Dancing With Death by C.P. Mandara
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Violetta is an executioner… of vampires. Famed for her fiery beauty and mesmerising personality, she has never failed an assignment.
Monsieur Martinet is no ordinary vampire, though. He is a master at his craft and can control humans with the merest flick of his eyelids. The vampire huntress with the porcelain skin and flaming red hair has killed all of his brethren, without exception. He now seeks the ultimate revenge: her submission in HIS bed.
If he’s allowed to stay alive long enough, that is.
“Are you ready to die, Monsieur Martinet?”
Her voice was clear and deceptively calm, although he wasn’t fooled for a moment.
“What a pleasure it is to meet you at last, Violetta.” He made sure the resonant tones of his voice penetrated her eardrums, and he felt her body clench. It was a beautiful, instinctively sexual response, and she was unprepared for it. The predator inside him preened its feathers. “As ready as I’ll ever be,” he finally replied to her question, nodding his head politely. “Feel free to do your worst, Madame.”
Turning around to feast his hypnotic blue eyes upon her, he widened them to their full potential. These were eyes that could see through a person’s soul in an instant and rifle through suitcases of hidden secrets with casual indiscretion, inhaling them all into his head to be used to his advantage at a later date.
Her eyes widened in fear, as he’d intended them to.
“You have the gift,” she gasped in a tight voice, already backing away from him in panic.
“Ah oui, mon petite,” he said with a menacing drawl. “Did none of the others tell you?” He let himself enjoy the faint tremor that shook her body and rattled her composure. Then, he pushed his will upon her, rooting her legs to the spot as if she had been encased in concrete. Moving slowly towards his now immobile prey, he glared at her with his bright blue irises. “I suspect that’s because you killed them before they had a chance to talk about dear old Daddy.” The look he gave her was faintly mocking.
She narrowed her eyes in response and tried to fight his control. The force of her will struggling to regain the use of her legs was quite impressive but ultimately futile. That didn’t mean that he couldn’t see why most of his coven had fallen under the almost indomitable power that she wielded. This one was strong. He knew her agile body would be lightning fast and that she would know all the tricks of the ‘death’ trade, but it didn’t change anything. The fact remained that she was no match for his particular talents.
“You have killed all of my children, cherie. For that alone you should die. I find these days, though, that death falls short of my expectations in the revenge stakes. It is, in my humble opinion, over far too quickly. So I’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse. Two minutes. You have two minutes in which to kill me in any way that you choose, without interference on my part. If you fail, however, the consequences will be high. I hasten to add that they might even be catastrophic for a woman of your nature, so think long and hard before accepting my challenge.”
He watched her eyes narrow as she waited for his verdict. Her little brain was whirring over countless possibilities of all the cruelties which he might care to inflict upon her and not a one was correct, although some of her ideas certainly had merit. He wasted no time in setting her thoughts straight.
“If you fail, I fancy you’ll be the first of my new breed of children. Depending on how exacting my desire for revenge is, I might even take you for a bride; an eternal one, Violetta.” Her horrified shudder amused him. Delving inside her head once more, letting his talents have free reign, he listened attentively to her thoughts. The first thing he discovered was her terror at having her body overpowered by nothing more than his gaze. She had never witnessed that kind of control before, and her thoughts were already running rampant with the significance of what killing him would mean for mankind. Now that he had demonstrated his skill, he had just painted a great big red cross on his forehead. No matter. Death was the least of his concerns. Her thoughts began taking on a different hue, and this time she wondered how he might use his particular brand of control over her, should she fail. Violetta speculated between whether he would want her as his servant, to fetch and clean for him, or as a blood slave to feed upon, which was the considerably more unpalatable option for her. He resisted the urge to laugh. His designs on her were a little more carnal in nature, although he had no objections to tasting the delightful life-force that flowed through her. He pondered on what the spicy red fluid coursing through her veins would taste like? A Bordeaux? No, that would be a little heavy and old. She was more of a Cotes de Provence rosé, soft, fruity and fresh – with a hint of summer and berries.
Her thoughts, becoming more jumbled and crazy by the second, forced him to pay attention once more. She was on the verge of accepting his challenge, confident she stood a fighting chance at extinguishing his life. Her only concern was the ‘eternal bride’ threat. She did not fear death, surprisingly enough, unlike ninety-nine percent of her fellow mortals. The thought of becoming immortal, however, would shatter her mind to pieces. The eternal damnation, the loss of her soul and becoming the evil she had fought so hard to destroy had her all of a flutter. He heard her deep inhalations of breath as she actively calmed herself down and thought through his proposal logically. In the end, she estimated her chances of success outweighed the risk of her mind’s destruction. Her reasoning was disgustingly noble. She believed that this would be the greatest service to the world her life could offer, and it was her duty to accept. Besides, she figured that he needed her permission in order to change her, and she felt that no amount of persuasion on his part could ever make her agree to such a fate.
