Storm Born Chapter Twenty-Four

 

Whatever snide comments Dorian and Maiwenn might make, Tucson is the best place in the world to live.

Standing at the desert crossroads the following evening, I paused a moment to take in my surroundings before crossing over. Dorian's kingdom was certainly beautiful, but it just wasn't the same. It wasn't home. A soft wind cut through the dry air, ruffling my hair and whispering that spring would yield to summer soon. The breeze carried all the delicious smells of the desert, and I caught the sweet scent of mesquite - not the barbecue kind but the delicate perfume emitted by its fuzzy yellow blooms. Above me, the sun beat down without remorse, warning the weak to get the hell out. The tourist season tended to drop off with the sharp increase in temperatures, but I loved this time of year.

And all around me, in this dry and unforgiving heat, I could feel the unseen water. It was in the saguaros and the cactus wrens and the mesquite trees' tap roots. There were even tiny bits in the air, despite the ostensible aridness. Everywhere there was life, there was water. Sensing it was second nature to me now. Calling it still remained a challenge.

Closing my eyes, I let my mind reach through the boundaries and send me into the Otherworld. Practice really did make perfect with these transitions; they were effortless now, just like sensing water. My body slipped through, pulled toward the corresponding thin spot near Dorian's home. Before I could arrive there, however, I reached out toward the Slinky, using my stored essence as a magnet to pull me there instead of the road. Moments later, I appeared on Dorian's bed.

"Presumptuous," I muttered, swinging off of it and standing up. I picked up the Slinky and tossed it around, watching its rings arch and fall.

"Is that you, my lady?" I heard a tentative voice call. Seconds later, Nia's young face peeked in from the other room. "His majesty is in the conservatory. If you'll follow me?"

Wow. I'd never heard of anyone actually having a conservatory, outside of the game Clue. When Nia led me inside, I found Dorian standing in front of a canvas with a painter's palette and brush in his hands. Dorian, in the conservatory, with the candlestick, I thought. Er, paintbrush.

He smiled when he saw me. "Lady Markham, you're just in time. Perhaps you can amuse Rurik. He's become terribly unreasonable."

I glanced over to the side of the room where Rurik, the massive warrior with platinum blond hair, sat on a delicate chaise lounge upholstered in lavender velvet. He wore full leather and copper armor, and the entire juxtaposition made me wince.

"I don't mean to be unreasonable, your majesty." He spoke through gritted teeth. "But sitting here and not moving - while in armor - isn't all that easy."

"Bah, you're whining. Most unseemly for a man of your station. Why, Lady Markham can stay still for hours - and in far more uncomfortable circumstances too, I might add."

Rurik glanced at me, both startled and pleasantly intrigued.

"Don't move! Look back here."

Rurik's leer faded as he turned back toward his king. Dorian's canvas faced away from me, so I had no idea what his masterpiece looked like. I started to walk around and check it out, but he waved me off with the brush.

"No, no. Not until I'm finished."

Shrugging, I pulled up another lavender chair - the entire room was that color, actually - and slouched into it. Dorian spoke without looking up from his work.

"So what have you done today, my dear? Anything entertaining?"

"Not really. Slept in. Banished a shade. I actually read for most of the day. Kind of lame."

"What are you reading? I really enjoy that one human's works...oh, I forget his name. He was very popular for a while. Shakemore?"

"Shakespeare?"

"Yes, that's the one. Has he written anything new?"

"Um, not in, like, four or five centuries."

"Ah, pity. So what did you read about instead?"

"The weather."

He paused midstroke. "And what did you learn?"

"Storm-formation stuff. How water molecules build up and condense, how charged particles discharge to form lightning. Oh, and there was something else about high and low pressure, but I've got to go back and reread that. Kind of confusing."

Both men treated me to brief, blank looks, and then Dorian returned to his work. "I see. And do you think this will facilitate your learning?"

"Not sure. But I kind of like knowing what the end result is supposed to be."

