When they’d finished building the travois under Tere’s guidance they strapped Aidan on securely. Raef and Tarienne spent a few moments on some more healing spells but Aidan’s skin still felt very warm. Tarienne was terribly worried about the source of his fever. She wiped his face again with a cool cloth, dribbled some water into his mouth and checked the bindings, talking to him as she worked, hoping desperately that he could hear her.
Tere moved round to face Aidan’s stallion quietly speaking a few words in a language no-one else understood. Hauling himself up into the saddle he grimaced slightly. Tarienne wanted to check Tere’s bruised ribs, they obviously caused him some discomfort, though she knew that his wolf genetics would heal them quicker than anything she could do.
The companions rode more slowly than they would have liked stopping often to check on Aidan. Raef contacted his father projecting his thoughts across the vast distance between them to let him know what had happened and that they required help.
Three days into their journey they spotted a lone rider heading toward them. Halting Tarienne focused her gaze into the distance, crying out.
Raef’s face split into a huge grin. Daien and Tere looked confused until Tarienne explained excitedly.
“Rivi’s our sister and the best healer there is.”
Tarienne urged her horse forward to meet up with her sister with Raef close behind. The siblings leapt off their mounts hurtling into a three way hug which they held for a long time. Daien and Tere smiled at the joy between them. Tere smirked at Daien teasing.
“About to meet the family ...?”
Daien chuckled waiting until the three of them made their way back. Daien’s pulse escalated. Meeting Tarienne’s sister did make him a little nervous. His nerves soon dissipated when Tarienne gifted him with one of her heart stopping smiles, his pulse skittering for a different reason. The warmth in her eyes restored his confidence.
Tarienne was excited as she proudly introduced Daien squeezing his hand as she spoke.
“Arivaelle, this is Daien, my betrothed.”
Daien bowed slightly.
“It is indeed a great pleasure to meet you, Arivaelle.”
She smiled a beautiful, sweet smile back.
“And you dear, Daien. Welcome to our family.”
Arivaelle hugged Daien softly, then turned her attention to Tere.
“This is our dear friend, Tere.”
Arivaelle smiled again assessing Tere briefly.
“It is a pleasure to meet you wolf changeling, Tere.”
Tere bowed low his voice wavering sightly.
“The pleasure is all mine, My lady.”
Daien chuckled at Tere’s discomfort given his earlier teasing about meeting Tarienne’s family.
“Now, where is King Aidan?”
Her focus quickly snapping back to the purpose of her ride. Tarienne lead her around to Aidan, where he was still strapped to the travois. Arivaelle gasped placing her hands over Aidan’s weeping wound, closing her eyes. Tarienne watched as Arivaelle worked, noting the immediate change in Aidan’s colour.
After a few minutes Aidan’s eyes fluttered open. Arivaelle asked for some water. She supported Aidan’s head allowing him a small drink. Aidan licked his lips appreciatively. When his gaze finally slid to Arivaelle his eyes held a question.
“I must be dead. I’m being cared for by an angel.”
Grinning weakly he drifted back to sleep.
Tarienne rolled her eyes, chuckling.
“I think he’s going to be fine.”
They all chortled, partially with relief. Everyone except Arivaelle, who blushed furiously.
Arivaelle continued her healing spell over Aidan for some time then sponged his face and neck.
“We must get him to Darewood as soon as we are able.”
“When you are finished, we’ll move on.”
Arivaelle made them stop every couple of hours to tend Aidan. Each time she did he looked better and stayed awake a little longer. A deep sense of relief filled Tarienne.
Almost one week from the day that Aidan was injured, the group arrived in Darewood, to a joyous greeting of friends and family. Entering the inner circle of the Fae city Daien couldn’t hide his amazement at the beauty of Darewood. It was ethereal like its inhabitants.
When a tall, willowy, elegant blonde, with deep blue eyes appeared between the columns of the silver trees lining the entrance to the royal hall Daien wondered who she was. She seemed to be waiting. Stunning in soft cream robes floating around her slim body, her feet were bare and her soft blonde hair curled around her face, like a halo.
Daien’s question was answered moments later when Raef eyes snagged hers.
