gentle air carried an intoxicating mixture of Matilda's perfume and a cocktail consisting of daisies and freshly cut grass.
Mother Earth apparently pretended not to notice the existing rage between young lovers. Her favor existed everywhere. The outdoor setting provided a heavenly landscape for romance, not turmoil, but far be it for Matilda to take the moment and turn the day into an exquisite special occasion.
The birds chirped in the distance, champagne roses cluttered Armand's garden below them, and he could easily see the ivy twirling around the archway leading to his property gates. The sun was high in the sky and like a perfect tempo taunting them, the rain was still in the distance, the drops marching forward but not in any particular hurry to reach them. Humans, and even some vampires, would consider it a glorious day.
At this point and time, the slightest sound damn near pissed him off. He blamed Matilda. Why not? She always held him to accountability. According to her, if the devil claimed another soul, it was his fault. Armand was guilty by distant association, condemned because she said so. Vampires owned and deserved the burden of continuous fault.
Matilda wheeled around on her heels. "Have you forgotten what you promised me?"
Her sharp gaze pierced through him with pure contempt. Regardless, the little wench still played havoc on his cock. He stood straighter, pushing his chest forward and keeping his shoulders back, not because of false pride or arrogance, but because the increasing throb between his legs beckoned him to shift positions.
He should've cursed her right then and there. Better still, he should've turned her over his bent knee and spanked her little round bottom raw. Armand's love of raising a playful hand and hearing his palm smack against Matilda's sweet ass ranked among life's sweetest pleasures. At the moment, he would enjoy beating her butt until she cried.
"Don't look at me like you didn't hear me. Answer me," she demanded. "Have you forgotten our deal?"
"I don't negotiate with witches." His statement would be translated as fighting words, the kind destined to lead them into one hell of a battle. Since day one, Armand had always been able to say just the right phrases at the appropriate time. Whenever he wanted to see the fiery temper of his little vixen, he could lead them straight to the front lines of a dangerous war zone.
"Of course you don't, darling. You can fuck them, but you don't bargain with them. It would be a lost cause after all." Matilda shoved by him as if she intended to return down the path they'd just walked.
He grabbed her arm, refusing to let her escape so fast. "Matilda, we've fought for days. You care for me, so why do you provoke me? When does the fighting end?"
She tugged her arm free when he loosened his hold. "It won't," she snapped. "Keep fucking me. Tell yourself I enjoy it, maybe even convince yourself that I love you. But I don't. You once promised me that we'd screw ourselves straight back into the throes of our true history, but that was a lie, wasn't it?"
He shrugged. "Admittedly, I wasn't entirely forthcoming."
"What does that mean?"
He wondered how much he should confess. He'd used the past to lure her into bed a few times and his careful manipulation worked. They had a good time and she tried her best to find a way to take them back to a past they were better off leaving behind.
After a big huff and some other Matilda vocal expression, she stomped away. "Your 'eventually' never comes but tomorrow does, and I never find any pleasure in the day after. Never! Do you hear me?"
"Yes, and half of Moscow did as well." The Kremlin was probably on the highest alert now because when vampires fought, their domestic battles could get ugly. Even those in politics often feared for their safety. Just as he suspected, the blaring sound similar to a fire alarm resounded throughout the countryside within minutes. "Are you happy now?"
"I was trying to keep this just between us!"
"Lower your voice or everyone in this city will know how many times a day we fuck."
Matilda shot him a wicked grin after a little consideration. "Then all the mortals will be pleased to know that your human counterparts at least have a functional dick!"
Now she'd gone too far. Not only was she standing on a ledge where the echo resounded through the hills, but she'd insulted his size, something he'd tried to explain to her again and again, a mortal couldn't match because vampires were superior in all ways. "You're behaving like a bitch."
"What's wrong, lover?" she taunted. "You used to call me an outright bitch, now I'm only behaving like one?"
Yes, he mused, avoiding her trap. The last time he called her a crazy bitch--a name that decidedly suited her--he'd slept on the couch for nearly a week. Those seven days seemed like an eternity. He wasn't falling into one of her traps so she could turn their argument into a month-long sentence, confining him to sofa bedding.
Armand studied her catlike eyes for a sign. Maybe a flutter of eyelashes, a sharp movement to the left or to the right, any damn flicker of emotion, and he'd start trying to makeup. Then again, she insulted his cock and anyone within a hundred miles would've heard her deliberate slam.
Matilda paced and he watched her strut. Armand couldn't help it. He loved her. He knew she was battling a lot of demons and her emotions were like a rollercoaster ride, difficult for him but jarring for her. He'd tried his best to be patient and understanding.
Her lifelong hatred of vampires made her miserable at times. She was raised to despise those with fangs. Now, she was one of them. Matilda lived trapped inside her own body, destroyed by the somewhat new revelation of a past still waiting to unfold before her, one where an apocalypse promised to test the hands of time.
