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Book XII of the Vampire Queen series, originally launched as part of the Invitation to Eden series.
(No familiarity with the Vampire Queen series is needed to enjoy this title!)

Release Date November 4, 2014

Vampires drink blood, they’re superior to humans, and they’re sexual Dominants. Every vampire knows those truths. A vampire’s human servant is property, plaything, pawn—and the only living being a vampire can trust. Though she may own him, body, heart and soul, a human servant keeps a vampire from feeling alone in her dangerous, political world. But Kaela has a secret. She’s a vampire with a burning need to submit, to belong to a Master, and definitely not a vampire Master, who will use the advantage for political or emotional domination. But what kind of human male will consent to becoming a vampire’s servant, a 300-year life of utter servitude, to be her Master behind closed doors? An invitation to Eden offers her the chance to discover her elusive hero…and indulge the bliss of surrender...

 

Excerpt

© Copyright 2014 - All Rights Reserved

“Your tithe is late. And you have no valid excuse for it.”

“With respect, my lady, I told you why it was late. We’ve had trouble this quarter…”

“That is a lie.” Kaela folded her hands on her desk and met the gaze of the male vampire. He’d sat down in her guest chair with a casual sprawl, stretching out his legs and hooking his ankles, as if the chance to study his powerful, handsome form was a special gift he’d brought only for her. It didn’t impress her. She was all too aware this meeting could end with her tearing his heart out of his broad chest and spattering blood over every square inch of her home office. She should have held this meeting in the garage with its built-in drain, but that likely would have aroused his suspicions.

“You think I’m a fool, Greg. You want to test the female vampire overlord, see if she’s really capable of controlling you, worthy of your obedience.” She let the tips of her fangs show. “You will provide the funds you owe before you leave my property. You will also pay me the funds for next quarter, as a sign of respect. Once you make your payment, I want you out of my home and headed back to yours.”

Her gaze flicked to the clock, mostly for effect, because every vampire over the age of fifty instinctively knew the time of day. She was tipping over a hundred and seventy-five years now. Young for an overlord, but female vampires tended to mature faster. A necessary survival trait.

“It’s three hours to dawn, and you live two hours and forty-five minutes from here. Waste any of that time with argument and you’ll be suffering a terrible sunburn.”

She was gratified to see him straighten in the chair, his posture tensing. While she didn’t shift by an inch, she was coiled to strike, ready for this to turn into a fight. She shut down any fear, any reaction other than what she’d been charged by Lady Lyssa to do.

Serve me well, Lady Kaela. That is what I require.

She’d done so, and would continue to do so. Until another vampire was able to kill her.

Everyone knew Lady Lyssa had appointed her. That would give any vampire pause, because the head of the Vampire Council was terrifying. Further, Lady Lyssa didn’t make careless choices. So while the former might have them speculating that Kaela was Lady Lyssa’s friend, under her particular protection, the latter would have them wondering if she was a far more lethal opponent than she might appear.

Neither of those statements had been true when she’d become overlord, but Kaela had learned how to do what needed to be done so now the latter was true. Lyssa had said the magical words, hadn’t she? Words that, if she’d known the impact they had on Kaela, would have ironically kept her from being considered for the post, and she would be dead by now. Or worse.

Greg held her gaze. Kaela didn’t twitch, holding that lock. If he attacked, he would come straight at her, using brute strength. A feint to the right should do it, an attack to the left, because he was right-handed. She would go for the throat, take out the meat of it. It didn’t kill a vampire, but it was agonizing, crippling. As he writhed on the carpet, she could decide whether to stake him or let him live. He was thirty years older than her. Not a large margin, but male vampires tended to be stronger than females of similar age, no different from most species. It merely meant a female had to plan her attack more carefully.

Soon after Kaela had accepted Lady Lyssa’s appointment, she’d killed five of the vampires in her territory, with the full support of the Council. The California territory had been rife with corruption and illegal behavior, thanks to the previous overlord thinking he was too far from the Council for his activities to be of concern. He’d gathered a group of stronger vampires around him, cronies he allowed to terrorize the weaker vampires, circumventing Council rules, risking exposure to the human world with their bloodlust. She knew about it firsthand, because she’d been part of that territory, doing whatever she could to protect the weaker vampires and playing a dangerous game of politics to hold onto what she had, a string of personal security companies that gave her eyes and ears in key places.

