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|Rapture(Shadowdwellers #2) by Jacquelyn Frank|
Magnus was on her so fast and so hard that their breastbones collided harshly. She reached to catch her balance, and found her hands wrapping around the bulge of mighty triceps as he scooped her head into his hands and dragged her onto the very tips of her toes to meet his descending mouth. She resisted the compelling passion of his kiss, her heart thrumming in consternation at her as it longed to fling itself into the delight of it. But the physical arousal was not enough, she knew. It was powerful and dizzying, more than she had ever expected in her life, but he had already spoiled her and now she wanted more. More of him. All of him. She wanted everything, not just what he was willing to dole out to her on a moment-to-moment basis. And she was afraid that if she didn’t demand it now, didn’t hold her ground, she would be doomed to a lifetime of stilted, cockeyed reservation and a man who would perpetually dice away parts of himself because he thought sacrifice was the only path to the enlightenment he so hungered for.
Daenaira closed her eyes and went still and lax beneath the press and dip of his mouth. Soon, her lack of response to him drove him to frustration and fury and he shook with his repressed emotions as he gripped her, wanting to shake her apart and make her act the way he wanted her to. But she would much rather act the way he needed her to.
Ignoring the uncomfortable strength of his hold, she lowered her hands to his hips, traced the leather thickness of his belt, and burrowed one hand deep beneath it as the other worked the buckle and let the prized weaponry fall to the floor in a heedless clatter of steel. She was stroking his cock through the fabric she encountered even as she was working open his second belt and zipper.
“Let go of my arms,” she breathed out beneath his ear. “If you would have me sweet and gentle on command, then you can have me nasty and dirty as well. If you would have me be your whore, Magnus, I can easily act however you demand I act at any given moment. You need not limit yourself.”
Dae had to admit, considering the force of the red rage that bolted through his mind and was streaming into her brain, she was quite shocked that he didn’t strike her. She would not have been so controlled, she suspected. She probably would have belted him, had he insulted them both so crudely. Still, he had done that and worse, and she was sick of pussyfooting around the issue.
Of course, she had not expected his hand to come out and lock around her throat, shearing off her ability to speak and half her ability to breathe as he turned her hard around and slammed her back into his chest. He sent them across the room in three hard, lurching steps until her belly hit the horse she had seen earlier, and she found herself being bent forward over it harshly as his grip slid around to the back of her neck—without a word, without even a coherent thought for her to glean from his blackened mind. Then, without so much as a testing touch to see if she was remotely ready to take him, he freed himself from his clothing and with only a single moment’s hesitation to aim himself true, he sent his hard cock balls deep into her in a single, severe stroke.
“Is this it?” he snarled savagely. “Is this what you want of me?”
Daenaira couldn’t reply. He was so heavy on her back she couldn’t afford to waste an ounce of her precious breath. To say nothing of what it felt like to feel him in such a raw capacity, unchecked and unfiltered. It even overwhelmed him, she knew, as he immediately began to rut against her in deep, slamming thrusts. Dae gritted her teeth, drew hard for breath, and felt her body flooding him with liquid arousal. He couldn’t know…he couldn’t understand how much it turned her on to feel him let loose on her with everything he needed and wanted. Civilization melted away from him like a rapid thaw, and she became the resulting deluge. He thought he was being hurtful and violent, but she knew he could never really hurt her. It wasn’t in him to do so, no matter how harsh or how rough he wanted to be.
One hand pinned her by the back of her neck, the other raked down the bare track of her spine as he thrust into her with increasingly violent speed. Her wetness eased his way, fired his need as he felt it coating him in hot, alleviating welcome. Control unfurled, and it all narrowed down to just the shoving plow of his cock into her tight, hot pussy.
Raw. Crude. Animalistic. It was all of that and nothing else as it raced from beginning to end in a matter of heart-pounding minutes. Regardless of how he tried to blame her for it, asking if this was what she had wanted, there was no denying how quickly he fell apart in his excitement to be fucking her so obscenely. He was hilting into her hard and fast, his ground-out cries tumbling out of him in a crescendo to match the violence of his thrusts. He came with the blinding speed and force of colliding locomotives. Daenaira moaned low and soft as she felt him buck viciously behind her in time to the spurting release he unleashed into her core.
For a long minute, he lay heavily weighted against her back, gasping for breath that misted damply against her skin. Then reality struck him, and his breath locked in his chest. She felt him shove himself off her and out of her, and he staggered back hard. She gripped the horse to steady herself as she turned to see him. She watched as he lost strength in his legs and collapsed to his knees. He cried out, a terrible, heartbreaking sound that shredded her to her soul. Dae quickly fell before him, wrapping herself around him in a hug of solace, refusing his attempts to strip her away from him.
“No! No!” she said fiercely as she fought his strength. “Keep me now. Take me again later in another way entirely. Hold me and shake me and kiss me as you like. This is what I want! This and more! This and everything! All of it. Give it all to me and I promise you’ll never regret it!”
“I already regret it!”
“You don’t! You only think I will regret it! You are afraid I won’t be able to love you for everything you are, and I’m trying to tell you I won’t be able to love you unless you give me everything that you are!”
These words, better than any others, penetrated the haze of his pain and misery. Here Magnus had thought he had just destroyed everything; thrown it all away as he had unraveled and lost control to the most volatile display of his temper and his lust he had ever experienced. The utter perfection of the draining of his tension, the completeness of his sense of total abandonment to what he had truly needed in the instant he had wanted it had been glorious. He had absolutely relinquished all rule, all responsibility, consciousness, and worry, and all of the thousands of other things he was hammered with from a hundred sides all night long, every single night.
