The Blood Curse (Spell Weaver Book 3) by Annette Marie

  He leaned down until their foreheads touched, his eyes closing as he struggled to find the right words.

  “All I know is that, right now, I’m obsessed with you. I want to be with you. I want to be beside you every damn minute.”

  She sucked in a quavering breath. He opened his eyes and leaned back just enough to bring her face into focus again.

  “But I won’t lie to you, Clio.” His voice roughened. “As much as I’d love to be obsessed with you like this every day for the rest of my life, I don’t know how long I’ll feel this way.”

  Her eyes shone and a tear slipped down her cheek, catching on his fingers. She wrapped her hands around his wrists, staring up at him.

  “I want to be with you,” she breathed, the words trembling. “We can try, can’t we?”

  “But incubi never—”

  She touched her fingers to his lips, silencing him. “You’re more than your incubus nature, Lyre. Just like you’re more than your family name. You’ve always been more, don’t you see?”

  Those words pierced him in a way he’d never felt before.

  She slid her fingers from his lips to his cheek. “If this is what you want …” Her eyes met his, bright and blazing with inner fire. “If I’m what you want, then take me.”

  Take me.

  His hands tightened on her cheeks.

  Take me.

  With those two words, she shattered his control. It didn’t matter whether she’d meant them literally. He couldn’t stop himself.

  Ravenous hunger scorched his veins, but his lips met hers in a soft brush of skin on skin. Slowly, he pressed his mouth to hers, immersing his entire awareness in each sensation as though he’d never kissed her before.

  That breathless pressure was back in his chest, squeezing his heart. He unhurriedly explored her lips until she parted them for his tongue. He tasted her anew, her face cradled gently in his hands, the touch as intimate as the kiss.

  Her breathing quickened, her hands finding his bare chest with tentative touches. Urgency threaded through him, building under the surface, but he kissed her with slow passion, discovering every facet of her lips. His heart ached, his chest tight, his emotions electric. He’d had sex with women, had pleasured women, had used women. But he’d never made love to a woman. With every kiss, with every touch, he burned with the need to give her everything he had, to make her his in every way.

  Angling his head, he deepened the kiss until she arched into him, and he swept her against his chest with one arm.

  He wasn’t thinking about seduction when his hands started roaming over her body. The hundreds of tricks he knew to arouse a female never entered his thoughts. He touched her for the pleasure of touching her, sliding his hands across her soft skin, tracing her curves beneath the silk garments. He kissed her because he wanted to, because he couldn’t stop.

  She melted against him and he shuffled them backward into the desk, then lifted her onto it while he stood between her knees. Now her face was level with his and he brought their mouths together again.

  Each press of her lips felt new. Each flirting touch of her tongue was a first experience. The faceless women of his past—they didn’t matter. They were nothing. They were forgotten.

  There was only Clio.

  When she ran out of breath and finally tore her lips free to suck in air, he shifted his mouth to her jaw. Her head tipped back, and he kissed slowly along her throat to her collarbone. Running his fingers down her sides to her waist, he pulled her against his hips. A soft moan slipped from her and she wrapped her legs around him, her skirt pushing up with the movement.

  His hand found her bare leg, caressing smooth skin from her calf up to her lean thigh where nymph markings patterned her skin. Shivering beneath his touch, she stroked his chest with growing confidence.

  He sought the clip on her tapa. Slipping the garment off, he tossed it aside, leaving only her chest wrap. His mouth drifted lower and his hand slid over the soft curves of her breasts, hidden beneath the silk band. As his fingers found her most sensitive spots, she gasped.

  His hand on her thigh worked under her skirt and curled over her ass. He pulled her hips harder against him, needing to feel her heat, needing even more than that. The driving hunger he’d denied for weeks was raging through him. His fingers slid dexterously down the side of her top, plucking the ties apart, and he pulled it off her.

  Leaning back, he took a moment to drink in the sight of her flushed cheeks and bright eyes, her swollen lips begging to be kissed. Fine green markings trailed over her shoulders and down her arms, slightly darker than her ivory skin. His eyes traced every delicious curve, the swell of her small breasts, her skirt hiked up and her bare legs wrapped around him.

