So i married a sorcerer, p.33
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       So I Married a Sorcerer, p.33

         Part #2 of The Embraced series by Kerrelyn Sparks  

  Rupert glowered at her as she glared back.

  Stefan cleared his throat. “We’ll just … uh, make camp over there.” He led the horses into the clearing.

  “You’re not staying!” Rupert yelled at his old friend.

  “We are,” Brigitta answered. “And you should be grateful for our help.”

  “Do you expect me to be comforted by the fact you’re endangering yourself?” Rupert asked through gritted teeth. “The terrain here is dangerous. And there are wild animals and dragons—”

  “I know.” She lifted her chin. “I’ve already encountered them.”


  She smiled. “Don’t worry. I’m perfectly fine.”

  He growled in frustration, then glared at Stefan and Brody, who were unloading saddlebags. “You’re going to let her endanger herself?”

  “We’re staying out of this,” Stefan mumbled.

  Brigitta planted her hands on her hips. “I’m here to help. And if you weren’t so busy being a grouchy ingrate, you would—”

  “Grouchy?” He stepped closer. “Do you know what I’ve been through the last few days?”

  “Yes! I was there. And it nearly killed me to see you risking your life over and over while I could only sit there, doing nothing!” Tears glimmered in her eyes. “You have proven yourself to be the brave and fearless hero. Now I need the chance to prove myself.”

  He swallowed hard. Did she really think he was fearless? Holy Light, he was terrified. If something happened to her … he pointed at the cave, ready to order her to go inside and stay put until it was safe. But even though he jabbed his finger at the cave, he couldn’t make the words come out.

  With a growl of frustration, he marched off. He headed back up to the cliff where he could check on the captain and general.

  Hunching behind a rock, he spotted them on the northern slope of the valley, slowly ascending to a ridged cliff that would take them to the end of the valley where it narrowed into a gorge. He’d already investigated the gorge. The north and south sides were close enough to shoot arrows across. If he hid behind some rocks on the south side, he might be able to pick one of them off.

  With a groan, he sat on the ground and rested his back against a boulder.

  “We have a fire going,” Brody announced as he joined him on the cliff. “Dinner will be ready soon.”

  Rupert sighed. He doubted Brigitta even wanted to see him now. “Why did you bring her here?”

  “She can be very insistent. And—” Brody sat beside him. “I caught the scent of the Chameleon at the camp.”

  “What? You mean he followed us?”

  “I think he’s masquerading as one of Gunther’s soldiers, but I haven’t located him. If I can smell him, he can probably smell me. So he’s staying away from me.”

  Rupert frowned. “Do you think he plans to kill Gunther and take his place?”

  “Perhaps. One thing is for sure. He’s up to something bad. So I thought Brigitta might actually be safer with us.” Brody peered around a boulder to look at the captain and general. “I don’t think they know we’re here, so we should be fine for the night.”

  Rupert sighed.

  Brody gave him an amused look. “You’re thoroughly smitten, aren’t you?”

  “Sod off.”

  Brody chuckled as he rested against a boulder.

  With a groan, Rupert leaned forward, cradling his head with his hands. After a while, he muttered, “I don’t know what to do.”

  “If you don’t want to kill a dragon, then don’t,” Brody said quietly. “One of them saved Brigitta earlier from a bear.”

  He lifted his head. “Really?”

  Brody nodded.

  Rupert frowned. “I don’t want to be a king who has murdered his way to the throne. And I don’t want to start a war with the Norveshki by attacking one of their dragons.”

  Brody was silent for a while, then said, “We might need Brigitta. She can speak Norveshki.”

  That would definitely come in handy if the Norveshki captured them. “Even if I solve the dragon problem, I still have the problem of the two bastards over there.” Rupert motioned to the northern ridge. “At some point, they’ll try to kill me.”

  “How about I fly over there and listen to their plans?”

  “Good idea.” Rupert peered around the boulder at the captain and general while Brody stripped and shifted into an eagle.

  Soon Brody was circling high over the gorge, then easing down to the ground above the two officers, where they wouldn’t see him.

