~Steamy Deleted Scenes~
(DELETED SCENE STARTS AND ENDS AT YELLOW HIGHLIGHTS)
COTTON CANDY MAKE-OUT SESSION
I locked myself in my room and paced the wooden floors, annoyed with myself and on the verge of tears. I shouldn’t have snapped at him. What if he went all crazy, like the other night when Raysa had seen him?
Raysa! She’d know what to do. I glanced at my nightstand for my phone. Not there. I’d left it in the kitchen. Now what? I hooked my hands behind my neck and tried to think.
The bedroom door creaked open.
I turned and dropped my hands to my sides.
Caiden walked into the room.
“How did you do that? I locked it.”
He tilted his head with a playful smirk. “Did you really believe that could keep me out?”
I crossed my arms. “Maybe I hoped you’d respect it.”
He shook his head, a trace of disappointment in his eyes. “I’m not trying to conquer you. Where did you get that from?”
I didn’t want to say Raysa and get her in trouble. “I heard about your past. Your active past.”
He licked his lips then grinned. “And you think that’s what I want with you?”
Wasn’t it? Or had I been reading him wrong? Maybe this was how Death Sentries acted all the time. I was so confused.
“Forget I said that.” I waved my hands as if to clear the air. “In fact, let’s forget everything. We can pretend you just got here and start over. Or you can go.” My heart squeezed at the thought of him returning home to Bianca.
“Do you want me to go?”
“No,” I whispered.
“Then I’m staying.”
I blinked, and he appeared in front of me. When I shuffled backward, he came forward until I bumped into the dresser. He hooked his hands under my arms and sat me on top of the furniture.
I gasped. “What are you doing?”
“Directing your full attention.”
I leaned to the right in an attempt to get away.
He put his hand on that side of the dresser.
I leaned to the left and almost laughed at how silly I was being.
His other hand came down on that side. Trapped between his arms, I couldn’t say I was upset about it. Truth was, I liked this flirty game of chase we played. How sick was I?
Giving in to my captor, I rested my back against the mirror and smirked. “What do I have to do to get you to move?”
Light flashed in his eyes. “Is that an invitation?”
Heat blasted my cheeks and other parts of me.
He lowered his face to my eye level. “I’m not moving until we clear this up.”
“Clear what up?” I brought a few strands of hair to my mouth and feathered the ends over my lips.
“I love when you do that.”
He did? The hair slipped from my fingers with my shock.
“I’m not here to play games,” he said. “But I will if I have to. I came back for a reason, and I’m not leaving until I get it.”
I held his gaze. “And what is it you came back to get?”
“You. All I want is you.”
“And what about Bianca?” I dared to ask. “Why would you let your ex-fiancée live with you unless you still had a connection to her?” My muscles tightened with my unease toward that fact.
His lips twisted with a surprised grin. “You’re jealous.”
“And you’re obviously pleased about that. Is that why you let her live with you? To get me to admit that I’m jealous?” So this was a game to him?
He lowered his head, his arms still caging me in. His golden bangs fell, shielding his eyes and part of his face from my view. “It’s my fault she left. I couldn’t turn her away. Once you leave your realm, you’re branded a traitor. You become a target. If they capture you, you’re tortured until they decide whether to keep you or kill you.”
I sat up and gripped his bicep. “They wouldn’t do that to you, though. Right?”
“I don’t plan to get caught.” He lifted his head, and a wolfish grin curved his lips. “I do, however, plan to get you to ask.” He tucked my hair behind my ear and glided soft fingers down my neck, then lowered them more until they reached the V where my robe closed.
Light-headed, I fell against the mirror. The sensation of tiny kisses trailed over my skin.
His hand moved to my waist and touched the belt of my robe. He studied my face, eyes beaming with satisfaction. “Don’t you want to know what I plan to make you ask?”
Near breathless, I said, “I want to know why your touch feels like tiny kisses.”
“Is that what it feels like to you?” He brought one hand to my sleeve, then gently ran his fingers up my arm.
I shivered, barely able to keep my eyes open. “You’re trying to trick me into kissing you by making me feel this way.” Didn’t he know he didn’t have to trick me? We’ve been dancing around this kiss since before he left.
He lowered his head and ran the tip of his nose down my neck.
I nearly jumped out of my skin and fell against the mirror again.
“I don’t play tricks when I want something. I never have needed to. But in the effort of winning you over, I can assure you, I’m not doing anything to you.” He lifted his face to reveal flushed cheeks and wild eyes.
“You’re not?” I frowned. “What else could explain these sensations?”
He touched his forehead to mine. “It’s not something I do intentionally. It’s a gift from the Realm of Death—or rather, a curse. People draw from me what they want, what they crave.”
“Is that why your breath smells like cotton candy?”
He leaned away as if confused. “You don’t eat cotton candy.”
“No,” I admitted, aching to have him near me again. “It gives me a sugar high and then a headache. But it’s my favorite treat. I wish I could eat it every day.”
