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Punishment Divine

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Alina was lost.

Every corridor looked the same in the dim candlelight of the palace. Alina had never been the best at navigation, nor could she reliably determine now whether she had passed the portraits of long dead nobility before – or did they all just look the same?

The Darkling had slipped quietly from the crowd in one of the gilded ballrooms and Alina had endeavoured to follow him. She wasn’t quite sure why. She thought she had managed to follow him covertly, but it appeared that was not the case. There was no trace of him.

An irritated huff echoed down the corridor as she paused, attempting to work out where exactly she was.

Footsteps, heavy and determined, sounded behind Alina and she turned, hoping it would be him. Perhaps he had been stalking her all along.

Her heart pounded wildly in her chest, a strange excitement building as she readied herself for the first glimpse of him in his infamous black kefta rounding the corner.

She was left disappointed.

It was not the Shadow Summoner who rounded the corner.

It was Mal.

Guilt roiled within her at her reaction. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to see Mal. She just had no desire to see him right now.

Mal’s eyes widened when he spotted her standing there in the middle of the shadowy corridor. As he came closer, Alina could see the irritation evident on his face. Internally she sighed, lacking the energy to deal with whatever his problem was tonight but wanting to soothe his distress anyway.

“Is everything okay?” Alina asked.

“No,” he replied, coming to a stop before her. “I’m sick of seeing you with him.”

“Who?”

“The Darkling,” he hissed, stepping closer.

“What are you talking about?”

Mal’s moods were beginning to give her whiplash. When it was just the two of them, he was the same Mal as always, her truest friend who cared for her deeply, made her feel at home. Lately though, every time she interacted with the Darkling or anyone else at court, for that matter, he would sulk for days. Either ignoring her completely or spitting harsh words he would eventually take back.

Alina was tired of it.

“Don’t you see he’s using you,” he hissed. His hands came up to grip her arms and it wasn’t painful, but Alina feared it might become so should his ire rise further.

“He is helping me!” Alina put her hands on his chest to shove him back a little. Mal wouldn’t budge.

“He’s not,” Mal insisted. “You’re just blinded by the glamour of this place, these people.”

She knew how alluring the Darkling was. Often, Alina felt as though she was a helpless little nothing caught in perpetual orbit around his brilliance. She knew she wasn’t nothing though.

Alina was something.

She was special.

Alina was the Sun Summoner. The Darkling had shown her that.

“I won’t let you stay here,” Mal hissed. He punctuated his statement with a little shake.

Alina saw red.

She mustered the strength to push him away successfully. She couldn’t help being the tiniest bit satisfied at the way he stumbled.

“I am not blinded, Mal. I can finally be who I am here. Don’t you see that?”

Alina stepped towards him, reaching for his hand, hoping he would see things from her point of view.

“This isn’t the real you, Alina!” Mal’s face contorted with rage. “I know the real you. I always have.”

Alina took an unsure step back, withdrawing her extended hand before she could touch him. “I’m not sure you do.”

Betrayal flashed across his face at the insinuation that she knew herself better than he did.

Her chest was tight, and she could feel the tell-tale prick of tears stinging her eyes. “Mal,” Alina breathed out, trying not to cry, “do you have any faith in me? In my abilities?”

He stepped towards her, brow furrowed but Alina wasn’t sure with what emotion. “I don’t have faith in them. This is dangerous. I don’t want you becoming dangerous.”

Hurt threatened to cleave her in two – the knowledge that he would reject such an intrinsic part of her more painful than anything else he could say.

“You mean powerful?” she snapped

“You’re changing. I don’t like it.” He shook his head, disgusted.

“You’re my oldest friend,” Alina said softly, wounded by Mal’s behaviour and his disappointment. “Why can’t you support me now?”

“Is that all I am to you?” Mal asked, completely ignoring her question. “A friend?”

Alina didn’t understand.

