Sala raised an eyebrow in surprise before she laughed, and this time it sounded like sin; smooth, velvety, and completely wanton. She swayed towards him with a confident smirk on her face, and he felt his lips tip up in response. Here was a woman who could best him; she had such tenacity, such vivacity that he couldn’t help but feel like she was already carving out a place for herself deep within him. His very essence called to her, begging him to lay claim to her in every way possible.
“Thank the Gods,” she replied with another breathy chuckle as she closed in. “I rarely engage with clients anymore, but you’re too… interesting to pass up.”
He closed his eyes and his head tilted back involuntarily as she pressed her body against his. The fullness of her curves melted against every inch of him, achingly so. Sala’s fingers carded through his hair with abandon, as if she had barely been able to resist touching him all this time. When she seemed satisfied and he had lowered his gaze once more, one of her hands traced the outline of his jaw, and she brushed her thumb gently over the fullness of his bottom lip as she bit her own, her eyes searching his.
“What is it about you that makes me lose control?” she whispered.
Her other hand began to deftly work at the buttons of his tunic, but she stopped suddenly when he let out another throaty growl and captured her hand with his own.
“Stop,” he commanded quietly. He kept her hand in his, but he took that opportunity to wrap his other arm around her waist, drawing her even closer still. He groaned; it was almost physically painful for him to deny her.
“Stop?” she repeated, almost disbelievingly. Her eyes fluttered as if she were also having a hard time remaining composed.
Kolir managed a stiff nod in response, but he could feel Draeth rumble disgruntledly through their shared link. He too seemed unhappy that Kolir had put a stop to whatever it was that had barely begun here. Mentally, Kolir built a temporary barrier between them, feeling oddly possessive. Rarely did they need privacy from one another, but this was something he wasn’t willing to share with Draeth.
Sala’s whispered voice brought him back to himself, and he noticed that her eyes were once more searching his.
“Where did you go there?” she asked. “You were here, in the moment, and then you suddenly seemed so distant.”
He smoothed a stray tendril of hair away from her face without thinking before he responded. “Draeth,” he said frankly. “My bonded. Draeth can share my thoughts, my experiences. There are some things though that I’m not willing to share.”
He saw that earnest interest in her eyes once more, but she didn’t probe. It was common knowledge that he was bonded to a Dragon, but he rarely spoke about the bond with anyone. It was something so intimate and private that it felt like a violation just mentioning it.
“Is that why you stopped? You didn’t want to share this with him?”
He shook his head slowly, and his mouth curved into a smirk. “Not entirely, although I usually don’t share any of those experiences with him, much to his chagrin.”
She frowned, and even when he was faced with her annoyance and uncertainty she still managed to look utterly alluring.
“Then why?” she asked abruptly. He could hear a thread of indignation in her voice, and he barked out a laugh in response. Her brows furrowed even more as she placed her hands on her hips. She wasn’t being petulant; this was her livelihood, and she knew she was good at what she did. He had wounded her.
He chuckled again at her expression and cupped her face gently in his hands before responding. “Because that wasn’t what I came here for. Although trust me, it’s taking every last bit of my resolve to keep myself from fucking you senseless.”
Her eyes widened in surprise and she blinked at him in puzzlement. “Let me get this straight,” she started, as disbelief colored her words. “You came to a brothel not to have sex but to do… what exactly?”
He didn’t answer right away; instead, he strode over to the pile of cushions and blankets and lowered himself to the ground, draping himself across a few of the pillows so that he could bask in the warmth of the fire. With a brief snap of his fingers, the fire brightened considerably, the flames seemingly taking on a life all of their own. “Come sit,” he requested.
She moved to sit next to him, but he shook his head, gesturing to his lap instead. “Not there, here. If you wouldn’t mind.”
Sala paused and raised an eyebrow again, but with only the slightest bit of hesitation, she situated herself across his lap. One of his arms snaked around her waist as he pulled her back tight against his chest, while the other rested in her lap, toying idly with the slit of her dress. His cheek brushed against her hair and he settled into her warmth with a purr of satisfaction.
