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|Rapture(Shadowdwellers #2) by Jacquelyn Frank|
“You’re a liar!” Greta screeched. “He wouldn’t!”
“Look, obviously someone pulled one over on you, you stupid cow. They put on Magnus’s cologne and got a free fuck off you. If he’d wanted you, M’jan Magnus would have taken you and you know it. But here I am.” She spread her hands and arms out. “And that’s why you’re pissed off. Because you know you got reamed against the rules and you’re going to have to cope with it. And since that isn’t my problem, I’m going to find someone far less gullible and pathetic to talk to. See ya.”
Dae had turned her back on Greta on purpose, guessing the silly twit would try to fight only if she thought she had the advantage. Greta lunged for her and Dae simply stopped, pivoted, and struck the heel of her palm into the momentum of Greta’s bullish charge, snapping her right in her nose. She hit her so hard that Greta’s feet flew out from under her and sent her smacking to the floor on her back with a cough. Blood immediately drooled from her nose as Dae tsked and leaned over her prone, groaning adversary.
“You call me a bitch like it’s a bad thing,” she noted conversationally. “From my perspective, I just don’t see it. In this case, I think it’s good to be the bitch. Don’t you? Especially if being the bitch means I’m not the dumb-ass bleeding on the floor. Now please, can we avoid having this conversation again in the future?” Daenaira straightened up and then, as an afterthought to her new position in life, she added, “Oh. Also? I forgive you for being a stupid cow,” she said benevolently.
She reached out to stroke her fingers over the lavender silk and then continued on her tour.
Malaya smelled trouble.The exquisitely lovely Chancellor sat down and crossed her legs beneath her full-flowing skirt, the gauze legs of her paj rubbing almost sensuously together as she did so and making her shift in subconscious response to the stimulation. Malaya was a physical creature from tip to toe, and one could even say she was quite carnal; however, she was conservative and circumspect and held herself under very strict control.
Unlike her sex-maniac twin brother, Tristan.
She took out her energy in things like dance, her job as co-ruler, fight training, and more. Tristan had been more or less the same until a few months ago. His behavior had since turned into the definition of a fast and loose playboy, with a different female in his bed every day (although they did sometimes repeat later in the week), and making quite the ruckus of it to every Shadowdweller with natural-born hearing in the palace. On the one hand, she thought with a sly smile, she was quite proud of the randy bastard for his prowess. Those women screamed for mercy and, by the sound of it, Tristan had quite an impressive recovery time. The rumors flying about that particular talent were almost enough to offset the comments about how cavalier he was being with his responsibilities as a ruler.
Malaya knew him better. He took his leadership quite seriously. Always had. He had been with her through war and strife every step of the way, helping her use their bloodline claim to an ancient throne to revive the monarchy that their people had so desperately needed. Tristan had single-handedly engineered the construction on this Shadowdweller city safe underground in the Alaskan mountains. It had been his idea since inception to move the Senate and Sanctuary under one “roof,” so to speak, and then one by one to draw the supporting clans in to reclaim their status as a Nightwalker power. When the clans had finally been dissolved completely, everyone had been welcome into the city, and now it was the center of their culture and lives. It deceived the eyes of humans, and it protected every single ’Dweller who lived there. Fed, clothed, kept warm, and simply provided all needs. Education. Religion. Political voice.
These were not the accomplishments of a mere playboy drunk on the sex his position could get him. But people forgot these details so quickly, and Tristan had done nothing to rectify the problem.
It was almost as if he wanted to self-destruct.
The trouble she could feel coming.
Malaya looked at her vizier, Rika, who was a slim and fragile woman many years older and wiser then Malaya herself, although she often looked like the younger of the two with her unusual delicacy. Their race bred tall, Amazonian women, strong and vibrant and usually loaded with curves. Malaya was all of those things, right down to the curves, although her active lifestyle kept her from gaining too many of them.
