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The Scientific Method, Page 6

Joey W. Hill

  I don't need him to be like a human boyfriend. I just need to feel...that he's my Master. That I'm... She was talking to herself in that way a person did when crying, all the thoughts tangled in a rush of feeling, but even then she couldn't voice it. As the emotions battered him like waves breaking against his own heart, he filled in the words she didn't.

  That she's important to me. Now he understood why Jacob had acted like he was a clueless idiot when he spouted off about how brilliant Debra was. She knew that. She needed something different from him. So very different.

  Two years into their relationship, Debra had told him she loved him, and asked if he felt the same about her. It was as if she'd forgotten everything he'd told her back when she had the first mark. That had been his fault, because he'd allowed their relationship to get so familiar, so comfortable, so...close. The next night, he'd taken a female vampire in front of her, Lady Carmela. He knew he needed to teach his servant a never-to-be-forgotten lesson about the vampire-servant relationship.

  Though it had sat in his gut like food poisoning for weeks afterward, he hadn't questioned his action. He'd told himself it protected her and him. He'd been relieved when she pulled out of the pain, finding a quiet dignity and strength to continue to serve him as she always had. Truth, that had surprised and impressed the hell out of him, but he'd forced himself to conceal that reaction. He'd made himself pull back, become far more reserved with her.

  Yet was it possible he'd done such a harsh and cruel thing because her admission of love had spooked him? Because his own feelings for her had developed so strong and fast, he was afraid of losing everything he was working for? As a result, had he driven the lesson home like a railroad stake, when a pin prick would have been sufficient?

  On certain issues, a scientist had to factor bias into his calculations. He'd worked so hard at appearing mature and in control, perhaps he'd made a horrible misstep by ignoring the fact he was immature in some ways. Particularly about relationships. And Debra had paid the price.

  Vampires didn't have relationships, he told himself. They had bonds forged from power hierarchies. Yet servants were their closest intimate bond, impossible to describe to anyone who hadn't experienced it. Perhaps vampires avoided the irony of that by fanatically insisting it was a functional, master-slave relationship, and not what it truly was: Their only chance to establish a soul-deep trust with another being, meet that craving for love and connection that the human species accepted as a worthy goal. But unlike vampires, the human species -- for the most part -- had learned how to sit down at dinner without killing one another.

  Our structure, our rules, are the only things that keep us from one another's throats, Brian. His father's voice, a lecture he'd heard over and over. I was part of the Territory Wars. You don't understand what we become without structure. These rules have a purpose.

  The dawn lassitude was pulling him down, making it hard to think. He fought it. He couldn't leave her feeling like this. Damn it...


  She lifted her head, wiping away her tears. My lord?

  I want you to come sleep with me. When you get here, I may already be asleep, but you will stay with me until I wake. Lie down with me and sleep as well.

  But I have to finish the --

  It will wait. Your Master gave you an order, Debra.

  She froze at that. The sensual threat went through her like an ocean cavitation. In a drowsy haze, he watched her wrap up what she was doing, but only the minimum necessary so the results weren't ruined. Then she locked up the lab and was moving through the corridors. Coming to him.



  He smiled. Take off your clothes before you come to bed with me. I expect my servant to be available to me in all ways when I wake.

  He stayed conscious long enough to feel the ripple of reaction through her again, know that he'd elevated her pulse and made her heart beat faster. Then the dawn reached out to claim him.


  She wasn't sure what was going on, but his tone of voice, the purring promise of it, scattered her concentration. If he had wanted her to finish what she was doing before coming to him, she was pretty sure she wouldn't have trusted her results.

  His chambers on the underground level of the estate always smelled of the cool earth that surrounded it, a soothing scent. She paused at his door, unsure if he'd changed his mind. But as he'd said, he was likely asleep by now. His words had been slurred when he spoke in her mind. She wouldn't second guess him.

