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Authors: Hailey Edwards

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BOOK: Born of Fire
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Fiach groaned in approval, the angle shifting and allowing his thrust to penetrate deeper into her core. He fisted his hand in her hair and pulled her head up as he bent over her back and brought his lips to her neck.

“I have to know that you want me. I must know you have some need of me. Even if it’s only this.” To make his point, he swiveled his hips and ground his cock into her with an almost savage need.

She began to ripple around him, the thick slide of his flesh into her stole her breath.

Just before she came, she whispered her need of him into the bend of the arm she braced on. The driving rhythm stopped and he slipped from her. Cilia looked up, prepared to complain, but met his lips instead. He rolled her onto her back and devoured her. His kisses ignited her lips. Their intensity burned as he consumed her. She felt the velvet tip of his erection prod her entrance as he reentered her.

His thrusts were gentle, softer strokes and just as she reached for her peak she felt him spill within her. The hot spurts of fluid scorched her insides and pushed her over the edge and into her own orgasm. The enormity of it made her eyes close and her head kick back into her pillow. Her skin tingled and she smelled the sweet scent of fire. She gazed at Fiach’s upturned face. His eyes rolled open slowly as his pulsing warmth slowed inside her.

His body was ringed with fire. It burned red hot and leapt from his skin. She had underestimated the timeline of their intimacy. Fiach had changed more than she’d realized. The Phoenix within Cilia had accepted him, and gifted him with a piece of itself.

His newly risen Phoenix pushed from its dormancy and caused hers to ignite. Her flesh radiated a light blue flame. Purple arcs of heat danced where they were joined.

This time they noticed the mattress smoking in time to jump free of the bed and douse the flames with water from the bathroom sink. They laughed a little and moved into the second bedroom. When Cilia lay down, she felt the warm assurance of Fiach spooned against her back. Neither spoke as the enormity of what had transpired settled around them. Instead, they chose sleep and left their uncertainties to the night.

Chapter Seven

Cilia snuggled into Fiach’s chest. They had been awake for long minutes, but hadn’t moved or spoken. He stayed quiet and still, unwilling to be the one to break the silence.

“Where are Stella and Max?” Cilia tilted her head back so she could look in his eyes.

“I bargained with Arvel for a month of time in your building. Once my terms were accepted, Stella and Max were taken to the outer edge of Faerie to be kept in stasis until the bargain could be completed.”

Cilia pushed away from his chest and sat up. “You mean to tell me you bargained away the lives of two innocent humans? Just to get in my pants?”

Fiach rolled onto his back. “Yes.”

“And you didn’t once think that was wrong?”

“No,” he admitted. There was no reason for him to feel so hurt. She viewed his actions as a betrayal of humanity. She didn’t know what he was and couldn’t understand that was a quality he didn’t possess. “Cilia, I’m half demon. Bartering with other people’s lives and possessions is an acceptable practice where I come from. My father is actually quite renowned for it.”

“What about your mother’s influence?” she asked, curious.

He answered as honestly as he could. “My mother is the Lady of the Sidhe court. Her teachings are the only reason I bargained for confinement instead of souls.” His fingers traced a groove in the skin over his heart. “I try to find the balance, but it’s hard sometimes. I was raised on both sides to believe I was entitled to everything the world has to offer. Only the methods for obtainment were different. My father believed in ruthless ambition, my mother in devious negotiation.” He met her stare. “You’re the first person who ever told me no. The only person to ever make me earn their good opinion instead of bowing down to my parentage.”

“I didn’t know who your parents were at the time.”

“Would it have mattered?”

Cilia laughed. “No.” She worried her thumbnail and asked, “The way you talk about your parents, are they together?”

“No. My mother, the Lady, offers refuge to magical creatures in her favor. My father, Harailt, is a rabid hunter of the same things she seeks to protect. I don’t know all the details, but once she harbored something so dear to her heart she risked her life and the lives of her court to protect it. My father found out and stormed Faerie, seeking to claim them for himself. She refused and a bargain was struck. He gained one night in her bed, which was a great insult to her virtue, and in exchange her protection held until a secure place could be found and those she guarded delivered safely.” He offered a wry grin. “I am the byproduct of that bargain. A half-breed son born to bitter enemies.”

