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|Ecstasy(Shadowdwellers #1) by Jacquelyn Frank|
“I want to see you!” he cried out. “I want to see you come around me!”
Feel and see. Know and forever remember. And like a wish granted, his vision cleared, just in time for that final kick of burning desperation that ran through his whole body. He double-timed his stroke, then tripled. He shook his head, peppering her with his perspiration even as she went tighter and tighter around his pumping cock. Ashla arched under him, her back bowing off the bed as she gasped in and over again, still drawing for breath as sky blue eyes went wide with dilated astonishment.
Her walls rippled, clutching around him like her fingers around his arms, only the tight grip of her sheath was far more demanding, much more potent. Ashla’s entire body whipped with an undulation of ecstasy, her mouth open wide and robbed of every scream she was trying to make. Trace had never seen a woman look so glorious as his Ashla did surrendering herself body and soul to her pleasure. But just as sense-stealing as watching her was, so was feeling her. There was that sensation of rushing up on the moment, his lungs and chest burning in ridiculous demand even as Trace turned inside out, everything inside himself bursting to the outside, jetting in concentrated pulses as his orgasm rocketed to match hers. Her spasms were so blissfully grasped around him that they would stutter the stream of his relief into hard stops, making him growl low groans of pained pleasure, dragging out the intensity as he held on to the world with just the tips of his fingers. Pushed another inch, he would have fallen away forever.
He couldn’t fall on her, though, her small body already a victim of his significant size and strength, but he couldn’t help the collapse that came in the wake of his finish, either. He rolled, the only thing he had coordination for, dumping her carelessly over himself and feeling it harshly in his gut when he slid free of her body without intention or desire. He would have stayed. He felt it like a need, or even a craving as sharp as his desire for her in the first place. Separating from her felt wrong. It was too much like loss.
His fingers found a home in her hair. The silky gold was soft, and the sigh she released sweet. His eyes were closed, unable to open as his respirations calmed. The room was drifting with them, slow and lazy lifts and turns, like a tiny ballerina in a child’s music box.
He heard voices, irritating him despite being almost melodic in their feminine rise and fall. He only wanted to hear his Ashla’s breathing as she continued to calm and gravitate toward the opposite end of the spectrum: sleep.
Trace’s eyes flew open.
Sure enough, he heard students returning to the dormitories. They were outside the glass in the courtyard and beyond the door to the hallway. The etched windows were sparsely designed, and the curtains almost as sheer, but it was enough to protect them from sight from the courtyard. Idiotic detail to notice now! he reprimanded himself fiercely. He had been so focused on his partner, he’d never even thought about it.
But regardless of visual impairments, they would be sensed. As he had said to Ashla, there were rules…
Consenting adults or not, free of chaperones and family and protocol they might be, but Sanctuary was different. The rules kept students from engaging in—well, exactly what he and Ashla were engaging in. At least, they were meant to make it much harder. These students were taken in with a promise of responsibility and guidance, not to be sent home pregnant or worse because they had been given opportunity to ruin themselves before they were emotionally and physically mature enough to know restraint. It set a poor example, to break the rules at whim. And if he and Ashla were caught and given exception, others would take that for permission to do the same.
Magnus would serve him his penance himself, Trace thought with a wince. Compensation for rule-breaking with Magnus had never gone easy. He had no tolerance for disobedience. There was right and there was wrong. Magnus was not known for his willingness to explore the gray areas of rules. But this again was what made him the most formidable warrior at the beck and call of Darkness and Light.
“Ashla,” he whispered. “I have to go.”
She was fully awake in an instant, her head shooting up so she could narrow those eyes of silly insecurity at him. He couldn’t resist reaching out and flicking her on the forehead in punishment.
“Ow,” she pouted, her kiss-swollen lips immediately tempting. She rubbed her forehead though they both knew it hadn’t hurt.
“Stop it,” he scolded softly. “I have to go because the women have returned. If a handmaiden catches me here, there will be Light to pay.”
