Thanks to Laurelinthepale

Chapter One – Sempill Suite

"Makes a liar out of me every time," Josef thought as the plane descended into the dazzling sunshine of Edinburgh. Soon enough they were in a car with very darkly-tinted windows, heading toward the center of town. The driver turned onto Princes Street very close to Castlehill, and he watched Beth's eyes as she drank in this beautiful old part of the city.

"I can't wait to walk around here," she said, head moving back and forth, trying to catch every sight they passed.

"I can. Until after dark, at least, but please feel free to explore. I'm having someone meet us at the hotel, and I'm sure you'll feel safe with him. Ah, here we are." The car stopped before a very old, grey-stone building, just a moment from the front gates of the castle. As the driver opened the door and helped Beth out, the hotel's door opened nearly simultaneously.

"Mr. Kostan, how lovely to have you stay with us again. I am afraid that the other room you requested will not be available until tomorrow afternoon, but we have done our best to assure that you and Ms. Turner will be comfortable in our Sempill suite until then. It offers unparalleled privacy, it's on a private close." Josef was disappointed, but not surprised. Securing two rooms in this place on such short notice was a task that probably only the Queen could accomplish, and then only if she promised to behave. "I have, of course, found alternate accommodations if Ms. Turner will be inconvenienced by the arrangements."

"What's a close?" Beth asked.

"Ah, I see you haven't had time to explore Old Town yet. It's an alley, of sorts, leading away from Princes Street, sometimes down the hill to the street below, sometimes to a court yard….They were used for some, shall we say, nefarious purposes back in the fifteenth through nineteenth centuries, venues of escape, secret meeting places, lovers', they enchant the visitors. And ours holds a very special suite," he said proudly.

"There you have it, a history of the streets of Edinburgh," Josef said with just a hint of sarcasm. "Now, if you'll show us to the rooms, Ms. Turner will be able to make an informed decision as to their suitability. But the Armoury will be available tomorrow through Saturday?"

"Of course," the desk clerk answered, and called a bellman to show them to Sempill. They were led out a side door, down a private, stone-walled close to a building with leaded glass windows and a heavy old door.

When the door opened, Beth gasped at the sight, sending a smile across the face of the bellman, who disappeared discretely with Josef's generous tip.

"This is unbelievable." Beth walked about the emerald green room, touching the ridiculously rich fabrics, appreciating the feel of highly polished old wood, before dropping onto a chaise-longue, flinging one arm over her head dramatically as she lay back on the soft velvet.

Smiling, Josef stood watching her pleasure as she stared at the ornate ceiling. "It's fairly new, I'm given to understand. Would madam like to see the rest of the place?" He offered her his hand which she reluctantly took, wanting nothing more than to rub her cheek against the silk of the pillow and wallow in this opulence. But she supposed that if "Ms. Turner was to make an informed decision", she ought to see the rest of the place.

Josef opened the door to the bathroom, which was as large as her living room at home. Paneled walls and the largest tub she'd ever seen, a chandelier hanging right over the center, half a wall of mirrors…It was, without question, exactly what she'd expect to see in a movie that featured a castle fit for a French king. "Could you pinch me, um, really 

hard" she asked Josef playfully. When he made as if to do it, she backed away playfully, adding, "Is this you, or is this place always like this?"

"Not me, though a few hundred years ago I lived very much like this. No, this is the vision of James Thomson, who, I suspect, will sell it all in a few more years and move on. If you catch my meaning."

"Vampire?" She mouthed the words as if speaking them were some sort of breech of etiquette.

Josef laughed. "He's just a bit older than I am, but equally as eccentric. But you've already guessed that. Shall we see the bedroom before you decide whether or not you'll deign to share with me tonight?" He opened the final door, and Beth was surprised to feel a subtle twinge of excitement stir between her thighs. Blood-red silk walls, an enormous gothic bed, thick soft carpet and a cleverly positioned cheval mirror that one could certainly use for its intended purpose, but which also reflected the entire red-swathed bed in its glass. Even the provided freezer had a gothic designed exterior so as not to interfere with the décor. Not to mention a closet that was actually a dressing room, tons of candles in ornate iron candelabra, original art and eccentric trinkets. And Josef, looking perfectly at home in the center of it all.

