Artwork by MaxInk
Blushing Death Short
Dare to Touch
I opened my eyes with a start. The pressure of daylight beat down on me like a sledge hammer. The sun was still out. My muscles were stiff and my body heavy. It was too early to be awake. I’d also been having the most delicious dream. I’d never remembered dreaming until I’d spoken to that damned woman. Her scent stuck in my nose like standing under a magnolia in the summer. I’d spent the last 70 years resting peacefully without a picture in my brain until her. Now, I closed my eyes and I was tortured every day with the scent, taste and feel of the Blushing Death . . . Dahlia in my arms.
“What the hell was that?”
I pushed the covers back and lumbered out of bed. The faint thump, thump, thump, thump of a heart beating echoed in the silent house filled with the dead. My stomach growled. Not even Ethan could wake during the day. It cost me, in energy and I was slower – almost groggy until the sun set, but I could do it. Ethan didn’t know I was capable of waking during daylight hours and I thought it best to keep it to myself. Ethan was not able to wake before sun set, none in the colony could except Alex and me. She kept that to herself as well.
I stepped out from my bedroom, glancing down the long hall overlooking the grand foyer. The air was still, almost stagnant but I caught a scent that made my body react and my mind race with possibilities. Movement below shifted the air filling my nose with the smell of Jasmine.
It can’t be?
I leaned over the railing to get a better look. The office door was open below and the light was on, filling the foyer with the soft yellow glow. I hopped over the banister and plummeted the two stories to the hardwood floor. Landing silent on my toes and bare feet, I crouched so that my legs absorbed the impact. I stood, stretching my back and arms. I hadn’t thought to put a shirt on and a smile crept across my face. How would the Blushing Death deal with that?
I strolled to the door and crossed my arms over my middle as a band tightened around my chest at the sight of her. I couldn’t get the smell of her out of my nose or out of my head. She was like a plague of locusts, all-consuming and unavoidable.
She rifled through Ethan’s desk, turning over contracts, business cards, and books. She hesitated for a moment over one of the books, the Russian volume perhaps. I couldn’t be sure. What was she looking for? I shifted my weight and let the board squeak beneath my foot.
Her head snapped up with a brief wide eyed expression that faded to her usual confident disdain. Her expression changed so quick that I wasn’t sure I’d seen it. Her storm cloud grey eyes grazed over me like hot coals, heating my skin. I ran my tongue over my fangs as they throbbed with want. She fixated on the trail of hair descending south from my exposed navel and her heart thundered in her chest. I wouldn’t let any of them touch her, even if they could wake. One of them had already come too close. The smell of fear in that room had made me sick like it never had before. I was glad she’d killed him. If she hadn’t, I would have. I still craved blood for her, whether she knew it or not. She was mine.
“Are you having fun?” I asked. I couldn’t hold my residual anger from my voice. Any time I thought about Bradford and how he’d torn her panties from her body, rage filled me and I wanted to torture someone all over again.
“I wouldn’t say . . . fun exactly,” she said. I didn’t miss the sarcasm either. She laid the book back down on the desk and gave me her full attention.
“No?” I questioned, having a bit of fun with her. I liked teasing her. I liked being teased by her.
“Shouldn’t you be sleeping? Taking a vampire nap?” she joked. She actually joked. I liked the smartass bits. It made the chase that much more fun.
“I couldn’t sleep with someone banging around down here,” I said, trying desperately to hide the smile I knew tugged at my lips.
“I’m so sorry for disturbing your beauty sleep,” she snipped, glancing down the line of my body. It was quick but I’d seen it. She wasn’t as cool as she wanted me to believe. The sound of her heart fluttered in her chest. I couldn’t help but watch her move as she came around the side of the desk. Her body was long, lithe, and powerful. Her movements were controlled and dangerous. She stood out from behind the desk in long black pants, a crisp white shirt, a black vest and tie. She stood straight with her hip cocked in three-inch black patent leather heels.
Fuck me running!
I cocked my head and cracked my neck at the sight of her. She looked like a dirty librarian. All I wanted was to strip her down and wrap those long legs around me as she dug those heels into my ass. It took everything I had but I cleared my mind of that image. My dick, on the other hand, was perfectly happy to keep thinking of her wrapped around my body.
“I’ll just leave then and let you get back to it. You look like you need your beauty rest,” she said.
What? What did she say? Fuck I was completely distracted. I couldn’t keep my eyes from her. What was she wearing underneath? Fuck! Would she let me see it?
