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The New York Brownstone was a pretty place, nestled in a neighborhood that had maintained its charm over the past few decades. A quiet, picturesque street filled with mostly humans, the occasional supernatural. But there were no other witches. Klaus had expected nothing else.

Caroline was a territorial little thing.

She'd most likely be unamused at his claim. If he was lucky, she'd bare her blunt, human teeth with eyes that promised she'd take his throat. His cock twitched at the thought of her teeth and her lethal hands against his skin, arousal a lingering heat in his veins. Perhaps a better man would have ignored his erection, pushed aside the anticipation that stirred the predator under his skin.

But a good man he was not.

In five decades since he'd agreed to Caroline's bargain, the initial spark of chemistry had only grown hotter. Better. Until he'd often come with his fingers fisted tightly around his cock to the thought of her skin flushed and slick, wondering the pink of her nipples would match her kiss flushed lips. Perhaps ten or twenty years ago he'd have been satisfied with just bedding her, but that time had long since passed.

Though sex was a tool he was more than willing to use to keep her close while he gained ground in other, more important battle grounds. It was a fight he found himself looking forward too. Caroline was as stubborn as she was lovely, and enticing her had become a private enjoyment of his for a number of years.

More than once he'd found himself wondering if he'd known just how deeply she'd dig under his skin; how dangerously he'd obsess over the smallest detail of her life; if he would have been so benevolent that evening so long ago. It was as likely as not. At the time of their first meeting, he'd been underwhelmed by life, his curse broken and the question of hybrids beyond his then-witches abilities, and he'd been left pacing in stalking circles that got him nowhere.

Then a witch-child had stomped into his life with her fierce desire to live, to destroy her enemies, and not killing her immediately for her impertinence had turned out to be an unexpected boon. Seventeen, wraith thin and bruised, Caroline Forbes had fascinated him from that first moment she had stared him down. Her fingers had been curled tightly around a white oak stake, grimoire tucked beneath one arm as she'd bared her human teeth at his monster. Caroline had refused to bend even as her hands had trembled with tightly contained fear. It hadn't taken long before that initial curiosity had shifted into an intriguing complication.

Such exquisite puzzles rarely dropped into his lap, he was not fool enough to throw her away. He admired her spine, and had been amused by her sharp tongue, and completely fascinated as she'd grown into the strength beneath her skin. He'd been just as greedy for her body as he was for the unwavering loyalty to him she'd never once flinched from. But no longer was he satisfied by their bargain, the loyalty she'd promised him, when he could have so much more.

Without his conscious permission, she had become one of the few weaknesses he'd allow himself.

One he'd permit no one else to ruin.

Stepping out of the car, Klaus studied the walkway to her door, carefully noting where her property lines lay. Charming and quaint, this was the heart of her territory, and if you didn't know what to look for, it was decidedly unremarkable. But Klaus has spent years studying Caroline, knew her down to her was more to this home of hers than she'd willing let other know.

And Caroline guarded it fiercely. It delighted him that even here she was sly, a crafty predator that would give her enemies no hint of the danger she truely presented. Her neighbors likely had no idea of the threat that lived so close to them.

Klaus had been so very careful to ensure she had the secrecy she desired all while sifting through the layers of her formidable defenses, hunting any hint of a weakness. In all the years since she'd purchased the building, Caroline had never invited him into her home, though he was certain she knew of his knowledge. He'd made a point to always let her know when he was in the city. So far, she'd refused his many offers for dinner or drinks had replied falsely apologetic texts in response to his coaxing voicemails.

Klaus could be patient, when necessary.

And with Caroline, it had always been a matter of necessity. There was no hiding the flush of awareness against her cheekbones, the delicate scent of her arousal and the jump of her pulse around him. In the decades that Caroline had kept such a careful distance between them, it had never been a matter of wanting each other.

For all that she'd denied it.

But no matter what angle he'd taken in his approach, Caroline had been fiercely determined to ignore him. Them. So he'd caged his wolf, had waited with a hunters patience for her to change her mind. Because he had decided he wanted her, that fascinating mix of loyalty and magical bite, all singularly focused on him. But he wanted, needed her to come to him, to offer what he craved. He would not force. Not with her. Time had been his friend, for all that it had taken teeth grinding control to tempt with no guarantee of success.

But their last little affair in Mystic Falls, collecting his newest doppelgänger, had finally shown him what he had been waiting for. It had been Greta's presence that had alerted him to his witch's displeasure. The subtle tightening of her mouth, the slightest flexing of her fingers every time Greta had touched him. Another man may have missed those carefully concealed signs of jealousy, but Klaus had studied Caroline for decades. He knew her down to the last flicker of her lashes.

And Caroline had been jealous. Delightfully so.

He'd kept his observations to himself, fully aware that he'd need a bit more privacy and perhaps a touch of surprise for the conversation that needed to occur. Caroline would not readily admit that her affections, her desires, had changed. Five decades of denial were not easily put aside, but Klaus was willing to give her a bit more time. His witch would need to work through the hesitations that had lingered through the decades, and he was certain the matter would not easily leave her thoughts.

Caroline would try to dissect the root cause of her frustrations. And once she had picked the bones of her emotions clean, box them away. And that was something he had no intention of allowing to happen. Not when she'd finally given him an opening. So Klaus had planned this little trip carefully. He needed to give her time to come to the unavoidable conclusions about them, to understand just how deeply he'd rooted under her formidable armor, but not quite enough time for her to shore up those defenses.

Klaus was certain she'd bite and snap. Neither of them were particularly fond of emotional vulnerability. He'd long understood that to have Caroline the way he wanted her, all of her for him and only him, that he'd have to be willing to share as well. Even now, the idea wasn't one he particularly enjoyed, but for her, he was willing to try to discuss any concerns she had. Just preferably from the comforts of a bed.

And while he'd enjoy nothing more than sweeping his witch away to the lavish comforts of his own home in the city, he was willing to be flexible on location. There was much to be said about starting what he intended to have with Caroline here, in the place she'd claimed as her own. That she'd made into her home.

Anticipation a thrum in his blood, he waved the hybrid driving the SUV away and started up her walkway. Caroline had lined the property with a number of spells, and he was certain a number of them would protect the street from any unusual noises, but he'd no intention of allowing an unintentional eavesdropper to linger. Caroline's home was lovely but not large. And hybrid hearing, even for the very young, was exceptional.

