Aidan waited for several weeks after his father’s interment in the tombs beneath the castle before permitting his coronation ceremony. When he eventually gave the go ahead the preparations kept both he and Tarienne extremely busy. Tarienne wanted everything to be perfect for Aidan’s sake, working hard to ensure it would be.
Though she was occupied selecting the menu and organising the decoration of the Great Hall, her thoughts often wandered to Daien. She missed his warmth and good humour and ached to feel his lips on hers, his hard body pressed up against her. Having not caught more than a glimpse of him since their return to the castle she missed him more than she thought possible and wondered if he missed her too. A long sigh escaped her lips and she forced her attention back to the preparations.
The day of the coronation finally arrived. Tarienne had just finished dressing and applying her makeup when there was a knock at the door. Her new deep cream dress, sewn especially for the occasion rustled as she wafted to the door in a cloud of expensive cream brocade . She caught her breath. Daien leaned against the door frame looking devastatingly handsome in the royal colours of maroon and gold. His hair was combed into place and he had quite obviously shaved. When he smiled her heart almost stopped beating, he looked so gorgeous. Drawing him into the room, she pushed the door closed.
Daien eyed her appreciatively. His voice low and husky with desire.
“You are so beautiful. I’ve missed you, Sweetheart.”
His declaration simultaneously stole her breath and filled her with joy. Tarienne wished she could spend some time tasting those moist, delicious lips but the Coronation ceremony was starting soon. She leaned in for a quick kiss, a promise for later. Too lateshe realised her mistake. The masculine scent of him teased her senses and she involuntarily swayed closer. Daien dragged in a sharp breath, arousal flaring in his eyes. Tarienne sighed, giving in to her desire. Rising up on her tiptoes she kissed him moulding herself against his heated torso.
“You smell so good.”
Breathing in her intoxicating vanilla scent his arms snaked around her. Unable to resist taking the kiss deeper their tongues danced, their bodies intimately close. Tarienne’s breasts heaved against his chest making his body thrum with need. Buried deep, a niggling memory fought to surface. Shoving the feeling aside Daien splayed his hands across Tarienne’s lower back, pressing her body against his aching loins. Desire spiralled through him, his heart thumping wildly. Slipping one knee between her thighs a gasp slipped from her sweet lips nearly bringing him undone. When the kiss ended they were both breathing hard. They held each other for a few moments their foreheads touching. Suddenly the memory resurfaced. Tarienne gently pushed away from Daien. The Coronation!
Daien’s eyes followed Tarienne when she walked to the mirror to repair the damage he’d done to her makeup. Her dress clung sensuously to her hips accentuating her mouth watering womanly curves. He ached to touch the creamy white skin around the low neckline, kiss her soft, delicate neck beneath her silky, red hair and nibble at her luscious lips. His breathing became ragged again. Hauling in a deep gulp of air he clung to his tenuous control. When she turned back gifting him with a dazzling smile, his passion ignited and his loins tightened even more, pulling a groan from his lips.
What she did next was so unexpected he had no idea how he stopped himself from throwing her on the bed and making love to her right then and there. Slipping back over to him she took hold of the front of his shirt pulling his face down to hers.
“Later, my Daien, later,” she purred softly in his ear, kissing him so tenderly, it was sweet torture.
His body jumped in response. His heart slamming into his ribs.
“Woman, you’re going to kill me!” he ground out.
“I was just thinking the same thing, my gorgeous Daien. But what a sweet death.”
They both chuckled easing the tension a little. Tarienne looped her arm through Daien’s and they swept along the heavily decorated corridor to the crowning of Aidan as the King of Therin. Daien’s entire body sparked with desire like a fire about to ignite. How the hell he was going to get through the evening without ravishing her he had no idea. Grateful that he was no longer forced to hide his feelings for Tarienne he placed his hand possessively over hers as they walked along the long corridor to the Great Hall, chatting animatedly. He’d never before felt so accepted, so cared for. His heart swelled with pride for the stunning, sweet woman at his side. He was surprised to feel something else surge through him, something he had yet to identify.
When they arrived in the great hall Tarienne glanced around approvingly at the decorations and the huge, rich, royal banners, adorning the hall. The servants had done well, they had followed her instructions down to the placement of the last candle. She made a mental note to thank them later. Sharing a glance with Daien she thought her heart might burst with love for him. At that moment she decided that later tonight she would lay her soul bare and tell him everything about herself, place her complete trust in him. She only hoped that he could accept everything about her.
Tarienne released Daien’s arm, moving to the right of the royal carpet. Daien moved to the left to assemble with the Kings Guard as was the custom for all official events. Tarienne fought to stop her gaze sliding back to Daien. He was breathtakingly handsome and she couldn’t believe that they were finally together, though their future was still uncertain and would be until her secret was revealed.
The musicians commenced playing the royal anthem bringing her focus back to the moment. Tarienne turned to see Aidan sweeping up the centre of the hall along the rich, red carpet edged with gold. His garb was the deep maroon and gold of Therin. The royal cape was clasped with gold at his neck flowing for many yards behind him. He wore the small circlet on his head designating him as the Prince of Therin. His father’s sword hung at his side in a heavily decorated, golden scabbard. Aidan looked so very regal that every person in the hall bowed or curtsied spontaneously as he passed. Beaming at Tarienne he moved up to the dais. Tarienne returned the smile holding her hand over her heart, a gesture of loyalty and love. Aidan returned the gesture, his smile reflecting his gratitude at her unspoken support. Tarienne’s eyes misted a little, she was so proud of him.
