Read an Excerpt
BASTIAN: THE LORDS OF SATYR
By ELIZABETH AMBER
APHRODISIA BOOKSCopyright © 2011 Elizabeth Amber
All right reserved.
Chapter OneEsquiline Hill, Rome, Italy Earth World, February 1881
Lord Bastian Satyr was certainly a big one.
With an experienced eye, Silvia sized him up in a long, sweeping glance as she stood at the foot of his bed, her arm loosely wrapped around a bedpost corded with carven grapevines.
Dark, cropped hair; broad, sculpted shoulders; a pronounced indentation running the length of his spine; powerful thighs and buttocks; flesh glistening from his exertions; knees dug into the bedcovers between the smooth, stockinged thighs of his bed partner.
Michaela looked so vulnerable and feminine lying in his enormous bed, under his enormous, straining warrior's body. Her slender calves hugged his hips. Her body was open to receive each thrust of his organ. Silvia could only employ her imagination regarding how sizable that portion of his male anatomy might be. From her vantage point, all she could see was his backside. His naked backside. His naked, flexing backside.
She swallowed, her throat strangely dry. By firelight, he was magnificent—a golden god. Which just possibly made him worthy of the woman he was riding. Michaela was her closest, dearest friend in both worlds. Had been since their childhood in Vesta's temple.
Silvia had always watched over her as best she could. And when it came to hedonistic matters such as these, had lived vicariously through her. Tonight was no exception.
Michaela had been born a Companion, a courtesan with the power to please any man. Like most in her profession, she had taken hundreds, if not thousands, of lovers over the centuries. She always chose them carefully. That in itself told Silvia that this particular specimen of manhood must be something quite extraordinary.
Confident that neither of them could see her in her current form, she meandered around the perimeter of the bed, pausing at the sight of the confectioner's box on the bedside table. Cioccolato. Mmm. There were few things that could have drawn her attention away from the carnal display on the bed, even momentarily, but chocolate was one of them. She bent and put her nose to it, inhaling deeply, wishing she could smell the sweet delicacies hidden inside the gay wrapping. But she was an Ephemeral, and when in a noncorporeal state as she was now, her sense of smell was nonexistent. She didn't dare partake of them or do anything else that might draw the notice of the room's other two occupants. But, Gods, she was starving.
At least the room was warm. The February wind was cruel outside these walls. She'd been half frozen on her way here. She moved to the hearth and held her hands to the fire.
Behind her, Lord Satyr was taking his time, rutting with long, vigorous strokes that caused his bed to lurch and shudder, and that had Michaela sighing with pleasure. She glanced over her shoulder at them. They looked so perfect together. His incredible masculine body moving on Michaela's exquisitely feminine one. His flesh darkened by his heritage and the sun. Hers a smooth, olive perfection that was so unlike Silvia's own flawed, pale flesh. She touched her fingers to her cheek briefly, a gesture made so often she no longer knew when she did it.
Lord Satyr's big hand slid under Michaela's bottom, tilting her in a way that better accommodated him. Silvia could only assume from her friend's soft, appreciative cries that it satisfied her as well.
Although copulation was a private matter, she had no qualms about observing them. She and Michaela had no secrets. At least, not until recently, when Michaela had severed all connection after leaving Venice. After she'd been able to wind up matters there, Silvia had rushed here to Rome, worried Michaela might be in some sort of trouble. But now it appeared that any trouble was more precisely in her.
She'd taken a Satyr as a lover, for Gods' sakes! And not just any Satyr. The eldest scion of the four wealthy, powerful brothers who were the de facto rulers of the ElseWorld community here in Rome. He was the man in charge of excavating the Roman Forum. His celebrated archaeological finds had made him the darling of human society. And had made him her next assignment.
He was speaking now, his lips at Michaela's temple, murmuring to her in a mesmerizing blend of the ancient ElseWorld dialect, Latin, modern Italian, and if she wasn't mistaken, a hint of the Far East. At the sound of his voice, some wayward emotion began to wind tighter inside Silvia. Disturbed and restless, she went roaming in an effort to dispel it. The door to his armoire was ajar and she peeked inside. She found dark coats and trousers next to starched linen shirts, all hanging neatly in a row. Too neatly, with the same increment of space between each hanger. Lord Satyr was certainly fastidious!
She moved to his desk, an immense affair of polished olive wood. Her fingers itched to search its drawers, but he might hear. And if he turned his head, the desk was in his line of vision, which meant she dared not move anything. Drawers seemingly opening by themselves would require explanation. Until she assumed a corporeal shape, she would remain invisible to him. Even Michaela would not be able to see her until she chose to show herself.
