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The Scientific Method, Page 3

Joey W. Hill

  She got back to work.

  Chapter Two

  Debra, stripped naked, cowered in the shadows. She was far too pale, because they'd fed on her too long. A shadow loomed over her, a ham-sized fist wrapping in her blond hair, the usually clean and shining strands lank and oily. She was food. Nothing more, nothing less.

  When she was jerked to her feet, she fought despite her weakness, because she would. Most only saw a shy, socially awkward woman with a near constant frown of concentration on her face because of the rapid-fire workings of her brain, but Brian knew her courage never faltered.

  He lunged forward, but he wasn't close enough. In that cloudy shift that happened during dreams, he knew he wasn't even in the room. He was watching events unfold as if he was inside her mind but in a remote location. She was suffering all this alone. Yet he could feel her clinging to his name in her mind. She was drawing strength from her connection to him, even though he couldn't reach out to her. The loss of that connection was like death itself.

  The massive vampire sank his fangs into her throat, over her windpipe, strangling her as he took the blood. He wanted to drink her dry then kill her, because he was done with her, in the mood for a new taste. He picked up a scalpel, intending to carve her heart out of her chest and dine on it, the blood alone not enough. He had to consume all of her.


  Brian jacked up in his bed, sheets fisted in his hands. He had a snarl on his lips, his fangs fully unsheathed. Yet he confronted a dark room where there was nothing but himself and the echo of his fury.

  Damn it. Ever since the night Debra had left the facility to help Gideon and Anwyn recover Daegan Rei from rogue vampires, he'd been plagued by these dreams. Because he'd tended the handful of traumatized human women who'd been kept in cells for months by those rogues, he couldn't forget their sallow faces, hopeless eyes and trembling fear. Debra hadn't been one of them, but irrationally, he kept imposing her face on theirs in his dreams.

  As yet more evidence of his illogical state, he kept having to resist the temptation to order Debra to stay with him during his sleeping hours, so she'd be close enough for him to protect. Even though he was least capable of protecting her when stuck in his daylight coma. She'd be far more likely to sacrifice herself for him in such a vulnerable state.

  He was behaving like an idiot.

  If he told her to stay with him during daylight hours, and if she wasn't so respectful, she'd tell him he'd lost his mind. She was as much of a workaholic as he was, and such an indulgence would cut into the time they needed to manage their ongoing projects. The workload had blossomed, so demanding she was handling half the projects herself. He checked her notes and received a daily status update, but that was to satisfy his curiosity and enjoy what strides she'd made or brainstorm about new directions, not to check her work. Though she was several decades behind him in study, she was every bit as capable a scientist as himself.

  But she was his.

  The feeling that thought brought had no rational basis either, but ever since that harrowing night, such primitive feelings had been surfacing more and more. Along with those dreams. It irritated him. He had no time for such things, and neither did she. Science was their focus.

  Not right now, though. Dominance, sexual and otherwise, was a part of vampire nature that couldn't be denied. Discovering the depth of her submissive nature when they'd met had therefore been a pleasure, but lately he found himself fighting a growing desire to explore it even deeper, underscore it further than he'd allowed himself since the earliest days of their relationship.

  It was dangerous, a desire so strong it was an obvious craving, one he had in full color right now, much like his way-too-vivid dream. He tried to push it away, tamp it down as he usually did, knowing such urges were unwise. But that animalistic side snarled at the cool rational one, sending it cowering like the Debra in his dream. And seeing that image again decided him.

  Reaching out to her in his mind, he found her at her desk in the lab, a corner office she'd created to stay accessible to the staff and run tests while handling the endless emails and data review.

  Debra, come to my room. Right now.

  Yes, my lord. On my way.

  Her mellifluous voice was a mix of everything she was. The honed syllables emphasized her intelligence, the accurate information she provided never vague or exaggerated. The breathless quality suggested experiences that would take her breath away. And then there was that tagged purr, hinting at the sensuality that he could transform to pleading desire, a treasure that put gold to shame. He thought of the moistness of her lips, the honey between her thighs, the rapid pulse in her throat, her body arching up to him. And that helpless, wide-eyed sweet disbelief she experienced, every time she surrendered to him with such need and passion.