"Yeah, okay, it's no Hilton, but I suppose I could put up with it for one night," she said, her voice huskier than she intended. Oh, yes. Here, she'd be more than thrilled to play Miss Mina to his Count Dracula.

"Josef," she said as they went back to the sitting room, where a newly-opened bottle of champagne awaited them, "I have no suitcase."

"You have no clothes," he leered, wiggling his eyebrows at her comically. "But you do have unlimited Champagne, and a very willing sugar-daddy who will happily buy you whatever you need." He poured them each a glass, and touched his glass against hers in a simple toast. "I owe you that much. I was so certain that you would choose to return to L.A. that I had your bag sent along on the plane."

She looked at him more than skeptically, "No you didn't. You had my passport."

"Busted," he smiled, trying fruitlessly to look contrite. "I want to dress you. I won all this money last night, it's just burning a hole in my pocket and you know how dangerous fire is to vampires. And I am well aware that you would not willingly let me spend tons of it on you. Now you have no choice. We're shopping where I choose, since you don't know Edinburgh, and you'll never see a price tag." The phone rang, and Josef answered, "Yes, thank you." Replacing the ornate pewter receiver into its cradle of black, he turned to her and said, "Our ride, and the new Bethsitter, are both waiting for us. Let's go."

She liked her new babysitter. Well she liked looking at him, anyway. "Alistair MacLean, this is Beth Turner," Josef introduced them as they climbed into the hired car. "I warn you, she's a handful, and quite clever, too, so watch out for her." He smiled to assure her that he viewed his assessment as a compliment.

"Ah, she's a wee slip of a lass," he smiled as he shook her hand, "I think I can handle her."

Josef watched as the wheels turned in Beth's agile mind, sure she was mulling over exactly how she'd like the tall, dark highlander to handle her. Good, he'd chosen well. Anything that helped to keep her on the edge of arousal worked to his advantage. "We're just off to get her some clothes, her suitcase accidentally landed in L.A. Theoretically, this should be the easy part."

This was not going to be easy at all. The French proprietress of this exquisite store, Mirielle, seemed way too familiar with Josef, and the fact that she'd asked, however discretely, whether he'd need any "special services" and that he'd nodded firmly in response, led her to believe that part of the freshie supply would come right from this store. One stop shopping for the rich and undead.

First she was hustled into an extraordinary fitting room, done in pink and white suede, where she was stripped and measured to within an inch of her life. Three places on her upper arm? She'd always bought off the rack, and had no idea people actually wore things that fitted everywhere. She was told she could dress again, then was summarily dragged off by girl who introduced herself as Kenzie and wore a headset, who was to help her pick out undergarments suitable for the clothing Josef was choosing for her. Kenzie would listen intently, and then display a variety of delicate, beautiful underthings, and when Beth couldn't decide, another girl would carry the possibilities away, presumably for Josef's approval. In between commands, Kenzie piled on nightgowns, robes and items such as scarves, gloves and stockings. Beth's head was spinning, all of this was happening at what seemed like vampire speed, and she was barely able to impose her taste on anything.

Then she spotted something that she was sure Josef would love, and she had absolutely no intention of letting Kenzie or anyone else talk her out of it. "That," she pointed at the item, which had not been shown to her, and Kenzie raised an eyebrow, but retrieved the garment and displayed it before Beth's appraising eyes. "Wrap this now; I don't want Josef to see it. And tell Mirielle I need a raincoat." Then it was shoes, from glorious, exotic leather heels in a multitude of colors and styles to some very funky hiking boots that she couldn't wait to show off in L.A.

And it was over as suddenly as it began. Glancing at her watch, she saw that less than an hour had passed, yet she felt exhausted. If this was how the other half lived, she thought she preferred her side of the tracks.

Josef was smiling as he retrieved his credit card from the lingering caress of Mirielle's hand, and she smiled at Beth as she assured her that she would be the most elegant woman in all of Edinburgh thanks to Josef's excellent taste. Beth figured his bank account didn't hurt, either.

