For a heartbeat, there was only the warmth of Cassian’s mouth, the press of his body, the stiffness in his every trembling muscle as Nesta slanted her lips over his, rising onto her toes.
She’d kissed him with her eyes open, so she could see precisely how his own widened.
Nesta pulled away a moment later and found his eyes still wide, his breathing harsh.
She laughed softly, making to unhook her fingers from his jacket and strut down the hall.
She only got as far as lowering her right hand before he surged forward to kiss her back.
The force of that kiss knocked them toward the wall, the stone slamming into her shoulders as all of him lined up against all of her, a hand sliding into her hair while the other gripped her hip.
The moment Nesta hit that wall, the moment Cassian enveloped her, it destroyed any illusion of restraint. She opened her mouth, and his tongue swept in, the kiss punishing and savage.
And the taste of him, like snow-kissed wind and crackling embers— She moaned, unable to help herself.
It seemed that sound was his undoing, for the fingers in her hair dug into her scalp, angling her head so he could better taste her, claim her.
Her hands roved over his muscled chest, desperate for any skin, anything to touch as their tongues met and parted, as he licked the roof of her mouth, as he slid his tongue over her teeth.
She met him stroke for stroke, and all sense of self went flying from her. She plunged her fingers into his hair, and it was as soft as she’d imagined, the strands like silk against her skin.
Every hateful thought eddied from her mind. She gave herself to the distraction, welcomed it with open arms, let the kiss burn through all of it. There was only his mouth and his tongue and his teeth, licking and tasting and biting; there was only the strength of his body, pressing against hers, but not nearly close enough—
He slid his hands around her, grasping her ass, and lifted her into the air. She wrapped her legs around his middle, and moaned again as he pressed himself between her thighs.
She needed this temporary reprieve from her mind, that thing burning deep inside her, the memories that hounded her. She needed this. Needed him.
Cassian ground into her, and groaned into her mouth at the first push of his hips. She arched her back at that deep-throated sound, baring her neck to him. He seized on it, dragging his mouth from hers.
His tongue traced a line up the column of her neck, dragging heat in its wake, and reached that spot just below her ear that had her clenching, had her whimpering. He let out a laugh against her skin. “Like that?” he murmured, and licked it again.
Her breasts ached, and she moved against him, seeking any contact with his chest, any bit of friction. But Cassian buried his face against her neck, teeth clamping down lightly atop her fluttering pulse. The slight hurt set her panting; the scrape of his tongue over the spot had her eyes rolling back in her head.
He pulled his head from her neck, though. And Nesta had never been laid so bare as she was while he ground his hips into her again and watched her writhe.
A dark smile graced his mouth. “So responsive,” he purred in a voice she’d never heard but knew she’d crawl to hear again. He drove his hips
between hers, a lazy, thorough push of the hardness of him into the throbbing ache of her. She scrambled to regain any sense of control, of sanity—found herself wanting to hand it all over to him, to let him touch and touch and touch her, lick and suckle and fill her—
Cassian growled, as if he read that in her stare, and kissed her again.
Their tongues tangled, their bodies pressed so tightly she could feel his heartbeat against her chest. He tasted her thoroughly, withdrew, and tasted her again. Like he was learning every place in her mouth.
She had to feel his skin. Had to feel the hardness pushing into her with her hands, her mouth, her body. She’d go mad if she didn’t, go mad if she couldn’t get these clothes off, go mad if he stopped kissing her—
Nesta wedged her hand between their bodies, seeking him out. Cassian groaned again, long and low, as her hand cupped him through the leather of his pants. The breath stole out of her. The sheer size of him—
Her mouth watered. She was aching, so wet that every stitch of the seam down the center of her pants was torture.
His kiss turned deeper, wilder, and she grappled with the laces and buttons of his pants. There were so many she didn’t know where to find the ones to undo them, her fingertips ripping at every loop, nearly clawing to get him free.
Cassian’s panting caressed her skin as he nipped at her bottom lip, her ear, her jaw. Her own staccato breathing echoed it, fire roaring in her blood, and he captured her mouth again, moaning into her as she gave up on the laces and buttons and laid her hand flat against him. He bucked as she rubbed the heel of her palm down his length, marveling at each inch.
