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  • Home > Jacquelyn Frank > Shadowdwellers > Rapture (Page 16)     
    Rapture(Shadowdwellers #2) by Jacquelyn Frank
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    Daenaira’s anger and outrage suddenly ground to a full halt as every moment of the bath replayed in her mind. He had worked so hard to downplay the state of his body. The sound of grinding teeth arrived late to her memory. She had been so fascinated by the shape and feel of his flesh that she had ignored the stressful sound. A sound of restraint. Had he wanted to resist, or just hold back long enough to get rid of her?

    Please.

    He had all but begged her to obey him, needing her to leave but trying to circumvent her confused anger.

    Because he didn’t want her to know he desired her so strongly. Light, she realized, he didn’t even want himself to know it! He found her pleasing to his eyes, he’d said. Was that all? Was there much more to it than he was letting on? Maybe his denial was more about tricking himself than it was about tricking her.

    The thought of being responsible for that kind of reaction in a man as powerful as Magnus just took away her ability to breathe. Still wet and naked, she sat down on the edge of her bed in numb thought, her body humming uncomfortably all of a sudden. She thought about the couple from the classroom and how hard it had been to stop watching them in order to follow her instincts and pursue Magnus. Thank Drenna that she had. She might be the worst handmaiden of all time, but she would be damned if her priest was going to get killed inside of a week.

    Come to think of it, she was pretty mad at him about all of this. Something really scary was going on in Sanctuary, and he hadn’t even seen fit to warn her about it! He wasn’t about to convince her that, out of the blue, two trusted priests decide to assault and attempt to rape a handmaiden for no reason and then turn on Magnus!

    Magnus’s handmaiden.

    Oh, great! Now she got it! She was Magnus’s new toy, and his enemies were trying to undermine him by going after her! Actually, it was a bit of a relief. She had thought for a minute there that she had offended someone before she’d even intended to and brought trouble to Magnus.

    Turns out it was the other way around.

    Daenaira surged to her feet and marched into the bath. Except for the blood on the floor and the discarded weapons and clothes, there was no sign of Magnus. So she continued straight into his rooms. She saw him sitting on the edge of his bed, just as she had been doing only a few moments ago, wet and naked and mulling over heavy thoughts.

    “Do you want to explain a few things to me,” she demanded of him, “or are you determined to keep me clueless and stupid?”

    Magnus scowled at the accusation and moved to gain his feet, but she jumped forward and pushed him back down.

    “Stay there! Gods, you still haven’t stopped bleeding! Just…sit! Sit and tell me what I need to know! Stop protecting me or whatever it is you think you are doing and just be honest with me! I know you look at me and you see a child of only twenty winters, but you have to believe me when I say I have aged well beyond that in my spirit and in my heart. Give my mind a chance to catch up. My body, too, for that matter. Talk to me before I hit you!”

    She knew her frustration was getting the best of her, and she was starting to sound like the whiny child she was trying to convince him that she wasn’t, and it just made it all worse. Dae stood close to him, standing between his knees and cupping his face between her hands and making him meet her determined eyes.

    “I need you to be honest with me.”

    Daenaira wasn’t expecting to feel his hands shooting up to lock around her biceps. He grabbed her and pivoted, slamming her down onto his bed. She let out a surprised cry and then backed it with a gasp when he followed after her, looming over her and caging her beneath his warrior’s body. Her vision filled with the image of flexing, bulging muscles, and then it was wiped away when his mouth suddenly swooped to catch hers.

    But shocked as she was, she knew instantly that he was giving her exactly what she had asked for.

    Honesty.

    She froze, her heart suddenly stopping.

    Magnus felt her do so and immediately pulled back. To his surprise, though, her hands shot to his shoulders and held him to her. The mixed signals confused him for a moment, but then he saw the awkward doubt on her face and he quickly understood.

    He shifted just a bit, keeping contact with her, but at the most neutral points he could manage with them both being naked. Then he cradled her pretty cheek against his hand and tilted her chin up gently, readying her for his kiss.

    “It’s okay, K’yindara,” he said to her softly and soothingly. “Give me your mouth.”