  As Rupert waited for Brody’s return, the sun lowered in the sky. His stomach rumbled with hunger. He hadn’t eaten since breakfast.

  After a while, Brody landed nearby, then quickly shifted and dressed. “They don’t know your location. The captain thinks you’ve run away like a coward, but the general thinks you’re planning to ambush them. Meanwhile, they came up with a plan to kill a dragon tomorrow morning. They’re going to lure one into flying close to them where the gorge narrows, and that’s when they’ll attack.”

  Rupert nodded. “Then I’ll be at the gorge tomorrow, too.”

  “Good. Let’s see if they have any food left. I’m starving.” Brody headed toward the clearing.

  “I’ll be along soon.” Rupert watched the sun as it set over the mountains, painting the snow-covered peaks pink and gold. Could he ambush the two officers and kill them?

  You’re an honorable man. Brigitta’s words haunted him. There had to be another way. It would rip his heart to shreds if he lost her love and respect. But he had to eliminate all the threats if he wanted the throne, and that was the only way to keep Brigitta safe.

  * * *

  A soft bark woke Brigitta from a light slumber. It was Brody, she thought, back in dog form for the night.

  Over a dinner of dried beef and boiled potatoes, Brody and Stefan had urged her to take the oilcloth and most of the blankets inside the cave to make herself a bed. They would sleep outside by the campfire, taking turns with guard duty for the night.

  Inside the cave, she’d wedged a small torch between several rocks to provide some light, then she’d set to work. First, she’d piled up a layer of spongy dried leaves and needles, then she’d covered them with the oilcloth tarp, and topped that with a blanket. After washing with the icy snowmelt that gathered in a stone basin, she’d folded up her skirt and blouse to make a pillow. Then she’d huddled beneath the last remaining blanket, wondering where Rupert had gone.

  Was he still angry? Had it been a mistake to come here? Would he really try to kill a dragon? Questions had swirled in her mind till she had finally dozed off.

  With Brody’s bark, she woke, but now it was too dark to see anything. The torch had burned out. She sat up and spotted a red glow in the distance through the narrow entrance to the cave. The campfire was still lit. She caught the sound of Rupert’s deep voice.

  He was back.

  She sighed with relief. Hopefully he was helping himself to some food. She lay back down and closed her eyes.

  A few minutes later, she heard the soft scrape of booted feet entering the cave, and a light flickered against her closed eyelids. Was that Rupert?

  She cracked open one eye to find that he’d wedged a small torch into the same spot where the burned-out one was. He leaned against a boulder and pulled off his boots. Then his socks.

  When he started to walk toward her, she quickly closed her eyes. All was quiet for a while, but she could feel him looking at her. Beneath the blanket, her breasts felt heavy and her thighs—oh, no! Was this a reaction to the tonic she’d been taking? Her hands curled into fists, clenching the fabric of her shift.

  The sound of splashing water tempted her to take another peek. Rupert had removed his cloak and shirt. With his breeches low on his hips, he leaned over the basin to scrub his face. Then he cupped some water and doused his hair. When he straightened, rivulets of water meandered down his muscular back. He lifted his hands to smooth back his
wet hair, and the movement caused his muscles to bunch and ripple along his back and broad shoulders.

  She sighed. How could a man be so beautiful? Perhaps he was more than a sorcerer of the wind, for he had certainly cast a spell on her. The flickering flames of the torch sent light dancing along the contours of his muscles. And goddesses help her, she wanted to run her hands over him and relish each and every inch of his body. Her thighs squeezed together as she recalled how he’d made her squirm and scream when they were in the grotto.

  Dear goddesses, she wanted that again.

  He dropped his breeches to the ground, and for a few breathless moments she stared at his buttocks. When he leaned over the basin to gather more water, a whimper escaped her mouth. He immediately straightened, pivoting toward her.

  She turned her head, biting her lip and tightly shutting her eyes. Oh dear goddesses, he’d nearly caught her ogling him. But what was he doing, stripping and washing in front of her? He could have washed up outside at the waterfall. Did he intend to sleep inside the cave with her?

  Oh, yes, please.

