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Song of Sorrows and Fate: Chapter 17

The Phantom

My damn body was splitting in two. From the center of my chest to the top of my skull, I was on fire. A beautiful destruction of want and need and wholeness at long last.

Calista’s mouth was on mine. A first in every way, and for too many moments I was still as death. Stun bled into want. Unease bled into desire. Fear bled into obsession.

A groan slid from the back of my throat. I cupped her head and bruised her lips with my own. I’d witnessed kisses aplenty in my lifetime. Some were slow, gentle, and tender. Others were violent, wet, and rough. In this moment, I saw the merit of both.

Part of me wanted to devour her. I wanted to bite and scratch and taste my way into her. The other side wanted to study every divot, every curve, every beautiful surface of her body until the dawn.

“Silas.” My name came off her tongue in a soft rasp, as if uncertain of what we were doing, yet she couldn’t stop.

I wouldn’t stop until she demanded it.

Calista Ode took my heart and soul when we were children. First, as the heir I felt obligated to protect out of gratitude for a king who did not toss me to the cruelty of the world. Next, as a little friend. Two strange young ones no one truly understood.

Now, she took everything. My friendship, my voice, my heart, my soul. She could have it all. I was always destined to bow to her. I owned nothing, for everything I had to give had always belonged to the storyteller.

Where her touch had been gentle, her kiss was desperate. Fingers tangled in my hair; she pulled me closer.

I clawed at her waist, taking her braids in fistfuls in one hand, and circled her body with my arm. To claim her mouth, to taste her, was a thrill more intoxicating than the rush of seidr in the veins, drew more sensation than harsh ale on the tongue.

The warmth of her tongue brushed against my lips.

I pulled back, breaths heavy. “Gods, do that again.”

Calista smiled and crushed her mouth to mine. The tip of her tongue slipped into my mouth. My blood raced in a raging fire, rich desire added to the thrill of discovering the sweet seduction of her taste, like a forest after rain, fresh and sweet and free.

Her fingertips slipped down the back of the neck on my tunic. She grinned when I shuddered and blew out a rough breath too forceful against her mouth.

A hiss slid between my teeth.

“You don’t like to be touched?”

“I like to be touched by you.” I took a risk and dragged my teeth and lips across the slope of her throat. “But it feels as though fire is in my skull.”

Calista paused her touch, then drew her lips to the sharp point of my ear. “Your touch does the same. Why is that?”

Because our souls were tethered. They’d fought centuries to reunite, and it felt like the whole world was shifting under the collision.

Words seemed too weak. I didn’t know how to explain it all. I didn’t try and kissed her again. Calista sighed and sank against my chest, her arms choked my neck, and she leveraged each of her slender thighs over my lap.

Damn the hells. Arousal was harsh and cruel with her sweet body straddling mine. Gods, how did a man keep control when the fiercest desire of his heart rocked against his damn length? Was it even possible? Or did every male in existence lose control in his bleeding trousers?

Did she know she was destroying me? Perhaps that was the whole bleeding point.

I’d never touched a woman. We’d been separated as children who didn’t understand such things. Through the centuries that childish love shifted into something fiercer. Something darker. Something deeper.

Desire trembled through me, and if she did not keep her hands on me, I would not be able to draw another breath. Little by little the gentility of inexperience and stun shifted into the passionate, rough kiss. The one that spoke of different things, like tongues on flesh and bodies united as one.

I would never tire of her nearness. After watching time and again her eyes lose the life inside, I’d nearly thought this moment might never be. She’d always been robbed from me in the moments she remembered me.

It was the way of things. Before the curse took her from one lifetime to the next, she would call to me. Speak to me. It was in those moments we would prepare for a new tale. It was then her power would shine and grow and I would sing the final words, sending the paths of fate we put in motion as littles forward to reach the end.

To reach this moment.

Calista’s fingertips teased the back of my neck, tangling in my hair. Her nose nuzzled against my skin, then she kissed the puckered scar on my cheek.

A voice cleared behind us.

Calista pulled back, eyes narrowed. “What, Olaf? I’m occupied.”

“We have matters to discuss.”

I tilted my head in a way I could see the second commander in the corner of my eye. It had been turns since I’d seen the man. Knew he was there, of course, but I’d been bound to the palace where a broken world began. My sole focus was leading Calista Ode back to the first song, so naturally the rest of the world faded into insignificance.

