For days, I pondered the significance of the stone Giarrah had given me. Yet I could not fathom as to what I was meant to do with it. I’d taken it to Kimbar, hoping he’d be able to shed some light on its purpose. Unfortunately, he was just as clueless as I was.
Pushing my doubts and insecurities aside, I shoved the rock into a corner of my trunk and slammed its lid shut. I snapped my sword belt across my waist, sliding the blade into its scabbard. Thrusting my gold dagger into its slot across my right hip, I gazed into the mirror and ran my fingers through my hair. My shaggy mop refused to settle into place. Errant curls rose with every stroke of my hand, leaving my hair severely disheveled. I gave up trying to tame it and strode toward the open doorway.
Daeanyara appeared, as if out of thin air, her green eyes troubled. “You’re awake.”
“Aye. What are ya doing here?”
“We need to talk.”
She swept past me, swinging the door closed behind her. “Us.”
“Can it wait? I’ve something I must do.”
Her mouth quirked with amusement as she gazed back at me. “She can wait.”
“She?” I prodded irritably. “Don’t presume to know what it is I do on my own time, Madam. Yoo’ve no idea where I’m headed or what I’m to do, I assure ya.
She sat down upon the edge of my bed, a knowing smile playing about her lips. “Oh, but I do.”
“No, ya don’t.”
Her smile disappeared, her eyes narrowing with determination. “Julay can wait, Marius. You and I have matters to discuss. Matters, I might add, you’ve been avoiding ever since you found out you’re a shape-shifter.”
I crossed my arms about my chest and tried to remain aloof as she assessed me from head to toe. “I already gave ya my two cents on that matter, therefore we have nothing to discuss.”
She leaned back, her palms flat against the bed behind her. The sight of her breasts straining against her gold dress was a distraction I could not afford. The wolf stirred within me, yearning for the beauty that sat before me. Her scent of dew-kissed leaves and crisp mountain air moved me, drawing me like a moth to a flame.
Despite the fact that I wanted nothing to do with her, I could not deny that we were made for one another. My wolf knew it and had accepted that fact. Yet I could not. I had no wish to be her mate. My heart belonged to Julay. I would not betray her by wedding another.
“You find me irresistible,” she stated bluntly, shoving several curls of her golden hair behind her right shoulder.
“An unfortunate fact,” I replied, “but one I will not act upon.”
“Why do you fight it? We were meant to be. Surely, you know that?”
I shook my head, refusing to accept that what she said was true. “Ya rebelled at the thought not too long ago. What changed?”
She shrugged, her gaze unwavering. “I’ve had time think, is all. Being mated to you might not be so bad, after all.”
My hackles rose. She was up to something. I could feel it.
“I see. And the man who supposedly holds ya heart? How does he feel about everything?”
She fingered the edge of the bed covering, refusing to look straight at me. “He’s come to terms with the fact that we can never be.”
She looked up, unshed tears shining in the corners of her eyes. “Yes.”
“Pray tell, when did ya speak to him? Is he around? Have I met him, per chance?”
“He’s not here and he never will be. Jontha isn’t too happy about all of these changes but he knows it’s for the best. We have a kingdom to save, Marius. Our union will ensure that everything goes as planned.”
Try as I might, I could not help but to understand her pain. We were both in the same boat, our lives changed completely in so short a time. And for what? I wondered. How can we help save our world if I don’t even know what it is that I must do?
“What aren’t ya telling me?”
Her face became impassive as we engaged in a silent battle of wills. “I keep nothing from you.”
“I disagree. Yer up to something. I can sense it.”
The corner of her mouth twitched as she tried to keep herself from smiling. “You’re far more observant than I gave you credit for.”
“What do ya want?” I barked with impatience.
“You can’t go to her, Marius. She’s not of our world.”
My chin rose with determination. “I refuse to let her go.”
“You’ll have to. She has no place with us.”
“Ya have no say in that. If I want her to share my world, she shall. It’s not up to ya, or the Gods, to say.”
