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|Pleasure(Shadowdwellers #3) by Jacquelyn Frank|
“Why, you arrogant—” She cut herself off with a deep gasp as he ground himself against her and inside her. He ran a broad hand over her belly and down to where their bodies were joined. He spread her open so he could watch himself emerge from and disappear into her body, and also because it exposed her clit to the stroke of his thumb. Now he watched her for those subtle signs he’d noted only from a distance before. He wanted to chase them down as he’d always wished to do and see what would happen. Seeing her so responsive even to that moment was a satisfying improvement on what he’d witnessed before. He could tell by the shock in her eyes that she recognized this, too. She grabbed his wrist, probably to try to push him away from her screamingly sensitive flesh. He took no note of it as he searched her body for the right pitch, the perfect tone and the sweetest rhythm.
Malaya was confused. She wasn’t made like this. She’d believed she’d known herself to precision, years of detailed instruction and well-trained lovers teaching her all of her capabilities and all of her boundaries as a sexual being. But Guin was rushing her over to one exquisite sensation after another, the sudden peaks of her orgasms chaining together in a way she’d never experienced before. He was asking too much of her body, she thought in a burst of panic as he sought to pull her back into his carefully crafted bewitchment. What was even more amazing was how quickly it worked. Her whole body clenched into muscular spasm as she rode that lightning she had begged him for. The ecstasy that bolted through her hazed her vision and she fought the blurring so she could watch him. His expression as she tightened around him was pricelessly pleasured. Suddenly he bent over her, stopping every motion and closing his eyes as he rode out the sensation with total focus.
“Holy Light,” he gasped, “that feeling! There’s nothing like it in the world. It’s so much better…so much better than I ever imagined! Oh, honey, I have to take you good and hard now. Tell me you’re ready for that.”
She could only nod. She knew she couldn’t deny him anything, not even though she felt completely unraveled.
“Please,” Malaya whispered, even though she wasn’t certain what she was begging him for. She just released herself completely to his will of her, feeling herself turning in his hands once again as he put her knees under her and approached her from behind. He shot back inside her quickly. Guin wasted no time thrusting in long, deep strokes, although he didn’t slam himself hard against her. She knew he held back to protect her body, and knowing how desperate a moment he was having, it made its impression on her. It told her just how much she had affected him before that he could keep control now when he couldn’t then. It made her smile as she shook her hair away from her damp body and rested the weight of her tired torso on the brace of her elbows. Had she known this would be like this, she would never have danced tonight. She would have saved every ounce of her energy for Guin.
Guin had no time to note her rapidly encroaching exhaustion. He was too lost in the way she felt around him. His ears still hummed with the sound of her ecstatic shouts, even her every panting breath an erotic stimulant to him. He lurched into her again and again, entirely engulfed in the stunning heat of her slick body. He slid his hands up her back, gripping her shoulders, pitching his thrusts until he heard her choke out a gasp of shock.
“No, Guin, I can’t,” she cried out, tensing against the natural pace he was setting.
“Yes, you can,” he growled through his tightly clenched teeth. “Laya…oh gods, baby, I need you to come for me. I need to feel you squeeze me tight. Yes. That’s the way,” he encouraged her as her body shuddered with renewed spikes of arousal. “I’ve got you just right now, don’t I?” He practically purred with his confidence at that fact. “Like this, now. A little faster, my honey?”
Malaya went stiff in his hold, and then suddenly she rediscovered the strength in her legs and pushed back so hard into him that they crashed together. She felt him react by digging his fingers into the full curves of her hips, and the sound he uttered was nothing short of animalistic.
“Oh,” he rasped, sucking hard for a breath, “so that’s the way it’s going to be, then?”
Malaya dropped her head and smiled. Drawing up onto her hands, she braced for his countermovement. When it came, it came hard and fast and repetitively. Within moments she heard herself keening out the approaching wave of a new and crashing climax.
