Read The Taste of Magic Online
Authors: Gina Rosavin
"Adrian?" She met his steady gaze, and felt herself unable to resist as he lowered his mouth to hers once more. And she couldn't think anymore, all she could do was give herself over to his power, the hunger in his kiss. The fear of moments ago was forgotten, nothing mattered now except the incredible delight he offered.
Then abruptly, he released her and swore savagely. She glanced around. She didn't know how it had happened, but they were in a cavernous chamber. With a large, inviting bed, surrounded by thick velvet curtains. He turned to her and shrugged.
"It would seem you make me lose control much too easily."
"What?" She could barely think. What did he mean?
"I transported us here. When I wished we were in my bed."
She swallowed. His chest still heaved with his labored breath, his hair slightly mussed from her fingers. When his gaze met hers, she was lost. She wanted nothing more than to let him take her into his bed and love her the night through. She had to escape, before she did exactly what she knew would signal the end. Of her innocence, of her soul.
"Adrian, I should probably…"
The door burst open and a young man and woman entered, the man holding a silvery pentagram, encased in a circle of glowing gold. Adrian held up his arms to shield himself and backed away, but she registered fear in his eyes. She'd never seen that particular emotion before. The realization he could feel fear startled her, but she put aside her surprise as her guards went up, her protective instinct flaring to life at his vulnerability.
"Who are you?" she demanded.
"Joshua Taylor." The young man stepped closer to Adrian, holding the amulet out before him and keeping the vampire at bay. Adrian backed away and stumbled, falling onto the bed.
"Joshua, what an unexpected surprise. How long has it been? How did you get in here?"
Adrian's voice grew softer, weaker. Her breath caught in her tight throat.
"Your security's good, du Lac, but I still have a few secrets of my own. My good luck, your bad luck." The young man was tall, muscular, with short blonde hair and dark brown eyes, and his gaze never left Adrian.
"Joshua, I assure you, you won't get far, even with that thing." Adrian waved a trembling hand at the pentagram.
Katerina stared at them in confusion. "What the hell is going on here?"
The young woman answered. "Thanks to a witch's spell, du Lac is immune to most traditional vampire repellants. But not this one. This one drains his powers, giving us an opportunity."
Suspicion brought clarity. A witch's spell? What was that all about? She narrowed her eyes at Adrian, and he shrugged, giving her an innocent, "who, me?" expression. She turned back to the intruders.
"Sophie, go," said Joshua. "Let me take care of this."
"But what about her?" Sophie asked. "Besides, this isn't what we came here for. The other vampire, remember?"
"Other vampire?" Adrian asked.
"An Italian," Joshua explained. "We've been tracking him. He can wait. You can't."
Adrian leaned back against the large pillows. "An Italian vampire?"
Katerina's fingers clenched against her sweaty palms, as her stomach rolled in fear. Adrian sounded so weak. He met her gaze, and waved his hand as if to say, "don't worry." She couldn't help herself.
"Machiavelli?" asked Adrian. He tugged at his tie, loosening it and unbuttoning the top buttons of his shirt.
"Shut up, du Lac." Joshua stepped closer still.
"He's looking for you," said Sophie. Joshua paused and gave her a brief, irritated glance. She lifted her chin, and Katerina wondered at the silent message passing between them.
"So you came to warn him?" Katerina asked.
"At first, I thought I'd do him a favor," Joshua replied. "I changed my mind."
"So instead of helping me, you decided to kill me." Adrian's voice faded further.
Joshua smiled coldly. "When I saw you two, I couldn't let you…It's clear she doesn't want what you're offering."
"You little fool, you never did know when to mind your own business," said Adrian. "Katerina is in no danger from me." He heaved a deep breath, the simple act of speaking draining him further.
"He's right." Katerina folded her arms across her chest. "So you can just turn around and leave the way you came."
"He can destroy you." Joshua reached into his backpack and advanced again on Adrian. "Soph, I need your help here."
Sophie moved closer, ready to prevent Katerina from aiding Adrian. But Katerina had already reached his side, and placed herself between Adrian and Joshua. She was alarmed by how much weaker Adrian was growing. His eyes were heavy, his arm lay limply at his sides. The speed of his deterioration directly related to the proximity of the amulet. The closer it got, the faster he weakened.
"Adrian, what is that thing?" she asked.
"The Sacred Pentagram." He struggled to speak. A deep fear ignited in Katerina. She sat beside him, drew him into her arms and dared a glance back at Joshua. He held out a wooden stake. Adrian's head lolled back against Katerina. Her fear flared into an inferno.
"No!" She carefully released Adrian and stood. Joshua stopped, staring at her in confusion.
"What are you doing? Get out of the way."
"No! Don't you dare!"
Before he could react, she'd reached out and grabbed the amulet and ran. Joshua and Sophie chased her, but she flung the pentagram out the window before they reached her. Joshua leaned out over the windowsill, but the amulet was gone. He turned, his face reddened with fury.
"What have you done? Sophie, run!"
Katerina turned back to Adrian. He already regained some of his strength with the amulet gone, rising to his elbows on the bed. Joshua made a move toward him with the stake, but Katerina blocked him, keeping a wary glance on Sophie, who hovered close by. She sensed Adrian nearing but kept her gaze on Joshua as he slowly backed away.
"But, but he's…he's a…"
"I know what he is. Get out or I'll let him have you."
Sophie ran for the door, her footsteps fading as she retreated. Katerina glanced over her shoulder. Adrian stood steadily, his eyes burning with anger. He was all right. She heaved a sigh and turned back to Joshua.
