Welcome to the fifth of ten excerpts from BOND OF FIRE.
Compostela Ranch, Texas Hill Country outside Austin, Texas, May – present day
Celeste inhaled deeply, filling herself with Don Rafael’s scent. Soon she’d have the man himself inside her again, thank God, and her long crusade would be over.
Still the leader of the oldest esfera in North America, he was probably the richest of all patrones. Even better, he was built like a god and could fuck better than a stable of boy toys. Every instant of the Mardi Gras they’d spent together was etched into her memory as sheer sexual perfection. Decades of loneliness finally ended when she’d met her match in sexuality and ruthlessness.
He also trained his men to be both disciplined and sensual, like his beautiful alferez mayor – his military commander. Ah, those few hours when Templeton had left his duties and joined them during those marvelous weeks. . .
She’d worked long and hard these past decades to regain Don Rafael’s attention. She’d become the New Orleans patrona and mastered every other esfera between Miami and Memphis, Washington and New Orleans. A mighty vampiro army trembled at her slightest whim, led by her enforcer, the former Bayou Butcher who’d escaped from Angola Prison’s legendary Death Row.
It wasn’t until she ruled the entire Southeastern United States that she received an invitation to visit Don Rafael’s Texas home. Now that she stood within two steps of him, merde, but her pussy was weeping for him!
They stood outside one of the many long, low buildings at his private mountaintop estate, an isolated place that reeked of animals despite a few gardens and fountains. An enormous group of armed men surrounded them, as was customary when two patrones visited each other. They were all his, of course, except for Georges Devol, her devoted alferez mayor.
Don Rafael had summarily evicted Beau, her little, blond boy toy before they’d been able to enjoy a ménage a trois.
Pity; she’d wanted Beau to keep an eye on Jean-Marie St. Just, Don Rafael’s heraldo, chief diplomat, and definitely the same British spy she’d met in Madrid two centuries ago. There he stood, looking so suave with his Gucci suit and impassive expression – except for the glittering eyes, which always knew exactly where she was, damn him! He probably knew she’d been a double agent back then. But he’d never mentioned it to her, and she had more important things to contemplate now. She could have him killed once she and Don Rafael were united.
She’d dressed to display her suitability as an ally, of course – in gold brocade with her favorite ruby necklace emphasizing the deep neckline. God willing he’d quickly ease her breasts out into his big hands and apply his talented mouth. . .
Celeste gulped and reminded herself that Don Rafael unaccountably insisted on carnal relations only in private. He’d have to move to her beloved New Orleans once they were united, of course. The ranch might be comfortable for horses – merde, how could he pay so much attention to beasts! – but it didn’t compare to the French Quarter for excitement.
“Mon chéri, I am delighted to finally visit your home,” she purred. She reached up to Don Rafael and kissed him, her mouth and body tasting him fully at last. Unfortunately, the embrace ended all too soon, damn their audience and his aristocratic sense of propriety, which kept him coldly polite.
“Allow me to present my men,” he began.
“Ah, chéri, forget the formalities for an instant,” she interrupted and slid a finger up his arm. Once they were alone, they could resume the passion they’d shared before. “Let’s visit alone first, as patrón to patrón, before we involve anyone else in our games.”
Ah, the fun they’d enjoyed before with Templeton, who was standing only a few feet away, his face impassive. Surely they could invite him back to spur them on after they’d satisfied their first lusts. Although she couldn’t imagine how long it would take to exhaust Don Rafael’s well of carnal creativity.
He seemed to stiffen slightly.
“Certainly, madame. The guest house then,” Don Rafael agreed and offered her his arm. She accepted it politely, following his lead and restraining herself to the most formal courtesies. Once their alliance was sealed, they could renegotiate trifles like public behavior. She much preferred being able to handle her men when, where, and however she desired.
He took her to a small, dingy building, barely large enough for a single sitting room and a small, upstairs bedroom at one end. A cattle skull hung grotesquely over the mantel, a gaudy flag covered the wall, and a few pieces of rough leather furniture provided the only seating.
What a hellhole. Perhaps they started here so they could destroy the furniture in their passion – or she could shine more in contrast to its absolute shabbiness. The sooner the better to move on.
They were alone, of course. He was, after all, more than five hundred years older than her in the only measure that counted – when a vampiro was granted El Abrazo. He was more than capable of destroying her in one-on-one combat, not that that she gave a damn.
She planted herself in the middle of the leather sofa, patted the seat beside her invitingly, and batted her eyes at him, arching her back slightly to display her charms. Her gold brocade dress was cut low enough to offer her nipples, always one of her most appreciated features.
He hesitated slightly before he sat down at the other end of the sofa. He’d have to get over being such an old-fashioned gentleman soon.
“Mon petit chou,” she cooed and scooted next to him, her skintight skirt sliding up her thighs as designed.
“Champagne, madame?” he offered, his face tightening – with lust, no doubt. He retrieved a bottle from the ice bucket on the table, behind a small bronze statue. Krug’s Clos du Mesnil, a Cuvée Prestige, very expensive and tasty. But who cared about that?
She pouted while he carefully popped the cork. Why was he dodging his increasing hunger by offering wine? “I’d rather talk about us, mon amour. Remember the Mardi Gras we spent together?”
“Certainement, madame.” His glance flickered sideways at her, but he didn’t add anything else.
“The best Mardi Gras I’ve ever enjoyed,” she mused. She toyed with the ruby, running her fingers over it and her breasts, encouraging his memories to return. “You were magnifique, a stallion beyond compare, a god among men.”
“Surely others have inspired you since then.” He handed her a crystal flute filled with the fine champagne.
“Non, you brought me pleasure like no other can,” she insisted and tossed back her drink. The expensive vintage mattered nothing compared to the prospect of once again tasting his blood.
Rafael sipped his champagne, his expression unreadable.
“Merci, madame, you flatter me immensely,” he murmured. “But enlighten me please. I thought we met tonight to discuss an alliance.”
“Exactement, Don Rafael!” Finally, he spoke directly about unification! She turned to straddle him.
A hand on her waist stopped her.
What the hell?
“Remain seated, madame, s’il vous plaît. Your couturier would never forgive me if anything happened to your magnificent dress.”
What? Versace knew damn well that a ruined dress meant another sale to replace it!
Celeste harrumphed her disappointment but settled back against the cushions. “It’s so simple, mon amour. We unite our two esferas…”
He set down his glass, watching her very closely.
Pleased to finally have his full attention, she continued in a rush.
“And seal the compact with our bodies, tu comprends? We’d be gods, ruling the largest esfera in the world. We could conquer every other American esfera in an instant and rule the continent inside a year!” She snapped her fingers enthusiastically.
“And the nights, ah, the hours of passion we’d share. Quelle extase!” She caught his face in her hands and leaned in to kiss him.
He lifted his glass in a toast, blocking her. She blinked at him, frustrated.
“You flatter me, madame. Men flock to you like bees flying toward the perfect rose, drunk on your beauty. To be your consort is a heady drink, far too much for a simple man like myself.”
Why was he being so modest?
Excerpt from Bond of Fire by Diane Whiteside
Copyright © 2008 by Diane Whiteside
All rights reserved