He sneered at her and for the briefest sliver of a moment, she was frightened of the person before her.

Stepping back from him once more in an effort to place some distance between them, her back met cold stone. She had nowhere to retreat. Mal had trapped her. He slammed his hands against the wall on either side of her and a shiver went down Alina’s spine. Though whether it was from fear or the cold leeching through her clothes she could not be certain.

Perhaps it was a bit of both.

“Alina,” whispered Mal.

She stood frozen against the wall, unsure as to Mal’s next move.

Her eyes widened as he gently cupped her face and began to lean in. Alina was now convinced Mal was going to kiss her. He confirmed it when his tongue darted out to wet his dry lips.

She could admit to having feelings for Mal, but after his little outburst she was starting to doubt them. Could she even love – let alone like – a person she didn’t truly know? How could she give all of herself to someone unwilling to afford her the same vulnerability?

His face loomed closer, and Alina hastily closed her eyes, wondering for a moment if he really was going to kiss her. Would Mal really test the boundaries of their relationship? She wasn’t sure how to deal with this swift change in attitude, from outraged to affectionate.

Mal’s lips connected with her own and it didn’t feel as Alina had dreamed, once upon a time. There were no fireworks, no butterflies, it was just his mouth on hers; awkward, if she were being honest about it.

Tentatively she tried to kiss back, wondering if maybe she was doing something wrong. Should it not feel special to kiss someone she cared for?

Mal took her response as an invitation to deepen the kiss. Pressing closer. His hand slid into her hair, holding tight so he could angle her head to his liking. Alina gasped at the sharp tug and Mal practically shoved his tongue into her mouth. Alina tried to pull back, for it was too much. Sloppy and not at all how she felt a kiss should be. Maybe he was just nervous or overeager.

Alina wanted it to end.

She pulled back but he immediately followed.

“Stop, Mal.”

“Don’t you like it?” He looked at her through lust hazed eyes, so dark and almost crazed. In that moment Alina didn’t fully trust him to heed her request.

She shook her head slightly in response. “It’s just…” she trailed off not meeting his eyes. How could she tell him she was confused when she didn’t even understand it herself?

“We can try again,” said Mal.

Before Alina could protest his mouth was back on hers, kissing her fiercely. Alina hated it. She wanted to screw her eyes shut, to block out the blur of his face before her but then something moved down the corridor.

Her wide eyes met those of the Darkling. He did not look pleased.

Earlier, he had made her promise that she would stay away from Mal – well, the Darkling had ordered, and Alina had hummed a noncommittal sound of acquiescence – and now here she was, practically as close as anyone could be.

Knowing it would be useless to push Mal away she simply stopped responding to the kiss. After a few seconds Mal finally realised she wasn’t kissing him back.

“What’s wrong now?” Mal sighed, attempting to make eye contact. Alina’s gaze was still firmly fixed on the black clad figure storming towards them. His footsteps echoed on the marbled floor. The corridor grew darker at his approach, the gathering shadow snuffing out the candles in their sconces.

Mal turned to follow her gaze, letting out a barely audible groan as he realised that they had company. He stepped in front of Alina, partially blocking her view of the Darkling. She was not impressed and judging by the way a sneer worked itself onto his face, neither was the Darkling.

Despite the imposing figure he cut, Alina felt relieved by his appearance.

She wanted to be away from Mal right now. Needed to sort through the confusing emotions he had inspired within her. Not to mention she wanted to escape the firing line of his wildly shifting moods. It had put her on edge.

“What’s going on here?” asked the Darkling, voice smooth and controlled.

“None of your concern,” spat Mal.

“Really?” The Darkling asked with an incredulous tilt of his head. “Because to me it looked a little like our dear Alina wasn’t a big fan of your…” he paused, searching, “…affections.”

“My relationship with Alina has nothing to do with you!” shouted Mal, fists clenching at his sides as he took a step towards the Darkling.

