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Blood Crown: Chapter 13

Ashera

The celebration of Beltane had always been my favorite. It was a time to revel in rebirth, new life, and hope. That last one had always been the main point for me. Hope. Something humans had had in short supply, something my parents never even imagined. But now…

Hope ripened the air, rang through the halls, and filled every soul in Shaytan. Hope allowed all my people a chance to finally live.

I was dressed in a gown that was fairly modest compared to what I typically wore. It was made entirely of a light lilac lace, a halter framed my chest, and dipped low on my back. The delicate lace was sheer, heavier beading keeping all the important bits modest. From there, the clinging fabric flowed gracefully to the floor. My hair was done in a half-up style that was then swept over the front of my shoulder so I could proudly display my mate markings.

My golden circlet felt both lighter and heavier. My mates and I would be able to see the palace decorated in bold and vibrant colors, celebrate with my people, and touch each other until we passed out. But I was also responsible for all these lives now. I needed to ensure everyone had enough food to eat, water to drink, and sturdy homes to live in. I needed to battle against the resistance that wanted to once again subjugate my people to horrible torture and a lifetime of servitude.

My fae prince came up behind me, wrapping a possessive arm around my waist so his hand rested low on my stomach. He brushed his lips against my neck, causing me to shiver. His dark chuckle told me he appreciated my response to him. Caspian had settled a little since formalizing the bond. He was still an asshole — he was my asshole now, but he was just as fiercely loyal and protective as the others. Which meant getting him to leave me alone tonight would be difficult.

“You know you can’t be with me all night.” I turned my head so I could look up at Caspian. He gave me a mutinous look — almost daring me to fight him on the issue — no matter that we had all already settled this yesterday. “I know you don’t like this plan, Caspian. And I know that because our bond is so new you’re a little…ruffled. There’s no way to tell for sure if they’ll try anything tonight, but we need to give them the chance.”

“No, we fucking don’t,” he growled. He looked as though he was tempted to tie me to the bed and lock us away in my room. Which, admittedly, didn’t sound horrible. “There are so many different ways we could be handling this.”

“How?” My tone was sharp. “How the hell can we do this differently? I’m all ears.” By that point, my other three mates had moved over to us. I wrenched myself away from Caspian and started to pace, all four of my mates now tense. “Because let’s be really fucking clear here, we all know that Ambrose and Caspian came here to see if the rumors were true, fuck me into submission, get what they wanted, and possibly — assuming I didn’t play nice — have me taken off the throne.” The two men in question turned sheepish. “Jacobi, while well-intentioned in his coming here, had no idea what the hell he was getting himself into. And you!” I whirled on Malachi who flinched at my pointed finger. “You ignored the mate bond for-fucking-ever.

“I have literally had to do all of this mostly on my own without mates in the way. I am the one who formed the rebellion. I am the one who almost died of poison during the battle with the king. I am the one who took his fucking head. I am the one who reformed all of Shaytan. I am the one who got kidnapped for it. And I am the fucking queen.”

My breathing was labored, rushing in and searing my lungs with each panting breath I took. My rage scorched my veins. While I might be offloading some of this on them when it didn’t need to be, I was tired of this bullshit. I was under no delusion when it came to Ambrose or Caspian’s original motives for coming to Shaytan. I knew I’d been a toy, someone to fuck into submission, maybe even a pawn to play against the other. Just as I knew Malachi may have continued to fight the mate bond had he not seen me with both Ambrose and Jacobi. And Jacobi, my sweet well-intentioned angel, he’d come here with an offer of friendship and peace, and he’d always stayed true to that. He was my rock, I now realized. While he could have moments of possessiveness, it wasn’t unexpected with new mates, especially males. But he had always been steadfast in his devotion to me.

“I acknowledge that we are mates,” I continued. “But you all need to understand that Shaytan is my kingdom. I will gladly accept any guidance you wish to give, but you need to respect that the end decision is ultimately mine and mine alone. I am not some pretty figurehead to plop on the throne while men scheme behind my back. I fought for this throne, for these people, and I will not be pushed aside.”

I locked gazes with all of them. They were deadly silent, their expressions ranged from shocked to ashamed. But I wasn’t quite finished.

