Edited by the amazing klovec.


1817

Nicklaus Mikaelson, Earl of Alverstoke and the son of the Duke of Glenwood sat down in his throne-like chair. His lips twisted into the slightest bit of a smirk as he observed the activities around him.

The ballroom of his gambling establishment was lit with hundreds of white candles that hung from a crystal chandelier. The flickering lights cast shadows on the marble floor, illuminating every corner. In front of him, couples moved sensuously in the new dance called the waltz, recently introduced from Paris. Here, unlike at Almacks and other prestigious households in London, there were no rules about how close the dancers could hold each other. Flaunting proper society, the couples swayed to the music, their bodies clinging to one another in a perversion of the proper form for the dance.

Card tables and roulette wheels were scattered around the room beyond the dance floor. Surrounding them, the crème de la crème of the Ton mingled amongst the wealthy yet untitled and those best not recognized. Anyone could play at Lucifer's Lair. As long as they could pay the fees and had the money to back their bets. Judging from the various cries of dismay and jubilant shouts fortunes were being lost and won with the turn of a card or the spin of the wheel.

Leading out the back of the room was a marble and gilt staircase that led to bedrooms above. They could be rented out for a day or even a week depending on the length of the romantic tryst. Exotic and gourmet food along with the finest alcohol in all of England could be ordered from the kitchens and delivered. This led to many a member declaring the place the nearest to Heaven one could get on British soil. Several couples, their hands fumbling with each other's clothes, were already escaping the evening's entertainment.

With jaded eyes, Klaus watched it all. There was nothing he hadn't seen before. All these people, his so-called friends and patrons of the club, were here for one thing and one thing only – to indulge in every hedonistic behavior that polite society frowned on. By the end of the evening, every craving his guests had would be satisfied until they were all thoroughly debauched. Whether their vice be whoring, gambling, alcohol or opium, he provided them all. His establishment had become legendary, damned by polite society and spoken of in whispers. He had even been given a nickname, Lucifer after his place and to damn him from his upstanding family.

For Klaus, what started, as a way to embarrass the Mikaelson name became a lifestyle. He observed, partaking when he chose, taking pleasure in the destruction of others. From his throne, he ruled the seedy side of society; the dark underbelly of nobility and lower class that the polite and respectable pretended did not exist. All of which over the last few years made him the most powerful and feared man in all of London. With the exception of one person, the one who vowed to destroy him, Mikael Mikaelson. His father.

Bored by the lack of excitement that evening, Klaus gestured for a servant to bring him a drink. The black and silver liveried footman was stopped from delivering him the goblet of scotch by a newcomer to Lucifer's. Lady Hayley, who didn't seem to be much of a lady at all, grabbed the drink from the servant and sauntered towards Klaus. Her pink gown, pulled low over her breasts, revealed much more than considered proper and her lips were sinfully rouged.

Klaus sighed and beckoned her closer. He needed a drink. Anything to lighten his mood because at this moment he wanted nothing more than to retire to his study and forget his patrons. Yet, it was his place and like clockwork he reigned over this event every Thursday. A habit he started once Lucifer's first opened. Most important in the early days when street gangs hounded him, threatening to shut him down and claim his territory. His place assured in the underworld, it was no longer a necessity and had become a dreadful chore.

Lady Hayley approached him at his throne, the goblet of scotch in her hand. She curtsied slowly and pleased him when she spilled not a drop. He would have been most irritated to have such an old, expensive vintage wasted by her. Taking the glass she held out, he calculated whether he should bother with a quick tryst. As far as he knew, she had yet to be sampled by anyone there. She had even been caught bragging in a weak moment that she saved herself for him. Unfortunately, he had seen too many young girls like her think they could gain his attentions, enslave him to their will so they could taste power. Frankly, he could find nothing special about her and she bored him. If only she would take up with one of the other gentleman or return to her family. Sensing already her dismissal from his throne, she licked her lips, slowly leaning forward, her breasts spilling from her gown.

A discreet cough to Klaus's left had him turning his head. Gregori, his butler, valet and most valued servant stood stiffly at his side. Gregori took care of all the preparations for his weekly parties, but once the festivities started he made sure to never be found. That his servant disapproved of his lifestyle was an understatement. Klaus knew the elderly gentleman would have left him long ago if it weren't for the fact that he had been with him since he was a child. For a reason Klaus had never quite discerned, the man held some kind of affection for him. Gregori even faced Mikael's wrath to end the beatings when they got out of hand. Because of that, Klaus respected Gregori's wishes, always dismissing him before the festivities began.

"There's trouble, your lordship," Gregori said primly, avoiding looking at the spectacle before him.

