Authors: Jess Raven,Paula Black
Suppressing a growl, the King’s outstretched arm explored the rumpled bed, once again empty where Ashling had lain. He swung his legs over the side of the platform and padded barefoot across the room. Unaccustomed to stealthing about his own domain, a voice in MacTire’s head told him the effect this woman had on him was dangerous. Very bloody dangerous. She had a way of unravelling his intentions. She weakened him.
Impossible, stubborn female
Lifting her sleeping form back onto his bed had become a routine, from the first time he found her curled up on the floor.
Patience was not in MacTire’s repertoire, and what little he had with this softly-softly approach was wearing thin, fast. Immediate gratification in all things came with the territory. It was a millennium since he’d last locked wills with a mate, and that had ended in carnage to rival any of the human wars. History would not repeat itself. Ashling DeMorgan would bend to his will or she would break, just as all the latents before her had.
Bundling her into his arms, he settled her lax form into the nest of pelts. Swollen lids and hitched breathing told him she’d cried herself to sleep, again. His hand hovered above her pale cheek, the urge to smooth her hair a compulsion quashed in the fist of self-loathing that branded his tenderness weak.
He would blame it on their blood-tie, short-circuiting his brain, but this one was undeniably different from the others. She was that elusive thing you wanted all the more because it was denied you. Oh, he could take her, against her will. She wasn’t strong enough yet to fend him off ... though that situation was changing by the day. Hell, she would even enjoy it, thanks to the cruel irony of the blood-tether that kindled lust even in the ice-pool of her hatred.
But you want her to want you,
the voice goaded.
Yes, damnit, he was egotistical enough to believe she would come begging on her knees.
As though feeling his thoughts, Ashling moaned in her sleep and shifted, one hand falling limp across the furs. Something bright caught his eye. Clutched in her fist was an old coin,
coin. It dangled from the black cord MacTire himself had wrenched from Connal Savage’s throat, right before he ordered his execution. His jaw tightened and he stiffened, restraining himself from ripping the detested thing from her hand.
Even in fucking death …
A silent storm of frustrated rage, he blasted from the room to stalk the stone corridors in search of Brandr. He found him in his sleeping quarters, draped in a blanket of willing, naked female.
‘Wake up,’ he snarled, back-handing Brandr’s bearded face. The brunette stirred, Bambi eyes staring groggily up at the King. At the prospect of the male joining them in their bed, her expression quickly formed into one of lustful expectation.
‘Trouble in paradise, my Lord?’ Brandr’s voice was thick with sleep as he raked the wild mass of dark curls from eyes that were darker still.
‘That’s none of your fucking business.’ Tight-lipped, MacTire reigned in his anger. ‘Is this the
the Savage bit? The one you picked up in Doyle’s office?’ His hand braceleted one of the girl’s slender wrists, already bruised from the latest orgiastic feast at which she’d featured as the main course.
‘She’s the one,’ Brandr nodded, ‘quite the little firecracker too.’ With the flat of his hand, he pushed the girl from his bed. ‘What is mine is yours, my Lord.’ A smirk played at the corners of Brandr’s mouth. If he had an opinion on what MacTire was or wasn’t getting from the she-wolf in his chambers, Brandr knew better than to voice it.
‘You’re going to do something for me,’ MacTire commanded the girl, tugging her into the corridor by her wrist. She stumbled along the uneven rock in her red-soled shoes in an effort to keep up.
‘Yes Sir, of course. Anything,’ she breathed and it sounded seductive. He pulled her harder.
The bastard had moved her again!
Ash popped up meerkat-style and the floor yielded with the motion, cushioning her. Her fist pounded the soft bed. ‘Asshole! I can sleep where I want!’
‘You shouldn’t insult his Highness,’ the voice was dreamy behind her, throaty, ‘you should worship him.’
Ash spun off the mattress to confront the intruder. It was a she. It was
she. Red Shoes. The sight of her sickened Ash to the core. This was the woman Connal had supposedly turned into the simpering addict now stood before her. This was the woman that had been ravaged as Ash watched. Her entire body flamed in remembrance. She tried, and failed, to look the woman in the eyes. The wall was a safer focal point.
‘What are you doing in here? Mac went that way, I think.’ Her arm waved towards the door, but the woman ignored the invitation to leave.
was positively scowling, her pretty face displeased at Ash’s nickname for the King. ‘I’m not here for him,’ she said. ‘His Highness does not wish for
Ooh, was that jealousy? Amusement briefly overcame irritation. ‘No? Such a shame …’ Ash replied, moving around the room, keeping the
at the centre of her attention, vaguely aware what she was doing could be classed as prowling. The woman brought out Ash’s claws, and she’d yet to figure out how to properly sheathe them. Red Shoes knew things, things Ash needed to know. ‘Have you been down here long?’ she asked.
‘Time has no meaning. There’s no daylight, you know, no night. Clocks don’t work.’
She was slightly robotic, and Ash shivered.
‘Then how do you measure time?’ Her brows creased. She’d taken to making marks on the walls, tallying days however she could.
‘There is no time. There is only them. They are sun and moon, seconds, minutes, and hours. Fill time with them and you’ll never be left wanting.’
The girl was a grade-A wackadoodle. Ash’s eyes narrowed. ‘The person who made you like this, did
leave you wanting?’ She couldn’t bear to mention his name, but she had to know. She had to know that Mac was lying to her.
