Guardian of the Onyx Empire
by Vanessa N. Gilfoy
(Book 2 of the New Pangaea Series)
Before Lizeria could pull open the door to the shop, a man’s broad hand closed over hers. Breath caught in her throat.
“You’re a flighty little one,” he teased, as if he’d guessed her age.
At nineteen, she looked the same as she always would. Immortal.
“We didn’t get to finish our conversation.” His hand slid up her arm. Long, thick fingers curled into the soft underside of her bare arm.
She should tell him to stop but only gasps sounded from her lips. It felt too good.
His slow exhalation on her neck hinted at the nearness of his warm lips. She expected his kiss but he firmly gripped her shoulder and turned her about. His hard body pressed her against the door as he leaned in. Hilts of sheathed swords thudded against the wood.
She felt like clay in his grip, ready to be kneaded by his strong hands. Her legs would have given out from under her, if not for his arm snaked around the small of her back. She couldn’t breathe. Reality seemed to waver in a dizzying rush. What was wrong with her? “Stop,” she finally found her voice but gasps weakened it. When she pushed against his chest, she fell limp against him. What did he do?
Something like a moan rumbled through his chest and against her. “Shhh. I just want to see your eyes, little dove.” He palmed her cheek.
A jolt of energy pushed against the inside of her ribs at the taboo sensation. His skin didn’t tingle like a fated’s would, but it quickened her breath and made her ache for more.
But it was wrong. Lizeria squeezed her glowing eyes shut and tried to turn away. She shouldn’t want this. Elves and hybrids bind their fated mates this way. He wasn’t her fated. Earth, this was wrong. He’d see her curse.
She opened her mouth to scream for Gray but Alexander’s hand covered her mouth and nose. Only a muffled hum escaped through his fingers. Oh no. How could she have been so stupid? A fluttering, sinking feeling tugged on her gut.
“It’s all right, sweet princess. I promise I won’t bind you to me.”
He couldn’t. She was fated a dwarf, a disgusting dwarf who she’d never bind. Cursed by fate to either face eternity alone or live in misery.
“Just open your eyes. I won’t hurt you.” Alexander stroked her cheek with his fingertips as if he was a gentle lover.
Why couldn’t he just want sex? She’d always wanted to feel a human climax. She could pretend he was her fated, that she had a choice like humans did.
“Read me, dove. I’m not going to hurt you.”
His voice. If it had a flavor, it would be chocolate, rich and smooth, melting on her skin.
Images flooded through her head of him licking her nude body. Her back arched as if the thoughts came from her. Earth, he stole control of her mind. Dizziness threatened to spill her into a pool of unconsciousness. She couldn’t get enough air between his fingers. The pounding of her heart drowned out whatever he said.
His puffs of breath burned her already hot and damp neck. “Deeper, love,” he repeated, low and fervent. “Read deeper.”
She seemed to fall but it was only inside his mind. Warm and snug, he fit like a cocoon that cradled and rocked her on a cooling breeze. The hard thuds in her chest slowed and heat slipped from her face and neck. His hope soothed her in ways she didn’t understand.
Before she could explore why, his mind closed off from her.
“Your turn, sweet Lizeria.” Her name rolled off his tongue like cream poured over warm cherries.
“I know, honey love. I’m just going to touch you. You don’t have to touch me.”
She suddenly wanted to, to feel his smooth-shaven cheek beneath her fingertips and thumb the moist flesh of his thin lips.
His hand slid from her mouth to her cheek and heat radiated from the touch. The scent of lilac soap nearly masked that of freshly dug earth on his wrists and hands. Very masculine.
She leaned back against the door, wishing they were hidden. Would someone see? A tiny thrill tickled her belly at the thought. She licked her lips.
What if it hurt? She’d heard the touch hurt for some people.
“I’ll be gentle, sweet princess.”
Did he hear that thought? She’d shielded it. How strong was he? Wait, how did he know who she was? Was princess a pet name, or did he know?
“Shhh. Relax and I’ll give you ecstasy you’ve never imagined.”
If she had the strength, she’d push him over and pounce on him right there on the broken glass and rubble. Instead, she gave him what he wanted. Her eyelids loosened and amber light burst free from her eyes. They blazed with the lust that heated and moistened her sex.
Through no command of her own, memories from her entire life flowed from her mind to his. It felt as if he stroked her inside, as if her thoughts were warm honey that slicked her entrance. A moan rose from her chest.
She’d expected to explore his mind too but he somehow shielded himself, an almost impossible feat during the touch. She pushed but couldn’t concentrate on anything but the thrill of him inside her head.
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