Another warm laugh thrilled him as Maris made a slow, deliberate and hot trail from his nipple to his abdomen. He expelled a deep breath as Maris tongued his navel while he masterfully undid Ture’s pants. Lifting his hips, he allowed Maris to slide them off along with his shoes and socks.
Then, Maris suckled his toes. His eyes rolled back in his head as pleasure assaulted him. He’d had no idea how good that could feel. Maris ran his fingers and tongue around and between each digit then to the arch of his foot.
No wonder Anachelle had looked so pleased while Maris massaged her feet. It was incredible.
Maris nipped Ture’s heel with his teeth, then slowly worked his way up Ture’s muscular legs. The scent of his skin filled his head, making him drunker than any wine. Since the moment Maris had first seen him, he’d been dying for this. Any man who could have humor while under fire…
Not to mention, the loyalty he’d given Zarya.
His heart pounding, Maris brushed his hand against Ture’s c**k and delighted in the pleasure he saw on Ture’s face. Unlike a human, Phrixians could see as well in total darkness as they could in broad daylight— a courtesy of being amphibious. Since light couldn’t penetrate to the depths of the water where many of them lived, they’d developed that ability long ago.
He nipped at Ture’s hipbone while Ture buried his hand in his hair and massaged his scalp. It felt so good to be touched again. So good to be with someone he could respect.
Starving for the intimacy, he brushed his lips over Ture’s tip then drew him slowly into his mouth.
Ture cried out as Maris swallowed him whole. He shook all over at the sensation of Maris’s breath and tongue on his body. Never had anyone been so thorough with him. Maris hadn’t been exaggerating his skills in the least. It was as if Maris took his pleasure from giving it to others.
Careful and slow so as not to hurt him, Ture thrust his h*ps against Maris’s head while Maris’s hands skimmed his body, heightening every lick.
Ture wanted to stay like this, to savor it for as long as he could, but true to Maris’s boasting… He couldn’t last. Maris wrung too much pleasure from Ture’s body. All too soon, he came in an explosion of pure ecstasy.
And still Maris tasted him. He didn’t flinch or pull back. Not until he’d sucked every last bit of pleasure from him.
Panting and weak, Ture lay there with his head spinning. “That was amazing.”
Maris didn’t speak as he slowly kissed his way up Ture’s stomach until he reached his nipple again. He seemed to have a fondness for that. His tongue swirled around it while Maris lifted Ture’s hips. He pulled back slightly then slid himself inside.
Ture groaned out loud as Maris thrust against him with unbelievable skill. “Harder, Mari.”
Maris bit his lip as he savored those words. Cupping Ture’s cheek, he stared into his eyes. “You’re beautiful.”
Ture turned his face so that he could kiss Maris’s palm. “I pale in comparison to you.”
There he was wrong. Maris was scarred inside and out. Too many years of trying to live a lie, of trying to please people who hadn’t cared about him, had taken its toll. He’d been through hell and had been seared by every flame.
But right now, with Ture, he almost felt normal. It made no sense to him. Yet for some reason, it was like being home.
He stared into those intelligent gray eyes and lost himself completely. An instant later, he shook as his own release finally came.
Ture held him close while he played in Maris’s hair. A sweet smiled curved his lips. “When did you take your clothes off?”
Maris laughed over the fact that Ture hadn’t even noticed as he’d slowly stripped in between pleasuring him. “Told you, I’m that good.”
“Yes, baby, you are.”
Maris moved to Ture’s side so that he could pull him into his arms and hold him.
Ture placed his hand over Maris’s as he leaned against his chest and threw one leg over Maris’s thighs. “I shudder at how many people you’ve been with to acquire your level of expertise.”
Cringing at something he hated to think or talk about, Maris sighed. Unfortunately, he also knew better than to lie about it. Sooner or later, Ture would find out and either he could accept it or he’d walk. And if he was going to walk, Maris would rather Ture leave now before any more of his affections took root. “You want the truth?”
“No…but yes. I don’t like lies.”
With a deep breath for courage, Maris braced himself for Ture’s anger and moral condemnation. “I was a whore.”
“Mari, you shouldn’t insult yourself like—”
“No, Ture. I was a trained prostitute. Bought and sold.”
Ture stiffened. “What?”
Here it comes…
“Don’t worry. I’m not diseased. I’ve been thoroughly tested.” He ground his teeth as pain surged forward to slice open his heart. “And it was a lifetime ago… When my parents found out I was g*y, they disowned me. My father took everything I had and destroyed it. Even my clothes, and the money I’d legally earned and saved. All my assets were seized by the Phrixian government— beauty of having noble parents with political pull. I had nothing except the battlesuit on my back, and the handful of credits in my pocket. I was too embarrassed to tell Darling…or anyone, for that matter, how they’d done me. Humiliated and wanting to get away from the horrors of my life, I ran. Since I didn’t want to sign on as a soldier or assassin, and I had absolutely no other marketable skills, I ended up with the first guy willing to take me in. I thought he cared about me, but he was a slaver, looking for easy marks. Within a week, he’d hooked me on drugs and sold me to a brothel.”
Maris savored the lack of condemnation as Ture brushed his hand through his hair and kissed him lightly on the lips.
“I’m so sorry, Mari. How long were you there?”
“Longer than I want to admit to. I’d probably still be there had Darling not busted hell itself open to find me, risking his own safety with his uncle to do so. By the time he located me, I was so high and sick I didn’t even recognize him.”
