We are taking book requests on our companion website. You can request books here. Make sure, you are following the rules.

House of Sky and Breath: Part 3 – Chapter 53

Ithan didn’t think of himself as an eavesdropper. But sometimes he couldn’t help it if his keen wolf’s hearing picked up stuff being said, even a floor below.

This time, it had been some big, big stuff.

Ithan used all his training, all those years of practice and games, to keep from pacing as Ruhn went on and on about the witch-queen needing an escort in the city. Yes, fine, he’d do it, he’d guard her back, but—

“You may speak, Ithan Holstrom,” the stunningly beautiful witch said, cutting off Ruhn, who blinked at them. Ithan hadn’t realized he’d broadcast his impatience so clearly.

Flynn and Declan had remained upstairs with the sprites and Ariadne, booing when Ruhn had asked only Ithan to come downstairs.

Ithan cleared his throat. “You can talk to the dead, right? You’re … a necromancer? I’m sorry—I couldn’t help but overhear.” He offered Ruhn an apologetic look, too. But at Hypaxia’s cautious nod, he pressed on, “If I agree to guard you, would you …” Ithan shook his head. “Would you try to make contact with my brother, Connor?”

For a long moment, Hypaxia only stared at him. Her dark eyes beheld everything. Too much. “I can feel the disturbance in your heart, Ithan. You don’t wish to speak to him merely from longing and loss.”

“No. I mean, yeah, I miss him like crazy, but …” He paused. Could they tell her everything Bryce had learned?

Ruhn spared him the effort of deciding and said, “Do you know what happens to the dead after they’ve been in the Bone Quarter for a while?”

Her face paled. “You learned of the secondlight.”

“Yeah,” Ruhn said, lip ring glinting. “Ithan is pretty worried about what happened to his brother and the Pack of Devils, especially after they helped my sister. If you’ve got any ability to learn what’s happened to Connor Holstrom, or to warn him, even if it’s to no avail … we’d appreciate it. But Ithan will gladly escort you either way you choose.”

Ithan tried not to appear too grateful. He’d spent years thinking Ruhn was a dick, mostly thanks to Bryce and Danika constantly dissing him, but … this guy had let him into his house, trusted him with his secrets, and now seemed intent on helping him. He wondered if the Fae knew how lucky they were.

Hypaxia nodded sagely. “There is a ritual I could perform … It’d need to be on the Autumnal Equinox, though.”

“When the veil between realms is thinnest,” Ruhn said.

“Yes.” Hypaxia smiled sadly at Ithan. “I’m sorry for your loss. And that you’ve learned the truth.”

“How do you know the truth?” Ithan asked.

“The dead have little reason to lie.”

Ice skittered down Ithan’s spine. “I see.” The chandelier rattled above.

Ruhn rubbed at his face, the tattoos on his arm shifting with the movement. He lowered his hand and looked at the witch-queen. His fiancée. Lucky male.

“You cool with a dragon joining you?” the prince asked Hypaxia.

That dragon?” Hypaxia peered at the ceiling.

“A lawyer friend of mine says I need a royal, official reason to commandeer someone else’s slave. A very important, powerful slave. Protecting my fiancée is about as important as it gets.”

Hypaxia’s lips curled, though doubt kindled in her dark eyes. That made two of them. She asked Ithan, “How do you feel about it?”

Ithan gave her a half smile, flattered that she’d even asked. “If you can contact my brother on the equinox, then it doesn’t really matter what I feel.”

“Of course it does,” she said, and sounded like she meant it.

A few weeks until the equinox. And then he could see Connor again. Even if it was just one last time.

Even if it was only to deliver a warning that might do him no good.

Bryce might have avoided going home for as long as possible. Might have stayed at the archives right until closing and been one of the last people exiting the building as night fell. She’d made it down the sweeping marble steps, breathing in the dry, warm night air, when she saw him.

Hunt leaned against a car across the narrow street, wings folded elegantly. People hurrying home from work gave him a wide berth. Some outright crossed the street to avoid him.

He’d worn his hat. That fucking sunball hat she couldn’t resist.

“Quinlan.” He pushed off the car and approached her where she’d halted at the foot of the stairs.

She lifted her chin. “Athalar.”

He huffed a soft laugh. “So that’s how it’s gonna go, huh?”

“What do you want?” They’d had little fights over the months, but nothing this important.

