The darkest night, p.18

The Darkest Night, page 18

 part  #1 of  Lords of the Underworld Series

 

The Darkest Night
 


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CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

 

  Ashlyn hurried through the shower, wondering what it was that Maddox had to do. The water was hot, soothing, and washed away the trials of the night. Not the hated memory of holding her lover's bloody body in her arms, but the physical effects. The fatigue, the nearly debilitating sense of despair, the rage at what had been done to the man she was coming to love.

  The man who might be coming to love her in return.

  The feelings might have come upon them quickly, but it just felt right. She wanted so badly to be with Maddox. Wanted so badly to hold and touch him, to give and receive pleasure. To bask in these new feelings of lightness. He no longer considered her Bait, and he wanted her to stay with him. Now and always. Her lips lifted in a slow, happy grin.

  How am I going to break his death-curse?

  The thought drifted through her mind, overshadowing everything in its path. Her smile faded. Surely there was something she could do to save him from an eternity of dying, only to be resurrected knowing he'd have to die again. No one deserved to be tortured like that.

  Ashlyn rested her forehead against the dewy white tile. Surely somewhere in the world, in some time period, a human had talked about the gods and how to break their stupid, unfair curses. She'd probably heard something over the years, but if so, it had blended into all the other voices.

  Now, at least, she knew what to listen for.

  Maddox wouldn't want her to leave the fortress for that, she was sure, so she'd have to go without telling him. Besides, she couldn't hear the voices when he was around.

  Until you, my life was desolate, he'd said. I existed, but I didn't truly live. Now I live, even in my death. Fierce protector that he was, he'd consider his own suffering a small price to pay for keeping her safe. Already she knew that much about him.

  She'd leave at night, while he could do nothing to stop her, then sneak back in the morning.

  Don't think about that now. There's time enough for spy games later. In just a little while, she was going to make love with a man. With Maddox. His big, strong hands were going to caress her entire body. His mouth was going to taste her. His penis was going to slide deep inside of her.

  She shivered. First desperate to leave, now desperate to stay. Somehow, some way, she was going to contact McIntosh and let him know she was okay. Not now, though. After. After she experienced the most intimate of acts and knew how it felt to be joined with someone.

  Selfish of her, yes. But she couldn't have stopped herself for any reason.

  Without a doubt, Maddox was going to finish what they started this time. The tight coiling of his muscles as he'd held her on the bed had promised as much. And the white-hot look he'd given her before leaving the room had only solidified the knowledge.

  No longer would she worry that he'd abandon her afterward, as so many men had done to so many women throughout the centuries. Maddox was intense and passionate and different. He didn't need to lie or issue false promises to get what he wanted. He had only to take.

  Yet he chose not to. He wanted her to give.

  Warm water soon became cold. Ashlyn turned the knobs, shutting off the steady stream. Drip, drip. Almost time, she thought, and moisture instantly pooled between her legs. Her nipples were as hard as rocks.

  Droplets slid down her skin, chilling her. She imagined Maddox licking them off, shivered again and nearly moaned. She grabbed a towel and patted herself dry as best she could before anchoring the fluffy white material under her arms so that it draped from breasts to knees. Eager, she exited the bathroom on a cloud of steam.

  Maddox wasn't in the bedroom.

  She frowned. . . until her toes brushed something soft and she glanced down. Violet silk scarves formed a winding trail, leading from the bedroom to the room next door. When she stood in the entryway, she gaped in delighted surprise.

  She'd been in this room before, when she'd crawled over the balcony and through the window, but it hadn't looked like this. Dust had covered everything then. The sheets, even. Now it was a room made for pleasure. Sconces glowed from the walls, golden light flickering over a bed of black silk. Maddox had cleaned it. For her. Her heart swelled in her chest, beating wildly.

  Where was he?

  The balcony doors were open, inviting fresh, cold air inside. She approached, her heated blood making her indifferent to the frigid temperature. Maddox gripped the balcony rail, his back to her, dark hair - damp, she noticed - in disarray. His shoulders were wide, tanned and bare.

  She'd never seen his bare back before.

  There was a huge butterfly tattoo that stretched from the top of his shoulders to just below the waist of his pants. It was red, almost neon, and it looked angry. Mean. As if it could leap off his back and slice her in two. Odd, she mused. Butterflies were such delicate creatures, she never would have imagined one could appear so menacing. Or that a man as, well, manly as Maddox would have such a design tattooed on his body.

  "Maddox," she whispered, her voice breathless.

  He whipped around as if she'd shouted. A frown tugged at his sensual lips. In that moment, he wasn't the lover who'd left her to shower and prepare for hours of pleasure. He was the warrior who'd tried to leave her in the forest alone.

