Home > Dark Needs at Night's Edge (Immortals After Dark #5)(17)

Dark Needs at Night's Edge (Immortals After Dark #5)(17)
Author: Kresley Cole

Which they would never do. For all their faults, they were as loyal as men came.

The other possibility? They'd fallen in battle. And Conrad didn't know how he felt about that. Over the last week, he'd become keenly aware that if not for his brothers, he would never have known Néomi.

Now that he was somewhat more rational, able to quell the worst of his rage, the thought of losing all three of them left him unaccountably troubled.

Revealing details of his past to her had forced his mind back to better times. He'd recalled how Nikolai had bailed him out of scrape after scrape. He'd thought back to the day the four brothers had made the fateful decision to take control of their country's defense: No one else is getting the job done. Conrad remembered being proud because not one of them had hesitated.

If his brothers lived, he would not be able to destroy them as planned. He didn't want to have anything to do with them, but he couldn't kill them... .

"Don't you want to try the whiskey?" she asked, pausing her dance.

"What? Yes." He'd planned to let it breathe a minute for every year of its age. But she looked so expectant. He supposed more than half an hour would be sufficient, and the taste would only grow increasingly complex with time. He poured a dram, swirling it in the tumbler, letting it coat the glass.

He took his first sip, just preventing his eyes from sliding closed in pleasure. "My God, that's what it should always be like." The taste was bracing yet smooth, the elements distinct but complementary.

"Is it better than what you usually drink?"

"Other whiskey or blood?" he asked.

"Either one."

"It shames other whiskey - and it's better than the blood I've been drinking."

Conrad instinctively knew that it wouldn't compare to hers.

"Bien," she said, resuming her steps.

As his gaze followed her, he wondered what would it be like to pierce her pale skin with his fangs. If she were a flesh and blood woman, what would it be like to cup her br**sts as he sucked her neck?

He had never touched a woman's br**sts. He often tried to imagine what Néomi's would feel like from what he'd seen of them. They'd be soft against his rough palms, giving to his grasp... .

He'd always yearned for a woman of his own. He'd dreamed of not letting her leave the bed for days as he explored her, discovering how to pleasure her. He'd wanted to learn how to make his woman pine for him if he had to leave and cry his name as he entered her.

Cry his name in a sultry voice tinged with French.

Suddenly fantasies ran riot in his mind, of kneading her ass at the same time he suckled her ni**les. Of petting her pale little body for hours until she came again and again for him -

"You look content, mon trésor."

He coughed into his fist. "I have to say, I've been in worse jails." And having such a desirable cellmate didn't hurt either. Though the need to pursue Tarut grew more pressing with each hour, and a promising hunting ground awaited, he also found himself on edge from the idea of leaving her here for even a short time.

Suddenly, she twirled around and brushed a sizzling kiss on his cheek. His eyes narrowed suspiciously at her, but she merely laughed. "It's called - say it with me - a-fec-shun."

He'd just assumed she flirted because that was her nature. Yet could she... could she truly be interested in him? Even be attracted to him - with his red eyes and scars? Maybe she wanted more, as he did.

But then there was no one else to attract her. He had no competitors here.

"Why would you show me affection?"

She answered, "Because I... feel it?"

"Why?"

With a laugh, she asked, "Why, why, why? Must you question everything good?"

"Yes, when it's illogical. You know nothing about me - "

"I know more about you than any other woman does, n'est-ce pas? You don't have to muster up the nerve to divulge your secrets to me, while secretly hoping I don't run away screaming. I know them all. I'm still here." Eyes bright, lips curling, she said, "And I know that you're my favorite man. Dans le monde entier."

"Because I'm the only one in the entire world who can see and hear you." She gave him that mysterious shrug. He knew she was likely playing, the flirtations meaningless. But damn it, her words still got to him. It was becoming easier to pretend the sentiment was real.

"You don't know what to do with affection, do you?"

"I... have no idea," he admitted. "I don't know my way around this. It makes me feel weak. You make me feel that way sometimes."

"How a man as powerful as you could feel weak, I'll never know. This disturbs me. What would you suggest I change so you don't feel that way?"

He scrubbed a hand over his face, struggling to convey what he was thinking. "You make me uneasy at times because you and everything you do are so unfamiliar to me."

"Like what?"

"Your laughter. It's as if you spend every second of the day merely awaiting a time to be able to laugh or tease."

"I sound très terrible. How do you stand being near me? It must be because of your saintlike patience and calm?" She topped off his glass.

20

Once she'd finished dancing, Néomi floated to the chair beside Conrad's.

The thoughtful vampire had pulled up two of them in front of the fire. He continued to treat her like a woman instead of a ghost. He opened doors for her, and though she could never take it, he often held out his hand for her.

Little things like this increased his already devastating attractiveness.

"Conrad, what was it like in the Kapsliga?"

"Regimented," he answered shortly, no doubt predicting where she was headed with this.

"Was it terribly difficult to abstain?" She'd been prying to uncover more about this part of his life. She was probably as tenacious at this as he was about the key. Or as he had been.

No longer did he ask her to retrieve it - because his brothers had stopped coming.

She suspected Conrad felt let down that they still hadn't returned. It must prey on him, wondering what had happened to them. Though he'd never admit it.

"Why are you so curious about this?" He swigged his whiskey. Though she might've expected him to take from the bottle, he drank it neat from the glass, and slowly.

"Because I want to know more about you."

"Then why not ask me about the Great War, about our greatest victory or shrewdest defense - "

"Because I am also a female?"

"I can't argue that." He lifted his glass to her. "Ask what you will."

