Upon waking the next morning, I found Dristan still fast asleep beside me. He hadn’t moved an inch. He must’ve been truly exhausted, then...
The morning was still young, as it was still dark outside the windows of the bedroom. I watched him dreamily for a little while as my mind and body fully awoke from their slumber.
Eventually, I crept out of bed and made my way to the washroom. My mouth tasted terrible from all the wine I’d consumed last night, but thankfully, I did not have a hang over. I had my remarkably fast healing abilities to thank for that.
The marble floor of the washroom was cold against my bare feet. I brushed my teeth swiftly, ridding myself of the taste of last night, and then stepped into the large, stone shower.
As much as I enjoyed bathing in the tub, I adored this shower. It was massive. The walls and floor were made up of smooth stones that were all shapes and sizes. They had been sanded down so that they were smooth and shiny. The space was massive, large enough to fit several people.
I stood beneath the steamy water, letting it cascade over me with its luxurious heat. I watched the water run down my legs and disappear down the drain. I tried to imagine the water washing away all of my negative emotions, cleansing me, making me pure.
After lathering my body with vanilla bean scented soap, and scrubbing my hair with sweet smelling shampoo, I stood beneath the water a little bit longer. It felt so good... I leaned forward, resting my head against the wall as I pushed my lower back beneath the stream. The hot water relaxed my sore muscles, which seemed to be constantly in pain from training lately. It was heaven. In that moment, nothing could have felt better.
Or, so I thought.
I gasped when a large, warm hand cupped my bottom, snapping me out of my relaxing daydream. “Dristan...” I whispered.
I moved to stand up straight, but his other hand came down onto the middle of my back, effectively keeping me in place. I peeked over my shoulder and found him standing behind me, gloriously naked, and staring hungrily down at my very exposed backside.
I nearly drooled at the sight of him. His tanned skin was flawless. Cords of thick muscle rippled down his abdomen toward the v shaped cuts of his hips, pointing straight down to his very noticeably hard manhood.
“I can think of no better sight to gaze upon, especially first thing in the morning.” He purred, sliding his hand slowly down my spine to cup my other cheek. His hands firmly massaged my ass, lifting and spreading and squeezing the fleshy mounds.
I felt the velvet hardness of his erection brush against my inner thigh. Instantly, my breath hitched in my throat and my heart began to hammer against my ribs. I’d gone nearly an entire week without being intimate with him, and I hadn’t realized until this very moment just how badly I needed him.
His touch was searing to my sensitized flesh, somehow even hotter than the steaming water that was still cascading over me. A deep growl crept up his throat. The sound was animalistic... Territorial, and vicious. It sent a warning, straight to every nerve ending in my body, of exactly what he wanted to do to me.
Intense desire bloomed from deep within my belly, making me gasp. My sudden need for him quickly spread throughout my body, making my arms and legs break out in goosebumps. Pulsing heat and desire rushed toward my center, instantly making itself known to him as damp arousal suddenly seeped from between my legs.
He inhaled sharply, his eyes snapping to mine, as he caught the scent. His hands froze in place. I stared at him over my shoulder with hooded eyes, my cheek still pressed against the cool stone wall. His pupils dilated a fraction, and then his hand began to travel south, straight toward my sex.
When his fingers slid through my folds, he bared his teeth and growled in approval at the wetness he found there. I moaned, closing my eyes, as he lifted his fingers to his lips and sucked them into his mouth.
“Already so eager and I’ve barely even touched you, mate.” He whispered.
“I need you.” I panted, pushing my ass toward his hips, desperate for friction.
He caught my advance with his hand, and I nearly convulsed as he palmed my aching heat. He used his other hand to hold my hips in place. He growled softly, pressing his palm firmly against my core, cupping my most sensitive area with extreme intimacy.
“Who does this belong to?” He asked, his voice rough, and low.
I felt like I could come, right then and there, as I moaned against my shoulder. Gods above, he was so damned sexy. How could he bring me to the edge, drive me so close to ecstasy, with only his words? It was maddening...
