ALIEN SHIFTER ROMANCE: Alien Tigers - The Complete Series (Alien Invasion Abduction Shapeshifter Romance) (Paranormal Science Fiction Fantasy Anthologies & Short reads) (10 page)

BOOK: ALIEN SHIFTER ROMANCE: Alien Tigers - The Complete Series (Alien Invasion Abduction Shapeshifter Romance) (Paranormal Science Fiction Fantasy Anthologies & Short reads)
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Chapter Three

In the morning, Mairead searched the earth around the campsite for some sign of prints, but there was nothing, and she gave up the hunt. Whatever had frightened her horse in the night had not been large enough to harm either of them if it was not large enough to leave prints behind. She saddled Embarr in the dawn light and rode out once more. In the afternoon, she met another traveler.

He rode in from the west on a great black horse, and when he saw her he lifted one hand in greeting. Mairead lifted her own in return, and he drew nearer, reigning in only a yard from her, and moving along parallel to the course she rode with Embarr.

“A fine day to you,” he called across the little space between them.

This close, Mairead could see that he was tall. It was not only the horse that made him look so. He had enough height, she thought, that he could look down on her easily, and his shoulders under his tunic and leather vest were broad. Hair so pale it seemed almost white in the sunlight that fell across them. Mairead found herself wondering what he looked like beneath the layers of his clothing, and when she met his gaze, she let the thought edge her smile.

“And to you.”

She saw the beginnings of a smile in the curve of his lips, and his eyes, brown to her green, swept her from head to toe with a single look.

“I confess that I noticed you from some distance,” he said, drawing nearer and letting his voice drop low, though there were none around to hear them. “And I thought perhaps I might offer myself as company, for I find myself grown weary of lonely travel.”

Mairead herself had not, but he was pleasing to look on, and across his back he carried a heavy blade with an intricately worked hilt. An expensive weapon. A warrior’s sword. It seemed that he was the type of man who could make himself useful in a fight. And so, after a moment, she simply nodded. Some company might not go amiss for a time.

“If we are to be companions, I would know your name.”

              He smiled over at her, a wide, genuine sort of smile that set her somewhat at ease though she hardly knew him. “It is Fintan.”

              She took note that he did not give a surname, but did not press for it. It he wished to give it, he would have.

              “And mine is Mairead Curran.”

              His brows lifted. “
Mairead Curren, I presume.”

              “The one and only.”

              “A true pleasure indeed to meet you, then. I have always followed your exploits with interest.”

She cast a sideways glance at him, uncertain whether he was mocking her or not. Some did, when they knew who she was, and the tall, muscled warrior type was the most prone to such an attitude. But when she turned enough to look at him, she found the expression on his face was as genuine as his tone.

“And what have you discovered?” she asked. “In your scholarship?”

His laugh was low and warm. “I have discovered,” he said, “that I would be a fool to cross you.”

Mairead flashed a grin in his direction. “Then you have learned your lesson well.”

In the evening, they made camp, and Fintan offered to share bread from his pack. Mairead shared cheese from hers, and they sat together in companionable silence as they ate. The horses too were settled down, grazing quietly side by side, their tails swishing. It was a peaceful night in the glow of the fire, the wind rustling through the leaves overhead.

When they had finished their fare, Mairead unrolled her blankets and slipped off her high leather boots, settling down cross-legged in the center of her bed roll.

“Where is it you travel?” she asked, meeting Fintan’s eyes across the space between them. In the fire’s glow they seemed almost amber, and his pale hair was chased with gold.

“Northward,” he replied. “To the Wyndwae. Beyond that? I cannot say.”

“Do you go to see the dragon, then?”

He grinned, then, wide and full of teeth. “Is that what you seek in the Wyndwae? To slay a dragon?”

“We shall see.” Mairead lifted one shoulder in a shrug. “I am not certain I believe the tale. It seems far-fetched. Most likely it is only a drake, and as I have heard no stories of towns burning, I am not much inclined to do any slaying.”

His head tipped slightly to the side, and then he nodded, his manner seeming to offer respect for her words as well as agreement. The conversation for a moment ended, and he unlaced his own boots, dropping them to the side of his bed roll. Mairead pulled the leather jerkin she wore over her head, then stood to shimmy out of her leather trousers, not caring whether Fintan watched or not. Beneath, she wore green tunic and hose.

When she looked up, he was watching her. A faint flush rose in her cheeks. She was not some shy maiden, to be so flustered by a look, but there was something in the intensity of his regard that heated her blood and her face. She dropped her gaze.

“Do you look away because you wish me to stop looking, or because you wish me to continue?”