“Much better,” he said, as he pressed his lips to her hair in a chaste kiss. She swiveled her head back to regard him as he continued. “I was actually on my way out of the city, but something called to me here. I was looking for something, but I’m fairly certain I’ve found it.”
She smiled and rolled her eyes playfully as she relaxed against him. Her fingers trailed up and down his arms as she leaned her head back against his shoulder. “Well, that sounded purposefully vague. Thanks ever so much for enlightening me,” she quipped.
He laughed again, and the warm rumble rippled through both of their bodies. “Perhaps.”
“So you can’t tell me more?” she prodded.
“Not yet,” he said with another grin.
“So, just to clarify once more,” she said, gesturing to the way they were situated “You came to a brothel, looking for something, but that something wasn’t sex. Even though I’m currently on top of you, throwing myself shamelessly at you. And you won’t discuss what you were looking for, for reasons unbeknownst to me. But you’re fairly certain you’ve found this something. And yet you’re still here, even though this has nothing to do with sex. Am I right so far?”
He nuzzled into her hair as he nodded. “Exactly.”
She frowned again. “I’m not completely dense Kolir. You even said you wanted me. This has absolutely nothing to do with sex?”
His lips skated over the curve of her neck as he shook his head. “Not yet it doesn’t.”
She groaned, both from exasperation and the feeling of his lips on her bare skin. “Good Gods Kolir, stop that! It’s taking all of my concentration to focus on this utter nonsense you’re spouting!”
He laughed again in pure delight as he kissed her collarbone. She would find out in due time, but this wasn’t something he could force. She had to come to her own conclusions naturally.
With a sigh, she swiveled in his lap so that she straddled him. Her lips twitched as she tried to suppress a smile. “You’re a perfect contradiction Kolir.”
He grinned rakishly in response. “So I’ve heard.”
“How is it fair that you can touch me but I can’t touch you?” she challenged, as her fingers grazed the short stubble on his jaw.
It was his turn to quirk an eyebrow at her as he responded “You’re touching me now aren’t you?”
“Stop that, that’s not what I’m referring to.”
“I never said that you couldn’t touch me, Sala,” he rasped, his voice low and strained. “But I could tell where things were headed, and that can’t happen. Not yet at least.” He shifted her in his lap. He knew that she’d be able to tell just how much he wanted her from that alone. “I’ll make you a deal.”
“What kind of deal?” she replied as she rolled her hips against his lap with a smirk.
He growled and held her still with both hands. “Stop tempting me, woman!” he barked. Sala laughed loudly but stilled obediently as she listened. His hands trailed down to cup her ass as he continued. “Let’s play a game. Are you familiar with the Game of Truth?”
“Of course,” she replied. “If you answer the question, there are no repercussions. Refuse to answer and you lose something.”
“Care to wager some clothing?” Kolir responded with a smirk.
Sala blinked owlishly at him. “Now you want to rid us both of clothing, and you’re expecting we’ll still behave?”
Kolir nodded in agreement. “No harm in looking.”
Sala snorted indelicately in response. “This makes absolutely no sense Kolir. But I’m curious, so I’ll indulge you.”
He grinned again then and dipped to kiss the hollow of her throat. She swallowed thickly in response and shifted from his lap to the floor across from him. He gestured to her once more and sprawled back comfortably against the cushions. “Ladies first.”
With a confident smile, she leaned towards him, her chin resting in the palm of her hand. “Fine. What exactly were you searching for?”
Kolir frowned and then sighed dramatically. “I should have set more ground rules.”
Sala’s grin was smug as she chuckled triumphantly. “Let me see what’s underneath that shirt of yours, my Lord.”
With an answering grumble, he rose and drew his shirt up slowly, exposing inch after torturous inch of his abdominals and heavily muscled chest. When he finally drew the shirt over his head, his expression was heated, yet satisfied. He reclined lazily like a giant cat. He knew that years of hard work in service to the King from heavy combat had made every inch of him hard and sculpted. “Like what you see?”
