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Blood Crown: Chapter 21

Ashera

Was I surprised Caspian had tried to seduce me into getting his way? No. Not at all. I was actually more shocked he hadn’t tried to pull something like that sooner. But at the end of the day, this was my call, and there was no way I was going to haul ass into Qamar without definite proof. That was a surefire way to end up on the chopping block. Or in the middle of another war.

No, thank you. Not today. I didn’t feel like fighting my way out of a kingdom of shifters. Their army was second to none, even compared to my elite team of assassins. And King Vaughn… yeah, he was another story altogether. One day, his time would come, and I would be happy to serve him every ounce of justice he deserved. But I wasn’t going to put my mates in danger for a hunch.

If we needed to infiltrate Qamar, I wanted to do it in a way Vaughn would be none the wiser. I also didn’t want to leave any stone unturned when it came to this resistance. Especially not after what they did to Caspian. He was a complete pain in the ass, but he was my pain in the ass.

I looked out at the land below us as we flew to the Masas hinterlands. Everything looked so damn calm and peaceful. So quiet. I wished that was actually the case. I’d known when I decided to start my rebellion that if I took the crown there would be problems. I hadn’t realized the lengths the dissenters would go to. I hadn’t realized just how strongly the other kingdoms would protest.

I glanced over at Ambrose and Caspian, both held by my other winged mates. I loved them. I’d never deny that. But there was a small part of me that ached to know they’d come here to use me. I wasn’t fooled into thinking the best of them when I’d sent the invitations but knowing they’re my mates… it stung. Deeper than I wanted to admit.

Knowing that Caspian had tried to seduce me to get his way showed he didn’t truly know me or respect me. Which wasn’t exactly fair of me to say. I hadn’t exactly gone out of my way to ensure he had a smooth transition into our group, but he hadn’t actually tried either. Ambrose now knew better than to attempt to use sex to change my mind, but Caspian… He said he’d wanted the mate bond, but I wasn’t exactly sure he really understood what he’d signed up for.

Jacobi’s gaze cut to mine; concern etched into his handsome features. I gave him a small smile and a quick shake of my head. I knew that he could sense the turmoil I was feeling, but I didn’t want him to say anything to the others. He and I could talk about it later. We needed to present a united front right now. He frowned, clearly unhappy about not being able to discuss what was going on in my head.

He and Ambrose had been the two biggest surprises in my life. Yes, Ambrose had come with the express intent of using me to get what he wanted but seeing how much he’d changed so quickly made my heart pound. He gave his all to our bond. He was still prickly and dramatic, but it was clear that I was his first concern. And Jacobi, the celibate angel king. Gods, who would have thought that he would end up the mate of a succubus. He also devoted himself to the bond. Frankly, it humbled me. These two men had changed so much for me. My eyes watered a bit, not sure that I deserved any of my mates.

I’d done a lot of unsavory things to get the crown. Killed so many people, I’d lost count. I’d used not just my blades, but my body as well. Would the three that hadn’t been with me during the rebellion understand why I’d done things the way I had?

I just now realized that we were so focused on finding the resistance and securing safety that we hadn’t really sat down to get to know each other’s pasts. I hadn’t even told them about Visa. I wasn’t sure if Mal ever mentioned her either. I made the decision to sit down and discuss the rebellion and my past with my mates as soon as we got back from the hinterlands, no matter what we found there.

When we touched down, Ambrose strode forward, his keen gaze taking in everything around us. We’d agreed before we left that we’d let Ambrose take the lead once we got here since he knew the area best. Although the hinterlands did border on Malak, Jacobi’s kingdom, the angel king had never really had any interest in scouting this area. It wasn’t exactly populated.

“There’s a network of caves that burrow pretty deep underground. The entrances are pretty well hidden.” Ambrose cast a glance back at us. “I’m not exactly sure what we’ll find in there. Especially not after the botched attempt to kidnap and kill Ashera.”

I stepped forward and laced my fingers with his, gently squeezing his hand in a show of support. “Whatever we find, we’ll deal with it.”