Josef and Alistair carried a few bags to the car, while Beth clutched her treasure in her hand. "The rest will be delivered later, after the alterations are made," Josef told her. "You really should go back for a fitting tomorrow, but I suppose that's out of the question?" Beth nodded. She was not about to go there again under any circumstances. "See?" he directed his words at Alistair, "I warned you." He turned to Beth, directing his words gently at her. "We're having a massage back at the hotel. Are you hungry? I had a bite while I shopped."

Mirielle. Why was she feeling so jealous of a meal? She'd like to put it down to exhaustion, but she suspected that it was the heightened awareness that she'd felt in that exotic bedroom and that had played at the ends of her nerves since then. A massage would be great. She just wished it would be under Josef's skilled hands, and that she'd get a happy ending.

The stage was set when they returned to Sempill. Two massage tables had been set up in the sitting room, the heavy drapes were drawn, and the relaxing smell of sandalwood wafted gently through the air. Each of them changed into a robe and then lay down. Naturally, Josef had arranged for an attractive, fit young woman for himself, and an equally fit and attractive young man for her.

Beth had never shared the massage experience before, and wasn't certain she would enjoy doing so now. But as she felt the warmed oil trickle onto her spine like a gentle rain, she relaxed and settled her face into the head rest. The sounds of a calm ocean played somewhere in the background, and she allowed herself the luxury of a wandering 

mind, fantasizing what might be if this were happening on Josef's private island, if they were on a pink-sand beach, if the cool moon and flickering torches lent a primal element and the ocean breeze like a thousand slender fingers relaxed her every pore. The strong, sure hands of her masseur only fed her fantasy, and she sank deeper into her reverie. She heard Josef utter a muffled moan, and while she knew it was his reaction to a release of tension, now his were the hands that touched her so expertly on the beach where she lay.

Her daydream was interrupted as a gentle voice asked her to turn over. As she settled on to her back, she looked over at Josef, and was aware for the first time that they were having the same experience, the two therapists working simultaneously on the same body part. As her right arm was kneaded into a limpid mass, Josef's was, too. She tried to close her eyes and concentrate on her pleasure, but she could not look away. Feeling her arm being tucked gently under the soft, white sheet, she saw Josef's disappear at the same moment. Imagining, as she saw one long, muscular leg exposed, how his cool skin must feel under the skilled hands of his masseuse. She was relaxing, completely, but her breath grew shallow and more rapid, her growing excitement a thing she no longer wished to deny. She watched as Josef inhaled deeply, scenting her excitement, then look deeply into her eyes as their sheets were simultaneously pulled down low across their hips. The warm oil poured in a slow stream down the center of her body, and reflexively she arched into it slightly, Josef's eyes burning into her own.

Beth's face, in her excitement, was a deeply erotic experience for him on its own, and his body responded immediately to that stimulus. Josef saw her eyes close tightly, her body trembling now as her masseur's hands settled on the curve of her hips and ran firmly but slowly up her sides, moving in closer to each other, inch by inch, as he repeated the movement, bottom to top. Josef felt the hands of his masseuse begin circular motion around each side of his upper chest, and willed her to open her eyes as he watched her masseur make those same, circular motions around each of her breasts, moving slowly toward her nipples. He saw her eyes fly open and seek his own in a mixture of excitement and embarrassment that stirred him nearly beyond his control. Watched as finally the fingers caught her nipples, gently tugging this way and that, watched her blood rise and engorge them into taut pebbles and finally saw what he been hoping for all along; the moment she shed embarrassment and inhibition and surrendered to her pleasure. He throbbed with desire, and unashamedly led her eyes to the sheet now tented between his legs. She let out a gasp, and allowed her excitement to burn wildly from her eyes, seeking to connect with him across the few feet that held them apart.

