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|Pleasure(Shadowdwellers #3) by Jacquelyn Frank|
“Come to me,” he commanded her softly.
She was the entire width of the bath away from him, but his tone and the deep intensity of his gray-black eyes made it seem like no distance at all. Unwilling to show any hesitation, Malaya moved to cross the water until she was standing close enough for him to throttle her if he wanted to. And knowing Guin as she did, he probably wanted to. However, she also knew he would never give in to the impulse, no matter how mad she made him.
Guin reached out, his big, callused hand closing around the back of her neck as he drew her all the way up against the edge of the bath. Their faces came so close that their breath mingled warmly.
“For you to ask that question,” he said at last, his voice still so very low, “makes me think you have no idea what the difference is between what you will feel in an arranged marriage as opposed to one that is filled with the kind of love and physical passion I know that you need. Have you never been in love, Malaya? I’ve never seen you so much as develop a crush on a man in the years I have known you, but what of before we met? Have you no examples around you of true, passionate love?”
“Of course I do,” she responded just as softly as she forced herself not to look at his lips as they hovered so very near. “Trace and Ashla. And, I admit, M’jan Magnus and K’yan Daenaira are…they are so very…”
“They’re so hot for each other that they fuck in the nearest empty room sometimes after leaving their counsel sessions with you.”
Malaya gasped a scandalized laugh, her cheeks turning warm at the raw image his descriptors incurred. “How do you know that?” she wanted to know.
“I know everything that goes on in this palace,” he assured her. “That, and I was coming down the hall after them to ask Magnus a question and found them purely by the sound of them grunting with fierce pleasure. Did you know, she chants to him that she loves him, like it’s something naughty that gets him off? I might add that it works powerfully well.” He smiled, his amusement shadowed with intent as his lustily painted picture of the priest and his handmaiden’s assignation caused her entire body to flush in response. Suddenly she felt much warmer than the water did. “That is passionate love. Trace and Ashla…they are more circumspect because she is so shy and he would never expose her to the chance of being found. But what he most readily shows is the soft intensity of his heart belonging so completely to her. And so does she. That sweet and potent emotion and the unending respect and honor that comes with it, it rings clear of how much they love.
“Both of these things, K’yatsume, are what I wish for you. As I always have done, I wish it because it is a path to your total happiness. But you want me to entertain the deplorable idea of you in a cool and distant relationship arranged by others because of nobility and bloodlines and the devious plans of this untrustworthy Senate. You claim me as the best of friends, as a close confidant, and as someone you love like family, and then you have the stark gall to ask me what does it matter to me? You make me think you know me not at all, Malaya. I don’t understand how that’s possible. I have done nothing but protect you for fifty years, my honey. Why do you assume I will suddenly stop now?”
Malaya was silent a long minute, meeting his gaze as she tried to mine him for his real feelings. As usual, if it was not based in anger, it was kept invisible to her. He spoke of his caring and his fears and concerns, but he was always so tightly wrapped up that she couldn’t grasp what he wanted from her. All she knew was that he thought his way was the right way. The only way. That was what he was saying, and he was making a very valid argument.
“You can’t possibly protect me from everything,” she said, watching him carefully as he took in her words. “And you can’t seem to understand that sometimes a sacrifice is necessary for the good of the future. I need my people to find structure and moral value in our elegant traditions, Guin. It is what will make us strong, good people; a Nightwalker species worthy of the Dark Cultures and equal to them in power, benevolence, and peace. I want us to be as beautiful to them as they are to us. We are beautiful. We simply need to behave in a way that will let them see that. And if that means that one woman has to accept an arranged marriage to set an example and barter for a better future, then so be it.”
The more she spoke, the harder the granite of his eyes seemed to become. His grip around her neck tightened, but otherwise he remained placid and still while he listened.
When she finished her speech she felt a fine tremor slip through him. It was her only warning before he jerked her out of the water and slid her onto her back on the chilly tile floor. Guin loomed heavily over her and she reached to brace her hands against his chest in instinctive resistance, her wet palms slipping against the soft leather vest.