Not bad for a made vampire who’d once been a Confederate spy.

Greg shifted, and averted his eyes. It was a point for her, but she didn’t relax her guard, because it could be a ploy before an attack. 

“Will you take a check?” he asked.

“A wire transfer. Fran is outside and you can give her the information. You may do that now and leave as soon as she verifies it.”

He rose with a stiff nod. “My lady.” This time he meant it.

She waited until he’d reached the door. “Greg?”

He turned to face her again, not giving her his back. “Yes, my lady?”

“I will not forgive this type of behavior twice. This is your only warning. You can benefit from being in my territory, profit from my leadership. I am fair. I will support and protect you as long as you follow the rules. If you do not, this was your last chance at leniency.”

He gave her a short bow of acquiescence, and she marked with further satisfaction the way he was taking her measure, with more uncertainty and nascent respect. At her dismissal, he slipped out of her office, closing the door behind him.

She took a breath, one that went all the way down to the soles of her feet, and let it out. A tremor swept her, fueled by the sudden sick flopping in her stomach. She let the reaction have her for about thirty seconds before reining it back in again. Everything had its proper time, and she kept it all on a strict schedule.

She’d accepted the need to embrace a persona that really wasn’t her own, but despite her hope that assumption could become reality, a much stronger part of her embraced something different. Something she could only indulge in a rich, solitary fantasy life in the short period before dawn claimed her for sleep. Or that brief time each night when she first woke. It was like one of those fairy tale curses, where she could go where she wished only in her dreams.

But she wasn’t complaining. She was here to serve. Whether she realized it or not, Lyssa had given Kaela the one outlet in her real life that helped her balance the denial of the rest. Serve me well.

Less than five minutes later, her servant knocked and was granted entrance. “That was the fastest wire transfer I’ve ever done,” Fran said, a twinkle in her somber brown eyes. “He’s paid in full, with one quarter in advance, my lady.”

“Good. Do you have my travel arrangements in order?”

At that, the twinkle disappeared. “Everything’s in your carry-on. Front pocket has all the paperwork.” Fran took a breath and stared a hole into the surface of the desk. “I also packed in case you changed your mind about me accompanying you.”

When Kaela said nothing, Fran’s jaw set. “I really don't like this,” she blurted out. She flushed. “I’m sorry. I’m not trying to be impertinent. It’s just…how will you get blood, my lady?”

“The same way I did before I had a servant. Don’t question me, Fran.”

Fran was an Inherited Servant, trained from birth to serve vampires, so the faint reproof was enough to have her dropping her gaze. Kaela was surprised the woman had been that forward, but Fran was worried about her. It touched her. It also made her weary, eager to be away.

“I'll be gone ten days. Take the money I've given you, take a vacation.”

“You’re going to Miami. How can you protect yourself during daylight hours? Do they know…”

“Stop it, Fran,” she said sharply. “I'm quite capable of caring for myself.”

It wasn’t her servant’s fault that she couldn’t fulfill Kaela’s true needs. Because Kaela understood what that felt like, only too well, she softened her voice, just enough. Everything always had to be so calculated. There were times she thought the precision of her life would slice her into pieces.

“You are a credit above and beyond the ranks of Inherited Servants, Fran. I am rewarding you by giving you some time off. Enjoy it. Be whatever you desire to be for ten days and don’t worry about me.”
“I am a servant, my lady. My only desire is to serve you.”

That Kaela would think anything different obviously puzzled Fran. Kaela cursed her mistake. Though the possibility of terminal violence with Greg hadn’t unsettled her in a way that could affect her judgment, the implications of this trip were something different. But she kept her mask in place. 

