I curl my fingers around the iron bars separating us, my thumbs brushing up against the heels of his palms as if that tiny contact can steady the world. Sliding down, his hands cover mine; their slow confidence draws me into a shiver so penetrating I feel like I’ve never really been inside the feeling before. His dark eyes tell me they know. They hold me alongside secrets and things still unspoken that tempt me to immerse myself in their mysteries.
“Why are you touching me now,” I whisper, “when you’ve never touched me before today?”
“Because you were untouchable then,” he says simply.
I suppose I was. I suppose I should be even now, because Lunar is an orphan living in The Compound and as poor as poor can come, and Father doesn’t like poor people. It’s why he got rid of my mother.
I only wish she’d shown some backbone and come back to at least visit me. Instead, she’d faded into oblivion and stayed there, leaving me alone with Father and his ideas of what he thought his daughter should be.
One who could break someone’s neck with a single quick twist.
Or kill three men with my bare hands.
And yet with Lunar’s hands over mine, all calluses and tough skin and leashed strength, all I want is a kiss. His hands framing my face, his mouth on mine. Sensations I’ve never experienced shivering through me. His hungry body pressing…
His eyes darken and his eyebrows lower. “Cascade.” He slides his hand around my neck and buries his fingers in my hair, drawing me close until our foreheads touch and his somber eyes gaze down at me.
I moisten my lips. My mouth is dry and I’m shaking inside. He’s so close. After all the tests Father has put me through, I want something soft and beautiful. Not that Lunar is soft. Not that his passion would be soft – it would be hard – but I will be soft. And that’s what I want. To be what Anza sees me as. Soft, vulnerable.
And lost in passion is the only place I will ever be soft and vulnerable.
Lunar’s fingers twine through my hair, deeper, pulling me closer.
I don’t move. I never want to leave this moment, don’t want to find out that I’m imagining it.
His lips move close to mine. “This is only the beginning for us.”
(excerpt from Try to Control Us)
And it is only beginning for us, too! Valentine’s Day! Yay! Dedicated to lovers and the bane of the lonesome. In deference to it, I’ve immersed myself in the atmosphere of the thing and extracted excerpts from my (edited) stories depicting various types or phases of love. Fictional love! Much preferable to the dullness of my everyday existence.
So will you be my fictional Valentine?
First, the fun and breathlessness… (excerpt from Heiress of Magic)
Before I can change my mind, I lift my skirts and swerve away from him. “You have to catch me first!”
I glance over my shoulder, a smile bursting in my soul at his dropped jaw. Shaking himself, he releases a disbelieving laugh and gives chase.
I whip back around, exhilarated, my feet flying so fast I hardly feel the ground. Trees and rhododendrons hurtle by. The wind tosses up my hair and hurls it back. The ground pounds beneath my feet, and breathlessness overtakes me. Every minute sensation brings me to silent rapture. Every step repeats the same truth, that this is how freedom feels. This moment running wild with no one but a laughing friend in pursuit and nothing but greenery spreading before me and nothing but the open sky above.
Lothram grabs me and whirls me around. The world tilts and spins and peals of our mingled laughter stream around me. My arms grapple for him and we’re spinning and breathless and lurching every which way, drunk on the chase and on life and on this moment. I stumble and drag him down with me laughing on the grass.
He lands on top of me, convulsing with carefree joy, his face over mine, his lips as close as a breath. He meets my eyes.
And everything stops.
My breath stops, my heart stops, my thoughts stop.
For a single instant, every detail snaps into sharp clarity, every sound turns pitch-perfect, every aroma memorable. The ribbons fluttering over my forearms, his clothes warm against my skin, his weight between my legs, his ragged breath on my cheek, the intensity of his stare, the—
He moves suddenly, loosing a triumphant shout and pushing himself up. Draping himself across my shins, he catches my boots and unlaces them while I laugh helplessly at his mock berating. Boots in one hand and my stockings on another, he rises triumphant above me like some conquering hero. “Concede my victory, Lys!”
“I concede you a shoe and stocking thief.”
Then come the kisses… (excerpt from Heiress of Healing)
Iminique didn’t move. “I’m not becoming your lover, Quentyn.”
“No, Im?” His slender fingers curled around hers and tugged her slowly, inexorably over the threshold into the world of candlelight. The sweetly pungent scent of wax candles suffused the air, clouding her senses. His gaze caressed her cheeks, and the low timbre of his voice thrummed through her. “Tell me you don’t want me then. Tell me you have an aversion of me that you cannot overcome.”
Iminique’s lips parted but nothing came out. Color crept over her cheeks.
Quentyn clucked his tongue, shutting the door. “And you deny it,” he admonished, the planes of his face a stark playground of candlelight and shadow. The back of his knuckle grazed her cheek. “Come now, Im, where is your abhorrence of me? Is there nothing in you that reviles me? Nothing in me that disgusts?” His mouth drifted closer.