Perching atop the desk, she lay on her side, propped her chin in one hand, and commenced reading several letters he'd left out. Two were from Italian ministers of government regarding the state of the excavations in the Forum Romano. It was the third that caught her eye. Written in typical long-winded ElseWorld Council fashion, it was addressed to Lord Satyr, and it fairly hummed with magic. She skimmed it, her attention caught by one particular passage:
Your recent letter was greeted with renewed hope that the fragile enchantments, which cloak and protect our Italian colonies, may soon be bolstered due to your efforts in Rome. We pray to the ancients that it will be so! I need not remind you of the grave repercussions—most particularly to your own family, but also to the health, welfare, and greatness of ElseWorld itself—should they falter. The task of safeguarding our heritage via the Forum excavations has fallen to you since the death of your father; and in view of your accomplishments over the last decade, we continue to believe them to be in excellent hands. It is with great enthusiasm that we await more news of your search for the Temple of Vesta, the adjacent House of the Vestal Virgins, and the relics themselves!
Gods be praised,
Minister Eighteen of the Artifact Recovery Bureau The Worshipful Council of ElseWorld
So Lord Satyr was searching for the temple. Interesting! And how well suited to her own purposes. But she would make sure that any relics he found would find their way into her possession, not the Council's.
Michaela cried out, startling Silvia, and her eyes whipped Michaela's way, heart in her throat. But she quickly saw that it had only been a cry of passion, for the bodies upon the bed were moving in sensuous harmony—Bastian's giving, Michaela's receiving. Feminine palms smoothed over the well-defined musculature that was his chest, working their erotic magic.
Silvia's jaw dropped. Most men would have come instantly under Michaela's preternatural touch. Who was he that he could withstand her wiles so easily? And how much longer would this go on? The intensity of their coupling was beginning to make her distinctly uncomfortable.
She had pressing business to discuss with her longtime friend. Still, she hated to interrupt. Gods knew, Michaela deserved some fun. She'd nearly been killed by a jealous Harpie in Venice three months ago—the last time they'd been together.
Satyr's head lowered, and his lips trailed the length of Michaela's throat. She whimpered. Silvia's fingertips lifted to her own throat, tracing a similar path. Realizing what she was doing—what she was feeling—she snatched her hand away. Her face was flushed, hot. Fifty hells! She'd never known a man to take so much time chasing a single orgasm. Michaela's usual complaint was that they were too quick.
Hurry up, will you? Silvia urged him under her breath.
To her astonishment, his body ground to a halt so abrupt that it visibly jolted both his partner and the bed frame. His head snapped around in Silvia's direction, his brow knit in confusion. She pushed up to a sitting position on the desk, alarmed.
Silver eyes pierced the dimness, like stars in a twilight sky, relentlessly shining in her direction. The almost brutal, carnal expression on his masculine face made her heart trip, her breath stop. For the first time, she took in his features full on—the strong blade of his nose, his straight brows, square jutting chin. And those lips! Sensual, yet sharply cut. An uneasy attraction stirred in her breast, and she shivered; this time not from the bone-deep cold she'd weathered to get here tonight.
Unaccountably nervous, she tucked her knees to her chin, wrapping both arms around her calves. He couldn't see her. Of course not. Yet those eyes of his seemed to bore into her very soul!
"No! Don't stop. I beg you, Bastian," Michaela protested. Her palm cupped his cheek, tugging his attention back down to her. Her other hand clenched on his back, as if she feared he might leave her. Leave her? Leave the most accomplished Companion in the history of the Vestals? No man had ever left Michaela before she was ready for him to go. What was going on here?
With an almost imperceptible reluctance, Michaela's lover returned his full attention to her. Easing onto his back in a subtle shift of perfectly honed muscle, he brought her up to ride him. Her frilly white gown slipped low on her shoulders. Its lacy hem bunched on his thighs, like snow drifting over granite. Somewhere under the fall of her gown, his big hands cupped her bottom, moving her on him now in a powerful rolling motion. His gaze was hot on the lush upper curves of breasts that peeked from her bodice.
Michaela shrugged, baring them for him, her own expression hidden by her silken hair. As if she couldn't help herself, she bent and nuzzled her cheek along his shadowed jaw. Something about her pose suggested a deep affection. The beginnings of fear crept up Silvia's spine. Is this what had delayed her? Had she fallen in love? With this man—this Satyr?
Her gaze was sharp on him now, weighing his intentions. His chin was high, his throat arched. Silver eyes slitted by passion were shielded by long, dark lashes, as he hunted his pleasure within her most cherished friend. Did he even recognize how precious she was? Did he sufficiently appreciate the gift she offered him of her body and heart?
The sounds of their coupling escalated. Harsh breathing, soft moans. Flesh slapping in slick, staccato pulses. Without corporeal form, Silvia could not scent their lovemaking. But their erotic hunger hung thick in the room now like a voluptuous fog.