“I know that. Which is why I’m commanding you to go enjoy yourself. Find a handsome Master in one of the clubs and offer him the pleasures only an Inherited Servant can give. You’ll ruin him for anyone else.” Kaela let her lips curve, her eyes glitter. “Come back with all sorts of lovely bedroom stories for your Mistress. We’ll experience the pleasure of them together.”

Fran had been an active Inherited Servant for nearly thirty years. She’d served at the Council headquarters for twenty years, and been Kaela’s second-mark for the remaining ten. Kaela understood Fran had been placed with her initially as eyes and ears for Lyssa. So when Lady Lyssa granted her permission to claim Fran, give her the third mark that would make her Kaela’s full servant, all hers, a permanent addition to her household, it had been another sign of Lyssa’s approval and trust. Inherited Servants were highly valued, trained to serve high-ranking vampires.

Kaela had treasured the honor, but indicated she was satisfied having Fran in her household as a second mark. During the years since, Kaela had made it clear as often as appropriate that she was very satisfied with Fran’s services, yet willing to let her go if Lyssa wished to assign her to another vampire who wanted to fully mark her.

Lyssa had not yet reassigned Fran, so that was where the situation stood. Kaela knew she was unusual, a hundred and seventy-five year old female vampire who hadn’t taken her first full servant. The Council head had never questioned Kaela about that, so Kaela assumed Lady Lyssa understood the solitude and self-discipline a female vampire in a leadership position faced in their world. Perhaps Lyssa leaving the Inherited Servant with her this long, even as a second mark, was yet another statement of her support of Kaela in her overlord appointment. Kaela hoped so, even as she bore the guilt of denying Fran what every InhServ wanted most. A vampire who claimed her fully, all the way down to her soul.

Fran was a treasure and an asset, no question. An excellent assistant, intelligent and infallibly courteous, she was also passionate and well-trained in the sensual arts. She was beautiful as all InhServs were, with soft skin, a lush body, curling copper-colored hair and eyes brown like polished creek stone. She responded with enthusiasm to everything her Mistress offered her. The second mark allowed Kaela access to Fran’s mind, and the few times she delved there, she saw the shadows, indications that Fran knew there was so much more her Mistress could give. According to Fran’s training, it was just a matter of proving herself worthy, but Kaela knew the InhServ was more than worthy.

The problem was her Mistress wasn’t the proper receptacle for such a generous gift.

Kaela often enjoyed Fran’s body when she took blood from her, and she made sure to give the girl pleasure when she did. She was able to do that most successfully when Fran told her “bedtime stories” about her sexual service for past Council functions, describing in detail the creative performances that had been demanded of her and other servants, a part of almost every social vampire gathering.

Fran probably thought what aroused her Mistress so much during those recitations was Kaela imagining herself as one of those vampires, restraining Fran with use of rope, chain, cloth, doling out stinging or thudding punishments against lovely, supple flesh, forcing orgasms that would make her hoarse with her own screaming. But it wasn’t the vampire’s point of view that captivated Kaela.

Fortunately, Kaela’s suggestion that Fran bring her back more “bedtime stories” from her vacation trip made the InhServ’s gaze light at the implication. She nodded, though she couldn’t conceal the wistful note in her voice. “Very well, my lady. You know where I am if you need anything. I am yours.”

No you’re not, dear girl. But hopefully one day you will belong to someone the way I wish I could, but never will.

* * * * *

Ten days. She was free for ten days. Or she was making the biggest mistake of her life.

At a little after one a.m., Kaela made the transition from the jet in Miami to the puddle jumper that would take her to the Eden resort, located on an island in the Bermuda Triangle. She’d boarded the plane without comment, though the female pilot had looked surprised by her nonchalance, as if used to passengers who were nervous about the dragonfly-sized plane with its bumpy ride and roaring engines.

For her, crashing in a plane meant a long walk through water to get home. A miserable prospect, but certainly nothing to fear.

