The Word is Delete, but that word does not exist in my novel. So instead, I’m sharing a deleted scene. The following chapter does not exist in The Grey House any more. (It is unedited):
Joseph led Natalia to the library. He did it quickly and without speaking to her. She had wanted to stay and watch, so he had had to grab her and pull her along. The stubborn girl had fought until she looked at his face. She had been easy to lead at that point.
When he opened the doors, she gasped. The room was as large as the ballroom. The walls were filled with books. Some were new; some were older than any she had ever seen. Joseph led her inside, said something she missed, and left. Natalia didn’t care. She was dreaming. She had to be. After a moment, she walked to the wall opposite her and ran her hand along the spine of a book. The title and author were engraved on the spine, but she couldn’t read the language. She wondered if Vincent could, and wondered if he would translate for her. A shudder ran through her at the thought.
The door opened behind her and she pivoted. Vincent was leaning against the closed door, staring at her. She stared back, letting her eyes wander over his body. He was wearing a beautiful black suit with a dark red shirt. It fit him very well. She shifted and leaned back against the shelves. She wondered what he thought about the deep red silk dress she was wearing.
Vincent had wanted her way from the party for her own safety. After the spectacle, he still had not known how he felt. As he stood leaning against the door watching her, he still did not know. She shifted and the dress clung to her even more. He redirected his blood flow and tried to relax, not wanting to act before thinking things through completely.
“Did you like my present?”
“You’ve made enemies.”
“Is that really a problem?” She raised her right hand and slowly ran it through her black hair. She slowly lowered her hand caressing her own jaw line, neck and the neckline of her dress. She looked down for a moment and when she looked up he was right in front of her. He stepped forward pressing her lightly against the shelves.
“Hello, Vincent. You look wonderful tonight.” Her soft voice drew him closer.
“As do you.” He placed his left hand against the books by her head. His right hand went to her left hip. It rested there for a moment, then started wandering up and down the side of her torso. A growl escaped him, and he pressed against her more firmly. He could feel her heartbeat and her heat. He could smell her blood through the delicate citrus perfume she was wearing. Growling softly he brought his lips to her ear, moved slowly down her neck until he reached her jugular. He growled louder then bit very softly with his human teeth. He did not break the skin, but she reacted nevertheless.
Natalia’s heart beat very hard in her chest. Her breath came faster. She held it, tried to calm her heart. She could feel the flat teeth on her neck; knew his fangs were not exposed. But the thought of ending up like her mother freighted her beyond reckoning. As Vincent continued to nibble and nip she repeated a calming mantra in her head. She sighed when he started kissing the skin along the neckline of her dress.
When his lips were at her opposite shoulder, he used his teeth to ease the silk down her arm a little. He kissed his way up her arm then down her neckline again. One hand went to the small of her back and the other to the back of her neck. He pulled her closer as his lips traveled back up to her neck then to her wonderful full lips. He felt her hands on his back and in his hair. He pulled back a little to look in her face. Her face was awash with desire. She was his. He gave her a wicked smile then crushed her to him and kissed her deeply.
Natalia tried to wrap her legs around Vincent, but her dress was too tight. A frustrated sigh escaped her as her hands untangled themselves from Vincent’s hair and suit jacket. She reached down to raise her dress but Vincent stopped her hands. With another wicked smile he stepped back. His hands traveled down her sides to the tops of her thighs. With two fingers he walked her dress up her legs. She returned the smile and hissed with pleasure when he let the dress fall again.
Leaving his hands at the top of either thigh, Vincent knelt in front of her. He ran his hands down her legs, smoothing out the skirt. He leaned in and gave her inner thigh a nip. As he pulled away, he breathed her in. Her pleasantly sharp scent made him desire her fully and he let himself feel it. With the silk between his hands and her legs, he stood slowly, gathering her dress at her waist. Gripping her a little more firmly, he lifted her onto the lowest shelf. It came out a little further than the rest and made a great seat.
Vincent was between her legs pushing her roughly against the books. She was pretty well trapped. She was at his mercy. Natalia bit her lip as his hands traveled up and down her legs. She moved to kiss him, but he pulled back. An impish look was on his face. She looked at him inquisitively and squealed when he snapped the strap of the garter belt holding up her stockings.
“What other surprises are you hiding for me under that lovely dress?”