He sounded nearer. She looked up once more to watch him move carefully around the fire, and then he was stepping onto her bed roll to reach out and brush the hair back from her face. She turned into the touch, and when she lifted her eyes to his, she saw that he was smiling, slow and hungry. 

“Say it then, if you wish it.”

She answered his smile with one of her own. “I wish it,” she said.

Chapter Four

His fingers tangled in her hair, pulling her toward him with a sudden ferocity of desire that made her gasp. She wrapped her hands around his biceps, drawing him nearer with the same urgency. He laughed as his mouth closed over hers.

It was the kiss of a man who knew not if he would see the next sunrise. A warrior’s kiss, fierce and giving no quarter. They broke for only an instant, taking in breath with a quick inhale, meeting again. When he drew away, his teeth caught her lower lip gently between them before he pulled back entirely, and stood looking down at her with a fire kindled behind his eyes.

“Well,” she said, looking up at him with her mouth reddened by his kisses. “What do you wait for? The trumpet call?”

He made a sound like a snarl, low in his throat, and his foot swept hers out from under her. Strong arms caught her before she fell and lowered them both to the blankets so that he was on one knee above her, looking down at her unbound hair spilling out around her, at the quick rise and fall of her chest with her breath. Mairead was laughing, and he leaned down to kiss the sound from her mouth. His hands were already working on the catches of her tunic, and she reached up to return the favor.

Fintan pulled back enough to yank her tunic up over her head, Mairead lifting her arms to help him, and his long fingers made quick work of the binding that held her breasts. Then he drew his own tunic off, tossing it aside to join hers, and leaned down over her again, pressed close from chest to hips. She could feel that he was hard already, and his skin was hot against her own. Mairead rolled her hips knowingly up against his, feeling the line of his erection through their clothes, and they were kissing again, both of them striving for the upper hand, hard enough to bruise. They broke apart to gasp in air, then met again and again. He was rocking down against her now, a slow and deliberate drag of his hard length against her softness.

When he leaned near again, off balance, Mairead hooked a leg around his hip and flipped them so that she lay on top, looking down at him, her hair a curtain that pooled beside them. He was looking up at her with startled approval in his expression, and desire, and his hands curled around her hips as she sat up, flicking her hair back over her shoulder with a toss of her head, and it was her turn to writhe down against him, watching his lips part. His hands tightened around her hips, and his head tipped back against the blankets; the arch of his neck was beautiful. She wanted him with a hunger she hadn’t felt for a man in months.

“Off,” he growled suddenly, raising his head to look at her as he pulled the knot from the lacings that held her leggings up.

Mairead lifted her hips to let him pull them down to her knees, then yanked them from her legs herself. When she was naked above him, he raked his nails up her thighs just hard enough to burn, and Mairead moaned, her fingers scrambling for the ties of his trousers, and she pulled them loose with quick, sharp motions, leaning back onto his thighs to slide her hand inside and curl it around his length. Even with her weight on him, he bucked up into the touch, a groan catching in his throat.

He was heavy in her hand, all soft, heated skin, and she stroked slowly upward to feel the full length of it, feeling the muscles of his thighs tense beneath hers. He let out his breath in a ragged exhale. She stroked him once more, hand sliding over the head and making him curse under his breath, before she let him go entirely and hooked her fingers in the waistband of his breeches to pull them down and off.

With them both stripped down to their skins, she settled over his hips again, rocking against him, this time with nothing between them. It was an easy slide, slick and perfect, the head of his length bumping against the bundle of nerves at the apex of her sex in a way that made sparks flicker along through her limbs and down her spine. He was panting, rocking under her, hissing behind his teeth when she pulled back enough so that he almost slid inside her, only to roll her hips forward once more, that slow, sweet drag  driving them both mad. She could feel the way he shuddered with it, the curl and uncurl of his fingers against her skin.

“Tease me any longer,” he growled abruptly, fingers closing tight enough around her hips to bruise and holding her still. “And I will not be responsible for the outcome.”

Mairead answered him with breathless laughter, but she lifted her hips and reached back with a hand to guide him inside her. He was…Gods, he was
, and she took it slowly, sinking down inch by inch until her thighs rested against his hips and he'd filled her completely. Her head tipped back, hair spilling along her spine until the ends tickled against the upper curves of her buttocks. She breathed out a guttural curse, and for a moment she remained there, simply breathing.

“Tell me,” he said, voice strained, “when you are ready.” 

She answer him by drawing herself slowly up his length, lifting her head so she could meet his gaze. His eyes were dark, his jaw tight. His hands fit themselves over the arches of her hip bones and pulled her down hard. Mairead cried out with the suddenness of it, with the shock of pleasure. When she moved up again his hands guided her, pulled her down to meet him. It was fast, and hard, and exactly what she wanted.