  "Everything okay?"

  "There is a blanket tied to that balcony. " He pointed to the right, but didn't remove his narrowed gaze from her face. "Do you know anything about that?"

  Besides their night in the forest, he'd rarely looked at her in anger. That was usually directed at someone else. So having those violet eyes - now framed with red the exact neon shade of his tattoo - aimed at her like an accusing finger was a bit disconcerting.

  Good news? Angry he might be, but that freaky skeletal mask hadn't descended over his features. Empowered by that, Ashlyn raised her chin and stepped toward him. "Yes. I know something about the blanket. "

  "If you were anyone else," he said tightly, "I would think you tied the cover to the rail so that Hunters could climb inside the fortress. "

  "But you don't think that of me?" If the question had had teeth, it would have bitten him. Hard.

  "No," he said, and she relaxed. Slightly. "So tell me," he continued, "what did you use it for?"

  Confession time. "I told you that Torin hid me, right? Well, he locked me up so that your other friends couldn't find me, which I don't fully understand yet, so don't ask. I heard you shouting and did what was necessary to reach you. "

  He took a menacing step toward her, then stopped himself, as if he feared getting too close to her just then. "You could have fallen to your death," he said quietly.

  "But I didn't. "

  "You dangled in the air, Ashlyn. "

  Don't back down. Not during this critical moment. They'd just established that they liked each other and that they were both willing to take their relationship to the next level. Whatever happened here would set the stage for future fights. And there would be fights. He was too stubborn, and she too determined.

  "Yes," she agreed. "I did. "

  "Do not ever - ever! - do that again. " He closed the rest of the distance between them and leaned down, obliterating her personal space. "Understand?"

  Her heart kicked into supersonic hyper-drive. "Tell your friends not to lock me up, and then I'll swear it. "

  His eyes widened with disbelief. Did he expect her to sob out an apology? "I'm going to kill them," he snarled, surprising her. "You could have died out there. "

  As he maneuvered around her, she saw death in his eyes. Oh, no, no, no. There would be no leaving her. There would be no beating his friends. Not now. Ashlyn reached out without hesitation, without fear, curling her hand around his wide, solid bicep. Growling, he spun and faced her.

  "This day isn't going to be ruined by more pain," she told him.

  "Ashlyn. "

  "Maddox. "

  He could have shoved her away. Could have rejected her, cursed her. Hit her. Instead, he redirected the focus of h
is emotions. "You could have died out there. " With a low, animalistic growl, he meshed his lips against hers. His tongue shoved inside her mouth, past her teeth, thrusting hard.

  Finally. Thank you, Lord, finally. She tasted a blend of fury and passion and heat, and it was the most decadent flavor she'd ever encountered. Intoxicating. Her blood instantly sparked.

  "Don't want. . . to hurt. . . you," he snarled, speaking between kisses.

  "Can't. "

  "Hurt. . . "

  "Won't. "

  His head tilted to the side as he deepened the kiss, took more of her mouth, feeding a hunger that lived deep inside her. She loved it, embraced it. Maddox was passion, total, breath-stealing passion, and he was ferocious in the giving and taking of it. As she'd wanted; as she'd needed.

  "I'm going to give you what you crave, and I swear to the gods I will not hurt you," he said.

  "I want you and everything you have to give. Everything. "

  He gripped her ass and jerked her against him, pushing the air from her lungs. Breathless, she wound her legs around his waist. He backed her into a wall. Cool stone dug into her bare back, but she didn't care.

  Wildness had never been a part of her life. Home, work, home, work. That's all her life had consisted of, really. She'd told Maddox that she'd been glad for her solitude, but the truth was, there were times she'd been starved for touch. Any touch.

  This was more than she'd ever dreamed.

  His erection pressed between her open thighs, not entering, not yet, but hard and hot through his pants, through the towel, hitting her exactly where she needed it most. A moan burst from her. She gripped him, nails digging into his chest. His nipples were so hard, they abraded her skin.

  "Feels good," he said, palming one of her breasts. His touch wasn't gentle, but it wasn't rough, either, offering the perfect balance of pleasure and pain. He shook, as if he were holding himself together by a single strand of control.

  "Yes. " Yes. Her stomach quivered, shooting jolts of blissful, melting heat through the rest of her body. Over and over she arched forward, back, forward, rubbing against his shaft. She'd never been so wet. She'd never felt so needy, achy. Never wanted to drown, to die, to live, to fly all at the same time - but she did now.

  "Want it. . . like in the books you read?" He bit at her chin, down her neck.

