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|Rapture(Shadowdwellers #2) by Jacquelyn Frank|
“I don’t understand what you want from me!” she cried out as he finished tearing her skirt up to the waistband and snapped it off her body. He simply let the fabric sink or float as it would.
He responded to her dismay by placing himself nose to nose with her and staring hard into her eyes. “What I want—no, what I need is to wash the smell of another man off your body so you will let me touch you. That’s why you keep pulling away, isn’t it?”
She shook her head in quick, repetitive negations. “You shouldn’t touch me,” she said on a swallowed back sob. “Not after what I’ve done.”
“Tell me what you did, K’yindara. Repent to me. Confess your sin and show me your penitence. Show me your regret.”
“You wish to give me penance, then?” she asked sadly.
“If I have to, I will.” He reached down to grasp her thigh, raising her leg up alongside his until he could reach the fastenings of her sai sheath. He slipped off her shoes as well, again letting them sink into the tub. Soon, she was standing against him in only her panties. He reached to smooth his hands over her hips, his thumbs hooking into them. “Speak to me. This is your chance. Or must I compel the truth from you?”
“Why would you believe me unless you did?” she asked miserably.
“Why?” The fabric slid away beneath the push of his hands and she very obediently stepped out of the underwear, pressing her hands against the wall and still refusing to touch him. “Because I trust you will tell me the truth, Daenaira.”
“Why would you trust me?” she asked. “Gods, have you any idea how stupid that is?”
“To trust you? Why? I shouldn’t trust you, is that what you are saying?” He cocked a brow, waiting expectantly for her reply as he braced both hands against the wall behind her.
“Why would you trust anyone?” she demanded. “People all around you are turning into black husks of lies, and you are going to be stupid enough to trust someone?”
“I must say, I never trusted Shiloh or Nicoya. In fact, neither knew it, but I removed him from succession two months ago.”
Surprise lit her eyes and, Magnus saw, she bit her lip to prevent a wicked twitch of a smile. She was pleased that he had been so wise. Well, good. Then maybe she would see his wisdom elsewhere as well when the time came. He left her only long enough to reach for soap and a sponge. He lathered them together and, after pressing a hand to her chest to hold her still, true to his word, he plunged the sponge below the water and began to wash Brendan’s scent from her thighs.
He was watching his own work, his movements in no way harsh against her. In fact, she felt they were rather gentle and thorough. If she hadn’t known how unlikely it was, she might have even considered it…loving.
Her lips trembled when the thought made her realize how much she had lost because of her night’s work.
“I won’t excuse my actions,” she whispered.
“I did not ask for excuses. I ask for your repentance. I asked for your sin.” His tone was clipped but neutral, unfathomable to her. Was he angry or wasn’t he? She couldn’t read him! She would sense a tide of anger, but then he wouldn’t show a single sign of it. Then there was the distracting sensation of the sponge in his hand swirling steadily against her skin. She felt his fingertips at the edge of the sponge and her skin sparked longingly at the simple contact. Her nerves did not seem to realize the difference between their lovemaking this afternoon and his ritualistic cleansing of her stained body. In the end, Daenaira was so confused, she could only do as she was asked.
“I seduced Brendan,” she said stiffly, turning her face away so she wouldn’t have to see his expression. But he wouldn’t allow it. He caught her chin and brought her right back to his volatile eyes of gold.
“You made love with him?” he asked tightly.
“No! I just…I didn’t…I was afraid to take her on by myself! Nicoya demanded I murder Brendan, and I thought if I…if I seduced him first, it would buy some time for you to…” She raised a hand to cover her mouth, shaking her head as tears filled her eyes. “It wasn’t his fault. It just wasn’t fair to him. You can’t blame him for this. He misses Nan so much! He has been alone…and I think I p-pushed him too far. He hated himself for it. For the weakness of losing control. Please don’t blame him for this.”
“So I should blame you?” he asked softly.
