Crouching Vampire, Hidden Fang (Page 8)

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“I've been thinking.”

A slight snore ruffled my hair.

“Kristoff.” I shoved his chest. He rolled over onto his back, giving a little grunt, followed immediately by another brief snore.

“Kristoff!” I clicked on the small bedside lamp, propping myself up on one elbow, and prodded him in the side until one of his eyes cracked open.


“You're snoring.”

He blinked sleepily at me. “Wha'?”

“Vampires do not snore. Everyone knows that.” I laid my hand on his chest, a little frisson of happiness skittering inside me at the nearness of him. “Were you sleeping?”

He was fully awake now, and the muzzy look was gone, replaced by a slight frown. “What sort of question is that? You just said I was snoring.”

“It was a courtesy question, intended to give you time to wake up so you can speak coherently.”

His frown turned to a suspicious scowl. “You're one of those women who likes to talk after sex, aren't you?”

“All women like to talk after sex. It cements a feeling of intimacy and allows us to feel that our partners, frequently notorious for their 'wham, bam, thank you, ma'am' policy, are interested in more than just physical satisf-Hey! Stop going back to sleep; this is important!”

“Nothing is more important to a man after sex than getting eight or nine hours of uninterrupted sleep,” he said, closing his eyes.

“You're a vampire,” I felt obligated to point out. “You're not a normal man.”

“I'm male. The same principle applies,” he insisted, his eyes refusing to open.

“Oh, really.” I thought for a moment, then shoved back the blanket, taking his now-relaxed penis in my hands.

His eyes shot open.

“Aha!” I said, shoving aside one of his legs so I could kneel between them. “I knew it.”

Interest was chased by irritation in his lovely teal eyes. “Dammit, woman, I may be immortal, but there are limits to my abilities. I'm not an incubus who can satisfy your lustful desires all… Hrnng.”

I smiled at the way his eyes rolled back in his head as I bent down to take the very tip of him into my mouth. I let my tongue swish around the underside for a bit before looking up. “Now that I have your attention…”

His head snapped up from where it had lolled back onto the pillow. “You're stopping?”

“I just wanted to wake you up enough to talk,” I said, resting my hand on his thighs.

He glared at me. “There's a word for what you're doing, you know, and it's not very nice.”

“I didn't say I wasn't going to finish; I just wanted to talk to you before I do, because if the speed with which you fell asleep a short while ago is anything to go by, you're not going to want to talk to me after I finish up with you.”

I could see he wanted to protest the point, but he knew he hadn't a leg to stand on. Grudgingly, he said, “What is so important you have to stop?”

“Two things, really,” I said, tapping the fingers of one hand on his thigh. “The first is something that bothered me a bit at the time, but I couldn't tell why. Allie put a special emphasis on the fact that Christian was not going to authorize the release of Mattias and Kristjana, and yet she went out of her way to tell me where they were.”

He snorted and flopped back onto the pillows, his eyes closed again. “I don't see what's confusing about that. Christian made himself quite clear.”

“Clear that he wasn't going to release the two reapers?”

A slow frown creased the spot between his silky brown eyebrows. “No. Clear that his hands were tied, but he fully expected us to use our own resources to achieve the goal.”

I gawked at him a minute. He opened his eyes enough to give first his penis, then me a pointed look. “You're not going to continue?”

“Not until I'm through being flabbergasted. Are you trying to tell me that Christian… what, he mind-talked to you? Told you to go ahead and take Mattias and Kristjana?”

“We don't have that sort of a mental link.”

“Then how… ?”

“It was clear that what he wasn't saying was what he wanted us to do.”

“It wasn't at all clear to me. I thought Allie was telling me to break them out, not Christian.”

He grunted and looked rather hopefully at his privates.

I patted his penis, still distracted by this new avenue of thought.”OK, I get that Christian wants us to take Mattias and make a break for it. And presumably then go to Iceland and do the same for Kristjana, which is fine, because I have to go there for Ulfur anyway. But why does Christian want that? He said himself that if I weren't a Zorya, I wouldn't be able to pump the Brotherhood for information about Alec.”

Kristoff was silent for a moment. “There is a traitor amongst Dark Ones, someone working for the council who is betraying our interests to the reapers. We have known about this for a year. Christian clearly expects us to uncover who this mole is in the process of discovering Alec's whereabouts.”

