A Stroke of Midnight (Page 9)

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Chapter 17

OUR CLOTHES FELL TO THE EARTH LIKE THE RAIN THAT HAD forgotten this land.

He lay back against that dry, parched earth, like a jewel laid upon a rough grey cloth. He had begun to glow before all his clothes had come off. When I brushed my hand over his bare arm, his skin glowed behind my fingers as if lightning flared underneath his skin, as if the lightest touch of my fingertips on even the most neutral parts of his body was almost too much. I wondered what he would do if I touched less neutral places.

I laid the very tips of two fingers against the swell of his upper chest. Light blossomed at my touch. His whole body glowed bright white, but around my fingers the light glowed orange and red like true flame. Where I touched him, his body ran hotter, and that red, hot heat followed my fingers down his body. I traced down his stomach, and just the touch sped his breathing, made him writhe against the dry earth. His eyes fluttered shut and his hands scrabbled at the bare earth, and all I had done was trail fingers across his stomach. I lost patience then, I wanted to see what he would do when I wrapped my hands around that most intimate part of him.

I think he expected me to at most trail my fingers across the long swollen bit of him, to give him some warning, but I didn't.

I wrapped my hand around him and squeezed. He cried out. His upper body came up off the ground, and the feel of him in my hand closed my eyes, bowed my back, because he was so much harder than I'd imagined. So hard, so terribly hard, that he felt more like smooth, hard marble, except he was so very warm.

“Oh, don't, don't do that, Merry-girl, or I won't last.”

“So hard,” I said, and my voice sounded breathy and hoarse.

“I know,” he whispered, “too hard. I will not last.”

“Then don't last,” I said.

He frowned at me, eyes still wild. “What?”

“Then don't last, for this first time, meet your need. You can prove your stamina next time.”

“Next time,” and he laughed. “I don't believe in next times. All that's real to me is you, here, now.”

He sat up and leaned in toward me. We weren't touching now, just close.

“If I am not good enough, you won't want me again.”

I leaned in toward him, putting our faces very close together.

“Did she judge you all on just one night?”

His eyes widened. “Yes,” he whispered.

“I don't.”

He smiled. “Are you saying that Frost and Doyle were less than spectacular the first time?”

I had to smile. “No.”

“Then who?”

I shook my head. “Everyone was wonderful, some just got spectacular with practice.”

He drew back far enough to see my face clearly. “You mean that?”

“Yes.”

“They can't all have been amazing.”

“If they weren't, I'll never tell.”

“You won't tell,” he whispered.

I started to touch his face, but he pulled back just enough to be out of reach.

“Tell what?” I asked.

He gave me a look, a look eloquent with meaning.

“Oh,” I said, and smiled again, but it was a gentler smile. “No, Amatheon, I won't tell.”

He wrapped his arms around me, pulling me in against him. His back was covered in the dry, powdery dirt. I expected it to be rough, but it wasn't. It was smooth and fine like the softest talcum powder. It did not distract from the warm smoothness of his skin but seemed to add texture like icing spread over warm, rich cake.

I pulled back enough to show him my hands covered in the soft, dry powder.

“So soft.” I looked up at him.

“Does it feel as soft against other places as it does on my hands?”

He drew me close, and just before his lips touched me, he whispered, “Let's find out.”

Chapter 18

WE ROLLED OURSELVES IN IT UNTIL WE LOOKED LIKE GREY ghosts. The shine of our magic was dimmed by it like Christmas lights shining through snow.

He pressed his hardness against the front of my body and the back of me. He was almost painfully hard, pressed between our bodies. He thrust against my stomach, my ass, but he would not enter me. He rubbed his body over me as if his manhood were another way to caress my skin. Even his balls were high and tight, and the few times he let me touch him there, he quivered, shivering with his need. My hand found that a second pulse lay in his groin, beating against the palm of my hand. He moved my hand away from him. He pressed and teased against me, doing a parody of position after position, but he would not enter me. He would not give himself to my hand or my mouth.