“You know I can’t let you leave,” I said. My voice was close to a growl, filled with want and need. She had to be frightened but I couldn’t hold back. The smooth calm I’d hoped for had gone right out the window once I’d seen those damned heels.
“I think you can,” she said. Her voice was calm and coy as if she held all the cards. Damn, she was impressive. Even with all the odds against her, she stood there with her fists balled up tight at her sides. She wanted to fight me. This little human wanted to fight me? Me! She couldn’t win.
“You’re not really dressed for a fight, sweetheart,” I baited her. In my head the ‘sweetheart’ had sounded patronizing as I’d meant it. As it came out, my voice had softened, an unintentional consequence of wanting to turn her over the desk and slam my cock into her slick warmth. I just hoped she hadn’t noticed.
She spread her feet apart and raised her fists to me. “Don’t be so sure,” she said, her jaw tight and her blood pounding in her veins. Her determination was showing.
“You really want to do this?” I asked, hoping she would change her mind. Then what? You can’t keep her in your room like a pet. Its daylight? How would you explain letting her get away? They will all smell her in here? Ethan would smell her in here.
“Yeah, I think I do,” she said with tenacity clear in the ring of her voice and the strong set of her shoulders. Okay. If she wanted a fight, I’d give her a fight. I darted across the room with all my speed. I clasped her in my arms and squeezed her in a giant bear hug, hoping this would be enough to convince her. Of what, I wasn’t sure. Lifting her from the ground which was more difficult than I thought, she was in heels and nearly as tall as I was. Her soft, pink lips were only a breath from mine. I could kiss her here and now and get her out of my system. She was only human. It wasn’t like her kiss would be anything special.
“Uh huh,” she breathed just before she smashed her head into my forehead.
I let go as I reached up to check and see if I was bleeding. Blood might wake the rest of the house and I wanted her all to myself. I shook my head to clear my mind. She would kill me before she realized I was playing with her if I wasn’t careful.
The soft, muted, red glow of power that surrounded her flashed to life and pulsed in time with her heart. The Blushing Death in all her devastating, deadly beauty. Ancient magic rippled off her skin like waves of boiling lava. I wondered if any of the hundreds or even thousands of vampires she’s killed had known how powerful she was. Ethan knew. A lead weight in the pit of my stomach sank, reminding me that she was special. Ethan would use her, abuse her, and finally kill her when she no longer served his purposes. I couldn’t let him have her. I couldn’t let anyone have her.
She kicked me in the chest, planting her foot dead square in the middle of my sternum. If my heart actually beat, it might have stopped with the force of her kick. Damn, even for a human she was strong. I felt like I’d been kicked by a horse. I caught myself on the door jamb and shook off the pain radiating out from my chest. She’d caught me with that heel in the ribs. I knew it would ache long after it healed.
I stepped up to her, no longer playing with her. I couldn’t afford to. If she drew blood, the entire house would wake and I didn’t want that. I wasn’t sure what I wanted but I knew I didn’t want her in Ethan’s hands. She jabbed and I ducked. I snatched her wrist in my grip, careful not to squeeze too hard. I didn’t want to break it.
I slid an upper cut into her kidneys. Maybe that was enough to get her to stop. Maybe she’d come to her senses and realize that she couldn’t win. No such luck. The Blushing Death crossed with a left hook. Her fist crashed into my jaw, filling my mouth with blood.
Blood trickled from my lips and down my chin. I didn’t have long. I punched her again in the kidneys. Maybe I could shut her down and shove her out into the sun. There she’d be safe. The breath left her body and she groaned. I’d hurt her. My chest tightened at the thought that I’d really hurt her. I froze for a moment waiting for her to respond.
It was a mistake.
She sunk her heel into the top of my bare foot, piercing my flesh with that damned stiletto. I opened my mouth but pulled back the scream bubbling in the back of my throat. She stepped back, swinging her foot around. She was inches from kicking me in the face. This had to end now.
I back-handed her. Hard. I hated back-handing women.
She met my eyes and ran her tongue along the front of her teeth, behind her lips. She spit out the blood filling her mouth. There’d be no hiding that the Blushing Death had been in the house now. She was making it difficult to keep her out of Ethan’s sights. As she met my gaze, I swore I saw the storm clouds churning in those bottomless grey eyes. Circling me like a predator, her hands balled into angry, tight fists. I didn’t want to hurt her anymore. I’d never felt like that about a human. I told myself that I needed her. She was the only way out of Ethan’s plan. I couldn’t let Dean perish.