Aidan was incredibly handsome and it was obvious that he enthralled many of the women courtiers, their eyes holding adoration. Tarienne hoped that he would find true love one day soon, he deserved it. She knew however that none of the women fawning over him this evening would be the one. He’d often bemoaned to Tarienne of their gushing, silly attitude toward him. Holding back a smile her gaze strayed to the enraptured women and she barely stopped herself from shaking her head at their ridiculous behaviour.
When the ceremony began all attention focused on Aidan. He stood very still and solemn throughout and Tarienne knew he’d be thinking of his father. Being crowned King like this was bittersweet for Aidan. When the High Priest of Therin removed the gold circlet from Aidan’s head replacing it with the ornate, gold crown of his Kingship, a cheer rose from the crowd.
“Long live the King.”
Aidan turned to face his court, a huge smile curving his lips. Over the past few weeks he had accepted that he would be King and with Tarienne’s help begun planning changes demonstrating his more progressive attitude.
“Thank you, all. My first act as King of Therin, is to proclaim, let the feast begin!”
Tarienne chuckled to herself. Trust Aidan to think of food first. Another cheer rose. Aidan swept off the dais through the great hall and on to meet his guests and begin the feast, beaming broadly at everyone flanking his exit.
Tarienne followed immediately after Aidan in the royal procession as the closest family that he now had. The King’s guard followed then the rest of the guests. Feeling Daien’s heated gaze following her Tarienne didn’t turn, instead adding a little extra sway to her hips. She smiled mischievously to herself. Daien caught up with her in the hall and whispered in her ear.
She chuckled softly an expression of mock horror on her face . “Shouldn’t be looking! Such impropriety.”
Her heart brimmed with love at the easy way they had with each other. Her body warmed in anticipation of his touch later, her heart already thumping a staccato beat.
Daien’s heart clenched at Tarienne’s melodious laughter. She wasn’t like the other women at court, Tarienne laughed and enjoyed herself. She ate more than he’d ever seen a woman eat yet she was lean and shaped like something out of a man’s dreams. She was responsive and passionate and God, if he didn’t stop this train of thought his trews just might rip. Shifting uncomfortably he reached for his usual control, tonight however it was elusive and the cause of that elusiveness was walking toward him with a sensual smile on her face. Damn he was in trouble. He wondered, not for the last time that evening, how soon he could whisk Tarienne away from the celebrations.
During the meal they were seated at the long, wooden tables, with Aidan at the head, Tarienne to his right and the Kings guards to the right and left. Daien seated himself so close beside Tarienne that the heat of his body felt like it might ignite her clothes. His proximity did nothing to ease her pounding heart. Daien made physical contact with her at every opportunity, leaning into her and touching her arm or hand to include her, or draw her attention to something being discussed.
By the time he asked her to dance Tarienne was so needy she wished that Daien would whisk her off to her chambers and explore their desire. Holding his hand out to her Daien bowed gracefully, betraying no sign that he was similarly affected.
“Would you do me the honour of this dance, Lady Tarienne?”
She took his hand shooting him a questioning look and attempted to control her trembling hands and rapid breathing. He swept her onto the dance floor at which point she gave up any hope of calming herself. He whisked her around, his eyes never leaving hers. She couldn’t believe that this skilled warrior was also an accomplished dancer. Was there anything he couldn’t do?
Sweeping around the hall, Tarienne and Daien moved in unison. Their bodies swaying and bumping together in a sensual motion that escalated their already hypersensitive awareness of each other. By the time the music stopped the tension between them was so palpable that Tarienne was certain everyone in the room was aware of it.
Aidan stepped up and bowing low asked her for the next dance. Daien reluctantly relinquished Tarienne’s hand moving back to chat with the other King’s Guards. His molten gaze followed Tarienne around the room like a predator stalking his prey. Tarienne managed a tremulous smile at Aidan aware now that Daien’s emotions were as ragged as hers.
Dancing with Aidan allowed Tarienne time to regain a modicum of her composure. When the dance ended Aidan released Tarienne and was immediately captured by several giggling young women. Tarienne considered rescuing Aidan from them however, tonight, she was focused on Daien alone. Daien’s wild gaze held hers as she closed the gap between them. No-one else existed. Her insides burned with desire. Moulding herself to his side she wrapped her arm around his waist, urging him outside for a breath of fresh air. His arm curled possessively around her and he trembled slightly as they swept through the doors.
They had barely reached the corridor when Daien tugged her into the shadows of an alcove claiming her lips. The intensity of the kiss, stole her breath. Linking her arms around his neck she returned his passion in kind tangling her tongue with his. Tarienne pushed away a little to catch her breath. Daien groaned softly.
She captured his face between her hands, her own heart pounding.
“I wish I didn’t have to say this but we must return to the hall, soon.
“Daien nodded, scraping his hand through his hair, regret in his eyes.
“Forgive me, I ...”
Tarienne hushed him with a finger to his lips.
“Will you escort me back to my chamber later, my Daien?”
Holding his heated gaze she hoped to convey the promise of later pleasures. Daien drew in a deep breath, claimed a quick kiss and offered his arm to escort her back to the hall. They managed to eat, talk, laugh and dance late into the evening acutely aware of each other the entire time. The anticipation was exquisite torture.
Well after midnight Tarienne approached Aidan to excuse herself. Bussing his cheek she congratulated him hugging him fiercely. She sensed rather than saw Daien move up beside her ready to escort her back to her chambers as she’d requested. Her entire body hummed with need. Barely managing to maintain a facade of control she linked her arm with Daien’s. Many envious female eyes followed their departure. Tarienne leaned closer claiming Daien as her own, a spike of unbidden jealousy coursing through her.
When they reached her chamber door, she turned to him. The molten passion in his eyes melted her stealing her breath. She drew him inside bolting the heavy English oak door behind them. Daien dragged her close claiming her mouth in a searing kiss. His arms circled her strong and warm and she knew that she was lost. The passion flared white hot between them. The kiss deepened, their tongues duelling.