“You... Only you...” I answered breathlessly.
I cried out in surprise and excitement as he whipped my body around, lifted me against him, wrapped my legs around his hips, and slammed my back against the slick wall. I opened my eyes and found his sapphire pair an inch from mine.
With one arm supporting me beneath the butt, he reached down with the other and fisted his rock hard member. His eyes searched mine as he pumped his fist up and down his shaft. My eyes followed greedily as his tongue flicked out, lazily stroking his lower lip as he watched me.
We both lunged at the same time.
Our lips collided with such passion that I saw colors dancing behind my closed lids. I moaned against his sweet kiss, and he flicked his expert tongue between my lips.
He sucked the thickness of my lower lip between his sharp teeth, and as he harshly bit down on it, he simultaneously slammed the full length of his manhood into me.
Rough. Claiming. Unforgiving.
He snarled against my swollen lips, thrashing the heat of his tongue against mine, as he began relentlessly pounding into me. My hands twisted into his thick, dark hair, and I held on for dear life as he took, and gave, and took, and gave...
“Oh my gods...”
“I know, baby... Fuck, you feel so good...”
His teeth grazed down my jawline, down the slope of my neck, until he stopped just above the spot where he’s bitten me when we first made love.
He licked the flesh there, teased it with his sharp canines, as he fucked me against the wall.
His thrusts were so forceful, so powerful, that my back was sliding up and down the wall. Each time I’d move too far up, he would yank me back down, and continue his unforgiving assault.
I thought I might split it two.
And I didn’t care.
I cried out in intense pleasure as he sank his teeth into my neck, marking me as his. The sensation shot straight to my center and I almost came, right then and there.
But he sensed this, and stopped. I groaned in frustration as he pulled his face away and pressed his forehead against mine. He painted heavily, his minty breath fanning over my cheeks.
“Not yet... Too soon.” He panted.
He was buried within me, unmoving, as he held me against the shower wall. I was so full, so encumbered with the overwhelming mass of him. It felt so gods damned good. I never wanted him to stop.
“Please... Don’t stop.” I whispered against his lips. I felt him smile as he kissed me.
He gathered me in his arms and turned us around before he sank to the floor with me straddling him. He sat with his back against the wall, while the warm water rained down my back.
“If you want it... Take it.” He dared me, staring wantonly at me from beneath lowered brows.
I stared down at him in shock, fear suddenly freezing me in place. I’d never done this before... What if I did it wrong? What if he didn’t like it?
Noticing my change in energy, he pulled my face toward his. “What’s wrong?”
I bit my lower lip, avoiding his eyes. His thumb came up, pulling my lip from my teeth.
“I... I don’t know how... What if I’m not good at it?” I said shyly.
He smiled softly, lightly brushing his thumb over my cheek. “Impossible.”
I blushed as a small smile spread across my lips. A feeling of comfort and confidence came over me as he stared lovingly into my eyes.
Dristan thought I was sexy, and so I felt sexy. Nothing else mattered. My inexperience, my self doubt, my insecurities... They didn’t matter. Not with my mate.
It was empowering.
Grasping this new sense of confidence, I untangled my hands from his hair and slowly slid them down the sides of his tanned neck. I stopped as my palms came to rest atop his shoulders.
His hand slid down my sides, grasping firmly onto my hips. He gazed up at me, his pupils fully blown, his breath ragged and deep, as I pulled my lower lip between my teeth.
I moved on instinct.
Holding his stare, I slowly lifted my hips upward and back, using my legs for momentum, while pushing down on his shoulders for support.
He groaned, leaning his head back against the wall, as his eyes fluttered closed.
Rolling my hips forward, I sank back down, feeling every glorious inch of his thickness fill my insides to the hilt. I moaned softly.
Gods, it was deep this way. It felt like I’d combust, so full with him. It was almost painful, but only just.
I repeated the motion, rolling my hips smoothly, as I slowly worked him in and out, in and out. My eyes were closed, my head thrown back in ecstasy, as I rode him at my own pace.
