|Home > Jacquelyn Frank > Shadowdwellers > Pleasure (Page 6)|
|Pleasure(Shadowdwellers #3) by Jacquelyn Frank|
Sagan gripped her tightly, drawing her flailing body up close so he could hush softly against her ear.
“Shh, Valera,” he soothed her. “I know. I know what you are and how different you are from those we call our enemies.” He smiled with bemusement as he pulled back to look at her. “And you know what I am, don’t you?”
“No,” she breathed, her entire body still trembling with her post-fear adrenaline. “I mean…not exactly. I think you are a Nightwalker, but I don’t know which kind. Can you read my mind? Are you a telepath? Is that how you know?”
“Yes. But telepathy is not so selective as you might think. What made you think I would only learn of the magic, but not of the person behind it and her good intentions? What you must think of my people to feel we would come after you without discretion? And clearly you know nothing of Shadowdwellers or you would never have chosen this place to hide in.”
That remark baffled her, but she focused on one part of it.
“Shadowdweller? I’ve never met a Shadowdweller before. Thank God.”
He knew she meant that if she had, that would mean her past associates had gotten a hold of one to imprison and torture. But all it had taken was seeing them capture a Demon and watching it go through its tortured transformation to convince her that something was very, very wrong with those who had taken pleasure in its pain and terror. While the others used the end result to prove to themselves that the creature they held was evil, Valera had known that nothing that caused anything to suffer so much in the process of stripping it of its beauty and civilization could ever be called good or righteous as they would have her believe. In the end, the transformed Demon monster left in the magical pentagram had been nothing to her compared to the magical monsters waiting with avarice to force the imprisoned thing to use its power for their benefit.
“As you see, your magic can easily kill us, intentional or not. You radiate light when you call your power, and it sears us almost instantly.”
“Not always,” she said quietly, turning her eyes down as her lashes dampened. “The light only comes with certain spells. Usually aggressive ones. But I can…”
Rather than explain, she turned in his embrace slightly and with a simple sweep of two fingers she sent the muffins popping out of their pan and let them drift onto the plate nearby in a neat little circular arrangement. He could see how simple it was for her; how effortless.
“It’s a harmless telekinesis,” he noted. “You are using it in a passive capacity. Peacefully.”
“Although the use of it for household chores is a bit of a gray area on the good and evil scale. Too much of it for convenience’s sake is considered abuse. I’m perfectly capable of doing that without magic. If I were sick or disabled, then it would be different. It would be necessary. But there’s no harm in a small demonstration.”
“Not as long as light isn’t involved,” he mused with an expression that teased. She grinned finally and playfully pushed against his chest.
“Quit it. I’m just glad you don’t want to kill me.”
Sagan lifted a brow at that, even as his mind turned back to what he did want to do to her. Valera obviously saw the change in his thoughts and intent because she tried to press away from him again.
“You should eat something,” she said awkwardly, her cheeks turning pink. Then she gasped and looked up at him when she placed a double entendre to her own words and her whole throat and face began to burn bright red. “I meant muff—muffins. Or I can make you some eggs.”
Sagan laughed at her, unable to resist the impulse at all. She buried her face behind her hands as he hugged her reluctant body close. He enjoyed her softness and warmth, but more than that he delighted in the opportunity to laugh. Not that Sanctuary was an unhappy place to be, but like any job it had its heavy responsibilities and its definite complications. As one designated to hear the confession of sins and given the responsibility to dole out proper penance, it made for a constant flow of seeing his people commit negative acts. Most were minor, of course, and there was the enjoyment of teaching to break it up, but the serious sins were very serious indeed and few who sinned with such depth would repent, forcing him to make final judgment on them.
“Ah, Valera,” he sighed with genuine feeling. “I will let you feed any appetites you wish.”