  Her blush deepened, and she self-consciously covered her bare chest.

  He caught her wrists, gently forcing her arms away. “No,” he murmured. “You’re gorgeous. You’re perfect.”

  He caught her mouth with his, kissing her deep and hard to erase her embarrassment. Sliding his lips down, he guided her hands to his hair to give her something to hold on to. Then he closed his mouth over her breast.

  She arched into him with a gasp, clutching his hair and flinging the other hand out for balance. A cascade of weaving tools crashed to the floor. His notes were scattered across the marble, but he had no idea when they’d fallen and he didn’t care.

  His fingers slid over her bare skin, exploring every curve while he teased her with his lips and tongue. Her legs clamped tight around his hips and he rocked against her. She moaned between wild gasps. The sound stoked the fires of his lust and without thinking, he reeled in the aphrodesia that was slipping out of his control.

  For so long, he’d fought how much he wanted her—because he’d been afraid. But after the succubus club, he should have realized he had nothing to fear. He wouldn’t hurt her with aphrodesia any more than he would hurt her with a physical weapon.

  What he felt for her was stronger than his hunger. Stronger than his instincts.

  She clutched him like she was holding on for dear life. He teased her breasts until she was whimpering with need, then slipped his hand between her legs. She inhaled sharply.

  He stroked her with careful, exploratory touches, his senses tuned to each minute reaction. When he found her rhythm, she moaned softly, her hips bucking with the motion of his fingers sliding across her.

  “Lyre,” she half gasped, half moaned.

  He caught her mouth again, kissing her as she trembled. When she started to quake and gasp, he shifted his touch, slowing and softening.

  “Not yet,” he breathed against her lips as he withdrew his hand. “Not quite yet.”

  She sucked in a breath and pulled back, her hazy eyes full of reproach. “Why are you stopping?”

  He plucked apart the tie of her skirt and pulled the fabric out from under her in one swift motion. She gasped as the fabric pooled on the floor at his feet.

  “Oh, Clio,” he purred. “I’m not stopping. I’m just getting started.”

  Her eyes widened and he couldn’t help his low, husky laugh as he scooped her into his arms and carried her toward the waiting bed.

  Chapter Fourteen

  Stretching her arms above her head, Clio indulged in a drawn-out yawn. She went limp again, sprawled beneath the silk sheets. The drapes were drawn most of the way around the canopied bed, allowing only a strip of sunlight to leak in.

  Yawning again, she rolled onto her stomach and stretched her legs. Her muscles were sore, though not in an unpleasant way. She couldn’t imagine an unpleasant feeling today. Contentment should be her middle name.

  She wondered if all women felt like this after a night—or rather, two nights and an entire day—in bed with an incubus. Somehow, she doubted it.

  I’d love to be obsessed with you like this every day for the rest of my life.

  Her stomach swooped wildly at the memory of his words. It wasn’t quite a confession of love, but she wasn’t going to be p
icky. He didn’t believe incubi could fall in love or stay in love, and maybe he was right. Maybe he would eventually get bored with her and move on. But she was willing to try—and she was unbearably relieved he was willing to try too.

  With a final languorous stretch, she swung her legs off the bed and sat up. The red silk robe she’d attempted to don several times lay on the floor where Lyre had last discarded it. As she pulled it on, she wondered with a wry smile how long it would last this time. Now that he’d gotten her out of her clothes, Lyre was on a mission to keep her in a permanent state of nudity.

  Tying the belt, she ambled out of the curtained bedroom. Warm light blazed across the space, the late afternoon suns glowing above the sandy horizon. Unexpected clouds dotted the desert sky.

  Lyre sat at the desk, tapping a charcoal pencil against his chin as he stared at his notes. The moment she appeared, he turned toward her and his amber irises deepened to bronze. Her stomach fluttered with renewed acrobatics. He was insatiable.