The Darkling gave a scoff of disbelief. “I beg to differ.”

Mal moved towards him but with a casual brush of his arm, the Darkling pushed Mal aside and moved towards Alina.

“Let’s go,” he said, taking hold of her wrist.

She was all too happy to comply.

He looked annoyed in the dim light of the corridor, but Alina could see the tiniest hint of what may have been concern in his eyes as they quickly flicked up and down her body.

Alina moved from her place against the wall, the cold of it had turned her shoulders numb and she shuddered at the tingle that came with the return of warmth. The Darkling barely waited before turning, with Alina in his grasp, to stride back down the hall.

Alina followed.

Or at least she tried to but was suddenly yanked backwards. She gave a little yelp of surprise.

In turn, the Darkling stumbled in his stride as he too was pulled. He turned around, worried, thinking that Alina might have tripped or fallen but when he noticed Mal’s hand gripped tight around Alina’s upper arm the sheer wrath on his face was enough to make Alina shy away, thankful the look was not directed at her.

“Unhand her, boy,” sneered the Darkling.

Mal’s grip tightened on Alina’s arm, fingers digging in as he tried to pull her back towards him. Alina cried out at the unexpected pain.

“Mal, please,” she begged, “you’re hurting me. Just let go. Please.”

Mal looked at Alina dismissively before turning his eyes back to the man before him.

“You don’t want this,” said Mal. His words were directed at her, but he would not stop glaring at the Darkling. As though his look alone would vanquish the Shadow Summoner from their sight.

“All I know,” Alina said, struggling against Mal’s grip, “is that I don’t want to be anywhere near you right now!”

Mal registered her statement with shock, his hold slackening just enough for Alina to wrench herself away. She stumbled back towards the Darkling and he caught her, steadying her with his hands gently resting on her shoulders. He squeezed reassuringly, she thought, before moving away.

The look that passed across Mal’s face was not one Alina could describe. It looked almost like resignation and perhaps there had been a little flash of fear too. Alina briefly wondered what kind of picture the two of them presented. Dark and light, intrinsically and forever bound. Untouchable.

“Alina, I can’t…” Mal trailed off, shaking his head with a long-suffering sigh before turning away and walking further down the hall, shoulders slumped in defeat.

Alina watched as he rounded a corner and disappeared out of sight. She felt less suffocated now that his presence was gone, felt as though she could breathe.

She turned to thank the Darkling for intervening but stopped short, mouth slightly ajar at the disappointment on his face, his lips pursed as though he was holding back some unsavoury comment.

“It wasn’t my fault,” was all she could think to say.

“Follow me,” he said, turning swiftly to march back down the corridor from whence he came, calling for her when he realised that she wasn’t following. “Alina!”

Belatedly, Alina realised she had just been standing there watching him and hurried to catch up. “Where are we going?” she asked breathlessly.

The Darkling did not reply.

“Where did you go? I went to look for you and then I got lost,” Alina said.

Once again, he neglected to acknowledge her question. She huffed and resigned herself to following him, trying to pay attention to where they were going but truth be told so many of the halls and walkways in the palace looked the same to her. After all, that was how she had become unfortunately lost in the first place.

Finally, they reached a heavy wooden door, inlaid with curling gold accents, which looked not unlike twisting suns, beaming out in all directions. Alina watched as the Darkling produced a key, seemingly from thin air and unlocked the door. He ushered her inside, followed, and then closed the door behind them. He turned the lock, but Alina didn’t notice. She was too busy staring around at his private rooms.

Her gaze fell to the ornate four poster bed, swathed in rich dark fabrics. She swallowed, wondering what he had brought her in here for.

“Did he hurt you?” Alina jumped at the sound of his voice so close behind her. She turned to find him standing with his arms folded behind his back, eyes searching her face.

“Not really,” she replied.

He raised an eyebrow and inclined his head as if to say don’t lie.

