Authors: Kiersten Fay
A Wicked Hunger
Copyright 2013 by Kiersten Fay
All rights reserved.
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There was much in the world that Coraline Gordon feared: a revival of the revolution, being claimed by one of the countless vampire clans, dinner parties…but nothing compared to what she was about to put herself through now. Who would have imagined the most frightening event in her life would turn out to be seducing her husband?
Cora glanced out her car window at the luxurious high-rise hotel as she mentally rallied her courage. It shouldn’t be such a difficult task to entice one’s own husband—probably wouldn’t be for any other wife—but Winston was a cold man, hard to read, fearsome at times. She knew if she didn’t find a way to please him, she’d eventually be tossed back out on the streets where he’d found her. By his recent treatment, she wondered why he had married her in the first place. Was it because she’d been so destitute as to be indebted to him for her new station? Had he merely desired a picturesque wife, one that he
’d molded perfectly to his taste? She’d been so pliable, wanting to please him. She hated to think she’d somehow fallen short. That he’d given her up as a failed experiment.
There had been a time when she’d cared for him more than anything, maybe almost loved him…in the beginning, anyway. Goddess of light and dark, had it only been seven months ago? She still did care for him.
Craved his attention. But it wasn’t the same. Soon after their week-long honeymoon, he had grown distant, burying himself in his company: Gordon Exports.
She disengaged the motor and tugged the key from its slot.
Her hand froze just inches from the ignition as indecision warred in her mind, tempting her to start the car back up and peel away before there was no turning back.
She had attempted to be the dutiful wife, did everything in her power to make herself presentable to his wealthy friends and acquaintances. Yet somehow she had been found lacking. No longer was she invited to the gatherings, shindigs, and charity events that Winston often attended, even though she always donated the max that he would allow.
Had his friends discovered her paltry origins and unanimously shunned her for it? Subsequently, had that caused Winston to see her as the street urchin she once was? Or was there another reason for her being cast out of his society?
If only he’d inform her of what she’d done wrong, she would strive to fix it. It wasn’t as if she hadn’t changed so much of herself already. Her once ragged sandy-blonde hair now gleamed from the regular high-end salon treatments. Her skin was kissed by the medically induced tan that was guaranteed never to fade. All the hair but that on her head and brows had been permanently removed, leaving every inch of her like silk.
She was finding there wasn’t anything she wouldn’t do to regain the acceptance she’d only known for a short while. Which was why she now sat in the vintage Aston Martin that Winston had given her as a wedding present, clad in thousand-dollar lingerie that was hidden only by a long elegant trench coat.
Cliché? Maybe. But she wasn’t adept at being sexy, so she had to go with what she’d seen in movies.
After pocketing the key, she checked her makeup in the rearview mirror and straightened
the sleek, dark wig she’d purchased this morning. Around her, folks bustled in and out of stores that lined the street. The outdoor seating area of a nearby café was packed for lunch.
She opened the car door and swung her legs out, making sure the tall heels of her knee-high boots found solid purchase before she pushed to a stand. Her heart thumped against her ribcage, but she ignored the meager protest as she crossed the parking lot.
The lobby of the five-star hotel was typical in its splendor. Gargantuan crystal chandeliers hung from the vaulted ceiling, gold-plated embellishments rested over banisters and other surfaces, beautiful artwork decorated the walls—no doubt originals, refurbished. The first few uprisings had devastated much of the world’s art. What wasn’t destroyed had been purchased, stolen, and horded up by wealthy collectors.
She couldn’t help
but note the stark contrast of her well-to-do surroundings to the one-room shack she’d shared with several other street urchins not so long ago. The gap between the rich and poor was likened to an ocean of quicksand, nearly impossible to cross without a helping hand. And if one did manage to claw their way out of the muck, any new-found status depended on the good favor of a wealthy patron.
For her, that patron was her husband, Winston.
She hadn’t openly sought his favor, though she had always thought him handsome. She would spy him here and there, strolling the streets of her neighborhood with a barrage of bodyguards while he prospected the land for new properties, or some such. No, he had come to her, wooed her, seduced her with promises of a better life and possibly a family. She had been so easily enamored. Then again, like most of the women from her district, a snap and crook of a finger would have swept her off her feet.
But it was her, not
them, that Winston had set his sights on. To her that he had promised the world. Yet now those promises felt like trying to grip a puff of smoke in her palm.
Her heels clicked over the marble floor as she crossed to the elevator. Inside, she tugged her tie-belt
snugly around her waist and then pressed the button for the ninth floor. Winston was in room nine-eighteen. She knew because she’d ordered the room for him before he’d left on this trip.
When the doors slid closed, she took a succession of rapid breaths. Anxiety siphoned the moisture from her throat. She swallowed, feeling her pulse rise. It was being boxed in that did it to her.
She still wasn’t used to the fast-paced world of the upper class. The majority of the lower classes kept to the outskirts and dilapidated districts that had been most affected by the recent wars—the areas that remained neglected, some buildings still half falling down. Surprisingly enough, it was safer for them there, where they could watch each other’s backs, where gangs ruled both by brute force and strength of number. Those who braved the city limits were either outcasts, junkies, loners, or criminals looking for a score. Either way they risked much.