  Amazement washed through her. Despite all the warnings, all the fear, she had given herself to Lyre for her first time. In the moment, she hadn’t remembered to check if he had his aphrodesia under control. But he hadn’t lost control, hadn’t hurt her, not even once.

  After that, he had spent the night and the whole next day making up for lost time. It was all a euphoric blur of mind-blowing pleasure. His touch, his mouth, every new sensation, every explosive climax where all she could do was clutch him to her.

  He turned on his chair as she approached, and the moment she was within reach, he pulled her onto his lap so she was straddling him. His warm hands slid up her thighs, then he was unknotting the belt of her robe.

  “Lyre!” she exclaimed with a laugh. “I only just put it on.”

  “Why do you keep putting it on?” he complained, pulling the garment open. “You don’t need it for warmth and it just gets in the way.”

  She didn’t have a chance to answer before he drew her mouth to his. Her lips parted instantly and his tongue stroked hers. Liquid heat gathered low in her center. His hands slid up her sides and caressed her breasts.

  It was an effort of will to tear her mouth away. “Lyre,” she panted. “Maybe I could eat first?”

  “Mmm.” Unable to reach her mouth, he kissed her throat. “I suppose I could allow that.”

  “How magnanimous.”

  His hands curled over her backside and he pulled her down as he pushed his hips up. She gasped, thoughts of food evaporating from her head. Sliding her fingers into his hair, she guided his mouth down lower. His lips teased across her breast.

  “I could eat later,” she suggested breathlessly.

  “I guess it depends how hungry you are.”

  He stood up, letting her slide down his half-naked body. Despite his newfound aversion to her clothes, he was wearing pants again, though that might have something to do with the food that kept arriving periodically. He probably didn’t want to distract the maids.

  Spinning her around, he pushed her down into his chair, then knelt between her knees. His scorching eyes caressed her body as he parted her robe again, and she had to fight a blush. He’d seen every inch of her already, but she couldn’t help it.

  He ran his hands up her thighs and back down, then guided her legs apart. Leaning into her, he trailed wet kisses down the center of her stomach, heading lower.

  “Lyre,” she gasped.

  “Mmm.” He hooked his arms under her knees, pushing them up so her feet were off the floor entirely. “Are you objecting?”

  All she could do was grip the seat of the chair as his mouth moved even lower. It took her a moment to find her voice. “No, no objections.”

  He slid his lips along her sensitive inner thigh. “Aren’t you hungry?”


  “Mmm.” His tongue flicked teasingly against her skin. “Well, if you’re sure you—”

  A rap on the door interrupted him. His head came up and he glanced across the room, then turned back to her.

  “Should you answer that?” she asked reluctantly.

  “Hell no.”

  The rap came again, louder this time. Annoyance flickering in his dark eyes, he released her legs and stood. She hurriedly covered herself and dove behind the bedroom curtain. Hidden from sight, she listened to the door handle clack.

  Lyre muttered something, and a male voice answered. A moment passed, then the door shut again. Lyre’s footsteps, almost silent, retraced his path to her. He stepped into the curtained room, pulled her close, and kissed her ravenously. She arched into him, arms sliding around his neck.

  Pulling back, he sighed. “That message was for you. Rouvin and his entourage are expected at sundown.”

  Her face flushed. Considering she’d abandoned her room for upwards of thirty-six hours, she could assume Miysis—and her nymph guards—had deduced her location … along with what she’d been up to this whole time, locked in a bedroom with an incubus.

  “You have about two hours to prepare,” Lyre said. “I guess you’re expected to join the welcoming committee.”

  “Oh, yes. I suppose I should.”

  He laughed at her reluctant tone, and the husky sound sent heat diving through her. She hooked her hands around the back of his neck and pulled his mouth down.

  “I think,” she breathed after thoroughly kissing him, “I can spare a few more minutes before I get ready.”

  “A few minutes,” he agreed, that deep purr sliding back into his voice. Shivers ran across her skin. “Or maybe a bit longer than that.”

