Embrace Me at Dawn

Page 21

Anka swallowed, froze. Her fingers tightened. She looked as if she desperately wanted to believe him…but didn’t. Couldn’t? Lucan bit back his frustration.

“Stop. Just stop!” she shouted. “I don’t need pity. I’m doing just fine without you feeling sorry for me. Or did you want to fuck me for pity, as well?”

Was that what she thought? Or was she simply attempting to push him away? In either case, Lucan was having none of it. Her anguish choked him. Had Shock done anything to help heal her mental scars? Or had she been like this for months, a knotted ball of pain, pushing away anyone who tried to help her? Now that she was talking to him, there was no way he’d let her go now, especially not when she needed to purge this toxic agony inside her.

Some of Mitchell Thorpe’s words came back to him. The dungeon owner had predicted that Anka would push him to see how committed he was to her needs. She was about to find out that she couldn’t dislodge him with a crowbar or all the magic in the world.

“Pity has nothing to do with how I feel, love,” he growled.

Then he pushed her back to the mat. Lucan didn’t give her a second to wonder what he planned before he settled her under him, spread her legs with his knees, and speared his cock deep inside her again. Under him, she bucked, jolted, gasped.

“What the hell are you doing? Let me up! I don’t want your pity.” The tears streaming down her face broke his heart.

He retracted almost to withdrawal, then began plunging into her one sure, slow stroke after another, angling her hips so that he hit that sensitive spot inside her that never failed to send her straight to climax. “Does this feel like I pity you? I want you, love. I want to hold you, heal you. In your words, I want to fuck you. You lost everything that horrible night, but so did I. And now you’re here with me again. Unless I’m hurting you, stop assuming you know how I feel and take everything I want to give you. Let go of all the hurt inside you.”

She dug her fingernails into his shoulders and threw back her head in pleasure with a high-pitched gasp. “Lucan!”

“That’s it, love. You’re so wet, and the way you cling to me… God, I’ve fantasized about being with you again. Endless nights of imagining just this.”

Their lovemaking blistered him in a way no surrogate could, even more than the tender caresses they’d shared during mating. Being with Anka had always moved him, brought him closer to her, strengthened their bond. But pinning her down with his body weight and ravaging her, teeth bared, hips pistoning, was unraveling something inside him he’d kept tightly under wraps for a century. Anka had always been a bit reserved and prim, delicate. He’d treated her accordingly in every aspect of their lives. But now… She spread her legs wider under him, bit the lobe of his ear hotly, and writhed under him, her folds even slicker, swelling up, tightening around him until the pleasure bottled up inside him. Ruthlessly, Lucan tamped it down. Anka first.

Sliding a hand between them, he circled her clit with his thumb and smiled when she cried out and tightened on him even more. Energy started to swirl between them. Pinpoints of dancing light and invisible strands of power wrapped themselves around them both. Her skin flushed, and her breathing all but stopped. Yes, she was about to tumble over into the abyss of pleasure, and the way tingles gathered at the base of his spine and his sac tightened, Lucan knew he couldn’t hold out long against this massive roar of pleasure.

He dug his free hand into her hair and forced her face under his. “Look at me.”

She blinked open, her eyes glassy and unfocused. Slowly, she fixed her stare on him and whimpered as he shoved his thick staff even deeper than before. “Lucan…”

“Yes, love. Let go for me. Let it happen. I’ll be here to catch you.”

As she stared into his eyes, her entire body tensed, and he felt her sex clamp down on him in a vice-like squeeze. She screamed his name, and the sound ripped away the last of his restraint. He braced himself against the mat, using the floor as leverage to push deeper into her, forcing his way in again and again, even as her slick walls milked him, coaxing him to follow her over into climax. Bloody hell, that brewing euphoria at the base of his spine ballooned. Nothing was going to stop this whirling bliss from exploding his body into a million pieces.

As her nails dug deeper into his shoulders and she looked at him with her heart in her eyes, Lucan lost the last of his composure.

“Aww, love.” He panted, feeling the mountainous swell of pleasure grow and surge, reaching its inevitable conclusion. “That’s it. You feel so… Yes!”

His body combusted as the colossal sensations rolled through him. He thrust and plunged into her until he lost the ability to coordinate his body, until he could no longer breathe. His hot seed bathed her walls, and he felt her contract around him again with a cry, creating another starburst of feelings. Heart chugging, breath sawing, pleasure storming, he nearly blacked out.

He dragged a huge draught of air back into his lungs as the thick, bright mass of energy slammed into his body. His sweat-slicked chest covered hers as he wrapped his arms around Anka and forced his buzzing head to clear so he could focus on her.

“You all right?”

She froze for a long moment, and Lucan feared that he’d hurt her in some terrible way. Had she bled? Felt pain because of his rough touch?

Finally, she nodded. “I’m all right.”

But her breathing was shallow, her gaze furtive. Discreetly, she pushed at his shoulders.

“What’s the matter?”

“Can’t breathe.”

Lucan frowned. She lied. Beneath him, her chest rose and fell. But he lifted to his elbows to give her a bit of space. “Better?”

Her face tightened up more. “Let me up.”

“What’s the problem, Anka? We’ve done nothing wrong. We were mates. We can be again. I love—”

“Off! Off now!” She shoved at him frantically, her breathing fast and frantic and uneven. “Get off!”

Panic made her movements frenzied. Her behavior made no sense, unless… “Are you afraid of Shock?”