His voice rough with emotion a smile of joy transformed Raef’s face and he all but ran to Elyssia, scooping her into a crushing hug. Lifting her feet off the floor he held her close sliding her intimately down his body. The kiss they shared left no doubt of their love. This was a side of Raef that Daien hadn’t seen before but he understood how Raef felt being separated from his love for so long. Daien wondered how he’d cope with such a long separation from Tarienne. The realisation of how deeply he’d fallen in love with her frightened him a little.
Leaving Raef and Elyssia to their reunion they whisked Aidan to a warm room with a soft bed where he could rest and recuperate under Arivaelle’s watchful care. When they were certain that Aidan was comfortable and well cared for Tarienne showed Tere to a room not too far from her own, promising to show him around when they were all rested.
Daien was in awe of the beauty of her home. Walking with Tarienne hand in hand he gazed around exclaiming at its wonders. He marvelled at the golden leaves and silvery branches that intertwined to create stunning shimmering walls and the long corridors adorned with masses of colourful flowers woven together creating intricate patterns.
Tarienne chuckled at his childish wonder as she drew him into her room her pulse thumping a staccato beat of anticipation. Tarienne watched as Daien moved around reverently touching the walls and furniture until finally he refocused on her. When he prowled toward her, his eyes darkening with passion she held her breath. Tenderly pulling her into his arms Daien captured her lips, their tongues duelled and passion flared strong and hot.
Tarienne ran her hands up the hard muscles of his stomach to his chest, settling them over the drum beat of his heart. Daien’s hands slid down to her bottom pushing her against him, the hard length of his desire pressing into her. Pulling back for a moment Daien turned to gaze at the bed. The sensual timbre of his voice turned Tarienne’s insides molten.
“Hmmm, a warm soft bed. I hope you’re not planning to get much sleep tonight.”
Tarienne’s heart slammed into her ribs, her body instantly reacting to his words. Barely able to breathe Tarienne managed to push him away just enough to look up into his almost black eyes. In a low and husky voice, she spoke an invitation he could not refuse.
“Bathe with me first.”
Daien groaned loudly.
“Ren, Sweetheart whatever you want. I want to love you for as long as we can stay awake.”
Leaning so close that her lips were almost touching his Tarienne breathed.
“I love you so much, Daien. I look forward to the longest night with you.”
Daien could not hold back any longer, hauling her against him he covered her lips with his in a long, wet kiss then scooped her up carrying her to the bed. Placing her gently onto the soft cream coverlet he stretched himself out on top of her silencing her with his finger on her lips.
“We’ll bathe in a moment, I want to enjoy being with you, taking our time for a change.”
Drawing in a sharp breath Daien swore silently as she licked his finger then drew it into her mouth softly sucking on its tip. Withdrawing his finger from the moist heat of her mouth he replaced it with his lips.
Daien moved his body over hers until the evidence of his desire pressed into the vee between her legs. Tarienne’s warm, soft body arched into him and Daien swore under his breath again.
“I wanted to go slowly this time but you stir my blood so I’m not sure I can.”
Leaning down he dropped feather light kisses along her neck down to the exposed skin of her breast. Sliding his hand up her flat stomach Daien continued his exploration until he reached the hard bud of her nipple.
When she straightened her arms over her head in invitation to remove her blouse his entire body shook with the lust he barely held in check. Dragging her blouse over her head a growl rumbled through him. His tongue flicked out to lick her nipple and he watched her green eyes widen and her lips part on a gasp. Writhing beneath him as he suckled each tight bud in turn her little moans urged him on.
Sliding to one side Daien trailed his hand down her body. Tarienne moaned pushing at her riding pants desperately wanting them off so they could be skin to skin. Slipping off the edge of the bed Daien unfastened the buttons and yanked the riding pants down her legs. Returning quickly to his position over her he laved her nipple again as his hand began teasing strokes up her inner thighs. Tarienne pushed her hips up, wanting more.
Daien obliged slipping his fingers beneath her undergarments to circle her sensitive nub. Crying out Tarienne arched her hips into his hand making his desire ramp up a notch and his trousers tighten painfully. Capturing her lips Daien slid his tongue into her mouth. Tarienne moaned again as he eased his fingers into her warm wetness. Her damp heat and the musky scent of her arousal was almost his undoing. Feeling her tension rising he increased the tempo.
When Daien shifted his thumb to massage her sensitive nub Tarienne whimpered then thrashed beneath him calling his name as her climax exploded. Before the waves subsided Daien slid down her body to taste her sweet honey. His desire for her peaked, hardening his body even more but he refused to give in to his own burning ache until he brought her to another earth shattering crescendo screaming his name.