He studied me for a moment before giving me a curt nod. This was hard for him. I wanted to disembowel his father for using my strong, loyal vampire the way he had. If we needed to raze the kingdom of Masas we would. I’d end the world for Ambrose. For any of my mates.

Ambrose led us to a series of rocky ledges and pointed down the side of the cliff face. “The easiest way to get into the cave system is down here.”

“Fucking great,” Caspian muttered, “we need to fly again.”

“At least we’ve got people with wings,” Malachi growled in response. “Otherwise, you’d need to climb down there. We can leave you to do that if you want.”

Caspian huffed and crossed his arms over his broad chest. “Flying is fine.”

I rolled my eyes. Sometimes I just wanted to smack him.

We floated down to a cave entrance. It was just big enough to fit my mates, all of whom were giants compared to me. If it got any shorter, they would have to stoop. The silence was unsettling.

“Come on.” Ambrose grabbed my hand again and led us further into the cave. “There’s a large cavern not far from this entrance.”

As we got closer to the entrance of the cavern, we could hear the sounds of a large group of people. We paused to listen. My muscles tensed when I heard some talk about taking over Shaytan. These vampires were certainly part of the resistance, but would we find Ambrose’s father so we could cut the head off the snake?

“There’s a few hundred in the cavern.” Ambrose turned to look at the four of us behind him. “We might be able to hear more if we hang out here.”

Caspian went to open his mouth, but footsteps from behind us had all of us stiffening. Fuck. My gaze went to each of my mates. We were going to need to fight our way out of here.

“We stick together as much as possible.” My tone didn’t leave room for arguments. “We all get out, is that clear?”

Jaws ticked and eyes narrowed, but they all nodded.

I took the daggers from my thighs out just as the first vampire rounded the bend and spotted us. His eyes went wide, then more poured in behind him. For a moment, there was nothing but silence before those in the tunnel all started yelling to those in the cavern. They knew exactly who we were.

Ambrose and I braced ourselves for the attack from the cavern as the others started to take out the ones that had come up behind us. We didn’t have much room to maneuver in the tunnels, and the task would be much harder for my mates. They were all big men. I couldn’t use too much elemental magic down here or I risked hurting them or collapsing the tunnels on top of us. Caspian seemed to realize that as well since he’d taken out the sword he had attached to his hips.

A hand lashed out, grabbed me by the arm, and dragged me partially into the cavern, starting to cut me off from my men. My heart raced at the thought of being separated from them. It would make escape that much harder.

“Ashera!” Ambrose’s bellow shook the walls of the tunnel around them. The four parts of my soul pushed into the cavern after me. They all wore identical looks of violent determination.

I wanted to shout at them to get back into the damn tunnel — if they came too much further into the cavern, we wouldn’t be able to make our way back. I needed to focus on the crowd of vampires around me. I continued to slash as quickly as I could, and now that I was out in the open a little more and away from my mates, I pulled on the elements around me and allowed fire to spin around both daggers. My main goal now was to get back to them so we could all make it out.

The harder I fought, the further away I got from my men. They were starting to separate too. Shit. I pushed harder, trying to make it to Ambrose, who was now the closest to me.

“Witch!” Caspian’s roar had all of us turning to look at him. The blood drained from my face. The dead were now pouring into the cavern from different tunnels. Witches used souls and the dead to feed their powers. There weren’t just vampires here.

“We’ve got shifters too!” Malachi yelled.

We were quickly running out of options.

“Get back together!” I screamed. I could possibly bring most of the cavern down around us without crushing us, but I couldn’t do it if we were all scattered.

After what felt like hours of hacking at our enemies, we were finally starting to close in on each other. We had a small chance of making it out of this. I started to pull on the earth around us and the cavern started to shake violently.

“Stop her!” A voice rose above the sounds of the fighting.

We were in a loose circle, and my mates all stiffened as the group renewed their attacks. That should have been my sign to be more alert, but I was too focused on bringing the majority of this cavern down around us without getting my mates killed.