  Slipping in the room, she saw she was right. He was motionless on the bed, a tempting silhouette. Though his inability to stay awake past a certain time frustrated him, it gave her an opportunity to observe him now. He rarely invited her into his bedchamber after he was fully asleep.

  First she obeyed his orders, taking off all her clothes and folding them neatly on the dresser. He had a mirror in here, which he used for looking at objects from different directions, since he didn't show up in the reflection. She caught a glimpse of herself in it, a pale, owl-eyed ghost floating across the room.

  He had towers of files on most of the flat surfaces. His smaller lab, sitting room and spacious bathroom was through another door, but he tended to stack things in there as well. Every once in a while she helped him scan and load hard copies onto his computers, keeping the data in an organized fashion. But Brian had far more diverse interests than just the active projects.

  Stacked up against the legs of one table were old science journals and sci-fi novels he collected from a variety of places, his form of leisure reading. On the book shelves, in front of his extensive library, he kept artifacts from his travels. She touched the statue of a slender woman that always reminded her of a willow tree. She thought the artist had intended it that way.

  There were also randomly collected things, like rocks, shells, fossils. He was endlessly curious about everything, and she wondered what he'd found interesting about those particular pieces. They'd stopped talking about anything much beyond their work. It was easier that way, wasn't it? Apparently for him, too.

  Biting back the pain at that thought, she left off her examination of his belongings. Brian preferred a queen-sized bed, versus the oversized king most other vampires liked in their guestrooms when visiting the estate. He said he had no desire to sleep on a padded racket ball court. She smiled at that, then slid into the bed. Feeling absurdly brave because he was asleep, and because he'd asked her to do something as intimate as sleep with him, she tugged the light sheet down.

  He wasn't wearing anything. Usually he wore those brief shorts, a clingy garment that hugged him high on the thighs and elsewhere in very appealing ways. He often made jokes about his looks. How, if not for vampire metabolism, he'd be a typical soft-bellied, sallow lab goblin, but she had her doubts about that. All vampires trained to protect themselves, which included ensuring their stamina was enhanced even beyond what the gods had blessed them with. Brian did strength training with weights as well as punishing ten mile runs along the paths of the vast estate and marshlands. During those workouts, he listened to audio books and articles he downloaded to multitask, but the end result was that the muscles she saw now weren't all supernatural-made.

  Plus, the man was always active, never still. It was nothing to him to climb up a sheer cliff face to examine the type of nest that might be on the top ledge, or walk to the bottom of a river bed to get a silt sample. Unlike most vampires who disliked the water because of their lack of buoyancy, he found such weighted density -- and no need for scuba gear -- useful for underwater data collection.

  She folded her hands beneath her cheek on the pillow and gazed at him. He had an aristocratic bearing, six feet with a good breadth of shoulders, tapered waist and fine buttocks and thighs. Freeing one of her hands, she slid her fingers over those areas, barely touching him, but then it was too much to resist. With the mood she'd been experiencing these past few days, she needed to touch him. Perhaps the intimacy would ease her he
art, fill the emptiness in her soul.

  When awake, his intellect gave his mouth and brow creases that emphasized his intimidating intellect and emotional maturity. But asleep, those lines smoothed. He would always look like a young thirty-something, as most born vampires did once they passed that age, but he had fine features. Pretty, some would say, especially combined with his sandy-colored hair and punch-right-to-a-woman's-heart hazel eyes. She thought of the times she'd seen them rest on her with total absorption. It happened during sex, sometimes during feeding, or when their minds did that tangled DNA thing, coming to the same conclusion as if they were one soul. She cherished each of those moments, even though they were as addictive as a drug, leaving her wanting more.

  When she had time, she collected data on other pending projects. One of those was servant suicide data. While she was smart enough to know not to dwell on that subject when her mood was already low, she couldn't help but think of a journal entry one servant had left. When his Mistress had given Debra the stack of diaries, Debra had asked her if she'd read them. The woman had looked at her as if she'd accused her of reading children's books for leisure, and shook her head. But Debra noticed her hand lingered on the top journal as if the vampire could still feel his life force there, and maybe she could.