When I opened my eyes, I found him staring up at me with such love and admiration that it literally took my breath away.
“You amaze me, Brenya.” He whispered gently.
His hands left my hips and slid up my sides, following the dip of my waist, sliding firmly over my rib cage, before he palmed both of my breasts. My hands entangled into his hair as I whimpered with pleasure.
“Is there nothing you cannot do to perfection?” His voice was gruff and needy as he lifted, squeezed, and massages my aching mounds. His thumb flicked the stiff peak of my right nipple and I mewled with delight.
“I will never have my fill of you.” He growled.
He leaned forward while one of his hands snaked around me, pressing into my back and pulling me closer to him. His other hand still cupped my swollen breast, and he used it to guide my nipple into his scorching mouth.
I let out a long, needy moan as I continued to ride him. I buried my face into his damp hair, inhaling his pine and flame scent, as he kissed and nipped at my sensitive flesh.
“Why does it feel like I’m never close enough to you?” I whispered into his ear, flicking my tongue out to tease it. “You fill me so completely...” I slowly lowered onto him, letting every inch of his considerable length stretch and fill me. “You’ve tied yourself to me in almost every way... And yet I want more."
His teasing hand left my breast and joined the other at my back as he pulled me closer, bringing our chests flush against each other. There wasn’t a single space between our skin.
“I love you.” He murmured against my neck.
He sucked, kissed, and bit his way up the column of my throat before his decadent lips found mine. He seemed to kiss me with every ounce of passion in the universe. I whimpered against his lips as the force of my love for him overwhelmed me.
It was somehow both healing, and destructive, all at once. It ripped me apart at the seams of my very being, yet welded together every inch of my soul. It absolutely terrified me, and yet made me feel safer than I’d ever felt before. It broke me, healed me, shattered me, and fixed me, all at the same time.
I let him feel every shred of my emotions, shouted them down the bond, as I continued to worship him physically. I loved him with my mind, and with my body, all at the same time. I wanted him to feel all of it, every ounce of the love that he’d awoken in me.
He gasped against my mouth as his eyes flew open. His hands were suddenly grasping both sides of my face as he pressed his forehead to mine. He stared into my eyes in wonderment, his lips slightly parted, as I continued to roll my hips against his.
“Do you feel how much I love you?” I breathed, running my hands down his neck. I cupped his jaw with both hands, running my thumbs over his lips, as we stared into each other’s soul.
His eyes closed briefly, and when he shouted his own emotions down the bond, I cried out in pure bliss.
It was like being him for a moment. He took me into his mind, let me see through his own eyes, as he watched himself pumping in and out of my heat. I could feel the tightness of my walls squeezing around his flesh, sheathing him in the most intimate way. I could feel his need to protect me, to shield me from any harm. I could feel his awe, his desire, his love. All of it.
It overwhelmed me. It was almost unbearable. I thought I might burst into flames with all of that love and passion heating my veins.
“Dristan!” I whimpered.
He snarled, rolling us to the side. He cradled the back of my head in his hands protectively as he began to fuck me roughly on the shower floor.
I locked my ankles behind his back, gasping loudly with each of his mighty stokes. His teeth were bared, a steady stream of grunts and growls ripping through him, as he slammed into me again and again.
I couldn’t hold out any longer.
I was going to come.
“I want to feel you detonate around me while I fill you.” He growled.
I trembled against him as my orgasm summited, holding me at the peak of the most intense pleasure I’d ever experienced. “Please...” I gasped.
His lips crashed into mine as he felt my walls quicken. I cried out against his kiss as I pulsated around his thickness, coming around him again, and again, and again.
The heat of his tongue swept against mine, tasting me as I came. He kissed me desperately, as if he could absorb my screams of ecstasy into himself.
And with a final, harsh thrust of his hips, he erupted. He roared as I cradled his head to my chest, right over my pounding heart, and I could feel the warmth of his release shooting deeply within me.
