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Two words, thrown out like a lifeline. For a second I didn't dare hope, didn't dare so much as move as the meaning settled into my bones.
I reached for the bowl she'd set in front of me, exercising every last bit of my restraint to keep my hands from trembling.
It felt like a mirage. A dream. A fantasy.
But the bowl was solid in my hands, the soup in it steaming. Once again, I had to fight my initial instincts—I could drink down the soup and sweep her into my arms in mere seconds, and we would be truly, fully mated.
Those words, once a torturous barb, now a song coming to life within my blood.
I ate the soup more slowly than I had thought possible, eyes darting between the bowl and the miracle standing in front of me. Afraid if I took my eyes of either for too long, they would disappear.
Feyre—my mate, my miracle, my star—watched me quietly.
It felt like a lifetime, it felt like barely a second, but soon the bowl was empty.
"Aren't you going to say anything?" I asked.
"I was going to tell you what I'd decided the moment I saw you on the threshold."
I turned toward her, twisting in my seat so that I could face her fully. A shard of doubt, of dread, shot through the hope I'd felt for the last few minutes.
Despite the fact that she had just offered me food—for what did it even mean to her? This was far beyond what she'd grown up with, what she'd known most of her life.
Even now when I had told her everything, had told her I loved her and laid my heart out for her, there was a good chance that she did not understand the weight of it. Of having a mate.
There was a good chance that once she did, she would change her mind.
I would live with it. Somehow.
She moved toward me, so slowly, and yet I relished it as she sat down in my lap, her eyes never leaving mine. By some instinct my hands found her hips, holding onto her.
"And now I want you to know, Rhysand, that I love you. I want you to know…" Her hand reached forward to brush away the tears that I had shed. I barely noticed. Every thought was consumed by her, my very breath depended on the words she spoke. "I want you to know, that I am broken and healing, but every piece of my heart belongs to you. And I am honored—honored to be your mate."
My mate. This incredible, miraculous female had not only accepted me, she was honored to be my mate.
She loved me.
I didn't doubt it any longer, didn't hesitate to pull her closer to me, to bury my forehead against her and hold on to her as I shook with quiet sobs.
Tears of joy, of relief, spilled down my face. I didn't care one bit, not while the very center of the universe was in my arms, not while she held me and stroked my hair so gently.
She accepted me. Feyre, my mate.
"I love you," She told me again, as if knowing that those three words were the single most beautiful sound I had ever heard. "And I'd endure every second of it over again so I could find you. And if war comes, we'll face it. Together. I won't let them take me from you. And I won't let them take you from me, either."
I looked up into her eyes. She glanced at the tears spilled from mine and leaned down to brush her lips against my cheek. I couldn't think. Not as she moved her lips to my other cheek.
Kissing away my tears. My mind went to a similar action I had taken, months ago in a court ruled by a false queen, whose name would not be breathed again. I had kissed away her tears then—I had worn a cruel, mocking mask then, but I had done what I could to keep her from falling apart.
It seemed fitting, for her to do the same thing now, as we put every shredded piece of each other back together.
She pulled back again, far enough to look into my eyes.
"You're mine," she breathed the words with wonder, as if convincing herself as much as me.
But then, she didn't need to tell me. I had been hers from the moment I laid eyes on her. Longer—from the dawn of time, I had always been meant for her and her alone.
I let go of my restraint, seeking her lips with mine as I had wanted to do for so long.
A gentle press of our lips, what our first kiss should have been, had it not been for this world's determination to divide us. The kind of kiss I would have given her, if we'd had the time.
Feyre slipped her arms around my shoulders, bringing herself closer to me. Holding me close, her breasts pressed against my chest. She opened her mouth—an invitation to take things further. I let my tongue slip into her mouth, caressing against her.
She held me tighter.
I could feel myself grow hard—the combination of her touch and the mating bond, now coming to life in a way it never had before.
My mate. Feyre—she had accepted me as her mate. She loved me.
A groan passed her lips, still pressed against my own. It was enough to unleash me.
I scooped her up against me, not breaking our kiss, and lay her back down on the table in front of me—I vaguely remembered there being paints on the table earlier, but I was too desperate to touch Feyre, to feel her. Either way, she didn't complain.
In fact, she drew me closer to her body, hooking her legs around my back as I deepened our kiss. I tore my lips from hers so I could move them to her neck, tasting her skin. My hands found the bottom of her sweater and slid up her body to her beautiful breasts. I cupped them in my hands, relishing the way she bowed toward my hands.
I needed more. I needed to see her. I grabbed hold of the bottom of the sweater, peeling it over her head. She lifted her arms to help as I did.
As desperate as I was to touch her I took a moment to look at her—the extraordinary female in front of me, my mate. There had indeed been paint on the table, and her arms and hair were splattered with every color imaginable.
She was breathtaking.
My eyes focused on her perfect breasts, rising and falling on her chest with her labored breathing.
I lowered my mouth to cover one of her nipples, sucking at it. Her breath hitched, her hands came up to my hair—to hold me in place, to run her fingers through it. I braced one hand beside her head, but it slid from under me. It was covered in paint.
I couldn't help the laugh that escaped me at that—Feyre had spent the last two days painting every surface in this cabin, covering every room with hints of our friends and us. And now it seemed I had become the painter, and Feyre's gorgeous body my canvas.
I traced a circle around her breast with my paint covered hand, then let it slip lower. I couldn't resist the urge to tease her as I painted an arrow to the treasure I would soon explore.
"Lest you forget where this is going to end," I told her.
Her eyes flashed accusingly at that and she snarled at me. I let out another laugh as I moved to her other breast, giving it the same ministration I had given the first.
I could feel her need down the bond, a growing urge to match my own. By some instinct, I ground my hips against her, letting her feel what she did to me. How hard she made me. Her breath caught, and she tore at my clothes. I eagerly shifted so that she could remove my leathers, letting them drop to the ground so I could stand in front of her half naked.
I kept my eyes on hers as she looked over my body with appreciation, her eyes drawn to some of the tattoos on my chest.
We would have to find time for her to ogle me later—I was already desperate to taste her mouth again, to continue down this path the mating bond was intent on us walking.
My lips found hers with fervor, and she answered in kind. Her hands gripped my face and hair, pulling me into the kiss—no doubt smearing paint all over me as she did. I didn't mind one bit.
My hands were already at her waist, and it was so easy to slip them into the waistband of her leggings and pull them down. She lifted her hips off the table to make it easier for me, and I removed her socks and leggings together.
I was acutely aware of the fact that this was Feyre, Feyre was naked in my arms, kissing me, urging me to keep going.
This was Feyre, splayed out on the table, exactly as I had told her I would have her.
She protested as I pulled back, taking barely a moment to appreciate her form—that would come later, for now I had a different goal in mind—but I cut her protesting short as I gripped her and pulled her to the edge of the table. A few of her painting supplies clattered to the ground as I knelt before her, hooking her legs over my shoulders to rest on either side of my wings.
Feyre watched intently, her eyes heated with desire and love. It was an absolute aphrodisiac, one I savored as I lowered my mouth to her center.
That first touch drew a moan from her, and it set me on fire. Whatever rational thought I had left me in that moment, and I became a male working on instinct with only one purpose—to bring my mate over the edge.
Her hips bucked against my mouth, so much that I had to use one hand to pin her in place as I worked her with my tongue, tasting her over and over. Her moans and pleas became more and more desperate, encouraging me. I slipped my tongue into her, tasting her more fully, and felt her shift as she gripped the edge of the table.
She was close—I could hear it in her cries. I could feel it in the tout way she held her body, the way her heels dug into my back and her feet occasionally grazed the base of my wings, sending shivers of pleasure up and down my spine. And most of all I could feel it down the bond, the tension that was building up, begging to be released.
I intended to do just that.
