The Ties that Bind
I think few things define a person more than their community. Whether your community is your family, religion, or even hometown, it shapes you and has a profound affect on the person you become. I’m from a small town and I’ll probably always be a small town girl at heart even though I live in a city. My community had a profound influence in making me who I am. And I’d like to think that in some small way, I might have left my mark on my community as well. ‘Cause that’s what makes each community special…unique. As it’s shaping you, you’re shaping it.
So what happens when your community disowns you?
That single question sparked the birth of my newest heroine, Nicola Lillian Rathe. When she was twelve years old, just after the death of her mother, she was cast out of her community. To make matters worse, with no family or home, she was forced into human foster care. Most children would find this to be a traumatic experience but for Nikki it was more than that. It was shattering. Her community was not just her family and friends. And it was more than her home. It was her race—her own kind.
Nikki’s Community was made up of people of magic. Some could shape-shift (take on any appearance at will), some could manipulate fire, some were empaths, and some were compulsors. And Nikki? She was one of the rarest and most dangerous of them. She was born a seductress. Able to bend a man until he broke with a single touch.
But just because she no longer had a place in her Community, didn’t mean they no longer shaped her. And it most certainly didn’t mean she no longer shaped them. They might not want her, might be afraid of her, but they still need her. And when a handsome enforcer tricks her into a blood bond, she discovers she might still need them as well.
Nikki heard the low growl of impatience, but it took a second for her to recognize it as her own. “You talk too much.” She covered his mouth with hers, silencing him.
The kiss was filled with challenge and desire, making it both hungry and vulnerable at the same time. His arms closed around her back as she deepened the kiss, pulling her closer, until every inch of her body was pressed against his. The feel of his skin under hers was intoxicating.
Pushing him away, she sat up and stared at him for a moment before lowering her mouth to his neck. Her tongue sought out and found his racing pulse. Savoring the lightly salty taste of his skin, she started working her way down to the sensitive spot where his neck met his shoulder. Biting him teasingly, she heard him moan as his hands clenched her thighs.
“You taste good.” Her voice was husky, seductive—intentionally so. Here, she was in her element.
“And what if I want to taste you?”
God, this was just what she needed. “Feel free.”
“No, I mean all of you.”
There was no mistaking his meaning. Their magic lived in their blood and, although she’d never shared hers with anyone, she’d heard it was an aphrodisiac. One hardly ever offered because it could also be used to enslave another.
But he couldn’t enslave her—couldn’t evoke the blood bond because he didn’t know her name. There was no way to bind another without their name. Also, a person could only place one blood bond in a lifetime. No one would waste something that precious on a one-night stand. She’d be safe. And the thought of his blood on her tongue made her quiver with need.
“Will you bleed for me?” she asked, her voice heavy with desire.
Sitting up, he pulled a small knife from a night table and ran it across his wrist. When he’d cut enough to provoke several drops of blood he held it out to her. The magic in their blood prevented blood-borne diseases, so she didn’t have to worry about that. But still, she felt suddenly nervous. She had no idea what to expect. The wave of desire that hit her at just the tangy smell of his blood was enough to overcome her nerves, though. Leaning forward, she touched the blood with just the tip of her tongue. His magic was a mystery, but the power of it rushed through her. She was flying with his strength, the constant anxiety and fear that ate away at her, gone. If this was how her sister felt on heroin, she could almost understand Izzy’s addiction.
Even with her head buzzing, she felt a small measure of her earlier concern return but she quickly brushed it away. He’d lived up to his end of the deal. And if he meant to hurt her, he’d had plenty of time not to mention opportunity already. But he hadn’t harmed her in any way. In fact, he’d given her one of the most pleasurable experiences she’d ever had.
“Your turn.” She held out her wrist to him boldly. Nothing in her entire life had ever felt this good. Not even the knife slicing through her skin was enough to dull the sensation, especially when the warmth of his mouth covered the wound. She’d been wrong. Having him take her blood was even better than taking his.
He sucked in a ragged breath as the warmth of his body left her. Opening her eyes, she stared at him as confusion began to chase away her desire. She’d never wanted to be closer to another person than she did with him at that moment. Why was he pulling away from her?
“Nicola Lillian Rathe, I bond you to me with the power of your own blood.”
It took a moment for the words to sink through the heady desire that was wrapped around her, but when they finally did, white-hot anger killed what was left of the seductive warmth throbbing through her and made her breathing hard and ragged with disbelief. “What?”
“You’re mine.” He said the words triumphantly, but there was a sadness in his eyes. Refusing to see it, she leapt for the knife he’d left foolishly close to her.
“Like hell I am.” Her fingers closed around the sleek handle of the blade. She wasn’t an expert on blood bonds by any standard of measure, but she did know if you killed the holder, it’d set the slave free.
“You can try.” He held his arms out, giving her a clean shot at his heart. She’d never killed anyone, but if it was to free herself she was pretty sure she could. She tried to force the knife toward him, but as excruciating pain exploded in her head she dropped it again. “But the bond won’t let you hurt me.”
Cursing, she brought her gaze to meet his. “Bastard!”
His sigh was exaggerated. “If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.”
The word asshole sat on her tongue, but no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t say it.
The condescending prick was going to pay. Maybe she couldn’t hurt him directly, hell, now she couldn’t even call him names, but she’d figure out a way to make him pay.
If you’d like to read more about Nikki, Isaac, or the Community you can find the blurb to the book on the Ellora’s Cave site or my website:
And on Amazon as well: