Snippet #3 from "Into the Fire" (Night Prince #4) by Jeaniene Frost
No one would believe we were the same people in The Pirates House parking lot in Savannah, Georgia with Ian the next night. For starters, Vlad now looked like a short-haired redhead with a square face, a crooked nose, and light blue eyes. His lean, muscular frame had also expanded to a stocky build, and he’d lost over an inch in height. I, too, had a new face complete with shoulder-length blond hair, brown eyes, pouty lips, and a body with even more curves than Marilyn Monroe.
Ian had brushed off my admiration over his appearance-altering spell, saying that “glamour” was only mid-level magic and the effects would wear off by dawn. Since glamour wasn’t rare magic, he had reminded us that we needed something else to disguise ourselves. Something no one would question.
“Unless you want the sorcerers you seek to know that you’re swimming in their waters, we need to hide your identities, agreed?” Ian had asked the night before.
“Of course,” Vlad had said impatiently. “But I’m known to many people, as Klaus proved, and since vampires can spot theater makeup or a mask, I assume real sorcerers can spot those, too.”
“Oh, easily,” Ian had agreed.
Vlad’s gaze had narrowed. “I am notstaying behind, if that’s what you’re hinting at.”
“Wouldn’t dream of it,” Ian had replied with a smirk.
That smirk had raised my suspicions. “You know a way around this, don’t you?” I asked.
“First, let’s establish that you’d do anything to find a sorcerer strong enough to break the spell on your wife, yes?” Ian said, not answering my question.
“Yes,” Vlad replied without hesitation.
“Depends,” I amended. When Ian’s smirk widened into a full-fledged grin, I knew that my suspicions were well founded.
So here I was, about to play my role as part of a happy, horny threesome. As Ian reminded us, no onewould believe that the homicidally-possessive Vlad the Impaler would be into such a thing. Hell, Vlad had blown a guy’s head off for merely grabbing my ass, and I’m sure word of that had made the undead rounds because he’d done it in front of hundreds of people.
I tried not to focus on what came next, so I allowed myself to enjoy the unusual perks of my new body. So thiswas what it felt like to have boobs and a bubble butt! Never before had I felt things bounce while I walked. I even put an extra sway in my step just to feel it all bounce a little more.
Vlad caught what I was doing, and a sideways grin curled his new, wider mouth. “Do I need to memorize this spell so we can use it for our private enjoyment later?”
Before I could answer, Ian spoke. “If you think this is impressive, I know a fellow whose wife can shapeshift into an actual dragon. Blimey, I ache with envy at the thought of shagging one of those.”
My jaw dropped. “You’d seriously bang a dragon?”
“Oh, for days,” Ian said at once. “Can you imagine the internet videos? I’d be a bloody legend.”
There was something very wrong with him, but tonight, we’d find out if Ian’s ties to the magical world were everything he’d promised.
“Remember your roles,” Ian said as we approached the parking lot to The Pirate’s House. He pushed himself between the two of us, linking an arm around each of our waists. “And whatever you do, don’tkill anyone, Tepesh,” he added.
Vlad’s response was a low growl of, “I said I wouldn’t, didn’t I?”
Yeah, but now our real disguise was about to begin. I took a deep breath to center myself. Show time. I’d been a carnival performer for years, so I was no stranger to acting. This might be a different sort of role, but whatever, I could handle it.
When Ian’s arm slipped lower around Vlad’s waist, however, Vlad’s anger pierced his shields enough to singe my emotions. Saying that Vlad was prickly about being touched was like saying that God was mildly annoyed by the Devil. I stopped even though we’d only made it a couple feet away from the car.
“Are you sure about this?” I said, holding Vlad’s gaze.
It felt like molten steel coated my emotions with the resolve behind his reply. “Yes.”
Ian glanced at Vlad, assessing the situation. Then, moving so fast that he startled me, he grabbed Vlad and kissed him.