Klaus glanced at his watch, lips curving in a small smile. A touch early, particularly when his Caroline was fond of a lie in. If he was lucky, he'd find her still sleep rumpled and unguarded. Swiping his tongue across his lips in anticipation, he headed towards her door.


Caroline rubbed her face tiredly, impatiently waiting for the coffee to finish percolating. Sleep was always a bit sporadic after she'd spent time with Klaus. The sheer force of his presence followed her home, lingering in her dreams for weeks. Usually she'd play it off as just a chemical reaction between them. Klaus oozed sex. It was hard for anyone to miss it, particularly a girl who hadn't had a frequent bedmate in years.

Caroline was under no illusions about the pull between them. Klaus was Klaus, and over the years she'd found that mattered less and less, until she'd found herself even curious about what exactly post-slaughter sex with him would be like. Which was exceptionally stupid of her. For all that she'd made herself into no one's prey, Klaus could break her so easily if he wanted to. She'd make him work for it, but he was stronger than her. He was dangerous. But that mental warning had worked less and less the longer she spent with him.

The fact that Klaus didn't watch her like a man who would easily discard her, that his control was exceptional, only added to her intrigue. Still. She shouldn't even be considering allowing him into her bed. She shouldn't trust him on a level were it should even be a consideration.

But oh, it was, as her dreams reminded her.

And while Caroline had never been shy about sex, something about the blisteringly hot dreams with the hybrid still left her blushing. That morning's had been particularly sinful, the lingering memory of the fantasy of Klaus' cock moving so slowly inside her while Greta watched heated her blood for the second time that day. She shivered, skin tight and aching beneath the oversized t-shirt she'd lazily pulled on when she'd rolled out of bed. A robe had seemed too constricting.

If she hadn't layered the home with spells even a Bennett witch would have found difficult to untangle to keep her dreams private, she'd have blamed Klaus for the way he lingered. But that was an impossibility. And she knew herself too well to lie in such a way. She was as possessive and jealous as she accused Klaus of being, and as a fantasy, the idea of Greta seeing her claim him really did it for her.

Groaning, Caroline tipped her head back and took a calming breath. She'd already come once that morning, the remnants of her dream fluttering through her thoughts as she'd turned her vibrator on high. She'd locked her teeth tightly together as she'd shivered through her orgasm, unwilling to cry Klaus' name. It was bad enough how she used the way he watched her, how his tongue glided across his lower lip before he smiled, hot and slow and unfairly sexy, when she needed a little push to finish. But thinking about those things while in the privacy of her bedroom to get off was one thing, actually allowing herself to say his name in the middle of a release was another.

Lifting her hair off the back of her neck, she curled her toes and debated just going back to bed and burning off a bit more of her lingering sexual frustration. Something about watching Klaus' plans come together, the way he orchestrated humans and supernatural together, really did it for her. His curling, private smile of triumph as he won was hot.

But getting off to thoughts of Klaus twice in one morning would break one of her big rules, rules she'd needed to keep to avoid accepting one of those rumbling invitations he periodically left on her voicemail. It was those rules that allowed her to keep from delving her curious fingers beneath the collar of his shirt to feel the warmed leather and chains at his neck, to avoid biting those mocking, taunting lips until he moaned.

Teenage Caroline had needed those boundaries to survive Klaus. She'd refused to allow him to swallow her whole then, but now fifty years had come and gone. She'd grown into her power and her skin. And every time she thought she'd convinced herself that she could ignore whatever the pull between them was he'd pop back into her life and send her plans, and libido, spiraling.

Last year she'd even made a list about why being with Klaus was a bad idea. Multiple lists. Though the last one had somehow morphed into a numbered and alphabetized list of kinks and fantasies that she'd burned to ash with witch fire. She'd somewhat hoped writing them down meant she'd forget about them. It hadn't really worked, and instead given her brain more fodder for a number of fantasies.

Then there was Greta.

Teeth clenching at the thought of the other witch, Caroline yanked open the fridge, sucking in the cool air. She'd come very close to hexing Greta. She still wanted to if the content of her dreams told her anything. The pretty witch had put her hands all over Klaus and watched her with such mocking eyes. Such sly smiles.

If Klaus had returned even a hint of Greta's desire she probably wouldn't have been able to stop herself from cursing them both. The Forbes line was filled with ancestors as unforgiving as she found herself, and her grimoire collection was filled with helpful curses. She'd always wanted to test one or two and probably wouldn't have regretted them.

And wouldn't that have been telling?

Klaus had been surprisingly quiet about the mess. She was under no allusions that he hadn't noticed the silent territorial battle, which meant it would pop up later and bite her in the ass. Blowing out another breath, she grimaced.

Wouldn't that be fun?

Thankfully, she'd made a habit of taking a mini-staycation after a job for Klaus. It gave her time to clear her head and let her temper mellow. Usually she put all her desires and needs for Klaus right back into the box they needed to stay in, because sex with Klaus would be so easy.

She fantasized about all him too often, had seen the way he could move when he was intent on seduction. She couldn't imagine that sex with him would be anything short of fantastic. A thousand years had to have given that man some serious skills if the way his ex-lovers tended to mope when he refused to return to their beds.

It was seriously annoying.

Because she wanted to share his bed. She had for years. But the problem that she hadn't been able to work through, the reason she hadn't let herself touch him? Caroline didn't know if Klaus was capable of offering her more than sex and she was perilously close to falling in love with him. And that truth sat like lead in her stomach.

When Klaus wasn't ripping bodies apart or scheming the fall of his enemies, he was endlessly charming. Weirdly considerate when he wanted to be. Not kind in the human sense, but roughly careful on occasion. He was well read and engaging, seemingly fascinated by the smallest of her interests. For fifty years he'd poked, prodded, charmed and coaxed his way into her life and she was a woman, not stone.

It was why she'd avoided spending time with him where she could. Falling in love with Klaus Mikaelson could be a goddamn disaster that might destroy her. She'd survived too much, to let her personal devil destroy her now.

Shutting the fridge door, Caroline spun and rummaged through the cabinet for her favorite coffee mug. She needed a distraction. Sitting in her sunny kitchen and thinking about Klaus was not going to help her deal with her ongoing personal crisis. Particularly when she knew she wasn't going to be able to avoid him about her jealousy forever.