They’d found a rhythm, and his hands slid slowly up her sides before lifting the small weight of her breasts so that he could feel them as she moved. Mairead leaned down nearer, her hands on his chests, using the new angle for leverage as she took him into her again and again, her fingers curling until her nails left faint red lines behind. The movement stroked him against a place inside her that made her breath catch, her walls fluttering around him. His groan was edged with a growl.

He was drawing near the edge. She could feel it already, feel the tension that strung his muscles taut, the stutter in his rhythm. The hands that had cupped her breasts slid down again, one curling around her thigh instead, the other slipping between them to rub her sex. 

Her own rhythm faltered, hips hitching, and his fingers worked her with quick, firm strokes that matched the rough, eager rocking of their bodies. Fintan growled her name, and she felt him still beneath her, his hand tight around her thigh. Mairead followed him over the edge with a cry.

When the world came back into focus, they were lying tangled together in her blankets, her head against his chest. One of his hands slid down her spine, rubbing circles over her back. It was a surprisingly intimate gesture, sweeter than she had expected.

“Your bed roll,” she said with some feeling, “is too far away.”

His quiet groan said he completely agreed with her.

It was impractical, but Mairead did not make him move, though she did pull rag from her pack to clean them both up. Then she settled back against him, the blankets just enough for the both of them, warm against the nip of the fall air.

Chapter Five

When Mairead woke, she was warm and comfortable, and had no intention at all of pulling herself from bed. Fintan slept still, his chest rising and falling with slow, even breaths beneath her ear. She could hear the beat of his heart, and she let her eyes slip shut again, enjoying the lazy feel of the morning. It was not, after all, as though they had a reason to rush. Though she did not doubt that news of her coming would reach the Wyndwae before she did, very few of the villagers would have made the journey between the southern coast and their own villages or know its length. Had she believed a dragon truly haunted them, she would not take such time, but she did not believe it. There had been no refugees fleeing through the forest. No flame or smoke on the northern horizon.

The sun had risen well into the sky when Fintan stirred and opened his eyes, his fingers sliding into her hair and stroking the long strands back from her face, carding more carefully through the places where it had tangled.

"A blessed morning to you," he said, turning his head to look down at her.

"And to you," she answered, tipping her own head back to meet his gaze. She smiled. "It was a most blessed night."

"I suppose that somewhat depends on what one considers most blessed."

Her eyebrows lifted sharply, and he laughed.

"Not that I do not consider it such. Certainly," he said, hand sliding down to curl around her thigh, thumb stroking the soft skin along the inside. "I much enjoyed it. I just do not think the church would agree."

That pulled laughter from her. It had been an entirely enjoyable night, but she too doubted that the church would consider such activities blessed. She had never much cared for their strictures. Already she travelled well outside them, dressing in men’s trousers and hunting the beasts of the wild with a longbow.

Reluctantly, they rose together from the warmth of the blankets and dressed. There were indeed finger-smudge marks on her hips and thigh, and Mairead looked down at them with a smile, tracing her own fingertips along the slight blunt ache of them before she stirred the fire to waking so they might break their fast while Fintan disappeared into the trees. When he returned, he carried a brace of rabbits with him, and they dressed them together, roasting them over the fire with a few of the dried herbs from Mairead's pack. It was an indulgence to bring such things along, but they were light, and she found that she was much happier with them than without.

When they had eaten, they saddled the horses and rode out. Mairead was a little sore from their rough play the night before, but she did not mind it. Each step forward was a pleasant reminder of their lying together, and by midday she was eager to repeat the experience. When they paused for food, she all but pulled Fintan from his horse, and he came along, laughing and as eager as she.

The trip went on much like that in the week following. In the day they rode leisurely toward the Wyndwae, conversing of this and that, sharing tales between them. Mairead told Fintan of the rumor she had begun, and had been gratified to see him amused, his warm laughter rolling out among the trees. She had told him also of the battle with the manticore, and of the time she had faced the basilisk, when she had come nearer to death than ever she had been before. Far nearer than was comfortable. Of himself, Fintan did not say as much, though he did say that he had always been a wanderer, and told her of lands to the north of Lyndoun, of the wide, rocky plateaus to the east. She listened with keen attention, and thought perhaps it was time to make a journey beyond the edges of her own country, out into the lands beyond.

