Read Dark Prince's Desire Online

Authors: Jessa Slade

Dark Prince's Desire (3 page)

“I wasn’t planning on going anywhere,” he murmured. Nowhere at all once he locked the gates permanently.

Despite his words, he bucked his hips up between her thighs and rolled her to her back in one smooth motion. She tensed as if to fight him, so he kissed her again. For a heartbeat, she resisted, her mouth tight under his. He let his lips glide as lightly as the stroke of the athame, trusting in the magic, and she opened to him with a soft moan.

She tasted of cold water and burning desire, with a hint of the honey and ginseng he’d spread on the geas and the spirits she’d consumed in the sunlit realm. The unexpected sweetness and earthy bite startled him. The aphrodisiac must have seeped throughout her body as it sought the source of what blocked her.

Which meant a little of it was now in him.

Really, that thought should worry him more.

Instead, he stroked his tongue over the smooth inner flesh of her lips, savoring her with long-repressed craving. Her teeth were so close, but he found himself even more aroused by the awareness of danger. Her restlessness as she moved under him made him feel...alive.

That too should have been a concern. He’d exhausted most of his power building walls to protect the
phae
from the perils of rampant passion—and from themselves. And here he was, forgetting entire centuries in the tangle of her long limbs.

She twined her arms up around his neck, anchoring him to deepen the kiss while her hips nudged his in needy circles, like a demanding little puss wanting to be pet. But when he reached down between their bodies to oblige, she twisted to avoid him, breaking the kiss. He grunted. Just like a cat to change her mind.

“Take off your clothes.” She shoved at his tunic again, her hands almost rough with her urgency.

Male satisfaction at her eagerness made him allow the disrobing, although he’d never chosen to be naked before a lover.
Scarred and gray
... “More skin won’t give you any more power.”

Her golden eyes gleamed. “Won’t it?”

Not deigning to reply—indeed, the words had been less a question than a challenge, a challenge he intended to answer with more than words—he rocked back on his haunches to peel the tunic over his head.

He sucked in his breath when her fingertips trailed down his chest to the loose waistband of his trousers. Just below her hand, his flesh leapt toward her touch.

But the gold in her eyes dimmed as she traced his geasa. “When I saw the marks on your arms, I thought it was a glamour, but these are real, aren’t they?”

With her fingers poised on the muscles of his abdomen, he could not lie. “Yes.”

“Will they fade, like mine?”

“Not when I keep carving them anew.” But his magic was not endless, and the wards—even fueled by his blood—were failing. Until he could blast the gates shut with one overwhelming flood of his own power.

Her brow furrowed. “Why—?”

He stripped off his trousers with an angry, awkward yank, tearing through the spiderling silk and cutting off her question just as effectively. “You are the one who wishes to change, not I.”

Her gaze lowered, taking his temper with it, or so it felt to him as the throb in his temples refocused in his rampant erection. That part of him, at least, had no geas markings. He would do anything for the
phaedrealii
. Anything except carve into his cock.

And he was fiercely glad for that private rebellion as she closed her hand over him, setting off sparks of sensation in every unscathed nerve ending. His head tipped back as she smoothed her hand up his length, tilting him inexorably toward her. An unexpected heat lingered, and he realized she’d lubricated her fingers with the salve.

With effort, he opened his eyes which had drifted shut and met her dazzling gaze. She looked like a tiger. A hungry tiger.

Oh yes, he really should be more worried.

Instead, he dropped to all fours to cage her with his body. She shifted her encircled fingers around him and gave another milking squeeze. He shuddered, every fiber of his being suddenly eager to race toward her touch, as if to escape his control.

“Soft and hard,” she said. “I want both.”

“Then take it.”

Chapter Five

Yelena gasped as the blunt heat of his arousal nudged into her. He was hard as a rock but smoothed with her juices. When had she gotten so wet? It was as if she’d been holding her breath for exactly this moment since she fell through the lake.

