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|Rapture(Shadowdwellers #2) by Jacquelyn Frank|
“Put me inside you,” Brendan ground out huskily, his cock leaping with a heated pulse in agreement although he knew it wouldn’t get the satisfaction it wanted so badly. With her skirt spread over him concealing the truth of their acts, she reached between them and pretended to do as he asked. She rose up, and hesitated, seeking help from him. “Slow,” he urged her, grabbing her round hips in both hands. “Come down on me so I go in really slow.”
He was teaching, she realized, and it made her smile. She mimicked what he asked, and he helped guide her hips in a lusty undulation back flush against him.
“Gods, Dae, you feel so hot. So good,” he croaked out. She knew he wasn’t lying or acting about that just by the flush on his skin and the need in his voice. “Please, just move. Move on me. I’m begging you…”
The desperation in his eyes tore at her heart. She was torturing him. It had to have been a year at the very least since he’d been with a woman, and who knew how much longer before that when Nan had been too sick for them to physically show love to each other? Her body, she knew, was only for Magnus. Brendan was handsome, strong, and a well-muscled specimen of masculinity, but while she admitted to feeling a rather low-key arousal, she felt nothing like with Magnus. Still, when Brendan moved her sex along the ridge of swollen flesh he harbored beneath her, she let him. She figured if she was going to do what she had to do to save his life and her own, she could begrudge him nothing. She leaned forward over him, her hands pressing to the bed beside his shoulders, and she made herself stare down into the torn conscience in his eyes. She lowered herself to his lips, kissing him gently before trailing her lips down his cheek and finding his ear briefly.
“It’s okay,” she whispered before rising up once more and following the rhythm of his hands on her hips. His fingers dug into her with bruising force as she rode against him. Dae wasn’t expecting the rub of their simulated intercourse to stimulate her, but her body was newly awakened to all kinds of sensations and sensitivities because of Magnus, and it responded to the cadence of her clit being steadily massaged by his hard length against her underwear. She flushed, feeling embarrassment of her own as her panties went damp and warm against him. She knew the very instant he felt the change and saw him grit his teeth together as if in excruciating pain. Or pleasure. They were so close it was hard to tell. He dragged her against him, a little harder and a little faster, his hips surging up now with every pull and press.
“Oh, fuck,” he gasped, his face flushing bright red, his skin coated in perspiration. “Dae…this is so wrong…but I can’t…” He was gasping the words, desperate to make her understand and ashamed of himself for abusing their situation. Daenaira was certain he wouldn’t feel that way shortly.
Brendan surged up against her over and over, her heat and dampness rubbing him raw with the need to come. She was breathless herself, his work against her rousing her clit, he knew. But he had to draw the line somewhere, and that meant leaving her to her own devices, whatever happened. He didn’t understand fully what she was doing or why, but he did know without a doubt that she didn’t want him. It was clear to him in the calm of her amber eyes. When a woman wanted him again, he knew it would be with passion and fire in her eyes, a body craving everything he could give her, and the yearning need to join together at all costs.
These thoughts, these needs, as much as her physical ride against him, were what sent him over the edge. Brendan gripped her hips hard, surged up into her in a long arching of his back, and he came with blinding pleasure and much, much needed release. He was shaking as the orgasm pumped from him, ejaculate spreading over his belly, her skirt, and her thighs. She didn’t come, and he was glad. This dishonor would be his and his alone. She was in trouble and he hadn’t had the control to temper himself, humping himself to climax against her like some too-eager boy.
Brendan opened his eyes, blinking clarity into them just as the icy cold touch of steel rested against the rib hiding his still-pounding heart.
“Thanks for the ride, handsome,” she said blithely right before she plunged the sai into him with all of her weight and strength behind it.
An inch too low and she would really kill him.Daenaira had to pray she didn’t nick anything else just as important as his heart, but there was no faking this part, and she desperately needed to gain the trust of a crafty bitch so she could save so many other innocent lives. She wished she could have believed Magnus would come in time to spare her this mess, but he hadn’t.