Her smile turned impish and mirrored Vincent’s own. Her hands went to his shirt button at his neck. She started unbuttoning his shirt. “What fun is there in telling?”
Using his shirt she pulled him to her again and kissed his neck. She nibbled a little, then bit him, hard. His fingers dug into her thighs, so she used more force. His right hand snaked up her body to entwine in her black hair at the back of her head. His fingers tightened in her hair and he yanked her head away from his neck. She gave a cry as her teeth snapped together from the force and she nearly bit her tongue.
“That would be far more affective if you had the right equipment.” His voice, usually deep, was rough, thick with thought of her blood in his mouth and his in hers. He bared his teeth, leaned in close enough to stare right in her eyes. “Is that what you want?”
Natalia caressed his neck, trailing her hand down into his shirt. She managed to unbutton one more button. “Do you really believe I would do all this, just to become a vampire?”
The door banged open behind them, and Edwin started to bellow. “Where the hell are you hiding that bitch?”
Vincent’s head dropped to rest between Natalia’s breasts. He took a deep breath and hissed the air out between clenched teeth. Natalia stared at Edwin over Vincent’s back, plotting.
Vincent raised his head, looked Natalia in the eye. The desire was still there, waiting like a cat at a mouse hole. He grabbed her, kissed her hard, let her go and turned around. His hair was a mess, his shirt was half open, and he nearly staggered from his own desire, but he looked a hell of a lot better than his Captain. Probably felt better too.
“Edwin.” His voice betrayed his impatience.
Edwin was halfway to them when he finally realized whom Vincent was with. “She’s yours?”
“Not yet.” Vincent crossed his arms wishing to be rid of the twit.
“She is not welcomed in my city. She is not allowed in this house. She has caused the death of two of my men. I demand her death, and yours if you continue to shelter here.”
Vincent drew himself to his full height. Anger rolled off him in waves. Natalia could feel it. She wondered how Edwin did not. He was three feet from Vincent. A plan hatched in her mind and she smiled, waiting for an opportunity.
“First, this house is not in your city. Secondly, since this is my house, my rules are law. Thirdly, the men she killed deserved to die. They were ill trained in the art of fighting, and therefore unfit to keep you safe. You should thank her for pointing out the shortcomings of your guards. Lastly,” Vincent was standing in front of Edwin, towering over him. “If you ever threaten my life in my own home again, I will end your life in the most painful way possible.”
Edwin took a step back, shocked. Vincent had been in the area for twenty years and had never once openly defied his Captain. Inwardly Vincent cursed Natalia. She was going to be the death of him. From behind him, she spoke.
“Edwin, love, don’t be upset.” Her voice was melodious and sexy. Vincent brought one hand to his face to hide the smile. Maybe she wasn’t his angel of death.
Edwin’s head moved forward and tilted to the side slowly. He looked like a chicken doing an odd dance. “Who do you think you are? Don’t address me as if you know me.”
Vincent caught movement out of the corner of his eye. He turned. Natalia was ignoring him completely. She had gotten off the shelf and was walking toward Edwin, her hand at her neck twirling her necklace. He had barely noticed she was wearing it. Now it was rather evident. His eyes narrowed as he watched the light bouncing off the silver. There was far more reflection then the dim light in the room could cast. He wondered again if it could be magic. Another piece to fit into the puzzle.
“But Edwin,” Natalia’s voice was soothing, loving. Vincent marveled at her acting abilities. Edwin looked confused. “I want to know you. I did all this for you. I’ve known of you for a long time, and I’ve wanted to be with you from the beginning.”
It wasn’t working. Natalia could sense it. She wasn’t saying the right things in the right way. She quickly thought back to the club, the only other time she’d seen him. The girl. He had been with a child. She hid her contempt and used her speculation. Her movements turned awkward, like a young lady pretending to be a woman. Her lower lip started to quiver, and her eyes watered, like she was about to cry.
“But I really want to be with you Edwin.”
Vincent watched her transformation. She seemed to drop ten years. Her mannerism and expression jarred with her dress. Vincent, put off by the conflicting images, looked toward Edwin, and almost attacked him. Instead, he stepped back to watch the spectacle.
Edwin looked her up and down, wondering why he had missed it. She was so young. He stepped forward wanting a better look at her. The light around her neck was distracting him.
