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       Slumber, p.25

         Part #1 of The Fade series by Samantha Young
 
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  I glared at him as he leaned back against the door, his eyes washing over me inscrutably.

  “Grof Kril and Grofka Ariana are so sickeningly happy, I had to get away from them.” He smirked.

  I was surprised by his even tone. There was no ice in his eyes. No growl in his words.

  “Get out,” I snapped, feeling the hurt rol over and over me again in crashing waves.

  Wolfe’s expression hardened. “No.” He shook his head and pushed away from the door, striding towards me. I felt my pulse race at that familiar languid walk. “I’m fed up of fighting with you. It’s exhausting. I keep waiting for you to come to your senses… but I realised something today.” I continued glowering. “What was that?”

  He stopped in front of me so I had to crane my neck back to meet his eyes. “You never just come to your senses, Rogan. You have to have them shaken into you.” He reached out to touch my cheek and I jerked back, ignoring his wounded look as he dropped his hand. “I love you, Rogan.” Al the pain and anger I felt brimmed over in my eyes. “Then why did you bed Winter when we were in Caera?” I choked back a cry.

  Wolfe looked surprised, sitting down beside me, trying to clutch my hands and pul me to him. “Rogan, I never bedded Winter. I never touched her. I shared a room with Chaeron that night; you can ask him, you know he won’t lie to you.”

  I glanced up at him sharply, my heart pounding. “What?”

  “I was nowhere near her. The last time we were in Caera, I told Winter there would never be anything between us again because… because… because I love you.

  I’m in love with you.”

  I trembled; hope desperately clambering its way back inside me. I tried to shake it back out. I was so confused. “The servants were gossiping about you leaving her bedroom in the morning.”

  Wolfe sighed in exasperation. “Winter likes to use her servants for her little games. She wants me back, Rogan. She’s trying to put up a wal between us.”

  “You refused to converse with me anyway. There was already a wal.”

  He slid a hand down my cheek and around my neck, forcing me to look at him. I shivered at his gentle touch. “I was terrified, Rogan. Every time I think about what could have happened… what did happen… I-”

  “Wolfe, don’t,” I urged, shushing him. I reached for his hand on the bedspread and slowly threaded my fingers through his. For a moment we gazed at our hands so entangled together. His skin felt warm and rough against mine. Safe.

  “I don’t want a wal between us ever again,” Wolfe whispered.

  I looked up to find his eyes on my face. There was pain there I had never seen before, and I know it was fear that I would turn from him. I knew… because I knew him.

  I knew him.

  Slowly, my breath hitching and faling, I leaned across the space between us and pressed my lips to his. Wolfe sat tense, unmoving as I kissed him softly, almost as if he were afraid to touch me.

  I puled back.

  I knew him. “He didn’t hurt me, Wolfe. He didn’t… rape me.”

  Wolfe swalowed, his eyes glistening. “Promise?”

  “Promise.”

  Tentatively, he lifted our clasped hands off the bed and kissed my knuckles.

  “Are you going to seduce me, Wolfe, or am I going to have to seduce you?” I grinned a little shyly.

  Wolfe’s eyes darkened as his lips curved into that wicked smile. “I’m happy with either scenario.” In the end… we seduced each other.

  I had never been shy. Mindful of the proprieties, yes, but not shy. And with Wolfe, I felt al my inhibitions melt out of existence, no longer caring I was younger and inexperienced in comparison to the women he had been with previously. His declaration of love made me bold. Certain. I kissed his throat, loving the vibration of his groan against my lips. I leaned back and gazed up into his eyes. I realised something wonderful.

  He knew me.

  Gazes locked, we slowly undressed one another, leisurely, deliciously, savouring our connection…

  …When I was naked under him, I felt no fear, just want. I stroked my hands over his strong chest, felt the brush of his thighs against my own and trembled with the want.

  And consequences be damned, for once I was taking what I wanted.

  Wolfe looked down at me with such love I almost cried. I noted the spark of uncertainty in his eyes and deliberately brushed my hand over the scar on his lower abdomen that represented so much of the strife between us. With my eyes I told him I didn’t care about any of that anymore. I had finaly put the past where it belonged.

