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Illusion (Chapter 3 Suitably Wooed)

Tucked away in the corner at Swing 46, we were hidden from the prying eyes of other patrons, making it easier for Stefan to maintain his fa?ade of acting human. I'd finished dinner and was sipping a glass of white wine, enjoying the soulful sounds of the singer performing. She was singing renditions of Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James, and Billie Holiday. Stefan was holding my hand across the table, his thumb tracing patterns on the top of my hand. The dim lighting and candlelight made him appear more mysterious and preternaturally beautiful than usual.

Strains of The Very Thought of You had just begun to play. I was startled when he suddenly stood, smoothly drawing me to my feet and leading me in the direction of the dance floor. He wrapped his right arm around my waist and took my hand in his, tugging me close to him. My other arm reached up to rest across his wide shoulders as he slowly whirled me around the dance floor, his movements effortless and polished.

His breath tickled my ear as he hummed along with the music. When he began to sing in my ear as he pulled me closer, the sound of his smooth voice made my stomach clench. "The mere idea of you… the longing here for you… you'll never know…how slow the moments go… till I'm near you."

Drawing in a shaky breath, I turned my head slightly to meet his eyes. The raw emotion that he revealed to me was so powerful that it shook me to my very core. If it was possible to fall in love with him even more, I think I did in that moment. My eyes filled with tears as we effortlessly moved together in time to the music.

"If there was a song that was written that describes how I feel for you, this would be what I would write, Josephine."

Speechless, I could only nod and swallow back a moan. "Stefan…"

The song came to an end but he didn't let me go. He held me until the next song started, the seductive sound of At Last filled the room. Stefan quickly flicked his wrist and spun me away from him, only to quickly pull me back to his chest in one fluid motion. Our bodies were molded together and it still wasn't close enough to suit me. His right hand began drifting lower to cup my ass and he brought the hand he held to his lips, his mouth cool against my skin. I could feel the outline of his fangs against my hand, aware of his presence in every pore of my body, his nearness, the scent of him, the coolness of his skin. It was almost too much to bear…

The song finished and he brought both of his hands to cradle each side of my face. His eyes searched mine for a moment before he lowered his lips to mine. His mouth was firm and strong as he kissed me deeply. I savored the taste of him, losing myself in the moment, standing in the middle of a dance floor in New York City. He smiled against my lips and sighed.

"Are you happy, vackra?" His voice drifted through the haze of my mind. "Have I wooed you?"

"Yes… I think you've wooed me, Romeo. Take me home."

Stefan glanced at me and nodded, pulling his cell phone from his jacket. He typed out a text message before dropping in back in his pocket. We stopped by our table to pick up my clutch and slowly made our way out of the club. By the time we climbed the steps to the street level, the black sedan was waiting for us at the curb. He opened the door for me and I got in, glancing over my shoulder to watch as he walked to the other side of the car to slide in beside me.

"261 W. 28th Street," Stefan said. He pressed a button that raised the tinted partition up between the back seat and the front of the car. When he twisted to face me, his eyes were burning devilishly. His large hand disappeared under the hem of my dress, creeping up the inside of my thigh. My legs instinctively parted for him and he turned, placing one knee down on the floor of the car, angling his body closer to me. Pushing my panties to the side, he slipped two of his long fingers on the outside of my folds, spreading the slickness of my arousal over my clit. A lustful cry fell from my lips as I watched him pleasure me, growing more excited when he thrust his fingers inside of me, curling them upwards as he slid them in and out. His eyes flickered up to meet mine and his lips parted, exposing the tips of his fangs as he watched me writhe. I arched my back, pressing my pussy into the heel of his hand.

He would bring me to the edge of orgasm, only to back off and gently stroke me. This mind-jumbling torture went on for blocks until we pulled up in front of our building. His fingers slipped from inside of me and he adjusted my panties as if he'd never touched them. He placed both of his fingers that were coated with my juices in his mouth, slowly licking them with his tongue.

"We are home, vackra. Come with me." With a wink, he was out of the car.

On fire for him, I rushed out of the car and took his hand, intertwining my fingers with his as we walked into our building and waited for the elevator.

