He stood several feet from me, his chest rising and falling with rapid, short breaths. His eyes were wide. Red smeared his lips.
I lifted my hand, pressing it to my neck. Wet warmth greeted my fingertips. I took a step back.
“I can’t believe it,” he said, and he ran his tongue along his bottom lip. His eyes closed briefly as he shuddered, letting out a rumble that reminded me of the wolven. His lashes swept up, and his pupils were so dilated only a thin strip of amber was visible. “But I should’ve known.”
Before I could figure out what he meant or what would happen next, he was on me, moving so fast I couldn’t track him.
His mouth crashed into mine as one hand shoved into my hair, his other arm clamped to my waist. I wasn’t just kissed.
I was devoured. I tasted my blood on his lips, on his tongue. I tasted him.
I wasn’t sure exactly when I kissed him back. Was it after a few seconds, or had I been kissing him from the moment his mouth touched mine? I didn’t know. All I did know was that I was starved for him, right or wrong, I wanted him.
That’s why I didn’t fight him when he brought me to the ground. The contrast of the cold snow against my back and the heat of his body pressed to my front drew a gasp from me. I didn’t think he heard it as it was caught up in his hungry kisses, and I realized then that he’d been holding back when he kissed me all the times before. Now, he wasn’t hiding who he was.
He rocked against me as he slid his hand over my waist to my hip. We moved, straining and gasping. His teeth caught my bottom lip. A brief sting registered, and he shuddered, groaning as the metallic taste renewed.
Breaking the kiss, he lifted up enough to look down at me. “Tell me you want this.” His hips were still churning against mine. “Tell me you need more.”
“More,” I whispered before I could even think about what we were doing, what we’d done—who he was.
“Thank fuck,” he grunted, and then he reached between us, his finger snagging the front of my breeches. He pulled on them hard enough to lift my hips. Buttons popped free, flinging into the nearby snow.
“Goodness,” I murmured.
He barked out a short, harsh laugh as he shoved my pants down until one leg was completely free, and the breeches snagged on the other ankle. “You know this shirt was beyond repair, right?”
The sound of cloth tearing was my only explanation. I dipped my chin, seeing my breasts. He was staring too, his hand tearing at his own breeches as his eyes tracked the streaks of blood dried along my stomach, moving over the hardening tips of my breasts.
“I will kill them,” he whispered. “I will fucking kill them all.”
I didn’t think he was talking about the old scars.
Then I wasn’t thinking at all.
He kissed me as he settled over me, between my legs, and then things…spun. There was no slow seduction this time, no long and drawn-out caresses and kisses. There was a pinch of discomfort, but it quickly gave way to the aching, pulsing pleasure, and there was no room in my body or mind or between us for there to be anything other than what we felt. It was just him and me, the taste of my blood and his on our lips, and this need I didn’t quite understand.
Around us, the snow fell heavier through the trees, soaking his back and my hair as we clutched and grasped at one another. There were only the sounds of our wet kisses, our bodies coming together and parting, and our moans.
One long, dragging kiss ensued, and then his mouth moved from mine to my chin and then lower, his lips and those sharp teeth gliding over my throat. His actions elicited a shiver that curled its way down my spine as he stilled above me. Was he…was he going to bite me again? Instead of fear, there was a rush of wicked heat. The pain from his fangs had been brief, and what had come afterward…
I squeezed his shoulders, too lost to even wonder if I shouldn’t want him to, too far gone to think about the consequences if he did.
I felt his tongue against my skin, circling and laving over the sensitive mark he’d left behind. Then he lifted his head. I saw his eyes long enough to see that his pupils had constricted before his lashes swept down, and his mouth was on mine once more.
And then he was moving again.
His hips retreating and then pushing back in, rolling and grinding as his fingers played with my breast. He moved slowly now, so lazily that I felt as if I were being strung out. I shuddered under him, slipping my hand into his snow-damp hair.
The tension was building again, coiling until I couldn’t take his slow, measured movements any longer. His teasing grinds and rolls. I lifted my hips, trying to urge him to move faster, go deeper, but he held back until I cried out and pulled at his hair.
He half-laughed, half-growled as he lifted his head. “I know what you want, but…”
Heart racing out of control, I squirmed under his weight. “But what?”
“I want you to say my name.”
His hips continued moving in maddeningly slow circles. “I want you to say my real name.”