  I wrapped my legs around his waist and Wolfe groaned, making me gasp at the feel of him nudging against me. He’d kissed every inch of my body, shown me things I had never dreamt of, made me blush from the top of my head to the tip of my toes, but this was different. This was irreversible.

  “Wolfe!” I gasped, as he pushed inside me, a flinch of pain making me stiffen.

  He stopped moving, a bead of sweat roling down his forehead with the effort. “Did I hurt you? Are you alright?” he asked franticaly.

  I tried to smooth my expression to ease his anxiety. And then something changed. The pain was dissipating. I shifted under him and my eyes widened at the pleasurable rush that burst throughout me. “Mm,” I bit my lip. “No, I’m alright. Don’t stop.” Wolfe began to move again and I cried out, this time in amazement. I tightened my hold on him, swearing I would find a way to never let go.

  Chapter Thirty

  I had never known I could feel this close and connected to anyone. We lay together after our lovemaking, his arm around me, my head on his chest. His heart thumped under my ear, not quite steady.

  Despite what I had sworn to myself as he loved me, I felt reality creep in quickly. My plan had never been to marry. The reason? If I were honest with myself it was because I was trying to keep the people in my life that I cared about to a minimum. That way there was less heartbreak when they were taken from me. I didn’t want to love someone as much as I loved Wolfe and have to deal with the pain of losing him, or have children and fear losing them too. I’d wanted romance, passion, but not love. And I loved Wolfe. My earlier excuses that I couldn’t be with Wolfe because of who his father was no longer seemed to stand. L, in al her pragmatism, had knocked that wal down so I couldn’t hide behind it anymore. But I had other reasons not to be with Wolfe. I did! I had never planned on being puled into the bonds that would make me a society wife and take me away from Haydyn. She needed me. Now more than ever she needed me. Perhaps I could have Wolfe for a little while.

  Without marriage. We could be happy with that… I tried to convince myself.

  For now, as we lay together, I wouldn’t say anything to break the spel.

  I shivered at the goosebumps spreading up my arm in the wake of his fingertips stroking my skin. “This is nice,” I whispered.

  “Mm,” Wolfe murmured and pressed a kiss to my temple. I snuggled deeper against him.

  “Thank you for coming after me into the mountains, Wolfe. I should have said that before.” I felt him smile against me head. “You’re welcome.”

  “So… you have psychic abilities now?”

  He chuckled. “How long have you been waiting to pester me with questions about that?”

  “Since the night at the Moss’.”

  He huffed. “I didn’t say anything because I don’t want people to fear me.”

  “Because you’re this astonishingly, inconceivable, al powerful mage?”

  “Yes.”

  I snickered this time and shook my head. “No one would be afraid of you, Wolfe. You’re too kind to people for them to fear you.”

  “I can be fearsome if I want to be.”

  I hid my smile. “I know.”

  “I can be plenty fearsome.”

  “Oh I know.”

  “I can-”

  Afraid he’d want to prove how fearsome he could be, I said, “You know I’ve discovered something interesting on this quest of ours.” Wolfe gr
unted at having been interrupted. “What’s that?”

  I drew away from him to lean up on my elbow and meet his gaze. “Mage, Wolfe. Quite a few of them.” Wolfe frowned. “Wel, there have been some…”

  I shook my head impatiently. “For a world whose mage are apparently dying out, I find it strange to have come across over a handful of mage since leaving Silvera. I mean, it seems like too much of a coincidence.”

  “Meaning?”

  “There are mage out there. Lots of them. I’d bet Haydyn’s Somna Plant on that.”

  Wolfe raised his eyebrows. “Perhaps you’re right. If so then…”

  I sighed. “It has to be taken into consideration with everything else.”

  “Everything else?”

  Lying back down in his arms, I went on to tel Wolfe about al I had discovered, what I thought of the people of Phaedra and the way we governed.

  “What’s the use in the evocation if we don’t solidify its properties with good government? There are places in Phaedra, Alvernia for one, where good people are lumped in with the bad, and nothing is done to help them.”

