Tempting Auzed: Chapter 15


“I still don’t understand.” Calep laughed. “How could a person who’s been dead for thousands of years and had all their organs removed return to life?”

Alex fell back in her seat and clutched at her sides, sore from laughing so hard. Who knew describing one of her favorite movies would be this difficult and this hilarious? They’d asked ridiculous question after ridiculous question. Things that’d never crossed her mind before.

“You have to just accept the premise,” Relli wheezed from across the thin table.

“I refuse!” Gosten boomed in a falsely outraged tone. “It makes no sense. Even if I believed that a male long buried could be brought back to life by a simple phrase, the whole reason he could be brought back makes no sense!”

Jut snorted as he refilled Auzed’s and Alex’s empty glasses yet again. She sipped the sweet golden yubskani, alcohol made from the sap of the trees here, and grinned wide. “Please enlighten me.” She chuckled toward Gosten.

He gave her a dazzling smile as he leaned toward her, ready to argue his point. “So, you said they buried him alive to punish him for killing their king and put a curse on him that allowed him to live forever?”

“Pharoah, yeah,” she corrected, taking a sip of her drink.

“Okay.” He lifted his brows as if about to make a killer closing statement. “Then why would they write a book with words to allow him to awaken again, knowing he would be all-powerful?”

Calep approvingly clapped his hands together next to her at his brother’s point.

Alex tried to answer through her giggling, but suddenly Auzed, who’d been silent for most of the night, beat her to it.

“They were ensuring he would suffer endlessly and never be set free. I assume they didn’t imagine anyone would be dumb enough to wake him.”

She gave him a small grin. “Exactly! He’s a cursed mummy. They took that seriously.”

“Fine. Fine.” Gosten sighed. “You win for now, but I’m still left with questions.”

“I’ll explain the rest another time.”

“I’d like that very much,” Calep chimed in from her right.

She chanced a glance at Auzed again and found him staring daggers at Calep’s elbow only a few inches away from hers. She wasn’t attempting to make Auzed jealous, but a wicked part of her brain reveled in his disgruntled expression. After an hour or so of getting to know everyone, Auzed had pulled her aside and assured her she’d passed the social line, invisible to her, that divided “strangers” from “friendly acquaintances.”

When she’d returned to the table, she begun to allow herself to smile at everyone. Her mood had been bolstered from that point on. Holding back from the emotion that came so naturally to her was exhausting; she could also admit the many yubskanis she’d drunk helped as well.

Throughout the night she’d checked in with Auzed to make sure he was enjoying himself too. When he’d continued to answer her in grunts and short nods, she’d given up and instead tried to get to know everyone else. Jut was a calm, caring man who radiated warmth. She would often look over only to find him grinning toward his unsuspecting wife as if they were newlyweds. Alex had also learned he ran a snack bar in the highest section of the market tree, a level she hadn’t yet explored.

She enjoyed getting to know Calep and Gosten better without the fear that she was leading them on. Calep was a bit younger than Gosten and built like a tank with a tail. He was one of those burly men who had a rounded stomach and love handles but could also probably lift a car off you if needed. His wide, infectious grin added to his charm. She had no trouble understanding why a woman had picked him for marriage when so few men were ever picked.

Gosten was a bit more reserved but no less charming. He turned out to have a quick wit and sly humor that caught her by surprise.

For a long while, Auzed had remained an indomitable statue in the room, but he eventually settled and even appeared to have a good time. He drank the drinks that were served to him and listened to the conversation with a restrained interest. Whenever she moved around the nest or went to the bathroom, she’d made sure to give him a brief touch. She knew he’d claimed soon-to-be-married couples didn’t do it, but she also knew his bunched shoulders and tense jaw consistently relaxed when she brushed her hand over his arm while walking past. The knowledge that her presence comforted him in any way made her almost giddy.

The night was turning out to be wonderful. She was pleasantly buzzed. She was having a great time chatting the night away with a new group of friends. And she suspected Auzed liked her. Really liked her. Puffed-his-chest-out-with-a-sort-of-satisfied-pride-every-time-she-referred-to-him-as-her-future-husband type of liked her.

“We should be leaving.” Fenut sighed as he rose from his seat. “Will you join us tomorrow for the opening ceremony?” He pounded his palm on Gosten’s shoulder and added, “We’ll be the ones cheering the loudest.”

“I’m not sure if we have somewhere we need to be, but I’d love to if we can.” She turned to Auzed and found him staring at her.

At length, he replied, “The regents have asked us to lap the arena before the games start, and they’ve assigned an area for us to sit. Apologies.”

Fenut’s sons both stood and joined their father without a word of argument. “Maybe we’ll see you after?” Fenut asked, lifting his tail to his forehead in farewell.

“Yeah, maybe!” Alex replied, though she had no idea if it was possible.

Calep shot her a crooked grin. “Do humans shake hands when parting as well, or do they kiss?”

“Calep!” Relli squeaked.

A chuckle burst from Alex’s lips in surprise. “What?”

The scrape of a bench behind her told her Auzed had risen to his feet.

“I heard it is a common human custom.” Calep looked between her and Auzed, the realization that he’d been wrong turning his smile nervous.