    “I don’t know how,” she gasped, her eyes wide with distress. “You know everything anyone has ever done, ever, and I don’t even know how to be kissed.”

    “Everyone has to start somewhere, K’yindara. Let’s start you off right here.” He dipped for her mouth, touching lightly and drawing away. “Relax. Soften your lips. There. Match me, now. Copy my pressure. Yes.”

    Magnus was convinced he had completely lost all grasp of reality. Was he really thinking he was going to pit three hundred years of sexual education, and two hundred of those years in abstinence, against a girl who couldn’t even kiss?

    Scratch that, he thought a moment later as her mouth went truly soft against his when she stopped imitating and switched into instinct. She could kiss. The sudden wave of intent and emotional desire that shimmered through her was a physical change he felt all the way to his bones. And he hadn’t even taken a real taste of her yet.

    Magnus didn’t rush her. He didn’t rush himself. He had never grown tired of watching a student blossom and grow, no matter what the topic, but experience couldn’t have prepared him for the stark contrast of innocence and canny wisdom that she used to find her way. He drew back, amazed to find that such simple kisses could so arouse him.

    “Open your mouth, sweetheart,” he whispered as he brushed a kiss over the bridge of her nose and then each cheek.

    “I don’t like it,” she panted in precipitous anxiety, shaking her head. Clearly, she was remembering some sloppy attempt to force a kiss on her.

    “Jei li, this isn’t going to be like that. Give me just two kisses, and if you still don’t like it, I will stop.”

    She was breathing so rapidly, clinging to him so hard. She would be damned before she’d admit to being afraid; he knew that much, but he wouldn’t allow her to dismiss anything out of hand just because some pig had groped and blundered with her.

    His thumb touched her chin, and he smiled when her lips parted hesitantly. The tension in her jaw was ridiculous, but he wasn’t concerned. If he had learned anything in this past hour, it was that she had every instinct she needed to drive a man to distraction, whether she realized it or not. Magnus lowered his head, kissing her in gently increasing increments, but then flicked his tongue against her lips in slow, tiny strokes. She watched him, eyes wide open and unsure, her sharp little mind analyzing when she would call it quits. She was so occupied on that point that she wasn’t expecting to feel his fingertips running down the underside of her arm and then down along her side. She gasped softly, opening her mouth wider. Magnus took full advantage.

    Daenaira suddenly found herself flooded with the taste and feel of Magnus’s tongue. He sought her, stroking softly and slowly again and again until she was quite certain they had gone past more than two kisses. Then again, she was surprised to realize she liked the way it felt to have him filling her mouth in this way. As she relaxed, she thought to mimic him, and to her delight she heard him groan low and soft when her tongue slipped into his mouth and tasted him curiously. His flavor was something so unique, strong and subtle all at once, but it seemed to spin her away from the defined world and make it more acute all at the same time.

    “There we go,” he encouraged her hotly, his own desire filling the spaces between them so she would feed off of it. “Drenna, but you taste good,” he said in a rush of heated breath and undisguised want. “I’m so sorry about before, jei li. Light and damnation, I’m sorry for this, too. I shouldn’t be making love to you.” But even as he said what she should take as an insult, he was starting to devour her sweet mouth, filling his hands with fistfuls of her darkly damp hair.

    When his mouth trailed down her throat, she gasped out for breath and sank her fingers into his loosened hair. She clenched her fingers hard at the roots, quickly gaining his attention, his golden gaze jolting up to meet her amber one.

    “Then don’t. Stop now. Let me up.”

    Magnus went stiller and stiller with each cold dictate she slapped into him, and felt as though ice was spearing through his chest. As he stared down at her, he could see she was glacial with fury, but she was also breathtakingly beautiful. Resisting his weight and no longer soft and pliant beneath him, she looked as if she were ready to kick his ass all over creation.

    “Daenaira…” he said hesitantly.

    “And don’t you ever start something with me again unless you are damn sure you are going to commit to it. I’m not some toy you can play with halfheartedly! Get off me!”