"Joshua!" Sophie's voice came from down the hall, filled with panic. Joshua held his ground for a few moments. As Adrian stalked closer, the bravado in Joshua's expression changed to alarm.
"Time's running out," Katerina taunted. Adrian's hand was on her shoulder as he eased her aside. Joshua fled the room.
Adrian picked up the telephone on the nightstand. "Get up here now." Almost instantly, a tall muscular man materialized in the room. He nodded respectfully toward Katerina before facing Adrian.
"There are two intruders on the premises. Sophie Mannfried and her companion, Joshua Taylor. Find them."
"Yes, sir." The vampire made as if to leave, but hesitated, looking questioningly at Adrian. "There is more?"
"Yes. The Sacred Pentagram is also on the grounds somewhere, thanks to Ms. Romanov. Send word when you've located it. Don't touch it, or get too close, it will harm you. It must be handled with extreme care."
The vampire nodded and evaporated from the room. Adrian turned to Katerina, grinning broadly.
"You saved me. Thank you. If you hadn't stopped them…I shudder to think what they would have done. I thought I was done with them, but I'd forgotten about the amulet."
"Is this a regular happening around here?"
Adrian shook his head. "It's been a while, but they've been trying to destroy me for many years now."
"Really? But they don't look like…"
"Sophie Mannfried's grandfather and I had long been…adversaries. Her grandfather raised her to carry on the family tradition."
The corners of his mouth lifted in a sardonic smile. "Vampire hunting."
Katerina stared for a moment. "Hunting? I don't understand."
"I have known various members of Sophie's family for many years now. Her grandfather was particularly overzealous. I dare say, there were many times he came close enough to…. Well, we don't have to worry about him anymore."
He paused for moment. "He was dispatched by…another vampire. One he hadn't counted on facing."
Katerina suspected there was more, but other more pressing matters came first. "And the bit about the witch? Exactly what did they mean by that?"
At least he had the grace to look chagrined. "It's true. A spell was cast to protect me from all manner of traditional…vampire weapons. So the usual crosses, holy water, etc. will not work to keep me away."
"And who cast this spell?"
"It doesn't matter now, Kat." He reached for her, drawing her close. The adrenaline which had kept her going through the frightening encounter receded, and her legs trembled so fiercely she was sure she couldn't stand on her own. Even as she drew comfort from his strength, her suspicions had a firm hold.
"Of course it matters. Was it my father?"
"If you're lying…"
He lifted her chin and gazed down at her. The brush of his fingers against her lips had her heart once again racing, but not in fear this time.
"I'm not lying."
She believed him. She nodded and leaned closer. "So tell me about the amulet."
"It looked like a lot more than a trinket to me."
"It was once in my possession, but was stolen years ago. I should have known Joshua would find a way to get his hands on it. Now it looks like he's hunting Machiavelli. I hadn't realized he could be in the area." He grew thoughtful for a moment, his eyes narrowing.
"Niccolo Machiavelli is a vampire? I had no idea. How long have you known him?"
"Centuries. I was the one to teach him the pleasures of the night. But we had a falling out some time ago. He is too impetuous, took too many risks. I warned him, but he didn't listen. Because of his recklessness, he was almost staked. I had him sealed away, but he managed to escape, though he's not yet dared to face me."
"It looks as though he'll be facing you now. Why would Joshua come here to warn you if he's a vampire hunter?"
"You'll notice he wasn't doing much warning." Adrian smiled. "But he and I have always shared a mutual respect. I learned not to underestimate his intelligence and bravery, and I do think if Mannfried hadn't gotten a hold of him, I could have shown him the pleasures in my lifestyle."
Katerina shuddered at the anticipatory gleam in his eyes. "But what brought him here? I mean, he's an American."
"He was a foreign exchange student, put up by Sophie and her grandfather. He seems determined to help carry on Mannfried's teachings."
"What do you mean?"
"Joshua was fascinated not only with vampire hunting, but vampires, as well. He still shows considerable promise. Now it appears he's looking for a way to make a name for himself. If he could take out Niccolo, then he might think he could destroy me. Therefore, saving your helpless life from my evil plans."
He grinned and winked, and she couldn't help but smile, relief making her knees weak. He was safe now.
"But I'm here of my own free will."
He stroked her cheek. "Yes. You are." He pressed his mouth against hers, parting her lips and sweeping inside to steal her senses. She longed for the warmth and comfort of his embrace. Pressing against him, the fear and worry of before faded. His kiss ignited a need which threatened to flare out of control. But when he eased her to the bed, sanity broke through the clouds. She struggled back up. What had moments ago been comfort now seemed a threat. And as much as she yearned for the heat and passion he offered, she was not ready to be that intimate with him.
"No. Adrian, I thought we agreed…"
He pressed against her, pinning her to the mattress. A moment of fear caused a lump in her throat and she swallowed.
"Did we? You seemed quite eager a few moments ago."
And he kissed her again, leaving her breathless when he drew away. How could she refuse him? But she had to. If she gave herself to him, she would be lost forever.
"No, I…we…I mean…"
He silenced her with his mouth, letting his kisses trail once again along her throat. She tried to remain withdrawn, but his tongue teased, then soothed her, and soon she was lost in the fog of longing. His cool hands slowly pushed her shirt aside, baring her breast to his hot, open mouth. She couldn't suppress a moan as he tormented her. But some niggling sense of sanity reminded her of what he was capable of, and the heat slowly cooled.
"I…I…no, we can't. I can't. You could…and…I mean, I'm sorry, I'm just not ready for this."