"I know what this is all about. Your soul is seared. You have a burning desire to return to America, but because we're mates, you remain here with me. Your pride is wounded, Matilda, but it isn't destroyed. You're drowning your misery in your own blood, but it doesn't ease the agony of an opened, tortured wound, the sore reminder that you are one of those very creatures you once hated with unharnessed passion."
Her eyes held a sudden sheen of apparent acknowledgement. He thought she might cry, but the first tear never fell, and to show him her softer side would mean she conceded. Matilda never compromised herself by giving up. She believed sobbing showed weakness.
Armand took a deep breath. Matilda was vulnerable and with that in mind, he said, "When I went to America to find you, I felt doomed, not just damned. I didn't want to blend bloodlines with a witch any more than you wanted my blood stores mixing with yours.
"A wicked witch with royal vampire blood flowing through her dainty little veins didn't exactly turn me on, and now you can see why. Initially I fought our joining, postponing a mate assignment by pulling every string I could find to yank. But after we were together, after I had known the power of your touch and the taste of your kiss, I decided to fight just as hard to keep you as I once fought to avoid you."
"You don't appeal to me," she snapped out the lie while studying her fingernails. She must have mistakenly believed he was a blatant fool.
"Is that right?" he retorted with tongue-in-cheek.
Her mouth twisted with the agony of defeat because her lips told something her eyes refused to confirm. She quickly looked away and continued to support her current cause, trying to convince him that she didn't belong in his life. "I don't want to live in this world. I want to go home." Matilda hurriedly made her escape as if she expected him to chase her. She shouldn't have exerted the effort.
She wants to go home? Armand was distraught. What had he missed? Hadn't he tried to make Matilda feel accepted? Didn't she realize that he cared about her? Didn't she understand he truly loved her?
They'd been at odds before. From what he knew of blending mates, the first ten years were quite volatile. So they'd work on things, fuck out a few differences if they had to, but if she continued to act like a disgruntled vampire witch, he might just tell her to go home and come back in ten years.
He gasped with a clearer understanding. Home? Where was her home? Wasn't her home with him? Didn't she want to be in his arms, in his bed, and in the future they were trying to build together?
He wanted her there. And by hell and earth, he'd deal with her attitude. He'd make her see that leaving him wasn't an option. Then he'd remind her of why she wouldn't be able to survive without him. Why sure, he'd get right on that, just as soon as Matilda made a stab at being a bit more affable. Unfortunately, he had a feeling that might take a decade.
Armand kicked at the ground, noting the cloud of dirt dusting the toe of his boot. He punched the empty space in front of him like a boxer might. "This is fucking ridiculous. This woman is supposed to be my blending mate! She's not supposed to act like a dried up wench eager to return to the States!" He looked toward the sky, "Do you hear me? I want her to love me! Do you understand? Is anyone listening to me?"
He stomped around in a circle, furious because the elders wouldn't give him a sign or send someone to talk to Matilda. Whatever they expected to gain from his joining with the vindictive little witch, they apparently planned to let them work out their differences without interference.
"Somebody listen to me! Matilda does not belong in the States. I don't want her fucking those men with their homespun dicks, those illiterate fellows who willingly drink her concoctions so they can sit in their southern bars and talk trash about the neighborhood witch." Armand stopped and listened. When he didn't hear anything, he grumbled, "Oh sure, if she left me, I'd probably find some measure of pleasure in the quiet and peaceful surroundings I used to call my own home." Still nothing. Damn. He might as well face the truth. "If Matilda goes back there, I'll follow her."
He closed his eyes and tried to imagine Matilda as she had been the year before at their arranged meeting. The first time he spotted her, she had blonde hair. She wore a snug and sexy fire-engine red dress with a neckline so low she should've been arrested for indecent exposure.
Upon their first meeting, Matilda magically transformed into a cat. A few minutes later, she shifted into a large snake and slivered away before he could ask her too many questions.
Armand snickered at the memory, recalling how he'd played right into her hand from the very beginning. When he left Russia in search of her, he planned to surprise her, but she found him soon after he arrived in Roanoke, Virginia.
Matilda wasn't a dumb witch. She had some knowledge of blending brides, and Armand later discovered she'd had a complete understanding of her place in his life long before he met her. She realized her fate left her open to a vampire's grander plan. The elders had something special in store for them, and when it was time for Armand to find his witch, he carried out their orders remarkably well.
Yes, he mused. He'd done the impossible, actually. After he returned to Moscow with Matilda in tow, he discovered the elders didn't think he'd meet the time limitations. They expected him to fail. Those who had gone before him didn't always return to the elders with their blending brides. He should've given himself a hearty pat on the back. He bent his arm and thought about it but stopped short of the self-congratulations and silent praise.
A throat cleared behind him. "Now what were you saying about Matilda's little boy toys from the past?"
Startled, Armand quickly turned around and faced Nellie. "Thank you for coming!" he exclaimed, running toward her with his arms wide. "I thought you'd forgotten all about me."
