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A Vampire's Thirst: A Deadly Masquerade by A K Michaels (1)

Chapter 1

Victor finished tying his shoelace and sat up, relaxing back into the plush armchair, his eyes zeroing in on Kimber as she rushed around the suite that Quinn had given them for their visit. Her skin was still flushed from their recent lovemaking…a rosy glow that had his heart beating faster when he remembered the way she’d called his name while he’d emptied inside her and how she always panted just before she reached her own release. The way her nails raked across his back, her tongue tangling with his as he devoured her mouth, her skin so soft beneath his fingers and how she trembled at his touch. Fuck, she was perfection personified.

“Damn, Kimber, do you really need to go, darling?” he cajoled, doing his best to try and persuade her to remain here within the confines of the lavish set of rooms that their host had given them.

Quinn had insisted they stay in the Castle and not in one of his so-called cottages, which were anything but, telling them that he had a set of rooms for them and also for Flint and Kenzie when they arrived. They’d been here for two days to help Quinn plan a top-secret Masquerade Ball. Their rooms were opulent, and Kimber adored them. Her first words to him once Quinn had left them alone had been, “I feel like a Princess.”

He’d been quick to reply, “No, my beauty, you’re my Queen.”

He’d thought that was good, but she’d turned to him and given him a quick punch on the arm and told him it was lame. Lame! Hell, he’d been trying to be a gentleman.

Anyway, right now she turned toward him, half naked, still flushed with their lovemaking, and she’d never looked more beautiful to him…if for the frown marring her face.

“Victor! Of course I need to go. Amaya is waiting on me and I’m already late. We’ve got tons to do yet. Absolutely tons! Don’t you know how stressful this is for us?” she waved a pair of jeans around in front of her. “We don’t know these people and trying to get all the arrangements done…and figure out if we’ve catered to their needs just right. Well, I can tell you…we’re run ragged and we’re worried we’re going to upset someone. What if we get something wrong? Jeez, I hope we don’t set someone off and have a fight on our hands. What if I do that, Victor? What if I cause a full-blown fight because of something I’ve done…or not done? Oh hell. Why did I think I could do this? Why?”

He felt her rising panic, saw it in her body and could see it flowing through her as clear as day.

His body reacted immediately. Going to his Bloodmate using his Vampire speed to take her into his arms, hold her securely to him in his embrace. Her breaths came in short gasps as her anxiety grew within her.

“Hey, stop that, right now, Kimber.” He ran a hand up and down her back gently. “You and Amaya have done a wonderful job so far, and Quinn and I have everything else covered. There’s nothing to worry about so just take a deep breath and relax. Come on, you know I’m right and Kenzie will be here soon, she’ll help you too. You’ve got this, baby.”

“I do?” she turned her face up to him, her eyes imploring.

The look tore at his heart…his Bloodmate doubting herself wasn’t like her. She was confident and sure of herself. Normally. But at this very second, she looked vulnerable and shaky as she gazed up at him with those eyes he could so easily lose himself in. He had to sort this, had to help her, had to bring back her fire.

“Kimber, stop this. Stop doubting yourself, my love.” He ran a finger down the side of her face, noting how she moved into his touch. “Where’s the feisty Dragon I first met? You wouldn’t stand any nonsense from me then, or anyone else. This little get-together is nothing, and you and Amaya have everything covered. And, as I mentioned, Kenzie will be here soon, so stop worrying because I’ll be right beside you to fix anything that you think has gone wrong. No matter how small or big, darling, I promise I’ll sort it out for you. Now, all I need from you is…do you trust me to do that? Do you trust me to resolve any issues that might occur? Even though I’m certain that there won’t be any because I know that you and Amaya have done a fabulous job. But you know, one hundred percent, that I will always have your back in everything, Kimber. You have always known that, my gorgeous and sexy wife, and this situation is no different.”

He cupped her face, leaning down and kissing her so gently that their lips barely touched, a feather light caress of love. Kimber’s arms reached around his waist and he swallowed the sigh that escaped her as her body relaxed against him. He could feel her returning to “herself” and just kept her in his arms until she leaned away, tilting her head so their eyes could meet, hers clearer and not a sign of her nervousness was to be seen. Instead they were happy with a twinkle of her sassiness back. Thank goodness.

“Thanks.” She reached up to play with his shirt collar before carrying on. “And yes, I do trust you, Victor. I always will.”

“Good,” he winked before swatting her barely covered ass. “Now, if you don’t want me sweeping you off your feet and whisking you back to bed then you better get moving.”

“Victor! I don’t have time. I’ve far too much to do.” She pushed him away playfully, no more sign of her earlier doubt evident. “Amaya and I have to double check that the blackout shutters have been installed correctly for, now what’s their names again? Oh yes, Gunner and Imogen and also Markus and Rachel. I know that the weather here isn’t exactly sunny, but we have to still ensure they are safe as they’re not as old as everyone else. We can’t take any chances with them. Plus, what was it Quinn said? He said that there might be snow coming and that if it does that they can get bright and sunny weather, so, we have to make sure the shutters are secure. Although, I’m not sure we’ll see much of them, Markus and Rachel I mean. I’m sure they’re very newly bonded so they’ll probably not make much of an appearance. I’m right about that. Aren’t I?”

“Yes, you are, and I know, sweetheart. You’re being very vigilant about your duties and taking care of them extremely well.”

She ran around the room like a swirling dervish, grabbing clothes before sitting on the edge of the bed and tugging on her jeans, standing to pull them up over her hips before her luscious ass disappeared from view…damn.