Brendan bellowed with shocked agony, bucking wildly beneath her. His tormented eyes found hers and she leaned over to kiss him in an appearance of cold amusement.
“Shame to waste you, stud, but I have my orders. It’s okay,” she soothed him. “Look at the bright side, at least you know you’ll die with a huge sin on your head and no chance to repent. Aww, don’t look like that,” she purred, actually cooing at him as she had once seen Winifred do to Friedlow. “Light won’t be that bad, I’m sure. M’gnone will eagerly gobble up the soul of a priestly morsel like you, all tarnished and tortured.” She met his eyes with total sincerity then. “Are you ready to die?” she asked softly.
He pushed aside the pain to understand she was trying to save his life by what she was doing. Or somebody’s life. He gave her a curt nod. “Do your worst, bitch,” he coughed out, blood tart on his tongue and appearing on his lips. He saw her hesitate when she saw it, but this time he dug his fingers into her thigh cruelly to force her to act.
“When I pull this out,” she noted with an amazing dispassion that did not match her worried eyes, “you will bleed to death in an instant. Any last words?”
“Yeah,” he forced out in a gurgle. “Get the fuck off my dick, k’ypruti.”
She laughed at that, actually. Really laughed. He had meant to crack as wise as he could, the urge to alleviate her emanating guilt so very strong. Brendan watched Daenaira slowly come around from her amusement.
“Don’t feel so bad, lover,” she all but hummed, her tawny eyes picking his up with incredible specificity of intent. “You’ll be in good company today. They will mourn your death beside Sagan’s and Magnus’s, two of the greatest priests in Sanctuary. They will count you a hero for giving your life in the slaughter that brought them down. Regardless of your shame, no one will remember you that way except for those who find you here. Naked, soiled, and sated.”
She paused long enough to blow him a kiss in the air, and then yanked the sai free while dismounting him in a single fluid movement. He thrashed, the pain excruciating, and tried to suck for the breath to scream out, but she had punctured his left lung. Brendan gasped weakly, suffocating in blood, and not needing for a single instant to pretend like he was dying…
Because he was.
Dae ran out of the bedroom and into the bath. She fought the urge to wash herself clean beneath her skirts. She was choking on guilt, fear, and emotion, but she could feel Nicoya watching, could feel her gloating, and it made her sick. She had shamed Brendan, and then she had wounded him so badly he might die by her hand after all. She had tried to angle toward his shoulder, but she’d been off and she knew what the blood on his lips meant. Still, she pushed her devastation stubbornly aside. She wouldn’t show a flicker of remorse to Nicoya. She simply couldn’t afford to. All she could do was pray it wasn’t obvious to the bitch how distressed she truly was. Dae knew she would have to be very clever or she would be dead—and so would Sagan, Brendan, and Magnus. This corruption did not end with Nicoya. Someone had killed Tiana while Nicoya and Shiloh were busy elsewhere. That person could help Nicoya in her quest to destroy everything.And gods forbid Magnus should fail in his battle and fall to Shiloh!
No. She had to have faith that would never happen. Shiloh would not hurt anyone else ever again. She knew Magnus, and even if he were about to die, he would take Shiloh’s evil with him. That much was over and done with.
Except the idea of Magnus dying made her physically sick to her stomach. Another emotion she had to swallow down as she paused to wash blood from her hands and the sai. Above the sink was a mirror, and she simply knew that it was one of the viewing portals into this room. She could hear Brendan gasping, growing weaker and weaker, but there was nothing she could do.
She needed to force herself to think of all of the lives that would be ruined if Nicoya got control of Sanctuary. Church and State would eventually go to war as the power-hungry handmaiden tried to rule more than just her roost. She would never be satisfied with Sanctuary if she thought she could have their entire world.
Daenaira ran from Brendan’s rooms into the corridor, her hands still wet as she wiped them and her sai against her skirt. Nicoya appeared moments after she did, her sword sheathed and her eyes shining with delight. She clapped like a child ready to open a gift, bouncing in her merriment.
