Her shoulders tensed just as he heard voices sounding from downstairs.
Trespassers in his home. His fangs sharpened. That someone would dare enter his home when he had his Bride within it..."Myst, finish up, then go to the bedroom and wait for me. If anyone comes in that door but me, run faster than you've ever run and escape them."
He traced downstairs, feeling his muscles tensing, his hands itching to kill. He was strong from her immortal blood, taken directly from her flesh, as powerful as he'd ever imagined, and he would use it to protect her. His fangs were sharp as razors -
"Wroth, I pity the being who wishes to harm your Bride," Kristoff intoned from his seat at a long table in the great room. Murdoch and a couple of elders sat with him and all their eyebrows rose at his appearance.
As he struggled for control, he imagined how they saw him. His clothing was filthy, his shirt stabbed and shot through, and God help him, Myst's delicious blood marked his skin and clothing. He was fairly certain that she'd gotten in a few sucker punches at his face as well.
"I would not wish to attend you in such a condition. I'll go wash and change - "
"No, we know you are eager to get back to her for the remains of the night." Kristoff appeared proud. "Congratulations, Wroth. You've now been blooded and claimed your Bride." He studied him. "Recently. Though it appears as if she didn't acquiesce to you."
Wroth stood, uncomfortable, reminding himself that she'd kicked him like she would spur a horse when he'd stopped.
"I'd like to meet her."
"She is resting."
"I suppose she would be. In fact, we'd wonder if she wasn't." A couple of snickers. Wroth shot them a look and they quieted. "And you drank her blood this night?"
His eyes narrowed. How had he thought this would escape Kristoff's notice?
"Did you take her flesh as you did so?"
He could do nothing but admit to the most heinous crime among their order. Shoulders back, he said, "I did."
"Take off your shirt."
Murdoch caught his glance, tensing to fight, but Kristoff waved him down, saying, "Stand down, Murdoch, no one's dying tonight."
Perhaps Kristoff would only flail his skin from his back. Wroth removed the shirt, hoping. For the first time in his life, he had his wife waiting for him and for the first time he truly cared if he lived or died.
"Toss it on the table."
Frowning, he did. The elders' eyes widened, their hands going white on the table. Kristoff had scented Myst's blood, and now the others did as well.
"And what was it like, Wroth?" Murdoch asked, his voice hoarse.
Wroth didn't answer. Then Kristoff raised his eyebrow in a silent order.
After a moment, Wroth grated, "There is no description strong enough."
"And how did she feel about your bite?" Kristoff asked.
He didn't want them to know how she reacted to that, how it had made her come with an intensity that had staggered him.
Kristoff's stare was unflinching. "You resist answering your king on the heels of confessing to our most reviled crime?"
This was his Bride they spoke of. He wanted to lie, to say he wasn't sure, didn't know, and he couldn't. Answering this wouldn't be breaking his vow to her, and if Kristoff ordered him killed, he couldn't protect Myst from Ivo. Though it disgusted him, he bit out, "She found extreme pleasure from it."
Kristoff appeared pleased. Or even relieved. "Do you think I should forgive Wroth his transgression? For which one of us could have resisted the temptation when she was our Bride and her exquisite blood called?"
Wroth hid his shocked expression. Kristoff would've normally called for him to be chained in an open field until the sun burned him to ash.
"Continue as you were, but if your eyes turn, know that we will destroy you." He was still staring at the shredded garment marked by a Valkyrie's blood.
Wroth recovered enough to say, "I was coming to Oblak tonight to tell you that Ivo was spotted in New Orleans. He's looking for someone - and I suspect it could be Myst. I need to - "
"We'll take care of it," Murdoch interrupted sharply. "For God's sake, you stay here and...enjoy...everything."
"Find out as much as you can from her." Kristoff eyed him shrewdly as he stood to leave. "And you will tell us if the memories follow the blood."
A short, quick nod. As Wroth left the room, stunned from the events, he heard Kristoff say, "Now which one of you will volunteer to accompany Murdoch to New Orleans where this coven full of Valkyrie is located?" Wroth heard every chair scrape the floor as they shot to their feet.
Like a cat licking her wounds, Myst sat in the large bath, replaying the fight.
Since she'd pulled her punches, she wondered if she could've won, wondered if she'd truly been bested. But then she flexed the fingers of the fist he'd caught. They were sore. They were not broken. He'd held back as well.
She sighed, unable to work up the outrage that should be exploding within her or even concern over the possible threat downstairs. Wroth would take care of it. He was strong. She shrugged, her mind easily returning to tonight's stunning developments. Now her sisters knew her chain was gone and that she'd been claimed by a vampire.
What they couldn't know was how much she'd loved it. His bite had turned her inside out, made her toes curl. Even now she shivered to think of it, knowing something was woefully wrong with her for craving it. It might be twisted, but she yearned for him to do it to her again. And again.
In addition to that, Wroth had taken her as no other had before. Though she acted as if she'd had tons of lovers, she'd actually had only a couple of steady partners. She'd dated a wonderful warlock for centuries, but it was long-distance - in those days, it took a half a year to reach each other - and they'd parted ways amicably. She'd only slept with two others, both long-term, and they'd been fun and enjoyable. But she'd seen a lot, and knew a lot, and she knew Wroth moved and used his body on hers - in hers - in a way that was nothing short of divine. And she believed it would only get better. She shivered again, unable to imagine how she could feel more pleasure without dying. Then there was a very compelling fact...