  Usually when he summoned her, he'd pull out of her mind after she responded, turn to whatever task was waiting in his private lab. He might surface a half hour later to find her sitting in a chair in his chambers, pursuing her own work until he was ready to address her. The perfect servant. He didn't do that this time, waiting impatiently, sitting on the edge of the bed, every muscle tense.

  When she slipped into the room, he saw she was dressed for work as usual. Being located at the Council headquarters, she was conscious of the potential for frequent interface with higher-ranking vampires, as well as the image she needed to present to the staff. Her tailored fawn-colored skirt stopped just above the knee, and the silk shot knit shirt with a wide scoop neck bared her collar bones. Neat and clean, the outfit unwittingly complimented all her curves, her delicate neck and fine facial features.

  Most servants also dressed with their vampire's blood needs in mind. Seeing the scoop collar, the vulnerability of her slim throat, her blond-brown hair pinned up on her head, made his fangs want to extend again.

  They could both see in the dark, though his night vision was sharper. He saw her surprise that he hadn't turned on a lamp, wasn't already at work. But she moved toward him. "My lord? What do you need?"

  As she drew closer, he inhaled her scent. He detected her mice, sunflower seeds, cookies and pencil lead. She often liked to figure organically, despite her tablet being her constant companion. She set it aside as she approached him.

  That was when he detected another odor clinging to her, one that provoked an unexpected reaction he didn't resist. Catching her wrist, he had her down on her back on the bed in a blink. He drove the breath out of her as he put himself on top of her, and not just because of his solid weight. He was wearing nothing but brief shorts and an aching hard-on that insinuated itself through the thin fabric of her skirt. His gaze latched on the swell of her breasts, accentuated by her arched position and the scooped collar.

  "Why was Jacob this close to you?"

  Her pulse jumped in her throat, trepidation mixed with arousal. It was the type of reaction one saw in a submissive who craved a Master's touch...his discipline. He didn't offer that very often to Debra. Feeling her mind swirling between anxiety and arousal at his harsh demand, he wondered why he didn't indulge that pleasure more often. Their permutations of Dominance and submission usually focused on her compliance to his sexual desires. Not his desire to test the limits of her submission in more creative ways. Ways that were goading his bloodlust now.

  "Answer me."

  "I...he comes to the lab daily. He's my friend. He hugged me." Her cheeks colored as he continued to glower at her. "Servants...are very affectionate, my lord. You know this."

  "Don't tell me what I know and don't know. He did more than hug you."

  "He kissed the top of my head. Sat me...I sat on his lap. Just affection, my lord." Her gaze darkened. "I am yours and he belongs fully to Lady Lyssa. It's simply how servants can be."

  Which you would know if you took the time to look into my mind more often.

  He didn't usually, not outside of the work they did in the lab, but he did at that key moment. When he growled, she started as if he'd goaded her with
a cattle prod.

  "I apologize, my lord," she said, though the set of her chin made him wonder if she was truly sorry. He'd find out. "I wasn't trying to be impertinent."

  "Yet you still managed it brilliantly."

  Color stained her cheeks, but she said nothing further. She was obviously uncertain of this mood, but what filled his mind was she'd had that same set to her chin when she fought the enemy in his dreams. He'd let her leave that night, let her go near danger without him. Yes, he'd been needed at the Berlin castle for vital reasons related to that rescue attempt, but that wasn't the point.

  He rose, bidding her with a short movement of his hand to stay in her sprawled position, legs open as much as the skirt allowed. As he studied her, her eyes lowered. But he saw how she took advantage of the demure act. Her attention lingered on his shoulders and chest, the track of his abdomen, leaving a trail of heat on his skin. Then she focused on his testicles and cock, forming a very noticeable mound under the cloth. Her aroused scent increased like that of a crushed gardenia, making him rein back a multitude of savage desires. "Stand up and take off your shoes."