If she failed in her task, he would enjoy proving her wrong.
“Two minutes should be more than enough time for what I have in mind, Monsieur. Release me.”
“Say please.” He gave her a dark look and a feral smile.
Attempting one last gargantuan effort at freeing her feet and finding herself still tightly pinned to the spot, she gave in gracefully. “Pretty please, Monsieur. Let me kill you.” Well, not so gracefully, after all.
The invisible glue that had held her feet pinioned to the soft grass disappeared instantly. She fell forward before regaining her balance and managed, awkwardly, to right herself. Flexing her feet gingerly beneath her, she decided no permanent damage had been done and business could continue as usual.
Kicking off the ridiculous shoes she’d been forced to squeeze her feet into for the evening’s proceedings, she let them fly in the air, and the lavender sandals hit him full force in the stomach before they dived towards the floor.
“Death by stilettos? Now that’s one I haven’t seen before…” He let his voice trail off into the cool night air as he stared at her face. She was mesmerising. The wind had taken her red hair and whipped it forward around her face. The lights from the ballroom behind her had illuminated it into seething, orange flames. The soft lilac of her dress appeared almost translucent in the bright light, and her silhouette could be seen in sharp relief through the thin organza. The laser-cut, silver filigree mask she wore was cast half in shadow and hid a good portion of her face, serving to give a mysterious but very feminine air. Although oxygen was not a pre-requisite for his kind, he sucked in a breath regardless. For one tiny split second he found himself entranced by the beauty before him, and he could have almost been persuaded to kiss her hand and kneel at her feet. In the next, he was angered by his momentary lapse in concentration and visions of the bloody massacre his coven had become haunted his thoughts. She would pay – in the worst way possible. In fact, if he lived through her attempts on his life, he would make it his mission to watch her suffer every hell imaginable.
“Your two minutes begins now,” he said coldly.
“So be it,” she whispered and, bending forwards to get a grip on the end of her dress, she pulled the floaty material upwards to reveal two, creamy white thighs complete with her instruments of death. Black leather holsters encircled each; one held a small solid silver dagger and the other a sharp wooden stake.
It took all of his will power for his tongue to remain in his mouth. She had legs that reached up to the planet Venus, kissed it, and returned. The limbs of a dancer, they were slim, athletic, and beautifully smooth. He wanted them both beneath him. As quick as the vision of loveliness appeared, it vanished. A monstrous Medusa rose in its wake, and it was clear that she was all about business-as-usual. Her mouth had hardened. Her eyes had lost their luminous gleam, and the hint of innocence he had seen within them might have been nothing more than a figment of his imagination. Here was a killer, a practiced deliverer of death, and she had no remorse for what she was about to do.
The chit wasted no time in flying at him, little good that it did her. He neatly side-stepped her advance and watched as she soared past him, towards the flowerbeds. There was a flutter of marigolds, a confusion of fuchsias, and a petulant little yelp as she got herself tangled up in the English roses. Then the tang of blood bloomed upon the air, and he cursed her every which way to hell as his mouth watered with the seductive aroma. He knew he should have fed before tonight’s proceedings, but the lure of feeding from her would make his abstinence all the sweeter. His hunger might put him slightly off-balance, but it was nothing he couldn’t handle.
Violetta’s second attempt on his life had her diving for his back, and he saw her in his mind’s eye, flying towards him with both hands gripping the cold, silver hilt of her weapon. It was rather unsporting of her, but he had expected nothing less. She did not think him worthy enough of honour, so why should she play by the same rules? He played the same tactic as the one before and simply moved out of her way as soon as her feet had taken to the air. He watched with bored eyes as she fell heavily to the floor, dropping the knife and knocking all the air out of her body.
When she managed to refill her lungs with the precious substance of her kind, she spat at him and swore viciously. It seemed that failure did not become her. How very unladylike.
“You said you wouldn’t stop me!” There was hysteria in her voice, and whilst he shouldn’t have admitted it to himself, it was rather pleasing to hear.
“I said I wouldn’t interfere, I didn’t say I’d make it easy for you.
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