Greta had shown her that the status quo was perilously close to breaking. Next time someone touched him like that, if she wasn't prepared, she'd probably do something stupid like yank Klaus' head down by the cords of his necklaces and bite his lower lip in front of witches, hybrids and enemies and where would that leave her?

What did she do if he let her?

Annoyed at herself, she slouched against her countertop and sighed. Sipping her drink, she finally admitted that she was probably in way deeper than she wanted to admit. But what to do about it?

The problem was that in order to make a decision, she probably needed to talk to Klaus. Caroline really wanted to avoid that. Talking to Klaus would make it real. She wasn't sure if she was ready for that kind of conversation.

Glancing around her kitchen, she tried to imagine Klaus in her home. It had been her first purchase after she'd successfully solved Klaus' little hybrid problem. The reward for that bit of problem solving had not been insubstantial. The idea of having a house, of making it a home, had been a dream she'd quietly nursed for years under her father's thumb. Everything in this house she'd picked herself, several parts of it had been renovated to suit her tastes, and she adored it.

But lately, home had started to feel a little lonely.

And no fresh coat of paint, no pretty splashes of color had changed it. Even time spent singing to her garden in her backyard hadn't soothed the bite of it entirely. And that greedy, possessive part of her heart wondered if having Klaus here would change it...

Mulling over that, nails tapping thoughtfully along her mug, she froze when a perimeter spell pinged. A very, very specific perimeter spell. Lip sliding between her teeth, she starred in the direction of her front door, heart thudding in her chest. A moment later, the pretty chime of her doorbell echoed through her home.

Klaus. He was here. Why?

Not once had he attempted to seek her out in her sanctuary, for all that he'd tried to wheedle an invite more than once. But today he'd chosen to breech that unspoken agreement between them and her heart settled in her throat.

Klaus was here.

Setting down her mug hard enough that coffee splashed over the sides, she spun to glance at herself in a hallway mirror. And winced. Her hair was a mess wild with ruined curls she hadn't yet tried to tame. Yesterday's mascara still lingered, and it was fairly obvious that she wasn't wearing a stitch of underwear beneath the thin sleep shirt that barely cover the top of her thighs. She was barely dressed for decency, much less company, and her robe was upstairs.

Caroline worried her lip, debating as the doorbell chimed a second time. Did she dart into her laundry room and scramble for pants? Did she ignore him? It wasn't like he would gracefully leave. Klaus was perfectly capable of camping out on her doorstep and eating anyone who bothered him.

The jerk.

It was probably a bad sign that the thought had her cracking a smile. She'd always known exactly what she was bargaining with when she approached him as little more than a girl. She was just as excruciatingly aware of what she'd been given up when she'd offered the family heirloom of a white oak stake. But watching her father gurgle on his own blood had been more than worth it.

It was the last fifty years that had surprised her.

The doorbell chimed for a third time and she scowled, glancing at her microwave to get the time. Caroline set her teeth when she realized just how early it was and that'd he'd shown up at the crack of dawn on purpose. That ass.

Well, two could play that game. Any thought of finding more appropriate clothing disappeared in a flash of annoyance. Klaus couldn't enter her home without an invitation, and a very wicked part of her wondered what he'd be willing to bargain to receive one. Maybe it was time to throw caution to the wind and find out. Though as the doorbell rang for the fifth bloody time, she knew she had absolutely no intention of making it easy on him.


Klaus' lips curved as the sound of multiple locks being disengaged interrupted his impatient waiting. By his count, Caroline had three. Not particularly helpful if a werewolf wanted to go through a wall, but he could feel the magic clinging to the walls and bricks, old and new. He'd realized almost immediately upon crossing her property line that he'd had no reason to worry about his hybrid overhearing his conversation with Caroline.

It hadn't just been the perimeter of her home she'd layered with subtle magic. He could hear nothing inside the home. Oh, she was clever, his witch, there were a number of sounds built into those spells wrapped around her home. The creaking of stairs. The settling of wood. What might have been a heartbeat faint in the background, a hint of humming. All background noises associated with an old home and all sounds that would have fooled most vampires, possibly all werewolves.

But none of those sounds spoke of Caroline personally, when from this distance, he should have been able to count her breaths. The familiar rhythm of her heartbeat was missing as had been the sound of her footsteps approaching the door. He was both delighted and annoyed.

His paranoid little witch was well prepared.

Klaus wondered if she knew yet about the vampires two blocks over who were compelled to keep an eye on her and to intervene in anyway necessary should she require aid. The way he'd quietly executed any supernatural who'd tried to move within a twenty block radius near her who might have one day become a threat. His gut said no. So did practicality. He hadn't received a pointed message or his vampire's fingers in a pretty box, so he thought they had been wise enough to stay hidden.

Smart.

Caroline could be terrifying to others when riled, but she was far more merciful than he. And while she was a power, there were exploitable weaknesses for a young witch her age though it appeared she'd done her best mitigate them. Klaus might not have readily or easily accepted this clawing need for her on his chest, but he would not tolerate a threat against it, either.

But this magic he had not expected. Caroline was crafty, but this took a long term power investment and careful planning. He'd coax her secrets from her later, he decided. Discover what other surprises she'd woven into the foundations of her home during all these decades. And perhaps he'd have a word with her protection detail, since they had not noticed the spells.

Klaus' planned greeting died in his throat once Caroline yanked open the door and he absorbed her state of dishabille. The shirt she wore was at least a decade old, the fabric worn soft and thin, the pattern on the front long having faded away. The cotton was nearly threadbare, and the hint of nipple, the long length of her legs laid bare were far more enticing than any number of deliberately provocative ensembles. It would take less than a flick of his wrist to shred the material, and he nearly groaned at the thought.

But there would be time for that later. He'd ensure it. But first, he was determined to savor this tease, to file away the impressions of her for his personal art collection. Slowly, unhurriedly, he let himself study the pictured she made before him: sleep rumpled with tumbled hair, and unbelievably soft.

Until he reached her eyes.

Even the faint circles that hinted at a number of sleepless nights could not detract from the ire she made no attempt to hide. But it was the lingering hint of arousal that clung to her skin that honed his own desire. The knowledge of what he'd have interrupted had he only arrived half an hour early hardened his cock.

"Good morning, Caroline." Klaus knew a hint of his arousal was reflected in his voice, the rumble of the wolf barely detectable but present.

Her gaze narrowed, blue eyes dark. "Do you have any idea what time it is?"

