No Man Can Tame (Page 37)

He’d listened to her, heard her out, considered her input, and it wasn’t the first time. He’d listened to her in Stroppiata, too, about the entry, when they’d fought the harpies, about the shrine…

It would have been easy for him to wave her off, walk away, ignore her “meddling” and tell her not to worry her pretty little head over such complicated matters, as Papà had always told her.

But to Veron…

To Veron, she wasn’t just a pretty little head. She was someone. A person with ideas, with a voice, with a need to help and contribute, valid opinions, and he’d listened.

And then, tonight, he’d forgiven her.

Finally, that hasty plan from before the wedding didn’t stand between them.

She would still follow her dream, but she couldn’t imagine it any other way but with Veron at her side. Together, they’d see the library realized someday. She’d propose it to him, to his mother, to anyone who’d listen until it existed.

As Riza saluted and strode away, Veron glanced back over his shoulder, met her eyes with his own warm, golden gaze, and she had to remember to blink.

He returned to her, over six feet of warrior, strong, deadly, hers. Blood stained his jaw, his neck, his leather armor, and some of his hair, but she wanted nothing more than to wrap herself around him and kiss him until she forgot where she ended and he began.

With a smile, he offered her a hand, and she took it. He rubbed a thumb gently over the drying blood on her skin. “Let’s get cleaned up.”

He walked her toward their quarters across swaths of shining black pathways, past babbling streams and cascading waterfalls, shimmering with the soft sage glow of the bioluminescence.

A faint tremor shook the surface of the water, and she tightened her grip on Veron’s hand.

“Magic can’t penetrate Dun Mozg.” He cupped her cheek. “It’s encased in arcanir. You’re safe.”

She drew a slow, deep breath through her nose. Thank the Mother.

Veron pressed a gentle kiss to her forehead, and then to her lips.

Her fingers ached for him, and she moved closer, rested them on the broad expanse of his chest, let them slip slowly to the sculpted hardness of his abdomen.

The rhythm of his breath changed, deepened, slowed.

Another tremor, and she blinked, meeting heavy-lidded, darkening eyes. He skimmed her jawline with his fingers, raised her chin, held her gaze. Her lips parted, and a shaky breath escaped them.

A couple of passersby smiled at them, and she became very aware of just how this looked. And how it felt.

Veron tipped his head in the direction of their quarters, and she nodded. The sooner they cleaned off all this blood, the better.

Once inside, she pulled off her boots as he did his, then began unfastening her bloodied dress. Veron lit a candle and then headed to the basin, where he dipped his hands and began to scrub them and wash his face.

Beneath her dress, she wore a short challis chemise tucked into trousers—her stained trousers, so she pulled those off, too. She moved to the basin next to Veron, washed her face and then her own hands together with his, using the olive-oil-and-rosemary soap she’d brought from Bellanzole.

She soaped up his hands, too, careful of his claws, as he smiled.

“It smells like you,” he said, raising a palm to his nose. “What is it? This flower?”

“It’s an herb. Rosemary.”

Closing his eyes, he made a low, rolling sound in his throat, and warmth rippled into her, made her tingle all over. It was a sound she’d never tire of hearing, that would grace the best of her dreams—the ones she hoped not to wake from.

He set down the soap, rinsed his hands, then set about unstrapping his leather armor. She reached for the straps, too, stroked her palms over smooth leather, helped him until he was down to his clothes, just a shirt and braies. There was a cut on his arm, and she took hold of his hand, examined the wound.

“Veron, you’re hurt.”

With a shake of his head and a smile, he pulled off his shirt and presented his bicep. The slash was already partially healed.

“We recover quickly,” he said, although she dabbed at it with a clean washcloth. He took her hand. “I’m fine, Aless. Really.”

He gazed down at her, his mouth curving, and there was a playfulness there. A teasing.

So he thought she was overreacting. Maybe she was. But the notion of him being hurt—at all—made her worry so much that she didn’t know what to do with herself.

Apparently fussing wasn’t the answer. She smiled to herself and glanced away, to his bare chest, strong and smooth, and the black sun tattooed there.

