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|Ecstasy(Shadowdwellers #1) by Jacquelyn Frank|
“Jei li,” he said softly, his heart aching for her fear and devastation, and for his own. “What is this?”
“Don’t ask me anymore. Don’t ask me to leave. I can’t bear it! I see death…I smell the blood! You, on your knees before me, your knowledge killing you!”
She wrapped tight around him again, all but throttling him with her sleek strength and desperation. He held her tightly, comforting her as best he could though it tested the strength of his racing heart. He had known her long enough by now to understand the rambling way she spoke and glean meaning from it.
“You have a vision?” he asked gently.
Her reaction was to tense tightly in his hold, a shudder running through her. It was beginning to unnerve him, seeing her like this. Next to Xenia, Malaya was one of the strongest women he knew. But while Xenia’s mind was so much like his own, it was the way Malaya could find answers without resorting to violence that so impressed him. She was beautiful and powerful, and it was true that this went a long way to making it happen, but he knew that even had she been the lowest citizen, she would have stood ground for what was right and made her impact.
And with her lithe dancer’s body and the speed and flexibility it bore, she was also the most graceful and swiftly deadly fighter he had even seen. However, Malaya had made no secret of her disgust with the need for battle and had shouted her pleasure when fighting for their lives had no longer become a daily activity. For her, this all must be like a nightmare time distortion, throwing them back into the war she had hated, however necessary it had been at the time.
“K’yatsume,” he said, allowing himself another moment of her lush warmth and the sweet jasmine scent of her hair as he held her. “You see me, on my knees before you? This, now, is the only way you will ever see me in such submission. To respect you, to show my devotion and loyalty to you, but never to let anyone shed my blood on you. I swear it to you, it will never happen. If you wish me to stay, if you wish me to truly end my investigation, I will. I will pass the task to Magnus. He is the only one I can trust with this now. Besides Tristan, he is the one who would do anything to save your life, including sacrifice his own.”
She made a sound of distress into the fabric of his shirt at his shoulder, and he would swear she was biting the thick cloth. The vision she had seen had to have been graphic and terrible to affect her so.
“Besides, I believe now that this goes beyond the Senate and includes Sanctuary as well,” he informed her as gently as he could. It was hard, shocking news, so he expected her gasp and the way she jerked back to meet his eyes. Her face was speckled with tears, the black around her eyes streaked wildly. He reached up with his thumbs, smiling a little as he wiped away the smudges that had changed her magnetic loveliness into instant, vulnerable adorableness. “No one will better root out corruption there than Magnus will. Once he begins, it will lead him to others. My time and efforts are now best spent close beside you. You and Rika. I would be better pleased if you would have her share your suite, K’yatsume. There is one other bedroom besides yours and mine.”
“You barely use yours,” she pointed out. “You still sleep on the floor, though the war is long over.”
“And newly begun again. I am grateful I kept the habit.” He was sorry that pointing that out made her flinch, but he would always speak plain truths with her.
“Very well,” she said, her voice stronger now as she composed herself. Then for a moment she hesitated, and her whiskey-warm eyes searched his slowly. It was moments like this he most feared, feeling as though she could see straight down into his soul where all his secrets were buried, but for all her intuitive and insightful ways, she never did. She simply reached to smooth back a strand of his hair where it had escaped the thick plait at the back of his neck. “Move Rika here, Ajai. Keep close to us both if it suits you. Speak with Magnus and tell me what he thinks.”
“Magnus thinks I am right. I told you, I saw him earlier. Trace began my mind working when he mentioned that only Sanctuary personnel knew he had entered Shadowscape that day. That means at the very least there is an informant within. The idea is as a personal betrayal to Magnus. He had already begun to realize this long before I approached him, though. But I am glad I did. It comforts me to think we are coordinating. All I need is for him to find the spy in his ranks and then I can…we can trace it back to the source.”
“And then this will be over? We can end this?”
“It could be that easy,” he assured her. “You should pray for that.”