“You think the two things are connected?” I asked, gently stroking his thighs.

“Possibly,” Kristoff admitted, his eyes darkening. “Although, as you pointed out to the council, it wouldn't necessarily have to be a Dark One who set me up. But they no doubt believe it is the same person.”

“So we take Mattias and Kristjana, and what? Use them as something to barter for Alec?”

“That thought had crossed my mind,” Kristoff said, his breathing quickening as I dragged my nails gently up his thighs. “There's no real other use for the two of them.”

“Oh, I don't know. Mattias might know something. If nothing else, I can play the wife card. That seems to hold a lot of meaning for him.”

Kristoff's body tensed. He glared down the length of it to me. “You are not his wife.”

I sighed. “We went over this that night in Iceland. In order to receive the powers of a Zorya, I have to be married to a sacristan. Mattias is the sacristan. I have powers. Thus our marriage, the one between you and me, such as it was, was obviously not the legal one.”

His jaw worked for a moment.

“Trust me, I don't like it any more than you do, but obviously Mattias places a lot of value on the whole marriage, so we might as well use that to our advantage.”

He ground his teeth. His hands fisted into the sheets.

“Oh, stop acting like a big, scary, pointy-toothed, jealous baby, and start thinking up an escape plan.”

“I am not jealous,” he growled, his eyes lighting from within. He grabbed my hips and hoisted me upward until my breasts were smashed against his face. He took one nipple in his mouth and flicked his tongue across the tip. And he is not your husband .

I clutched his shoulders, my entire body suddenly turning into one gigantic erogenous zone. My mistake. Would you please… Oh, yes.

His hands slid down my hips, around my backside, and down into depths that he had so recently plumbed. I bucked against his hands, trying desperately to hold on to my thoughts.

Do not fight your passion. Embrace it; don't deny it, he murmured into my head.

I can't help it. I know where this is going to end-more mind-blowingly fabulous sex, and given my jet lag and your insistence that you're the same as any other male, we'll both fall asleep afterward. We have to think of a plan, Kristoff. We have to think of a way out of here.

His mouth was hot and wet as he licked a path over to my other breast. I curled my fingers into his hair, nibbling his neck, sucking on his earlobe, my mind giving up the battle as the desire he stirred within me swelled upward.

I have a plan, he answered, opening his mind to me. I bit gently on a cord in his neck, the feeling of which drove me-drove him-nearly past the breaking point.

I slid backward, down his body, kissing a line down his belly. His muscles contracted tightly as I moved downward, soft little groans of pleasure filling my head. I paused for a moment when I got to his penis, smiling to myself at the sensations he was sharing.

Your plan involves a blow job. I meant we need to have a plan for escaping here with Mattias, finding Kristjana, and rescuing Ulfur.

Blow job first, then escape , he answered, a note of hopefulness lingering in the back of his mind.

I laughed at him, dipping my head down to take him into my mouth. I'll give it a shot, but I don't know if I'm any good at it.

His body stiffened for a moment, every muscle as hard as steel, and then suddenly I was lifted high over him, my knees straddling his hips, his penis poised to pierce me.

You're good.

Kristoff, wait! I yelled, desperately trying to squirm my hips away from the ecstasy that I knew stood one thrust away.

Hunger had burst into being hot and deep in him, rising until it threatened to snap the thin shred of control he held.

I won't drink from you, he said, a note of desperation evident in his thoughts.

No, it's not that. I'm a big girl; I have lots of blood-you're welcome to it.

Then why in the name of the saints are you stopping me when I know you want this as much as I do?

I almost sobbed, so desperate was I to feel the completion that I knew awaited me. “The plan! We can't wait until morning to figure out what to do. We have to do something tonight, while people are asleep.”

He snarled a mental oath, then thought at me, images of us climbing down from the second-story window with Mattias, of guards distracted by Magda and Raymond, of us using the money he was supposed to have stolen to charter a plane to take us to California.

“No, we have to get Kristjana and Ulfur first. We'll have to go to Iceland.”

The image altered to that of a fjord.