My lips parted on a sharp inhale.
He stilled once more, his eyes luminous. “That’s all I ask.”
All he asked? It was a lot.
“It’s acknowledgement,” he said, his thumb swirling and tugging. “It’s you admitting you are fully aware of who is inside you, who you want so badly, even though you know you shouldn’t. Even though you want nothing more than to not feel what you do. I want to hear you say my real name.”
“You’re a bastard,” I whispered.
One side of his lips curled. “Some call me that, yes, but that’s not the name I’m waiting to hear, Princess.”
I wanted to deny him. Gods, did I ever.
“How bad do you want it, Poppy?” he asked.
My grip tightened on his hair as I yanked his head down. There was a flash of surprise in those glowing eyes. “Bad,” I snarled. “Your Highness.”
His mouth opened, but I lifted my legs, curling them around his hips. Taking advantage of his surprise and tapping into my own anger, I rolled him onto his back, fully intending to leave him there, but I hadn’t foreseen what the move would do when I rocked back—
I sank down on his length, my body shockingly flush with his. My shout ended in his groan as I planted my hands on his chest. Gods. The fullness was almost too much.
“Oh,” I whispered, taking ragged breaths.
His chest was moving just as unevenly under my hands. “You know what?”
“What?” My toes curled inside my boots.
“I don’t need you to say my name,” he said, his eyes half closed. “I just need you to do that again, but if you don’t start moving, you might actually kill me.
A startled giggle burst from me. “I…I don’t know what to do.”
Something about his features softened even though stark need shone through the thin slits of his eyes. “Just move.” His hands went to my hips. He lifted me up a few inches and brought me back down. A deep sound radiated from him. “Like that. You can’t do anything wrong. How have you not learned that yet?”
I wasn’t sure what he meant by that, but I mirrored his movement, moving up and down as snow fell across his shirt. My palm slipped, angling me forward. A spot deep in me was touched, sending out bolts of intense pleasure in waves. “Like that?” I breathed.
His hands tightened on my hips. “Just like that.”
With each move of my hips, that spot was touched, and more streaks of bliss shot through me. Before I knew it, I was moving faster above him, and I knew he was watching me as my eyes drifted closed, and my head fell back. I knew his gaze was fastened on my breasts and where we were joined, and that knowledge was too much.
The tension whipped out, shattering me. I cried out as I shuddered, body spasming as intense shards of ecstasy sliced through me.
He moved then, rolling me back under him and thrusting his hips against mine. His mouth claimed mine as his body did the same, pounding against me, into me until the pleasure seemed to crest once more, the fierceness shocking as he seemed to lose all sense of control. His large body moved over mine, in me until he pressed hard against me, his shout swallowed in our kisses as he shuddered.
I didn’t know how long we lay there in the falling snow, our hearts and breaths slow to steady, my grip still tight on his shoulders, his forehead pressed to mine. After some time, I became aware of his thumb moving along my waist in idle up and down sweeps.
The heat of passion cooled and, in its wake, was confusion. Not regret. Not shame. Just…confusion. “I don’t…I don’t understand,” I whispered, my voice hoarse.
“Don’t understand what?” He shifted above me.
“Any of this. Like how did this even happen?” I winced as he started to ease out.
He halted, brows furrowed. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah. Yes.” I closed my eyes as he remained still for several moments before moving to my side.
“Are you sure?” he asked.
“Look at me and tell me you’re not hurt.”
My eyes opened, and I looked at him. He was raised on one elbow, seemingly unaware of the snow falling around us. “I’m fine.”
“You winced. I saw you.”
I shook my head in disbelief. My gift was utterly useless since I was feeling too much to concentrate, so I couldn’t even…cheat. “That’s what I don’t understand. Unless I completely imagined the last couple of days.”
“No, you didn’t imagine anything.” His gaze roamed over my face as I blinked snow off my lashes. “Do you wish that this, right here, hadn’t happened?”
I could lie, but I didn’t. “No. Do…do you?”
“No, Poppy. I hate that you even have to ask that.” He looked away, jaw flexing. “When we first met, it was like…I don’t know. I was drawn to you. I could’ve taken you then, Poppy. I could’ve prevented a lot of what has happened, but I…I lost sight of a lot of things. Each time I was near you, I couldn’t help but feel as if I knew you. I think I know why it’s been like that.”