“Just a little,” she amended, unconsciously reaching up to rub at her arm. If she focused, she could still feel Mal’s phantom grip. Cold eyes followed her actions, he shifted, as though he thought to reach out to her but decided against it, hands coming to hang by his sides.

“I told you he was trouble,” said the Darkling. He stepped closer, dipping his head to meet her eyes. “I told you to stay away from him.”

Alina huffed, rolling her eyes. “Mal’s my friend. What did you expect? I can’t ignore him.”

The Darkling gripped her chin. “It wasn’t a request, Alina. I expect you to obey my orders.”

Alina felt white hot anger rising within her at his assumption that he could order her around like some petty servant. “Obey you?” She glared at him; jaw clenched.

“Yes,” he said, sounding bored. “When it’s for your protection, you will do as I say. Do you understand?”

“My protection?” she scoffed. “And if I don’t obey you, will I be punished?”

A strange look passed over the Darkling’s face, Alina noted a glint in his eyes that wasn’t there before. He almost looked pleased. “Yes,” he murmured.

He released her face and stepped around her, walking towards the bed.

“In fact,” he said as he settled himself on the edge of the bed, “I think you might just deserve to be punished for your little display earlier.”

“I never wanted to kiss Mal tonight!” Alina exclaimed, moving towards him. Close enough to touch.

“But you did,” he said looking serious.

“So what?” Alina stopped before him; arms crossed. “You’re going to punish me because of that?”

The Darkling spread his legs and leaned forward.

“Yes,” he smirked, reaching out to grasp the back of her thigh. Alina jolted, not expecting the touch and he pulled her closer. Once more that night she lost her balance and stumbled forward. Reaching out she steadied herself, hands resting on his broad shoulders.

The Darkling had Alina right where he wanted her.

His other hand came up to steady her and slowly his hands moved up the back of her thighs to her ass. Alina stood frozen, trying to work out what game he was playing. He gave one of her ass cheeks a rough squeeze. “Punish you indeed,” he muttered.

Alina gasped in understanding.

He meant to spank her.

A little tremor of excitement shivered down her spine against her will.

“Now,” the Darkling said as he moved his hands to the fastenings of her pants, “let’s take these off shall we.” It wasn’t a question. Before Alina could truly register the situation – still processing the fact he meant to take her over his knee like some unruly child – and force her brain to catch up with his actions, he had her pants undone and was tugging them, along with her underwear, down to her ankles where they tangled with her boots.

Her fingers gripped his shoulders as he suddenly shifted her to his right side. So clinical in his movements she barely had any time to be embarrassed about her state of undress in front of this man.

“Bend over,” he commanded.

Slowly Alina lowered herself over his lap, exposed, all for her pain and his pleasure.

She knew refusing to accept this punishment may result in a greater hurt if the Darkling felt so inclined. Alina hoped the humiliation would be swift.

He readjusted so her upper half could rest against the bed, for which Alina was thankful. She pillowed her arms under her head, neck turned so she could see his face from the corner of her eye. Forcing herself not to look away, nor hide in shame.

She trembled, nervous like never before. No man had ever seen her so exposed, touched her like she knew he would, even under the guise of discipline.

The Darkling covered her left ass cheek with a hand, giving it a gentle massage before he switched to the right. Alina could feel the cold of his ring against her skin and goosebumps erupted along the back of her thighs.

“How many should I give you, I wonder,” mused the Darkling, still palming her ass.

Alina was not expecting the heavy smack of his hand. She cried out in response, less from the stinging pain that was slowly beginning to fade and more from the shock of it.

“F…five,” she stammered out.

“Hmmm,” the Darkling rubbed a soothing hand over her reddening skin, admiring the imprint of his hand, “I think you can take ten. Don’t you?”

His left hand reached out to turn her head so that she could see his face. His eyebrow was raised expectantly. He only wanted one answer.

“Yes,” she whimpered.