When he had covered us, nearly head to foot, in the soft, powdery dust and shown me the promise of his body, the strength of it, he pushed himself against and across my body, and I begged him to enter me.

“Please, Amatheon, please, no more teasing. Enter me, take me.”

“I thought you were going to be on top.” His voice was teasing and full of pleasure.

“Lie down for me and I'll be on top.” I tried to push him to the ground, but he stayed on his knees and would not be forced to the ground.

His hair lay in rich coppery waves around his face, caressing his broad shoulders. Even the greyish-white of the dust could not dim the rich color of that hair. The multilayered colors of his eyes glowed like individual jewels, sapphire, emerald, ruby, amber, and amethyst. Even the black pupil seemed polished and shining with power.

When his hair had first broken free of the French braid, Amatheon had tried to stop, tried to pull away, as if his shoulder-length hair were something shameful. I had shown him with my gaze, with my hands, that he was beautiful, all of him.

By the time he knelt shimmering with power through his coating of dust, there was nothing left of that hurt. But still he denied me.

“Please, Amatheon, please, lie down for me, or take me.” If he'd had a shirt, I would have grabbed him by it, but what I tried to grab to help persuade him, he would not let me touch. He trapped my hands between his and said, “It has been forever since a woman, any woman, has begged for my touch.”

He pressed our hands against his chest and closed his eyes. His breath went out in a long sigh. “The land has been too long untended, Meredith, too long unloved. It fears it is too late and there is no life to awaken.”

“You are the land, Amatheon,” I said, “and you live. Yield to me and I will love you. Please, please, Amatheon, please let me love you.”

“You speak of love so easily, do you mean sex?”

I closed my eyes and laid my forehead against his hands where they still trapped mine.

“I am no longer certain what I mean. I think I would say almost anything, do almost anything, in this moment, if it would make you say yes.”

“Yes to what?” but his voice held that teasing note again.

“Fuck me,” I said, still with my eyes closed, my head pressed against his hands.

He used his grip on my wrists to swing me around. He flung me to the ground. I barely caught myself with my hands in the dirt, barely kept my face above the ground. I drew breath to protest, but his weight was suddenly on top of me, pressing me to the ground. He jerked me up on my knees, so that I was on all fours. He shoved himself against my body, I think he meant to shove inside me, but the angle wasn't quite right. and he had to use his hands to move my hips ever so slightly. Again I started to say something, but he had his angle, and he shoved himself inside me, as hard and fast as he could. He shoved himself in until his balls smacked against my ass. I screamed, because he was too hard, and the angle was sharp, and I knew that as much as I'd begged, if he kept this position, I would be begging him to go before many thrusts. I'd felt men be hard and eager before, but never this hard. So hard, I wondered if it hurt him, too?

“Do you feel that?”

“Yes,” I gasped.

“Is this really what you want?”

“A different position, then, yes.”

“What position?”

“Me on top.”

“Why?”

“So I can control how deep you go. I've never felt anyone so hard.”

He drew out of me as abruptly as he'd entered. He turned me around, keeping only one hand in his as he lay down on the ground. He drew me down on top of him, but it took both of us to slide me over him, to put that quivering hardness inside me.

The feel of him sliding inside me flung my head back, closed my eyes. I fought my own body to stay high on my knees and not slam him into my cervix until I was ready for it.

His hands touched my hips, brought my attention to more than just the part of him that was inside me. “I want to see your face while you ride me.”

I looked down into his face and saw at last that look. That look that is dark and eager and all lust, but something else as well. Possession. In that moment, in a man's eyes is the sure knowledge that you won't say no. That you are, for that moment, his.

I gazed into the heat of his eyes, not the heat of magic, of faerie, but the eternal magic of male and female, of that eternal dance that truly did make the grass grow, the flowers bloom, the crops ripen. It was all in his face, that spark that keeps it all going.

“Amatheon,” I said, voice heavy with sighs.

He frowned up at me. “What is wrong?”

I smiled. “Nothing, absolutely nothing,” and I rolled my hips forward and began to ride him.

