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  • Home > Jacquelyn Frank > Shadowdwellers > Ecstasy (Page 24)     
    Ecstasy(Shadowdwellers #1) by Jacquelyn Frank

    “Like what?” he asked hoarsely. “No. Don’t answer that. If you do, it’ll end up being just like last time.”

    “Hmm. Just like? Hot, sweaty, and awesomely hungry?”

    “Primal. Obsessed. Damn me into Light, you are unbelievable. How do you affect me like this?”

    “Like this?” she asked, reaching to skip her fingertips down the length of his fly and the turgid flesh beneath. Ashla hardly knew where all this bravado was coming from, but with each daring word he accepted, and even reacted to so strongly, the braver she got. She was almost giddy with it until he suddenly surged up against her and trapped her against the clerk’s window.

    “So bold all of a sudden,” he growled as he caught her mouth with his in long, eating kisses. “Let’s see if you’re still so sassy when I have my tongue dancing across your clit.”

    Ashla gasped at the frankly spoken promise, and at the rush of liquid heat it sent oozing out of her body. She suspected that he knew exactly what her reaction had been, and that it was what prompted him to lower his head to her breasts. But instead of the obvious hunt for her most sensitive erogenous areas, Trace touched his tongue to her breastbone, starting in the snug valley between her breasts and then slowly running it upward to her throat. When he reached the little well where the two met, he slowly flicked his tongue around and across it until they were both unmistakably certain of what he was imitating against her. Ashla’s imagination went into overdrive as she anticipated what it would be like to have that adept tongue where he had promised her he would take it.

    “No one,” she breathed in staccato rhythm, “has ever wanted to do that to me.”

    Ashla regretted the words the moment they left her lips. She could all but hear the squealing sound of hard-applied brakes screaming through the room as his head jerked up. His passion-dark eyes glittered as they went wide in surprise.

    “Explain this,” he demanded sharply, not realizing how intimidating his royal vizier’s tone could be when it appeared in his temper. “You are of an age for sexual maturity. I understand you do not have sexual instruction in your human culture as we do in mine, but you at least have…How do you call it? A sexual liberation? A time of experimentation and learning?”

    Trace came to realize his mistake exactly five seconds after she did, and only then because he was watching the expressions change across her face in search of the explanation he sought.

    “You said it again. You said ‘human.’”

    Yeah, he sure had.

    “Yes,” he agreed shortly. “But you said you didn’t care and didn’t want to talk about it now,” he reminded her. “I’m only reminding you of that because I don’t want you to think I wasn’t planning on being completely honest with you before all of…this”—he nodded down to the close situation of their bodies—“took us over.”

    “Yeah, but I totally didn’t get that this whole ‘human’ differentiation was going to be a part of it!”

    Trace took a deep breath and sighed it out. “There’s a lot more to it than that. A lot more to this place, and to you as well. I will tell you anything you want to know, whenever you want to know it. Only, if now is when you want the dissertation, I’m going to have to ask you to put a shirt on. You distract me into oblivion like this.” He stressed his point by reaching out to shape her breast through her bra, his thumb circling her areola through the fine material a couple of times. When the point of her nipple began to poke out, Trace couldn’t seem to resist curling long fingers into the skimpy undergarment until he was lifting her breast up to his lips. He brushed her with breath first, then nuzzled dry lips against her until she made a sound of complaint. “Shall I keep on point?” he asked softly, the double meaning so very bad of him. He was all but throwing away another perfect opportunity to clear this up with her. Why is this so hard? It was almost as if he were afraid of something. The idea grated, but he knew it was too keen not to have basis in reality.

    But just then, the newly bold little sex kitten he had discovered put just enough curve in her spine to brush her nipple between his lips. It was all the encouragement he needed, her texture riding against his mouth like that, her scent stirring like fresh spring runs through winter-weary blood. She was between his teeth in the next heartbeat, his tongue guiding the way until he held her gently still for the slow tasting he craved.

