With his hands bruising my thighs, he pounded into me, the world spinning as we struggled to keep our lips on each other’s while hunger sang and climbed within our veins. It hummed and gathered, then roared in my ears as Raiden mumbled incoherent things against my mouth, and we came crashing apart.
As our breaths tumbled from us in harsh bursts, we clung together, hearts pounding in a similar thudding beat against our flushed skin.
“I cannot leave now.”
“Didn’t you hear?” I almost purred as his tongue laved at my neck. “The ceremony has been moved ahead.”
Raiden froze. “It’s what?”
A sated laugh slipped from me. I grabbed his face, brushing my fingers over his furrowed brows. “In just one full moon, we will be vowed.”
He swallowed, and then slowly, a smile moved into place. “Then I shall stay here until then.”
But his reaction puzzled me, and so I asked, “You weren’t aware?”
He shook his head, hands moving to my rear and squeezing. “No.” His lips pinched, then he rolled them, and another easy smile appeared. “But it matters not.”
“My father said he’d spoken to your parents.”
He nodded, looking at the rows of books beside us. “Perhaps I was already journeying here, and they couldn’t deliver the message.”
“Perhaps,” I murmured.
A throat clearing had my head snapping to the end of the darkened aisle.
Yarnt stood there in the shadows, his expression unreadable but able to be understood all the same. Laughter snuck out as I tapped Raiden’s shoulders.
He looked at Yarnt and stilled.
“Relax,” I said. “He’s the librarian.”
He didn’t relax, and instead, he moved me out of view before setting me down and righting my skirts. “I can feel you dripping down my thighs,” I whispered.
He laughed. “Shhh.”
I nipped at his chin when he rose and tugged my linen dress back into place. “So sticky and warm, and I’m afraid that now…” I scraped my teeth over his chin to whisper against his mouth, “I’ll feel bare without so much of you inside me.”
He gave a low snarl, and his hands became concrete, pressing into my hips. He scowled. “You’re determined to ruin me, aren’t you?”
I grinned, grabbing his hand and tugging him back through the library. “We’ve yet to explore the guest rooms.”
His voice knocked me from better times.
Naïve, magical, life-changing times.
A voice I’d have been happy to have thrum against my skin and sink inside my ears for the rest of my nights and days.
That was then, his callous words reminded me. “You talk of this version of you, yet I cannot place her with what sits before me.”
I rolled to my side and set my head in my hand, finding Raiden in the same position yet obviously awake. How long he’d been conscious for, I didn’t know. At this point, I was beginning to wonder if he ever really was the prince I once knew.
“And what is it that sits before you now, Prince?” Go on, look at me. I dare you.
A throaty chuckle echoed, and then he turned to his back, stretching his arms above his head. Those green eyes, endless meadows and wildflower-wrapped dreams, turned to give me the coldest appraisal I’d ever experienced. “A queen so cruel she needs to create fables just to sleep at night and fool all those around her.”
“You still don’t believe me.” I didn’t know why I bothered to even say the words. He evidently did not. But Zad and then the way he’d been so sick… “You’re lying.”
He barked out a cold laugh, followed by a cough that rattled his chest. “Don’t make me laugh, please. I have the worst headache.”
“What made you remember Zadicus?”
Raiden shifted his attention to the damp ceiling. “If I knew, I’d tell you and perhaps bargain a way out of this cesspit.” When I said nothing, he went on, “You cannot keep me contained forever.”
“I don’t plan to.”
“You will have to let me out unless you plan to kill me while I’m chained like a mutt.”
I contemplated that, as I had before, but at the roiling of my stomach, I pushed the macabre thoughts away. “What I choose to do with you is really of little concern.”
He rolled toward me then, nostrils flaring as though he’d caught a whiff of dinner and was planning to chase it to the dining hall. “You’ve seen her.”
I flashed my teeth in response.
He was on his feet in half a second, rattling the bars so hard and so loud, I wondered if he was remembering his own strength. “What did you…” He stopped, ducking his head and drawing in a heaving breath that shook his shoulders. “Does she live?”
I tittered, moving to sit up. “Of course, she lives.” My smile waned. “For now.”
A groan so pained and raw echoed through the dungeon as he sagged against the bars, his clammy palms sliding over metal. “Why are you doing this to us?”