The Rave were buried beneath illusions and manipulations, locked in time, waiting for their princess to call them to arms, or fade as the tale was forgotten and lost.

“You’re damn right we have matters to discuss.” Calista released me from her embrace and scrambled off my lap. “I saw it all. Do you know how many times I’ve died, hmm? A lot more than you, so you’ll excuse me if these matters we must discuss come from him first—” She jabbed a finger in my direction. “And you second. How long will that golden shield hold?”

Olaf blinked through a stun. “Well, it was a defense spell created by King Riot, and the longest I’ve seen it last is six sunrises.”

“Six sunrises. That gives us time to plan. It gives us time to understand what brought us here.”

“But—”

“No. No damn buts. I have unanswered questions,” she snapped, and yanked on my hand, tugging me back to my feet. “No more guesses. No more half-tales. The lives of every person I love once more hang in the balance. I will not risk them when I do not know the steps to take.”

Olaf glanced at me, as though I might reel her back. Fool. I would not stop her voice for anything—her voice was my freedom, my peace, it was the thickest part of my blood that kept my damn heart beating.

I pulled the hood over my face. The Rave slowly gathered close, but instead of watching the argument between Calista and Olaf, they gaped at me. Most knew the king’s ward was a puppeteer behind those gates, twisting and turning paths of fate from the shadows. But none had truly seen me.

No mistake, over the centuries, I’d become more ghost than anything.

A thousand gazes seemed to needle against my skin. Unease tightened like a garrot around my throat. Gods, I wanted to leave, wanted to return to the shadows.

I wanted Calista to follow.

“If sea folk emerged once,” Olaf argued, “then they will do it again.”

“I know. We’ll question the sea singer captured by the blood fae and hope we gain some answers on the other kingdoms.” Calista gave a wary look to the black flame one of her thieving companions had designed.

Clever, but the way she slumped, the way her jaw tightened, it was a distressing sight for her.

“I need to know how to help them,” she whispered, to herself more than anyone. “I need to know how to end this. We guard our shores, do what we can to send word to the other kingdoms. All that takes time. Give me a bit of time to find my place in all this.”

Olaf sighed in frustration. “Princess, I know commanding an army is out of your expertise, but we really must—”

“She wants time.” It took a heartbeat or two to realize I’d bellowed the words. I stepped between Calista and the commander. “You will give her the time. More than blades are needed to win this damn fight, and you know it.”

Olaf blinked, frowning. “Seems you’ve grown into your voice, boy.”

I leaned closer. “You wish this to be the old world—it is not.”

“No,” Olaf muttered. “You saw to that.”

“Enough.” Calista tugged on my arm and shoved her way between the two of us. “If you blame Silas for the shift of our world, then you blame us both.”

Olaf had the decency to look ashamed. “Forgive me. I blame no one.”

“You do,” she went on, “but I understand. No doubt you lost many in the fights of old. My father did what he did to save our people, but we must remember this is not the same kingdom. There are more powers than ours now, Olaf. Like us, they are fated to aid in the end of this fight. Guard our land. We will do our part as you do yours.”

My heart rushed when Calista curled her hand around my arm, almost possessively. To have anyone care what became of me was a forgotten notion. I could not decide if it made me want to shrink into oblivion, or pull her against me and take her mouth, so no one questioned she was mine.

“We’ll guard the shores, Cal.” A man approached. Tall, warrior-strong, with strange eyes that looked like ice. I’d seen him a great deal at her side. I envied him. Desired to thank him for protecting her. Perhaps wanted to hate him a little for it too.

“Cuyler.” She released my arm and took his. All at once, the unfair desire to hate him grew more potent. Calista lowered her voice. “We need answers from your sea fae.”

“Doubt it’ll talk. It’s horrid.” Cuyler shuddered.

“We need to try,” Calista whispered. “That battle lord fiend isn’t here. I want to know why.”

If I had to guess, Calista wanted to know if Davorin had taken a fight to another kingdom. I didn’t know what happened in this tale. I only knew it was meant to end back at the beginning. It was meant to end with her.

My palm heated when Calista slipped her fingers through mine. The blood fae was holding an arm toward one of the new stone structures; a gesture for us to follow.

Calista’s eyes glimmered with panic and something vicious. “You coming, Whisper?”

I smirked. “Wherever you go, Little Rose.”


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