Home > The Shadow (The Florentine #2)(10)

The Shadow (The Florentine #2)(10)
Author: Sylvain Reynard

“You must have expected my return.”

“Not expected.” He brought her hand to his mouth and kissed it. “Hoped.”

“Shower with me?”

William blinked. “Pardon?”

Raven pursed her lips. “I guess I hadn’t thought about this. Do vampyres shower?”

“Of course.” He sniffed. “Our sense of smell is very keen. Some of my brethren have a lax approach to cleanliness, but I make a point of shunning them.”

Raven arched an eyebrow and he continued. “It’s true. A few centuries back a Highlander and one of his near kinsmen applied to join my principality. I rejected them on scent alone.”

Raven laughed, the happy sound filling the large master bedroom.

He appeared pensive. “I’ve never showered with another person.”

“I haven’t, either. But it sounds fun.”

William chuckled and followed her to the en suite bathroom.

As she approached the threshold, she looked over her shoulder and noticed he was staring at her injured leg. Suddenly, she felt warm, and not in a pleasant way.

“I know it’s ugly.”

He stopped. “What is ugly?”

“My leg. The way I walk. The night those men attacked me, one of them called me Quasimodo.”

“Quasi modo? That’s nonsense.”

“They weren’t speaking Latin. Quasimodo is the name of the hunchback in Victor Hugo’s novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”

“And they called you this?” William’s tone was sharp.

“I just remembered it now.”

“I’m glad I killed them, for their blasphemy as well as everything else.”

“I’m glad you saved me, William. I will always be grateful for that. But I’m sorry you killed them.” She turned her back and entered the bathroom.

William scowled, reminded of the prisoner he held in his dungeon some floors below. He followed and turned on the shower, adjusting the water’s temperature. He called her over to test it. Vampyres could sense hot and cold, but only vaguely. He worried the water would be too warm.

Raven watched as he efficiently disrobed, neatly folding every article of black clothing (with the exception of underwear, which he never wore) and placing them on the vanity.

She brushed imaginary lint from her dress as he stood in front of her, naked.

He was under six feet in height, his body lean and strong. Raven took a moment to appreciate the definition of his muscled chest and abdomen and the strong cast to his thighs. Not even a statue carved by the most talented sculptor could create a being with so much perfection. His face put her in mind of an angel, with its intense gray eyes that now looked at her expectantly.

She hid her face. “You said you loved me.”

“I did. What’s more, I meant it.”

“Love is a peculiar thing. I’ve seen it. I’ve even cheered for it. But I never believed it was for me.”

“Why shouldn’t a beautiful, fierce young woman hope for love?”

“Because, as you put it, human beings are shallow.”

“Love is deep.” His rich voice echoed in the bathroom.

“Love is having the power to destroy another person.”

William stepped closer. “Are you afraid of being destroyed?”

“Destroyed, consumed, betrayed.” She fidgeted with the neckline of her gown.

William placed his hand over hers, stilling it. “Love creates; it doesn’t destroy.”

His lips found the place where her neck met her shoulder. He kissed her leisurely, tracing the path of her bared collarbone with his mouth. His fingers brushed her zipper. “Let me.”

He undid her dress, dropping it to the marble tiles. Her bra followed. Finally, she was as naked as he, and his eyes roved her body appraisingly. “Here is a feast for my senses as well as my heart.”

His pale fingers caressed her cheek, her mouth, and her neck. His strong hands cupped her breasts, her abdomen, and her hips. Eventually, his gray eyes met hers.

“The power you describe is the power you have here.” He touched her forehead before moving his hand to cover her heart. “And here. It’s the power you have over me. Power I haven’t yielded to another since I was human.” He brought his lips to her ear. “Your fears are shared.”

With a slow kiss on her neck, he led her into the shower, standing behind her underneath a rainfall showerhead. Raven closed her eyes and lifted her face, like a flower following the sun. The warm water soaked her hair and streamed down the generous curves of her body.

“I’ve never showered with another person. What happens next?” William rested his hands on her shoulders.

She wiped the water from her face. “Whatever you want. Just don’t let me fall.”

William’s gaze dropped to her right leg, which she was favoring. “Is the pain terrible?”

“It’s worse after I’ve been lying down. Sometimes I topple over.”

William spread his arm around her waist, drawing her back to his chest. “Then I must be sure to catch you.”

She kissed him, reaching up to run her fingers through his wet hair as the water poured down their shoulders. Her motions were fraught with an eagerness born of love and affection and the relief of remembering she hadn’t lost him.

He was hers.

Even now, naked, with a myriad of flaws few men overlooked, he embraced her. He embraced her imperfections.

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