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|Rapture(Shadowdwellers #2) by Jacquelyn Frank|
“Stop,” he begged her hoarsely when she continued to stroke him gently. “It’s too intense.”
“Okay,” she said almost soothingly. She let go of him and sat back on her heels, reaching to swipe a finger through the sticky substance on her chest. “This is so…so…”
“Messy?” he supplied a bit breathlessly.
She giggled. “Well, yes. There is that. But I was thinking more about the scent of you. It’s thick and…I think I like it.”
“Good,” he sighed. “Because in a few minutes, I’m going to start marking you with it until everyone will be able to know you’re mine.”
“You already started,” she noted with a laugh.
He lifted his head and narrowed a look on her. “This was your way. Now I’m going to do it my way. First, though, you better untie me. Then you can use one of the cloths in that warmer to clean off.” He nodded to the little black box about the size of a small refrigerator. She ignored the command to untie him and went straight for the box. The wet, hot cloth was perfect for the task, and it felt wonderful besides.
Magnus was done being bound and ignored. With a single vicious wrenching, he ripped one of the arms free of the chair. He had his wrist free of the sari binding him in a heartbeat and was out of his seat in another.
It was time to settle the score.
Tristan was so angry with himself that he could hardly see straight.He was the co-ruler of an entire species. He was a king, a prince born to a noble house and raised in a noble tradition. He had started a war to end all the petty bullshit bickering that was keeping his people living a backwater existence while other Nightwalker races flourished beyond them and looked down on them like they were the embarrassing black sheep of the Nightwalker family. He was loved and paid loyal homage by his twin sister, who trusted him and had an undying faith in him to be so much better than he probably was. He had killed for her, run for her, lived for her, and almost died for her.
And now he was failing her.
He had never been so afraid in all of his life, and he was ashamed for himself because of it. To make matters worse, his behavior these past months had made his sister frantic with worry and concern for him. She knew he wasn’t himself. She knew something was disturbing him. As if she didn’t have enough stressing her right now? Rika, her best friend and advisor, had gone blind, the disease that ravaged her body destroying her optic nerves and promising to destroy much more than that before it was through. They were a breed of fast self-healers, but there were diseases like Crush and Jilk that were impossible for them to fight and had no cures. And why would they have cures? They were ’Dweller diseases, affecting ’Dwellers only. The only way such things could be analyzed and perhaps cured by conventional technology would require things like blood samples that would not only expose them for the supernatural creatures they were, but would expose that blood to things like microscope lights, which would burn it up into ashes instantly.
So now his sister was facing the imminent death of her beloved Rika, stressing with fear for a brother who was acting too unlike himself, and now, he had to tell her the government she ruled was going to try and force her into a loveless joining with…gods knew who.
He had wanted better for her. He had thought that when the clans were dissolved, the archaic way of marrying sons and daughters off to each other as a way of obtaining truces would no longer be a fate she would have to face; that she would finally have the freedom of the below-classes to marry purely for her emotional needs.
But no. The prick bastards in the Senate had uncovered an archaic tradition, using the twins’ own tactics of reviving the monarchy against them. Tristan knew it was no coincidence this had happened just as they were uncovering traitorous Senators and unexpected deception in Sanctuary. If Baylor, a Senator, had not tried to recruit Trace against Tristan, they would never have known. But when Tristan’s vizier had explosively denied the bribe, Trace had almost lost his life to Baylor’s dagger in his ribs. They would still be in ignorance had it not been for Ashla and her miraculous ability to heal, which had saved Trace’s life.
Now Trace had the worries of a new wife and coming child, added to his regular duties and concerns in their political world, and this was why he had turned to Magnus. That and Tristan knew his sister trusted the priest and her faith beyond anyone else but himself.
And he had ruined that. Dread, cold and terrible, told him that. Perhaps if it had been only a month—maybe even two. But that had to be stretching it as it was. She could have forgiven him that much. But how would she ever forgive him for half a year? How could she forgive him for not telling her before Senate session had restarted? Magnus was right. He should have warned her. Prepared her.