Our panting breaths gradually slowed as he laid atop me, still buried inside. I slowly ran my fingers through his hair as he settled down, and I savored the sweet afterglow of our lovemaking.
Eventually, he gently withdrew himself from me and rolled onto his back, pulling me with him. I settled on top of him, resting my chin on my hands, as I gazed up at his face.
For a while, we simply gazed at each other in silent, loving admiration.
“Sometimes, it frightens me.” He said, breaking the stillness.
I kissed his chest. “What does?”
“How much you mean to me. How much I love you. How much you’re a part of my soul.” He answered quietly.
I smiled gently up at him. “Me too... Sometimes, it feels like a dream. Like I’ll wake up, back in my village, and it’ll be like your world never existed. It still doesn’t feel real, sometimes... Being part of your world.”
He cupped my face in his hands, slowly running the pads of his thumbs over my cheeks and lips, as he smiled at me lovingly.
“My world didn’t exist until I met you, Brenya. You are my world.”
He leaned forward and caught my tears with his lips, kissing them away. And as he held me to him, like I might break into pieces, like I was the most precious, fragile thing in the world, I felt our souls merge even closer together than they had ever been before.
After a lovely, peaceful breakfast of coffee and banana pancakes with Dristan, I made my way to the infirmary to see Warrick.
I did not tell my mate of my plans to see Warrick, because I didn’t want anyone else pressuring me or holding me to any expectations.
I found it more difficult to part with Dristan today, after the wonderful morning we’d shared. After many, many lingering kisses, we’d reluctantly parted ways to go about our days.
Dristan had business to attend to with the blacksmith, preparing more specialized weapons to arm our growing army with. And I had plans of my own...
But when, once again, I came face to face with the door of the infirmary, I could not conjure enough courage to open it. This was exactly why I hadn’t told Dristan. If I had, and he’d learned of my failure, he’d be disappointed, and I didn’t want that.
I’d stood before the door for twenty minutes. Touching the handle, pulling away, reaching for it, and pulling away again.
I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t face him. Not until I could fix him. And I would fix him.
I made my way to the training rooms after that, frustrated and ready to channel my negative energy through some physical activity.
I trained for several hours with Marrok, as usual. He was in unusually high spirits today. As we practiced our sword fighting skills on each other with wooden replicas, I couldn’t help but notice a strange smile on his face now and again.
“You’re quite chipper today.” I pointed out, lunging toward his left leg with my sword.
He easily blocked me, twirling to my left. “Yes, I’m feeling good.”
I twirled the hilt in my hand. “May I ask why?”
He grinned, slashing at my ribs. I dodged him.
“I spent the morning with my sister. She was happier than I’d seen her in...” He paused, frowning. Then, a huge smile lit up his face. “Well, I’ve never seen her so happy, come to think of it.”
I laughed, swatting the side of my wooden blade against his leg. In his distracted state of mind, he didn’t dodge me in time, as he hissed at the sting of the blow.
“Oh! Sorry, I thought you’d counter that!” I said, covering my mouth.
He laughed, and I couldn’t help but join him.
“It’s fine. You hit like a crone, anyway. Barely felt like a mosquito bite.” He teased, rubbing his leg.
My eyebrow quirked upward. “A crone?” I scoffed. “How rude. You’re lucky I like you.” I teased back, swinging my sword at his face.
He side stepped me, still grinning. “She told me about your girls night. I can’t tell you how much it means to me, you taking the time to be her friend. She’s never had that, not really. Kale was very controlling of her. He isolated her, as part of his need for control, and didn’t allow her to have friends. And her counseling has been going very well. She’s been deamed well enough to only need two sessions per week, now. I’m seeing things in her... positive things... that I’ve never seen before. It’s like she’s finding herself. It’s been very good for her, being here... She adores you. And Andromeda, too.”
I stopped sparring, lowing my weapon at my side, as I smiled at my wolf friend. His words truly touched my heart, made me feel... Healed, in a way. Knowing that Sylvie was healing also healed me.
