Series: Princes of the Underground 1
Author: Beth Kery
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Paranormal Romance/Red Hot
Publication Date: May 18, 2010
In his battle to resist, he found the impossible. His soul.
Christina Astor’s telepathic ability is an asset in her job as a psychiatric social worker. What’s driving her crazy, though, is her elusive, gorgeous landlord. She senses that Saint Sevliss wants her with an all-consuming hunger that’s somehow…different. Just how different becomes all too clear when his dangerous world collides with hers.
For centuries, Saint’s kind have been called vampire and werewolf. Even soulless. But their true nature remains a mystery. Bound by a magical mandate to control his bloodthirsty clone, Teslar, at all costs, Saint will do anything to keep Christina away. She infuses his gray universe with life and color, but his world—and his need—would destroy her.
When an attack reveals the true power of Christina’s gift, one thing is certain—Teslar won’t rest in his underground labyrinth until he possesses her, body and soul…
She’d been networking and offering information on Altgeld House to various contributors, board members and other sympathetic community leaders. She instinctively found Saint in the crowd—not difficult to do since his head towered over everyone that surrounded him. His tousled light brown hair streaked with strands of incandescent gold looked glossy in the flickering lanterns and the glow cast by the tiny white lights hanging in the canopy of trees. He’d continued to meet her stare as he conversed with a bald-headed man and a woman wearing a large hat.
A shiver of excitement danced down Christina’s spine.
“Is it true, what they say?” Melinda Marquette, another psychiatric social worker who managed a sister home to Altgeld House, asked as she leaned closer to her. Christina flushed knowing the older woman had noticed where she’d been staring. “Did he really get the nickname “˜Saint’ from all of his charitable acts and altruism? Or is it just an affectation to fascinate the ladies?”
“Come on, Melinda. Look at him. Do you really think he needs to use Hollywood devices to lure women into bed?”
Melinda chuckled softly. “No, I see your point. The man looks like a combination of a rock star and Jesus on steroids.”
Christina pulled her gaze away from Saint’s steady stare. “If it weren’t for Saint Sevliss, you and I would be out of a job and all of our kids would be on the street. He’s LifeLine’s biggest contributor.”
Melinda nodded wryly at the affluent crowd surrounding them. “The hype about this sicko who’s been murdering young people, especially the lost ones like our kids, is certainly doing its fair share of bringing in donations to LifeLine, in addition to Sevliss.”
Christina nodded, her mouth pressed into a hard line. It was a grim fact of life that the sociopath the media had dubbed the “˜Youngblood Thief’ was bringing in tons of money to LifeLine from concerned philanthropists. The media had sensationalized the grisly murders to nauseating levels, but in doing so, had inadvertently highlighted the plight of a subpopulation of mentally ill and homeless young adults in Chicago.
Christina hated the fact that the sad end to four homeless, lonely kids by the horrific method of exsanguination—complete drainage of the blood from the body—was the cause of LifeLine’s swelling coffers.
“They say Sevliss is the true leader of the city, you know, the shadow behind every union leader, neighborhood alderman and councilman. They also say he doesn’t need to avoid press because the media is in his pocket as well. But you must have juicy goods on him, living right here on his property?” Melinda prodded.
Christina just smiled and changed the topic. As much as she liked Melinda, she didn’t gossip about Saint. She didn’t because she knew instinctively how uncomfortable that would make him.
A few minutes later she spun around to snag a glass of champagne and an appetizer from a passing waiter. When she glanced up Saint was standing directly beside her. He’d come without movement, without sound, and in typical Saint-fashion, without a shred of respect for the time it should have taken everyone else on the planet to cross the distance between them.
She quirked up one eyebrow as she looked at him.
“What?” he asked.
Christina laughed softly. She’d known him for eight years now and he still managed to pull off a poker face every time he exhibited yet another bizarre behavior. Did he really think she didn’t notice?
She smiled up at him before she took a sip of champagne, never letting her gaze falter. “It’s going very well, don’t you think? We couldn’t have had a better night for it.”