I replaced my tongue with my fingers and my lips found the very center of her pleasure. I pumped into her while I sucked, letting my teeth scrape lightly over her—knowing full well where exactly it would take her.
I was rewarded with a quick gasp just before her body bowed off the table. Small mewling sounds escaped her, the kind she probably had no idea she was making. Somewhere in the midst of it, she rasped out my name, and the sound went straight to my groin.
I wanted her.
I didn't stop though, instead keeping up the movements of my mouth and fingers. As much as I wanted her, wanted to bury myself in her and claim her in the most primal of ways, I was more interested in drawing more of those sounds from her.
She bucked and writhed against my mouth, but my hand still pinned her to the table, and my mouth worked on her until she climaxed again, crying out and trembling.
I rose to look her over. My mate was splayed on the table in front of me, naked and covered in paint, her chest rising and falling rapidly, her eyes clouded with pleasure and lust.
Pleasure that I had brought her, lust for my touch. I smiled slowly at the sight of her.
"You're mine," The words were a low growl, an echo of the words she'd spoken earlier. I pulled her up into my arms and carried her down the short hallway toward the bedrooms. One of the doors stood ajar, and judging from the clothes draped over the chair it was where Feyre had been sleeping.
I looked back to Feyre, the exquisite female in my arms, who had found it in herself to love me, despite who I was and what I'd done. She was mine, and I was hers. Wholly.
I set her down on the bed, stepping back to unbutton my pants.
Her gaze fastened on my cock as I stood in front of her, fully naked. I stepped toward her, and watched her eyes devour me as they moved from my erection to my wings.
The wings that I had never shown a woman while in bed. The wings that only she was allowed to touch.
As if thinking the exact same thing, she leaned up and reached toward my wing. Her fingers slowly caressed the curve of my wing, the touch going straight to my cock.
"Play later," I told her, just before I claimed her mouth once more.
I lay her back down against the pillows, deepening the kiss a fraction when I felt her lock her legs around my back.
I was positioned just by her entrance, the head of my cock nudging her slightly. I paused for a moment; I wanted to savor this, I wanted to draw this out until Feyre was panting and begging for me.
I also wanted her now.
"Play later," Feyre snarled into my mouth, making my decision for me. I couldn't help but laugh as I entered her. Slowly.
Feyre's breath caught as soon as I slid into her, breaking our kiss just as we became even more intimately joined. She panted as I pushed further, tightening her legs around my back.
I paused when I was fully inside her, pulling my head back slightly so I could look at her, could see what my touch did to her.
Her eyes were closed, her mouth hanging slightly open. Through the bond, I could sense a dizzying array of emotions—all of them converging on pleasure, lust, happiness.
Her eyes opened and met mine, tenderness and need mixing together on her face.
"Say it again," I whispered to her. She understood what I meant. What I needed to hear.
"You're mine," the words were barely a breath, but I heard.
I pulled out slightly, only to push back into her. Slowly. Savoring the feeling.
"You're mine," Louder this time.
Again, I pulled out, then thrust in.
"You're mine," Her eyes blazed into me, bearing with them the unshakable truth of the words.
I was hers, just as she was mine.
I felt that truth in my bones as I thrust into her, deeper than I had before, felt the joyous weight of her trust and love.
I felt the bond, stronger than ever before—solidifying with every stroke I made into her body. With the truth she spoke.
"You're mine," she whispered the words now as her hands dragged through my hair, pulling me in for a kiss.
I didn't know when I started crying, or if the tears were only mine or hers as well, but we didn't stop. We kept kissing, kept touching each other, kept moving our hips at a quickening pace. I knew she was close, felt the now familiar tension in her muscles. I relished that tension, I worshipped it.
As I worshipped her.
"I love you," I whispered the words, a prayer to the deity who held my happiness in the palm of her hand.
She moaned her release, and her hands tightened on my back, urging me to pound her harder, faster. The mating bond glowed brighter as her climax drew on, engulfing us in a world where there was nothing but us, joined in body and soul.