She wedged her heels behind his thighs, tilting her hips to guide him deeper. The excited pulse of her blood, the rushing sensitivity of her skin, felt like the stirrings of the
verita luna
, but she hoped the change would hold off just a little longer. It had been almost a year since she shifted, but it had been even longer since she’d done this.

And all that hot, hard male power shuddering between her legs made her feel strong in a way even the tigress couldn’t. This elementally erotic feeling was her, all her, and no one could take that away. Not even after what had happened...

“Stay with me,” Raze murmured.

She couldn’t leave anyway, not until she figured out why coming here had finally induced the
verita luna.
To banish her useless thoughts, she anchored her hands on the edges of his hipbones. The myriad scars tickled her palms as she yanked him flush, a scorching brand to melt the lingering ice within.

He swore, stiffening as if he meant to hold back, so she rocked against him again. His cursing devolved into a hiss of breath when he matched her move, but slower, as if to gentle her.

“More,” she said.

“As the lady commands.” He leaned down to kiss the column of her throat. “Or is it the tigress who asks?”

She arched her neck, shivering at the hot touch of his lips and the cool brush of breath. He groaned low in his throat then set his teeth to her pulse, biting down. Her shiver turned to a spasm of pleasure as he pinned her to the bed with teeth and cock.

Her arms spread-eagled, the clutch of her fingers shredding the cushion beneath them, he drove her to the edge of ecstasy with each rocking thrust. She orgasmed with a cry that echoed the beast within, maybe a little choked off but core-deep, and stars exploded behind her half-closed eyelids.

No, not stars. The glowing fluorescence of the lighted crystals had flared as she came and did again when Raze thrust into her, as powerfully as before but with less of that maddening
phae
grace, caught in his own release.

She brought her hands to his broad shoulders, steadying him. He gave a hoarse shout and one last jerk that sent the room plunging into darkness.

Yelena opened her eyes wide, but even for her inner tigress there would’ve been no way to see. Raze’s harsh breaths gusted the damp strands of hair stuck to her cheek.

He lowered himself to one elbow—his male bulk driving her into the torn cushion with carnal possession—freeing up one hand to brush across her face, smoothing her wayward locks. She realized, with a too-little-too-late touch of wariness, he could see in this absolute dark.

He murmured something, words in a language she didn’t know. The geasa in his skin flickered, and above them in the cavern ceiling, the crystals glimmered to life. The will-o’-the-wisps reemerged from wherever they’d been hiding. More like stars this time, distant and cool. Very much
not
like the dark male, hot and heavy against her flesh.

He leaned down to kiss her, a lingering kiss that made the soft, achy pulse inside her flutter again.

When he raised his head, his gray eyes glowed with a sated light of their own. “You taste as if I walked into the heart of summer.”

She swallowed, her pulse becoming a soft but deep roar that had nothing to do with her orgasm. “Actually, it’s winter outside.”

“I’ve felt neither since the
phae
retreated after the Iron Wars.” His lips quirked. “Let me taste once more that I might reacquaint myself with the difference.”

When he raised his head again after the kiss, she found herself clinging to him. She was holding him so tightly, the geas scars were flattened to nothingness under her palms. Not until she forced herself to let him go did she feel the scratch of forever-wounded skin.

“I must taste the same,” she said before he could speak. “I didn’t change.”

A shadow moved across his gray eyes, and her skin prickled as if a touch of winter had moved into the cavern. “Apparently I wasn’t as intense as I needed to be.”

Despite the circumstances, she grinned. “Oh, don’t beat yourself up. Any more than you already have. You were lovely.”

“Lovely?” He pushed himself upright on one arm, biceps bulging. Probably with masculine indignation.

She started to scoot away, but he snagged her close again. “So.
Lovely?
” His voice dropped an octave.

She sniffed, trying for indifference, but the scent of hot and bothered male was too delicious not to take another breath. “All you
phae
are gorgeous and impossible to resist. Everyone knows that.”

“That is not what they say about me.”

