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House of Sky and Breath: Part 3 – Chapter 61

“Are you all right?” Ithan asked Hypaxia as the clock neared three thirty in the morning. She’d complained of some stomach cramps and had left the party for about twenty minutes, returning pale-faced.

The witch-queen now tucked a dark curl behind her ear, then adjusted the fall of her jet-black robes, having pulled them over her gown moments before. Even standing in the small clearing of an olive grove nestled in the hills beyond the city, the sounds of revelry reached them: booming bass, cheering, strobing lights. A far cry from the whispering leaves and dry ground around him, the stars glinting beyond the silvery canopy.

Another world away from that glittering party where so many powers had come together tonight. Where Bryce had somehow outmaneuvered the Autumn King and had declared Hunt her prince. He hadn’t known what to think in that moment.

He’d done his best to stay the fuck away from Sabine and Amelie tonight. Thankfully, they had been present only long enough to see the Asteri speak, then left. He hated himself for being so relieved about it. The Prime hadn’t attended—he usually avoided such functions.

“So this is it?” Ithan asked Hypaxia, gesturing with a hand to the seven candles she’d arranged on the ground. “Light the candles and wait?”

Hypaxia drew out a long dagger. “Not quite,” she said, and Ithan kept a step back as she used the knife to draw lines between the candles.

Ithan angled his head. “A six-pointed star,” he said. Like the one Bryce had made between the Gates this spring, with the seventh candle at its center.

“It’s a symbol of balance,” she explained, moving away a foot, but keeping the dagger at her side. Her crown of cloudberries seemed to glow with an inner light. “Two intersecting triangles. Male and female, dark and light, above and below … and the power that lies in the place where they meet.” Her face became grave. “It is in that place of balance where I’ll focus my power.” She motioned to the circle. “No matter what you see or hear, stay on this side of the candles.”

A chill went up Ithan’s spine, even as his heart lightened. If he could just talk to Connor … He’d thought over and over about what he’d say, but he couldn’t remember any of it.

Hypaxia read whatever lay in his gaze, her face again solemn.

But a bargain was a bargain. Hypaxia lifted both arms, holding the dagger aloft, and began chanting.

Day appeared far down the bridge and stayed there, like she didn’t want to come near him.

Ruhn sat on his couch, forearms on his knees. He’d been reeling from what had gone down in the garden for hours now. Was surprised he’d even fallen asleep in his physical body.

He rushed to her. “I’m sorry I endangered you.”

Day said nothing. Just stood there, burning.

He tried again. “I … It was a really dumb idea. I’m sorry if you showed and I wasn’t there. I got to the garden and the Harpy and the Hind had trailed me, and I think they might have suspected me, or I don’t know, but I’m … I’m so sorry, Day.”

“I was there,” she said quietly.


“I saw you,” she said, and stalked forward. “Saw the threat, too. And stayed away.”

“Where? In the garden?”

She came closer. “I saw you,” she said again. Like she was still processing it.

“You came.” He shook his head. “I thought you might not have, and we didn’t talk since we made that plan, and I was worried—”

“Ruhn.” His name on her lips rocked through him.

He shuddered. “You know who I am.”


“Say my name again.”

She came closer. “Ruhn.” Her flames parted enough for him to get a glimpse of a smile.

“Are you still in the city? Can I meet you somewhere?” It was the middle of the night—but it was the equinox. People would be partying until dawn. But they’d be masked—he and Day could fit right in.

“No.” Her voice flattened. “I’m gone.”

“Liar. Tell me where you are.”

“Did you learn nothing tonight? Did you not see how close we came to disaster? The Asteri’s servants are everywhere. One mistake, even for a moment, and we are dead.”

His throat worked. “When the Harpy came out of the shadows, I thought she was you. I … I panicked for a moment.”

A quiet laugh. “That would have been awful for you? To have me be someone you hate so much?”

“It would take some adjustment.”

“So you do have a notion of what you expect me to be like.”

“I don’t. I just … don’t want you to be her.”

Another laugh. “And you’re a Fae Prince.”

“Does it gross you out?”

“Should it?”

“It grosses me out.”


“Because I’ve done nothing to deserve that title.”