“Where’s my top? I had it just a minute ago?” Her head whipped around as she searched for the thick jumper she’d taken from the walk-in closet earlier. A present from Amaya when they’d arrived…a beautiful shade of green that matched her eyes with an intricate cable design which she’d said was made on the Isle of Arran.

“Here it is.” Victor handed it to her from the armchair she’d thrown it on. “Are you sure you need this?”

“Yes,” she said and laughed, donning the garment. “We’ll be going outside to the cottages and it’s cold out there, Victor. You might not feel it, but I sure do. Amaya’s going to give me a scarf, hat, and gloves too. She doesn’t want me to catch a cold, I’ve told her I won’t, but she says it’s damp and dreich outside, and no I have no idea what dreich means.”

Victor couldn’t help the laughter that bubbled up inside him to break free. It took him a few moments to gather himself while Kimber just shook her head at him.

“Dreich huh? Sounds like Amaya has gone native, don’t you think?”

The skin between Kimber’s eyes puckered as she scowled, remaining silent while she pulled on her boots. She snuck glances at him for a few seconds before shaking her head.

“That was unkind, she’s just picked up a few words from her mate or the local people. I don’t think saying she’s gone native was a nice thing to say. She’s really nice, Victor, she’s made me feel right at home and she’s been very caring, considerate, and generous from the second we arrived. Jeez, she’s opened her home to us…not just us. She’s having complete strangers here, Vampires and other kinds of Supernaturals, and that’s stressful and all kinds of dangerous and you’ve just made a comment that could be hurtful.”

Victor stared at his Bloodmate, not quite sure what was going on. He didn’t mean anything by what he’d said, surely Kimber knew that. She was uptight about everything, he also knew that too…then it hit him, smack bang in the face. He strode to her and took her in his arms, even as she struggled to get away, her hands pushing against him and her breaths coming in short, sharp gasps.

“We won’t be away long, darling, and you know we couldn’t bring Vikim with us. I couldn’t take the chance of him being in any danger. I won’t have him anywhere near any Vampires that I don’t know, that we don’t know. We discussed this, Kimber, we both agreed it was safer to leave him behind with Nellie.”

She trembled in his arms, her body shaking as the fight went out of her. Instead of her hands pushing against his body she clung to him, her fingers latching onto his shirt as she finally relaxed into his arms. A soft sob escaped her. One that tore at his heart and soul. One that told him he’d been right and this was what was wrong with his love.

“You’ll hold him soon, baby, but in the meantime, why don’t you text Nellie and schedule a facetime call so you can see him? So we can see him? I miss him too, you know that? Right? I miss him too.”

“I know you do.” She leaned back, her eyes glistening with tears. “It hurts me inside, Victor. He’s so young and I shouldn’t be away from him yet.”

“I’m aware of that.” He was well aware of how young their son was, and she was right. Neither of them should be away from him. “But I had to think of his safety. That is and always will be, my top priority. Quinn and I aren’t expecting any trouble, but I still couldn’t take the chance. Not this time, not with him, Kimber. You know that.”

“Yes, and you’re right, and I love you for that. I know you’ll always put us first, Victor. I just miss him so much.”

“Schedule the call and you’ll see that Nellie is looking after him just fine.”

She gave him a wane smile with a brief nod. “I know that too. She dotes on him and so does everyone else, even Suzette, which amazed me.”

Victor chuckled. He hadn’t seen that coming either. His PA wasn’t exactly the ‘motherly’ type and she and Kimber had knocked heads several times, but when she’d seen Vikim the first time she’d gone completely gaga over him and had spoiled him rotten from day one.

“There you go. You know he’s being looked after, and we’ll be back with him in less than a week…five days I think?”

“Yes,” she sighed. “Five long days.”

Victor felt the same. He did. But he couldn’t let it show. Not when his love was suffering so much. Not when she was in pain.

“No, baby, today you’re going to be busy with Amaya, and Flint and Kenzie arrive tomorrow, and you’ll be rushed off your feet and we also have others arriving tomorrow too. So that’s another day gone. Then the next day we’ve got new guests coming and you’ll be busy with them because I know that they’ll be nervous…not the Vampires of course. Although they might be. I don’t know.” He chucked her under the chin, when she gave him a smile. “But their Bloodmates, they’re going to need you and Amaya to help them feel safe and secure. Then we’ll have the Ball and before you know it we’ll be winging our way back home, Kimber. It’ll fly past. Trust me, you’ll be so busy that you’ll wonder where the time went.”

“I guess.”

“Some of them are newly bonded so they might have questions too, darling. You could help them with that.”

Kimber turned away, walking to the large bay window to stare out over the stark Highland landscape that was bare due to it being the middle of winter. Her head canted to the side and her arms wrapped around her waist while she stood looking at the beauty that was still evident before them…rolling hills in the distance topped with snow and far more than that. Scotland was glorious no matter the season and it was obvious she loved it. Her pretty, plump lips that just a moment before were pressed together, showing her sadness at being so far from Vikim, tugged up at the sides until a smile broke free. One that went all the way to her glorious green eyes that fired to life and twinkled once more…he had his Kimber back. His stomach clenched, and his heart settled even though he still ached inside for their son.

“You’re right. As usual.” She turned completely around toward him, her beauty was magnificent being framed against the window, even more so than normal.

Damn, I’m lucky to have her by my side, he thought as he looked at her. “You’re glorious, baby, stay there.” He strode over, grasping her face between his palms and placed a chaste kiss on her lips. “You can do this, we can do this…together as always.”

“Together,” she breathed against his mouth and he swallowed it down before kissing her once more.

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