Illusions: Paranormal Shapeshifter Romance (The Seekers Book 1), page 13
Every biological aspect of Sera wanted to grant the men the wish. Even now she felt a sweet ache between her legs, her body preparing itself for the men, her mind envisioning what it might feel like to take them both into herself at once. She recalled the instant when Rohan had first entered her, his engorged cock driving into her channel as she cried out in delight. To have two such men making love to her…
Placing her palms flat on the table, she rose.
“I cannot,” she said. “I’m sorry. I would like to help you in any way that I can, but I simply can’t do that.”
“It’s all right,” said Paxx, masking his disappointment. “We would not want you to feel obligated in any way to us. And we will find a way to free your sister. But we must do it soon. I need to return to the compound, or they’ll grow suspicious. Melina is clever; she can work out the goings-on in a man’s mind, even if she can’t read thoughts directly. I will have to invent a story to tell her where I’ve been.”
“I’m sorry,” said Sera, and she truly meant it. “I wish that I could give you what you want.”
“It is not what we want, unless it’s what you want,” he said, putting a hand on her arm. “A true man does not make demands of a woman. Unless you give yourself freely—unless it’s what you want most in this universe—I would never take from you. Not so much as a kiss.”
Her eyes met his. For the first time she noticed how bright and alert they were; like those of an animal. But kind too, as though all the world’s empathy were locked up within them. Paxx lived up to his name; here was a man who wanted everything to work out, to be for the best. He wanted to save her sister and to free the world of the shackles of the Guild.
And yet, she was unwilling to make the sacrifice that he wanted. All her life, Sera had waited for her coming of age, to develop her powers, to become a woman like Hedy, who could subsist independently, to be strong.
She couldn’t give all of that up because of an urge between her legs; it made no sense.
He would understand. But as he walked through the door, moving by Hedy and her neighbour, Sera watched him, wondering if she’d just made a huge mistake.
“I should go too,” said Rohan. “I will come back tomorrow, and we should make our move. The Guild will want to come for you soon, but we need to advance before they do. We can’t put the village at risk.”
“I understand,” said Sera, whose voice was breaking under the weight of it all.
“Serafina.” Rohan’s voice caressed the air like a feather floating on a breeze. She looked up at him as she slumped into a chair. “You will know what is right, one day soon. And if it’s not right for us to be together, I will leave and go back to my home. There is no reason for you to feel remorse for your decision.”
“It’s not remorse that I feel,” she said.
“What is it?” He sat opposite her and slid his hand across the table until his knuckles made contact with hers. The touch sent a pulse through him, as though reigniting a dormant set of veins, allowing blood to flow more freely through his body.
Serafina felt it, too: a reminder of the other night, his flesh in contact with hers, his scent, his touch. His tongue, tending her.
“I feel loss,” she said. “As though I’ve lost something that I never had. How is that possible?”
“Because somewhere deep inside, you know how much you need it.”
An Escape Plan
Paxx returned to the Guild’s fortress in the woods via paths which circumvented Salem itself. Under no circumstance did he wish to be seen coming from Ealdor, even by his brother. If Melina spoke to Phist, she might deduce what had gone on, recognize his thoughts. She didn’t seem able to outright read one’s every flicker of imagination, but there was no question that the woman could delve into one’s motivations.
Already, more than one traitor had been punished for insubordination. It was only the brothers’ determination that had protected themselves, shielding their minds, convincing her through their behaviour that they had only the best of intentions where the Guild was concerned.
But Phist was young and impulsive, and if he knew of the plan to help Circe escape he might inadvertently give himself away, which would devastate the entire plan.
A guard unlocked the outer door for him when he arrived, ushering Paxx inside, where he quickly made his way to Circe’s cell. Phist was on guard duty.
“How is she?” asked Paxx quietly.
“She seems the same,” his brother replied. “Quiet, calm. Nothing seems to faze her much.” The left corner of his lip veered upwards, betraying a smile.