She stroked his cheek with her finger. “You are so much more than you give yourself credit for. You’re a good man. It’s all right that you’re still finding your way. We all are.”

Her face fell and he could guess the reason. His thoughts turned to what had happened tonight. Arvel would seek revenge and Stella and Max were easy targets for her wrath. He sat up and mirrored Cilia’s posture. “You think Arvel is going to harm them?”

“Don’t you?” She ran a shaky hand through her hair. “Fiach, we have to help them.”

He shook his head. “They are bound. The only way to reach them is through Arvel, and we know now that I’ve lost the ability to bargain for what she wants. And its doubtful Arvel would be merciful. We can try to thwart her plans, but I’m uncertain of the best course of action.”

Cilia frowned. “I’m sorry I’ve changed you.” She looked down at her hands and worried a fingernail. “If we stop now, maybe the effects will wear off.”

Fiach grabbed her shoulders and shook her until she looked up, shocked by his anger. “I don’t want to stop.”

“You’ll be mated to me, Fiach.” She swallowed. “You won’t be able to have another woman, ever.”

He pulled her tight against his chest and kissed her hair; the feathery quills tickled his nose as she burrowed tighter against him. “What makes you think I would ever want one?”

“You really want to be mine?” she asked.

“Always.”

Pleased by his response, but aware of their more immediate concerns, Cilia pushed out of his arms and tapped a finger over her lips. “There has to be another way to get to Stella and Max.”

“I know someone who could help us, if it suits her.” He cringed at the thought of asking his mother for help. It would be much easier if he could contact Arabella and ask her for a favor. He tried not to dwell on what that would cost him.

“Really?” Hope resounded in her voice. It was enough that Fiach decided to risk calling the tiny fae and asking for a favor.

He closed his eyes and focused on the image of Bella and whispered a summons softly in his mother’s language. He waited, but nothing happened. He tried once more before Cilia’s squeak of alarm made him open his eyes quickly as he prepared to face down the overprotective little fairy.

Instead of the tiny fae, a large black panther crouched in the corner. Its pumping purr vibrated in the air. The cat’s lips pulled back over its teeth in a perfect feline smile. “My Lord, such strange bedfellows we make.”

“Kathel, what brings you here?”

“Your summons, of course. There is … unrest in Faerie. It is rumored your father has gathered the Morag. The lesser fae have been banned from this realm. I heard your call and fancied I would answer it.”

“Excuse me, but what is that?” Cilia asked pointing at Kathel.

The large cat bowed low. “My Lady, forgive my rudeness. I am Kathel, emissary to the Lady of the Sidhe court. I heard the boy’s call and came to see how best I could help.”

She sat perfectly still and watched Kathel as if he were tensed to pounce. Fiach smoothed a hand down her arm, but kept his eyes locked on the large cat. When standing, Kathel was equal to Fiach’s waist and broad enough to carry someone on his back, although he would kill anyone for trying. The old cat grinned slyly at Cilia and enjoyed her whimper of alarm.

“I’ll not hurt you, lass,” Kathel purred. “I’m as tame as any old housecat.”

Cilia relaxed a little until Kathel sat on his haunches and revealed nine tails of equal length that twitched and curled to his side. Each was tipped with a silver barb that caught the low light and glittered.

“Fiach…” she yelped.

He pulled her into the crook of his arm. “It’s all right, Cilia. He’s no housecat, but I doubt he means us harm.”

A rusty chuckle issued from the cat’s broad chest. “He’s right. I accepted his summons. I can’t harm you and I don’t wish to.” Seeing that his tail made her nervous, Kathel dropped to the floor and stretched out, trying his best to look like the tame housecat he had named himself. “So what did you need with the wee folks anyway?”

Fiach sighed. “I made a deal with Arvel, and in exchange for my favor, she took two humans that Cilia cares a great deal for so I could inhabit their residence. Last night I attempted to bargain for information, but it didn’t go so well for the demon. I’m worthless to her now, so we fear she will harm the woman and her son out of spite.”

“Not of use? Demons of her ilk only ply in the trade of favors for procreation. If you’re of no use to her that must mean…” Kathel turned his large yellow eyes on Cilia.

“Is the lass your
D’Ame
?”