Her eyes bored into me, a cold, calculated glint shining within their depths. “I wouldn’t goad the Gods, if I were you. They can wreak havoc on those who seek to go against them.”
“I’ve no wish to go against them. I just refuse to accept that this is my destiny.”
She rose, the skirt of her dress fluttering lightly in the air before it settled against her legs. She approached, staring up at me through veiled eyes.
“You must. All of this was pre-determined. Our paths were joined way before we were born. We were meant to unite our people, to become one. If we are to succeed against Moragotha, you must come to terms with who, and what, you are.”
“I don’t need to know who and what I am in order to stand and fight against the Spider Queen. I, along with the rest of the realm, are united in our wanting to take her down. She’s caused us all so much pain and heartache and has committed so many injustices against us. All over the fact that a mere six-year-old accidentally killed her daughter with one quick swipe of her hand.”
“A mother’s wrath knows no bounds, Marius. You should know that.”
“I wouldn’t know,” I replied. “I never knew my mother.”
I detested the quick rise of pain tugging on my heart at the mere mention of my mother. She wrapped her arms around my waist, holding me close. Try as I might, I could not fight the pull we shared between us. Unable to resist the lure, I hugged her to me, burying my nose within her citrus-scented hair. My wolf purred with contentment, delighted to feel hers so close at hand.
Against my better judgment, I pulled back slightly and curled my hands around Daeanyara’s cheeks. Her green eyes were wide with wonder as we stood there gazing at one another. Her wolf called to mine, eager to join itself to it in every way possible. Losing myself within her warmth, I bent my head and captured her mouth with mine. My wolf roared, his hunger flaring to the surface as we kissed.
Curling an arm beneath her legs, I carried her over to my bed and deposited her onto it without breaking the kiss. My senses reeled from the sensations that suddenly flooded my body. The wolf fought to be set free, eager to sample its mate buried within the woman beneath me. My fingers slid across her bodice, tearing the flimsy fabric as if it were but a piece of paper. Daeanyara’s breasts bounced free, rising and falling with each ragged breath she took.
My head dipped and I captured a pink, plump nipple between my lips. She sighed, her eyes closing as I tugged upon the taut bud with my teeth. Her wolf answered its mate’s call, yearning to join him completely. Her back arched, sliding the succulent globe further into my mouth. Losing myself to the moment, my wolf took over.
My mouth grazed over Daeanyara’s skin, leaving a trail of kisses across her chest and down toward her navel. Her head thrashed back and forth as she submitted to her own wolf, drowning in the waves of emotions cascading over her body. My tongue darted back and forth over her flesh, the taste of her acting as an aphrodisiac that incited my inner desires.
We were so lost in the heat of the moment that neither of us heard the soft click of the door as it opened. A startled cry broke through our cloud of passion, jolting me back to reality. I raised my head, staring at the open door with glazed eyes. My heart hammered within my chest as the form standing in the doorway came into focus.
Julay’s mouth formed a perfect O as realization sank in. Tears coursed down her cheeks as she gazed between me and Daeanyara. With a mournful cry, she spun around and flew out the door in a flurry of skirts. Pushing myself off of Daeanyara, I hopped off of the bed with the intention of going after her. Yet it was not to be.
Daeanyara grasped my left arm and yanked me back toward the bed. “Let her go.”
“Are ya crazy? I need to find her. I need to explain.”
She shook her head, her cheeks flushed with color. “Nothing you can say or do will change anything, Marius. Trust me, it’s better this way.”
Pulling my arm out of her grasp, I refused to see reason. I’d hurt the woman I loved and needed to set things straight. Nothing Daeanyara were to say would change my mind about that.
“You’re wrong,” I replied. “She’ll understand, I know she will.”
“No, she won’t. A woman scorned is not to be reckoned with.”
“Damn you! Damn you for wreaking havoc on my life. Why couldn’t you have stayed away!?” I roared, storming out of my room as if the devil were after me, leaving her to gather her wits as I tried to make sense of what had just transpired between us.