Raiden lounged back, pulling me with him. “Try to at least appear relaxed,” he said through a crack in his lips, his eyes soaking in all the sights before him.
“Sure,” I said as though it were the easiest thing to do in a room filled with people fucking like insatiable beasts.
My breath quaked when I remembered the experience I’d had with my own. Perhaps I couldn’t judge much after all. That didn’t mean I wanted to take part.
Raiden smiled at a passing server, taking an ale from a gilded tray. “You disapprove?”
I shook my head when the server lowered the tray to me, and he moved on to another couple who were watching. Watching with their hands in each other’s undergarments.
Swallowing, I turned away. “I wouldn’t say that.” I settled deeper into the seat, into the curve of his muscular arm and side. “I simply prefer privacy when having my holes filled.”
Raiden coughed on his ale, beating at his chest. Setting it down, he turned to me, his eyes dancing.
“You.” He gripped my face, bringing it to his. “I should like to fill them.”
“It’s too late for that,” I said, my voice all breath, my lips hovering too close to his.
“It’s not, and you know it.” His mouth met mine, the barest hint of a touch. “I’m so hard for you.”
“You’re in a room filled with sex,” I murmured. “You’d need to be dead not to be hard.”
His chuckle tickled my lips. “But I want you.”
Remembering my friend, and all the green-eyed asshole had done, the lies and the deception, I turned away and searched the room. “I thought Truin would be here.” Though I’d hate to think of how she’d react. She was only ten summers older than I was, but I was certain she was still a virgin.
“Later,” Raiden said, his fingers skipping across my bare arm. “I thought it best to wait until it… calmed down.”
A woman screamed as two men impaled her, her head thrown back as one licked the column of her throat. One was beneath her on a red rug, the other behind, and it was impossible to keep my expression neutral when I glimpsed the size of them.
We sat in silence, the tension between us burning hotter than the sun that scorched this kingdom with each minute that passed.
“Walk with me,” Raiden finally said, standing and taking my hand.
I wasn’t sure we’d stayed long enough to leave, but I didn’t care. Grateful to escape the moans and grunts and scents, I followed Raiden out of the room and onto a balcony.
People were out here, too. All males, judging from the quick glance I gave them as they fooled around in the shadows.
“Have you ever been with a male?”
“Once,” Raiden said, tugging me around the corner onto another balcony, and around and around we went until we eventually reached a set of stairs.
We climbed them, and I shouldn’t have, but I kept trying to picture it. “When?”
“I was seventeen summers, drunk, and it just kind of happened. It wasn’t bad, but I find I prefer females.”
“At one of those parties?”
“Did your parents ever take part?” I couldn’t imagine that.
He laughed. “No.”
I didn’t understand how it was custom then. Surely, it would’ve been something I’d heard of long before now if so. “How did this become some type of tradition?”
Scratching the back of his neck, Raiden sighed when we reached a balcony. The balcony to his rooms, I realized belatedly. “Me. Eline and I were… rebellious teens, and I guess it just stuck.”
At the mention of her, I remembered. “She wasn’t there.”
“She no longer participates.” His voice was firm. Firmer than I’d have liked.
With a tug, I found myself plastered to his bare chest, my hands spreading over it. “My queen.”
Those words coming from his mouth sounded wrong.
But his hands crawling up my back, undoing the ties of my dress, felt deliriously right.
After a dragging moment of staring, his head lowered, and our mouths collided.
With a groan I thought I might never hear again, he walked me backward inside, my dress falling in a puddle near the doorway, and we fell over his bed.
He climbed over top of me, his lips greedy on my neck. A moment later, he paused, a low grumble leaving him as his head lifted. Eyes aglow with disgust, he rasped, “He’s marked you.”
They would’ve been faint, Zad’s puncture marks from when he’d fed from me, if they’d remained at all. Still, I’d known he could scent it, and I’d forgotten. I hadn’t planned to let him get this close. At all.
“You can waste time complaining, or you can do what you brought me in here to do,” I said, my voice breathy.
His jaw gritted. He stared down at me, his brows low and his eyes hard. “How many times?”
“Enough to make you a distant memory.”