“And what about Magda and Raymond? I can't leave them here by themselves to face Christian and Sebastian-“

Hurriedly, he shoved Magda and Ray in front of the fjord.

“What about-“

With a wordless roar he plunged me downward. All my protests vanished instantly, as I knew they would. Every fiber of my body was focused on his pleasure, my own driving it as he urged me on faster. He sat up, teeth flashing for a second before they pierced the skin of my shoulder, my blood flowing down his throat like the sweetest nectar, soaking into parched cells that had too long been starved. My fingers curled into the thick muscles of his back as the combined sensation of his climax and mine sent my spirit flying.

It took a long, long while for me to drift back down to my body, but I did so with the echo of Kristoff's thought tolling in my head.

My wife, not his.

“Mile-high club?”

“Hmm?” I stopped as I passed where Magda was sitting in a center aisle row of the plane. Raymond was next to her, sound asleep, his head having slid to the side, with airline earphones still stuck in his ears, his mouth ajar as he snored. Magda had tucked a napkin under his chin.

“He's a drooler,” she said softly, smiling fondly at him.

“If that's the worst of his sins, you don't have much to complain about,” I said, taking the empty seat next to her. Kristoff, who had been behind me, continued on to our seats in the back section of the first-class area. I was thankful the flight from Austria to Frankfurt was only half-booked, which meant there was more than the usual amount of free space on the plane.

“Absolutely. How's your sleeping beauty?”

“Thoroughly out of it, thank God. I thought Kristoff was going to punch Mattias if he tried to kiss me once more. I don't know why being light-bound has made him so amorous, but at least it's better than antagonistic.”

“Much better, by the sounds of it. And I asked you if you'd joined the mile-high club, not that it's really any of my business, although I've always wanted to try it. But those bathrooms are so darned small.”

“Oh, that.” A little blush warmed my cheeks. “No, we didn't do that. Kristoff was hungry and was going to wait for the plane to land before eating, but I figured this would save us time.”

“Uh-huh. So that would explain the lipstick all over his chin and neck?”

My blush cranked up a couple of notches.

Magda laughed and gave my arm a friendly squeeze. “I was just teasing you, silly.”

“I know. It's just that feeding Kristoff… Well, sometimes we get a bit carried away. But you can take it from me that the bathrooms on the plane are, in fact, too small to do anything beyond a little necking.”

She shook her head. “Sometimes it just hits me-he's a vampire. A real vampire. And he can only exist by drinking your blood?”

“That's the story. And given his appearance in Vienna, I can't deny it.”

“He was pretty ragged-looking. He appears to be feeling much better now.”

“I think so.” I resisted the urge to glance behind me at where he was sitting. I took enormous pleasure in just gazing at him, marveling once again at the odd twist of fate that had landed the most handsome man I'd ever met smack-dab in my life. He'd caught me watching him as he dozed just an hour before.

What's wrong? he'd asked as he sat up, glancing quickly around to find whatever threat was imminent.

Nothing's wrong.

Then why are you staring at me?

Maybe I like looking at you.

He shot me a look filled with disbelief.

On my other side, with his face plastered against the plane window, Mattias snored away. I made sure he was still asleep before turning back to Kristoff. Oh, come now. Unlike the vampires in stories, you have a reflection, so I know you've seen yourself in a mirror, not to mention you've lived a good five hundred or so years. Surely you've noticed women going gaga over you?

I've never had a problem with them, no, he said with a mental shrug. But you put too much emphasis on appearances. Something I believe I've had cause to point out to you before.

That was in reference to my appearance. And don't even think of going there again-I'm willing to admit that perhaps you are different from most men and don't mind a woman who is on the abundant side of things rather than the anorexic, but we weren't talking about me. You are really very handsome, Kristoff. More than handsome-drop-dead gorgeous. What do you think of that?

He gave another mental shrug. What do you expect me to think of it? There's little I can do to change how I look.

For God's sake, man! I whomped him on the arm. I'm telling you I think you're sexy as hell! That you make my mouth water just looking at you! That you not only start my engine-you rev it up to the point where… where… oh, I don't know any car analogies! You just make me want to fling myself on you!

I knew that already, he replied with maddening rationality. I feel your arousal just as you feel mine.

Argh! I yelled at him.

