Night enclosed us as I threw my head back and screamed.
Teeth scraped over my neck, and I felt Zadicus’s muscles seize, the air thrumming over my skin as his seed emptied inside me.
I hissed, shoving his face away before ridding my body of him and crawling off the bed.
A sinister chuckle followed my steps to the bathing chamber. “So touchy.”
“I’ve warned you not to do that.” The door shut over my words with a boom that thundered through the rock and mortar, a charged wind catching my hair and cooling my flushed face.
After cleaning up, I washed my hands, staring with empty iridescent eyes at the pale hue to my cheeks in the mirror. A swipe of my finger over my lips and the red turned pink.
I made a mental note to eat more. Gaunt wasn’t a look I favored, and my cheekbones were starting to resemble that of a corpse.
“Twenty-one summers old,” Zad said, lighting a pipe he kept in the top drawer of the nightstand. “Does that mean you’ll soon be through with the tantrums?”
I stalked naked to my dressing table and took a seat. “We all know you’re a bore, Zad. There’s no need to open your pretty mouth to inform us.”
A wry smile curled his sin-shaped lips. “Why not kill me then? You seem rather taken with murder of late.”
That was a question I’d asked myself a time or two before. However, Lord Zadicus had governed the east since before I was born, and he held too much power. If my father had taught me anything—and he taught me a lot—it was to squash a threat as soon as you’d assessed it.
Yet he’d never seemed bothered by Zadicus’s reign of the mystical east. Perhaps giving certain threats enough room to roam and flex their muscles was enough to placate them. For now.
Besides, the lord was incredibly skilled in the bedchamber.
“Tempting.” Snatching my brush, I met Zad’s stare in the mirror. “But I’m not done with you yet.”
His golden gaze refused to relinquish its hold, but he was no match for me. Smiling, I averted my eyes and continued brushing until the moon’s reflection could be found among my waist-length sable locks.
The scent of cloves permeated the shadowed chamber, lit by only two sconces in opposite corners of the room.
Zadicus was still staring, and I was growing tired. “You’re excused.”
“You know,” he said, unmoving from where he lay sprawled over the silver linen. His auburn hair grazed his pectorals, and the glimpse of his pearlescent canines drew away from the crook in his nose. “I don’t recall our deal pertaining to slavery.”
“And I don’t recall you protesting not even five minutes ago.”
“Sex does not make an alliance.”
I hummed, deep laughter escaping my shut lips as I stood and made my way back to the bed. “More foolish words have been spoken, but I’ve not heard such nonsense in quite some time.”
Zad’s gaze narrowed as clouds of smoke drifted past his lips. He watched me tuck myself beneath the smooth sheets and lay my head down. “Marriage, Audra.” His tone lost its playful edge, and out came the beast within. “The promise was your hand. A true merging for the sake of the kingdom.”
Ruthless, cunning, and as previously stated, powerful, Zadicus Allblood would make a fine king. He was a high royal by blood and worshiped among our people. Especially the women.
Fools. He hadn’t given anyone so much as a second glimpse since his wife died, not even me.
It took everything I had not to swallow, knowing he would hear it. “I have not broken that promise.”
“You have not fulfilled it either.”
We both knew he didn’t want me as his wife. He wanted the kingdom.
He wanted to ensure Allureldin didn’t fall prey to Merilda. Though his desires matched my own, I knew once the Sun Kingdom was squashed, or peace had settled once more, that he would have no qualms about wresting control of my home from me.
From my family.
The Sun Kingdom had almost succeeded once, and so I’d brokered a deal with the red-haired devil of the east. I’d needed his help.
With Zadicus’s presence in the kingdom, as well as his soldiers and loyal following, others were able to swallow their dislike for me and think a third time before betraying their queen.
It was that or forfeit the land the barbarians had invaded, and undoubtedly more if their disquiet grew, spreading further among my people, and formed a siege.
I’d lost too much. They would not take anything more from me.
I was queen of the Moon Kingdom, and blood would drown the entire continent before I allowed anyone to steal what was rightfully mine.
My fingers curled into my palms. I scented the copper staining the air as my nails created crescents in my skin. “I gave you my word. We will marry next—”