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An Excerpt From: BOND BETRAYED

Copyright © CHANDRA RYAN, 2012

All Rights Reserved, Ellora's Cave Publishing, Inc.

His hand returned to the base of her back as he guided her down a long, darkened hallway. She tried to scan rooms as they walked past, but it was difficult for her to focus on anything other than the sensation of his thumb slowly caressing her.

Finally, after reaching the end of the hallway and going up a flight of stairs, they came to the room he’d been directing her toward. Following him through the door, she was a little surprised to find the bedroom elegantly decorated with antique furniture, including a gorgeously canopied four-poster bed.

“You look surprised.” He pulled her closer, close enough for her to catch his subtle, earthy scent. “Don’t tell me you were expecting a dungeon.”

She hadn’t been expecting a dungeon, but this didn’t strike her as a bachelor pad. It felt lived in—homey, even. “I have heard they’re quite the fashion.” She slowly began unbuttoning his shirt, revealing more of the intricate tattoo work. Running her hand along his chest, she gently removed the article of clothing and drank in the sight of his well-defined torso. He was truly beautiful.

He took a step away from her and held his arms out so she could see all of the markings clearly before turning slowly in front of her. “There they are, all of them.”

It was an impressive collection of the who’s who, but she was much more entranced by the ripple of muscle under the artwork. Facing her once more, he put his hands down and smiled at her.

“I’ve shown you mine, I think it’s only fair you show me yours.”

“Sit.” She nodded to the large bed.

He chuckled softly but followed the command.

Slowly, she let her blazer slip down her arms and drop to the floor. The conditioned air of the room made the hair on her arms stand on end and her skin break out in goose bumps, but it felt good after being in the sweltering heat.

“Silk and pearls. Nice.” He was staring at her with a naked longing that made her want to rush. But rushing a seduction was like rushing a good brandy. Sacrilege.

“I do love the feel of silk on my skin. But since we’re playing ‘show me yours and I’ll show you mine’…” She lifted the cami over her head in a fluid motion and then smiled at him as the soft material fluttered to the floor and landed in a puddle at her heels.

She stood for a moment so he could admire the contrast of her black lace bra paired with the business pencil skirt and high heels of the suit. “Should I take these off?” She ran a fingertip along the strand of pearls that encircled her neck. “Or would you rather I leave them on?” She didn’t mind playing submissive over the trivial things. After all, happy men were pliant men.

“On.” His voice was hoarse. She liked that.

“As you wish.” She imitated his earlier turn to show off her pristine skin. Now that she was nearly naked from the waist up, she couldn’t hide it any longer.

“You have no family, no alliances?”

“No, and I’m not looking for any,” she confided, unbuttoning her pencil skirt. The zipper slid down easily, and that garment fell into a heap on top of cami. Standing in front of him in only her heels, matching black lace bra and panties and pearls, she wondered how he’d feel about that. Family was important. But so was sex.

He shook his head softly as she took the first step towards him. “That’s good to hear.”

She had to fight against the urge to breathe a sigh of relief. “Not the commitment type?” She continued walking toward him as she admired the glow of the sun reflecting off his olive skin. Kneeling on the floor in front of him, she gently kissed his chest, sending a shiver of desire through them both. His fingers ran through her hair, tugging at her curls until she was looking up at him.

“Would you be here if I were?”

No. Maybe he did know her better than she’d originally thought. After pushing him back until he was lying on the mattress, she kissed his navel and then stretched against him to kiss his rib cage. “You’re right. I would’ve declined your gracious invitation.”

The challenge had just enough sting to get a reaction. “You would have declined, would you?” He pulled her on top of him so her mouth hovered inches above his.

Straddling his ribcage, she let her heels slide off before answering. “No amount of hotness is worth the complications of a commitment.”

“Hotness?” His fingers traced the path of her backbone. His firm touch sent a searing wave of desire through her. Arching her back, she moaned softly. “You think I’m hot?”

Nikki heard the low growl of impatience, but it took a second for her to recognize it as her own. “You talk too much.” She covered his mouth with hers, silencing him.