Klaus sat up, interested for the first time that night. With a glare and flick of his hand be motioned for Lady Hayley to step away. "What kind of trouble? Do I need my pistol or sword?" It had been a long time since Klaus had been in a good fight and he wouldn't mind a chance to shed some blood. Life had been much to boring lately.

When Gregori shook his head, Klaus frowned.

"If some fool has lost his fortune and is about to jump off the roof let him," he replied with a sigh. It wouldn't be the first time this had happened and, while he would prefer not to have a death on his hands, he had enough police in his pocket that he wouldn't be blamed.

"No, it isn't that."

"What then? Is the opium bad again?" When Gregori said nothing, continuing to look at him strangely, excitement stirred in Klaus once more. "That means another gang war. I knew those men would cheat us if we didn't come down on them heavy enough."

"My Lord." Gregori's tone was so uncharacteristically stern that Klaus looked at him in surprise. "There is a lady here."

Klaus laughed. "Half the women here are titled ladies. You will have to be more specific."

"No, my lord. This is a..." Gregori paused, his voice reverent. "A real lady."

For the first time, in a long while, Klaus knew a brief flicker of interest. To have brought Gregori out of his retirement for the evening, the Lady must be very special indeed.

"Send her in," Klaus said with a wave of hand, preparing to be quite entertained by this situation. No doubt the woman was a reformer, intending to lead him away from his wicked ways.

"No, Your lordship." Gregori shook his head sorrowfully, as if he hated that he was unable to fulfill his master's request. "I have shown her into your study."

"My study?" he growled. That was his refuge from the world. The place he kept completely separate from the rest of his life.

Gregori inclined his head. "I didn't want to her to be seen waiting in the foyer. This is no place for her."

Klaus rose from his chair. He had no choice but to see the woman. Gregori wouldn't leave his side until he did and Klaus still had enough respect for the elderly gentleman that he didn't want to further expose him to anymore of his lifestyle than he needed to.

The chatter in the room briefly paused while everyone waited to see what had caused Klaus to leave his chair. Lady Hayley with a pout headed towards the gaming tables to wile away the time until he returned. Without a look back, Klaus left the room and headed to his study.


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Lady Caroline paced anxiously back and forth across the fine wool carpet, her skirts swishing around her ankles. She should have never come here. What on earth had she been thinking? With a sigh, she acknowledged she knew exactly why she came. Elena. The name evoked some of her happiest memories and some of her most exasperated. Her friendship with Bonnie was so much easier. She could only be glad Bonnie hadn't been dragged into this mess tonight. At least if caught, only herself and Elena would suffer the consequences.

Taking in the room, Caroline was surprised how much it resembled the office of a true gentleman. A massive desk took up residence in the back and in front, near the fireplace, sat a settee with several chairs and a small table. Hanging from the walls, between ornate bookcases, were painting and sketches that could only be masterpieces, judging by the talent on display.

Tired of pacing, she took a seat at the small table that the kind butler laid out with tea. The heavy filigreed silver tea service was engraved with matching snarling wolves on each side of it. She shivered when her gaze lingered on the wolves; they looked terrifying, their teeth sharp and pointed. The steaming teapot that should have given a sense of normalcy to the situation did anything but.

She couldn't believe what Elena had gotten herself involved in now. To come to Lucifer's abode alone, she must have been out of her mind. Caroline knew it had to do with Damon Salvatore. She could imagine no other reason her friend would act so rashly. To be seen here was akin to social suicide. She would be blackballed; the only opportunity left to her would be spinsterhood or the life of a prostitute. Caroline had no idea how on earth how to get her out of here with both their reputations intact. She only knew she would do anything to keep her friend from ruining herself in Lucifer's Lair.

At the approach of footsteps she rushed from her seat, her heart wildly thudding in her chest and echoing in her ears. She was about to meet the King of the underworld, Nicklaus Mikaelson. Her breath stuck like honey in her lungs when he stepped into the room. Refusing to look demurely downward, she forced her gaze to his, thrusting her chin up. She didn't know what she expected, a three-horned devil, or maybe Satan himself, but it wasn't this.

In front of her stood one of the most attractive men she ever saw. His thick, dark blonde hair haloed his head in soft curls and his face with two playful dimples looked as if carved from marble. He wasn't clean-shaven like most gentlemen and it only made him look even more handsome and dangerous. His perfectly tailored evening clothes molded to his muscular chest and in his cravat he wore a large emerald that sparkled in the candlelight. Tempting as the devil, the only things that kept her from swooning was the smirk on his lips and the look of darkness in his blue eyes.

