- Glad you liked the twist on this one with Tess and Khivar.
I like making the bad guys the good guys and vice versa sometimes. I'm sorry you were missing it. And then this chapter took me a while as well for various reasons. Hopefully this next chapter won't be so long in the making. Thanks!
- Thanks for the comments and bumps! Sorry to leave you hanging for so long. Yeah, the Tess/Ava and Khivar story has been my favorite twist to this story. And this Max, yes, he's not all together there.
- Yes it's possible that Maria isn't as mental as I made her in that one chapter. Not to say she's not furious about it but I guess we'll have to wait and see how it plays out.
I like happy Tess stories to. I thought her to be an under valued character that could have been interesting if they hadn't made her the convenient scapegoat. Thanks!
- Haha! Glad you liked this chapter, as I know you had been looking forward to this one in particular.
I'm glad that I'm getting a good reaction to the Khivar/Tess thing, especially as so many people love to hate Tess. It's not to say she's all good in this fic, but she isn't outright evil either. Very misguided and yes, manipulated in both lifetimes. Thanks as always for your comments!
- I'm glad you're liking the story so far. I love an equally intense Michael and Liz, as well as rebuilding the foursquare differently. Thanks for the feedback!
- Thanks for the bump!! Sorry it's taken so long to get this chapter posted...but real life got in the way, not to mention the muse was obsessing with Spoils for a bit. Hopefully with the next part partially written, it won't take too long for Chapter 15.
- I know you responded on RH, but I'm never sure where you'll read this, so I wanted to add a thanks here. Wow! Thanks so much for the feedback and compliments! They really made my day when I read them. I too like a good villain. And I didn't want to down play Max's intelligence. I mean, I may make him an OOC heartless bastard in this fic, but I am trying to keep him an interesting heartless bastard at least.
- I know you don't comment here, you lurker, but I wanted to say thanks here as well for listening to me babble incoherently while I try to put things together and putting up with reading incomplete scenes, and my obsessing over every little detail (Yeah, I know...I'm completely anal). I really appreciate all our e-mail "chats" late into the night and your funny comments make my day!
- Thank you so much for all your comments (on e-mail), guidance, listening to me whine, helping me plot and putting up with my insane chapter lengths, not to mention the fast turn around in getting this chapter to me. You rock! I couldn't do this story without you. If they had an award for best Beta, you'd so get my vote! This story wouldn't be what it is without your support!
So I didn't expect to post so soon, but the Goddess known as Whimsy did an awesome job in getting this back to me so quickly. We all should send her chocolate for the fast turn around! Or her chosen poison.
So, this part is rated ADULT if you get what I mean and is NOT safe for work. LOL! There is a fairly explicit sex scene. If that's not your thing, you can skip it as it doesn't affect the plot in any way. But I did promise Plot with Plenty of Smut. If you're going to read, be of age! Lyrics to When You Say You Love Me
belong to Josh Groban and the respective writers, records, etc., etc., etc.
Another long chapter...what else?
Like the sound of silence calling, I hear your voice
And suddenly I’m falling, lost in a dream
Like the echo of our souls are meeting, you say those words
My heart stops beating, I wonder what it means
Swallowing thickly, Michael stared at the vision standing before him, his throat working soundlessly and his mouth bone dry as the low light glimmered on mocha skin and shiny ebony hair. She smiled at him tentatively, her coffee-colored eyes meeting his shyly as she stepped out of the other chamber clothed in a short white robe marked with his symbols in silver stitching.
His breath hitched and he silently drank her in as she glided across the Granilith chamber floor, keeping her eyes anchored with his, her smile broadening as she noted the heavy rise and fall of his chest and knew that he was entranced. Shifting on bare feet, he inhaled sharply, dragging air into his starving lungs as Liz came to a standstill in front of him, his dazed, wondering gaze traveling over her body reverently.
“You’re beautiful,” he stated quietly, reaching out a hand to pull her closer, his fingers smoothing along the sleeveless shift, gathered at her shoulders with jeweled pins, the silky material rough in comparison to the skin it encased. Pearlescent cloth draped to mid-thigh, swaying gracefully against her legs and clinging to the soft swell of her hips, teasing his already enflamed senses.
Hair drawn up in a loose chignon with chocolate brown tendrils kissing her cheeks and neck, she was reminiscent of one of the Greek goddesses he was forced to study in grade school. A modern day Athena, only far more radiant and ethereal; was this lovely woman really his?
Watching him through her lashes, her breath stuttered as his fingers trailed over her arm and his arm snaked around her waist, pulling her into his body. Splaying her hands on his chest, she bit her lip and drew her fingers over the bare ripples and dips softly, staring at toned, pale skin appreciatively.
“So beautiful,” he husked, watching her with smoldering intensity, drawing her ever closer until mere millimeters separated their bodies, the silk of her attire brushing against his bared chest and white ceremonial pants embroidered with the same silver symbols. Cupping her cheek, he tipped her head back and stared down into smoky orbs, his other hand sliding up her back slowly to cradle the back of her head.
Brushing his thumb over her lips, he dipped his head and captured them, slowly stroking his tongue over the pale pink flesh as the hand cupping her cheek slid over her arm and wrapped around her waist, crushing her body against his possessively. He deepened the kiss, plunging his tongue between the soft, plump petals when she gasped softly, her mouth parting of its own accord.
Delving her fingers into silky, tawny waves, she rose up on tip toe, pressing her body into his as their lips and tongues mated, each kiss deepening and flowing effortlessly into the next. She purred, her breath rushing out and mingling with his soft, short breaths, and arched under his soft caresses, keeping their mouths fused in a searing kiss. Dark chocolate and cinnamon danced over her palate, drawing a low moan past her lips as his tongue stroked hers skillfully.
He shuddered, gripping her tightly as their tongues twined, a sweet, heavy ache infusing his body as her teeth scraped against his skin, easing a deep rumbling moan from his throat. They tangled, smoothly, languorously and without hurry; just soft lips and sweet words whispered until their lungs burned with the need for air. Parting when they could no longer withstand the fire, they sucked air into their lungs jealously and leaned their foreheads against one another, eyes melding.
"You ready?" he whispered, holding her gaze as he took each of her hands in his, entwining their fingers together and bringing their clasped hands to his mouth, brushing his lips over the tender skin over her knuckles.
Sighing contentedly, she nodded her assent as he dipped his head to caress her mouth once more, unable to get enough of her taste, and moaning as her tongue flicked over his lips before delving into his mouth to tangle heatedly with his. Keeping their fingers entwined, he growled low in his throat, devouring her mouth and wrapped his arms around her, pressing their clasped hands into the small of her back forcing her body into an arch against his chest.
Mouths melding, he dropped her hands and slid his fingers up over her arms, leaving a trail of goose flesh in their wake and smiled against her lips when she shivered, sliding her hands up over his chest softly to clasp behind his neck. Pulling back, he held her gaze, breathing heavily and traced the lines of her face softly, cupping her jaw before sliding his hands back down her arms.
“Let’s do this,” he whispered, entwining his right hand with her left, pressing their foursquare marks together, and gasping softly when the first flare of power slid along their skins. Breathing deeply, he met her eyes and smiled, dropping a light kiss on her lips as he slid his hand up to touch the seal glowing on her left breast bone.
Liz inhaled sharply as the electrical thrum of their combined energies swept up along their entwined hands, suffusing her body with gentle warmth that rippled from the inside out over her skin. Opening her mouth under Michael’s instinctively, she participated in the deepening of their kiss as she mirrored his actions and slid her fingers over his seal, quaking when the power flared higher, fusing them together in a burst of energy.
Pressing her body to his, she shuddered as the heat flared between them and their connection snapped in to place, the intensity of all that was Michael wrapping around her until she was nearly overwhelmed. Breath hitching as their lips parted, she opened her heavy eyes and met his equally hooded gaze, pressing her forehead to his.
Smiling reverently at one another, they lifted their entwined hands up to the Granilith crystal, hovering over it for a moment as their gazes locked and they took a collective breath, then they each pressed their palms to the tip of the crystal. Bodies bowed softly as their powers melded with the energy humming under the surface of the crystal and they gasped, clutching one another as electricity pulsed through their blood, thrumming over their nerves. The current between them and the great crystal arched and exploded into a wash of silver-blue light as they sank to their knees still clinging to one another.
Eyes clamped shut, they panted harshly, faces pressed to each others necks as waves continued to thrum over their skin, a million little prickles of warmth caressing it. Crushing Liz to his body, Michael captured her lips shakily, a sweet ache flowing through his heaving chest as he marveled at how unbelievably connected he felt to her – as if they shared one breath and one heart beat. He’d never felt this connected to anyone.
Pulling back, he rested his head on her shoulder as they sagged against one another, still riding on the ecstasy of their merging. Trailing his fingers over her shoulder, he gasped as he felt an echoing touch on his own skin and he clutched her even tighter to him, sweat-slicked skin sliding together at the movement. Both gasped as the action sent their energies humming through and over the other. God, it was like they were really one.
What could it be, that comes over me
At times I can’t move, at times I can hardly breathe
You’re the one I’ve always thought of, I don’t know how
But I feel sheltered in your love, you’re where I belong
A light breeze wafted around them, the faint scent of jasmine teasing their noses. Its cooling fingers glided over tight, hot skin and soothed the lingering sizzle of electricity crawling over it. Tension melted from their muscles as the breeze swept over them, teasing them out of their locked stance. Expelling a pent up breath, Liz lifted her head and opened her eyes, gasping at the sight that greeted her.
Michael’s head shot up, his eyes popping open at the wave of apprehension that thrummed through their still wide-open connection and his mouth dropped as he stared at a clearing he knew only from his dreams. Licking his lips, he swallowed thickly as his eyes danced over the spring his brother, Khivar and he spent many an afternoon playing as children and later, hanging out and talking about girls when they became too old for imaginary enemies and war games.
