Read The Taste of Magic Online
Authors: Gina Rosavin
"And did you…take her?"
Understanding brought him to his senses. The fear in her eyes mingled with something else, curiosity, perhaps more. But he didn't want her to fear him, and he knew she was worried he would take her by force. He drew her hand to his mouth and placed a soft kiss in her palm. He had to reassure her.
"Yes, Kat. I did offer my gift to Olivia. It was her choice to accept."
"I see. And what about…"
He could hear the question in her thoughts before she voiced it. He lowered his mouth and captured hers before she could respond. But what had been intended as a distraction, ended up making him more crazed than before. The lights dimming finally snapped him out of his reverie. She said nothing more as she turned to the stage, though he sensed she had a lot of questions. Questions he was not prepared to answer now.
He was not comfortable with how easily her presence unsettled him, his hungers rising despite his best efforts to control them. He needed some distance before he did something he would regret.
* * *
Katerina wiped her eyes as the lights came up. She should have known this would happen. Mimi's death reduced her to tears every time. Aware Adrian watched her with a bemused smile, she sniffed and lifted her chin.
"You think it's funny?" she asked.
He shook his head. "No, Kat. But it intrigues me to see you feel such emotion for a fictional character. A human foible, I expect."
Annoyance rose at his callous attitude. "Don't you have any emotions? Don't you know what it's like to get drawn in by something so powerful, you can't resist?"
"If this is what Olivia's performance can do, then she will indeed go far."
Katerina shook her head. Sometimes, he was so cold, aloof, at other times, hot enough to scorch her. But whatever he did, it kept her off-balance and totally unprepared.
She remained silent as they walked out of the hall to the waiting limousine. As the mist from the emotional ending of the opera faded, Katerina was glad she hadn't asked her question earlier. There was something different about him tonight, and it made her uneasy. Risking his anger by forcing the issue with her father could backfire in the worst possible way.
He helped her into the car and once he was in, the driver closed the door. The darkness seemed threatening. She turned to face him. All she could see were his eyes, bright blue flecked with gold.
"I had a wonderful time tonight." The attempt to lighten the suddenly heavy tension was phony and she knew it. She knew he knew it. When his hand covered hers, she inhaled sharply.
"So did I. I enjoy your company, Kat."
She looked at her lap. She felt the same, but she couldn't tell him. She couldn't give him the satisfaction, for he would use it to his advantage. Her father was her first priority. She had to focus. Her only bargaining chip was herself, and she wasn't about to give that up. Even so, knowing she shouldn't, she had more to ask.
She lifted her head and met his questioning gaze. "Do you have plans for me, like you had for Olivia?"
His eyes widened, in anger or surprise, she wasn't sure. But his fingers on hers tightened and he drew her near.
"My plans for you are nothing like my plans for Miss Bertrand." Before she could respond, his lips were on hers, his hands cupping her head and holding her still as he ravaged her mouth. She whimpered, as he dragged his lips along her chin, to her throat, kissing and sucking, and her head swam with the dizzying sensations his touch caused. She arched her neck, a low moan escaping her as he drew her more fully against him.
Then suddenly, she was alone, and he had retreated to his corner of the limousine. She shook her head, in an effort to steady herself, then reached out to him. He drew away. She settled back in the seat, and lifted a trembling hand to her mussed hair, stung by his rejection. Finally, her heart slowed to a normal pace, and her stomach stopped jumping. But the recollection of his kiss kept the heat in her face. The dark now seemed a haven.
The limousine pulled up before her flat. She glanced questioningly at him, but didn't hesitate when the door opened. The tension in him frightened her, and what would happen if he suddenly couldn't contain it anymore? He would be lethal. Her legs trembled as he walked her to the door. Silence hung around them as she used her keys. He bent over her hand and gave it a lingering kiss, then stepped back to the limousine. Once inside the foyer, she climbed the steps to her flat, and heard the car pull away. Heaving a sigh, she went into her home and locked the door behind her. The small flat was stuffy and she crossed the room to open the window. Feeling as though she were being watched, she looked down to see Adrian still standing below. Why had he sent his driver away? She was about to ask when a raven cried out. She ducked at the flutter of wings near her head, then straightened and looked down at the street once more.
Adrian was gone, not a sign he had ever been there at all. Her fingers shaking, she closed the window.
* * *
Olga Romanov chanted the spell three times over the flames in the sacred bowl. Beside her a tall, dark man watched with glittering black eyes. Olga finally made a few symbols in the air with an incense stick, and sprinkled powder into the flames. The yellow flared green, then blue, settling to red.
Olga turned to her companion. "At least she will be safe. Until the time is right."
"You are sure she knows nothing?"
Olga nodded. "Positive. The fates are coming together as expected. Katerina's destiny lies with du Lac."
"Yes, but if she falls in love with him, she will not be able to complete the spell."
"How could she fall in love with him? She is only trying to repay him for her education. She knows what he is. She could never love him."
The man said nothing, but his gaze reflected his worry.
As Adrian's driver sped up the mountain, Katerina sat in the back of the limo, staring at the slender black velvet box which had awaited her. She hadn't opened it yet. Anticipation mingled with anxiety as she pondered what could possibly be inside. There was no note, but she didn't need one. What did du Lac intend, offering this? Whatever it was, she was sure it was incredibly beautiful, but its significance frightened her. She couldn't lie to herself, she had missed him these last days.
