It was forbidden.
That thought reverberated though Devlin’s mind as he stood in the growing crowd and watched the firefighters pull the unconscious woman from the house. He studied her dispassionately as they placed her on a stretcher. He heard words that had no real meaning for him; they were words of mortals—words of those without the power to know.
Fifty percent burns. Wouldn’t survive. Too much damage.
But they were wrong. Devlin sensed the strength in the woman. She was not going to die. But he knew she’d probably want to. Her skin was damaged beyond the means of modern medicine.
She wasn’t beyond his means, though. He could heal her—make her whole again. Devlin considered the possibility. It was forbidden. Vampires weren’t to involve themselves with the frailties of humans. And yet….
This human was different. This woman was extraordinary. Of course, he had never come to her, but he had been watching her. The woman was one of the Chosen—one of the few that could be reborn. Sired was the proper term, of course. But it wasn’t appropriate, not for her.
Since coming to North Carolina five years before, Devlin had sensed her presence and been drawn to her. Finding out her name would have been easy, but he hadn’t. Somehow, he’d known that knowing her name would make her even more desirable to him than she already was.
As she rarely left her house, Devlin deduced she worked from home. He knew that she was solitary—which suited him, as this was a solitary existence. Very often, the Chosen were solitary creatures, almost as if nature had been training them for the possibility of being forever changed.
All vampires could sense the Chosen. He’d sensed others, but none of them drew him as she did. In the Old Days, there would have been no question. When a vampire wanted a mate—that person was simply sired. All that had changed with the Hunters. Humans that considered it their sacred duty to kill every vampire they could find. The Elders had changed the law one hundred years before—outlawing the change of a human.
For this woman though, he considered the forbidden anyway. She was special—and not simply because she was one of the Chosen.
The woman had risked her own life to go into the burning house for a child. He’d been watching her as her dark hair had caught in the light of the street lamp as she’d been carrying her groceries home. Long and gleaming, he’d longed to run his fingers through it. Once more, he’d been following her—watching her.
She was a small woman, probably at least a foot shorter than his own six-three. But her determination more than made up for what she lacked in height.
Flames and vampires were a fatal mix, of course, so he’d had no choice but to wait. Against all the rules of the Elders and his own common sense, he had called 911. What a laugh that would have given those he knew. But somehow, he’d known that she would come out of the house alive. The child had survived as well. She’d brought the child out and turned back inside, looking for more survivors.
Such foolishness, he thought now. But valor he could admire. And desire.
Yes, he had the answer. He’d make her his—to hell with what the Elders would say. He’d been alone long enough. She would be his mate.
He heard someone whispering. Sarah Hart. Such a pretty name, he mused. Sarah.
Devlin turned and disappeared into the night, knowing he’d go to her when it was time.
The dream was so real….
“You will belong to me, Sarah. When the time is right, you will know,” he said in a deep hypnotic voice.
“But how? Why? I don’t understand any of this!” she exclaimed. She couldn’t move her eyes from his. They were dark green and intoxicating, and had the power to make her feel things she’d thought to never feel again. Desire. Need. And more—wanted.
“You will know,” he said simply. “For now, that is all I will tell you.”
“But this is a dream,” she whispered. “I know it’s a dream.”
The answering smile made her shiver—but with excitement, not fear. “Do you want this to be real, then?” Devlin asked, brushing his cool fingers down her cheek. “Could you accept this as your reality?” he queried.
Sarah shuddered at his touch. In these dreams, he made her feel things that she thought should be wrong. It wasn’t desire—it was stronger than that. When he made love to her, it was wild and free and—beautiful. “Yes,” she whispered with conviction, “I could.” With him, she felt beautiful and desirable. How could he not know any woman would want that when awake?
Devlin studied her thoughtfully. “Enough of talk,” he growled. “I want you.”
Sarah felt a surge of longing at his words. Just those three words had the power to make her grow wet with need. Inside her. She needed him inside her. Her stomach clenched with an almost painful longing. “I know,” she admitted. And she did know. It was there in those hypnotic eyes. Her heartbeat quickened at the heat radiating from them. His eyes lingered on her throat and her breathing hitched. “Take me,” she said softly on a renewed wave of burning need. “Please.”
Devlin wasn’t gentle and she didn’t want him to be. He lifted her and placed her on the center of a large four-post bed. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she knew she should wonder where she was, but she didn’t—and never did—not when she was with Devlin. When she was with him—everything just was the way it was meant to be.