Daien tasted of mulled wine, spicy and sweet at the same time. Tarienne’s heart thundered mercilessly against her ribs. Daien eased her toward the bed and she did not, could not, resist. Gently lowering her he covered her body with his the evidence of his desire pressing into the juncture of her thighs. Tarienne’s body ached with wanting him.
Resting on his elbows Daien gazed at her, gently brushing a stray tendril of hair from her face.
“Did I tell you tonight how incredibly beautiful you are?”
The sweet smile she reserved for him alone lit her face making her impossibly more beautiful than before. His heart pounded in response. Daien’s body ached for her but he hesitated needing to explain his feelings before he lost control. Tarienne’s kisses and the way she moulded herself to him escalated his desire to a level he’d never experienced before. She was definitely not like any other woman he’d ever known especially not like any other member of the royal household. She was tactile, loving and oh, so responsive. He pulled together the tattered edges of his resolve and wondered, not for the first time, at her ability to totally unravel him.
During the evening when his body had felt like it may ignite from the heat of his desire for her, Daien had realised why being with Tarienne felt so different to his previous dalliances. He’d known from the first time that he met her that she was different. She not only fuelled an impossibly intense desire within him but he treasured every moment with her, was ridiculously jealous whenever she laughed and chatted with any other man and she filled a hole inside him that he hadn’t realised was there. He’d fallen in love with her.
Tarienne sensed Daien’s hesitation his usual self assurance wavering. Placing her hands either side of his face, she revelled in the feeling of the beginnings of a beard, deliciously scratchy beneath her fingers.
“Daien, what is it?”
“Sweetheart, do you trust me?”
She answered without hesitation. “With my life.”
Again he hesitated, a myriad of emotions playing across his face. Tarienne witnessed the moment that Daien made up his mind.
Tarienne waited expectantly without interrupting. His eyes betrayed a vulnerability at that moment that she’d never expected of him.
“I love you.”
Her heart galloped. Moisture gathered in her eyes. His face held such hope, that she opened the final corner of her heart to him.
“I love you too, my handsome, funny, sweet, Daien.”
His face broke into a heart stopping smile. Tarienne could barely breathe. He loved her. Daien captured her lips in a soul shattering kiss his tongue sweeping into her mouth, his lips crushing hers. The kiss claimed her as his. Her heart sang with joy however a tiny sliver of fear tempered her happiness.
“Daien, allow me up for a moment, please.”
Daien’s forehead creased into a frown. Uncertainty clouded his eyes as he slid off the bed.
“Have I done something to upset you?”
Tarienne almost laughed, but knew that would hurt him. Capturing his face between her hands again she kissed him with every ounce of passion in her to reassure him, then moved a short distance away. Turning to face Daien she held his gaze, hoping to gauge his reaction to her words. Desperate for him to accept who she really was.
“I need to tell you something, Daien. Something that may test what you’ve just told me.”
Trembling slightly she was fearful that she’d lose him once he knew who and what she was. Daien nodded dropping to the edge of her huge, four poster bed. Walking to the window she struggled for the right words to reveal her secret. Finally she turned, drew in a fortifying breath and began.
“A moment ago, you asked me if I trust you. I need to know now if you also trust me?”
Without hesitation, his rich voice sliced away a little of her fear. “I have seen your strength, your valour, your compassion and loyalty. I would trust you with my life.”
Her eyes filled with tears. “This may take more than trust to accept. Please remember that I love you with everything that I am and will be.”
He nodded again, concern playing across his face, his hands clasped between his knees. It was time to give him more of herself. She prayed that he was truly the man she imagined him to be. Steeling herself, she met his eyes and began.
“Where I was raised emotion and passion is encouraged not hidden as here. I have long struggled with wanting to touch you, to let you know how I feel but not being able to because it is not as acceptable here.”
Daien ached to touch her but knew she had more to tell him so he forced himself to stay seated when he really wanted to allay her concerns by pulling her into his arms. Fear radiated from her. He wasn’t sure why he could feel it but he could. If he concentrated a palpable connection pulsated between them. Was that what she was trying to tell him? Nothing could change his feelings for her. He asked the question that was uppermost in his mind.
“Where were you raised, Sweetheart? By whom?”
Moving away from the window, she approached, dropping to her knees in front of him. Placing her hands on his knees, she looked deep into his eyes. He swallowed hard, fighting the urge to sweep her into his arms and kiss her senseless. Instead, he placed his hands over hers, waiting for her to speak.
“I was raised in the forest of Darewood, where my family still live.”
“Darewood ...it is rumoured that the Fae folk make their home there,” he mused.
Tarienne held his gaze meaningfully.
Realisation dawned, “You are Fae,” he whispered, incredulous.
“You have lived in this castle for nigh three years under the King’s roof and you are Fae.”
Grinning, joy skittered through him. This was her secret? He’d known there was something she was holding back and had worried what it might be. This was not a problem, to him at least.
Tarienne took courage from his smile.
“I am also a Princess of the Fae. My brother Raef and I are Crown Prince and Princess. My father is the King ...” she trailed off watching emotions playing across Daien’s face. To her surprise, he whooped softly.
“I am in love with a Faery Princess?
Chuckling at his enthusiasm, Tarienne’s entire body relaxed with relief. She allowed her hand to trail up his leg. Her thumb grazed his inner thigh his muscles bunching under her touch. Jumping slightly at the intimacy of the touch Daien shot his hand out, grabbing her wrist. Hauling Tarienne onto his laphe kissed her so passionately she was certain she would die from pleasure. When he broke the kiss Tarienne was left gasping for breath.