At night they lay together, their bed rolls pushed close. Some of those nights, they coupled as they had in that first heat of passion, rough and quick, nails and fingers leaving marks on each other's skin. Others were slower, closer. They handled each other gently, and kissed slow and lingering. Fintan’s elegant, long-fingered hands were suited as much for tenderness as for rough handling. He lifted her as though she weighed nothing, laid her out on the blankets and held her as he pleased, lifting her to new heights of ecstasy. It was a trip more pleasant than any she had before taken, and she wondered if perhaps she had been a fool to deny companionship in the years since her father’s passing. Or if it was only Fintan who made it so.

A little more than a week into their journey, they came upon a place she knew, where a spring flowed over rocks in a low waterfall, falling three feet down into a pool at its end. The pool was deep, and in the chill of early fall it still held the warmth of the summer it had collected in the long, sunny months. Even so, it was cool, and Mairead sputtered as she surfaced, but she laughed too. Fintan did not seem affected by its bite. His skin was warm when she wrapped herself around him, legs over his hips and arms around his neck. His hands cupped her buttocks, holding her up.

“You look good like this,” he said, smiling into her eyes.

“I look, I think, like a drowned rat,” Mairead said, laughing, but he only shook his head and kissed her until she stopped insisting on it.

They were deep kisses, hungry. As they went on, Mairead began to writhe in his arms, moving against him. Her nipples were hard against his chest.

“We should perhaps adjourn to warmer places,” she said against his jaw, nipping gently at the lobe of his ear.

“Are you cold?”

She was not, in his arms, but their bed rolls were laid out already, and it seemed a shame to waste them. She told him so, and though he laughed, he made his way out of the pool with her, seemingly not at all fazed by her weight in his arms, and laid her out on the bed rolls where they were set near the fire that had burned itself to low, hot coals. When he moved away from her to lay wood on them, she shivered a little with a sudden chill.

He was back in a moment, stretching out over her, his warmth a guard against the wind. He pulled the blankets up around them, and leaned down to kiss her again, his mouth moving down along her jaw, over her throat. When he reached the curve of her shoulder, he sank his teeth into it, and she bucked beneath him, gasping.

His tongue stroked the place where he had bitten, and he drew back enough to look down at her, concern in his gaze.

“Did I harm you?”

Mairead shook her head. “No,” she said, catching his hand in her own and drawing it down between her thighs so he could feel that she was wet and already wanting him. “No,” she said again. “Not at all.”

His smile was full of teeth, and when he leaned down again he put his teeth into her once more, making her cry out. Those clever fingers did not move back up her body, but stayed where they were to play, tickling over her skin. The bites left purpling marks behind, and a little stinging ache that only made her hungrier for it, for him.

“I need you,” she gasped against his shoulder. “I need you truly.”

The hand that had been teasing her with fingertips against the lips of her sex slid outward, pressing her thigh open wide so he could settle between them, and he did not make her wait. He slid inside in one long thrust. Mairead’s back arched, her fingers catching at his shoulders, leaving the marks of her nails in the same place he had left the marks of his teeth on her. As he slid out, in again, deep and slow, she dragged her nails down his back so that they left red lines behind, and he groaned against her shoulder and bit her again. The thought of the marks made her laugh a little, nothing more than the sound of air passing her lips. He lifted his head to look down at her with something that might have been an attempt at a scolding frown, but there was too much of a smile hiding in the corners of his mouth.

“If you think this amusing, I’m sure I could find a way to make it more interesting for you.”

“If you think you are up to the challenge,” she answered immediately.

He bent so that he could reach her breasts, teeth closing around a nipple, and the arch in her spine pulled deeper, pressed her body up toward him. Her breath caught in her throat as they pressed harder against tender flesh, already peaked and sensitive. The tip of his tongue flicked over the captured nipple and made her whimper. She was not thinking of laughing any longer, or of challenging him, only the way he felt inside her, the way his teeth felt against her skin as he left off to take the other nipple in his mouth. His fingers caught the first between them, rolling and rubbing until she felt as though the slightest touch would undo her.

“You are not laughing now,” he said against her neck, and the words were a satisfied purr.

Though his thrusts were slow, they filled her deep, ended with a grind that rubbed the base of his length against her, made her moan and clutch at him. Her only answer was a sound of pleasure and need.

He took care of her. His hands, by now practiced in the ways of her body, teasing and tugging and playing, his length filling her to her limits. When Mairead opened her eyes, she could see the stars through the leaves of the trees, sliding together in her pleasure-dazed vision until they were only white light against the black. When she fell apart beneath him, it was with his name on her lips.

BOOK: ALIEN SHIFTER ROMANCE: Alien Tigers - The Complete Series (Alien Invasion Abduction Shapeshifter Romance) (Paranormal Science Fiction Fantasy Anthologies & Short reads)
11.4Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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