She felt the cool sheets caressing her back. Sarah’s eyes never left his as he removed her gown by the simple means of tearing it out of his way.
His hands cupped her bared breasts possessively, gently, and she groaned, closing her eyes.
“No. Watch me,” he ordered, his voice guttural. “Watch me as I take you.”
Sarah’s eyes shot open, wide blue eyes meeting green. “Yes,” she agreed, helpless to disobey.
It was hard though.
When she felt his fingers pinching her nipples not quite gently it was almost impossible to keep her eyes open. Each tug on her sensitive nipples went trough her, straight down to her stomach and beyond, heightening her need for him. His cool fingers felt so good against her heated skin. She did as he asked, though, and kept her eyes on his.
Finally, when she couldn’t hold still any longer, she reached for him, pulling his dark head down to her. Sarah released a moan as he drew one nipple into the hot suction of his mouth, drawing deeply on her, sucking as if it were his lifeline. She felt his hands move beneath her to hold her against him and reveled in it.
He wanted her—she never had cause to doubt his need for her, and it made her feel powerful and somehow special. She groaned when she felt his teeth. He nipped her breast then laved the small hurt with the twirl of his tongue. One hand was slowly moving down her stomach and to the juncture of her thighs.
Sarah never thought to close herself to him. Her leg parted, jerking as his fingers found her clitoris. He flicked it—gently at first, then faster and harder. She felt the dampness as it flowed, and knew that she’d go mad if he didn’t come inside her soon. She arched against his fingers, silently seeking more.
Devlin gave a low chuckle, and she felt it against her breast, as his fingers found her, moving gently at first between the swollen folds. She moaned when two fingers drove inside her, spreading her.
She tugged at his hair, her head thrashing as he used his fingers to bring her to the edge of climax.
Devlin lifted his head from her breast. “You like this,” he said knowingly.
“You know I do,” she said weakly. “Please, take me now.”
He smiled, his eyes dark. “I will,” he promised. “When it is time.” He moved down the length of her body now, until his head was between her thighs.
Sarah knew what was coming. When he loved her with his mouth her whole world centered on those few moments. She felt his fingers holding her open to him and felt his tongue as he lapped at her, driving her to the brink of climax within only a few seconds.
His hand was biting into her buttocks, clenching and unclenching as he held her to him. “Now!” she demanded. “Please!”
He ignored her, driving ruthlessly. He flicked her clitoris again with his thumb and felt her convulse, her legs tightened around his head and still he drove her on, wringing every last ounce of her passion, drinking in the scent of her.
Sarah screamed with the force of her release.
“Yes,” he said at last. “That’s what I want.”
Sarah awoke suddenly and climbed from the bed with a groan. She’d had the dream before. Her eyes closed against a wave of pain. In the dream, the way he made love was sometimes different, but some things were the same—she was whole again, the disfiguring burns were gone. Her lover had been intense, his passion driven by her own.
With a sigh, she padded silently across the carpeted floor to the bathroom. As usual, she was wet. She could feel the juices flowing, and knew she’d had an orgasm. It had been so real—and it was embarrassing! Women didn’t have these kinds of vivid dreams. It amazed her still how real the dreams were each time she had them. She could almost feel him inside her.
Sometimes he made love to her slowly and gently. Sometimes he was rough and demanding…but always, he made sure that she found as much pleasure as he did. Never before these dreams had begun had she had such erotic dreams so vivid and real. But the dreams were also painful—especially now that no man would ever want her. That, of course, was the source of the dreams, she’d decided.
It had been months since she’d had sex, and it was her minds way of giving her body release. Too bad her body didn’t know how painful they were when she was awake and realized it all would never be real.
Always awakened after the dreams, she knew she’d be getting no more sleep this night. She didn’t bother turning on the light as she got the glass on the counter and filled it with cool tap water.
As she sipped, she thought once again how much she wished the dream would come true. Wished with a desire that literally hurt. She didn’t regret what she’d done six months before. She couldn’t regret saving the child. The little girl thankfully hadn’t been burned and would go on to live a normal life.
The price she’d paid was high. She’d never look normal again and she never would she get used to the stares of people as she walked down the street to the market. It hadn’t taken her long to realize that she was better off staying inside as much as possible. She hated being the recipient of their disgust and—even worse—their pity.
Parents actually pulled their children closer when they happened to pass as if she were somehow a danger to them. It had been months since she’d gone out in the light of day.
