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The Scientific Method, Page 4

Joey W. Hill

  Debra had taken on more and more to make up for the lost hours, keeping the projects moving forward at a brisk pace. Despite that sullen thought about him never listening to her mind, she never complained.

  He thought of how it had startled her, to find he was listening. That bugged him. Thinking about a variety of things, he held her for an hour, despite the work load waiting for them. He ran his hands down her back, over the silky fabric of her shirt. He unzipped the skirt so he could slide his hand down over one bare buttock, stroke it. Her panties were still caught at her knees, and he found her sleeping in such dishabille unspeakably moving and erotic at once.

  Easing her to her back, he moved the panties to her ankles. He almost removed them, but when his gaze slid up the lengths of her long, slender legs to the shadowed juncture between her thighs, barely hidden by the bunched state of the skirt, he changed his mind. He tied the panties at her ankles, holding her legs together, then slid the skirt off of her. He shed his shorts and leaned over her. Tracing the gentle swells of her breasts over the top of the shirt, he bent to lay a kiss between them. Her lashes fanned her cheeks, her pale pink lips parted, so he lifted his head to kiss them as well, tasting the soft, moist inside of her mouth with his tongue. She mumbled sleepily, her breath sweet on his face.

  He had to be inside her, and he saw that desire in her mind as well, even in her somnolent haze. She loved how they lost themselves together when they were joined. That drifting thought gave him pause, but not enough to deny himself.

  Shifting over her, he straddled her closed legs, then guided his cock into the narrow channel between them. He rubbed it over the petals of her sex, enjoying the pleasure of her earlier arousal coating him there. He took his time with it, at last settling down upon her, bracing his elbows on either side of her head to hold his weight, thumbs stroking her cheeks, her forehead as he pressed into her. It was an excruciatingly pleasurable position for them both, the head of his cock pushed toward the top of her channel, stroking her there in a way that would take her far longer to come, but would also make her crazy with sensation.

  He knew her body so well, like no male ever had, nor ever would again. He lifted his hips to draw out slow, then pushed back in again. He stepped inside her mind, feeling her arousal grow and bring her in a pleasurable slide out of sleep, such that she was making sexy little pleas in her throat. Capturing her wrists, he stretched out her arms, holding them to the bed as he worked himself over her, his gaze delving into the depths of her brown eyes, watching her moisten her lips.

  "My lord..."

  "Call me the other."

  "Master." Her gaze flared at that, because he'd never made that demand of her. She wanted to come, he knew she did, but something different came to her lips. "Please let me watch you come, Master. I love to see you come. Feel it happen inside of me."

  "You first," he commanded quietly. "You'll come first."

  Because he didn't regularly attend vampire social events or avail himself of his servant as frequently in public venues, he knew there were those who thought he wasn't as driven by his libido as a "normal" vampire, but that wasn't the case at all. When he could focus on his servant like this, he enjoyed nothing better than tormenting her to the point she was trembling like a leaf, her every moan and sigh an entreaty for release. He held her on that cusp until she was panting, gasping, wailing. His cock had thickened inside her, and he was moving even slower, feeling how her nerve endings had caught fire, her clit swollen and needy, throbbing.

  "Please." She couldn't go over until he changed the angle, so he kept her on the edge, mindless, begging, calling his name. Asking to do anything for him.

  "Now." He changed the thrust, and sent her catapulting. Usually she'd bite down, try not to be too loud unless he commanded otherwise, but this time he'd taken her so far on that edge she lost control and screamed out her pleasure. Desire surged in him, sending him over that same cliff, spilling his seed inside her.

  The ejaculation made him feel she was even more his, like a third marking all over again. It was an emotional reaction, not a rational one. He'd learned not to give it too much credence beyond the heat of the moment, but this time as he saw her come down, the want and need in her gaze was something he couldn't resist. He lowered himself on her, pressed his mouth to hers and held there. She made a questing noise against him, her palms sliding over his shoulders. He liked the way her fingers slid up into his hair, stroking. Her thighs quivered beneath the clamp of his own. Rising up, he got rid of the panties and then lay back down, guiding her legs up over his hips so he could slide back in to the hilt. She let out a keening cry, arching up to him.