    There was an exquisiteness to it all that left them both moaning in soft disbelief and pleasure. Her fingertips crackled through the crisp hairs on his neck as she held him lightly to his task. She dropped her head back, closed her eyes, and let the sensations simply ride down her body. It was like extreme skiing, or the way she had always imagined it would feel—just you and a feeling of exhilaration you got to ride any way you wanted, except for the times when it took hold and rode you instead.

    Ashla’s right knee connected to his outer thigh and rode up to his hip, encouraging him to step in those last inches of intimacy. She still wore her boots, denims, and flannels below her waist, but their closeness had a way of burning right through all of that, even allowing her to feel his body heat warming the already heated skin of her thighs.

    Trace was fascinated by how temptingly hard such delicate flesh could become as his tongue swirled around it. He sucked her strongly enough to elicit a throaty cry from her, a sound that went so deeply through him that he had to have it again. His hands were peeling away her bra completely even as he switched to the opposite breast and coaxed her to sing out for him once more. It didn’t take much for his senses to start filling with feedback that alerted him to her climbing arousal. The scent of her alone was enough to blind him with the need to have her. Trace drew away from her breasts, looking down at the bright red and pink declarations of his presence left behind on her flesh. He was immediately overwhelmed by the possessive sensation slithering through him, a primal satisfaction triggered by the sight of his well-marked claim on her skin.

    He spread his hands up her body, riding the curves of her torso quickly because she was so damn petite and his hands seemingly enormous against her. Yet in spite of her smallness, he recalled the energy with which she had taken everything he had so feverishly given her during his euphoric state. In fact, the memory of it raced through him like molten metal, heating and hardening him all the more. It was gorgeous raw material, he realized, and given the proper time and skill, he could turn them both inside out with it.

    But you have no time, a voice whispered through his mind, and this is far from a proper venue for pleasing any woman, never mind one who is so complex and so deserving of more.

    He had treated her so callously the first time.

    He simply could not do it again.

    “Aiya,” he groaned on a whisper of frustration, “you always make me forget myself. Or remember myself. You remind me I am a man with appetites for more than just duty and protocol. I haven’t felt this way for years, so it and you overwhelm me.” The truth was, even before Acadian he hadn’t experienced anything quite like this. “But you make me forget…everything,” he breathed a bit incoherently as the sight of her in his hands worked exactly as he was accusing her of.

    “I like that,” she sighed, her sky blue eyes smoky with unspent passion and need, her lashes half-swept and sultry. “I like the idea of you forgetting yourself because of me. Or remembering. Either way.”

    Her fingers fell to the front of his shirt, and quite quickly she had undone the row down to his navel. He wore a black undershirt, but it was still much more intimate to them both as she ran her hands inside his shirt and over the ribbed fabric beneath.

    “I have things to tell you,” he said, his breath and words quick and short against the side of her neck. “This place is not appropriate, and—”

    They weren’t as alone as she thought they were.

    Trace’s head snapped up sharply, his passion-muddled senses suddenly searing away all extraneous information as a chill ran like an alarm down his spine. He went for his sword—and met with air, recalling too late that it lay discarded on the floor by his feet. It was instinct alone that made him jerk Ashla off the counter as he hit the floor in search of it. He heard and saw the saw-stars an instant later even as he was still in movement himself, their characteristic whine so like the circular saw they had won their name from. Three bladed missiles shot through the space where he and Ashla had just been, coming in from the right and landing in the far wall on the left with three quick and successive thuds.

    “Trace!” Ashla cried out in surprise as her back hit the cold tile floor of the post office lobby. He was crouched over her, her legs still framing him as they had when she had been settled on the counter, her hands clinging to his open shirt. Trace wasn’t looking at her, though; his eyes were trained back beyond the teller desk even as he slowly drew his sheathed weapon out of his belt and across her body. Ashla released her grip on him, her hands and arms dropping back onto the floor as she watched him with wide, disbelieving eyes. His hands and the weapon both began to part, with only inches to spare between it and her skin as the brilliant metal blade slowly pulled free of its scabbard. She tried not to breathe so hard, as it brought her breasts dangerously close to the exposed edge of the blade if she did. She watched him slowly place the beautifully inlaid sheath down on the floor without so much as a sound. Then and only then did he finally look down at her.

