Darling (A Gothic Vampire Romance)
"Vampires should not love, Mistress. Their love is dangerous, expressed in a way humans do not understand. It could bring out the worst in both of you."
From birth, Cassandra has been groomed to be the Beloved of Lord Constantine. Deeply in love with her lord, she is obsessed with being his wife and mother of his future Half-Blood children. As the Pureblood Vampire King of Nightmares, Lord Constantine is obsessed with keeping Cassandra sheltered from the necessary cruelty of his world.
Even if that means keeping Cassandra a perpetual maiden.
Unfortunately good intentions and love are not enough when Cassandra cannot be protected from the one man capable of destroying her---Lord Constantine himself.
“What goes here, Lenore?” Although delivered softly, Lord Constantine’s tone communicated grave displeasure. Formally dressed in black evening clothes replete with silver cravat, top hat banded in matching, lustrous fabric, and completed by a voluminous overcoat and sable leather gloves, the hauntingly beautiful vampire oozed colossal power and elegant menace. He glided forward, booted feet soundless as they traveled across stone, to tower over both women.
“Lord Constantine, you honor us with your presence.” Lenore sank even deeper as a sign of reverence.
“I am not in a habit of repeating myself.”
Lenore rose at his signal. She bowed once. “Of course, my lord. Mistress Cassandra—”
“Has been crying. Her misery found me in my rooms. Why?”
Lenore’s expression remained placid, carved from living marble. Nothing seemed to touch her, but Cassandra knew Lenore more than capable of discomfort and disappointment. A lifetime spent watching these ageless creatures had taught Cassandra to watch for the minutia.
There! She took a little longer to blink. She’s sad.
Guilt suffocated her. Standing there without a stitch of clothing, Cassandra had to listen to her lord castigate her protector all because she wanted the impossible.
If she hadn’t been so selfish, Lenore would have already finished preparing her for his visit.
If she hadn’t been so weak, Lord Constantine would have never known she was upset.
If she hadn’t been so disgustingly human, Cassandra would have been stronger than her fears.
I must be who he wants me to be. A girl. . .not a woman.
She summoned a radiant grin and spun around. “Lord Constantine! I have missed you so much!” Launching into his arms, Cassandra barely waited for him to lift her up before she peppered his face with innocent kisses.
“Mistress Cassandra, allow me to put on your robe before you climb all over your lord.”
Lenore’s censure made the human girl latch onto her vampire even tighter. “Please do not be upset with Lady Lenore, my lord. I fell to my fears today. That is all.”
His icy aristocratic countenance melted with a gentle smile. “My darling Cassandra, what is there for you to fear? Hmm? Tell me and I will destroy it.” He kissed the tip of her nose and hugged her tightly.
She giggled, relieved to have spared Lenore a continued tongue-lashing. “But you are the king of all fears, my lord. You make them appear so how could you ever destroy them?”
“I am your lord, am I not?” He waited until she nodded. “Then my will is absolute.” Lord Constantine bounced her once. “Now tell me. What made you cry?”
Cassandra thought to lie. She tried very, very hard to do so without him knowing. She failed. His eyes hardened. “Do not lie to me, darling. I will be most upset with you if you dishonor me with a falsehood.”
Chastened, she dropped her head onto his shoulder. “I am sorry, my lord. Please forgive me.”
He carried Cassandra back out into her chamber with Lenore following behind. When Cassandra began to speak again, Lord Constantine shushed her. He accepted the proffered robe and wrapped his little human up within its generous folds. Settling onto the chaise, with Cassandra tucked solidly against his side, Lord Constantine dismissed Lenore with a nod.
Cassandra lay there, quiet as a favored pet but not nearly as content. She awaited his permission to speak again. Her heart thumped a nervous rattle. Knowing he could hear it, she lamented again at being so easily weakened.
“Why did you become so sad, darling?”
Tears scalded. She screwed her eyes shut. Cassandra wanted to defy him and remain mute. His leather-clad fingertip brushed against her cheek in warning.
There’s no hope for it. He will never retreat once he wants to know something.
“I become very frightened without you, Lord Constantine. I think you will forget me one day. I will disappear if that happens. I know I will.”
“Silly girl.” He tipped Cassandra’s chin up. Brushing away her tears, he pressed his mouth against hers in a chaste kiss. “I could never forget my darling, dearest, sweetest girl. Didn’t you know? Vampires have extraordinarily sharp memories.”
Cassandra gripped his overcoat. Rubbing her cheek against the velvety broadcloth material, she swore, “I love you, my lord. I love you so very, very much.”
“How much do you love me?” he prodded with an indulgent grin.
Courage pulled back the curtain on her inner morbidity. Cassandra cupped his cheek and confessed, “I love you so much I want to die.”