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Doubt bled through me and heat prickled my eyes. But before I could pull back, he shook his head and gripped my upper arms. His smile melted and eyes grew serious.

“I wasn’t trying to make you feel badly just then, Alexis,” he said, putting one warm hand to the side of my neck, and using the other to capture my hand and place it on his heart. “I’m in awe of you. There is only one other thing that makes me feel that sort of vulnerability. It speaks of your power, and your rare gift. It’s a treasure. You’re a treasure. I trust you implicitly.”

“You didn’t trust me so well when you blasted me with your magic in your bedroom.” My voice quavered, a result of remembering the horror I could become. Amazingly, however, I didn’t lift my chin to offset it. I didn’t reach for anger to cover the moment. He’d admitted to a vulnerability, and so I let him see mine.

His lips quirked upward again. “Usually I can control my reaction. That time I couldn’t. You blindsided me, what can I say? In more ways than one.”

I leaned forward, wanting to steal a little more of his heat. “Where’s the other place you feel vulnerable?”

His eyes dulled and his smile melted away for the second time. “When I’m at sea with my father.”

30

Alexis

I’d been right. Kieran was unsure if he could handle what his father would throw at him.

“Then why will you challenge him?” I asked, worry rising. I slid the fingers of my free hand over his slight raven stubble. “Your mother is free. Why not leave it at that? He can’t know it was you.”

Kieran shook his head, and a sudden burst of his magic sizzled across my skin and booted me out of his middle. “My father won’t let something like that go. If he figures out what happened, he won’t rest until he knows who was responsible. Until he punishes them. Look at what he did to my mother. He won’t be any easier on his son.”

I let my hand fall until my fingertips were digging into his shoulder, my aggression matching the feeling of his magic. “It just so happens that you have a holy terror working for you, one that can clear a room in ten seconds flat. A whole room. Ten seconds. As soon as she learns her magic, she might be useful.”

The mood shifted and his tone deepened. “You will stay as far away from this as humanly possible, is that clear?” Shivers crawled up my skin and fear made my legs quake. Talk about a primal reaction. “You will go nowhere near this. You’ve done what I needed you to do. You found my mother’s skin and set her free. She is no longer a liability, and neither will you be. I’ll take it from here.”

I frowned and took a step back. “Okay, but what about all those other trapped spirits?”

“I have the information you found, and I have Bria to help lock down the person who did this. I’ll find whoever it is, and I’ll make him disappear. His magic should be ripped away with him. Worst case, it’ll seep away in time. My father will lose that asset, and with it, his access to the captured souls.”

“Bria—” I clenched my jaw in outrage. “You can’t involve her and not me. I helped bring all this around.”

“Lexi,” he whispered, and his eyes softened. The warmth in my middle expanded a little more with the sound of my nickname on his tongue. He lightly trailed his fingertips down my cheek. “Please. Bria has lived this life for years. She’s hardened to it. Trained for it. And if she is caught, she can’t be scrambled and turned into a war machine. You could be.” He traced a thumb across my lips before leaning in and touching his lips to mine. “Please, let me protect you. I brought you into all of this. I shattered your peaceful, quiet life. Let me try to restore a little of that. Please do me the favor of letting this go. Of going back to hiding yourself from the magical world.” He paused, staring at me with pleading eyes. “For me.”

I read his concern clearly, his worry that something might happen to me. This was what his mom had meant when she’d told me to listen to him.

My heart squished, and before I knew what was happening, I was nodding at him. “Okay.”

He kissed me deeply, and the room fell away. The uncertainty of my magic and my future vanished. All I knew was his lips moving against mine, his hands slowly drifting down my body.

“You’re beautiful,” he murmured against my lips. “When I first saw you, I thought you were trying to disguise your beauty with the rough clothing. Trying to blend into your surroundings. It seemed so daft. A creature like you was not made to fit in, you were made to stand out. To draw notice. Your angelic face, your easy confidence, your incredible magic—you are one in a million, and it pains me that you have to be hidden away from admiring eyes.”