“So be it?” he echoed tightly through his teeth. “So be it. My, my, what a fine little martyr you make. But you’ll not sacrifice yourself on my watch, my sweet Princess. Let me show you where your sacrificial path leads, Malaya.”
Braced over her as he was, he had her tightly trapped by a frame made of his braw body. Then as if he were doing a steady push-up, he lowered himself down against her and touched his mouth lightly to hers.
“You say I’m like a brother to you. Come, give your brother a kiss, K’yatsume. That is what it will feel like to kiss a chosen stranger. Do you think that this dimensionless person will ever be able to tap that passionate little beast you hide inside you so well? Will he even know it exists? I doubt any of your past lovers even came close to knowing it. When he lies against you…” Guin rested his intense weight and powerful muscle against her, moving in a suggestive lurch. “Will you hear in your head as he recites the syllabus of his sexual intercourse lectures, struggling to make proper love to you? This goes here and this goes there!” He mocked each inflection by first slapping a hand onto her thigh and then jerking her leg up against his hip.
Malaya gasped for breath with each rough jostle and suggestive movement, unwittingly rubbing her lips across him in a tease of a kiss. He was so overwhelming, in both his intensity and his sheer body mass, she felt like she couldn’t breathe in the face of it. The position of her leg at the outside of his hip allowed him to settle directly between her legs, the hard leather and the cold metal buckle of his weapons belt making intimate contact with her.
“Guin! Get off me!” she ordered him, squirming as she looked for a route of escape.
“But you haven’t kissed your brother yet,” he mocked her smugly. “Isn’t this what you want? Aren’t you willing to live with this for century after century of your life?”
“Fine!” she hissed in temper.
She reached up and seized his head between her hands, curved her body upward, and kissed his mouth hard. Malaya was so intent on teaching the superior jerk to behave himself that she gave it everything she had. She felt him jolt in surprise, but she would be damned if she’d let him pull away. Instead she turned her kiss into slow, seductive work, her determination to get his goat making her lick her tongue over the seam of his lips with exquisite technique. Her sexual instructors would have been damn proud.
Guin was torturing himself every second he lay close to all of that flawless, sweet skin of hers, the aroma of lavender and jasmine wafting up warmly to envelop him. He knew he was being abusive in his actions with her, but meanness was the only way he could think of to get through to her. Unfortunately, making his point and pretending to be the unaffected “brother” she always expected him to be was testing his mettle to the extreme.
Then she grabbed hold of him and kissed him so unexpectedly and with such aggression, he jolted in shock and instantaneous panic.
No! No, no, no, no, no!
His conscience screamed the denial through him, trying to act as a swift barrier of protection against the idea of being somewhere he had worked so hard at training himself to believe he would never find himself. Could never find himself.
After all, she had kissed him before. Not a lover’s kiss, but those warm, sisterly ones that told him how she felt about him. Exactly how she felt about him. Guin convinced himself this would be no different, that, in fact, it would prove his point splendidly. So he let her do her worst.
But her worst shifted suddenly into her best and then that sultry slip of her tongue…
When Guin grew furious, he often saw a haze of red all around his vision. In this moment, however, that haze was white like deadly light. It was the start of a flash fire that couldn’t be stopped. He even rode it like a wave, tightening himself against her as he did, and suddenly—
Guin opened his mouth and locked his lips tightly to hers, his tongue chasing for hers with a severity of need for her taste that she would never comprehend. After all, how could she ever understand just how long he had wanted this? She was clueless as to how he had struggled with his need and his desires for years. Now, five decades of illicit fantasies, of wanting to know what it would be like to really kiss her, rode free and wild into the opportunity of the kiss. He felt Malaya playing into it for just a second, thinking it was still a game or a lesson to be taught, but the power of the emotion and passion being unfurled behind his aggression quickly taught her otherwise. For a moment she froze and tried to balk, but then…by some miracle of the blessed Darkness, she went soft and willing beneath his mouth.
