Page 23 of Soul in Darkness

My voice shook. “I will never kiss you.” But I wanted to. Gods, how could a monster tempt me so? We were both quiet for a long, tense moment.

“Take your feet and run them along my legs.”

“What?” Was he mad? Well, yes, probably.

“You cannot touch me with your hands, but your feet are allowed.”

He was giving me the opportunity to explore him. A way around the “no touching” rule. I remained still except for the rapid rising and falling of my chest. Did I want to know how his legs felt? It was a moment of truth. Would I feel scales? I closed my eyes, terrified, but steeled myself. I had to take the opportunity.

I tentatively brought my feet inward until my toes touched the bare, heated skin of his lower legs. My breath caught. He was so warm. I ran my toes up and down what felt like a strong, human calf with normal hair. My whole foot pressed against him now, then the other, running down to ankles, long feet, and toes. He felt…nice.

“All right,” I whispered, dropping my feet back to the bed. “I am satisfied.”

“Are you, though?”

I nodded, feeling inarticulate. I couldn’t bring myself to thank him, though I felt immensely relieved. “But I don’t understand. Why did the oracle lie?”

“Lie?”

“It said you were a winged serpent.”

He chuckled, and the movement in his lower abdomen made him rub against me, causing my entire core to clench and throb. Damn him again!

“Perhaps metaphorical.”

“Well, that’s unfair,” I said. I gave my arms a gentle tug, but he pressed them down harder into the mattress over my head.

“It is time for our kiss.” I felt his words against my lips, and my body buzzed.

Terrified, I turned my head aside. “No. No kissing.”

“Very well, no kissing.” He arched his hips into mine and my head flew back.

“Gods!” I panted, fighting every urge to rub wildly against him in return. “Don’t do that!”

“What? This?” His hips circled, grinding our bodies together, the friction coiling my insides in a way I had never experienced.

“Please…please don’t.”

He sighed against my mouth. “In all of history I cannot recall a time a woman has asked not to be pleasured when her body so clearly begs otherwise. Tell me why, Psyche.”

My eyes burned with frustration. “I don’t trust you.”

“You do not have to trust me to use me.”

“It would be wrong.”

“Wrong how?”

“I c-can’t explain it.” Oh, hot Hades, the weight of him on top of me was more delicious than any nectar. My head turned back to face him, and to my absolute shock, I felt his forehead lower to mine, then the tip of his nose touched mine. Our breaths mingled, and my heart skipped at the surprising sweetness.

“You have no idea what I would give to see you take your pleasure, Psyche.”

I wrenched my head to the side, away from him, my heart pounding now. “Don’t say things like that.”

Again, he chuckled. “It is perfectly proper for a husband to tell his wife exactly how he feels and what he wants. Leodes would have spoken to you no less intimately.”

Leodes. Gods…just the thought of that man’s sexy mouth saying such words to me had me sighing and softening.

“Let it all go.” His breath was against my neck now, and his hips pressed into mine, sending stars into my sight. “Think of nothing.”

“I…” Words failed me when he moved his body in a way that made the length of him slide fully up the slant of my womanhood, igniting every unfamiliar sensation. I had never felt a man against me, even through clothing. I never imagined it would feel like this. My whole body was piqued. Could I do what he said, use him, and not let it affect my mind? What would it hurt? I wasn’t giving him anything, despite what he might think. It would be for me. I could remain strong. I could do this. Right?

Without another moment’s hesitation, I rounded my back to lift my hips tentatively. My husband hissed under his breath and said nothing, but his body took control. Whatever type of hybrid creature he was, if the expertise of his movements were any indication, he had definitely been with women. I would explore my feelings about that later. Right now, we moved together in a dazzling dance, and somehow, we both knew the choreography. I kept my head to the side with my eyes closed. My lips parted as I breathed heavily while he moved on top of me. My body squirmed and arched, my knees up, pressing and feeling his muscled thighs, his strong hips, his flat stomach, his thick manhood.

