“My panther has been reliving this very moment in a continuous loop. I can’t break her out of it, I can’t offer her anything else” I whispered, heartbreak evident in my voice.
Kyan’s forehead still rested against my own, my hand still firmly pressed to his chest. The longer we stood here the more alarmingly aware my body was of how close he was to me. His breath caressed my skin and I could feel the rapid beat of his heart in the palm of my hand.
“You’re already offering her something else” the prince rasped, “the Alpha isn’t here to stop this, your wolf isn’t here to interfere; it’s just you...and me”
Even though I knew this wasn’t actually happening, I still felt like I was doing something wrong. Back in reality, Jayce was sitting on the couch in Moira’s lounge room. He was watching me intently, making sure Kyanite didn’t do anything out of line; and yet here we were, cemented in a passionate embrace that felt like one of the most intensely intimate moments I’d experienced in my life.
“We...us...this can’t happen” I whispered, not wanting to say it too loud incase Kyan actually let me go.
“But it’s not happening. This is our subconscious, your body isn’t betraying you”
“No, but my mind is, surely that’s worse”
Kyanite hummed and rolled his head until his cheek brushed softly against my own. I was holding my breath, too scared to move in case I did something I knew I would regret.
“How could something that is wrong...feel so right?” He moaned.
My hand gripped the material of his shirt tightly and I bit my bottom lip. The air around us was thick and it wasn’t to do with the Panthera humidity. I heard the prince chuckle softly as he rubbed his cheek against my own.
“Do you hear that?” He asked.
I closed my eyes and listened. A faint rumble echoed in the air, the sound vibrating through the the trees. I smiled, it was a sound I hadn’t heard for a while.
“She’s purring” I answered, relief and happiness in my voice.
“They’re purring” Kyan corrected, “look”
I turned my head gently to the left, away from Kyan’s cheek. My eyes were drawn instantly to two beautiful panthers- one black, one silver- curled up together next to the small waterfall. In that moment my heart felt like it doubled in size, they were perfect.
“But how?” I whispered, “this morning she was in a dark pool of despair. Nothing has changed since then. This, us, isn’t real”
“It’s real to her” Kyan breathed, his lips softly tracing the outline of my ear. My skin tingled at the sensation. “She is your animal subconscious...this, here, is happening in your subconscious. To her it’s as real as it gets”
Kyanite was right, my panther was with her mate. She was curled up in heavenly bliss, her scent mingling with his. I’d never thought this was a possibility, I thought for sure that the only way to bring my panther back would be to break Jayce’s heart and to give in to the Panther God’s will.
“Did you know this would happen?” I asked, still hypnotised by the display of union by the two panthers in front of us.
Kyan bit down softly on my ear, “I had a feeling” he groaned.
I closed my eyes, our chemistry thrumming through my body. My face prickled with pins and needles, my lips buzzing, demanding to be kissed; a familiar wetness between my legs defying what I was about to say next.
“We need to stop” I panted.
Kyanite pressed his hard body flat against mine and let his lips slowly trail down my neck.
“Our panthers are happy, there is no need to take this any further...”
I moaned out loud as Kyanite’s tongue darted out of his mouth, tracing a small circle on the side of my neck. Then he placed his lips to the wet skin, sucking it into his mouth. The sound had my knees weakening, the only thing keeping me upright being the marble pillar and Kyanite’s strong arms.
“This is where my mating mark should be” he whispered.
I bit my lip. Oh how I wanted him to mark me.
“Kyan...” I moaned.
The prince hummed, nodding his head against my neck. I felt his erection pressing into my stomach and it was taking everything I had not to move my leg to the side, allowing him to rub against my aching core.
“Please. We need to stop”
“If you truly want me to stop, my Queen, you must order me to. Otherwise I’m about to create your panther a whole new memory to cling on to in those lonely nights”
My breath hitched in my throat as I felt Kyan’s smooth hand sliding down the side of my body. It grazed my breast lightly, my nipples hardening in response, then trailed down to below my hip. The deafening pump of blood in my ears, combined with the purring of our panthers, was making it hard to think straight. If I didn’t stop this now there would be no going back.
“Prince Kyanite...” I whispered painfully, “as your Queen, I command you to stop”
Kyan released his grip instantly, forcing me to lean all my weight against the marble pillar for support. He looked down at me, his emerald eyes glistening with something I had never seen in them before. He wasn’t angry at me, nor did he seem annoyed.
“As you wish, my Queen. Well, now that your panther is temporarily satisfied...I think we should be getting back, don’t you?”
Before I had time to answer, to say that I needed a few minutes to compose myself, Kyan stepped forward and cupped my hands in his, I looked down to see the gems in them, still buzzing away like I had never even put them down.
“Did it work? Why are their eyes opening again so soon? It didn’t work, did it?”