Caiden inched forward until he slid between my thighs, his bright eyes never leaving mine. He grabbed my hips and slid me closer to him.
“Ask me.” The words came out in a heated whisper that turned my insides to mush.
If I asked him, it meant giving over all self-control. I’d drown in his scent, warmth, and touch, and I’d be lost forever. Was I ready for that? For the hurt and consequences that could follow?
Caiden’s lips parted. He swooped down and brushed his nose with mine. His cotton-candy breath swirled the air.
I could almost taste the sugary mix on my tongue.
“Ask me.” His finger slipped under my robe, moving outward, until the sleeve fell from my shoulder. He moved his lips there and hovered, heating my skin with his breath.
I turned my head into his soft hair, deciding then and there, that no matter what, I wanted him—even if it seemed a bit reckless. It was impossible to resist him when everything inside me begged to be with him.
“Kiss me,” I whispered into his hair.
In a rush, he lifted his head. His eyes were wide.
How could my asking be a surprise to him? I’d been panting for several minutes now. It was inevitable that I’d give in.
I sat up, lifted my hand to his toned chest, and watched my fingers slide up to his neck before meeting his eyes.
He cupped my cheek, lifted my face, and ran his thumb across my bottom lip. The slightest grin tilted one corner of his mouth, and then he came down and pressed his lips to mine.
Warmth radiated between us and every inch of my skin writhed with the sensation of tiny kisses. The feeling was so overwhelming, I wrapped my arms around his neck and pulled him to me.
He slipped his tongue between my parted lips. Warm, wet, and like a sugary dessert, I lapped at him as if I couldn’t get enough—because I couldn’t. Each time our lips tangled, I felt an ache between my legs that drove me wild.
I slid toward him on the dresser until I felt him where I wanted. He was hard when he pressed into me, rocking his hips with a slow rhythm that set my body ablaze.
“Caiden?” I breathed. “I didn’t know it would feel like this.”
“What do you feel?” he murmured in between kisses.
“Everything. My body is alive in a way I never experienced. I’m burning for you.” I didn’t know if my words made sense. I could barely talk or breathe.
The next thing I knew, I was in Caiden’s arms, hoisted off the dresser.
I hooked my feet behind his back so I wouldn’t lose the connection between us that I loved so much.
He titled his head and somehow deepened the kiss, devouring me as if he’d been in the desert for weeks and I was his first drink.
Instead of fighting these new desires or questioning if my actions were off or something I’d be embarrassed about later, I gave in to Caiden and everything my body wanted from him. And it wanted.
My breath sped and my heart pounded. I needed to be closer to him, even though we were sandwiched together already.
As if hearing my thoughts, Caiden laid me on the bed.
I settled on the soft mattress and spread my raised knees. Slowly, he lowered himself onto me, the weight of his body exactly what I craved.
His lips found mine, and I drifted away, lost in a sea of Caiden.
His oaky, campfire scent invaded my senses, as did his candy taste. His hands swept over every inch of my body, his fingers as light as a breeze.
My skin felt tight and the ache between my legs grew stronger.
“You feel amazing and taste so sweet,” Caiden whispered against my neck. “I can’t believe we’re doing this. I can’t believe you’re letting me.”
“Why?” I arched my back and his hand slipped under my robe, caressing the skin on my stomach and my sides. I squirmed with pleasure. “I’ve wanted this for so long, too. You had to have known that.”
Lifting his head from my collarbone, his luminous eyes met mine. “I thought you were too angry with me for leaving. I wasn’t sure I’d ever get this chance.”
I lifted my head and kissed his lips. “I always wanted you. I was just fighting it.”
He smiled and let out a breath. “You have no idea how happy you just made me. I’ve never had this with anyone—a friendship, a connection, and this kind of attraction. Only with you, Lily. Only you.”
Hearing him say that filled me with a peace and confidence I’d never known with any guy. Not that there were many before him—meaningless attractions that were more about experimenting than anything else.
Caiden sucked on my bottom lip and rocked his hips into me with the weight of his body.
I moaned and breathed, “Again.”
He did and the sensations that filled me were all consuming. I felt his body, the tiny kisses, and an energy I couldn’t describe. I felt the warmth of his skin, the heat of his breath, the taste of his tongue and press of his lips. I felt his hands skimming my body in all the right places and his hardness between my legs. I was dizzy and weak but also energized and desperate for more of this beautiful being.
My robe hung haphazardly from my body. I wanted it off, but a tiny bit of self-consciousness crept over me. Sure, he’d seen me in a string bikini and my underwear but never naked. How would I compare to the Death Sentries from his past? I froze for a moment.
Caiden gazed down with glowing eyes, his lips red and swollen, his skin radiating golden light. He looked enthralled and smiled so warmly, my anxiety had no place to go but away. “Are you okay with doing more?”
The word yes blurted in my head but to him I only nodded.
“Are you sure?” He kissed my jawline.
“Very sure,” I murmured on a sigh, and for the first time, I moved my hips to meet him.
The way his face lit up was mesmerizing and encouraging.