He waved a hand to the building looming behind her. “I need to use the archives to look something up. I didn’t want to disturb you during working hours.”

She jabbed a thumb at the building, now beautifully illuminated against the starry night. “You waited too long. The building is closed.”

“I didn’t realize you’d hide inside until closing. Avoiding something, Quinlan?” He smiled savagely as she bristled. “But you’re good at sweet-talking people into doing your bidding. Getting us in will be a walk in the park, won’t it?”

She didn’t bother to look pleasant, though she pivoted and began marching back up the steps, heels clacking on the stone. “What do you need?”

He gestured to the cameras mounted on the massive pillars of the entrance. “I’ll explain inside.”

“So you think Hel’s planning something?” Bryce asked two hours later when she found Hunt where she’d left him, the massive expanse of the archives quiet around them. There had been no need to sweet-talk her way in after all. She’d discovered another perk to working here: getting to use this place after hours. Alone. Not even a librarian to monitor them. They’d gotten past the security guards with barely a word. And her boss wouldn’t show up until night was fully overhead—not for at least another hour.

Hunt had said he needed to peruse some newly translated Fae texts on ancient demons, so she’d gotten him set up at a table in the atrium and then gone back to her office on the other side of the floor.

“The demons in the reports Celestina gave me are bad news,” Hunt said. He was working at the desk, sunball hat bright in the moonlight streaming through the glass ceiling. “Some of the worst of the Pit. All rare. All lethal. The last time I saw so many clustered together was during the attack this spring.”

“Hmm.” Bryce slid into the chair across from him.

Was he going to ignore what happened earlier? That wouldn’t do. Not at all.

She casually extended her foot beneath the table. Drifted it up Hunt’s muscled leg. “And now they need the big, tough angel to dispatch them back to Hel.”

He slammed his legs together, trapping her foot. His eyes lifted to hers. Lightning sparked there. “If Aidas or the Prince of the Pit is planning something, this is probably the first hint.”

“Aside from them literally saying that Hel’s armies are waiting for me?”

Hunt squeezed her foot harder, those powerful thigh muscles shifting. “Aside from that. But I can’t tell Celestina about that shit without raising questions about Hel’s interest in you, so I need to find a way to warn her with the intel she gave me.”

Bryce studied her mate and considered the way he’d spoken of the Archangel. “You like Celestina, huh?”

“Tentatively.” His shoulders were tight, though. He explained, “I might like her, but … the Harpy blood-eagled two Ophion rebels today. Celestina allowed that shit to go down here.”

Bryce had seen the news coverage of it already. It had been enough to turn her stomach. She said, “So you’ll play faithful triarii, get her info on the demons, and then …”

“I don’t know.” He released her foot. She traced her toes over his knee. “Stop it. I can’t think if you’re doing that.”


“Quinlan.” His voice dropped low. She bit her lip.

But Hunt said softly, “Any word from Fury?”

“Yeah. Package was delivered, safe and sound.” She could only pray her mom wasn’t showing Emile her weird babies-in-plants sculptures.

“Tharion’s off the hunt,” Hunt said.

She stiffened. “You told him?”

“Not the details. Only that the search isn’t worth his time, and he won’t find what he’s seeking.”

“And you trust him?”

His voice went quieter. “I do.” He returned to the documents he’d been poring over.

Bryce grazed her toes over his other knee, but he clapped a hand on top of her foot, halting its progress. “If Hel’s amassing armies, then these demons must be the vanguard, coming to test the defenses around Nena.”

“But they’d need to find a way to open the Northern Rift entirely.”

“Yeah.” He eyed Bryce. “Maybe Aidas has been buttering you up for that.”

Bryce’s blood chilled. “Cthona spare me.”

He frowned. “Don’t think for one moment that Aidas and the Prince of the Pit have forgotten the Horn in your back. That Thanatos didn’t have it in mind when you spoke to him.”

She rubbed at her temple. “Maybe I should cut it out of my skin and burn it.”

He grimaced. “That’s a real turn-on, Quinlan.”

“Were you getting turned on?” She wiggled her toes beneath his hand. “I couldn’t tell.”

He gave her a half smile—finally, a crack in that pissed-off exterior. “I was waiting to see how high your foot was going to get.”

Her core heated. “Then why’d you stop me?”