Refusing to be cowed under his pointed gaze, Caroline lifted her chin even higher. "It is considered rude in polite circles for a gentleman to stare at a lady so. I suspect since you are so rarely seen in society you must be unaware of the rules."

"But this is not polite society, love" Klaus drawled. "You have come unannounced and uninvited to a gambling house. I wonder what your society friends would think to find you in Lucifer's Lair?"

"You say that as if you were proud of it, proud of your disgrace?"

"Perhaps I am. Anyone with a title or a fortune can be a member of your polite society, but it takes a talented individual to create a kingdom like mine," he answered, a please smile on his face. "Maybe you are here to take a taste of the forbidden."

"I would rather die," Caroline said coldly.

He took a step closer to her and she could feel the room grow smaller. "Yet wouldn't it be such a lovely way to go?"

There was something dangerous, sensuous about the way he slowly encroached on her space. Mesmerized, she watched him move closer, feeling very much a fly tempted by the silken beauty of a web. Breaking his gaze for the first time, she stepped away, feeling very unsure of herself.

"What is your name, sweetheart?" His voice, thick and velvety, sent chills of pleasure down her spine.

"None of your business," she snapped, trying to regain control of the situation.

Klaus' mouth twitched with amusement. He hadn't had this much fun in ages. Gregori was right. This was a Lady.

Although, that should have been obvious from her demure white evening gown to the strand of pearls that rested around her slim throat. An exquisite creature she didn't attempt to seduce him or cringe in fear. She boldly challenged him. Beyond beautiful, her curls piled high on her head sparkled gold and her eyes were luminescent, glinting with all the colors of a blue green sea. Delicate features with soft lips that curled slightly into a smile, she looked like the Angel at the top of a Christmas tree.

Only the Angel never tempted him like she did. He instantly hardened when his gaze swept over her elegant figure, the swell of her breasts and the roundness of her hips. He wanted her and he rarely wanted anyone

The question was why had she deigned to lower herself by entering his realm of sin. Young ladies of birth did not visit the homes of gentleman in the middle of the night and they certainly never visited him.

"There must be something you want or you wouldn't be here," he mused. "Perhaps your are in search of a errant fiancé."

For some reason he couldn't understand, the thought of her being engaged bothered him. He didn't want her attached to anyone else and if the gentleman were here, Klaus would publicize his activities and thoroughly disgrace him. The resulting scandal would end her engagement.

"Certainly not. I would hope any man I chose would have the moral quality to never be seen here," she countered.

"Yet, here you are." He smirked.

Caroline had lost control of the situation, but she hadn't expected Lucifer to be this attractive or infuriating. She needed to remember her mission, her purpose.

Schooling her face into a polite mask, she sought to remember she needed this man's help. "I need a favor," she forced out.

His eyes flickered for a moment. "So you need something from me? Surely you have heard by now I am not the type that aides widows and orphans.

She nodded. "I realize that. I wouldn't be here if the situation wasn't dire."

"So I gathered," he said dryly. "Surely you realize Lucifer does nothing for free. Even the devil takes his due when granting requests." He stepped closer to her and reaching for her hand, lifted it to his mouth. "Are you prepared to sell your soul?"

Klaus' lips were a burning brand against her bare knuckles and Caroline's knees weakened under her. She cursed herself for forgetting her gloves during her rush to rescue Elena. His mouth lingered on her delicate skin and she wondered at his heat, the magnetic pull she felt to him. Practically swooning, she looked at him with speechless wonder when he turned her hand around to kiss her palm.

Abruptly, Klaus released her hand and Caroline looked at him in confusion. With his touch she forgot where she was, who she was. Flushing in anger, she couldn't believe that she let him manipulate her and forget her purpose.

"What is it you want?" Klaus asked brusquely.

Straightening her spine, Caroline drew herself up to her full height. "My friend is here. And I need you to find her and deliver her to me."

Klaus walked over to the sideboard she hadn't noticed earlier and poured himself a drink. "Have you considered that perhaps your friend wishes to be here?"

"She doesn't," she said, pursing her lips for a moment. "I am sure she came here out of the kindness of her heart to rescue someone who doesn't deserve her care. I need you to find her because she is a lady and this place is not meant for her."

Klaus sipped his scotch, regarding her through hooded eyes. "No, this place is for whores. Since she is here, maybe this is where she belongs. Maybe your friend is a whore and here with her lover?"

Caroline inhaled sharply and crossed the room in a flurry of movement, lifting her hand to strike him. He easily caught it, with a deep chuckle. His large hand encircled her small wrist and his grip, while firm, caused her no pain when he gently lowered her arm to her side.

