Caveat Emptor, Book 5
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-60521-681-2
[ Vampire Romance, MF ]
Can Medusa allow herself to love a man who’s supposed to be her enemy?
Captured by mages, Medusa is more upset at her own weakness than the mages’ idea of torture. Once free of them, she plans to slaughter them all. Except, there is one mage who awakens long buried memories of desire from a past best left forgotten. She knows this man to the depths of her soul, but she and Darius are on opposite sides of a war that has raged for centuries. It’s more than her heart at stake if she gives in to her desires.
Medusa didn’t react as her thick dreadlocks rained down around her ankles, shorn from her head by the grinning mage across the room. In fact, she couldn’t react. The mage had locked her mind under the powerful spell of a docility charm.
She gave the charm more credit now that she could feel the power of it firsthand. Even though she fought it with all her might, she couldn’t break its hold. She stood naked before the leering mage because she had no choice. He’d commanded her to strip. The charm had made her obey and bare her long, lean body to the mage.
The mages were truly cruel bastards to inflict such an imprisonment on anyone, to leave the mind aware yet powerless. Medusa no longer condemned those of her brethren who had slaughtered their captors once freed of the charm’s power. She had plans to do likewise. Such revenge didn’t begin to amount to correcting the shame and forced feeling of helplessness she endured.
Perhaps she would find a way to revisit this horror on her mage captor. Only then, after he learned her pain, would she kill him. Yes. That idea made her want to smile. She couldn’t. She had no control over her body.
“Are you angry at my actions, vampire?” the mage asked in a taunting voice. He flicked his hand at her.
Medusa could see the arc of power headed toward her and felt it shear the hair from her head once more. The mage had amused himself with this game for the last ten minutes. Everyone knew that cutting a vampire’s hair was futile. The hair grew back exactly the same in a matter of seconds — minutes if it was longer like Medusa’s ankle-length black dreadlocks.
The mage had started with the dreadlocks she kept encased in metal links. He made a big production of tossing each thick lock into a molten fire so she could watch the hair burn and the metal melt. She didn’t care. She treated her hair in a like manner all the time.
Her hair was of a length that washing it was a pain. Rather than go to the trouble, she simply cut off the entire lock at the scalp. The hair that grew back in its place was perfectly clean. She had only to reapply the metal links that graced each length from root to tip. Her twenty lock-whips were her most lethal weapons.
That was all she saw the hair as. A weapon. She had trained for decades, learning to wield the weapon with deadly ease. Losing it amounted to the same as losing a sword or a gun — annoying, yet easily replaced.
She would have told the mage as much if he asked. He didn’t. Instead, he laughed at his own cleverness at torturing her with a punishment she cared nothing about.
He waited a full minute, allowing her dreadlocks to grow down her back, before he cut them off again. His cackling laughter made her want to sigh and roll her eyes. She wished he would get on with whatever else he planned to do to her. She had a fairly good idea of what he wanted.
He had her standing naked before him with her feet shoulder-width apart, which spread her long, slender legs open. The mage had corrected her posture, ordering her to arch her back so she jutted out her small, pert breasts and pointed her semi-erect nipples in the man’s direction.
Both magical and electrical lighting brightened the room to the point where it pained Medusa’s brown eyes. Like any vampire, she preferred darkness. She could only guess the lighting was another form of torture.
The mage approached her, still laughing at his own joke. “You are mine, vampire. You will do all that I say the moment I say it.”
Medusa said, “Understood.” She hadn’t wanted to speak at all. This accursed charm was the only true torture she acknowledged.
His gaze roamed over her face. “I have many vampires already. They serve me well enough. You will have only one use in my household.” He reached toward her breasts.
Here we go, she thought with mild annoyance. Except she didn’t feel like standing there and taking it. Those days were over. She wanted to wring the man’s neck.
That want — the strongest desire she’d had in over a decade — allowed her to curl her hands into claws. The charm’s magic might be strong, but she’d seen Theron fight it. If his will could overcome it, then so could hers.
“Get away from her!” That command was shouted by another mage who entered the room. The mage threw power at Medusa’s captor, tossing the man against the far wall.
Her captor righted himself and lifted a glowing hand at his assailant. “You dare attack me, Darius?”
“Quincy, you are an idiot.” Darius gestured to Medusa. “Look at her eyes.”
Medusa managed enough control of her body so she glared at them both. Quincy stared at her in shock. “That cannot be.” He shook his head as though that would make everything better. “The charm is active. She should be nothing but a doll.”
“She would have killed you the second you touched her. Obviously your magic isn’t up to the task of containing her.” Darius held up an envelope. “I’m willing to take her off your hands.”