He’d merely nodded as he stared down at her from his height of six foot five inches. He looked thin. Beautiful as an angel fallen from heaven, but too thin. She held up the pastry appetizer to his lips. It was a common thing for her to push food on him. He glanced down at her hand. His nostrils flared as he inhaled slowly but he shook his head in refusal.
Funny…he looked hungry.
“Go on, eat it. You’re throwing this party, and I haven’t seen you touch a morsel of all this fantastic food.”
“I can’t eat anyone’s food but yours, Stina.”
She smiled. Saint was the only person she knew who called her Stina. Given his typical laconism, she’d always prized the sound of the pet name uttered in his deep, husky voice. Maybe it was wishful thinking on her part, but it always sounded like an endearment on Saint’s tongue.
“Right. If that were the case you’d be capable of surviving on what—three meals a week, tops? Why don’t you just say you’re not hungry?” She chewed and swallowed while he watched her.
“Aren’t you at least going to cut the silent act to tell me I look beautiful tonight?” she asked him brashly, not concerned in the slightest by his refusal to chit chat with her. Saint wasn’t one for small talk. Never had been. How many times had he walked across the grounds and sat on the front porch with her, or with her and Aidan, said a total of a dozen words the entire time before uncoiling his long frame from an Adirondack chair and sauntering silently back to the big house?
She couldn’t imagine how he thrived in a social gathering like this. He always managed to get exponentially more money donated to LifeLine’s shelters and group homes than any board member, so he must not be entirely backward. But if he possessed an ounce of social acumen Christina had yet to see it.
Saint was just…Saint.
He shrugged and blessed her with a rare smile. “Do you really need to hear that you’re beautiful? Why state the obvious? Might as well say the sun is bright.”
She paused abruptly in the act of lifting her champagne glass to her lips, her eyes flashing up to meet his. Had he really just said that? Saint never complimented her. At least not with words. With her special ability to read people’s minds, however, Christina had always known he admired her…wanted her.
Not enough to ever do anything about it, she thought irritably. Not even after eight years of knowing her. But still, she’d known. She’d seen the expression of longing in his eyes, noticed how even the slightest snarl on his shapely mouth resulted in her boyfriends preferring to stay clear of Whitby altogether. Certainly Aidan’s deadbeat dad, Rick, had avoided Whitby like the plague, but Christina suspected that had just as much to do with Rick being a loser as it did Saint’s intimidating frowns.
Saint was always her silent sentinel…her distant lover.
She’d recently made it her mission to narrow that distance to nothing.
She swallowed heavily as she stared into his mesmerizing eyes. She thought she’d understood the depth of his longing before, but she’d been wrong. It was as though he’d been blocking her from his desire and he suddenly released the barrier. Arousal flooded her awareness. A pleasurable tingling sensation buzzed just beneath her skin. Heat sunk from her belly to her sex. A mandatory need to touch him, to press her body against his long, hard length overcame her.
She stepped forward as if to do precisely that—yes, even in the midst of a party that related to her work. His head lowered, as though to meet her in a kiss. For an electric second that stretched impossibly long she was lost…gone…flying around in the depths of Saint’s eyes.
A harsh moan scraped her throat.
For just a moment she existed in a different world—a place of rich, voluptuous pleasure. She could still feel the slight rasp of Saint’s teeth brushing her inner thigh, his firm tongue sliding between the swollen folds of her pussy, the sensation of his big hand opened across her ribs and his fingertips lightly skimming the soft curve of her lower breast. She stared up at the roof of the gazebo, ecstasy nearly blinding her.
“No. Never again.”
She blinked at Saint’s roughly spoken words, the trance broken. The lights around her seemed to throb against the velvety black background of the night sky. In the distance she heard the waves of Lake Michigan striking the beach rhythmically, or was that the sound of the blood surging in her veins? She felt hot. She touched her fingertips to her cheek. Her face wasn’t the only thing that had grown warm and damp.
Warm moisture pooled between her thighs.
Had it really happened?
Her gaze locked on Saint’s rigid features. She took a step closer to him, stunned by the magnitude of desire she saw etched on his features…hurt by the fact that he appeared to be struggling like crazy against that desire.