“I will.” She smiled at him. “You don’t believe in prayer.”
“No, but you do. That is enough for us both.”
Trace knew that as long as education was in session for the day, he didn’t have to worry about the dormitory rules. No one would be around to catch them until after lessons came to a close. And despite the closed door and that no one had seen him enter, they were quite easily going to get caught.
Because his Ashla had quite a set of lungs on her.
“Trace!” she begged him, her head thrashing on her pillow as her calves clung to his back and her fingers grasped at his hair.
He had to admit to his part of the problem. He was completely obsessed with the taste of her. Well, that and the way she was grabbing at him, just as she did every time she came really close to orgasm. Something about the unexpected strength and demand she used sent pure pleasure ripping down through his body. The excitement went straight to his already aching cock, shifting his heartbeat into a higher rpm. Then, to top it off, he could slide two fingers inside her…just there, right at the edge of her breaking point, and everything inside her would clamp down like a vise. Now all it would take was that flutter of his tongue dancing relentlessly around her chubby little clit, and she would rebound like the snap of a whip.
Ashla tried to shout, but she was hoarse after an hour of his relentless focus on her, so it came out as a rush of air and a pitch a canine could hear. She trapped his fingers inside her with the squeeze and clutch of her walls as they went into spasm, and she held so tight with her clenching legs he figured he was going to bruise for a bit.
Now, he thought with satisfaction as she went limp enough for him to work free of the way she held him trapped to her body, now he was ready to take this to the next level. Now he was going to do what he should have done long ago. He was going to make her shatter like she just had while he was inside her. No impatience, no loss of control, none of it. Then he was going to damn well do it again. Then maybe…perhaps…he would have a little mercy on himself and allow himself to climax again.
First, Trace needed to decide on a position. That was a tough one. He had to consider all he was learning about her and her sensitivities, while admittedly satisfying his hard desire to watch her beautiful face flush pink with the ecstasy that rippled over her expression so vividly. Without a doubt, he knew he would get around to everything eventually, retracing his steps from their previous time together but rewriting his role as he went and paying attention to details this time.
Trace settled on his knees on the mattress, cupping both hands under her backside as he lifted her up the plane of his braced thighs and draped her legs loosely around his waist. She was still wobbly and limp, and he grinned down at her as she tried to focus on him through passion-drunk eyes and golden lashes she couldn’t lift above half-mast.
“You got A’s, didn’t you?” she asked, her small voice rasping hoarsely.
“Your grades. You got all A’s in your sex classes, didn’t you?”
He chuckled at that. “We didn’t get graded.”
She licked her lips, luring him unwittingly with the urge to kiss her, but he focused on what he was doing instead, more than happy to settle for the feel of sliding himself along the center part of her legs. His stiff cock was so ready for the wet glide between her swollen labia that he couldn’t contain the groan of pleasure that followed the sensation the hot, wet feel of her sent shimmering up his shaft.
Not even inside her yet, and already losing his mind.
No, no, no. Not this time.
Holding her to him, he continued to slither through that flushed, pink flesh. He could see, especially, the little bundle of sensitivity that was her clit, and he made very certain to rub himself there again and again. It wasn’t long before she was making those sounds of surprise combined with frustration again. She wanted more, the unkept promise he teased her with every time he slid back and forth over the mouth of her vagina. A couple of times, he tormented her with notching himself snug to her, clearly only a proper thrust away from invading her completely. But he denied her again and again until she actually flung a hand out and smacked his shoulder in frustration.
“What?” he teased, his cocky merriment blatant in his eyes, he knew.
“Trace, quit teasing me!” she complained, squirming restlessly between his hands.
“Now, you don’t really mean that,” he chided her. “The teasing is half the fun. Mmm. And you have no idea how hot it makes you against me.” The latter was said a bit breathlessly as her scorching heat rode over him almost suddenly. He felt himself pulsing with the urge to plunge into her, and with each pass it was harder to resist. She was drenching him, writhing to try to capture him, and almost succeeding more than once.
