Vampsblood, Book 1
by Marteeka Karland
eBook BIN: 06112-01962
Harael. Relaren. Valael. Vampsblood — creatures of myth. They’re predators. Killers. Bigger, badder, and more powerful than even their own legends. So how is it the three biggest, baddest Vampsblood out there have been undone by a mere slip of a girl — a human at that? They never saw this one coming.
“I’m restless.” Relaren, the youngest of the three Vampsblood, voiced what they all felt. The need emanating from both Relaren and Harael was palpable. Hell, Valael had the same fierce hunger deep in his own gut. The cold seeping into the lair they’d set up for themselves deep inside the cave did little to cool the raging fire of need and lust they all felt.
They had been together for centuries, exchanging blood as needed, merging their minds at will. It had made for a stronger triad and a nearly invincible stronghold. Together, they could stretch their senses to encompass nearly a mile in any direction.
“I know. We’ll need to hunt soon. And feed.” Valael scanned their surroundings once again, looking for… something. There had been another pack of Vampsblood close to them lately. Not quite in their territory, but close. “They venture closer today. I can’t quite tell where they are — they are talented at shielding themselves — but they are close. We need to be at full strength and not distracted by sexual frenzies.”
“I don’t want a male this time, Valael.” Harael mumbled his declaration with a deceptive softness.
Anyone who didn’t know the big man might think he was merely making a statement. Valael knew better. They all were in need of the satisfaction they could only find in a woman. Unfortunately, very few females could tolerate them, human or otherwise. They rarely took their pleasure one at a time and, in all their centuries, they had never met a female who could stand their brand of sex more than once or twice. Particularly since one session could last days. Or weeks. “I know.”
What else could he say? They all needed it. Needed blood. And sex. Blood was the elixir of life, but sex could control the strongest man. Valael tried to choose strong women, but not so strong they couldn’t be controlled. He didn’t trust the Vampsblood women at Shiffley’s bar, or anywhere for that matter. They weren’t true Vampsblood, but they were plenty dangerous just the same. Not so dangerous any one of his triad couldn’t handle them, but he preferred not to have to worry about whether or not he’d have to regenerate his cock afterward. And he’d hate to have to kill a woman.
Valael let his senses flare around him as he knew Harael and Relaren did. The more time they spent together, the better and stronger their link became. Valael had begun to believe their power was only limited by their ability to believe how much they could do.
“What do you do with the women you hunt?” The high-pitched, feminine voice above them almost caused Valael to raise an eyebrow in surprise. Almost. Not because she spoke, but because she was there. Because she had finally managed to sneak up on them. The little scrap of a girl had been trying to do just that for years.
Valael glanced at the others. None of them showed the least bit of surprise, but he felt it. They hadn’t been aware of her presence either. Careful not to look at her, Valael feigned indifference.
“I don’t see how that’s any of your business. What Vampsblood do is of no concern to a human girl.” Relaren stretched in a deceptively lazy manner. In truth, Valael knew him to be hyper aware of their surroundings now. If Josette could sneak up on them, someone else might be able to as well, and considering the nagging presence of the other pack, it was better none of them got too comfortable.
It was a true statement, but Valael would have told her anything she wanted to know. He’d tell her what she wanted to know this time, too, if only to keep truth among the four of them. She was the only person in their entire lives they had been completely truthful with, and he’d hate to ruin that trust now. Why, Valael didn’t know. All he knew was it seemed imperative to be honest with her, child though she was.
She seemed to consider his words.
“Probably not,” she answered. “But how am I supposed to know how to be a Vampsblood if you don’t explain things to me?”
Relaren almost choked on the water he was sipping, but covered it by clearing his throat and shifting his position on the plush chair. Valael had to admit, her declaration was the last thing he’d expected, but he suspected they were in for trouble. Perhaps it was time to sever their relationship with the child.
The second the thought entered his mind he rejected it. She was so intertwined with their lives there was no way to get her out. Hell, she spent more time with them than she spent with the family who took her in after they’d first found her.
“We’re not making you a Vampsblood, child,” Harael snarled. “You were injured and we gave you our blood, but the amount wasn’t nearly enough to transform you, and there is no way we’re completing the process.”
Valael sensed more anger from Harael than he’d felt from the other man in a very long time. Harael was obviously very uncomfortable with the subject. Indeed, Valael couldn’t imagine turning the sweet, innocent child into the monster they all were. Never in his life had Valael been more uncomfortable with what he was and, had it been anyone else, he doubted he’d have had such a reaction. But Josette had a way of bringing out a gentler side none of them wanted to acknowledge. They were predators. Killers. But with Josette, they couldn’t seem to hold the image.
“Yes, you will,” she stated simply. “I doubt I can be your mate if you don’t make me a Vampsblood.” She sighed and turned around, obviously headed back down the tunnel she’d found leading from her farm to their den. “I mean, who else would put up with you?”