Klaus smiled, hungry and unapologetic. "Last I checked, it was roughly seven thirty. On quite a lovely Saturday morning, I must say."

"You know, fireballs are not particularly complicated to summon," she said tartly. "It won't kill you, but you'd still burn."

"Think of your poor neighbors," he returned, pressing his shoulder against the edge of her doorway, delighted by her temper. "A man burning on your front doorstep would cause such a commotion."

Her smile was sharp, showing just a hint of her teeth. "They wouldn't notice."

Intrigued by the complication of those spells, Klaus leaned back and studied her front steps, the solid line of her front door. "Interesting. Tell me, love. Would those spells of yours include hiding more… carnal activities or is its limited to torture of a different sort."

Glancing back at Caroline, he noted with interest that a flush had worked up her throat and that the hard points of her nipples were now clearly visible. Catching her gaze, he ran his tongue along his lower lip and smiled. "So both, then."

Chin lifting, she didn't back down, even as her cheeks shaded pink. "Why are you here, Klaus?"

Sliding his hands into his pockets, he forced himself to relax. "I thought we could talk."

"About what?"

"Come now, love," he chided. "Let's not pretend the last few weeks didn't happen."

A hint of challenge sharpened her eyes. "You've collected your doppelganger, and from the last I heard from Rebekah, you have a number of wolves willing to throw their lives away for a chance at the change. What could we possibly have to talk about?"

Klaus found that he liked that she was keeping up with him. He made a mental not to persuade Rebekah into telling them the details of their previous conversations. Later. "I'm sure I could put together a sizeable list. But for the purpose of this conversation? Greta. And your rather delightful reaction to her presence. I find I quite like you jealous."

"I was not jealous of Greta."

The lie was said through clenched teeth, the flush of her cheeks as much anger as embarrassment. Her gaze sparked and he let his smile turn mocking, even as he tipped his head to the side so he could take in everything about her. "No? I find it difficult to believe I was mistaken. You have a particular look to your eyes, sweetheart, when you are considering ripping a man to shreds with your magic. Not to mention the way you tensed, the rigidness of your body, every time she was in the room."

She made a low noise, shoving a strand of hair away from her face. "Greta thinks she's better than me, that's she better than everyone. It's annoying, particularly when her magic is necessary, but my dislike of her has nothing to do with you."

"And her hands?" He murmured. "Did you feel the same way when she was touching me?"

The muscles of her arm jumped, as if she had clenched her fist around the doorknob. The change of her heartbeat, the spark of magic between them, left satisfaction and triumph uncurling in his chest. But his Caroline had never given in gracefully, and today was no different. Chin angled between them, her mouth set in a stubborn angle that left him wanting to bite, she gave him not an inch.

"It's none of my business who you let touch you."

The words were cool, and perhaps a stupider man would have believed them. Leaning as close as he could, Klaus lowered his voice. "Would you like it to be? Invite me in."

The stiffening of her body, the slight widening of her eyes told him she was surprised by his bluntness. Good. He had no use for more games between them. Not when she'd finally shown him the truth behind her defenses.

"Why should I?" Caroline said finally, voice as low as his. "This is my home."

But then again, some games were meant to be played. And the emphasis on home, the warning behind her eyes, told him just how high the stakes were between them. Klaus dragged his gaze down the line of her body, lingering on the subtle swells of her breasts and lower, to the clean lines of the tattoo on the top of her foot.

"Would you prefer to have the rest of this… conversation outside, love? I'm certainly game to explore the limits of your containment spell. I've no issue with an audience should we break it, but what's the point of a little semi-public fucking if we haven't arranged for Greta to be nearby?"

Her muscles twitched, the first hint of true arousal rising between them. He breathed in the heat and salt of her, and his hand curled into a fist as he held himself carefully contained.

"I invite you in, and what happens? You prance in here whenever you want?" The blue of her gaze had darkened, the pupils wide and devouring. "There are reasons I've kept this place for myself."

"We both know that if that was a true concern, you'd have created a ward to keep me out. I'd have never crossed the property line so easily."

"Maybe," she admitted grudgingly, arms folded across her chest, cheekbones an enticing pink. The movement plumped the swell of her breasts but hid the tantalizing hint of her nipples and he ran his tongue across his lips, unsure which he preferred. "But that doesn't mean letting you in wouldn't be a mistake."

"We've danced around what is between us for to long, don't you think? You want me." He tipped his head, watched the rapid beat of her pulse for several seconds. "More importantly, you wanted to peel back Greta's skin and gouge your claim into mine every time she touched me."

Caroline made a low noise of disbelief, the heat along her cheeks intensifying. "You're imagining things."

He laughed softly at the outrage in her voice, that strangled note of embarrassment. "Did I? Hmm. Perhaps. But would you be willing to test that? If I am correct, I would be most interested in all the ways I'm sure you fantasized of cursing her. Preferably discussed while I'm torturing you with my tongue. I hope you have a solid headboard, perhaps some stockings? I'm sure we can find something adequate."

The scent of her arousal had deepened, and Klaus was certain if he slid his fingers up the softness of her inner thighs, he'd find her hot and slick. The thought strained his patience.

"So sure an invitation into my home would be one to my bed." Caroline said, as if he couldn't smell her arousal. "That I will let you into either."

Her words pushed against his temper and he stepped into the barrier, letting the magic bite against his skin. "I didn't take you as a coward, Caroline."

She bared her teeth at his words, gaze hot and bright. It wasn't just the barrier that pushed at him, but the intensifying heat of her magic. "I am not a coward."

"No?" Klaus drawled. He deliberately used a tone that he knew would piss her off. Her jaw set and she glared at him, her spine nearly painfully straight as her visible hand flexed with temper. "You want me, Caroline. I can smell it. I can always smell it. You've wanted me for years. And yet, you do nothing about it."

She made a rough noise, shoving her fingers through her bangs. "Any why should I? I'm not looking for a fuck buddy, Klaus. And I certainly don't need you to get off. Has it maybe occurred to your thick, hybrid skull that perhaps I want more than just sex?

His lips peeled away from his teeth in a triumphant smile, the vicious need in his gut softening a hair at her admittance. "And do you want that with me?"

Caroline's weight shifted, the sudden, tiny movement telling as the realization of what she'd said dawned on her. It was a significant chink in her emotional armor, one he had not expected her to admit to for a number of years yet. His witch was worried about his reaction, and that meant she cared. She didn't yet know that he had no intention of letting her go, but she would.