“We want to keep each other safe. It’s what mates do. It’s ingrained in us. I appreciate and understand how difficult this is for all of you to allow me to put myself in danger. But I need you to trust me.” Stupid tears started to well in my eyes, and at the sight, they all seemed to panic. I wasn’t entirely sure if these were angry, frustrated, or sad tears, and I hated shedding them regardless of why they’d formed. I also didn’t want them to assume that I was attempting to manipulate them into giving me what I wanted because I’d started crying. So I did my best to prevent even a single, tiny drop from falling.

“Love.” Jacobi was the first to speak, the first to approach. And he did so as if I was a wounded animal. “This is hard,” he admitted. “But each of us knows just how strong and powerful you truly are. When those vampires took you, it rattled us. We’re still rattled, even the asshole who hadn’t been mated with you.” Caspian huffed at the insult.

“Sher.” Malachi didn’t approach, leaving the physical soothing to Jacobi for the time being. “I know I should have done something about the bond sooner. And I know the reason you didn’t act on it is because of what happened with Visa. But I swear to you, I won’t let anything like that happen again. I do trust you. I’ve followed you into battle. I’ve watched you kill without mercy, and I’ve watched you show incredible compassion. I am so honored and proud to have you as my mate. I will follow you into battle again, Sher. And you’re right, none of us have a different plan that would effectively help lead us where we need to go.”

“Unbelievable,” Caspian raged. “I’ll admit that I had planned to see for myself that there was a woman on the throne, that I thought I could use you to my own ends, fucking you senseless while doing it. It’s not easy to override centuries of ingrained behavior. And I had no fucking clue you were my mate.” He started to pace around us and flapped his hands wildly around him as he spoke. “But putting yourself at risk like this is insane. I believe in you, Ashera, I do. But this is almost too much to ask of me. I am going against everything I was taught to believe in, everything that has shaped not only myself, but my kingdom and its people to be with you. And this feels like you’re just shoving all of that in my fucking face.”

I opened my mouth, ready to respond when Ambrose jumped in. “Caspian and I come from a very similar background. We were both raised to view humans as nothing more than cattle to be bought and sold for whatever reason we decided. We were also raised to see women as subservient to men. They had a higher standing than slaves, absolutely, but they certainly weren’t thought of as equals.” He ran his hand through his hair. “While I don’t see you as less than, not anymore, I still have trouble sometimes seeing humans as anything other than slaves and other women as beneath me. It’s only been a few days, little queen. We cannot change such fundamental parts of ourselves overnight.”

I sighed and started to twist the bands on my bicep. “I’m not asking that you change immediately.” I paused. “Okay, maybe I am. And I can admit that’s unreasonable.”

I let out a frustrated sigh as I met each of their gazes. “It just feels like you don’t believe I can take care of myself, let alone an entire kingdom. I’ve had to fight every step of the way. More so with Caspian and Ambrose.”

“How about Caspian and Ambrose agree to continue doing their best to fight against their old prejudices, while you teach us all what it truly means to have a woman lead a kingdom. In return, you’ll need to be patient with all of us, we’re fighting instincts that demand we basically cart you off to the nearest cave and never let another see you.” Jacobi, my rock, and apparently the mediator of our group, made a damn fine point.

“I can do that,” I agreed. “But I need to give this plan a shot tonight. We need to try to get into the resistance. If we can capture even one of them alive, it will be worth it.”

None of them looked as though they wanted to agree, but they all nodded their heads anyway.

“This isn’t going to be easy, adjusting to one another. And we certainly don’t have time to hide ourselves away the way other mates usually do. We’re going to need to take care of the resistance, and then figure out how this whole thing is going to work among several different rulers. Ambrose and Caspian are next in line for their thrones, and I can imagine that their fathers won’t be very pleased that we’ve mated. Let alone that a woman has insisted on change, and they’ve agreed. I suppose taking everything one step at a time is best.” I looked around again. Fuck, I love these men. I don’t always need to like that I love them, but fuck me I do. “Can we all agree to talk about things as they arise? Any difficulties any of us have? And you certainly don’t have to necessarily come to me about issues but discuss amongst yourselves too. We’re all connected through the mate bond, it’s not just a one-sided thing with each of you. I’m sure you can feel that.”

“We can,” Malachi agreed, and the others nodded. “And I think we can all agree that what you’re suggesting is more than fair. Keeping clear lines of communication between all of us is a must to make sure we don’t end up killing each other.”

We all chuckled at that. Because it was true, so very true.