And she was gone before any of them could find their voice.
“Did she just say…” Relaren looked as stunned as Valael felt. Josette? Their mate? She was a child! The thought of doing with her what they all needed to survive was not only appalling, it was nauseating and… not something Valael wanted to think about.
“Ignore her,” Harael snapped. “The child has no idea what she’s suggesting. Give her a couple of days and, like any other kid, she’ll focus on something else. Instead of being all shocked and appalled, we could use the energy to find a woman. I hate to suggest a human, but with the storms outside intensifying, I doubt we’ll find a female of any species away from her farm or den. The farm Josette was assigned to had an abundance of human females. Surely we could find one willing to be seduced for a few nights.”
“I don’t like taking women from that camp,” Valael mused, “but I don’t see another choice. Unless the weather changes drastically, it’s likely to be several weeks before anyone pokes their heads out from under the earth.”
“If we’re going to do this, it needs to be now.” Relaren stood and stretched. His heavily muscled chest and arms rippled with his enormous strength. “We’re all getting restless. If we wait too long, we’re more likely to harm whoever we bring here, man or woman.”
“Not a man,” Harael repeated. “I’m tired of dicks and assholes. I need a woman. Crave a woman.”
Valael didn’t like the tone of Harael’s voice. The other Vampsblood rarely insisted on one gender or another. It had only been in the past couple of years any of them had developed a gender preference. Funny that. So late in life, they’d suddenly decided they preferred women.
* * *
With a sigh, Valael prepared to enter Josette’s camp. If they didn’t do something soon, they’d be too far gone with the need for sex. They might actually harm the poor woman they claimed for the night.
The three of them used all the stealth and speed of their kind to scout out the farm, narrowing down the most likely candidates to select from. Several times during their search, they noticed Josette watching them. She was wrapped in the fur-lined cape they’d made for her, huddling by the fire, but obviously keeping a close eye on them.
Valael tried not to let her close scrutiny bother him, but he found his gaze seeking her out again and again. The others were just as edgy with Josette’s large eyes watching their every move. Never mind she shouldn’t have been able to see them at all — they could be nearly invisible when they chose, especially in the dark confines of the cave where the humans lived — but she seemed suspicious of them. Like she knew what they were about, which was impossible. She was too young to even suspect what they needed, let alone approve or disapprove of their actions.
It took the better part of the day before they’d finally settled on a female they could all three appreciate and who agreed to do as they asked. By the time they got her back to their lair, Valael and Relaren had lost any desire whatsoever, which left Harael more frustrated than Valael had ever seen him.
The big Vampsblood pounced on his prey, not bothering to shield her from the worst of his blood lust. He needed the adrenaline rush he’d get from her blood when she was excited and a little scared.
Harael made short work of her clothes and his. Valael soothed her by promising she’d have new, warmer clothing when it was over. The woman didn’t seem to mind that much, clutching at Harael’s golden locks when he dipped his head between her thighs. Every woman on Josette’s farm knew she’d come out of the temporary union with more than she had when she went in. The Vampsblood didn’t pick women from there often, but they had done so since the farm’s founding. In exchange for the occasional feminine sacrifice, they protected the humans there.
She arched into him, taking all the rough pleasure Harael offered, only flinching when he nipped the inside of her leg sharply. Human women were like that. None of them took the bite well, especially in the more tender areas. The Vampsblood almost always had to feed from the neck and none of them liked to leave visible marks. They were not claiming a mate, only taking sustenance in the form of blood and sex. That was all.
Before Valael could move to her side, smooth the hair from her face with the tenderness females seemed to need, a blood-curdling screech filled the chamber. Instantly, both Valael and Relaren moved to protect Harael and the human. Whoever had invaded their space without tripping any of their internal alarms had to be dealt with — swiftly and with deadly efficiency.
Shock paralyzed Valael when he faced the attacker. She shot with purpose out of the small tunnel that connected the farm with the Vampsblood den. Valael just stood there as Josette shot past him straight to the tangled forms of Harael and the human woman. Sinking her fingers into Harael’s hair, Josette tore the woman’s fingers from the pale strands and yanked the Vampsblood away from her cunt. One tiny foot kicked viciously at Harael’s face, connecting with only a glancing blow. But when she turned to the woman lying spread out on the floor, the violence in her gaze was enough to snap Valael out of his shock-induced stupor and he lunged for her, his arm snaking around Josette’s waist in an effort to restrain her.
“Josette? What the hell?” Relaren’s shock was more than evident not only in his words, but his tone. All of them were practiced at guarding their emotions from everyone, but this was so unexpected, Valael couldn’t blame the other man. He was certain his own shock was just as transparent.
