The Cost of Love by Seleste deLaney
This week I’m swapping blogs with the super sexy, uber-talented Seleste deLaney. Seleste is the Rebel Queen of our motley writing crew. I’ve had the privilege of having Sel beta-read for me as well as the pleasure of returning the favor by beta-reading two of her upcoming projects. She has had amazing success this year signing contracts with Decadent Publishing, Carina Press, and Evernight Publishing. Sel, did I ever tell you you’re my hero?
Today she is sharing another delicious story featuring Max–for those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about…read on. You will.
When she steps through the door, I know something has changed. I’m not even downstairs with her, but the air feels different, heavier with the weight of knowledge. My teeth grind together as I close my eyes. What a fool I’ve been, living this crazy dream. I have no choice now; it has to end.
She shuts the door quietly behind her as I crack my neck and square my shoulders. Tonight leaves no room for weakness. Stepping to the top of the stairs, her beauty catches me once more: hair a curtain of gentle brown waves, eyes dark and mysterious, full lips I long to taste, all topping curves like I’ve never seen on another woman. Her head tips up and she stares at me.
“Jocelyn. I wasn’t expecting you.”
“Hello, Max. I…I…needed to see you.”
Of course she does. With more control than I should have left, I stride calmly down the stairs. “I’m very happy to hear that. I have missed you.” It’s not a lie either. Every time she leaves it tears at the tattered remains of my soul, and I know the real reason I keep her here. My fingers caress her cheek and tip her chin up. She is so soft, so pure, so very much more than I ever deserved.
The absurd question of if I’m seeing someone else crosses her lips and I’m tempted to kiss the notion away. Instead, I lean in and do what I must, whispering the truth in her ear along with the magic. Just enough to make her forget what she knows. I should do more. If she forgets everything we can start fresh. But I don’t want her to lose the months we’ve had together, and I don’t want to give them up either.
My mouth can’t resist grazing over her neck as I draw back, and her pulse jumps under my touch, so close I have to force myself not to bite her. Instead I draw her into the living room.
Shying away from me on the couch, she announces, “We can’t keep doing this, Max.”
My heart sinks. A little magic won’t fix this. I have to push harder, but I don’t want to. So I try to tap her mind lightly again as I spout nonsense answers to her concerns. With each reply, I force the power into my voice, but I know I’m holding back, afraid of what I’ll lose if I go too far.
I touch her, sending tiny shockwaves of magic through her skin, but still she fights. Finally, she catches my gaze and I can feel her succumbing. With a sigh of relief, I close the distance between us and press my lips to hers—relishing the joy of having her with me once more. My fingers twine in her glorious hair as our tongues dance.
I pull her to her feet and ask her to come upstairs, wanting to show her exactly how much I love her. Then she asks something that must have made sense in the conversation we had, the one I’d paid no attention to since I’d been too busy trying to make her forget what I am. “You do try? To make me love you?”
Somewhere in my mind, the conversation is locked away, but the question seems so silly given the circumstances that I smile as my lips travel down her neck, tugging gently on the skin in the way I know drives her wild. “Yes, Jocelyn, every time you leave, I will make you love me again.”
I can feel her pulse racing, smell her need as it pools between her thighs, and I’m ready to sweep her in my arms and take her to the bedroom.
Every muscle in her body stiffens. “I was afraid you would say that.” The force of her hands on my chest is so unexpected I step back and fall onto the couch.
She’s on me in an instant, a stake in her hand, as the acrid stench of fear once more mingles with her desire. The pain as the wood enters my chest annihilates everything else. My vision blurs and I have to force myself to remember it’s Jocelyn on top of me—the woman I love. I can’t hurt her.
“Jocelyn, stop,” I say, my hands on her wrists, barely holding her back from piercing my heart. The magic is failing me; she’s too sure and I’m in too much agony. My fangs elongate as I fight the urge to lash out at her and save myself. “You don’t want to do this.”
“You’re right. I don’t.” She stops pressing down on the wood as her eyes meet mine.
For a brief second, I grasp at the hope that I’ve fed her enough of the power. She’s leaning in to kiss me. I smile and let go of her wrists, reaching to pull her closer, the pain dissipating with the knowledge I can keep her safe for another day.
Then, without warning, her face hardens and she pushes one last time on the wood embedded in my flesh.
The instant it touches my heart, the world slows down. I see her face and the fury painted on it in the twist of her lips and the fire in her eyes. The knowledge that I’m about to die hurts less than it should.
The expression on her face has killed me already.
Seleste deLaney believes in writing romance with a healthy shot of something other: paranormal, steampunk, sci-fi. Her debut erotic paranormal short, Of Course I Try, is currently available from Decadent Publishing, and a holiday sequel, The Ghost of Vampire Present, is coming soon. You can find her at her website, blog, facebook and twitter where she tends to talk about whatever pops into her mind (and sometimes it’s even writing).