His lips traveled down her cheek, and he tasted tears. When he started to pull back, she kissed his jaw, then his mouth. A soft kiss, asking for nothing but contact.

Then her mouth warmed, moved, asked for more. And he gave her more because it felt so good to hold someone again.

With each brush of their bodies, something in him stirred, wanted, needed, yearned. But he started to pull away because she’d asked for comfort and not . . .

“Daemon.” Surreal took his face in her hands. “Freely given, freely taken. Just for tonight. So neither of us will be alone tonight. All right?”

She wasn’t a child, and the dream he’d waited for had come and gone.

My father is dead.

He allowed himself a moment to consider nothing except what he needed tonight.

“Come with me.” Clasping her hand, he led her out of the sitting room, not sure where he was going, not caring where he was going as long as they ended up in a room with a bed.

Except when he reached the first available room, he hesitated, and then bared his teeth in a snarl before he moved on, searching for something because now it was more than a desire for comfort and sex driving him, and that something was tangled around this particular woman.

By the time he found the room that felt right, he didn’t know where he was in the Hall and he didn’t care. It had a bed, and it had her. Heat pulsed in his veins, but it burned in her too because she tore at his shirt in order to touch skin, and her purr of satisfaction as she ran her hands over his chest and shoulders tripped something inside him. A moment before, he’d been pulling at her clothes too. Now he became savagely gentle, letting her strip him down before he used Craft to cuff her hands behind her back.

“Sadi,” she snarled.

Using Craft, he pulled back the covers and plumped up the pillows.

“Want me?” he purred.

Aroused past prudence, she tried to bite him.

He laughed, but he said, “Do that again, and the only thing you’ll get is a cold shower.”

She swore at him but let him coax her into bed. Then she swore some more while he played with her, stroking, petting, kissing, and licking until she was too caught up in sensation to form words. He gave her small climaxes that eased the need without eliminating the need, and enjoyed the slow emergence of her skin as he removed her clothing piece by piece.

Finally he released her hands and slid into her, relishing each moan and plea for more. So he gave her more. And then, when he couldn’t hold back his own need for release, he gave her everything.

Surreal drifted up to awareness. For the first time in weeks, maybe longer, she felt relaxed, easy. There was some soreness, but that was to be expected since she hadn’t had a man inside her for three years. She suspected she would find a few bruises from the times when Sadi had edged into rough play, but nothing she hadn’t asked for—and he probably had a few bruises of his own from her hands and teeth.

She hoped he wasn’t going to get pissy when he saw them.

She wanted to float a while longer, keeping her thoughts confined to the delicious feel of the bed and Daemon’s hand resting on her belly, warm and heavy. But when she opened her eyes ...

Her vision had been so tear-blurred last night, and Sadi had taken them through so many corridors to find a discreet bedroom, she hadn’t known where they ended up. And last night the room hadn’t mattered, as long as it had a bed or sofa. Hell’s fire, last night she wouldn’t have cared if they’d ended up on the floor. But now ...

His psychic scent was much too prominent for this to be a seldom-used bedroom. Maybe this was the bedroom he used when a woman stayed overnight for sex? The thought cut, but she’d asked for something they both needed last night, and she’d told him it was freely given. So she couldn’t quibble now if he hadn’t seen it differently from the other sex he’d had since he’d been anyone’s lover. Even if those other women hadn’t recognized the difference, she’d lived around him long enough to know that Daemon as a sex partner, even when he was giving great sex, paled in comparison with Daemon as a lover.

That thought added a wash of sadness over her contentment. Better to slip out now and go back to her suite to clean up and maybe get another hour of sleep. She would meet him at the breakfast table as if they’d parted company in the family sitting room and spent the night in their own beds.

She started to shift, to slide out from under his hand. Except the fingers suddenly pressed down on her belly and the nails pricked in warning.

“Going somewhere?” Daemon crooned as he rose up on one elbow and looked down at her.

It was still too dark to see his face, his eyes. But that particular timbre in the deep voice had her heart racing. She knew the Sadist’s voice when she heard it.

His hand didn’t actually press down on her belly, but it felt heavier, more ... possessive.

Then he turned back the covers for her at the same time a light appeared through a half-closed door on the opposite side of the room. Enough light to see the room—and to see his eyes.

Not quite the Sadist. But not Daemon either. He was riding a side of his nature that was somewhere between the two.

She slipped out of bed and walked into the bathroom, too aware that a predator watched her and was considering if she too was a predator and required careful handling or if she was prey.

She used the toilet, then let water run in the sink to wash her face and stall for time.

They weren’t in a guest room. She’d seen enough to realize the room was too personal to be any kind of guest room. His bedroom, then. The Consort’s suite, since he hadn’t moved out of the room next to Jaenelle’s. A swift, careful probe confirmed he’d put Black shields in the walls and Black locks on the doors. No way for her to get out of this room until he let her go.

Mother Night.

A Warlord Prince’s bedroom is his private place, and he tends to be more possessive when he’s there. So if you’re invited into his bedroom, you want to be more careful in how you deal with him.

At the time, Surreal had thought Jaenelle’s mind had begun wandering because of old age, especially because those kinds of comments had usually come when they were alone and working on some chore not even remotely related to the subject matter.

Which was why all those comments had stuck in her mind.

“Hell’s fire,” Surreal whispered as she dried her face. Jaenelle’s mind hadn’t wandered. She’d been giving lessons in a way that wouldn’t be resisted—and wouldn’t be forgotten.

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