The fresh flare of her eyes, as if her lover’s reaction had just occurred to her, stabbed her with more upset. “I can’t do this now. Please let me up. I-I can’t have you on top. The weight.” She squeezed her eyes shut. “Mathias…”

Fuck! Lucan withdrew from the clinging depths of her body, still hard, still hungry for more, and rolled to his feet. Mathias had pinned Anka down, mounted her, made her afraid of remaining face-to-face-with the man who loved her still. The thought crushed something inside his chest. That fucking arsehole would pay with his bloody life if it was the last thing he did.

Lucan helped Anka to her feet. Her entire body trembled as she jumped around, seeking her clothes—looking anywhere but at him.

“Anka.” He grabbed her arm gently and tried to bring her into the circle of his arms.

“Don’t.” She shoved away from him. “Please, don’t. I have to go.”

“Let me hold you, love. You’re upended, afraid. Don’t leave like this. I can make it better.”

“No.” She finally looked at him with those big amber eyes, tears swimming. “You can’t. You’ll only make this more difficult. Please…don’t.”

“More difficult how?”

She jerked around the room, collecting her clothes. “You don’t understand.”

“Then explain it, because you’re right. I bloody don’t understand.”


She wriggled into her pants, yanked on her bra and shirt, struggled into her boots. Lucan watched the surreal scene, confusion clawing through him. “It doesn’t have to be.”

Anka finished dressing and turned on him. “Yes, it does! More than the skin on my back has changed. I can’t begin to explain. And if you knew…” More tears of hopelessness fell down her face, and she shook her head. “Honestly, Lucan, you deserve so much better. Fall in love with someone else, someone whole. This can’t mean anything to me. Neither can you.”

She backed out the door to the ballroom, and Lucan watched her, trying to process her words. Why wouldn’t she at least stay and talk to him? What didn’t he know? Why the hell would she think for a moment there was anyone better for him than his destined mate? How could she take all the love he sought to give her and simply refuse it, especially when he suspected she wanted it badly?

“Keep telling yourself that I don’t mean anything to you, but I was just inside you, love. I know otherwise. I don’t want someone better. I want you.”

Another tear ran down her face as she shook her head. “Good-bye.”

~ ~ ~ ~

Anka dashed out and teleported away. With an aching heart, Lucan let her go—for now. Until he could figure out how to reach and reassure her, forcing her to accept his comfort or the outpouring of his heart would be pointless. One thing he knew about Anka, when something troubled her, she withdrew into herself. And if he pushed her now, she would only close herself off even more tightly. Which meant that he had to figure out how to take away all the pain inside her quickly and act, or he might truly lose her forever.

But this wasn’t one of her simple worries, like she’d worn the wrong shoes for a dress, or invited the wrong people to an All Hallows’ Eve festival. The pain he’d witnessed today came from deep inside a bubbling well of it, and he’d never seen such anguish on her beautiful face. She hadn’t really dealt with her attack and the scars Mathias had left behind yet. But he sensed that more troubled her.

With a curse, he magically pulled on his clothes, stretching his taut shoulders, still stinging from the bite of her sharp little nails into his skin. He didn’t know exactly what caused her woes, but he wasn’t giving up on her until he’d discovered them all. He’d stand beside her until she faced each and every one. Then maybe she could be ready to take his hand and come home.

Energy burned inside him like a giant fireball, and Lucan paced, raking a hand through his hair as thoughts pinged through his head. He clenched his fists to keep from bouncing off the walls. The buzz jolting him only reaffirmed what he knew: Anka belonged with him. Surrogates were visually attractive and their energy sustained him, but every time he visited one he died a bit more inside because the woman he touched wasn’t the one he craved. He never felt more alive or ready to conquer the world than he did after holding Anka.

Her signature when she’d backed out the door radiated pure vigor in all his colors. No way Shock would miss seeing that telltale sign. One look at Anka and the fuckwit would know what they’d done. In the past, Lucan might have gloated about infuriating Shock. Today, he refused to waste a moment caring what Shock thought. The arse would read Anka’s mind and see every touch they’d shared today. And then what? Were Anka’s tears guilt? Or did Shock scare her? Did the bloody git have some hold over her? Lucan didn’t know. Was that what Anka meant when she said that he didn’t understand?

Tearing out of the ballroom, he stalked across the manor to Bram’s office door. He didn’t bother knocking, but pushed his way in to find the other wizard sitting alone, scanning a human newspaper.

“No, really. Come right in and interrupt me.” Bram punctuated his sarcasm with a raised brow as he lifted his head. Immediately, his tight expression went lax with surprise. “For fuck’s sake, your signature! You and Anka…”

“Not another word,” he grumbled. It was none of Bram’s bloody business. “What do you know about Anka’s situation?”


“With Shock,” he bit out impatiently. “I don’t understand why she continues to go back to the prat when I think she might be afraid of him. Does he have some hold over her?”

Bram hesitated, opening his mouth, then closing it again.

Lucan frowned. Bram was never at a loss for words.

“What do you mean?” he asked finally.

Tossing up his hands in frustration, Lucan glared. “Why does she continue to live with him if he frightens her? How is he holding her against her will?”

Rising to his feet, Bram paced across the room. “Why would you think it’s against her will? She’s lived with him for months.”

Wasn’t that a fucking stab in the heart? Every time he lay in their lonely, cold bed, remembering every other winter for the past century that they’d cuddled up together and kept warm, now he lay awake, staring at the ceiling with cold feet, tormenting himself with the thought that Shock wrapped her silken body in his embrace and held her through the night.

Lucan shook his head. “She has, but something’s wrong now. She acts as if she’s torn up and terrified. She said that I wouldn’t love her anymore if I knew the truth. What bloody truth?”

Bram shrugged. “How would I know, man? Do you think she means the truth about her torture at Mathias’s hands?”

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