  I know what they say the relationship is supposed to be, but if that's the case, why does it feel this way? When I first felt my Mistress's touch upon my soul, I thought I'd never know what it was to be lonely again. Now I realize that to be given that feeling and then have it taken away, nothing more than a temporary feeling from their side of things, is far, far worse. You never get over having that and then not having it again. It leaves you feeling terminally lonely.

  She trailed her fingers down the valley of Brian's spine, to his lower back, the upper rise of his buttock. He was sleeping on his stomach, arms wrapped around the pillow. It made her reach for the curve of his biceps with the other hand, following that impressive rise. She was a woman who was attracted to a man's mind first, not his body, but her Master had quite a body.

  With a smile, she admitted he was probably right about what kind of body he'd have as a mortal, if he wasn't as physically active as he was now. He had the eating habits of a teenager, a considerable sweet tooth and a craving for junk food. Though she'd seen him sit down to samplings of gourmet fare prepared by incredible chefs, typically he picked politely at such offerings. One night after such a dinner she'd come back to the lab to find him with a snack bag of Cheetos. He was savoring the two or three his vampire digestive track could absorb, and then he offered the rest to Maggie, one of Lyssa's Irish wolfhounds. The elderly dog didn't run with the pack so much anymore, instead reaping the benefits of tagging after a vampire carrying around too much food.

  He'd even dropped one of the Cheetos into the top of her mice's cage, to her amusement. He had opposed her having the mice, but hadn't forbidden them as long as they didn't cause hygiene issues in the research areas. Since then, she thought he'd actually gotten fond of them. One day she'd seen him looking up. He'd discovered them assembled just over his head, watching what he was doing as seriously as interns. He'd smiled, reached up with a pointer to tap the plastic tube, then went back to what he was doing.

  She curved her fingers over his shoulder, slid over the biceps again. Where his other hand was wrapped around the pillow, she outlined his fingers, then rested the tops of hers on his. He kept his nails short and impeccably clean.

  Curling her hand into a loose ball, she ran her knuckles down his side, over his rib cage, the layers of firm flesh. He was beautiful, and it made her heart hurt to look at him. She was so tired.

  I love you, Master. I'm sorry. This would be so much easier if I didn't feel that way, if I could figure out how to love you without wanting...more. If I could figure out the chemical composition of want and desire and remove it, I would. I just don't know if I can do this for three hundred years. I always thought I could be a selfless, unconditional love kind of person, but I'm falling short in that area.

  With a sigh, she curled up next to him, pillowing her cheek in the small of his back, her head cradled in that dip between chest and backside. She furrowed her hand up between the pillow and the clasp he had on it. When he instinctively changed his grip to her hand, she closed her eyes. Sweet heaven. Just to lie here and hear his heartbeat, feel his heat against her, hold his hand and imagine he was consciously holding it back.

  She wished she'd never wake. That she could fall asleep like this, and let it be the last feeling she carried with her into eternity.

  As she drifted off, her breathing evening out, Brian slid his hand more securely around hers, held on. You don't go to eternity without me, Debra. But she was already gone, and he couldn't hold out another second. It had taken all the energy he had to be still under her touch, listen to the poignant meandering of her mind.

  He followed her into sleep.


  And came out of it with a sharp jerk and snarl. Thrashing, he flung himself out of bed, and only vampire reflexes landed him on his feet.

  "My lord. Brian."

  He shook off the haze of sleep and nightmare, spinning on the ball of his foot to see her sitting up in the center of the bed, her hair disheveled, eyes wide in her elfin face. She had such fragile features. Another thing that made people underestimate her strength. He saw she looked better rested, and a glance at the clock said it was a couple hours past sundown. They'd both overslept.