The doors had barely closed when I lunged at him. Slamming him against the metal wall of the elevator, I showed him that I wanted him with a ferocity that both excited and terrified me. My hands savagely pulled at his tie and my fingers were frantic as they struggled to unbutton his shirt. I grabbed the lapels of his jacket, pulling his face down to mine. My lips collided against his, my tongue forcing its way inside his mouth. His mouth was equally as hungry, his skilled lips taking control. A low, rumbling growl shook his chest as we came to a halt on our floor.

Stefan backed us out into the hallway, our passionate kiss never breaking. He smoothly pushed me against the wall on one side of the hall and I pressed back, knocking him to the other side. He somehow had the presence of mind to find his keys, swiftly opening the door. We stumbled inside, our arms and legs tangled together.

We were a blur as we struggled for dominance in our need to make love. Our hands were in perpetual motion, stripping away the layers of our clothing as we continued our frenzied dance. His suit jacket fell in the living room, my shoes were haphazardly kicked aside in the kitchen. His dress shirt and tie landed in the hallway and my dress ended up in the doorway of our bedroom. Our mouths were relentless as we devoured each other with mindless, drugging kisses that left me shaking, breathless and craving more.

"You told me I suitably wooed you, Josephine. Now I am going to properly fuck you."

I broke free from his grasp and backed away until I was on the opposite side of the bed, moving faster than I ever had before. Cocking my eyebrow in defiance, I crooked a finger at him, motioning for him to come to me.

Only the city lights from the wall of windows illuminated the room as he swaggered towards me, looking like a sinister angel, fallen to earth to tempt me. The pale muscles in his chest and arms flexed as he unbuckled his belt and pulled it from his pants, dropping it to the floor. His eyes were predatory as he watched me, his fingers twitching in anticipation. I knew if he chose to, he could have me pinned to the bed before I could even react. Stefan was enjoying the chase, like a lion stalking a gazelle.

I heard him flick open the button on his pants and the zipper lower slowly, the fabric rustling as it slipped over his narrow hips. His smile was wicked and sexy as he crawled across the bed towards me, hooking a finger underneath the front of my bra, pulling me to him.

Stefan's eyes drifted to my breasts before lifting his gaze to meet mine. His tongue swiped across his lower lip. "Playing hard to get, vackra?"

"Would you like me to?" I asked saucily. Threading my fingers through his hair, my hands stopped at the nape of his neck. I tugged his head back, exposing the long stretch of his throat to my eyes. He swallowed unevenly and his body tensed beautifully, every muscle contracting. Lowering my lips to his chest, I licked across his collar bones, up the length of his neck to the curve of his jaw. I loosened my grip on his hair and his eyes met mine again, the blue eclipsed by the blackness of his pupils. He smiled wickedly, his fangs fully exposed.

Without another word, his finger snapped the lacy fabric apart. He crawled closer and his tongue flickered out to lazily lick circles around my nipple, causing a shiver to run down my back. He turned his attention to the other, but instead of feeling his tongue, his fangs sank into my skin and he swallowed hungrily. My body responded to his bite, arching against him and arousal flooding my panties. When he withdrew his fangs and his arms blurred to grab me, I had no time to respond.

When I saw the smug smirk on his face, I realized much too late that the aggressor had become the prey. Stefan had me pinned to the bed and he moved to straddle me, his long, powerful legs on both sides of my thighs. His fingers started their path at my cheekbone, down my jaw to caress the side of my neck where he could feel my pulse racing from his touch. His heavily hooded eyes watched the vein throb for a moment before he resumed his exploration, outlining the curve of my breast and running his palm over my ribs. My chest heaved in anticipation as his hand dropped lower to ghost against my stomach, casually running a finger over my panties. They were soaked, and when he ripped them from me, I let out a soft cry of surprise.

"Shh…" Stefan's voice floated through my thoughts.

He shifted to move between my legs and he stretched over my body, his hard cock pressing against my thigh. He brushed my hair away from my face and kissed me with long, sensuous kisses. When he entered me, he was gentle, his hips erotically rocking against mine. He was making love to me like he was worshiping my heart, my soul and my body. Every kiss he placed upon my lips was languid and reverent.