I almost believed it too.
If it meant me taking a beating here and now, I would. She kicked out at my leg, popping my knee cap and dislocating it. “Sonovabitch! Damned it! That fucking hurt!” I grumbled as I sunk down onto the good knee. She brought her foot around again, smashing it into my face. I hit the floor hard, my body ached. My jaw was broken. She may have been human but she hit like a Mack Truck.
She stepped her long sumptuous body over me and trapped my wrist beneath her heel. She pressed the other shoe into my throat, digging that sharp heel into my skin. She could kill me by just shifting her weight and severing my spine with that sexy heel. I lay motionless, stiff beneath her. Yet, my mind was filled with soft, white porcelain skin. The feel of her beneath my fingertips. The smell of her skin. The familiar scent of jasmine mixed with a new scent filling my nose, the musky scent of her arousal.
All I had to do was reach out and touch her. Her smooth, warm leg beckoned me from under her trousers. I glanced up at her. Her chest heaved with her heavy breath, her kissable mouth was parted, and her eyes were dark with her arousal. She sucked her bottom lip between her teeth and bit down. The soft, red pulse of power dissipated around her as her heart slowed and her hands trembled in fists before her.
She wanted me to touch her. May daylight strike me down, she wanted me to touch her.
I couldn’t help but smile. That smell of her rich, musk filled warmth was as much an invitation as her hesitation was. I raised my free hand, slow and careful. I didn’t want to frighten her. She was already skittish and I liked my throat intact. I slid my fingers under her pant leg, skimming my fingertips along her smooth skin like warm silk in my hands. I pressed my hand against her calf, caressing the muscled, soft flesh. All of the blood in my system rushed to my groin, making my cock rock hard with want. Whatever this was between us, she felt it too.
Her pink lips parted as she released a ragged breath. Her eyelids fluttered just a bit, groaning as my fingers stroked her luxurious skin.
“So warm,” I breathed. The heat from her womanhood seeped down her pant leg. I could feel the change in her temperature like someone turning on a sauna. “I want you. I’ve wanted you since the first night I laid eyes on you,” I said. I was so close to losing control, it took all my otherworldly strength to remain on the floor and not take her right then and there. I wanted to sink myself into that warm sheath I knew in my gut was wet and ready for me.
She jerked from me, stumbling back toward the door, putting distance between us. She reeked of fear again, overpowering everything else. Raising her fists in front of her face in defense, she was ready to have another go at me. I propped myself up on my elbows and watched her.
“I . . . I can’t stay,” she stammered.
I’d gotten under her skin. She wanted me just as much as I wanted her. I could taste it on the air as the room filled with the Earthy scent of her arousal. She didn’t know what to do with it. That much was clear. I was starting to wonder if anyone had ever touched her before. She was a ball of anxiety, wrapped up in a neat little package of fire.
“Sweetheart,” I begged. I never begged. Whatever spell this woman had me under was potent to make me beg for one more touch. One more caress to dream about. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to be free of it, not until I tasted her. I wasn’t going to convince the skittish kitten to stay, not this time anyway.
I needed her gone so I could hide her scent and her blood from the rest of the colony. I relaxed knowing that there was more to do before sun set. More than I had time for. No matter how much I wanted her to stay, I needed her to leave.
“I’m sure we’ll meet again,” I said with a cocky smile turning up the corners of my mouth. She turned like a bolt and ran. The Blushing Death ran in three inch heels like the devil himself was chasing her.
“Impressive,” I whispered. The doors in the living room slammed against the wall. She was gone, safe. I sat up and popped my knee back into place. It hurt like hell but it had to be done to heal right. I’d needed to feed to recover completely but there wouldn’t be anyone around until later. I was screwed.
The smell of cooling blood caught my attention. Dahlia had spit out the blood from her mouth after I’d back handed her. I ran my finger through the congealing, cool liquid and licked the blood from my finger. Her blood coated my tongue, sending a ripple of magic and pleasure through my body. The muscles around my knee reknit themselves and my body convulsed as her blood fused within me. My testicles grew tight with come and before I knew it, I had lost control and ejaculated in my silk pants without even touching myself. I lay back on the floor and filled my chest with air, breathing in the scent of her. The heat from her body and her blood washed over me.
“Damn! If I feel this good from only a taste, what would it be like straight from her vein?” I groaned. “Dahlia Sabin, what are you?”
