They were secret lovers, allies separated by borderlines and loyalties. When a threat to Meretta's life forces Culdan to action, the only way to preserve the peace and salvage their relationship is to feign conquest. It's not the Lengar way, but it's the only thing Meretta's Magden Warlord father will respect. Taking her as his bed slave, Culdan has to plant his heir on the run from half of Velt's army. If he manages that before he faces her father, they might just avert a war.
CONTENT ADVISORY: This is a re-release title.
Culdan forced his eyes forward as Meretta leaned across him to set a plate of food on the table. Regardless of the fact that her ready scent was driving him mad to taste her, he was his father's heir and a Lengar lordling. Control was in his breeding and training; ignoring the deliberations to gaze longingly at the woman's curves as he wished to would bring dishonor on his house. Not to mention the fact that his host, Murvan, Meretta's father, would be offended if he ogled his older, prized child as he would a bed slave.
"The price is agreed, then?" Tigal, Murvan's son and heir, asked in his nasally voice.
"It is," Culdan replied simply.
He dimly noted that Meretta dropped a serving cloth at his feet and bent to retrieve it...until her warm hand trailed up his thigh, stroking at his length through his trousers, hidden by the table wovens. All he could think about was sinking the aching mass into her to the hilt. Culdan schooled his expression, forcing his breathing deep and even, giving no outward sign of how she affected him, even as he filled his lungs with her musk.
A moment later, Meretta stood, the serving cloth in hand. She bowed her head to him, then to her father, offering a bland look for her brother before she turned on her heel and left.
It was only then that Culdan realized he was staring at her, rapt on her retreating back. He snapped his eyes back to Murvan, noting his host's suspicion in dismay. Meretta would pay for this.
Remember your duty. Nothing must draw you away. Not a woman. Not gain. You must be decisive in all things. I am decisive! I want Meretta!
But, Meretta wasn't his duty. The trade agreement was.
"My daughter," Murvan commented coolly, gauging his response.
Culdan lifted a slice of roast kit to his mouth and bit it, feigning disinterest. "Striking, but it is a pity one so enticing is so clumsy," he replied.
Murvan raised an eyebrow, a look of annoyance on his darkening face, no doubt at Culdan's lack of tact in insulting his host's daughter so rudely. "Yes. I suppose it is."
* * * *
Meretta looked up from the quilt spread on the grass in her dead mother's prayer clearing, smiling at Culdan's scowl as he gazed down from his war-buck.
"You wish your father to kill me," he growled.
She chuckled, easing her skirt further up her thighs, watching his eyes follow it hungrily. "You know what I want." It was the same thing she'd always wanted, and she'd seduced him to get it...the first time.
He flipped his leg over his buck's back and landed smoothly at her feet, looking every fingerwidth the powerful, potentially-dangerous man she knew him to be. "The time is not right, Meretta."
How many times had he argued that point? At least once before every time he pierced her body. Though their minds conceded that it was true, their bodies craved more. She ignored his warning, sliding her skirt higher.
Culdan groaned. "We cannot keep meeting like this. Eventually, you will conceive and--"
"And you will have to ask permission to band me as your bride." Meretta's understanding of the Lengar ceremony...of the process of being bound to a man with gold and not with parchment and pen, was limited, but she couldn't deny that she wanted to carry the bands that marked her as Culdan's bride.
"The time is not right!"
"After the trade agreement is established," she replied in boredom. How many times had Culdan argued it with her? His protests never lasted long. Eventually, he would seal his promise again in her stim band, where they both wanted him to be.
"Yes," he agreed, seemingly relieved.
Meretta arched her back, slipping her skirt up to her hips. "You would leave me wanting, Culdan?" she purred. She trailed her fingers through her woman's curls. "I suppose I shall have to ease my needs myself."
"Meretta," he rasped, not quite a plea to stop but not a warning either.
She spread her legs, stroking her fingertips along her seam, using her sucre to coat her hood. Culdan watched, transfixed, as she circled it slowly, working her body into a fierce arousal. Meretta closed her eyes, moaning and arching her back as she neared simple climax.
Culdan's hands closed around her hips, flipping her roughly to her stomach, "Not without me," he grumbled.
Then his length was inside her. Meretta cried out harshly, clawing at the quilt she'd laid out as their bed, aching to touch him. It was a punishment for her taunting that he did this, she knew. Culdan knew how much she enjoyed touching him; he was denying her that.
He was fierce, a worthy Warlord claiming what was his. Culdan had always been thus, and Meretta loved it. She reveled in the way his body conquered hers, and she thanked Mag again that Culdan had been chosen to handle the negotiations instead of her father's ally, old Denal.
She surrendered to him again, gasping as her climax took her by surprise. Culdan groaned, lodging deep inside her. His seed warmed her, and the stimulation was glorious.
The months between his visits were long and lonely, full of tortured dreams that left her unfulfilled. But it would be over soon. His next visit would be the first with trade goods, and at the following, he would ask her father for the right to take Meretta as his bride.
Meretta bit her lip as his cock pulsed within her, sending one final caress of seed past the open gates of her womb. At moments like this, she never knew what to pray for. If she didn't conceive, the trade agreement would proceed without complication, and that would be advantageous to both of their peoples. If she did conceive, her nights of longing would end, and she would share Culdan's bed.
"I knew it."
She stiffened at the sound of that voice. No matter what happened next, both of her goals were lost to her.