I felt my own climax take hold then, as I pounded myself into her as deep as I could, feeling nothing and everything at once—and at the center of it was Feyre, my light, my love, my mate.
The world stopped spinning at last, and then it was just the two of us, silent but for our labored breaths.
After a moment she took my face between her hands, still covered in paint from earlier. It seemed like a lifetime ago.
She looked into my eyes, smiling softly. The mating bond glowed brighter, sensing our happiness in this moment. Knowing that after everything, we had found each other.
"I think," I mused out loud, "I fell in love with you the moment I realized you were cleaving those bones to make a trap for the Middengard Wyrm. Or maybe the moment you flipped me off for mocking you. It reminded me so much of Cassian. For the first time in decades, I wanted to laugh."
We had lain there for what must have been at least half an hour, just touching each other with lazy reverence, running our hands over each other's bodies. Enjoying the short reprieve after our first mating, before the bond urged us to start again.
"You fell in love with me because I reminded you of your friend?" Feyre asked flatly with a cocked eyebrow. Her nose twitched in the way it sometimes did when she was trying not to laugh.
I flicked it in retaliation.
"I fell in love with you, smartass, because you're one of us—because you weren't afraid of me, and you decided to end your spectacular victory by throwing that piece of bone at Amarantha like a javelin. I felt Cassian's spirit beside me in that moment, and I could have sworn I heard him say, 'If you don't marry her, you stupid prick, I will,' "
She laughed quietly at that, sliding her hand up my chest toward my heart. Her eyes dropped to the small touch and she seemed taken aback.
I followed her eyes down to my chest—covered in swirls and splatters of paint, much like the rest of my body and all of her, along with the sheets.
I smiled at her, the mating bond already coming back to life, wanting me to lay claim to Feyre, to make love to her.
"How convenient that the bathtub is large enough for two."
Her eyes heated, her mouth opened and she stood from the bed.
I didn't let her take one step before I had scooped her up into my arms, carrying her with me to the bath. I needed to feel her naked skin against mine. I noticed how her eyes strayed to my wings—my wings, which I distinctly remembered her running her hands over as I pounded into her.
Cauldron, I was already half-hard just thinking back on it.
The bath was already running, a testament to the spell work Mor and I had so carefully woven into the essence of the cabin as we built it. I walked straight to the steps leading into the water. My breath came in a hiss of pleasure as the hot water hit me, a sentiment that was echoed by my mate as I sat us down.
A small basket of soaps and oils appeared along the rim of the tub—a feature Mor had insisted on, so the house could "passive aggressively tell you males that you stink, on my behalf", as she'd put it.
I had never been more grateful for my cousin's foresight.
Feyre sank further into the water as I picked up a pine scented soap and passed it to her, along with a washrag.
"Someone, it seems, got my wings dirty."
Her face flamed at my teasing, and so did her gaze. We had discussed the sensitivity of my wings on end—it had been her touch on my wings that had spurred me the first night I coaxed her to climax. She knew quite well what reaction it drew from me.
Feyre twirled her finger, motioning me to turn around so she could better access my wings. I did as she asked—as I always did, always would—and spread my wings for her.
There was wariness, of course. I had never exposed my wings to a female this way, to anyone, and it had been drilled into me during training to never do so. But more than that there was anticipation. There was trust.
I shuddered at the first pass of the washcloth over my wings, bracing my hands against the tub. Like having someone blow my ear, I'd once described it to her. But with how wound up I was, how the mating bond insisted I turn around and claim Feyre once more, she might as well have been stroking my cock.
She leaned closer after a few passes, the heat of her breath warm on my shoulder.
"At least the rumors about wingspan correlating with the size of other parts were right." She said in a low voice. I choked out a laugh as I realized that was what she'd been examining.
"Such a dirty, wicked mouth." I murmured. Her fingertips brushed against my wing membrane in response.