My body felt as light as air. I hadn’t thought my heart could swell any more, but he’d just proven me wrong.

I unbuckled his jeans, not able to stand it. Needing him with a fire I could barely understand.

Clearly sensing my urgency, he pulled my shirt over my head, ripping a clasp when it got caught, and threw it to the floor. I pushed down his pants as he took two fistfuls of mine and ripped them apart. Fabric screeched and a zipper tore before he spun me around and backed me against my bed. He wrapped a strong arm around me before kneeling onto the mattress and lowering me to my back.

I reached for his hard length, only to miss as he pulled my pants off the rest of the way. He stepped out of his without ceremony, and I took a second to feast on the marvel that was his body. Thick shoulders and cut pecs reduced down into an almost eight-pack before ending on that large cock straining for me.

I pushed the blankets back and scooted more thoroughly onto the bed, feeling a jolt of anticipation when he crawled after me slowly, passion burning in his stormy eyes. He pushed a knee to the side and bent over me. I gasped, arching as his hot tongue licked up my center. He swirled around my clit and then sucked it in, sending my eyes rolling to the back of my head.

“Hmm, Kieran.” I dragged my fingers through his unruly black hair. A finger plunged into my wetness, followed by a second, and his mouth created a pulsing suction to match the pace of his fingers. “Holy—shit.” I gyrated upward into his mouth. Sensations coursed through me so hard and fast I wasn’t ready for them. “Holy crap, no. Yes. Oh God.”

His dark chuckle spoke of sex and fire and writhing bodies. “Do we need a safe word?”

“I don’t LIKE—oh! Pain. No PAIN—hmm.” I closed my eyes as his sexy magic rolled over me, kissing every inch of my skin. “Oh yes…”

“There is pain, and then there is being right on the edge of the precipice, begging to come, and not being allowed to.”

“Too many words. Stop with all the WORDS—holy shiii—”

He stroked my clit with his tongue in a way I hadn’t even known was possible. Pleasure pounded through my body, making my jaw clench shut for a moment. He worked with his fingers, then sucked again, before going back with his tongue. If oral sex was an art, Kieran’s rendition would be priceless.

I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t move. My back arched and my whole body tensed, drowning in ecstasy. I hit a wall before he switched it up, and then I blasted through it. Climbing past heights I’d never before reached, and rocketing higher still.

Sounds with no shape exited my mouth. Moans increased in pitch. The waves of pure pleasure increased in intensity.

“Please, no,” I begged, strung out. At that edge he’d warned me about. Needing to jump off. “Please, yes!”

Without warning, the suction stopped and his fingers disappeared. My sex pounded so hard I couldn’t think straight. I ached with wanting.

His body slid over mine, my skin so sensitive that it felt like a thousand little electric shocks of pleasure. I moaned and slid my hands down his muscular back, marveling at the definition. His large cock prodded my opening, and my body jumped out of my skin.

“You should’ve picked out that safe word when you had the chance,” he said softly, his voice silky smooth, his magic mixing with mine in an exquisite cocktail.

“Please,” I begged, my body burning me alive from the inside out. I deepened the kiss, wild now. Desperate.

“Hmm.” He pushed up onto his elbows and reached in to grab his cock by the base before running it along my slit, getting everything wet. His body lowered onto mine before he dragged his tip against my slit and stopped at my opening.

I braced, and without meaning to, reached into his middle with my magic. When I felt that hard plate this time, I didn’t try to push through. I soaked into it, easing down into him like I envisioned his cock easing down into me.

He gasped right before his magic slammed into me, flaying me open. Strangely, it didn’t hurt. He wasn’t forcing me out. He was allowing me in.

I finished burrowing through that inner wall and there it was—his most sacred possession, the very essence of him. I stroked it with a feather-light touch, marveling at its pureness and beauty.

He gasped again and grabbed the bed to either side of me. I slid my legs up his sides, not sure what I was doing, but knowing it felt right, and dragged him back down on top of me.

He didn’t hesitate this time. He didn’t have the ability.

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