Guin had held back, afraid of hurting her because he wasn’t yet familiar with her tolerances, but once she made that demand with her body he lost all sense of reserve. Holding her tightly between his hands, he raced into her as hard as he could with the little time he had left. His whole body was burning for release, all but screaming for it. When she peaked, grasping in tight greed around him, he sent himself home inside her and let himself go. The burn of his release was ferocious and untamed, just like the unstoppable cries ejecting from his throat in time to each hot pulse of ejaculation. He heard himself call for her, felt her shuddering between his hands. It was so incredible and so fleeting, resolving before he was ready to let go and leaving him both sated and craving for more of her.
But he knew she was tired and he let her fall away from him, gasping for breath and her mocha skin glistening so beautifully. Guin let himself lie back in the bed, his eyes automatically tracking the room now that she had released him from her spell for the moment.
Everything was as safe as ever, but for an instant he felt a cold touch of fear claw across his heart. The way she consumed his every sense and all of his attention, it was deadly to be doing this.
But try as he might, he couldn’t make himself withdraw from the place beside her in bed that had finally materialized after so very long and after so much repression. Guin turned his head to look at her, seeing the lazy smile on her lips just before she slid closer to him and wriggled in tightly against his left side. He kissed her at her hairline and listened to her sigh with no small amount of greed for the contentment it reflected.
All he could do was tell himself to be as careful as he could and to take the moment for what it was. Who knew how many of them he would have with her? And when the end of this came…
He would be happy to come out of it with her life intact and his feelings of love for her just as hidden from her as ever they had been.
Daenaira paused to look around herself, the sensation of someone watching her giving her a terrible case of the creeps. She was asleep and dreaming, which was one of the two ways for her kind to enter the lands of Dreamscape. The other way was to Fade to Shadowscape and then from Shadowscape Fade again into Dreamscape. The only ones permitted to make this travel of double Fading were the priests and handmaidens who guarded the realm from those who would think to abuse it. A great deal of damage could be done to a vulnerable dreamer, and a criminal in double Fade could learn how to control the power of Dreamscape and bend it to his will. If left to run wild and unchecked, people of all races and breeds could suffer cruel, mind-destroying nightmares that were half reality and half dream.
Magnus had protected Dreamscape from these types for centuries. He was a master at using the power of the place to help him bring down the abusers of it that he hunted. All of the ’scapes were his to protect and he protected them very well. Now, by his side, Dae protected them, too.
The difference between Fading into Dreamscape and falling into it as one fell asleep was the power of memory and control. If she Faded she would have memory and control; however, when she dreamed it was all very random, and the likelihood that she would remember any of it was very small. In a dream state she couldn’t tap the powers of Dreamscape any more or less than any other dreamer could. But since she was such a fledgling at doing so, it didn’t really matter to her either way.
At the moment, Dreamscape was dark and safe, a feeling of cozy warmth around her as she dreamed of familiar places and the possibilities of the future awaiting her. She was settled before a warm black fire, a chemical fire that made flames that gave off no light. It was the one in her room, and she was in a soft chair before it. In the wrap of her sari, held warm and safe against her breast, was her baby. She wanted to peek and see if it was a boy or a girl, and then again she didn’t. Let it be a surprise to her and to Magnus. Let it come about in its own time. She had a lot of time. She was barely a month gone in Realscape, the darkened shade of maroon around her navel the undeniable mark that all women of her breed knew meant they were with child. As soon as initial hormones in their bodies spiked, female Shadowdwellers would see the color change that warned them early on to be very careful of what they subjected themselves to. Magnus was right when he’d mentioned how difficult pregnancy could be for their women. Everything from the food they ate, the stress in their lives, and even the act of going into Fade had to change. Phasing into Fade was severely restricted for enceinte Shadowdwellers. The euphoric state that endangered them all within forty-eight hours’ time became even more dangerous for a fetus. Almost sixty percent of their miscarriages occurred in a state of Fade, and so it was forbidden except in dire emergencies. After all, sixty percent risk of fetal death was better than one hundred percent death by sunlight.