Disentangling themselves, Liz and Michael slowly stood, staring at their surroundings, the slightest hint of confusion pinching their brows as steam curled from deep ochre soil, the musky scent of earth mixing with the spicy jasmine-like pink flowers dotting bright green vines. Tipping their heads in sync, they took in the rainforest-esque canopy of dark trees snaking towards the sky, their branches hung with broad feathery leaves, reminiscent of a large fern, condensation dripping off its spidery greenery.
Walking around the clearing carefully, Liz drew in the heavy, humid air, swiping a hand over her damp temples and shivering as a warm, fragrant breeze danced along slick skin, sending gooseflesh marching over sensitized flesh. Lowering her head, she looked over as Michael crouched near a periwinkle pool of water fed by a trickling waterfall cascading over pale reddish brown rocks. Striding to his side as he dipped his fingers into the water and pulled them out rubbing his fingers contemplatively, she slid her fingers along his neck, needing their connection to calm her in the unsettling situation.
“Wow,” she breathed, taking in the beauty around her with apprehensive awe, her heart thrumming softly and breath stuttering as Michael stood, wrapping an arm around her. Meeting his eyes questioningly, she grew even more puzzled as she saw recognition flash through his eyes with everything they lit upon. Taking a deep breath, she gestured to the natural alcove and asked the question burning in her gut. “Where are we?”
“Home,” Michael whispered reverently, staring off towards what he knew was the hidden entrance of the clearing, now covered by overgrown vines and foliage, expecting to see the doppelganger of his younger self and his companions bursting through at any moment. A sense of peace and contentment washed over him as he drew her into his arms, pressing his lips to her temple. “I used to play here as a child.”
“The granilith sent us to Antar?” she queried, surprise lacing her voice as her head shot up, meeting glowing dark amber eyes and flushed, breath hitching as his gaze drifted over her attire lingeringly. Chewing on her bottom lip, she watched him from beneath her lashes, smiling when his own breath hitched as their bodies slid together. Wrapping a silky tendril around his finger, Michael opened his mouth to respond when a rustling in the foliage made him tense and tighten his arms around Liz protectively.
“Not quite,” a low female voice lilted as a strawberry-blonde, dressed in a long, aqua chiton, stepped out from the vinery hanging near the pool of water and glided towards the couple. Her green eyes twinkled merrily as Michael pushed Liz behind him and stepped in front of her, keeping her carefully concealed. Rath hadn’t changed one bit. “You’re still on Earth, just in a different plane.”
“Did you bring us here?” Michael asked warily, studying the woman as she halted just on the other side of the clearing, having sensed his unease and not wanting to provoke him. Tensing as Liz slid hand on his waist and stepped around his back to stand at his side, Michael tipped his head down to frown at her, biting back a sigh when she shook her head at him and looked at the other woman curiously.
“No, you did that yourself when you merged your powers with mine,” she replied quietly, sending them a benign smile and gliding towards them, an air of serenity and peace enveloping her. Michael’s muscles relaxed slightly as her warm, soothing voice slid over them, but gathered Liz protectively in his arms nonetheless. The blond halted once more, a light, lilting laugh rippling over her lips, as if his actions amused her or she held some secret he hadn’t yet deciphered and she cocked her brow at him, dipping her head to stare at the pool of water to his right. “I have no control over the place; that was all your doing, Rath. Or do you prefer Michael?”
“Michael,” he affirmed, his brows pinching together as he studied her profile, the faintest spark of recognition fluttering in his gut, although he’d swear they’d never met. At least in this lifetime. He hadn’t even gotten a flash or dream about her and yet, he had a niggling feeling they’d known each other once before and felt as if he’d known her all his life. And that in itself unsettled him, setting his protective instinct on edge. For all he knew, she could be influencing his emotions to lull him into complacency.
“As you wish, your highness,” she smiled, tipping her heart-shaped face up to his, sparkling teal irises meeting suspicious bourbon, and nodding softly. Her cheek dimpled at his continued scrutiny and she gathered the end of her gown, turning her gaze to the scenery around them. “It’s been a long time since I’ve seen this place. It’s far more beautiful than I remembered. I’ve missed it.”
“Who, what are you?” Liz queried, watching the petite, fey woman carefully, unsettled by her cryptic comments and intense interest in Michael. Wrapping her arm around him possessively, she frowned slightly as the woman seemed to find amusement in their actions, almost before they did or said anything, as if she was anticipating it. She didn’t like to be toyed with and it was quickly wearing on her nerves.
A lilting, crystalline laugh rang through the clearing as the woman turned back to them, and she held up in her hand in greeting, smiling when Michael’s rose instinctually to mimick the gesture before dropping his hand in confusion. His eyes widened suddenly as recognition flitted across his face. “I’m…”
“Serena,” he whispered, his mouth parting in surprise as a memory of a small blonde girl with pigtails and elfin features, running after him and Dusin flashed across his mind. His adoptive sister.
“Yes and no,” Serena smiled, turning back to him and nodding softly, her youthful features taking on a mantle of maturity, her eyes glimmering with an ageless wisdom that hinted at much more. A soft glow suffused her skin and she reached up, smoothing fingers along his forehead, marking him with a familiar sign of blessing before turning to Liz and performing the same actions. “I’m not really your sister. I just took her form so that you’d more comfortable.”
“But you’re…you look…” Liz stammered, her eyes widening as comprehension dawned and she stared at the slight figure in front of her in awe, her face flushing at her earlier uncharitable thoughts, and swallowed thickly, squirming under the woman’s knowing look. It wasn’t everyday one came face to face with a deity.
“Like you? Of course….were you expecting green skin, bulbous eyes and misshapen heads?” Serena joked lightly, a half-smile touching her lips and shook her head in response. “Wrong planet. Our species is very much humanoid. Why do you think they chose Earth to hide the Royal Four? It’s easier to blend in. Michael looks very much like he has always looked.”
“We were told by our protector that we looked different, that we were human-Antarian hybrids,” Michael replied cautiously, although he knew this to be false from the dreams he’d been having lately. There had been nothing alien about the people in his dreams, although he wouldn’t have ruled out the possibility that he was just substituting humanoid forms as they were familiar.
“Yes, well as you’ve guessed from your returning memories, things aren’t exactly as you expected, your highness,” Serena sobered, looking at Michael pointedly and raising her brows, sighing as he nodded with equal sobriety. Nodding softly, she smiled knowingly and clasped her hands together, studying her children. “But that is for another time and place. It’s not what you came here for, is it?”
“No,” Michael agreed, meeting gentle aqua eyes and shelving the mystery of his origins for a later date. He had a feeling that this was only the first of many visits with Serena, and while he had several burning questions he wanted answered, there were far more serious matters to consider. Like keeping Zan away from his mate. Drawing Liz into his arms, he “We have chosen to bond.”
“You both are certain?” Serena asked, watching them seriously and searching for any doubts. She already knew the answer to the question since they were here, but it was customary to ask and state their intentions as part of the official ritual. “There is no going back from this step.”
“I am.” Michael and Liz replied in unison, certainty ringing through voices as they turned and smiled at one another, linking their hands. Michael lifted his hand to her cheek, stroking the skin softly before he gently brushed his lips over her, sliding his eyes shut as he savored the feel of her mouth under his, his heart speeding up as he realized that she would soon be his in all ways.
Cupping the back of his neck, Liz returned the sweet caress, her stomach fluttering with the nerves of a bride on her wedding day, but had not a doubt in her heart. She had made her decision months ago when Max tried to free her of Michael’s bond and her heart and soul fought his ministrations. The connection with Max had been thrust upon her without her consent, but with Michael, it had always been her choice. She wasn’t going to change her mind now.
Breaking apart, they smiled as their seals glowed with an ethereal light, so wrapped up in each other they had briefly forgotten their audience. Michael dipped his head, pressing his lips to her ear, brushing them lightly over the lobe as he whispered, “I love you.”
Rubbing her cheek against his, Liz nuzzled his neck and ear with the tip of her nose, her heart fluttering madly at his words and she smiled against his skin, inhaling the scent she’d come to associate with him – a complex blend of spices and desert air. Brushing her lips over his lightly, she murmured in return, “And I love you.”
“I accept your petition and stand as witness.” Serena smiled as they turned back to her, waving her hands over the ground and stepping back as a ceremonial sword, an exact match to the sword in Michael’s seal, appeared on a deep blue silk cloth along with a silver chalice, inlaid with what looked like a white rose in mother of pearl, and two shimmering lengths of silver rope.
Kneeling before the cloth, Serena grasped the sword by the hilt and blade, holding it out in front of her, and looked toward Michael, inclining her head in invitation, waiting patiently as he released Liz and strode forward and kneeled before her. Bending over, the petite blonde pressed her lips to his forehead in blessing and placed the sword into Michael’s outstretched hands.
“The mark of your office, Your Majesty,” she murmured, drawing her hands away from the weapon and placed her hands on his shoulders, her hands glowing lightly as she incanted a blessing, “Abencoad’a eina elu amhain zu ti drevni merkki dia numa; iglas pacal ti tiesa zan dia daoine sydan’a.
[Blessed is the one chosen to bear the ancient mark of favor; long live the true King of the people’s hearts.]
Michael swallowed thickly, his heart thudding in his ears as the words took hold in his soul and struck a chord, the faint hint of memory of a similar ceremony and offering made a long time ago. Breath quickening, his eyes widened as understanding dawned and his mouth dried at the mantle she laid upon his shoulders. Staring into space as he contemplated the vow he was about to make and he couldn’t help but wonder if he had the ability to accept her charge.