He pinched the fabric of my robe. “May I?”
“I love that you ask. Yes.”
He bent to my lips and kissed me until my head spun, while he somehow removed my robe completely.
His lips explored my body this time and, oh God, I thought I might die from pleasure and excitement.
“Caiden, please,” I said breathless and arched my back again as his fingers rounded the top of my breasts.
He tugged the lacy bra down and exposed me to him for the first time.
My chest heaved with an inhale and my breasts beaded before his glowing eyes.
This seemed erotic in a way I wasn’t skilled enough for, even though it was innocent compared to what other people my age were doing or had done when they were even younger.
I hoped he liked what he saw. The way he stared made me think he did.
His eyes lifted to mine, and then he lowered his head and kissed the sensitive part of my breast.
I bucked and thought for sure I’d pass out from lack of oxygen.
He did it again and then switched to my other breast.
I gripped his arms as my body writhed in ways that felt natural.
“By the gods, you are stunning. My little nature-goddess. Mine.” He devoured my lips again, his tongue plunging as his hands moved to my underwear.
He didn’t have to ask. I raised my hips for him to slide the fabric off—and he did.
“I need to see you, Lily. All of you. May I?”
“Only if I can see you, too.” I didn’t know if my words were decipherable.
He smiled, a sexy glint in his eyes, and lifted off my upper body without looking at my lower half. “Take my shirt off. I want to feel your hands on my skin.”
Yes. I wanted that, too. I slid my fingers under his cotton tee and ran them up his body. The muscles, the static energy, the smoothness of his skin and the warmth. I wanted to scrape my nails across his skin, but I held back.
Caiden moaned and his eyes closed with my touch. It was such a turn on.
I lifted his shirt over his head and threw it on the floor with a giggle.
He smiled, too.
I wanted to undo his jeans but then he’d have to lift all the way off me, and he’d see me before I could see him. This had to be an at-same-time deal.
“Take your pants off,” I whispered, and he understood what I was thinking because he stayed near me and yet found a way to remove his jeans and toss them on the floor.
I wasn’t sure if he’d removed his underwear, too. I also wasn’t sure what that meant. Would we have sex? My first time. I couldn’t imagine it with anyone else, but I wasn’t sure if we were moving too fast.
Caiden caught my gaze and held it. “Ready to see me and I see you?” He kissed me softly.
I drew in a breath and nodded.
He kissed a trail down my body to my stomach and then sat back on his knees. Golden, shimmering, and glowing, Caiden naked was sexy as hell. His stomach muscles rippled, and my eyes focused on the part of him I’d never seen on any guy before. It was bigger than I expected and glowing gold like the rest of him. Without thought, I sat up and touched it.
“Did I hurt you?”
“Absolutely not. You surprised me—in a good way.”
“I want to touch it again.” I licked my lips, having limited knowledge on how blowjobs and handjobs worked other than hearsay, and never having the desire to want to give one until now.
I glanced at Caiden’s face.
He looked stunned.
“You amaze me. You always do. Have you ever done this before?”
“You know I haven’t.”
“Good. Just making sure nothing drastic happened while I was away.”
“If it had, would you feel differently?”
“Only about wanting to kill the guy you were with. But I’m honored to get to be your first. And last if I have a say in it.” He winked.
My lips tugged with a smile. I liked the way he reacted to me and the things he said. A lot. “Show me what to do?”
I didn’t know if he’d looked at me yet—all of me—considering I was naked. I hadn’t given him a chance to gawk the way I had, although he didn’t seem to mind.
He showed me how to hold and stroke him but nothing more.
I did as he’d instructed, watching his eyes close, his face contort with pleasure, and his breathing grow louder and faster.
I couldn’t believe I was doing this and that I wasn’t embarrassed. I always thought I’d be but all I could feel was desire, excitement, anticipation for more, and the strongest need to please him however I could.
Caiden bucked and covered my hand, stilling my movements. Was he about to come?
“Why’d you stop me?”
“Because I’m about to lose it, and I need touch you. I want to do to you what you’ve done to me.”
“But you didn’t… This isn’t how it’s supposed to end, from what I know.”
He cursed and closed his eyes briefly. “You’re going to make me come with just your words. You are lovelier than I could have imagined. A dream, Lily. The best dream.”
He caressed my cheek, stared into my eyes, and then kissed me with so much passion I thought I’d never stop moaning.
Caiden laid me on my back and gazed down at me, taking me in the way he’d said he wanted.
I felt weird just lying there on display, but it was clear on his face that he really liked what he saw.
He cursed again. I’d never heard him curse so much. “You are my dream.”
Next he came down on me and his hardness rubbed against my core, sliding up and down in the most pleasurable way. We weren’t having sex, yet, and I still wasn’t sure if we should, especially after seeing how big he was.
Caiden teased my breasts more, kissed them, and lowered his hand between my legs.
I ached so badly and had the desire to be filled.
He played with me down there, touching places I didn’t know could feel so amazing.
I writhed beneath him, pulled his hair, and at one point, I bit his shoulder.