“You enjoy your prisoner, do you?” asked Paxx.
“She’s…interesting. I’ve never met anyone quite like her.”
“Well, if she’s anything like her sister, she’s a special woman. Tell me, would you be sad to see her go?”
Phist paused for a moment to consider the question seriously. “For her sake? No, as long as she were safe. For mine? Yes. I’ve grown used to her, Paxx. Her scent. Her voice. I feel like she soothes me. Maybe it’s true, what they say about these women…”
“Don’t say it,” warned his brother, grabbing him by the collar. “Never say it. She is no more a witch than you or I. She is gifted, and good. Kind. She doesn’t deserve imprisonment, or to be mated to a man she doesn’t want.”
“What’s gotten into you? It’s not like I attacked her.” Phist pulled away.
“I’m sorry,” said Paxx. “Forgive me. Listen, are you on duty tomorrow?”
“Yes. All day.”
“Would you let me take your shift?”
“All right. But why?”
“I need you to run a few errands in Salem for me. There’s another meeting. I’d like you to attend this one, and pick up a few things while you’re there.”
Paxx’s eyes moved to the small window in Circe’s cell’s door. He could see her pretty face, framed by dark hair, her eyes staring out the window to the outdoors, towards her raven companion.
“I suppose I could,” he said.
“You don’t want to leave Circe,” said Paxx.
“Not particularly,” Phist replied. “But I’ll do as you ask. It’s not like she won’t be here when I return.”
“Right. She’ll be here,” said Paxx, protecting his brother from his own mind.
* * *
The morning was chillier than it should have been, and Rohan rose with the sun, his extremities thanking him for moving around the house. Today he would guide Serafina to the Guild’s hide-out in the woods and together they would attempt to save her sister.
And then he would be off, back to Dundurn. If hanging about this place had taught him anything, it was that being around her hurt. Something had happened to him that night, during the Bonding, that meant that each time he was near her he felt a tearing, as though he were being slowly pulled apart by external forces. His arms wanted to take her in, his lips to be on hers. He fought the temptation as a falling man would fight gravity: helplessly, hopelessly.
This might have been love, or perhaps it was something else. Some magic at work that tortured men and entrapped them in their own bodies, filled with desire, longing, and the painful realization that they were mere inches from a woman in whom they could simultaneously bury themselves, their troubles and their hearts. And he wondered how it was for her; if she had managed simply to walk away from the Bonding without a second thought.
Of course, she wouldn’t be thinking of him. She didn’t know that her partner had been him, after all; that he was the man who’d been inside her, who’d kissed her most secret places, the taste still on his lips.
So he would suffer in silence. After all, he was here to help. He had come to this very time and place to offer his strength, his aid, to its inhabitants, and he was not going to desert them now.
He dressed himself, happy to know that he would spend much of the day within the armour of various animal forms, his emotions unable to dominate h
He made his way down the dirt path towards the village and Hedy’s house, but was stopped in his tracks by a small black creature, bounding towards him. Nyx, Sera’s Familiar, which meant that she must be close by.
When the ferret reached him it bounced up his leg, managing to scamper all the way to his shoulder, where he perched, licking Rohan’s ear.
“You’re a friendly little bugger, aren’t you?” the man asked, laughing, as he stroked Nyx’s back.
“Not usually.” Sera stepped out of the woods ahead, a smile on her face. “He’s never done that to anyone. Familiars generally cling only to their Magistress.” She extended an arm and Nyx hopped on, slipping up to wrap himself around her neck. “I’m sorry that he was so forward.”
“It’s quite all right,” said Rohan, taking a step towards her. The hand that had been stroking Nyx suddenly wanted to land on her cheek, to pull her face to his. “You are beautiful,” he said softly.
Sera looked at the ground, her feet shuffling uncomfortably.