But Dae had discarded all of these worries as she sat in the safety of her dream, touching her fingertips to the soft, silky black cap of curls the child would be born with when it came. And, although every child was born with brown eyes, she seemed to know that this baby’s eyes would grow golden like its father’s. In all of her years of growing up among things like war, abusers, and slavery, she had always seen pregnancy as the ultimate goal to avoid at all costs. Not just because their society frowned on incomplete families, but because she had never wanted to raise a child like her mother had—alone, under stigma, and with no one else to care for it should something happen to her. She had always thought the world too cruel and dangerous a place for a child.
In actuality, she still felt that way much of the time. Even in Sanctuary there had proven to be danger and deception. But there was a key difference in the flow of her life now. Magnus. She’d never known anyone so purely moral and so capable of defending those moral beliefs. He had made Sanctuary safe again, with her help. She had come to believe that as long as they were together, the world around her would be better and safe. That didn’t mean she didn’t still panic that evening when she had noticed the distinct ring of darkened skin on her belly. She had been very afraid, despite the tormenting humor she’d displayed to Magnus. His shock had been so relieving in its way. To see someone just as blown away as she was had brought her to a sense of acceptance. The delight her religious husband had developed over time since then, including the amusing pride he’d displayed as he’d announced the pregnancy to all of Sanctuary, had helped her to feel better and better about it.
Now, feeling the diminutive weight of her child and its intense little body heat, she sighed softly and kissed a soft, smooth forehead. It felt so right to hold Magnus’s child. Others would be right to assume it was a blessing that she carried his baby. Any child with Magnus as its father would grow to make great things happen in their world, just as his foster son Trace had grown to become Chancellor Tristan’s vizier, the man behind one of the most important seats in their government.
But thinking of Trace reminded her of the danger Ashla and her baby were in, and it walked a chill over the back of her neck. She was no fool. She knew well enough that her fame for killing Acadian’s daughter worked both ways. While there were those who hailed her as a heroine and a great defending warrior, there were also those who saw her as the ultimate in enemies because of the act. And of all people to have for an enemy, Acadian was by far the deadliest.
Just the thought of the evil woman changed the entire atmosphere of her dream. The babe faded from her hold and she stood up quickly to face the approaching wash of a dark breeze. The scarf of a Senator’s robes flew past her as the room disappeared around her. She reached out with lightning reflexes to catch the black scrap of jersey material, its forest green curlicues on its ends marking it for what it was. She narrowed her eyes on the horizons, the first trick Magnus had ever taught her about hunting in Dreamscape.
Then there was a light tap on her shoulder and she turned with a soft gasp of shock. She barely had a chance to react before a savage hand locked around her throat and her feet were kicked out from under her. She slammed to the ground hard, her breath gushing out of her when she needed to keep it so badly. The chokehold on her neck prevented her from drawing in fresh air and she prepared to fight as she met the eyes of the female Senator bending over her.
But as sure as her life she knew this woman had another name, another persona that was infamous for being as deadly as the darkest water.
“I know what you’re thinking,” the pretty, elegant woman said softly to her. “Senator Helene is Acadian? But she does charity works, supports the Chancellors with every breath, and is renowned for being something of a goody-goody! It can’t be! Why, she comes to Temple every week and even accepts penance after confession!” Helene smiled, and in that single instant she transformed into Angelique. “Or maybe it’s the hot-tempered Angelique, the one who despises Malaya’s power and position so much that she will declare white to be black just to contradict her?” Then the image and form of the woman strangling her twisted again and it was Malaya herself peering down into Dae’s eyes. “Oh, but who is Acadian really? You will never know, now will you?” She laughed and although she wore the shape and face of the Chancellor, she became body and soul the evil Acadian Daenaira had heard so much about. “Who do you think suits best for sneaking her way into position to eradicate those twin idiots, hmm? They have such high ideals and a sickeningly endless hope that others will be just like them. And people say I have gall and arrogance. It will be their downfall, just like you will become Magnus’s. He will pay for his part in my Nicoya’s death, and you will pay by being the method I use to bring him to his knees.” She came closer, listening for a moment as Dae gagged for the chance to breathe. She used the energies to Dreamscape to bind Daenaira down so she couldn’t even begin to fight, never mind use her third power, the power of a berserker fighter that was frightening and deadly to face.