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|Rapture(Shadowdwellers #2) by Jacquelyn Frank|
“Don’t you dare drag our private times into this!” he hissed at her sharply.
“Oh, I’ll dare that and much, much more, I promise you. I’m not some obedient little pet that sits, stays, and fucks on your command alone, Magnus. I have a mind, a heart and desires of my own.”
“And one of those desires is to perform oral sex on me in public?” he roared furiously, his fists clenching along with all the rest of his body as he stood over her. “Something, as you pointed out, you haven’t even tried in the privacy of our own rooms?”
“Not that you’d give me a chance,” she muttered crabbily.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Oh, figure it out for your own damn self!” she spat. “It’s not like you ever ask for my opinion or my help with anything else.”
She was going to sit up Indian style, cross her arms obstinately beneath her breasts, but she slowed her temper down enough to realize the sprawl of exposed legs and tightly caught chocolate silk around her higher curves made for much more of an attractive distraction. Since she was determined to disturb him at all costs, she would stay exactly as she was and let him suffer with glimpses at her body’s shadows and sweet places that he found so damn hard to resist. Served him right for pissing her off.
So, instead of sitting up, she rolled onto her belly, propped her elbows on the floor, and supported her chin, looking casual and bored with the whole situation. Plus, she had effectively turned her back on him and presented him with a fine view of her backside.
And it was thoroughly appreciated, however reluctantly it might have happened. She felt his distraction and his stare, the struggle to reconcile his anger with the frustration of how she drove him insane with need. The urge to get himself into place behind her and jerk her to him so that delectable backside was rubbing back against his pelvis was nearly as strangling as it was stimulating. It reminded him that he had been very unimaginative in bed with her, restricting himself to a very standard degree of missionary positions despite his crazed desires otherwise. Oh, he would fantasize about having her on her knees, against the wall again, or riding astride him, but each one either reminded him of things he had yet to deal with completely, or—gods, it would just feel too intense and he would feel too exposed…
Was that what she meant by “kid-glove” treatment?
“What is it you are trying to achieve here, Daenaira?” he asked harshly. “Just tell me instead of playing games with me.”
“You think this is a game?” She rolled over sharply, altering the gorgeous landscape of her body as she leaned back on her elbows and braced a knee. The skirt of her k’jeet slid up her thigh, a victim of gravity, exposing delicious mocha skin almost to her hip.
Gods, he was still hard from seeing her in the classroom bed. He didn’t need any more stimulation.
“This isn’t a game, Magnus. Especially not if you’re bringing me in here.” She suddenly rose to her feet in a graceful glide of muscle and silk, drawing up so close to his tense body that she could feel the intense heat of temper and sexual awareness radiating off him. She had half a mind to reach out for him and show him exactly which of them was in control at the moment, and exactly how aware of it she was, but she wasn’t trying to make this quick and easy for him. She needed to see just how far he was willing to take this for the sake of protecting himself. “So let’s get started, shall we? What’s on the agenda? Going to tie me up so I can’t run away?”
“The bindings are for violent offenders so I can focus on the mind rather than the physical struggle,” he informed her with a frown. He reached to touch her wrist where it bore distinctive scars from her captivity. “And I would never do that to you. I would give you to Ventan if something like that were required, because I could never do it to you myself.”
“You might as well,” she said, trying not to let how much his tenderness affected her show in her voice. So, he hadn’t been willing to go so far after all. “You tie my hands in so many other ways, why not this as well?”
She turned, her heart beating at a rapid thrum, as she surveyed the various methods of imprisonment arrayed before her. Swallowing her fear for his sake, she moved over to a set that would lash the prisoner by wrists and ankles while bending them back or forward over the rounded beam of a gymnast’s vaulting horse. It left the penitent exposed, helpless, and vulnerable; stretched to the limits of their endurance, forcing them to trust their priest for everything from punishment to food and drink. She ran a hand over the horse’s back, the lambskin padding fresh and new, probably changed after use. How often, she wondered, was a method this extreme even employed? For how long would a penitent be kept in such a manner? If it were someone like Nicoya, she imagined it would be for a very long time.
