Authors: Belinda Burke
Tags: #Erotic Romance Fiction
The echo was all but inaudible against his mouth. “Stop…wait?” The next kiss was harder, and Myrddin struggled against it, heart beating. Desire was wild in him, but what was he going to do with it? He had his pride, and to submit here, like this?
Fleeting, a burst of strength infused him. He staggered back, almost laughing despite himself, held out a hand and touched the fingers of the other to his wet, bruised lips. “You,
death. I want you, I think I like you, but this isn’t how it’s done!”
“How it is done? You kiss death and you say
how it is done
Myrddin sucked in a breath, and the space of that moment was enough for the heat of those hands to claim his skin again, wrap tight around his hips and hold him still.
“I want you.
“No, no. I won’t give you more kisses. Not again, not until you say you’ll be mine an—”
. Irresistible mouth, a deadly kiss for true. For an instant he tasted the echo of his father’s voice, the message that had sent him out into the world.
The end of things.
.” When the stranger said it—stranger, yes, nameless, eyes blacker now and glittering—
When he said it, Myrddin thought he should have known. He thought almost yes, and not no, and was terrified. Those hot hands were pulling him closer, and his body was betraying him. One kiss would end the game, unless he took it. But how could he take what he wanted so much to give?
I even asked. But
He sucked in a gulp of breath. Once, twice, Myrddin twisted away, then leaped back and
, changing, shifting, became the merlin with the weight of the wind under his wings. The piercing hawk’s cry that left him was a challenge and laughter both, and he circled the stranger’s head before he soared up toward the clouds.
Safe—but in the next instant, louder, sharper, he heard the cry of another bird and turned mid-air. A red kite was on his tail, enormous, shading him with the span of his autumn plumage, black-shouldered, a blazon of crimson at the tips of his feathers. And those eyes, those eyes! They were trained on him as the eyes of the hunter are trained on his prey, and the bird-heart beating so fast in his breast beat faster.
Fast as he went, high as he soared, the one following him was always on his tail, just above him, talons reaching. He dove, and so did the stranger. Down, down, until the frozen grass ruffled his feathers, down until he tumbled across it, changing his shape even as he rolled over and over. Myrddin came up on flashing hooves, the young stallion, and raced away across the hillside.
He knew without looking behind him that the stranger was chasing, heard thudding behind him, a racing gallop that would catch him up soon enough. Fleet as the wind, faster than any mortal horse, Myrddin ran, and behind him the stranger chased faster,
, until he had to turn at the coast, north along the shore and the wide, wet flat of the sand.
Up into the dunes, across scrub grass and into the edge of the pine forest that bordered the great ice—but the trees pressed close, and he felt the stranger catching up to him, Death on his heels. Again he changed, this time into the rabbit of the wood. Myrddin darted forward into the undergrowth, tried to lose himself in the white patterns of new frost and the deep brush, in the fall of last year’s needles.
Instead he heard a low, baying howl, four paws pattering after him under the trees. He froze, animal instinct overriding his own good sense for a single instant, then darted off as quickly as he could, didn’t dare look over his shoulder. Panting breath was on his back, and he knew he wouldn’t get far.
One more, one more
The spring stag, he was suddenly leaping forward, outstripping the hound by far. Over fallen trees, into the narrow spaces between them—then he stopped, turned almost in place, nearly fell in a tangle of legs and caught himself at the last instant.
Somehow, somehow the stranger was ahead of him,
. A stag—no,
Stag, his great rack seven pointed, the lord of the autumn wood.
Myrddin took one step back, but that was all. The Stag approached slowly—
. The black eyes were piercing, but Myrddin held his head up, defiant, prideful, and when the stranger was close enough he met that great rack with his own.
The sound was a crack of thunder, but it was sound only, no fury. With one skillful twist, Myrddin was on his back, gasping, shocked out of the young buck and into his own shape. The dark aura that he’d tasted in that first kiss was all around him now, so heavy that he couldn’t move. For the first time in his life, Myrddin was overcome. All his power, his tricks and his trying, and instead of saving his pride, he’d sacrificed it completely.