His eyes snapped back to Serena when she cleared her throat pointedly and he met her knowing gaze, inhaling sharply as she nodded quietly with a serene smile, her voice reverberating through his head, ‘I wouldn’t ask this unless I was confident you could bear the charge. You made this promise once before, so lets just call it a renewal of vows
Tightening his hand on the hilt, he strengthened his resolve and pressed the sword across his heart, staring into her eyes as he vowed, the words coming to him without thought. “Tu gealltanas ta pacal nui riot otu ta kraujas nui daoine
.” [I pledge my life to thee and my blood to the people.]
“Abencoad’a sou uragi, ta pitit
, [Blessings upon you, my child.]” Serena murmured, marking his seal with a sigil of power and stepping back, gesturing for him to rise. Turning back to the cloth, she dipped down and grasped the chalice, fingering the mother of pearl rose, the ancient symbol of queenship as she turned to Liz. Nodding to her, she waved her forward and held her hand out the petite brunette, smiling reassuringly when Liz stepped forward hesitantly.
“Tromeri, ifu esdla indal
, [Wait, she doesn’t know]” Michael said, worry puckering his brow and wanting to protect Liz from promising something she didn’t completely understand yet. She didn’t even know the full weight of his position as they hadn’t had a chance to talk about his past. “Ifu gali dla a’thusient…
[She might not understand…]”
“Seva anima indal’a otu cheana amhain
, Michael, [Her soul knows and has already chosen, Michael,]” Serena reassured him, resting her hand on his arm as he stepped forward to prevent Liz’s movement. “Daeina jahu da senbolik bissau seva izvele. Tu yehdla juatat dia seva mitaan if voisidla entregar otu tu voljadla tocan da lupuas asti seva eina zinoti
. [It’s but a token that cements her choice. I wouldn’t ask of her anything she couldn’t deliver and I will not exact a promise until she is aware.]”
Serena gestured for Liz once more, taking her hand and placing the chalice into her palms, closing her fingers around the slender gilt stem. Placing her hands on her cheeks, she pressed her lips to Liz’s brow and whispered her blessing. “Abencoad’a eina ti dama amhain ti tiesa zan za kaytella ti lann dia pacal. Iglas pacal ti azia dia ta sydan otu anima.
[Blessed is the lady chosen by the true king to wield the cup of life. Long live the queen of his heart and soul.]”
“I will do my best to live up to this pledge, my lady” Liz whispered, not completely understanding the intricacies of the ceremony that she’d just witnessed but knowing enough to realize Michael had just pledged himself to the deity before them. And she assumed that as his mate, this pledge would extend to her as well. She figured she must have said something right when the blonde smiled and looked at Michael approvingly.
“I know you will, child,” Serena replied, dipping her head in acknowledgment as she stepped back behind the cloth once more and addressed them both. “I ask you to make three pledges to each other – one of the heart, which rules emotion, one of the blood, which represents family ties and one of the spirit, which represents the true self. The words themselves are unimportant as it’s the intention that matters.”
“The lengths of rope symbolize you as individuals, two separate entities that will soon join as one,” she continued, gesturing to the ropes still lying upon the cloth. “And its ties will represent the bond that tie you to one another for life – heart to heart, blood to blood, spirit to spirit.”
Having said her piece, Serena stepped back and gestured to Michael, knowing his natural instincts, and the memories hovering so close the surface, would take over from there. She watched the uncertainty drain from a boyish face and a new confidence bloom, filling out the firm lines of a self-possessed man as his eyes lighted on his chosen mate.
Michael watched the petite brunette quietly, his sword gripped firmly in his hand before gliding over to her with a commanding catlike grace, the faintest hint of remembrance prickling his senses, stirring long forgotten memories and rituals. The air around him swirled with determination, a new fearlessness radiating from every move he made. Keeping a predacious gaze anchored with hers, he sank down on one knee in front of her, resting the flat of the blade against his chest, his voice deep and husky voice, thick with emotion. “My heart, I offer to you.”
“I accept your offering,” she whispered, jaw flexing and throat tightening at the primal air surrounding him. A delicious shiver of anticipation snaked over her spine as she stepped forward, pushing back damp waves tenderly and she cupped the back of his head, running her fingers through thick locks briefly. Tracing the serious, sharp lines of his cheekbones, her breath hitched as a spark of heat ignited between them and she slid a palm over one strong, squared shoulder to rest against his seal.
“By my blood,” he continued fervently and slid the blade over the foursquare mark gracing his dominant wrist, hissing when blood welled from the shallow cut. Plunging the tip of the blade into ground, he presented the wounded arm palm up for her acceptance, smiling when Liz instinctively set the chalice down and cupped the wrist in her hands, her fingers caressing his forearm, watching him intently as he made his vow. “I pledge my troth to you.”
“I accept your pledge,” she replied, her body jolting, fingers clenching around his wrist unconsciously and her heartbeat raced as a warm stream of power flooded through the whole of them, the thick, heavy air crackling with electricity with each vow made and accepted. Swallowing thickly, breath ragged, she traced the foursquare mark, smearing blood along its lines and met burning whiskey irises, her own warm and glowing.
Breathing heavily, Michael reluctantly dragged his arm away, missing the intimate kiss of her power the moment she dropped his wrist. Grabbing the two lengths of rope Serena had set before him while he was caught up with Liz, he tied two of the ends together and marked the knot with his blood, sealing and melding them together with a bright flash of silver light. Holding the now continuous rope in front of him, he faced Liz once more, his eyes gleaming with a very male satisfaction, her huntsman and warrior shining in their depths.
“With my spirit, I bind myself to you.”
“I hear and embrace that tie,” she responded, smiling softly as she placed her hands in his, shivering slightly as the energy crackling between them flared once more, lines of aqua electricity tangling around their joined hands. Michael’s lips quirked, his eyes intently following her every move and he rubbed the backs of her hands as she sank to her knees in front of him, bright, molten chocolate meshing with hot, ravenous brandy.
Serena came to stand to their side, unnoticed by the enraptured couple and took the rope out of Michael’s hands as Liz pulled her hands away, grasping the chalice in her hands and she gasped softly as it filled with an unknown liquid. Palming it, she held it before Michael, tipping her head to meet his eyes ardently, throat convulsing as their bodies swayed together and offered him the first sip. “My heart, I offer to you,”
“I accept your offering,” he murmured, his hands trapping hers, bringing the cup to his lips and tipped the cup, drinking deeply of the sweet, berry-like liquid. Lowering the chalice, he guided it to her own lips and his breath hitched, a sweet warmth filling his chest as her lashes drifted closed, resting against flushed, sweat-kissed cheeks; and her lips parted, the silky liquid sliding over her tongue, staining her mouth a light cherry red.
Slowly setting the cup down together, he couldn’t resist capturing the sweet, red flesh, between his lips in an impassioned kiss, his tongue flicking out to catch the last drops of juice suspended on soft, plump skin. Running callused fingertips over her cheeks, he splayed a hand on the base of her skull, crushing her mouth to his demandingly, deepening the kiss with a tangle of tongues and teeth before pulling away, smoldering caramel orbs screaming of their possession. Panting, they stared at each other for several long, heated moments before Liz shook herself off and continued.
“By my blood,” she rasped, her breath heavy as she turned the sword sticking out of the ground next to the and winced as she ran her foursquare mark over the blade lightly, a small drop of blood sliding over the cut. Offering her left wrist up to Michael, they both jolted when a warm sweep of power slid along their skin as he traced the lines of her mark.
Meeting her gaze intently, Michael clasped her wrist, his fingers closing around her forearm as hers closed on his, the seals flaring as they merged, an electrical current whipping through their arms as forces converged and kicked up a hot wind, their hair dancing as the cuts and marks fused together blood-to-blood. “I pledge my troth to you.”
“I accept your pledge,” Michael rasped, throat convulsing, bourbon orbs aflame as a searing wash of power and life crawled along his body, his blood burning with an impatient, predatory fire. Bowing slightly as the current binding them intensified to an almost painful degree, he grunted low in his throat and licked parched lips, fighting the primitive urge to claim his bride before the ritual completed.
An edge of dark passion shot through Liz as their eyes clashed, her breath stuttering at the deep, blatant hunger plainly written across Michael’s face. Wetting her lips nervously, she inhaled sharply and gripped the joined cord proffered by Serena with trembling fingers; unable to tear her gaze away from her mate long enough thank her.
Draping the rope over their conjoined arms, she quickly wrapped the silver-blue strand around them, forming the symbol for infinity and gasped as the ends melded together in a wash of silver light as they touched, cinching and completing the circuit. Skin tingling with an ancient, primal energy, their hearts throbbed in sync, rapacious gazes melding for a moment and then the very air, and their forms, stilled by some unseen force as she finished her vows.
“With my spirit, I bind myself to you.”
Fiery whiskey locked with startled espresso, hearts stalled and their breath caught in their throats and his words of acceptance were lost as Serena came to stand beside them once more, placing her hand over their joined wrists, sending out a pulse of power. The current snapped Michael and Liz back into animation as the physical ties binding their wrists melted and a more permanent bond forged. They inhaled sharply as energies joined and merged, each and every empty space filling and locking down, severing a connection forced upon her years previous.
“Offered in heart, pledged in body and bound by spirit, I accept you my children. The blessings of the Granilith upon you,” Serena finished, touching each of their sweaty foreheads with a seal before stepping back, cocking a brow and smiling knowingly at Michael. “I believe the saying on Earth is, you may kiss the bride?”
Needing no further encouragement, Michael stood, impatiently dragging Liz with him, closing the few inches separating them and claimed her mouth with a deep, hungry kiss as the power continued to swirl around them. Plunging his tongue into the hot, wet cavern of her mouth, he feasted on her lips and tongue as if he were trying to crawl inside her and eat her alive, both completely oblivious to Serena’s laugh and hasty exit.