She realized then how much Magnus must dislike the evils and sins of the world. For a man like himself, one so instinctively tender and caring, so soulfully determined to make things good, to find it in himself to work what was genuine cruelty against those who had been cruel to others…It was a very fine line, she thought. A brutal and difficult one to walk. No wonder it had been so easy for Nicoya to lure away two of the five penance priests in existence. Between balancing on such an edge and being required to kill those who would not relinquish themselves to the good of the gods, it was no wonder Magnus sought solace with her. But…
But after two centuries of bearing it all himself, solace wouldn’t come to him in half-measures. He needed to expose himself to the bone, risk everything, if he was going to be soothed and brought back to the balance she knew he was seeking.
“Would you like to bind me down?” she asked. “Or shall I do it myself?”
“Neither. You’ll not be tied down in this session.”
She turned around slowly to look at him, and then drew her elbows up to lean back against the horse, the position exaggerating her posture and catching his quick, heated attention along the length of her body.
“What exactly was your plan, then? Did you want me on my knees?” She smiled with wicked mirth. “We could have just stayed in the classroom, then.”
Magnus stepped up to her, his height and powerful body quite intimidating—to most. He wrapped a hand that trembled with repressed temper around one side of her throat and neck and bent so they were nearly nose to nose. Golden eyes bored in deep, shimmering with their kinetic emotions.
“Do you think this is a joke?” he exhaled in hot threat against her, the brush of his breath sending a wild chill flashing down the front of her body and stimulating her nipples into tight little knots of flesh.
“I think you are a joke,” she retorted. “Mr. Mad Bad and Dangerous to Know. You are so full of shit.”
Daenaira could imagine he wasn’t used to being spoken to this way. The way his coloring tinged with dark fury reaffirmed the notion. But she was no longer impressed with his volatile temper. It was like a storm that never broke, all grumbling rumbles and ominous threat but not so much as a spit of rain.
She was looking for a deluge.
“Are you going deaf?” she countered. She enunciated every repeated word. “I said you are full of shit.”
“Why are you pushing me?” he asked through tight teeth, his hand growing tense around her.
“Am I? Tell me, what am I pushing you toward?”
The answer clearly scared Light into him, because he lurched away from her and began to back up. She decided to stalk him, meeting him step for step and pushing him every inch of the way.
“Tell me. Are you going to hurt me? Are you going to kick me out of Sanctuary? Will you smack me around a little? Or maybe you will just ignore me for two centuries.”
“Daenaira!” he barked in warning. But it was hard to take it as much of a threat when he had just backed up into a chair, sitting down hard when her forward motion screwed with his balance.
Dae braced a hand on either side of him, using the arms of the chair, and leaned in on him until she was pushing him all the way back in the seat under the threat of touching his lips with hers. She didn’t kiss him, though, just hovered within a millimeter of doing so.
“What? Am I going too far? Don’t want to talk about it? You don’t want to talk about anything, do you? You don’t want to feel anything, for that matter. You just want to bully everyone around, shuffle them here and there like pieces on a chessboard and make sure they perform just their precisely assigned maneuvers and nothing else. Nothing unique or illegal. Certainly nothing emotional. You play the king, making sure they all hop squares just right, obeying and performing as you will them to, all with their allocated duties so you can create a perfect game and protect yourself all at the same time.
“But before you forget, while you sit stagnant in your little corner of the board, there is one piece that obeys almost no rules and has her own commands. Utter freedom is the way of the queen. She is your most powerful piece, your very best ally, the ruination of your enemy—but only if you utilize her properly, my king. Only if you are willing to do what it takes to plumb the depths of her power to aid you to victory. Just try to win without her, and you’ll see you are doomed to failure.”
She backed away from him, satisfied with the analogy and the point it made. She turned her back to him, and with the proud grace of the queen she had paralleled herself to, she circuited the room.
“I’m still waiting for my penance, M’jan Magnus,” she said in a singsong tone that taunted him. Then she laughed at him.