But Rika was an exception. At least, she was now. Though she was of average height, illness had ravaged away everything except her enduring beauty. The disease was called Crush, and it was aptly named for what it did to both its victims and those who loved them before it was finally through with them. Rika’s had progressed to blindness just recently, and it only seemed to be gaining momentum. Still, despite that deficiency, Rika cast her eyes in Malaya’s direction and rolled them comically as the orgasmic cries of her twin’s latest happy sufferer could be heard echoing down the hallway.
“He’s in rare form tonight,” she mused wryly.
Indeed, he was. Which, in truth, wasn’t a good thing. Tristan retired earlier and with a vengeance when his mind was heavily weighted. It was as if her brother feared he would snap if he didn’t purge his demon thoughts through the release of his sexual self. She had listened to his athletics, although she was hardly able to avoid listening to them, and had already noted that despite his partner’s joy, he had yet to find release of any kind. This after over an hour already.
Malaya slid her gaze over to Guin, her bodyguard and deeply entrusted attendant. The big, braw male warrior had been by her side for fifty years, which meant he had also known Tristan for that long. He was well aware of her worry over her brother, and as he stood there at a silent, monolithic attention, he was frowning.
“You’re a man.” She spoke suddenly, startling his attention to her.
“Yeah,” he said slowly, his brow curling in amused puzzlement. “I can pretty much show proof of that every time I wake up.”
“Oh my. Too much information.” Rika chuckled.
Malaya smiled. “I think it’s safe to say Tristan has him beat in the ‘too much information’ category for life,” she noted. But she went back to Guin. “What do you think would drive a man to such distraction?”
Guin hesitated, as if he were stepping around a field of land mines.
“No. Be honest,” she encouraged him. “I don’t keep you here for your ability to blow smoke up my backside.”
“Good, because he sucks at it,” Rika said with a giggle.
Malaya had to laugh. It was good to see her vizier in such good spirits. It was a good week for the ailing Rika. A not-so-good week for Tristan. Therefore, a vacillating week for his twin sister.
The bodyguard thought on it for a moment. “Well, I can’t presume anything because your brother and I don’t think the same way about very many things. We agree on the important topics, though. Like keeping you safe. But I might venture to say it’s a woman. Not these he keeps spending himself on, but another one. Maybe one he doesn’t feel he should touch? A woman he thinks is too good for him.”
Malaya thought about it, but it didn’t ring very true. Her brother was confident almost to a fault. If he wanted a woman for his own, he would go and take her. She shook her head. “I find that difficult to imagine. As Chancellor, no woman is out of his reach…except perhaps a handmaiden. But I highly doubt…” She hesitated, then shook her head again. “No. He doesn’t waste his energy on useless infatuations. That cannot be it.”
Guin gave her a dark and narrowed look, a muscle jumping in his square jaw as if her remarks had ticked him off, though she couldn’t see why. “Why do you ask my opinion if you are not going to take it seriously?” he demanded testily.
“I did take it seriously. Then I analyzed it and dismissed it. Give me a new opinion.”
“I think you should consider that topic you mentioned where you and Tristan are in agreement, Guin,” Rika suggested.
Guin raised a brow and thought about that. “True. One thing guaranteed to upset your brother as much as it would upset me is you.” Guin nodded his heavy, saturnine head toward Malaya.
“Yes. You. You and your safety. Your life in threat. Your health, emotions, or well-being in danger of being harmed in any way. This threat of a traitorous vein in the Senate and in Sanctuary—”
“But this started before we knew of that! Long before!”
“Gods, woman!” Guin exploded, marching up to her, his leather armor creaking over the sound of snug denim and rustling weapons. He reached out for the hair at the back of her head and gently gripped and pulled until she was looking all the way up at him. “Ask him! Tell him you have had enough of this and demand he tell you, just as you would me! Tell him his tireless cock is driving us all out of our minds because I promise you, if I have to listen to this for six more months, I am going to do something rash about it for myself! Not everyone here has the freedom to indulge in the needs and desires listening to this night after night that presses upon them, Malaya.”