He cursed again and plunged his tongue into my mouth. Then he did something I’d come close to experiencing in the past but had refused. He slipped a finger inside me. The foreign sensation was almost too much. When he started moving it and added another finger, I moaned so loudly I thought the distant neighbors would hear me.
“Caiden. I need you. I need you so much. Please,” I begged and spread my legs wider, wanting him closer, wanting to feel him inside me.
“I’m going to fix it for you, okay?” he breathed into my neck, his skin sweaty for the first time ever—from what I’d seen.
I nodded. It was all I could do.
To my disappointment, he removed his fingers. I huffed and almost barked at him to keep going, but then he kissed a trail down my body to the spot where his fingers were a moment ago.
Was he going to…?
His glowing orbs lifted to mine. “May I?”
Holy crap. He was going to kiss me there. Shouldn’t I have been embarrassed? I was spread eagle and his head was between my thighs.
Panting, I nodded again and dropped my head to the pillow. I closed my eyes.
“So pretty,” he murmured, and then he licked me.
I nearly bounced off the bed. A horse voice cried out. Mine?
“I love your reactions,” Caiden whispered, fueling my confidence.
He did it again and again, eventually adding his fingers to the mix.
I thought I’d died or was about to because I couldn’t keep breathing like this. Surely, I’d hyperventilate. My body wound tight, and my fingers found his hair. I cried his name once, twice, and murmured some other words— please, don’t stop, more. It didn’t seem like stuff I’d do or say, but it was.
Then it happened. A feeling I could only describe as an uncontrolled spasm in my lower half that stole my breath and filled my body with pure bliss. Static charged me like a live wire, and it felt like I was floating. I cried out again at some point. Maybe more than once. Eventually, my taught body softened into the mattress. Sweat covered me, and my breathing slowly returned to normal.
When I opened my eyes, Caiden was glowing brighter than ever.
He looked satisfied, although I didn’t know how unless he felt what I’d felt and from I knew, that wasn’t how it worked.
His lips twisted with a sexy grin and then he covered me with his body and kissed me as if savoring the moment.
“You are so beautiful. So much more than I’d imagined. Lily, I want you to myself.”
“You have me.” I let out a deep exhale and slid my fingers into his hair. “All of me. I only want you.” I kissed him. “I want to make you feel good, too.”
“You have. In so many ways, you have.”
That made me smile. “Well, I want to do it in one particular way.” I lifted my hips and rubbed myself against his hardness.
“You want more?” The happiness on his face was wonderful.
“Of you? Yes.”
“We have time.”
“We have time right now.” It’s night. We’re alone. Naked. And if he could make me feel the way he did a moment ago, I was in. Moving too quickly with him was no longer a concern.
He kissed me and delved his tongue into my mouth. “I have so many things planned for you, but not yet.”
“Why? You’ve seen all me—touched all of me. Don’t you want more?” Wasn’t that how it worked? When you found the person you were compatible with in all ways, you did more.
He touched my bottom lip. “That pout will be the death of me.” He kissed me. “And I didn’t say I was done with you. Just that we didn’t need to have sex tonight.”
“What else is there to do?” I asked naïvely.
He grinned, “I’ll show you,” and kissed me again.
(DELETED SCENE STARTS AND ENDS AT YELLOW HIGHLIGHTS)
When I opened my eyes, we stood hand in hand in my bedroom. I caught our image in the mirror above the dresser. We looked like we’d just gotten back from a wild prom night. How much simpler life would be if that were the case.
I let go of his hands, which fell to his sides like dead weight.
“You can go now,” I told him, not hiding the spite in my tone.
I opened my closet and tugged at a bag on the top shelf. Crammed in between stacks of jeans I barely ever wore, the bag fell, nearly hitting me in the head. One of Caiden’s old T-shirts fell out and landed on the floor. I’d forgotten it was in there.
I set the bag down and turned for the shirt. It landed on the wooden floor next to Caiden’s black shoes.
“Why are you still here?” I snapped. “Don’t you have to get back to Bianca?”
I grabbed the shirt and tossed it into the open bag.
Caiden pulled it out. “This is mine. How did you get it?”
I snatched it from his hand. “It’s mine now and it’s coming with me.” If he wanted it, he’d have to fight me for it.
His eyes narrowed with suspicion as he backed away. He turned his attention to my room, studying the space.
Ignoring him, I dropped the shirt into the bag and returned to the closet. I yanked a few dresses from the hangers and tossed them into the bag, too.
Caiden wandered about, touching perfume bottles and fingering my makeup. He lifted a picture frame from my dresser.
I gasped. It was a picture of us. A note tucked into the back fell to the floor.
Caiden didn’t notice. He turned and held up the frame. “So you and Raysa are pretty close?”
The picture had been switched out to one of Raysa and me. Bianca didn’t miss anything with her spell, did she? I hated her—hated being here.
Tears of anger blurred my vision. I blinked them back, more determined than ever to leave. Maybe I didn’t need the poetry book to reach my mom.