A scream tore from my throat as my gaze fell to my chest. A spear made from souls had emerged through my left breast. Time seemed to slow as my mates all turned their heads in my direction, horror written on all their faces. The metallic zing of blood was thick in my mouth, and my knees wobbled. I needed to finish this before I lost too much blood. The spear had missed my heart, but only just.

My legs shaking and my hands unsteady, I dug deep and ripped as much of the cavern down around us. A small hole ripped open above us, and that was all my mates needed to get out. I’d saved them. Relief flooded me.

A warm hand closed around my wrist, and I was lifted into the air as fire roared down below us. My eyes fluttered, my vision going blurry. I coughed and could feel the blood fly out of my mouth.

“Fuck,” an angry voice cursed. “We need to get her to a healer! She used too much damn magic controlling that fucking collapse. She isn’t healing.”

“It’s hard to heal from a soul wound. They don’t just hurt the flesh.” Another chimed in. “The soul weapon will drain magic from the injured. They sucked out as much as they could before she closed us off.”

I wasn’t sure how long I floated in and out of consciousness, but I was eventually placed on something soft as voices yelled for help. My breaths were shallow, and I could hear the gurgle of blood with each inhale. I wanted to keep my hold on consciousness for as long as possible, but my world too quickly faded to black.

* * *

Malachi

We made it to a small hut on the border of Masas where a few of Ambrose’s most trusted men were stationed. My mate was dying. I could feel the bond getting weaker in my chest. I looked at Ashera’s other mates and could see that they were just as panicked as I was. A healer hurried into the room, blanching at the sight of our queen on the bed. She was covered in blood — her own fucking blood — and looked so damn pale. Her lips were slightly blue. The healer placed her hand over Ashera’s chest, and a soft light shined on the wound.

“She may not make it.” The healer’s voice was soft, and we all snarled. “I’m doing all I can, but this wound was made by a soul weapon. I can feel it. She doesn’t have enough magic to help in the healing process.”

“What if she fed?” Jacobi asked, his face and tone frantic.

The healer shook her head. “She can’t feed if she doesn’t wake up.”

As the healer continued to work, the gaping wound on Ashera’s chest shrank. I wanted to believe that was a good sign, but I knew there was a lot of internal damage. The healer would attempt to stop her from bleeding out before repairing anything else, but it might not be enough. Especially if Ashera couldn’t feed.

“What the fuck was that down there?” Caspian raged at Ambrose. He shoved the vampire before aggressively getting in his face. The last thing we needed was to start infighting. I knew the fae was dealing with his panic by picking a fight, but he needed to get a better handle on himself.

“That was apparently a gathering spot for the resistance.” I could hear the frustration, fear, and rage in the vampire’s voice. He didn’t lift his hands to retaliate against the fae asshole, however.

One of Ambrose’s men rushed into the room. “My lord! I have word of your father.”

All four of us stilled, our gazes narrowed on the man before us.

“Well?” Ambrose snapped.

“He was spotted in Qamar.”

That set Caspian off. He launched a punch at Ambrose’s face, nailing the vampire right in the nose. Caspian followed up with a kick before Jacobi and I could step in.

“She’s going to die because of you fuckers!” the fae screamed. “I fucking told you we needed to go to Qamar. But none of you fucking listened, and now she’s on that bed dying.”

He started to struggle against Jacobi. “I’m going to kill all of you!”

A gasp from the healer had our heads turning in her direction just as Ashera jackknifed on the bed. I saw a flash of red and a glint of fangs before she latched herself onto the healer’s neck. What the fuck?

We all stood there in shock for a minute before launching into action. Jacobi clutched the healer as Caspian, Ambrose, and I ripped an incredibly strong Ashera away from the poor woman. She turned to look at us with glowing, ruby-red eyes. Blood dripped from her mouth. She snarled and launched at us. Ambrose stepped into her, and she attached herself to his neck. Her fangs violently tore into his flesh, but he didn’t move — didn’t flinch — just let her maul him before guzzling his blood.

