Warning: There are spoilers from Book 1 and 2, so if you haven't read both, I suggest you turn back now and come back later!
After Lor’s strange encounter with the torch, I take her back to my wing. We don’t say much as we walk, and I sense there’s something weighing on her mind. It’s hard not to wonder why the Torch spoke to her. Why are the Artefacts behaving this way in her presence? Who is she really? I believe her when she says she’s the heir to Heart, but there has to be something more. Is it just that she’s not telling me? Or is it that she doesn’t know?
I want her to trust me, but I understand why I still have to keep trying to earn it. Her hand is clasped around mine, but it’s icy cold. When we get back to my room, she says she’s going to take a hot bath and then she disappears for a while. As much as I want her near me, I need a moment to think and to breathe. She has me so twisted up that my shoulders ache and my jaw hurts from clenching my teeth.
When the door closes, I head over to the bar and pour myself a drink as I unhook the top buttons of my shirt, hoping to relieve some of the pressure in my chest. It’s late afternoon, and the sky is grey, the lights still concealed.
Morana and Khione sit by the fire and I walk over to ruffle their fur before I collapse into the armchair and sip on my drink as I stare at the flames. A million thoughts swirl on a loop through my head, like I’m trapped on the edge of a wheel. Every once in a while, I glance at the door that sits closed. I listen intently, hearing only the occasional splash of water and a sigh or two from the other side.
Gods, how I’d love to go in there and slide my hand into the water and—no. I swore I wouldn’t touch her unless she asked.
Zerra, I hope she asks. Soon.
Finally, the door cracks open, and I look up to see her watching me. She’s wearing a pink robe that cinches at her waist, and I do my best not to think about what’s under there. Maybe nothing? Maybe something lacy that I can pull apart with my teeth? Either option has my dick already growing hard.
My glass balances on my leg and she approaches me, stopping to lean down and pick it up. She places it on the table, and I hold my breath, wondering what’s going on. She’s the most beautiful, most perfect woman I’ve ever seen. Some might see her scar as ugly or as something to be shunned, but all I see is her strength and her fearlessness. The way she holds herself with confidence like a phoenix that’s lost count of how many times it’s risen from the ashes.
She slides a knee on to the chair and then the other until she’s straddling my lap, and I nearly choke on my tongue. I try to appear calm, even as my heart is beating so hard, I’m this close to passing out and making a complete ass of myself. The fabric of her robe bunches around her hips, and my gaze focuses on the tie that with one small movement would reveal her to me in all her glory. Our gazes meet and I think she might be thinking the same thing.
Her tongue sweeps across her lips before she tips her head and says, “You said you wouldn’t touch me unless I asked?”
I nod as my gaze drifts down her body, imagining everything her robe is concealing.
“You let me hold your hand today,” I say, hoping she doesn’t notice how pathetic I am, knowing that simple point of contact was enough to drive me insane.
“That’s true. But you know I didn’t mean that kind of touch.”
I smirk at that, trying so fucking hard to act like I’m not falling apart.
“Can I touch you?” she asks with a tilt of her head. Is she kidding me?
“You can do whatever you fucking want to me.” My voice feels like sandpaper, but I lean in and whisper to her. “The dirtier the better.”
Her hands land on my shoulders and she slides them down, her fingers burning a hot brand into my skin even through the fabric. Her touch makes my skin tighten and my mouth go dry. I grip her hips, savoring the way my fingers dig into her flesh. I want to pick her up, carry her over to the bed, and make her mine.
But then her fingers wrap around my wrists, and she places both of my hands on the armrests of the chair.
“Ah-ah, I didn’t say you could touch me.”
This is how it’s going to be, is it? This is even better than I could have imagined.
“So you can touch me, but I can’t touch you?” I ask.
She blinks innocently, though I don’t buy that for one second. “Does that change your previous answer?”
“Fuck no.” Gods, of course it doesn’t.
She seems to be fighting a smile as her hands find my chest again. She moves her fingers slowly, exploring me carefully. Like a musician lovingly tuning his instrument or an artist exploring his canvas. I hold completely still, willing my heart to stop thrashing against my ribs.
She reaches for a button on my shirt and opens it. I nearly stop breathing as she spreads the fabric wide.
“What are you doing?” I ask as she releases another button and then the next, baring my torso as her gaze wanders over my tattoos. I had them done after I served in the war as a reminder of who I am. Of all the things I nearly lost during those dark years.
“I like looking at you,” she says softly as she presses her hand to my chest, where she must feel the pounding of my heart.
“I like looking at you, too. Very much.”
Her smile is feral as she stands up, backing away and reaching for the tie on her robe. She lets it slide to the ground, and I can’t decide where to look first. All that smooth warm skin glows in the soft light, begging for me to take a bite.
My gaze bounces off the black brand of Nostraza burned into her shoulder, but I think she’d be okay if I don’t bring it up right now. I don’t need the reminder, anyway. I’ve heard her words. I remember. I will always remember.
“Fuck,” I say, rubbing a hand down my face. She’s absolutely going to kill me. “I’d like to look at even more of you.”
It’s a hopeful suggestion, but I figure it’s worth a shot.
Of course, she laughs at me, and I probably deserve that.
“That’s not happening.”
“Then what, Heart Queen?”
I see her heavy blink every time I call her that. She knows who she is, but I can tell she’s not entirely convinced of it yet.
She returns to the chair, sliding both her knees against my thighs and settling on top of my aching cock. Gods, I’m so hard and she isn’t even naked. Yet. She rolls her hips and my cock throbs as my hands dig into the armrests I’m currently clinging to with my life.
