Emma came to slowly. At first she didn’t remember where she was until she inhaled the dark, spicy scent of the pillow under her head; then the memories came flooding back.
Andre. She was in Andre’s private quarters, in Andre’s shirt, in Andre’s bed.
And what a luxuriously soft bed and shirt they were, she thought as she stretched out. She felt like she’d slept a week but she was still tired. No doubt it was left-overs from all the odd drama of the previous evening.
She glanced around until she found the clock and was glad to discover it was only about 2:15pm. Bathroom, food, then back to bed, she planned.
She stopped at the bathroom door and stared. There was a stack of clean towels and washcloths on the counter, her damp towels were MIA, and her drip-drying underwear was drip-drying somewhat to the left of where she’d hung them. Well, her panties were. Weird. She hoped her slightly-damp underwear would be completely dry by the time she woke back up.
After calling nature back and cleaning up a bit, she dialed the number Andre had left and wasn’t surprised when a friendly voice answered. Sophie-Anne surrounded herself with the nicest people when she could.
After ordering her breakfast, Emma went ahead and dressed, even though she rolled her eyes at the effort. She knew where her butt was going the second after she ate – right back to sleep in that glorious bed.
Knowing what she did of his reputation, and knowing what she knew from personal experience, Emma was a bit surprised at the luxuriousness of Andre’s quarters, and especially of his bed. If asked, she’d have thought he probably slept on hardwood planks with leather sheets instead of having the softest duvet covering the softest sheets on the softest, most perfectly supportive mattress available to man- and vampire-kind.
While his bedroom was somewhat austere, what was there was definitely high-class and tended toward the luxurious.
She shook her head at the inconsistencies. All her life she’d known that very few things were absolutely black or white; most things were varying shades of gray, and apparently Andre was no different.
But even considering her vast aptitude for broadmindedness, he was an enigma. His reputation screamed brutality and harshness, yet his bed was the softest thing she’d ever felt. His temperament seemed brusque and stern at best, yet, it looked like he had every movie she’d ever heard of, a vast assortment of books, and if she wasn’t mistaken, bubble bath products around the huge, jetted tub in the bathroom.
He just didn’t make sense. And, even more disturbing, it was like he couldn’t make up his mind if he liked her or hated her. She had a sneaking suspicion it was both.
After eating a surprisingly large breakfast of bacon, sausage links, eggs, toast, butter, jam, coffee, milk, and orange juice, Emma rolled the serving trolley back out to the hall, and kept the coffee service for later. She was glad the coffee and milk were in their own individual thermal carafes.
After brushing her teeth and washing the sticky jam from her hands, she took another look around the bathroom. She’d never described a bathroom as “elegant” before, but the term definitely fit.
She folded her pants and placed them on the counter near the new stack of clean towels and cloths. He must have put the damp towels wherever damp towels go here, but why didn’t he take the wrung-out washcloth too? Again…weird.
She didn’t want to consider the warm, exciting feelings fluttering in the base of her stomach when she though about him wandering around when she was sleeping, but he obviously had.
As she walked back into the bedroom, she realized that his entire quarters were elegant…sparsely-furnished, but refined in a sophisticated way she wouldn’t have thought likely, not with his reputation.
She sighed as she sank back into that glorious bed. It felt odd sleeping in a stranger’s bed wearing only a stranger’s shirt, but she was so comfortable she couldn’t bring herself to really care.
Funny, he couldn’t remember how old he was when he was turned, somewhere between 17 and 20, he guessed, but he could remember every single minute of his unlife afterwards. 877 years, 263 days, and counting.
He couldn’t remember his father’s name. That foul bastard was the spoiled, sniveling, self-styled ruler of Carcassonne, his birthplace, who had callously raped his mother until she grew large with his seed, then cast her aside with contempt.
He had few memories of his mother, but cherished the ones he could recall. Corisande was a small, vivacious woman determined not to let the miseries of life overly affect either herself or her young son. She fought valiantly until the day of her death, the last day of his childhood, as an illness of the lung took her from him. He thought that perhaps he had been ten years human, maybe eleven, at that time.
The bleak years after his mother’s passing and before his Maker saved him were a blur of misery, anger, violence and brutality, but he survived. Through painful lessons he quickly learned to harden himself against all who would harm or hinder him or his plans. He learned to calculate and strategize, when to strike and when to wait, and how to ruthlessly obtain what he needed, then what he wanted.
He couldn’t know it at the time, but he was learning how to be vampire.
Damn. Why was he thinking about his past, his mother even? What the hell had brought that up?
He threw himself out of his bed and immediately heated up a bottle of blood. He paced as he drained it and contemplated the human he could sense even from behind the heavy secured doors. He stifled his relief at knowing she was still safe within his chambers and heated himself another blood without being fully aware of his actions.