Kaela embraced the cocoon the loud engine provided. She just wished it could drown out her thoughts. At least she didn’t have to converse with the pilot. The absurdly young woman guiding the plane wasn’t intrusive, however. She’d picked up on Kaela’s unwillingness to chat and matched it with a comfortable silence. With Kaela’s enhanced hearing, she could sometimes hear Joely--the pilot--humming to herself. She didn’t know the tune, but it was pleasant, a good mesh with the growl of the engine. The girl smelled good as well. Engine oil, soap and cotton. A light perspiration odor, feminine and appealing. Her blood would probably taste like her personality. Complex yet simple, possessed of a lovely humor and grace, with a trace of poignant anguish beneath the surface. A daisy.

Kaela needed to feed, but it wasn’t critical yet. She’d been told that need would be amply met when she reached the island. The invitation she’d received weeks ago had promised her a lot of things.

There’s no such thing as vampires. That was what most humans believed.

There’s no such thing as a vampire submissive. That was what all vampires knew.

The human world thought vampires were a supernatural fantasy that happened in movies and books, because that was what vampires took great measures to ensure the most prolific species on the planet other than insects believed. But whatever species one happened to be, whether unicorn, fairy, vampire or cockroach, one tended to trust one’s reality. A vampire could be just as skeptical about magic as a human. The reality was she really shouldn’t be on this plane, believing in a fantasy that could get her killed. Or worse.

A vampire submissive. It didn’t exist in nature or, if it did, it ranked just below the blinded, three-legged member of the wolf pack. A very brief anomaly, soon to be torn to pieces or turned out to starve to death. Starving would be preferable. Probably.

Kaela crossed her legs and folded her hands on her knees, refusing to allow either one to shake. Because she wanted to reach into her purse and finger the vellum paper of the invitation once more for empty reassurance, she deliberately didn’t. She’d done that enough it should look as worn as the corners of a favorite book. Instead, the cream paper and raised lettering gleamed the way it had when she’d received it. The weight of the paper, its silken smoothness, the faint vanilla scent, made one think the color had come about from the invitation being dipped in actual cream, which enhanced the words written upon it.

You are cordially invited to spend a week at the Eden resort, where reality is whatever you want it to be.

Oddly enough, she’d found out about Eden from eavesdropping on a conversation. She’d stopped for an evening coffee at a diner, and had picked up on a discussion three booths over. The woman meeting with a friend was apparently bestselling romance author, Leila Connors. She’d been invited to the Eden resort some time ago for a writer’s retreat and not only had tapped into her muse, but even deeper fantasies.

“I know how insane it sounds, but that’s how Sebastian came into my life. It started with the dreams I was having while I was there. It was like, as the book came to life in my head, he came to life…in my life.” The woman laughed shortly. “No, I wasn’t drinking that much. I’m telling you, there’s something about that island. I think if you’re invited there, anything you desire--if it’s meant to be--could happen.”

Usually Fran did all of Kaela’s administrative tasks, but she’d looked up the resort on her own, dumping the cache afterward just to be safe. Even so, a week later an envelope marked for her eyes only arrived via a private delivery service. Fran had passed it to her unopened because it looked official enough to have come from the Council or another overlord.

The envelope had included the invitation to Eden. While the arrival of the document was astonishing enough, the invitation had included an unsettling note in a bold male script.

Lady Kaela, I understand your world comes with many demands. I believe Eden can provide you a respite from your current responsibilities and answer your deepest wish. The one you can’t share with anyone else. This is my direct line. Please contact me for more information.

Her title, “Lady Kaela” was associated with the vampire world. She was a made vampire who had achieved overlord status, no small feat, so she was proud of the title. But a human outside the vampire world shouldn’t know about it. Plus her street address wasn’t common knowledge in the human world, everything coming to her through a post office box. 

I can assure you that you will have complete confidentiality and discretion to pursue whatever desires you have while on Eden. I’m sure you will appreciate the irony that Eden, like your world, does not make public all the ways we can meet our guests’ needs. But you’ll find my island allows those such as yourself the chance to be at ease…to be who you truly are. –Theodosius Vardalos

According to her Internet research, he was the owner of the island, the mysterious billionaire who granted no interviews and was the brains and money behind the exclusive, by-invitation-only Eden resort.