And when you’re with me, if I close my eyes
There are times I swear that I can fly, for a moment in time
Somewhere between the Heavens and Earth
And frozen in time, oh when you say those words
“You are mine,” Michael commanded huskily when he finally pulled back, sherry irises drifting over her possessively, his heart thrumming wildly as a primitive part of him ached to lay claim to his bride. Pressing parted lips to her hot, damp temple, his breath snagged as the heady mix of vanilla, strawberry and Liz teased his senses. Unable to relinquish his hold on her after the intensity of their ritual, rough fingers scraped over the back of her neck to cradle the back of her head, blood simmering as she shifted deeper into his arms.
He stilled, fighting to hold onto what little was left of his rapidly dwindling control as soft, silky, sweltering skin molded to his. Electricity shot through his veins as her hips nudged against his teasingly, snapping his restraint and he crushed her to him to still her movement, slowly bringing his mouth to her ear, his soft growl making her blood jump. “Mine, always.”
Sliding lips over her jaw, he captured her mouth savagely, prying her lips apart with an insistent swipe of his tongue as rough, impatient hands raked over her body, drawing a strangled cry over her lips. Plunging his tongue between the soft flesh, he slid his hands over her hips down to her ass and cupped it as he slid a thigh between hers, jerking her up against him, grinding her core against his leg. Breath harsh, he dipped and cupping her thighs, lifted her with ease and thrust her against the nearest tree.
“You know, I’ve always had this little fantasy when I was growing up here,” he rasped lowly against her ear, moist lips teasing the soft flesh, nipping the lobe gently, his warm, damp breath rushing over her ear as he pinned her between the trunk and a hard, hot, obviously aroused body. Liz shivered as he rocked against her suggestively, breath hitching at the predatory air surrounding her mate and wove shaky fingers through his thick, silky waves, heart beating staccato as his lips whispered over the curve of her cheek.
“Really, what’s that?” she breathed, head swimming as her lids drooped lazily before slowly opening to fixate on the full, warm lips hovering a scant inch from her own, the damp heat of their tightly compressed bodies swirling around them, searing her skin. Pressing closer, her breath froze as his head lowered centimeter by centimeter, his eyes glinting dangerously and breath fanning over her face, he rubbed his lips over hers, slowly teasing, sending a hot surge of electricity zinging through her veins.
Inhaling sharply at the light glide of his tongue over her lips, her eyes fluttered shut and mouth parted invitingly, nuzzling together for a few seconds before he dipped his tongue into the sweet recess over her mouth, stroking, exploring the humid, silken cave as his hands slowly slid over her body, branding the skin it touched. Her thighs gripped his hips, tightening instinctively as his weight bear down heavily, his hands cradling the back of her skull, fisting into dark molasses locks as he deepened the caress, the velvet rasp of his tongue sliding over hers insistently, and hissed when her nails bit into his shoulders.
“Oh, I think you can guess,” he murmured silkily against her lips as he pulled away to drag air into constricted lungs before capturing them once more, teasing, mating in a demanding dance of tongues and play of lips. Nipping her bottom lip, he laved the sting away, swallowing her strangled cry down his throat before relinquishing her mouth and slid a searing path of open mouthed kisses and bites over her neck, latching greedily onto the thrumming pulse at its base.
Liz tipped her head back, lips parting with ecstasy, her nails scraping against his scalp and fingers tightening in tawny strands as she clutched his mouth closer to sensitized flesh, a breathy moan bubbling out. Raking her fingers over his neck and back, she smiled when his breath stuttered and he growled low in his throat, sinking his teeth into the juncture of her neck and shoulder, rubbing into her core in an unrelenting motion in retaliation, drawing the ever present electricity dancing under their skin to the surface.
“Mmmm…maybe,” she teased, gasping softly as she slid her mouth over his jaw, the taste of sun, earth and male sweat gliding over her tongue. Their blood burned as their connection came into play, building a sweet, fiery ache in the pit of their stomachs that curled in, out and around the other until it fused them together. Breathing harshly, impatient hands slid over sweat-kissed flesh, molding, caressing and worshipping as hard planes melded to soft curves, not even a millimeter of space between their forms. “But it might be better if you demonstrate.”
“Mmmm…yeah,” he lofted breathlessly, gripping her ass and crushing her against him as he ground their bodies together, back bowing slightly as flames shot over his nerves and a fine tremor possessed his body when her hips rocked against him in turn. His hands flexed softly, heart jumping when soft, wet lips pressed against his chest, followed by the hot flick of a small, pink tongue, murmuring huskily as teeth scraped over firm flesh. “I’m definitely more of the show not tell sort.”
Pulling out the pins binding her hair, the scent of strawberries teased his nose as he coiled fingers into espresso-colored strands and pulled her head back with gentle force, mouths melting together, lips meshing fluidly. Bracing her with his hip, his hands slipped over her hips to caress bare thighs before gliding up the skirt of her short chiton; kneading the silky flesh under the pads of his fingers.
Rough, callused palms continued their slow, teasing ascent, gliding over her hips and he ripped his mouth away, gasping in surprise when his fingers met with nothing but bare, smooth skin, not a trace of satin or lace anywhere. “Aiba
“I figured I’d make things easier,” she smirked, sly coffee-tinted eyes meeting darkening whiskey, chuckling softly when he grunted his approval and removed his hands, one anchoring at her waist as the other cupped her jaw. Crushing her mouth to his once more, he sealed them together as his tongue rolled over hers teasingly, his palm splaying against the delicate bones of her jaw and fingers wrapping around the nape of her neck, trapping her firmly against his lips.
“God, I love you,” he whispered heavily into her mouth, following her retreat when she tried to separate their mouths for air, bringing her lips to his over and over in deep, hungry, devouring kisses. Sliding one hand over her back, the other cradling the back of her neck in order to keep their mouths fused, he lifted her away from the tree, murmuring as she wrapped her legs around his waist. “I need to feel your skin against me.”
Pulling away from her mouth, he searched the clearing with heavy-lidded brandy eyes and grimaced at the hard packed ground surrounding them. Breath hitched and labored, he recalled something Serena had said about how he was the one who had chosen the place. So if he controlled the setting, he certainly could change a couple things.
“This place is what we make it, right?” he muttered more to himself than Liz, but she nodded dazedly, breath equally as labored, her mouth running dry as fiery whiskey drifted back to her, his hot, heavy gaze sliding over her skin like warm maple syrup. Waving his hand over the ground, he slid his eyes over her covetously as he slowly lowered them, tumbling her against the thick bed of pale pink petals and flowers that had appeared beneath them.
“Nice touch,” she whispered against his lips as their legs entwined, a sweet burn flowing over her body as his weight settled against her, pressing her deeper into their fragrant bed, his mouth claiming hers forcefully. Taking a shaky breath, she writhed against him as strong, callused hands slid over her skin, tracing lines of fire over her thighs as he impatiently pushed aside the thin material of her dress so he could notch himself tighter to her body.
“I try,” he drawled, capturing her lips hungrily as he rocked against her core, grunting when their slow, torturous rocking shot electricity humming along his nerves, his muscles contracting and a deep, ravenous craving erupted in the pit of his gut. Sliding his hand further up her thigh, he cupped one cheek, pressing her deeper into his body and shuddered, as their bodies slid together like two interlocking puzzle pieces, brushing, quivering with each minute roll of hips.
Staring into chocolate irises, he trailed the back of his hand over her cheek slowly and his heart jumped, chest aching with so many emotions that he couldn’t quite place just any one. All he knew is that she had the power to move him in ways no other person had in either lifetime. She was beauty and grace, strength, grit and determination, fire and passion, yet so soft and dreamy. She is every dream, every want and every desire he never even knew he had, actualized. His wife never ceased to amaze him.
. His mind tripped over the word, stunned and reverent and blessed and so thrown he didn’t know how to react. God, she was his in all ways now. His
Inhaling deeply, Liz met her husband’s eyes wondrously, her eyes sparkling with love and happiness as the warmth of his love washed over her, filling her with a giddy joy. It was so pure and straightforward, just like her mate himself and left her aching, wanting to bathe in him for eternity. Tracing a finger over his lips slowly, she caressed his strong, stubborn jaw and reveled his silent adoration, meeting him with equal fervor.
Surrounded by Michael, her breath stopped in her throat as she tried to find the words to describe him, but nothing did him justice. He was just Michael – proud, determined, impulsive, strong-willed, passionate and too beautiful for words.
And hers. All hers
“I love you,” she sighed, cupping his jaw and drawing his lips to hers, kissing him softly as their emotions swelled and burst through their lingering connection, filling them in ways neither knew possible. Curling her fingers into his hair, she tugged on the silky threads, drawing a low, lazy purr from his throat and giggled slightly when his kiss deepened, his tongue seeking her insistently.
“I love you too,” he murmured, their caresses slipped from sweet to heated in seconds, returning to their earlier wild abandon. Nipping her lip in playful retaliation, he pulled away, determined to seal his claim and feasted on the vanilla and honey-tinged skin at the base of her throat, swirling his tongue over it. “God baby, you taste so good.”
“Michael…” she murmured, purring in the back of her throat, a pleasant jolt shaking her body as she slid her hands over his back, slipping under the edge of his ceremonial pants and dug fingers into rounded, firm flesh, grinding into him. She smiled triumphantly when his back bowed and he hissed as his mouth ripped away from her neck, teeth sinking into his bottom lip. “Mmmm, I’m not the only one who went commando.”
“Tease,” he rasped as caramel irises studied her with smoldering intensity and her breath snagged at the gamut of raw emotion flitting through that predatory gaze – desire, possession, ferocious hunger, love – his feral smile promising all flavors of wickedness with a subtle swipe of tongue over his lips. Swallowing thickly, her heart hammered against her breast and mouth dried as his eyes drifted over her lazily and he caged her in, holding her willing captive to his every whim.