Armand adored Nellie. If she'd only been available and a few hundred years younger, Nellie would've been a perfect mate for Armand. Instead, she'd been appointed as his advisor. Every vampire on the planet must've turned green with envy when they learned of the assignment. Regardless of the mounting years, Nellie's beauty always remained unspoiled by her true age.
Armand didn't see Nellie often, but when he did, he embraced her like he never wanted to let her go. She'd been more of a maternal figure than a friend and he trusted her completely.
"I've missed you," Armand whispered. "How have you been?"
"Good," she said, moving past the pleasantries. "I wanted to let you wallow in your self-pity, but then I heard you say something about a homespun dick. I decided to find out more. I could go for a few of those. Where can a woman locate men with such equipment?" Her gaze held pure devilment, and her mouth turned up in a mischievous smirk.
Armand studied his elder. Nellie was extremely intelligent in all areas of business, but when it came to the opposite sex, she lacked good judgment and common sense.
Forcing restraint and resisting the urge to laugh aloud, Armand said, "I was thinking about Matilda and her past capers. Maybe she can give you the recipe to one of her hocus pocus potions."
"Ah yes, the little wench. Matilda's not a very likeable witch when she goes on her tangents. Thanks to her, I now understand how witches are often introduced as quite wicked." Nellie smoothed back her white hair. Armand had always admired her lustrous long locks. The radiant color shone in the sun like soft cotton and never appeared to change to a more precise gray.
"Why was she chosen for me?" Armand quickly resorted to whining. He hated to play that card, but at the same time, he'd spent nearly a year trying to figure out his mate assignment. "Why did the elders want Matilda? There were others out there, witches and shifters, fairies and ghosts. Surely someone would've been more agreeable, more interested in spending their life with me." His heart pounded. He searched for a better way to express himself, but he felt compelled to acknowledge the truth when the facts slapped him in the face.
"You couldn't love anyone like you love Matilda."
"True and you're right. I love her, but sometimes I hate her, if that makes sense, and mainly because she's high maintenance and zaps my energy." Armand felt a little ashamed. He'd just professed his love the day before, telling Matilda he couldn't live without her, which he believed. Now, for some reason, he claimed to hate her too. "I have difficulty spending time with her." His guilt disappeared as quickly as it arrived. He copped a smile, which further revealed his enormous fib. He cleared his throat at the same time.
Nellie sighed. "That's too bad because as it turns out, Matilda isn't as repulsed by you as you might believe. Armand, you and Matilda were chosen for one another. The two of you have work to do. She'll come to terms with her arrangement and her purpose. You will love and accept her more and more with each passing day. History will show that everything you're experiencing is perfectly normal."
"Matilda claims she wants to kill me." Armand walked to the edge of the cliff where he peered over as if he contemplated jumping, not that it would do him any good. He'd tried it many times when he was in his youth and he always landed on his feet. Always.
Nellie joined him. She took his hands in hers, pulling him toward her so she could look at him while speaking. Rubbing his skin softly, Nellie whispered in a most matter-of fact-voice. "Even if she wanted to leave you, Matilda couldn't survive without you. The elders think she's finally accepted her fate. We believe you're the one who needs to learn acceptance."
"Maybe." He focused on a vulture making an awful racket as it circled overhead. Somehow, the damn buzzard reminded him of Matilda. She was always bitching about something, stalking him and watching him like she couldn't wait to pounce.
"Regardless of my personal feelings for her, she's as mean as a striped snake. No one in my position would take the abuse she inflicts. Most vampires would suck her dry, leaving very little blood to pump through that morbid heart of hers."
"So when did you admit to yourself that you truly love her?" Nellie asked with marked enthusiasm.
"I'm not exactly sure," he confessed, realizing no one fooled Nellie. "She'd certainly be much easier to hate."
Nellie shrugged. "That's life, Armand. It's easier to dislike rather than like, simpler to avoid things instead of facing them. The easy way out is more appealing because it takes less time, very little effort, and best of all we don't put ourselves in the line of disappointment. You do love her. It's just not a romp in the park."
"Of course it isn't!" Although he liked Nellie's train of thought. Rather than dwell on the things he could not have, he blurted out, "She's still an unmanageable and quite spoiled little witch!"
Nellie waved her hand, signaling she would soon disappear. "She's the vampire-witch who will one day mother your children. She's also your equal, your mate. Let me remind you of her heritage and encourage you to remember my dear boy, history can repeat itself. Only when the past resurfaces, it generally comes back with an agenda. Matilda won't make the same mistakes twice. She may wear the face of The Blood Countess, but she won't repeat the errors of Erzsebet Bathory's ways."
"You can't be sure of that."
"I'm confident actually," Nellie promised.
Before Armand could ask anything more, Nellie disappeared. Dust particles whipping and whirling around the area where she'd stood provided the only hint that she'd even been there. "You're taking her side because you were once like her!" Armand called out to the wind, but the breeze retreated and didn't even have the decency to blow back in his face.