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The Ever King: Chapter 25

The Songbird

I was pressed between the wall and the hard planes of the Ever King’s body, and I could not recall anywhere I’d wanted to be more. I ought to run, to claw at him, to curse him for stealing me away, but I leaned into him like reaching for a flame in the darkness.

An enemy to my people, and still I thought I might collapse if he removed his hands.

Erik speared his fingers through my hair, gripping the braids at the roots, and tilting my head. My lips parted, and his tongue slid against mine in slow, masterful strokes. He tasted like the cool sea air and a bite of smooth ale.

I shouldn’t want him, but wanting him was the least of my worries—I craved him. When Erik left, I noticed. There was a missing piece of me, and I didn’t understand it.

He pulled back, breaths heavy and tangled with my own. “Because you’re bonded with the Ever. You took the place as my mantle, and I took you. I won you. That is what you’re feeling.”

I blinked. “How . . . how did you know what I was thinking?”

His thumb ran over the rune on my arm. “You have it, too, a pull to me, maybe even the ability to sense things about me. Open yourself to this connection, and I suspect you could feel my thoughts the way I feel yours. A dangerous bond for a king to have, love. You might learn exactly how to break me.”

All gods. I’d absorbed the magic from the Ever King’s talisman. I didn’t understand it all, but the truth of it burned in my breast—I was his mantle, the amplified power of the Ever.

A groove of disappointment furrowed between his brows, and he took a step back. “That’s what this is, Songbird. This pull is nothing but an unwitting bond.”

He took another step from me. I glared at him, annoyed. Bond be damned, nothing felt so perfectly in place as his hands on me, and I should scream and curse the gods for such a twist of my fate. Every kiss, every touch, every moment of longing was a knife in the backs of my friends, my family.

Erik dragged his fingers through his thick hair. He was leaving. It turned my stomach in sick.

From the first moment I laid eyes on the boy king, kneeling and defeated before the sea folk were locked away, I wanted to know him. Before the mantle. Before the rune mark. Before it all, I’d wanted to know him.

I was a traitor to my own people because I still wanted him. All of him. I reached for the king, curling a hand on the back of his neck.

A grin twisted the corner of his mouth. “Careful what lines you cross, Songbird.”

“Those lines will change nothing.”

“Still detest me then?”

“Still plan to keep me captive?”

Erik slid his hands along the curve of my waist, and he dipped his face alongside my cheek. “I have many plans for you in my head right now.”

“Then let me hate you and want you, and let us get back to it.”

I kissed him with all I had. The lies from my tongue rolled onto his. I wanted him and tried to hate him. The differences were potent, but I demanded my mind to cease its whirling. I wanted to do nothing but feel.

My hands gripped his tunic and drew him closer. The clack of teeth and frenzy of lips caused a moan to slide from my throat.

His leg spread my thighs, and the pressure of him against my core pooled heat between my legs. I groaned, unashamed. Erik pressed his hips against me. A short gasp slid from the back of my throat when the hardness of his length added friction to the ache.

It was as if his kiss unleashed a dormant creature inside me. I could not get close enough. I could not touch him enough.

Erik scraped his teeth down my throat, his tongue ran over the pulse point. One palm slid up the curve of my ribs. He touched each divot with his fingertips, almost as if giving me time to turn away.

My breaths came heavy when his palm teased the underside of one breast. I arched my back, my nipples pebbling, desperate for his touch. Erik lifted his head for a moment, a gleam in his gaze I wanted to capture in my mind forever. The look of a man who wanted a woman; a man who’d do anything to have her.

He took my lips the same instant his hand covered my breast. I arched my back, arms around his neck, holding him closer. He tormented me as he pinched and flicked and kneaded my skin. His touch became a new obsession. Perhaps I was a traitor to my people, but in this moment, I didn’t care; I wanted all of him.

Erik walked me back until my legs hit the soft edge of the bed. I fumbled into sitting without breaking the kiss. With a nudge to my shoulder, he urged my back onto the mattress. My feet were still planted on the ground as he reared over me, his palms flat beside my head.

I wrapped my legs around his waist, shuddering when his hand glided down the bare skin of my thigh.

He kissed me deeper, sucking my tongue into his mouth, as greedy for me as I was for him. Sharp desire to touch his body the way his clever fingers teased my sensitive flesh boiled in my brain. I tugged on the top of his belt and captured the heat of his moan on my tongue.

Erik pulled back, eyes dark, and slid his rough palms beneath the gown clinging to my thighs. Pain burdened one of his legs. I’d witnessed the way he grimaced, the limp, but he didn’t wince when he lowered to his knees.

A startled huff broke from my throat when Erik slid my gown to my waist, baring my sex to him. “What . . . what are you doing?”

His sunset gaze held mine. “Have you never been touched, Songbird? Never been tasted?”

