Forged in the fires of hell beauty becomes sin incarnate.
Something malevolent grows in Lorna. When she conjures a dark lord and begs for irresistible beauty, he makes one demand; serve him as an underworld female who tests mortal men. Now, a millennia later, this is her last chance to find a man who can free her. But Lorna must learn to love if she's to save herself. Yet that won't save the two men who shared her body. One of them must be sacrificed.
Lorna roused from the contented glow of pleasure when her lover threw aside the bedcovers and rose. He scooped up the clothes so hastily discarded less than an hour ago, and cold dread uncoiled in her stomach when he pulled his tunic over his head. Firelight skimmed across his sweat-coated skin in the instant before the fabric covered his chest. Lorna forced back panic and pushed to her knees, allowing the blanket to fall from her breasts. Still, he didn’t pause in picking up his belt, and began wrapping it around his waist.
“You are leaving?” she asked.
A corner of his mouth lifted in disdain. Shock reverberated through her. This wasn’t possible. She had been so careful this time. He was magnificent; tall, broad shouldered, and muscled to perfection from countless hours training as one of the soldiers who fought in the arena. But despite his beauty, she hadn’t spread her legs for him as she had so foolishly done with other men. Instead, she let him court her with flowers, sweet honey, and soft promises that made her ache to feel his strong hands on her flesh. Then, when his whispered words of desire grew frenzied, she took him into her bed. And he had touched her as no other man had, had given her pleasure, and he had promised more…so much more.
“You said you loved me,” she said.
“You are no maiden, you understand the ways of men.”
Tears burned the corners of her eyes.“I understand honor.
“Honor?” He fastened his belt. “When a man’s cock hungers for a woman what does he care for honor?”
“A man need not tell falsehoods to bed a woman.”
“You speak of need? I remember the need in your eyes.” He laughed. “Even now you would let me take you again if I told you I loved you.”
Heat warmed her cheeks at that truth, but she gripped his arm in sudden desperation. His gaze snapped onto her fingers, and her face flushed hotter. Her chapped and work-reddened fingers were a stark contrast to his smooth dark flesh. The grime under her fingernails and cuticles spoke of the hours she spent digging in the earth for healing herbs she used in her spells as one of the cunning folk. She was well aware she lacked the beauty of those ladies who graced the market on fine days, or the favors of women for whom men like him fought for in the arena. But he hadn’t thought her so unpleasant to gaze upon when he sucked her breasts moments ago.
“Please,” she whispered.
He shook her off. “I have had my fill.”
“So my body isn’t fit enough to rut between my legs a second time?” She hated the tremble in her voice.
He shrugged. “Perhaps tomorrow I will want you again.”
Lorna leapt from the bed and drove him back against the wall. “Perhaps tomorrow your cock will fall off and you will have no need for any woman.”
His gaze dropped to her breasts. Desire darkened his eyes. Hope surged. Did he regret his words? Did he want her after all? He lifted his eyes, and her heart squeezed when she read lust, not love, in his expression.
He pushed her aside,grabbed his pouch from the floor, and pulled a small glass vial from inside. “Dragon’s blood.”
Lorna snatched the vial and hurled it against the wall. The bottle shattered
and the contents dribbled down the sand-colored stone.
“Stupid bitch,” he muttered. “I ingested a drop before coming to you. Your spells are useless against me.”
“Eat a whole body of one of the giant lizards raw,” she snapped. “Superstition offers no protection against the high magic of a wise woman.”
His eyes dilated in fear. “Witch.” He shoved her so hard she fell across the bed, then spun and stalked to the door.
Lorna rushed after him,but at the open doorway she halted and watched his walk down the path that led back to the village. Cold moonlight sliced through the night sky, illuminating the play of muscle across his shoulders. Her pulse raced at memory of his warmth, his power when he hugged her tight and thrust inside her. He entered the shadows of the trees and was gone.
She clicked the door shut and collapsed against the wood with a rending sob. Tears streamed down her cheeks. What had she done wrong? She had prayed faithfully, offered sacrifices, and had given her magic to heal. Yet not one man had loved her. How many had promised love, a tomorrow that would never end?
A knock on the door brought her upright. Blood roared through her ears. He realized his mistake and had returned. Lorna threw open the door and gave a small cry at seeing the miller’s son. She glanced past him. A shadow shifted within the trees. Was he there? Why hide? Confusion blurred her vision. Had the shadow moved again?
“He is gone.”
The young man’s words snapped her attention onto him. He stared at the apex between her legs. Lorna flushed, then whirled and hurried to the bed. She grabbed the blanket from off the mattress and swung it over her shoulders as he strode to where she stood. He drew a coin from the pouch that hung from his shoulder.
She reached for the money, “What magic does your father need this time?” He tossed the money onto the bed. Lorna frowned. “What—”
He seized her shoulders and dragged her close. Lorna gasped at feel of his cock, hard and demanding beneath his tunic. She released the blanket and jammed her hands between their bodies. He ground his erection against her bare stomach.
“What are you doing?” she cried.
“I waited,” he said.
Her head swam. “Waited?”
“I saw him enter your cottage.” The young man’s hungry gaze dropped to her breasts. “I knew he wouldn’t stay long.”
Firelight glinted off the silver coin and the truth turned like rotting flesh in her stomach. “I do not sell my body,” she choked out the words.
“The coin is payment from my father.” His voice was rough with desire. “Our horses are sick. We must know why.” The young man groped for a breast. “But that can wait.” He grasped a nipple and pinched.
Lorna gasped. “Stop.” She twisted in his grasp.
“No worries. He won’t return.”
She froze. He was right. Her lover wouldn’t return—had never intended to return. The young man’s head dipped, and her body numbed as he bit down on the other nipple. What had she become, not worth even the coin the village prostitutes demanded for their services? Men took her charms with less feeling than a bull took a cow. Tears burned her eyes.Charms? What she gave held no charm.
Lorna shoved him—hard. He fell back a step and his teeth closed painfully around her nipple before he released her.
She gritted her teeth against the pain. “Get out.”
Confusion washed over his features. “But I waited.”
“Get out,” she ordered. “Now.”
His face contorted in rage and he yanked her to him again. His cock banged against her pussy. He groaned.
“It’s my turn.” He shoved her on the bed and came down on top of her.
She stared up at him, impassive. “You can force me, but it would be the last time you use your cock to fuck a woman.”
He blinked. “You—”
“I have the power.”
His face reddened and he jerked in a brutal thrust that crushed her sex beneath the steel of his shaft. She bit her lip stop the cry of pain that rose, and kept her gaze locked with his. A pulse jumped in his jaw. She braced for his invasion into her body, but he abruptly shoved off her and hurried from the cottage. Lorna forced herself up and onto shaky legs, and crossed to the door. With a hand against the wood in the doorway, she steadied herself as he disappeared into the trees. He hadn’t even pretended love. And why should he? None had loved her. She, an orphan child, had lacked even a mother’s love.
Leaves fluttered on the trees. Her heart thumped out her fear. She raised her eyes heavenward. Do You love me?
Would He answer? Would the answer save her?
Tiny points of light flickered against the void in silence.
Lorna turned away. God be damned. She would save herself.