“It was my choice,” she nodded, swiping at her eyes angrily. “It was supposed to be pretend, but I must have done something wrong. I should have chosen another position. Something less stimulating for him. But it was the only way I could think of to mask that it was an act. If…if I covered him with my skirt…”
Magnus’s attention had drifted back down to the water, but his gaze snapped up at that information. “You rode astride him?”
She nodded, her burning tears refusing to stop. “He…I didn’t know how to, really, so he took hold of me and I guess…the friction of my panties and…” She swallowed.
“And?” he prompted carefully.
“My heat. I didn’t expect to…but after a while I felt…”
“Stimulated,” he supplied quietly.
“I’m sorry. I never meant to do anything wrong. I’m so sorry. Please let me go. I’ll just leave.”
To her surprise, his hand came up and gripped her hard by her chin, forcing her to focus on his fearsome gaze.
“Step out to the right,” he commanded her. “Spread your legs.”
She warily obeyed, but quickly gasped and surged up on her toes when the sponge dove directly between her legs, hand, fingers, and all stroking over her intimately and thoroughly. The stimulation made her whole body shiver, her nipples tightening into thick points. He washed directly over her clitoris, the hub of nerves screaming to awareness and wakefulness despite the distress and upset of her warring mind and emotions. After several swirling passes, he crowded his body close to hers, his head lowering until his lips all but brushed her mouth.
“Body and mind do not always have to be in agreement to react to such direct touches,” he said in a low, calm sort of manner. “A woman can orgasm from simply riding against something. A saddle, perhaps. A man’s thigh. Nerves do what they are meant to do, regardless of the desires of the mind, especially in the body of a naturally passionate and sensitive make-up. Do you know the guilt you are feeling is common for women who climax during an act of sexual violence? They feel shame, embarrassment, and they blame themselves. They think they must have invited it or even enjoyed the attentions no matter how horrifying they know it really was.”
Magnus closed the final distance between them and kissed her lips very gently. The tenderness took Dae’s breath away, just as the sudden flush of hope did.
“Did you climax like Brendan did?” he asked softly. “Is that why you are so determined to destroy yourself over this?”
“No,” she said, shaking her head while rubbing her lips across his warmly and wetly. “But Brendan…I can’t forget the look in his eyes; the distress and his self-loathing as I forced him to feel what he felt was a betrayal of your trust. And of mine. Then I killed him and gave him no chance to make it up to you. Please, believe me. He wanted to make it up to you, to beg your forgiveness.”
“He did beg my forgiveness. And I have given it. To both of you.”
Her look of utter shock made him smile down at her. He forgot so easily how unused to benevolence she really was.
“But my forgiveness is not even required here, Daenaira. You did what you had to do to try to save as many lives as you could without foolishly throwing your own away. I would rather you have done what you did than die.” His thumb reached to brush wetly over her cheek. “It is enough to know both of your hearts were pure and trustworthy.” He frowned in the next instant. “But you are never to get that close to another man ever again, do you understand me?” The hand between her legs tightened up against her through the softness of the sponge. “You and all that is sacred to you belong to me now. Just as I will always belong to you.” He let the sponge go, leaving nothing to interfere with his touch as he came tightly against her and caught her parted lips.
Daenaira was still trying to conceive of what he was saying, but it was the bare touch of his fingertips over her sensitive tissues that really snapped her out of her shock. She gasped, lifting onto her toes reflexively again. Then his tongue was slipping into her mouth and engaging her in a breath-stealing kiss.
“And while I do not know if he will survive the day,” he said softly against her, “Brendan was alive when I last saw him.”
“He was?” Magnus saw her tear up again, and her sudden show of sensitivity warmed his heart. She didn’t realize it yet, but she had already come to care for her new friends and new home far more than she admitted to. Had he come to mean as much as well? Or was he foolishly asking too much after she’d spent so much time being angry with him?
He probably was.