The kiss was filled with challenge and desire, making it both hungry and vulnerable at the same time. His arms closed around her back as she deepened the kiss, pulling her closer, until every inch of her body was pressed against his. The feel of his skin under hers was intoxicating.
Pushing him away, she sat up and stared at him for a moment before lowering her mouth to his neck. Her tongue sought out and found his racing pulse. Savoring the lightly salty taste of his skin, she started working her way down to the sensitive spot where his neck met his shoulder. Biting him teasingly, she heard him moan as his hands clenched her thighs.

“You taste good.” Her voice was husky, seductive—intentionally so. Here, she was in her element.

“And what if I want to taste you?”

God, this was just what she needed. “Feel free.”

“No, I mean all of you.”

There was no mistaking his meaning. Their magic lived in their blood and, although she’d never shared hers with anyone, she’d heard it was an aphrodisiac. One hardly ever offered because it could also be used to enslave another.

But he couldn’t enslave her—couldn’t evoke the blood bond because he didn’t know her name. There was no way to bind another without their name. Also, a person could only place one blood bond in a lifetime. No one would waste something that precious on a one-night stand. She’d be safe. And the thought of his blood on her tongue made her quiver with need.

“Will you bleed for me?” she asked, her voice heavy with desire.

“Sounds fair.”

Sitting up, he pulled a small knife from a night table and ran it across his wrist. When he’d cut enough to provoke several drops of blood he held it out to her. The magic in their blood prevented blood-borne diseases, so she didn’t have to worry about that. But still, she felt suddenly nervous. She had no idea what to expect. The wave of desire that hit her at just the tangy smell of his blood was enough to overcome her nerves, though. Leaning forward, she touched the blood with just the tip of her tongue. His magic was a mystery, but the power of it rushed through her. She was flying with his strength, the constant anxiety and fear that ate away at her, gone. If this was how her sister felt on heroin, she could almost understand Izzy’s addiction.

“My turn?”

Even with her head buzzing, she felt a small measure of her earlier concern return but she quickly brushed it away. He’d lived up to his end of the deal. And if he meant to hurt her, he’d had plenty of time not to mention opportunity already. But he hadn’t harmed her in any way. In fact, he’d given her one of the most pleasurable experiences she’d ever had.

“Your turn.” She held out her wrist to him boldly. Nothing in her entire life had ever felt this good. Not even the knife slicing through her skin was enough to dull the sensation, especially when the warmth of his mouth covered the wound. She’d been wrong. Having him take her blood was even better than taking his.

He sucked in a ragged breath as the warmth of his body left her. Opening her eyes, she stared at him as confusion began to chase away her desire. She’d never wanted to be closer to another person than she did with him at that moment. Why was he pulling away from her?

“Nicola Lillian Rathe, I bond you to me with the power of your own blood.”

It took a moment for the words to sink through the heady desire that was wrapped around her, but when they finally did, white-hot anger killed what was left of the seductive warmth throbbing through her and made her breathing hard and ragged with disbelief. “What?”

“You’re mine.” He said the words triumphantly, but there was a sadness in his eyes. Refusing to see it, she leapt for the knife he’d left foolishly close to her.

“Like hell I am.” Her fingers closed around the sleek handle of the blade. She wasn’t an expert on blood bonds by any standard of measure, but she did know if you killed the holder, it’d set the slave free.

“You can try.” He held his arms out, giving her a clean shot at his heart. She’d never killed anyone, but if it was to free herself she was pretty sure she could. She tried to force the knife toward him, but as excruciating pain exploded in her head she dropped it again. “But the bond won’t let you hurt me.”

Cursing, she brought her gaze to meet his. “Bastard!”

His sigh was exaggerated. “If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.”

The word asshole sat on her tongue, but no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t say it.

“That’s better.”

The condescending prick was going to pay. Maybe she couldn’t hurt him directly, hell, now she couldn’t even call him names, but she’d figure out a way to make him pay.