Heat flooded my veins in embarrassment, but faded when his face moved lower, so his warm tongue dragged up the sensitive skin of my inner thigh. I shook my head.

“Tell me to stop then.” Erik’s rough, callused thumbs traced where he’d licked my legs.

My heart wouldn’t slow, the beat rampaged through my skull. My insides twisted in desperate need. I bit my bottom lip. “I won’t.”

The same flash of hunger consuming me lived in Erik’s eyes.

“Good,” was all he said before a jolt of pleasure surged in my veins, like I’d leapt into a frozen lake in the dead of the frosts, when his tongue swiped over me between my legs.

Gods his . . . his face was buried between my thighs, and I could not catch a breath.

He pulled back and swiped his tongue over his lips. “My perfect songbird. I imagined you tasted just as perfect.”

Erik dipped his head and drove his tongue against the wet heat of my center again.

My breaths would not calm, and I hardly cared. I propped onto my elbows, lost in a delirious stun as I watched the top of the king’s head move with every flick of his tongue. A shudder of desire alighted my skin in a blistering heat. His tongue and lips tasted all of me, his teeth nipped at sensitive flesh, and I couldn’t imagine anything more . . . right.

I closed my eyes, and hooked a leg around one of his shoulders, giving him space to drive me into madness.

“Erik . . . more.” I let my head fall onto the soft quilts of his bed.

His hands cupped under my ass, bolstering me as he licked and kissed the arousal off my core with a ravenous frenzy.

“Say you hate me all you want, so long as all this is for me. Your cries, your taste, those ragged breaths. Those belong to me.” He slung my other leg over his shoulder, deepening his angle.

I tangled my hand in his hair and tugged on the ends. He hummed, low and deep, against my entrance.

“Keep doing that,” he rasped, “and I will forget to be gentle.”

I let out a breathless laugh. “Who said that’s what I wanted?”

Erik paused for a moment, then I thought I caught a whispered, “Damn you,” before his mouth claimed me again, only now he followed his tongue with a finger, then two. They dipped into my core, tormenting me until my body writhed beneath his cruel, perfect combination of tongue and fingers.

I choked on a sob when the rough callus of his thumb added friction and pressure to the tight apex. I rocked my hips against his face, unable to stop, as sensation built in the lower half of my belly. Like a stream of heat rolled through me, from my toes, through my chest, to my skull. One wave after the other left me locked in a bit of madness I didn’t expect.

I whimpered and gasped and tried to mute noises. Before the wave stopped, Erik reared over me and took my mouth with his again.

I tasted me on his tongue. Gods, I wanted to touch him the way he touched me. I wanted to experience the heat of his body the way he’d devoured mine.

My fingertips tugged on the top of his belt. Erik’s lips parted, and he widened his stance. Once I’d unlaced the top of the trousers, he guided my palm down his front until my thumb brushed through a sticky bead of arousal on the tip of his cock. To taste the musk of his smooth skin was a new experience I never anticipated I’d want more than I wished to breathe.

When my grip around the shaft tightened, a shudder rushed through the tension of his muscles, and short, breathless pants rolled from his throat.

A booming knock echoed through the room.

Pin pricks rippled up my skin, and Erik’s eyes snapped open. We froze, my gown bunched over my thighs, pleasure still hot in my core, and my fingers down his trousers.

“King Erik,” Larsson’s voice (I was positive he had a bit of a laugh in his tone) shouted from the corridor.

Never had I wanted to murder someone more than I did in this moment.

“What?” Erik snapped.

“Storms on the rise. Crew checks are in place. The tides are telling us the time to set sail is now.”

“Damn the hells,” Erik cursed under his breath, then lifted his gaze to me. “I must go. Tidecaller will come for you soon.”

A frigid surge cooled the heat in my veins as he reeled back. There was a distinct absence without him near and I hated it in a way I couldn’t explain. A bond. We were unwittingly bonded, that was all.

But it wasn’t. I’d never wanted a man the way I wanted Erik Bloodsinger, and I did not know what sort of woman that made me.

He refastened his belt. For a long moment, Erik hesitated, then he leaned over and bruised my lips with his kiss. When he pulled away, he whispered, “Still hate me?”

“Always,” I said, desperate to either shove him back or pull him close. I gripped the quilts.

Erik’s mouth turned up in a half grin, but his words were rife in something soft, something vulnerable. “Hate me all you want, but don’t regret me. Promise me that.”

Then I was left alone and wanting.

Don’t regret me. If I were wise, that was exactly what I should do. I ought to regret letting my enemy put his mouth on my skin. I should retch at the idea he’d drawn out pleasure and sounds I didn’t know I could make.

I should regret Erik Bloodsinger, but I didn’t. I wasn’t certain I ever would.


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