Vlad’s rage flash-fried my emotions with the intensity of a dozen wildfires. But he didn’t shove Ian away or burn him with the flames I could practically see beneath his skin. Instead, he bent Ian backward with the force of his answering kiss. When Vlad released him, Ian gave him a crooked grin.
“Guess I was wrong to fret about your past experiences being stronger than your willpower.”
I was so aghast at Ian’s casual reference to Vad’s childhood imprisonment and rape that I slapped him as hard as I could. If I hadn’t been wearing thick rubber gloves, my whip might have spontaneously shot out and taken his head off, too. Ian rocked back a few feet, and a group of people entering the parking lot let out shocked sounds as they gaped at us.
Ian straightened and gave me a single glare before he turned to the crowd and waved at them. “She loves to play rough,” he told them. “That’s why it takes two of us to handle her, the fierce little vixen.”
One of girls let out an admiring giggle while the rest of the group averted their gaze as they walked by. Ian gave them another saluting wave, then he turned back to me.
“Seems Tepesh isn’t the only one with a temper,” he said in an exasperated tone. “Do I have to make you promise not to kill anyone too, poppet?”
I stiffened even as part of me acknowledged that I’d gone too far. Vlad was more than able to defend himself, if he’d felt the need. At least our cover was still intact, even if it now looked like I was a sadist as well as a sex groupie.
“Sorry,” I muttered.
“Don’t be,” Vlad said. His fingers traced up my arm and he dropped his shields long enough for me to feel satisfaction rising him, mixed with the remains of his anger. He liked that I’d overreacted on his behalf, even if there had been no need. Then, he fixed Ian with a laserlike glare.
“Don’t ever bring that up again,” he said, his pleasant tone belying the scent of smoke starting to emanate from him.
The smile wiped from Ian’s face, replaced an expression I hadn’t seen before. On anyone else, I’d call it… sincerity. “I wasn’t making light. Men handle such things differently. Some heal and go on to live completely normal lives. Some abhor contact with others afterward, and some”-a shrug-“seek out all the contact they can get to prove that it’s their choice now. I simply needed to know if your history combined with your well-documented dislike of personal contact would be a stumbling block to our goals tonight.”
Ian continued to hold Vlad’s gaze, and the tension in the air changed. Anger gave way to an unspoken acknowledgement that made me glance away, suddenly feeling like I’d walked in on a very personal conversation. I wanted to tell Ian that I was sorry for what had happened to him, which was how I interpreted the subtext of his statements. But if I was right, Ian wouldn’t want my pity. No, if he was anything like Vlad, he’d scorn pity because he’d turned the pain from his former rape into steel that now made him unbreakable.
Then, abrupt as a thunderclap, Ian’s expression transformed into his usual mocking smirk.
“But, since we’ve established that you’re a veryconvincing actor – blimey, I’ll fantasize all night about that blazingly hot tongue! – let’s go find some sorcerers, shall we?”
“At The Pirate’s House restaurant,” I added, fighting a stab of ridiculous jealousy that made me want to inform Ian that Vlad’s tongue and every other scorching part of him was mine.
“Not The Pirate’s House, poppet,” Ian said, his grin turning knowing, as if he’d guessed at my surge of possessiveness. “Next to it.”
I followed his gaze, but saw nothing except an expanse of grass between the parking lot and the road. Or did he mean one of those smaller buildings to the right of the grassy expanse?
“Which one is it?” I said.
Ian pulled something grainy out of his pocket, then blew the glittering dust it contained right into my face. The sparkling cloud went right into my nose and mouth, burning as it made its way inside me.
Vlad grabbed Ian, snapping “What was that?” at the same time that I sputtered out, “What the hell?”
“That’s me pretending to be a gentleman,” Ian said, winking at me. “Ladies first, isn’t that the way it’s done?”
“First for what?” I began, then stopped. “Oh,” I breathed.