Excerpt from Silent Fathoms
Viktor spent several moments just looking at the siren after his men had left the cabin. It still amazed him how much he had missed her. She returned his gaze with a questioning look. He continued to stare at her. He knew her to be equally as dangerous a predator as himself, yet he found her to be one of the most intriguing and attractive females he’d ever encountered.
“What?” she finally said in response to his silent regard.
“There is no need to be so testy, pet.”
“Then stop staring at me and speak your mind, Viktor. You said you wanted to talk to me, but you’ve been sitting there like a lump. I know you’re not happy about what I said to Bonobibi.”
He felt a half-smile tug at one corner of his mouth. This was the Belladonna that he’d come to know and, if he’d admit it to himself, love. Of course, the smile irritated her further.
“What. Do. You. Want?”
In a split second he moved to stand next to her; his lips only a breath away from her ear. “Oh, I think you already know the answer to that, pet.”
He wrapped an arm around her waist in support as her eyes fluttered closed and her knees slightly buckled. A soft, breathy moan escaped her lips. He relished how soft and warm her body felt against his. He caught the unmistakable musky tone of her scent as her body reacted to his.
It confused and frustrated him when she gently, but insistently, pushed him away. She clearly wanted him. Why would she reject him?
“Viktor, please, just tell me what you wanted to talk to me about.” She sounded tired.
He let out a sound somewhere between a grunt and a sigh and crossed his arms. “Very well, yes, I was not pleased with your banter with the forest goddess. The lads couldn’t understand you, though. If they had been able to, there would have been repercussions for you. I cannot afford to let any of my crew show me disrespect in front of the others.”
“Believe it or not, I do understand that reasoning. If I had been using a human language, I would have merely apologized for calling the tiger god her lord. I will admit I got a little too comfortable in my speech to her. It is rare for me to encounter a female with that magnitude of power and not immediately see her as a rival.”
He raised an eyebrow. “I had wondered about that. It surprised me that you didn’t go into a display of jealousy when she transported herself to the boat.”
“I wanted to, believe me. I knew we needed to get out of there alive, though. I doubt asserting territorial rights over you would have been a good move.” She shrugged and looked at him with an uncertainty he wasn’t used to. “You surprised me as well, Viktor. I did not expect you to reject her, and in such a way as to not insult her.”
“It was a gamble. She was testing the waters.” His gave her a smug smile. “She may not be human, but I’ve met her type before: women who think they can use their favors to control a man’s will. My rejection of her was a case of both speaking the truth and letting her know I am not one to be manipulated.”
“Hmph.” Belle crossed her arms and gave him a mildly disgusted smirk.
“Think what you like, pet. She lost interest in me fairly quickly after that. If she had truly wanted me for a lover, do you think she would have let us go our way?”
“No.” She sounded petulant.
Finally, it dawned on him what was really bothering her. She must have hoped she was the reason behind his rejection of Bonobibi. He moved back over to her carefully so as not to spook her. He gently brushed her hair back with his fingertips, and tucked it behind her ears.
She looked up at him warily, like an animal unsure of his intentions. He smiled gently to let her know he meant her no harm. He stroked her cheek with his thumb in small circles. Gradually, the wariness left her eyes and stance.
Once he saw her relax and her eyes dilate, he leaned down and kissed her. He kept it soft and tender at first, but soon they both put everything into it.
He tasted blood and broke off from the kiss, but he didn’t release her from the embrace. “Damn!”
“What is it?”
“I taste blood. It must be mine, not yours, since I’m still breathing. But I don’t want you to think I’m trying to trap you, Belle.” He held her so tightly she couldn’t angle her head up to see his face. He didn’t want her to see what was in his eyes.
“I don’t mind,” she whispered into his shoulder.
He couldn’t decide which surprised him more: her admission or that he could sense she really meant it. It thrilled him, but it also frustrated him. He knew he couldn’t take advantage of her mood. That move would pose too great a risk at the moment.
“It’s not just that, pet. My Hunger is up.”
She growled her frustration. “It’s always something! I swear it seems like someone or something doesn’t want us to be together.” She sighed in resignation and asked, “How long has it been since you fed?”
“Close to three months now. We have to take a prize soon. I’ve kept the cadre in a dormant state for the same amount of time, and I can sense them… withering, for want of a better word.”
She stepped back from him and gazed off into the distance for a few moments. “I will scout out a prize for you and lure them this way. I would suggest you wake your vampires the evening I return. You can take the ship at night.”
“Thank you, pet. That is generous of you.”
She shrugged. “I need to hunt, as well.”