Natalia twirled the necklace slower, pitching her voice higher. “I need you Edwin. I really just want you to protect me. Can you protect me Edwin?”
Natalia sashayed her way to him and watched as he swayed. His eyes rolled back in his head. Natalia reached her free hand out to steady him. She told him to hold himself up and he did, even stood a little taller. She needed to test him. “Tell Vincent you’re sorry.”
“Good. Now give me your hand.” He held out his hand and she took it. She led him to the couch and sat him down. She told him to sleep; he leaned back and completely relaxed. He even started snoring.
Natalia crossed one arm and placed her other elbow on it. Her hand went to her face. A shudder passed through her. Vincent came up behind her and held her from behind.
“That was amazing.”
“That was horrifying.” She pulled away, walked behind the couch. “What do you want to tell him?”
Vincent stood regarding the sleeping Edwin and the beautiful woman who now stood behind him. He tried to think of what to tell Edwin, what to program him with, but all he could think of was that shudder. Why had her actions affected her so deeply? He was disgusted by Edwin’s preference toward the young, but with Natalia, it had seemed more personal. He let it go and added yet another piece to the puzzle that was her.
Vincent looked around the room trying to find some inspiration. Noticing the doors were still open, he strode over, closed and locked them. He went to Natalia, pulling her away from the couch.
“Tell him: he came into the library because he heard people talking. He thought it was me. As he came closer to the couple, yelling, he realized his mistake. He decided to stay and watch them, but they left and he stayed. After we leave, he should go out to the party and take one of the humans he brought and take his fill.”
“Will that kill the human?”
Vincent thought for a moment. If Edwin had been feeding regularly, the human would not be killed, but if he had been following his own decree, it would indeed kill the human. Vincent wondered if he actually cared. This was an opportunity to reveal Edwin for the kind of Captain he really was. In the face of defacing a liar and questionable leader, did one human life matter?
“It might.” Vincent waited for a reaction. Natalia stepped away from him her brow creased in a frown.
Vincent, frustrated by her actions, questions and doubt, moved. Before Natalia could react, she was trapped between the wall and him, again. Before it had been exciting. Now she was a little bit frightened.
“Listen very closely. You have stumbled onto a very different society. If you don’t, or can’t, understand that, I suggest you leave right now for another city. I am,” he pressed closer and his voice became seductive, “more than willing to entertain you. To allow you to use me for as long as you want, if that is still your desire.” He pulled back a little. “But remember this, just because you are human, does not mean that I am going to change the way I am. I have been around for two hundred and seventy seven years. I have had many encounters with numerous slayers. I know how to keep myself and those around me alive and happy, including humans. I am trying to discredit Edwin in order to dethrone him. And if that means that a few creatures must die in order for me to save thousands more, then I will allow it. Do you have a problem with that?”
Natalia closed her eyes. She had been warned it might be like this. Humans did not belong in this fight. She could walk away. He had given her the opportunity. Her mother’s limp form came swimming into her minds eye, and she heard Donavon’s laughter. Anger swelled from the pit of her heart and she shuddered. She couldn’t let it go. Her mother had deserved so much better. And Vincent was right. She had seen it in the articles she had read. Unsolved crimes were at a rise. Countless bodies had been found floating in the bay, reason of death: unknown. She didn’t know if Vincent would be better for the city, but from the slayers journal’s she could venture a guess that he would be. She looked up at him, tried to feel seductive, and couldn’t. She settled on sounding agreeable.
“I don’t have a problem. Shall we proceed?”
Vincent nodded and let her go. He watched as she walked to Edwin and gave him his instructions. At the end, she said a word he didn’t understand, but had heard her say earlier. She backed up from the couch.
“He’ll wake up in a minute.” She paused, looked at Vincent. “What happens now?”
Vincent strode over, offered her his arm. “We go someplace more private.”
She took his arm and they walked to the door. He unlocked it and held the door open for her. He led her quickly up the stairs to his private sitting room. He could hear Morgan in the ballroom demanding his presence. Vincent chuckled to himself. As is he would lower himself to being called out. Joseph would handle the situation until a programmed Edwin showed up and rattled things. He wished he could be there to see it; he would have to settle for watching the tape tomorrow.
When they reached the door to his sitting room, he typed in the code on the keypad, not bothering to hide it from Natalia. She watched and memorized the number. If he was going to show her, she was going to remember. He opened the door and led her inside.