And then he had felt her gasping for breath beneath his weight, reason returning to him in an ominous and dreadful tidal flow. In an instant he realized he had destroyed everything. Horrified with how he had used her, how he had torn into her like some animal on a sexual rampage, how he’d taken what should have been held sacred and instead let it be wild and brutally untamed.
So he hadn’t understood the wrapping comfort of her arms and body. It had felt profane that she should touch him after what he’d just done. But now, the words she spoke were a balm for his shattering soul. It suspended everything from respiration to reproof within him.
I’m trying to tell you I won’t be able to love you unless you give me everything that you are…
…give me everything that you are…
Show me everything, and it’s here…waiting for you. I can’t entrust it to you if you only meet me in half strides. I’ve never loved anyone before, none but my mother, and I won’t allow the first time to be with a man who will not love me or himself enough to just be who he is and stop being so fucking afraid of what others will think of him for it.
The blinding rush of her vehement thoughts through his mind blew him away, forcing an explosion of keen emotion to sting across his features and burn tears into his eyes. His arms were wrapping around her tightly, nearly throttling her as he hugged her to him in brutal joy and need. He sobbed into red-black tresses of silken softness, inhaling clouds of sweet cream and strawberries with every hard breath.
“You said you didn’t love me,” he said roughly after struggling a while to compose himself enough to speak.
She smiled where she was pressed against his throat. “I don’t. Or I won’t. Not if you think you’re going to bullshit me like I have been watching you try to bullshit everyone else this week.”
He frowned at that. “I don’t…”
“Those parents know their children need to be here. They know the majority of the danger is passed. They do not want to be glad-handed by you and promised moonshine and roses. They want to see you get pissed off. They want to know your indignation. They want to feel your wrath come down on those who dared to threaten their children while they were in your keeping. Then, and only then, will they be able to trust you to watch over them again. Don’t you see that? You have always been the ultimate symbol of prescience and retribution, and if you show your awareness of your mistakes and then show the reckoning of those who cross you and our gods, then they will see this sacred place in any way you wish for them to see it. Powerful. Benevolent. Merciful. A house of trustworthy shepherds eradicated of the insurrection of poison and now made stronger because of it.
“Jei li, we are so easy to please, those who are common in our species. We want our larger-than-life heroes, it is true, but we need our down-to-earth ones as well. Let them be in awe of Tristan and Malaya for their perceived perfection and power. But let them come running to you because you will admit to feeling as they do, stumbling as they do, and erring as they do, all the while empowering them as you seek justice for them, instill the fear of the gods in them to guide them, and all the many things you do every single time you dress yourself in these clothes and these weapons.”
He heard her. He really and truly heard her this time, and understood what she had been trying to tell him all along. Whether it was because of how she had broken him down, or because once she said the words “jei li,” he would always remember every single spoken word of that day, it didn’t matter.
The point was that he understood.
He loosened his grip on her slowly and gently, turning her in his lap and in his arms until she lay with her cheek cradled against his biceps of his left arm and her bottom snug against his thighs. He brushed her hair into order with tender fingers as his golden eyes shimmered smiles down onto her.
“I wonder,” he said after a long time of simply watching her face, “if it is your youth that makes you see things so much more clearly than one of my age and supposed wisdom.”
“You are very wise, M’jan,” she assured softly, reaching to stroke her fingers along his strong jaw. “But time has inured you to poor habits that no one would notice unless they were close enough. I think Drenna is quite clever and knew so very well what she was doing for her servants when she sent us to one another. First you saved me…so that I could then save you. Now together, truly together,” she repeated with intent warning in her amber eyes, “we can make a partnership of priest and handmaiden that will inspire Sanctuary to become as close to your ideal as is possible on this earth. This place has become very important to me. I see the good it does and the potential for more, especially now that it is free of Acadian’s influence and rotted offspring.”
“And I will not have blind faith in my people any longer,” he said a bit grimly. “That faith is still blind, when it comes down to it. There is a place for faith and trust, and a place where the reality is that sin does exist even in what appears to be the hearts of the best of men.”
“Yes. And women. I feel one lesson I have learned in all of this is the power and value of women among us. We have never had a woman dole out penance before—not officially, anyway—but perhaps it’s time we considered changing that. Sex shouldn’t make a difference in the ability to acquire the skills needed. You broke me down, a trained master at psychology, in less than an hour, Daenaira. Granted, you had an inside track, but I see the potential in you. You are as clever, stubborn, and as superior as is needed, but you have a woman’s mercy and softness. You are unexpected and ruthless. Even at the highest heat of your fighting rage, you still tempered yourself enough to ask the vilest creature to repent. You need a great deal of training, and I may never send you into the field alone without me, but one of these rooms could be yours.”
“Mmm, but does that mean now you have to give me ritual baths after battle?”
“I already have,” he reminded her, slowly rolling her to the floor beneath him as he stretched the length of her body. She squeaked and arched up into him when the cold tile met her naked skin. “Damn, woman,” he complained, “how in Light am I going to get you into my bed when you’ve nothing to wear for the walk through the temple?”
“I could wear your tunic,” she pointed out.
He frowned. “Do you know what that would look like? Me bare-chested and you—”
She covered his mouth with her fingers, stopping him. “What of it?” she asked of him. “You preach the freedom and joys of sex, but you are such a prude. We are as man and wife, Magnus. Whatever it is called, it is a Bond that allows us to be with one another. It even allows us to love one another. It’s clear that love is what really creates the Bonded connection between priest and maiden. It’s a gift, I think, from our benevolent goddess. I think it pleases Her to see us open ourselves completely to the mate she chooses to send us.”
“I think M’gnone has had a hand in this particular mating as well,” he said, kissing her fingertips as they lay lax against his lips. “Our tempers and our need to fight carry out the will of the gods as much as our mercy and our love does.” He smiled at that. “And it is our love, isn’t it?”