With that promise to her, he let her escape his hold. She turned away and he saw her rub her knuckles against her blushing cheeks as she reached for one of her skillets. The height was easy and obviously designed for her specifically. Sagan leaned back against a counter, folding his arms across his chest as he watched her. She moved by rote, her actions quick and practiced as her mind worked on trying to sort out her feelings and her needs.
He felt her need.
How long has it been, he wondered, since she last was with a man? Cloistered away from the world as she was and taking her insular personality into account, he imagined it had at least been nine years…the amount of time he had gleaned from her thoughts that had passed since she had moved here. The priest found it strange that of all the places in the world she could have chosen, she had picked a spot that was all but on top of the Shadowdweller city. Knowing that Drenna and M’gnone both worked in very convoluted ways sometimes, he couldn’t dismiss the idea that he had been meant to find her. But who had led him there? The pure and insightful Drenna, or the mischievous and tempting M’gnone?
Perhaps it was a little of both. Or perhaps that was simply what he wished it to be. Was he looking for any excuse to brush back the consequences of his rule-breaking behavior? He had never before been so tempted, and that rang of troublesome sin. He needed time to think more clearly on this. At the very least he knew it was of profound importance to his race as well as the other races of the night that he had found a creature of good magic. Others must be warned of this. It meant that they could no longer kill necromancers with a totality of purpose. It meant there could be repentance. She had proven it. She had proven there could be reclamation of a stained soul with time and guidance.
It meant she would change everything.
Valera was hurrying through the house, pulling down window shades and tacking fabric tightly to windows that had no shades. Anything to keep out the light. Luckily, most of the windows had storm shutters to protect them against the ice storms and blizzards of the northern territories. Sagan had gone into her darkened bedroom to protect himself, and when she returned from out of doors, she suspected he was still there in spite of the sufficient darkness throughout the house. Diffuse light still hovered close to the windows, but he had said that would be harmless so long as he kept a safe distance from it. She nervously kept checking her work, terrified it would not hold and he would accidentally be injured. She had never been so grateful for the endlessness of Alaskan darkness. It would fall again within just a few hours and he would be perfectly safe.
She walked into the back bedroom and knew instantly that he had gone to sleep. Valera knew he needed the rest very badly, his vibrant body working on borrowed energy as it recovered from the deadly poisoning that had nearly killed him. She had yet to ask him how he had come to be the way she had found him, but she had also realized that the nature of his existence deemed he be very careful about what he revealed to someone. Even with her good intentions, she could slip and give away knowledge his people could not afford others to know. Now she understood quite clearly what he had meant by his evasiveness being necessary to protect a great many others. It protected an entire culture.
But Valera wished so badly that she could learn about his society. Her hunger for familiarity with all things magical and supernatural begged her to plumb him as the valuable resource she knew him to be. Not only about his own race, but about the other Dark Cultures as well.
Still, she was realizing he would no more risk their safety and well-being than he would his own. So she spent a few hours combing through the information in her office, searching for anything she had that could tell her more about him. Finding herself unsuccessful, despite the presence of the three feline musketeers, she left the work area, shutting the door behind her in spite of the fact it was a bit like closing the barn door after the horses had already skedaddled.
She crept into the bedroom to check on her guest, stopping short in a breathless instant when she realized his restlessness in sleep had divested him of all cover, his towel missing and the bedclothes kicked away. Valera covered her mouth as she took in the surreal picture of all of that intensely naked male in her blue gingham sheets. He was lying on his stomach, his head under the pillows as if he instinctively burrowed beneath added protection from any light. However, the broad expanse of his back, the accentuated path of his spine leading down to the finest ass this side of the Mason-Dixon line were all perfectly exposed. He had the most incredibly developed legs, the obvious power of his thighs making her flash hot from head to toe. He had a single knee drawn up slightly to the side, and from her perspective at the foot of the bed, he was left with very few secrets.
