Burning Skies Page 77

After a moment, he opened his eyes, met her gaze, and said, “Being burned like that was nothing to what I felt when I realized you’d been taken by that monster. I was in and out of consciousness but every time I came to, you were what I thought of and I knew what would happen to you if he kept you for any length of time.

“The breh-hedden hooked me in deep in all the ways that men get hooked in with their women, a burning need to stick close, to protect you, to make sure no other man got to you. Damn, the possessiveness and jealousy alone—” He stopped for a moment and dipped low, kissing down the length of her cleavage, then licking his way back up. He ignored her whimpers. “Like this dress … I love it and I hate it, because every warrior there tonight could see what only I should be allowed to see and yet I loved showing you off … see how twisted it all is … because I wanted them to know that this was mine, you are mine.” He buried his face between her breasts. He used his tongue, his lips, his teeth.

She moaned softly and he felt her arm move, then her hand. Oh, shit, she’d slipped her finger into his mouth. He nearly lost it as her finger stroked his tongue.

He wanted to rip the dress off her and take her then and there, but his soul still cried out to speak the words that had to be spoken.

It killed him, but he drew away from her breasts and lifted his gaze to her once more. Her finger followed and slid down his cheek. “You’re mine,” he said. “And I want to make you mine in every possible way.

“But I have to try to help you see what you did for me this evening, when I realized you were the one who instigated a change of administration. Yes, I was shocked at first that you or anyone would suggest that I not return to the Warriors of the Blood. I owed them for the two centuries they’d fought on without me.

“But you called it. Dammit, you called it exactly right. As soon as you started talking about what was needed I realized I’d just spent the last two hundred years preparing to take over. That you saw it in me first, and matched my skills with the current need … Havily, that was pure fucking genius.”

Havily smiled. “You should have seen how furious Endelle was when I first mentioned it. Tonight she was all poise, but back then she sprouted horns, big, thick, heavy, twisted horns. I thought she would jump out of her skin. I was just afraid you would misunderstand and think I was trying to keep you safe.”

He shook his head. “I took it that way at first. I shouldn’t have but damn, you gave a good accounting of yourself, of your reasoning. You’ve got some serious administrative chops.”

“Thank you,” she said, her head tilted.

He kissed her. She drew a breath, and a little puff of nervous air returned. “So we’re doing this, you and me?”

He nodded slowly. “If you’ll have me, I want nothing more than to complete the breh-hedden with you. But what about you?”

“I want to but I’m so nervous. What do you think will happen? Did you ever know anyone who completed the ritual, I mean before Kerrick and Alison? All the warriors kept saying they believed it was a myth.”

“Over the four millennia that I served as a warrior, I only knew of one case, but it was so long ago I don’t remember the details. Although I think once the bond was sealed, I saw very little of my fellow warrior except during battle and he didn’t speak of his breh, out of respect. Besides, the subject would have been too damn personal.”

“Are you anxious about this?”

“I need you too much to be worried. Whatever this ritual is, whatever it’s meant to be, I want it, with you, now.”

She looked around. “So where do you want to do this? Right here? On this couch?”

He smiled. “Actually, I’d like to be in the place where you came to me every night in what we both thought was a dream.”

She smiled but a blush suffused her cheeks. “Your bed.”

“My bed. You don’t know how much I’ve wanted you there and Havily, I want you to know that I’ve never brought a woman to this house before. This place for me was, is, sacred.”

She smiled and once more put her hand on his face. She leaned forward and kissed him.

When she drew back, he slid her off his lap, and as he stood up he lifted her to her feet at the same time. He could have folded her to the bedroom but for some reason he wanted to lead her there. He turned in the direction of the stairs by the entry. She followed him, her free hand on his forearm. She stroked her fingers lightly over the muscle. His heart swelled again, that strange sensation he knew now to be his yearning for her, his love for her.

Yes, he loved her.

That which hides in the heart

Must be brought to light

And Forgiven

—Collected Proverbs, Beatrice of Fourth

Chapter 25

Havily held on to Marcus, her right hand in his, her left hand latched onto his muscled forearm. He was her tether right now as she followed him up the stairs. The skylight above was a mixture of light and emerging stars. She remembered the summer nights, the twilights that lasted for hours in the Pacific Northwest.

When she entered his bedroom, she knew she’d been here before if only in the darkening. The room was exactly as she remembered it.