"I didn't realize games of dominance and submission were your forte," he said with amusement.

Snatching her hand away from his, Caroline gasped, fire leaping into her cheeks. She wasn't quite sure what he alluded to and she didn't imagine it was something she wished to know more about.

Klaus took another step towards her, his hand reaching out to stroke the curve of her cheek, his fingertips light and caressing. "You are a true innocent, aren't you, love," he murmured. "Something very rare indeed."

Embarrassed, Caroline swatted his hand away. "My friend?"

"Yes," he answered slowly. "Your friend, the whore. I had almost forgotten about her."

"She is not a whore!"

Klaus shrugged. "So you say."

Caroline took a deep calming breath. She couldn't afford to wait any longer. Who knew what trouble Elena might be in? "Please, can't you find her?"

"I suppose I could, but why should I?"

"Would because I asked nicely suffice as an inducement?" Her polite voice sheathed steel resolve.

"No," Klaus answered, just as politely. "I think one good act deserves another."

Caroline took a trembling breath. "What is it you want?"

"I haven't decided," Klaus replied. Taking a seat on the leather settee in front of the tea table, he patted the seat next to him. "Please do sit."

Caroline wanted to argue, reply that she preferred to stand. That, she feared being in such close proximity to him would surely taint her so-called innocence. To her chagrin she recalled that she needed his help desperately. Spreading her skirts primly, she sat next to him.

"Tell me of your friend. What is her name?"

"Elena."

"No last name?" He laughed

"No last name. But I promise she will be easy to find. She will be one of the most beautiful women here and most likely surrounded by men. She manages to attract them like flies to honey," she replied with a pained sigh. "She has dark hair and eyes, the most perfect features you could imagine."

Klaus cocked his head and regarded her oddly. "Sounds quite common to me."

A small smile flitted crossed her face.

"I much prefer fiery blondes who are bold enough to face Lucifer in his lair." He moved closer to her on the settee, his thigh brushing hers and she imagined she could feel the heat of his body through her petticoat and silk evening gown.

She swallowed, her throat suddenly dry. "Please, will you see to my friend?"

"For a price."

"I will gladly pay you whatever you wish."

Klaus laughed out loud. "How very naive of you to think that money motivates me in the least."

Instead of cowering like she wanted to do, she caught his gaze without flinching. "What is it you want?"

To her surprise, he looked at her longingly. "A taste of your innocence, love," he whispered. "A kiss."

"A kiss?"

"Yes, a kiss for your friend. I think it is a fair bargain," he replied his voice rough.

Caroline hesitated, her whole life she had been saving her first kiss for someone special. She had been through several turns in moonlit gardens this season without bestowing this gift on any of her suitors. To give him this now would forever ruin her dreams of the perfect kiss. Yet, she couldn't imagine the repercussions if she didn't get Elena out of this place now. Her gaze fell to his full sensuous lips and her heart fluttered nervously in her chest.

"Find Elena and you shall have your kiss," she answered, her voice weak.

"Consider it done." He winked, like he guessed the effect he had on her.

Rising to take his leave, he hesitated when Caroline spoke up, "If it helps, you might find her in the company of a certain Mr. Damon Salvatore. Are you familiar with him?"

With unease, Caroline watched Klaus' smirk fade, his face-harden. "Mr. Salvatore has been a frequent visitor to my place over the past few years. In fact, I believe on several occasions he has been thrown out."

Caroline twisted the pearl ring on her finger. "It is as I feared. He will bring her nothing but harm and heartache. Please you must find her before it is too late."

"I will find her for you. But I cannot guarantee your friend is in quite the same condition as when she arrived," Klaus answered with a cold smile. "And you must consider she might refuse to leave his side."

Tears stung at Caroline's eyes as he spoke her worst nightmares. That Elena had gotten herself into a situation there could be no coming back from. "Please get her out of here and away from him."

"By any means necessary?"

"Yes," Caroline replied, her voice firm.

"Even if I must shed his blood? Meet him at dawn with pistols and swords."

Caroline wondered at the look of devilry that darkened his eyes. Rather like he would enjoy the experience. "If you don't, I will if he has so much as touched her."

"Such bloodthirstiness, love?" His gaze bored into her, chipping away at the shields she long ago erected. "What has he done to you? I would gladly cut his throat if he has hurt you."

Her breath snagged in her throat. His worry and concern hit her deep within and she didn't know how to answer. No one ever cared to hear why she disliked Damon. For Lucifer to do so, to attempt to so blindly defend her honor, it brought tears to her eyes. Ones she quickly blinked away. "It was nothing. An exchange of words I forgot long ago," she lied, her voice cold and crisp.