After the date at the opera, he disappeared. He hadn't truly vanished, but he hadn't contacted her for three torturous days. She refused to contact him. He would not get the satisfaction. Surely, this was a game to him. If he hadn't called today, she didn't know how much longer she would have been able to hold out. She'd been desperate to hear his voice, see his smile. Straightening, she reminded herself once again what he truly was.
She silently chanted the spell her mother created. Seeing the box had only confirmed how vital such protection was. Strong of mind and body, she would need all of the spell's power. Adrian would not be able to intimidate her so easily.
What about the destiny her mother had spoken of? What secrets did Olga keep? She spoke of Katerina being powerful, but Kat wasn't sure she believed her mother. Her parents had not passed on their skills to her, she was sure. Yet, Olga seemed to think she would one day be very strong. The idea seemed absurd.
Even as she thought it, she wanted to laugh. Absurd? She was on her way to a date with a vampire! The thought sobered her. Dread renewed itself, her throat tightened.
Adrian was going to influence her life more than she imagined. She could feel it, especially when she considered her mother's reaction to the mention of his name. The alarm in Olga's eyes had been clear. Somehow, he was connected to her destiny. But how? She caressed the black velvet box, sliding her finger into the opening, but not actually lifting the lid. As the car stopped, reciting the spell again calmed her agitation. Repeating the words wouldn't strengthen the incantation, but it gave her a small measure of reassurance. Her mother's magic was powerful and would keep her safe. She had to believe.
She was ready to stand up to whatever Adrian threw at her. Yet, her body recalled the sensuous pressure of his lips against hers, his hands on her back, holding her near. Anticipation made her heart race and the heat flooding her face caused her breath to catch. The time apart had only increased her yearning for him. The spell would help her stay in control. Fluttering her senses wouldn't be so easy for him tonight. She entered the castle and strode to the Hall, the black box clutched in her hand. Adrian stood, as he did so often, leaning against the mantle and staring into the fire.
"Good evening, Kat."
Annoyance tightened her stomach. He could at least turn around and welcome her properly. She descended the stairs.
"Forgive me, I am a little distracted today." When he turned to face her, his devastating smile made her stomach clench again, but this time with excitement.
Damn, the spell wasn't as strong as she'd thought. Already she wanted to throw herself into his arms. She forced herself to stay calm, and move slowly.
"Bad day at the office?" She placed her purse on the table and strode over to him. He drew her close.
"Yes, but I feel much better now that you are here. It has been too long."
She silently agreed as his lips brushed hers lightly, and then once more. This was what she'd been waiting for. To feel his arms around her, his mouth against hers. How easily he could make her feel as though she floated in the heavens above.
"I have thought the same thing many times," he said.
She drew out of his embrace. "Stop that."
He shrugged. "It's difficult to ignore. Your thoughts are always quite loud when you are…agitated."
Heat crept into her face. "I am not agitated."
He brushed the backs of his fingers along her cheek. "You don't lie very well, my sweet Kat. Your eyes give you away."
He drew back and glanced at her neck. The golden brow furrowed. "You did not accept my gift?" His gaze cooled.
She recalled the velvet box, and lifted it. "I wasn't sure…I didn't look."
His eyes widened in surprise, and a smile slid over his lips. "You are a delight! I have never before met a woman who did not immediately tear into a gift in excitement."
She held it out. "I never was one for all of that. I don't think I can accept this." He shook his head and took the box, slowly opening the lid and holding it out before her. She gasped. A thick band of rubies, sapphires, emeralds and diamonds glittered in the candlelight. Shimmers of colored light danced brightly around the room. Despite herself, she was drawn to the sheer beauty of the stones, her fingers reaching forward to gently caress them.
"It's beautiful," she whispered. She raised her gaze to his. "But it's too much."
"Please, Kat, this was made for you. Allow me…"
She hesitated, his gaze holding hers, and finally, she nodded. The beauty of the necklace bedazzled her, but she hated that a gift could so easily sway her toward him. Yet, as his hands placed the band on her, his touch made her doubts melt. Tiny shivers passed along her spine as his fingers brushed the nape of her neck, fastening the clasp. He gently re-arranged her hair and slowly turned her to face him.
"Exquisite. As are you." His fingers moved slowly across the stones, and the necklace warmed beneath his touch.
And then she was crushed against him, his mouth hot on hers. His hands played along her back, to her hips, pulling her tightly against him, as his tongue stole her wits and her breath. Through their clothes, she felt his arousal, and a moment of clarity straightened her jumbled senses. She broke the kiss. In the ensuing silence, their harsh breaths made a sensual music.
"Come here." His voice was thick with passion. His fingers rested lightly on her jaw, slowly sliding down her throat. A soft mewing sound escaped her as he followed the path with his lips. When he reached the place where her pulse jumped erratically, she stiffened.
"Adrian, no, I…"
"Kat, my Kat, let me show you how to reach the very stars themselves."
She shook her head. No, she couldn't let this go any further. He pushed for something she simply couldn't give him. She tried to recall the words of the spell, but to her dismay, she could not. He held her close, and though his embrace was not forceful, she knew she could not escape. His mouth still rested against her neck, and despite the warmth his embrace stirred, she trembled, anxiety colliding with her desire. She placed her hands on his shoulder and gave him a gentle shove. He lifted his head, piercing her with his crystal blue gaze. Slyly knowing, the hint of a smile almost dared her to let herself go. She shook her head.
"This…this is wrong. You're a vampire! You could…I won't let you…"
He chuckled. "I am first a man. A man who wants you very much." She tried to back away, but his grip tightened almost imperceptibly. A frisson of fear stiffened her.