Lessons Learned [Eldritch Legacy 2]
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by Katrina Strauss
Category: Erotica/BDSM Erotica/Fantasy
Description: Stefan is known for his provocative verse, more so for his wild soirees. One luxury eludes him--the woman who can match him in both wits and in bed. Until he meets Camille. Together they find the path of the Magi, and romance turns reckless abandon. Publisher's Note: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations that some readers may find objectionable: Anal play/intercourse, BDSM theme and content, ménage and moresome (m/f/m, m/f/f/m, partner swapping), same-sex interaction (f/f), voyeurism.
eBook Publisher: Loose Id, LLC, 2009
eBookwise Release Date: November 2009
10 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [296 KB]
Reading time: 178-249 min.
Stefan leaned back in his chair and stretched his legs, his joints still stiff from sleep. He really needed to quit falling asleep in his riding boots.
Some might say his family had condemned him to the country, but Stefan quite enjoyed the privacy and freedoms afforded him at Eventide. His monthly allowance kept him in unlimited supplies of brandy and spirits, paper and ink, and allowed him to play host to such brilliant peers as Klauss, Nicolette...
As he sipped his tea, Stefan stared at the lovely vision across the table. He did not quite know what to make of his new acquaintance. Here was an accomplished, intelligent woman who had demanded her work be published under her rightful name, yet she seemed skittish and unsure of herself, somehow awkward in her own skin.
And what lovely skin it is, he thought, studying the delicate shade above the rise of her breasts that made him think of sweet peaches and cream.
When Nicolette had given him a copy of Camille's book the previous summer, he hadn't expected to find the tale so intriguing. While the moral lesson at the end had been unnecessarily harsh, he had thought the story well written overall. Camille had a beautiful command of the language, with the sensual touch of a poet evident in her prose. He recognized a certain passion beneath her words, but sensed she was holding back from her readers. Stefan had known at once that he must meet this writer.
He had promptly posted a letter to Nicolette with a reminder that she owed him a few favors. He never expected monetary reimbursement on unpaid loans, but he appreciated payment in other forms. And so Nicolette had helped him arrange, for once, to meet a woman for reasons other than bedding her.
He had been unprepared to lay eyes on a true beauty. Looking at Camille now, sipping her tea with dainty grace, her swanlike neck rising from that maddeningly sheer gown, he found himself falling prey to his usual desires. It was all he could do to stop himself from reaching across the table and twirling her titian curls.
At the age of twenty-five, he had enjoyed the charms of countless women, from servant girls to paid courtesans to noble daughters. It had all started one fine summer, when on the brink of manhood, he had taken an afternoon stroll in the country. By nightfall, he had flattered two milkmaids with his silver-tongued verse and tumbled them both in the hayloft; first one, then the other, followed by a third delicious time with one writhing on his face as the other ground onto his cock. From that day forth, his appetite had gone unsated as he perfected the art of love with any beauty who would have him. And oh, how they'd had him!
However, while he savored each and every sensual experience, he had to admit he found the moment lacking afterward. He was, after all, a poet with an inherent romantic streak, yet not one lovely lady had held his attention past the second or third encounter. None had won his heart. He would play the cynic and argue that true love was a myth, the stuff of magick and fairy tales, but he had studied the portrait of his grandsires, the mighty king and his fair queen. Every once in a great while, such a love did come along--one so powerful that even tyrants were toppled and kingdoms claimed in its wake.
Mulling over past conquests, some of whose names he'd never caught, Stefan set down his empty cup, rattling it against the saucer. He poured himself another serving from the teapot, then reached across the table to tip the spout against Camille's cup.
"Thank you," she murmured without looking at him.
He leaned forward, propped on one arm. "Camille," he said pointedly. He found proper titles and surnames to be a pretentious waste of breath.
"Pardon?" she asked midsip, her cup frozen in place. She refused to meet his gaze once again. Why did she fear to look him in the eye?
"Do you find your accommodations suitable?" he asked.
"Yes," she replied softly, staring into her cup. "The writing desk is quite nice."
"I instructed my servants to carry it upstairs strictly for your purposes."
She peered at him with eyes of azure. Yes, now she looked at him. "Thank you," she said, her tone one of surprise. "That was...most considerate of you."
"I also suggested they turn it toward the balcony, so you might look out on the garden while you're writing. I, myself, find the view to be inspirational."
"Oh," she said, one brow arched. "I suppose when you penned your infamous 'Ode to a Prostitute,' you were contemplating the spring daffodils?"