She looked to the door and the noises outside. She bit her lips and looked back to him. He knew her reluctance to let him go just as he knew his own to leave. He should have exercised more patience, taken her to the royal house and his rooms in the palace. They could have spent hours together alone without a second thought.
“Can’t I come with you?”
That made him smile as bright as light. “Aren’t you tired?” He didn’t want her to walk all that way after he had worn her out so well.
“Yes, of course I am. But I’ll have a second wind by the time we get out of here,” she returned urgently. She rolled off him, scurrying quickly to her clothes, pulling the provocative k’jeet against her bosom.
“No!” He hissed the command as he followed her to the floor where his own things lay. “You are not wearing that outside of Sanctuary.”
The utter surprise on her face must have been pretty funny, because Ashla caught him smothering a chuckle as he quickly began to dress.
“Are you going to argue and waste time?” he demanded.
“But I don’t—”
“Arguing,” he pointed out sharply.
She huffed a sigh and hurried to her dresser. She only had three outfits. The one he wouldn’t allow, a handmaiden’s sari, and a bolero and skirt set she thought was much more revealing than the k’jeet. She wasn’t about to run around like a handmaiden, as if she were pretending to be culturally something she wasn’t. She would get enough stares as it was in the belly-baring outfit left as her only choice…
“Fuck it,” she muttered, yanking the thing out and hurrying into it.
“Paj!” he whispered across to her as he shrugged into his shirt.
“What the hell does that mean?”
“Paj. The pants you wear under that skirt.”
“I never knew you were such a slave to fashion,” she hissed in irritation. “There is no paj! Are no paj. Whatever!”
She heard him mutter a string of Shadese under his breath she just knew was very uncomplimentary.
“Come on, let’s go.” He gestured her to his side and she hurried to him, flouncing down to her knees beside him in a swish of satin skirts. “Aiya,” he groused as the pale length of her leg appeared up to above her knee. “You save my life only to be the death of me,” he complained before taking hold of her.
“Hey, if you don’t want to be seen with the uncouth white girl, I can keep my ass right here,” she bit out temperamentally.
“That is the most ridiculous thing you have ever said in the time I have known you!” he shot back.
She opened her mouth to give him something in return for that remark, too, but he slapped a hand over her mouth and quickly skipped them out of the room just as the doorknob was turning.
“Ashla?” Karri asked, announcing herself politely before opening the door a bit wider. The room was a shambles, and the handmaiden could swear she had heard arguing. She frowned as she looked around, making sure to check even the darkest corners where someone could hide. Her sensitive senses couldn’t be fooled, though. The room reeked of sex and the dress Ashla had been wearing earlier lay on the floor. The bed was a rumpled mess, an obvious testament to rules being quite broken. Karri smiled a little in amusement. “I guess we kissed and made up.” She chuckled.
She left the room, closing the door behind her.
Magnus had gotten very little sleep.
He was used to lack of rest and other hardships, especially when he was on a hunt for a Sinner, but this time he was far more weary than usual.
He was disheartened. The increasing understanding that there was a taint in his own house was wreaking havoc on everything he had held perfect confidence in. Oh, he had always known there were personality issues here and there. He was far more aware of Shiloh’s power-grubby attitude than Trace credited him with. However, he had control over those minor issues. Shiloh was pushing for a transfer or demotion, depending on which of Magnus’s nerves he decided to dance on at the last minute. Everything else could be handled with creative care and thinking.
Or so he had thought.
Then they had tried to murder his son.
Magnus’s fists curled tight as he sat on the edge of his bed in tense temper. He didn’t like to be so angry. At heart, he was a man of wisdom and peace. It was why he had so thoroughly supported the regime that now ruled their people. The warrior within him was relegated to whatever was necessary to see religious law obeyed, and appeared only to bring balance in the dire moments of unfairly disadvantaged victims.
