Authors: Joely Sue Burkhart
He eased her to the sand floor, spreading her out flat on her back for his full attention. Moistening her lips, she struggled to find words, to make her tongue remember how to speak.
“Shhh, Chanda. Your body speaks to me well enough.” Dripping a trail of water down her belly, he kissed and nibbled every inch. “Touch me, it says.
So long, so very long, I’ve been alone. Stroke me. Love me. I hear it all. I am here and you are not alone.”
Glide of cloth, hint of water, followed by his tongue. He spread her legs, her folds, rasping first with cloth and then his tongue. She made a deep-throated moan, trembling, her hands clutching at his shoulders, twisting her fists in his hair.
He set his mouth hard on her, sucking, using the force of his tongue and teeth, to bring her shivering and crying in a rush. So he could draw her legs higher and cup her buttocks in his hands. So he could lick every sweet curve. So he could savor every drop.
He brought her again, her body singing and crying with pleasure. Pausing only long enough to reach for the clay pot, he poured oil into his hands, rubbing his palms together to warm it.
She cracked an eye open at the rich scent of sage. “No more,” she whispered, shuddering. “I can’t take the oil.”
“Ah, but you can. You must. I will accept nothing less than a full ritual. Do you realize how precious oil has become in these hard times? Nearly as dear as water.
Not even the bitters bear much seed. We’ve resorted to—”
He hesitated, unsure how she would take such news. She was a dragon at heart. Hearing where the bulk of their precious oil came from these days might bring her rage to full life.
“If I die, I want you to take my scent glands.”
Throat aching, he nodded, his heart full to bursting with love and grief. “If I succumb to the Fire within, I hope you will do the same for me. I want no other carrying my scent but you. This oil is mostly bitters with some Krait dragon scent, but I mixed it myself with my own taste for herbs. I hope you find it pleasing.”
He wrapped both hands around her neck just beneath her chin and slid his palms down her neck, stroking, massaging, spreading oil and heat. The scent of warm spiced oil flavored by her scent filled his head. Dragon, Fire, pride, courage, all vulnerable to his hands and mouth.
Tremors shook her body as he made his way down her curves, her muscles both pliant and tight, vibrating with need and limp with the pleasure he’d already given. He dribbled oil on her breasts and stomach, using firm, strong strokes of his palms to rub the oil into her skin. Then his tongue. The oil tasted bitter, rank with another dragon’s scent, but it couldn’t mask the lush scent of her skin.
Her dragon called to him. He stroked and massaged her arms, her thighs. The dragon moved beneath her skin. Power rippled, moonlight and flames flickering over them both.
Oil soaked into her skin.
Oil slicked his hands, his face, his tongue.
Fire spread, searing his lips, heating her skin.
Dragon oil, dragon Fire.
Her scent roared at him, drowning his senses. Magic burned his skin. Wings of power beat the air, talons digging into him, clutching him closer.
She blazed through the bond, worry and need and soaring pleasure
:Can you survive my Fire?:
In answer, he plunged his tongue deep, spearing the blazing oil into her body.
Every crevice, every tender fold. Magic blazed higher, blistering his skin, boiling the blood in his veins. Braiding her Fire with the inner furnace blazing in his heart, he shoved the flames back into her, spreading Fire with the oil
:Can you survive mine?:
Fire blazed on the walls of her cave, adding another layer of burnished gold.
Panting for breath, I blinked sweat out of my eyes and concentrated on calming my dragon. Trapped in my human body, constrained by my human thoughts, the beast fought with wings and talons and jagged teeth to escape.
It—I—wanted to sink teeth into Jalan. I wanted to decorate every inch of his flesh with my teeth marks. I wanted to lick blood from his skin as he’d done with that accursed oil. Forcing my shaking body upright, I placed a hand on his chest.
A slight quirk of his lips and the smugness in his eyes said that he knew he’d done well, with a hint of challenge as he placed the cloth in my hand.
“I request that you mark me.”
I didn’t have his skill at hiding my emotions. My face sagged a moment, my eyes blazing, I’m sure, with immediate need and hunger. “Where?”
“Anywhere you desire.”
My gaze dropped to the previous bites I’d given him. The dragon bite was an angry red, the flesh around my human bites bruised, his shoulder and throat tender. I should have blazed my Fire into those wounds and made the scars permanent instead of leaving them to heal slowly.
For a while, I simply caressed him with my gaze. Roped muscle and sinew, lean and tight, not an excess ounce of flesh on him, blasted by heat, dried by constant thirst and suffering. His skin was darker than mine and dry, confirming the precious resource oil had become.
I trailed the damp cloth over the chiseled planes of his face, down his powerful neck to clean the angry-looking bites as gently as possible. Guilt tightened my throat. I could have hurt him so badly. I might yet.
“The oil will help,” he whispered. “Besides, I enjoyed it. You hear no complaints from me.”
I squeezed the cloth, carefully dripping water onto his shoulder. Tasting his skin, I fought to keep from sinking my teeth into him again. There was just something about his shoulder, the act of biting him, holding him with my mouth in that particular spot, that tempted me.
“It’s a sign of dominance.” His voice lowered, a rumble of bass that thrummed down my spine. “A very strong, very proud female dragon will take her mate this way sometimes in the wild. Never forget, though, that the male consents in the first place. It’s my sign of trust in you.”
“Acceptance,” I breathed against his skin. I licked the holes left by my teeth, remembering his blood, his pleasure exploding through our bond. “Trust.
I still think you’re crazy to trust me. Even from the beginning, when I was the White, you let me hold you in my jaws.”
“Hold me now, Chanda, and never let me go. Use your teeth and claws to grip me close to your heart.”