Her body still shuddering from the power of her climax Daien lifted himself and slid into her heat sighing as her inner muscles clamped around him sending shivers of desire lancing through his body. The sweet pleasure propelled his hips into a punishing rhythm and for the first time since they’d made love in her chambers in Therin Daien completely let go of his tight control giving in to the ultimate desire driving his body. When Tarienne wrapped her legs around his waist and arched into him he shouted her name driving into her over and over, his hot seed laving her womb. The exquisite pleasure of her muscles milking him robbed him of all coherent thought.
Supporting himself on his elbows he rested his forehead on hers fighting for breath. Daien kissed her softly then reluctantly slid off her gorgeous body pulling her to her feet.
“Where do we bathe, Sweetheart?”
Tarienne pointed to a small room off to the side of her chamber still breathless and barely able to speak.
A gentle tingle rippled over Daien as Tarienne spoke a few words of magic. Taking her hand he led her to the bathing areawhistling through his teeth at the amazing sight greeting him. A large, round bath surrounded by white cut stones evenly spaced around the edge nestled into a thick bed of soft moss which also served to cushion the sharp edges. Steam rose from the water as it bubbled gently. Daien turned to Tarienne his mouth agape. Smiling seductively she stepped closer and Daien lifted one of her hands to his lips, kissed each finger in turn and lead her into the water.
Sighing as the warm water enveloped them Daien dragged Tarienne onto his lap with her back to his chest his hands wandering over her luscious body. Amazed at how quickly she became frantic for him again he knew he could not last much longer either the way she writhed against him. Without warning she twisted out of his grip turning to face him and take his lips in a punishing kiss. Smiling against her insistent mouth he loved how much she desired him.
His beloved Fae almost undid him completely when she levelled a hot, sensual gaze at him and whispered.
“Stand up for me, my Daien.”
Hesitating for a moment he raised himself up so that only his legs were in the water. Fascination and arousal combined into a heady mix and he found himself shaking as he waited to see what she planned. Rivulets of water skittered down his body and the cool air was a caress bringing goose bumps to his exposed skin, that were soon dispelled when she ran her tongue up the length of him, lapping up the trickling drops of water.
Daien jumped and a deep groan rumbled through his body. Her eyes dark she met his gaze as she ran her fingernails gently along his shaft. Licking and nibbling she sipped at the small bead of moisture that had collected at the tip before she drew him into her mouth, her eyes seeking his as she worked her magic on him. It was the most erotic thing he had ever experienced. Crying out, he steadied himself with his hand in her hair.
“Whoa, Sweetheart, stop.”
To his surprise she did running her tongue seductively over her lips. Her green eyes, dark and wide met his and she sent him a smile so bewitching that his control was once again severed. Growling he pounced on her splashing the water on the rocks and moss as he captured her beneath him. Daien’s hands slipped around her lean body to cup her tight bottom. Groaning again as Tarienne writhed against him and rubbed her sweet body against his hard length he found himself incapable of waiting any longer and pushed impatiently at her entrance.
Tarienne slipped her hand between them circling her fingers around his throbbing manhood guiding him into her womanly folds. She sighed with pleasure when he slid into her tight sheath. All coherent thought was lost as he set a punishing rhythm encouraged by her whimpers and gasps. Her passion met his and an earth shattering climax surged through his body moments after her inner muscles clamped around him. They both cried out not caring if they were heard. Daien captured her mouth in a long, wet kiss that spoke of his love and promised more.
Laying in each other’s arms, they were breathing hard when Tarienne motioned for him to listen. Daien frowned unsure what he was supposed to be listening to. A shout and a loud moan reached his ears.
“Raef, oh Raef!”
Tarienne giggled quietly.
“I think they’re pleased to see each other.”
Chuckling, they cuddled in the warm water until Daien was ready to play some more. Drying each other on the exquisitely soft cloths they climbed into the comfortable, downy bed to indulge in a night of passion like they’d never truly been able to before. From the cries they heard coming from down the hall Raef was also indulging himself and Elyssia.
The next morning they were summoned to the great hall to meet Tarienne’s mother and father, Queen Aistarenne and King Thalion. Daien was a little nervous at the prospect of meeting the rest of Tarienne’s family butTarienne twined her fingers with his encouragingly.