“Good girl,” he said before raising his hand to land another blow on her left ass cheek. “That’s two.”

He spanked her three more times in quick succession, alternating sides. Alina squirmed on his lap, biting her lip in an attempt not to cry out at the harshness. There were tears in her eyes at the lingering sting.

Worse still was a growing wetness between her thighs, she could feel the tell-tale stickiness of the beginnings of arousal.

“How many now, Alina?”

“Five,” she whispered.

“You’re doing so well,” he crooned.

When he brought his hand down for a sixth time Alina let out a moan. She didn’t mean to; it just slipped out.

The Darkling paused in his next strike. Alina could see his hand hovering in mid-air in her periphery. She rubbed her thighs together, trying to ease the shameful ache that was steadily building between them.

“This is a punishment, Alina,” he sounded amused. “Don’t tell me you’re enjoying this.” Another smack.

“Well?” he prodded. “Are you?”

“No,” she said with a little shake of her head.

The Darkling hummed as though he did not believe her. Alina didn’t even believe herself.

“I think you’re lying,” he said. This time when he brought his hand down, he aimed for the middle. Alina howled at the impact, trying to squirm away from his hand. Inadvertently, she rubbed against his crotch, not that she noticed at first, but he certainly did.

“Stay still,” he muttered, a man about to lose his patience. He gave her upper thigh a warning pinch and Alina ceased her wriggling.

She felt so exposed like this. Bare for him. Cool air brushed the lips of her cunt and Alina knew then that he would notice her wetness, if he had not already.

She shifted again against his lap, hoping to somehow hide the slickness that lingered between her legs. Her efforts were in vain.

“What’s this?” He dipped a finger between her folds, gathering the wetness. Alina squirmed at the intrusion. “This is a punishment, Alina. Yet here you are, fucking filthy wet from it.” He made a noise of amusement and slowly traced a fingertip from her opening down to make a slick little circle around her clit.

Alina gasped at the pleasure of him circling her nub. His touch was featherlight, teasing her.

Slowly, he dragged his finger back along her dripping slit and sunk it into her tight wet heat. Alina could not contain her moan at the fullness. Nobody had ever touched her like this – not even her own fingers could reach so deep. If the Darkling truly had his way, she was sure that nobody else ever would. Alina thought she might not mind it if this man was the only one who touched her for the rest of her life, if it would always be this heavenly.

He pumped his finger slowly in and out, occasionally circling it and crooking it forward to rub against something that made her muscles clench tight in pleasure. Alina attempted to smother her moans into the crook of her elbow. Embarrassed to be making such sounds.

She was bereft when the Darkling suddenly pulled away. Her cunt clenched around nothing, aching with the loss of him.

“I want to hear you, Alina,” he whispered.

She glanced back over her shoulder at him, his dark gaze penetrating and lustful. It made her feel shameless in her pleasure, to know that he too was relishing this.

“Okay,” she whispered back.

“Good girl.”

The Darkling slowly pushed two fingers inside her this time and Alina whimpered at the stretch. Any time she had tried touching herself she could barely even fit one finger. She wondered if he would try to add another. She wouldn’t be able to take it, she feared. He’d probably make her take it all the same.

He moved his slick fingers to her throbbing clit once more. Alina thought she might fall apart then and there.

The feel of him touching her was delicious.

She was so close to bliss when he slipped his thumb inside her neglected cunt. But it was shallow and brief, over all too soon. Then he did something that Alina would never have dared to even imagine. He traced a path upwards.

Alina tried to push herself off his lap when his thumb met the untouched pucker of her asshole.

“Relax,” he said with a firm hand on the small of her back.

Alina tried to settle back down but the sensation of him playing with her clit and her forbidden hole was overwhelming.

He pushed at the small of her back once more and she suddenly registered the bulge in his pants.

He was just as affected by this as she was.

Alina rubbed herself against his hardened length and he hissed.

She did it again.