The woman actually purred, animated by the talk of sex. ‘Oh, he was spectacular. A pirate. He blew Jack Sparrow out of the water.’
That dreamy look crossed Red Shoes’ face again and Ash nearly lost the non-existent contents of her stomach.
‘He bound me in my own underwear, did you know that?’
The woman’s laughter drew Ash’s claws out full length.
‘He was a beast, all teeth and rutting. He got me addicted to the way they bite … Fuck, the way they bite … have they bitten you yet? You should let them, it’s orgasmic. On and on and on.’
The scent of copper hit Ash’s nose seconds before the wet trail from her palms hit the sensitive skin of her wrists. She’d speared her own hands on the tips of her claws. Bearing down on the pain, Ash searched for restraint as the woman continued on in a stream of verbal porn, graphically describing the night Connal had forced her over a desk and …
Ash growled, and it wasn’t a human growl. It was predatory, belonging to something with fangs and talons that could shred flesh. The
was too engrossed in her story to notice Ash was circling her. Instinctive, her feet silent on stone, she tightened the circumference with each pass.
‘I haven’t seen him since I’ve been down here, I miss his cock. Have you seen him? Maybe he will take me again, I’d die to get my mouth on him. I want to finish him, he left too soon last time. Do you think he remembers me?’
didn’t realise until it was too late and her words sliced a knife of jealous possession through the cords of Ash’s restraint. Red Shoes went down hard.
A primal heart, beating stronger than anything human, took control, and dagger claws tore the girl's naked skin. Shrieks rose above Ash’s deranged growls.
Blood painted the rock beneath them, spattering across Ash’s skin. Edward Scissorhands had nothing on her, a small voice in the back of her head quavered. She terrified herself, even as her hand caught the thrall’s ankle, dragging the worming female back from her pathetic attempt at escape. So easily broken, the damage didn’t seem nearly enough. The primitive thing inside her was frustrated, starving for something it knew. It wanted Connal and this female had touched him.
That feral possession was killing the
Yet there was no stopping. Inflamed by the blood, Ash struck again and again, forcing the woman to feel her punishment. It felt wrong but it smelled so right. Fear and pain, acrid and sweet.
‘Stop, please stop!’ The woman’s screams were wet with blood, bubbling out of her throat. ‘Help! Oh God, help! I’m sorry, so sorry!’
The rambling hysteria only presented Red Shoes more as prey. The predator relished that its quarry was making more noise than an air siren.
Ash caught her own reflection in the girl’s horrified brown eyes. Devil-red irises and sharply lengthened canines snarled back at her. Her skin was blood-smeared, her hair tangled, and she bore the scratch marks of the woman’s initial defence before the body beneath her had gone belly up in submission.
Ash snapped her teeth inches from the
’s throat, and the female emitted a lusty moan. Even in agony, she was drawn to respond. Ash recognised the surrender, could smell it in the pound of Red Shoes’ heartbeat, and the beast was torn between backing off and tasting her obedience.
It never got the chance to choose.
Tackled from the unresisting, barely-breathing female, Ash found herself pinned, snarling and torquing, under the King’s colossal muscle. Her back cracked into a whip of pain, like its collision with the rock floor had shattered the vertebrae. She cried out.
She bucked against his restraining hands, her hips battling the weight of his. He didn’t give her an inch. His thighs pressed hers to the ground, ceasing her kicking. Mac was one big, infuriating shackle. She bared teeth and went for his throat. He reared back and she missed, but his hips connected with the centre of her body. Ash froze.
She froze because if she moved, even a little, she’d be grinding on the obvious arousal pressing at the core of her.
‘Ashling. Calm yourself,’ Mac demanded.
Calm was nowhere near. Flames licked between her thighs and left her slick. Her insides purred. Fury had been diverted to lust in the presence of a male. The feral thing still wanted blood, but was rendered sluggish by desire.
Ash fought it, tugging her wrists in the vise of his hand, trying to free herself without wantonly driving for friction where she ached.
A smirk graced Mac’s lips and she answered it with a gnash of her jaws.
With the bloodlust retreating, panic started to slip inside, expanding in narrow airways. There was blood congealing on her skin. Her gorge rose, nausea breaking a cold sweat on her heated skin and she whimpered.
‘Be calm,’ Mac’s tone changed, his weight lifted from all but where he held her wrists. He was being gentle again, as though sensing the panic rising over her. He soothed a hand through her hair and her breath stuttered.
Needing a distraction from his touch, she dared to look over his shoulder and the bloodshed played in HD in front of her eyes. That poor girl had been torn up pretty good … by
Ash was teetering on the edge of control, and could see what happened when she’d given it some rein.
Oh God, what have I done?
Dread seized her heart in its iron fist.
‘You have to breathe, Ashling. I can help you, but you have to let me.’ Mac sounded exasperated and exhausted, with a dose of concern.
A commotion came from behind him. Ash didn’t look this time. She stayed fixed on the pale, feral-eyed monster staring back at her from the reflection of his black gaze. Brandr was cursing, stomping about and muttering about the mess. He bundled the injured girl into his arms and left the room, his voice booming off down a corridor, calling for their healer.
Oh no … she’d broken his toy.
The others were quiet, but she could sense them, individual energies wound up by the violence lingering in the room. Fite’s contemplation was a laser beam arrowed over Mac’s shoulder. His intensity unnerved her. It sure as hell didn’t help calm her down.