“Well over what you would get if you sold her through normal means.” He tossed the envelope.
Quincy held out his hand and beckoned, making the envelope zip over to him. He thumbed through the contents. “You think your magic can overcome everything. Your arrogance will get you killed. Have her, then. When she disposes of you, I will laugh at your stupidity and take her back.” Quincy left the room.
Darius watched the man go before facing Medusa. He sighed and shook his head. “Come, vampire.” He turned and walked away.
Medusa didn’t want to follow him. The charm overrode her senses again and made her walk. Rather than waste energy she might need later, she simply allowed the charm to function. Once night fell, she would have more freedom. She would leave this place, killing as many of the mages as she could in the process. Starting with the mage she followed.
This mage was shorter than she was by four inches. That would make him about five foot seven. He was lean, but she didn’t mistake that for weakness. The way he moved spoke of a body trained for fighting. A martial art of some sort, possibly. Most mages were soft from depending on their magic for everything, but not this man.
Martial arts training would mean he had speed. Medusa remembered the way he had arced power at Quincy. The spell had moved quickly, not even allowing Quincy enough time to shield. This Darius might not have vampire speed but he would be a formidable opponent if Medusa didn’t time her attack properly.
Some primal part of her cautioned her to be wary. The man walked with his back to her, knowing she could fight the power of the charm. That had to mean he didn’t fear that she might attack him, because he knew his powers could overcome any attack she launched.
She sensed none of Quincy’s stupidity in this man. That was dangerous.
Darius stopped at a doorway, opened it, and then stepped back, waving her forward.
She walked to the middle of the room and then faced him. Now what? Would he continue what Quincy had started? If that was his plan, he better do it quickly. She could feel the sun moving across the sky. The man had less than two hours before sunset. She had no qualms about killing him mid-coitus if it meant she would be free.
He closed the door behind him before stripping off his floor-length mage cloak. The thick, black cloth fell to the floor with a soft thud. Darius rolled his shoulders and then his neck as though happy to be free of the burden.
He said, “Now then.”
Medusa readied herself to endure as he reached toward her. He touched the charm nestled at the base of her neck. A surge of power shot through her body and then he stepped back. “There.”
Medusa lifted her hands. Her movements were her own. Her body obeyed her, and she hadn’t had to wait for sunset.
She looked at Darius, instantly on guard. “What are you doing? What trick is this?”
“You’re the idiot you proclaimed Quincy to be if you think your magic is faster than me.”
“Attack me if it pleases you.” He backed away from her and sat on his bed, giving her an expectant look.
She didn’t trust his open invitation. It was a trick of some kind. He had a magical trap waiting that would damage her as soon as she neared him. “No.”
He raised a questioning eyebrow and looked amused. “Really? Such a pity.”
“Are you hoping for death, mage? Is that why you brought me here?”
“Death? No. I hope for something else entirely.” He stood and walked over to her. “You would have been wasted on Quincy. I make a much better partner.”
With a speed that rivaled her own, Darius grabbed her to him and laid his lips on hers. She stared at him, too surprised to pull back or push him away.
He ended the kiss and smiled at her. “You are as sweet as I remember.”
“What? I don’t know you.”
“How cruel of you to say you don’t remember me. I remember you quite well. You were so shy in those days.”
She pushed away from him then. “What are you talking about? What days?”
“When you were human, Medusa.” He nodded at her wide-eyed shocked expression.
“My name. How do you know my name?”
“You told it to me.”
“You’re human,” she whispered. “You cannot have known me when I was human. That was back in the eighteen hundreds.”
“I am a mage, Medusa. Not only am I a mage, I am a mage lord. Immortality is child’s play to me.”
She could only stare at him. A distant memory tickled the edges of her mind. A memory from her time as a weak, subservient human who had cowered at the sight of her own shadow. She hated remembering those days. She wasn’t that woman any longer.
But this man… His face triggered those memories.
Odd eyes, one blue and one brown, held laughter and mischief in equal parts. His brown hair riddled with streaks of blond and red brushed his neck and the tops of his ears. Not enough to pull into a ponytail but enough for a lover to run her fingers through.
Medusa knew the softness of that hair. It was like petting a cat. Hair so fine should never top a human’s head. At the time she had thought he was some wild beast that had taken human form.
She stumbled back a few steps, not believing the direction of her thoughts. It couldn’t be. The man she had known in the past was human. The man before her was human too. But he said he possessed immortality. If that fact had been true then as well…
She rasped, “Lord Arundel?”
“The same, sweet Medusa.” He bridged the distance between them and pressed his lips to hers once more. “I will remind you of what you have forgotten.”
One part of her fought against the memories his kiss invoked while another part reveled in their return.