The Darkest Craving (Page 31)

The Darkest Craving (Lords of the Underworld #10)(31)
Author: Gena Showalter

“You…you…slime! I’ll call you Jackhole! Because that’s what you are!”


He barked out a laugh and then blinked in surprise. How did she always pull him from the brink of despair so quickly? “Now, now. No reason to dirty your tongue with name-calling. I’ll just have to wash your mouth out with—”

My tongue, he silently finished. He was flirting with her, acting as if he was normal. As if he could do normal things.

“Forget it,” he muttered.

She remained quiet, and he remained in this sudden foul mood.

When he came to his chamber, he wasn’t surprised to find the guards were still at their posts.

“Nice to see you again, Lord Kane.”

“Can I get you anything? It would be my pleasure.”

Without a word, he shoved past them and shut the door. Then, he tossed Tink on the mattress. She bounced up and down, and when she stopped, glared over at him.

Leave her! Disaster commanded.

One by one, he discarded the weapons he’d stolen from the king. As the floor cracked beneath his feet, he made sure the blades were within quick reach of the bed.

“What are you doing?” Tink gasped out.

“Getting ready for sleepy night-night time. You should try it.” He was too stressed and tired to find her a room of her own. At least, that’s what he told himself. He wouldn’t consider his inability to part with the girl.

Her mouth formed a small O and, seeing it, he was struck by the desire to kiss it right off her face—to taste her and learn her and brand her. The desires angered him. He was all emotion, no action, and he knew it.

He kicked off his boots, but left on his pants, and climbed onto the mattress.

“We can’t sleep together,” she said with a tremor. “It’s highly improper.”

And probably dangerous. For both of them. “Will you be punished?”

A heavy pause before she said, “For spending private time with precious Princess Synda’s betrothed? What do you think?”

He sighed. “I won’t let anything happen to you.”

“We’ll see” was all she said.

“You guys seem pretty accepting when it comes to sex. Why was Synda punished for sleeping with the butcher’s son?”

“She’s Fae. He was human. Such unions are prohibited, since they lead to a dilution of the bloodlines.”

“I’m not Fae, yet the king will allow me to wed his precious daughter.”

“You’re a Lord of the Underworld. You’re a celebrity. Rules don’t apply to you.”

Good to know. “Your mother was considered human, which means the king—”

“Yes. It does. So?”

“So. Was he punished?”

“What do you think? He’s the king.” She ran her tongue over her lips, leaving a sheen of moisture behind. Gorgeous. Down, boy. “And you, well, you can have anyone you want without worry, too. Tiberius never chastises upper-class males for their extracurricular activities. They can have who they want, when they want. They just have to be careful.”

He caught the tinge of bitterness in her tone. “Has anyone ever…” Forced you. He couldn’t ask her. He wasn’t sure how he would react if the same question were presented to him.

“No,” she answered, anyway. “I’m only viewed as a sexual object at parties, when men have been drinking, but the most they ever do is pat my bottom.”

“Uh, yeah. Sure. I’m certain you’re right. That it takes alcohol to find you attractive.”

“It’s a blessing and curse, I know. But then, I’m a blood slave, and nothing more.”

So innocent. She hadn’t even caught his sarcasm. “What about being amazing and wonderful? I believe you once described yourself that way.”

She flicked her hair over her shoulder, the picture of feminine pique. “I’m a person, too, you know. I deserve compliments every now and then, and since I’m the only one willing to give them to myself, I do.”

That might have been one of the saddest things he’d ever heard. “I think you’re beautiful,” he admitted softly. “And smart. And brave.” And so sexy he would have killed a thousand men and thrown them at her feet just for the chance to woo her…if only he’d been the man he used to be.

Her eyes widened. “You do?”

“Am I in the habit of lying to you?”


“So there you go.” He forced himself to relax against the softness of the mattress.

She scooted away, as if she feared what would happen next.

“I’m not going to force myself on you, you have my word.” Gentle. Easy. “You stay on your side of the bed, and I’ll stay on mine, and you’ll leave in the same condition you entered.” And she would be the first.

“It’s still improper,” she grumbled.

“And that argument still isn’t going to sway me. Good night, Tink.” He reached over and extinguished the lamp. Darkness flooded the room.

At first, she did nothing. Then she fluffed her pillow and settled under the covers.

A breath he hadn’t known he’d been holding slipped free.

He peered up at the darkened ceiling, inhaling the sweetness of her scent, holding it, holding it as long as he could, unwilling to give it up until the last possible second. For the first time in weeks, his muscles began to unknot. He thought he might actually be able to fall asleep, to actually rest, and yet, he resisted. Tink would never be witness to his nightmares.

He could lash out. She could try to comfort him. In a dazed state, he could hurt her.

He would rather die than hurt her.

Annnd…his muscles were knotting up again, though it had nothing to do with the past. Tink was here, in his bed. Within reach. All he had to do was stretch out his arm, and his hand could cup the fullness of her breast. Then, slide lower. Lower still. Surely he would not have an adverse reaction to such innocuous contact. She was dressed, after all.

Still. She might respond. Might encourage him.

Might actually ask for more.

He pressed his tongue to the roof of his mouth.

Time for a distraction. “So…what’s the name of my fan club?”

“I thought you didn’t want to know.”

“I changed my mind. Apparently that’s allowed in our relationship.”

The sheets rustled as she turned. “Cataclysmic for Kane.”

He told himself to hush. He asked, “You ever been to one of the meetings?”