Maybe all I had to do was call her. Wasn’t that what she had said? I couldn’t remember but decided it had to work. I’d completed my task. She’d hear me. She’d come.
I went to my closet for a change of clothes and brushed by Caiden on my way to the bathroom. “Excuse me,” I said with attitude. At the door, I stopped and glared over my shoulder.
He stood near my open bag.
“Don’t even think about touching that shirt.”
His brows lifted with amusement. “Or what?”
My breath heated. I wanted to toss him out the front door. Why was he still here?
I narrowed my eyes. “Or I’ll tell you the truth about us. Then you’ll race back to your precious Bianca.”
I stormed into the bathroom, so ready to be out of this gown. It was on the floor within seconds. I slipped on a hot-pink sundress—the color way too bright for my mood, but whatever. I was leaving. Maybe I’d get a dress like my mom’s when I arrived at her realm. The thought was nice, but not as comforting as I’d hoped. I gathered my toothbrush and hair products, unsure of what I’d need in a godly realm.
When I entered my room, I found Caiden sitting at the end of my bed. His head hung low, his bangs hiding his eyes. The note from the floor was clutched in his hand.
“What? Now you’re reading my personal notes?” I dumped my toiletries into the bag and snatched the paper from his hand.
My eyes widened with shock at the blue pen scribbling. He’d found the good-bye note I’d written—started to write—him months ago. It was meant to be a form of closure, but I hadn’t been able to get through it, so I’d stuffed in the back of a framed picture of us until I was ready—if the day ever came—to finish the letter. Bianca must have missed it when cleansing my room of all things Caiden.
He lifted his red, glossy eyes to me. “What’s going on?”
I hesitated for a second. Tell him. I couldn’t. It would hurt too much.
“Nothing.” I turned away, placed the letter on the dresser, and grabbed a handful of bras and panties from a drawer. Into the bag they went.
He stood. “That note is about me.”
“It’s possible to know more than one Caiden,” I said, impressed with how quickly I had twisted the truth. It came easily. I recalled the many times Dagan had done it—manipulated the truth—Caiden, too. They hadn’t found a way around lying, like I’d thought.
“I’m right.” Caiden swiped the note from the dresser. “This is about me and you’re running from me. Why?”
I didn’t respond. Instead, I continued to fill my bag with shorts, tank tops, pajamas…anything I might need.
“Lily?” He said my name in an intimate tone, as if he knew me.
I kept my back to him. “I’m not leaving because of you. I’m leaving because there’s nothing here for me anymore.” It dawned on me. If I left now, I wouldn’t get to tell Raysa good-bye.
I turned but averted my gaze. “How long do negotiations last?”
“You want me to answer your questions, yet you refuse to answer mine.”
“Forget it. I’ll figure it out myself,” I mumbled on my way to my desk. On the shelf above, I shuffled through books, searching for the poetry leatherback. It wasn’t there, and then I remembered why. I’d left it in New Orleans.
I blew out a frustrated breath, shook my head, and willed myself to stay calm. “Can you please tell me how long Raysa will be?”
“After you answer a question for me.”
His arrogant tone had me biting back a slew of smart remarks.
I forced my jaw to unclench and grabbed the laptop from my desk. “I don’t have time for your games. Just tell Raysa I said good-bye.” I’d find a way to contact her. Maybe the godly realm would have internet access. I laughed at the crazy thought, feeling I was a white rabbit and tea party away from madness.
“I can make you answer me,” Caiden said. “I can make you stop moving. I can make you do whatever I want.”
The air thickened and the hairs on the back of my neck lifted.
Laptop in hand, I faced him. “What is wrong with you?”
“You.” He pinned me with a cold stare. “You’re what’s wrong with me. Sit.” He jerked his head toward the bed and grabbed the laptop before I could react.
My skin prickled with energy. “So this is Death Sentry Caiden. Can’t say it’s nice to finally meet you.”
Caiden’s chest rose and fell with his heavier breathing. The temperature in the room dropped.
Shivering, I considered my options. Apart from burning him—if I could repeat the action—I had none. I sat at the foot of the bed, struggling to inhale the frigid air.
With shaky hands, Caiden rumpled his hair in a frenzied gesture. “Are you working with Dagan and my father?”
The question stunned me. “You think I’m—” I glanced away, hurt building inside like a storm off the coast. I couldn’t do this, not now. I had to stick to the plan and free myself of this pain. “I’m not working with anyone,” I said, calmer than I thought possible. “I just want to leave this world. I don’t want to be a part of it anymore. And I don’t want to do this with you.” My lips tightened with anguish, and I couldn’t stop tears from forming.
“You’re lying!” He kicked my bag and flung the laptop. It smashed against the wall and landed on the floor in pieces.
“Why did you do that?” I cried. “I had memories saved on that.”
Afraid of what might happen next, I closed my eyes and focused all my energy on my parents. “Take me, Mom and Dad. Please, take me now. I’m finished with this world. My task is complete. I want to join you.”
Caiden gripped my arms and shook my body.
