Burning Skies Page 36

She sat with Parisa, drinking wine, for what seemed like a long time, long enough for the front-yard automatic sprinklers to come on.

But when Parisa yawned, Havily said, “I hate to ask you this again, but I need to know if you’re sure you’re all right. Really, Parisa. Twenty-four hours on Second Earth is lethal for mortals. And Marcus said he would take us to his home on Mortal Earth if that’s what we need.”

Parisa took a deep breath. She frowned again. “I truly feel fine. I’m just tired, like I said. Otherwise I have these tendrils of euphoria floating around in my chest. I can’t explain it but … I love being here.”

Havily thought of Marcus. That was exactly how she felt when she was near him, as though tendrils of euphoria floated around in her chest. “Well, how about we get you to bed. I’ve put you in the room opposite Marcus and myself.” She couldn’t repress the blush that touched her cheeks. The thought that they were acting like a couple made her really uncomfortable. After all, what did she really know about Marcus or the other way around? “If you start feeling ill at all, you can knock on our door and we can get you back to Mortal Earth right away.”

Parisa nodded then rose to her feet. She held her goblet up. “I should wash these out.”

“No, you shouldn’t. I’ll take care of them as soon as I have you settled in your room.”

She led her to the guest room opposite then showed her where she’d put the clothes she’d lent her and the sleep gear plus the extra girl-stuff she would need. Parisa thanked her profusely then gave a little cry when she saw the black silk nightgown draped across the bed. “I have this exact same one.”

“La Perla?”

Parisa nodded.

Havily laughed. “I knew you had excellent taste.” As she met Parisa’s laughing amethyst eyes, she had the strangest feeling she’d just made a friend, a good friend.

She returned to the library, picked up the goblets, then headed to the kitchen. She thought of Marcus sleeping in the bed they would be sharing and a shiver of anticipation ran through her. Ascenders healed fast, but how fast could he recover from a searing blade wound?

Well, she supposed she would find out.

For now, though, she had wine to put away and goblets to wash.

* * *

Marcus awoke to a dip in the bed and a sigh. He felt Havily adjust the covers very slowly as though trying not to wake him, but he was awake. He wasn’t sure he’d even been asleep partly because he was still a little sore but also because he needed her in bed with him. He couldn’t relax if she was anywhere else in the house. He needed to know she was safe. “She okay?” he asked, worried about Parisa as well.

A pause then a short sigh. “She’s right across the way. I’ve instructed her to wake me if she feels in any way distressed by being here.”

“Good. Now come closer and please don’t tell me you put a nightgown on.”

“How can you be wounded and still barking orders?”

He smiled.

He faced the window. Lace drapes showed dim landscaping lights in the distance, and through a couple of swirls he could actually see stars in the night sky, one or two since the skyline of the White Tanks was a dark distant presence.

Havily shifted in a couple of quick bounces over to his side of the bed and planted her warm and very naked flesh right up against his. He breathed in the scent of her—woman and honeysuckle—and released a sigh. He was aroused but too tired to do anything about it. At the same time, something deep inside started to relax. She was here. She was safe. She was in his bed.

When she draped her arm across his hip, he pulled that hand around to his chest and pressed it close, returning the favor since she’d done the same thing with him not so long ago. He closed his eyes and that was that.

* * *

Havily listened to Marcus breathe. Had he been waiting for her to come to bed before he could finally fall asleep? And why did that squeeze her heart so hard? He held her hand in a tight grip, perhaps fearing she would leave if he let go. Her nose was smashed up between his shoulder blades, which made it impossible to do anything but catch his wicked masculine fennel scent until her body was shedding fluids everywhere.

She was worked up but couldn’t wake him.

Worse, she was so content, deeply content, and she didn’t want to be, not like this, not with this man, not with this deserter, not with Warrior Marcus.

But she was caught in the teeth of the breh-hedden and right now she couldn’t help being with him, being in bed with him, with her breasts tingling against his back and her thighs pressed against his buttocks and the back of his legs.

A couple of tears slid from her eyes.

She had felt like this before, many, many years ago with her husband, a man she had adored, loved, desired. She had forgotten how sweet it could be to share the same bed, to smell the rich scent of a man, to feel the heat from a man’s body flooding an otherwise cool space and warming things up.