  “You know my feelings on the subject. I agree that people are people no matter their situation or location, good, bad; it’s al to do with the person. And there are certain people I intend to see punished for their crimes, such as Markiz Solom and those damn Iavi. But the bad people wil stop being bad when the evocation strengthens again. When Haydyn is wel.”

  I growled in frustration. “Not in Alvernia. Haydyn’s evocation begins to wane, and people like L and her family are the ones who suffer for that, having to live side by side with uncivilised, foul people who need laws and consequences. What if the evocation is wrong, Wolfe? Do you realy think it gives us peace and freedom? Or is it just the pretence of it?”

  His chest rose and fel beneath my ear with deep exhalation. “That’s a philosophical question that not only needs time to mul over but… can realy only be posed to one person.”

  “Haydyn.”

  “Yes. Haydyn.” Wolfe kissed me lightly on the lips and slid out of bed.

  I took delicious enjoyment watching him dress. I bit my lip. It was al just as Haydyn promised it would be. “Where are you going?” Wolfe grinned back at me as he buttoned his shirt, and then leaned over to kiss me deeply. I moaned at the taste of him and wrapped my arms around him, trying to pul him back down. If he left the room… my heart beat unsteadily in panic.

  Laughing against my mouth, Wolfe puled away, his eyes teling me it was with great reluctance that he did so. “I have to leave before someone finds me here.” I dropped my arms at that. That was true. We couldn’t be caught together. I bit my lip. That was something I’d have to think about if we did begin an affair.

  I nodded numbly, wrapping my arms around my drawn up knees so I wouldn’t touch him again.

  “You are so beautiful,” he told me hoarsely, his eyes running over me, making my skin blush. I smiled shyly back at him. With a heavy sigh, Wolfe picked up his jacket and strode to the door. Just as he was about to disappear out of it, he turned back to me.

  “We’l work it out al, Rogan,” he promised, his expression tender. “After Haydyn is wel and good, we’l get married, and then we can take al the time we need convincing Haydyn of what’s right.”

  Wolfe was gone before I could respond, my heart thumping hard in my chest. I groaned and flopped back on my pilow. Damn it. I’d have to tel him.

  I was not looking forward to that. Not one little bit.

  Chapter Thirty One

  Ariana was quite possibly the sweetest person I had ever met; even more so than Haydyn which was quite a feat. In contrast to L, it was almost shocking to sit and converse with Ariana; one so gruff and straightforward, the other so gentle and affable. Despite the effaceable impact L and the Moss’ had made on my life, I found it soothing to sit at a beautiful breakfast table, with refined people, and eat sumptuous food. I almost snorted, thinking of al the times I’d argued with Wolfe for caling me Lady Rogan instead of Miss. He’d be happy to know in the end he was right. I’d been raised a lady since I was a girl and that had made more of a mark on me than I’d come to realise. It was time to accept who I was.

  We ate companionably, just Ariana and I, as Grof Kril had business to attend to. He stil hadn’t returned by the time I was readying to leave, so I told Ariana to thank him for his hospitality and to tel him that I looked forward to seeing them both at the bal during the Autumn Season.

  “I cannot wait to meet again, Lady Rogan,” Ariana hugged me quickly, informaly, “It’s been such a pleasure, I do wish you could stay longer.” I thought of the pack that was being tied to Midnight as we spoke. The pack with the Somna Plant. Haydyn was waiting. We were so close now. I smiled softly.

  “We wil see each other soon.” Catching sight of Wolfe out of the corner of my eye as he mounted his horse, my body woke up. Tingles shot out of my nerve endings and my heart began to race like a galoping horse. My stomach fluttered with nerves. I needed to tel him. Mind you, I narrowed my eyes in thought, it wasn’t as if he’d actualy asked me to marry him. He’d just told me. With another farewel to Ariana, I lifted my skirts and tried to act casualy as I strode over to Wolfe. I touched his leg, and he glanced down, his mouth widening into the warmest smile he’d ever bestowed on me. I was struck dumb for a moment.

  “Lady Rogan?”

  For once I didn’t argue with the title. “Wolfe,” I responded in a low voice, glancing around to make sure no one was close enough to overhear. “Marriage?” I asked, raising my eyebrow indignantly.