“So what are you going to do about it, Parker?” he smirked as she squirmed under his voracious gaze and slid his hands up her body languidly, fingers feathering over her breasts with a tortuously light touch. Pausing at her shoulders, he toyed with the straps of her gown, a slow, wicked smile quirking his lips as he gripped creamy silk and shredded it down the middle, drawing a breathless gasp past her lips as he bunched the material at her waist, exposing sleek, golden skin to his hungry perusal.
Sucking air back into her constricted lungs, Liz shivered, her limbs melting, becoming boneless and jellylike and her body ached mercilessly as his eyes and palms raked over it. Cupping her breasts, he squeezed the soft flesh gently, pinching the aching tips and dipped his head, smiling wolfishly as she gasped in pleasure, pressing his lips to her ear to whisper roughly, “I’ve been wanting to do that since you walked out in that robe.”
“Oh, God, Michael,” she moaned breathlessly as his fingers continued to torment the rigid tips, sending a wave of heat rippling over her body, pooling white-hot fire in her core.
Trailing hot, damp lips over her neck, he slid them over her collarbone, sinking his teeth into the soft flesh spread before him. Laving the sting away with a rasp of his tongue, he sucked her skin in greedily, gasping as a rush of sweet heat, love and desire flooded through his body. She was exquisite.
Mouth watering, he traveled lower, flicking the tip of his tongue over rigid flesh before sucking the soft globe into his mouth, humming with satisfaction, alternatively suckling and nipping, fire spiking through his blood at every tiny noise she made in the back of her throat and arch of her body. Inhaling deeply, he moaned as her scent filled the air – musky, fresh and feminine, so Liz.
“God, I love the feel, the taste of you,” he mumbled, the velvet rasp of his tongue swirling over mocha flesh once more before he turned his attention to her other breast, running his mouth along the curve, latching onto her nipple and nipped it between his teeth. Laving the subtle sting, he closed his mouth over her breast and sucked, pulling back every so often to scrape his teeth over hot, aching flesh, fingers splaying against her ribs as he moved down her body. “Love your smell. It’s addicting. I can’t get enough.”
“So sweet,” he murmured, sliding his lips over her ribs, swiping his tongue over the soft swell of her stomach, nipping the tender flesh with blunt teeth and smiled against her skin when she bucked under his ministrations. Flicking molten caramel eyes to hers, he trailed his mouth over her stomach, brushing hot, wet lips against her hip as his hands slowly slid up and down silky thighs and calves, his stomach tightening with desire with every new taste, scent and texture he discovered. “Like that did you?”
“Ye-eeess,” she hissed breathlessly and wrapped her fingers into his hair, dragging his mouth back to hers, raking nails over his back. Gasping as the firm planes of his chest scraped against the soft mounds of hers, she slid her hands under the edge of his pants, shoving them over his hips and thighs before hooking her feet into pants and sliding them down his legs as far as she could. She needed the feel of his skin sliding against hers; lived for the heavy weight of his body on hers, wanted salt-tinged flesh under her mouth, to love, to worship, to possess. “I love touching you.”
“Ditto,” Michael growled, lifting his body and kicking the tangle of material away impatiently, reaching for the remnants of her robe and shredding the thin material from her body with pure brute strength. Yanking her in his arms, he grunted as soft, silky, vanilla-tinged skin slid against his as he settled between her legs and grinned with pure male satisfaction when she gasped at the friction. Capturing her mouth in a searing kiss, he ground against the slick, wet folds of her core and moaned helplessly when her hips flexed instinctively, breaking the kiss to demand raggedly, “Go-od, do that again.”
Cupping the back of his neck, she pulled him down, lips meshing perfectly and flexed her hips against him, enjoying his long, low groan as she opened her mouth, inviting the invasion of his tongue eagerly, their tongues tangling and dancing wantonly. Her blood sang, bubbling hotly under his soft caresses and humming with pleasure, she pushed against his chest and flipped him, rolling him onto his back and smiled as his mouth gaped slightly, his surprise evident.
“You always get the upper hand. My turn.” she whispered against his lips as she straddled his body, smiling wickedly when his eyes widened in anticipation before darkening with hunger. Rocking her hips against his tauntingly, her lips widened triumphantly as he hissed and his body tensed under hers, but it was short lived as fiery sherry-tinted eyes met hers in challenge.
Digging his fingers into her hips, Michael held her gaze and grasped her hips, pressing down harshly and swiveling her body against his erection in retaliation, sending a bolt of electricity racing over her skin. Crying out, her back bowed and she dug her nails into his shoulders as the movement sent small spasms coursing through her, waves of bliss shooting down her nerves as a small, mini-orgasm shuddered through her body and she slumped, panting against his chest.
Rising after a minute, Liz looked at down at her far too smug mate and licked her lips, leaning over to brush her lips against his ear, smiling when he shuddered slightly. “You’ll pay for that,” she vowed darkly, fixing smoky eyes on him as she grabbed his hands and entwined their fingers, pressing them into petals on either side of his head and brushed her lips over his teasingly, relishing the heartfelt groan that bubbled over his lips.
Sliding her lips over his throat, she smirked in satisfaction when she felt it convulse under her open mouth, his Adam’s apple jumping slightly as he tried to swallow and she drug her open mouth over the sensitive flesh, tongue flicking it lightly. Humming with need, she scraped her teeth over his pulse, loving the way it jumped in tempo under her tongue.
Nibbling at his neck, she trailed her mouth over his collarbone to his shoulder, teeth scraping and nipping at the firm, defined skin spread before her, her tongue licking, laving, tracing each ripple and indention, breath hitching as the hot, salty taste of him danced over her palate. Moaning softly, she inhaled deeply, the scent of his skin filling her senses and driving her own arousal higher.
Sitting up slightly, she ran her fingers over his chest lightly, scraping small nails over the his nipples and gave an awed half-smile as she watched the muscles bunch and ripple under her ministrations, his chest heaving, eyes hooded and desire-laden and cheeks crested with an aroused flush. “Beautiful.”
He was so beautiful, sensual, sexy and he didn’t even know it.
Michael’s breath hitched at her pronouncement, his heart leaping at the admiration shining in dark, ebony eyes. Swallowing thickly, he ran a finger over her cheek, tracing soft, flushed flesh before trailing it over her jaw and sliding his hand over her neck, pulling her down to him, needing to feel her lips against his.
“Do you have any idea how beautiful you are too me?” she whispered as she leaned over and captured his lips, brushing their mouths together softly, sucking wantonly on his bottom lip before tracing the warm fold of his mouth thoroughly. Relinquishing her hold, she sighed, her own breath growing shallow and raspy as she continued exploring his body. “How much you turn me on? How you drive me crazy; to the point where all I want to do is push against the nearest surface and feel you under my mouth.”
“Mmmmm,” he murmured incoherently, tangling his fingers in her hair as eyes slid shut under her assault. Breath snagging, he rumbled with pleasure as her mouth latched onto one nipple and her small, pink tongue drew circles around it before white teeth nipped it sharply, her fingers pinching the other at the same time. Jolting as electricity shot down his spine, he dug his fingers into her scalp, fighting the desire to grab her and throw her on her back and writhed subtly, his breath coming in short, choppy bursts as she continued to torment him with hot, open-mouth kisses and light bites.
“I love the feel of your skin pressed to mine,” she murmured, pressing their bodies together and rubbing sweat-slicked skin together, moaning quietly to prove her point. Sliding his hands over her back, his blood burned in his veins and he struggled to respond, but couldn’t, too lost in the sensations her mouth and body were creating. “Love how we fit together just so. Love how your body seems to be made for mine.”
Smoothing lithe fingers over his body as she slowly crept down, she met his hot, ravenous gaze, hands wrapping around his erection and caressed the rigid skin, stroking with slow, sure touches. Heart thrumming, her blood flowing under sweltering skin like liquid fire, she explored him slowly and thoroughly, finally getting the chance to find out what exactly did make him sigh, what made his breath catch and what made him purr in the back of his throat.
She loved the little rumble he made when she cupped him in her hands, the hiss and catch of breath when she grasped him bit more firmly and his long, drawn out growl when fingers smoothed over stiff, sensitized yet curiously smooth and soft skin. But what she liked most? The strangled cry the bubbled over his lips as she met dark, intense amber orbs, her own shining with feminine knowledge before flicking them down coquettishly and bit her lower lip, slowly lowering her head to hover over him, her lips curving in a half-smile of anticipation as she licked her lips.
“Jesus…Liz…” he choked, arms and back rippling with tension as hot, damp breath wafted over him, his blood rushing through his veins, every nerve screaming for release as she slowly licked the length of him. Desire exploded through his system, burning him with a heat so intense, it made a nuclear blast seem like nothing more than a roman candle and the burn of rocket fuel nothing more than water.
“Mmmm…love the taste of you,” she rumbled as she stared down at him with rapt awe for a moment before leaning over, her breath snagging as the scent of aroused male swirled around her. Breathing ragged, perspiration dotted his forehead as he fought the instinct to surge forward when she swirled her tongue over his erection, slowly sucking him into the warm, wet folds of her mouth and reflexively curled his hands into dark silk as she worked over his flesh until she held in her mouth as deep as she could.
“Liz, you don’t have to…oh God,” he rasped softly, his heartbeat speeding up as her mouth slid over stiff skin and she ran her tongue over the length of his shaft as she pulled away, sucking on the head softly, bobbing shallowly before releasing him, licking away a drop of salty liquid. Whatever happened to his shy brunette? “Jesus.”
Her body flushed with desire as she looked up his body, her breath hitching as she watched his face clench in pained bliss when she stroked him in her hand. Smiling mischievously, she kept her eyes locked on his face as she lowered her mouth, brushing her lips against him teasingly, but pulled away when his hips rocked up instinctually to meet her mouth.
Growling in frustration, Michael’s eyes snapped open and he glowered at his beautiful tormentor, eyes vowing retribution as her own flicked up, glinting devilishly and holding his hot gaze, she took him back into her mouth, sucking on him gently. He squeezed his eyes shut again, thighs trembling with strain, back bowing as she set a slow teasing pace that had him whimpering in the back of his throat. God she was going to drive him insane.