He was uncertain from her fixed expression as to whether she meant to be curt or witty, but it didn't matter. The fact that she had the gall to say it was enough. Stefan burst into hearty laughter.
A flush of pink infused Camille's features, inflaming the freckles where her skin had been touched by the sun. Oh, to be the sun and leave a scorching trail of kisses upon that fair flesh!
Hmm, good line, Stefan noted to himself, reminding himself to write it down later.
Camille visibly squirmed under his gaze and turned to Nicolette, who sat at the end of table with Klauss, their chairs shoved together. "Tell us what plays you'll be reading for next season."
"I thought you'd never ask." Nicolette launched into animated conversation, ever eager to regale others with tales of the stage.
Ah yes, sweet Nicolette. Of the beautiful women Stefan had encountered, she was one of the few whose charms he had not tasted. They had kissed once, he drunk on brandy, she lost in the labyrinth. It had proved to be an awkward moment, akin to a chaste exchange with one of his sisters, and had quickly passed into good-natured mirth. Odd, considering her reputation was nearly as scandalous as his, but Nicolette was truly Stefan's friend and nothing more. Perhaps they were too much alike.
But now Camille, Stefan would like to get alone for a few precious moments. To discuss her book, he reminded himself. He leaned closer.
A lovely name, Camille. He thrilled in the sound of it as it danced upon his tongue.
* * * *
"Yes?" said Camille, impatience creeping into her voice. Master Eldritch had not only addressed her by her first name again but had interrupted Nicolette as well. Did this man have no manners?
"Would you care to see the library? I have a few items in my collection you may find of interest."
His mixed signals were rather confounding. One minute, he looked ready to pounce across the table and paw at her dress. The next, he invited her to visit his library. She was disconcerted yet intrigued, as she suspected he at least held good taste in literature.
"Certainly," she said. She looked to Nicolette. "Wouldn't you like to see the library too?"
"No, thank you," Nicolette said. "I'll be joining Klauss back at the piano. He wants me to help him compose."
"That I do." Klauss sighed, staring at the actress with a lopsided, enamored grin. "Nicolette is quite the inspiration."
Camille glared at Nicolette, who answered with a playful shrug. Rising from the table, she took Stefan's proffered elbow but kept as much distance between them as possible.
He led her down a marble-tiled corridor, the heels of his pointed boots clicking on the floor in long, easy strides. She padded softly beside him, sneaking a surreptitious glance and admiring his tall, slender stature. He peered down at her and caught her looking. She hurriedly lowered her gaze, though not before noting the smug twist of his lips.
With dramatic flourish, Stefan opened a pair of double oak doors and ushered Camille between them. She stopped in the middle of a vast room, the shelf-lined walls crammed from floor to ceiling with books.
"Impressive," she said, slowly turning and craning her neck to take in the entire collection.
"My contribution to the manor," he explained with a trace of pride. "When I first came here, these shelves were less than half-full. I arranged for my favorite titles from my family's other houses to be shipped here. I've filled in the rest with my own acquisitions." He extended his hand. "Come, I want to show you a specific set of works."
Camille hesitated but took his hand. She sensed no lechery, only a genuine desire to share knowledge. Stefan twined his fingers through hers and led her across the room. He stopped at a row of older books, the covers tattered with age. He pressed her palm against the spines. She recognized the classic titles of a well-known, long-dead author, one to whom she'd devoted an entire course of study at the university.
Stefan gazed down at her, his black hair falling into his eyes. "I read an article just the other day," he said. "Do you know what scholars are now conjecturing?" At the puzzled shake of Camille's head, he smiled and continued. "They think he was a she."
"Really?" Camille gasped, eyes going wide; she quickly squelched her surprise. "Though of course, it makes sense. His, er, that is to say, her prose has always borne a certain feminine sensibility."
"Does it truly make a difference to know the author was not male? You already admired these works before, did you not?"
"Yes, but I think she deserves rightful credit as a female novelist who wrote during a time when few women could even read."
"Few men could read back then, either. Only royalty and their bastard noble sons enjoyed the luxury of education."
"It wasn't the same for a woman," Camille argued. "Even now, it's a struggle. Do you know how I first got my books displayed in a shop window?"
Stefan crossed his arms and leaned against the bookshelf, one leg crooked in front of the other. "I had wanted to ask you about that. Do go on."
"Nicolette introduced me to a widow who had inherited her husband's bookstore. She had refused countless offers to sell the shop, insisting she could run the business on her own."
"So she was sympathetic to your plight?"