He didn’t dislike his warrior’s victories, especially when it saved lives and souls, it was just that he preferred when Darkness guided him to chores of education and guidance, his role as a professor to the young being his favorite. But he did thrive on his supervisory tasks as well. Like a master of chess, he had to manage everyone with precise care if they were to best function and maintain Sanctuary for doing what it was destined to do best. In this way he would protect the young, the beliefs of the law, and the spiritual heart of their nation. It was his true calling, and he had devoted his entire existence to it.
The sound of soft footsteps on cool stone approached him and he drew up a welcoming smile for Karri.
“M’jan? Are you well?” she asked as she moved to kneel on the bed beside him. She had a cup of warm, honeyed frousi juice between her hands and held it out to him.
“Yes, pet, I am well,” he assured her, taking the cup and reaching to rub his thumb over her lightly freckled cheek. Those freckles had always amused him. Her skin was a pretty even mocha color, except those tiny dots of darkness.
She smiled under his affectionate touch and waited quietly while he enjoyed his morning drink. Once he went to put the cup down, though, she spoke. “You slept poorly last night. I wish you had called me in. I could have tried to help.”
“No, no, jei li,” he corrected her, “your herbs and medicines would have done no good for a troubled mind. It was just thoughts, not illness.”
“Well”—she gave him a sly feminine smile as she leaned her warmth against him—“I have more than herbs at my disposal to quiet your mind, M’jan.”
Magnus was surprised by her bold offering out of the blue, and it made him laugh. He studied her a moment, curious as she rubbed her chin against his shoulder. Karri was quite pretty and very provocative in her way, he admitted easily, his eyes running down her body warmly. He had never had issue with her attractiveness. But after knowing her for so long, he was quite aware of how out of step her playfulness was for their routine.
“Of that I have no doubt,” he agreed. He tilted his head and studied her. “But this is not like you. Is all well with you?”
“Quite well,” she assured him.
Then to his unending surprise, she moved to throw a leg over his thighs, hiking up her night dress and exposing herself almost to her sex. She then snaked an arm around his neck and bent to nuzzle her lips against his cheek. Magnus reflexively caught her around her ribs, fruitlessly trying to hold on to her as she slid provocatively against him.
“Let me rest your mind, M’jan,” she invited softly against his ear, the warm rush of her breath seeking out his spine and flooding him with delighted response. He felt heat blooming in his belly, his blood warming to her quickly.
Puzzled as well as becoming aroused, Magnus suddenly turned with her, swinging her onto her back on his bed and looming over her.
“Karri, why are you playing with me?” he demanded suddenly of her, trying to shake off his unexpected response to the feel of her beneath him. “I have enough on my mind right now without you—”
“This is exactly my point,” she purred as her long, lovely legs suddenly snaked out to wrap around his hips. She drew his big, braw body down onto hers, tightening their intimacy with her lithe strength. “What is the harm in losing yourself from your thoughts for a while? M’jan, you are so hard on yourself. So strict in all you do. It is my duty to urge you to rest and relax. Come and sate yourself, Magnus,” she beckoned temptingly.
Magnus would be damned if that wasn’t the finest idea he’d heard in weeks. The desire to fulfill her request rode through him like a wild herd of mustangs, thundering through his blood and body until he was deafened by it. She was triumphant in her expression just before he swooped down to catch her mouth and kissed her as deeply as his racing pulse could goad him into doing. He was amazed by his own virulent passion, the hardening of his penis a swift and fiery sensation.
A bracing sensation.
Magnus jerked back away from Karri’s eager kiss, a jolt of denial and shock rushing through him. He launched himself off her and away from the bed, stumbling back a little in graceless confusion.
“Drenna, K’yan, what in Light are you thinking?” he demanded of her angrily. What had I been thinking? he wanted to know of himself.
“Why?” she exclaimed, sitting up suddenly. “It’s not as though it is forbidden! Magnus, we are allowed to be with each other.”
“Karri, I’ll not talk of this,” Magnus snapped irritably as he marched away from her. “Damn it, I have enough on my mind without you adding to it!”