Guin suddenly seemed to realize what he was saying to her, a tremor cutting through his big body that she could feel through the hand in her hair. He swallowed hard and cleared his throat, looking at his booted feet in discomfort for a moment.
“Guin,” she said softly. “I hadn’t even thought…If you need time for yourself, you should take it. This suite is your home just as it is mine, and you know you are free to entertain a guest if you—”
“Bituth amec!” The guard exploded in furious rage, and Malaya stared at him in astonishment. “I don’t fucking want to entertain a guest!” he roared, snapping back away from her and pacing in quick, angry steps. “If I want sex, K’yatsume, I know how and where to go to get it and how to arrange to be away from you to go about it! This is not my point! Fuck! Rika, what in Light is my point?” he demanded with total frustration as he ran a hand through his hair.
“I think he means your brother is driving the entire palace crazy in one form or another, and it is high time you confronted him about it and forced him to tell you what is happening before we all go quite insane,” Rika supplied.
“That’s exactly what I mean!” Guin huffed sharply, a hand slapping down hard on a thick thigh. “I am sick of watching you worry yourself over him when he’s in there having a balls-happy time.”
“Guin, really,” Rika scolded, biting her lips to keep from chuckling.
“I’m just being honest,” he said harshly. “Trust me, he isn’t going to come to the resolution he is looking for while he’s…he’s”—Guin growled in frustration when it went against his nature to edit his coarse way of expressing himself—“while he’s dick deep in pussy night after night!”
Malaya covered her mouth, pressing back a snicker, but he noticed anyway.
“This isn’t funny,” he warned her.
“Oh, Guin,” she tried to soothe him around a giggle. “I know. And you’re right.” She stood up in a smooth gliding movement and walked up to him. She slid her arms around his ribs and hugged herself to his rigid body until, as always, he relaxed in her grasp and reached to hug her back with an arm around her that squashed her tightly to him. Malaya didn’t see that his fists never opened or that he turned his nose against her hair to breathe in her scent as his eyes closed for a brief moment.
“You love to test me,” he accused her, his deep voice rumbling beneath the ear that lay against his chest.
“For once, that was not my intention,” she assured him.
Guin sighed and shook his head. He fell silent under her affection, just long enough for the sounds of her brother’s activity to dominate the room again. This time Malaya sighed, tipping her head back to look up into the turbulent granite of her bodyguard’s eyes.
“I think at this point I am afraid to know what drives him so.”
“You mean besides his—”
“Guin.” She giggled, cutting him off and making the brute grin down at her. “I’m serious. I’ve never seen him like this. And it isn’t as though I haven’t been pestering him for months about it.”
“Stop being sisterly about it, K’yatsume. Be a queen. Kick his ass. Before I do,” he added gruffly. Guin disengaged her arms, stepping out of her sphere and walking away. He reached out and popped a finger on the tip of Rika’s nose affectionately as he passed.
“Where are you going?” Malaya asked.
“Out of earshot for ten minutes. I’ll send someone in. Ihram, probably, because I think Kill is off duty. Start thinking about knocking that sibling of yours around.”
“Oh, I am,” she assured him.
Guin exited the room and, after sending Ihram in to watch over the women, he walked down the long corridor of the royals’ private wing. He paused, leaning back against a wall for a moment and finding himself surrounded by the nearer moans of Tristan’s efforts of the moment. He closed his eyes and actually thought to pray to Drenna for the strength to bear this until Malaya got her twin under control. He didn’t think he could take much more of listening to rabid sexual antics every night while Malaya insisted on torturing him with sweet hugs of affection and the jasmine scent she washed through her hair. Her total ignorance was all that saved him, but it wouldn’t last for long if he ended up getting a painfully obvious erection within notice of her as he had just almost done.
Well, the erection had definitely happened, but he had moved away in time, allowing his clothing and his exit to hide what he could not.