Daien had decided they had talked enough, trailing kisses down the side of her neck to the sensitive area behind her ear. Shivers of pleasure raised goose bumps on Tarienne’s exposed skin. She gasped, wiggling impatiently desperate for his intimate touch. A low growl rumbled through Daien. Manoeuvring her beneath him on the bed he explored the skin around her bodice his fingers trailing just beneath the neckline of her dress.
Tarienne sucked in a breath, struggling to form a coherent thought.
“Daien, I want to touch your skin.”
Daien paused, his eyes sweeping her appreciatively. He lifted himself off the bed, his gaze filled with desire, chocolate eyes, molten. Grabbing the edges of his shirt he swept it over his head in one smooth motion. Tarienne’s breath caught in her throat. His body was as magnificent as she remembered.
Tarienne reached for him, running her fingernails gently down his washboard stomach. Heat suffused her as she savoured the feel of his hot, tanned skin. Tarienne leaned forward, running her tongue around his belly button. His sharp intake of breath encouraging her to continue the journey. Daien’s muscled torso flexed enticingly under her touch, his corded muscles bunching in the wake of her lips. Kissing her along the top of his leather trousers hanging low and sexy on his hips, she began undoing the buttons restraining his arousal. Daien’s hands halted her progress, settling either side of her head.
Daien’s eyes were wide, almost black with desire. Tarienne held his gaze briefly then continued her exploration of his now overheated skin. Daien groaned, his body shaking. Tarienne enjoyed destroying his control. Her control had been lost long ago when Daien swept her around the dance floor, the sweet pull of desire dampening the aching juncture of her thighs.
Tarienne trailed nibbling kisses along his heated skin. Daien bit back another cry firmly pulling her away. Dropping to his knees, Daien captured her mouth.
“You really are trying to kill me,” he breathed against her lips.
“I want to taste you, Daien.”
His heart stuttered. Daien hauled her to him the honesty of her comment severing the last filaments of his control.
“Do you have any idea how beautiful, how sensual you are? Gods, Sweetheart, are you sure about this, because if we continue, I’m not sure I could stop if I wanted to?”
“Yes, Daien, I’m sure, now please stop talking and come here.”
The wild desire in her eyes convinced him.
Daien eased her gently back on the bed. He covered her body with his, tasting her lips, nibbling the sides of her mouth, flexing his hips into hers until they both panted for breath. His heart thundered against his ribs, his loins ached with need but he refused to hurry. His hands shook with the effort of holding back.
Sliding Tarienne’s dress off her shoulders, Daien kissed his way along the top of her breasts, releasing them from the confines of the silken material. Beautiful. His tongue circled the soft skin of her areola. Tarienne moaned. When he suckled her nipple, Tarienne cried out then wriggled impatiently, halting his tender worship of her body.
Standing, Daien pulled her up with him, turning her back to him, allowing him access to the tiny buttons clasping her dress. When he’d finished unfastening them Tarienne clasped the bodice to her, covering her breasts. Turning slowly to face him her long lashes flickeup to reveal deep green eyes glazed with desire. Daien waited, motionless, holding his breath, the anticipation almost too much. He’d never desired anyone as much as he did Tarienne at this moment. Everything in his past paled as if this was the beginning of who he was meant to be and Tarienne was the woman he was meant to be with.
Dropping the dress to pool around her feet Tarienne watched Daien’s eyes rake over her. She stepped away from the piles of cream material and flowed toward him. His breathing was ragged as he grabbed the hem of her chemise. Tarienne lifted her arms allowing him to pull it over her head. Tossing the garment aside he wrapped his arms around her, lifted her feet off the floor and eased her back onto the bed. Briefly gazing down at her his chest heaved. He captured her lips in a heart stopping kiss, his finger drawing little circles over each breast in turn. Tarienne’s body shook with need. She moaned between kisses.
“Daien.” The torrent within her built higher. Unable to stop herself lifting into his touch, she begged, “Please, Daien, please.”
Daien lifted his head. Eager to comply with her wishe, he watched her enraptured expression as he slid his hand down her stomach to the juncture between her thighs. He groaned as Tarienne’s hips bucked when he slid one finger into her slick core. He had no idea how he was going to survive this. His heart was beating so hard that it threatened to burst through his chest and his arousal throbbed, aching to be free from the constriction of his now overly tight trousers.
His control was rapidly dissolving. When Tarienne’s hips lifted, pushing into his hand and she begged him for release again something snapped inside him. Slamming his lips down on hers he pumped his fingers rhythmically into her warm wetness urging her to completion. Tarienne moaned and thrashed then shattered on a cry. Smothering her shout with another long, wet, less demanding kiss, his climax was so close that if she touched him again he knew he’d be lost.Slipping his fingers from her pulsating sheath, he slid off the bed hooking his fingers around the top of her undergarments.
“Lift for me, Sweetheart.”
Tarienne complied, barely coherent. Daien dragged her undergarments down her legs, tossing them aside. His breath catching at the beauty of her naked body, waiting for him to love her.Dropping to his knees, he hauled her bottom to the edge of the bed. The sweet scent of her arousal drove him wild. Dipping his head to taste her he dimly registered her cry of passion. He brought her to the edge of another climax then stood, dropping his trousers to the floor and stepping out of them. Hauling in a deep breath his gaze met Tarienne’s. Propped up on her elbows still breathing hard her eyes devoured him. Looking tousled and so sexy she almost brought him undone. She sat up, wrapping her arms around his waist. His hands dropped to her hair allowing himself a moment to catch his breath.