“Havily, there’s one thing I have to do first.” He released her hand, turned into her, and planted his hands on her waist. She watched his gaze fall to her cleavage. “Your dress has been tormenting me for hours.”

She gasped at the wild, intent look in his eyes. Fennel rushed at her. He slid his hands low around her hips, dipped down, and put his mouth in a warm wet assault on the swell of her breasts.

Oh. My. God.

She drew a deep breath through her nose, which sent all that rich fennel straight into her brain. Desire cascaded over her body, tingling the tips of her fingers, sending chills down her arms and her back, making her feet arch even in her stilettos. She moaned as he pushed her back—his favorite move—only this time in the direction of the bed until her legs touched the mattress. He lowered her down, one hand supporting her across her shoulders, until the upper half of her body was on the bed. The lower half she supported with her heels square on the carpet, the tips of her stilettos digging in.

He pulled at the shoulders of her dress until the straps were hanging down her arms. In quick, practiced, but almost desperate maneuvers, he freed both breasts from her dress then her bra. He settled onto her left breast, his hands molding the flesh as he devoured her with his mouth, kissing, licking, suckling hard. At the same time, he plucked and pulled and rubbed the other.

She arched off the bed, which encouraged him to take more of her breast into his mouth. She whimpered and buried her hands in his hair. “Marcus” left her lips in a moan.

He drew back suddenly, his eyes fierce. “Turn over,” he barked.

She leaned up on her elbows. “Why?”

His eyes once more fell to half-mast and he murmured. “Does it matter? Have you ever disliked anything I’ve done to you?”

She gasped and without demur flipped over so that she was facedown. Why wasn’t she surprised that, before she could protest, he ripped her gown straight down the middle of the back, ignoring the zipper that was right there.

“You didn’t like this dress?” she asked, smiling, her cheek pressed into the comforter. She knew what his answer would be.

He growled. “I liked this dress too much and so did all the other men in that room. Every time one of them looked at your chest, I was ready to draw my sword.”

Havily shouldn’t have enjoyed the sensation so much, but she trembled all over at this absurd demonstration of testosterone. He kept tugging the dress until he had jerked it off her arms, down her abdomen, and pulled it from her hips. She now lay facedown in a black silk thong and thigh-high black stockings, the tops laced with red ribbon. He unclasped her bra and that, too, got tugged off her body until she rocked from side to side and was laughing.

She heard another displacement of clothing. His. Oh. God.

She wrenched her head around and watched as he shucked his shirt, slacks, shoes, and socks. His briefs were tented, which of course made her groan. He caught the angle of her gaze and slowly slid the Calvins down until what she wanted most sprang free. He stepped out of his briefs and moved in behind her.

Spread your legs, he sent.

How wicked to be so on display for him. She felt his warm fleshy hand on her thong and with a whisper of thought folded her panties away. Now he could see every bit of her. She moved her hips from side to side.

He groaned then moved between her legs, and the hardest part of him teased the opening to her core. You’re wet drifted through her mind, his voice in her head an erotic thrill.

You’re here, she responded. What else would I be?

He planted his hands on her waist then smoothed his palms over her buttocks, up her hips, over her back. She writhed as his fingers played over the sensitive wing-locks. She cried out. Each touch sent shards of pleasure straight to her core. She clenched.

His hands moved off her back until he had one planted to each side of her. She felt his hips on her buttocks first, then his mouth, as he kissed one of her wing-locks. She jerked at the sensation.

You like? he asked. He licked the delicate aperture.

Oh, God, was the only response she could think to send.

He settled in with his tongue and little cries erupted from her throat. Her body undulated. A wave of fennel wafted over her. He teased her opening with the crown of his cock, but never quite made his way inside even though she pushed back with her hips, inviting him. What a tease he was.

He shifted his body to the side just a little. She felt the weight of his arm across her upper back as his free hand drifted down her buttocks. His fingers teased all the fully exposed, sensitive flesh. He played at her opening and when she groaned, he thrust two fingers inside hard. She cried out and he became a machine of movement as his arm worked her body like a piston, shoving his fingers inside and pulling them out, over and over, until she was clenching hard. At the same time, at the same time, his mouth moved over the same wing-lock, teasing, tasting. He suckled and bit. Moans left her mouth. Her body was on fire.

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