Slowly the hands retreated, and she felt the sheet being pulled up over her body, the hands no more than an energy field hovering above her. Her breathing calmed, and her eyes closed as her head settled to the center. She was offered, and accepted, a small glass of water, but all she really desired was these two strangers out of their room so that she and Josef could find a way to release the very specific tension their ministrations had built. Moments passed, and finally she saw Josef sit up and his masseuse discretely hold his robe so that he remained unexposed, as, once again, her masseur did the same. Watched Josef move toward the table that held both his wallet and watch as the two folded their tables and prepared to leave. Saw him hand each a hundred-pound note and close the door behind them.

"Well, that took longer than expected," he said casually as he glanced at his watch. "Come on, get dressed, our dinner reservation is only twenty minutes off and they are not patient with late arrivals. I'll just grab my suit and you can use the dressing room."

Beth stared at him in disbelief. He had to be kidding. She was slick and swollen and the throbbing between her thighs was nearly unbearable, and he was worried about being late for dinner? Oh, no, this was not going at all the way she expected, and her fate was sealed when she saw him lay a suit and shirt across the bed and heard him say, "You now have fourteen minutes to dress. Let's go." She hurried off to the dressing room and pointedly slammed the door behind her.

Josef hummed merrily to keep from laughing aloud. His own excitement was being kept in abeyance only by the grace of four hundred years of practiced determination. His true desire was to break down the door, push her over the dressing table and bury himself inside her until her cries of pleasure echoed across the western highlands. But he wanted her for always, and he wanted her wanting him for at least that long, and a delay of a few hours was a small price to pay if it bought him forever.

A single dress hung in the closet, a single set of undergarments lay in the drawer. Apparently this was her dinner outfit, a strapless Christian LaCroix dress of cream silk, the bra a translucent wisp of exquisite embroidery, the panties no more than a suggestion. Nothing more to wear but those amazingly sexy Manolos, a small, gleaming evening bag and a cream-colored, coated-silk trench coat. Beautiful things, indeed. But she'd show him.

She sat before the mirror, gazing for but a moment at the palette of colors available in the make-up case he'd so thoughtfully provided. Well, he'd chosen this Goth palace, and he'd get the whole package. Quickly she applied mascara, black liner and dark red lipstick, and then ran gel and mousse through her hair, blowing and twisting it into a tangled-looking mass around her shoulders. She had a look in mind, that of a woman she'd seen in a nineteen-thirties movie back when she was in college, intriguing and drop-dead sexy. With so little to dress in and with Josef yelling "Three minutes before I come in there and carry you out" she quickly threw her clothes on and assessed her look in the mirror. She had to admit his extraordinary taste, and decadent hedonism. Everything fit to perfection, and what she'd intended to be unusual make-up was instead perfectly in tune with the décor and her mood. Josef might even find it exciting. "I'm coming in, now," she heard him say as she grabbed her coat.

"I'm coming out, now," she answered as she squared her shoulders and opened the door.

Josef stood as she entered the room, and his jaw nearly quite literally dropped when he saw her. The dress fitted her every curve like a second skin, and she'd done her make-up in the fashion of a silent-movie femme fatale and he tried to concentrate on stock symbols and feared he'd be counting backwards from one hundred again in his effort to contain his excitement. He wanted to throw her down on that chaise and tell her every exotic thing he wanted to do to her and never, ever leave this room. Instead, he said "You look fantastic," and raised her hand as he bent slightly forward, his eyes never leaving hers. At the last moment, he turned her hand over and pressed his lips gently against the pulse at her wrist. "Shall we?" he asked as he helped her into her coat.

They walked arm in arm down the cobblestoned close, toward the door that would lead them to the Witchery, the hotel's world-famous restaurant. It was elegant in a seventeenth century way, and they were led to a table partially obscured by a large screen. A table that she couldn't help but notice had three chairs.

"Are we expecting someone else?" she asked, thinking that if he answered in the affirmative, she might take his head herself.

"Just my dinner. James runs an extremely friendly and accommodating restaurant."

The waiter took her order, then asked Josef if he'd like a "specialty drink" while the lady enjoyed her appetizer. Josef declined, preferring the Nuit-St-Georges he'd ordered for Beth.