Her fingers trailed down to his undergarent, caressing his arousal through the thin fabric. Daien jumped. Tarienne twisted her fingers in the material sliding them down his legs. He held his breath as her soft hair drifted across his erection. When Tarienne lifted her eyes to him and circled her fingers around his manhood he thought he just might die from pleasure. He couldn’t stop himself from closing his eyes to savour the moment. A mistake. Her lips closed around him and he cried out, almost jerking away from her.
“Gods, Sweetheart, you’re going to kill me.”
The look in her eyes was so sexy he swallowed hard and fisted his hands by his side. Unable to stop his hips pumping, his climax built quickly. Before he reached the point of no return Daien pulled away hauled her up further onto the bed and climbed over her. He hovered there for a moment until Tarienne wrapped her fingers around him and guided him inside her. He swore, gritting his teeth. Pushing slowly to give her time to adjust to him, he reached what felt like a barrier. Shock slid through him. Her maidenhead?
With a supreme effort that he hadn’t thought he was capable of right now Daien stopped, bracing himself over her. He shook with the effort of holding back.
Tarienne didn’t respond, instead she pushed her hips up to meet him. He felt the pop of her maidenhead breaking and heard her hiss of pain. Shifting his hips, he began pulling away but Tarienne wrapped her legs around him, dragging him closer, rocking beneath him.
He moved , slowly at first, sliding into her tight sheath. Her little moans of pleasure encouraged him. Increasing the pace, sweat beaded on his forehead. Tarienne began thrashing beneath him, crying out his name. When her muscles clenched around him an earth shattering climax exploded through his entire body. Shouting her name, he pumped into her a few more times then collapsed. Rolling to the side, he scooped her to him, kissing her long and hard before tenderly stroking her hair and wrapping her tightly in his arms.
The sun peeped through the window in her room as Daien propped himself up on one arm, watching her sleep. When she woke Daien smiled lazily, gently claiming her lips.
“Good morning, beautiful. You gave me an incredible gift last night. You should have told me, Sweetheart. Thank you. I am honoured to be your first.”
Tarienne beamed back at him, reaching up to caress his face. Daien kissed her again, almost reverently. A wave of warmth and deep protectiveness rolled through him. Shifting so that his body half covered hers he revelled in the feel of her soft, naked body against his. Even after making love many times during the night his body hardened. He gently wiped away the tear that escaped running down her cheek.
“I could not have asked for more. You are a sweet and generous lover, my Daien.”
Licking and nibbling his way across her soft, kiss swollen lips Daien gathered her close. He inhaled the delicious vanilla and cinnamon scent of her, burying his face in her sweet smelling hair until eventually, she wiggled beneath him. Daien growled. Releasing her reluctantly and rolling onto his back, he pulled her against his side.
Tarienne ran her fingers across his sculpted stomach and declared, quite unexpectedly, “I’m starving.”
Daien chuckled. “Me too, but we can’t go down to the kitchen like this. Do you have any water to bathe in? I’ll clean up and fetch us something.”
At Daien’s suggestion a wonderful idea occurred to Tarienne. Leaping out of bed ,momentarily forgetting her nakedness, she grabbed Daien’s hand, hauling him to the screen she used each day to dress behind. Daien eyed her appreciatively, a sensual smile pulling at his lips.
His voice deep and husky, he patted the bed, “I’m not that hungry.” Daien’s eyes widened hopefully.
There, filled with water was the bath Tarienne had used the night before to prepare for Aidan’s Coronation.
“Perfect.” Daien moved to step over into the tub of cold water.
Daien jumped back, startled. Clutching Daien’s hand, Tarienne urged him closer to the water dipping their entwined hands through its cold, soapy surface. A confused frown wrinkled Daien’s brow, until Tarienne softly murmured a spell and the water warmed around their fingers.
Daien’s face lit with wonder and amazement. Curling one hand around the nape of her neck he hauled her closer. His kiss, heated her blood, rekindling the ache low in her body.
“Well if that’s all it takes for you to kiss me like that I should have done it a long time ago,” she panted.
They laughed easing the fire between them and Daien slipped into the water. Tarienne admired his toned body as he climbed into the steaming bath. She smiled. He’s gorgeous and he’s mine. Her fingers itched to touch him again.
Tarienne slipped a loose robe ver her shoulders and slid up behind Daien with some unscented soap. She lathered Daien’s wet hair carefully rinsing his long brown locks squeaky clean. When he’d dipped beneath the water to wash the soap from his skin, Tarienne began massaging the knots from his strong shoulders. A relaxed and contented sigh tumbled from Daien’s lips. Leaning back, craning his neck to see her, he hooked his arm over her head and pulled her down plundering her mouth with a fervour that spoke of his desire.
Tarienne anchored herself on his shoulders seriously contemplating climbing into the bath with him. Eventually releasing her Daien smiled his heart stopping smile and rose out of the water, his desire for her evident. When he stepped out of the tub, Tarienne’s mouth went dry as little rivulets of water trickled down his sculpted stomach. His lean, muscular body did nothing to alleviate the escalating desire that rose like a king tide within her. She tore her eyes away, handing him a soft towel, her hands shaking.
Dressing quickly, Daien headed toward the kitchen to find them something to eat. Tarienne decided to freshen up while he was away. Lowering herself into the water she reheated it with a quietly spoken spell. The warmth enveloped her soothing the achiness in places she’d never ached before. Tarienne smiled and closed her eyes, sinking beneath the water. She washed herself carefully, rinsing her hair, sliding her soapy fingers across her most tender places. Memories of her night with Daien replaying delicious images through her mind sent tingles of arousal through her already sensitised body. Resting her head on the back of the bathtub she closed her eyes for just a moment.
Waking with a start she dipped below the cooling water to clear her head. Surfacing, Tarienne stood, lukewarm water running down her face and over her shoulders, tickling as the drops drizzled down her body. The door clanged shut. Tarienne spun around to see Daien watching her, his eyes wide and dark with desire. A wicked grin curved Tarienne’s lips and she crooked her finger at her gorgeous knight, beckoning him to her.