Silence fell as Dorian continued painting. Rurik persisted in looking miserable, occasionally sighing loudly to express his discontent. I'd never entirely forgiven him for the ice elemental thing, so seeing him suffer had its perks. Unfortunately, it grew boring after a while. I crossed my arms and slumped farther into the chair, catching his notice.

"Sire, your lady's restless. I'm sure you have more interesting things to do with her. We can work on this another time. I don't mind."

"Nonsense. I'm almost done."

The first happy expression I'd seen since arriving showed on Rurik's face. It vanished when Dorian turned the canvas around to display his work.

We stared.

"Sire, am I...wearing a bow?"

I cocked my head. "It does kind of look that way. But the rest...man, that's actually pretty good. I didn't know you could do faces so well."

Dorian glowed. "Why, thank you. I can paint you too someday if you'd like."

"It's a bow," protested Rurik.

Dorian glanced at the canvas, then back to the warrior. "It matches the chaise. I had to add it; otherwise you would have clashed."

Back in his bedroom, Dorian went through his usual motions, flinging off his silver-gray cloak and pouring a glass of wine. He drank some type of blush tonight.

"Ready to start?"

I nodded, sitting down in the chair in the middle of the room. As I'd said, I didn't really think the meteorology books would give me that much of an edge yet, but I felt more empowered after reading them. Like I was starting to take my training into my own hands.

He took another drink of his wine, procured more cords, and approached me. Putting one hand on his hip, he surveyed me carefully, not unlike how he'd scrutinized his canvas.

"That's a very pretty shirt." I glanced down. It was a black tank top with a chain of red daisies embroidered near the top. "Hmm. Let's try this."

He abandoned the pastel-colored ties he held and replaced them with red and black ones. Placing my arms flat against the chair's arms, he wrapped each of mine down with black first, making X patterns. The style reminded me of the way a ballerina's slippers laced up. When that was finished, he went back over each arm with red.

"These are more like ribbons than your usual ones," I observed. "Or maybe sashes. Do you own, like, every possible form of constraint known to man?"

"Nearly," he said. "All right. Let's get started. The water's over there."

He indicated a table near the window where my old friend the pitcher sat, but I'd already known it was there. Settling as comfortably as I could in the chair, I stared at the pitcher and immediately let my mind reach out to the water. It flared like a beacon to me. Beyond it, I could sense all the other water in the room too. Me and Dorian, the wine, water vapor. I directed my attention to the pitcher's water.

I can feel you, now come to me.

But, as many practices had already demonstrated, wanting didn't make things happen. God, that pissed me off. I honestly didn't know how Dorian could stand waiting around through all of these sessions. It had to be boring as hell. I was bored, and I actually got to do something. Sort of.

No, no. That was a bad attitude. Forget the boredom. Focus on the task at hand.

Hours passed again. If Dorian was still awake - which I doubted - I knew he'd close off the session soon. The knowledge irritated me, but I understood. I was already feeling tired, my eyes bleary. I kept blinking a lot to regain focus and keep them from drying. I think that made me notice what happened next.

"Dorian, look at the pitcher."

He sat up right away and followed my gaze. A moment later, he walked over and touched the pitcher, brushing his fingers along its side. Water quietly ran down the ceramic surface, pooling on the table's glass surface. A slow, delighted smile spread over his face.

"You've seized it. It's listening to you. Now make it come farther - all the way out of the jug."

With tangible progress before me, my excitement grew. I thought hard about what I'd been doing, trying to repeat it. About a minute later, I could see water spilling down the sides of the jug, much faster and in greater amounts. The puddle on the table grew too full, dripping onto the floor.

"I'm ruining your carpet."

"Never mind the carpet. Bring it farther." I could hear the anticipation in his voice.

Some logical part of me saw carpet as tough terrain to navigate, and the water's progress slowed. Soon, I decided, that was only in my head. The carpet had nothing to do with anything. Only my control of the water mattered.

As soon as I made that leap, the water shot over the carpet in a curving rivulet, almost like a snake. It reached my feet, and I could feel it waiting for some further instruction. Only, I didn't know what to tell it. I simply wanted it to come to me.

