Handsome Bastard by Kate Hill
Erotic Paranormal Romance
Trained since childhood to hunt blood drinkers, Leotine is sent on a mission to destroy the elusive Cyprian Augustus. The cunning blood drinker has converted or killed many hunters who have tracked him. Will the vampire or the huntress win their deadly game of lust?
Note: Handsome Bastard was previously published. This is a re-edited version and contains two additional scenes.
Leotine’s heart pounded as she stared at Cyprian Augustus, so enraptured by his catlike green eyes and voice as deep and rich as the finest wine that she nearly forgot she’d been sent to kill him.
It had been her idea to come to him under this guise. As with all her assignments, she had carefully studied her victim. Though Cyprian had at first seemed to harbor no weaknesses, Leotine had eventually found one. Women. Plump, innocent-looking women in particular. Fortunately, Leotine possessed both attributes.
Not to say that Cyprian was a fool for such women. The man hadn’t a foolish bone in his body. He simply lusted after them. Lust could lead to love. Love to trust and trust to death. Convince him of her love and loyalty and he would be hers.
The first step was to seem as vulnerable as possible. What better way than to appear as a beaten woman on the side of the road? Julius had agreed to her plan and assisted her in the preparations–far too willingly for Leotine’s taste. The filthy swine had actually seemed to enjoy beating her. He had taken her by surprise with his ferocity. Furious, she’d struck back only to be knocked unconscious by one of his slaves.
For the first time, she began to wonder whether her duty was worth the sacrifices she made.
Cyprian placed a hand to her cheek and washed blood from her face. She tried to turn away, but he held her gently yet firmly as he blotted her lips.
“Why are you doing this?” she asked softly. “I told you I’m a slave.”
“At the moment you’re my guest,” he said in those low yet incredibly masculine tones that sent an unfamiliar feeling of warmth through her entire body.
She had looked at paintings of him made by members of her faction who had seen him. Once or twice she had even seen him from a distance when he traveled to the city. She had been careful not to move close enough for him to bother focusing on her by sight or scent. It had been important for them to meet according to her plan. Though she had heard rumors about his stunning good looks, she hadn’t expected him to be like this.
His face, with its chiseled bone structure and green eyes that seemed to remain in an alluring half-closed position, like a man thoroughly engaged in making love, nearly stole her breath. He was taller than most men too, with a lean yet muscular build apparent even beneath his tunic.
In all her years of tracking and killing blood-drinkers, she had never been attracted to one. Until now.
“Who was your master?” he asked.
“Julius Titus,” she replied.
“And your name?”
Cyprian nodded slowly, his expression unreadable. She studied him carefully as he continued cleaning her face. Then he moved to her arm. He washed and bandaged it. His warm, tender touch lulled her and she found herself wondering how a man like this had earned such a horrible reputation.
She mentally scolded herself. This false charm was how he had managed to survive, luring men and women into his deadly embrace.
“Shouldn’t a slave be doing this?” she asked, keeping her voice soft and innocent.
He had moved to the end of the bed and raised the blanket. Taking her leg in one hand, he used his other to clean a cut on her thigh.
Leotine drew a sharp breath, her pulse racing. His hands on her leg felt shockingly good and she found herself wondering how it would feel if he touched her not to heal, but to please.
She imagined those large yet slender hands stroking her calves. Her breathing deepened when she thought about how his lips would feel kissing her inner thighs or his tongue tracing the shape of her knee.
Beneath the blanket her nipples stiffened, provoking thoughts of Cyprian Augustus drawing one of the plump buds into his mouth and sucking. A quiver of passion rippled through her and the delicate flesh between her legs ached with need.
Cyprian’s gaze met hers and his lips curved upward in the slightest smile. His finely shaped nostrils flared a bit, most likely detecting the aroma of her lust. No man or animal could differentiate between scents like a blood-drinker. A hint of fear combined with embarrassment took her by surprise.
Not only was she accustomed to doing whatever necessary to fulfill her duty to We Who Serve Humanity, but she should be pleased that he sensed her passion. After all, seducing him was her first step toward destroying him.
A female slave arrived with the food, wine, and clothing Cyprian had ordered. She placed the items on a stool and left.
“Are you hungry?” he asked.
Leotine nodded. She was actually quite hungry. And thirsty. Her body ached from Julius’s beating. The strange feelings this man evoked confused her in a way she couldn’t think about. Not if she intended to kill him.
A hunter’s first rule of survival was not to feel for the prey. Hesitate for a moment and the battle was lost.
He finished tending her injuries, and then he offered her the tunic.
“Clothe yourself,” he commanded. “Then eat, drink, and sleep. We’ll talk more after you’ve rested.”
Leotine nodded. “Thank you. I–I don’t even know your name.”
Another smile flirted with his sensual lips before he said, “Cyprian Augustus.”
“Thank you, master.” She bowed her head. “You have been most kind. Most–”
He turned and left while she was still talking.
Always a fan of romance and the paranormal, Kate Hill started writing over twenty years ago for pleasure. Her first story, a short erotic vampire tale, was accepted for publication in 1996. Since then she has sold over one hundred short stories, novellas, and novels.
When she’s not working on her books, Kate enjoys reading, working out, spending time with her family and pets, and running the Compelling Beasts Blog, dedicated to antagonists, antiheroes, and paranormal creatures. She also writes under the name Saloni Quinby. Visit her online at http://www.kate-hill.com.