Home > The Story of Son(4)

The Story of Son(4)
Author: J.R. Ward

He released her and one of his hands went to her hair. He pulled the pins out one by one until it fell down on her shoulders. "How lovely," he whispered.

She knew she should bolt. But she didn't actually want to get away from him. "It's dark. How do you know what it looks like . . ."

"I see you perfectly."

"I see nothing."

"It's better if you don't."

Was he ugly? Misshapened? Deformed? And if he was, would it really matter? She knew it wouldn't. She would take him however he was. Although, Jesus Christ. . . why?

"I am sorry to rush this," he said roughly. "I need just enough to calm myself."

She heard a hissing noise as her hair was moved to one side. Two sharp, blazing points sank into her neck, the pain a sweet rush. As her back arched and she gasped, his arms shot around her and locked her tight against what was an enormous male body.

He moaned and started sucking;

Her blood . . . he was. . . drinking her blood. And oh, God, it felt fantastic.

Claire, for the first time in her life, fainted.

When she woke up, she was in the bed, between the sheets, still wrapped in the robe. The pervading darkness made her whimper in a way she wouldn't have thought herself capable of, but there was nothing to ground her, no reality to grasp. She felt as if she were drowning in a dense, oily sea, her lungs stopped up with what she couldn't see through.

Anxiety tripped all kinds of wires in her head and she broke out in a cold sweat. She was going to go mad—

A candle flared next to her, illuminating the bedside table and the silver tray of food that was on it. A moment later another lit up on the other side of the huge bed. And so did another mounted high on the shelves beside the door. And another in what looked like a bathroom. And . . .

One by one they came on, lit by nobody. Which should have scared her, but she was too desperate to see to give a crap how the light came about.

The room was much larger than she'd expected, and the floor, walls, and ceiling were all made of that gray stone. The only major piece of furniture aside from the bed was a desk the size of a banquet table. Its smooth, glossy surface was covered with white papers and stacked high with black leather volumes. A thronelike chair was behind it, angled to the side as if someone had been sitting in it and had gotten up quickly.

Where was the man?

Her eyes went over to the one dark corner. And she knew he was there. Watching her. Waiting.

Claire remembered the feel of him pressing into her back and she put her hand to her neck. She felt. . . nothing. Well, not quite. There were two nearly imperceptible bumps. As if the biting had happened weeks and weeks ago.

"What did you do to me?" she demanded. Even though she knew. And oh, God . . . the implications were horrific.

"Forgive me." His lovely voice was strained. "I regret what I must take from an innocent. But I need to feed or I shall die and I have no choice. I am not permitted to leave my quarters."

Claire's vision took a little break and then came back with a checkerboard overlay—the kind of thing you got before you passed out. Holy . . . shit.

It was a long time before she could think straight and the cognitive vacuum was filled with visions from Hollywood: undead, white-skinned, evil. . . vampire.

Her body trembled badly enough to rattle her teeth and she curled up into herself, knees to chest. As she started rocking, she had the disassociative thought that she'd never been so terrified in her life.

This was a nightmare. Whether she was dreaming or not, this was a total nightmare.

"Am I infected?" she asked.

"Are you—do you mean, have I turned you into what I am? No. Not at all. No."

Fueled by the urge to flee, she shot off the bed and bee-lined in the direction of the door. She didn't make it far. The room swam in circles around her and she tripped over her own feet. Throwing her hand out, she caught herself against the books.

He caught her as well, so fast it was as if he'd dematerial-ized from where he'd been. His careful hands held her only as tightly as they had to. "You must eat."

She hung on to the shelf and noticed for no good reason that she was in front of a complete collection of George Eliot. Maybe that was why he talked like a Victorian. He'd been reading nineteenth-century books for however long he'd been in here.

"Please," that beautiful voice implored. "You must eat—"

"I have to go to the bathroom." She looked across the room at a marble enclave. "Tell me there is a toilet in there."