Fisting his hands into her hair, he gently guided her mouth over him, his hips rocking ever so slightly in response, body swimming in pure bliss and heart pounding as muscles coiled and heat raged through his blood, spiking with every glide of lips and tongue. Drawing a strangled breath, he emitted a harsh cry as her ministrations picked up speed, his nerves humming and panted as he neared release. “Liz…God…baby, please.”
“Begging, Guerin?” she rasped teasingly, pulling back long enough to frustrate him slightly, laughing softly when a tortured moan bubbled over his lips and he swore vengeance under his breath before resuming her teasing caresses. Feeling him tense under her, she scraped her teeth over him lightly, the sensation pushing him over the brink and he cried out hoarsely, his breath ragged and head reeling.
Pulling away from him, Liz smirked at her handy work, feeling slightly full of herself as she watched her mate drag air back into his lungs, his tawny waves matted to his head and face slack, soft with the euphoria still running through his system. That is until fiery bourbon eyes cracked, staring at her predatorily for a moment before he slowly pushed himself up, keeping that heated gaze melded with her and gathered her into his lap, her legs straddling his hips.
Dipping his head, he nudged her nose with his, whiskey-tinted fire searing trembling, pink lips as his gaze latched onto them and held as he drew his fingers over her hips, to the small of her back and over the expanse of skin to her shoulders, crushing their bodies together. The heat of their bodies rose between them like a sauna and hot, damp breaths mingled, his lips hovering just a hairsbreadth away from hers making Liz’s breath stutter and her blood pound in her temples.
“My turn,” he demanded hungrily, his voice cracked and throaty as he sank his lips against hers, clutching her waist tightly and flipped them over with lightening reflexes, smirking when her breath rushed out in a squeak as her back hit the ground with a soft thud. Pressing his nose to her temple, he inhaled deeply, bathing in the scent of warm, vanilla and sweat-tinged skin and let her scent, her essence surround and brand him as his hands traveled her body.
Scraping callused hands over the tender flesh over arms, he grasped delicate wrists gently, pressing them into their makeshift marriage bed as he drug parted lips over the crest of her cheek and down the line of her jaw, licking the damp, salted-vanilla flesh greedily. Sinking blunt teeth into her neck, he gave a sharp nip, rumbling with predacious satisfaction as her skin purpled faintly and she bucked against him, a breathless moan easing past her lips.
Drawing back slightly, he met hazy, molten chocolate with smoldering toffee eyes and tightened his hold on her wrists, grunting when her irises flared and dilated with dark passion. “Don’t move,” he commanded, giving one more subtle squeeze to her wrists, waiting for her acquiescence before dragging his fingers over her body to splay against her shallowly rising ribs and stomach.
Gliding his open mouth over her breasts, he laved the stiff peaks with his tongue, nibbling, licking and sucking on the flesh for a moment before traversing lower to his true destination, his breath hitching as the scent of her arousal filled his nose. Flicking his tongue over her navel, he caressed the insides of her thighs with the pads of his fingers, kneading the tender skin gently and nudged them apart, sliding his arms under her knees, her calves draping down his back.
Giving slight jerk, he knelt between her legs, dipping his head over her soft, glistening folds and inhaled sharply, breathing her in as he place one light kiss at the apex of her thighs, the neatly trimmed hair tickling his skin. Warm, damp air rushed over equally damp skin as he exhaled, sending a jolt of awareness through her body and she shivered as he hovered, his breath wrecking havoc on her senses as he rubbed his nose over the skin just under her navel teasingly.
“I love your scent,” he murmured, his breath ragged, head swimming dizzily as he continues his soft teasing kisses, sliding hot, wet lips along the inside of her right thigh, nipping the skin occasionally before soothing it with the rough pad of his tongue. Switching sides, he repeated his actions on the other side, watching her flushed face intently, taking in every sigh, flutter of lashes and silent cry greedily and feeding the rampant lust raging through his body.
“S-so you’ve s-said,” she whimpered past dry lips, jerking slightly as his tongue traced the juncture of her thigh and the sensitive flesh he’d studiously avoided, wanting to slowly build her pleasure before giving in to feast on sweet, pink flesh laid before him. Clawing at the ground beneath her, she squeezed her eyes shut, body humming with desire and muscles tensing tighter with every second that passed without fulfillment.
“It’s intoxicating,” he rasped, moving closer to his goal, breath rushing out as he flicked his tongue over her lightly, avoiding the bundle of nerves she craved he touch. Her sweet, spicy moisture clung to his lips and tongue, a sucker punch to the gut and he couldn’t resist another, deeper swipe against the warm, wet flesh, twirling the tip of his tongue over her folds. Breath rasping harshly, Michael closed his eyes briefly as her flavor coated his palate and grit his teeth, trying to rein his desire in, rambling helplessly before delving into her folds again. “But your taste…ah, God…your taste drives me crazy.”
“M-mi-iiichael,” she wailed brokenly, writhing under the skillful sweep of his tongue, squirming as he nibbled at the tender flesh, teasing and playing with her, his flicks and touches slow, methodical and unhurried, firm enough to drive her mad but too soft to fully satisfy. Whimpering with frustration, she reached up to grab his head and force him to give her what her body desperately craved, but was thwarted when he moved and grabbed her wrists, pressing them back against the ground with a warning glance, chuckling when she growled at him.
“Not so funny now, is it woman?” he taunted against her ear, reaching down to tweak a nipple playfully and nipping the lobe of her ear, his other hand slipping between their bodies, his thumb flicking her clit softly. She bucked against him slightly, whispering his name as the pressure continued to build in her body and her thighs clenched around his shoulders unconsciously as one finger drew lazy circles over her flesh.
Moaning, Michael tried to hold himself in check, fighting the desire to grab her hips and drive himself into her hot, welcoming heat and pulled away, jerking her hips against his chest as he dipped his tongue back into that heated flesh, laving it from top to bottom. Latching onto the little nub he just been tormenting with his finger, he sucked it into his mouth, alternating tiny bites, scrapes of teeth and the lightest flicks of his tongue until she squirmed beneath him.
Tossing her head to the side, Liz mewled in the back of her throat, all of her muscles contracting and body bowing as the fire and pressure reached a peak and her breath suspended for a moment as their eyes met hotly just before he gave one last deliberate flick of his tongue and scrape of teeth and the dam in her body broke. Her body clenched, back bowing as fire erupted in her womb and shot over her nerves, her body exploding in waves of bliss, her mouth parting in a silent cry of pleasure.
Watching her come undone with rapt attention, Michael swallowed thickly as desire whipped through body and his restraint snapped. Grabbing her hips, he nudged her thighs wider and slid into her core, groaning as hot, wet walls, still quivering in the aftermath of her release, surrounded him and he bit down on his inner cheek to keep from plunging on without care. Holding very still as her body adjusted and she caught up to him, he studied her intently and smirked slightly at her dazed, sated expression, whispering throatily, “So beautiful. I want you more than anything or anyone in this lifetime or last.”
Darkened brown eyes fluttered open meeting molten gold and she shuddered softly as he possessed her slowly, humming with satisfaction when he moved just slightly, stretching her internal muscles and filling her completely. Arching under that very slight movement, her hips flexed against his, drawing a growl and pent up breath past his lips and his fingers tightened unconsciously as his body strung tight, eyes squeezing as exquisite heat rippled through him, searing him from the inside out.
“Gooood,” he breathed, panting as he opened his eyes, lowering his body slowly, staying deeply embedded in her core and pressed their chests together, a sweet rush of love and desire bursting through their connection as their skin slid against one another. “You feel so damn good. So hot, perfect.”
Brushing his lips against hers, he hissed when her arms wrapped around him and nails raked over the slick, taut sinew of his back and he clutched her tighter, smiling as she gasped when their chests rubbed together, her nipples tightening with each graze of flesh.
“You’re good at that,” she sighed, heat washing over her skin, the fire in her womb starting to build once more as he began to rock against her shallowly with slow, controlled thrusts. Squeezing her hips against his, she tangled her fingers in sweat-dampened waves, dragging his mouth to hers for a deep, searing kiss and met each of his slow, languorous strokes with her own, mumbling against his lips teasingly. “I’m starting think you’ve done this before.”
“Not in this lifetime,” he murmured back, drinking her down as he found a steady rhythm that drove them both insane with desire, increasing his pace slightly as her nails dug into his low back, pushing against it to drag him deeper into her body. Grunting at her blissful expression, lids fluttering and lips parted in rapture, he slid one arm around her waist and the other around her shoulders, crushing her to his body as he vowed. “Never with anyone but you.”
Clutching her tightly, he rolled over onto his back, wrapping his hands around her hips and grunted with pained bliss as the action deepened and changed the penetration, breathing harshly when her back bowed and she dug her nails into his chest, seeking purchase.
“Oh, god…” she whispered blissfully, shifting against him before looking down at him uncertainly and rocking her hips slightly; writhing, back arching as the new position had him touching places she didn’t know existed. Biting her lip nervously, she met smoldering sherry and traced the muscles of his chest hesitantly, not sure what she was supposed to do and what he’d like. “Michael…I don’t…I’ve never…”
“Shhh,” he whispered, seeing her uncertainty and knowing all to well she’d never done this and guided her hips gently, sliding one hand into her hair to cup the back of her head, weaving his fingers into long, shiny tresses as he thrust into her soft, warm flesh. Dragging her to him for a brief kiss, he whispered huskily, “Just do whatever makes you feel good, I…ah, Jesus…am going to be happy no matter what you do.”