He had the nerve to look surprised. I am not belittling your physical attraction to me in any way, Pia. It pleases me to know that you are as pleased with my body as I am with yours.

“Oh, you are impossible in this reasonable mood,” I muttered, getting up and stepping over his legs.

He grabbed my arm and pulled me down onto his lap, his eyes glittering with a deep light that had my body tingling in anticipation. I think you underestimate just how pleasing I find you, he said, tracing my jawline with his thumb.

A little shiver went down my back. I leaned forward until my mouth was a millimeter from his. I want a love name.

His eyes widened. A love name?

Yes. Allie has several, it appears, for Christian, although they all seemed aimed more at irritating him than being a pet name. Even that obnoxious Sebastian said his Beloved called him her little cabbage.

Kristoff made a face. His breath was warm on my mouth as I softly-oh, so softly-brushed my lips along his.

I want something like that for you. Somehow the usual ones-“honey,” “sweetie,” and the like-don't seem suitable. So give me something I can call you.

Kristoff wouldn't do?

A nickname. I want a nickname.

I have one already. Alec calls me Kris sometimes.

I bit his lower lip.

He groaned into my mind, shifting me slightly on his lap. Since we were in the last row in our section of the plane, few people came back to see me sitting on his lap. Regardless, I didn't want to start anything we couldn't continue, so I didn't explore the reason he moved me a smidgen down his legs.

Baby? I asked.

That's hardly a term suitable for a male.

Hmm. Punkin?

One sable eyebrow rose. I kissed it.

OK, then, you suggest a name. What about something in German?

German isn't a language that lends itself easily to love names.

Italian, then?

He thought for a moment. There's caro .

That's like what? “Dear”?


What else?

He looked thoughtful. I don't know. I don't usually have call to find pet names for men.

Well, how about if we do it this way-if you were going to call me something, what would it be?


Something a little more meaningful than that.

Heat shimmered in his eyes. There is nothing more meaningful to a Dark One than that.

I kissed the corner of his mouth. It was just a little kiss, but it was enough to start the slumbering fire within me. If I were a normal human woman… what would you call me then?

Tesorina mia.

Which means?

My little treasure.

Treasure, hmm? Is there a male version?


I rolled it around my mind a few times. That's pretty good. Nothing else?

He hesitated a moment. Amore.

Ah. My gaze dropped to his mouth. I didn't need help translating that word. Tempted as I was to use it, I didn't want to put him in the position that he had to acknowledge that my growing emotions were more or less unrequited. Tesoro it is, then.

I got off his lap and went to visit the bathroom, my body burning for him while my mind yelled at me for wanting something that he couldn't give.


Magda's voice interrupted my trip down memory lane.


“You haven't heard a word I said, have you? You looked like you were a million miles away.”

“Sorry. Just wondering if this little jaunt to Germany is going to give the vampires the slip.”

The look she gave me was part exasperation, part affection. “That's exactly what I was asking you about.”

“You didn't have to come-” I started to say, feeling guilty once again that their vacation was turning into an endurance bout of globe-hopping.

“Oh, hush, we had that out last night. Since Mattias is now evidently your love puppy, with the emphasis on the 'puppy,' then I figured we'd be going to Iceland next.”

“Yes. Except I think Kristoff might want you guys to act as a decoy.”

“Decoy? Oh, to lead the vamps off your trail?”

“Exactly. Although they have to know we'd go to Iceland. Maybe we should talk to Kristoff. I don't really remember all he said. I was kind of busy flashing light at Mattias.”

“We'll let Ray have his beauty sleep,” Magda said, getting to her feet. “Let's confab with the man.”

“Sounds good. It'll give me a chance to try out the new pet name I have for him.”

“You found one?”

“Yes. It's Italian,” I said rather smugly. “I haven't used it yet, but this would be a good opportunity to see how it feels.”

“Italian! How exotic. I should have something like that for Ray.”

I nudged her with my elbow. “You're Hispanic, silly! Surely there are oodles of Spanish love names.”

“Bah. Spanish isn't nearly as exotic as Italian is. OK, you're up. Let's hear this great endearment.”

“We've come to talk game plan… er… Kristoff.” My sentence trailed away lamely as he lowered the magazine he was reading so I could crawl over his legs to my seat.