“Let me touch you,” I growl out, and she hesitates for a moment, but then she shakes her head. It almost makes me laugh. I can tell she’s enjoying torturing me a little. She hates that she wants me so much.
“Then touch yourself for me. Squeeze your breasts.” I need something.
She arches an eyebrow in a way that makes me even harder as she slides her hands over her breasts and cups them, pushing them together. My breath shudders out of me in the longest, most agonized exhale of my life.
“Touch your pussy,” I order her, wondering if she’ll go for it. “Take off your underwear. Let me see how wet and pink you are.”
She teases her nipples through her bra, and I lick my lips, wondering what it would be like to suck on them until she moans. She rolls her hips as she grabs my shoulders again, and I’m this close to exploding.
I’m gripping the chair so tight that I feel the fabric starting to give under my fingers. After another grind of her hips, my head falls back. “You’re fucking killing me.”
She finishes opening my shirt, baring my stomach, before she slides off me and falls to her knees.
“What are you doing?” I ask, looking down at her as she peers through her lashes with an evil smirk on her face. I’ve been so worried about coming on too strong, but I’m sure she’s having fun right now, and that realization makes something strange twist in my gut. I want her to be happy. To be carefree. And I want to be the one to give all of that to her.
She leans down and places a kiss to the center of my chest that practically burns through my skin. Her tongue drags down my stomach as she places more kisses along the way. I’m more tense than a piece of thread towing a battleship.
“Please,” I beg, the sound ragged to my ears. “I need to touch you.”
She gives me another wicked smile before she reaches for the button of my pants, flicking them open.
“Fuck,” I breathe, realizing what she intends. At least I think I do. Zerra, dear goddess, what did I do to earn this reward? Surely, my list of sins is much too long. When she leans forward and presses her mouth to the fabric straining against my cock, I nearly lose it right there. I stare down in wonder, absolutely bewildered at how this woman just blew into my life.
How just a few months ago, I didn’t even know she existed and now she’s all I can think about.
She eases my zipper down and then the hem of my underwear as my cock pops out, so fucking ready for her.
“Oh. My.” Her eyes widen as she stares at me, and that is way too much for even my ego to handle.
“I told you it was better close up,” I say, because I can’t seem to help myself. The look she gives me suggests she’s about to make me pay for that comment.
Then she wraps her hand around me and I moan, “Zerra.” She strokes me with just the perfect amount of pressure. “I’m going to die if I can’t touch you. Literally fucking die in this chair.” I’m not being dramatic. I’m actually going to die.
She ignores my plea, but I can’t complain too much because with her hand gripping me tight, she leans down and gently sucks on the tip of my cock, running her tongue along the slit. My hips jerk as she swallows me down, while her hand keeps moving. My responding groan is torn right from the very center of my soul.
When I look down, I find her watching me with those big soulful eyes that feel like they can see everything. “Zerra, you are so fucking beautiful,” I say. “You look so perfect with my cock in your mouth.”
She continues sucking, her cheeks hollowing out as she takes in more and more of me. My hips move of their own volition and eventually, she stops trying to control it, her nails digging into my thighs as I fuck her mouth until it hits the back of her throat. Gods, this feels like nothing I’ve ever experienced.
“Fuck, that’s a good girl. You feel so fucking good,” I grit out as I squeeze the armrests tighter and tighter. I want to wrap my hands in her hair, but I keep them planted where they are, just as I promised. We’ll get to that. Eventually.
I was already so close that it doesn’t take long before I feel the burn of my release teetering on the edge.
“I’m going to come,” I gasp, and then I do. It rips through me, tearing me out from the inside as Lor swallows it down like the good girl she is. When I’m spent, she pulls back with a pop and wipes her chin. I can’t believe she just did that. I don’t know what to do with myself right now.
I finally loosen my hold on the chair, and we both watch as the stuffing spills out and the splintered wood falls to the floor.
“Take off your clothes. It’s your turn,” I snarl at her. I’m going to fucking feast on her until she has to beg me to stop.
She stands up and looks down at me, her face suddenly expressionless.
“I have to go meet your sister. We’re going shopping. She’s going to show me the Violet District.”
Then she spins around and I leap up. She’s picking up her robe, and I reach for her before I stop. “Like hell you are. Inmate.”
“Oh, I’m Inmate again? I was a good girl a minute ago.”
I snarl at that. I probably deserved that too, but I’m too wound up to care.
“Now we’re even,” she says smugly as she shoves her arms into her robe. Excuse me?
“Even? Is that what this is about?” I step closer and she looks up at me. I’m not touching her. I won’t. Not unless she asks, but gods, it’s taking all of my strength right now. “We are not even. We’re not even until I make you come at least five times to my one. Spread your thighs, and I’ll make you come so hard and so often you won’t remember your name.”
She swallows, her throat bobbing.
“One to one, Prince,” she says, but it’s clear she doesn’t mean it. “And it’s only you who has trouble remembering my name.”
She pats me on the cheek with a smile and fuck, I definitely deserved that.
“Lor,” I say, as she heads over to her trunk to pick out some clothes. She bends over, offering me a tantalizing hint of her round ass.
“Oh, so you do remember it,” she says, not looking at me.
What do I do? I need to get control of this situation immediately. I need her.
“Get back here, so help me Zerra, I will…”
She tosses me a look that pierces straight through my heart.
“You’ll what? You promised not to touch me that way unless I asked.”
My hands clench. I won’t. Of course, I won’t. She gathers her clothing into her arms and then passes me by. I watch her leave until she disappears through the door, slamming it so hard it makes me flinch.