Sera sighed and fell into a chair, trying desperately not to show how upset she was with her major mistake.
Ash came to kneel before her, taking her face in his hands. “I know we’d decided to keep our status quiet at first, but it’s all right. No one is angry with you.” He leaned in and brushed his lips over hers with such tenderness it tightened her stomach. Saying things he couldn’t say specifically, trying to make her feel better.
Before she thought about it, her hands slid up the wall of his chest and over the soft skin of his skull. How long had it been? But her hands remembered, her skin remembered and rejoiced at the feeling.
He growled low in his throat and deepened the kiss, his tongue sliding across the seam of her lips until she opened to him. His taste burst over her, the sweetness of the memories rushing through her until they overflowed and she thought she’d drown in them.
With a soft sigh, Ash pulled back, slightly trembling. She realized he trembled with need and was holding himself back. She didn’t want to feel this for him again. Didn’t want to care about him. It was easier to hate and resent him.
But it was there, back like it had never gone although fear existed there too. Fear in her heart that she’d lose him again and so she couldn’t let herself love him, or anyone else. She’d care about him and they’d all make this work, but she mustn’t allow herself to fall for Ash Walker again.
“Are you all right?” Brandt asked through the link. He sat on the arm of the chair and tucked her hair behind her shoulder.
“I’m sorry. I can’t believe how stupid that was.”
Ash took her chin and turned her gaze back to him as he replied via the link, “You’re not stupid, Sera. It was a mistake but it didn’t cost anything. It gives you more protection while we’re here. And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t rejoice to see you still wore my mark.”
“We’d both be very annoyed it you decided to punish yourself over this.”
Sera smiled up at Brandt who managed to sound arrogant through the mental link. Having to pose as a concubine to two incredibly handsome, virile men wasn’t such a bad situation after all. They’d have to deal with the aftermath once they left Nondal.
“Would you like to sightsee a bit?” Brandt asked aloud.
She stood. “Of course. Let me change into some shoes more appropriate for walking. Shall I change gowns?” She pointed to the mark on her back.
Ash stood and with his body, pushed her into the bedroom until she fell on her back onto the very large bed. Above her the sky, a deep blue, shimmered through the glass.
“I don’t want you to cover my mark any more than I want you to take off the ring in your nipple or the necklace that marks you as Brandt’s. You’re ours. I like that a lot.”
Brandt stood at his side, wearing a wicked smile. “I do think I need to see that ring in your nipple.” He reached out and yanked. The top of the dress ripped as he tossed it over his head, leaving her upper body bare.
“Oh…” The power of coherent speech left her.
Nimble fingers flicked across the hardened nipple and she caught her breath. She looked down the line of her body and watched his hand, the skin tawny gold, against hers, just a shade or so lighter.
“It’s been very hard not sleeping in the same bed at night. I’m glad the Representative saw my mark on that sweet skin of yours.” Ash moved to the bed, tossing his shirt aside before he lay beside her.
She turned her head, feeling snared in the slow honey of time and caught sight of him. Allowed herself to see him in a way she’d denied herself since she walked into her commander’s office the week before.
Still so ruggedly beautiful. All very hard muscle, his stomach was lightly furred and his chest hairier. Both nipples bore rings, one hers, the other one she’d given him. His narrow waist led up to a broad, wide chest. He was so masculine it took her breath away. It always had. From the first moment he’d unveiled his body to her fifteen years before.
Her hand sought his cock through the material of his pants. “How hard has it been, Ash?” Her voice was Sela, a sex-kitten purr.
“Pull it out so we can see,” Brandt said…no, ordered. And the remnants of the skirt followed the top of the dress.
Sera paused a moment, surprised by Brandt’s seemingly easy going attitude about suddenly sharing with Ash. She couldn’t deny the allure of being topped by two men at once. By these men. She wished they could talk about it but at the same time, she worried they’d lose the intensity of the moment. She wasn’t a stranger to either man at that point and there’d be time for talking later.