There was a leather couch and two leather chairs. An antique desk and chair set sat in the corner near a window. There were several glass cases with ceramic pieces from all over the world. Some looked ancient, some looked as if they had been picked from a store shelf hours ago. Natalia walked over to one and looked inside. By each piece was a small plaque listing where the piece had been obtained and when. Most had an artists name on it as well.
“These are beautiful.”
He gave a non-committal grunt, watching her from the desk. He was leaning against the edge, arms crossed. He was very curious about her, and needed more information from her, but his foremost thought was how to get her back into her flirtatious mood. He preferred it to this brooding beast.
She turned toward him, noticed his posture and used the couch to adopt a similar lean. “So what now?”
“I try and get you out of your mood.”
“I just ordered the death of a human.” She scowled angrily. “Sorry if that doesn’t turn me on.”
He smiled, amused by his own thoughts. “Killing a human doesn’t turn me on either. But drinking their blood does.”
She started shaking. “This was a mistake. I can’t do this. I can’t cause someone’s death and then forget about it.”
“You didn’t cause their death. I did.” He refrained from mentioning the slayer and the two vampires she had killed less than an hour ago. He could use it later.
“But he was under my control.”
Vincent started to pace. “As far as I understand it, a person will not do anything under hypnosis, they wouldn’t do normally do.”
“True, but how does that help in this situation? I’ve read a lot of old newspapers; I keep up with the current ones. Edwin is a killer. If he’s hungry enough, he’ll suck her dry.”
“The human he chooses he would have chosen anyway. He probably had his victim picked out two weeks ago. That is how he is. That is why I wish to be rid of him.”
“So why didn’t you just kill him?” Angry now, she slammed her hands into the couch. His superior tone and pacing was starting to get to her.
“Because if I kill him there WILL be a war, and many creatures, especially humans, will die.” He was beside her in a heartbeat. “And I am not willing to take a bloodied throne.”
“So you let him kill.” Her voice was almost too soft to hear.
“If I must.” He reached out and caressed her cheek with his fingers. “Now, shall we leave this talk for another time, or do you wish to continue to aggravate me?”
She crossed one arm and brought the other hand to her face. Vincent was probably right. Edwin had had his victim picked out, but that was a hard thing to come to terms with. Had she not been here tonight, the human would have died. Their fate was the same, with or without her. She crossed her arms and frowned. She could have died tonight if not for Vincent’s intervention. It could have been her on the menu.
Natalia did not want to dismiss the human’s death, nor did she really want to dwell on it. She had a mission and Vincent was the only one who could help her achieve her goal. She could leave everything behind, all the rage, and revenge but she would still have the knowledge. She would still see movements in the shadows. She would have to leave California, possibly the United States. Or, she could stay; perhaps prevent some of the deaths that Edwin might cause.
Vincent watched all these thoughts swim across her face. He had her again. It was a fine game they played; sometimes he was in control, sometimes she. This could prove very entertaining. He watched as she made a decision and, wanting to help, leaned in to nuzzle her neck. She almost pulled away then pressed herself against him. Not wasting a moment, he picked her up like a groom with his new bride and carried her to the bedroom. Once through the door, he put her down to close and lock the door. She was not allowed to see the code.
Natalia began to move toward the king size canopy bed but he intercepted her and pressed her against the wall. Her breathing became heavy so he pressed a little harder. She groaned softly.
“I have been thinking about trapping you against a wall since our first encounter.” He leaned in, kissed her hard. “What about you?”
Her hands slid around to his back. “The thought had crossed my mind.” She paused, then “I will never tell him to kill again.”
He laughed against her throat. “You are rather naïve, aren’t you? You have placed yourself in the middle of a secret war. You will probably cause more deaths then the ones you’ve already caused.”
Natalia tried to pull away, but she was trapped between two walls. With his great strength, he was able to hold her easily. She started to protest, but he stopped her.
“Natalia. Stop and listen. I will ask you this only once so think carefully before you answer: Do you wish my protection?” He was caressing her arms, which were still around his neck.
It took Natalia a moment to consider the question. It was what she had thought she wanted, but now that she was here, she was not too sure. She thought of the past four years and how hard it had been to simply survive. How nice it would have been to be able to talk to someone. She looked at the vampire in front of her. From what she had read, she knew he was capable of hurting and harming, just as easily as he could help. The thought of giving herself over to him completely made her heart pound.