Jacobi rushed the healer out of the room, coming to stand beside me as we watched Ashera drink from Ambrose.

“How the hell is she showing vampiric traits?” Jacobi whispered to me.

“I have no clue,” I murmured back. “But if it’s saving her life, who the fuck cares.”

“She’s going to need more than just my blood,” Ambrose slurred. “One of you get ready to take my place.”

Shit. She’d already drained him? How the hell was that possible? Caspian moved in as Ambrose detached Ashera from his neck. She seemed more alert now, which was good. She didn’t instantly launch herself at Caspian, instead, she blinked and looked around. Her eyes were still a glowing ruby red, but they weren’t crazed with hunger any longer. At least they weren’t until she turned her attention to her fae mate.

She inhaled deeply before she struck. Caspian let out a low moan. “Is it supposed to feel this fucking good?” His hips jerked with each pull she took.

“Yes. It’s a mate thing.” Ambrose was on his back at the foot of the bed. “I bet she’ll make you bust in your pants.”

Caspian didn’t seem to mind the thought of that. In fact, none of us seemed to mind the thought of Ashera making us come in our pants. The fae gently brought his arms around our queen and tugged her flush against him as his hips continued to grind against her. If his breathing was anything to go by, he was getting close.

Ashera ripped her mouth away from Caspian’s neck. She licked her lips as she eyed the prince in front of her. The hunger in her eyes for more than just blood now. She pulled Caspian’s mouth to her with a snarl that had all of us hard as fucking rocks. Ambrose was back up beside me and Jacobi as we watched our queen take her fill of her fae.

“Feeding is usually tied very closely with sex,” Ambrose explained. “She was too wounded to do anything with me. But if I’m right, she’s going to fuck his brains out while she feeds off him more.” He glanced at us. “And then she’ll move on to us.”

“Can she really hold that much blood?” Jacobi asked as he watched Ashera move at an alarming speed to push Caspian down on the bed before straddling him. “If she feeds normally as well during sex…”

The implications were a little frightening. Just how powerful was our little mate? That was a question for another time. We were all too enraptured with her to think too much more.

Ashera ripped off what remained of her leathers before destroying Caspian’s clothes. Her gaze snapped to us as she growled, “Take off your clothes. I want you all ready.”

We groaned and obeyed.

She ran her wet pussy along Caspian’s cock, the fae moaning and flexing his hips up in an attempt to slide into her wet heat. She denied him. His hands gripped her hips as she dug her nails into his chest.

“She’s not entirely in control,” Ambrose warned. Ashera didn’t bother to correct him.

In a move too fast for any of us to track, Ashera wrapped her hand around Caspian’s throat. It didn’t look like she was trying to choke him, merely subduing him. Forcing him to submit.

“Listen here, fae,” she growled low as she slid his cock deep into her and then leaned down so their lips were almost touching. “You are done playing games with me.”

All of us stiffened, shock slackened Caspian’s face. Jacobi’s brow furrowed as he watched the two of them. “She’d felt…extremely upset, sad, almost despondent on the flight to the caves. This must have been what she’d been thinking about.”

Caspian’s gaze flicked to us, his eyes dark and unreadable before he returned his attention back to our mate. His face softened as he studied her with an intensity that had all of us shifting slightly in our spots.

“No. More. Games.” Each word was punctuated with a thrust of her hips. “I am your mate.” Her voice broke a little, and the three of us not inside her growled slightly at the hurt in her voice. “I am not a toy.”

I was going to rearrange Caspian’s fucking face.

The asshole didn’t say anything, just stared up at her like the idiot he clearly was. I slapped my hand out against Ambrose’s chest to keep him still. The three of us were ready to pounce on the fae, but with Ashera currently on top of him, I didn’t want any of us moving just yet.

Caspian flipped her over and raised her hands above her head. He started to thrust slowly in and out of Ashera as he continued to stare into her once again glittering, green eyes. My mate’s breath hitched.