He had been half expecting some form of flustered response, or at least a blush, but he should have known better. He knew very little about her, but he did know that Sala wasn’t an inexperienced young woman, nor did she seem even remotely timid or prone to embarrassment. She was beautiful, bold, and unabashedly herself. So she drank his body in like a fine wine, and he could tell she was content by her hooded eyes and the smile that followed.
“I do,” she replied, as she splayed herself across the cushions, artfully displaying her assets to their best advantage. “Your turn, my Lord.”
Kolir grinned and sat forward slightly, a mischievous glint in his eyes. “Would you have really let me go with Kylene?”
Sala pouted, an expression that Kolir decidedly already adored. Only someone with her full lips and exotic features could make a frown look so sensual.
“I’m a businesswoman Kolir. I don’t make a habit out of disappointing customers. If you had wanted Kylene, I would have let you have her.”
He raised an eyebrow in response and started to crawl towards her until he hovered over her still form. Her chest rose and fell rapidly, and her eyes darted up to meet his. He lowered himself until his chest grazed hers, and his mouth was inches from hers.
“You would have, but you wouldn’t have wanted to, would you?” He whispered. “Just knowing that I was here, with another woman underneath me, would have driven you mad.”
He could feel her breath hitch in response, and yet she still pressed forward, her lips grazing his as one of her hands ran idly down his chiseled torso.
“That’s two questions,” she said, and he could feel the way her lips smiled against his. “But, if you must know, I would have been sorely disappointed.”
Kolir pulled away with an abrupt laugh, his eyes dancing with humor. “Fair enough.”
Sala winked at him and shook a finger in his direction. “Not so fast. You deserve some form of punishment for getting two questions for the price of one. Lose your trousers, Kolir.”
He wasn’t even remotely disappointed that he was losing this game. As he resumed his original position, he slowly unbuckled his pants. As he shimmied them down, he raised his torso slowly to push them over his hips and thighs. He watched as Sala stared shamelessly.
“I appear to be losing,” he said with a chuckle.
“Then stop cheating!” Sala replied with an answering laugh. “Although, I must admit that I really enjoy winning.”
Their game drifted on late into the evening and early morning. Kolir had become more creative with his questions, and Sala had lost a few articles of clothing. He appreciated the view, but more than that, he enjoyed getting to know her on a more intimate level. He had learned that she was estranged from her parents, but was still close to her siblings; two sisters and a brother. Her favorite color was purple, even though she rarely wore it. She loved the heat, but also hated Vorbanu, and had never traveled much outside of the capital since she was a child.
He learned that she had a birthmark on her hip, as red as wine. He found out that when she blushed, even the tips of her ears turned red, and that she was capable of blushing with enough coaxing and the right questions. He knew that she had the most beautiful laugh when she was truly amused, the type that warmed you to your toes because you could feel how genuine it was.
He also knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that he had found what he was looking for, even if she didn’t have an inkling yet.
The sun was beginning to peek above the horizon when Kolir finally convinced himself that it was time to leave. They had eventually curled up together in the oversized bed when the fire had begun to dwindle, but neither of them felt the absence of heat. Their bodies were entwined with one another so intimately that Kolir hadn’t quite figured out how he had managed to resist the urge to sleep with her.
He caressed her hip in lazy circles as he yawned, and she followed suit. She traced the lines of his jaw and cheekbones, and his eyes drifted shut in contentment. When he finally convinced himself to leave, he could feel the bubbling resentment building in his chest. He hated having to walk away from this, from her, but it was necessary. It wasn’t time yet.
“Sala,” he whispered as he buried his hand in the fiery locks of hair at the nape of her neck.
“Mmm?” She mumbled sleepily. She scooted closer still and buried her face in the crook of his neck. Her breasts pressed into his chest and her hips were flush with his. A groan escaped him as he fisted her hair.
“I need to leave,” he said softly. “You’re not making this any easier.”