My head bobbed and my hair scattered over my shoulders and into my face.
“What are you doing? Don’t! I’m not finished.”
He stopped rattling me.
I met his fiery eyes with a surge of anger and hate. “Get your hands off me!”
He straightened a little but didn’t release his hold.
I grabbed his thigh and imagined fire on my fingers. Fumes of burning fabric choked the air.
Looking horrified, Caiden jumped backward and fell onto the rug. His gaze went to his smoking thigh. A burn hole the size of my hand exposed flesh scorched to the bone.
Holy crap! What did I do? I dropped to my knees and reached for the gaping wound on Caiden’s leg.
He shuffled back farther. “All I want is to know the truth. I didn’t mean to hurt you. I don’t know why I’m acting this way.” His head lowered. “It’s not me. I don’t think.”
As the room warmed, I tried understanding his confusion.
“You’re right,” I finally said, hating myself for what I’d done to him—to us. “It’s not you. This is my fault, and I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” I sucked in a breath to keep from crying. “Please, let me heal you.”
I stared at the top of his tousled hair, waiting for him to lift his head, to give me permission to fix the one thing I could make right.
Slowly, he straightened his leg, wincing as he did. He clamped a hand above the burn, his knuckles whitening from the pressure. “Go ahead.”
I lifted a trembling hand an inch above the wound. On a whim, I placed the other to Caiden’s chest, over his heart.
He didn’t flinch away.
Eyes closed, I envisioned Caiden’s skin smooth, healed, and as gold as the day I’d first seen it. Then I relived every moment we had ever shared, starting with the day we met in the campus courtyard. The first time my eyes locked with his exquisite turquoise blues and every time after.
Several minutes later, I lowered my hands and sat back, smiling. Peace warmed my heart in a way I hadn’t felt since before I’d lost Caiden.
“I’d almost forgotten what it was like to have you in my life. For what it’s worth, thank you for the memories, even if it’s all I’ll ever have.” I glanced at his leg, though I didn’t need to, to know it had worked. “You’re healed. You should leave quickly before I’m tempted to burn you again,” I teased and pushed onto my knees.
When I stood, Caiden clutched my wrist and pulled me down to him.
“Kidding.” I raised my brows. “But seriously, you should go. I wouldn’t want your fiancée showing up here. She’s got a temper.” Tiny kisses crept up my arm from my wrist, where his fingers clasped the skin. “What are you doing?”
I wanted to pull my arm away, but I couldn’t. I loved the sensation kissing up my skin. I missed it. I wanted to feel it all over my body. Just a few more seconds, then I’d pull away.
“You healed me.” Caiden’s tone was tender.
“My last act as a healer. I doubt there’ll be a need for it up there.” I glanced at the ceiling.
“I’m afraid that’s not possible.” Caiden took my other hand.
Kisses fluttered up my arm to my elbow. My eyes closed and my insides melted. I exhaled a breath I felt I’d been holding for a month. A little while longer won’t hurt. I’ll store this memory with my others of Caiden as a good-bye present.
He let go of one hand and cupped my cheek.
Unable to keep from doing so, I leaned into his palm and closed my eyes. Tiny kisses spread down my neck, soft and warm, caressing my skin like silk.
“You have to let me go now,” I breathed.
“Never,” he said, so low I almost missed it. He cupped both cheeks and drew me to him. When his lips pressed into mine, I knew I’d regret it.
I should move away or tell him to stop. What exactly had Raysa told him to do? Wait! Had he said never?
I put my hands to his chest and pushed him away. “Caiden?”
His turquoise eyes shimmered. “Lily, can’t you feel it? You healed me from everything, including Bianca’s spell.”
I cursed my breath for quickening and my heart for fluttering. I had to remain in control. This could be a trick, even if it didn’t make sense.
His hands moved to the top of mine. Slowly, they glided up to my bare shoulders. My skin tickled with kisses that raised goose bumps on my arms.
“I remember everything. I…” His hands stopped moving. “Lily, I’m so very sorry for what I did, for how I treated you. I never would have done any of those things had it not been for Bianca. Tell me you can forgive me.”
Before, when Caiden was under Bianca’s spell, his touch was as empty as his stare. Could this be real? Could I have healed him completely?
“I’m afraid,” I said. “Who’s to say she won’t do it again? I couldn’t live through losing you twice.”
“Maybe you didn’t break the spell.”
My guard shot back up. I sucked in a breath and leaned away.
He reached for me. “That’s not what I meant.”
Before I could stop him, he pulled me onto his lap.
I kept my hands close to my chest, afraid to give in to the longing inside, urging me to touch him and close the small space between us.
“You have to feel it, too.” He wrapped his arms around my waist. “It’s all back, and the connection between us is stronger because of your vow. I think that’s what broke the spell, or what allowed your healing powers to unbind me.”
I couldn’t look into his eyes. “That was a dream. It wasn’t real. I must have passed on the memory when I healed you.”