* * *

Ambrose

Ashera had been right to cuss us out — not that I cared to admit it. It’s not like I had wanted to get slapped in the face and forced to acknowledge how I’d planned to use her prior to meeting her. But being called out was a necessary evil because I did need to face the music. And not just about my failed seduction attempt, but about everything. It was the only way for all of us to grow stronger.

I understood why she’d said what she had. We had been trying to control her without realizing what we’d been doing. At least, I hadn’t really realized what I’d been doing. All I had been focused on was my little mate. Keeping her safe. Keeping her happy. Keeping her well fucked. I hadn’t taken the time to consider the broader implications of how I’d been acting or thinking. Hadn’t realized I’d brought my initial mentality into our mate bond. To own. To possess.

And now I felt like a giant dick. Because I had been a giant dick.

I could tell the others felt the same way, even Jacobi who had literally done everything right. We’d all been overbearing cavemen. I wasn’t exactly sorry, but I needed to figure out how to go about that better. Balance. That was what we needed. We needed to find balance.

We dropped our conversation after Malachi’s truce and headed into the Beltane festival. The four of us had spread out so we could keep an eye on our mate without being too hands-on. We wanted the resistance — if they were even here — to assume that we had been lulled into a false sense of security. Or that we were cocky. Regardless of what happened, the latter was probably true.

The courtyard was decorated with fresh flowers, and there was food and drink everywhere. A few children had even woven delicate flowers into Ashera’s hair along her circlet. What struck me the most was the way Ashera interacted with her people, both demon and human alike. No one seemed to be beneath her attention, and everyone who stopped her became her sole focus. I’d known from the moment I met her that she was unique. She had a way of looking at someone as though they were the only damn person on the planet. It made you feel things. It made me feel things. Things I hadn’t realized I was even capable of feeling. Things I was afraid to put a name to.

I’d never seen so many happy people in one place. Never witnessed a kingdom love a ruler the way Shaytan loved Ashera. Masas ruled through fear and control, but this…this was different.

I’d originally agreed to free Masas’ slaves for the wrong reasons. I’d wanted to own her, and the only way I could even get close to doing that was to agree to free our slaves. I’d had every intention of seeing my end of things through, regardless of why I’d made the agreement. Once I gave my word that was it.

But now…

Now, I wanted Masas to have what Shaytan had. I wanted to be a king that would make her proud. I wanted us to stand shoulder-to-shoulder as equals.

Fuck. I was going soft. But I honestly didn’t care. So long as she was with me, I didn’t give a fuck how “soft” I got. As far as I was concerned, she made me a better man. Made me strive to be worthy of her every fucking day. After I’d failed her so spectacularly by allowing her to get kidnapped, I realized I didn’t want the cold life I’d once led. Especially knowing it had been my people who had taken her.

I glanced over at the others as they moved around, keeping mostly out of sight. They were all just as sucker punched as I was. All of us were completely lost to this amazing woman. I doubted Caspian would admit to it, but the other two would. Jacobi seemed ready to walk into Malak with Ashera by his side and present her as his queen. As his equal. Malachi didn’t have a kingdom of his own, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t just as willing to show her off. Frankly, I wanted to do the same. I wanted fanfare as I presented Masas with its future queen.

The fae fucker would take a while yet to settle in. He was far more stubborn and opinionated than I was. More stuck in his ways. Yes, he’d agreed to free Juniya’s slaves, and had seen the light when it came to Ashera, but he was in no way happy about it. He’d caved, but I worried about his continuing behavior and whether or not he’d truly keep his word to Ashera. Trying to fight the mate bond was pointless. So was trying to avoid the fact that she was completely and utterly right. About all of it. Women. Slaves. The way things are done in the kingdoms.

So. Fucking. Right.

I was only angry that I hadn’t thought of it first.

The night droned on with nothing of particular interest happening. Ashera, even when seemingly alone, wasn’t approached by anyone threatening. She’d even given a wonderful speech about new life and new beginnings, and nothing had happened. I wasn’t sure whether to be suspicious or relieved.

The celebration was drawing to a close, and most people had already gone home for the night. Ashera had stayed to make sure those too inebriated to stand were escorted home. Servants were starting to clean up. I was eager to head back to our rooms and worship our queen. We made it out of this celebration with no fuss — thank the gods.

We all gathered in the throne room. It was quiet and peaceful in here for once, the five of us the room’s only occupants.

“I can’t really say I’m disappointed.” Ashera’s tone was low, almost as though she didn’t want to break the silence around us.