If Sylvie could grow, and forgive, and move forward... Then maybe that meant I could forgive myself for what I’d done to her, too. I could move forward, too.
“I’m so glad.” I said, my eyes burning with happiness. “I really do love her. She deserves all the happiness in the world. And she’s a wonderful friend to have. Honestly, I didn’t have friends either, before... I feel like we’ve found each other for a reason. It’s fate. All of this is.”
He nodded slowly, still smiling at me fondly. “I think so, too.”
Sunset was only a couple of hours away as I walked through the long, stone hallways, toward the library. I felt like a dirty criminal for what I was doing, but it was a necessary evil.
Warrick needed help. If helping him meant risking my life, and enraging my mate, that was a sacrifice I was willing to make.
I entered the library, brushing my hand against the stone dragon statue near the doors. As usual, at this time of night, it was vacant.
I adored the library. It was massive, dark, and of course, filled with books. Furnished with plush, oversized chairs of dark leather and candle lit chandeliers, it gave off a warm, inviting energy.
But it was the smell I loved the most. The scent of incense, leather, and worn pages of ancient books filled my senses. I breathed in deeply, smiling softly at the familiar scent.
As I quietly closed the double doors behind me, I walked toward the far end of the library, looking for Ronan. I found him perched atop the same desk I’d been using last night, legs dangling off the side, his nose stuck in a large book.
His back was to me. He was very absorbed in whatever it was that he was reading, and I had a feeling that he hadn’t noticed me entering. I’d been very quiet, so he probably hadn’t heard me in his states of concentration.
I crept closer, tiptoeing toward his back, as silent as the shadows of night. I smiled to myself as I stopped just behind the desk.
This is for being a prick so often.
“WHAT’RE YOU DOING RONAN?!” I yelled sharply, shoving at his back with exaggerated force.
“SHIT!” He cried, flying forward off the desk, stumbling a few feet and tripping over a stack of books.
I erupted into a massive fit of laughter, doubling over and clutching at my stomach as he whirled around and stared at me in horror.
His eyes were so wide I could see the whites all the way around them. His chest heaved up and down as he struggled to calm his hammering heart, which I could hear from several feet away.
“You rutting idiot! Gods...” He complained, holding a hand against his chest.
“You-your face!” I laughed, pointing at him. “You should’ve seen- Oh my gods, that was so good!”
He glared at me as I struggled to catch my breath, streams of giggles still escaping past my lips.
“That was not funny.” He grumbled, picking up the book he’d dropped from the floor.
I leaned against the desk, grinning. “You deserved it. And it was very funny.”
He narrowed his eyes at me, but a moment later, he cracked a smile. “I suppose I did deserve it. And it was a little funny. But you’ll pay for it.”
I made a face of mock terror and he rolled his eyes.
“Did you find anything useful?” I asked, trying to be serious. I was trying to bat away the images of the hilariously horrified face he’d made out of my mind.
“Actually...” He said, smiling.
He took a few steps toward the desk, resuming his sitting position atop it. I stared at him eagerly from the other side, waiting.
He let out a soft laugh. “You’re not going to believe this.”
My brows raised. “What?”
He took a deep breath. “I didn’t find the spell we need... But I found where we can get it. And...”
He paused, rubbing his jaw.
He turned to look at me. “And I solved the rune riddle.”
My jaw dropped. “What? How?”
He flipped open the book he’d been reading and held it out for me to see. I squinted my eyes at the worn page, confused.
“Sylphs... What’s a Sylph? And what do they have to do with anything?” I asked, perplexed.
He grinned. “Sylphs are invisible air spirits. They live in, and protect, the cloud realm.”
I blinked at his as my lips parted in understanding. “In plain sight, yet out of reach... None may see, though all bequeath!” I chanted, reciting the first part of the riddle.
His grin widened and his white teeth flashed. “Precisely.”
My brows furrowed. “But... What does that have to do with the spell we need?”
