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|Gideon(Nightwalkers #2) by Jacquelyn Frank|
“I… ” Gideon swallowed as he realized she was right. He had, at most, feared she would not come to love him, that someone as sensitive as she was would shun him for all his mistakes. Never once had he considered his return emotions and her need for them.
Never once had he thought she would make him feel… so much.
Gideon stared down at her, the hand held around her neck long since eased into absent tracings of her jaw and ear. He realized he was memorizing her, by shape and by the feel of her, mapping her point by point so he would always know every special nuance she bore. He became aware then that he’d left the marks of his fingers in the soft skin of her throat. Instantly his heartbeat stuttered and he was awash with renewed dread for the havoc his uncontrolled temper could wreak.
“Only if you constantly cork it up, stuff it away inside you, and turn away from it. Pretending your anger does not exist is a flawed plan,” Legna counseled him as her fingers sank fiercely into his hair. “Not to mention every other volatile emotion you try to ignore. You need to find a safe release for all your passions, Gideon.”
Legna watched him carefully, so she easily saw the sly change that swept through his expression and then felt the bent of his mind as he focused suddenly and sharply on her features: the shape of her lips, the curve of her jaw near her ear, and the length of her throat. He smiled just a little, his fingers gliding up over her lips so he could gently toy with her mouth.
“Will you be my release, Neliss?” he speculated aloud. “Will it be this mouth that devours my hottest desires? Can such delicate ears tolerate the fury of my cries? Will your pulse beat in sympathy with mine whenever I am in need?”
“Yes,” she whispered readily, her heart already pounding out a hard rhythm. “I will be whatever you need. All that you need. Just so long as you feel your need, Gideon.”
Gideon knew then the full scope of his need for Legna. For the first time he truly allowed himself to feel what had been growing inside of himself from the moment he had first grabbed hold of her in her brother’s gardens those years ago. The whiplash effect of the desire and longing rushing through him was overpowering. He balked at it, but she grabbed at him tightly and drew him down until their lips touched.
“I do not want to hurt you,” he breathed into her mouth, his blood rushing in his ears and burning hot in his veins. “We were overwhelming together even when I was keeping myself in check. What if… ?”
“Do not ask questions, Gideon. Simply feel your way to the answers. And I know, in my deepest heart, that you could never truly hurt me. Not unless you denied me.”
“I cannot. Not anymore.”
Legna felt the raw truth of that. Protective restraints and exercises in discipline crumbled and fell to the wayside inside of him as he slowly began to invite the possibilities. Then he let it all soak into him, like a rapidly filling sponge. She became dizzy with the sudden and powerful rush of it, his emotions so untried yet so pure and potent. There were so many waiting to be exercised, but there was no denying what came raging to the front of it all, demanding first attention.
“Yes,” she moaned softly against his damply stroking lips. “I feel how you need me now.”
“Need? How paltry a word for what I am feeling,” he said a bit dangerously. His broad, strong hand ran in a sharp and sudden line down over the center of her body. It sought the hem of her skirt and found access to her bare skin beneath it. Legna gasped raggedly as his fingers burned a path up the inside of her leg, skimming up the flesh of her inner thigh. “I am going to devour you, Magdelegna,” he promised her, the darkness of his cravings coming to bear on her fully at last. “You wanted to know my passions? Allow me to introduce them to you.”
Legna was so focused on the approach of his stroking hand between her legs that she barely heard him. But when she felt the sudden nip of his teeth against her lip she looked up into his smelted, liquid mercury eyes.
“My first desire, Nelissuna, is to see you natural and nude. Then I will feel you natural and nude… beneath my hands, my body, and, most especially, my mouth.”
He sealed the invitation with a crushing kiss, a cross between wild heat and a desperation that transcended the demands of his body. What he described was wholly physical; however, what he wanted to derive from it was purely emotional satisfaction. He wanted to make her his. His primitive side demanded he mark her in every way imaginable, but more than that he would heavily stamp her with the feelings she had demanded from him.