Caroline glared at Klaus, her words still hanging between them. Embarrassment and anger mingled hotly with her anger and if she could have strangled him she might have been tempted. She'd known what he was doing with his dig but had found herself reacting anyway. Something about him, the way he goaded her, made it impossible to hold the reigns of her temper.

And now he knew what she'd been mentally struggling with far sooner than she'd have wanted. Klaus, for his part, looked delighted and triumphant. Like she'd just walked into a trap and he couldn't be more thrilled. Part of her was half-tempted to slam the door in his face. They'd see then just how sexy he could be with four inches of spelled wood between them.

The rest of her wanted to drag him inside and use her teeth. Particularly when he looked at her like that. He lips were red and wet, the blue of his gaze lightened by the gold of his wolf. She could feel him pressing against the magic of her home, could almost feel the heat of him through the barrier. If she reached out, she could easily curl her fingers into the collar of his shirt, touch the edge of his jaw. If she extended the invitation he'd all but demanded, she had do doubt that he would have his hands beneath her flimsy shirt in a matter of seconds.

Her body was certainly on board with that idea.

Having this argument with Klaus while she wore only a t-shirt may not have been her smartest decision. Not when there was no hiding the reaction she was having to him, the way his deliberately sexual words had affected her.

The way his slow, private smile left her aching.

"Do you?" He repeated, smile deepening to include a single dimple. "Want more, Caroline?

She bit the tip of her tongue to hold in a shiver, still annoyed at him. But ignoring him hadn't gotten her anywhere. Maybe she just needed to take the bull by the horns and see where it got her. She'd known this conversation was coming, had hoped to avoid it, but if he was willing to meet her halfway...

Chin angling, she met the wolf in his gaze stubbornly. "Yes. I want more. Are you capable of giving me that, Klaus? I won't settle for less than an equal relationship, and everything that includes. If that doesn't work for you, walk away."

The edges of his smile sharpened into something that left her heart pounding. Double fangs gleamed from behind the red of his lips, and her abdomen clenched. "And you, love? Are you aware of what you are asking, what I will demand you give? I am a possessive man."

So was she. Possessive and jealous, though she hated to admit it. But she understood what he was asking. Being claimed by Klaus would not be easy, and once his, he was not known for gracefully relinquishing that claim. His enemies would become her enemies, those that weren't already, and whatever he had done to keep her tucked away from the eyes of the supernatural would disappear.

At seventeen, she'd needed that barrier. But she'd grown into her skin and her power a long time ago. Caroline didn't need him to protect her.

She wanted him. Monster, terrible jokes, and endless hunger. All of it. She just hadn't known if he wanted her the same way. The need, the desire of his wolf in his eyes, told her a great deal of how badly she'd read him.

But what decided her was the way he stood stubbornly and silently tense as she mulled over what he was asking, jaw drawn tight. That Klaus was willing to wait, though he'd been pushy and sneaky in turns about it, it gave her hope that they could work. Fifty years was a long time, even for a vampire of his age.

She had no doubt that they would fight, that they would claw and bleed each other, but if he wasn't worth that, Klaus didn't belong in her bed. She'd picked her loyalty's decades earlier, and he'd sealed them with her father's excruciating death. That he was asking her to pick him again, to give him her more personal loyalty?

"I don't share," she warned him lowly. "The next time Greta touches you, I'm likely to curse her."

"Oh," Klaus murmured. "I certainly hope you do."

The satisfaction in his voice was heady and arousing. Still. "You didn't answer my question."

"Am I capable of giving you what you want?" He ran his tongue across his lips. The vampire faded, but the wolf lingered in his eyes. It was a quiet hunt in his gaze, potent and hot. "We won't know unless we try, Caroline. But I have no intention of letting either of us walk away once we start."

She bit her lip and considered. Some might have considered that a threat, but he'd watched her with a similar challenge when she'd been seventeen and terrified. He'd kept his word then. She was certain he'd keep his word now.

Klaus wanted to try.

For her.

Heat flushed through her.

"But Caroline?" He tipped his head, dimples teasing the edges of his hunting smile. "It would be much easier, don't you think, if you let me through your front door."

It really would. Licking her lips, she opened her door a little wider. Made her choice.

"Welcome to my home, Klaus." She narrowed her eyes, kept her voice firm. "Do not make me regret it."

"And your bed, love? Am I invited there as well?" He didn't budge from his position in her doorway, the muscles of his shoulder drawn tight. She should have expected that he'd make her be perfectly clear after her snappy comment earlier.

Taking a breath, Caroline nodded. "Yes."

His eyes gleamed and he stepped through the door, shutting it carefully behind him. His gaze swept over her entrance way and deeper, intrigue clear on his face. "Later, you'll give me a tour."

Both of her brows arched up, but before she could comment on that demand, Klaus moved. Her breath hitched in her lungs, exhale sharp as he gripped her hips. Her home blurred, and she found herself pinned to a wall, her thighs hitched over Klaus' lean hips. The hard ridge of his cock pressed firmly between her thighs and she moaned as his lips pressed beneath her jaw, hot and insistent as her head tipped back.

"A bed or the table, Caroline."

She opened her mouth but all that she managed was a choked gasp as he worked a hand between them, clever fingers finding where she was the wettest. Her hand scrambled for purchase against his shoulders, breathing growing labored as his thumb parted her soaked folds to stroke. There was no time to be embarrassed about her slick thighs, not when Klaus made such a low noise of want at the feel of her. Sucking in a breath, she managed to stutter a reply. "W-what?"

He chuckled against her throat, teeth blunt against her skin as he explored her with delicate fingertips. The feel of his stubble against her throat was followed by the softness of his lips and her thighs clenched hard. Klaus made a low noise of approval, thumb grazing her clit as he pushed one finger inside her trembling body.

"Or maybe I should take you just like this," he murmured, hooking a second finger inside her fluttering walls, keeping the pressure of his thumb against her clit barely there. "Your so wet for me, love. Feeling you like this? All hot and slick against my fingers, it's better than I imagined. Later, you'll tell me what about our argument got you so worked up? Was it the talk of voyeurism, bring naked with me in public, or was it the idea of torturing Greta? I want to know everything."

Caroline clenched down on his fingers, body throbbing. She had no leverage to move, not with the way her thighs were spread wide. Nails digging into the back of his neck, she trembled as he kept her so carefully off the on the edge of her orgasm.