I'd barely given form to that thought when the water sprang up before me and hovered in the air. My mouth dropping, I watched it splinter into hundreds of drops. They hung there, suspended like strings of crystal beads. I gaped, fascinated, but had no idea what to do next. My grasp on them slipped away, and the drops disintegrated further into a fine fog. Seconds later, the cloud dispersed altogether, evaporating into the rest of the air. As they faded, so did the tingly, euphoric feeling racing through my blood.

Neither Dorian nor I did anything right away. Then, I started laughing. And I couldn't stop. It was too wonderful. I wanted to do it again and again but had no more water. The wine would be too messy.

An idea occurred to me. Sensing the moisture in the air, I sent my power out to the air right in front of me. Suddenly, tiny flecks of water condensed on my skin, like I'd been sprayed by a light mist. I laughed again.

Dorian, grinning as broadly as me, walked over and ran his fingers over each of my cheeks. Touching his fingers together, he rubbed the water into his skin, almost as if testing it was real.

"I did it."

"You did do it."

His eyes shone with unadulterated pleasure. You might have thought he'd been the one to do this. Funny that he should take such joy in this, I thought, when it was a paltry thing compared to his magic. He untied me and clasped my hands to help me rise.

"I think a celebration is in order." He poured another glass of wine and handed it over. We clinked our glasses together. "To clever pupils."

"With good teachers."

He took a sip. "Hardly. I actually slept most of tonight."

I laughed as I drank. "Do you...when you use your magic, do you feel something...I don't know, something good burning in you? Like pleasure or exhilaration...and not just from, like, mental satisfaction either..."

I couldn't put it into words, but his face told me I didn't have to. "Yes. I know exactly what you mean. Wonderful, isn't it?"

I drank more of the wine. "Yes. Yes, it is."

"Just wait. You've just had a sip of it. Once you come into your full power, you won't know how you did without."

I grinned at him. I felt so thoroughly pleased with myself and life, I could hardly stand it. When had I been this happy? Aside from being with Kiyo? And if I had this kind of reaction now, what would happen when I really moved into the big leagues? Dorian spoke of it like an addiction, but it sure sounded like a good one.

Looking up, I saw his eyes all over me. He set his glass down and spoke in a soft voice, almost wonderingly. "You shine...did you know that? Power suits you."

He made me as happy as everything else in the world just then. Warmth built in my chest and radiated out through the rest of my body. I don't know how that feeling expressed itself on my face, but it must have conveyed something because he leaned over and kissed me.

I could taste wine in that soft kiss, wine and heat. One of his hands pulled me against him while the other carefully removed my glass. Still pressing us together, he eased me onto the bed. I answered his sweet, taunting kisses with hard, demanding ones. It didn't take him long to adjust to this shift in style. He rolled me to my back and lay down on top of me, twining one hand in my hair to hold my head in place as an eager need suddenly filled his kisses. He consumed my mouth with them while his other hand slid unabashedly between my thighs, rubbing me through my jeans.

My body arched up against his, and I felt an aching cry rise up in my throat, only to be lost in the pressure of his mouth on mine. I knew then it would finally happen. The dangerous allure of this...the exoticness of sleeping with someone who was still such an unknown quantity...it all enflamed me that much more. We would do this. We would come together, and I would give myself to him.

Give myself to him.

A tightness seized my chest, conflicting sharply with the burning pleasure in the rest of my body. His touch made me crave more, almost made me beg for it, and yet that angry part in the back of my mind was screaming again. It told me if I made this choice, if I deliberately chose to do this with him, then I was giving in to the enemy. I didn't really know who that enemy was exactly, but it didn't matter. The instinct pulsed through me, defensive and afraid. It warred against the rest of me, against my body's needs and even against my own conscious wishes. I knew and liked Dorian. Why couldn't I overcome that base fear? In some ways, the fear was titillating. I had a feeling if I could just get over that first crest of difficulty, the problems would go away.

But damn it, that was a high peak to get over.

And like last time, Dorian could feel my reluctance. He broke our embrace, almost jerking away from me. Before he turned his face from mine, I saw emotions I'd never seen before. Frustration. Unhappiness.