“Enough of that,” he groaned. He drew his fingers back to her opening and teased, thrusting shallowly.

Alina shifted her hips, trying to take his fingers deeper once more but he kept moving away, barely inserting them lest she come too quickly.

“Do you think,” he asked, moving to grab a handful of her ass, “you could take another?”

He squeezed her reddened flesh where the edges of a bruise were starting to form. A myriad of criss-crossed handprints that would purple so nicely. Alina gasped at the pain, loving it all the same. A new wave of arousal flooded through her at his suggestion.

“I could try,” she whispered so quietly that the Darkling had to ask her to repeat herself. She took a breath, could feel the steady flush rising on her cheeks and said, just loud enough for him to hear, “I could try three fingers.”

He smirked. “Such a good girl for me.”

The stretch of three fingers was almost too much and Alina gave a little squeal of pain. The Darkling stopped, barely at the second knuckle, to let her adjust.

It was rougher than just two and Alina thought maybe this was also part of her punishment. She couldn’t quite remember why this was truly supposed to be a punishment anyway.

“Touch yourself,” he commanded suddenly.

“What?”

“Play with yourself, Alina. Just like you do when you’re all alone, when you make yourself fall apart with your fingers. I want you to reach down and touch that pretty little clit for me.”

Alina swallowed down the terror in her throat at the knowledge that nothing she did in the dark would ever truly be hidden from him; at the realisation that she was relieved she didn’t have to hide from him.

Hesitantly, Alina shifted against the bed, sliding a hand down underneath her hips.

She accidentally brushed the back of her hand over his erection. Peaking at him through her lashes she watched the Darkling clench his jaw, eyes shut, trying to control himself. Part of her wanted to know what would happen if he simply let go.

The first contact of her fingers against her swollen clit had her gasping.

She rubbed furious circles against the spot that could bring her so much pleasure, greedy to fall apart around his fingers which had begun to steadily pump in and out of her.

The squelch of his fingers inside her wet cunt was obscene.

Alina moaned and it echoed throughout the room. The Darkling made a pleased noise in the back of his throat and crooked his fingers, hitting that spongy spot inside her pussy that made Alina see stars.

She rubbed at her clit faster, slick and slippery with her juices.

Later, she might be self-conscious about the way she was practically panting, but now it was hard to catch her breath, the sensations she was experiencing for the first time because of him were dizzying.

Once more, the Darkling pressed his thumb against the sweet opening of her ass. This time though, he pressed the tip just past the rim. Alina felt filthy as another wave of wetness gushed from her pussy at his touch.

“You’re so close,” he said, scissoring his fingers, long and filling, inside her cunt. “I can feel it. I want you to come for me, Alina.”

She clenched her thighs together. He was right, she was so close to falling apart on his fingers. Just a little more and she would be there.

His left hand came down hard upon her ass and Alina sobbed as she came, cunt quivering around him. He ran his hand soothingly over the curve of her ass, fingers still working her through the aftershocks.

Alina made to move her hand away from her overworked clit, but he wouldn’t let her.

“Keep touching yourself,” he ordered. “I think you can take one more.”

“I can’t,” she whined.

“You can,” he soothed. “I promise.”

Alina’s fingers found her clit once more, still sensitive after her orgasm. She wasn’t sure if she could come again, she had never tried before. The Darkling seemed so certain that she would.

He was right.

Already, Alina could feel a second orgasm building, faster than the first. The Darkling had stopped playing with her ass, leaving just his fingers inside her cunt and he thrust them relentlessly. Alina could hear how wet she was. There was no denying her enjoyment of this act.

Her second orgasm caught her by surprise, and she moaned as that divine sensation spread throughout her body.

She was in a daze as the Darkling stilled his movements before withdrawing his fingers from her completely. She was snapped out of it as he landed the tenth and final blow between her legs. Her cunt clenched around nothing, her clit pulsing with the lingering effects of her orgasms.