The invitation had been accompanied by a small box. Opening it in the privacy of her bedroom, she found it contained a bubble-wrapped crystal sphere. The sphere caught the light of her lamp as she held it up, sparkling rainbow beams across her desk and skin. But the note with it indicated it wasn’t for decoration.

Open the crystal over a bowl. Immerse your hand and then expose it to the sunlight. Only for a moment. The effect doesn’t last longer than that away from Eden.

When she turned the sphere over and over, there was movement inside. Liquid. Opening the side latch to drain the contents into a bowl, she’d inhaled the scent of sandy beaches soaked by sun, something she hadn’t experienced in many years. Some sand drifted to the bottom of the bowl.

Just past dawn she’d tried it, crazy as it sounded. Hidden behind the heavy drapes, she’d slowly extended her drenched hand through the small opening, ready to jerk back at the first touch of burning agony. Her heart had tripped a beat as she felt sunlight touch her flesh and warm it only. He was right; it only lasted a moment. When she started to feel that warning pain she brought it back, stared at her hand, the bowl of water. Then she re-read the whole note.

I know your desire is not to embrace the sunlight, but far darker desires. However, I am hoping this small demonstration will help you gain confidence that you might find what you seek here.

Two weeks passed before she called Vardalos. She had plenty of enemies who resented her appointment to the overlord position and would love to trip her up with an elaborate plan like this. However, everything she researched meshed with what he’d sent her, as well as what she’d overheard in that diner.

On top of that, there was his voice. When he started speaking on the phone line, she was pulled into the sensual timbre. There was command there, power, as well as sorrow and wisdom. This was not a person you fucked with, or who fucked with others. She read people well, and he sounded like a person who knew what it was to fight through adversity simply to exist.

“Why?” she asked. “Other than the exorbitant price I can afford to pay to come to your island?”

“While I do appreciate those with the income to help maintain the island, money is not my main purpose for running Eden. You have your secret desires, Lady Kaela. I have mine, and fulfilling the fantasies of others is part of what brings me peace, the closest thing I’ve found to it. Much as your service to Lady Lyssa does for you. Fair enough?”

“You know that unmarked humans aren’t permitted to know this much about my world. It carries a death sentence.”

“There are exceptions to many things in Eden. You will be safe here, Lady Kaela. That is my solemn vow, and my life surrendered to you if I’m wrong.”

With that voice, the commanding presence he had even over the phone, him surrendering anything to her wasn’t the first thing that came to mind. She’d licked her lips, a nervous movement, and battled back the reactions surging inside her in an alarming manner.

The pilot’s raised voice drew her from her thoughts, returning her to the present. “My lady, we’re approaching the island. It’s quite something at night. Well, anytime, but I especially like the night approach.”

Kaela leaned forward to gaze out the window, her fingers tightening on her knees.

The castle was an uneven pyramid of glittering lights that expanded in reflection against the dark waters surrounding the island. It was the crown on a vast and hilly terrain that sloped down to the sea on all sides. With her vampire eyes, she could see even more detail as the plane started its descent. Tall spires, stone pathways. It had a few modifications, but overall it was the type of castle she’d seen in Ireland on her travels. The information about the island had confirmed that. Theodosius Vardalos had had the castle transported here, piece by piece.

It was the type of place a person with dark desires might never want to leave, because it might hold the answer to them. She suspected not everyone felt like that, trying to reconcile a place built for defense and long battles in tropical resort surroundings. But it underscored light against dark, the key difference between want and need. To get the most out of what you wanted, you had to have what you needed first.

As the plane landed on the water and taxied toward the land, she saw a wooden dock sculpted in a zigzag path up to the mainland, as well as a gold plated sign mounted on an outcropping of rock. Welcome to Eden, where reality is what you want it to be.
Want versus need. It was truly dangerous for her to be here. What she wanted was something she’d never even said aloud, but Theodosius Vardalos had.

During that phone call, she’d asked a second question, though she’d not intended for it to leave her lips. “You said you thought you might have what I seek there. What exactly do you think I’m seeking?”

“This is a secure line, so there’s no need to be alarmed by me speaking the truth. You are something incredibly unique in your world, Lady Kaela. A vampire submissive who craves a human Master’s hand. While you are at Eden, you can have that fantasy.”