“It is not,” Auzed growled ominously.

She got to her feet and stepped between them, hoping to cool some of the rising tension. “I imagine the kind you heard about isn’t something I’d do with someone I just met. It’s an intimate act humans do with their partners. There are other kinds too…uh, it’s hard to explain.”

Calep tilted his head as he digested that. “If I somehow find a human of my own, will she want to save kissing for marriage? Have you two kissed yet?”

At the same time Alex shook her head and said no, Auzed very firmly said yes.

“No?” he boomed, affronted. “We did. You kissed me.”

Alex felt her cheeks flaming. “We… Not really… I mean, I guess it was a kiss.” The way he was looking at her as if the mere idea the brief peck they’d shared wasn’t a kiss made her squirm.

Turning back to the rest of the room, she saw they were all staring. There wasn’t a hint of shame at enjoying the overheard conversation to be seen of any of their eager, amused faces.

“He’s right. We’ve kissed,” she said quickly, wanting this conversation to be done with.

Relli and Jut hid their grins by clearing the table. Calep didn’t bother to hide his.

Changing the subject, she addressed Jut. “Thank you for dinner. It was so good.” He’d lovingly prepared a feast, not knowing what foods she liked. Big surprise, she’d liked them all.

“It was our honor.” Jut beamed at Relli and twined his tail around hers.

“It’s time for us to return to the nest as well,” Auzed said from behind her. The cool indifference was back in his voice, but his movements were rigid as he helped Jut clear off the table, blatantly ignoring Relli’s hands shooing him away.

As they said their goodbyes and left, she could feel Auzed’s intense stare on her. How had they managed to end the night with him mad at her?

When he remained touchy and silent after they’d boarded a platform and made it out of earshot, she rolled her eyes and asked, “Are you going to tell me what’s wrong now?”

He shifted his weight from one foot to the other and tightened his hands around the bar in front of them.

“Why did…” He let out a low breath and a short grumble. “Are you interested in either of Fenut’s sons?”

“What?” She turned on the board to face him, holding the bar behind her back. “No. Maybe in another life. They were nice and all, but not my type.” They were totally her type, but these days, it seemed that if a man wasn’t blond, sullen, and statuesque, she had no interest.

His gaze narrowed on her, and his lips twitched. She imagined he’d just stopped himself from asking what her type was. Pushing his shoulders back a bit more, he stared ahead of him. “Why else would you have lied about us kissing?”

“Is that why you’re upset? I’m sorry.” She grinned up at him. “But I wasn’t lying. I mean, that little peck I gave you wasn’t really a kiss, you know.”

He blinked ahead of him, still focused on the open air he was guiding them through while digesting that bit of information. “But you pressed your mouth to mine.”

Alex shrugged and leaned back against her hands. “Sure, but it was only for a second, and you didn’t kiss back or anything. Tight, dry, closed-lip mouth contact is not my definition of kissing. Unless you’re giving a friendly peck to your relative or buddy or something.”

He finally looked at her, and then his gaze heated and slid down her body. His attention lingered on her chest pushed out in front of her to accommodate her hands behind her back. Alex shivered.

“Why did you do it?” he rumbled.

“Kiss you?” She shrugged, then laughed. “Oddly enough, a quote from that movie we were discussing comes to mind. You were about to be mauled by a sefa. ‘Seemed like a good idea at the time.’”

Alex jumped as he suddenly vaulted off the board. Her heart leapt into her throat for a moment before she realized they were back at the nest and he’d jumped onto the porch around the hanging home.

“You thought I was going to die, so you kissed me the same way you would a friend?” He shouted his words as if he were repeating them to himself, not asking her a question.

A bit more carefully than he had, she stepped onto the porch and trailed after him. “Well, we didn’t exactly have time for a make-out session or anything. Why are you so mad about this?”

“I thought…” Auzed spun and tapped on the center of his chest with his fingers. “I don’t know what I thought, but I assumed you’d kissed me because… It doesn’t matter.” He waved his hand dismissively and stomped into the house.

Wilson, who’d appeared bleary-eyed on the roof, glanced down at them in annoyance.

While following Auzed into the house, she waved Wilson away and whispered, “It’s fine, go back to bed.”

She heard Wilson’s annoyed little trumpet as the creature relaxed into her nest.

“I could show you how it really goes if you want?” She sent him a sultry grin to go along with her suggestion. She almost giggled at his sharp double-take.

He scratched his temple and tipped his head at her, confused. “I don’t understand you, female.”

Before she could think better of it, she hiked her dress up to her thighs, charged toward him, and leapt. Without any hesitation, he caught her. Slithering her arms behind his neck and wrapping her legs around his waist, she leaned in close. “It’s better that way,” she whispered, playfully nuzzling his nose with her own. “Gotta keep you on your toes, Auzzy.”

He held perfectly still, but his hands twitched where they gripped her thighs, and his chest rose and fell quickly. Gaze locking onto her mouth, he let out a low, rumbling growl that sent an electric current right to her core.

One of his large hands shot up her back and clutched her nape while the other curled around her ass. The last of his control cracking, he used his grip on her neck to pull her mouth down to his.

