Nykyrian held out one of his hands. The knuckles were swollen and bloody. “Just don’t hate me for it.”
Kiara kissed his hand, then reached up to pull the shades from his eyes. “Where’s Darling?”
Nykyrian moved away from her toward the stairs and shrugged his jacket off, baring his ripped back. Goodness, she could see every single muscle ripple as he moved. And the colors of his tattoos were always striking . . .
“He’s staying with Jayne and her husband.”
He paused on the second step and turned to face her. “I’d give anything if you’d carry me upstairs.”
Kiara laughed at his almost juvenile pout. “Come on, soldier. Up you go.” She pushed at him playfully.
A groan escaped him as her hand accidentally slid between his thighs. “If you keep doing that, I might revive myself after all.”
She tsked at him as they entered the bedroom. “Listen to you . . . and after the way you ran after that blonde tonight, too.”
Nykyrian threw himself across the bed. “I needed information.” He yawned into the pillow before he reached into his nightstand and pulled out a small container.
He let out another yawn. “My mouthpiece. I can’t sleep without it.”
“An old injury. My fangs will shred the soft tissue of my month if I don’t have it.” He slid the piece in and dropped the container on the floor.
Kiara shook her head at the slow way he moved. “If The League could see Nemesis right now, I doubt they’d find you such a terrible threat.”
She waited for him to respond.
“Nykyrian?” Kiara leaned over him and realized he was sound asleep.
With her standing at his unarmed back . . .
A smile curved her lips. Orinthe had told her he would get tired like this. Nykyrian hated sleeping and would run himself solid until he hit a wall and his body forced him to sleep.
Grateful he was finally resting, she turned down the lights to only the softest glow and darkened the ceiling. She had to tug him over onto his back so that she could pull off his boots and pants. She paused at the weight of his boots and belt.
Her poor Nemesis. Always ready for battle.
She ran her gaze over his nak*d body, amazed at the beauty that had been marred by a brutal world. There was barely any part of him that hadn’t been scarred. She pulled his gloves off and placed them on the nightstand, knowing he’d want them as soon as he got up. The only time he didn’t wear them was when he made love to her or showered.
A warm tingle pulsed in her br**sts as she watched him in the dull glow of the room. He looked so peaceful. She prayed he would sleep soundly tonight, and with that thought foremost in her mind, she closed the door to keep the lorinas out and then darkened the walls more.
He needed his rest.
Pulling his hair away from his cheek, she kissed the stubbly area right in front of his ear. “I love you, Nykyrian,” she breathed.
She spread a blanket over him, then crawled into bed by his side and wrapped her arms around him. With a contented sigh, she drifted off to sleep.
Nykyrian slowly came awake to a strange sensation.
Something was pressing on him . . .
At first he thought it was one the lorinas, until he realized it was Kiara’s silken body entwined with his. Her thigh rested high between his, pressing nicely against his balls while her right hand was tangled in his hair. Her gown had ridden up, exposing her entire bottom as she slept like an angel beside him.
For a full minute he couldn’t breathe as it dawned on him what he’d done.
He’d spent the night asleep with someone touching him. Never had he done that before. In the past, he’d always known if anyone came near him and jolted awake.
But not with her. Even his subconscious welcomed her.
Astonished by that, he cupped her head in his hands and kissed her brow.
She blinked her eyes open to stare up at him. As soon as her gaze focused on his face, she smiled. “Good morning, baby.”
He cherished every syllable. “Good morning.”
She started to move her leg, but he caught it. “Easy . . . you’re dangerously close to hurting me.”
Her face blushed bright red as she realized how hard he was and where her thigh rested.
“Sorry.” She withdrew more carefully. Yawning, she stretched, arching her back until her br**sts were clearly outlined by her nightgown.
His c**k jerked as he reached out to cup her right breast in his hand. She didn’t complain in the least. Smiling, he brushed his fingers over the hard nipple hidden by the light pink silk. “Do you realize you married me last night?”
She froze in the middle of her stretch to gape at him. “I did what?”
He slid her gown aside so that he could touch her without the silk barrier. “Andarion law states that any two people who profess, uncoerced, to be mates before another individual are married.”
She arched one brow. “Are you serious?”
He pulled his hand away from her. He didn’t know why, but her unenthusiastic reaction cut him. “I take it you want a divorce.”
Kiara bit her bottom lip as the full implication of it hit her. She was “married” to Nykyrian? She should be completely horrified and yet . . .
There was a part of her actually thrilled with the prospect.
“Is that really all it takes?”
His features blank, he touched her cheek, his hand burning a trail along her chin. “It is. Andarions aren’t big on illustrious ceremonies. But don’t worry, a divorce is just as easy to get. All we have to do is tell someone else we’re divorced and it’s done.”
That time she heard the underlying note of hurt in his voice.
We’re married . . . Those words echoed in her head as reality sifted through what it would mean to her. If you’re married to him, you can hang up your career forever. No one would ever hire her to perform again. She couldn’t be a public figure while married to Nykyrian.
He’s an outlaw. And not just any outlaw. He was Nemesis.
Your father will have a stroke . . .
It was all true. Nothing in her life would ever be the same again.
And with that thought came the realization that everything had already changed. She wasn’t the same person who’d been kidnapped by Chenz. She no longer wanted the same things that she’d wanted a few weeks ago.