Magnus decided he would have to be satisfied with her other affections in the meantime.
“Would you like to know what your penance will be, K’yindara?” he asked quietly as he nibbled at her bottom lip, the flesh of it so succulent and sweet that he found he needed to suck on it and taste her. “There should be a punishment, after all, for tempting any other man but me.”
She laughed, the little snort as sarcastic as it came. It was perfect.
“If that earns me punishment, then I’m going to be doing a lot of penance. Men are too damn easy to tempt.”
“True. I suppose I will have to choose the punishment to fit the crime.” He reached for her thigh, drawing it up to his hip and stepping securely between her legs so she could feel the prodding of his rapidly growing erection. “How about, every time I catch you torturing some poor bastard with your very existence, you have to submit to me in any position I choose?”
“And if I find some woman drooling all over you?” she countered, her hands finally resting to touch his shoulders. The contact was a relief he felt to his very soul.
“Then it becomes lady’s choice. But women do not drool over the leader of Sanctuary,” he said dismissively. “I am too intimidating to them.”
Again, she snorted in laughing disbelief. “Yeah, right. I can name three women right now who want you so badly they cream when you walk by.”
Magnus’s eyes widened, his brows lifting. “Is that so?”
“Though perhaps I won’t tell you, lest you get too fat an ego.”
“That sounds suspiciously like a cop-out.”
“And that sounds suspiciously like you are fishing with bait.”
He chuckled. “Well, I will not believe you unless you give me examples.”
Daenaira smiled and began to drop slow, meandering fingertips down along his wet chest. “Greta,” she replied. “Even Nicoya knew this. She sent Daniel to her wearing your scent and told him to leave behind one of your shuriken. He took her so she never saw him, and she believed it was you.”
Magnus stared at her incredulously. “Greta thought I would do such a thing?”
“She all but sank her venomous teeth into me when I first arrived, she was so hot with jealousy.”
He frowned darkly. “I will speak with her. I am insulted she would think me capable of such hypocrisy.” He narrowed his eyes on her. “Who else?”
“Mmm.” Dae slowly traced the pads of her fingertips down the ridges of his tense belly.
“You are mistaken. Condilaya is a sweet young woman who is much too shy to—Why are you shaking your head at me?” he growled.
“Connie was sitting to the right of us when we were doing the hair-brushing exhibition in Brendan’s lecture. Your attention must have been elsewhere, or you might have noticed how she couldn’t sit still to save her life and stared at you with stars in her eyes.”
His attention had been somewhere else. He’d been completely focused on Dae and the glorious sensation of having her hair in his hands. It was unnerving listening to her take note of other women who saw him as a man, rather than as a priest. He had not seen himself in a normal sexual way for so long that he had completely eradicated his notice of it in others, and of others noticing it within him. Until Daenaira had come to him. Now he was taking notice of a great many things. For instance, the feel of her provocative fingers sliding with ghostly sensuality beneath the water and through the thatch of pubic curls at the root of his sex.
“And the third?” he asked a bit roughly, his cock nudging insistently up against her in response. He could feel her fingertips and her sexual heat against his ragingly sensitive skin. He didn’t hesitate to nudge himself snugly to her, the thickly swollen head to his shaft finding that nice, cozy notch to her entrance.
“Me,” she said softly as she lifted her other leg to his hip, wriggled the angle of her hips until he was about an inch inside of her, and sighed as she began to tighten the clasp of her legs and bring him farther in.
“Is that right?” he asked with a sound between a groan and a chuckle. “Even when you were angry with me?”
“Perhaps especially then,” she confessed on a noise quite similar to a purr as she arched upward and offered her delectable breasts to his mouth. “Anger is so passionate an emotion, you know. That, and your ass is quite gorgeous.” She reached to caress him over his backside, pressing him deeper inside her at her own pace for her own reasons. Magnus availed himself of a sweetly plump nipple, sucking so hard at her that she contracted around him in her surprise.