“It’s beautiful,” she whispered, stroking it with her fingertips.

“You’ll have one, too, Aless,” he said, his voice deep and flowing as he covered her hand with his, “if you choose to go through with the second ceremony in Nozva Rozkveta.”

“I do choose to. Veron, I made that desperate plan before I ever knew you. Now that I’ve gotten to know you, I want to pursue my dream with you. And I want to marry you. As many times and in as many ways as you want.”

Slowly, he leaned in, unbearably slow, then tipped her chin up to his and kissed her, taking her in his arms. His hair brushed her cheek as she opened her mouth to him, pressed herself against his hard body. Holy Mother’s mercy, he had to know, had to understand that she’d never leave him, ever. That she’d chosen him, with everything she was and everything she had to give, no matter what she’d thought before knowing him.

With every breath, she inhaled the forest-stream scent of him, and that something deeper, something primal, that she couldn’t get enough of. Veron.

His tongue claimed her mouth in slow, sensual strokes—strokes that made her whimper, made her heart pound. She wanted him. More than anything or anyone she’d ever wanted before, she wanted him.

I want you to know that I’m open to your wishes, and that you shouldn’t fear rejection should you express them to me, he’d said to her once, on their wedding night.

She swallowed. As she leaned into him, against the hard, solid length of him—she gasped. His thoughts couldn’t be too far from her own.

“Veron,” she breathed between kisses, “I want to… I wish to…”

She’d been bold her entire life, had said things to lovers that would make a courtesan blush, but here, now, with him, she couldn’t even bring herself to form a coherent sentence, and Holy Mother help her, if he laughed at her right now, she would just die, instantaneously, of embarrassment.

He pulled away, just enough for his soft golden gaze to lock with hers, and then intertwined his fingers with hers. Candlelight flickered, its warm glow cast against his skin. Her heart skipped a beat as he searched her eyes.

“I want to make love with you, Aless,” he whispered, making her shiver. “I want to know you, as closely as one heart can know another, and I want you to know me.”

Every inch of her tensed and trembled in equal parts, and there was a good chance she was about to tackle him no matter what he said next.

“Do you want me to, Aless?” A teasing smile tugged at the corner of his mouth as he peered down at her with gleaming eyes.

She nodded—more than once—and threw her arms around him, rose on her tiptoes to kiss him, and he took her mouth, grabbed her bottom, and scooped her up. The spot was tender, but she didn’t care, not right now, not until the need coursing in her veins got its due.

Her mouth never leaving his, she locked her legs around his hips, let him take her to bed, where she threw off her chemise as he pulled off his braies.

In his nakedness, he was the most beautiful sight she’d ever laid eyes on—as if his god or hers had sculpted him from marble, chiseled his fit physique to the perfection standing before her now. Her husband. He was big, strong, hers, and he would know it to the core of his existence by the time she was through with him tonight.

He gave her a slow once-over, devouring her with his eyes, his chest rising and falling with every powerful breath, and she would have given anything—anything—to know what he was thinking right now, looking upon a human woman, his human woman.

He took her in his arms, claimed her with his lips, his kisses roving down her neck as she buried her hands in his long, soft hair.

“Teach my hands how to touch you, Aless,” he whispered, and his touch was gentle curiosity, unbinding her hair, raking through her curls; he brushed lightly over her breasts, and when she gasped, he firmed his touch, rubbed them, kissed them. He stroked along her ribcage and over her waist, down her thigh and all the way to her ankle, which he grasped and pressed to his lips.

“Teach my lips how to kiss you,” he whispered, his kisses fluttering along her skin, so light she squirmed as they graced her quivering inner thigh.

“Endlessly,” she answered softly, and he smiled before pulling her to the edge of the bed and descending to her. He kissed her belly, her hip, and lower, lower, until his lips met her core, making her gasp. Slowly, he pleasured her, his passionate, deliberate strokes coaxing her breaths out in erratic puffs while her hands clutched the bedding in tight fistfuls. Pressure rose in her, and built and built until she writhed beneath him, close, so close, tension rising, rising until it crested, peaked, bursting from her in cries as she reached for him.