Blood Rites

By: Amity Cross

The outside of the manor was adorned with fairy lights, the sounds of music and laughter floating on the summer breeze and I stared out at it with wonder. I’d never felt this excited to come to a party in my entire life. It had everything to do with Sebastian Vaughn. The anticipation of seeing him again was killing me.

My door was opened and I stepped out onto the footpath, my heels clicking on the pavers. There was a man in a black suit at the front, checking invitations and another opening the large double doors for guests to enter.

Approaching, I handed my invite to the man, who scanned his list and I was ushered forward. My heart began to race in my chest and I felt like slapping myself. Get a grip, Lorelei!

Stepping into the foyer of the grand house, I scanned the crowd of finely dressed socialites. I knew I was one of them by birth, but it didn’t stop me from feeling like an outsider. Fancy dresses were a compulsory thing for me, not because I liked wearing them. Mother always said I had to put my best foot forward for the Lansford family name. We were rich through business, not title and to these people? Title was everything.

Not one of them stopped to say hello or acknowledge my existence and I stood awkwardly for a moment, wondering if I’d made the right decision by coming here. Raising my head, my gaze collided with Vaughn’s and he stopped mid-step on the staircase, his lips parting.

I stood in the middle of the foyer, dazed and for a moment it was just the two of us. My skin began to heat, but I couldn’t bring myself to look away. He was as handsome as I remembered, but this time he wore a tailored tuxedo with a crisp white shirt and bow tie. He looked good enough to eat. I resisted the urge to bound up the staircase and into his arms. Magnetism…that was a thing right?

His gaze never left mine and I began to wonder. Did he feel it too? That…pull?

He began descending the stairs once more, his hand lightly trailing down the bannister as he approached. I waited in awe as the crowd seemed to part for him without his gaze even leaving mine. He commanded attention, demanded respect… Sebastian Vaughn was a powerful man and his sights were set on me.

Finally, he stood before me, his gaze traveling across my lips, over my breasts and down, before caressing their way back up.

“Lorelei.” His voice was just as silky as I remembered.

I flushed as his slow perusal of my body continued. “Sebastian.”

“Please, no one calls me Sebastian,” he said with a smile. “Call me Vaughn.”

He held out his hand and I placed mine in his, delicious shivers racing up and down my bare skin. He bent to lightly kiss the back of my hand and I almost spontaneously combusted as his lips brushed against my knuckles.

“I wasn’t sure that you would come,” he murmured, standing again, his fingers tightening around mine.

I flushed. I wasn’t, but it was Bex who’d convinced me. “What makes you say that?”

Vaughn smiled, something passing through his expression, but it was fleeting. “Would you care for a drink?” he asked. “Or a dance, perhaps?”

I smiled. He appeared to be flustered. “Yes.”

“Yes, to which?”

“All of the above.”

He led me into the middle of a large room off the main foyer, a ballroom of sorts, and I realized that the music I heard before was a jazz quartet set up in one corner. Vaughn pulled me around, commanding my attention once more. His right hand curled into mine and his left slid across my waist, tugging me close. Our bodies were pressed together and my lips parted ever so slightly, the feeling of him against me sent sparks everywhere. They were lighting up the room.

All these finely dressed people, a live band, fresh flowers and fairy lights, champagne, fancy finger food, waiters… It was exactly like a fairy-tale ball in here. If this was how he got women into bed, he was pretty good at it. I was swooning and I never swooned.

“Is this your house?” I asked, trying to make small talk as he began to move me to the music.

“It is,” he replied, his lips curving into a smile.

“It’s very nice.”

He chuckled. “I suppose it is.”

We swayed back and forth to the music, his grip tightening on my waist. The rest of the room seemed to fall away and it was just us. His blue eyes seemed to pierce right through me and into the places I usually kept hidden. The very places where my fantasies lay, and he was in them.

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