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“I think I might hate you.”Loki laughed. “You wish you did, but I recognize that look in your eyes. Right now you’re curious what I’ll teach you first… and if you’ll like it. I promise by the time I’m finished teaching you the ways of pleasure, I’ll have your body so trained you’ll quiver in need from a feather-light caress.”Solas crossed her arms beneath her breasts and leveled him with an incensed glare. “Your arrogance is—I’d say amazing, but that’s inaccurate. Atrocious is more like it.”“Can’t be arrogance if it’s true.”She knocked his hand aside. In return, he gripped her chin tighter and forced her head back so her undivided attention landed on him. “Listen carefully. I give you one warning only because you don’t know my ways. The next time you touch me like that, I’ll punish you.”With defiance shining from her black eyes, she leaned back, disconnecting his hold. “Nothing’s stopping me from killing you, trickster.”Her voice might’ve been impersonal, but her gaze had his cock jerking in his pants. If she lowered her focus, no way she’d miss his erection.“It’s Loki, and if you wanted me dead, you wouldn’t be threatening me. Not that you’re a match for me.” He waved a finger at her. “God, remember?”“I forgot, pity the delusional angel.”He almost laughed at her sarcasm. “Better reapers than you have tried to snuff me.”In the next breath, she had him against the wall with her forearm to his throat. “I realize crushing your windpipe won’t harm you, but never underestimate me, Loki. I’m sent in when all others fail.”Good to know, but he couldn’t resist prodding her. “And yet you failed, too.”“Unwise choices.” And they were back to that again. She lowered her arm and stared up at him. “Let’s not pretend for one moment I’m here for any reason other than I chose to be.”“Another unwise choice, Solas?”“I’m getting good at them.”“How human of you.”Mutiny blazed from her stare, and she angled her chin a notch higher. Damned if that wasn’t one of the pious angel glares he’d become accustomed to throughout his life. Hers had the opposite effect on him. Instead of driving his spear into her, he wanted to drive his cock into her body.“So you’re choosing to stay with me?” He fingered her hair, relishing the cool silkiness of the locks.She executed a dismissive one-shoulder shrug. “I can’t return to Heaven.”“Unless you kill me.” Not that he would stand by and allow her to gut him, but he was curious what she’d say.The dry smile failed to touch her eyes. “There is that.”
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After putting a movie on, Zaire relaxed beside him on the sofa. Lathan smiled as he watched the man. He’d been telling the truth when he’d said he could picture him as a wild cat. Or any kind of feline, really. He stretched out on the sofa in a way that contrasted with his formal clothes, totally at ease, neither demanding attention or avoiding it. Lathan imagined the cat one of his foster parents had owned. He’d loved the furball, but he’d never been sure if it loved him back. Some days, it would rub against him, wanting to be petted. Other days it would ignore affection like it couldn’t be bothered with him.
He shifted closer to Zaire, stopping when Zaire turned to him with an easy smile. Zaire laughed, grabbed his arm, then tugged him close.
“Don’t ever hesitate with me, Lathan. I enjoy having you near.” Zaire idly stroked the back of Lathan’s neck. “I expected it to take longer before you were comfortable with my touch.”
“You’ve touched me a lot more than this over the past few weeks.” Heat spread over Lathan’s cheeks as he recalled all the times Zaire had helped him dress and undress. Had helped him get in the shower when he was concerned that Lathan would pass out from the pain. Always so clinical, so careful. The ‘touching’ now was like they’d just gone on their first date.
What he had with Zaire didn’t feel new. His touch was natural. This holding back, taking things slow, wasn’t. He wanted to rip off Zaire’s nice shirt, kiss him as he explored his sleek body, drop to his knees and…
A low growl escaped Zaire and Lathan held his breath, gaping up at the other man when he saw the golden glow of his eyes. He winced as Zaire’s fingers dug into his shoulder, nails gone to claw.
Zaire pushed him onto his back, rising over him, a deep rumble sounding in his chest. “You’re impossible to resist you when you smell like this, Lathan. Lust and need…it’s fucking intoxicating.”
He walked away from the training room with her still in his arms. His strides were long and purposeful as Kyra clung to him.“I can walk, Tordin. I’m okay, I promise,” she said when he’d walked a few more moments without speaking or putting her down.He ignored her and kept walking. Was he upset with her? She didn’t want to make matters worse. Maybe he’d heard her talking to Brantley and was upset with what she said or how harsh she’d been. Kyra’s nerves still hummed with adrenaline, and she didn’t know what to make of this, of him. She’d never seen him behave this way.When she saw the door to her rooms come into view, she prepared to get out of his arms, but he kept walking. Where was he taking her?A short time later and around the bend of the corridor, he came to another door and waved a hand over the panel to open it. He brought her inside a room that was vast and beautifully decorated. He still didn’t put her down until he’d made it to the lounging area. Once there, he gently sat down with her still in his arms.She didn’t dare move. Instead she relished the feel of his strong, protective arms around her trembling form. She was trembling, but why? Then it hit her; she started to cry.Damned wuss, she thought.What was the use of trying to hide from it any longer? The force of everything that had happened to her was too powerful. She gave into it and quaked with emotion and loss as tears burst forth uncontrollably. It all came tumbling forward. The terrifying last few hours on the space station replayed in her mind, despite her efforts to push it back down. The memory of the horrifying situation threw her into a tailspin of pain.She tumbled deeper down the rabbit hole of bad memories, where she landed on the most tragic of them all—the loss of her parents. All the other things that she’d never grieved before now heaped retribution on her. She’d done this— stuffed them all down, packed them away nice and tight, and now she was consumed with the festering intensity of them. Kyra never thought about them because she feared she’d never emerge sane again—too alone and weak to venture into this space by herself.As she clung to Tordin, though, that feeling of being alone and weak was…missing. She felt more solid somehow. Kyra relaxed a little into the onslaught of memories with him holding her and allowed scenes to play in her mind. Scenes of her dead parents in the front of the crumpled car, flashes of Commander Mark lying dead against the wall of the space station, Brantley misusing her, so much fire and fear, Phoebe unconscious in the wreckage of the station and so many more scenes of destruction in which Kyra had been unable to help… She’d pushed them down all her life, and now they wouldn’t be denied attention any longer.The wailing sound that snaked up and out of the depths of her tormented soul prompted Tordin to give her a tighter hug. His strong, warm body acted as a buffer against the loneliness and fear of this painful plane of existence. She wailed and cried in long deep sobs. Over and over she turned the scenes at various angles in her mind’s eye, scrutinizing them. What could she have done better?She should have been stronger, more confident. She was no better than Brantley. She was a coward, too. That fueled her hatred for him—he reminded her too much of herself. She could have done more to help and change things, but she just allowed everything to happen without fighting and resisting more. Her ugliness threatened to rip her apart.Pain from her fingernails digging into her palms as she gripped the front of Tordin’s shirt, gave her permission to hurt. He allowed her to abuse his shirt, pulling and tugging on it as she thrashed and bucked through the darkest part of her memory palace’s dungeon. The memories were heavy chains looping over her and pulling her down to the ground. She might not make it through this—it was too much.“It’s too much. I can’t…I can’t bear it,” she said not knowing if she’d said it aloud or in a silent scream.“I’m here, dear Kyra, hold onto me. Give it to me, let me help you. I can take it for you and bear the burden. We are in this together,” he whispered and rubbed her back as he began to rock her.
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