  As she slipped off the low, practical heels, he detected a delicious quiver to her. Had she gotten wet when Jacob touched her? The vision put murderous thoughts in his head. "Pull your panties down to your thighs. Don't take them off. Then hold your skirt up at your waist."

  Her eyes widened at that. He moved to switch on the lamp, and when he turned back, she'd complied. She was wearing white lace panties. She didn't wear anything as racy as most of the servants who came through the Council headquarters did, but he'd never demanded that of her. Truth, her naked in a lab coat was enough to make him want to fuck her senseless. He'd never demanded that of her either. Maybe that was about to change.

  He came back, sat down on the bed. Taking her arm, he guided her closer to him. When it became clear he was going to spank her like a child, he saw a confused tangle in her mind. He'd wanted the panties and skirt in that position because it offered an erotic humiliation. He wanted to punish her for making him fear for her life. He required her to stay safe.

  All vampires had impulse control triggers. The younger the vampire, the harder it was to rein them back. He was a young vampire, yes, but not that young. His primal side might have hold of him, but he was letting it have full rein. Especially as he inhaled Jacob's scent again.

  He pushed her down over his thighs. At five-eight, she was made up of willowy limbs, slender fingers and lovely feet with high arches and soft heels, her toenails painted a simple frost color like her fingernails.

  When she floundered, unsure of how to brace herself in that position, he held her. "Be still," he said sharply. She went still, though he heard the erratic catch of her breath. "Part your thighs and lift your ass. I expect to feel all your muscles straining to bring it up as high as you can go. You won't lower it, no matter how much it hurts."

  "No, Master."

  Master. She called him my lord most often, but the other springing to her tongue now made triumph surge through him.

  She had a pale, heart-shaped ass, one that would flush with color as easily as her cheeks did when she was flustered. He wanted to leave it red and throbbing, wanted her to ask his permission to use a pillow to sit. Would she? Or would she suffer silently? He didn't want that. He wanted her to ask him to see to her comfort.

  He'd learned to suppress such thoughts, knew they were warning signs. Yet he didn't this time.

  Instead, he brought his palm down on one firm cheek and she jumped, her hands curling around his bare calf. He liked the touch of her hands, so he didn't tell her to let go. He could feel the strain of her stomach muscles, and he cupped her pussy between her spread legs, probing the wetness.

  "Why did you come in here already aroused? Was it Jacob?"

  "No, my lord." She sounded gratifyingly shocked at the idea. "I was thinking...of when you last fed. When you had me serve you on my knees."

  Now he was surprised. He enjoyed her submission intensely, but he hadn't thought of her fantasizing about it when she wasn't with him. She always seemed so focused on their work. He spanked her bottom again, with more force. She made a sound of pleasure, a plea for more. He gave her more, alternating between the cheeks and then hitting at their base, increasing the sensation as they wobbled in reaction. He began to stroke her clit as he eased his fingers into her, feeling the convulsive ripple through her cunt. She was gasping, her body quivering all the more.

  "You'll serve me on your knees again when I'm done here."

  "Yes, Master. Please."

  He returned to spanking her, and the more he did it, the more he wanted to do it. Lifting her as easily as he could lift a vase, he set her down on the floor on her elbows and knees, ass still raised in the air as he commanded. If there was anything more stimulating than seeing his servant in that position, her arms trembling, thighs open enough he could see her flushed and glistening pussy, the small pucker of her anus, the red blush on her buttocks, he didn't know what it was. He knelt, dug his fingers into her hair, disrupting the neat coil. He massaged her scalp, his thumb passing over the occipital bone and the slender bones in the back of her neck. Then he twisted his fingers in the thick, shining strands, tight enough to pull on the scalp while still holding her head to the floor. That trembling turned into spasmodic quivers. She liked the combination of a Master's demand, the threat of pain mixed with overwhelming pleasure.