Frozen in place, Daien held a tray filled with fruit and pastries for their breakfast balanced on one arm. Dumping the tray on the bedside table, Daien prowled toward her, his eyes drifting over her naked, wet body, a predator ready to pounce. Goosebumps rose on Tarienne’s hypersensitive skin. Daien stopped barely a whisper from her. Lowering his head to kiss her, he broke their contact for the briefest of moments to sweep his shirt over his head, drop his trousers to the floor and climb into the bath with her. There was no mistaking the power of Daien’s desire as he swept her to the heights of ecstasy again.
The sun had risen in the sky, it’s warm rays filtering through the high windows of Tarienne’s chamber before they finally settled in the large, comfy chairs, eating the fare Daien had filched from the kitchen. He paused with a pastry half way to his mouth.
“Would you like to ride with me later today?”
Tarienne held his gaze for a long moment, her heart doing little flip flops at the thought of taking a leisurely ride with Daien.
“I’d like that very much.”
Daien stood, caging her with his body, his hands casually resting either side of her on the armchair. Leaning close, his breath caressing her swollen lips, her heart rate elevated. Tarienne licked her lips in anticipation of his kiss, her gaze locked with his.
“I’d best make an appearance downstairs, to see what the others are doing. I’ll meet you in the courtyard, mid afternoon.” The deep cadence of his voice sent heat spiralling through her. Daien closed the gap between them, plundering her mouth, sending her pulse into an erratic tempo. With a reluctant sigh, he pulled away, his breathing ragged.
Gently capturing her chin between his thumb and forefinger, Daien’s molten gaze delved deep into her eyes, baring her soul. Tarienne gasped, leaning forward to steal another kiss. Daien obliged, nibbling on her lips, his tongue duelling with hers. He sighed again, dragging himself away he exited her chamberspulling the door closed behind him. Tarienne’s eyes followed admiring his lean, muscular build, certain there was a new swagger to his gait.
Tarienne eventually wandered over to her wardrobe wondering what she might wear, a smile curling her lips. She wanted to look her best for their ride. A while later, satisfied with her choices Tarienne slipped back into the bath to freshen up. She dressed, braiding her waist length hair, then decided to see how Aidan was this morning. She was unable to wipe the smile from her face as memories of the evening before replayed through her mind.
Arriving at Aidan’s chambers Tarienne knocked, waiting for his response.
“Come,” He called in a gruff voice.
Entering his chambers she found him looking tired and scruffy. His face still however lit in a smile when he saw her.
“A little too much mead, Sire?” she teased, laughing softly.
Aidan swung his legs over the edge of the bed. Tarienne noted that he hadn’t quite finished undressing before he fell asleep last night. She chuckled quietly. He had obviously celebrated late into the night.
“Don’t you, Sire, me.” Aidan laughed, then grabbed his head, groaning loudly.
Deciding that she’d teased him enough, she asked gently, “Would you like me get you something to help with that headache?”
A sheepish grin spread across his face. “Yes, please.”
Aidan flopped back on the bed. Tarienne felt the edge of his thoughts flutter across her consciousness, wishing he’d indulged a little less last night. Tarienne chuckled to herself, hurrying to her chambers to mix a herbal brew that would help with Aidan’s headache.
Carrying a mug of the medicine, Tarienne headed to the kitchen to organise a tray of fruit and oatmeal for the newly crowned King. Aidan was washed and dressed when she returned, though he still had a pale and sickly appearance. Tarienne handed him the herbal tea.
“Thank you.” He managed a small pained smile as he sipped at the tea, pulling a face at the taste, although he refrained from commenting.
Tarienne placed the tray down, moving behind Aidan to massage his neck and temples. She murmured a healing spell, kneading his tight muscles with her fingers. Images of massaging Daien’s shoulders while he lounged, naked in the bathtub filled her thoughts, heating her body. She focused on Aidan to calm her thudding heart, eventually moving to sit beside him. Handing him pieces of fruit which he nibbled absently, they chatted about the events of the previous evening. Tarienne wondered if Aidan had noticed how attentive Daien had been last night, however he didn’t comment.
Eventually Aidan’s colour began to return. He declared with a grin, “I feel much better!” Standing he pulled her into a hug. “Thank you.”
Tarienne smiled knowingly. Excusing herself to meet Daien in the courtyard, she turned to leave, noticing Aidan’s gaze sweeping her attire.
“Are you going riding? Would you like some company?”
Tarienne’s eyes flicked nervously to Aidan. Should she confess with whom she would be riding? Aidan’s promise to her before he rode out to battle Lemere’s army tumbled through her thoughts. Tarienne straightened, her chin rising defiantly in preparation for Aidan’s judgement. She held his gaze for a moment, a silent challenge.
“No thank you, Daien is riding with me.”
Aidan’s eyebrows rose, a knowing smile playing across his lips. “Ohh, well enjoy yourself.”
Surprised that Aidan did not voice disapproval, Tarienne’s cheeks flushed heatedly. Leaving Aidan, she hurried along the empty corridors to the stables. Tarienne’s heart fluttered with anticipation. Daien awaited her, looking so devastatingly handsome that he stole her breath. He wore a black shirt with chocolate brown riding pants and black boots and was scratching the ears of his obviously pleased stallion, Diablo.
Pulling in a deep, calming gulp of air, Tarienne ran her hands nervously down her clothes. She’d chosen her light brown riding pants, cream ankle boots and a buttery soft, lacy, cream blouse, with a smooth, white, collarless shirt underneath to keep her warm. Her cheeks were still pink and warm from her confession to Aidan. Daien seemed to notice her discomfort, his forehead creasing in a questioning look. Tarienne just smiled, climbing into the saddle of her mare Lacey in one swift, easy movement. Daien swung himself up into the saddle and they cantered along the streets and out through the castle gates.