This was the same except multiply all those sensations to the tenth. That’s what it was like with Marcus. She even had to throw the sheet off her back because he was a heat lamp right now against her front.

His warmth made her drowsy, very drowsy. She released a sigh and that was that.

The next thing she knew, she could hear the chatter of sparrows outside her room. Their room. Light from the early June morning had crept into the space. She was no longer smack up against him but rather lay on her stomach completely uncovered, arms spread wide, her left hand off the bed. She patted the sheet on the other side and though she felt the warmth of the fabric, Marcus was clearly not in bed. His fennel scent filled the room, though.

She drew her arms under her chest then lifted up a little to turn her head in the direction of the bathroom. Marcus stood in the doorway, leaning against the door frame and grinning. He looked warrior-gorgeous, completely nude, and muscled like a Greek god, but she was so tired.

He smiled. “My God you’ve got a beautiful ass.”

“Pilates,” she murmured, then let her head fall back on the mattress. She felt like she could sleep for a year, but when a fresh roll of fennel struck her nose, her adrenaline shot into the stratosphere. Her body responded as though enthralled.

“Honeysuckle,” he growled.

Havily felt strangely panicky. There was a part of her that didn’t want this. She knew that the farther down this road she traveled with Marcus, the harder it would be to break with him when the time came. She knew that women bonded to men through their pleasure, through orgasm, and each time he came at her and brought her release, those “tendrils of euphoria” would wrap themselves tighter and tighter around her heart. Was she being wise?

Uh … no.

He moved to round the bottom of the bed then sat down on her left and rubbed her back. “What happened? You gave me this delicious wave of your scent then an ice wall.”

His scent hadn’t changed, he was one licorice twizzler and she wanted her tongue all over him.

She rolled on her right side so that she could look up at him, which of course exposed her breasts to him—and he didn’t hesitate to take in the view. His lips parted and he leaned toward her but she put her hand on his shoulder, stopping him. “Marcus, what’s going to happen to us? Because I swear every minute I’m with you, I’m getting sucked in deeper and deeper. I … I don’t want to love you.”

He shrugged. “Just fuck me then.”

She laughed but couldn’t help but notice that his smile didn’t quite reach his eyes. So he was worried as well.

She lifted a brow. “I’m scared. You’re … you’re an awe-inspiring man, a warrior of excellence—”

“A deserter—”

“Yes. That disturbs me most of all. What if I fall for you, I mean really fall for you, and then you disappear because life gets a little too hard?”

He shifted so that he sat more evenly on the bed, closer to her. She could see that the small apertures of his wing-locks were moist with desire. She ran her hand over them without thinking. His back arched and he murmured something unintelligible. She couldn’t mistake the response. “I love your body,” she whispered.

“You know, if you’re trying to push me away, you’re doing a piss-poor job of it.” There was an edge to his voice.

“You’re angry.”

“I’m frustrated. We’re in the same boat, you and me. Life got to us, robbed something from each of us. I understand your question, the real question, as in, how can you love me, how can I love you when there is war and death and grief? And my leaving Second Earth when I did you see as the worst betrayal a man could make.”

“Yes,” she whispered, but her hand slid over his back again. She drank in the wave of fennel that once more wafted from his body, beckoning to her, speaking to her, drawing her in. Her hand fell low and she dragged the backs of her fingernails over his buttocks. “I’m just saying, don’t expect anything from me.”

He turned to look at her. His light brown eyes were drawn in pain. “I have nothing to give. It was all too much, Havily. Maybe that’s the real plight of living a long life. One day you wake up and you just can’t take it anymore. I don’t know. So I guess the question is, do you want me to leave you alone?” He snorted. “Or at least try to leave you alone because so far it’s been damn impossible.”

“What if I said yes?”

He growled softly. As she drifted her hand over his wing-locks again, the moisture increased. By the time she reached his neck, her hand was wet. Eric’s wing-locks hadn’t shed moisture like this when aroused. But hers did. She and Marcus were alike in that respect. She slid her hand into his hair, grabbed on, then drew him toward her. He turned and planted his right hand next to her shoulder. He kissed her.

“I’m a hypocrite,” she said.

“No. It’s the breh-hedden. You could ask me to stay away, but I couldn’t, not right now. Maybe in time this stupid thing will fade, dim, release me, us, both of us.”

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