The Fractured Empire
“I’m sure my ankle is fine now. Feel free to set me down at any time.”
“Gladly,” Xav said. “I mean, you aren’t wearing shoes, and I’m sure your delicate socialite feet are more than accustomed to picking their way across broken bottles and cigarette butts, but here you go.” Xavier unceremoniously plopped Addie on her feet. She gingerly tested her ankle but said nothing.
“Xavier, you can’t make Addie walk in this. Pick her back up.” This from my more compassionate brother.
“Whatever. The girl is heavier than she looks. I’ll pick her back up when she asks me to. Nicely.” He folded his arms over his chest.
“Don’t hold your breath. Or better yet, do.” Lending weight to her words, the stubborn girl took off walking. Or limping, rather. In the wrong direction.
“Wrong way,” I alerted her, having finally gotten my bearings despite their banter. She changed course, cursing a bit under her breath. After several paces of listening to her sharp intakes of breath, I turned around and hauled her over my good shoulder.
“I was doing fine.”
Her pride was unbelievable.
“Of course you were, but we’d like to get there sometime today, so be a good girl and stay still.”
Her outraged hiss did more to amuse me than anything. In the midst of this mission gone wrong, I found myself with the urge to laugh. I held it back, but there was something about this girl that I couldn’t help but find humorous.
Xavier hadn’t been entirely joking. The weight of the girl and her dress was fairly substantial for how tiny she looked. I had noticed that on the walk to the forest, but it was more pronounced with her on only one shoulder. Her dress was billowing in my face, and I kept having to blow the dirt-covered fabric out of my mouth. Thankfully, it was only a few more minutes to Wesley’s container.
A cautious hand crept toward my belt pocket. She wasn’t shy, I’d give her that. With a sigh, I covered the slim hand with my larger one.
“I don’t blame you for trying, but that’s not how this works. I told you, you’ll get this necklace back when I get the one I want,” I told her.
To Kill a Fae
Bast began unbuttoning his vest and nodded to a door close to the kitchen. “You can sleep in my bedroom.”
Mera barely recorded what he’d said. She couldn’t take her eyes off him.
He threw the vest on the sofa and proceeded to unbutton his shirt, a burning dare in his eyes.
Mera took in his strong, defined abs, and a delirious warmth went down her spine.
He tossed the shirt atop the sofa too, showcasing his perfect chiseled torso and strong biceps, meant to wrap around a woman as she rode his…
“Enjoying the show, are we?” He began undoing his belt, his deceiving, sharp eyes burning with lust.
Mera’s throat was so dry it might be made of sand. “I…”
Noticing the massive bulge underneath his black boxer briefs, she stepped forward. She wanted, needed, to touch that part of him; lick it, hold it, shove it inside her until…
This was wrong. He was her partner, at least for the time being.
“Stop being a dick, Detective Dhay.” Grasping her bag, she hurried into the bedroom, slamming the door closed behind her.
::: Can she resist his darkness? Find out in TO KILL A FAE :::
I leaned forward, trying to see who Viggo was talking to, but my balance shifted unexpectedly. As I sidestepped to avoid a fall, a branch cracked loudly beneath my feet. I quickly scooted behind a tree and held very still as Viggo called out in a threatening voice, “Show yourself.”
I could take him if it came to it. I’d pinned him in five out of nine sparring matches that week. Or was it three? I couldn’t remember.
“I know you’re behind that tree.” Leaves crunched as Viggo stormed closer.
I inched around the trunk as my training partner’s footsteps grew louder.
“Last chance,” Viggo growled. He was unnervingly close. My eyes locked in on the thickest part of the tree line, and I rose onto the balls of my feet, preparing for escape.
Before I could make my move, a thick hand whipped around the tree to clutch my neck. Viggo yanked me from my hiding spot, wrenching my body into view. He held his arm perpendicular to his six-plus-foot frame, so I dangled in his grasp. In his other hand, he gripped a thick dagger. Crêpes. My hands flew to Viggo’s wrist and I dug in my fingernails, intending to break his hold before my air supply ran out. But as I clawed against his grip our eyes locked, and Viggo opened his palm. I fell to the ground in a heap, then leapt to my feet, brushing broken branches off my pants as I stood.