Klaus bowed at her response. Only the look in his eyes, she knew he didn't believe her and it scared her.

She could only breathe a sigh of relief when he left the room. Rising to stand in front of the roaring fireplace, Caroline replayed the entire conversation in her head. She couldn't believe how she reacted to Lucifer, or rather the Earl, Nicklaus Mikaelson. How easily she fell for his charm, like he placed some hypnotic hold on her. Was that how he conquered his underworld kingdom? With charm? Or was it the violence within she glimpsed just under the surface?

"My lady?"

Caroline turned around to see the kindly gentleman she spoke to earlier that evening. He had been so nice to her when she coldly demanded that he fetch his master. In his hands, he carried a silver platter of steaming fresh croissants. The buttery smell of the pastries caused her stomach to growl and she suddenly realized she missed dinner in her haste to rescue Elena.

"I thought you might enjoy some refreshments while you waited for your friend," he said with a bow, stepping into the room.

"I really shouldn't-" she began.

"It could be a while before your friend is found. There are countless rooms to be searched." Color appeared on Gregori's wrinkled cheeks. "Besides, with everything you have been through, you look in need of sustenance."

"This is hardly a social call."

Gregori set his platter down next to the tea service. "Maybe not, but I find a cup of tea is generally helpful in all situations." Lifting the teapot up, he poured the steaming water through the strainer that held the tealeaves. "Cream or sugar?"

Caroline opened her mouth to refuse, but instead she found herself answering him, "A little of both."

"I hope His Lordship was respectful of you and your person?" Gregori said while adding cream and sugar to the tea. "I can guarantee he was raised with impeccable manners."

She considered how best to answer, trying not to think how a simple kiss to her hand became an act of eroticism. Caroline finally came to the conclusion that he hadn't done anything she hadn't allowed. "Yes. He was very respectful."

Gregori nodded approvingly. "His Lordship really isn't the evil villain he likes everyone to believe."

Caroline wanted to laugh. The Earl's butler must be senile if he thought that the Earl was anything but the son of Satan everyone thought he was.

"This gambling establishment. All this foolishness. His Lordship will eventually outgrow it." He smiled at her, like he shared a great confidence.

"You must realize that His Lordship has the most dreadful reputation. He isn't received anywhere." Caroline accepted the delicate teacup Gregori offered her and sat down on the settee

"He could be if he wished. All his lordship needs is the proper motivation."

Staying silent, Caroline sipped her tea.

""If I am not mistaken, you are Lady Caroline Forbes, daughter of the Marquis of Haverly."

"How did you know that?" So careful to hide her identity, she arrived in a hackney carriage, refusing to give her real name when she was announced.

"Forgive me, my lady, but how could I not recognize one of London's reigning debutante's? You appear nearly daily in the Times Society column."

"I hadn't considered that." She set her teacup down carefully. "You will keep my secret?"

Gregori shot her an offended look. "Your Ladyship can trust me."

"Thank you."

"You mentioned you were here to rescue your friend?" Gregori served up a croissant on one of the china plates, placing it on the small tea table just within Caroline's reach.

Looking at the croissant longingly, she considered whether or not to give into her hunger. Before she could change her mind, she slid the plate over.

"She has been very foolish," Caroline replied, cutting of a small section of the hot buttered pasty. Taking a bite, she moaned at the delicious taste. "I just hope she can be found."

"Don't worry about that." Gregori topped of her tea, clucking like a mother hen. "There is nothing that happens here that the Earl doesn't know about. She will be located."

Caroline relaxed at his soothing tone and took another bite of her croissant.

"She must be a very good friend that you would so bravely come here," Gregori probed.

"I would do anything for her, as you can see." She couldn't believe she was speaking so openly and honestly to a servant, but there was something about the elderly gentleman that put her at ease.

"I am assuming then that we are speaking of Lady Elena Gilbert or is it Miss Bonnie Bennett?"

"How did you know that?" Caroline set down her fork. "And it is Lady Elena I search for."

"Even servants read the gossip column. Your friendship with the lady and Miss Bennett is well documented"

"Is there nothing you don't know?" Caroline asked wryly. Not expecting an answer she continued, "Then you will also realize how important it is that Lady Elena is found before anyone recognizes her."

"You can trust His Grace. He will do everything he can to make sure there is no scandal attached to Lady Elena."

Caroline practically choked on her tea. "Are we talking about the same person? If this were his father, the duke, or even his older brothers, I would agree with you. But the Earl?"

Gregori gave her a sour look. "I see you are familiar with the Mikaelson family."

"We move in the same social circles." Caroline wondered if she said the wrong thing from the way Gregori regarded her.