“I’m so sorry,” Rohan said, taking a step back. “I don’t know where that came from.”
“It’s all right.”
“No, it’s not. I…”
“Rohan,” she said. “It’s all right. I know where it comes from.” This time it was she who moved forward, a hand landing on his arm as her eyes met his once again. “I know what you did for me, for the Sisterhood. For Circe. I know that it was you, at the Bonding.”
He felt his eyes go wide. What did this mean?
“How long have you known?” he asked.
“Since that night. I recognized your tattoo.”
“How did you know about my tattoo…?” he began, staring at Nyx. “You have powers that I don’t understand,” he said. “You are talented. In so, so many ways.”
Sera felt her face go hot. Did he really think so? Had he enjoyed himself as she had?
“As are you,” she replied. “I have thought about you often. I understand at last why we aren’t to know who we’re with. I understand many things. I thought that I would simply leave and forget. But how could anyone forget such a night as that?”
Rohan placed a hand on her at last, cupping her cheek in his large palm as her face seemed to move into him.
“I will never forget it,” he said. “Everything about you, Serafina, takes my breath away and has since I first saw you. One night was not enough. And a thousand would just begin to satisfy me.”
She placed her hand over his and, pulling his palm to her lips, kissed it. “It has to be,” she said. “I can’t leave the Aspirants. I can’t desert them.”
“I understand. But I hope you’ll forgive me when I say that I am sorry to hear it. Paxx is a fine man and will make an excellent mate for someone.”
“For someone. As will you, Rohan. I cannot say that I don’t envy the woman who finds you under her sheets.”
She turned away, preventing further contact. She knew what he wanted, because she wanted the exact same thing. “I can’t,” she said. “Now, let’s go and find my sister.”
* * *
Paxx stationed himself in the hallway outside Circe’s cell. He’d given Serafina and Rohan the information that they needed, and it was to them to get inside. And in sending Phist to Salem for the day, he’d managed to give him an alibi. The Town meeting would no doubt be dull and uneventful; more of the same information that they already knew about their own Guild. But if the Sorceress Melina were to come down on either brother, Paxx wanted to take the fall, to sacrifice himself to save Phist.
What Serafina’s plan was, he didn’t know. He only hoped that her abilities were sufficient. After all, Melina wasn’t in the compound; for all he knew, she was tucked into her large bed with her two large mates at the moment, enjoying some carnal bliss. Much as she was a daunting figure, she didn’t make a habit of stopping by the prison for frequent visits. In fact, she’d shown no interest whatsoever in Circe. It seemed that her mind was focused on obtaining Serafina, in acquiring whatever she had to offer the Guild. She thought, for some reason, that the young woman would be easily corrupted by power.
But somehow Paxx thought that she was way off.
* * *
As Sera and Rohan made their way silently along, he forced his mind to focus on what would occur over the next few hours. He had the advantage, an ability to all but disappear in the face of danger. But what of Serafina? She was flesh and blood, unable to shift.
“What will you do?” he asked her. “When we arrive. How are you going to gain entry? It’s fairly obvious that you’re a woman, and as far as I understand, they don’t invite women into the compound—except in shackles.”
“I have a few tricks up my sleeve,” said Sera. “Well, not literal sleeve. In my bag. Runes are powerful items, and my specialty.”
“I’ve never seen them used,” said Rohan. “But I hope you’re right. This Melina woman sounds like a right bitch. Pardon my insult to dogs.”
“I don’t anticipate that she’ll be there, unless Paxx has slipped up somehow,” said Sera, “And he strikes me as too careful to do so.”
“I’m sure you’re right. But tell me what to do. How can I help?”
“Can you distract the guards?”
Rohan made a scoffing noise with his lips. “Can I distract the guards?” he laughed. “If you mean ‘Can I turn into a fire-breathing dragon,’ the answer is yes.”
“Really?” she asked, her eyebrows rising. “I’d like to see that.”