    Trace knew Ashla hadn’t seen the saw-stars just by the expression on her face after he had drawn his weapon. He could only imagine what she was thinking after having a man throw her to the ground and laying her under a blade, but his position was defensive and would best stop the next missiles that attacked them. Since he couldn’t explain this without giving away their location, he gave her a very serious look as he touched a finger to his lips. If she was half Shadowdweller, he hoped that meant she knew how to be quiet. Certainly their unseen enemy had his skills in stealth down pat. Only years of fighting in a war made up of similar attacks had saved Trace’s neck and Ashla’s just then. His veteran instincts had been their salvation.

    He very gently reached to touch her where her legs were clinging to him in reflex. As much as he loved being there, he couldn’t afford the restriction. With a coaxing caress down the inside of her knee and thigh, he urged her legs apart and then, as silent as death, he shifted his stance so she was now between his legs and protected by the crouch of his body. Then he reached noiselessly for one of her discarded shirts, his eyes sharp around the room as he slid the fabric into her hands.

    “Wait,” he mouthed to her, holding his palm out in a staying motion.

    By then Ashla was finally realizing that Trace had sensed some kind of danger, and that he wasn’t into sex games with sharp objects. Knowing both facts, she didn’t think she should waste too much time on relief over the latter. She wanted to rush into the shirt he’d given her, but his warning kept her immobile.

    It was absolute stillness then, where Ashla feared the sound of her breathing was way too loud and labored. Then, like the sudden springing of a ground spider out of its hidden hole, Trace leapt into motion, the sharp sound of metal ringing out three times to match his successive and swift movements. If not for the sparks flying off the blade of his swift-moving sword, Ashla wouldn’t have realized he was repelling a volley of objects with it. At least, not until a fourth one glanced off the floor near her ear, chipping the maroon tile, which flung into her cheek with a painful sting.

    Trace saw it all, the silent wince of pain on her face most of all. That she didn’t cry out actually made him proud of her, but she needn’t have bothered anymore. It was clear they were in their enemy’s sights. So Trace quickly moved to free her from between his feet, urging her up and behind him. He hardly blamed her when she practically glued herself to his back between frantic wriggles to get her shirt on. However, it forced him to compensate for the way her hold was hindering him. Every extra thought was a second wasted before reaction time; Magnus’s lessons echoing in his head were warning him of that.

    He knew better than to go for the door. As much as it looked the fast escape, without knowing how many opponents he faced, he could assume nothing was safe. Not unless he made it safe. He looked around quickly, cursing when he realized that all other exits must be on the opposite side of the counter…which was clearly how the enemy had entered the building.

    The vizier wanted to know just who that enemy was, and how they could possibly know he was even in Shadowscape. Again, now was not the time to waste thought on it, but he couldn’t shut down the suspicion whispering through the back of his brain. He and Ashla needed to move. Had he been alone, he could have shadow-skipped, the unique power the one thing that had kept him alive through treacherous and deadly circumstances—like escaping the clutches of a sadist and coming back from a fight after being stabbed in the back.

    But he wasn’t alone. And he knew that if a ’Dweller died in Shadowscape, he was dead in every ’scape. He couldn’t risk that it would be any different for Ashla than it was for the rest of them. The idea of leaving her body in Realscape as empty as a locust’s husk made his skin crawl with rage. At least he thought it was rage. It was dark and it was powerful, but rage somehow didn’t seem to be all-inclusive enough to suit the emotion he was feeling. Emotion, however, was even more of a hindrance than thoughts were when it came to reaction, and he forced it all away as his mentor’s voice whispered the advice into his mind as clearly as if he were there himself.

    It was thinking of Magnus that actually gave him the idea he needed. Magnus would not leave Ashla’s side in Realscape until Trace returned. Not until twenty-four hours had passed. The camp, though, was a good distance from where they were and he would never risk making it there and back to retrieve help. Even shadow-skipping couldn’t get him there fast enough, and it would be unconscionable to leave Ashla to the wolves hoping they would leave her be just because he was the target they wanted. Anyone who would ambush an enemy so dishonorably was unpredictable. The only thing Trace was sure of was that he could take nothing for granted.