“Gods! You infuriating, brassy, bold bitch!” he exploded at last, bursting from the chair like an army charging down a hillside. He was on her before she could slip out of reach, both arms wrapped in his punishing grip as he shook her to the point of lifting her off her toes. “I swear, you would test the patience of Drenna Herself! For the life of me, I cannot figure you out! I don’t know what you want from me! I don’t know if you even give a damn about any of this or if it’s just all an amusing game, a change of pace from the lifestyle of imprisonment you lived that must have grown so boring when you realized you had defeated those simpletons before you even stepped foot in their door!”
“Oh!” she exploded furiously. “That’s right! Every girl wants to dance a game with a madwoman who swings a poisoned blade just to keep from being bored out of her goddamn skull! You fucking bastard! You jerk!” She broke from him with a swift, powerful movement, making herself as slippery as the silk she wore. The fabric itself allowed her to squirm free of him, even as it ripped from her body. His fists clutched tight and she dashed away in the opposite direction.
Daenaira tore away from him, stripped to her skin and the ever-present weapons aligned to her calves. A naked warrior woman, savage in her anger with him, her amber eyes flashing with indignation so righteous he began to doubt the wisdom of his unchecked words. He hadn’t meant to say it at all, in fact. She just kept pushing him until he spat words without thinking. Now speech was damn near impossible as he was confronted with what he deemed as the ultimate in feminine perfection. Roughened places and dimmed scars had long ago melted away from his vision of her, and all he saw was smoothness, curves, and brown beauty. Her every muscle stood firm and poised, her darkly tipped breasts proud and tempting. Silk slid between his fingers, escaping his grasp as it fell in a torn pile at his feet. He paid no attention, all of his focus on the awesome female figure he craved in so many wild and ruthless ways.
But if he showed her that unrestrained side of himself, if he tore into her with that unregulated need, he would just as surely lose all hope of her ever learning how to love him. The reasoning was twofold. She had had enough savagery to last her the rest of her life, and she couldn’t possibly want to tie herself emotionally to something so volatile, could she? And if he unleashed this one aspect, it would be chained to all of the others he held so carefully under his control. He couldn’t be so raw and honest with her in one way and then not in all of them. He would begin to pour his stress into her, weight her with his worries, and use her to vent his frustrations and fears.
No woman deserved such barbaric treatment. He would much rather try to love her sweetly and pay her kind attentions he had not paid to Karri. He would not make the same mistakes as before, leaning too heavily and never giving back in balance. He had to be careful if he wanted to keep her. If he wanted to win her.
Otherwise, she would never love him. That was a thought he simply could not bear. Only if he did everything just right could he possibly expect to earn the love of this difficult woman. His mistakes had almost cost him and his people the blessings of Sanctuary. He couldn’t afford to be wrong any longer. Not again. Never again.
“You are such a fool,” she whispered with sudden ferocity, bracing her hands on her hips and striking an astounding pose of pride and loveliness. “You just won’t listen! What you want to do is impossible! Perfection doesn’t exist, Magnus! No one can be perfect, and it is your attempt to gouge out your reality and the flaws that come with simply being a person that will make you lose everything again and again! We don’t want an untouchable man! Not me and not Sanctuary! Nor do we want anything to do with a man who will not touch us in return! Who would want to tie themselves to such a cold, unfeeling brute? How could we ever trust you to know and understand what we need, desire, and feel inside when you seem to have no feelings of your own? How can we ever come to you and confess our flaws when you seem so aloof and flawless? We won’t ever expect you to understand!
“And how,” she demanded, stepping forward as she drew hard for passionate breath, “can I ever believe you really love me when you will not trust me enough to show me all that you are? Of all the people you can show reality to, it should be me! I have swallowed buckets of one of the coldest, cruelest realities our world can dole out. Don’t you think I can manage the parts of the one you are trying so hard to navigate alone? And I am not saying that there is no desire in me for sweetness and tenderness, because Drenna knows I have seen sore little of it in my lifetime, but I’ll not take comfort and solace and mincing lovemaking from you when inside yourself you need to roar and rampage and slake your lust wildly! If you continue to do so, it will be lies upon lies and more deceit than I can bear to stomach! That you treat me like I am such a simpleton, unworthy of sharing the weight of your world—!”