While she still loved to dance, she hated the politics and people. The best dance of her life had been the one with Nykyrian downstairs in his training room. The one with no audience except for him. He didn’t care if she slipped or if her costume was a little tight. In his eyes, she was beautiful, and for the first time in her life, she really felt beautiful. When he was with her, she was calm. Most of all, she felt safe—even in a club filled with the scum of the universe, she’d felt safe.
He’d changed her forever.
Her life was no longer her own.
It belonged to him and she didn’t want to live if that meant existing without him.
She cupped his jaw in her hand and narrowed her gaze teasingly on his face. “Oh, no, you don’t, boy. You’re stuck with me now. I’m not about to divorce you.”
Nykyrian couldn’t breathe as he heard the last thing he’d expected. “Don’t tease me, Kiara.”
She brushed the backs of her fingers down his face while her amber eyes stared at him with total sincerity. “I’m not teasing you, Nykyrian. I willingly give to you my heart, my life, and my devotion. I will put no one before you, not even myself, and I will gladly be here when you need me, to support you forever.”
Those were the Gourish marriage vows she spoke. “There’s no priest here to sanctify that oath.”
She smiled. “I don’t need one. God hears me and you hear me. That’s good enough for me.”
And in that moment, he could almost believe in a higher deity.
Hell, in this moment, he felt like he could fly. If someone as innocent and pure as her could love something as repulsive and corrupt as him, anything was possible.
“I will make myself worthy of you. I promise.”
She scowled at him. “You’re more than worthy of me.”
No, he wasn’t. He knew the truth. But the fact that she believed it touched him deep inside his heart.
Kiara watched as his expression darkened. What was tainting this for him? “What’s wrong?”
He kissed the top of her head. “I thought I’d take you to your father today.”
That was the last thing she’d expected him to say.
She studied his lovely green eyes, not entirely sure she wanted to go home. But it was wrong to leave her father worried about her. There was no telling how insane her absence had made him.
And while her current arrangement might not fly too well with her father, she was sure she could win him over. Like Nykyrian, he only had so much willpower where she was concerned.
“You know, my father might shoot you if he finds out we’re married,” she said with a smile, running her hand under their blanket.
“I definitely would if I were him.” He jerked as she touched the tip of his cock.
She bit her lip, giving him her most seductive smile. “Is the marriage legal without consummation?”
Before Kiara could blink, he had her pinned on her back, to the mattress. He pulled out his mouthpiece and set it on his nightstand.
She welcomed his kiss, the strength of his hands on her body. He trailed kisses to her ear, gently nibbling the lobe. Chills shot white-hot through her body.
Everywhere he touched, she ached in pleasure. She dug her heels into the mattress and arched her back to meet him. Never had she felt so desired, so alive.
He was so hungry with her. She’d never seen him like this, like he had to be touching her body.
She ran her hands over the planes of his back, feeling the scars. He belonged to her and no one would ever take him away, she would make sure of it.
His kiss was frenzied and possessive as he parted her legs with his knees and filled her. She reveled in the feel of him deep inside her as he thrust against her hips. The power of him, the strength . . . she loved being joined to him like this.
His features intense, he stared down at her as he held her close. “You are mine, Kiara.”
He quickened his strokes, shooting ecstasy through her until she couldn’t stand it anymore. When she came, it was explosive and more intense than anything she’d ever felt before. Throwing her head back, she cried out his name.
Nykyrian stared down at her in awe as she clutched him to her and wrapped her legs around his hips. It still amazed him that she could accept him so completely. That she could look at him like she was doing right now and see him as a man.
He was lost to those amber depths. Staring into her eyes, he felt himself slipping as his orgasm claimed him. He buried himself deep inside her and held her close as he breathed in her precious scent.
If he died right now, he’d be grateful. Because the last thing he wanted was for her to learn to hate him.
Stop it! Don’t ruin this.
But it was so hard not to. Nothing good ever happened to him. Nothing.
And he knew this would be fleeting.
Don’t take her to her father. Keep her here forever. Just the two of you.
But that would be selfish and it’d be wrong. Her father loved her as much as he did. And she loved her father. Sooner or later, she’d demand to see him.
Better to get it over with. Like ripping off a bandage. Get the hurt out of the way so the healing could begin.
Because in his heart, he knew this would be the end of them. There was no way Zamir would let her return with him.
Their time was over.
It’s best this way. Let her go now before she learned to hate him. Before the new and shiny wore off their relationship and she saw the flaws in him.
Before she became like Mara and turned him in to the authorities out of spite. Syn had barely survived.
You’re going to die without her.
No, he would live. Just as he always had. Alone and in solitude.
Pain is your friend.
His heart screamed, but he ignored it. This was the best for both of them. He knew where Aksel was and he could drop her off with her father, then kill the bastard and keep her safe.
No one would ever hunt her again. He’d make sure of it.
Kiara brushed her hand through his soft hair as he lay on top of her, his strong body melding to hers. She forgot about her career, her life. All she wanted was Nykyrian.
Kissing his lips, she hoped her father wouldn’t stay angry at them for too long. She wanted the two men she loved most to be friends and to respect each other as much as she respected them.
As they lay silently, Kiara felt his heartbeat slow down to a normal rhythm. She kissed the salty flesh of his neck, reveling in the deep masculine scent of his skin. She could breathe him in all day long.
“Care to join me for a bath?”
Kiara smiled. “I’d love to.”
It didn’t take long for them to bathe and dress. Almost too soon, they were in his fighter and headed to Gouran. How different it was this time from the last time they’d done this.