The Stag approached him, shed its animal shape and became the stranger he knew,
, was Death now. Not death, but Death, some essence enfleshed and given being but not a name.
A name for this beautiful destruction, laughing death with the wild black eyes?
It slipped off his tongue without him even thinking about it. “
.” It was perfect, and he knew it, grinned and reached up with both arms. “It’s going to be your name. You win, Kas.
dragged Myrddin up into his arms. “Kiss me.”
The demand was undeniable, and this time Myrddin had no reason, not even a bad one, not to submit.
. What was pride? Just this once, he could give in.
“Just…just this once.”
He leaned up and pressed his lips against Kas’ eager mouth. Then he felt hands sliding down his arms, and a grip so tight, so sharp, it was splitting his skin, opening his veins at the wrist. He gasped, but it was from the shock and not from pain. There was…no pain.
Somehow, despite what he knew were deep wounds, his life’s blood flowing free, there was…sensation, but tingling, half-numb, strange in the way it felt as if he were already submitting to some other power.
Maybe I am
The green influence of his father’s power was flowing out of him. Out…out…out…
This has never happened to me before.
What is this?
He opened his mouth and sucked in a breath as if he’d never breathed before, as if there was not and never would be enough air.
This one is mine
. How Kas knew it, he did not know, but it was real, and it was the truth. The thought was wordless possession, a complete and perfect thing that needed no confirmation, but it was there all the same. It beat in the warm ichor that flowed out of the wounds Kas’ fingernails had made in Myrddin’s wrists, silvery blood with the scent of spring.
In all the time that had passed since Kas had first gained thought, memory,
, he had never encountered another being that was anything like him. This one, the stranger named Myrddin, the hawk with mismatched eyes… He was teasing, tempting, terrible. Myrddin was like him, and not like him, was equal and opposite to him. Most of all, he had the aura of something Kas wanted to claim forever.
He could understand what that meant in only one way. He knew how to
in only one way. The word that was meant to be a name—
—it warmed him, fit him, settled around his shoulders as easily as any of the shapes he had taken, but it was not the name of his nature. That, as he had known since Myrddin first said it, was Death.
He was Death, and what he took he would take completely, take forever. He said kiss because it was the word he had been given, but what he asked for—demanded—
—was far more.
, Myrddin had said, but it was a lie, even if Kas didn’t yet know truly what a lie was. Untruth, yes, but Death did not, could not lie. Still, something in the way Myrddin moved under him, wrapped his arms around him, told a truth that left all words and their deceptions far behind.
The ground where his blood had spilled was wild with a profusion of growth in a hundred shades of green. Kas felt the wetness of that blood on his back, pumping slowly from the cuts he’d made, until it stopped.
Watchfulness was growing around them, a wary sense that many eyes had been drawn in their direction, but having acknowledged it, Kas ignored it from that moment forward. There was no one who could come between Death and what he claimed as his own. There were few who would even dare to try. But sadness, his familiar companion, was welling inside him with every kiss he took, every sip of soul. Soon, he would have taken it all, signed it away into shadow, and there would be no more.
It was almost enough to stop him, but what he had begun, Kas knew he had to finish. There was no denying the softness of Myrddin’s bruised lips, the trembling way he breathed, pressed his body closer,
every motion a submission. And yet…
In the most important way, Myrddin did not give in. He did not
. The pounding of his heart was just as fast, just as vital now as it had been at Kas’ first touch, his first kiss. Myrddin’s soul was slipping out of his skin, his shadow sneaking away from them, but his eyes were bright and he had no fear.
. He laid his head back in Kas’ hands, brought one of his own up into Kas’ hair, then touched his cheek.
Pale ichor had stained his fingers, dripped down his arms, but the flow was stopped now, and Kas kissed Myrddin’s wrists where the wounds had been.