"Stefan… love you. So much. Too much…"

He opened his mind to me, and I experienced every emotion and sensation he was feeling as if it were my own. I could feel his lust and it threatened to pull me into the abyss with him. He compared being inside of me to the sweetest torture he had ever known, torn between wanting to pleasure me and possess me. And the love he felt… it was like nothing he could equate it to. He felt as though I'd destroyed him, turning everything he knew and understood upside down and inside out.

"It's what I feel for you, Stefan… you've ruined me too."

My hands ran over the tight muscles of his back, exploring every dip and curve as they tensed and relaxed with each of his powerful thrusts. As much as I wanted to have this moment last forever, I knew I wouldn't last much longer. I felt myself begin to tighten around him, clenching his cock. I exploded around him and I seized underneath him, my fingernails raking jagged scratches across his back. I cried out his name, that I loved him and I couldn't live without him. And as I felt his orgasm overtake him, his head collapsed against my chest, letting out a ragged sob. His arms enveloped me, holding me against him as if his very life depended on keeping me captive in his embrace.

"Stefan? What just happened?" I pressed a kiss against his temple. "I'm right here. You can let me go."

He shook his head stubbornly against my breast. He rolled to his back and pulled me on top of him, his arms still wrapped around me. Wiggling slightly so I could rest my head against his shoulder, I studied his profile. His eyes stared at the ceiling and his handsome face looked troubled, tiny lines deepening around the corners of his eyes.

"It is as I thought. You have shattered me," he whispered. "You have torn me apart and I do not know how survive without you. My heart, my existence is solely in the palm of your beautiful hand. Imagine, living almost 1,000 years on the earth to discover that one woman will be the very death of me."

Stefan arms went limp and I slipped to the bed. Sitting at his side, I stared down at him. He turned his head to look at me, his blue eyes boring into mine, stormy and terrified. I went to touch his face and his hand blurred to encircle my wrist, ceasing my movement.

Dread crept over my body like ice. "What does that mean? You've broken me too, Stefan. There's no one else for me."

"It means that my fate is tangled with yours. That if you would die tomorrow, I would seek out a way to end my life. It means that I cherish you above everything else, that I love you desperately," Stefan admitted, sitting up beside of me. "Do you understand? There is no me without you."

My eyes glazed over as his words sank in. He had described exactly how I felt. "Two parts of a whole," I murmured weakly.

"Yes."

"I'm sorry, Stefan. So very sorry." I lowered my head and my hair fell over my shoulders, shrouding my face. He reached over and pressed a finger under my chin, tilting my face up to him.

"Never be sorry, vackra. Not about this. I love you. Today, tomorrow, for an eternity. F?r evigt." As if admitting his feeling resolved his inner turmoil, his face finally relaxed into a smile. "I have something for you."

He dashed from the bed to the dresser and pulled out a long, black velvet jewelry box. He sauntered back and sat back down beside me, leaning over to press a kiss on the tip of my nose. He placed it on my leg and anxiously waited as I reached down to pick the box up with trembling fingers.

Flipping open the case, I inhaled abruptly as I admired the long gold chain and ancient looking pendant that gleamed against the velvet. It was a crude carving of a man and a woman facing one another. Stefan reached over and picked up the necklace, his eyes taking on a distant look as he held the pendant in his hands.

"It's beautiful," I stammered. He placed it around my neck and it came to rest just above the swell of my breasts. My fingers unconsciously reached up to stroke it as I leaned forward to kiss him softly. "What does it mean?"

"It is one of the few possessions I have from my human life. It depicts the courtship of Freyr and Gerda. They were from different worlds, yet Freyr still fell in love with Gerda. She at first spurned his affections, saying she could never love him because of what and who he was. She conceded in the end." Stefan's finger rubbed over the pendant. "While you never spurned my affection, we come from different times and different worlds. It is a token of my commitment and love to you."

"Stefan, I don't know what to say." I moved to sit astride him, nestling against him.