I mocked death, standing this close to her, and I knew it. The Blushing Death was not a woman to be trifled with, no matter how captivating she I found her. The mission was too important to Ethan to mismanage. The fact that I disagreed with him was of little consequence.
What is she doing here?
She shifted her weight from one booted foot to the other with a swish of hips that left my mouth watering.
Across the gallery, she stared up at a canvas that made me think of fire burning through a field of bright white cotton. She stood tall like an Amazon ready for battle with her shoulders back, cowing to no one. Without question the most confident person in the room and she didn’t even know it. Her brashness was delicious like cotton candy on my tongue, sweet and sticky. She shook her golden blond hair back from her face. The strands seemed soft as if silk caressed her shoulders and neck. My fingers itched to feel it sift through my grasp, to feel it strewn across my chest.
What is wrong with me? The Blushing Death is dangerous.
She killed my kind, vampires, and some of my best enforcers over the years. She also had an ass I wanted to sink my fangs into like ripe fruit, long muscular legs I wanted wrapped around me, and eyes that bore straight through to the core of my being.
I glanced at Dominique’s pet still clinging to the emissary from the Ahriman colony. Those sorry excuses for vampires weren’t a colony, they were a cult but no matter how fervent his argument, Ethan wanted none of it. So here I stood, feet away from the most dangerous woman in the city standing between me and Dominque’s idiot human. He’d finally finished his business so it would be safer. I could feel the ticking clock on the back wall like a slap against my skin with every second that passed. We had to leave unnoticed. Whatever Ethan’s ridiculous plan, I would see it through. The Ahriman Cult had delivered the incantation and the amulet as ordered. Only a few more minutes and I could forget that I’d been close enough to the Blushing Death to know she smelled of flowers on a warm summer night.
I turned to leave but the gallery was crowded and too confined, leaving me trapped between too many inebriated humans and the Blushing Death.
Dominque’s greasy, disgusting servant escorted the Ahriman emissary out the back door of the gallery, far from the prying, all too perceptive eyes of the Blushing Death. Now, the only issue was to escape myself before she noticed me.
I scanned the room for another exit, stopping, frozen in place as she moved. Her rich, intoxicating scent carried on the cool breeze as the air circulated through the room. Hellfire and damnation she smelled delicious! My body went rigid and the hard press of my instantaneous arousal was tight along my leg.
She glanced across the gallery, spying Dominique’s servant with a sly, practiced sideways glance. The Blushing Death had seen that greasy bastard and the Ahriman emissary leave with a pretty little morsel. Confound it! I had to distract her, keep her from getting anywhere near them until the representative from the Ahriman colony could get away. I couldn’t have her ruining Ethan’s ridiculous plan. Not at least until I figured out what the old man was up to.
Stepping up behind her my gut churned and twisted until I breathed a long deep inhale. Her light, floral scent filled my senses, making my mind swim in delirium. It wasn’t perfume. A shampoo perhaps, mixing with her natural clean, womanly scent and the divine aroma of her confidence. Beneath all that was the honeyed smell of fear. Exquisite. Tempting. Sweet. Fear. My mouth watered as I watched her, my fangs aching to sink into the soft flesh at her neck. Her body tightened, the muscles along her back rippled beneath the leather jacket as she tensed. Knowing that I stood only inches behind her, she didn’t move, falter, or even cower. I expected no less of the Blushing Death.
“Beautiful,” I breathed. I was closer to her than I remembered leaning in as my words brushed her hair. The Blushing Death’s body went rigid, stiff as stone as every muscle in her body tightened at the proximity of my voice. “The painting,” I added, quick to cover my ridiculous blunder. She glanced over at the painting, tilting her head up and exposing the long line of her neck. I salivated at the soft thump thump,thump thump,thump thump of her blood through her veins.
The Blushing Death was a monster to many of my kind, someone to be feared. As I stared at the soft pale skin of her neck, along the delicate features of her face, the small button nose, the full pink lips, the porcelain skin and wide intelligent eyes, I agreed. She was stunning. Dangerous in so many more ways than any vampire had thought before.
She turned on me, quick and unexpected, meeting my eyes as if she didn’t fear my hypnotic gaze. Then again, this was the Blushing Death. I should expect anything. I met her grey eyes, allowing the hypnotic suggestion to flow from me like water from a sieve – so easy. I wanted to help her relax, make her compliant and easier to deal with. The woman glared at me with a warning churning in the dark seas of her eyes and a saucy glower that should have angered me. Instead, I found it . . . cute as some invisible band tightened around my chest. She did, however, catch me off guard. I hadn’t been caught off guard in decades. She glared up at me with grey eyes the color of storm clouds, filled knowledge and lighting them from the inside. Her heart raced, making her cheeks pink and her generous breasts heave with each panting breath. Dear Lucifer! She was incredible!
