The Queen put her spoon down and smiled, as a very tall and trim man with shock-white hair to his shoulders entered the room. Like other faeries she had met, he also had pointed ears, but what drew her gaze immediately was the bright blue of his eyes. His shoulders were broad but his body was lean and muscular in a way where she could tell he had strength.
The man walked over to the Queen and leaned down to give her a hug and a kiss on the cheek. “Aunt, it is nice to see you.”
The Queen blushed and motioned to Raerdel. “Have you met our guest?”
Electric-blue eyes turned to her and his mouth turned up in the corners in a semblance of a smile. “I have not. I can only assume you are the young woman that has been chosen for me? It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance. I’m sure you are enjoying your time here?”
Without thinking, Raerdel met his gaze and remarked, “Guest? Enjoying? I’m sorry, but the particular brand of hospitality here is not really what I consider enjoyable. As to being ‘chosen’ for you, I hope you aren’t holding your breath because you’ll turn blue and faint first.”
The Queen slammed her hand down on the table. “That is enough. Do not make me force your compliance. I’m sure he would prefer a willing or at least biddable wife.”
Instead of looking angry, the man threw his head back and laughed long and loud. The sound was a distinct melody in her ears. That infuriated her. There should be nothing about this man that pleased her, let alone the sound of his laughter at her expense.
“I am Lord Sindri, known by most as Sin. I apologize for the method my aunt used to find you. There are only special mortals who can safely come here and marry our lot. Try not to be too hard on her as she is my godmother as well and was trying to do what she felt was best.”
Now it was Raerdel’s turn to start laughing. She couldn’t contain it, and it came out in a loud burst that was not at all melodic let alone ladylike.
Sin’s eyebrow raised and he smiled. “You find that amusing?”
“You have a fairy godmother…oh, that’s too funny!” Raerdel clamped her hand over her mouth to stifle the snort of laughter but she had simply gone through too much in a short period of time to recover quickly.
The sounds of the Queen’s chair scraping back and her footsteps as she left the room brought her back to reality. Sin was looking at her oddly.
“You’re not scared of her, are you?” He appeared surprised by this.
Raerdel shrugged and wiped her eyes. “What’s to be afraid of? I’ve already been dragged here against my will, assaulted and knocked unconscious twice, and am being told I’m forced to marry someone I don’t know. What could she possibly do to trump any of that?”
Sin shrugged and sat at the table across from her before looking at her closely. “There are worse things, you know, than marrying me. I’m not a cruel person unnecessarily and I’ve been told that I’m pleasant to the eyes. Would it truly be so bad?”
Raerdel couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Leaning forward, she poked Sin in the chest. “I’m sure you’re quite an amazing catch to the ladies from here, but the fact that I’m not being given the slightest choice in the matter makes it a bit less compelling an offer. Since it’s not an offer at all. It’s a command.”
Shrugging, he took a sip of his wine and appeared to think. “If I were to court you, would you agree to give me some time to do so? If at the end of that time you did not wish to marry me, I will tell my godmother that you simply won’t do.”
Raerdel tried to ignore the pain in her chest at the idea she would be found wanting, despite the fact that she shouldn’t want to be considered a catch by him. She gathered herself before replying. “Since I’m positive I won’t be swayed anyway, how about I give you two days?”
Sin shook his head. “That is not sufficient time to court you properly. I insist on at a full moon cycle.”
Mulling it over while frowning, she eventually shrugged. “Fine. Four weeks it is.” She offered her hand for a shake to seal the deal.
However, Sin’s response was to take her hand gently in his and look at the top and bottom of it while gently rubbing his thumb over her knuckles. He brought her hand to his mouth for the barest and briefest of kisses against her palm before releasing her hand.
“We have a bargain then. I will see you in the morning, Raerdel. Prepare your heart, as I do not like to lose.”
She rolled her eyes as he walked away, finishing her meal in silence before standing and walking back to her room. She heard the sound of harps and laughter coming from the downstairs and wondered if anyone ever slept in this place.
Raerdel raised an eyebrow. “What exactly did you call me over here for, Sin?”
Sin’s smile left his face and he spoke softly. “I want you. I know you’ve not chosen me yet. I find that recent circumstances have made me realize that I’d rather touch you and lose you then not ever claim you.”