The word caught Fiach off guard. He hadn’t considered what his fae heritage would mean in a situation like this. If he claimed Cilia as his soul mate, he would have to do so before the Faerie Court and obtain his mother’s blessing before they would be tested to see if they were worthy of the
Noce,
or soul-binding ceremony.

Kathel clucked his tongue, an odd sound coming from his feline jaws. “It’s a shame.

One such as her is a rare prize.”

“I don’t want to think on courtly politics just yet, Kathel. For now it’s enough to know she is my mate. I am bound to her in the way of her people.”

The old cat’s tails thumped against the floorboards. “Wise you are, young one. Your heart has to be willing for the soul binding to work. You’d not like an eternity tied to someone who only brings you misery.”

Cilia interrupted. “As much as I enjoy being talked over and ignored, I thought the point of this meeting was to find a way to help Stella and Max.”

Kathel dropped his head back and roared with his laughter. “Such fire! Such spirit! If you don’t claim her, I swear I will.”

Fiach growled, then thought better of it. “If you know what she is, old one, then you realize none other can claim her.”

Kathel’s laughter subsided. “My Lord, I will pretend ignorance of her origins, and you would be wise to do so as well. If the Morag have truly united, then who do you think Harailt will come after?”

“Cilia.” Fear seized him. Harailt lived to acquire the rare and exotic. If his father’s plans were thwarted, the demon lord would be certain to destroy the current object of his obsession so others couldn’t enjoy it either.

Kathel nodded. “Now as to these humans…”

“We have to save them.” Cilia said.

“Och aye, we’ll save them.” Kathel looked to Fiach. “There’ll be a price for this.”

Fiach sobered. “There’s always a price. The question is, what will yours be?”

The old cat stretched and rolled over, exposing its stomach. “I expect a good scratch on the belly would balance the scale.”

“Kathel, I don’t think that’s wise.”

“What’s life without a little risk?”

Fiach held up his hands and turned to Cilia. She looked wary. “It’s your decision, Cilia. The terms are yours to accept.” Then he looked at the lounging feline, “But the debt owned is mine.”

A guttural purr punctuated Kathel’s laughter. “You always were a quick one.” He rested his large head on the floor and looked at Cilia through upside down eyes.

She walked slowly until her toes were almost pressed into Kathel’s side before dropping to her knees. She reached out a timid hand to the black fur of his stomach. Her eyes widened and she added a second hand. “Your fur feels like silk.”

Kathel’s pleasured purr filled the room. “Oh lass, that feels so good.”

Cilia stopped stroking the blackened pelt and Fiach watched as her eyes glazed over just before she collapsed, her head cracking against the planks before he could reach her.

Kathel rolled to his feet to investigate.

He nudged her with his large head and licked across her cheek with his sandpaper tongue. Fiach slammed into the side of the large cat and knocked him away from Cilia and into the wall. Kathel jumped to his feet and roared in fury. “I’ll forgive you once, for the lass’s sake, but touch me again and I’ll not be so kind.”

Cilia groaned. Fiach gave his back to the cat and went to scoop her into his arms. He brushed the hair from her face and waited. When her eyes opened, she focused on Kathel.

“You’re the death cat. I guess being a cat of nine tails should have tipped me off.”

“It was a dangerous gamble I took for both our sakes. No one save the Lady, and those of her line, can touch me without paying their life.” He gave a curt nod to Fiach.

“The price of our bargain has been satisfied.”

Cilia twisted and punched Fiach hard in the shoulder.

“What was that for?” he asked.

“You let me touch the death cat! I could have died!”

Fiach didn’t put up a fight, he just let her slap and hit until she grew tired. Kathel watched the exchange with interest.

“If it makes you feel better lass, the boy couldn’t tell you. Once the price was set, his tongue was bound from swaying your decision. You had to be willing to accept the price, and you would have hesitated or refused had you known your life swung in the balance.”

His eyes slid to Fiach. “It had to be an equal exchange, the risk of your life by touching me for the risk of my life by helping you. Without that my oath would be meaningless.

Besides, the lad took on your debt.”

“So?” she asked.

“So if anyone had forfeited their life today it would have been him, not us.”

Cilia blanched. “How could you let him risk that?”

BOOK: Born of Fire
12.84Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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