Fingers sliding into his hair, she moaned her complaint as he watched her with covetous eyes. "Klaus, please. I'm so close."

Klaus nudged her jaw with his nose, and the hand not buried inside her fisted in her shirt. A moment later, and he'd torn the fabric away from her body. She gasped as the fabric fluttered around her, his palm finding her breast a moment later. He continued to rub his fingers along her fluttering walls, thumb ghosting along her clit, and the pressure of his hips eased just enough that she could finally rock against him.

"Would you like my cock, Caroline?"

She nodded a touch frantically, chest heaving as she tried to get in enough air. His fingers were good, the pressure of his thumb an aching tease, but she wanted more. She wanted him with her. As hot and desperate and aroused as he left her.

"Good."

His thumb pressed firmly against her clit as he caught her nipple, and her orgasm broke over her in a rush. Spine arching, she gasped brokenly, shuddering through a wave of pleasure as Klaus murmured rough words of encouragement. Panting as he eased her down, she couldn't help her whine as he pulled his fingers free.

Klaus laughed softly, lightly biting at her jawline. He rolled his hips against her and Caroline hissed, clit still achingly sensitive. "I can't wait to be inside you."

She shivered at the hunger in those words, body heating as his tongue traced his lips. "Then why are you still wearing pants?"

His smile sharpened, dimples wicked before he brought his slick fingertips to his mouth and sucked them clean. Leaning forward, he kissed her parted lips, tongue rubbing briefly against hers before he pulled back.

"You haven't answered my question."

"Question?" She repeated, voice breathless. "What question?"

"Hmm," he rumbled. "Where would you like me to fuck you first, sweetheart? Shall I bend you over your dining room table? It looks quite sturdy. All your pretty skin in the morning sunshine, the windows wide open. I do wonder just what your spells cover when it comes to noise. Shall we test it? Or would you prefer your bedroom? Perhaps after you come all over my cock, you'd let me spread you open on your sheets, memorize the delectable taste of you with my tongue. I'm in a mood to make you beg."

Her toes dug into his calf, and she pressed her head against the wall, shivering as he thumbed her nipple. "Bed."

A soft kiss against her collarbone. "Are you sure?"

"It took me a year to decide on that table," Caroline said, running her fingers through the short hairs on his nape. "Another six months for my chairs. What are the odds you'd going to break something when your inside me?"

An amused exhale, and Klaus used his teeth in a way that left her arching against him. "Hmm, you may have a point. Tell me, Caroline. Have you ever lost control of your magic during sex?"

She shook her head. "No."

His lips curved against her skin and she shivered at the feel of it. "Something to aim for. Where is your room?"

"Second floor. On the left." Caroline leaned close, and bit his lip hard when he straightened and lifted her by her butt. "No more teasing."

The wolf was bright when she pulled back, and the glitter in his gaze had her inhaling sharply. Klaus' hand slid to the back of her thigh and for the second time that morning, the world blurred around her. A dozen heartbeats later, and the familiar bounce of her mattress was soft against her spine.

Klaus paused, gaze taking in the wide windows in the spacious room. When she'd bought her home, this was the room were she had done the most extensive renovations. She'd knocked down a wall, expanded her bathroom and closet, and turned it into her haven. She hard swallowed as he glanced down at her and tried not to feel self conscious as she pushed up in her elbows. In that moment, being naked felt less intimate than letting him see this room.

No one else ever had.

Clearing her throat, she scraped her teeth down her lip. "I prefer open spaces." The words felt inane, but she couldn't bring herself to offer more. She'd been unable to stand cramped or confined rooms after she'd escaped her father, and her home reflected that. It was bright and cheerful, while her childhood home had been a nightmare. But those thoughts had no place in her bedroom, particularly when Klaus stood before her, the hard line of his cock visible behind the zipper of his jeans.

Klaus' gaze was assessing as he dragged his eyes down her face. His head tipped to the side, and he finally nodded. "Italy, then. Italy will do nicely."

Caroline frowned up at him. "Italy?"

His dimples creased his cheeks as his hands went to his clothing. Seams popped with the speed that he undressed, shirt and pants pooling on the floor. She barely had a chance to admire before he crawled onto the bed. "The villa."

Any thought of questioning him disappeared when he touched her. Caroline had expected him to tease despite her demands, but Klaus slid up her body and briefly pressed his lips to her hip, her sternum, before settling between her thighs. She eagerly wound her legs around his waist, hissing when his cock rubbed briefly against her clit before his fingers gripped her ass.

"Okay?" He murmured as he positioned himself, hand curving beneath her lower back. She nodded, sliding her hands along his shoulders to smooth down the firm muscles of his back. Nudging her nose with his, Klaus' brushed his lips against hers. "Good."

His kiss was slow, hot, and she sank into the heat of it greedily. Kissing Klaus was better than she'd fantasized, the hunger of it messy and perfect. Oh, there was finesse, but under the rough strokes of his tongue was the same want, the same need, that had sat in her bones for years. She tipped her head back only when she needed to breathe, starved for the taste and feel of him. He moved down her jaw to her throat with eager kisses, tongue raspy against her skin.

She inhaled sharply when he reached her breast, her hips jerking when he caught her nipple lightly with his teeth. Arousal shuddered through her as he made a rough, approving noise. The hand against her back slid lower to angle her hips, and he slid inside her with a rough thrust. Caroline's thighs tightened around his waist, head pressed back into her pillow as she adjusted to the feel of him, hot and thick, inside her.

"Perfect," Klaus rasped on a harsh exhale, his breath hot against her. "Utterly. Perfect."

Caroline didn't have a chance to reply before he hitched her thigh higher against his waist, eyes lifting as he withdrew. His gaze stayed on her face as he set a steady pace, adjusting the angle of his cock on each entry until her nails raked against his back with each thrust.

"You're so lovely like this. Flushed and wet and needy. Tell me, love. Have you thought of me in this bed, with you?" His tongue slid along his lip, smile slightly wicked as his gaze dipped to watch her breasts move on his next thrust.

She was too aroused to be shy about admitting to her fantasies, and there was no point. Not when he was moving inside of her, the feel of his cock as she clamped down so damn good. Caroline sucked in a breath, nodding a touch frantically. "Yes. Often."

His head lowered, lips feathering against the hard point of her nipple. "I want to know those fantasies. Al the ways you imagined me taking you."

