Ties That Bind: The Bellum Sisters 3 (paranormal erotic romance) (8 page)

“Want mine?” he said in a gruff voice, gruffer than usual.

She eyed the creamy mint but shook her head. If he was anyone else she'd take him up on that. Thinking quickly, she folded the linen in her lap and laid it on the table.

She gave him a false smile. “Thank you for the wonderful dinner, but I should really be going now.” She started to stand but he held out a hand. It stopped her in her tracks, had her sinking back into her chair with defeat.

“My brother isn't coming back for you.”

Arianna bit her lip to keep from saying what she wanted to say. “You don't know that for certain. I will wait and find out.”

“You've already been waiting a long time.”

“And I shall wait for as long as it takes. If you will recall, there is a contract involved that cannot be voided unless he is dead.”

They stared at each other for a long moment. In truth, she thought, it wasn't that he'd completely lost his attractive appeal. Surprisingly she still saw it—the rugged good looks she used to fawn over when she was little. She’d always wished she could’ve had “the other brother.” The darkness that had transformed him, for which she had no idea why, in a way, added a mysterious edge to him. A dark edge that hadn't been there before. It scared her. He scared her.

“As king I have the right to void the contract.”

“Only for a rightful cause!” she said. She blinked at her outburst and quickly reined in her temper.

“Seeing as he hasn't been here for a thousand years, I'd say that's a rightful cause.” His voice held a hint of sarcasm.

Arianna had had enough. She stood in a rush, planting her hands on the table and glaring at him. “Your highness, I will never agree to that—”

“Your opinions have no say in that matter and well you know it, Lady Arianna.” His intense eyes watched her like a hawk. Arianna couldn't stand it anymore. Whatever he was getting at, she wanted
nothing
to do with it.

“Thank you for the dinner. I shall return to my room now.” She turned from him and stalked towards the door.

She never heard him move, not even a whisper of clothes rustling. Then strong hands curled around her arms, pulled her back against his body. Arianna flushed with a mixture of emotions: outrage, anger, pleasure. The last she had the hardest time dealing with. His body felt superior to hers, strong and incredibly warm, his hands didn't hurt but kept her from leaving. He could have been cruel, but he didn’t grip her too hard.

“I am not finished with you, Arianna.” His hands slid up her arms then down over the soft material of her sleeves. Choosing the dress with sleeves had definitely been the right decision. Her heart picked up its pace, this time for an entirely strange and unusual reason, one she didn't quite recognize nor want to analyze.

He pulled her further against his body—chest to back hips to bottom. Unable to move, she fisted her hands instead, her teeth tugging hard on her bottom lip.

“I seek an arrangement with you, Arianna.”

“No,” she said, the sound ragged.

He leaned down and pressed his lips to her neck. This close she could inhale his scent that smelled so different than what she'd expected; he smelled wonderful, like a man ought to smell. He pressed a kiss to her neck and her breath caught in her throat as pleasure bloomed somewhere deep in her belly and spread out through her limbs, warming.

“Yes.” He trailed his lips to her shoulder then down to where the sleeve cupped her upper arm and then made the trip back to her neck, but going further this time to her jaw. She resisted the urge to tilt her head to the side and make room for him. Whatever he was doing made her feel wicked and wonderful all at the same time.

His hands trailed down her arms, fingers spread open as they slid across her stomach, barely touching her. “You are beautiful.”

“Many women are beautiful.”

His warm strong hands trailed up her torso, stealing her breath with each inch he moved. Her breasts pulled tight in her dress, nipples hardening like they did when she bathed in cold water. The hard buds grazed across the material of her dress, the feeling sharper, more pronounced.

“There is more to you. Things that I like and appreciate.” His lips found her ear, teeth tugged on it. In a deep growl he said to shell of her ear, “I'm done waiting. I will have you, Arianna.”

She sucked in a sharp breath at his words just as his hands slid further up, and cupped her breasts. He cupped just the underside of her breasts and in the barest of movements she registered a massaging motion. Her legs went weak and only by closing her eyes and concentrating did she keep from falling down. Hot liquid spilled from inside her, dampening between her legs. She'd felt it before while learning her own body, but never
ever
had another made her feel so. She felt suddenly so empty inside and breathing had never been more difficult.

“What do you mean you'll have me?” she said raggedly.

His right hand came up to cup her jaw, tilting her head to the side like she'd wanted to before. She felt bare and open to him, vulnerable—it made her heart race. His other hand moved up to tease the delicate bones at her collar before dipping down inside her dress.

Hot, blazing pleasure left her gasping, squirming in his arms. Her bottom rubbed against something hard and stiff at his hips. She knew what it was, and even as it shocked her, she couldn't help but think
more
. That hand of his squeezed her breast, filling his warm palm with her flesh and learning it. He caught the hard bead of her nipple between his fingers and teased it.

“Alrik!”

His breathing came in hot pants at her neck. Then she felt the wet sultry pass from his tongue as he licked a wet line up her neck. Chills spread over her arms and back until she shivered.