"You only need to tell me that you love me and you are mine. That is all I ask from you, vackra."

Kissing his muscled chest, I draped my arms around his neck. "I love you, Stefan Lifsten. I am yours," I paused and took a deep breath. "And I'll move in with you. You'll be sick of me."

Stefan gripped my arms and pulled me back so he could look in my eyes. Pure happiness radiated from his face, his handsome face glorious. He crushed me back against him, his strong arms holding me in a tight embrace. "I will never tire of you."

I yawned against him and laughter resounded deep in his chest. "I have worn you out. Come, you need to sleep."

He released his hold on me, letting me shift to slip under the covers. Stefan smoothly stretched out beside me, spooning his large frame behind me. I relaxed against him, the vibration of his humming lulling me to sleep.

* * *

I awoke early to find Stefan still in bed, his arm tight around my waist. Rolling over to my back, I noticed the gold of the necklace he had given me late last night around my neck. Running my fingers over the pendant, I sighed happily.

"What has you so happy this morning?" Stefan mumbled sleepily. He opened one blue eye to look at me.

"You. Us. Everything." I sighed again. "I'm so happy here. Being with you takes away all of the noise. I don't feel the same urge to hide anymore."

"Are you saying you want to live here in New York? With me?" He rested his head on his arm as he stared at me. His voice sounded hopeful.

"Yeah, I think I do. But I'm going to miss Georgia and Anna."

"They can always visit. I own many properties all over New York City. I can easily find them suitable accommodations."

Smiling, I leaned over to kiss his lips and smoothed his messy blond hair back from his eyes. "Have I told you how much I love you today?"

"You have not. However, I would rather you show me." He waggled his eyebrows suggestively. Seeing him do something as simple as eyebrow waggling made my heartbeat increase and desire to coil deep in my stomach. It was amazing the effect he had on my body.

Shoving him to his back, I straddled his hips, rubbing my wet pussy over his large cock, delighting in feeling the hardness of his arousal, now hot and slick with my juices. I braced my hands on each side of his blond head on his pillow, my nipples dragging across his chest. His hands stroked my ass and tenderly gripped my hips, our lips meeting in a soft kiss, our tongues colliding together sensuously. Lowering myself slowly over him inch by inch, I groaned as I impaled myself on him.

"Fuck me, Josephine."

Using my hands as leverage, I plunged myself over and over on his length, crying out in pleasure. Stefan was moaning loudly as I increased my speed, his head arcing back on the pillow. He had just grabbed my hips when we heard a sharp knock on the apartment door.

My movements ceased and Stefan bucked against me, urging me to continue. "Do not stop. Ignore the door. They will come back later."

"Stefan, someone is at the door. Don't you think we should see who it is?"

"I could care less who is at our door. I care more about this." He flipped me to my back and hooked my knees the the crook of his arms. He slipped back inside of me and began building speed, the headboard to the bed banging loudly against the wall. He was so deep that I ached in a delicious sort of way, making me forget to breathe from the sensation.

"Kan inte f? nog av dig. Din hud, din ber?ring. Jag vill ?ta upp dig levande, " he muttered softly. The muscles in his neck and shoulders were tight as he claimed me, his hips hammering into me, his pubic bone rubbing against my clit, causing me to cry out with his every thrust.

Moaning loudly, I felt my climax begin to build. "Don't stop. I'm so close…."

"Oh for fuck's sake. Do the two of you ever stop fucking? There are dents in the drywall in the hallway and it looks like your closet exploded in the apartment."

Stifling a scream, I looked over Stefan's shoulder to see Lukas standing in the doorway of our bedroom. He looked bored as he examined his nails and then glanced in our direction. Stefan was still buried inside of me and I hastily tried to cover my nakedness with my hands.

Stefan shifted so he covered my body with his. "Lukas. If we do not answer the door, there is a reason. Unless you suddenly feel the urge to watch, leave us." He threw Lukas a scowl over his shoulder.

"Uh, thanks but no thanks. Nigel was next door. He wants to speak to both of you. He said he'd come back later." Lukas wrinkled his nose in distaste, lowering his head and looking at the floor in submission.