The buildup tightened in my lower abdomen, my nightgown damp between us. Every bit of my flesh was on the edge of igniting, and then he picked up the pace, rubbing up and down, hard and fast, lighting a spark in my core that burst into flames. I shouted, my body bucking, but he stayed with me, pressing the full force of himself into my release as it came in waves. It was a whole-body experience, my skin tingling from head to toe in the most gratifying way. So, this was what all the fuss was about among chattering ladies.

His cheek was against mine as I came down from my high, my body quivering, and then his lips were hovering over my own.

“And now for that kiss,” he whispered.

I was too blissed to think straight. When his lips touched mine, painfully soft and tender and warm, I moaned. It was the cream on top of an unexpectedly rich dessert. He melted into me, and I let him. Gods help me. I let him. And his mouth was extraordinary. Full lips. A soft, velvety tongue that reached expertly into my mouth to meet my own. I had received one kiss when I was sixteen—one of Papa’s young soldiers on his way to war—but it had been rushed and overly-exploratory. How had my husband, a dark creature of Olympus, learned to kiss and move his body in a way that would please a human woman so extraordinarily?

When the kiss ended, I felt him watching me. My body was already cooling, and to feel his eyes on me made me aware of the wetness between us, my nightgown saturated where our bodies had touched, and the wanton way I’d given over to my basest instincts…with a monster.

“Fear again,” he whispered. “It was lovely not to smell it for a few moments.”

“Get off me. Please,” I begged.

He did as I asked, releasing my wrists and climbing off me with a deep sigh. I heard the whoosh of his wings opening and closing in rapid succession and felt the air move. I yanked up the covers and pulled up my knees, wrapping my arms around them. I’d just…he…oh, depths of the underworld! I’d been under a trance. It was the only way to explain it. My face heated red.

“Regret and self-doubt,” he muttered from the end of the bed. “Treacherous human traits.”

I grabbed my head in my hands. “I won’t let you manipulate my mind again.”

“Manipulation? That was all you, Psyche,” he said. The erotic undertones seeped through his voice as if he were still imagining me squirming underneath him. He was gloating, and it fueled my ire.

“You lie!”

“I may withhold the truth, Wife, but I never lie. Enjoy your day.”

He left me, and I sat there trying to get myself under control. My mind reeled, and my body still hummed.

“It’s all right,” I whispered to myself. “Everything is all right.” I had no idea what to believe, but my mind was still my own. It had just been one moment of weakness, that’s all. Though I felt shame and disbelief, no harm was done.

It’s all right.

HOMESICK

I sat in bed, not moving, for far too long, analyzing every single moment of this morning. Every motivation that we both might have had. Every possible consequence. I turned over each and every detail in my mind, scouring them for ways he might have control over me now after what we’d shared. And I came to one conclusion.

I was fine.

My mind was strong. Allowing myself a moment of pleasure with him, regardless of our situation, did not give him sway over me. Whatever magic powers he had, I was not falling for them. Yes, all right, I’d wanted him, and so I’d allowed myself a moment of weakness. But one thing was for certain: it would not happen again. I was in control.

Once I finally began to relax, his kiss landed at the forefront of my thoughts. Our semi-coupling had been a purely physical need, but that kiss…it had been timely and intimate. Far too intimate. The only reason it had felt so wonderful was that I’d been completely overcome by what had happened, my body sated, and my conscious thoughts ambling far away. I definitely couldn’t let him kiss me again. That was the sort of thing that could hurt me, weaken me. Kissing was for people in love.

We would never be in love.

Outside, far below, Mino began a barking fit. I jumped from the bed and ran to the window, throwing it wide. The puppy was barking up at a centaur soldier tree-sculpture where he’d treed a squirrel. The animal was shaking its bushy tail furiously.

“I’m coming, Mino!” At the sound of my voice he peered up, went still, and then his whole body began to move side-to-side as his tail swung in glee.

I let out a laugh and ran to my closet, quickly discarding the nightgown and dressing in a peach colored, high-waisted gown that sat evenly on both shoulders and swooped low on my chest. I brushed back my hair and wound it in a twist, poking pins through it to keep it in place, then dashed from the room. I needed sunshine to clear my thoughts.

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