“I thought you’d like a little challenge.”

She bit her lip again. “There was an interesting book in those stacks over there.” She inclined her head to the darkness behind them. “Maybe we should check it out.”

His eyes simmered. “Might be useful.”

“Definitely useful.” She rose from the desk and strode into the dimness, deep enough into the stacks that none of the cameras in the atrium where they’d been sitting could pick them up.

Hands wrapped around her waist from behind, and Hunt pressed against her. “You drive me fucking crazy, you know that?”

“And you’re a domineering alphahole, you know that?”

“I’m not domineering.” He nibbled at her ear.

“But you’ll admit you’re an alphahole?”

His fingers dug into her hips, tugging her back against him. The hardness there. “You want to fuck it out, then?”

“Are you still mad at me?”

He sighed, his breath hot against her neck. “Bryce, I needed to process everything.”

She didn’t turn around. “And?”

He kissed under her ear. “And I’m sorry. For how I acted earlier.”

She didn’t know why her eyes stung. “I wanted to tell you, I really did.”

His hands began to rove up her torso, loving and gentle. She arched against him, exposing her neck. “I understand why you didn’t.” He dragged his tongue up her throat. “I was … I was upset that you didn’t trust me. I thought we were a team. It rattled me.”

She made to turn around at that, but his hands tightened, holding her in place. So she said, “We are a team. But I wasn’t sure if you’d agree with me. That an ordinary human boy was worth the risk.”

He let her twist in his arms this time. And—shit. His eyes were wounded.

His voice hoarsened. “Of course I would have thought a human was worth the risk. I was too wrapped up in other shit to see the whole picture.”

“I’m sorry I didn’t give you enough credit.” She cupped his face. “Hunt, I’m really sorry.”

Maybe she’d fucked up by not telling him, not trusting him. She regretted that the Viper Queen had killed those people, but she’d be damned if she felt bad about how things had ended up …

Hunt turned his head, kissing her palm. “I still don’t understand how you pieced it all together. Not just Sofie lying about Emile’s powers, but how you knew the Viper Queen would be able to find him.”

“She’s got an arsenal of spies and trackers—I figured she was one of the few people in this city who could do it. Especially if she was motivated enough by the idea that Emile had powers that could be useful to her. And especially when his trail was picked up in the marshes.”

He shook his head. “Why?”

“She’s a queen of snakes—and reptiles. I know she can communicate with them on some freaky psychic level. And guess what the marshes are full of?”

Hunt swallowed hard. “Sobeks?”

Bryce nodded.

He hooked a strand of her hair behind her ear. Kissed its pointy tip. Forgiveness that she hadn’t realized she needed filled the gesture.

Hunt asked softly, “What about the others? Are you going to tell them?”

She slowly shook her head. “No. You and Fury and Juniper are the only ones who will ever know.” Not even Ruhn.

“And your parents.”

“I meant the other people in this city, currently doing shady shit.”

He kissed her temple. “I can’t believe your mom didn’t freak out and drag you home.”

“Oh, she wanted to. I think Randall had to stage an intervention.”

“Don’t take this the wrong way, but … why Nidaros?”

“It’s the safest and best place I can think of. He’ll be protected there. Hidden. The local sun-priest owes Randall a favor and is having all the relevant documents forged. My parents … They weren’t able to have a kid of their own. I mean, other than me. So even though my mom was freaked as fuck about the whole rebel thing, she’s already gone crazy decorating a room for Emile.”

“Emile-who-is-not-Emile anymore.” His smile lit something iridescent in her chest.

“Yeah,” she said, unable to stop her answering smile. “Cooper Silago. My half brother.”

He studied her, though. “How’d you manage to communicate about it?” There was no way she or her parents would have ever risked discussing this over email or phone.

She smiled slightly. “Postcards.”

Hunt choked on a laugh. “That was all a lie?”

“No. I mean, my mom sent me the postcard after our fight, but when I wrote back, I used a code that Randall taught me in case of … emergencies.”

“The joys of a warrior for a parent.”

She chuckled. “Yeah. So we’ve been swapping postcards about this for the past two weeks. To anyone else, it would have seemed like we were talking about sports and the weather and my mom’s weird baby sculptures. But that’s why Emile stayed at the Viper Queen’s for so long. Sending postcards back and forth isn’t the fastest method of communication.”