Alex’s stomach flipped, and she let out a victorious moan. Aching to kiss him for real, she ran her tongue over the seam of his lips until they parted and then kissed him slowly and sensually, hoping to give him time to learn what she was doing. His arms encircling her tightened even more, and he met her motions with a ferocity of his own. Strong lips sliding over hers had her mind melting into a sizzling puddle.

With no idea how it’d happened or when, she found herself pulled tight to him, her back crushed against one of the large tree trunks running through the room. And he’d taken control. Barely letting her get a breath in as he explored her mouth with his hot, greedy tongue.

His cock, which she hadn’t noticed before, had grown large and rigid between her legs. Slanting his head to deepen the kiss, he rocked his hips, making her release a low moan into his mouth. With an answering growl he did it again and again and again, until she was wet and throbbing.

Breaking away, he found her neck. “Hold on to me,” he commanded in a guttural voice between sharp bites and soothing kisses along the column of her neck. He stepped away from the tree, and she clung tightly to his shoulders. Both his hands flew off her. She was about to put up a fight and demand he return them, but then he fisted the back of her dress and, with a vicious wrench, tore it in half down her back. Any argument she’d been ready to have was swallowed by her low moan.

Snapping the two thin straps holding her dress on her shoulders, he reached between them and pulled the bunched fabric away, letting it fall in a ragged heap on the floor. His arms drew around her waist and squeezed while his mouth latched back onto hers with a groan as though she were the best tasting thing he’d ever had on his tongue.

She arched her back, pushing her chest against his, but his damn shirt was still in the way. Grabbing a handful of fabric at his back, she pulled it up, showing him without words she wanted it gone. He let her slide down his body, craning his neck to continue their kiss until she was finally on her feet. Then he gripped the shirt and pulled it over his head. As he did, Alex worked to unlace the intricate knots of his pants.

Once his shirt was gone, he didn’t help her. She glanced up to find him staring at her hands fumbling at the opening of his pants. The pure lust burning in his gaze had her breasts aching. He wanted her to undress him, and he wanted to watch her do it.

She slowed her movements, letting him savor the sight. His wide chest rose and fell before her eyes, the defined muscles of his torso expanding, then bunching together with each controlled breath. One of his shimmering white markings curved around his chiseled V-cut and disappeared below his waistline.

While untying the last knot keeping his pants up, she leaned forward and ran her tongue over the dip between his large pecs. He let out a low, rumbling groan that vibrated through his chest. Trousers coming loose, he grasped her shoulders, intending to pull her away, but when she slid her hand between them and gripped his large shaft, he stopped.

Wrapping her palm around his girth, she pumped her fist slowly up and down. With a low growl, he jabbed his fingers through the hair at her nape and pulled her mouth away from the slow kisses she was planting on his chest. He brought her face up to his and kissed her deeply while she glided her hand over his heated length.

In slow, restrained steps he backed her up until her calves hit the long couch at the back of the house. He turned them both, then sat and pulled her down to straddle him. Trailing scorching kisses along her jaw and down her throat, he clutched her waist and lifted her higher onto his body, putting his mouth in line with her hard nipples.

Alex tried to keep her mind on the task she’d been focusing on, but their sudden shift had made it impossible for her to stroke him. Never in her life had she felt the need to pleasure a man this viscerally. She wanted to watch his hard stomach tighten and relax as he came. Hear that deep, rumbling voice groan or roar or snarl. Just thinking about how he might sound when he broke apart made her whimper.

She attempted to pull away, but his strong hands kept her in place. He sucked and kissed her breasts more intensely. Sliding his hand under the thick band of her underwear, he flattened his palm on the center of her low spine just above her ass and roughly pressed forward, forcing her to arch into his mouth even further.

Alex’s mind went dizzy at the sensation, and she rocked her dripping core against his shaft in time with the pulsing swipes of his tongue. This man was fucking worshipping her body and with a crashing realization she recalled that this was what he’d been taught to do. He ran his teeth over the underside of her breast, and she inhaled a sharp breath. Well, maybe not this specifically. But from what she’d gathered, everything Clecanian men worried about focused on ensuring a woman’s comfort. That had to have parallels in what they learned about sex with a woman too.

She pulled away more forcefully, and he allowed it. Chest heaving in ragged breaths and eyes gone dark, he kept his gaze locked on hers as she stepped away from him, then sank to her knees. A low growl broke from his chest as she lowered her head to his lap.

For the first time, she looked down at his shaft and couldn’t contain the moan that built in her throat. He was glorious. A slick, wide crown leading to a thick shaft with pulsing veins. She grinned up at him and felt a surge of confidence when he hungrily licked his lips.

She ran her palms up his thighs, tracing the progress of his pale markings. A portion of his markings high on his left quad were different. They were thicker and black, but they felt the same as the other markings as she ran her fingers over them and then let her palms rest by his hips. She lowered her lips and breathed hot air onto the head of his shaft, making him curse.

In an almost unrecognizable voice, he rumbled, “Alejandra, this isn’t done.”

She grinned and took the tip of him into her mouth.

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