But after so much time, soft and willing wasn’t going to cut it for Guin. He had seen too much, felt too much…knew too much. He knew what she hid behind her carefully sensual self—even if she didn’t.
Malaya felt Guin’s hand closing around her face and throat, tilting her with an ungentle tug until he could suddenly start to devour her in deep, drugging kisses. At first she was just overwhelmed and tried to keep up, but then she began to feel what he was doing to her. She had always thought that a truly wildly passionate kiss would hit like a blast of heat, just like any lustful kiss, only stronger. But instead it was a devious, underhanded simplicity that sent a harmless hum of awareness all down the entire length of her body.
Then it exploded. Like a well-laid minefield, her body caught on fire in explosive bursts, starting at their tightly joined mouths and cascading down her throat, chest, breasts, belly, and on all the way to her toes. Now she became sharp to her senses, letting the taste and smell of him start to invade and arouse her. So familiar, the scent of leather and sword polish, but there was more. The undefinable essence that was purely Guin, except this was an entirely different Guin than the one she knew, and so his scent changed appropriately into something dangerous and richly attractive. His tongue tangled hotly with hers, his heartbeat like thunder against her chest, and she could taste the masculine spice of him flushing through her. She swallowed the hot flavor of him and found herself eagerly trading her own in return.
Guin lost all control of himself. He gave no half-measures and held nothing back. He simply immersed himself in the bliss of dropping the reins. She was oh so sweet, so soft and exquisite, the taste of her like ambrosia to his starving senses. Just knowing she was getting her very first taste of him as a true male, a male with the potential to fire her naturally hot blood—it had the ability to arouse him beyond measure. Suddenly the kisses weren’t enough. Who knew how long insanity would rule? The rules could change before he had taken the slightest advantage to taste of his one forbidden fruit.
He broke from her mouth, catching her hands and pinning them down near her shoulders as he swept down to kiss her breastbone in its center. Then like the reverence of touching your tongue to cotton candy for the first time, he touched his to her and felt the glorious melting sweetness invade his senses until he was dying to make a feast of her. He wondered if she realized how profound this was for him, but he pushed the thought aside because it came with ones he did not want intruding on the moment. Guin licked and kissed her voraciously, sliding down to her fit, tight belly. Just before he reached her bejeweled navel he went very still for a moment as his sense of smell alerted him sharply to the exotic scent of Malaya’s arousal.
Arousal. Because of him.
The satisfaction of the thought was fierce and driving. He surged up to look down directly into her eyes, making very certain they were open and equally certain that she was well aware of who it was that she was reacting so strongly to. It was a dangerous thing to do. It risked making her come to her senses. But when he saw the absolute shock and stunned wonder in her eyes as she stared up at him, he realized there was a very clear understanding there. It made him brave enough to speak.
“Malaya,” he whispered so very softly. “Oh, how I crave you, Malaya.”
Finally Malaya saw more than anger and reserve in those dark eyes of his. She saw so stark a need for her that it was mind-numbing and invigorating to her body. So much power behind it! So much…denial.
As he dropped slow, searching kisses on her shoulder and throat, Malaya realized that what he was feeling was not as new for him as it was for her. There was years of repressed urges behind every touch of his mouth and every sultry slide of his tongue. She went wildly electric in response to it, her nipples so tight it hurt every time the smooth leather covering his chest slid tauntingly against them.
Guin abruptly freed one of her hands and rose up to reach for the buckle of his weapons belt. The bulk of it impeded his contact with her, and he didn’t want anything to accidentally hurt her. But in the act of unbuckling the thing, he found her hot pussy up against the back of his working hand and she reacted with a sucked-in breath and a wriggle of her body. Guin couldn’t divest himself of the belt fast enough. Using his teeth, he unlatched and threw aside his arm bracer as well. Then he looked down at her, overwhelmed with the sensation of wanting so many things—things he shouldn’t want, as he had told himself so many times. This exquisite body that had unwittingly tortured and tormented him with its utter perfection, its grace, and its feminine power for so very long. Now he could smell the pure scent of her. Now she moved in soft silky need beneath him as she waited to see what he would do next.