She studied him. “The Autumn King is your father. The one who hurt you.”

“The one and only.”

“He’s a disgrace of a king.”

“You should talk to my sister. I think she’d like you.”

“Bryce Quinlan.”

He tensed at her knowing Bryce’s name so readily, but if she’d been at the party tonight, she’d know without a doubt. “Yeah. She hates my father even more than I do.”

But Day’s flame dimmed. “You’re engaged to Queen Hypaxia.”

He almost laughed it off, but her voice was so grave. “It’s complicated.”

“You danced with her like it wasn’t.”

“You saw me?”

“Everyone saw you.”

That sharpness in her voice … was it jealousy? He said carefully, “I’m not the two-timing sort. Hypaxia and I are betrothed in name only. I don’t even know if we’ll marry. She has as little attachment to me as I do to her. We like and admire each other, but … that’s about it.”

“Why should I care?”

He studied her, then took a step closer, until only a handsbreadth separated them. “I wanted to see you tonight. I spent the entire time watching the clock.”

Her breathing hitched. “Why?”

“So I could do this.” Ruhn lifted her chin and kissed her. The mouth beneath the fire was soft, and warm, and opened for him.

Flaming fingers twined through his hair, tugging him close, and Ruhn slid his arms around a slim, curving body, hands feeling her ample backside. Fuck yes.

His tongue brushed over hers, and she shuddered in his arms. But she met him stroke for stroke, as if she couldn’t hold back, as if she wanted to know every inch of him, his every taste and nuance.

Her hand slid along his jaw, fingers exploring the shape of his face. He willed his night to pull back to show his eyes, his nose, his mouth. Thankfully, it obeyed him. Beyond the veil of flame covering her features, he could feel her watching him. Seeing his bared face.

Her fingers traced the bridge of his nose. The bow of his lips. Then she kissed him again, with sheer abandon, and Ruhn gave himself entirely to it.

“You remind me that I’m alive,” she said, voice thick. “You remind me that goodness can exist in the world.”

His throat ached. “Day—”

But she hissed, stiffening against his grip. She glanced back toward her end of the bridge.

No. That male who’d once dragged her from sleep to have sex with her—

Day whipped her head back to Ruhn and the flame rippled, revealing pleading eyes of solid fire. “I’m sorry,” she whispered, and vanished.

Hunt was still drunk when he and Bryce returned to the apartment at three in the morning. She carried her heels in one hand, the train of her dress in the other. They’d left the party soon after Ruhn had bailed, and headed to a dive bar in the heart of the Old Square, where they’d proceeded to play pool and drink whiskey in their ridiculous finery.

They didn’t talk about what they’d discovered in the cloakroom. What more was there to say?

“I’m plastered,” Bryce announced to the dim apartment, slumping onto the couch.

Hunt chuckled. “Very princess-ish.”

She removed her earrings, chucking the diamonds onto the coffee table as if they were cheap costume jewelry. The comb in her hair followed, gems glinting in the soft firstlights.

She stretched out her legs, bare feet wiggling on the coffee table. “Let’s never do that again.”

“The whiskey or outsmarting your father or the party?” Hunt tugged his white bow tie free of its knot as he approached the couch and peered down at her.

She huffed a laugh. “The party. Outsmarting my father and the whiskey will always be a repeat activity.”

Hunt sat on the coffee table, adjusting his wings around it. “It could have been a lot worse.”

“Yeah. Though I can’t think of anything much worse than gaining multiple enemies for the price of one.” That the Asteri’s appearance had only been a footnote said plenty about their night. “Though Celestina isn’t our enemy, I guess.”

Hunt picked up one of her feet and began rubbing the insole. She sighed, sinking back into the cushions. Hunt’s cock stirred at the pure pleasure she radiated.

“Can I tell you something?” Hunt said, massaging the arch of her foot. “Something that might be deemed alphahole-ish?”

“As long as you keep rubbing my foot like that, you can say whatever the Hel you want.”

Hunt laughed. “Deal.” He picked up her other foot, starting on that one. “I liked being at the party tonight. Despite all the fancy clothes and the Asteri and the stuff with Hypaxia and Celestina. Despite all the prince bullshit. I liked being seen. With you.”