He sighed. “Sylphs said to be the greatest healers in our world. But they do not consort with others outside of their own kind. They’re very mysterious. Few have ever even seen them. They’re invisible, unless they want to be seen. While reading this book, I found that they have regenerative healing powers. They have spells that can replenish, too. I think they can help us.”
I let out a strange sound, a mixture of relief and frustration. “Okay... How do we find them?”
“That’s where the second part of the riddle comes into play.” He said, averting his eyes toward the book in his lap.
“Only those to gain our speech, are those who practice what we preach...” He quoted. “The Sylphs do not believe in violence or war. They hold honesty, love and compassion above all else. Because of their strong aversion to war, I’m afraid they will turn us away.” He explained glumly.
I shook my head slowly. “They won’t.”
“How do you know?”
“Because the air rune is with them. My parents left it with them for me to find. They wouldn’t have left it with the Sylphs if they thought they wouldn’t help me.” I said firmly.
“But you want the rune for war, princess. They won’t allow you to use it for violence.” He countered.
“No.” I said, smiling. “I’m not going to use it for war. I’m going to let the king think we are going to war, but really, we’re just going to send them through the portal. That isn’t violent, is it? No one is going to die. They’re just going to... Transcend.”
He stared at me with furrowed brows, his eyes searching mine as his mind worked.
“Don’t you see?” I continued. “My parents knew this when they left the runes for me to find. They knew I would understand how to use the portal spell as a weapon to rid the world of the king. They knew the Sylphs would give it to me because of that. It all makes sense...”
His eyes cleared as I spoke, and when I finished, he sighed and nodded. “I hope you’re right.”
“I know I’m right.” I said, grinning.
He grinned back. “Cocky.”
I rolled my eyes. “Okay, so... How do we find them?”
He frowned. “That’s the biggest problem. The cloud realm is invisible, as are the Sylphs.”
I groaned, covering my face with my hands. “Rutting hell...”
“We should have a council meeting. The others might know more.” He said.
I lowered my hands and sighed. “Okay. We’ll hold one tomorrow morning.”
“Agreed. And you’re not taking credit for cracking the riddle, by the way.” He teased.
I snorted. “Fine... But, Ronan...”
He lifted a brow.
“Make no mention of the replenishment spell or the original rune I’m going to make with it. No one knows about it, understood?” I warned.
He nodded firmly. “Yes, your grace.”
I smiled briefly. “Good. Call for the meeting tomorrow. I’ll pretend I didn’t know about you solving the riddle. I don’t want anyone asking questions about why we were here.”
He nodded again. “Of course... Wouldn’t want anyone knowing of your secret meetings with me. They might think that you’re secretly in love with me or something.”
I stared daggers at him as he grinned.
“Say something out of line like that again, Ronan...” I said darkly. “And I’ll kick you out of the Aviary myself. Understood?”
His grin immediately disappeared. He cleared his throat and slid off the desk. “Apologies...”
“I am not to be disrespected. I may be your friend, Ronan. But I’m also your future queen. And I am mated. I expect you to show me the respect that I deserve.” I said acidly.
His face turned pink. “Yes. I’m sorry.”
I stared at him a moment longer, my face stern and vicious, letting him feel how serious I was. Letting him understand that I was not a woman that he could toy around and flirt with.
I would not allow it.
“Good. Have a lovely evening.” I hissed.
With that, I spun on my heel and strode out of the library, leaving him stunned and red faced behind me. I didn’t look back.
My anger cooled as I walked back to my rooms. I grinned to myself as I turned the corner of the hallway that led home. For the first time in a week, it had been a great day.
Dristan and I had spent the morning together. Sylvie was healing. Marrok was happy. Ronan found a way to find the spell we needed to heal Warrick, and had also solved the rune riddle.
We could find the next rune. We could bring our people one step closer to winning the war...
But most importantly... I knew we could help Warrick. I could save his wing. I could give him back his freedom. I could fix him.
Everything was falling into place.
Today, I felt like a gods damned queen.