  At the sound of more splashing water, she turned her back to him and clutched the blanket with her fists. Was it the tonic that was making her heart pound and her skin itch to be touched? She thought back to Rupert’s conversation with her in her bedroom at Lourdon Palace. It was only him that she wanted, no other man. So no, this wasn’t the tonic. This was her.

  She wanted him something fierce.

  Behind her, Rupert settled on her makeshift bed. “Are you awake?” he whispered.

  Her eyes opened. Her fists tightened. “Are you still angry?” She could barely hear her own whisper over the sound of her heart thundering in her ears.

  “No.” There was a pause. “I’m terrified. If anything were to happen to you, I don’t know how I could bear it.”

  Her heart squeezed. The poor man. He’d lost everyone he’d ever loved. “You won’t lose me.”

  “Brigitta.” He stroked her hair, and she rolled onto her back. Their gazes met as he leaned toward her, his golden eyes glimmering in the torchlight. “I love you.”

  Her breath caught with a small gasp, then she reached for him. “Rup—”

  Before she could finish his name, his mouth was on hers. A whirlwind of sensation shook her, and she clutched at his shoulders, holding on tight, willing the storm to engulf them both. The more desperately he kissed her, the more she reveled in it. The more frantic he became, the more she craved him.

  When he invaded her mouth, she invaded his. When he nuzzled her neck, she shuddered and delved her fingers into his damp hair. His hands moved along her shift, giving her breasts a squeeze before desperately fumbling for the hem.

  He tugged at the hem as he sat up. “Take this off before I tear it.”

  She sat up and for the first time, she saw his manhood. Good goddesses, had she really referred to that as sweet? It was more like a weapon. Well-tempered steel, indeed.

  “Brigitta,” he said softly. “You deserve better than a cave. You can always say no.”

  Oh, how she loved this man. She rested the palm of her hand against his cheek. “I want you now.”

  His eyes glinted with so much heat and desire, she wanted to dive straight into the fire with him. She grasped the hem of her shift and pulled it up and over her head.

  Before the shift was completely off, he grabbed her waist and pulled her up onto her knees, his mouth latching onto a nipple. With a groan, she let the shift drop, then ran her fingers through his hair as he suckled hard.

  He moved to the other breast, teasing and tugging at her nipple while his hands kneaded her sore buttocks.

  She moaned, then kissed the top of his head. “I love you so.”

  He tumbled her back onto the blanket. “Do you?”

  “Mmm.” She squirmed when he tickled the hardened tips of her nipples. “I want to be thoroughly ravished. Now.”

  His mouth curled up. “I can do that.” He smoothed a hand down her belly, then cupped her.

  She cried out as his fingers gently stroked her.

  “You’re already wet.”

  “Rupert, please.”

  He moved between her legs. “Holy Light,” he whispered. As he looked her over, more moisture seeped from her. He hooked his hands beneath her knees and lifted her legs, spreading them wide. “I want to taste you.”

  “Huh?” Her thigh quivered as he kissed a trail toward her core. “Rupert?”

  He glanced up at her, one side of his mouth tilted up with a smile. “I’ve never done this before, so let me know if I do something you don’t like.”

  “What?” She jolted when his tongue slid right between her folds. Shock and sensation whirled around her, escalating into pure pleasure and greed. More, more, she thought as she squirmed beneath him.

  She cried out when he flicked his tongue over an especially sensitive part. He took that as an invitation for a full assault, driving her quickly up a precipice.

  For a few seconds she hovered in a cloud of pure ecstasy, then with a cry she shattered. She squeezed him with her thighs as wave after wave crashed through her. She was still shuddering when she felt his hard length ease just inside her.

  With a gasp, she opened her eyes.

  He was leaning over her, watching her with glittering eyes. “Do you know how beautiful you are when you climax?”

  “Rupert,” she whispered, cradling her face with her hands.

  “I need to take you now. I can’t wait any longer.” He nudged himself a little farther in. “Wrap your legs around me and squeeze me tight.”

  She snorted. “You’ve been saying that since we first met.”

  His mouth twitched. “And I finally have you where I always wanted you.”