“That was a very expensive gown, darling.” Managing to not sound too breathy, she smiled at him as she rolled onto all fours. Why not make the best out of it?
“Worth every credit, I assure you.” Brandt lay down on the bed to better watch her.
Her hands went to the waist of Ash’s pants and unfastened them, finding him bare underneath. She pulled the pants off and moved from the bed to put them across the arm of a nearby chair before hopping back up between the two men.
“Well,” she looked back over her shoulder at Brandt, “it certainly looks hard.”
“I think we need a test. Just to be sure,” Brandt murmured, his body close to hers. Reaching around her waist, he took Ash’s cock in his hand. Coherent thought became nearly impossible as she watched.
Ash looked up into her face, reaching out to caress the line of her jaw. “Like silk. Always so soft.”
So much happening all at once. Despite being slightly overwhelmed, her attention was seized by Brandt’s fist, lazily pumping around Ash’s cock.
“Oh, that’s not the test. You know I just like to touch Ash’s cock.” He did? Well things were just getting better and better! “You need to suck it. I’ll think up the rest of the test as we go along.” Brandt moved his thumb up and over the head, spreading the moisture gathered there and brought it to her lips. She sucked it inside and tasted the spice of Ash and the tang of Brandt’s skin.
She moaned breathily around Brandt’s thumb and bit it gently before sucking on it.
“Sweet holy gods,” Ash breathed out and her attention turned back to him.
Brandt pulled his hand back and Sera leaned over Ash’s body to kiss his lips. Their tastes mingled. She heard the rustle of the rest of Brandt’s clothing being removed and he was back behind her body within moments.
“You know the way I like it, Freka.” Ash moved the caress from her jawline to her neck.
She froze at his use of the name he’d long called her, the name of a goddess he’d said she reminded him of. The pain of what they’d had and lost knifed through her and she sat up, moving out of his reach, her hand pressed over her mouth as if to hold in the scream of agony that threatened to flow from her.
Ash’s eyes closed for a moment and he moved, slowly, toward her. Brandt put his arms around her and murmured in her ear, “Be calm now.”
Ash stopped just in front of her body. He wasn’t touching her but a deep breath by any of them would have achieved that.
In her mind he spoke as Brandt listened too. “There has only been you. Forever and a day and it’s been you. There are so many things I want to say but cannot just now. I don’t have the right words. But I know you know me.” His eyes plead with her to understand him. To hear around what he could not say.
How long had she wanted to hear these things from him? Wanted to believe them? Looking into Ash’s eyes she did believe it and without a doubt. There were a lot of things to work out. She wasn’t sure what would happen when she wasn’t Sela Carter, concubine. But for that moment, she was Sera and he was the man she’d loved all those years before—before the pain.
A long, shuddering breath came from her lungs and she cocked her head slightly, inviting a kiss. With a groan, he moved toward her that last bit and their bodies touched just before his lips came down upon hers with crushing force.
It was a kiss of claiming as well as healing. Ash marked her with those scalding kisses as much as the tattoo on her back did. It was a melding of teeth and tongue and lips with a depth of intensity that felt as if he wanted to crawl inside her body.
All the while, Brandt stayed behind her, pressed against her, whispering in her ear that she was beautiful and sexy and how much he wanted her.
Ash broke contact and stared into her eyes for long moments, letting the unsaid be spoken through his gaze. “Now, I believe you were given an order.”
She gulped and barely suppressed a shiver of need at his tone. Her hands caressed the hard planes of his chest and stomach. She leaned in to skate her lips down the warm line of his jaw and to the hollow just below his ear, swirling her tongue there, feeling the frantic beat of his pulse.
Hands braced on his thighs for balance, her mouth skimmed downwards until she found his flat, hard nipple. He moaned as she brought the edge of her teeth over first one and then the other. Her mouth remembered what he liked and where he liked it as she moved it over his body, reading his desire by touch.