“This time,” he ground out in stern lecture to himself more than to her, “it’s going to be very different.”
Ashla was going to tease him about how she had heard that one before, but the beginning probe of his swollen sex made every function of her body go into overload from the sensation. She heard the harsh change in the cadence of his breathing and knew he wasn’t as in control as he had hoped to be, and she took satisfaction in that. Deep satisfaction.
He painstakingly worked himself into her, just until the glans of his penis disappeared into her hot little core, and then paused for a much-needed breath as she continued to wriggle in frustration, her movements tightening her around him repetitively. He exhaled hard several times when she did this, but for the most part it was the fascinating contrasts of their skin that saved him from loss of focus. He was so dark, and she, even along the rich, blood-engorged flesh of her sex, was so fair. He became completely enthralled as he inched himself so very slowly into her, thinking rather fantastically that it was like being swallowed by pure light, even the searing heat everything he would have expected.
Except instead of the promised pain of such a fate, he was in glorious pleasure. He put his hands on her then, his fingers framing her pubic bone, his thumbs sliding down either side of her clitoris for several strokes, then one went to pull her hood taut, exposing her to the sweep and swirl of the other. All the while, he made shallow movements into her, just enough to remind her every nerve that he was there.
“Trace!” She reached up for his arms, her fingers clinging to his biceps where she could barely reach him. But she needed something to anchor her as he toyed with her so successfully. She went tight from head to toe, spirals of tension pulling her like a winding spring. She watched his hot black eyes flick up to hers for a moment of fierce possession, and nearly wept when he removed his thumb from her clit just long enough to give the digit a meaningful lick before returning it saliva-slick into place.
Her fingers dug into his arms, flesh on one side and metal on the other resisting her small strength. It didn’t matter, though. All she needed was to hold on to him as her whole being swept around in time to the circling of his thumb. Then, just before she could cry out, he shot deeply forward into her, seating himself hard and deep, the movement stuttering her orgasm to a standstill for five whole seconds.
Trace felt her lock down around his cock like a constrictor relishing its victim. He felt his balance stagger away, the sensation rippling through him until he felt like he was on the front lines of a raging wildfire. The roaring burn threatened to engulf him completely, forcing him to face how insignificant his hard-won skill and focus could truly be when faced with that one thing it couldn’t hope to defeat. Then she boiled up around him, oozing liquid heat until he was drowning in the bliss of it. He had to move. He had to move. No one could possibly fault him for it, he thought almost desperately as he began to do just that. And even as he did so, he wondered with shock and appalled disbelief how anyone could have possibly cast her aside.
He laughed with blind glee as he bent to his rhythm and to take her gasps and cries into his mouth. After over an hour of listening to how responsive she could be, the chaining glory of her voice raised in passion, he needed her with the same desperation all over again. He realized then it might never change. Perhaps a little, enough to allow him to treat her right, but he knew it would always be like this. Like coming home after the war. Like liberation after torture. Like euphoria in Shadowscape.
“Shh,” he whispered soft and quick against her lips as he did things to her that refused to keep her silent, “it’s okay, jei li. I will love you again and again. There is no rush anymore.”
Ashla didn’t fully hear, never mind understand the depth behind his words. She didn’t know she had snared the emotions of a man of total logic. That she was healing an entire people by becoming the salve to the soul of their king’s advisor. Trace himself didn’t realize just how deeply he was being penetrated, even as he himself did the penetrating.
And then there was the friction of their meshed bodies as well, the erotic sound of wet flesh squeezing into wet flesh, the scent of it rising from their skin in a sensual cloud as they struggled to find breath and balance. It was all fruitless. Here was where instinct alone could survive. Trace’s thrusts became nature’s metronome, the rapid tattoo seemingly driving his heartbeats as well. His vision went dark—it actually went dark—and he gasped in dismay as he heard her little cries climbing up to pitch once again. He wanted to see this. More than anything.