A Court of Mist and Fury Page 122

And I said, “You love me?”

Rhys nodded.

And I wondered if love was too weak a word for what he felt, what he’d done for me. For what I felt for him.

I set the bowl down before him. “Then eat.”



I watched him consume every spoonful, his eyes darting between where I stood and the soup.

When he was done, he set down his spoon.

“Aren’t you going to say anything?” he said at last.

“I was going to tell you what I’d decided the moment I saw you on the threshold.”

Rhys twisted in his seat toward me. “And now?”

Aware of every breath, every movement, I sat in his lap. His hands gently braced my hips as I studied his face. “And now I want you to know, Rhysand, that I love you. I want you to know … ” His lips trembled, and I brushed away the tear that escaped down his cheek. “I want you to know,” I whispered, “that I am broken and healing, but every piece of my heart belongs to you. And I am honored—honored to be your mate.”

His arms wrapped around me and he pressed his forehead to my shoulder, his body shaking. I stroked a hand through his silken hair.

“I love you,” I said again. I hadn’t dared say the words in my head. “And I’d endure every second of it over again so I could find you. And if war comes, we’ll face it. Together. I won’t let them take me from you. And I won’t let them take you from me, either.”

Rhys looked up, his face gleaming with tears. He went still as I leaned in, kissing away one tear. Then the other. As he had once kissed away mine.

When my lips were wet and salty with them, I pulled back far enough to see his eyes. “You’re mine,” I breathed.

His body shuddered with what might have been a sob, but his lips found my own.

It was gentle—soft. The kiss he might have given me if we’d been granted time and peace to meet across our two separate worlds. To court each other. I slid my arms around his shoulders, opening my mouth to him, and his tongue slipped in, caressing my own. Mate—my mate.

He hardened against me, and I groaned into his mouth.

The sound snapped whatever leash he’d had on himself, and Rhysand scooped me up in a smooth movement before laying me flat on the table—amongst and on top of all the paints.

He deepened the kiss, and I wrapped my legs around his back, hooking him closer. He tore his lips from my mouth to my neck, where he dragged his teeth and tongue down my skin as his hands slid under my sweater and went up, up, to cup my breasts. I arched into the touch, and lifted my arms as he peeled away my sweater in one easy motion.

Rhys pulled back to survey me, my body naked from the waist up. Paint soaked into my hair, my arms. But all I could think of was his mouth as it lowered to my breast and sucked, his tongue flicking against my nipple.

I plunged my fingers into his hair, and he braced a hand beside my head—smack atop a palette of paint. He let out a low laugh, and I watched, breathless, as he took that hand and traced a circle around my breast, then lower, until he painted a downward arrow beneath my belly button.

“Lest you forget where this is going to end,” he said.

I snarled at him, a silent order, and he laughed again, his mouth finding my other breast. He ground his hips against me, teasing—teasing me so horribly that I had to touch him, had to just feel more of him. There was paint all over my hands, my arms, but I didn’t care as I grabbed at his clothes. He shifted enough to let me remove them, weapons and leather thudding to the ground, revealing that beautiful tattooed body, the powerful muscles and wings now peeking above them.

My mate—my mate.

His mouth crashed into mine, his bare skin so warm against my own, and I gripped his face, smearing paint there, too. Smearing it in his hair, until great streaks of blue and red and green ran through it. His hands found my waist, and I bucked my hips off the table to help him remove my socks, my leggings.

Rhys pulled back again, and I let out a bark of protest—that choked off into a gasp as he gripped my thighs and yanked me to the edge of the table, through paints and brushes and cups of water, hooked my legs over his shoulders to rest on either side of those beautiful wings, and knelt before me.

Knelt on those stars and mountains inked on his knees. He would bow for no one and nothing—

But his mate. His equal.

The first lick of Rhysand’s tongue set me on fire.

I want you splayed out on the table like my own personal feast.

He growled his approval at my moan, my taste, and unleashed himself on me entirely.

A hand pinning my hips to the table, he worked me in great sweeping strokes. And when his tongue slid inside me, I reached up to grip the edge of the table, to grip the edge of the world that I was very near to falling off.

He licked and kissed his way to the apex of my thighs, just as his fingers replaced where his mouth had been, pumping inside me as he sucked, his teeth scraping ever so slightly—

I bowed off the table as my climax shattered through me, splintering my consciousness into a million pieces. He kept licking me, fingers still moving. “Rhys,” I rasped.

Now. I wanted him now.

But he remained kneeling, feasting on me, that hand pinning me to the table.

I went over the edge again. And only when I was trembling, half sobbing, limp with pleasure, did Rhys rise from the floor.

He looked me over, naked, covered in paint, his own face and body smeared with it, and give me a slow, satisfied male smile. “You’re mine,” he snarled, and hefted me up into his arms.

I wanted the wall—I wanted him to just take me against the wall, but he carried me into the room I’d been using and set me down on the bed with heartbreaking gentleness.

Wholly naked, I watched as he unbuttoned his pants, and the considerable length of him sprang free. My mouth went dry at the sight of it. I wanted him, wanted every glorious inch of him in me, wanted to claw at him until our souls were forged together.

He didn’t say anything as he came over me, wings tucked in tight. He’d never gone to bed with a female while his wings were out. But I was his mate. He would yield only for me.

And I wanted to touch him.

I leaned up, reaching over his shoulder to caress the powerful curve of his wing.

Rhys shuddered, and I watched his cock twitch.

“Play later,” he ground out.


His mouth found mine, the kiss open and deep, a clash of tongues and teeth. He lay me down on the pillows, and I locked my legs around his back, careful of the wings.

Though I stopped caring as he nudged at my entrance. And paused.

“Play later,” I snarled into his mouth.

Rhys laughed in a way that skittered along my bones, and slid in. And in. And in.

I could hardly breathe, hardly think beyond where our bodies were joined. He stilled inside me, letting me adjust, and I opened my eyes to find him staring down at me. “Say it again,” he murmured.

I knew what he meant.

“You’re mine,” I breathed.

Rhys pulled out slightly and thrust back in slow. So torturously slow.

“You’re mine,” I gasped out.

Again, he pulled out, then thrust in.

“You’re mine.”

Again—faster, deeper this time.

I felt it then, the bond between us, like an unbreakable chain, like an undimmable ray of light.

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