Hearing footsteps on the marble floor outside the study, Caroline rose, craning her head for the welcome sight of Elena. Instead of her friend, she saw the Earl's smirking face and her chest welled with disappointment.

"I see you have taken to feeding our guest, Gregori," Klaus said with amusement. "You do realize that this could ruin my reputation for villainy."

"I trust Your Lordship has solved the matter at hand satisfactorily?" Gregori ignored the Earl's comment.

"In a fashion." Klaus dismissed Gregori with a dismissive wave.

The servant gave Klaus a warning look before bowing and exiting the room.

"You have found my friend?" Caroline stepped closer to Klaus.

"Of course, Lady Caroline Forbes." Klaus drawled.

Caroline paled, her fingers fluttering to her necklace. "You know my name then."

"I always knew, love."

"What has happened to Lady Elena? If you have harmed one hair on her head, I will destroy you."

"Do you really think there is anything left of my reputation you can destroy?" he chuckled.

Caroline moved closer, poking her finger almost to his chest. "While there may be nothing left of your reputation to ruin, I can guarantee I will find a way to hurt you."

Cocking his head to one side, he studied her. "I believe you would."

"However, that won't be necessary, as I have located your friend."

Caroline almost collapsed in relief. "Where is she? Why isn't she here?"

"I have sent her home."

"In your carriage? She will be ruined!" Rushing towards the door, to stop the carriage before it left, she was surprised when Klaus reached out and grabbed her arm, stopping her in her tracks.

"I sent her home in an unmarked coach." Gently, he released her arm.

She stood still, slowly digesting the information. "She was unharmed?"

"She left as she came...completely untouched and without having found Damon Salvatore," Klaus replied. "The silly chit stood out like a sore thumb. She was the only guest that came masked."

Caroline slowly turned towards Klaus. She couldn't believe her luck. Not only had Elena been found and sent home; she had worn a mask. There would be no bribes and no scandal to squash. For once, fortune had looked in her favor.

"Thank you, my lord, for your help in this matter."

Klaus cupped her cheek. "I believe I am owed a kiss."

Looking up into his dark eyes, her breath died in her lungs. The space between them narrowed, everything falling away. She could no longer hear the crackle of the fire or see the tea things left on the table. He was all that existed in that moment. Tilting her head up, she puckered her lips like she tasted something sour and closed her eyes, preparing herself for the worst.

He chuckled, the sound rich and throaty. "It isn't as bad as all that."

With his thumb, he gently stroked her lips, tracing first the upper and then the lower one gently, until she relaxed under his touch. In that moment, his mouth flew to hers.

Caroline felt the touch of his lips, little tiny kisses that caused a delicious heat to spread through her body all the way to the tips of her toes. For the first time, she wondered if maybe she had been wrong to deny herself this pleasure all these years. When his tongue reached out to trace the seam of her mouth, she shivered and knew she had been a fool. She moved into him, her lips slowly parting and he deepened the kiss. With feather-light, sweet little strokes, his tongue coaxed hers to respond. When at last she touched him, with the softest of brushes, he groaned. Knowing she affected him as much as he affected her made her blood spark with fire. Sighing with delight, she leaned into him, her fingers reaching up to fist the lapels of his evening coat.

His lips left her mouth and she made a slight noise of protest, but then his mouth was raining down kisses over her cheeks, across her jawline. When his lips found the curve of her neck, she moaned softly and his teeth raked the sensitive skin. Arching in pleasure, she succumbed to a desire that left her breathless, aching with need. His lips skimmed her collarbone, his hands settling near her waist to pull her closer and she recognized the danger she was in. She didn't want him to stop, couldn't tell him to stop. Flattening her palms against his chest, she pushed at him lightly, even while she wanted to lose herself in him. He pulled her closer to him, his arm tightening around her like a band of steel.

"You want me as much as I want you," he murmured near her ear.

She flushed shamefully, recognizing the painful truth of what he said. She shoved him away, taking several steps backwards.

Klaus advanced towards her, his eyes black as night. Turning around, she searched for a weapon, grabbing the first thing she saw.

"What are you going to do with that? Fork me to death?" He laughed throatily, the rich sound curling and uncurling her toes.

Caroline held out the fork menacingly, feeling ridiculously foolish when she did so. "If I have to." She backed all the way to the entrance of the study, holding the fork in front of her. "I believe this concludes our arrangement."

"Yes, I believe it does."

Klaus' face contorted with a strange look of what might be regret that evaporate when he once more poured a glass of scotch.