He pressed his cheek against hers, his breathing labored. “It means, Arianna, that I'm going to take you.” His hand squeezed her breast for emphasis. “I'm going to rock between your sweet legs until you come all around me, until I come.”

In a blink, his hand vanished from her breast, from her jaw, and cold air met her back. Breathing wildly, she spun around, dazed, to find him standing some distance away.

“What?”

“You heard me.”

For some reason all she could say was, “I did.”

“I'll call on you.”

He turned and left out the servant's door, leaving her standing there.

 

 

CHAPTER 13

 

Rosa Medina's shop, if one could even call it that, was crammed between two bigger buildings. Kearnyn paused for a moment outside. He told himself it was to make sure he had all the proper items with him, but he knew that was a lie.

Straight up truth—Rosa was gorgeous. Not pretty, not beautiful, not sexy, but straight-up fucking gorgeous. The kind of natural, makeup-less beauty that stunned a man, kept his eyes riveted like some kind of stalker. Yeah, that's what he'd be if he wasn't careful.

After seeing her for the first time and raveling his tongue back up from the floor, he'd thought of asking her out. But then after following her to ask her if she'd work for Telal, he realized quickly she'd rather date a dead snail. She looked at him like he was repulsive, like he'd start beating her at any moment.

Damn, that had been a slap to a face. He'd always had a big body, was just how he was built. But damn it all if seeing her look at him like some kind of freak didn't twist his ass hairs. Shit. It's not like he'd have a chance anyway. Even if he had a “normal” body like Telal or
anyone
else. She had the kind of face that made men write poetry and start wars for.

With a grimace, he turned the handle to the sound of wind chimes and ducked inside. He had only a few seconds to look around before he saw her. She finished shelving some bottles behind a counter with a cash register on it then came around with a smile, which died once she saw him. Her pupils dilated in a response he understood well, that he'd seen in many faces before—fear.

Shaking his head, he stepped forward and held out his hand. “Kearnyn MacTafferty. Telal's sent me to supervise over the work.”

She cocked her head at his hand as if he might suddenly make a move to strangle her. Slowly, she stuck her hand in his and just as quickly retracted it. Oh well, he held it long enough for him to feel just how soft her skin was. God, he
was
a creep.

“I didn't know I'd need supervision.”

He shrugged. “Telal has never worked with you before. He's a precise man, no room for error with him. Don't mind me, I'll just stand in that background. You'll hardly notice I'm here.”

“Like that's possible,” she said under her breath. With a brisk shake of her head, she motioned for him to follow her into a back room.

He had to stoop low as he walked through a partition of colored beads. “Did the shipment of daggers arrive?”

She nodded to cases with Demuzi Manufacturing Inc.’s logo on it sitting next to the back door. “Just this morning.” She headed towards a box, then stopped, turned back to him, not meeting his eyes. “You can sit there if you want.”

Kearnyn saw the small chair she noted and almost groaned. The damn thing looked tiny. No way would his big body fit in that; it looked like a child's chair. He debated over just standing, which he preferred, but he already made her nervous, so he went to the small chair and sat in it. The back of it barely reached the middle of his back and barely held half his ass. He held in a sigh.

Her lips trembled with a smile. Sure enough, she did seem to relax. She went to a box and tried to lift it with a grunt. It didn't budge.

“Here let me.”

She took several steps back to make room for him so he could pick up the box. She must be delicate, the box hardly weighed more than a few sacks of potatoes. “Where do you want it?”

He followed her nod and set it on the table, then pulled off the top of the case for her and returned to his seat like a good little boy. She went to the case and started pulling some of the daggers out when she stiffened, then shuffled around to the other side of the work table so she faced him. That was fine with him, he preferred it this way. He could watch her.
Creep
.

“So what do you call yourself, a witch?”

She spoke as she started pulling different items out of jars and cabinets. “I practice witchcraft. My powers come from my blood. We loosely use the term 'witch'. After the Salem witch trials in America we started using the term 'practitioner' because it sounded much more innocent to those who didn’t understand.”

Kearnyn sat back in his seat to watch her work, but that only scooted his ass further off the chair, forcing him to sit damn near erect. He stifled a sigh; he'd lived through worse things than an uncomfortable chair.

He kept quiet as he watched her work. She moved methodically: opening a thick leather tome to a certain page, grabbing oils and magnets. Today she wore another of those hooded robe-like dresses, only this one was yellow. He liked the look, the color looked amazing on her. Her darker skin and black hair only made the yellow glow around her in perfect contrast.

“Why do you watch me?” she said in a soft voice.

Kearnyn hid his surprise by looking down at his feet. “Why are you scared of me?” he countered.

She dropped the dagger in her hand; it landed on the table with a loud clang. “I...I am not afraid of you.” She grabbed the dagger in a fist and set her jaw as she got back to work. Her dark eyebrows pulled down into a furrow.