Legna’s head was spinning from stimulus and psychometric devastation. Some sort of defense mechanism made her grab hold of him, and she sharply rolled her weight until their positions were reversed and she was above him as he lay on his back. The assertive move made her heart leap with eager and anxious anticipation, her blood hurrying hotly through her as that dominant woman inside of her surged forward to take control once more. She nipped at his lips again and again, then devoured him in one wet, burning kiss after another.
Now both of his hands had found their way beneath her skirts and he gripped her strong thighs as she sat astride his hips. Gideon tried to lie very still, with the exception of a fine tremor that vibrated through his entire body, because if he moved he was going to start ripping away her clothing and he didn’t want to delve into that raw place just yet. He wanted to save it and savor it for when he was claiming her with his longing and desperate body. He withstood the feel of her fingers as she unbuttoned the collar of his shirt and then rapidly worked her way down to the waistband of his breeches. She parted his shirt, her hands moving the cloth aside with bold strokes, her torso rising so she could fix her gaze with great longing on the expanse of his chest. Her eyes slid closed as she braced herself against his warm flesh and bent to taste his skin with a lengthy flick of her tongue.
It was a wonder Gideon didn’t explode apart on the spot. He had never felt such an overwhelming sensation of pleasure from so slight an action in all of his vast life. He groaned deeply, savagely, as her moist tongue slipped over one flat nipple and then the other.
Gideon sat up suddenly, sending her sinking into his lap as he hastily shed his shirt for her. That was when she first saw the remaining lividity of the bruises across his ribs. She reached to touch him over the injured place, her fingertips gliding with gentleness over him.
“Why do you not heal yourself completely?” she asked him.
“Because it is not necessary. My natural processes will remove it by dawn. What is natural to your body is sometimes what is best for it.”
“Oh. I see,” she said with a softly cunning smile.
Her curious touch was killing him. Not because he was in any pain, aside from the agony of her seductive and thorough exploration, but because he had never needed anyone or anything so much in all of his life the way he needed her. And it was the tenderness and concern of her probing fingers that affected him most deeply. He was completely unused to having someone care for him. Someone who showed concern over his well-being instead of assuming that since he was an Ancient and powerful healer, he had no need of concern or compassion. Legna’s eyes lifted to his as she felt the loneliness and sadness of the thought that was drifting through him, understanding that it was her actions that had stirred them and her actions that would dismiss them.
Her mate was beginning to understand an emotion she had always taken somewhat for granted, the one she had grown up with and maintained all her life. He was coming to realize the soothing balm that having someone to come home to could have on a soul. His psyche was warming, slowly but surely, and all because of her Imprinting on him. She was teaching the Ancient, the one Demon whom she had always thought of as knowing more than even history itself did, in her one true area of expertise. She was guiding him into the realm of his abandoned emotions. Just as he was trying to teach her the advantages in the balance between predatory instinct and civilization, she was showing him how to temper his feelings when he had to and how to abandon himself to them in order to have an existence of color and light and life.
“My light. My life,” he insisted aloud, his hand slipping beneath her hair and around her neck, coaxing her forward until she was once more cuddled up against him, her mouth turned up in order to easily accept the kiss he was bringing to her.
The intensity of the kiss, and the emotions pouring from him and into her, brought tears to her eyes. She surged up into the touch of his mouth, bringing him deeper and closer with her lips, tongue, and soaring feelings. She filled him with her compassion and her understanding, her trust and her absolution, and, most of all, she poured her heart into his, the part of her that was starting to love him, no matter what his sins and flaws might be.
The deluge of her emotions flooding into him packed a punch more powerful than halberds and Minotaurs ever could have. Gideon felt a sound of raw emotion vibrating within the joined haven of their mouths and realized he was the one to utter it. The depth of it brought tears to Legna’s eyes, and he felt as though his heart was about to tear itself into shreds because it had no idea how to handle what she was pouring into it. She was so wrong, he thought to himself. She had claimed that one day he would possibly become her hero, her savior.