Before Caroline had a chance to change her mind, she dropped the fork and ran down the corridor to her waiting carriage. He truly was the devil. The kiss they shared had been the one she always dreamed of; the one she waited her whole life for. It was perfect.


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Standing outside Elena's bedroom door, Caroline didn't even bother to knock before storming in.

"What on earth were you thinking?" She practically shrieked.

Elena slowly turned around from her vanity mirror to face her friend. Already dressed in her white night attire embroidered in roses she was a vision of innocence. "Caroline? What are still doing up? I thought you would have retired by now."

"How could I possibly go to bed after what you put me through tonight?" Caroline asked, pacing on the fine woolen rug covering the hard wood floors. She barely registered the pink and white decorated room, the bed piled high with ruffled pillows and the embroidery hoop next to the fireplace. "Don't play innocent miss with me, Elena Gilbert. I know exactly where you were this evening."

Flushing slightly, Elena set her ivory carved hairbrush down. "I know. How did you find out?"

"I'm not stupid," Caroline answered with a huff. "As soon as you pled a headache to keep from making an appearance at the Heatherton's, I knew something was amiss. You never get headaches. But, it wasn't until I noticed Damon also missing from the Heatherton's that I knew for sure. "

"But how did you know I went to one of Lucifer's Lair? Or that Damon would be there?"

"Because I saw his face when he caught you kissing Stefan at the garden party this afternoon. Seriously! What were you thinking kissing him so openly among the roses? Then later, when Damon got stinking drunk, I knew you would go to see him tonight and make sure he wouldn't do something stupid and hurt himself," Caroline replied with annoyance. "After that, I only had to bribe Damon's servants, who he must not pay well because they were quite eager, for a fee, to divulge where he headed and that a young brunette asked the same thing hours earlier."

"I didn't realize the servants would talk. I did pay them for their silence. I tried to be careful," Elena mumbled.

Caroline looked at Elena sternly. "You weren't careful enough. Besides you know nothing can be hidden from servants. There isn't anything they don't see."

"Is there nothing that can be kept from you?"

The arch of one perfect brow was Caroline's only response.

"What were you thinking to go off to find Damon? And to Lucifer's at that? You could have destroyed what little reputation you have left with the Salvatore brothers falling all over you and your inability to make a choice between them."

"I knew Damon saw me with Stefan and I couldn't bear to see him hurt."

Caroline walked over to Elena, putting her arms around her. "You can't keep doing this. You have to make a choice."

"I know," Elena replied sorrowfully. "Does Bonnie know about tonight?"

"No. I didn't want to write and get her involved. Especially with her grams not feeling well."

"I suppose I should thank you for my abrupt expulsion from Lucifer's party."

"You should," Caroline said with a sniff. "I couldn't very well let you stay and ruin your reputation,"

"Did you at least take a look around Lucifer's while you were there? I have never seen such a place in all my life."

Caroline glared at Elena "Of course not. I need to make a suitable marriage and I can't be caught gawking at such a place."

"And would that suitable marriage be with Lord Lockwood? I have seen the way he looks at you lately," Elena teased.

"Maybe? Only he is so arrogant at times and I think he might be the reason Vicky isn't here this season. I think she was devastated when he never offered for her. "

Elena sighed, turning back to her vanity mirror. "While I didn't get a chance to experience much of the place, I at least got a chance to meet Lucifer himself."

"You did?" Caroline asked, her racing heart at odds with her nonchalant tone.

"Yes. The Earl of Alverstoke was nothing like I expected. Instead of attempting to seduce me, he gave me the most awful lecture." Elena wrinkled her nose in distaste.

Caroline faked a disinterest she didn't in the least feel "Really?"

"Yes, he actually scolded me for my stupidity. But what was most interesting of all was that he told me I didn't deserve such a loyal friend as you and that I should be ashamed for causing you to risk your reputation to save me."

Elena shot Caroline a glance through the mirror. "In fact, he made a point of mentioning your name several times."

"I can't imagine why," Caroline said, trying to force away the color that already filled her cheeks.

"Did something happen between you two?"

Suddenly needing a distraction, Caroline picked up the hairbrush, running it through her friend's dark locks. "No. Nothing out of the ordinary."

"What exactly do you consider ordinary?" Elena asked with a suspicious look. When no answer was forthcoming, she turned to face Caroline. "Something happened between the two of you, didn't it? Don't bother to deny it."

Caroline cleared her throat. She wanted to lie, but like a dog with a bone, she knew Elena would not drop the subject until she knew the truth. Her friend understood her too well. "I might have had to bargain for your release."

Elena paled. "You didn't have to-"

"No, not that," Caroline shook her head emphatically.