“I know. I saw everything in my head. But, Lily, it was real. You were there that night. I wouldn’t have survived the second round of torture had you not healed me.” When I didn’t speak or look at him, he lowered his chin, seeking a connection with my eyes. “Do you regret making the vow?”
The pain in his voice squeezed my heart. “No. Never.”
He smiled. “Then kiss me. Kiss me and forget about everything that has happened.”
“How?” A sob broke the word. “Everything’s a mess. The realms. The balance. What if your dad comes for us? Or Bianca? Or Dagan? I don’t want to give in only to lose you again.”
“You won’t. You belong to me, Lily—for all eternity, as soon as we finish what we started in the dungeon.” He kissed my nose then my cheek.
I sighed, slow and long, and my eyes closed again. When I opened them, Caiden’s loving gaze filled me with warmth. “It was real?”
“We belong together, as it was foretold. Say you’ll stay with me.”
A future together would never be easy, especially with the many obstacles blocking our path. But at that moment, I decided I wanted to fight for us.
“I’ll stay.” I’d barely spoken the words before Caiden’s fingers curled behind my ears. They intertwined with my hair, drawing me near, and then his lips were on mine—warm, real, and deliciously soft.
Emotions entangled inside me—Caiden’s and mine. The difference between them was slight but distinguishable. His were intense and warm, spreading throughout my body. Mine matched, although softer, as if they were trying to keep up. I realized then that I’d never fully opened my heart to Caiden. Fear had kept a small part of it locked away, and it was time I gave it over.
Letting go, I uncurled my fingers and sought Caiden’s chest, sliding my fingers up until my hands clasped behind his neck. Something happened then. The string between us pulled with greater force and electricity formed around us, as if fusing our souls. The connection stole my breath.
I came up for air. “Wow!” My pulse raced and energy thrummed beneath my skin. “Is this from the vow?”
Caiden grinned, his eyes gleaming with turquoise light. “Not even close. I still have to finish my part, and then,” he peered over my shoulder to the bed behind me, “we can consummate the vow.” His tone was low and silky.
Suddenly nervous, I gulped. “So, we finish the vow and…” My words drifted off at a mental image of Caiden and me twisted in the sheets.
Our eyes locked and the thought that followed wasn’t what I expected. Now really isn’t the time.
Or maybe it was.
After everything that had happened recently and all that I’d lost, hadn’t I learned now is the only time?
I glanced at the bed. “Shouldn’t we go somewhere safe and hidden to do this? I’d hate to be distracted.”
“This is safe and spelled for your protection. In fact, I don’t think anyone would come looking for us here. It might be the perfect hideaway.”
Perfect? Yes. I would have wanted this to happen here before I learned the truth about Caiden, Raysa, and my destiny. It tied my old life with Caiden to our new life. But could I let down my guard after all that had happened enough to enjoy such a special moment? There was something else holding me back, too. Asking wouldn’t be easy and hearing the answer could be even worse.
“Did you, um…when you were with Bianca, did you…you know, sleep with her?”
He recoiled with a look of disgust. “I couldn’t. She wanted to on more than one occasion, but something kept me from being able to go through with it. The vow you and I started? Our connection? It was one of those, or perhaps, it was just my love for you.”
I liked the sound of that.
Now I hoped Raysa stayed in the Truce Realm for at least two more hours. She was the only one who could cross here and interrupt us.
Caiden grabbed my hands. “Where are you going?”
“To lock the door, just in case Raysa comes looking for me.”
He stood and laughed. “You think that would stop her from coming in?”
“Should I write a note? Do not disturb?”
He took his phone from his pocket. “How about I text her?”
“Wait.” I put my hand over his phone, stopping him. “You’re not going to tell her what we’re about to do, are you? I’d be embarrassed.”
Caiden grinned. “I was going to tell her I got my memories back, and now we’re working things out and need some privacy.”
“She’d totally know what we’re doing.” I turned away, my cheeks on fire.
“Would you rather she show up?”
I hugged myself. “No.”
“It’s done,” Caiden said.
I whirled around. “You sent the text?”
He tucked his phone into his pocket and ran his hands up my arms. “And now I only want to focus on you.” His eyes glowed with anticipation and his skin shimmered with gold.
Tiny kisses caressed my skin as his hands lifted to my cheeks. He bent his head and brushed his lips across mine. “Lily Gracelyn Ellis, daughter of a nature goddess, I vow my heart, body, and soul to you forever. To belong to you and you only for eternity. With you, all things are possible. With you, my life is complete. I love you.”
“I love you, too. So much, Caiden.”
He sighed and kissed me until I was dizzy with sensation overload. I’d never get used to how he emotionally and physically affected me.
Things moved quickly from there, our patience dissolving with our needs. We tore each other’s clothes off and fell onto the bed, picking up where we left off a week ago.
“Caiden?” I panted as he explored my body in the most wonderful of ways. The things he did with his hands and mouth were magical. “Will it hurt?” We were so close to doing it, and I was ready. So ready.
“It shouldn’t. Not with how we respond to each other and the sensations you get from my touch.”