"Dorian..." I said. "Dorian...I'm so sorry..."

He rubbed his face with both hands and exhaled. His voice was flat when he spoke. "It's late, Eugenie. Too late for you to leave." He stood up and stretched, and when he finally turned around, he'd once more cleared his face of its dark expression. His cheerful countenance was also missing; he simply looked tired. "I'll take the sofa in the parlor; you stay on the bed."

"No, I - "

He gestured me off as he walked into the other room without a backward glance, saying only, "Take it. It'll be the best night of sleep you've ever had."

Elaborate French doors connected the two rooms. He closed them, leaving me to my own misery.

I sat on his massive bed, attempting to sort out a tangle of warring emotions. What was wrong with me? Why couldn't I make this work? I'd slept with guys I liked a lot less than Dorian. Why couldn't I cross this last line? Why keep fighting it?

I blew out all the candles and torches in the room before taking off my jeans and sliding under the covers. Dorian was right. This had to be the most comfortable bed I'd ever been in. Unfortunately, there was no way I could sleep. I kept thinking about my magical elation, alleged desire, and subsequent breakdown. My body wanted him. My mind did too. Only my instincts still fought it.

The world's most comfortable bed must have felt insulted over all the tossing and turning that followed. At least its size gave me all the fidgeting room I could want. My eyes grew accustomed to the darkness very quickly, and I could discern the shapes of furniture and corners in the partial moonlight. Outside the giant window, stars glittered - thousands more than I'd seen the night with the astronomers. We'd lost the stars in the human world, despite our success in reaching them. Humans and gentry were almost like two sides of a coin, each supplying what the other lacked.

The answer to my problems with Dorian was a long time in coming, but come it did. It was still pitch black when I finally got up and padded into the adjoining room. The doors opened silently, and I paused upon reaching him. He couldn't quite fit on the sofa, so his legs dangled off the end. He still wore the same clothes and had pulled a flimsy throw blanket over his body. He faced the direction I stood, eyes closed. One hand draped above him, and his hair spilled onto his cheek, its fiery color indiscernible in the poor lighting.

He was a king, with thousands of people who answered to him, yet he lay crammed onto this couch because of me. I had hurt someone I didn't think could be hurt. I stood there thinking about this in the still, dark room before finally kneeling down beside him.

I tentatively reached out a hand, but his eyes opened before I made contact. "What's the matter?" he asked. He sounded alert, concerned.

I couldn't talk right away. Silence pooled as thick as the blackness around us. He neither spoke nor moved as I deliberated; he simply watched and waited.

"I want you to tie me up."

That was the great thing about Dorian. Most people would have hesitated or asked questions. Not him. He followed me out to the other room and promptly retrieved the same sashes he'd used earlier in the chair.

I settled on the bed, unsure where to position my body, but he gently adjusted me. He started to extend my arms up over my head but then stopped. Moving his hands down to my stomach, he caught the edges of my shirt and gave me a questioning look. I nodded, and he carefully pulled it off and over my head. Returning to my arms, he raised them above me toward the headboard and tied my wrists together, still incapable of rushing his careful bindings. With the next sash, he bound my wrists to the intricate scalloping of the headboard and then used another to reinforce the binding. When he finished, my arms lay somewhat relaxed on the pillows above me, but my hands and wrists were tightly secured. Weirdly, something inside of me eased upon realizing I was trapped.

The length of the tying process surprised me. I would have thought he would want to expedite things, but his patience seemed undaunted. He settled back on his knees and studied me, just as he always did after completing one of his tie-ups. Near darkness or no, I felt exposed in just my underwear and wondered if it was my naked skin or the silk sashes that so captivated him. Probably the combination of both.

He slid off the bed and stood up so he could take his own clothes off. As they fell to the ground, more and more of his body was revealed. The moonlight caught his white skin, and it practically gleamed. He reminded me of some ancient Grecian or Roman statue, all marble and smooth lines.