"I do not care who was here to see either of us. Leave."

Lukas scurried from the room. Stefan released my legs and wrapped them around his waist, sighing in frustration. His voice was deep and gravelly when he finally spoke, and his eyes were still dark with need. "I still want you."

Tightening my legs around him, I pulled him to me. "I still want you."

Grinning lazily, his hips began to move, much slower than before. His forearms rested on each side of my head and his mouth closed over mine, pressing open mouthed kisses against my lips.

"Att vara inuti dig ?r sublime. Du ?r mitt hj?rta, min sj?l. Min enda k?rlek." His thoughts drifted into my mind. I couldn't understand him, but it didn't matter. Just the sound of his heavily accented voice caused desire to course through my body and I cried out in completion, tumbling over the edge of ecstasy. Stefan plunged faster inside of me until I felt him swell and pulse, bellowing as he came inside of me.

His big body curved protectively, commandingly around me. Our eyes met, and when I gazed into his eyes, I could see the future so clearly. This beautiful man, this immortal vampire was my other half, the missing puzzle piece that finally completed me.

Reading my thoughts, he closed his eyes and rested his forehead against mine. "Ah, now you finally understand."

* * *

I lounged on the couch, trying to concentrate on reading a book while nursing a cup of coffee. Stefan sat with my feet in his lap as he scanned his e-mails on his iPhone, occasionally sighing or tightening his lips in aggravation as he would read and then quickly type out a response. It was just another moment that made me realize how truly lucky I was. His golden hair gleamed in the sunlight, his pale skin almost appearing dewy. He was dressed only in tight, faded jeans and was shirtless and barefoot. He felt my eyes on him and he smiled, not looking up from his phone.

"You're beautiful, you know that?" I asked, wiggling my feet on his lap.

"What is it you say to me?" He looked up and tapped a finger on his chin. "Ah, you are biased."

Snorting softly, I nudged him with my foot. He resumed tapping away on his phone for a few minutes until he suddenly stopped, glancing up from his phone and raising an eyebrow. "Nigel is here."

Seconds later a knock sounded on the door. Tossing my book on the ottoman, I jumped up to answer it. Nigel stood on the other side, looking embarrassed. If a vampire could blush, he would be. He averted his hazel eyes to look at something over my left shoulder to avoid my gaze.

"Come in, Nigel." I fully opened the door to let him enter. He nodded and entered, standing silently with his hands clasped. I pushed the door closed and leaned against it for a moment. Suddenly I was a bundle of nerves as I anticipated what information he had about my mother.

I watched his obvious discomfort grow when he saw Stefan reclining on the sofa, his long legs stretched out in front of him, his ankles crossed casually.

"Come sit with me, vackra." He patted his lap with his large hands in an enticing invitation.

I crossed the room to rejoin him on the couch, curling up in his lap and resting my head against his shoulder. Stefan's finger ran up languidly up and down my spine, causing me to shiver and settle closer against him.

"Nigel." Stefan greeted him with a slight nod of his head.

"Stefan. Josephine. I apologize for the earlier interruption. Your progeny assured me you were only sleeping."

Stefan waved his hand in dismissal. "Lukas is impetuous and makes it his mission to annoy me, and in extension Josephine. It is one of his gifts." He motioned towards the chair across from him. "Please sit. You have information for Josephine about her birth mother, yes?"

Nigel nodded and ran a hand through his tousled, shoulder length brown hair. "Before I go any further, I need your assurance that this information will not leave this room."

Stefan glanced down at me, giving me a knowing look. "He is risking everything coming to us with this information."

I gave him a swift nod. In other words, Nigel would meet the final death if Kian found out he spilled the beans.

"Consider our lips sealed," Stefan assured him.

Nigel took a deep, unnecessary breath. His heavy Australian accent was hypnotizing to listen to. "I met your mother 40 years ago. She was barely 16 and was newly married to your father. I was captivated by her gentleness and beauty. I admired her from afar."

"What was her name?" I questioned, my voice coming out as a high-pitched squeak.