“We’ll have other chances to lure them out,” Jacobi assured her. “What happened with the vampires was a significant loss, even if there weren’t many of them compared to their overall numbers.”

“I’m just disappointed I didn’t get to kill anyone,” Caspian grumbled. Ashera simply rolled her eyes at him. “Everyone is lucky they didn’t touch you. I would have taken their hands.”

“Okay, princess.” Ashera shook her head, looking both amused and exasperated.

“Finally!” I threw my hands up. “Finally, I am no longer the princess.”

“Oh, you are.” My eyes narrowed on my delicious little mate. “But he’s just as bad as you are.”

“Am not,” we both huffed before glaring at one another. How dare she say we’re even remotely similar?

Ashera threw her head back and laughed, the sound had all of us enthralled and hard as a rock. She rarely laughed like that, and it was always the most beautiful sound and sight. Gods, I want to listen to her laugh every day.

Jacobi slid up behind our queen, his hands expertly massaging her wings. She let out a husky moan and practically turned into a puddle of desire at the angel’s feet. Malachi moved in front of her, his fingers twisting and pinching her nipples through the fabric of her dress. Her back arched to allow them both better access to her body.

“It’s been a long day for our queen,” Jacobi rumbled. “I think she needs to be taken care of.”

“Mmm,” Malachi purred in agreement. “Pampered.”

Caspian and I were beside them in an instant, our growls of approval echoing through the room.

“It just so happens that I have a little something that will help us.” Malachi unraveled his belt, which wasn’t actually a belt but links of delicate chains

We’re going to tie the little queen up. Fuck me. I might just bust right here.

Jacobi led Ashera behind the throne, and Malachi chained her so that she was standing with her front pressed against the back of the chair. We watched as he then ripped her beautiful dress away from her body, tearing it to shreds. Ashera lifted her lust-filled gaze, glowing green eyes settling on me. She parted her lips as she panted lightly, her body giving away just how turned on she was by all of this.

Perfect.

“You will each take turns pleasuring your queen. You will not stop until she has had her fill of you, is that understood?” Malachi glared at each of us until we nodded our understanding. Ashera’s low moan told us she approved of this plan.

Jacobi went first, kneeling between Ashera’s legs. He slapped her ass until she spread her thighs and adjusted herself so her ass was out and uptilted. Diving between her legs like a man possessed, the angel king devoured our little succubus queen. Her cries of pleasure drove the rest of us wild to get to her.

Just when it seemed like Ashera was about to fall off the edge, Jacobi eased back, and a whimper of protest filtered through the room as Ashera’s ass followed him. He chuckled before slapping her ass a few more times. For having been known as the Virgin King before her, Jacobi learned quickly.

“Soon, love. I want to build up your release until you can’t walk.” In a flash, he was naked and pressed against her back, her body arching along his in an attempt to feel him against any inch of her skin she could. She released her pheromones into the air in an attempt to coax the large angel to do her bidding.

The feathered fuck didn’t slide his cock into our queen’s tight little pussy. Instead, he brought one hand up to brutally play with her nipples and drifted the other down her body to stroke her clit. Ashera cried out and her head fell back against Jacobi’s chest, hips twitching with each stroke. I could tell by her breathing that she was close again. I dropped my pants, allowing my cock to spring free from its torturous confines.

The fucker stopped…again. I was both amused and frustrated. I wanted to get my hands on her, damn it. And I was sure if she hadn’t been chained to the throne she would have throttled the angel king with his dick. I’d watch that happily.

“Jacobi,” Ashera warned. Never mind. I didn’t want to be on the receiving end of that tone. That tone suggested pain, torture, murder, and maybe a resurrection just so she could do it all over again. For the time being, I was happy to keep my dick to myself.

“It’s okay, love.” Jacobi chuckled. He ran his cock along her dripping pussy, and all of us groaned. If he didn’t fuck her soon, I would.

Ashera pushed her hips back at the exact moment Jacobi slammed his hips forward. She cried out as he buried himself to the hilt. Her cry of ecstasy had me fisting my dick, jerking off to the brutal pace the angel set.

The pounding rhythm of flesh against flesh echoed loudly in the room, punctuated only by our mate’s moans and Jacobi’s grunts. My little queen’s scream as she came had the three of us who were not buried balls deep inside her groaning. Jacobi roared his release alongside her.

“Next,” Ashera demanded — sassy little thing. This earned one last slap to her already pink cheeks before Jacobi moved away. A dark chuckle rumbled through me.