I brushed his golden bangs from his eyes. “Do you feel anything?”
“Everything is magnified when I’m with you.”
I liked hearing that. I kissed him, locking my hands behind his neck, and deepening it until we were breathless.
He hitched my leg over his hip and slipped his fingers into me, sliding them in and out until I was sopping.
He kissed and sucked on my breasts, teasing me the way he had when we first made out. I had no idea I would enjoy that part of my body being fondled so much.
I gripped Caiden and stroked him the way he had showed me before.
He moaned and it fueled me to do it vigorously. The way he panted between kisses showed how much he liked my change in tempo.
Our tongues felt at odds, each of us trying to go deeper, needing more.
The last time we made out, he showed me how to give him a blowjob. I couldn’t imagine I was very good, but Caiden’s reaction had only been pleasure.
I wanted this—our first-time having sex—to be better than that. I wanted him to be blown away. I knew I would be. It was impossible for me not to with the magical way Caiden touched me and turned me on.
As it was, I was dying to feel him inside me.
“Caiden, please.” I begged as his fingers pumped faster, driving me almost to the point where my body exploded in the best way. “I want to feel you inside me. You.”
“I needed to make sure you’re ready. You’re so tight.”
“Is that good?”
He sighed and shook his head. “I love your innocence. I love your body. I love the way it responds to me. I want you looking at me when I enter you.”
“Yes.” I nodded.
“Ready?” He held my gaze.
I kissed him, long and sensually in answer.
He moaned and spread my legs wider. From my peripheral, I noticed he gripped himself, but my eyes stayed locked with his.
I felt the tip of his head press at my entrance. My reaction was to tighten.
“Relax, sweet Lily,” he purred then kissed me and brushed that part of him up and down my entrance until I softened again.
Slowly, he penetrated me, his hardness filling me to the point I felt stretched beyond what I thought was possible.
I moaned. He did, too. To my relief, it didn’t hurt like Caiden had said. It still took me a moment to adjust and get used to his size.
He held still, his features twisted with agony. “You feel so good, Lily. So tight and so good. It’s heaven.”
My body softened more with his words. Instinctually, I moved, rocking slowly, and feeling him in different ways.
He cursed like he often did when we were together like this. “You are all I’ll ever want and need. Only you, Lily. My love. My savior.”
I smiled, feeling closer to him than ever. “I love you.” I kissed him.
He rocked his hips into me, filling me deeper.
I cried out in pleasure and gripped him tighter.
Once again, he locked his glowing gaze with mine and rocked more, back and forth, back and forth.
I panted and tried to keep my eyes open, but it felt so good my eyelids kept closing.
“I love you,” Caiden murmured over my lips and pumped harder and faster.
My body shook with each thrust. I hooked my ankles on his back and circled his neck with my arms. We were as close as two people could be, and I still wanted to be closer.
“Caiden…” I murmured as my body readied for an orgasm. I’d only had two so far, both with Caiden, but neither were from actual sex.
This too, felt like a war in a way. We both were working toward a climax, while trying to satisfy each other completely. The sensations of energy, pleasure, and desire overpowered my thoughts and soon I was on autopilot, taking and receiving, unable to do anything else.
I wanted Caiden. I wanted him forever, and I wanted to release the pressure inside me that begged to be freed.
I cried out his name as my insides erupted with ecstasy, unleashing glitter, sunshine, and rainbows throughout my body. It was beautiful, euphoric.
Caiden called out my name and gave a final thrust.
We both collapsed onto the mattress, soaked with sweat, and breathing heavily. My arms and legs went limp as his full weight crushed me, but I didn’t care.
If it were up to me, I’d never move again. For the longest time, I felt like I floated on a cloud of pure peace.
“I can’t wait to do that again,” Caiden murmured into the crook of my neck.
I laughed and delighted in the obvious. He liked being with me and couldn’t wait to do it again.
“Loved.” He kissed under my ear and propped himself up on his elbow, staring down at me. “I loved being with you.”
“You can read my mind again?”
“We’re connected in all ways now—mind, body, and soul. But you can block me when you want privacy. I can, too.”
He can, too? “Because I can read your mind now?”
His mouth tipped up at one corner. “Give it a try.”
“What do I do?”
“Listen,” he said, as if it were as simple as that.
I closed my eyes and concentrated.
“Lily? Do you have any idea how beautiful you are like this? Natural, naked, flushed with pleasure. I am the luckiest sentry alive.”
I grinned with a rush of warmth at his words and smacked his arm. “I can’t listen to your thoughts if you’re talking.”
“I wasn’t talking,” he said, and his voice sounded stronger than it had a moment ago.
I opened my eyes. “That was your thoughts?”
He nodded and kissed my lips. “See what a fast learner you are?” He kissed my neck and collarbone. “Do you think you’re ready for round two?”
I moaned as tiny kisses spread throughout my body. My skin shimmered with dusted silver.
Caiden smirked. “I’ll take that as a yes.”
“Yes,” I breathed and once again gave myself to the person I loved and would love for eternity.