He crawled back onto the bed, looking down on me, and my heart started racing again. Shadows bathed him now that he was away from the window's full light, and he seemed larger and more powerful compared to me. I had no means of getting out of this unless I wanted to attempt some crazy kicking maneuvers.

The time and tension stretched out between us. It made me anxious yet stimulated as well. Why the delay? Why wouldn't he touch me? Why did he just keep looking at me like that?

Finally, he knelt by my feet and kissed my toes. Such a small touch, but it made my body shudder after all that waiting. He alternated between both feet, his lips caressing toes and ankles before steadily moving up my legs. Kiyo had done a similar physical examination during our first night together. I wondered if there was some sort of psychological or personality analysis you could make based on whether a guy started at the top or the bottom.

Up, up. Dorian's mouth moved on. My pelvic muscles tightened in anticipation, and I felt wetness growing between my thighs. But then, he simply skipped past my underwear, continuing with my stomach. He ran his hands along the smooth skin, still taking his time, cautious around the healing fachan cut. When he finished there, he moved to my neck, bypassing my breasts. My neck was pretty sensitive too, and his mouth's intensity had increased. The sensation forced my breathing into anxious, ragged gasps, but a frustrated complaint slipped out nonetheless.

"Why are you skipping all the good parts?"

He paused, just barely lifting his lips from my skin. "Do you want me to go back?"

I bit my lip. He was trying to make me dictate the terms here, but that wasn't what I wanted. For once, I didn't want the power here. That was why I'd asked to be tied up. I wanted the choice taken away from me. I stayed quiet.

He returned to my neck, moving his mouth along my collarbone and shoulder, then up to my cheek and ears. Our lips soon came together again, and I tried to channel my eagerness and passion into that kiss, as I had done earlier. But now he kept himself just out of reach, just enough to tease but not fulfill. I shifted my body upward, touching as much of his as I could. That, too, he held slightly away. It was frustrating, and in my need, I forgot about who was supposed to be in control.

"Okay - go back."

He complied as efficiently and quickly as he had to my initial bondage request. His hands and their delicate fingers cradled my breasts, holding them in place for his mouth. I closed my eyes and tilted my neck back, lost in those burning twirls of his tongue as he woke the nerves in my flesh and delicately sucked the nipples. When he finally broke away, I made a soft sound of protest until I realized where he went next.

Looping his fingers through the sides of my panties, he pulled them down, stopping abruptly when they reached midthigh. For a moment, I thought it was more of his teasing until I suddenly grasped the situation.

"It's, um, called a Brazilian wax," I explained, voice still breathy.

"Oh." His own voice held wonder. "Oh my."

His fingers ran over that delicate area, both for sensuality and his own curious exploration. With a happy sigh, he removed the underwear altogether and carefully spread my thighs apart. Then, his mouth was upon me, his tongue running along that most sensitive of spots in one smooth motion.

It was like a spark to a powder keg. My whole body bucked up as heat exploded throughout me, and I made some sound vaguely like a whimper. Both of his hands slid up and held me firmly in place, reminding me again that I'd given up the power here. That same conflicting mix of fear and need flared up inside of me, scared that he could do anything he wanted to me and half-hoping he would.

When he grew convinced I wouldn't thrash anymore, he let one hand slide back to my thighs. His mouth had never stopped in its fervent feeding, and now his fingers moved in, pushing into me with smooth motions timed to work with his mouth. I moaned against his touch, my head thrown back and upper body arched. He had an uncanny knack for pulling back each time orgasm was about to occur. So, when he finally allowed me that release, it almost caught me by surprise.

My flesh ignited, electric and glorious. I shivered as my muscles contracted, as that scorching ecstasy poured through my body. Even when that tide broke, he kept his mouth down there licking and probing until I begged him to stop, too overcome by the flood of sensation. He took his time in obeying the request, finally moving away and laying his body on top of mine.

Every part of him pressed against me, hard and wonderful, and I writhed under him, yearning for more. He moved his hands back up to my arms, again firmly pinning me in place. His mouth crushed mine, forcing me to taste myself on his lips. Struggling did no good.