Crushing his lips to hers in a fervent kiss, he released her and rested his hands on her waist to steady her, rocking against her shallowly until she pressed her hands into his chest for leverage and caught the rhythm, swiveling her hips against his in slow, deep thrusts. Joining her subtle rocking, he gasped as electricity crackled over his skin, moaning breathlessly as she leaned over to capture his lips, maintaining the sinuously slow strokes of her body as she plundered his lips.
“Oh, God, more,” he growled, digging his fingers into her hair, fisting the cool silk as he crushed their lips together and tired of the slow, teasing motion of their hips, thrust against her impatiently. Glowering when she laughed softly, he tightened his hold on her hair and tugging slightly in retaliation, demanding roughly. “More.”
“Michael!” She cried, digging her fingers into his shoulders as fire shot over her nerves and she quickened her movements as the pressure and heat built painfully in her womb, drowning in the sensation of him. Inhaling sharply as he sat up, crushing her to him so that she was now pressed to him fully and straddling his lap, she wrapped her arms around him as their lips met in an insistent, passionate dance.
“Oh, God, Michael,” she babbled mindlessly, her fingers grasping at him blindly, digging into his back as hot waves of pleasure built, their strokes becoming deep and fast, skin scraping together, the friction adding to the sensations curling through and around them. “Michael…”
“Liz,” he begged, a savage groan ripping from the back of his throat as her nails raked over his skin. Unable to take it anymore, he threw her on her back, caging her in and barely hesitating in their frenzied movements, impaled himself in her body with one solid thrust, taking over their sensual dance. “God, so good, so unbelievably good. I’ve wanted this for so long…dreamed…fantasized…not even close.”
Sensing her impending release, Michael grabbed her hips and bucked, penetrating as deeply as he could as he crushed their mouths together in a stormy, explosive kiss, swallowing her cries of ecstasy as the fire finally erupted into an inferno and exploded around them. A keening cry echoed through the clearing as he thrust into her fiercely once more and her spine bowed, muscles clenching around him as they found release together.
Bodies trembling, they rode that blinding edge of bliss as they pushed the other to unsurpassed pleasure, gasping when their connection flared wide open, bathing them not only in their own but the other’s pleasure. Hearts pounded in sync, breath merged and became one, minds touched, souls bound and they floated, as wave after wave of heat, desire and fulfillment crashed over their bound bodies.
Shivering, they rode out the moment for several minutes as their power and connection washed over them, leaving them suspended in a warm blanket of love, tenderness and rapture, humming with life before they came down slowly, bodies wrapped around one another. Panting shallowly, they kissed softly and exchanged soft, languid caresses, sliding into a deep, peaceful slumber as he whispered next to her ear.
And this journey that we’re on,
How far we’ve come and I celebrate every moment
And when you say you love me
That’s all you have to say, I’ll always feel this way
Nuzzling her face in Michael’s chest, Liz drew a deep breath, waking slowly and smiled when he rumbled in his chest, tightening his arms around her to hinder her soft movements and keep her anchored to his side. She laughed softly when he sleepily buried his face into her neck, kissing the soft skin as his fingers skimmed the length of her back and rolled her to her back, pressing her into the bed of fragrant petals.
Trailing soft kisses along the line of her jaw, he smiled against her skin as she purred and bent to capture her lips, the meter of his heart thrumming wildly as her fingers caressed skin still glowing faintly in the aftermath of their bonding. Wrapping his tongue around hers teasingly, he drew it into his mouth, stroking it languorously as his fingers trailed over soft, golden skin, delighting in the fact that she was his for life. No one could part them now that they had the blessing of the Granilith.
Relinquishing his hold on her mouth, he brushed his lips over her nose teasingly before bumping it softly with his. Lifting his face he watched her quietly, eyes soft as a smile teased his lips and a warm glow suffused his body as she smiled in return, tenderly brushing tawny waves back from his face. Turning his head slightly, he pressed a gentle kiss in her palm as he ran his fingers through silky espresso strands, twirling the locks around his fingers absently. He leaned down to press his lips to her once more when a light glow caught his attention.
Looking down at her breastbone, he ran his fingers over her seal lightly, noticing for the first time that it had changed since their bonding. The sword and rose were still there, but now intersected two linked crowns, one delicately wrote and decidedly feminine, the other thicker and more masculine. He had felt her connection with Zan snap shut at the time of the bonding, but hadn’t been aware of the other changes. Tracing the edges with wonder, he smiled with satisfaction as the mark showed the world they were bound, mated – she was his alone.
Zan couldn’t do anymore damage.
Cradling her into his arms, he crushed her against him possessively, relief washing over his body as he pressed his face into her hair, his lips resting against her temple. His muscles tremored slightly as he pulled back, but kept her anchored against him and met startled chocolate irises, smiling shakily to try to reassure her. He couldn’t explain the feelings coursing through him because he hadn’t been aware until now, just how worried and scared he’d been that he would lose her to forces against his will.
Zan’s willful and calculating destruction of his and Lareena’s relationship as well as Ava and Khivar’s bond had disturbed and shaken him more than he let on.
“Are you okay?” Liz whispered, touching his cheek gently, her brow furrowing as she studied his pinched face, confused as to the sudden change in his demeanor. He’d been light-hearted, and even playful, just moments before some dark thought seemed to steal away his contentment. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” he smiled, his darkened face lightening as he looked at her, laying her down on the bed of petals and smoothing a finger over her brow, tracing her features gently. Chuckling at the skeptical quirk of her mouth, Michael dropped a light peck on her lips and lay down at her side, propping his chin on his hand. Plucking a flower off the ground, he teased her stomach with the soft petals, smirking when she squirmed and giggled. “Nothing now.”
“Great, you’re going to be even more cryptic than usual,” she smirked right back at him, rolling her eyes with exasperation and pulled the flower out of his hand, pressing it to her nose lightly before plucking the petals one at a time. Meeting amused tawny eyes; she wrinkled her nose delicately and tossed the empty stem at him. “I thought this bonding thing meant opening up and sharing our thoughts and feelings.”
“A zebra can’t change its stripes, Aiba
,” he snorted, laughing when she stuck her tongue out at him and rolled over, presenting him with her delectable back, pretending to pout.
Eyeing her appreciatively, his arm snaked out and he yanked her against his chest, peppering playful nips and light kisses over her neck and along her spine, smiling when she giggled and snuggled her back into his chest. Pushing her hair back over her shoulders, he sighed happily and placed a soft kiss on her shoulder, his fingers grazing the soft swell of her stomach. Wrapping his arms around her tightly, he buried his face into the curve of her neck and held her, contented for several minutes.
“I was just remembering Zan…Max’s actions and I’m glad we bonded before anything bad happened,” he replied quietly, lifting his head and studying her with quiet intensity when she turned in his arms, understanding dawning in her eyes. Watching him soberly, she splayed her hand on his chest, fingering the new seal absently, a faint glow catching her eyes and they sharpened, honing in on the two crowns pensively.
Chewing on her bottom lip, Liz studied the mark they’d only had for a couple of days, but yet it felt like such a part of her, that she didn’t even flinch at the sight of them. Most people would have thought that they had rushed things, but really the past two days had been the culmination of forces that had been in the work for years.
“Our seals changed,” she murmured, fingers feathering over his chest gently as she met his intent gaze once more, the hint of a question touching her sober gaze. Tracing the two crowns, a touch of apprehension simmered in her stomach and wondered why they made her feel so uneasy. “What do they mean?”
“It’s because I’m king,” he replied, touching her cheek softly as he studied the beginnings of confusion manifest in her face and sighed, knowing it was time to face the music. He’d been dreading this conversation since he had gotten more of his memories back. God, was it just earlier today that this all happened? So much had changed in the space of a few hours. Tensing as he felt her withdraw slightly, he pressed on despite being fully aware of the can of worms it would open. “Which makes you my queen.”
“K-king?” she stuttered, eyes widening at his announcement. She focused on a spot over his shoulder and blinked, her mind whirling with questions. Running a shaky hand through tangled molasses locks, she met his eyes once more, the faintest hint of panic and anger simmering in her eyes. “You’re king? But I thought the orb… Max’s mom said…wait, how is this possible? The orb said Max was the King and you were his second.”
“No, the orb said he was the leader of our people
and I was his second,” Michael sighed, running a hand through his own hair, slightly frustrated and unsure of how to explain what he meant. Even he didn’t understand all the intricacies of his culture and his position in the federation, as his memories were spotty at best, showing him only a glimpse of his past.
Scrubbing a hand over his face, he grew quiet and pensive, now knowing that an entire planet’s well being resided on his shoulders. He didn’t even know how he felt about his position and truthfully hadn’t wanted to address it quite yet, because every time he thought of himself as king, his stomach fluttered nervously and panic trickled over his spine. If he, someone that had always been aware he had a destiny, had a hard time accepting it, how could he expect anything different from Liz?
Not to mention, he couldn’t help but wonder if this had all been a long, strange dream that he was bound to awaken from at any moment. Even in his wildest fantasies, he’d never imagined his life playing out this way; never considered that he was more than a soldier. Never imagined that he’d be lying next to this beautiful woman, bonded, married by the rites of his people; that she’d want to be bonded to him in turn. It still shook him to the core that she’d not only agreed, but also embraced his heritage enough to pledge her life to him and his people.
“Right,” Liz said, shrugging her shoulders and nodded her head in acknowledgement, vividly remembering the words that set them onto this eventual path. She knew that his mother had never actually uttered the word king, but there were others who had. Of course, now that she thought about it, the emissary worked for the other side, so who’s to say they were being truthful. “And then it was confirmed he was king by the emissary while he was New York.”
“Confirmed that he was king of Antar, yes,” he agreed, sighing once again when she stared at him blankly. He couldn’t really be upset with her not following his explanation, as he knew he was fumbling it a bit. Taking a deep breath, he gathered his thoughts and plunged on with the frustratingly little information he’d gathered through his dreams and flashes. “Aiba
, there are four other planets in our system, each set up with a royal house. I was born into one of those, the Royal House of Ahrensa.”