“If you say so,” she snapped.
I had the feeling she only answered me because I’d spoken directly to her. Tugging her jacket tight around her, she covered up my perfect view of porcelain white cleavage down her low-cut V-neck sweater. She glanced at the back of the gallery as Dominique’s pet, Mirko, escorted the Ahriman colony representative and her meal out the back door.
“Don’t you like it?” I asked, telling myself it was to keep her away from the back. Deep down I knew I asked for another reason. I wanted to know her answer, to keep her talking. Her voice was intoxicating, deeper than I’d imagined. Dangerous and sexy as if it could lull me into capitulation. She turned those intoxicating storm grey eyes back up to the canvas before catching my gaze, not hesitating to look me in the eye. Why would she hesitate? All of my power and it hadn’t worked. She wasn’t soothed, compliant or tumbling into my arms. She was brash, brazen, and very dangerous.
“All I see is pain . . . and death,” she said, defeated. I knew exactly what she meant, having seen and caused my share of both. It was an aspect of who and what I was. Vampires were not angels of mercy as they had lately been depicted to humans with romantic tendencies. We are killers. I’m a killer. I enjoyed the sweet metallic taste of blood on my tongue. Would hers be just as sweet, maybe even sweeter? My fangs throbbed with wanting. My cock hardened at the thought of sinking into her, thrusting into her body and the feel of her thick warm blood coating the back of my throat.
“But death can be beautiful too,” I said, curling my lips up into a sly smile. Did she see me as a hideous monster? Did she know I’d risk the sun just for a taste? “As in Brueghel’s The Triumph of Death,” I added as an example. “But then I suppose that most know nothing of real pain or death, do they?” I asked, baiting her. I couldn’t help myself, this interaction with her was as delicious as foreplay. I wanted to know what she was thinking. I wanted to know everything about her and especially why she radiated a power like no other human I’d ever come across. She hummed with a magic I couldn’t explain and didn’t recognize.
Standing stark still with her fists clenched at her sides, her arm tensed beneath her jacket. I knew she had a stake in her hand. I could smell the woodsy scent of clean oiled oak. I didn’t think she would use it, not in public anyway. The Blushing Death was many things but stupid wasn’t one of them.
“You’re probably right,” she said, frustration making her voice graveled and sultry. I liked that I’d frustrated her and caused that rosy hue to her skin.
“Are you suggesting that you do?” I asked with a smirk on my lips, unable to hide that I was enjoying this little tete a tete. She opened her mouth to answer, taking in a quick breath. Those full, pink lips slowly closed, pursing in thought to a kissable pout. It took all my strength not to lean in to the unintended invitation. She gazed up at me from under long lashes with those mesmerizing grey eyes, sending blood straight to my cock.
“Probably more than most,” she answered, sadness thick in her deep, melodic voice.
“Some say that the viewer brings their own psyche to the art. Perhaps the painting doesn’t reflect pain and death but instead, you do?” I said. Her lovely face changed, all emotion gone from her expression. Her eyes darkened with warning as something died in her gaze.
I knew immediately that I’d pushed her too far. Before me stood the monster all little vampires fear in the dark . . . the Blushing Death.
“Fascinating,” she bit out.
Standing straighter, I squared my shoulders, unable to relax under the warning in her glare. I had lost my mind, grabbing a tiger by the tail. She wasn’t just any human. She was as dangerous as I was. Even faced with the prospect of death a few inches away, I couldn’t deny that I liked that about her.
“I have to go,” she snapped. Grazing her shoulder hard against mine, she shoved me out of the way, leaving the scent of her on my jacket.
“But I don’t know your name,” I barked, unable to resist. I wanted to see if she would give me that much.
“Dahlia,” she quipped over her shoulder.
Dahlia . . .
The soft delicate name seemed like such juxtaposition from her hard exterior. I rolled her name over my tongue like tasting a fine wine. She was smooth, full bodied with a floral finish that tingled all the way down my being.
Knowing where she was going, I should have stopped her as the natural instinct in me screamed to protect Ethan and the colony. In the back of my mind, an idea formed. A plan. She might, in fact, be the catalyst I needed to throw a wrench in Ethan’s demonic enterprises. The Blushing Death could be the answer to my problem whether she knew it or not.