"I think I was falling in love with you for a while," her voice was barely audible over the sound of her washing my wings, yet I hung on every word. An addict who'd finally been given his fix. "But I knew on Starfall. Or came close to knowing and was so scared of it that I didn't want to look closer. I was a coward." Her hands hesitated, then brushed my shoulder lightly.
I thought of all I had told her of my family—of my father, my mother, my sister. The enemies my court had. The danger present to anyone I cared about.
The life any mate of mine would lead.
"You had perfectly good reasons to avoid it." My mother's face flashed in my mind again. She had paid the price for her mate's enmities. She and her daughter both. And Feyre—Feyre had already known what it was like to suffer for someone she loved. Cauldron knew I could never ask such a thing of her.
"No, I didn't. Maybe—thanks to Tamlin, yes. But it had nothing to do with you, Rhys." I could feel tears pooling in my eyes at her words, could feel them already streaming down my face and clogging my throat. "Nothing to do with you." She repeated softly, then kept going. "I was never afraid of the consequences of being with you. Even if every assassin in the world hunts us… It's worth it. You are worth it."
I wasn't entirely sure I was breathing as I lowered my head. "Thank you," My voice came out hoarse, a feat since I hadn't expected to be able to speak at all.
Never in the last fifty years had I imagined I would find this—a mate who not only loved me, but who wanted me. Wanted me for who I was, despite what I'd done. What I'd had had no choice but to do.
A mate who could see what had broken in me, during those long years under Amarantha's reign, and see past it, to the male I'd once been. Who could teach me to put myself back together, and be stronger for it.
Feyre pressed a kiss to the side of my neck, and I reached to drag a finger down her cheek in a silent thank you.
She quietly finished washing my wings and gripped my shoulder so I would know to turn to her.
"What now?" she asked quietly, still holding the soap and washcloth. I too them from her hands and turned her around. My mate had just washed my wings and given me back a piece of my soul. I could at least attempt to return the favor.
"It's up to you." I told her as I started washing the paint off her back. "We can go back to Velaris and have the bond verified by a priestess—no one like Ianthe, I promise—and be declared officially Mated," I kept my excitement at the prospect out of my voice, "We could have a small party to celebrate—dinner with our… cohorts. Unless you'd rather have a large part, though I think you and I are in agreement about our aversion for them." My hands found the knots in her back muscles, massaging them to relieve the tension. If her groan of appreciation was anything to go by, it was a welcome relief. "We could also go before a priestess and be declared husband and wife as well as mates, if you want a more human thing to call me."
"What will you call me?" Curiosity laced her words, reminding me once more how little she knew of Fae customs.
"Mate. Though also calling you my wife sounds mighty appealing, too." I moved my hands to the column of her spine, kneading the muscles there. "Or if you want to wait, we can do none of those things. We're mated, whether it's shouted across the world or not. There's no rush to decide." And if she never decided, I would still be happy as was.
She turned to me with a small smile and a wicked gleam in her eyes.
"I was asking about Jurian, the king, the queens, and the Cauldron, but I'm glad to know I have so many options where our relationship stands. And that you'll do whatever I want. I must have you wrapped completely around my finger."
"Cruel, beautiful thing," I answered, even though she didn't know the half of it.
She snorted and rolled her eyes at that—the fact that I had called her beautiful. Her thoughts echoed down the bond, now rock solid between us.
The idea that he finds me beautiful at all—
"You are," I interrupted. "You're the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. I thought that from the first moment I saw you on Calanmai." That night felt like a lifetime ago. Like a half forgotten dream. The only thing in my memory that seemed real was her—she glowed brighter than the fires, brighter than any star in the sky.
Feyre's gaze turned tender, her eyes gleamed.
"Which is good," I went on, "because you thought I was the most beautiful male you'd ever seen. So it makes us even." I laughed at the scowl she gave me.
Her eyes glinted with laughter as I pulled her toward me, through the warm water. I sat us down on the built-in bench of the bath, with her straddling my lap. She traced her fingers up and down my arms, sending shivers through me.