When he released me from the kiss at last, his face moved only a fraction of an inch away from mine.

"I know why you're doing this," he said. "Why you wanted to be bound. It's because you want the decision taken out of your hands. You knew once you were here, there'd be no turning back. You wouldn't have to be burdened with the decision of willfully coming together with me. You would have no choice in the matter and hence relieve yourself of any guilt or anticipation."

He kissed my cheek and then lingered on my ear a little. "In a moment, I swear I can ravage and take you as much as you want, if that's what makes it easier. But your choices aren't gone yet. We can stop if you want. Or I can untie you. You can tell me you want this and join with me not in submission, but as an equal."

The words were on my lips. Yes, untie me. Make love to me. Fuck me. I want to be with you. I could have said any number of things to change the balance of power. I could have gained both control and freedom again. Yet, I said or did nothing. Maybe it was because it was the only way I could go through with this. Or maybe I just wanted it this way. Maybe I even enjoyed it. Regardless, I stayed quiet, and he read the answer in that.

He rose up, looming over me. He was a conqueror, coming to collect, and I was a prize, open flesh waiting to be seized. That fear lurched up in me, and I thrived on it. It was delicious. Thrilling. I gave up my power. I gave myself to him.

Almost on his knees, he spread my legs apart and pushed in. I screamed, almost more from mental than physical sensation, my arms straining uselessly against the ties. He filled me, punctuating each powerful movement into me with a soft grunt in his throat I thought even he wasn't aware of.

I wanted to reach up and wrap my arms around him, pull him against me. But all I could do was lay there, lay there and let him push into me over and over, the enemy I'd somehow come to crave.

He shifted his body so that he was completely on top of me, still moving urgently and possessively, save that now I had even less mobility than before. He held me down, grip tight. And me? I was all aching and burning flesh, letting him take whatever he wanted from me. I floated in a warm, liquid place. It was like being wrapped in golden silk, molten bliss spreading over my body.

"I told you," he said through his labored breathing. "I told you you'd come to me. And now...now I realize I could have simply taken you the instant I'd tied you up. You didn't need any of the rest. You've had this desire and never even known it...this desire to simply be had in any way your lover wanted." He paused a moment, swallowing and catching his breath. "I'm right, aren't I? I could move you into any position I wanted, make love to you in any place I wanted, and you'd love every moment of it...."

I couldn't really manage any coherent answers, and most of my noises had lapsed into primal, unintelligible cries. All I wanted to focus on was us being together, the way it felt to have him pushing and rubbing, the way it must feel for him to be inside of me. I'd slid up on the bed; my head was practically in danger of hitting the headboard soon.

Suddenly, he pulled out abruptly and hovered back over me. His eyes, dark in this light, watched me, and I sensed that laconic, playful expression on his face. Both of us panted. I waited for him to return, feeling irate at this interruption. I'd been on the verge of coming again. Somehow I suspected he'd known that.

"What are you doing?"

"Waiting. Waiting for you to tell me to keep going."

He wasn't being cruel or mean. He was teasing me, toying with me the way he so enjoyed among the people around here.

"You fucking bastard," I said. Somehow the profanity carried mild affection.

He laughed. "Should I take that to mean you want me to continue?"

"You know I do."

"Then say it outright. Unless you're going to get up and take me yourself."

"Did I mention you're a bastard?"

"Tell me you don't want me to stop. Beg me. Beg me, and we'll do this for the rest of the night."

It was merely a game, another dimension of this power play and his dominance over me. And, much to my chagrin, it was a turn-on.

"Please," I whispered.

"Please what?"

"Please...don't stop. I want...I want you to keep..."

"Keep what?"

I sighed. "I want you to keep fucking me."

He was back in me almost before the words had left my lips. I yelled out again as moments later, the delayed orgasm exploded in me. I shook and burned as that glittering sensation crackled through me. All the while, our bodies kept moving together. His face was near mine, watching with pleasure as I panted and struggled against a joy that was almost too intense.

"I hate you," I gasped out.

He laughed and rained kisses down on my face. "No, you don't."

He was right.

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