She needed the help, and he had what she needed: unlimited resources. She hung her head, then decided. She looked him straight in the eye, unabashed determination shining through. “Yes, I wish your protection.”
“What are you willing to exchange?” He asked this through a wicked smile. He had moved her arms to the wall, holding her wrists with his cool, strong fingers.
Without batting an eye she replied, “The only thing I have. Myself.”
“And do you give of yourself willingly?” He was pressed firmly against her, holding her arms up, crossing them.
“Is that important?” Her voice was revealing her desire. He grinned. He enjoyed these games.
“I prefer my woman willing. Much more fun that way.” He was holding her wrists together with one hand. The other had trailed down her arm to her side.
“What am I getting myself into Vincent Legris?” Her voice was soft, seductive.
He bared his human teeth in a sinful grin. Just when he thought she was predictable. “And how do you know my real name?”
She craned her neck, reaching for a kiss. He gave her a deep, passionate one. When he pulled away, she was breathless. There was a mischievous twinkle in her eye. “You’ll learn that tomorrow night.”
“Actually,” he stepped away from her and crossed his arms. Her arms were still above her head, and she couldn’t lower them. Looking up, she saw she had manacles on her wrists. “I think you’ll tell me now.”
He was all business now, and Natalia felt betrayed and rather confused. “What are you going to do to me?”
Before he answered, Vincent turned his back, slipped off his jacket, walked to a closet and hung up the suit jacket. He then loosened his blood red tie and put it away as well. Next, he brought a chair to within five feet of Natalia, sat down and took off his shoes. He examined them, frowned and put them aside for polishing. Once he was more comfortable, he sat in the wooden chair and leaned back, interlocked his fingers and placed his hands behind his head. He had taken his time. It had been nearly five minutes and Natalia had an angry/hurt look on her face.
“What am I going to do to you? As much as you let me. As for why I have captured you and chained you to my wall…” He got up from the chair and walked over to stand no more than five inches from her. “You had me trapped once before and found out a lot about me. I thought to return the favor.”
“You seemed to have something else on your mind not five minutes ago.”
“Oh, we’ll get to that.”
“Not if I say no.” Her fear was melting away; duplicity was taking over. Her legs were free; she could knee him again.
“True.” His hands went to her waist, squeezed gently. He smiled when he realized what it was she was wearing under her dress. There was a subtle shift about him. “But do you really want to?”
He was standing with his legs closed, but Natalia thought she could easily bring them apart. She gazed up at him, hiding her true emotions. “I haven’t decided yet.”
“…mmm…” He was trying to decide how best to get her dress off. The zipper was in back, and he couldn’t slip the straps off her arms. “Understand this, if you repeat your performance from my club, I will be forced to shackle your feet.” He looked her in the eye allowing her to see his desire. “And that would only make me more determined to have you say yes.”
Without thinking, Natalia kicked her right foot out to the side, encountering heavy metal. Vincent was pressed hard against her before she realized her mistake. A devious smile broke across his face. He reached down and slowly pulled the dress up over her legs.
“And if I never say yes?”
He reached a hand up and tapped the manacle. “Because I don’t trust you, you’ll stay shackled for the night.”
“Yes. Yes it is.” His impish smile was back. “But this is my home, and I will do as I please, especially with someone who has asked for my protection.”
She looked steadily at him. “You said you preferred your woman willing.”
“Then why do you have me chained to your wall?”
Vincent’s smile stayed. “Your are chained to my wall for three reasons. One: I do not trust you. Two: as payback for what you did to Anthony and myself at my club. Three: I have questions I want answers too.”
“I’m sure you could find out yourself, seeing as how you already know more than most.”
“I know what, when, where, how. I don’t know why.”
Her arms were getting tired. She looked away from him. “What does that matter?”
He placed a hand under her chin lightly lifting her head so he could look her in the eye. “I have seen much and learned much about the woman who wishes to share my bed and use my resources. I believe she has far more to offer than her body. I want to know what caused her to come to my club and throw herself at my feet. I am giving you a chance to convince me you have more to give than what you say you do.” He moved back to the chair, brought it closer to Natalia, turned it around and sat backwards in it. He crossed his arms on the back and looked at her. “Convince me.”