"Tomorrow," I told her, before I forgot again what I had intended to tell her much sooner. Before her presence, her essence, had overwhelmed me. "We're leaving tomorrow for your family's estate. The queens sent word. They return in three days."
Her fingers stopped their idle movements and her eyes met mine with a sudden shock. "You're telling me this now?" She accused.
"I got sidetracked," I couldn't help but smile at her, and her eyes softened, her gaze fastened on me. She smiled back at me, her happiness radiating out from her.
And somehow, Feyre, my mate… started to glow.
For a moment her skin seemed to brighten as if by some trick of the light, and then it was clear that this was no trick, but her—her joy and warmth and beauty, leaking out, from her very soul.
She was a star plucked from the night sky. She was a goddess, and I was the one lucky enough to worship her.
She reached toward me, to cup my face in her hands, and I had been wrong before—there was no way this exquisite creature was real, could be anything but a dream.
She looked down at her hands, noticing the glow to her skin. Her eyes widened in surprise, and she looked back up to me.
I ran a finger down her arm, assuring myself that this was real, this was real and she was here.
"Well, at least now I can gloat that I literally make my mate glow with happiness."
She laughed, her skin flaring brighter as she did. I leaned forward, unable to resist her any longer, and caught her mouth in a soft kiss.
My mate, the light to my darkness.
Feyre wrapped her arms around my neck, molding herself to my body. My erection pressed against her center, and she aligned herself so that all it would take was one push, one motion and we would be joined.
I stood from the tub, bringing her with me as I walked us back to the bedroom. She wrapped her legs around me at some point during the short distance, and it was an effort not to take her then and there against the wall.
Not yet. I might be desperate to have her again, but for now I would do so on the bed, where I could appreciate her more fully.
I was distantly aware that the sheets had been cleaned as I set Feyre down on the bed—but my focus was entirely on the female now laying back on the bed, naked and beautiful and shining like a star.
"Day Court?" Her voice held mild curiosity, asking about her newfound power, but her eyes stayed on me, trailing appreciatively down my body.
"I don't care," And I didn't—I didn't care where this power had originally come from, when it was now a part of her, when it came to her as naturally as darkness did to me.
I released the glamour on my true form, on the terrible power that I was blessed with. Cursed with.
Darkness and shadows. Dreams and nightmares. The stars, gleaming in among the vast expanse of everything and nothing. And Feyre outshone them all.
I reached a hand forward, laying it against her stomach. A question, unspoken.
Did she want this? All of this? All of me?
Her skin glowed even brighter, light and shadow meeting, blending and pushing against one another. She pushed up to her elbows and her mouth found mine in a kiss.
I opened to her, letting her call the shots. Her tongue brushed against mine, passing over my teeth. And then she took hold of my shoulders and pulled me to the bed with her.
I want it all. The thought echoed down the bond, though I was certain she hadn't meant to send it.
She lay me onto my back, and for a second the alarm of having my wings pinned rang through me.
"Illyrian baby," she crooned mockingly at my reaction, running her hand down my stomach, further down…
I held my breath at her touch, no longer caring about my pinned wings. Feyre's fingers brushed down my length, and then over the tip of my cock. I hissed out a breath and felt myself twitch at the caress. She gave a wicked smile as she did it again.
I needed to be inside her. I reached forward, but she gave me a stern look that stopped me.
"My turn," she said admonishingly.
If she wanted to play, I could certainly let her.
I smirked cockily at her and settled back with a hand behind my head. From the flash of annoyance on her face, I knew her retaliation would be worth it.
I expected teasing, something that would build me up slowly until I was too eager to be inside her to wait any longer.
I didn't expect her to go straight for the killing blow.
In one quick movement, Feyre leaned down and put her mouth around me. The sudden contact broke my composure instantaneously, and I cursed as I fisted my hands in the sheets.