“No,” Iminique whispered.
“Tell me you want me, Im. Tell me yes and yes and yes, tonight and tomorrow and the next and the next. Yes for the rest of our lives.”
The pressure of his lips on hers came so slowly it felt like an altering of reality, a shift from untouched to touched, from innocent to enticed by his lips moving possessively over hers. His longing burrowed deep inside her and nestled next to her own still-sleeping desire, each kiss coaxing it awake, unfurling it like a dark flower and releasing its heady fragrance so that he could draw it to him. Wild yearning blossomed inside her, and she felt Quentyn tremble as it melded inextricably with his own craving coursing through her veins. Her every sense heightened to the point of aching. A cold draft brushed the hem of her gown against her ankles and stirred the tiny hairs on her bare arms and shoulders. His strong, hot hands burned through her sleeves. His lips drugged her with each hungry stroke. She felt every single strand of golden hair that whispered over her flushed skin. Her thoughts dispersed, leaving only unbridled sensation as Quentyn tangled his soul and his mouth with hers.
Once we have it, what makes it worth it… (excerpt from Heiress of Magic)
“Why is it important that we’re protected, Mel?”
“So we survive.”
“And what are we surviving for?”
“Mel, Mel.” Devon snorted softly, shaking his head. “For someone as smart as you, you can sometimes be thoroughly obtuse. What makes life worth living, worth protecting, is this.” His thumbs smoothed over her eyebrows, traced her prominent cheekbones, dipped down either side of her nose and rested on the corners of her lips. “This.” He pressed a kiss to her forehead, then to the tip of her nose. “This.” The soft pressure claimed her mouth, supple and persuasive. He drew back, his words brushing across her skin.
“This is what makes life worth living. Our love. Our children. Their laughter. Once you sacrifice that and make your life a constant battle, what do you have left worth fighting for?”
“No, my love. I will fight your fight, but I will not fight it at the cost you ask. Come home with me. Tomorrow is soon enough to fight again.”
And the simple beauty of companionship… (excerpt from Heiress of Shadow)
Then they were both off, Velissi transforming mid-step from human to weir, her torso contracting then expanding as if her body were filling with air, organs twisting and reforming inside her like a handful of fists rotating in her chest cavity. The joints in her arms and wrists yanked into place and her paws hit the ground. Everything snapped into order and then she was a whole and united creature, muscle and sinew and breath and heartbeat melding into one exhilaratingly cohesive, perfect unit.
The wind ruffled her fur as she ran, burning her eyes. The alien landscape flashed by in a violet pall, the cracks and fissures of the desert-scape sharp under the pads of her paws that landed on their jagged edges, her claws clicking over hardened dirt. The muscles bunched around her shoulder blades with each step and her heartbeat thundered in her ears.
Beside her, the shadow-hungry ran, hair whipping out behind her, her gray body a study in magnificence, muscles in her thighs tensing and her entire body a rippling being melding with the breath of the violent storm above.
Struck with a sudden bout of playfulness, Velissi veered to the side as if to trip her companion. Shivira leapt over her with the grace of a doe. Velissi veered again, and this time Shivira spun mid-air as she soared over Velissi’s gleaming black figure, letting Velissi’s dress flutter out behind her like white, shifting fire. Excited, Velissi wove back toward her – and Shivira twisted again like a dancer with the elements, the gown streaming out behind her and the storm-struck heavens a roiling gray and purple backdrop to her airborne grace. Velissi swerved and leapt past her, her tail just touching Shivira’s outstretched hand like a benediction, or the first tentative touch of a lover.
And suddenly they no longer raced or ran in a straight line, but in winding, meandering circles and designs. They spun and leaped and twisted, weir and shadow-hungry and white gown like a ghost flickering between them, all three barely touching and yet inseparable in this dizzying elegance. They wove loveliness into movement and emotion into every fleeting touch.
Velissi mewed her pleasure. Shivira’s eyes flashed so bright they glowed like beams of light in her face. They sought beauty and found it in each other. It was so dazzling and stunning that Velissi hurt with the living of it. The experience dug its way deep into her soul, unforgettable and matchless.
The most real moment of her life.
Although… We can’t forget… the deniers! (excerpt from Try to Control Us)
A huge grin splits his face, driving the breath from my lungs for a single unbelievable, unreal moment.
“Incentive for good behavior accepted,” he says.
He lets me go and I hurry toward the elevator, shaken by that – smile. That smile.
You like Halcyon, I remind myself, ignoring Ted’s I’m-an-omniscient-being attitude and his winking jokes as he welcomes Jace back into his male fold.
Oh, I remember, my mind says. But somewhere deep down inside, where it knows it had better stay because I would kick its ass if it emerged any more, a secret voice whispers, But Halcyon has never smiled quite like THAT.
And with that, I wish today be a day in which you truly live!