“You.” Viggo’s normally charming tone had an edge. “What did you hear?”
“I heard enough.” I widened my stance in case I needed to deliver a roundhouse. Or worse. “You broke into Alfheim? What are you doing here?”
“You don’t know what you heard.” Viggo took a step to his right. I mirrored him.
“Fine.” We continued our dance, two animals squaring off for a fight. “Then why don’t you tell me. Because it sounded an awful lot like you broke into the realm, and you’re planning something dangerous.”
“Is that so?” Amusement danced across Viggo’s eyes as anger percolated beneath my skin. I took deep breaths until the emotion stilled.
“What would you call what you’re doing?” I pressed.
Viggo’s features hardened as he took another step. “How was your meeting with the queen? Lots to catch up on, I’m sure.”
My eyes narrowed. “What do you care?”
“I care when someone strips my realm of its freedoms. Not that you’d understand anything about that.”
The anger bubbled again, fiercer. Hotter. “I’ll ask you one more time. What were you doing just now?”
“If I thought you’d understand, I’d tell you.” Viggo’s hand flexed, and his dagger glinted under the filtered light of the forest. My hands balled into fists and I took a step forward. I didn’t have a weapon, but if that jerk thought he could silence me, he had another thing coming.
Viggo stepped into my space, his chest inches from mine. I ignored the piney scent wafting off his training clothes and focused on perfecting my glare.
“Go home, Glitre,” Viggo spoke softly into my ear. “Keep your perfekt little life in order.”
Laughter tickled my throat. “Perfekt. Right.”
Viggo leaned back just enough to meet my eyes. “Someone looked out for you from the minute you were born. From where I’m standing, that’s a pretty good deal.”
“You don’t know the first thing about me.”
Viggo shifted so our foreheads practically touched. Butterflies burst into flight in my stomach and at my shoulder blades. What the hell is wrong with me?
“I know you’re the heir to the throne,” he growled. “I know you met with the queen. And I know you haven’t stepped up to challenge her. I can connect the dots as to which side you’re on.”
A low whistle pierced the forest as I sucked air through my teeth. Viggo Sörensson had no freaking clue. “You know I’m going to tell Signy about this.”
Viggo shrugged. “Go ahead. But for the record, I’m warning you to stay out of it. If anything happens, it’s on you.”
“Noted.” I took another breath as Viggo leaned forward again. His shoulder brushed against mine as he walked by, and the nudging at my back became so adamant, I was positive something was about to crawl right out of my skin. But the jabbing ebbed as Viggo marched forward. He didn’t turn around until he reached the thicker tapestry of trees.
Even at this distance, I caught the pop of his dimple. “See you around, Glitre.”
Then he turned and disappeared into the forest, leaving me with a litany of questions.
What was Viggo Sorenssön up to?
It had started with a slight tingle so faint, Evander had wondered whether he was imagining it. After years of fruitless hunting for his mate, it was logical that he might mistake even the slightest unusual sensation as a sign he was finally going into rut.
But while he had been talking to Clara, the tingle had morphed into a ball of lust which had slammed through his lower belly so violently, he felt winded. Simultaneously, a divine, musky scent had filled his nostrils, intensifying a deep ache in his groin and putting all his senses on high alert.
After all this time, after all these years of waiting, it was finally happening.
Evander was going into rut.
Barely able to contain his excitement, he had immediately excused himself from the attractive, brunette Clara and examined every single Omega female in the immediate vicinity. Oddly, instead of intensifying, the scent had grown fainter.
Clouded as his mind was with the sudden onslaught of pheromones flooding his system and sending his primal instinct into overdrive, it had taken a moment for him to put two and two together.
But it couldn’t be. Clara was an Alpha, like him.