His face went blank as he lost himself further in his memories. "Her name was Armes. She had long brown hair that hung in waves. Her eyes were the deepest blue I'd ever seen. She was very much in love with Kian then…"

Stefan's fingers twitched against my back as he interrupted Nigel. "Armes. Prophetess in Welsh. Did she have any abilities?"

"Yes. She could see the future and read minds."

Gasping, I covered my mouth with my hand. No wonder Kian had watched me from afar for so many years. I had the same ability as my mother and would be a valuable asset to him. Stefan patted my leg and gestured for Nigel to continue.

"Kian coveted her abilities. It only took 10 years for Armes to tire of him and his manipulations and games. He flaunted others in front of her," Nigel swallowed, his Adams's apple bobbing in his throat. "One day she came to me and I will admit that didn't refuse her advances. I loved her and had been in love her for many years. We made plans to disappear and she confronted Kian. I never saw her again after that day."

You could have heard a pin drop in the room. I didn't breathe until Nigel began talking again.

"Kian informed all of the Council that Armes had left him and abandoned her family. You were just a baby, Josephine. He thought it best if you were raised by a human family. He claimed he wanted you to have a chance at a normal life."

"Where do you think my mother is, Nigel?" I whispered hoarsely.

"I do not know. I continue to look for her. I hold on to the hope that she's alive and content, even if that happiness comes from a man other than me."

"Do you truly think she left Kian on her own and disappeared?" Stefan questioned.

"At first, I was in shock. I didn't want to believe she'd leave without saying goodbye. Now I'm unsure, Stefan." Nigel folded his hands in his lap. "She may have wanted to leave the world of vampires behind. I could understand why she would."

"Do you know anything else about her?" I was desperate for information. I wanted to know everything I could find out about her.

"Nothing else that will be helpful at this junction. I wish I could tell you more." Nigel stood up and made his way to the door. He turned and looked back at us, a wistful look on his face.

"I meant what I said the other day. Your mother was almost as beautiful as you." He looked at the floor before looking at us both. "Cherish every moment you have with her, Stefan. Take nothing for granted."

Inclining his head, he slipped out the door, pulling it closed quietly behind him. I sat unmoving on Stefan's lap, focusing on his fingers running up and down my back.

"What do you think, Stefan?"

He sighed heavily. "Are you sure you want to know what I am thinking?"

"Of course. You know more about this vampire stuff than I do."

"I think your father is much more dangerous than I originally thought. We must be on our guard at all times. He will view you as a valuable tool in his arsenal." Stefan's face hardened as he spoke. "Do not meet him alone. Ever."

"What are we going to do?"

Stefan wrapped his arms around me, pulling me against the coolness of his hard chest. "We go about our lives as normal. We are heading back to Indonesia in two days to prepare to come back here to live. I can better keep my eye on what he is planning if I am closer to the Council members."

I had unwittingly dragged him deeper into the 'vampire bullshit' he despised so much. How much more was it going to take until he said enough was enough and left?

"I will never leave you, Josephine. These are minor details, remember?" I pulled back slightly and observed his face. I could see his mind moving quickly, making calculations and playing out scenarios in his mind. He was planning strategy, engaging in a complicated game of mental Chess. I wouldn't want to be a pawn in a game that he played.

He toyed with the necklace he had given me for a moment before meeting my eyes. A roguish smile softened his face. "You would never be a pawn. You would be my Queen."

"Sweet talker. Don't try to seduce me with your sexy talk." I slapped at his chest playfully.

"I speak only the truth." He kissed me softly before gently moving me off of his lap. "I need to talk to Lukas."

He stalked across the room and pulled open the door, the muscles in his back stretching as he moved.

"Stefan?" I mentally called to him.

He turned to face me with one hand on the door, his face filled with curiosity as he stared back at me.

"Thank you. For keeping me safe. For loving me. For risking your life."

A grin broke over his devastingly handsome face. "Ah, I would do anything for you, vackra. I will be back in a bit."

He waggled his eyebrows and shut the door behind him. I fell back against the couch, covering my face with my hands as my mind tried to absorb all of the information I'd learned.

Things just became extremely serious and potentially dangerous.

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