“Your actions show otherwise.” Why was he pursuing this? She looked like a Mayan goddess and he looked like a steroid-junkie meat head. Yet, even as he thought that he knew he wanted to know.
Really
wanted to know. Hell, maybe under her fear there was the slimmest chance she'd let him take her out. He almost laughed. Yeah, right.

“I am not afraid of you,” she said again, her voice a bit stronger.

For some reason he felt the need to push her. He wanted to hear the words from her soft pretty lips. Maybe because he was a glutton for punishment, or maybe actually hearing the words would make his mind shut her off from his thoughts like it should. He stood, and just as he expected, she took a step back, her eyes jumping to his, wide and alert.

“See, that's fear.”

Her eyes narrowed on his, then whether realizing it or not, her fingers curled around one of the daggers. That didn't worry him any, the blades hadn't been sharpened yet if she decided to use it.

“If I tell you will you sit back down?” His eyebrow flew up but he planted his ass back in the tiny seat. She let out an unsteady breath. “Let's just say that once upon a time I was with someone almost as large as you and he hurt me.”

Kearnyn gripped his thighs to steady himself. He knew he shouldn't, but he had to ask, had to know. “Broke your heart?”

She laughed, the sound hollow. “Broke more than that.”

Kearnyn's entire body froze, muscles pulled tight, limbs stilled, even his heart slowed to a steady crashing thud. “When?”

“Long enough ago,” she said after a minute. She resumed working, but now her hands moved slower like she had trouble concentrating.

“Is he still alive?” He already had plans in the making. They involved ropes, serrated blades, and a hammer. Good old-fashioned weapons made the best torture devices.

She shrugged. “No clue. Haven't seen him in years.” She hung her head and sighed. Then she looked right at him with her dark brown eyes. “I guess I need to apologize. See, he was a big man. Not as big as you are but big. I can't help but think of him when I see you. That isn't fair.”

“I understand.”

Her eyes widened in surprise, or disbelief. “You do?”

He nodded once. “I'd like for you to be comfortable around me, Ms. Medina. Is there anything I can do?” He probably sounded desperate, but something in him didn't want to let any chances with her to slip by.

She thought about it for a moment, then her eyes lit up. “Yes, there is! I could touch you!” The thought of her touching him combined with her smile, gave him the hardest wood he'd had in ages. Feeling very male in that moment, all he could think was that he knew of a few places he'd like her to touch.

But he didn't say any of those things and break what thin progress they'd made. “What do you mean?” There, that was safe to say, no sexual innuendo lurking behind the words.

She came around the table holding her hands out palms up. “If I may? Just let me touch your hands.”

Kearnyn felt a wave of apprehension roll through him, but he stood anyway. “You shook my hand in the stairwell, why didn't you do...whatever then?”

“I have to actually open my mind. Otherwise when I shake hands it’s just as if you were doing it—no magic. So, may I?” She almost looked eager, and hell, if it put her mind at ease then why not?

He held his hands out to her. He felt like an ass; he had no clue if he should lay them on top of hers, or hold her hands, or what. It was okay though because she took over and curled her fingers around his hands.

Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath that she slowly exhaled through her nose. He watched her, waiting for something to happen. Would he feel a pulsing energy, static electricity, or
anything?

Then her lips parted on a soft gasp, her hands squeezed his in a tight grip. A look of...pleasure fluttered over her face making her eyebrows arch, her cheeks flush, and the pulse at her neck beat fast. His own body responded, ready to give her anything she wanted. But then she yanked her hands away; they fluttered nervously to her neck and cheeks like a flustered nun who'd just seen a naked man for the first time.

“What did you see?”

 

* * *

What did she see?

How about their naked sweat-slicked bodies writhing together. His head between her legs sending her to a feeling of ecstasy she'd never known, or how about their bodies clinging together as he pumped his hips, working his length in and out until they both screamed? Yeah, that. She saw all that.

She swallowed over the dry lump of cotton in her throat and put on a bright smile. “I think you're safe to be around.” Or something... Safe wasn't really an accurate word, more like dangerous.

He nodded though he didn't look pleased not to hear the details. Oh well, she so wasn't going there. She went back around the table to finish enspelling the first dagger. Her hands shook but with some concentrating she got it under control. He still stood next to the table and her eyes couldn't help but dart over him.

He'd been one-hundred percent naked in her vision, his body packed with muscle and sinew that glinted under the light. He'd made her feel something incredible, something much greater than her measly hands could do to herself in bed at night.

Now she saw him through a different light. No longer did she see a menacing beast but a possible...lover.

“You won't tell me what you saw?”

She shook her head quickly. No way in hell.

“But you're not afraid of me now?”

“No, no, I don't think so.” Well, just not in the way he thought.

His deep green eyes watched her. “Good. That's good.” He walked to the beaded partition. “Because I'm taking you out.”

Rosa gasped and then he swept out the beaded door, swooping down low to get his tall body through. She heard the shop door closing a minute later. Only after he'd left did Rosa collapse into a chair and bury her face in her hands.

What had she gotten herself into?

 

 

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