Magda sat on the arm of the seat opposite him, shaking her head. “Chicken.”

My shoulders slumped.

Kristoff gave me an odd look. “What is it you are accused of being afraid of?”

“It's the pet name you gave me. Well, not gave me, but gave me to use for you. I can't do it. It just doesn't feel right.”

“Ah,” he said, clearly not bothered in the least.

“Maybe you should forgo exotic and stick to something you're more comfortable with,” Magda suggested. “Did you try plain old 'honey'?”

We both looked at Kristoff. He rolled his eyes. “No,” I said at the same time Magda shook her head.

“Agreed. He's not the 'honey' type. How about…” She tapped a finger to her chin. ” 'Angel'?”

“Definitely not,” Kristoff said, going back to his magazine.

“He's not really an 'angel' type, either,” I admitted.

“You may have something. Let's see… 'sweet pea'?”

“Christ, no,” Kristoff said.

“Hush, you,” I said, concentrating. ” 'Sugar pie'?”

He shuddered.

“I suppose 'snuggle bunny' is out,” Magda said thoughtfully. ” 'Sugar lips'?”

“Ohh, now that's not bad-“

Kristoff leveled a glare at me. “Don't even think about it.”

“Party pooper,” I muttered, flicking his magazine in an annoyed manner. He just grunted and buried himself in it again.

” 'Pooh bear'? I had a boyfriend I used to call my cuddly little Pooh bear. He was a dream,” Magda said, sighing happily at the memory. “Then he met a masseuse, and last I heard they have five kids and are really happy. Oh! I know! 'Poochikins'!”

I looked at Kristoff and giggled. He glared at the magazine. “I don't think so, Magda, but thanks for the suggestion. I'll just have to find something else.”

” 'Sugarplum'?”

“Nooo,” I said slowly, regretfully setting the name aside.

” 'Sweet cheeks'?”

You do, and you'll live to regret it.

I laughed out loud. “Pass. But I think I thought of something.”

“You did? What?” she asked.

Do I want to know? Kristoff asked at the same time.

“I think I'll hold off on saying it out loud for a bit,” I told Magda with a smile.

You'll find out soon enough, Boo .

He looked at me, the oddest expression on his face. Boo?

Magda grinned back at me. “I totally understand. Now, about Iceland.”

I thought it was appropriate. You scared me silly the first time I saw you. Well, not the first time, but right after that. You know, when you tried to strangle me.

Pia, if I wanted to strangle you, you would have been dead, he answered, looking slightly disconcerted.

What's wrong? You don't like 'Boo'? I think it has kind of a nice ring to it. It's short and snappy, but not overly syrupy or otherwise embarrassing.

No, it's not too embarrassing, he said hesitantly. I could feel him shielding something from me.

What is it, then? If you don't want me to use it, I'll just have to find something else-

I shudder to think what else you will come up with. If you feel the need to use a nickname for me, and you refuse to use Kris, then I suppose I can live with Boo.

“Pia said you might want Ray and me to go somewhere else.”

But you don't like it?

“Yes. Andreas and Rowan will expect us to try to shake them, but they will also expect us to head to Italy as soon as possible.”

“Why's that?” she asked.

“There is a group of reapers in Rome.”



Reluctance filled my mind. I suppose I'll have to tell you. Before I was changed, my mother called me B?rchen . It's German for “little bear.” Your name reminded me of that.

I laughed. I'll never wrap my tongue around German words, so I'll go with Boo. Besides, it really is appropriate. You can be very scary when you want to be.

“We go to Rome while you guys go to Iceland to pick up the other reaper and Ulfur the friendly ghost,” Magda said. “I'll tell Ray when he wakes up. He's always wanted to go to Rome.”

I smiled, the memory of a laughing young man, handsome and rugged, clad in clothing of more than a hundred years ago, rising to my mind.

“If his damned horse tries to eat my jacket again, there will be hell to pay,” Kristoff said, turning the page of his magazine.

“I kind of liked his horse…. Oh, Ray's awake. I'll go tell him the good news.”

She toddled off as Kristoff heaved a mental sigh. Only you two would consider having to create false trails in order to throw off Dark Ones, all the while rescuing a hundred-year-old ghost and a murderous reaper, as “good news.”