She’d hung up on him as if the phone had grown tentacles to reach out and strangle her. She’d even found herself all the way across the room, staring at it.

The one rule in the vampire world that never changed was “might made right”. She had been satisfied being just one vampire in a territory, paying feudal tithes to its overlord as part of her business costs, but the overlord had overstepped his authority in a variety of brutal, unacceptable ways. It had been second nature to her, trying to protect other vampires as best she could, and then fortunately the Vampire Council had removed him. Kaela had waited like the others with the hope of a better overlord being appointed, then Lady Lyssa had summoned her to fly to Georgia and stand in her presence.

“Kaela, you took exceptional measures to protect others from Graham’s misbehavior. Ten of the most influential vampires in your territory agree you would make a suitable temporary overlord. We agree. Should you be able to hold the position a year favorably, then it would become permanent.” While Kaela was dealing with the shock of that, Lyssa had met her gaze. The last royal member of the Far East clan had jade eyes as piercing as the tip of a spear. “Settling things in your territory will not be easy. Should lethal measures be necessary, you have our permission to circumvent the usual approval process. You will contact my direct line, make your case, and I will endorse your decision during that call, if warranted. Should it have to be after the fact,” those jade eyes glittered, “make sure your case is well supported.”

Soon after, Kaela had held a gathering of her territory vampires at her home, a meet-and-greet-the-new-overlord sort of gesture. While the vampires she’d protected were clearly supportive, her purpose had been to determine who was going to be a problem. Peter Ailsworth, a vampire a hundred and fifty years old, had been the first to challenge her. When she’d taken him to the ground, she was willing to grant mercy, but he’d kept fighting. So she’d staked him and instructed two of the watching vampires to burn the body. She’d gone to her bedroom, thrown up and cried. Then returned to the dining room to share dinner with the remaining vampires and view sexual entertainment performed by their servants.

Just a normal day in the vampire world. Except for the throwing up and crying. She doubted Lady Lyssa had ever done either of those things. If a vampire showed weakness or surrender, she might as well just accept being the slave of other vampires for all her long, long life. Yes, there was a hierarchy among vampires, and there were plenty of vampires stronger than she was, but she’d learned how to play the game to demand the proper amount of respect and carve out her boundaries.

She hadn’t called Vardalos back that night. Or for weeks afterward. She’d hung that crystal sphere in her window, thought about the way the sunlight would sparkle through it during the daylight hours when she couldn’t see it. But at night she’d hold it up in front of a lamp and let it spin, watching it until it hypnotized her with all the possibilities it represented. At the end of week five, she’d sent back the RSVP in the envelope, indicating the dates she would be coming. Within three days, she received another “for your eyes only” missive that gave her the travel arrangements and the plane ticket from Miami to the island that Fran didn’t know about. So here she was.

Worst case scenario, she’d have a vacation on an island paradise that offered every amenity. Spas, casino, five star restaurants, breathtaking views from many winding hiking paths… The booklet about the island’s offerings was nearly fifty pages. On the last page it indicated what Vardalos had. These are only some of the pleasures Eden can offer you. We invite you to come explore the ones that are right for you.

Around the middle of the brochure, the sexual amenities were discussed. Club Sin was a fully equipped and staffed BDSM club inside the castle. There was also a section of the island for 24/7 Dom/sub play in an open air environment that included pools, gardens, wait staff to bring around drinks, hors d’oeuvres, toys…

She imagined herself there, the touch of the night air on her body, naked because that was the way her Master wanted to display her. His strong, capable hand would rest on the small of her back. The silver collar around her throat would pull against her jugular when he tugged at the attached leash. He’d bid her kneel at his feet as he ordered a drink and watched the others play around them. Sliding the toe of his shoe beneath her buttocks, he’d press the hard leather against her pussy, chide her for how wet she was, making the surface of the shoe shine with her shameless arousal.