  "The Council update." She realized it at exactly the same time he thought it in his mind, and she was out of the bed in a flash. She'd folded her short lab coat over the chair by the neat pile of her clothes and grabbed it now, shrugging it on against the early evening chill even as she hurried to pull clothes out of his closet for him. Because she used her third mark speed, she had them delivered to his side a second before she flashed into the bathroom, heating the sink water so he could do a quick face wash and hair brushing.

  Watching her fly around in just the lab coat and nothing else reminded him of his earlier fantasy. His cock, already in full fledge "morning" mode, which was the same for vampire or human males, only at different waking times, got even harder. When she hurried by him this time, he proved he was faster, catching her around the waist and putting her up against the wall.

  "My lord," she gasped, her slim fingers landing on his shoulders. "You have to be in Council chambers in ten minutes."

  "This won't take long." He wrapped her hair in his fist, and put his mouth on hers, so fiercely his fangs scraped her. She made a sexy little mewl, her hips tilting to him, her arms banding around his shoulders, and then he probed her with the head of his cock. She reached down between them, stroking the fluid already gathering on her labia walls to the outer petals to lubricate his path. He slid into her, and she made a hum at his thick waking size, which had been significantly augmented by watching her run around in the coat, the tails flapping enough to show him the lower curves of her sweet ass, her breasts quivering in the shadows of the fabric tempting further exploration.

  Ten minutes, she'd said. He didn't care about coming. He just wanted to plow into her, mark her, stretch her. She held on, her moans torn between pleasure and discomfort. He held her between the point of possession and completion and kept himself there as well.

  When she was writhing on him, hot and needy, and he was close to going himself, he stopped. "Look at me, Debra."

  She obeyed, her gaze glazed and wet lips parted. Seeing her here, alive, unharmed, made that damnable nightmare step back, though it didn't lessen his need. "Hold onto me, tight as you can."

  She slid her arms around his shoulders, her legs crossing over his hips as he helped with that, hitching her close. He banded his own arms around her, a full embrace, heart to heart, body to body. Vampires didn't need to breathe, but he wondered if he could have managed it regardless. She was here, she was all right.

  "Master..." Her whisper against his ear was laden with questions as much
as arousal.

  Holding them both against the wall, he began to rock against her, using that finite range of space to thrust, rub against her clit.

  "Come for me, Debra. Or I'll be late to Council meeting and it will be your fault."

  She gave a half sob, half snort at that, and it made him grin as well, despite their intensity. He reached between them to stroke and pinch and she came apart. As the climax squeezed down on him and she cried out against his ear, breath hot against his flesh, he came as well, thrusting hard to completion as she kept moaning her pleasure, holding onto him as if she'd never let him go. Her nails cut into his flesh during her aftershocks, and he relished those bites of pain.

  He wanted to come down slow, drift back over to the bed, hold her in the curve of his body for another hour or so. But she was right. Now they were down to five minutes. He let her down with an extra squeeze, a swat on her delectable ass. "Get dressed. I can't go before Council without your detailed brain with me. God only knows what I'd mess up."

  She gave him a look that he could only define as...happy. It was fleeting, but his own response bemused him. His heart swelled, ridiculously. It had been a long time since she'd looked like that, and he was glad to be the cause of it. Even as the knowledge that he was likely the cause of her not looking that way far more often gave him an entirely different set of things to think about.

  Three minutes later they were headed down the hallway at a fast clip, Debra typing away on her tablet to call up the information they'd need for the short update. Then she caught the sleeve of his coat, tugging him to a halt. Putting the tablet under her arm and her stylus in her teeth, she straightened his tie, smoothed down his sweater vest. The pocket protector he kept in his shirt pocket made the left side lumpy, especially stuffed with pens and his handheld. He'd typically reach down the vee neck of the vest to retrieve anything he needed, but he saw her lips twitch as they often did when she touched that spot.

  "You told me when we met that I dress like a nerd," he said, curling a loose strand of her long blonde hair behind her ear. She'd caught the bulk of it back in a barrette, but she'd missed a piece.