Sarah sat the glass back on the counter with a soft clink and reached for the vanity light. A Tylenol for the headache she felt creeping up, and just maybe she could at least go read for a while. She glanced up as she prepared to open the medicine cabinet and gasped.
Where there should have been pink scars, there was smooth undamaged flesh. Her hair, burned off in large patches in the fire, was long and the luxurious again. But how? She ran her fingers through her hair. It was soft and silky just as it had been before.
The answer hit her with the force of a blow. It was only a dream. She was still somehow in the dream. She touched her face.
It seemed so real.
If she was dreaming she didn’t want to wake up. The dream was much better.
Sarah ran her hand down her neck to the edge of her nightgown, seeing that the flesh there was healed, too. The ugly scars on her neck and upper chest were gone. “Please,” she whispered, “let it be real,” knowing of course that it couldn’t be.
“It can be,” came a deep voice.
Sarah spun around, her hand coming to her throat in terrified response. “How did you get in here?” she asked in a hoarse whisper, backing away until the sink stopped her. She hadn’t even seen him in the mirror. Her eyes widened as she looked at the man standing at the door of her small bathroom.
It was him.
The man from her dreams. He was dressed as he had been in the dream—in the same dark slacks and shirt. He was the same beautiful man she’d been dreaming about since the first few weeks after the fire. She’d spent more than a month in the hospital, and the dreams had started the week she’d come home.
She relaxed then. Somehow, she decided, she was still locked in this very vivid dream.
“You don’t know?” Devlin asked, moving toward her.
“It’s a dream,” she said sadly. “This is all some kind of very vivid weird dream.”
“That’s almost true,” he explained carefully. “What you’re seeing is an illusion,” he explained.
Sarah’s eyes filled with pain and she felt tears burning in her eyes. “I know.”
He walked to her and touched her, his hand gentle on her cheek. “But it can be real, Sarah. If you want it to be, it can be real,” he explained very gently.
She looked into those deep green eyes she’d seen so many times before in her dreams. “How?” she whispered. “How is that possible?”
“I can help you be reborn,” he said in a hypnotic voice.
“What are you?” she asked, though she knew the answer. “Who are you?”
“You know what I am, and you know my name is Devlin Wilkes,” he chided softly. “You’ve always known. I can give you this, Sarah. You only have to ask.”
“So, I’d be dead?” she whispered, not really understanding how it all worked—and not questioning why she’d even believe it was real—but she did. Suddenly, she did. Maybe because she wanted so much for it to be true. Later, she’d worry about why she would believe in the unbelievable.
Devlin smiled, showing even white teeth. “You’d be more alive then you’ve ever felt, Sarah. You would see and hear things you’ve never heard or seen before. Your senses would all be enhanced. Your passions would be enhanced. But,” he admitted, “you could never go out in daylight again.”
She’d become a vampire. She’d read about them, of course. Even as a child, she’d somehow known they were more than myth, though. Part of her had believed in them even then.
Could she accept that existence, though? “I don’t know,” she whispered, uncertain. “I just don’t know.” The lure of his voice was almost hypnotizing, and the thought of being like she was before almost too strong to ignore. Surely, though, he didn’t expect her to make that kind of decision this quickly.
He nodded. “Then take time to consider,” he said. “Let me show you what we can have, though.” It wasn’t a request, and she knew it.
Sarah suddenly smiled. Here she was, standing in her bathroom in the middle of the night with a vampire. “Yes.” It had been so long since she’d been held. She wanted to feel him holding her—feel him loving her. Already she was growing wet for him, and her nipples were painfully tight. She felt his gaze on them and she almost groaned. “Yes,” she repeated softly. She smiled when he lifted her into his arms.
Finally! Devlin lifted her in his arms almost before the word had left her mouth. She had accepted him much easier than he’d have thought possible, even with the dreams he’d shared with her. But he’d been unable to wait even one more night. She belonged to him. It was time.
He carried her quickly to stand by the edge of her bed and removed her gown carefully, letting it pool at her feet.
In the dreams he’d shared with her, he’d usually been quick in his loving, needing to drive her to pleasure in the limited time he had with her. Now, he could take his time. He could tune all his senses to hers. He lowered his head and kissed her gently, his lips cool on her own heated ones. When he felt her lips part, he deepened the kiss, drinking deeply, his tongue dueling with hers and stealing her breath.
There was innocence in her kiss. She was hesitant at first, but then opened fully to him. He fisted his hands in her hair and pulled her against him with a groan. This was what he wanted, what he’d needed for so long.