  This time when he untied her robe, she was the one to pull it off and throw it aside. He was right. It did just get in the way.

  Clio kept her eyes turned toward the horizon beyond the open city gates and hoped her dreamy state wasn’t too obvious. Thoughts of Lyre spun through her head, and she had no ability whatsoever to focus. All she wanted to do was run back to his room.

  Beside her, Miysis stood at attention with his hands behind his back and wings folded tight, his military background obvious. He looked as impressive as he had when she’d ridden into this plaza, his red and gold garments standing out even amongst the vibrant colors.

  Unlike last time, this welcoming party was less threatening. There was still a plethora of soldiers, but they were in ceremonial dress, and the prince hadn’t brought his opinaris to guard him. A line of nobles and city officials waited off to one side, and her troop of nymph soldiers waited on the other.

  Long shadows stretched across the plaza as the sky gradually darkened. A sharp wind blew across them, tugging at the layers of fabric she wore, and the puffy white clouds from earlier in the afternoon had thickened, picking up the bright oranges of the sunset.

  On the horizon, a cloud of dust was growing larger. She shifted her weight, her thoughts drifting back to the last two nights.

  Miysis cleared his throat quietly. “Clio, may I step outside my rank for a moment?”

  She blinked. Was he asking to speak plainly? “Yes, of course.”

  His yellow-green eyes flicked to her, his expression oddly neutral. “You’ve been thrust into a new role—a new life—in which you have little experience. Commoners, if you’ll excuse the term, are accustomed to a certain degree of privacy in their lives, but that’s a rare luxury for members of the nobility.”

  She nodded cautiously.

  “You’ll soon learn that nothing you do will remain a secret for long. I hope you will take this advice to heart: treat every decision, no matter how private, as something you may have to publicly defend later.”

  A blush crept into her cheeks. Miysis was referring to her spending two nights in Lyre’s room, and she fought her embarrassment. She was wearing her nymph regalia again, but not the mask, meaning her blush was visible to everyone nearby.

  Miysis casually scanned the plaza. “My guards and messengers will not repeat anything they saw or surmised, and I had your visitors turned away before reaching the guest hall, but—”
  “Visitors?” she blurted. “What visitors?”

  He gave her a sideways look. “Nobility flocks to nobility. They want to learn more about you, insinuate themselves into your circle, and uncover what advantages they can gain from your favor. They’re unbearably curious about the mysterious new Nereid—and greedy, of course, but that applies to all nobles.”

  She pressed her lips together, letting that sink in.

  “As I was saying, my people will not gossip—I have ensured that—and I’ve kept Aldrendahar’s nobility away, but I advise you to speak to your guards as soon as you can.”

  “Speak to them?” she mumbled.

  “Request—or demand—their discretion, otherwise they might bring their gossip straight to King Rouvin’s attendants, and from there …” He gave a faint shrug. “Rumors are an unstoppable contagion.”

  Her jumping into bed with a daemon the moment she arrived in Aldrendahar was already unseemly, but her guards had seen Lyre. They knew he wasn’t a nymph—or a griffin. Had they recognized him as an incubus?

  “I appreciate your advice,” she said weakly.

  Miysis looked from her to the open gates, where the approaching dust cloud had manifested into thirty mounted daemons and three low carriages on runners pulled by teams of tachies.

  “I would offer one more word of caution,” he murmured, lowering his voice even more. “I don’t know your intentions, but if you plan to take Lyre with you … know that with all eyes on the new Nereid princess, hiding him in Irida will be impossible.”

  At that moment, a soldier called a command and all the griffins in the plaza snapped to attention. With a deafening clatter, the king’s entourage swept through the gates, and Clio had no chance to reply to Miysis’s ominous warning.

  Chapter Fifteen

  As the teams of tachies dragged the carriages into the plaza, the runners—made to slide over sand—screeched on the flagstones. Clio stood stiffly as the drivers pulled the beasts to a halt. The creatures tossed their heads in relief, long horns gleaming. The Iridian soldiers took their positions around the three carriages, and the driver of the centermost one opened the door.

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