But Magnus’s sassy little handmaiden had been right, too.
Tristan was afraid of losing her to another life. To a new family. Children. A husband she might love. He had been so damn selfish it was unconscionable.
“Coward,” he hissed to himself.
He had killed men with his bare hands. Fought off everything from sickness to fire and lived to tell the tales to any doe-eyed woman who cared to listen to his pompous arrogance, but he was a coward where it counted.
Tristan looked at the double wooden doors in front of him, the carvings so beautifully wrought and depicting a warrior princess standing in triumph over her enemies with her twin brother by her side. The doors to his chambers were duplicates of the design, only their positions were reversed. In both, the doors latched closed right where their hands and fingers were woven and interlaced together, signifying the Bond between them that had never been broken no matter how hard others had tried to come between them through the long years.
He glanced toward Xenia, who stood, as usual, silently contemplating her charge. She was the most brutal and efficient killer he had ever known, except perhaps for Guin, her counterpart who guarded his sister’s life. Though she was a woman and it was highly irregular for him to choose an intimate guard of the opposite sex, he had insisted. Her quietude was one of the reasons why. Oh, she obviously had her opinions, but she kept them to herself for the most part unless they were meant to save his hide. Occasionally, though, she would make offhand remarks when she wanted to and always managed to make him feel stupid and moronic in the process. He had needed to be kept that humble, he supposed. Plus, he had promised Malaya he would choose the best to protect himself, and he had.
“What are you looking at?” he demanded of her irritably.
“I don’t think you actually want me to answer that, M’itisume,” she observed.
He sighed. “Yes. Probably not.”
“I wish you had said something about this earlier. I think I know when it was you were warned about this and who it was that warned you, but you waved me back so I didn’t hear the details.”
“He wouldn’t have talked with you standing there glaring at him like you do.”
She brushed it off with a click of her tongue. “I don’t glare. I study. I had to make certain I could kill him in under three seconds if I needed to. That is my job.”
“Right,” he said dryly. “I’m astounded as to why that would put people off.”
“Now, now, no need to get sarcastic, M’itisume.” She smiled smugly. “It’s not going to make this any easier.”
No. It wasn’t.
And nothing could make it any harder either.
Tristan moved to the door.
Daenaira felt Magnus come up against her back within seconds, sweeping a steely arm around her and pinning her to the wall of his body. She dropped the washing cloth into the discard bin and reached to latch on to his wrists as his hands plastered to her skin. His hunger for the feel of her had been obvious for days, but now with free rein it was like unleashing a beast. The very first thing he did was to run his hands up over the breasts he had said that he’d so sorely neglected and desperately wanted.She filled his palms and fingers heavily, the deep breath she took enhancing her shape and size for him. He held her tightly a moment, then slowly began to shape the lush fullness of her until she was squirming back against him and releasing little mewls of frustration. Her nipples sat between his fingers, but he did nothing to stimulate them despite the way she tried to seek him out.
“You didn’t think it was going to be that easy, did you?” he asked in a deep purr against her neck. Magnus stepped back, grabbed hold of her arm, and swung her fully around to face him. “Let’s see what we can do to keep you busy while I catch my breath a bit, hmm?”
Daenaira found herself soaring back onto the bed with a bounce, her hair flying all around her face. She pushed it free of her eyes in time to see him stripping off his tunic and filling her vision with darkly muscled masculine beauty. All he wore now was the biceps band of his office and the sexy dusted furring of black male body hair. He was so beautiful, and she wished she’d taken advantage of him more when he’d been tied up. She wanted to touch him all over his gorgeous body, but she had a feeling he wasn’t going to let her.