"I am really surprised he didn't want to sleep with you. I have heard virgins are highly prized." Elena furrowed her brow in puzzlement.

Shuddering, Caroline set the hairbrush done. "It was nothing like that."

"Then what? I have to know."

If possible, Caroline's cheeks burned even hotter. "A kiss," she mumbled under her breath.

"A what?"

"A kiss," Caroline repeated loudly, her hand covering her mouth after the words left her lips.

Elena's jaw fell open in shock. "Are you telling me the Earl of Alverstoke, Lucifer himself, bargained only a kiss for my freedom?"

"Yes." Caroline's lashes lowered, her mouth softening into a smile remembering in exquisite detail the touch of his lips on hers.

"You gave him your first kiss?" Elena asked in awe.

Caroline nodded.

"I'm sorry. I know you were saving your first kiss for your betrothed. I hope it wasn't too terrible?"

"No. I am very much afraid it wasn't."

Elena studied Caroline carefully, a grin forming on her face. "You enjoyed it."

"I will tell you this once, and then you must promise me that we will never speak of it again." Her tone was harsh.

"I promise," Elena replied breathlessly.

Caroline peered at her reflection in the mirror. Surely, she should look different after such an intimate act? When his mouth pressed against hers, she knew she would never be the same again. Something changed and like Sleeping Beauty, he awoke something deep inside of her. "It was perfect."

"I am so happy for you! It can be horrible. My first with Mr. Donovan was terrible. He had the most horrid lips, all cold and clammy." Elena's mouth curled in disgust. "I can say that, after that, my kisses with Stefan have been very nice."

Shaking herself like she was waking from a dream, Caroline pulled her gaze from the mirror. "You have had far too many kisses with Stefan. And, we shall pretend mine never happened."

Elena looked at Caroline warily. "Are you sure that is what you want?"

"Most certainly. It won't do for my first kiss to be from the most villainous libertine in the entire kingdom. Now if you don't mind, I would very much like to forget this night ever happened."

"So would I." Elena grimaced. "I don't think I have ever had such a severe lecture."

Caroline smiled and, holding out her arms, embraced Elena again. "I am so very glad you are home safe."

Elena returned the hug. "Thank you for caring so much."

"Always." Leaving the warmth of Elena's arms, Caroline headed to her room. Crossing the hallway, she knew in the deep recesses of her heart that she would never, no matter how much she fought it, be able to forget this night.


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Near a week and Klaus had done nothing but think of her. The intoxicating smell of her skin; the taste of her lips and the way her body pressed against his. For the first time, his establishment left a bad taste in his mouth. He sat lifeless on his throne. He lived the lifestyle of a monk, refusing to partake in the delights of his own club, causing his patrons to mumble with misgiving. Beauty upon beauty paraded in front of him and he saw only the exquisite blonde that made his icy heart feel almost alive. Retiring to his study to once more drown out the vision of loveliness that continued to haunt him, he startled at finding Gregori waiting for him goblet of scotch in hand.

Klaus seated himself at his desk, noticing the Times still lay out, right where he left it earlier that day. Only this time, instead of the paper being opened to the racing scores, it was folded to reveal the society column. He eagerly scanned the section, finding her name. Lady CF looking lovely as ever in white silk embroidered in gold, waltzed with Lord TL twice. Will the lady accept a proposal soon? He took in the news, growling. His anger flaring like every other time he read the piece that day. He tried not to think of her lovely face, of her sharing her kisses with another.

"I know what you are doing, Gregori.".

"I have no idea what you are talking about, my lord," his servant replied calmly.

Klaus took a deep drink of his scotch. "The paper."

"Ah, yes. Are you finished with it? Shall I place it with the others?"

Slamming his fist on his desk, Klaus tried to force back the emotions that blinded him. "What others?"

"The ones you have been saving in the bottom drawer." Gregori's tone was the epitome of innocence.

Useless to deny it, Klaus made a noise of frustration. Ever since he met Caroline, he saved every paper that was delivered, because they held her name. It was like he could keep his memory of her alive with them; remind himself that she was real. Bowing his head, he gave in. He didn't want to continue fighting. She won. He needed to see her again.

"Do you happen to know where Lady Caroline will be tomorrow night?"

"I believe that she will be making an appearance at the Grenville's ball."

Klaus sighed in defeat. "See to it that I have an invitation."

"Yes, my lord," Gregori answered with a grin.

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I know. The last thing I need is another fic to finish. This story is based off an old one of mine I left unfinished years ago. I think it really fits for Klaroline. Let me know if you would be interested in seeing it continued. Any questions PM me here or send an ASK to my tumblr - anastasiadreams. Thanks