But Maris would never forget the sight of Darling as he wrapped a blanket around Maris to cover his nak*d body on that soiled, disgusting bed in the room where he’d been imprisoned and chained. Furious over what had been done to Maris against his will, Darling had held him close to his chest. He’d been equally as furious that Maris had failed to go to him when he needed help.
“Darling held me to his heart and told me that he was taking me home with him, slaver be damned. That he would never let me suffer so long as he lived. And he had to fight hard to get me free. Trained whores are worth a lot of money. They sent everything they had to stop him.” And Darling had cut through them and carried Maris out.
He smiled down at Ture. “As a token of my eternal gratitude for rescuing me, I threw up all over him on the way home. He didn’t say a single word about it. Instead, he took me to his friend Nykyrian and they, with Syn, nursed me back to health. And as soon as I was safe, Darling found the guy who’d sold me and the slaver who’d owned the brothel and tore them apart.”
“For that alone, I love Darling.”
Maris scoffed. “You say that now…”
Ture rose up to stare down at him. “I will always say it, Mari. He saved you for me. I owe him for that.”
Still, Maris didn’t believe it. He’d had too many guys tell him that they would never be jealous of Darling and in time, none of them had been able to tolerate the fact that if Darling called for him, he’d go without hesitation.
Day or night.
He owed Darling too much not to.
Maris pulled Ture against him and cradled his head against the center of his chest. He shifted slightly so that Ture’s body lay between his legs. “What about you? How did your parents react when they found out?”
“As well as yours. My dad slung everything I owned onto the lawn and set fire to it. Then they moved and made sure I didn’t have their new address. They were mortified at the thought of anyone learning the truth, so they told all our friends and family that I’d died. They even held a funeral.”
Maris flinched as raw anger went through him. He’d never understand the cruelty of others. Especially not against their own children. “You’re kidding?”
Ture shook his head.
Maris sighed in sympathetic pain. “My mother burned my birth registration and my father had all my records deleted from the Phrixian government files. There for a time, I couldn’t get anything…couldn’t even rent a place to live. Poor Syn had to forge me all new records. But it’s okay. He shaved two years off my age for me.”
Ture laughed. “Are you serious?”
Smiling, he nodded. “I have great friends.”
“And I have an incredible lover.” Ture scooted up to kiss him.
Maris closed his eyes and cherished those words and the sensation of Ture’s body on top of his. This was why he’d flitted from one lover to the next more often than most people changed their bedsheets. Keep relationships physical and short, with no real commitment or feelings. It was a lot easier than having his heart broken. But to be honest, he’d kill for the comfort of knowing the person with him wouldn’t let him go. That he was their world and would remain so, forever.
Rolling to his side then scooting back in bed, Ture spooned against him. Maris smiled as he buried his face against the nape of Ture’s neck and inhaled the warm scent of his skin. Honestly, he’d missed Ture more than he wanted to admit. Since Ture had returned home, Maris had felt strangely adrift. Like something was missing.
But that feeling was completely gone now. He felt better than he had in a long time.
Ture’s head rested against his biceps and Maris’s other arm was draped over Ture’s ribs so that he could hold him close to his chest. Closing his eyes, he lost himself to this one perfect moment and tried not to think about the day that would come when Ture learned to hate him and storm out of his life.
But nothing ever lasted. Not the bad…
And especially not the good.
Maris came awake to an empty bed, but the most incredible scent he’d ever smelled wafted through the room. It made his stomach rumble and cramp in hunger. Salivating, he left the bed and saw the robe that Ture had left draped over his clothes in a nearby chair.
He pulled it on then went to investigate the warm aroma. Cautious, he kept his eyes pealed for Anachelle who was either still barricaded in her room, or gone. Since he had as many scars on his legs as he did the rest of his body, he didn’t like for others to see him. Had the hunger pangs not been so ferocious, he’d have dressed first.
Following his nose, he found Ture alone in the kitchen.
As if he sensed his presence, Ture turned with a smile. “Hey, sweetie. Did you sleep well?”
Amazingly, he had. “I did. You?”
“Like a baby.” Ture placed a quick kiss on his lips then returned to his cooking.
“She left a few minutes ago for a doctor’s appointment.” He handed Maris a glass of juice. “Freshly squeezed, it’s my own juice and spice blend that’s guaranteed to wake up even the most diehard night owl.”
Good luck with that. Not even military drills had managed that, hence about half his physical scars. But as Maris drank it, it did wake him, and it was delicious. “Damn, you are a god in the kitchen.”
“I prefer goddess.” Ture wagged his eyebrows proudly.
Smiling, he stepped closer. “Can I do anything to help?”
“Want to chop the onion?” Ture gestured toward the island where one waited.
Maris moved to the cutting board. Next to it, Ture had cubed a steak. He took the knife that was between the two items then reached for the onion.
Ture let out a squeal of protest. “Oh my God, stop! Don’t move.”
Baffled by the panic in Ture’s tone, he frowned. “What?”
“I swear, you’re as deadly in the kitchen as you are in battle.”
Completely confused, Maris stared at him. “What?” he repeated.
Ture took the knife from his hand. “Cross contamination. Didn’t your mother teach you anything?”
“Not about cooking. Princes aren’t exactly allowed to do that. For that matter, I don’t even know which part of our palace held the kitchen.”
Ture paused. “I forgot for a minute that you were royalty. Anyway, you never use the same cutting board or knife on protein that you use on your vegetables. Gracious, man. You’ll kill us all!”
Maris laughed at his indignation. “Sorry.”
Ture squeezed his arm as he nudged Maris away from the uncooked food. “Can you scramble an egg?”
“I can try. Never done it before, but I am good at scrambling people’s thoughts. How much harder is it to confuse a nonverbal egg?”