I blinked once, twice. I was back in Moira’s lounge room. I looked down at my hands, still clasped in Kyanite’s. I cleared my throat quickly and snatched them away. Kyan shrugged, like my reaction didn’t phase him, and got to his feet.
“No, it definitely worked” he laughed, in response to Jayce’s question.
Boy, did it ever.
I turned my head to Jayce, his brow was raised as he studied my face. I swallowed. I felt like I had betrayal written all over me, what else could I have been doing in all that time.
“Did it work Quinn? You were only in a meditative state for all of about ten seconds...what could you possibly achieve in ten seconds?”
Ten seconds? More than you’ll ever know.
I coughed, trying to clear the lump that had formed in my throat.
“It worked” I answered with a croak.
“You’ll have to forgive her quietness” Kyanite said, “gem work, like what we just did, is exhausting and if you’re not use to it, it can leave you a bit foggy in the head. Don’t worry, a couple more sessions and she’ll be a pro”
A couple more sessions?!
I shot Kyanite a knowing look. His face gave nothing away...but those eyes. He knew the whole time this wasn’t going to be a one off thing. I didn’t know if I could handle that again, it was so intense, so intimate; but standing here now, physically it was like nothing had happened. My skin wasn’t covered in a light sheen of sweat, the bruised feeling that Kyanite left on my neck was gone, as was the tale tell feeling of wetness in my underwear.
I flinched as I felt Jayce’s warm touch on my shoulder.
“You ok?” He asked gently, clearly registering my edginess.
“Yes” I lied.
I gave him a reassuring smile and took his hand as he helped me to my feet. Jayce lowered his head down, breathing in my scent before placing his lips gently over my own. My wolf padded around happily in my head, enjoying the closeness of her mate. I half expected Jayce to instinctively pull away with a look of disgust as he smelt Kyanite’s scent all over me. Then I remembered that it wouldn’t be, he had held my hands, that was it. Everything else had been in my head.
I leant into the kiss, enjoying the easy comfort that I immediately felt in Jayce’s arms.
“So, Kyanite, I’m dying to know. What did you do? You must be bloody good if you only needed ten seconds”
I almost laughed out loud at Moira’s question, disguising the sound with a cough.
“I am good” he answered modestly, “Today was all about having Quinn connect to her animals on a different level. I showed her where she could find them and how she could create a place for them all to coexist harmoniously”
“And how did that go?” Moira asked in disbelief.
She knew first hand how much I’d been struggling with my panther since Kyanite came on the scene. Moira wasn’t stupid, she knew it would take more than just flowers and a card to have her come around again.
“We made progress. Wouldn’t you agree, Quinn?”
I nodded my head, leaning into Jayce’s chest to hide my blushing cheeks.
“Yes. Definite progress” I muttered.
This morning had gone exactly how I wanted it to. My body buzzed with a new sense of energy, my panther reinvigorated. I’d left Moira’s on a high, even if Quinn left in the arms of her Alpha.
I knew what happened today was only temporary, it wouldn’t be long before her panther realised Quinn had gone back to the wolf and she would once again pine for me. Either Quinn and I would have to do this on a very regular basis or she would have to give a little bit more to ensure the effects would last longer.
Tomorrow we would travel into Quinn’s subconscious again. What I anticipated was that all three of her animals would be on the same place, I was hopeful that her panther would still be out of her slump. I wasn’t expecting the panther to be curled up, basking in the sun with the wolf and bear; but in the same location was a step in the right direction.
For Quinn to be able to use the three gems as vessels to hold and project the energy of the animal gods and their shifters, then her own animals would have to be on the same side and work together. If even one of them was out of sorts then it would throw everything off and the results could be catastrophic.
Quinn’s wolf and bear would be non the wiser as to what went on between her panther and mine. It was in a deep space in her subconscious that was there only for her panther. Each animal had their own safe place that they could retreat to if need be; but it was so important for what Quinn had coming up, to have them happily wallowing in the same space.
I looked up into the night sky, there wasn’t a cloud to be seen and the stars shone brightly. I gazed out over the creek. The sound of crickets and frogs echoed around me and small fireflies lit up the surface of the water. Quinn was right, this right here, was a beautiful space; I could understand why it was her animal’s safe haven.
In a matter of days we would all be in the fight of our lives. Magdalene’s power was unmeasurable. The only time she had ever been in a fight and not destroyed her enemy was the battle at the Orcann Pack. Even then, Cassius’s mother had died just from harnessing the amount of power she needed to weaken the witch. The power that Quinn would need to kill her was astronomical and if her animals weren’t perfectly in sync then there was no doubting she would be killed. I knew I couldn’t let her know that though. If she put too much pressure on herself or her animals then this would all be for nothing, they would push her away.
I knew I would do whatever it took to make Quinn’s panther happy and I wouldn’t feel guilty about it. If she wanted to hate me after all this was over, then so be it. But I knew she wouldn’t, I knew she would just want me more.