The Emerald Lily (Vampire Blood)(3)

By: Juliette Cross

Her chest rose and fell steadily, even after being in this cursed slumber for months. He’d heard of powerful warriors being induced into the bloodless sleep who died within a fortnight. Wandering the darkness of their minds, confronting and reliving the nightmares that await there, had been enough to stop the heart of bigger, stronger men. Yet, here lay this pale beauty, soft and serene as if in a natural sleep. He hoped she survived the transition to reality. He’d heard of those awakening with their minds unhinged, never regaining full control of their sanity.

He and his brethren had discussed when to awaken her, but Mikhail had rejected all votes that they should wait until they’d carried her to safety. Mikhail had heard tales from survivors of the bloodless sleep. The dark agony of sensing everything going on around oneself but never being able to speak or open one’s eyes or make any move at all. And all the while, an aching pain stabbed the sleeper’s gut, ricocheted out, and rattled bones.

Sitting on the edge of the bed, he lifted a lock of her silken hair, sliding his fingers till it fell away. The sensual caress striking a vulnerable cord in his chest. He clutched his fist together. Her beauty made him breathless. The fact that she lay imprisoned in her own body cut through the tough veneer of the captain to the man beneath. No way in hell would he leave her in such a state of agony a second longer.

Awakening a victim from a bloodless sleep was a precarious job. He must be gentle, careful not to overpower her system and jolt her body to full wakefulness. She could go into shock. Friedrich had suggested the best-known method—the blood kiss.

Leaning close to her ear, he whispered, “Princess. If you can hear me, listen well. I must awaken you from this deep slumber. Pardon the intimacy and have no fear. I mean you no harm.”

His canines fully extended, he bit into the fleshy part of his palm and smeared his lips with his own blood. Wrapping his other hand behind her slender nape, he leaned close, inhaling the fragrant scent of white jasmine and sunshine. He paused, faltering at the sweetness of her, an unexpected punch to his senses.

With tight control, he swept his lips over hers, wetting them with his blood and coaxing them apart. The slightest relaxing of her mouth gave him entry. Raising his palm, he licked a swath of his own blood across his tongue then angled his mouth over hers with firm possession, delving in to awaken her starving body. Sliding his tongue over and against hers, he slicked her thoroughly.

His pulse pounded an erratic beat. He heard hers quicken in timing with his own. Her senses stirred.

Unexpected arousal crashed through him, hardening every inch of his body. His fangs extended to their most painful length, demanding succor.

Bloody hell!

He’d come to offer his own lifeblood, not take what little she had. And yet his body trembled with bone-shaking hunger.

Stifling his rebellious body’s needs, he sucked a few drops of blood from his palm wound and pressed his mouth to hers once more, letting the blood seep inside and down her throat. He couldn’t help delving back in, licking the delicious taste of her onto his tongue.

A low moan emanated from her throat. He jerked away, remembering himself. By God, his thoughts spiraled down a dark, wayward path when his mouth was on hers. Panting, he leaned farther away, giving himself some distance.

She lifted a slender hand, her brow furrowing as she moaned a second time, rousing from her deep, paralyzing sleep. Her eyes shot open, and she sucked in a deep lungful of air. Her wide-eyed gaze landed directly on his. Mikhail was sure he’d slipped and fallen off a cliff, flailing helplessly.

Fathomless pools of blue, burning brightly. His father used to take him to the ocean shore during the summers as a boy. They’d walk along the sandy beach collecting shells. Once, he’d found the most beautiful clear gem washed upon the sand. Sea glass, his father had told him. A broken piece of bottle or jar that the ocean had tumbled and smoothed into the clearest, purest blue he had ever seen. That was what he thought of when he looked into the eyes of this princess who smelled like sunshine and tasted like heaven.

“Welcome back, Princess Vilhelmina.” Steel clashed against steel on the battlement above. Footsteps pounded on the staircase leading to the tower. “Time to go.”

Chapter Two

Mina’s pulse thundered in her ears, as she stared up at the most stunning vampire she’d ever seen. Midnight-black hair. One blue, one green eye flaring bright in the shadowy room. His face cut too sharply to mark him as beautiful. Mesmerizing, more like. A memory flitted over her mind, a repetitive dream from her deep slumber. One where a dark prince would one day save her.

But this was no dream. Her skin burned, her muscles ached, her heart raced with his blood coursing through her body. She slid her tongue over her bottom lip, tasting the sweet tang of a drop left behind. His otherworldly eyes followed the movement, sparking with new fire.