She’d been a loner
, for the most part.
Gangs might be safer when dealing with outsiders, but they did no
good when the threat came from within. Which it often did for the weakest of the bunch.
The glassy doors opened, and a bit of her anxiety waned.
As she stepped out of the elevator, a wave of dizziness assailed her. Though the floor was as sturdy as could be, her body instinctively knew how far it was from the true ground. The sensation was odd, but fleeting. Still, nausea rolled through her. Her nerves pushed adrenaline through her veins like a battering ram as she made her way down the empty hallway.
She told herself that most the buildings of today were made to withstand a nine-point-zero earthquake as well as bomb impacts. There was little chance she’d relive the terrifying disaster that took her parents and baby brother all those years ago.
Since that terrible day, she’d always hated tall buildings. She hadn’t set foot in one till Winston came along—it just so happened most his business was conducted in tall buildings.
ust outside room nine-eighteen, she swallowed hard, closed her eyes, and took a deep breath. The walls weren’t closing in. The ceiling wasn’t about to crash down on her.
Winston always scoffed at her phobia. He called it ridiculous and embarrassing. She agreed her fear was irrational, but not unfounded. All the same, he’d instructed her to “get over it.”
Right now, it didn’t look like that was going to happen. Her heart had already started its familiar staccato beat, her breaths shortening. She felt hot, and a light sheen of sweat formed across her forehead. She leaned one hand on the doorjamb.
She mentally cursed.
The very last thing she portrayed at this moment was sexy. Perhaps she should attempt this seduction thing when Winston returned home. As it was, he would take one glance at her and burst into laughter.
She was about to turn back down the hall when the soft murmur of voices from within the room gave her pause.
Oh, goddess, she hadn’t considered he might have visitors. He
on a business trip, after all.
Another sound filtered through the door…a giggle of sorts, followed by a string of words Cora couldn’t quite make out, yet her instincts sprang to life. The voice—the
voice—had sounded overtly sensual. Winston, for that was surely his deep tone, responded with a rough chuckle.
Her mind delved
into a dark place, a place where every issue that had cropped up between her and Winston suddenly made sense.
t couldn’t be. Infidelity was one thing in high-society that was still frowned upon. Fear was making her jump to conclusions. Surely he was just in a business meeting or schmoozing clients.
Phobia forgotten, she raised her fist to pound on the door
just as the door at her back whooshed open. Strong fingers clamped around her wrist. She started to turn to see who had stopped her and why, but the large hand left her wrist to cover her mouth. At the same time, a thickly muscled arm wrapped around her midsection and yanked her backwards. She managed a single muffled cry before she crossed the threshold and the heavy door closed her in. Her limbs flew into a panic before her brain could make sense of what was happening. She thrashed wildly, bucking to get free. But for all her struggling, her abductor might as well be made of stone.
While the man kept her still, another
man dressed in dark clothing moved into her line of sight. The gun he held in her face inspired immediate capitulation. She stilled, eyes wide, heart pounding. Her own terrified gasps echoed in her ears.
In his other hand, he held up a badge. Her mind was too panicked to read the words on it, but the unique oblong shape was all too familiar.
Vampire Enforcement Agency.
Another whimper crawled through her throat.
“Yeah, you know what this is, don’t you?” The dark-haired man at her front said.
She managed a weak nod. H
er abductors hand was still tight against her mouth.
“So you’re going to cooperate, right?”
“No sounds, no sudden movements. Got it?”
One more nod.
“Put your hands up. My partner Mason here is going to remove your coat and search you for weapons.”
Her hands shook as she obeyed. Undoubtedly, both her captors could hear the sudden rushing of her pulse. The man at her back, Mason, released her, circled around, and then pulled her tie-belt lose. She flushed and lowered her gaze to the floor as her coat fell open.
The men stared at her partially see-through bustier with a strip of black coverage over her breasts and matching sheer micro mini
that revealed black string-bikini underwear. Leather boots that reached above her knees completed the ensemble.
“What did he do,” Mason
asked his partner, “order another hooker?”
Mason’s hair was a slightly lighter brown than his companion
s, but cut just as short. Both men were taller than her by a half foot at least, and it was easy to imagine the compacted muscles that lie beneath their dark suits.
“When did he manage that?” his
To her, Mason ordered, “Drop the coat and kick it toward Trent.” He gestured to the other man with his head.
She let the coat slip over her shoulders and then shoved it away with her foot. Trent lowered his gun to retrieve it and began digging through the pockets.
“Hands on the wall.”
Not giving her much time to obey, Mason turned her around by the shoulders.
Her palms met the wall
. A second later, a set of firm hands traveled along her sides and down each of her legs before retracing their steps and moving toward the undersides of her chest. Her jaw clenched. Clearly there were no weapons hidden on her person. How would she even manage such a thing?
Next, Mason pulled her arms behind her back, and metal cuffs bit into her wrists. Her stomached dropped three floors
down. She wanted to ask why she was being arrested, but she was too terrified to form the question. If these men truly were vampires, simply looking them in the eye could be seen as a direct challenge.