  “Scoundrel.” She wrapped her legs around his hips.

  His smile faded. “I don’t want to hurt you, but…”

  “I’ll be fi—Ow!” she cried out as he plunged into her.

  “Are you all right?”

  “No. You stabbed me with your … well-tempered steel.”

  He gritted his teeth. “Don’t make me laugh now. I’m barely hanging on.”

  “I wasn’t joking.” She winced at the burning sensation deep inside her.

  He pulled out a little. “Did that hurt?”

  She shook her head, then gasped as he plunged back in. “Good goddesses, can’t you be still?”

  He gave her an incredulous look. “No.”

  “But—” Her breath caught when he slid out and back in once more. “Oh.”

  “Oh, what?” He gritted his teeth as if he were under some kind of strain.

  She wrapped her arms around his neck. “I want more.”

  “Thank the Light.” He quickened his pace, pounding into her faster and faster.

  Rugged. Relentless. Powerful. This was even more magnificent than the grotto, for this time they were spiraling up together. With a hoarse shout, he pumped into her, and the desperation of his movement sent her over the edge.

  She cried out as he collapsed beside her. “Rupert.”

  He pulled her into his arms and kissed her. Then he rolled onto his back, taking her with him.

  She rested her head on his chest where she could feel the pounding of his heart. Rupert. How she loved this man.

  “Brigitta.” He stroked her hair. “Be careful tomorrow.”

  “You, too.” No matter what happened to them in the future, they would always have this night to remember. “You were right. It was magnificent.”

  He snorted, then kissed the top of her head. “I’ll do better in the future. You deserve more than a cave.”

  She smiled to herself. “I loved it.” A setting like this would have been exactly what she’d have chosen for one of her overly dramatic stories.

  “No matter what happens tomorrow,” he whispered, “don’t leave me.”

  Chapter Thirty

  The next morning, Brigitta woke up alone, and her heart sank with disappointment. How cou
ld Rupert beg her not to leave him, then turn around and leave her behind? As she dressed, she winced at the soreness between her legs and grew increasingly annoyed. Did Rupert expect her to hide like a frightened rabbit whenever danger was near?

  When she strode into the clearing, she was surprised by the chill in the air. Goodness, it had been warmer in the cave. She pulled the hood of her cloak over her head.

  Stefan was sitting by the campfire with a blanket wrapped around his shoulders. “Good morning.” His breath vaporized in the icy air.

  “Good morning.” With a shudder, she hurried across the clearing to some bushes where she could relieve herself. Afterward, she rinsed her hands and washed her face in the small pool beneath the waterfall. Only a trickle was landing in the pool now, for most of the waterfall had frozen over, making the cliff wall glisten with icicles.

  “Come and eat.” Stefan motioned to a copper pot by the campfire. “I’ve been keeping the oatmeal warm for you.”

  “Thank you.” She settled close to the fire and dipped a wooden spoon into the pot. “Where is Rupert? And Brody?”

  “Brody’s an eagle for now.” Stefan pointed up at the sky. “I need to collect more firewood. Do you mind being alone for a little while? You won’t really be alone. Brody will be watching over you.”

  She glanced up to see the eagle circling above them. Far off, she heard the screech of a dragon. “I’ll be fine.” She ate some oatmeal. “Where is Rupert?”

  “Up the trail by the gorge. It’s so narrow there, he can see the captain and the general on the other side. They’re trying to lure a dragon in close enough to attack.”

  Brigitta swallowed hard. “Is Rupert planning to kill a dragon? I suppose he could use his wind power…”

  “Killing a dragon would only anger the Norveshki and prolong the war with them. Rupert would rather Tourin be at peace.” Stefan sighed. “Unfortunately, taking over a country’s throne is rarely a peaceful process.”

  Brigitta set down her spoon. She was losing her appetite.

  “Stay here.” Stefan rose to his feet and handed her the blanket. “I’ll be back soon.”

  As she wrapped the blanket around her shoulders, she wondered how Rupert was faring. It had to be even colder up on the cliff with the wind whistling through the gorge.

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