He automatically wondered if she had remained with him during the day or if she’d risked detection out of a foolish sense of invulnerability.
Surely to fuck she recognized the value of his advice. If she didn’t and was hurt because of it, then it was her own damn fault.
As he pulled on his silk pajama pants, he felt his temper rising. Why the fuck was he changing his routine just because of some girl’s modesty? These were his rooms, and if he wanted to strut around bare as the night he rose, that was his prerogative. He glared in contempt at the pajama top he refused to don.
After he placed his second empty bottle into the recycling bin, he found himself wondering if she’d eaten that day. He sniffed the air, searching for any food odors possibly wafting through the secured doors, and thought he detected something new. As unfamiliar as he was with human foods, he wasn’t sure what it was, but he was positive it was a new scent.
He prided himself on his acute sense of smell. While it wasn’t one of his vampire gifts, it was so powerful it could almost qualify as one…just like his reportedly unassailable sense of focus…which he obviously wasn’t using at the moment.
Right. So, get dressed, organize then tell Emma her schedule for the evening, check in with his queen, and follow up on BeauChamps dealings unless something more urgent came up…
He strode purposefully to his doors, and triggered the hidden release mechanism. The second they opened, her scent assaulted him as if it knew he needed another punch in the damn gut.
His nose told him that she had been in that room at some point during the day and that she had, indeed, eaten. He was momentarily grateful that she had apparently wheeled the food cart back into the hall for one of the servants to take away.
He immediately sensed that she was still in his bedroom and, judging by her slow, rhythmic heartbeat, still asleep…in his bed. Within a second he was by the bed, looking down at her face as she lay curled on her side.
Indecision cut like a knife. He wanted to leave her sleeping so he could dress and start his evening in peace, yet he wanted to wake her. He didn’t know why he wanted her awake; he just did.
Fuck. He didn’t have time for this shit.
“Emma,” he growled her name. She didn’t stir. “Emma!”
Slowly her eyes opened.
Three. That was the number of times she blinked until her eyes focused on him.
Then she stretched slow and far. Andre fought the need to fling the coverings off her body so he could see the results of that stretch.
“You have the softest bed I’ve ever,” she paused to yawn, “slept in.”
Her sleep-husky voice tingled all through his hard body, the path of the electricity following her gaze as she took in his partially-clothed form.
Then, to his utter shock, she curled right back up and closed her eyes. He was astounded! How dare she so completely ignore him in such a way!
Andre suddenly found himself sitting down on the side of the bed in the curve of her relaxed body.
He leaned over and placed his hands on the mattress on each side of her.
“Emma, wake up,” he commanded strongly.
She laughed very softly, her lips turning up in a smile, as she responded without opening her eyes, “Why?” She stretched out again and rolled over to her back without giving him a chance to reply.
When she opened her eyes, she gasped at how close he was.
“We have much to do without wasting time,” he growled, determinedly resisting the desire to give her a very firm reason to stay in his bed this night.
Emma gazed up into his darkening blue-gray eyes and tried to remember his awful reputation. The expression on his face was indeed quite fierce, but the look in his eyes was pure smoky temptation. The loose strands of long blond hair framing his face made him look…rumpled.
She raised her hand to tuck his hair behind his ear, but when her fingers were mere inches away from his head, with invisible speed he captured her hand in his. She jumped when he bared his fangs and snarled at her wrist.
“Easy there, big guy. Now put those fangs away before you hurt someone,” she quietly calmed him down.
Without releasing her hand, he slowly turned his head to meet her eyes. Internally she wondered why his fearsome reflexes were so easily triggered, but outwardly she remained unfazed.
While he didn’t actually retract his fangs, she sensed that he had relaxed enough to not bite her hand off. She hoped.
“Now release my hand, Andre,” she instructed quietly, gently.
Keeping his eyes warily focused on her own, he stared at her for a very long moment before releasing her hand from his bruising grasp.
His trust was rewarded with a soft, sweet smile as she very slowly finished what she started by gently tucking his hair behind his ear.
“There, now. That’s better.”
She lowered her hand, scrubbed at her eyes, then covered her mouth as she yawned again, and hoped he couldn’t tell she was faking it. She really didn’t want him to know just how flustered she was by his over-reaction.
“Are you absolutely, positively sure I have to get up now?” She mostly pretended to pout at him, but her smile peeped through. The bed really was incredibly comfortable.
For what felt like an eon Andre impassively stared down at Emma. Her long dark hair was once again flowing across his pillow, and her eyes had a luminous, dreamy quality probably left over from her sleep. Her lips were still sweetly softened from her smile, and her cheeks were flushing from the weight of his scrutiny.
No one had tucked his hair behind his ear since his mother.
**Sorry this chapter is so short, but I couldn’t wait to get it out to y’all. So…how was it??**