Her mouth quirked to the side. “You liked staking your territory?”

“Yeah.” He let her see the predator in him. “I’ve never had that with anyone.”

She frowned. “Shahar never showed you off?”

“No. I was her general. At public functions, we didn’t appear together. She never wanted that. It would have positioned me as an equal, or at least someone she deemed … important.”

“I thought your movement was all about equality,” Bryce said, frown deepening.

“It was. But we still had to play by the old rules.” Rules that continued to govern and dictate people’s lives. Celestina’s and Hypaxia’s lives.

“So she never came out and said, Hey, world! He’s my boyfriend!

Hunt laughed, and marveled that he did so. He’d never thought he’d be able to laugh about anything related to Shahar. “No. It’s why I was so … honored when you asked me to do this.”

Bryce studied him. “Do you want to go outside so we can get caught fooling around in public by the press? That’ll make us really official.”

“Maybe another time.” Hunt lifted her foot to his mouth, pressing a kiss to the instep. “So, we’re, like … married.”

“Are we?” She held out a hand before her, studying her splayed fingers. “I don’t see a ring, Athalar.”

He nipped at her toes, earning a squeal from her. “You want a ring, I’ll get you one.” Another kiss. “You want iron, steel, or titanium?” Wedding bands in Lunathion were simple, their value derived from the strength of the metal used to forge them.

“Titanium all the way, baby,” she crowed, and Hunt bit her toes again.

She squirmed, but he held her firm. “These little toes make me think some dirty things, Quinlan,” he said against her foot.

“Please tell me you don’t have a foot fetish.”

“No. But everything where you’re involved is a fetish for me.”

“Oh?” She leaned back farther into the cushions, her dress slipping up her legs. “So I make you want to get a little kinky?”

“Uh-huh.” He kissed her ankle. “Just a little.”

She arched into the touch. “Want to have drunk, sloppy sex, Prince Hunt?”

He rumbled a laugh against her calf. Only from her lips would he tolerate that title. “Fuck yeah.”

She pulled her leg from his touch and stood with that dancer’s grace. “Unzip me.”


She gave him her back, and Hunt, still seated, reached up to tug at the zipper hidden down the length of her spine. The tattoo of the Horn appeared, along with inches of golden skin, until the first tendrils of lace from her thong were revealed. The zipper ended before he could get a view of what he wanted.

But Bryce peeled the dress from her front, letting it drop. She hadn’t worn a bra, but the black thong …

Hunt ran his hands over the firm cheeks of her ass, bending to bite at a delicate strap of her underwear. She let out a soft, breathy sound that had him kissing the base of her spine. Her long hair brushed his brow, silken and as lovely as a caress.

Bryce turned in his grip, and—what luck—he found himself right where he wanted to be. From where it sat high on her hips, her thong plunged into a dramatic vee, a veritable arrow pointing to paradise.

He kissed her navel. Flicked her nipples with his thumbs as he licked up toward them. Her fingers slid into his hair, her head tipping back as he closed his mouth around a taut bud. He rolled her nipple over his tongue, savoring the weight and taste of it, his hands drifting around her waist, tangling in the straps of her thong. Tugging it down her hips. Her thighs. He moved to her other breast, sucking it into his mouth. Bryce groaned, and his cock pushed against the front of his dress pants.

He liked having her at his mercy. Liked this image, of her wholly naked and resplendent before him, his to touch and pleasure and worship. Hunt smiled against her breast. He liked it a lot.

He rose, scooping her into his arms and carrying her to the bedroom, his bow tie dangling around his neck.

He laid her on the mattress, cock pulsing at the sight of her heavy-lidded with desire, sprawled there naked and his for the taking. He pulled the tie free. “Want to get a little kinky with me, Quinlan?”

She glanced to the iron posts of the headboard, and her red lips parted in a feline grin. “Oh yes.”

Hunt made quick work of binding her hands to the bedposts. Light enough not to hurt, but tight enough that getting any ideas about touching him while he feasted on her was out of the question.

Bryce lay stretched out before him, and Hunt could hardly get a breath down as he unbuttoned his shirt. Then his pants. He shed his shoes, his socks—all the trappings of civility, until he stood before her naked, and Bryce bit her lip. Then he propped up her knees and spread them wide.