"Yes. You shall find there is no door, but I shall avert my eyes."

"You do that."

Claire broke free of him and lurched forward, too shellshocked and weak and freaked out to care about privacy. And because if he'd wanted to take advantage of her he could have any number of times up until now. And because honor was in every timbre of his voice. If he said he wouldn't look, he wouldn't.

Except, Christ, she was an idiot. Why the hell should she have faith in someone she didn't know? And was imprisoned with?

Although maybe that was part of it. He was stuck in here, too, evidently.

Unless he was lying.

The bathroom was tiled in cream marble from floor to ceiling and there was an old-fashioned claw-foot tub and a pedestal sink. It wasn't until she flushed and went over to wash up that she realized there was no mirror.

She rinsed her face off and dried it with one of a stack of white towels. Then she cupped her hands under the rush of water and drank. Her stomach settled a little and she was willing to bet food would help even more, but she wasn't ingesting a thing she was offered. She'd done that once with a cup of tea and look where the hell she'd ended up.

Back out in the bedroom, she stared at the darkened corner. "I want to see your face. Now."

There was no additional risk in that. She already knew she was on the Leeds estate and she knew who he was—Miss Leeds's son. She had enough on them so that if they were going to kill her to keep her from making identification, they had plenty to go on already.

"You will show me your face. Now."

There was a long silence. Then she heard the chains and he stepped into the light.

Claire gasped, her hand fluttering to her mouth. He was as beautiful as his voice, as beautiful as his scent, as beautiful as an angel. . . and he looked no older than thirty.

His six-foot-five frame was dressed in a red silk robe that fell to the floor and was tied with an embroidered sash. His hair was as black as night and pulled off his face, falling down in vast waves to . . . God, probably the small of his back. And his face . . . The perfection of it was stunning, with his square jaw, thick lips, and straight nose the pinnacle of male magnificence.

She couldn't see his eyes, however. They were downcast, to the floor.

"My . . . God," she whispered. "You are unreal."

He shrank back into the shadows. "Please, eat. I will have to . . . come to you again. Soon."

Claire imagined him biting her. . . sucking at her neck . . . swallowing what was in her veins. And had to remind herself that it was a violation. And she was a prisoner against her will being used by . . . a monster.

She glanced down. Part of the chain that moved with him was still in the light. The thing was as thick as her wrist and she guessed that it was locked onto his ankle.

He was definitely a prisoner, too. "Why are you chained down here?"

"I am a danger to others. Now, eat. I beg of you."

"Who keeps you like this?"

There was only silence. Then, "The food. You must eat the food."

"Sorry. Not going to touch the stuff."

"It has not been tampered with."

"That's what I thought about your mother's Earl Grey."

The chains rattled as he came back out into the light.

Yes, they were locked on his ankle. The left one.

He walked across the room, staying as far away from her as possible and not looking at her. His stride was lithe and graceful as an animal's, his shoulders rolling as his legs carried him over the stone floor. The power in him was . . . frightening. And erotic. And sad.

He was like a gorgeous beast in a zoo.

He sat down where she had lain and reached out to the silver tray of food. Lifting the lid off the plate, he set it aside on the table and she smelled a wonderful blend of rosemary and lemon. He unrolled a linen napkin, took out a heavy silver fork, and sampled the lamb, the rice, and the green beans. Then he wiped his mouth with the damask folds, cleaned the fork off, and put the lid back on.

He rested his hands on his knees, keeping his head down. His hair was gorgeous, so thick and shiny, spilling over his shoulders, the curling ends brushing against the velvet duvet and his thighs. Actually, the locks were of two colors, a wine red and a black so dense it was close to blue.

She'd never seen that color combination before. At least not as it naturally grew out of someone's head. And she was damn sure his mother from hell wasn't sending a beautician down here every month to give him a foil job.

"We will wait," he said. "And you shall see the food is not tampered with."

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