She'd witnessed others mating before. Had seen Michaela under a man countless times. But it had never affected her like this. Each thrum of her heart boomed in her ears and sent heat to rouge her cheeks. She was beset by faint shivers, and her eyes grew dry, for they refused to blink lest they miss something. Somehow, she'd managed to remain virginal throughout her life. Not by choice. But she'd taken vows. And the penalty for breaking them was dire. Because fornication was forbidden to her, her vicarious enjoyment of Michaela's lovers had always been a decadent delight. Tonight, it felt like something more ... dangerous.
Silvia's hands dropped to clench on the edge of his desk on either side of her. She squeezed her thighs together; felt a gentle throb in her most private places, where tissues had engorged and flushed, wet and hot. She was horrified to realize she could almost feel his movements herself. Feel her passage yield ... Gods! What was wrong with her? This man was Michaela's! She had no right to feel an attraction to him. It was only that they were so beautiful together, she assured herself. Anyone would be affected by the sight of them. Anyone.
Slipping lithely to the floor, she fled the room, telling herself she had better things to do. She would use the time they spent in coitus to make a systematic search of the rooms along the corridor.
But first things first. Assuming corporeal form, she went downstairs to the kitchen. Earlier this morning, she'd rushed past it on her way upstairs, anxious to be certain Michaela was all right. Now she helped herself to some wine grapes and a sandwich of thinly sliced meat, bread, and cheese. Keeping her ears open for any trouble, she gobbled the repast hastily, for she could eat only when she was visible and had to render herself so before satisfying her hunger.
Afterward, she rinsed her mouth and went invisible again. Padding across a gleaming floor tiled in black, gold-veined Portoro marble, she opened doors as she passed, glancing into various chambers. What she sought here in this city wouldn't be easy to find on her own. Had Satyr already discovered it for himself? Until she spoke to Michaela, this question must go unanswered. Still, she continued her search along the hall, and each small act of invasion calmed her; felt normal and right. Michaela's business might be entertaining men, but her own talents lay in investigating them.
His home was something of a museum, its every room lined with fascinating artifacts. She entered the most promising of them—his study. Inside, she found gilt-edged books, ancient maps, and a desk twice as large as the one in his bedchamber. Paper, pens, a letter opener, and other tools of business were neatly aligned upon it. She smiled slightly at this further evidence of Lord Satyr's obsessive neatness.
But this was a public room. If he had a firestone—or relic as he and the council termed them—in his possession, it was likely he would have hidden it in more private quarters. She took the stairs upward again.
Down the corridor from his bedchamber she found what appeared to be his library. Its perimeter was lined with costly bric-a-brac from his excavations and travels, as well as books and statuary. And not just any statuary. These were striking pieces. Familiar ones sculpted by the ancients. They were the sorts of treasures that only museums housed. How had he come by them? Had he, in fact, stolen them from the Forum? Interesting indeed.
Despite the profusion of items, everything was as orderly as a monk might keep it. She ran her fingertip over the edge of a picture frame and found no dust. The busts on the shelves all sat parallel to one another, noses turned precisely in the same direction.
Surely no one who wasn't slightly deranged kept their lodgings this tidy. Though there were no servants about, he obviously employed some. Likely hamadryads, the traditional servants of the Satyr, who worked only after midnight.
One thing was certain, if any of the firestones she'd come to find were here, they would have been cataloged, numbered, and filed. All she needed to do was locate his records. Someone as finicky as he would undoubtedly have boxes of excavation cards, documenting each and every find, no matter how minuscule. Where were they? She took one step toward the desk, then froze.
A harsh, masculine, guttural groan chased down the corridor, unerringly finding her. The unmistakable sound of a man achieving sexual fulfillment. She hunched her shoulders, as if to ward it off. But in her mind's eye, she pictured them together. Saw the sleek, powerful muscles of Satyr's back arched taut, his face contorted with his lusty coming. Saw Michaela's fingers clawing the bedclothes in ecstasy, her opulent breasts heaving with each breath as he fountained hot seed deep, so deep, inside her.
Silvia clasped both fists tight to her chest, strangely helpless to block it all out. Helpless to stop the liquid heat that pumped through her system at the vision she'd conjured of their coupling.
Moments later, she heard him moving through the hall, coming in her direction. Her eyes flew to the door in time to see it open in a smooth swish. Although well aware he could not see her, she quickly tucked herself between two of the tall statues. Standing among them as if she'd become one of them herself, she peeked at him.
Excerpted from BASTIAN: THE LORDS OF SATYR by ELIZABETH AMBER Copyright © 2011 by Elizabeth Amber. Excerpted by permission of APHRODISIA BOOKS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.