For months he’d loved her through her mind, but now, finally, he’d been unable to wait even one more night. It was time for her to belong her him. Devlin knew that even if she wasn’t ready to become a vampire yet, she was ready for this much at least. Nothing would seal their bond faster than mating with her.
She was his.
Making love to a human was intoxicating. Making love to one of the Chosen was even more so. Her scent filled his nostrils, the beat of her heart pulsed in her throat, and he lowered his head, teasing them both by nipping her neck where the pulse beat steadily. It would be so easy to take just a taste, but he didn’t—not yet. There would be time later for that.
For now, he just needed to make love to her and with her.
Sarah felt a jolt of electricity when she felt his teeth on her neck. She arched her head, giving him better access. She’d have sworn in that instant that there was an actual string from the pulse in her neck to the heated flesh between her thighs when she felt the almost painful pull of need. She felt herself growing hotter and hotter as his lips and teeth moved on her.
She’d never been touched like this before; had never been wanted like this before—had never wanted like this before. Would it always be like this? Would the gentlest nips of his teeth always make her heart beat a little faster?
When she felt his fingers move to her breasts, she arched her back, loving the feel of his fingers on her skin. She gave a sound of denial when he lifted his mouth, only to groan in pleasure as his mouth found her breast. She felt him bite her nipple gently and once more arched against him. Her fingers moved into his black hair, holding his head against her breast. When he drew the pointed nipple into his mouth, she sighed with pleasure.
One hand smoothed down her chest to her stomach. He lingered a moment, drawing light circles around her navel and she wiggled, silently willing him to touch her where she so needed it.
Devlin didn’t disappoint. His fingers found her clitoris and rubbed it for a long moment, before gently flicking it with his thumb and forefinger. The dual sensations of his mouth on her breast and his fingers on her clitoris drove her over the edge with a hard, fast orgasm. She cried out, mindless with the blinding pleasure of her release.
When she’d slumped back against the pillows, Devlin lifted his head and looked down at her. Her face was flushed and damp with perspiration. Her body was shuddering with the aftermath of her quick release and he smiled. “Tell me you want me, Sarah,” he growled low. “Tell me that you want this,” he demanded, driving two fingers into the warm folds of her labia, driving her relentlessly toward a second climax.
Sarah met his eyes and said only one word.
Devlin needed no further urging. He removed his clothes quickly.
Sarah watched in dazed pleasure as his hands moved first to his waist, as he stripped out of the dark black jeans and his boxers. In her dreams she’d seen him naked, but nothing could have prepared her for the reality of his body. His chest was broad and wide and the muscles rippled as the navy silk shirt followed the jeans. There was a dark line of hair going from his waist to the thick length of his penis. He eased onto the bed and moved over her, bracing his weight on his forearms, and taking her hands.
He held her hands in his, lacing their fingers together and looking into her eyes. “Tell me you want me,” he demanded again, his voice low.
Sarah arched her hips, feeling the broad tip of his penis against her soft folds. “I want you,” she said instantly. “Please. Now.”
Devlin moved, driving inside her to the hilt in a powerful stroke of his hips, hitting her womb with the force of it. She felt the fullness, loving the feel of him so deeply inside her and began to move under him.
Sarah felt free; more free than she’d ever felt before. She should have felt exposed to have him doing these things to her, but she didn’t. This was something she’d always fantasized about, but had never expected in her life. Each powerful thrust of his hips drove him deeper, making her gasp and still she wanted more.
When he moved harder and faster, his fingers still holding hers, she shuddered, unable to do more than feel. She used her inner muscles now, clenching around him and driving him over the edge with her as she came with a shout of pure pleasure.
When it was over, she felt his weight collapse over her. She smoothed the damp skin of his back, loving the feel of him. His breathing was quick as he held her close.
Finally, Devlin lifted his head. “Do you want this?” he demanded, giving her a thrust.
“I’ve told you I do,” she said, looking into those bottomless green eyes.
“No, I mean do you want this forever? Do you want me to change you so you can have this whenever you want?” he asked, carefully not using any of his considerable mind control abilities. It had to be her free choice.
Her brow furrowed. “I just don’t know,” she said shakily. “I would never be the same again.”
He eased his weight off her and rolled to his side, bringing her with him, still deep inside her. “No, it would never be the same. But you’d be as you are now—forever.”
If you enjoyed this excerpt, Once Forbidden (Hunted Book One) is available now on Amazon via the link at the top of this page.