Harael snarled, baring his teeth and moving into a crouch on the ground. Bloodlust had taken hold, and Valael wasn’t certain the man would stop before he’d taken his fill. Whether from the nameless woman they’d acquired or from Josette, Valael wasn’t certain, but someone was going to feel Harael’s wrath. He had to make certain it wasn’t Josette, because Harael would never forgive himself if he harmed the child.
“Get that filthy bitch out of my home!” Josette’s words were bit out through clenched teeth. In that moment, she looked older, stronger, more warrior than child.
“Only if you want to take her place, little girl.” Harael’s voice was low and gravelly. Mean. Valael knew him well enough to know it was his way of buying himself time to regain control.
As if something inside her snapped, Josette broke free of Valael in a burst of strength he hadn’t been expecting. She flew at Harael, letting loose a shriek to do any Valkyrie proud. He still sat on the fur-covered floor, which made it easier for her to unbalance him. She was on top of him in a flash, her fists flying, fingers raking over his face like claws. The other woman scrambled away from the fury that was Josette, shrinking against the wall at Relaren’s feet.
Valael had no idea what to do. He could pull her off Harael, but that would mean she’d turn on him, and he had no wish to be on the receiving end of her anger. Besides, it was Harael’s own fault she was trying to claw his eyes out.
In one swift move, Harael flipped them so he lay sprawled on top of Josette, her legs open and gripping his waist as if to hold him to her. She dug her heels into his ass and held on for dear life. Hissing at him, Josette exposed her neck in an unconscious gesture for him to take what he needed. Taking blood from her in this fashion would mark her, show the other humans she was his. Theirs.
The thought didn’t set as badly as Valael thought it might. Humans were all so much younger than they were, Valael would have thought them all children if not for his inner voice telling him they were old enough for his needs.
But not Josette. Gods! How long had it been since they’d met her? His mind frantically searched for the answers. She had been ten cycles when they’d found her, broken and bleeding, the snow tyger standing over her, ready to eat her alive. They’d killed the beast before taking her home and given her blood to help her heal. Returning her to the farm where she lived was more difficult than any of them thought. They’d wanted her close, but reasoned that, since she was human, she belonged with other humans. Josette, however, had other plans. She’d practically lived with them every day since. She came to sleep in the warmth of their bed, wrapped around one or more of them nearly every night when her nightmares of the attack became too sharp.
How long had it been?
“It’s only been three years,” Relaren murmured, confused, echoing Valael’s thoughts. “Three years. She’s thirteen. Right?”
“No!” Josette spat, still seemingly in the grips of an uncontrolled fury. “It’s been more than eleven years! Are you so daft you have no concept of the passage of time?”
Harael gripped her hair, forcing her head back to him so she had to meet his hungry gaze. In that one instant, Valael’s cock came to hard, painful life. His mind refused to process what she was saying, but his body knew it. Perhaps he’d known it all along, but…
“How the hell could we not know the difference between three years and eleven?”
Relaren snorted. “Well, we always said it was hard to keep track of time in human terms. I guess this proves we were right.”
“But she doesn’t even look like an adult!” Valael hadn’t gotten this wrong. No fucking way.
“How does she not look like an adult? Have you even looked at her closely? Because I haven’t.” Relaren was almost laughing. No doubt the other man was in the midst of a sexual crisis of his own, but he was handling it far better than either Valael or Harael.
“Well…” Valael struggled for an explanation. “She’s… short.” Relaren was correct. He hadn’t really looked at the girl in a very long time. He’d always tried to see her as the child he needed to protect. Mainly because what she’d said was correct. She could be nothing more to them than a passing lover unless they allowed their blood to convert her. That would mean taking away her sweet nature and replacing it with that of a killer. A predator.
Relaren threw back his head and laughed. Despite the seriousness of the situation, despite looking like complete idiots, Relaren actually laughed. “She’s short? Are you out of your fucking mind?”
“She is! She barely comes up to my chest. Hell, next to Harael, she looks like a child. If she were really an adult, she’d be taller. Bigger.”
“Did it ever occur to you that we’re tall? Not that she’s short. Look at the woman we brought here tonight. She’s not much taller than Josette, and you didn’t balk at us using her.”
Valael hissed, baring his fangs for the first time against a member of his triad. “She is Josette! Do you really want to bring her into this world? To our world? She’s too gentle for that.”
“You really are daft,” Harael muttered as he settled himself more securely in the cradle of Josette’s body. She still lay sprawled on the thick fur underneath him, still squirming and rubbing against him like a cat. She sighed when he dropped his head to her neck and scraped his teeth back and forth over the tender skin there. Valael saw her shudder, felt her pleasure. Felt the ease of Harael’s bloodlust when he touched Josette in such an intimate manner. “She’s already part of our world. Willingly. Now, shut up and take that human back to the farm. And get her some warm clothing. We’ll just make our new mate at home while you’re gone.”