“You will before I leave, I promise.”
“Leave?” she asked. Nyx’s head turned abruptly to face Rohan, as though he too were surprised.
“To go home. To my time.”
“So you do come from another time,” said Sera. “I wasn’t sure that was possible, but apparently it is.” Her tone had changed; gone cold in defence of her feelings.
“It is,” he said. “For some. For you, even, if I chose to bring you there with me.”
“I would like that,” she said. “But I don’t suppose it’s a very good idea.”
“No, my family wouldn’t be pleased if I brought someone home who wasn’t to be my future mate.”
“So when you leave, does that mean that I won’t see you again?”
“Most likely not, Serafina. I don’t think I would return.”
They continued in silence. Inside Sera something seemed to shatter, causing shards to penetrate her organs. She managed to stay upright, to walk with intent, though she felt as though someone had just deprived her of the ability to breathe.
“I would stay if you asked me to,” Rohan said softly, reading her body language.
“I know,” she said, her voice tinged with sadness. “I know you would.”
She stopped in her tracks and turned to him. Overhead hung a dense ceiling of green, sunlight easing through in delicate beams. Sera reached a hand out, her fingers grasping the front seam of his tunic, pulling him to her.
“Sera,” he whispered.
Their lips met. Here he was, unmasked, hers for the taking in the middle of the forest, their bodies coming together under the green canopy, the scent of pine and desire mingling.
Her tongue sought his. She wanted to know what it was like to kiss him for the first time, and yet not the first. To taste this man who caused a cascade of lust and emotion within her, a fire burning for him which only seemed to heighten with his threats of departure.
His hands were on her: his fingers digging into her waist, slipping up, easing over her breasts, hardening her nipples, making their way to her neck from which Onyx had temporarily retreated, kissing her there, kissing her soft cleavage, pulling at her bodice to access her white skin.
And then in one swift gesture, her hand was on his again, reason taking her over.
“I can’t,” she said, pulling his fingers away. “I shouldn’t.”
“I was wrapped up in a moment. We need to find Circe,” she said. “I needed comfort, and you offered it. I’m sorry.”
Rohan exhaled heavily. “It’s all right. I understand. Come, let’s find her. We’re not far from the compound now.”
The path to the Guild’s compound was so well hidden that most of those who passed by failed to notice it, assuming that it was simply a little greenery broken down by deer’s hooves. Little did they suspect that it was the result of the footwork of shifters, large men making their way to and from their town.
Rohan steered Sera through the dense forest, avoiding the path itself in case they should meet unfriendly parties along the way. Even his course of action was a risk; a shifter would be easily able to pick up their scents. But so far, the woods had been calm. It seemed that the Guild was not on high alert.
Silence continued to brew between the two for some time as they hiked, each considering what had happened; each remorseful and yet quietly wishing for more. But both of them managed to guide their minds to Circe, to her salvation and protection; that was supposed to be their priority. Sera’s thoughts turned to Obsidian, to the raven’s mindset, the fear that Nyx would no doubt feel if they were separated. Not to mention how it could hurt Circe. However strong the young woman was, she wasn’t invulnerable.
As for Rohan, his mind formulated strategies for the rescue. Whatever Sera had planned, the responsibility for its success sat upon his shoulders as far as he was concerned. Whether she wanted it or not, he was her protector for the time being. He would watch over her, take on any threat against her. And much as she was a strong woman, she was still made of flesh and blood. No thick dragon scales shielded her against harm.
Other author's books:
- Wolf's ChoiceA Christmas to BearTorn: A Dragon Shifter BBW Menage Serial (Seeking Her Mates Book 1)Dragon Seeker Part TwoSouthern Alpha Book Two (Southern Alpha Serial 2)Southern Alpha Book ThreeIllusions: Paranormal Shapeshifter Romance (The Seekers Book 1)Sought by the Alphas Complete Boxed Set: A Paranormal Romance Serial
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