If his low tone had held self-deprecating charm, she would have laughed. But instead, she heard the cracked note of another wound. He had to tell the truth, she remembered, so she let him hold her.

“What do they say?”

“I am called Raze the Ruiner. Though not often to my face. They do not find me so lovely as you do.”

She touched one fingertip to the skin on the left side of his chest. The symbol carved there looked like half a heart with a cross above it. She dredged up a memory of a
Twelfth Night
Shakespeare production she’d done in college in which the midwinter saturnalia festival had been decorated with symbols just like this. What looked like half a heart was actually the curve of Saturn’s deadly scythe. “Ruined because of your scars?”


Ruiner
,” he emphasized. “Because I did this to myself. And because some believe I spoiled the court’s chance to take the sunlit realm for itself.”

The other meaning for the symbol was the element of lead, she remembered, ruler of the dark. No wonder he lived in a cave. “That was a
long
time ago.”

“Those confined to the
phaedrealii
do not fade. And they most assuredly do not forget. Or forgive.”

Her finger curled away from his chest of its own volition. This being she had taken into her body had fought in wars several millennia before she’d even been born. Werelings like herself tended to be long-lived, but, like humans, grew old and died. Meanwhile, Raze the Ruiner had been buried for countless ages here in his rocky stronghold.

He caught her withdrawing hand and lifted it to his lips for a kiss. As it had before, the gesture flustered her. That was the power of his touch.

“Why didn’t you change?” The challenging glint in his gray eyes was as hard as diamond locked in stone. “I felt the
verita luna
rising in you.”

Heat spread over her cheeks. How had he known the tigress was on the prowl? “I got distracted.”

“Ah.” He let her hand go. “I forgot
phae
are the only ones compelled to speak true when skin-to-skin.”

She scowled, stung into speaking. “You think I unleash her for just anyone?”

He tilted his head. “Forget about me. I’d think it would be for yourself.”

“I’ve held back too long.” The words burst from her like the orgasm had, almost ridiculously easy, as if waiting for the right touch to go off. “What if...”

“What if you can’t find the
verita luna
again?” His question was softly coaxing but underlain with bedrock. Was this what the truth compulsion felt like to him?

“What if I change and the world still doesn’t?” She closed her eyes. Said aloud, her fear sounded ludicrous.

Strong fingers angled her face upward, and she opened her eyes to meet Raze’s intent gaze. “What did you hope to change?”

“I want the werelings to reveal what we are.”

The temperature in the cavern definitely dropped this time, and she shivered a little.

Though the big body beside her was as hot as ever, his eyes had turned wintry and diffident. “The werelings intend to announce their presence to all humanity?”

She scoffed out a breath. “No. At the last convocation—same as every time before, going all the way back to your Iron Age—the tribes reaffirmed the decision to stay secret. But you asked what I wanted.”

He shook his head ruefully. “You tried to get them to change their minds.” Yelena wasn’t sure which was worse, the dismay in his voice or the lack of surprise. “You are fortunate they didn’t execute you for such insurrection.”

“Assassination to silence dissent is a
phae
tactic,” she grumbled, annoyed that he apparently already knew her well enough not to be shocked at her rash behavior. “Werelings aren’t afraid of hearing two sides to an argument.”

“Yes, I remember how your councils talked and talked when humans first overran the sunlit realm. The werelings were still talking when the
phae
went to war.”

She narrowed her eyes at the disdain in his tone. “And yet we now walk freely in the world while the
phae
don’t.”

If she hadn’t been so close, she might have missed his restrained jolt. Her retort had struck him hard. Cats had a reputation for playing with their prey, but she had no illusions that while Raze the Ruiner might lurk in this stony solitary confinement, he was no one’s prisoner.

“I’m sorry,” she said, hoping he heard her sincerity. “Not all werelings are free either. My two half sisters live in exile because they suffer from the
il-luna.
My father and his human wife are afraid the girls will lose control of the change and cause a panic, not to mention too many questions.” She grimaced. “At least in Siberia a roaming Amur tiger is explainable.”