But it was she who was saving him.
Legna was the one to finally break the soulful kiss, gently touching her bruised lips over his jaw, his cheekbones, and even the dark brush of his lashes.
“Nelissuna,” he said, his voice throaty and soft.
“I am here. I will always be here,” she soothed him sweetly, meeting his gaze when he brushed a finger under her chin to tilt her head back.
“Promise me, Neliss,” he said hoarsely. “I have heard those who speculate that I am indestructible, but I swear on my soul that it will kill me to ever lose you.”
“I will always be here,” she reiterated as strongly as her heart could manage.
He reached to caress her face with warm, tender knuckles.
“Do not leave me, Neliss.” He was pleading with her, unashamed of the need and emotion his voice reflected. “Sleep beside me today and all the days to come.”
She nodded silently, feeling the relief that sang through him so keenly that it made her throat ache with compassion. He was a creature of such enormous power and indomitable will, but her words now had the power to save or destroy him. It was an awesome realization and a profound responsibility, but she accepted it without reservation.
It was the last consideration she would give to responsibility.
Her entire focus, as well as her body, was flung down beneath Gideon’s once more. He loomed over her, his bare, tanned skin hot to her touch as she clung to his shoulders. Before she even realized where his hands had gone, he’d unzipped her gown, loosening the bodice dramatically. He peeled silk and beading away from her skin, exposing her to air much colder than the temperature of their excited bodies. Her nipples tightened under the stimulus as well as beneath the avaricious stare of her lover.
“Ah… see, I knew you would be this way,” he confessed in a barely audible whisper. “Not just that you are so easily responsive to me, but this color… ” He reached out to gently stroke the darkly tanned tips of her breasts, first with his fingertips, then with breathy touches of his lips. “Do you feel how this excites me, Neliss?”
Legna understood that he wasn’t referring to his physical response, although there was plenty of that. He meant the raw surge of possessive craving for her and her alone. She connected with him as no one else had since he had been an unrefined fledgling. Oh, he’d been forced to relent to instances of physical lust before, the Hallowed moons demanding it of him as they did everyone else, but every touch he shared with her made his heart and soul ache with emotion. The unexercised feelings tumbled and jumbled against her, but then his mouth or hands would close around her and they would find focus and set themselves in clarity.
He loved her, everything about her, and he had done so for more years than he might ever admit to aloud. As Gideon stripped away her delicate dress, he worshipped every inch of her revealed skin with kisses and caresses made partially of fiery craving and mostly of devotion. Legna stretched out beneath him, blinking back the rush of tears wetting her eyes as she finally began to learn exactly who he was… and how he felt. Who ever would have thought a male so potent and so confident would deem himself unworthy of a girl like her? This understanding made her realize that despite the hundreds of referrals to her youth, she had long ago impressed herself on him as a lady of quality who deserved only the best their race had to offer. So he had never dared come close to her, despite the fact that he was considered the most esteemed of their breed. Deep within himself he had thought that if they’d only known the truth, the Demon people who so highly respected him would shun him as he had expected her to do. He thought a thousand-year-old crime was just as unforgivable now as ever.
Not one of us has the right to judge you, Gideon.
You have every right to judge me, love.
He raised his head to meet her gaze, turning slightly to nuzzle against the hand she held against his cheek.
“You are my one and truest mate, Neliss. If I am going to be the same to you, I must earn my place beside you.”
“But—” Legna broke off with a gasp when she felt him surge forward against her, driving his hips between her thighs until he had situated himself tightly against her, his broad torso hovering over her so she felt cast beneath his shadow. Unlike her, he was still clothed from the waist down, but there was tremendous suggestion and blatant need in the hardness of the body nestling against hers.
“Shall I do it this way? Through your body? Shall I gain every inch of progress with every cry of pleasure I elicit from you? I know it in my soul now that only through your love will I find my absolution. Perhaps I have known it all along and that was why I was forbidding myself to reach for it. But I have waited so long, Magdelegna. So very long.”