She laughed around me, and the vibrations shot my pleasure sky high. She took me deeper, sliding her tongue over me, grazing with her teeth. I could barely keep my eyes open from bliss, but closing them would have meant depriving myself of the most beautiful sight in the world.
I couldn't help the groans that escaped me as she worked me with her mouth, bracing her hands lightly against my thighs. I wanted nothing more than to grab hold of her, to sink myself into her heat. I had enough self control to keep from doing just that, but every pass of her tongue chipped away at my resolve, little by little, until…
I wasn't sure when I'd moved, but my hands found her waist, pulling her up the bed and flipping her onto her front. I nudged her legs apart with my knees, settling between them and tugging her hips upwards to plunge into her wet center.
She was moaning into the pillow in front of her, her fingers gripping the sheets to anchor herself as she rose to her forearms.
The sight of her glowing skin was the most mesmerizing thing I had ever seen.
I pulled out, only to push back in. Her breath caught, her skin flared brighter, her fingers tightened in the sheets.
I leaned forward, bracing my hand on the bed as I brushed my lips against her back. "Look at you," I murmured, building my strokes up as I planted kisses along her spine.
She groaned and looked down to where our bodies were joined, and her breath hitched. I felt the tremors that took hold of her as she came on my cock, crying out something that sounded like my name.
I pulled her up against my chest, stroking her clit with one hand while I cupped her breast with the other and nuzzled her neck. All the while I kept pounding into her.
Her moans turned to full on shouts as she shuddered against me, her hips working in the same rhythm as mine, both of us drawing out her orgasm until I wasn't sure if she'd come once or twice.
Only when she started to go limp against me did I let go, turning us around and twisting so I could lie on my back with her astride me.
I lump of panic rose in my throat at our position—at the memory of the last time I'd had a female on top of me.
Sharp nails and red, endless red…
I wanted those memories gone, wanted to burn them out of my mind.
Feyre's eyes flashed in understanding, her gaze softening on me.
She leaned forward, kissing me tenderly as she slid down onto my cock. I made a sound against her mouth—and it might have been her name, I was too far gone to tell—as she moved her hips slowly against mine. Every time our lips broke apart she kissed me again, the love and care in her gesture soothing every fractured piece of me.
My breathing was becoming more ragged, and my hands found her hips, urging her to pick up her pace a little.
She braced her hand against my chest, sitting up against me to ride me more fully, glowing brighter and clearer than she had before.
A shining beacon, guiding me home. My mate.
I thrust up against her, slamming deep into her as I found my release. I cried out her name, cried out the only word I knew—Feyre, Feyre, Feyre—as I held on to her, feeling her contract around me as she climaxed as well.
We stayed like that for a long moment, her sprawled on top of me, with her fingertips digging into my chest. She looked down to where we touched, wonder and love filling her eyes.
The same feelings I was filled with.
I lifted my hand to a few wet tendrils of her hair, the ends of it tickling my chest, and tugged lightly on them.
"We'll have to find a way to put a damper on that light." I murmured, eyes lingering on the breathtaking sight of her skin.
"I can keep the shadows hidden easily enough."
"Ah, but you only lose control of those when you're pissed." She let out a snort at that, "And since I have every intention of making you as happy as a person can be… I have a feeling we'll need to learn to control that wondrous glow."
"Always thinking; always calculating." Her words were teasing, but she smiled softly at me.
I leaned forward to kiss the corner of her mouth. "You have no idea how many things I've though up when it comes to you."
"I remember mention of a wall." She said innocently, her eyes gleaming with delight. I laughed quietly, remembering that night at the inn as well.
"Next time, Feyre, I'll fuck you against the wall."
"Hard enough to make the pictures fall off."
I laughed in surprise. "Show me again what you can do with that wicked mouth."
She smirked at me, and lowered her mouth to my already hard cock.
I barely got a wink of sleep that night, the mating bond constantly driving me to touch, to taste, to claim. I would have felt guilty for deriving Feyre of that same sleep, had she not been as—if not more—eager. And any lingering guilt vanished when, the next morning, she jumped me the moment I got out of bed and rode me right there on the floor, her moans driving me higher and higher until I spilled myself into her.