I do not sleep.
Kina does, though, and that matters more.
Sleep is a luxury when we are in Woods. She knows it. I know I should catch an hour or two, especially with my five-night punishment and determination to go for six, but I can’t.
What did I just say?
What did I just do?
Kina has the dreams. I have the dreams. I’ve never told anyone else anything that wasn’t one hundred per-cent part of The Mission.
To confess emotion, to confess my own dreams that do not fit The Mission, could be punished by death.
Or worse. What if I really am so weak? Emotion is shameful. It’s disgusting.
We fail every time we feel.
She knows this. I know this.
And yet we both spoke. Shared.
What does this mean?
With her sleeping beside me, I let my mind wander, giving in to the luxury of imagination. For years, the dream has been the same.
A burning wood fire.
A screaming boy.
A woman with long hair being shot.
A man with a shaved head and blue eyes like mine beaten by another man with a log.
And me with my bow and arrow. My hands are tiny, the skin around the knuckles dimpled. I’ve worked with the four-year-olds here at the compound. I know what young hands look like.
Why would I dream like that?
“You say you danced with this guy?”
My head rears back at his lethal tone. “It was just a dance. So that I could ask my questions.”
He hums in the back of his throat. “And I’m sure he was all-too-willing to answer every single one of them. Especially with the way this dress clings to your ass. Are you even wearing underwear?”
I lift my chin, pleased to know he likes what he sees. “Yes, I am. I would expect some gratitude or at least a thank you for helping with your investigation. After all, that seems to be all you care about.”
Someone bumps into Max, shoving him against me. When the movement knocks me back, his hand instinctively goes to my waist to steady me. Our bodies are pressed close together, so it’s difficult to not notice the hard bulge between his legs. A bulge that he thrusts against me with one quick drive of his hips.
My eyes practically roll back in my head at the contact.
“I think you know that’s not all I care about, Sophie,” he breathes against my parted lips. “I care that you danced with another man. That another man had his hands on you. That he thought you were his, even just for a song.” His other hand clasps onto my hip, yanking me to him. “I care a hell of a lot that he wanted what’s mine.”
With both hands clamped around my waist, he sways his hips. Not driving his pelvis into me this time, but moving our bodies together to the rhythm of the sultry samba number the live band just started playing. Our connected bodies instantly sync to the beat, reminding me so much of our first dance the night we met. I go with it and allow him to lead me because I can’t not. This music—this dancing—is in my blood. I can’t waste an opportunity to feel it like this.
“You still think I’m yours?” I manage.
He groans when I roll my hips against him. “Baby, you’ve been mine since the first time we kissed. You really think I’m going to give you up? I don’t care how mad I make you, I won’t stop trying to earn you. Because I want to deserve you.”
His honesty takes me by surprise. And it only serves to make me hotter.
The dance floor is so packed there isn’t a lot of room for extra spins or grand twirls. Not that I want any more space between us. I’m enjoying the feel of Max’s hard muscles grinding against me way too much. The adrenaline from before I saw him still flows through my blood and spikes at his sincere words. I don’t want to go back to being Sophie Fuentes, witness for the DEA.
I want to be Sophie Fuentes, the woman who can bring a man like Max Romano to his knees.
I want to feel alive.
I want to feel la vida—life—emanate from my soul.
Our bodies stay interlocked, pulsating together, as we writhe in our confined space. I love this private world of dance we share. No other man in the world can make me feel like Max does, on and off the dance floor.
Ever perceptive, he picks up on my train of thought. “You didn’t enjoy dancing with him, did you? He didn’t make you feel like this, did he? You missed me, didn’t you?”
I nod frantically, too breathless to speak. Our passion has always had that effect on me. I lose all conscious thought, all control, all inhibitions. I surrendered to my desires with his first hip thrust, and now I’m close to begging for mercy, for a release.
I don’t even realize I’ve whimpered until he responds to it by sucking on my neck. “Christ. You need me. Don’t you, Sophie?”
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