“But it’s one of the more brilliant ones.” Hunt kissed her brow, wings curling around them. “I love you. You’re crazy and shady as all Hel, but I love you. I love that you did this for that kid.”

Her smile widened. “Glad to impress, Athalar.”

His hands began drifting down her sides, thumbs stroking over her ribs. “I’ve been aching for you all day. Aching to show you how sorry I am—and how much I fucking love you.”

“All is forgiven.” She grabbed one of his hands, dragging it down her front, along her thigh—and up under her dress. “I’ve been wet for hours,” she whispered as his fingers brushed her soaked underwear.

He growled, teeth grazing her shoulder. “All this, just for me?”

“Always for you.” Bryce turned again and rubbed her ass against him, feeling the hard, proud length of his cock jutting against her.

Hunt hissed, and his fingers slipped beneath her underwear, circling her clit. “You want me to fuck you right here, Quinlan?”

Her toes curled in her heels. She curved back against him, and his other hand went up to her breast, sliding beneath her neckline to cup the aching flesh beneath. “Yes. Right now.”

He nipped at her ear, drawing a gasp as his fingers slid down to her entrance, dipping in. “Say please,” he breathed.

She arched, moaning softly, and he hushed her. “Please,” she gasped.

She trembled with anticipation at the click of his belt buckle, the zip of his pants. Shivered as he set her hands upon the nearest shelf and gently bent her over. Then slid her dress up her thighs. Exposed her ass to the cool air.

“Gods-damn,” Hunt breathed, running his hands over her rear. Bryce writhed.

He hooked his fingers in her underwear, sliding the lace down her thighs, letting them fall between her ankles. She stepped out of them, spreading her legs wide in invitation. But Hunt dropped to his knees behind her, and before Bryce could inhale, his tongue was at her sex, lapping and dipping inside.

She moaned again, and he gripped her thighs, holding her in place as he feasted on her. His wings brushed her ass, her hips as he leaned forward, tasting and suckling, and—

“I’m going to come if you keep doing that,” she rasped.

“Good,” he growled against her, and as he slid two fingers into her, she did exactly that.

She bit her lip to keep from crying out, and he licked her, drawing out each ripple of her climax. She panted, dizzy with pleasure, clinging to the shelf as he rose behind her once more.

“Now be very quiet,” he whispered in her ear, and pushed inside her.

From behind, at this angle, the fit was luxuriously tight and deep. As he had last night, Hunt eased his way into her with care, and she gritted her teeth to keep from groaning at each inch he claimed for himself. He stilled when he was fully seated, her ass pressed entirely against his front, and ran a possessive hand down her spine.

The fullness of him, the size, simply smelling him and knowing it was Hunt inside her—release threatened again. Bigger and mightier than before. Her star began to glow, silvering the shelves, the books, the darkness of the stacks.

“You like that?” He withdrew nearly to the tip before pushing back in. She buried her face against the hard shelf to stay quiet. “You like how my cock feels in you?”

She could only get out a garbled yesIdopleasemore. Hunt laughed, dark and rich, and thrust in—a little harder this time. “I love you undone like this,” he said, moving again. Setting the pace. “Utterly at my mercy.”

Yesyesyes, she hissed, and he laughed again. His balls slapped against her ass.

“You know how much I thought about doing this all those months ago?” he said, bending to press a kiss to her neck.

“Likewise,” she managed to say. “I wanted you to fuck me on my desk at the gallery.”

His thrusts turned a little uneven. “Oh yeah?”

She moved her hips back against him, angling him in deeper. He groaned now. She whispered, “I knew you’d feel like this. So fucking perfect.”

His fingers dug into her hips. “All yours, sweetheart. Every piece of me.” He thrust harder. Faster.

“Gods, I love you,” she breathed, and that was his undoing.

Hunt yanked her from the shelf, pulling her to the ground with him, positioning her on all fours. His knees spread her own even wider, and Bryce bit her hand to hold in her scream of pleasure as he rammed into her, over and over and over. “I fucking love you,” he said, and Bryce cracked.

Light exploded from her as she came, driving back onto his cock, so deep he touched her innermost wall. Hunt shouted, and his cock pulsed in her, following her into that blinding pleasure like he couldn’t stop, like he’d keep spilling into her forever.

But then he stilled, and they remained there, panting, Hunt buried in her.