She made like she was sitting. "Did you abstain only because of your vow?"

"You heard my brother - Wroths keep their vows. That would've been enough. But there wasn't much temptation anyway. Healthy women near the front line were scarce. Especially any who weren't already obsessed with Murdoch." He contemplated the whiskey in his glass. "And the end was in sight. Service in the Kapsliga is from the age of thirteen to thirty seven. I only had a few more years left."

"I'll bet you were counting down the days."

"When there were lulls in the war, I did." His brows drew together. "But then I died."

"There was never a girl that struck your fancy? You never fell in love?"

"There wasn't any time even to contemplate emotions like that. I fought in battles all day and then warred with vampires each night. Survival was foremost on everyone's minds." He took a drink, his gaze turning distant for long moments. Was he reliving those horrors even now? Just when she was about to prompt him back to the conversation, he blinked and asked, "What about you? Did you love the oil man?"

"Not at all." And he hadn't loved her. That night when Louis had wielded his blade, Néomi had understood him better than she ever had. Louis had been frenzied not because he'd needed to be with her but because he'd wanted to punish her. No matter what sentiments he'd spouted over her body, he'd murdered her out of spite.

"The men you were with - did you love any of them?"

"I had great affection for them. But no abiding love for them."

"Why couldn't they win you?" He leaned forward, as if her answer was very significant to him.

"Oh, they didn't do anything wrong. I just never found my match."

"Did they... satisfy you?"

If they hadn't in the beginning, they had eventually. "I made sure of it. I wasn't shy about what I expected or needed from a man." He raised his brows. She could tell he was eager to question her about her words, but she wanted to refocus on him. "Conrad, how did you handle the physical need?" When his face flushed, she said, "Oh, I see."

"A lot," he admitted in a husky voice.

"Were you terribly curious about what it would feel like?"

Chapter 12

He hesitated, then met her gaze. "Still am."

She exhaled a slow breath, for once thinking she might be in over her head with a man.

Néomi had thought she could easily handle Conrad, because men had never given her fits before. And she was experienced while he wasn't.

But Conrad Wroth wasn't an average man. He wasn't even a man, really. He was an immortal male who'd never had a female - when he'd clearly wanted to. She sensed a volatile passion inside him, just waiting for release.

How she wished she could be the woman who tapped into it! She'd never lamented the lack of a body as much as she did right now.

"Did you never touch a woman intimately? Never even... kissed a single time?"

His shoulders tensed. "That's enough questions. I've told you I don't want to discuss this subject with you."

He hadn't. "Why not talk about this?" Mon Dieu, no woman has ever even given him her lips. "Does the subject embarrass you?"

"Should it not?" He glanced away and grated, "Would any man want a beautiful woman to know this about himself?"

"If I didn't know better, I'd say comments like that are your way of flirting with me."

He scowled. "My way. As opposed to the regular way a man with more experience would go about it? I think you seek to keep me on edge about this. You like that I'm never able to settle in with you."

"Conrad, that's ridiculous."

"Is it?"

"Mais oui. I'll say this plain. If you were able and I were able, I would be seducing you, right at this very moment."

His fists clenched, and his lips parted, exposing white teeth and those sexy fangs. "You love to tease me, don't you?" He rose and strode to the window, glancing out into the tumultuous night. "You shouldn't say things you don't mean."

"I never do." This male was a sexually untutored, six-and-a-half-foot-tall, gorgeous immortal. And she was desperate to have him. There was nothing but truth to that.

"Then you're attracted to me because I'm all that's here."

"That's not so." She rose, crossing to him.

"Isn't it? Then am I similar to the men you used to bed?"

"Not in the least."

"Then why would you want to seduce me?"

She hadn't expected that question. "It's because I've never been with a man like you that I desire you."

His scowl deepened. "A red-eyed vampire?"

"A strong, virile male with large muscles I long to sink my fingers into."

He turned to set his glass on the windowsill, but she saw him swallow. Then he faced her, advancing, looming over her. As she'd done in the shower, she retreated until she reached the wall.

Raising his bound hands over her head, he again surrounded her with his body. "What if I wanted to do the seducing?"

He would. He was so deliciously domineering. "Why are you always caging me in?"

"Maybe I wouldn't, if you weren't always disappearing. You're as tangible as air, and it's so damned frustrating, koeri."

"What does that mean?"

"It means lure."

She blinked up at him. "Your endearment for me is a synonym for bait?"

"You're luring me from madness." Lowering his voice, he said, "The only thing that could possibly tempt me from it."

She nibbled her bottom lip. "Would you follow me anywhere?"

"Into the sun." Conrad was all intensity. These weren't practiced sentiments - these were words he couldn't contain. "You said you'd teach me how to seduce my Bride. I want my first lesson."

She couldn't think. "Lesson?" He was too attractive for his own good. "Oh, yes. Well, if you had your female in a position like this, you could compliment her."

Staring down at her, he said, "So I could tell her that her eyes are striking? That I think about their color all the time?"

"She'd really, really like that. And then you could cup her face, and maybe brush her bottom lip with your thumb."

The muscles in his arms bulged, and she knew he was clenching his fists above her head, wanting to touch her. "And how would I know if she was interested in me?"

"She'd probably wrap her arms around your neck to hold you close," Néomi said, but she kept her arms to her sides, her own hands in fists. She yearned to twine her fingers in the too-long hair at his nape, ached to touch him in any way. But she couldn't and never would be able to.

I can never feel those muscles flex as he works my body over the edge. Can never see that exact moment when any control he has deserts him and he's helpless to his own lust.

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