The blood stung his lips, tasted
, and while he licked that tingling taste away, Myrddin stared up at him with eyes gone wide as the night. “Aren’t you afraid? Aren’t you afraid to touch me, taste me? You—Kas, you’re death. Death, and I am the son of the Living King.”
“Me, afraid of
? No, no, no.” Kas shook his head, quite sure of nothing if not that.
… He tied the word to a feeling, laughed more than he had yet. “
.” There was relief on Myrddin’s face and many changes of expression that passed too quickly for Kas to comprehend. He closed his eyes, let out a breath then lifted his lashes and met Kas’ gaze.
“Are you going to kiss me, Kas? Is this our rite?” His voice was…changed. Warmer. Husky. “Are you going to be my lover?”
Kas stared down at him, suddenly breathing hard for no reason he could explain. The heat within him was divided, and thus multiplied, but he understood what he’d been asked—or thought he did.
“Yes, kiss you.” He lifted Myrddin’s lips against his mouth, parted them with his tongue. “Yes. Our rite.” He kissed him again, softer this time, tender, and Myrddin sighed, a low, moaning breath, when Kas pulled away. “
He had no more words for what he wanted to do, what he
—but that no longer mattered. Myrddin under him was naked and willing, cock hard for him and wet with desire, seeking friction with the rocking of his hips. There would be no more escaping, no shift of shape, no running away. Kas pulled Myrddin’s legs apart, settled himself between them and entered him with one finger.
Myrddin groaned, spread his legs wider, and Kas tried another and watched Myrddin open for him, stretching—watched him arch his back and grab twin fistfuls of grass, moaning, cock twitching.
He wanted another response like that, so Kas did it again, added a third finger alongside the first two, slow penetration, deep and curling inward. He got what he wanted—the wide eyes startling wider, pale thighs twitching apart, cock harder and his mouth open to beg for more.
. That was the word on Myrddin’s lips, and a broken moan that went on, and on,
And…his name. Again, and again.
don’t tease me. Kas…”
He wanted to laugh, but he bent forward instead and braced himself on one hand, kissed Myrddin quiet. “No words.” He kissed him again, kept his fingers moving—in, out—slow penetration that was nothing but a tease for both of them, satisfying only in its promise. Myrddin wormed one of his hands between them, took Kas’ cock in his fist and stroked just as slowly.
It felt good, the same tingling touch as that blood on his lips. It made Kas wonder what it would feel like when his cock was inside Myrddin instead of his fingers. Without another thought, he leaned back and pulled his hand away, tried to jerk Myrddin’s thighs wider apart. Myrddin stopped him before he could do what he wanted.
Purely aggressive, Kas pulled on his leg. “Again?
He paused, crawled forward over Myrddin’s body and licked his last word off his lips. “Please… That word. I like it. It is
Breathless amusement warmed Kas’ lips. “I’ll say it again, just for you.
” Myrddin leaned up, his mouth an offering that Kas was more than willing to take. This time Myrddin slipped his lips away, kissed Kas’ cheek, his throat, his collarbone, his shoulder. When he pushed at Kas’ chest, Kas allowed it, until he sat back on his knees, and Myrddin was braced on his thighs, looking up with lust and mischief in his gaze.
His mouth moved down, down,
, traced trembling patterns of heat and tongue over Kas’ chest, his abdomen, lower and lower until Myrddin was lying on the ground. He used one hand to hold himself up and kept the other at the base of Kas’ cock while his tongue played at the tip, made circles, whorls, spirals, until he leaned forward, took the whole head in his mouth and groaned.
Kas’ breath shallowed, sped. He reached down one hand and tangled his fingers in Myrddin’s hair, stared at his wet lips as they moved down, then up again. He pulled back, and there was tongue again, lapping, sucking, wrapped around his cock. All the while those eyes stared up at him, bright with a spark of mischief and more than a hint of Myrddin’s own pleasure.