Raerdel sat on the side of the bed near his hip. “Did you take medicine or something to make you say this? You’ve been pretty damned adamant about not wanting to get serious with me if I’m not certain.”
Sin laughed and shook his head. “No, I’ve taken nothing. I’ve just been able to evaluate all that’s nearly happened. You’ve almost died on more than one occasion. I can’t stand the idea that our pride is the only thing stopping us from moving forward. If you won’t put yours aside, I will have to do so.”
“Sin…” Conflicting emotions were filling her at the thought of giving in to her feelings for him. She wanted him very badly, but she feared the outcome would be more painful for her if she did.
“Kiss me.” The demand came out as more order than request. Sin leaned toward her as she moved forward.
She knew she was not being compelled in any magical way but by the sheer force of her need for him. Raerdel thought about how since meeting Sin he had cared about her feelings and put her wants and needs ahead of his own. She had never felt pressured to make a decision when he was around, and often he protected her from his aunt and anyone else that threatened her. She was making this decision with her eyes wide open and of her own volition, and that meant so much to her. Whimpering slightly, she leaned in and kissed him gently at first. His broken groan was the answer to her tentative stroke of tongue to his lips. Opening his mouth, Sin swirled his tongue around hers before he deepened the kiss.
Dimly she heard a sound before his hands were pulling her onto his sheet-covered body. Breaking off the kiss with a gasp, she saw that Sin had snapped the ropes that had him tethered to the bed. At her expression, he smiled innocently.
“I never promised to keep them up…” He arched up and she gasped at the steely hardness of his erection under her simple nightgown. Sitting up, Sin pulled her nightgown over her head before taking a handful of her hair and pulling her toward him for a more savage kiss. He had never been quite this unrestrained and it had a maddening effect on Raerdel.
Pulling the sheet down while she squirmed, she managed to sit herself directly on his cock. Sin’s head arched backwards at the contact of her wet core against his skin and he bellowed out a curse. Tightly grabbing her hips, he squeezed her with his fingers so deeply she wondered if she’d have fingerprints on her skin.
“So much better than the dream. Please don’t change your mind, Raer. I need you.” He grasped her hips and began to push and pull her across his shaft without entering her.
Shaking, she nipped at his bottom lip while staring into his eyes as he maneuvered her over him. “I won’t. Just don’t decide you need to wait for marriage halfway through…you’re quite the tease.”
Shuddering against her core, he kissed her in a catch-and-release game of his lips and her tongue before groaning and melding their mouths properly. As he finally broke away to give her a moment to catch her breath, he murmured against her ear. “It’s as though I’ve thought about having you for so long that I may not survive the reality of it. Tell me if I’m too rough. I don’t know if it’s the darkness in me now or if it’s you that makes me want to take you in ways I’ve never considered.”
Panting, she looked into his eyes and smiled a nearly villainous grin. “You can’t break me. Let me see your big bad darkness.”
Shaking his head, he moved so quickly she only had time to squeak as he flipped her over on the bed and held her hands pinned above her head. “You may change your mind. If you do, I want you to say “light,” understand?”
Arching her neck in a show of bravery she didn’t necessarily feel, she quirked a grin. “I get the faerie code word, ‘light,’ yes. Now quit worrying so much!”
Leaning down to her, he immediately bit her lower lip and sucked on the blood that welled up from it. She felt not just the bond she had formed before, but also some other strange sensation that was both euphoric and frightening at the same time. Crying out into his mouth, she whimpered as he took advantage of that to invade her mouth with his tongue. Using one hand to keep his hold on her wrists, he trailed his free hand down her chin and neck, loosely cupping her throat while he kissed her wildly. When he felt her swallow nervously, he moved his hand to her chest and began to alternately pluck at her bared nipples.
He gave her a break from his mouth only long enough to breathe in between before slanting his mouth back over hers while cupping and squeezing her breasts and nipples. Sliding down, he let her wrists go and looked into her eyes as he took both his hands and pressed her breasts together so that he could lick and suck on both of her nipples at the same time.
Groaning, Raerdel buried her fingers in his hair and cried out when she felt the sharp edges of his teeth as he worried the hardened points of her nipples between his lips.