He knelt onto the bed between her raised knees, his hands sliding onto them and up the insides of her thighs. He parted her legs wide so he could see her little panties better. When he reached out to touch the small triangle of fabric shielding her, she felt a shiver of stimulation wriggling through her as he lightly brushed his fingertips over her. Then he hooked on to them and swiftly skimmed them off her, snapping them away from her ankles and discarding them onto the pile of clothing.
“There now. Here’s how the gods intended you, K’yindara.”
He studied her body with open intimacy, his fingertips absently tickling her near the inside of her left knee as he took his time. Dae laughed a little nervously as she tried to figure out what was so intriguing to him. Oh, she knew she was attractive to him, and was even figuring out which parts of her body were an undeniable lure to his eyes and senses, but she still couldn’t always conceive of why.
“What is your schedule like for the next two nights, Daenaira?” he asked her.
“Busy,” she breathed in anticipation.
That made him laugh. “True. Very busy. Are you nervous, honey?”
She scoffed at him, which meant she was, but wasn’t about to admit it if she could help it. Magnus bent forward and kissed the inside of her knee. He very carefully kept a lid on all of the urges the musky scent of her sent stampeding through his brain, and just lightly touched his fingertips along her legs.
“Let’s finish this lesson now, shall we?” He settled back onto his heels. Kneeling between her legs and then taking her calves in his hands, he gently relaxed her legs in a drape over his thighs. She must have realized the view the position afforded him, because she squirmed in an attempt to shield herself, but he held fast to her so she couldn’t move from how he had positioned her.
“Magnus,” she complained with hesitant discomfort.
“Let’s return to touching, K’yindara. I want to see your hands all over your skin, sweetheart. Whatever feels good.”
“You feel good,” she noted in invitation.
“Oh, you’ll feel me soon enough,” he promised her, enjoying the immediate flush of response it provoked over her skin. “But this is something every woman should know. It will feel good for you, honey, and watching you will feel damn good for me, too.”
Truth be told, he would love to give her her first orgasm. However, he knew it would be better for her like this. Let her learn the path first, and then he could take her back down it again and again with increasing intensity.
“Let’s go back to those delightful breasts of yours, K’yindara. Touch yourself. That’s it. Your skin is so beautiful. The color of your nipples is so vibrant to me, like berries on a vine, and I am dying to taste them.”
Dae cupped herself, and with an arching of her back to sit up, she offered him what he wanted. He knew she was curious about the sensation he promised, and he was craving her reaction. He leaned forward and touched warm lips to her skin along the rise of her breast. Instead of doing what she wanted, though, he moved up to her shoulder and neck. Sucking gently against her pulse for a moment, he then drifted over her jaw and found her mouth. He wouldn’t commit to the kiss, though, drawing back every time she tried to insist.
“Bossy little thing,” he accused her, reaching to push her back on the bed and sitting on his heels once more. She groaned in her frustration. “Touch yourself. You don’t need me to feel good. You copped out once already by turning this around on me. Well, it won’t happen again. Why won’t you let yourself feel your own touch, sweetheart?”
“I just know it will feel better when you do the same thing.”
“Yeah. It will,” he agreed, licking at his parched lips. “But we have two nights to compare. And the sooner you do this, the sooner it’s my turn.”
That seemed to work. Really well, in fact. Magnus watched as she drove suddenly eager hands all over her skin.
“Pinch and pull at your nipples, K’yindara. See how it feels. Yes, you like that, don’t you?” Her surprised breaths inward and then soft moans to follow were quickly reviving his appetites, so to speak. He began to grow hard again in quick increments, especially when he guided her hands down to her pouty sex with its wet, waiting lips. “Slide your fingers into your pussy, K’yindara. No. Don’t. Don’t be afraid of that feeling,” he countered when she grew upset and restless again and tried to withdraw. He caught her hand under his and singled out her center finger. He used it to guide her up to her fatly flushed clitoris.
“You feel that? That little gem is your clit. It’s a nexus of nerves that, when we stimulate you right, will make you come nice and hard for us. It’s just like stroking my cock, baby. It’ll make you explode.”