“You are mine,” he snarled before kissing her. “I will share you with your other mates, but you are mine. My mate.” Ashera moaned and arched into him. “No more games, little mate.”

Ashera came with a muffled cry, Caspian a moment later with a low groan. “I promise, dick slayer.”

Gods, that smile. It lit up the entire damn universe and had my heart bursting.

“Mal,” Caspian called me and moved off her and into the bathroom. I slid onto the bed next to her, dragging her on top of me.

“I am yours to do with as you wish, my queen.” Her eyes switched between her normal green hue and the burning ruby red.

She shifted and slid me into her warm, wet pussy until our hips were flush together. Her nails dug into my chest as she swirled her hips, my own arching up under her. My hands went to her peaked nipples, kneading the flesh there before rolling them between my fingers.

When I was inside my mate, nothing else mattered. Everything centered around her. Everything. The way she smelled. The way her breath hitched when my cock hit just the right spot inside her. The little whimper she made right before she came. The feel of her pussy clenching around my cock. All of it.

Ashera’s head tipped back as she continued to ride me. I could feel her pussy fluttering the closer to the edge she got. My hips met hers with each downward thrust. Her little pants and moans drove me insane.

“Come on my cock,” I demanded. And like the sweet little slut she was, she clenched around me and screamed my name.

I flipped her over on her hands and knees. She let out a surprised squeak and thrust her hips back against mine as I slid back into her with a groan. I grabbed her hair and yanked her so her back was flush against my chest, my hand moving to wrap around her throat in a tight, possessive grip.

“Angel king,” I barked, “get over here and lick our queen’s tight pussy while I fuck her.”

Caspian had come back from the bathroom and was now sitting on the edge of the bed watching us with hungry eyes. Ambrose was stroking his cock in time with my thrusts. Jacobi moved so he could press his tongue against Ashera’s clit. Her head fell back against my shoulder as she cried out.

She clenched around me again, and I had to grit my teeth to prevent myself from coming too soon. “Caspian, get over here and play with her nipples.” He scrambled over, sucking one into his mouth while his hand started to pinch and flick the other tight peak.

I moved the hand around her throat, so my wrist pressed against her mouth. “Feed, Sher. Feed both ways.”

Instantly, I felt the tug of her power as she fed off the sex in the room. Her lips pressed a brief kiss to my wrist before she sank her fangs into my skin.

“Fuck.” I thrust up harder, the feel of her drinking from me pushing me even closer to the edge.

With each pull, it felt like she was sucking on my cock, trying desperately to drain all the come from my body. Her pussy clenched down as she screamed around my wrist. It was all I needed to detonate inside her, roaring my release.

Jacobi took her hips and positioned himself under her, gesturing for Ambrose to come and take her ass as he thrust up into her soaking pussy. She’d let go of my wrist and was now licking the angel king’s neck as if it were her favorite treat.

Ambrose grabbed the bottle of lube we always kept on hand, prepping her before sliding into her with a single thrust. She cried out, trying to thrust her hips back against both men, but Jacobi prevented it. I leaned in with a small dagger and sliced open the angel’s chest, and Ashera instantly latched onto the wound. Jacobi groaned, his hips pushing against her almost violently in his need to reach that edge.

“Come on now, little queen,” Ambrose taunted. “Finish us both off fast.”

He slapped her ass. One. Twice. Three times. She exploded. Her pleasure was a near palpable thing that we all greedily drank in. The two mates inside her came with her, both of them cursing at how tight she was.

When Ashera flopped onto the bed beside Jacobi, she had a drunken look on her face and a lazy smile stretched her lips. Her eyes were once again their normal color, her craving for blood sated for the time being.

“Don’t think we’re done, dick slayer.” Caspian pressed a kiss against her stomach. “We’ll let you rest before we take you again. You almost fucking died. That’s unacceptable. We’re going to reassure ourselves multiple times tonight that you’re alive and well.”

I couldn’t argue with the fucker about that.


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