“Do not fear, they will love you as I do.”
Taking a deep breath Daien nodded his readiness. They were about to enter the hall when someone launched themselves at Tarienne. Daien’s hand flew to the hilt of his sword ready to draw it, to defend her until he realised that Tarienne was laughing, enveloped in a giant hug.
“Kyre, you almost knocked us over.”
She hugged Kyre back fiercely and he kissed her on both cheeks.
“Ren, you’ve been gone for so long, damn, it’s good to see you.”
His grin almost split his face.
“Kyre, this is Daien. Daien, my brother, Kyre.”
Kyre eyed him for a moment then clapped him on the back and pulled him into a quick hug.
Daien reciprocated as Kyre whispered loudly.
“Good luck with Ren, she has quite a temper.”
Daien laughed and Tarienne swiped playfully at her brother.
Kyre was as tall as Raef, his long, wavy blonde hair hung loose down his back and his eyes shone a deep sea blue. Moving with grace and assurance he also had an air of mischief about him. Daien noted his muscular build and fearless demeanour and was certain he would be a dangerous enemy but an extraordinary ally. The looks he was getting from the women nearby told him that Kyre, like Raef, was extremely popular with women.
Authion, despite being younger was more temperate approaching Tarienne with a quiet dignity though the hug he gave her was no less fierce.
“I’ve missed you, dear sister. I’m so pleased you’re home.”
Turning his attention to Daien he extended his hand and when Daien accepted it, pulled him into a quick hug, his smile, warm and genuine.
“You must be Daien. Welcome to our home and our family.”
Daien noted how different Authion looked to the others, he was as tall as the rest of his family but his hair was black, secured all over in tiny braids and his eyes a vivid green, though his features were very much like Raef’s.
Tarienne broke into Daien’s thoughts.
“Arivaelle you’ve met,”
Tarienne continued, then turned as Raef and Elyssia entered behind them.
” ...and this is Elyssia.”
Elyssia moved from Raef’s side to greet Daien.
“It is a great pleasure to finally meet you.”
When Daien looked at her quizzically, she explained.
“Tarienne and I have spoken much of you through our mind connection .”
Daien raised his eyebrows at Tarienne, smiling at Elyssia.
“It is a pleasure to also meet you. The woman who captivates Raef, must be special indeed.”
Raef laughed and Elyssia blushed but smiled sweetly as she moved back to his side where Raef tucked her safely under his arm. Daien sensed a calm contentment settled around Raef and understood.
As one all in the room turned to face Queen Aistarenne and King Thalion as they stepped down from their thrones, hand in hand. They approached Tarienne and Daien first and Daien thought how regal and yet kind they both looked. The Queen took Tarienne’s hand in hers, her long red hair not unlike her daughters, yet tamed.
“Welcome home, my beautiful daughter, we have missed you.”
Tarienne stepped in close hugging her mother, tears in her eyes.
“I have missed you all so much.”
Aistarenne kissed Tarienne affectionately on the cheek then turned her attention to Daien holding her hands out to him. Grasping them gently he looking directly into her eyes smiling nervously.
“Do not fear, dear Daien you are most welcome here. Know that you are part of our family now, though at times you may not wish it so.”
Aistarenne glanced around the rest of her family raising an eyebrow, her eyes twinkling with amusement. The others chuckled and Daien grinned at her.
“I am very happy to be here and to be meeting Tarienne’s family.”
Aistarenne smiled at him again, then looked around.
“Where is Tere, the wolf changeling?”
A small voice answered.
“Here, your Majesty.”
They all turned to see Tere appearing small and nervous, standing with Authion. Authion nudged him forward and Tere took a step dropping to one knee and bowing his head.
“Your Majesty it is an honour to meet you. To be granted entry into your Kingdom is a great and unexpected gift.”
Aistarenne moved forward placing her hand on his head.
“Rise, Tere, you are welcome here. We have heard of your deeds and wish you to be at ease with us. We would be pleased if you would treat Darewood as your second home.”
Rising slowly Tere briefly met the Queen’s eyes.
“I no longer have a home, so I would be honoured to be accepted and live here, you are most gracious, your Majesty.”
Tere bowed low. Tarienne was thinking how humble he was, then almost snorted with laughter at the thought. She’d definitely been away too long.