"Perhaps I fantasized taking you."

Klaus laughed and bit her shoulder with blunt teeth. And his thrusts picked up speed. She slapped one hand behind her, fingers groping for purchase on the headboard as they rocked together. She gasped his name, panting words mumbled between moans as she struggled to match each rough movement of his hips, the way his cock brushed her clit each time he pushed inside her. The build was bigger this time, his rough whispers of how good she felt wrapped around him and all the way he'd thought of her like this pushing her steadily towards her orgasm.

His head lowered to her breasts, lips and tongue tasting, and she dug her heel into his ass, riding the edge. Her pleas turned high pitched and gasping. She wasn't even sure what she was saying, but his low groan, the feel of his fingers digging into her thigh left her clinging to her body, needing just a little more. Klaus got her there a moment later with his fingertips on her clit, teeth along the curve of her breast. Caroline shuddered, vision going hazy and white at the edges, her limbs banded tight around his body.

Klaus groaned into her chest, and she sucked in lungfuls of air as her body slowly came down, her thighs slipping away from his waist. Dazed, she moaned low in her throat as she realized he was still hot and very hard inside her. Fingers clenching against the headboard as his hips shifted against her, she choked out his name.

His lips curved against her sternum, and Klaus dropped a slow kiss against her fever flushed skin. "Again."

Caroline dug her fingers into his back, her inhale loud between them. "Again?"

His gaze flickered to hers, a ring of yellow bright against the blue of his pupils. She shivered around him at the heat behind his expression, and his lashes fluttered at the feel of her muscles gripping his cock. "I want to feel you come around me again. We'll go slow."

"Slow," she repeated, voice rough, fresh arousal winding through her belly at his words. "How can you not want to come? Why didn't you come?"

He laughed softly and leaned up to kiss her chin. The thrust of his hips was lazy, the way he pulled out of her just as slow, and the feel of him inside her was magnified by just how sensitive she was after her orgasm. Caroline whimpered, hand sliding into his hair as he rumbled his approval, and she shuddered as he rocked back inside her.

"Nice and slow," Klaus rasped. "Until you're begging that I give you just a little more. Until you aren't sure if you can take it but you need it. Want it. And I'll give you what you need, love. Whatever you want. Eventually. And when you come all over my cock, I'll go with you. And after, when your all flushed and pink and dripping with my release, I'll wrap my fist around my cock and come again."

Her fingers clenched around his curls, her body throbbing at the images his words conjured. The idea of watching Klaus stroke himself, slick from their combined releases, was a heady one. It was also a fantasy she'd pictured when she needed something to come more than once. The gleam in his eyes, the curl of his lips, told her he'd guessed.

"And how will you come for me?" She managed, struggling to keep her eyes open and on his face as he continued to move inside her with fascinating, bone-melting patience. Her thighs trembled, the slow drag of his cock lighting up her nerve endings as he hit all the best places inside her. Her words turned hoarse and thick, the slow rock of their bodies stealing her concentration. "When touch yourself. Will you take your time then, too?"

So she could watch, so she could memorize every minute detail. Later, she'd talk him into letting her use her mouth, see if she could draw out the same sounds. Her arousal at the plan was a wet rush between her thighs.

His laugh was a dark, wicked thing. "Do you like to watch, Caroline? Watch but not touch."

She nodded and her eyes slid shut as he ground his hips against hers, the friction against her clit nearly painful with pleasure. He crooned her name and her lashes fluttered open, and the monster watched her with covetous eyes

"If that's what you want, I'll touch myself slowly, just for you. I want to see how hot it makes you. Will you bite your lips and moan, restless and wanting?" He smiled with monsters teeth, the veins beneath his eyes stark above the flush of his cheekbone. "If you're a good girl and keep your hands to yourself, after I spill all across your pretty skin, I might let you touch yourself. Would you like that? Your clit will be sticky and sensitive, your thighs slick with my release. How long would it take you to come like that while I watch?"

Caroline's jerky nod and gasped agreement were probably unnecessary with the way her body had drawn taut at his words. It was impossible to miss just how much she liked that idea, her body impossibly slick with the new rush of wetness was an unmistakable sign of her arousal as he continued to rock into her. Klaus nuzzled into her neck, and his teeth scraped against the sensitive curve there, his tongue a slick counterpoint to the edge of his teeth. Caroline arched into him, a whine caught in her throat as her breasts rubbed against the lean wall of his chest. Her stomach clenched, the familiar trembling building low in her stomach.

"Excellent." He kissed her ear and her jaw, voice growing gravel rough. His body was hard above her, the cords of his neck visible as he held off his release. "And after we've napped a bit, perhaps you'll let me tie you to this intriguing headboard and we can test how much you'll like my tongue between your thighs, hmm? You might be a little sore after so many orgasms, so I'll be sure to take my time. I admit, I am quite curious to see just what it takes for you to lose control of your magic, and just how loudly you'll beg before I let you come."

It was an experiment Caroline was more than willing to try. But she found herself caring far less about the future than she did about the now. Not with the way Klaus moved and how he teased her throat, her breasts with his lips and beard. But it wouldn't do her any good to let him think she was easy.

"Maybe," she panted out, arching into his thrust, her body tightening around the feel of him buried so deeply inside her. "You'll let me tie you to my bed instead. I bet I've got a spell or two that would hold you temporarily captive."

He licked behind her ear and she moaned. "Perhaps. But I believe I have a few promises to keep first, hmm?"

He took her achingly slow, the rhythm of his hips never faltering no matter how she writhed beneath him. Klaus did keep his word, eventually roughing his thrusts but only after she was desperate and pleading. And as her orgasm broke over her in a long wave, she hazily wondered why she'd waited so long to let him in her bed.

Klaus shuddered against her, his release quickly following hers, and for several moments they lay there breathing heavily. The soft, reverent kisses he pressed against her shoulder were unexpected, as was the way he stroked her skin with greedy fingertips as her heartbeat slowed.

Her heart was in so much trouble.

But as Klaus rose above her, hair wild and lips red and swollen, hand curling around his wet shaft, she pushed those thoughts aside. Her bones felt like jelly, her muscles turned to soft wax, but as she watched the thickening of his cock, the way his jaw slowly tightened as his strokes stayed slow and rough, Caroline found she still wanted more. She traced the long line of his torso, the hard flex of abs and the muscles in his thighs with her eyes and mentally moaned.

She'd never wanted to touch someone so badly.