“No teleporting this time, huh?” he said, bending to kiss her neck.

She leaned her forehead against her hands. “Must need your power to join mine or something,” she mumbled. “Good thing you didn’t do that, though—probably would have burned the building down. But I don’t care right now.” She wiggled her ass against him, and he hissed. “Let’s go home and have more makeup sex.”


Ruhn opened his eyes, finding himself on the couch on the bridge, with Daybright seated across from him.

“Hey,” he said. He’d passed out on the sectional while Declan and Ithan argued about sunball crap. Flynn had been busy fucking a nymph upstairs.

Ariadne and the sprites had claimed Declan’s bedroom, as the male had planned to spend the night at Marc’s, and gone to sleep soon after a painfully awkward evening meal. The dragon had picked at her dinner like she’d never seen food before. The sprites had drunk an entire bottle of wine between them and spent the meal burping up embers.

How any of them were sleeping with Flynn’s escapades down the hall was beyond Ruhn.

Day drummed a flaming hand on the rolled arm of the fainting couch. “I have information for you to pass along.”

Ruhn straightened. “Good or bad?”

“That’s for you to decide.”

She watched him intently. He wasn’t sure if he’d see her after that colossal bit of weirdness last night. But she said nothing of it as she declared, “I have it on good authority that Pippa Spetsos is planning something big in retaliation for losing so much ammunition and the imperial mech-suit prototype. Ophion is fully behind her. They believe the unit that sabotaged the shipment has gone rogue, and appointed Spetsos to send a clear message to both those rebels and the empire.”

Ruhn kept his face carefully blank. “What’s she up to? Where?”

“I’m not sure. But given that her last known location was Ydra, I thought you should pass it along to your cohorts in Crescent City, lest she attack there.”

“Do the Asteri know about her plans?”

“No. Only I do.”

“How’d you learn about them?”

“That’s none of your concern.”

Ruhn studied her. “So we’re back to the distance. No more bedtime stories?”

Again, she drummed her fingers. “Let’s chalk that up to a moment of insanity.”

“I didn’t see anything.”

“But you wanted to.”

“I don’t need to. I don’t give a shit what you look like. I like talking to you.”


“Because I feel like I can be real with you, here.”


“Yeah. Honest. I’ve told you shit no one else knows.”

“I don’t see why.”

He rose from his couch and crossed to hers. He leaned against the arm of the sofa, peering down at her blazing face. “See, I think you like me, too.”

She shot to her feet, and he backed away a step. She came closer, though. Near enough for her chest to brush his. Flame and darkness twined, stars turning into embers between them. “This is not some game, where you can flirt and seduce your way through it,” she hissed. “This is war, and one that will claim many more lives before it is through.”

A growl worked its way up his throat. “Don’t patronize me. I know the cost.”

“You know nothing of cost, or of sacrifice.”

“Don’t I? I might not have been playing rebel all my life, but believe me, shit has never been easy.” Her words had found their mark, though.

“So your father doesn’t like you. You’re not the only one. So your father beat you, and burned you. So did mine.”

Ruhn snarled, getting in her face. “What the fuck is your point?”

She snarled right back. “My point is that if you are not careful, if you are not smart, you will find yourself giving up pieces of your soul before it’s too late. You will wind up dead.”


She stilled. “How can you ask that so cavalierly?”

He shrugged. “I’m nobody,” he said. It was the truth. Everything he was, the worth by which the world defined him … it had all been given to him. By pure luck of being born into the “right” family. If he’d done anything of value, it had been through the Aux. But as a prince … he’d been running his entire life from that title. Knew it to be utterly hollow.

And Bryce had kept her power a secret so he might hold on to that scrap of specialness.

Ruhn turned away from Day, disgusted with himself.

Bryce loved him far more than she hated their father. Had given up privilege and power for him. What had he ever done for anyone on that scale? He’d die for his friends, this city—yeah. But … who the fuck was he, deep down?

Not a king. His father wasn’t a fucking king, either. Not in the way that mattered.

“Message received,” he said to Day.


Ruhn opened his eyes.

The living room was dark, the TV off, Ithan presumably long gone to sleep.

Ruhn turned over on the couch, tucking his arms behind his head and staring at the ceiling, watching beams of headlights drift across it from passing cars.

Who the fuck was he?

Prince of Nothing.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


not work with dark mode