"You've returned," Raleigh said, sensual and low as she entered his bedroom. Marissa's cheeks burned, her throat tight, and she almost fled at the sight of the vampire. His hair was loose around his shoulders, his shirt open across pale flesh, and his pants were low on his hips. "I'm very glad."
Her vision swam, and Marissa swayed. "I don't know why I came," she admitted breathlessly. Confusion warred inside her, nearly driving out the pleasure she took from viewing his lean body.
"Yes you do," he assured her, heading for a side board. A fire crackled in the hearth, the only light. Marissa studied what she could see of the furnishings rather than watch his predatory stalk. "You wanted to know." Raleigh poured her a drink.
She met his eyes as he approached, wringing her hands and biting the inside of her lip. "Yes I do." Trembling, Marissa took the drink and quaffed it in a gulp.
Raleigh cupped her cheek, and she nearly dropped the glass in shock. His skin was chill but pleasant, his fingers strong as he guided her closer. "Innocent Marissa," he whispered, studying her face. "Lovely Marissa. Do I scare you?"
Lost in his eyes, she could only stare. A hand span separated them, his masculine scent filling her nostrils. "Yes and no."
He smiled gently, taking the glass from her numb grip. His hand slipped from her cheek to her neck, thumb stroking the velvet choker she wore. "Why not?"
"Because you're not a monster." Heat spread from her stomach, the alcohol flooding her system, loosening tight muscles. She lifted a hand to rest on his forearm, wanting to feel him, feel his strength.
Raleigh leaned closer, hand on her waits, lips inches from hers. "Why yes?"
Marissa closed her eyes, unable to meet his gaze any longer. "Because I might like it."
The vampire chuckled at her whispered confession, nearly kissing her. She lifted her head to close the distance, and he was gone. Marissa gasped, rocked, and looked for him. He watched her from a velvet divan, leaning against the arm, smiling mysteriously.
Heart racing, she stumbled a step toward him. "Why do you stop? Am I not good enough?" Embarrassment colored her cheeks. She'd put much effort into selecting her outfit and makeup, making herself as appealing as possible.
"Are you in such a rush that you'd have me throw you down without so much as a by your leave?" He tipped his head, brown hair cascading around his handsome face.
She bit her lip, ducking her head. "What does m'lord suggest?"
"Come, sit. Let me take you on a journey, rather than rushing to the destination." He patted the seat beside him.
Marissa crossed to him slowly, controlling her steps. Raleigh's gaze was heavy on her, heating her blood. She lifted her head, pulled her shoulders back, put herself on display.
By the time she sat, her blood was singing.
Raleigh remained leaning, shirt fallen completely open to put his torso on display. She fought to keep her eyes from roving his body, hands firmly planted in her lap.
After a silent moment, the vampire sat up, pressing into Marissa's personal space. The young woman gasped as he shirt brushed her arm, his breath stirring the loose hairs on her neck. "I like this dress." Raleigh inhaled deeply, leaning against her arm. "Your perfume is also good on you."
Marissa had borrowed them from a friend who ran in the social circles. Turning to look at Raleigh, she was heartened by her choices. "Thank you, m'lord."
"You may call me Raleigh, my innocent one. There is no formality behind closed doors." Steel gray eyes dark in the firelight, he kept her helpless with his gaze. Marissa could only sigh as his hand rose to her shoulder, tracing the low neckline of the dress.
"Raleigh," she whispered, tasting his name, leaning into his touch. Her skin tingled, her nerves ached, and her blood rushed through her veins. The colors grew richer, as did his comforting scent. "Why do I feel like this?"
His fingers worked along the dress, touching her back, her spine, raising goosebumps everywhere he went. "Feel like what, Lovely?" Raleigh's voice deepened, and he leaned closer to her ear, chest rubbing against her arm.
She moaned, leaning into him, wanting to run her hands all over his bare skin. "Like I'm burning up, and like I'm floating, and like I might be dreaming." Marissa laid a hand on his thigh, the most she dared to do.
Raleigh pulled her tight against him, sucking her earlobe into his mouth. She trembled, heat bursting to life between her thighs, and bit her lip. "That would be the pleasure wine I gave you." He sighed, and nibbled on her neck. "You were right to fear your enjoyment."