He tore his mouth from hers. “If you keep doing that, I’ll—”
Nesta did it again, dragging the heel of her palm upward, toward the tip she knew pressed against his lower abdomen. His hips arced toward her, and he tilted back his head, exposing the strong column of his throat. She learned the shape of him through his pants, and pressed her hand harder, working him. He gritted his teeth, chest heaving like a bellows, and the sight of him coming undone had her leaning forward. Had her clamping her teeth onto his neck. Just as she rubbed him again, harder and rougher.
He hissed. With her name on his lips, his hips thrust into her hand with a strength that made her core throb to the point of pain, imagining that force, that size and heat, buried deep in her. Another punishing rub of her palm, a scrape of teeth at his neck, and Cassian erupted.
His wings tucked in tight as he came, and each spurt of his cock shuddered through his pants, echoing along her hand as she stroked and stroked him.
When Cassian had stilled, when he was shaking—only then did Nesta remove her face from his neck. His hazel eyes were wide enough that the whites shone around them. A blush stained his golden cheeks, so enticing that she nearly leaned forward to lick that, too.
But he remained gaping. Like he’d realized what he’d done and regretted it.
Every bit of desire, of blessed distraction within her winked out.
Nesta shoved at his chest, and he immediately let go, almost dropping her to the floor as their bodies pulled apart.
She didn’t wait to hear his words of regret, that this had been a mistake. She wouldn’t let him hold that power over her. So Nesta curled her lips in a cold, cruel smile and said as she left, “Someone’s quick off the mark.”
Cassian couldn’t look Azriel in the face at breakfast the next morning.
His brother had returned late last night, refused to say anything about what he’d found regarding Briallyn, and only insisted that today they’d all meet at the river house and learn of it together. Cassian hadn’t cared. He’d barely listened to Azriel asking about training.
He’d come in his pants after a few touches from Nesta, soaking himself like he was no better than he’d been in his youth.
But the moment she had kissed him in the hall, he’d lost all semblance of sanity. He’d turned into something just short of an animal, licking and biting at her neck, unable to think clearly beyond the base instinct to claim.
The taste of her had been like fire and steel and a winter sunrise. That had just been her mouth, her neck. If he got his tongue between her legs … He shifted in his seat.
“Did something happen that I, as your chaperone, should know about?” Azriel’s dry question dragged Cassian from his rising arousal. From the amusement on his brother’s face, he knew Az could not only scent that arousal but see it on his face.
“No,” Cassian grumbled. He’d never hear the end of it if he admitted what he’d done.
He’d found his pleasure, and Nesta had not. He’d never allowed such a thing to happen.
But he’d come hard enough to see stars, and only then realized she had not. That he’d embarrassed himself, that he’d left her unsatisfied, and if it was the only taste of her he’d ever get, he’d monumentally fucked it all to hell.
And then there’d been her parting shot, blasting what was left of his pride into shards.
Quick off the mark, she’d purred, like what they’d done hadn’t meant anything.
He knew it was bullshit. He’d felt her frantic need, heard her moans and wanted to devour them whole. But that kernel of doubt took root.
He had to make it even, somehow. Had to get the upper hand again. Azriel cleared his throat, and Cassian blinked. “What?”
“I said, are you two ready to head down to the river house?” “Two?” He blinked through the cloud of arousal.
Azriel chuckled, shadows skittering. “Did you listen at all last night?” “No.”
“At least you’re honest.” Azriel smirked. “You and Nesta are wanted down there.”
“Because of the shit with Elain?”
Azriel stilled. “What happened to Elain?”
Cassian waved a hand. “A fight with Nesta. Don’t bring it up,” he warned when Azriel’s eyes darkened. Cassian blew out a breath. “I take that as a no regarding the meeting topic, then.”
“It’s about what I discovered. Rhys said he requires you both there.”
“It’s bad, then.” Cassian surveyed the shadows gathered around Az. “You all right?”
His brother nodded. “Fine.” But shadows still swarmed him.
Cassian knew it was a lie, but didn’t push it. Az would speak when he was ready, and Cassian would have better success convincing a mountain to move than getting Az to open up.
So he said, “All right. We’ll meet you there.”