  "That's my servant," he murmured, kissing her jaw. He worked his way down from there, and her fingers tightened in his hair as he bit, taking a pull on that vein in her throat. He wanted her to feel the rush of lightheadedness, the reminder that her life was in his hands. Her pussy clutched him, a ripple of response, telling him the knowledge only made her want him to thrust deeper, drink harder.

  I would give you anything, my lord. My life is yours.

  Did she know he was in her mind? He didn't say anything, wanting to know if she would say anything further. She didn't, but he felt that sadness again.

  Finished, he closed the bite mark before propping himself on one arm to look down at her. She gave him a smile, touched his mouth, running her thumb over the residual blood there. She usually kept her hands to herself until he commanded otherwise, and he always discouraged intimate little touches like that in the aftermath. Had he let this go too far? He was about to say something to take them off this too-intimate track, but she spoke first.

  "I have the Helsinki figures processed," she said. "Once you're ready, my lord, we can go over them."

  "All right," he said. "Go back to the lab. I'll get dressed and join you there."

  He rolled off her reluctantly, watched her put her feet down on the opposite side of the bed. The curve of her back under her thin shirt was a vulnerable curve. She found her panties and skirt, slipped them back on, tucked in the shirt as well. She was talking, more information about the Helsinki data, but for once he wasn't picking up on any of that. Just watching her body language. Stiff, unsure, the language of someone holding a great deal inside.

  Picking up her shoes, she nodded. "See you shortly, then."

  "All right." He watched her cross the room and leave him, closing the door behind her. He listened to her pad down the hallway in her bare feet, head up the stairs. There was a pause there, as if she put on the shoes, but when he put out a questing tendril in her mind, he found she'd stopped for other reasons. She had her temple against the wall halfway up the stairs, her hand gripped tight on the railing. He felt that squeezing ache inside her, then she shoved it down, continued up the steps.

  They'd gone through this in the first couple years, her adapting to the necessary reality of their relationship. He knew it had been painful for her, a difficult transition. So it was best to let it be, not re-open that can of worms. Human servants went through emotional ups and downs through the first fifty years or so of their service. All vampires knew this.

  But in his extensive demographic data collection on servants, he'd discovered something less widely known. There was a greater mortality rate for full servants in those first fifty years than in any other time of their 300 year lifespan. Nearly forty percent of servants never made it past the half-century mark in a vampire's service.

  A little over eighteen percent were executed by their Master or Mistress. While being fully marked was a human's choice, unfortunately the understanding of what carrying three marks meant often didn't become clear until the deed was done. Because the vampire world operated in the shadows of the human world, and secrecy was of utmost importance, a fully marked servant couldn't simply be released from service when they proved unsuitable. Such executions were done as humanely as possible, a cold comfort to the human, he was sure.

  He'd at least come up with a way to dea
l with that, a mark remover combined with a mind eraser that was fairly effective. It was tremendously disorienting for the human, but the secret of vampire existence was protected, and the servant's life could be spared. Like most of his research, that had been driven by vampire benefit. Very few vampires relished having to execute their servant. And when a servant died, that sharp truncation of connection between vampire and servant was disorienting, emotionally and physically.

  For that reason, another ten percent of new servants were lost to fights, because battles between vampires often involved taking out a servant for the same reasons warriors of old would take out a cavalry horse, hoping the momentary disorientation would help them take the head of the rider.

  Then there was the last twelve percent, the group of servants whose early demise was rarely discussed.


  He thought of Debra, the sadness in her face, and a cold feeling gripped him low in the stomach. He'd never even considered... No, she was rational. She'd never do such a thing. Like the best vampire servants, she was completely committed to his service. But finding out that it was not a reciprocal relationship emotionally was a difficult transition for most humans, used to framing a dedicated relationship in terms of marriage, family...soul mates.