“That was gorgeous! Did you see the look on his face? I loved it! I must say, disappointing ride for you, wasn’t it? Short fused, hmm? Where was all that blessed control these men are supposed to be taught when they are young?”
Daenaira shrugged and sheathed her sai nonchalantly. “I think it’s been a while for him, that’s all. Nice, fine cock in any event. Rather hated to not give him a second run. But you said we had things to attend to?”
“Mmm, so I did. I am going to go after Sagan. You find somewhere to wait for Magnus. Best wash up, though. He’ll smell another man on you and that will be the end of it.”
“Trust me, he’ll never know,” Daenaira assured her. “Are you certain you can handle Sagan on your own? Don’t need my help?”
“Oh, I’ll be fine. Besides, we’re never alone. After all, I have Drenna and M’gnone on my side, now don’t I?” She winked broadly. Then, with a laugh, she turned and lightly ran down the corridor toward wherever it was that she sensed Sagan to be.
Nicoya’s third power was Daenaira’s curse. She couldn’t go back to Brendan or do anything to save his life. She knew as well as she knew her own heartbeat that Nicoya would be tracking her every movement to make certain she didn’t betray her in any way.
Fighting the horrible urge to scream and weep all at once, she forced herself to walk away from Brendan’s rooms without looking back. There was one thing Nicoya was all too right about. The last thing she wanted was to encounter Magnus while she smelled of another man. She felt suddenly ashamed and dirty for what she had done, the guilt of tempting a good man beyond his tolerances weighing on her like nothing she had ever felt before. She had hurt people very badly in the past—physically, that is—and had never regretted it. This was something else entirely, and she felt it like a stain on her soul. And that wasn’t even taking into consideration that she knew he was dying as she left him alone. All she could do was pray that the rapid healing of his body was enough to sustain him until help arrived.
She began to pray.
True, heartfelt prayer with hope and faith she had never felt before poured out of her soul and whispered past her lips. Hera had taught her prayers, and she had learned them, but she had repeated them all by rote, never feeling the passion she had seen in so many others in the temple. But she felt it now. She had to believe with all of her heart and soul that evil could not be let loose so easily on the world of her people. Not when there were those like Magnus and the twin regents who were trying so hard to make it a better place. A place where hidden slavery could be abolished one day. A place where anyone, even the most insignificant woman in the most concealed corner of the world, could suddenly rise up and find a purpose, and yes, even happiness. Before this day had turned so critically wrong, she had been honestly happy.
She rounded the corridor hall and crashed full force into Magnus.
He grabbed hold of her arms, steadying her even as he stared at her. Relief entered his golden eyes, and his entire body seemed to shake with repressed emotion as he suddenly dragged her up against him.
She hugged him as tightly as he hugged her, gratitude and joy at seeing him alive and completely uninjured flooding through her and rushing the urge to sob up on her all over again. She could smell the amazing richness of his skin, dosed with the cold of the outdoors and the thickness of adrenaline. She breathed deeply of him, resisting the urge to weep. She had so much she needed to do before she allowed herself the luxury of falling apart. But something about the sanctity of his arms around her made her feel…
The scent of the other priest on her skin rose up to interfere with her intake of Magnus’s wonderful aroma and suddenly she lurched back away from him, tearing out of his hold and backing up. Of course, it would do little good unless she went far enough away, but it wasn’t about that. It was about touching him, soiling him with the body that now, she felt, had betrayed him. She hadn’t had sex with Brendan, but it was as good as—or so it felt. But the worst part was knowing she had pushed his closest friend in Sanctuary into humiliating disloyalty against him.
And Magnus had already been betrayed enough to jade him forever.
“Dae?” he asked, confusion rushing over him as he stepped closer to her. She hastily backed away, holding out a hand to stay him even while she wrapped the other around herself in protective dismay.
“No. Don’t touch me.”
Her words lashed at him, and she saw ghastly pain fly through his golden irises. She hadn’t meant it that way! Gods, there was nothing she wanted more than to be held by him right then. His embrace had such power to make everything seem like it would be brought to heel and calmed just because he was there!