“Fuck,” he said, taking in her gleaming sex, already drenched for him. Its heady scent hit him, and he shuddered, cock now a steady ache.

“Since I can’t touch myself,” she said huskily, “maybe you’ll do the honors.”

“Fuck,” he said again, unable to think of anything else. She was so beautiful—every single part of her.

“Are you articulating what you’d like to do to me, or has your brain short-circuited?”

He snapped his gaze to her own. “I wanted to draw this out. Really torment you.”

Her legs spread a little wider, a taunting invitation. “Oh?”

“I’ll save that for another day,” he growled, and crawled on top of her. The tip of his cock nudged at her wet, hot entrance, and a shiver of anticipatory pleasure went down his spine. But he ran a hand down the length of her torso, fingers tracing the silken swells of her breasts, the plane of her stomach. She writhed, tugging on the restraints.

“So defiant.” He dipped to kiss her neck. He pushed in a little, his mind blacking out at the perfect tightness. But he withdrew—and eased back in a little more. Even when every instinct screamed to plunge into her, unless she asked for it, he’d be careful. He wanted her to feel only ecstasy.

“Stop teasing,” she said, and Hunt raked his teeth down her left breast, sucking in her nipple as he sank a bit further into her sheer perfection. “More,” she snarled, hips rising as if she’d impale herself on him.

Hunt laughed. “Who am I to deny a princess?”

Her eyes flashed with desire hot enough to sear his soul. “I’m issuing a royal decree for you to fuck me, Hunt. Hard.”

His balls tightened at the words, and he gave her what she wanted. They both groaned as he sank all the way home in a thrust that had him seeing stars. She felt like bliss, like eternity—

Hunt withdrew and thrust again, and there were indeed stars around them—no, it was her, she was glowing like a star—

Her hips undulated, meeting his, driving him deeper.

Fuck yes. She was his, and he was hers, and now the whole fucking world knew it—

He sent out a fizzle of his lightning, snapping the restraints on her wrists. Her hands instantly came around his back, fingers grappling hard enough to draw sweet slices of pain. Hunt’s wings twitched, and she wrapped her legs around his middle. He sank even deeper, and holy fuck, the squeeze of her—

She flexed those inner muscles. His eyes nearly rolled back in his head.

“Solas, Quinlan—”

Hard,” she breathed in his ear. “Fuck me like the prince you are.”

Hunt lost it. He pulled back enough to grip her ass in both hands, tilting her pelvis upward—and plunged in. She moaned, and everything he was transformed into something primal and animalistic. His. His mate to touch and fuck and fill—

Hunt let himself go, pounding into her again and again and again.

Bryce’s moans were sweet music, a temptation and a challenge. She glowed, and Hunt looked at his cock, sliding in and out of her, shining with her wetness—

He was glowing, too. Not with her starlight, but … fuck, his lightning was crackling down his arms, his hands, skittering over her hips, up to her breasts.

“Don’t stop,” she gasped as his lightning flared. “Don’t stop.”

Hunt didn’t. He yielded to the storm, riding it, riding her, and there was only Bryce, her soul and her body and the flawless fit of them—

“Hunt,” she pleaded, and he knew from her breathy tone that she was close.

He didn’t let up. Didn’t give her one ounce of mercy. The slap and slide of their bodies meeting filled the room, but the sounds were distant, the world was distant as his power and essence flowed into her. Bryce cried out, and Hunt turned frenzied, pounding once, twice—

On the third, mightiest thrust, he ruptured, his power with him.

Lightning filled the room, filled her as surely as his seed, and he kissed her through it, tongues meeting, ether flooding his senses. He could never get enough of this—this connection, this sex, this power flowing between them. He needed it more than he needed food, water—needed this sharing of magic, this twining of souls; he’d never stop craving it—

Then he was falling, amid black wind and lightning and stars. He came through all of it, roaring his pleasure to the skies.

Because those were skies above them. And city lights. Booming bass from a nearby party.

Hunt stilled, gaping down at Bryce. At the surface beneath her—the apartment building’s roof.

Bryce grinned sheepishly. “Oops.”


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