Their dinner passed provocatively, though the ever increasing sexual tension, abetted by the exquisite and verbally appreciative "dinner" and "dessert" that Josef enjoyed, caused Beth to barely taste the excellent food, memories of the taste of Josef's skin erasing all other flavors. As Josef signed the check, an idea formed in her mind, and she expressed her desire for a short walk, after having eaten so liberally. They'd watched a light rain begin to fall, and hurried back to their room for an umbrella. Beth excused herself and eagerly prepared her surprise.

They strolled toward Edinburgh Castle, awash in light, its dark stone looming over the city, but rather than being intimidating, it felt as a giant holding those lucky enough to inhabit the city in its protective arms. Beth loved it and snuggled closer to Josef under the cover of the large umbrella he held above them. The gentle rain became a torrent, and they hurried back down the hill toward the hotel, rushing past the lobby entrance to the door that led to their private close. Josef stepped inside, juggling to hold the umbrella protectively above her head. They hurried along as fast as the narrow heels of her shoes would allow, and Josef slid the key easily into the lock, but as the door opened, felt her move away from him, out into the rain. He turned, and the sight before his eyes froze him momentarily in awe and amazement.

Beth leaned against the wet stone wall of the close, the raincoat an afterthought at her feet, wearing only the wet, now-transparent wisps of fabric that had once caressed her skin unseen beneath her dress. The lamp, whose purpose was the illumination of the narrow street, now carved her rounded curves into stark angles, each rivulet of water that caressed her skin disappearing into shadow and reappearing as a glistening beacon, a siren song to his only desire.

In more than four hundred years, he had never seen anything more beautiful, and he remembered with crystal clarity the feeling of having a heart that could swell in his chest at the sight of the woman he loved. Torn between feasting his eyes on her until the image was burned into his memory for all time, until it became his only memory, and pouring what was left of his pitiable soul into her, his decision was made when he heard his name whispered with a hint of lonely fear.

She saw the umbrella fall from his hand, and then he was inches from her, but rather than the siege-laying, uncontrolled passion she thought she'd elicit, his hands caressed each side of her face lovingly as he gently used lips and tongue to awaken every nerve in her face. Her lips, eyelids, cheekbones tingled with sensation, and when his hands slid to the back of her neck, up in to her hair, his lips met hers with an intensity that stole her breath, and her heart with it. He caressed her wet skin with a touch light as a butterfly, and as he ran his hands over her she felt something inside her surge toward him, as if her every cell were trying to fuse with his own. She pressed closer to him, felt herself lifted from the ground, then found herself inside the bathroom.

His hands gently peeled the bra and panties from her cool, damp skin. He wrapped her in a fluffy towel from the warmer by the tub before shedding his own soaking clothes. And not once, not for a moment, did his eyes leave hers, holding and growing the intense connection that had begun outside. He turned her to face the mirrored wall, and unwrapped her from the towel, eyes still holding hers. She tried to shy away, exposed as she was, but he held her chin up with one hand as the other languidly caressed every exposed inch of her. She saw the fire in his eyes, and gripped the counter in front of her, knees buckling at the sight of his intense concentration and arousal. She struggled to turn to him, but he scraped his teeth lightly down one side of her neck, and whispered, "We are going to stand here until you see what I see in this mirror." She waited for explanation, but no more words were forthcoming, just his hands, patiently exploring every inch of her, caressing lightly, firmly, tiny pinches, broad, flat strokes, and all the while his erection slid between her slick and swollen lips, the silken hardness driving her insane, and finally, she leaned her weight against him and her eyes watched him explore her, whimpering, then pleading, until she straightened, felt a power she'd never known rise within her, saw his look of pure joy as she reached her arms up to lock her hands behind his neck and undulate against him, a look of triumph in her eyes.

"That is yours, forever," he said as he finally turned her toward him, holding her bottom as she wrapped her legs around him, carrying her toward the bed, leaning on one elbow as he slid inside her, her lips crying his name as he felt her orgasm pulse around him, drawing him deeper, wanting him with her, and he abandoned himself to her, to that moment, and sunk his teeth into her neck as he heard her say, "I love you."

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