  "Told you. Want you. Only you. " The nips stung, but he licked at each twinge until it became sensitized, further kindling her desires. He shoved at the towel and pinched her nipples then, fingers a little rougher than his teeth had been. There was a rumbling in his chest, a sound of primal urges that mirrored her own.

  "Towel. Off. " He didn't wait for her response, but jerked the material from her and tossed it over his shoulder.

  Icy air kissed her skin. Rather than wrap her in his arms, warming her, he pulled back and looked at her. Just looked, up and down, slowly, lingering, savoring. Somehow his gaze was hotter than a touch, obstructing the cold.

  When he peered at her like that, she felt like a goddess. A siren. A queen.

  "Beautiful," he said. "So beautiful. " His hands followed the same path his eyes had taken. He touched her entire body, leaving no place unexplored.

  "Yours. "

  "Mine. " He licked and sucked her collarbone, leaving a sizzling trail. "You are the most perfect thing I have ever beheld. " He cupped each of her breasts again. "Perfect pink nipples made for my mouth. "

  "Taste them. "

  He laved one nipple, that wicked tongue flicking back and forth, then turned his attention to the other. Then he backed her to the center of the room and dropped to his knees.

  Her eyes closed in absolute surrender. Amazing things happened when this man got on his knees. Decadent things. One of his hands snaked around her middle, hugging her close. And as he continued to lave her, he caressed her thighs with his free hand.

  Touch there. . . right there. . . Oh! Every time his fingers brushed her clitoris, they darted away before exploring fully. Frustrated, she almost fell. He held her up, his teeth grazing her flesh. "Need more," she told him.

  "Soon. "

  "Maddox," she said, desperate. If he'd just sink a finger inside her, she'd come. More than she wanted to come, however, she wanted to explore him. "Touch you, too. " She was panting, barely able to get the words out.

  He was on his feet before she could blink, staring down at her with his eyes on fire, a collage of red, black and purple. Without a word, he swooped her up and tossed her onto the bed. Cool silk slid over her heated skin. And then he was on top of her, pinning her down. His weight was surprisingly luscious and more sensual than she could ever have anticipated.

  Golden light bathed him, created a halo. He really was an angel just then. Her angel. Her savior and her lover. "Take off your pants," she commanded. His bare chest burned her deliciously, and she could hardly wait to feel his bare legs. . . his hard, swollen penis, nothing in the way.

  He didn't comply. Shivering, she reached for his waistband to push at his pants.

  He shook his head, stilling her. "When they come off, I'll be inside you. " His voice was low, gravelly.

  "Good. I want you inside me. "

  "Not done tasting. " He eased off her a little and trailed a finger down the planes of her stomach.

  Oh God. "Yes, taste more. I want. . . I need. . . " More of everything. If he wouldn't let her remove the pants, she'd work around them. She worked her hand underneath, gripped him.

  He hissed in a breath. His eyes closed briefly. "Ashlyn. "

  He was so big, she couldn't close her fingers. Thick, full, amazing. As she skimmed her hand up and down, up and down like she'd seen him do in the shower - oh, so good, never stop - he finally, finally worked a finger inside of her. She gasped at the heady sensation.

  He stilled. "Good?"

  "Good," she said on a moan.

  Propelling back into motion, he pumped his finger in and out. Slowly at first. . . faster. . . faster. . . she arched into the inward glide, loving the stretch, trying to tighten her muscles and hold him deep.

  "More?"

  "More," she breathed.

  A second finger thrust inside, stretching her farther. Her knees squeezed his thighs, surrendering to his every whim. Her gaze met his. Sweat beaded on his face and tension bracketed his mouth.

  "Hot," he said. "Wet. "

  "Big," she said, squeezing him. "Hard. "

  "All yours. "

  "Mine," she agreed. I want him forever. Now and always. "More. "

  He slammed a third finger inside her and there was a slight burn. She loved it, loved the miracle of being filled by him. "Mine," he said. His cock surged in her hand. "Ready, beauty?"

  "Yes. Oh, yes. So ready. " More than ready. Never had she wanted anything so intensely. It was something she gladly would have given her life to experience. "Yes. Please. "

  She kneaded his back, scratched at his skin as he shoved his pants to his ankles and kicked them off. No underwear. He was finally, totally, blessedly nude.

  "Look at me. "

  She did, their gazes as tangled as their bodies.

  The hard tip of his penis pressed between her legs, but didn't fully enter. She arched her hips, urging him on. He didn't move any deeper. Despite his claim that he'd be inside her the moment his clothes were shed, he resisted.

  "Need a moment. . . to get spirit. . . under control," he bit out. "Don't want to leave. Don't want to walk away. But the urges. . . "

  "Mmm, urges. Yes. "

  "No. Dark. Violent. Hard. "

  "I'm not scared. " No, she was excited, willing to take him and the spirit. It was a part of him, so she'd love it, too.