Riding side-by-side along the well worn, dusty track, they talked and laughed about the day to day goings on around the castle. They reached a lush green clearing by the edge of a large pond. Daien slid from his steed. Hurrying around to help Tarienne dismount, a mischievous glint lit his eyes. His hands circling her waist Daien slid her down his hard body. Heat suffused her as their bodies made intimate contact. Daien hissed and captured her lips for a heated kiss. When the kiss ended, Tarienne gulped in a few much needed breaths of fresh air and when Daien released her, for a brief moment,she wasn’t sure that her legs would hold her.
Yanking a blanket from his pack he spread it on the ground beside a very old, shady tree close to the water’s edge. Producing a dramatic bow, Daien gestured to the blanket urging Tarienne to sit. She dropped as gracefully as she could onto the thick, grey, woollen blanket.
Daien then produced a pannier full of delicious treats and plopped down beside her. They sat, their legs touching, nibbling on pastries filled with sweet cooked apple. Suddenly Daien paused.
“I still can’t believe the gift you gave me last night. How can it be that a beautiful woman like you has never ...errr, been with a man before?”
Tarienne laughed to ease Daien’s discomfort. “Daien, I said my people are passionate and affectionate, not of loose morals.”
Daien’s easy smile disappeared. “I didn’t mean to imply that ...”
Tarienne leaned closer hushing him with a finger to his lips, then withdrew it quickly as he kissed the finger then captured her hand and kissed her palm. Liquid heat pooled between Tarienne’s thighs. She breathed deeply to settle the butterflies dancing in her stomach. Her voice still came out a little husky.
“I know, Daien, don’t fret. The truth is, that I had a few suitors while I was in Darewood, but I never let any of them go too far. As a Princess, these things are difficult, I had to be circumspect especially with three over protective brothers around.” She lowered her eyes for a moment then lifted them to meet Daien’s. “And since I arrived in Therin, I have been waiting for you.”
Daien’s eyes lit with passion. Without a word he swooped down for a long, wet kiss, pinning her body beneath him on the blanket. Tarienne wondered if it would always be like this with Daien. Her heart was so full of love for him she thought it might burst.
They spent the rest of the afternoon walking together through the lush green of the forest pausing often to kiss and gaze at each other. While they relaxed on the blanket again Daien propped himself up on his elbow, watching her. Tenderly he brushed a stray strand of hair from her face.
“You have been occupying my dreams of late.”
Tarienne let her eyes drift slowly over his handsome face. Her heart thumped erratically.
Tell me about them.”
Daien’s eyes gleamed with an emotion that Tarienne could not identify.
“One in particular, revisits me almost nightly. We are in the throne room. You are seated beside Aidan as you often are when you beckon to me to come forward. I kneel before you. You drop to your knees and kiss me in front of everyone.”
“Is there more, my love?”
Tarienne’s heart fluttered as she witnessed Daien’s brief moment of insecurity. She’d rarely seen him less than confident. It tore at her heart. She ached to give him what he desired secretly vowing to fulfil Daien’s dream soon. His emotion filled eyes lifted to hers.
“No, more ...graphic dreams visit me, but this one always ends with you kissing me in front of the King and the other Guards.”
Tarienne scooted closer to Daien. She planted a searing kiss on his lips, snuggling close, smiling at the deep growl rumbling through Daien. Wrapped in each other’s arms they watched the fluffy white clouds change shape, nudged along by the warm zephyr. Tarienne could feel little beads of perspiration on her forehead as the long fingers of the afternoon sun reached across the blanket, heating her skin.
Tarienne suddenly sat upright. “I feel like a swim.”
“You don’t have any swimwear with you ...,” Daien began, pausing mid sentence as the realisation that she wanted to swim naked hit him like a punch to the chest. His mouth went dry as she began unlacing her blouse. He groaned. His body hardening instantly.
“Woman, you are going to kill me.”
“Swim with me Daien.”
The heated look she sent him as she began undressing made his body ache and his heart race. He fought an internal war. He should remain dressed. Yes, he could protect her that way. Her honour would remain intact, if anyone approached. He could say that he was guarding her.
Her eyes held his, desire flaring white hot between them. Tarienne removed her clothes, slowly, sensuously, every movement escalating his desire. Daien could neither speak nor move, transfixed by her ethereal beauty. His breath caught in his throat when the last of her clothing dropped to the ground. His heart beat so hard against his ribs that he thought it might break them.
Tarienne looked back invitingly over her shoulder, wading into the clear water, her creamy white skin disappearing beneath the veil of the water’s surface. Daien moistened his lips, hesitating before he cursed his crumbling resolve. To hell with it. She’s mine! A deep need curled through him. Yanking his shirt over his head he tugged his boots off flinging them over his shoulder. Ripping his trousers down his legs he almost tore them in his haste to join her.
Daien plunged into the cold water diving deep before he emerged and powered across the water’s surface to where Tarienne floated. Closing the gap between them his world closed in with Tarienne at its centre. She swam away playfully, laughing. A strong swimmer Daien dove under the water, capturing her in his arms as he erupted through the liquid veneer. Tarienne shrieked attempting to escape but Daien hauled her close, silencing her with a passionate kiss.
Desire more powerful than Daien had ever known surged through him. He deepened the kiss tasting the sweet spice of his beloved Tarienne, his hands sliding down her back to press her exquisite nakedness against his throbbing arousal. Wrapping her legs around his waist she nearly brought him undone when she centred her body over his rock hard manhood. Daien growled allowing himself to be enveloped by the passion that this woman aroused in him, shouting her name when her clenching muscles catapulted him into sweet oblivion.