And Valera was left with absolutely zero impulse control. Almost as if she were in a trance, she moved up closer to him and reached out to touch his fine, dark skin near his ankle. She trailed her fingers up along his calf, feeling just how smooth his skin was and delighting in the contrast of her pale white coloring against the rich mocha of his. She pulled away, nibbling on her nail and peeking around to try and see if he was still deeply asleep. Nothing seemed to have changed so she took the risk and touched him again, starting where she had left off on his thick calf muscle.
“Oh, Val, you’re a bad, bad girl,” she whispered to herself as she swept the very tips of her fingers up past his knee. She wondered if he slept like a Vampire did. According to her information it was true that, as in the myths, they slept in a nearly comatose state while the sun was out. It made them very vulnerable and very little could wake them until darkness fell. But she didn’t just know this because of her books. She had seen necromancers kill a Vampire, leaving it staked out for the sun to destroy, the daylight keeping it asleep until the rays of the sun had begun to burn it. It had been horrifying, but she had excused the cruelty of it by convincing herself Vampires must be the essence of evil as she had been taught and told over and over again.
Learning she was wrong about the nature of Demons had led her to understand she might be wrong about Vampires as well. There was certainly nothing overtly evil in this clever and intelligent man beneath her touch. She turned her thoughts back to the marvel that was his body, curiosity eating her up as she longed to know what he did to create such a physique. She knew now it wasn’t merely a matter of “working out,” but it was some kind of task of his work as a priest that required him to be battle-ready and packed with this much power. She trailed her fingers up over a tight buttock, her tongue slipping between her lips to moisten them as she ghosted her palm over him.
Val slid down into the curve of his lower back, her nails drifting into the valley of his spine, the central shaft that anchored so many of those intense muscles. She watched herself find his shoulders, and this time she noticed one was distinctly more developed than the other. Valera suddenly remembered the sheath and its missing sword. She realized that the hand she glided over his right shoulder was touching his sword arm. Swords! They used swords for weaponry. Valera delighted in her deductive reasoning, forgetting herself as she placed her opposite hand on the mattress beside his left arm to balance herself as she reached to stroke his biceps in fascination.
“Shall I turn over?”
The amused voice startled the hell out of her and she jerked away with a guilty little cry. He turned quickly, though, and caught her molesting hand even before she could clear the bed. With a powerful pull he dropped her down onto his chest and then rolled her off her feet and into the bed beside him.
“Come now,” he scolded her in a hot whisper against her temple, “fair is fair.” He chased the remark with the touch of his fingers against her shin, drawing it up over her knee to her thigh and forcing her to realize just how long he’d been aware of her exploration of his body. “Val,” he said with amusement in his eyes, “you’re a bad, bad girl.”
She blushed furiously and slapped him in that huge shoulder.
“You rat! You were awake the whole time!”
“From the instant you first touched me,” he agreed in a tone low with intimacy. “How could I possibly stay asleep when your touch causes earthquakes within me?”
Damn, but he was poetic for a warrior. Then again, he was also a priest. It was the most inconceivable mesh of two personalities she’d ever seen. And…
“Earthquakes?” she echoed, the concept fascinating her right out of her thoughts. That and the fact that his touch was running on to her inner thigh. “It was just a touch.”
“Just a touch? Is this just a touch?” His deft fingers turned into the juncture of her legs, running with slow intimacy along the seam of her jeans and making her entire body shimmer with liquid heat. She gasped for her breath, her face flushing as she reached to seize his wrist.
“I didn’t…you were on your stomach,” she reminded him lamely, her chest laboring as her heart revved up in cadence. However, she no longer needed a clarification for his terminology of “earthquakes.” She was quaking, all right. She couldn’t stop.
“Oh yes,” he agreed as if he hadn’t known that all along. “That’s right. Shall I turn you over, Valera? I have to confess, your backside thrills me just as much as your front side does. It will be no hardship for me either way.”
Not unless he counted the sweet ache in the lee of his hips and the incredibly aroused fullness of his cock. Gods, it had been so long since a woman had done this to him. Even so, he didn’t remember it being so sharp and so clawing a need as it was with Valera.