Elizabeth released me from the hug she had given me, and I turned toward the man waiting for me, his tall form indistinct in the darkness. “Come,” he ordered, extending his hand in my direction.
As if I had been hesitating to leave with him, Jessie scooped me up in his arms, and carried me to the carriage. Once the door was shut, the driver began pulling the carriage away from the front of the Leroux Manor.
Seated in my husbands lap since he had climbed in while still holding me in his arms, I began to slide off of him. He did not seem to notice.
We traveled not speaking for most of the ride. It was true that Jessie lived on the other side of the lake but what I did not know was the fact that it was a long ways away from the lake. I was beginning to feel comfortable by now, but barely.
I looked over at Jessie, not expecting him to be looking at me, but he was. I quickly turned my head, and leaned back in my corner of the carriage. My head still ached. I pulled off my gloves, then, careless of the damage to my hair, began to slowly remove the veil that I still wore. There was a slight rustle beside me and something warm touched my hands. I flinched away.
“Here, let me help you.” Jessie’s voice was warm and low, close to my right ear.
“No, I can get it,” I said, pulling at the veil, trying to ignore the pain I was causing. “Okay, I cannot.”
My husband gently removed the veil from my hair. I think he tossed it into the floor. “You can take your hair down too. Might as well get comfortable.”
“Thanks, but no thanks.”
“Why not? You should not mind me seeing since you are after all, my wife.”
It was as if he had deliberately chosen to remind me of my position.
“I am not likely to forget,” I exclaimed. “I would rather just keep it up.”
Ignoring my protest, he began to remove pins from my hair, and tossing them into my lap. My hair slowly fell to my waist. I sighed, and closed my eyes carelessly.
“You were very pretty tonight,” Jessie commented.
“Thank you.” I could feel him playing with a strand of my hair.
“Very, very pretty.”
My heart began to beat frantically as I realized where he was going with this conversation. I could now feel his breath on my face as he said, “I am surprised that you actually went through the whole thing…seeing as how I just added that part into the plan.”
“I got betrothed to you.” I hoped that he could not sense the fear in my voice.
“Yes, but you also became betrothed to William, and a few others…how come you did not try to scare me off?” He was moving closer to me.
“For the reason that you wanted me for me and not for….”
My husband was now touching my leg with his hand. “Not for what?”
“For my money,” I finished, not daring to look at his reaction.
“My family is the second richest family on the coast.”
“Really? Wow!” he replied sarcastically.
Jessie placed his hand under my chin and forced me to make eye contact with him. Alarm ran through me so quickly that I skipped a breath.
“Good thing I did not know about the money huh?” Paused. “Let us start over here…now.”
He kissed me on the cheek and made his way to my lips ever so slowly.
“No, Jessie…please do not do this,” I whispered as his mouth moved to my neck.
The emotional side of my nature was beginning to well up inside of me. I had to stop this before it got too far for me to stop. He was pushing me down into the seat.
“NO!” I slapped him as hard as I could. Bad idea. He angrily grabbed my wrists and held them down.
“No,” I sneered, trying to fight him. “Jessie stop doing this.”
“Think carefully before you decide because next time I will not ask,” he threatened.
“I only agreed to marry you, but nothing more.”
“You surprise me, Susannah…it comes with the deal.” His voice was filled with amusement. “Why else do you suppose I married you?”
Again, he moved his mouth to my throat. Jessie had found my pulse. I began to wonder whether he could be a vampire or not. Why I thought of this is unknown. Irritated, I began to fight him, but my strength was nothing compared to his own.
Holding me down, his lips traced the curve of my cheek until he got to my mouth, molding it with his hard demand. When he raised his head, I laid inert in his arms, saying, “Some how I knew this would happen.”
“Considering the circumstances,” he said with a chuckle.
“Well, you have proven that you can force me to your will, and care nothing for my feelings…I wish you pleasure then of your bride.”
“Thank you, but it is more fun to take than be given.”
Jessie began kissing me again. I no longer fought him because I knew it would be futile. It was several minutes before he rose up with a low, sated laugh. I with I had not have, for as soon as he got off of me that I shivered.
“Are you cold?”
“No,” I lied.
“Sure.” He laughed, and lay down next to me.
* * *
After what seemed like years, the carriage finally pulled to a stop. My eyes flickered open; my husband was rising up. “Susannah, you awake?” he asked.
I snapped my eyes shut before he could notice that I was awake. I could feel Jessie pulling me out of the carriage; he began to carry me.
I opened one eye and peered up at him; he was looking straight ahead, walking into a large, dark Manor. He walked up to a door, lifted one leg, jabbing a knee into my back, and kicked the door handle. There was a click before he pushed the door open with his shoulder.
Jessie kicked the door shut behind us, and went through an open doorway. He laid me down on a bed. There was the sound of something being shut, and locked.
It was then that I felt the weight on the bed as he sat on the edge of it. There was one thud, then another seconds later as he dropped his shoes to the floor.
“I know you are awake, Susannah Lafayette,” he suddenly exclaimed from right above me. I was so startled that I resulted in jumping. My eyes flew open. “How did you know?” I asked, looking up into his face. “It is completely dark.”
“I could tell by your breathing.”
My husband reached over and slid the shoes off my feet. I then heard them drop to the floor. “You going to sleep in that dress?”
“Yes.” I was not going to let him undress me for nothing.
He lay down next to me seconds later, and pulled a mount of blankets over us. “You really were beautiful tonight.”
“Like I said earlier, thank you.”
Jessie pulled me close. “I am so glad that I found you.”
Once again, he was heading to a situation that I did not want to find myself in for a second time. He continued, “I also cannot believe that you kissed me without me even making you.”
“You can just forget about that,” I stated.
Unexpectedly, he grabbed my arm and started to turn me so that I would be facing him. I tried to fight him but he was too strong. He pulled me practically on top of him. Propped up on one elbow, my husband gazed down on me, playing with my brown curls. “Let us try this again.”
He kissed my lips gently, and then made his way to my throat. The vampire thought stirred in my head again.
Instead, Jessie pulled me into his arms, and began ripping my dress.
Unable to move anything but my legs, I kneed him. He took in a deep breath of pain, and rolled over on top of me. “No!” I screamed, fighting him.
“I would not scream if I were you, it only makes me want you more,” he added coyly. “Which brings us back to the conversation in the carriage.”
“Our marriage was just an easy get away for you so that you would not get in trouble for threatening to kill me,” I sneered.
Jessie’s fingers dug into my spine, but his voice remained crisp. “I was never really going to kill you…not at least until I got something out of you.” He was laughing, as he pushed my chin upwards and found the pulse in my throat with his mouth. I just lay there looking up at the ceiling. What else could I do?
He slowly raised his head saying, “I love you, Susannah.”