"It's normal," I said apologetically around a mouthful of bread at the kitchen table, a while later. She was gobbling down our hurried breakfast, as hungry for food as I was.
And as hungry for other things, judging by the way she couldn't keep from staring at me. If I'd had time to prepare, I could have stocked up on foods that we were easier to eat without having to break from our frantic mating. Fruits, berries, anything we could feed each other or eat off each other…
I hastily averted those thoughts, not wanting to deprive us of the chance to eat something.
"The… frenzy," I said, keeping myself from saying anything that would set us off again. "When a couple accepts the mating bond, it's… overwhelming. Again, harkening back to the beasts we once were. Probably something about ensuring the female was impregnated. Some couples don't leave the house for a week. Males get so volatile that it can be dangerous for them to be in public, anyway. I've seen males of reason and education shatter a room because another male looked too long in their mate's direction, too soon after they'd been mated."
Feyre's breath came out in a hiss, and I knew why the thought stuck her. I had never gotten the full disclosure on what had happened with Tamlin, the day she'd confronted him about his behavior, but I had seen enough through our bond.
"I'd like to believe I have more restraint than the average male, but… Be patient with me, Feyre, if I'm a little on edge."
She surveyed me, frowning slightly, but her posture had eased considerably. "You don't want to leave this house." She said, raising an eyebrow as if in question.
"I want to stay in that bedroom and fuck you until we're both hoarse." I admitted to her without thinking.
Heat flashed in her gaze, and I tensed—knowing that we really had to get going, but that if she made the first move I would snatch her up and bury myself in her heat once more.
"About—pregnancy," Her words snapped me out of that headspace instantaneously. "We didn't—I'm not taking a tonic. I haven't been, I mean." She seemed nervous to have this conversation.
I put down the bread in my hand, already half forgotten. "Do you want to start taking it again?"
She hesitated, seeming to think it over for a while as she searched my gaze. "If I am a High Lord's mate, I'm expected to bear you offspring, aren't I? So perhaps I shouldn't."
And I realized what her hesitation was.
This was what she'd been lead to believe, by another High Lord, one she'd almost married.
"You are not expected to bear me anything," the words came out as a snarl. "Children are rare, yes, So rare, and so precious. But I don't want you to have them unless you want to—unless we both want to. And right now, with this war coming, with Hybern…" a shudder went up my spine. "I'll admit that I'm terrified at the thought of my mate being pregnant with so many enemies around us. I'm terrified of what I might do if you're pregnant and threatened. Or harmed."
She let out a breath, something between a sigh of relief and dread. I knew she didn't like the thought of that, of me becoming violent on her behalf—her past had proven there was a thin line between violence for her and violence toward her.
"Then I'll start taking it today, once we get back." She rose from the table, shaking a little as she headed for the bedroom.
I kept my voice soft as I told her, "I would be happy beyond reason, though, if you one day did honor me with children. To share that with you."
She turned back to me, warmth filling her gaze. "I want to live first." She answered, as softly as I had spoken. "With you. I want to see things and have adventures. I want to learn what it is to be immortal, to be your mate, to be part of your family. I want to be…" She paused, her eyes going distant for a moment before they focused back on me, "ready for them. And I selfishly want to have you all to myself for a while."
Quiet joy spread through me, blooming from my chest as I smiled at her. "You take all the time you need. And if I get you all to myself for the rest of eternity, then I won't mind that at all."
Her answering smile took my breath away.
I sat at the kitchen table for almost five whole seconds after she left, fighting a losing battle against the insistent drive of the mating bond.
After which I all but sprinted after her into the bathroom, where she was almost in the water.
I caught up with her, sweeping her into my arms and carrying her into the bathtub.
We made love there, each stroke I made into her body slow and reverent. And when she climaxed, she moaned my name once more, bringing me over the edge with her.