Aistarenne stepped over to speak with Raef while Thalion introduced himself. Daien thought how very much alike Thalion and Tarienne were. The King was quite imposing and regal but more down to earth like his daughter. Aistarenne was elegant and serene, possessing a strength that her daughter had also inherited. Suppressing a chuckle Daien wondered which of them Tarienne acquired the stubbornness from.
Later that afternoon they visited with Aidan who, to their relief he was much improved. They found him sitting with Arivaelle, her hand in his, his thumb absently caressing her fingers. Tarienne rushed in throwing her arms around his neck, noting that Arivaelle quickly withdrew her hand from his busying herself with tidying the room.
“You look so much better, Rivi has done a wonderful job.”
Aidan grinned at her.
“Yes, she has.”
His face softened into a dreamy smile his eyes briefly flicking to Arivaelle. Tarienne looked between them, a grin spreading across her face. Beckoning to Arivaelle Tarienne pulled her into a hug.
“I don’t know what would have happened to AIdan without you.”
She added quietly for Arivaelle’s ears only.
“I see you have healed more than his wounds!”
Kissing Arivaelle on the cheek Tarienne pulled back grinning at her sister. She was pleased for sweet, shy Arivaelle and for Aidan. They were perfect for each other. Daien, Raef and Tere joined them, slapping Aidan gently on the back. They sat chatting with him for a long time catching up on everything, filling in the gaps for him.
“I wouldn’t mind a walk. I’m getting tired of sitting here.”
Aidan suggested looking hopefully at Arivaelle.
Arivaelle nodded, shooing the others out while she helped Aidan up despite their offers of assistance. He wrapped his arm around her shoulder for support, their eyes locking for a moment before she slipped her arm around his waist. Tarienne smiled, warmth and happiness bubbling within her that Aidan was healing and had found happiness with Arivaelle.
They walked slowly with Daien and Tarienne, Raef and Elsyssia into the grove of silver and gold trees that formed an archway through the centre of Darewood. Tere excused himself striding away with Authion to discuss battle strategy. Tarienne and Daien dropped back beside Raef and Elyssia watching Aidan and Arivaelle wrapped around each other chatting animatedly. Raef stopped sliding his arms around Elyssia kissing her passionately.
Daien took his cue turning Tarienne to face him. The heat of desire burned in his eyes turning her insides molten. Tarienne slipped her arms around his neck breathing in his delicious masculine scent. When she licked her lips Daien groaned lowering his mouth to hers for a long, sensual kiss that built a slow burn deep within her.
Aidan and Arivaelle turned around to see both couples locked in a passionate embrace. Aidan’s heart thumped erratically as he contemplated doing the same with Arivaelle. His eyes slid to hers holding her gaze for a moment then, in a bold move her hands made their way slowly to his chest. His heart drummed under her fingers and Arivaelle smiled encouragingly. Drawing in a sharp breath as their eyes locked once more Arivaelle’s lips parted her tongue sliding out to moisten them. Slowly Aidan lowered his head allowing her time to move away feeling her sweet breath on his lips. The scent of cinnamon and honey with a hint of vanilla, teased his senses.
Aidan suppressed a groan when, to his surprise she rose up to meet his lips. Kissing her gently, carefully, as though she might break he pulled back to gaze into her eyes. When she smiled happily he couldn’t resist dipping down for another kiss. Running his tongue over her full, soft lips his pulse skittered in response. Arivaelle softened for him parting her lips in invitation and Aidan allowed the groan to rumble through him, deepening the kiss, their tongues dancing together.
Aidan slid his hands to her tiny waist savouring the feel of her slim but curvy, body against his. Arivaelle slipped her hands around his neck her nails skimming his scalp. Aidan shivered pulling her against his overheated body. Losing themselves in the sensuality and heat of the kiss they were oblivious to their surroundings.
When they finally pulled apart, a little breathless the others were staring at them open mouthed. Aidan grinned shrugging, then turned back toward his chambers wrapping his arm around Arivaelle’s shoulders again. Rivi slipped her arm around Aidan’s waist and threw them a pleased grin. The others watched stunned as Aidan and Arivaelle passed them returning to his room. Raef was the first to recover, chuckling.
“Well what do you know, our little sister has fallen for the King!”
Tarienne met Raef’s eyes.
“Actually, I think she’s fallen for ‘just Aidan’.”