“The emissary and the orbs lied?” she queried softly, heart thudding in her chest as the impact of his position hit home. Oh, God, this made her queen as they were as good as married because of their bond. She had walked away from one king because he held higher destiny than she could ever hope to compete with, only to entangle herself with another. The small trickle of panic burst into a full-fledged tidal wave as his announcement sunk in. What was it with her and alien kings?
“Not lied per se, just misinterpreted. I am also second-in-command of the alliance there,” he explained as he watched her shut down and barely bit back a grunt of disgruntlement. He had a bad feeling she was going to do this. He knew that she was worried she was interfering with his destiny, but it couldn’t be further from the truth.
He and Lannie had never wanted to be with each other and the only other girl he had loved, thought he was dead and was likely bonded by this time. And it was the truth, Rath as Lareena knew him was dead. Michael was a completely different person and irrevocably in love with the stubborn, self-sacrificing brunette in front of him. Sitting up he pulled her into his arms, cupping her jaw softly. “Think about it, Liz, do you honestly think that I would have been betrothed to Vilandra if I were nothing more than a soldier?”
“No,” she whispered, lips and cheeks paling, quaking as the reality of their actions came crashing around her. She had been fine with the idea of being the wife of a general, perhaps even a nobleman, but crown prince, a future king? She didn’t know anything about running a country, let alone an entire planet. He needed someone who had been trained from birth by his side.
Michael watched the uncertainty and doubts flash across her face, her dark eyes filling with panic, and bit back an oath. He remembered that look all too well. He’d seen it during her quick shut down after Max had found out his destiny and his biggest fear had been that she’d try the same with him. There was no way he was going to let that happen. Not after everything they had been through to get to this moment.
“Michael, I can’t be queen! I’m not royal. I’m not even of noble birth,” she cried, shaking her head emphatically as she pulled away from him, frantically searching for an escape from their chamber and choking back a strangled breath when she remembered they were still stuck wherever the Granilith had set them. Facing him, fear tinting her eyes, she shrugged helplessly. “I’m as common as they come and you need someone by your side that knows how to lead your people.”
“Not of royal birth, yes,” he agreed readily, nodding his head in confirmation. There was no refuting that. Crawling over to her, he cupped her chin once more and tipped her face to his so she couldn’t look away. Stroking her cheek soothingly with his thumbs, he relaxed slightly as the hard edges of panic softened in her eyes and her more logical mind kicked in. “But not common by any means, Liz.”
“But…I’m not capable of leading…” she stammered uncertainly, the fear of never being enough still thrumming through her blood and blinked as his eyes heated up, cutting off her words in mid thought. Swallowing hard at the strength, conviction and…belief in her staring at her in the face, she dropped her gaze for a moment to pull her thoughts together and get her breathing under control. Control. She needed control and to think rationally.
“Yes, you are,” he firmly refuted, nearly sighing in relief as her head snapped up once more and he saw the stirring of acceptance in her eyes. Pressing his fingers to her seal, he pointed to it to illustrate his argument. “This would not be possible if you weren’t. The Granilith would have never sanctioned our union if She thought you unworthy.”
“What?” she asked, her eyes clouding with confusion, but definitely much calmer than she’d been when she first got the news. Her eyes danced over his face inquisitively as she wrapped her arms around her middle, a slight chill running over her spine.
“I told you in the beginning, true bonds are rare among my people,” he explained, trying his best not to get exasperated, trying to be as understanding as possible when it came to her very real fears. He couldn’t blame her, because he held similar fears of his own abilities. “They are only possible by Granilith sanction. It’s why we connected to her and what the ceremony with cup was about. That she presented it to you speaks volumes of your abilities.”
“Why didn’t you tell me about all of this in the beginning?” she asked, a hint of hurt and anger lingering in her tone as she met his equally frustrated gaze, disheartened that he seemed to be withholding information to protect her once again. She knew it was in Michael’s nature to act first and then explain himself later, if she was lucky, but he needed to remember that there were two people in this relationship.
“I don’t know. I was more concerned with keeping you safe,” he responded defensively, clawing at his eyebrow and fidgeting under her exasperated glare. “And I’ll do it again if I feel it’s necessary. Not to mention that this memory thing isn’t exactly a science. I didn’t even remember some of the details until today.”
“So this was about protecting me,” she queried in a deceptively neutral tone that set the hairs on the back of Michael’s neck on edge and he bit back a groan, pressing the pads of his thumb and forefinger to his eyes. Swiping a hand over his face wearily, he forced a retort back down his throat and watched her warily.
“Yes…no,” he returned, struggling to find the words to explain what he meant and his reasoning. I needed to protect you. If Zan, were to take you away, I don’t think I’d survive. I can’t imagine waking up without you by my side; can’t imagine a life without you in it. I don’t know when, but you’ve come to mean everything to me and I love you so much, I can’t think straight.
But none of the words would come out. “Part of it?”
“Is that a question or an answer?” she retorted, still slightly irritated, but the helpless, yet warm emotions swimming behind his eyes were a balm to the sting his actions caused. Eyeing him contemplatively, her lips pursed in a little bow as she chewed on the inside of her cheek and weighed his words in her mind, fighting the urge to throttle her overprotective husband.
Husband. Mate. Her King.
Her mind tripped over the words, heart thrumming softly, a slight trickle of panic still echoing through the wonder, yet, she couldn’t help but think of how right those words felt in connection to him. Of course this didn’t let him off the hook completely; she still wanted answers, but those words filled her heart with a soft warm glow and she couldn’t help but soften slightly knowing all to well that the stubborn man couldn’t help himself sometimes.
Tonight was about them and their union; the rest could wait.
“Uh, answer?” he replied hesitantly, scratching at his brow thoughtfully while kicking himself internally for holding off on this explanation. He knew Liz didn’t like information kept from her, but it hadn’t been intentional. At least, not this time. Between everything that happened with Maria, Max and the foursquare bond, he had had little time to analyze or reflect on the news himself. He’d been too busy reacting.
“Hmmmm…” she mused noncommittally, running a hand through hair, the tension slowly melting from her body as she watched her mate ruefully, an exasperated, but loving smile quirking the corner of her mouth. Shaking her head, the rest of her irritation drained away at the love and concern reflected in caramel eyes, belying the stoic resolve etched in his face. “You’re so…so…exasperating, you know that?”
“And you love me anyway,” he quipped, his face lightening, lips quirking slightly as humor returned to her eyes, confident that they had pushed past the worst of her worries and insecurities. Grabbing her wrist, he dragged her over to him and wrapped her in his arms, pressing his lips to her forehead softly before pressing his cheek to the slightly damp skin, rubbing back and forth.
“We will discuss this later,” she stated firmly, her discontent dissolving under his persistent seduction, sighing softly when his lips trailed over her hairline, placing light, sweet kisses along it.
“Of course,” he agreed soberly, pressing his lips to hers, sighing with contentment as she returned the light caress before pulling away to rest her forehead to his once more, her eyes clouding slightly and brow pinching as she met his eyes.
“What if I can’t do this?” she asked quietly, a niggling, residual fear whispering through her heart as she clung to him uncertainly, burying her face into the crook of his neck. Humming with contentment when his hands ran through her hair and over her neck and shoulders, she wrapped her arms around his chest, hands splaying possessively over his back.
“You can,” he affirmed, pulling back and meeting her worried gaze with assurance as he gently lowered them against the petals, cradling her head as he lowered his body onto hers, careful to keep most of his weight on his elbows as he watched his wife.
Brushing his fingers against her cheek gently, he ran a finger along her hairline, pushing back thick chocolate waves softly as he leaned in and kissed her tenderly. Smoothing his hands over lithe curves, he entwined his fingers with hers, brushing his lips over the back of her knuckles before pressing her fingers to his steadily beating heart.
“I thought of you as my queen long before I found out. Maybe something inside me knew, maybe not,” he continued seriously, dark bourbon irises flicking over her face, stroking her hair lightly. “But no matter what I thought or felt, the seals would not have appeared unless you were, are, worthy of the position. You are more than my queen; you are my life mate. My match in every way.”
She watched him quietly, sober chocolate eyes searching for any minute hint of doubt in his face and her heart swelled, humbled by the utter faith, belief and love reflected in his eyes. Touching his cheek softly, her eyes misted and she smiled at him hesitantly.
“I love you,” she whispered, running her fingers through the soft, cool waves framing his face, smoothing them along high cheekbones, rubbing her palm over the rasp of stubble along his jaw and her breath stuttered when he shifted his head to place a feather light kiss on her fingertips.
“Ditto,” he smirked, trying to lighten the moment and laughed when she rolled her eyes at his less than romantic, but completely Michael response. Smiling at him grudgingly, her eyes crinkled at the edges as she glanced at him flirtatiously from beneath her lashes. Eyes growing smoky as she became aware of all that smooth, very naked skin pressed to her, she wiggled her body against his teasingly, grin widening when he hissed and pinned against the their makeshift bed, smoldering sherry drifting over her lazily.
“Mmmph, seems like Little Mikey is happy and ready to play again,” she taunted, leering at him salaciously and fought back a snort at his indignant expression, his eyes widening incredulously before they narrowed in challenge. Losing her fight with hilarity, she giggled helplessly as he caged her in and buried his face into her breasts, peppering her body with kisses and nips.
?” he snorted, sliding his hands over her thighs, grabbing a handful of her ass and ground the offended appendage against his mate tauntingly, smirking when she writhed and a low moan ripped from her throat. Capturing her lips in a searing kiss, a sweet rush of desire rippled over his body and he set about proving just how gifted he was as he grumbled “I’ll show you little, woman.”
When you say you love me
The world goes still, so still inside
And when you say you love me
For a moment I know why I’m alive
When you say you love me
Do you know how I love you?
~When You Say You Love Me, Josh Groban