"Not exactly. She only agreed after I had debated with her over the course of several visits. She feared putting my name on display might incur a loss of patrons."
"Now that is interesting indeed. Why did you insist, when you could have simply printed your story under a man's name and avoided the hassle? Which do you value more--your name, or your work?"
"Both," she answered curtly. "Are you suggesting I shouldn't have sought publication under my true name?"
"No, not at all," Stefan said, his brow knitted. He stood straight and took her hands in his, clasping them between his palms. "I am simply playing devil's advocate. Now, why did you insist? Why place equal importance on both your name and your work?"
Camille considered his question for a moment, staring down at her hands in his to avoid his unsettling gaze. "I wanted people to know a woman had written it and that...that I could write as well as any man."
"So you put that much faith in your work. You knew it to be that good."
"Well, yes! I mean, no...I..." Camille stammered, looking up at him sharply. "I hoped others would find it to their liking."
"I understand." Stefan laughed. "Camille, it is perfectly acceptable to know you are gifted and to take pride in your talents. It's just that sometimes, the rest of the world is slow to acknowledge genius due to either jealousy or ignorance." Releasing his hold, he pulled one of the books from the shelf and thumbed through it absently. "Some find it one of my odder habits, but I enjoy books for more than the simple pleasure of reading. I relish the weight of one in my hands, the texture of the cover, the crisp turn of the page."
"As do I." Camille smiled knowingly. Stefan Eldritch was turning out rather differently than she had expected, and as much as she hated to admit it, she found herself warming up to him. "When I first lay hands on a new book, I..." She lowered her voice, suddenly shy, and looked away again. "The first thing I do is open to the center and inhale the scent of the ink."
"I do the same." Stefan returned the book to its spot on the shelf.
He reached toward her. Stroking one finger down her curls, he cupped her face and tilted her head. Camille trembled at his touch, and as she looked him full in the face, she wondered what it might be like if he kissed her. She thought, for a moment, that he would, but then he pulled away.
"Here, let me treat you to another delicacy."
Though hardly proper, Camille did not protest when Stefan draped his arm over her shoulder and steered her to a buttoned spoonback sofa.
While she sat primly, he strode over to a tall ladder and climbed up halfway. Camille caught herself staring at his backside, the shape of his long, lean legs accentuated by his skintight breeches. He came back down the ladder, clutching a thick tome bound in cracked leather, the pages gilded in gold. He returned to the sofa and sat to her right, his knee brushing hers. He ran the tips of his fingers up the thinned, frayed bookmark of scarlet. Opening the book between them, he rested one half on his lap and the other on hers. Leaning close, he casually slid his left hand around the dip of her waist.
She was so enthralled with the book, she barely noted his manner of touching her. The page on Stefan's side was adorned with rows of calligraphy, the words written in an outdated version of their native language. The other depicted a sketch--the colors faded but still dazzling nonetheless--of a courageous knight battling a fierce, fire-breathing dragon.
"This was done by hand," noted Camille with reverent awe, "well before the printing press."
"Yes," said Stefan. "A priceless treasure, claimed to have come from our oldest castle."
Camille started to touch the crisp linen pages but paused.
"No, love, it's fine." Taking her hand once more, Stefan traced the tip of Camille's index finger around the intricate dips and swells of script.
And then somehow she was in his arms, with the book carefully placed on the low table nearby. His lips brushed softly against hers as he cradled her head. His tongue parted her mouth and slipped inside, muffling her gasp of surprise. No man had ever kissed her like this! She pressed against his chest, meaning to push him away, to stop his invasion, but instead found herself clutching his shirt and pulling him closer.
He leaned her into the throw pillows, the full length of his body weighed upon hers, his hands freely skimming the curves of her form just as he had traced the letters in the book. Breaking their kiss, he trailed his lips across the line of her jaw.
"Camille," he murmured against her ear, "your name alone is sheer poetry." His hot breath sent a pleasant shiver throughout her limbs. He nudged his knee between her thighs, and the hem of her skirt slid up, exposing her silk-clad calves.
She opened her mouth to say "no," but the warmth of his lips melted against the line of her bodice and all she could manage was a long, low sigh. The puff of her sleeve slid from one shoulder as his fingertips curled under the cup of her corset and pulled the fabric down to bare her breast.
Camille lifted her head, uttering a sharp cry of protest, yet could only watch in stunned amazement as Stefan sealed his mouth around her nipple and stiffened the small bud with a swirl of his tongue. The delicious sensation evoked somehow became intertwined with a growing pressure between Camille's legs.