Malachi gestured for Caspian to step forward. The fae didn’t tease her the way Jacobi had. Instead, he slammed deep, causing the little queen to squeak, and set about fucking her raw. She didn’t last long before she was coming again, Caspian right there with her. I was surprised he hadn’t lasted longer. Then again, that pussy could strangle a dick.

Dick slayer was an appropriate nickname for our mate.

I held my hand out for Malachi to go next. I wanted my little queen last. I wanted her so spent that the only thing she’d be able to do was just feel my dick and take all the pleasure I could give her.

Malachi took his time with Ashera, his thrusts slow but damn hard. Each time he bottomed out, Ashera’s breath caught in her lungs. Her legs started to shake as she chanted his name over and over again.

“That’s right, Sher. Grip my cock with that sweet pussy. Harder.” Mal gritted out as he slowly dragged his cock out of her. “Just like that. Such a good little slut.” He slammed into her once again.

Ashera’s head fell forward, and her breasts jiggled with each desperate thrust of Mal’s hips. She’d be ripe for me, only able to take what I gave her. Good. My cock hardened to the point of pain as I watched them.

Both the succubi and the incubi started to feed off the lust in the room. It was a heady feeling and my fangs dropped at just the thought of feeding off my little queen’s blood while she fed. Her blood gave me more power than I could have ever imagined. I wasn’t sure if it was because she was my mate or because she was just that powerful, but either way… I felt like a fucking god whenever I sipped from her veins.

Ashera’s sob of pleasure as she came had me shaking out of my blood-filled thoughts. Malachi’s hips jerked against hers as he came moments later. He stayed like that, letting her just pulse around him, her entire body shaking from her release. Gods, she is perfect.

Mal gently released her hips, and she slumped a bit, not quite able to stand on her own anymore. Her chest heaved as she sucked in air, making her breasts move enticingly. I moved to stand directly behind her, studying her closely. Her skin glowed brighter than ever, a clear indication that she’d been well fed. Her wings were tucked tightly to her body, but they quivered as the pleasure continued to flood her. Her pert little ass twitched as I stared, my mouth watering at the sight.

I’d be fucking that tight little hole again…later. Right now, I needed to get my cock into that perfect pussy of hers and my fangs into her neck. I needed to fuck and feed. Preferably at the same time.

“Are you ready for one last ride, little queen?” My voice came out huskier than I intended, and she shivered at the sound.

“Please,” she whispered.

“Please what, little queen?” I wanted to hear her say it.

“I need your cock, Ambrose.” She arched her hips back in invitation. She always left me feeling so damn humble whenever she submitted to any of us in bed. This mighty queen who had literally slain her way to the top was trusting us to take care of her.

That was all I needed. I slid smoothly into her and groaned loudly when she immediately clamped viciously down around my painfully throbbing cock. My hands reached for her breasts as my body curved around hers, working my way between her wings so I could easily nuzzle her neck. Her breath hitched, and she pulsed around me again.

I wanted to see if I could make her come without moving. I set to work tweaking her hard nipples and nibbling on her neck. She murmured my name, her pussy continuing to pulse around me. I abandoned a nipple and dropped my hand to her clit. I kept my strokes light and teasing, but it didn’t matter to her. She was already so over-stimulated. She came with a soft cry of my name. I smirked against her neck. Going last had its benefits.

I started to move, my hips setting a slow but steady rhythm. I didn’t stop playing with her nipple or her clit. Her orgasm never stopped, and she just continued to strangle my damn cock. Fuck, it feels amazing. She felt amazing.

Just as I got to the edge myself, I slowly sank my fangs into her neck. She screamed to the heavens and came so hard I was worried for a minute she might actually cut my dick off with her pussy. But fuck me, what a way to go that would be. I groaned around my bite as I fed from her.

When I was finished, I gently eased myself out of her and undid her chains. Caspian was there to catch her before she slumped to the floor. He cradled her protectively in his arms as his gaze roamed her body to assure himself she was fine.

“Come on, dick slayer, let’s get you cleaned up and in bed.” I was mildly surprised at how caring he’d become. He was still the bigger asshole, but I couldn’t deny he cared about our little queen. Which was good. I may have wanted to kill the fucker, but that would’ve hurt Ashera, and none of us wanted to do that. I had no doubt he’d continue to fight being a part of this, us, but he’d never allow anyone to hurt our mate. I was certain of that.


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