    Magnus obeyed her command with slow reluctance, moving carefully off her. “I meant no insult to you, Daenaira. I only meant—this is going against every ingrained habit I have! You don’t understand how hard and how long I have worked to make Sanctuary what it is! Two hundred years of sacrifice had to have had something to do with that! I can’t believe it didn’t.”

    Dae pushed out from under him, getting to her feet angrily. “‘What it is?’ You want to know what your precious Sanctuary is?” she growled in threat.

    Just like that, deadly danger fell like a cloak over him and he surged to his feet and loomed over her. Through tightly clenched teeth he said, “Don’t. You. Dare.”

    “It’s a den of killers and rapists,” she hissed, daring and more as she stood toe to toe with him. “Drenna only knows what lies in the hearts of some of those treacherous bitches you introduced me to the other night!”

    “Shut your mouth!” It was nothing short of an explosion, punctuated by the way he snared her around her throat and all but slammed her back down on the bed. “Three days you are here and you think you can judge? You give no faith, no commitment to me, and you damn well don’t listen to half the things I say, and you have the nerve to judge my haven? My world!”

    “Your haven tried to kill you an hour ago,” she reminded him on the softest rasp of a whisper, her hands locking instinctively around the wrist that constricted around her. Yet he did not hurt her and did not restrict her breathing despite his unmitigated fury. “You give no faith, no commitment, and you damn well don’t listen to any of the things I say,” she rounded back at him. “You demand from me what you won’t give! You knew there was danger here, and you lied to me and told me I was safe! You gave me no chance to defend myself, and when those bastards were out there killing you, you gave me no chance to defend you!”

    “I don’t need defending and I don’t need you or your disrespect! Drenna forced you down my throat, plagued me until I could barely function.” He let go, and furious gold eyes raked down over her bare skin before his hand plowed down over her breastbone and the center of her body. She tried to maintain her grasp on him, but he easily ignored her resistance until the bend of her wrists forced her to let go. Daenaira tried not to react to the feel of his roughly callused palm as it scraped her every nerve to full attention. “Do you know what the worst of it was?” he demanded, his features a mask of lust and dark anger. “The smell of you.” He lowered his nose to her, the tip just barely grazing her skin as his hand continued relentlessly down her belly. “My goddess inundated me with the sweet, sultry scent of you.” His eyes closed and she watched with a pounding heart as he took in a deep breath, drawing her scent into him, his expression changing to one of unmitigated need and pleasure. “The sweet cream aroma I can practically taste,” he said, the register of his voice hitting rock bottom. “It makes me want to taste you. Until I can’t think of anything else.”

    Just then his traveling fingers sank into the black tangle of curls guarding her sex. Daenaira had become so mesmerized by the massive clash of desires and emotions running over him that she hadn’t even considered where he would end up. There was a poetic tragedy to the struggle she could see him fighting within himself, but she couldn’t let him continue to mess with her already dizzy head any more than he already had. Panting for breath as his stroking fingers sought to continue farther, tickling against her cleft as they burrowed for her heat, she clutched for his shoulders with her nails bared.

    “Magnus, stop! You can’t keep doing this to me!”

    “Why not?” he snapped sharply, his fiery gaze burning up at hers. “You keep doing it to me! M’gnone, look at what you do to me!” He shifted against her and she felt the hottest touch of flesh. He was hard and thick with his arousal, that alone stunning and impressive, but the true impact was how he burned against her hip. And once he made contact with her, he couldn’t seem to control his need to move in restless pressure against her. He bored his gaze into hers, the lacing of pain in his eyes the only thing that kept her from lashing out in desperate defense. “I know it isn’t your fault,” he said quickly, a tempest of conflict slashing over his face. “Gods, it’s wrong in so many ways to make this about blaming you. I’m not blaming you. I swear to you, I’m not.”

    His desperation made the sudden slide of hard fingertips against her most intimate flesh come as a blinding shock. Callus-rough and yet so gentle, he slid his finger between the folds of her sex, and the sensation made her hips jerk as though he had struck a match and thrown it against her. Catching fire, her skin exploded in sheets of billowing heat that climbed up through her until her whole body was flushed with it.

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