He could feel himself stiffening against her and she wriggled her hips in response. He stilled her abruptly with a hand as he nipped lightly at her neck. She raised her head long enough to meet his gaze, a small triumphant smile tugging at her lips.
“I didn’t realize that my job was to make things easier on you, my Lord,” she replied mockingly as she wrapped a leg around his hip.
He chuckled huskily and he bent his head to capture her lips in a heated kiss. She eagerly let him deepen the kiss until they were a teasing mess of tongue, hands, and bare bodies. Kolir drew back suddenly, and only returned for the briefest of moments to give her another tender peck to the temple before he withdrew from her reluctantly and began to gather his clothes from the floor. Sala crawled to the edge of the bed and laid on her stomach, her head in her hands and her feet in the air as she regarded him playfully.
“Are you sure I can’t tempt you to stay?” she asked with a mock pout.
Kolir pulled his shirt over his head quickly before responding. “So far, I’ve managed to avoid most temptations, but I’m still just a man. If I stay any longer, I can’t make any promises.”
A tantalizing smile pulled at the edges of her full lips as she sinuously slunk from the bed and padded to him. Her hands smoothed the front of his shirt so that it molded to his body. Her eyes trailed her hands for a moment before she raised her gaze to meet his, and he could see something intense in their depths. His hands moved to frame her hips as he bent to lower his forehead to hers. They remained there for a few moments in silence, just relishing these last few moments, before Sala spoke just above a whisper.
“I’m not the type of woman to beg, Kolir. Nor am I usually the type to want to come back for seconds. Gods, I haven’t even slept with you. But… I must admit that I find myself already wondering when you’ll return.”
His breath left him in a sudden exhale as he cupped her face in his hands. His lips were so close that they almost brushed against hers.
“I won’t be coming back here Sala,” he responded simply. He regarded her as some emotion quickly passed across her face, something that darkened those brilliant eyes of hers. Alarm perhaps? She quickly shuttered her expression, however, and he watched as something cooler and more indifferent settled over her. She nodded once, resolute.
“You’re within your right,” she replied simply, her voice strangely detached.
Kolir couldn’t help himself- he beamed at her, and she blinked in confusion. Without warning, his lips claimed hers in a fiery kiss, and he could feel her open up to him willingly with only the slightest bit of initial hesitation. Her head tilted slightly for a better angle, and her lips parted as her tongue teased his. He met her with equal eagerness, and his hands pulled her closer to him, their bodies melding in a passionate embrace.
Finally, Sala pulled away reluctantly, her eyes downcast as Kolir continued to dress and gather the remainder of his clothes. When he reached the door, he turned around briefly to face her.
She slowly met his gaze, too many questions swimming in their depths.
He smiled again, and this time his expression was confident. He wasn’t cocky, just utterly sure of his next statement.
“I never said I wouldn’t see you again. I said I won’t be coming back here. The next time I see you, you’ll come to me.”
Her eyes flashed with something akin to irritated pride and she scowled.
“That’s rather presumptuous of you Kolir. I run this establishment. What makes you think that I’d leave it?”
He tipped his head in acknowledgment, but this time his face was serious.
“Because I know something that you don’t. And when it comes to things like this, I’m rarely wrong. Don’t keep me waiting Sala. I’m not a patient man.”
Before she could respond, he exited her room. There was a certain determination to his step as he left the Harpy. He felt rejuvenated; he had been given a new lease on life. That damn overgrown reptile! Why hadn’t he just told him?
He didn’t need to use any words to call Draeth to him; he cast his will out into the wind, and his being reached eagerly for the other part of his soul. Within minutes, the pale form of Draeth landed next to him, and the earth trembled beneath his feet. He beamed widely at the dragon, and Draeth eyed him with amusement.
Well? The dragon questioned, his head cocked to one side as he regarded Kolir with evident interest.
Kolir laughed aloud; he could feel the elation bubbling out of him, and he shook his head in happy disbelief. Well, my friend, I believe we just found my mate.
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