I felt a foreign tenderness. The moon would descend. All too soon I would be returned to my prison, my doom, and the harsh reality of Keldari life would intrude once more. For now, though, I had this warrior to bathe, this magnificent male to touch, to taste, to drive insane.
Moving down his body, I tormented him with bites. No blood, no breaking skin, just the threat, the promise. I tried to work his flesh between my teeth, but he was so tight, muscles coiled and lean, that I couldn’t fill my mouth like I wanted. Not until I reached his groin.
Slowly, I gazed up his body, appreciating my handiwork. His face was granite as usual, but ah, his eyes blazed with the Fire within. I smiled wickedly and dipped the cloth into the small bowl. His gaze tracked my hand
He growled. “Don’t waste a drop.”
I squeezed the cloth and watched the precious drops of water roll down each magnificent inch. Lowering my head, I breathed on him without taking him into my mouth. Water pooled at the base a moment and then trickled down his testicles. “Are you sure you still trust me?”
A muscle ticked in his jaw. “I trust you to kill me if you wound me in such a way.”
Lightly, I caught the drop of water with my tongue and took his pouch into my mouth, gently rolling my teeth across his tender flesh.
My stone warrior trembled.
I ran my tongue up the full length, capturing each trail of water, tracing each vein, each ridge. I grazed him with my teeth, nipping, just short of true pain.
Sweat poured off of him.
I was determined to torment him until something drastic happened. Until his granite cracked and crumbled. Until stone talked. Or screamed.
His dragon certainly raged inside him, screaming at mine, stirring my Fire. It was too early to release flames into his skin, though, so I took him into my mouth. Thick, long, he strained my jaws, yet I pushed deeper, working as much into my mouth, my throat, as possible. And I held him, teeth pressing, throat convulsing.
he gasped, fingers twisting in my hair.
I came up for air and stretched out my hand, fumbling for the flask of oil.
His breathing was ragged. “Mark me first.”
Brave warrior. I licked just the head lightly, tormenting, making him wonder exactly where I would strike while I called forth my power. Magic hummed in my blood, blazing in my heart. I built the flames carefully. Too much would truly kill him or drive forth his dragon, yet I wanted a brilliant bite marked deeply with my power.
Turning my head aside, I sank my teeth into his inner thigh. Blood at last, so rich, so hot, spiced with his scent. I felt his dragon pacing inside him, twisting, coiling, snarling at the touch of my Fire. Driving flames through my mouth, through his bond, I blazed. Fire, need, the centuries of rage and loneliness, the hatred, the miserable guilt—I gave it all to him.
Arching his back, he jerked my mouth free so hard I nearly tore a chunk out of him. Obeying his silent command, I took him back in my mouth and pressed the flask of oil into his hand. I held my hand up in my own demand. How much torture did he want? How much oil would he pour?
He filled my palm.
I rubbed the bulk into his testicles. Groaning, his hands tight in my hair, he began thrusting into my mouth. Flames ate at his control, Fire spreading with the oil. He bucked harder beneath me, his breathing fast and hard. I had enough oil left to rub some into my mark in his thigh, but my Fire had already cauterized it.
I felt the brand in his flesh, the magical flames sparking and smoldering.
The bond roared, our dragons howled, and magic pulsed between us.
Invisible wings brushed my head, wrapping around me to hold me close. Head back, muscles corded, he came in a wash of flames. I kept my mouth locked to him. I wouldn’t waste a drop, not for all the cool waters in my long-forgotten dreams. Fire washed over me, crisping my skin, and I didn’t care.
I would burn up the world for him.
With our passion spent, I lay with my head pillowed on his thigh, my cheek pressed to my mark. Gentle hands played with my hair while we waited for his breathing to return to normal. I wanted to lay like this forever, his scent so hot and wonderful in my nose, his skin burning for me.
But I didn’t have forever.
Reluctantly, I felt the moon’s path. An hour at most. My time was running out.
Tears welled, but I swallowed them down. I wouldn’t waste a drop.
So softly I barely heard him, Jalan asked, “Will you help me fight the Red Dragon?”
Eyes closed, I breathed slowly and deeply, letting the pain wash over me, through me, taking my guilt with it. “Yes.”
A gaping hole burned in my heart as I finished his bath. I rubbed oil into every inch of his skin. After all, there would be no need to conserve the precious mixture after this next rising. I dumped the remaining oil on his hair, smoothing it in my hands and braiding it tightly. As the long black rope grew down his back, my stone warrior hardened.
He prepared for battle.
He prepared to die.
As a proper Keldari mate would do for her warrior, I dressed him for warfare.
The bites on his shoulder, neck, and thigh gleamed pearly white with my power. I kissed my marks one by one and then pulled his shirt over his head, assisted with his trousers and boots.
There were no words between us. It was too late for words. I carried his bond, his blood, his heart.
He understood I had no heart to give.
I draped the
over his head and tied it in place with his Krait cord of black and red about his forehead. I tucked the edges into the dragon-hide belt about his waist and drew the black cloth tight to his body so he would be able to fight unhindered.
Taking each of his knives, I ran the blade over my forearm, smearing it with my blood, and then sheathed it on his chest straps. Even the wicked scimitar tasted my blood. That weapon he solemnly took from my hand and licked clean, holding my gaze, before sliding it into place on his hip.
Armed, silent as death, hard as Keldar, Jalan tal’Krait stood in the heart of my lair. And the moon slipped away.
My throat was dry, so dry, as dry as the Well of Tears. “Leave before the White comes.”
He just looked at me, no flicker in his face, his dark eyes steady.
Panic rose in me with the dragon. “Please, I beg you, leave! I can’t bear to hurt you, not now. I don’t know that I can control myself. I might not even recognize you!”