The hunger that rose inside her at the image was the same hunger that populated her world. Not in vampires but in their servants, offering up their submissive desires to their fanged Masters and Mistresses. She saw it so often, those feelings should seem banal, stereotypical to her. Instead, every drop of their desire she witnessed was a hazardous addiction.

As if that wasn’t insane enough, she was surrounded by male vampires who were all sexual Dominants. The trait was a given for all vampires, male or female, an unmistakable part of their genetic makeup. Because of that, male vampires had always provided a temptation she knew was a death trap with her name written on it. She’d shut herself down to it years ago, erecting a wall so thick and strong none of it reached her vulnerable core. That--in addition to the possible need to kill him--was part of what had made her immune to Greg’s self-perceived charms.

Yet even when she fantasized in the early dawn hours before sleep claimed her, it wasn’t a vampire master she desired.

It was a human one.

A human male for whom sexual Dominance was about mutual pleasure, not political gain or a chance to declare open season on her vulnerabilities. If any vampire knew she harbored an abiding desire to be restrained, forced to submit, all choices taken away so she could serve the pleasure of a Master, she’d stake herself rather than face the horror her life would become. The kind of mastery she hungered to have had nothing in common with the brutal domination vampires imposed in their political machinations upon one another.

Because of that, a vampire’s closest relationship--though none would admit it--was with their third marked human servant, because in their world that was often the only person a vampire could fully trust. But Kaela expected vampires believed that was because they also fully controlled their servants.

Yet not all servants were natural submissives. Lyssa’s own servant, Jacob, might well emerge as a Dominant if he wasn’t bound to the vampire queen, for she’d sensed that vibe from him more than once. But his desire to serve his queen overrode everything, a delicious dichotomy.

Knowing her preferences, Kaela had deliberately requested a female InhServ, grateful Lyssa gave her that choice. How dangerous would it have been for her, if Lyssa had assigned her a male InhServ who had a personality like Jacob? He’d have certainly sensed her desire for a Master during those ten years, no matter how much she’d kept her desires locked away.

Yet Fran came with her own hazards. Giving a submissive servant to a submissive vampire? It would be amusing if it wasn’t so fraught with peril. How often had she had to check her actions because she found herself trying to make sure Fran was happy in ways that would clearly indicate she was trying to serve her InhServ, as much as Fran was trying to do the same for her?

She was a freak of nature. This was madness. A mad desire she could no longer contain. For over a century and three-quarters, she’d been everything she needed to be, not only to survive but to thrive. She took nothing for herself, even though it appeared she’d acquired everything a vampire could want. Reputation, respect, even fear, God help her. But all she wanted was the bliss of…surrender.

Perhaps it would be easier if she hadn’t once had the pleasure of surrender. A long, long time ago, when she was human. With Jared.

The plane bumped the dock, jolting that thought out of the forefront of her mind. Two men in khaki shorts and black polo shirts bearing the Eden logo were hooking lines to the plane. Joely twisted around. “Ma’am? You’re free to disembark. The porters will get your luggage.”

Kaela remained seated. She could tell Joely to turn around, take her back. They’d make it before sunrise. She knew places she could go to ground in Miami until sunset, when she could take a plane back to California.
Instead, she rose at last and made her way past the other sets of seats to that opening.

The two men offered their hands to help her safely to the dock. While she didn’t need any assistance balancing, and they wouldn’t know she was a vampire overlord, she knew what kind of behavior was expected from someone with her demeanor, her obvious aura of authority and importance. She always knew what was expected. Giving them a cursory nod after she was firmly on the dock, she left them to deal with her two suitcases. She held onto the carry-on which had a couple of blood packs on ice, just in case.

She was aware of their lingering gazes. She’d been a beautiful mortal, which had helped her be a successful spy. Becoming a vampire had only enhanced that beauty. Now when people saw her, they saw long red hair rippling like silk to her narrow waist, pale skin like cream and a body made for pleasure. If they looked into her oddly vibrant golden-brown eyes, which were rimmed with a dark ring around the iris and fringed with reddish-gold lashes, they lost their tongues entirely. But their lust, their mindless reaction that could drive them to their knees before her, wasn’t what she wanted.

Then she saw what she did.


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