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As I stepped out of the cave, the heat from the roaring bonfire caressed my flesh. I had changed out
of my jeans and t-shirt and into a rather skimpy dress that looked more like a slip than anything else.
The black silk caught between my thighs as I walked and was shockingly cool in contrast to the
nearby flames. Beneath my feet, the packed clay was warm, and all around me were the musical
sounds of the night.

Halting, I dropped my head back and closed my eyes to take it all in. Insects clicked and chirped,
small rodents scuffled about, and leaves rustled in the slight breeze.

"Sylvia."

The soft caress of my name invaded my calm, and I opened my eyes to focus on the moon through
the wispy clouds. Somewhere in the distance a coyote howled, sending a shiver down my spine, and I
couldn't help but think it was the perfect night for a blood ritual.

"Sylvia."

I shivered again. Only he had the power to say my name in a way that instantly tightened my skin and
made my heart race.

Looking through the fire, my breath caught. There, on the other side, he waited, and emotions swelled
within me. It was impossible to explain, but from the first moment I laid eyes on him standing in a
circle of moonlight, looking like he should be the ruler of the night, I knew I'd spend the rest of my life
loving him. The passing months had done nothing to dim my feelings, and eagerness swept through
me.

Amidst the shadowy red rocks, his pale hair and light clothing stood out like a beacon, and although
anxious to be at his side, I took a moment to drink in the sight. An ivory button-down shirt, undone to
his waist, splayed open over his chest, while butterscotch leather molded across his muscular thighs.
Dancing flames hid his features, but it had taken only one unforgettable night to emblazon them in my
mind forever.

He held out his hand, and I went, as if pulled by an imaginary string. Behind him, cloaked in shadows,
stood the coven. They watched me step around the fire to join their master, and I wondered what lay
behind their blank expressions. Approval? Disapproval? Was I only one false step away from being
ripped to shreds and feasted upon?

Their opinion of me, whatever it might be, ceased to matter the moment I placed my fingers in their
master's cool palm. He tugged me forward and I fell against his hard chest. One leather clad thigh
wedged itself between my legs, and sparks of awareness ricocheted low in my belly.

The fire blazed hot at my back, but it failed to singe like the intense sexual energy of the man before
me. Taking advantage of his unbuttoned shirt, I placed my trembling fingers against his chest, above
his heart. It if beat, I could not detect it.

He gazed down at me while brushing wayward curls back from my face. Fire illuminated his features.
The blue of his eyes burned brighter than I'd ever seen, his skin glowed like smooth marble, and his
sensual mouth was stained with blood.

Unable to stop myself, I reached up to brush the tips of my fingers over his full bottom lip. The blood
was fresh enough to wet my skin, an indication his human servant was not too far away.

The soft caress of his hand over my cheek pulled my attention from his mouth. "You are so beautiful,
Sylvia," he said in the dark seductive voice I could never tire of hearing. "In death you will be even
more so."

I blinked at the choice of words. Tonight was indeed about death.
My death. Was I truly ready to die
for this man? If the roles were reversed, would he die for me?



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Blood Ritual
by: L. Rosario