  "Should be scared. " The sweat that had beaded on his temples dripped onto her cheek, the frosty air doing nothing to cool him down. "Haven't done it this way in thousands of years. Haven't looked at a woman while. . . "

  He didn't finish, but she could guess what he'd been unable to say. He h
adn't looked at a woman while making love to her. Ashlyn met his gaze again, all the love she felt for him shining brightly. She didn't try to hide it, couldn't. "I don't want to wait anymore. "

  "Must. "

  She drew up her knees, trying to urge him forward, but he braced a palm on the headboard, refusing to budge. Grrr! She didn't want him to fear hurting her. "Pound. Bite. "

  "No. Not with you. "

  "Pound me. Bite me. I won't break. "

  "I won't hurt you. " He shook his head, refusing to look at her. "Won't hurt you. Promised. "

  Make him lose control. Prove to him that he can't hurt you, no matter what he does. Yes, she thought, cupping his jaw and forcing him to peer down at her. If he held back this time, if he continued to fear the things he wanted to do to her, he'd eventually stop touching her altogether. He'd leave her.

  "Give me all you've got. Just do it now," she told him on a moan, once more trying to slide herself down on his thick length. "I'm so wet, I'm already in pain. "

  His shallow pants filled her ears. "Just a few more minutes. I'm just going to hold you, then I have to leave. "

  No, not okay.

  She traced her fingertips down his back, loving the feel of velvet poured over electrified steel. His tattoo had looked so real, she'd expected it to be raised, but it wasn't. It was smooth and as warm as the rest of him.

  "If you won't take me. . . " She tried to appear innocent as she massaged his butt. The muscles contracted on contact. "I'll take you. "

  Without another warning, she tightened her grip and jerked at the same moment as she arched forward.

  Maddox's arm bent and he slammed inside her. A cry spilled from her lips, pained and blissful all at once.

  Maddox's control shattered.

  He roared, loud and long, pulling back and slamming forward over and over again. She gasped, feeling him so deeply she'd never again be able to think of herself as simply Ashlyn. She was now Maddox's woman.

  He bit the cord of her neck and she trembled. Back he continued to slide, forward he continued to slam. The entire bed shook, metal legs screeching against the floor. He gripped one of her knees, anchoring it on the curve of his arm, spreading her legs farther apart and giving him deeper penetration.

  "I'm sorry," he chanted. "I'm sorry. "

  "Don't be. Yes, yes!" she cried.

  His tempo increased and his thrusts became harder. "Ashlyn," he panted. "Ashlyn. "

  She was on fire, burning from the inside out. Her pulse points hammered in tune with his strokes. Back and forth her head thrashed as she became mindless to anything except the pleasure.

  He pinched her nipples and that made her hotter.

  He scraped his teeth over her throat and that made her wetter.

  He squeezed her thighs tightly and that made her needier. "Sorry," he said again. "So sorry. Wanted to be gentle. "

  "Love it hard. Want harder. " Gentle could come later, after her need had been sated. After he realized she could - and quite happily - take anything he had to give. "Close. So close. " Almost there. Just needed. . .

  He tangled his hand in her hair and jerked her face to his, thrusting his tongue inside her mouth. His decadent taste flooded her, a drug, a shot of heroin. In that instant, she erupted. Burst. Flames of ecstasy consumed her.

  Her entire body shuddered and wept. A scream was ripped from her as white light and shadows flashed through her mind. She was dying slowly, dying quickly. Just. . . dying. Flying to heaven.

  "Ashlyn," Maddox shouted as he, too, erupted. Hot seed spurted inside her, pulsing deep. . . so deep. . . His muscles tensed. "Mine. " He bit down on her neck again, as if he couldn't help himself.

  This time, he drew blood.

  It should have hurt, did hurt - so good, so good - but it made her come again. She trembled and arched against him, crying out with the heady bliss of it. Never would she have thought pleasure and pain could mix so potently. Never would she have thought one could trigger the other. But they did. And she was glad.

  He collapsed on top of her, again panting, "Sorry. So sorry. Didn't mean - "

  "No sorries. I'm glad. " Satisfaction hummed through her as she accepted his weight. Satisfaction and true happiness. "Always want it this way. "

  He rolled to his back, taking her with him. Boneless, she lay on his chest. He wrapped his arms around her, holding her, smoothing his hands down her back. "You would have liked gentle better. Especially for your first time. "

  Slowly she smiled. "I doubt it, but I'm willing to let you try and convince me. "

  Amazement flickered in his eyes a split second before he had her straddling his waist. "That will be my pleasure. "
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