She lay breathless, half on his lap, half on his bed, unsure of what to do next.

Her eyes widened in shock as the Darkling brought his soiled fingers, glistening with her sweet nectar to his mouth and sucked, eyes locked upon her own.

He hummed in satisfaction as he sucked them clean of her. She feared she would never recover from the sight of his plush lips wrapped around those graceful fingers that had just been inside her most intimate spot. Scandalously erotic.

He pulled his fingers from his mouth and wiped them, slick with spit, on the back of her thigh.

The lust on his face disappeared and was replaced with his usual stern expression. So quick was his change in demeanour that Alina tensed up, fearing that he hadn’t delivered his true punishment at all yet.

“Get up,” he said.

Confused, Alina did not immediately register his demand.

A brief look of what may have been irritation crossed his face and he suddenly managed to haul her up from her prone position on his lap to stand before him. Her legs trembled and she tried not to let her knees give out beneath her.

“What are you…” Alina trailed off, unsure as to what he was doing.

Unable to resist, she glanced down towards the impressive outline of his cock, hard and wanting because of her. Maybe he would make her do something about it. She wanted to do something about it.

He followed her gaze and smirked before looking back up at her. “Not tonight.”

Alina could not contain the disappointed oh that slipped from her pouting lips.

Then, with a gentleness she hadn’t expected from him, the Darkling reached down to tug her underwear and then her pants slowly up her legs from where they were tangled around her ankles.

With shaking hands, she managed to help him do up her pants. Little tremors were still making her legs shake and her ears were ringing. Which was why she looked at him, saw his mouth move and heard nothing. He looked at her expectantly.

“What?” Alina managed to say.

“I said, you can go,” the Darkling said, standing and lifting a hand to clasp her shoulder and turn her towards the door.

He gave her a little push and she forced herself to walk, albeit unsteadily, in the direction of the exit. His guiding hand on her back didn’t hurt either.

The ache left by his hands was more prominent now than it had been while she was lying on him half naked. The fabric of her pants chafed against the raw skin of her backside. Alina was sure she looked like a fool trying to walk normally across the room.

They reached the door all too soon. Alina felt as though she was missing something, as though the night should not end so abruptly. She watched as he opened the door, hand lingering on the handle as he leaned towards her, as though he too wanted something more.

Alina turned to face him properly, opening her mouth to say something but unsure of what would be appropriate. She closed it again.

“Next time I tell you not to do something, Alina, you will obey me, yes?”

“And if I don’t?” she replied tartly.

“Then you will be appropriately punished.”

“I’m not sure what just happened counts as a punishment,” she said, heat rising along her neck in a blush he would surely notice.

“No, I suppose you weren’t meant to enjoy that as much as you did,” he replied with a smirk. “Perhaps next time your punishment will be your pretty mouth on my cock. I’ll have you begging for it, don’t you worry. And you’ll be such a good girl, swallowing every last drop when I come. What do you think?”

Alina gasped at his boldness. She decided that after what he had done to her earlier, she could afford to be bold too. “Then I will endeavour to be punished,” she said, leaning towards him.

To her surprise, he laughed. Just briefly. It was a lovely sound all the same. Deep and rich with true amusement.

She wanted to hear it again.

He stepped towards her, raising his hand to her cheek, thumb brushing over her lower lip.

Alina’s heart raced, her tongue darted out to wet her lips, flicking against the rough pad of his thumb. Her eyes lingered on his parted lips before skimming up to meet his grey stare.

Alina wanted the Darkling to kiss her.

His eyes slipped down to her mouth and his hand found its way into her hair. Then he leaned in, so close his lips just lingered against her own, before he moved to press a tender kiss against her forehead.

“Good night, Alina,” he whispered, stepped back, and promptly slammed the door in her face.

Alina stood, stunned and thoroughly spanked, on the other side, resolved to discover what divine punishments should await her future disobedience.