I rode him until his hips began to rise and fall with mine. I rode him until his hands convulsed around my breasts and I cried out. I rode him until his body began to lose rhythm, and the earth underneath my knees began to change. I was using the hard surface for my leverage, and suddenly I didn't have the leverage needed to keep the rhythm I wanted. That was my first hint that the ground was growing soft, and Amatheon was beginning to sink into it.

I hesitated above him, and his hands gripped my waist.

“Don't stop, Goddess, don't stop.”

I stopped fighting to use my knees and used my hips instead. I used hips and stomach muscles to move me over and around him as the ground began to sink beneath us. I could no longer keep the tip of him from the end of me, but it didn't hurt now. Now it was wet and open and ready.

I rode my body over him now, as fast and hard as I could, back and forth, grinding myself against him, over him, around him, over and over and over until his hands convulsed at my waist and he yelled, “Merry, look at me!”

I looked down into his eyes gone wild a second before his body bucked underneath mine, body straining a breath before orgasm caught me. I fought my body, fought not to look away, not to throw my head back, or close my eyes, as the pleasure took me, rolled me, climbed my skin in waves of warmth, convulsed my body around his, until we both cried out while I fought to keep eye contact. Fought to let him watch my frantic eyes, the near pain-filled look in a woman's face. I gave him all I could for as long as I could, but finally the orgasm was too much and I screamed, full throated, head back, eyes closed. I screamed as he pressed himself inside me, and the earth sank under us like black water.

I felt his body leave me before I opened my eyes and found myself kneeling on the rich black earth. I touched the ground where he had been, and it crumbled, black and moist in my hand.

I gazed off across the plain, and it was all black and rich. I knelt in the soft, moist earth and wondered, “Amatheon, where are you?” I was left alone.

Then I was kneeling on rough stone, in the half-light of the sithen hallway. One moment in the heart of vision and the next back in faerie. If I hadn't been on my knees already, I would have fallen. But I was saved from pitching face-forward onto the floor by my own hand and Frost's hand on my arm.

“Consort save us,” he muttered, and that was my first hint that something had gone wrong. Before I could even look around, I was suddenly flat to the floor with him on top of me, shielding me. It was entirely too much like the assassination attempt at the press conference. My pulse was suddenly in my throat, and I fought two disparate urges – to look around and to make myself as small a target as possible. Frost gave me no choice. With his body on top of mine, his chest pressing my face into the stone, I couldn't move.

He raised up just enough to draw the gun that was under his right arm with his left hand. I watched his arm extend to point farther down the hall. I could see enough to know that this wasn't the entrance hallway. As I lay there, his body pressing me painfully into the stone floor, I felt his body react to the shot, as the explosion of it echoed off the stones. He fired again, the shot jerking his body above me. A man cried out, but I did not know the voice.

“I'm getting you out of here.” He said it as if I was going to argue, which I wasn't. Getting out of there sounded just fine. Where was everyone else? Why was Frost the only person with me?

He fired twice more in quick succession, his free hand already on my arm. He stood, pulling me with him, already moving us down the larger hallway, putting a wall between us and our enemies, but I could see what lay in the smaller hallway now. I stumbled, and might have struggled against Frost's hand if he'd given me the chance. But I think he knew that, and he moved with all the speed and strength that being pure sidhe gave him. He had me up against the wall, and around the corner, out of the sight and aim of the attackers I still hadn't seen. What I had seen was Crystall with his hands covered in white light, and Adair wading into men, sword already bloody. But that hadn't been what made me push against Frost's pinning arm, as he held me against the wall. Galen, lying on the floor, a pool of blood spilling out underneath him. He hadn't been moving.

“Let me go,” I said to Frost.

He shook his head, his eyes anguished. “No. Your safety takes precedence over anything else.”

I screamed at him, and fought against him, but it was like struggling against steel with muscle around it. I could not move him unless he let me. He had pressed his body along the line of mine, pinning me completely to the wall; I had no room to try to hurt him enough to make him let me go. He'd known I would fight him.

I screamed the only word that mattered to me in that moment. “Galen!” I screamed his name until my throat went raw, but there was no answer.