  Debra was the first human servant he'd chosen for himself. He was from a noble family, a born vampire whose father was a wealthy English landowner to the human world and a Region Master in the vampire world. Brian had been born to the entitlements of such privilege and was taught early the distinction between him and other vampires of lesser stock. It made the gap between vampires and humans even more of a chasm. That had been hammered home to him throughout his childhood and adolescent years. While he'd chosen a different path for vampires than his father had wanted, he was still very much a product of the culture in which he'd been raised.

  Many vampires lost themselves in a servant's initial passion, forgot what the boundaries of the relationship had to be. He'd shut down any feelings like that in himself, ascribing it to a chemical urge, like endorphins. More than his family history took him down that path. Early in his studies, he'd envisioned a research facility dedicated to the vampire species. To accomplish that, he'd have to achieve credibility with much older vampires, and most doubted the maturity of a vampire prior to his first century mark. His self-control was constantly under the microscope.

  Fortunately Debra had not only understood his drive in that regard; she'd matched it. She was one of the most remarkable women he'd ever met. He hoped he conveyed that in the responsibility he gave her, in the confidence he had in her findings and his overwhelming respect for her mind. But what he'd seen there tonight made him wonder if he was somehow making a grave error, overlooking something vital he needed to provide her.

  He'd thought she'd reconciled herself to her role. He'd certainly taken some distastefully extreme steps to ensure it. But no matter what boundaries, protocols or lessons existed, most humans didn't understand what the relationship truly was until the first several decades had passed, and he and Debra hadn't even spent their first decade together. However, she was more mature, a faster thinker. What would take others thirty or forty years to realize, maybe she faced now.

  And maybe the capricious heart alone made the decision as to what a servant could and couldn't accept. The thought disturbed him, but he pushed it away for now. Time for a shower. They had the Helsinki figures to review.


  Brian scrolled through the latest space station data on the properties of sunlight, comparing it to data they'd culled from the ashes of vampires gathered after they chose to meet the sun. He saw some intriguing findings from Lab 6, under Debra's supervision. Nothing right now that suggested a way for vampires to endure sunlight more comfortably, but many scientific discoveries occurred as a result of seemingly unrelated leads and sifting through tons of data, just to see what random puzzle pieces turned up. One might eventually lead to the most important piece. Debra's summary statement at the end of the report reflected the same conclusion.

  He was striding down the maze of hallways in the main estate compound, headed back to the research wing. As always, he was vaguely aware of servants stepping out of his path, perhaps even a couple vampires. Most of the time he didn't offend with such behavior. The visitors and occupants of the estate for the most part were accustomed to his preoccupation and didn't take it as a lack of respect. Until the day he'd forced Lady Lyssa to veer from her path to avoid a full collision with him.

  He hadn't even realized she was there until he heard a startled gasp. Lifting his head, he saw Lord Uthe's servant frozen at the other end of the hall, having witnessed his transgression. He'd skidded to a halt, sensing Lyssa in the same moment. Turning, he saw her waiting on his attention -- waiting, God help him -- with that deadly grace she had, even in a motionless posture like she held then. She'd raised a brow.

  "We're going to put a bell on you, Lord Brian. Or I'm going to start carrying a cattle prod to keep you mindful of your whereabouts."

  "Yes, my lady. My deepest apologies."

  Her lips quirked, the jade eyes gleaming, and then she continued up the hall without further comment. Lord Uthe's servant scurried off with a "my lord" and a hidden smile.

  Since then, he'd tried to stay aware of his surroundings a little better. Which was why his head came up, his eyes narrowing when an all-too-recently-familiar scent hit him. Jacob had been out working on the grounds with the maintenance crew. He bore a sheen of sweat on bare skin, since he was stripped to his jeans, a T-shirt tossed carelessly over his shoulder. His lean, powerful body was as much a warrior's as a servant's. The virile display pricked that knot of ugly feelings Brian thought had dissipated.