Fully dressed again they sat on a smooth rock at the edge of the water. Tarienne attempted to brush the tangles from her hair.
“Let me do that.” Daien offered, sitting behind her, his legs either side of her body.
The intimate contact of him at her back, sent heat spiralling through her again. Daien took the brush, gently teasing the knots from her hair. “Would you like me to braid it for you?”
Amazed that he knew how to braid a myriad of emotions generated by his tender gesture spiralled through her. Not trusting herself to speak Tarienne nodded. Moisture accumulated at the corners of her eyes. Not for the first time she marvelled that her powerful King’s Guard possessed such tenderness. He held her heart and soul in his strong yet gentle hands.
When Daien finished he lifted her damp braid and kissed her neck sending shivers through her entire body. He heart swelled understanding how much he desired her because her passion matched his.
She whispered, “You’re insatiable.”
“Only with you, Sweetheart.” Daien continued nibbling at her neck until she twisted around to claim a kiss.
“We’d better be heading back, I suppose.”
Chuckling at her tone, Daien rose easily to his feet, offering his hand to help Tarienne rise.
“You know what I’d really like to do ...” Daien groaned and Tarienne feigned a look of innocence. ” ...ride back together on your stallion.”
Daien sucked in a breath, “Woman, if we do that, we may never get back to the castle! You really are trying to kill me, aren’t you?”
When Daien feigned a melodramatic look of pain. Tarienne burst into delighted laughter, the sweet, melodious sound reigniting his desire. Daien’s heart swelled with love for his Fae Princess.
He groaned yet again. “I can’t believe I’m the one saying this, but climb onto Lacey so we can return to the castle before nightfall.”
Daien laughed, his face lighting up in a smile that had Tarienne’s heart missing a beat. Acquiescing she placed her foot in the stirrup allowing Daien to help her into the saddle even though she had been around horses all her life. They cantered along in silence for awhile until Tarienne suddenly pulled Lacey to a halt, frowning.
“Daien, would you help me improve my skill with a sword?”
Surprised by the request Daien reigned his stallion in beside Lacey and considered for a moment.
“Sweetheart, you are already an excellent swordswoman. I have seen how adept you are. What would you have me teach you?”
Tarienne lifted her chin, determination tinged with a touch of sadness laced her words.
“I wish to improve my skills and become stronger so there will be no excuse for Aidan to leave me behind the next time there’s a battle. I’d like you to teach me your special style. I have my own sword, the one my father gifted to me when I came of age. Please, Daien, will you do this for me?”
Daien pulled his stallion closer her plea wrenching at his heart. He understood she felt Eldian would not have died if she had been allowed to accompany Therin’s army to the battle against Lemere. Tarienne’s brow wrinkled, a question in her eyes. Daien curved his arm around her neck hauling her close, almost dragging her off Lacey’s back. Capturing her soft lips, he took his time, kissing her thoroughly, enjoying the sweet taste of her. Finally he responded his voice husky with emotion.
“I will do this for you, my love.”
Tarienne panted, catching her breath after their heated kiss.
“I have but one condition.” They were so close her breath caressed his lips. “You must train with your shirt on.”
Tipped his head back Daien laughed heartily.
“You need to learn to fight with distractions but, for now I promise I’ll wear a shirt.”
Surprised by how much it pleased him that she was affected by his being shirtless he hauled her close for another long, wet kiss. Their mouths fused in an expression of their passion. Their tongues duelling in a sensual dance.
Releasing her, Daien’s brow furrowed in thought for a moment. “Did I distract you when I was training with Orien that day you arrived at the training arena holding Aidan’s hand?”
“I thought that you’d noticed that ...and yes, you did. Your scent was so intoxicatingly masculine I could barely put a coherent thought together. Do you remember what I said?”
Daien chuckled. “Yes, you noticed my condition. After I escorted you to your chambers I rode to the lake so aroused that I bathed in its icy water for hours. It didn’t help a great deal particularly when, what I really wanted to do was knock on your door and demonstrate my condition!”
Tarienne blushed, the heat, burning her cheeks. “Oh, I always thought you saw me as member of the royal household, nothing more.”
Her heart clenched with the knowledge that he’d felt the same frustration as she had.
Daien laughed shaking his head, enchanted by her honesty and bemused that it had taken them so long to realise their feelings for each other.
“I bathed in cold water so much after being around you. I’m surprised that you didn’t notice my reaction. I couldn’t stop myself from touching you and when you leaned into me. Gods, Sweetheart, it almost destroyed what little self control I had left.”
Her eyes showing every emotion tumbling through her, Daien wanted desperately to haul her to the ground and make love with her again. She gazed into his eyes for what seemed like ages. When she finally spoke her eyes were damp with unshed tears. Daien pulled in every last ounce of his resolve and listened.
“I loved that you let me lean into you, though I didn’t realise that’s what you were doing at first. The contact grounded me helping to satisfy my need for touch. You were always so warm and smelled so good.” She lifted one eyebrow. “You allowed me to draw comfort from you, didn’t you?”
“I couldn’t have moved away if I’d wanted to, Sweetheart, you drew me to you. You aren’t like any woman I’ve ever known.” Unable to resist drawing her to him then, the passion coursed through him, almost overwhelming any common sense that he retained around her. Kissing her, their tongues duelling, fire spiralled through his loins. The horses shifted restlessly.
Finally releasing her again Daien urged his horse forward a contentment he’d never known filling his soul. A happy sigh tumbled from Tarienne. She clicked her tongue at Lacey and they continued the return journey to Castle Therin.