The glint behind Klaus' gaze said he knew it, too. He took his time as promised. And as his thumb slid over his tip as moisture beaded, his fingers white with strain as he finally thrusted into his fist with a low groan, she knew he'd give her whatever she wanted. Just as he'd said.

Eventually.


The third time Caroline woke that day, the sun was casting long shadows in her bedroom. She sleepily swatted at the man running his lips along her shoulder, the edge of his smile supremely satisfied. She'd have been really annoyed by that, if he hadn't just spent hours earning that smugness.

She didn't want to move.

"I ordered in dinner." Klaus' fingers dipped along the bumps of her spine, voice low and coaxing. "It's all laid out on your table."

His words cut through the haze, and she rolled to her side and blinked at him. Her hair fell into her face in frizzy waves, and she was sure she looked exactly how she felt. Sex hazed and satisfied. Klaus didn't seem much more put together. He was shirtless and sex rumpled, his hair wild about his head. And underneath Klaus' curling smile there was a softness she'd never seen before, and her heart clenched. Clearing her throat, she frowned at him, trying to figure out the time. "Dinner?"

"Well," Klaus corrected with a slight shrug. "A very late lunch."

Feeling a flush working into her cheeks at the thought that they'd spent all day in bed, she lifted her hand to run her fingertips across the shape of his mouth. His very talented mouth. She bit her lip as she realized there was blood under her nails, and her blush darkened as she remembered just what Klaus had done that had driven her to bloodying his back.

She took an unsteady breath as he caught her fingers and examined her nail beds. "Sorry about that."

He sucked her bloody fingertips into his mouth, tongue running along the edges before he pulled them free. "Why? I quite liked it."

Caroline tipped her head, curious beneath her faint embarrassment. He hadn't bitten her during sex, and she was dead certain that had less to do with his preferences and more to do with her. She wondered what he would do if she asked him too, and made a mental note to bring it up. She wanted it to be quite clear that she wanted him, monster and all. "What did you like? The blood or the sting?"

"Both," he said easily, unashamed. "And as delighted as I'd be to discuss any number of our kinks, I'd prefer our food to not become cold."

Groaning in agreement, she pushed herself up, refusing to blush again as his gaze lowered to her breasts and he smiled. Glancing down, she rolled her eyes at the red patches from his beard, the faint bite mark that would probably bruise.

The way his cock had risen to half mast.

Caroline was tempted to see if he'd let her curl her fingers around him, he hadn't let her have her fun yet, after all, but she was also pretty sure she wouldn't survive another round of sex just yet. She was sore, but it was the good kind of sore, and nothing a hot bath and a little bit of magic wouldn't fix. "I thought you wanted to feed me?"

His lashes lowered, something covetous crossing his face, but instead of commenting he reached down and offered her his shirt. She pulled it over her head without comment and rolled out of bed, her knees shaking a little. Klaus steadied her, his nose going behind her ear as he inhaled noisily.

"Hmm, I like it when you smell like me."

Caroline snorted and leaned against him. "I should think I would. I'm going to need a shower."

Klaus had come on her twice. After the first time, she'd stroked herself to orgasm under his dark eyes, her clit as hot and sticky and as sensitive as he'd promised. It hadn't taken long, watching Klaus stroke himself had ramped up her arousal in a way that should have been impossible after three orgasms. It had been his clear enjoyment as she'd stroked herself, his whispered praises as he'd panted with her, that had finally edged her into a soft spiral as she stroked her hyper-sensitive clit. She'd fallen asleep shortly after to the feel of Klaus wrapped snugly around her, his thigh pressed possessively between hers.

The second time had been after he'd coaxed her into allowing him to tie her to the headboard. Klaus had licked her to near orgasm over and over again, never allowing her to finish no matter how hard she'd begged and cursed. She'd been flushed and sweaty, thighs dripping arousal and her voice hoarse when he'd finally fisted his hand around his erection. Klaus had teased her clit with the tip of his cock until her back had bowed, magic trembling in the air around them. But it hadn't been until his release had spilled against her throbbing clit, his pleasure harsh and clear on his face, that her control had snapped.

Her magic had torn through the soft fabric of the stockings he'd bound her with, and Klaus had immediately dove back between her thighs and brought her to a screaming orgasm with his mouth while she clawed at his shoulders. And then he'd rolled her limp body her onto her stomach and taken her with rough thrusts and lewd promises that had left her senseless. Caroline was fairly sure she'd passed out, her memory blank after the force of her orgasm.

Klaus brushed her cheek with his nose, voice darkening as he clearly smelled her growing arousal. "As delightful as another round would be, Caroline, you do need food. Unless your willing to take a mouthful or two of blood?"

Easing back, she slowly shook her head. She'd had his blood before, and it was surprisingly palatable. She knew just how potent it was and how fast it would heal the most major of injuries. Not everyone liked the work that she did for Klaus, and one or two of her enemies had managed to land a hit over the years.

Though all of them were dead now.

And while his blood would likely immediately ease her aches, she knew down to her bones that blood would lead to more sex. And though she wouldn't be adverse to potentially testing out a little blood sharing, she wanted the dinner he'd arranged. She wanted to sit at her table and talk, to work out what they both wanted from this relationship they had started.

Find out what he'd meant by Italy.

Though she had suspicions.

"Food." Caroline said decisively, running over her mental list. "Then a shower. Maybe a long soak after. I have a fantastic bathtub."

"I know," he murmured, smile teasing as he admitted to snooping. "Am I invited to this bath?"

Caroline looped her arms around his neck and brushed her lips against his. She found she didn't mind at all that he'd looked around her home. "Yup. And the shower, even. Though I think you're going to have to carry me downstairs. I'm pretty sure my knees won't make it down the staircase."

His laugh was soft, indulgent, and as he easily lifted her, Caroline knew she would fight to keep this. Him. The monster who was so greedy and startlingly soft in bed, who held her so easily against his chest. The man who it appeared had bought her dinner and set up a romantic table for two in her dining room with her favorite takeout.

She was pretty sure she already loved him.

And the way he watched her as he sat her down, the hint of the wolf in the yellow of his eyes as he looked at her, it told her she wasn't alone in how she felt. Smile widening, Caroline leaned up and pressed a kiss to his throat, happiness bubbling inside her chest. Klaus cared. He'd picked her and promised he'd try. For them.

She couldn't wait to see what that meant.