  When Jacob saw Brian, he offered a courteous nod. "Lord Brian."

  He should have offered his usual distracted acknowledgement, but as Jacob passed him, Brian stopped. Not just because of his own feelings on things. The cut of Jacob's glance wasn't his usual pleasant manner, either.


  The servant came to a halt and turned, raised a brow. "My lord."

  No mistaking the coldness that time. Brian set his tablet on a side table and stepped toward him. Interestingly, Jacob closed the distance. Even realizing his objectivity was not at its best level today, Brian found himself matching that aggressive stance toe to toe.

  Jacob was an intelligent, loyal servant and an exceptional male, one whose courage, service and dedication to his lady had impressed Brian on numerous occasions. But right now he didn't care about that. He was remembering that scent on Debra's skin, the flush when he confronted her about it. She liked it when this male hugged her, paid attention to her.

  "Is there a problem?" Brian ground out, aware that the tips of his fangs were showing. Jacob's gaze flickered over them, but it didn't modulate his attitude at all.

  "Not with me, my lord. But perhaps if you add Debra to your task list on that little device of yours, you could manage a thought toward her wellbeing. Since she sacrifices all of herself to yours."

  "Isn't that a servant's job?"

  Jacob's lip curled. "Pompous asshole isn't a good look for you, Brian."

  He wasn't one to act on physical impulses. Yet a blink later he had Jacob shoved up against the wall, so forcefully he heard the male's bones thud against the brick. Despite that, Jacob didn't submit. Instead, he swung up between Brian's arms and struck his chin with both fists, hard enough the vampire saw stars. Though Brian had him multiple times over on strength, Jacob was called to fight far more often than a research scientist. Brian tasted blood from his split lip and saw red. He was going to rip his fucking arms off.

  He pulled Jacob off the wall, flung him toward the floor. Jacob rolled and was on his feet in an instant, squared off with him. The idiot servant wasn't backing down, his expression hard.

  "You tread on dangerous ground, Jacob."

  "I'm a vampire's servant, my lord. That goes without saying." Jacob cracked his neck, rot
ated his shoulders. "Want to try again? I'm sure I can get in a couple more punches. It'd be worth some broken bones to me."

  Brian blinked. "It's an executable offense to attack a vampire."

  "Only if I'm trying to kill you. I've no intention of that."

  "No chance of that," Brian retorted.

  Jacob grinned. It reminded Brian that more than once this man had been a vital ally, someone willing to protect Lyssa with his life and very soul if needed. Damn it, he liked the man. Biting back his irritation, he struggled to get his inexplicable caveman reaction under control.

  "I know your lady's regard for you, Jacob, and I acknowledge your value as well, but on occasion you forget your place."

  "Not on occasion." Jacob snorted. "Pretty much constantly, if you ask her."

  "You will keep your hands off Debra except in the context of your Mistress's command," Brian snapped.

  It startled Jacob as much as it had shocked Debra, Brian could tell. But Jacob rallied quickly, his brow creasing with concern, protective instincts kicking in. "If you think she's done anything inappropriate or disloyal to you, my lord, you really do have your head up your ass."

  "I don't think that," Brian ground out. "Are you trying to get me to put your head through the wall?"

  "She loves you with everything she is," Jacob said, blue eyes intent. "If that doesn't demand reciprocity in your version of the vampire-servant relationship, it at least deserves acknowledgement. Respect. Appreciation."

  "She's brilliant. I tell her that often."

  Jacob closed his eyes, astonishingly as if he was seeking patience with a particularly thick-headed child. Brian really was going to rip off his limbs. He'd figure out an explanation for Lyssa. Which would probably gain him an extra ten seconds before she separated him from his appendages.

  Jacob opened his eyes, met Brian's gaze. "We give up everything for you. Willingly, because of what we receive in return. I know you think highly of her mind. Maybe you should pay closer attention to what's going through it. And her heart. If that doesn't matter to you, you haven't grown up as much as I thought you had, these past few years."