  He exhaled heavily, sensing my tone. Wolfe dismounted and towered over me, standing far too close to me than propriety alowed. “We made love, Rogan,” he hissed in my ear, “I took your virginity. We have to marry.”

  I flinched back. “No.” I told him stubbornly, crossing my arms over my chest and glaring into his face. Al the reasons I had for not marrying him flew out the window. The only one prickling my pride was… wel… he hadn’t asked me!

  In his usual exasperation, Wolfe roled his eyes, scraping a hand through his thick hair. “Rogan, don’t do this.” He glanced around, catching Chaeron’s eye (who quickly looked away, whistling under his breath as if he hadn’t been trying to eavesdrop). “We’l discuss this later.” He eyed me sternly.

  I harrumphed, “There’s nothing to discuss. I’m not marrying you.”

  And like the society girl I tried to tel myself I was nothing like, I flounced away in a dramatic air of petulance and mounted Midnight without looking at Wolfe again. I kept seeing that smile he’d given me when I’d first approached him. It made me want to throw al my sily reasons out the window! I was such a befuddled mess. With no one to confide in without Haydyn, it seemed I was incapable of processing my emotions, sorting out the truths from the excuses. I smiled wearily at the Lieutenant as we set off through Raphizya.

  Once Haydyn was administered the cure I could think about my feelings for Wolfe. Talk them over with her. I just needed time.

  ***

  Wolfe wasn’t as convinced. He clipped orders at me like I was one of his men and snapped at me when I dared to wander away from the Guard when we took our lunch break. My whole body felt wrecked with the tension between us, and my chest ached every time I saw that damnable hurt flickering in his eyes.

  When we crossed the border into Sabithia and began making our way through Lumberland, I found my head thumping from overuse. Despite my resolve to put aside my worries over Wolfe until we returned to Silvera, al the questions kept creeping back, mixed in with my anxiety over reaching Haydyn. I was stil no closer to an answer when we came upon the vilage of WoodMil again. Wolfe sidled his horse next to Midnight.

  “Lieutenant Chaeron, perhaps you can speak with Mr Dena again about accommodation for Lady Rogan.” Chaeron grinned at Wolfe’s pointed dismissal and trotted off ahead of the Guard, dismounting as Jac Dena came out of his factory to greet him. I felt tense as ever, my body longing to lean across the distan
ce between Wolfe and I.

  “Rogan,” Wolfe said so softly I had to look at him.

  Expecting to see pain and panic in his features I was surprised to see angry determination. I knew that look. Wolfe was ready to do anything to get what he wanted.

  I jerked back a little from him. “What?” I asked warily.

  “Not marrying me… that means some time in the future you’l marry someone else. I’l marry someone else.”

  “I have no intention of marrying anyone, Wolfe. That’s what I was trying to explain earlier.” He nodded, as if he was actualy listening to what I was teling him. “But I’l marry, Rogan. I must, for the title. And I want a family. Could you stand to watch me marry someone else, Rogan?” His voice deepened. “Because I wil.”

  Now I was the one panicking. A deep, ragged cut splicing my chest open. I thought how painful it had been when I’d suspected he’d bedded Winter. If he married, I’d have to go through that pain every single day. “Why are you doing this?!” I snapped. “It’s unkind.” Wolfe searched my face for a long moment and then he nodded. “You’re right. I apologise. I just wanted to prepare you for the future.” Snapping his stalion’s reins, Wolfe took off to meet up with Chaeron and Dena, leaving me on Midnight, hyperventilating at the thought of Wolfe with someone else.

  Mayhap he’d marry Winter.

  I struggled to draw breath.

  ***

  Although the Dena’s were on their best behaviour, after their sons, Leon and Jac Jnr’s, performances last time, I pushed my food around my plate, not able to eat under the heavy emotional weight I carried. It didn’t help that Wolfe hadn’t taken his eyes off me the entire meal. The Dena’s had been surprised and happy to have Wolfe at the table this time rather than Chaeron, but I would have given anything for Chaeron’s easy company, and was thankful when dinner was over and enough time had passed for it to be polite to retire to my room.

 
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