Still suckling her breast, Stefan slid one hand up her thigh, beneath her shift, where his fingers found her throbbing sex. Panicked, Camille reached out to stay his hand, but as quickly as she'd been startled, she succumbed to his touch once more. Despite the warning bells sounding somewhere in the back of her mind, she spread her legs wider and pressed against his palm.
"My God," murmured Stefan, looking up at her with a wicked gleam, his eyes taking on that eerie black hue again. "You are positively wet, my sweet." He eased her skirt past her hips and slid his body down until his shoulders rested between her thighs.
"What are you doing?" she asked, uncertainty rising again, and then her eyes went wide with shock. Oh God, she thought. His mouth...his mouth was on her. And it was absolutely the most delightful feeling she had ever experienced.
His wet tongue and soft lips and hot breath all mingled against her, sending an intense wave of pleasure through her entire being. The flick of his tongue concentrated on one spot in particular, the simplest of movements bombarding her with one thrill of current after another until her lower body was rendered aflame.
Her thighs trembled, and her sex grew damper. Stefan widened his mouth and grunted against her, his tongue snaking within her walls. The heat intensified, spreading throughout her limbs, sweeping her senses away. Overwhelmed, Camille twined her fingers in Stefan's lank black locks, the tactile glide of silken hair her only link to reality. Her spine arched, her hips bucked, and she crushed her sex harder against Stefan's mouth. He emitted a groan, the hum of it vibrating against her sweet spot, and for a brief, shining moment, the world rushed around her in a dizzying spin. She bit her lips and stifled the keening wail that threatened to rise from her throat and echo throughout the room. When she felt she could bear no more of the agonizing pleasure, Stefan pulled away, leaving her sex cold and aching for more of his skilled touch.
She lay panting, trying to catch her breath. The poet slid back up and caught her mouth with his. "The nectar of the gods," he murmured between kisses, "the sweetest drop, the finest ambrosia."
Camille kissed him back, sucking at his tongue, wondering at the taste of her own essence. As the rush slowed and the throbbing between her legs subsided, she felt another sensation, a hard length pressing persistently against her. While she could not see past the bundle of her skirts, she realized Stefan had freed himself of his breeches and sought entrance. Common sense kicked in where it had failed her thus far.
"Master Eldritch, no," she muttered, resisting the desire to let him bring her to that strange, wondrous state of ecstasy once more.
"Stefan," he corrected in a husky whisper, circling her wrists, pinning her hands above her head.
"Stefan, no. Stop..."
"What's that, love?" He sighed, nudging against her folds. "You don't have to play coy with me."
Camille twisted her arms from his grasp and pushed him square in the chest.
"No!" she shrieked.
He sat up and stared, his dark eyes sparking with anger and then fading to green as confusion set in. Shamefaced, Camille looked away from him and hastily pulled her bodice up, tucking her bared breast into her corset, and then she leaped from the sofa. As her skirts fell back into place, she fled for the door.
* * * *
Stefan watched, stupefied, as Camille stormed from the library. Shaking his head in consternation, he stuffed his aching cock back into his breeches and went after her. As he neared the end of the corridor, the strains of piano swelled and then tapered off.
Stefan followed Camille into the drawing room and caught sight of her as she raced up the landing toward the guest wing. In turn, Klauss and Nicolette stared from their rather interesting position on the piano bench. In their own state of half-dress, Nicolette had apparently been riding Klauss as he played.
"Stefan? What happened?" asked the pretty brunette, her brow quirked.
"I believe I've offended your friend."
"What did you say to her?"
"The question is," Klauss chimed in with a sly smile, "what did he do?"
"Oh." A smile played at the corners of Nicolette's mouth. "I'd say it was a smashing success, then. I've never seen her that mad at a man before. Which means you've gotten further with her than anyone else."
"What do you mean?" asked Stefan, eyeing her with suspicion.
"Stefan, darling, she's a--" Nicolette mouthed the next word.
"What's that?" Stefan tapped one finger behind his ear. "I could have sworn you said she's a--" He paused, realization sinking in, and stared back toward the landing.
"Oh," he murmured under his breath, stroking his chin thoughtfully. "Well now, that explains a great deal." He smiled, and the air around him took on a darkened hue, the one that told him his eyes had gone black, a rather uncanny trait that appeared in the Eldritch line every few generations. His cock, still hard, stirred restlessly against the buckskin of his breeches.
A virgin. Stefan would need to take his time with this one, slow and sweet, but his passion would not be denied. He would have Camille Rocheford. Of that, there was no doubt in his mind.