“You think if humanity knew about werelings, your sisters could be free in either shape?” Without waiting for her affirmation, he gave a sharp laugh. “No wonder the portal brought you here. The
phaedrealii
, for all its trickery, is not as delusional as you.” She stiffened, but he went on, “The court’s failed war should be a lesson to you.”

His derision wasn’t exactly unexpected, but she’d thought if anyone would understand it would be a prince whose people were trapped like her sisters. With a quick twist, she extricated herself from his hold and pushed away. The cavern was definitely colder than it had been, but her hackles were up from anger, not the chill. “Your war was a long, long time ago. A lot has changed in a few thousand years, but down here you can’t see that.”

“You think I’m blind because I live in a cave.” He propped himself up on one elbow. The seemingly relaxed pose only emphasized the breadth of his chest and shoulders and the heavy flex of his musculature. He looked every bit the dangerous predator, but her fingers twitched with the sense memory of his scarred skin.

She clenched her hands, trying to drive back the desire to touch him again. “I went from the taiga to the desert, to live with people who faced atrocities only your cruelest
phae
could’ve imagined. And yet they are struggling to put their world back together. I have to think there is hope.”

Her voice held more desperation than conviction, so she didn’t blame him for his skeptical snort. “I think the wereling council did not bother killing you,” he said, “because you would likely end up dead without their interference.”

His blunt assessment would have made the council elders nod knowingly. When a local warlord had come to close the school where she’d taught, she’d been too frightened for her students to consider how the attack undermined the very fact she wanted to prove. It was only after, as she lay in her hospital bed, that she despaired; if humans could not live together in peace, how could they ever accept werelings?

Maybe it was no wonder she’d lost the
verita luna
when any chance of change seemed so very far away.

* * *

His trapped tigress wrapped her arms around herself as if to ward off a chill—or hold herself together—and Raze stiffened every muscle to stop himself from replacing her arms with his own.

He’d touched her and risked the piercing openness of such contact only to discover how she’d come through the portal. And now he understood. Her desire to shatter the secrecy that protected the werelings had an equally disastrous effect on the wards he’d laid so carefully and at such great personal pains.

Perhaps her tigress was concealed at the moment, but her beast’s boldness would overcome any obstacles, whether put up by him or by her own shattered hope.

When he rose from the bed, the phosphorescent crystals brightened, enough to make Yelena blink. A length of gently drifting curtain waved like a silent call for his attention, and when he pushed it aside, a flowing pale gold gown fell across his raised arm.

She blinked again as he held out the garment. “Where did that come from?”

He jerked his chin toward the ceiling. “The spiderling
phae
must have seen your need.”

Seen her nakedness. He told himself he shouldn’t care for her lush and wild body now that he had the secret of her unexpected arrival in the
phaedrealii.

And since he wasn’t touching her at the moment, he could even believe his own lies.

He retrieved his garments, slightly the worse for his earlier eagerness, but from the corner of his eye, he watched her glance up. With a shrug, she tugged the gown over her head.

The silky, lacy folds skimmed down her curves, alternately hiding and revealing the places his hands had been. From the liquid opal shimmer over the gold, he guessed the spiderlings had taken flecks of the ammolite to decorate their weavings. The neckline and back both plunged in a deep V, as if echoing the patterns of the stalagmites and stalactites, and small ammolite beads were strung on faintly visible strands across the gaps, like frozen rainbows arching over her flesh.

He’d never considered how bored the spiderlings must get, serving him. Suddenly grateful they hadn’t bejeweled him, he murmured a thank-you in a general upwardly direction.

While Yelena was smoothing the skirt over her thighs to swing in loose scallops around her ankles, a smaller web drifted down. It settled over her hair, each loose strand afire with more flakes of the ammolite, the iridescence bright against her cinnamon-brown locks. The spiderlings had definitely been saving their finer work.

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