  He started swatting her anew. As he started to put more force behind it, he shifted his hold to her nape, holding her in place. He knew when it started to genuinely hurt, from the choked sound of her cries, the vibrations in her mind, apprehension and desire both. She wanted him to stop but she didn't want him to stop, needing the pain because it unlocked things buried inside herself. Hurtful things.

  He paused at that. She wasn't expecting it, such that she wasn't able to suppress the sound in time. A sob. It was a different sound from a pleasured gasp, more like the sharp catch that came from a sudden knife thrust inside flesh.

  Yes, servants cried at times. He'd seen it happen frequently at vampire dinners, a normal reaction to unlocking the pain-pleasure connection to a submissive's emotional needs, but Debra didn't succumb to it that often.

  Her buttocks were flaming red from his punishment. When he bent to kiss one cheek, nuzzling her, her fingers curled into the rug, forehead still down. She was holding back any noise now, crying silent tears, but he felt them as if they were falling inside himself.

  Gripping her shoulders, he brought her up to her heels. She ducked her head, trying to hide her face from him, but he caught her chin in a firm hold, studying the tear tracks. He'd told her she'd be sucking him off after he finished spanking her. Her eyes had lowered, were already focused there. Her breathing was still erratic from her distress, but from arousal, too. He felt her anticipation. She wanted the act fiercely, wanted to immerse herself in the physical pleasure so she wouldn't feel so...empty.

  He stared at her. She was his to do with as he desired. He had every right to disregard her emotions and, in truth, Debra had always dealt with them herself, suggesting she didn't need him to attend to that part of her. She was his self-sufficient, practical servant. Rational.

  And she was crying.

  Bending, he put his arms around her. She wasn't sure what he was about, trying to accommodate, anticipate. "Be still," he said gruffly, and she complied, uncertain and stiff as he gathered her up and took her to the bed. He didn't carry her often, but she was so light. More than most, he was aware of how fragile a human's bones were, even a third mark's -- especially if it was a vampire breaking them.

  That damn dream.

  Laying her down, he slid into the bed with her. She was facing him, and he traced the tears on her face, her cheeks, over her lips. She looked as if she might say something, explain them away, but he shook his head, bidding her stay silent. She subsided, lashes fanning her cheeks again, a sigh lifting her shoulders. His mouth tightened. He sh
ould let it be.

  Instead, he gathered her up against his chest, his thigh over hers, surrounding her. After a long, tense pause, her arms crept around his back and she let out another little sigh, going limp in his arms. Having been taken so close to subspace with that spanking, her mind was a chaotic soup, so he couldn't make heads or tails of the tears unless he wanted to delve deeper. He wasn't really used to doing that, so for now he stayed in this new territory, just holding her against him.

  He stroked her hair, feeling the fine silk of it. Thinking of the dream, where it had been lank and dirty, he increased his grip.

  "In the future," he said, "You may accept hugs from Jacob, the occasional pat on the shoulder, but no more sitting in his lap. Or I will make sure your ass is far too sore to sit on a chair, let alone a man's lap. Understood?"

  She nodded. "Yes, Master."

  Her body twitched as if he'd injected a quick jerk of arousal through her nerves. He wanted to fuck her here and now, but something held him back. He touched her mind tentatively, not wanting to hear another sarcastic remark, but what he did hear was enough to leave him pondering.

  There is only one man I desire. Only one man I've ever desired like this. You.

  In this position, his unsatisfied cock was against her abdomen. He could feel her concern, her sense of responsibility to tend to his needs, but as he stroked her hair, said quiet, incoherent things to her, it eased. Then she did something remarkable. She fell asleep.

  Third marks had to reach an extraordinary level of stress or sleep deprivation to drop off like that. He wondered which it was. Perhaps both. Had he been pushing her too much? It frustrated him that sunlight made him too groggy to function between sunrise and dusk. Lady Lyssa called it the vampire "teenage years" because of the level of sleep vampires his age needed. Supposedly, it improved once a vampire hit his nineties, but like his impulse control, he'd hoped that part of him would mature more quickly.