Chapter no 30

Fourth Wing (The Empyrean Book 1)

His body goes rigid for one beat, two, and then he spins us impossibly fast, putting my back against the door, jostling the frame. Whoa. He captures my wrists in one hand and holds them prisoner above my head. “Violet,” Xaden groans against my mouth. The plea in his tone floods my veins with a whole different form of power. Knowing he’s just as affected by our attraction as I am is a rush. “This isn’t what you want.”

“It’s exactly what I want,” I counter. I want to replace the anger with lust, the death of the day with the pulse-pounding assurance of my own life, and I know he’s capable of delivering all that and more. “You said to do whatever I need.” I arch my back, pressing the tips of my breasts against his chest.

His breathing changes, and there’s a war in his eyes that I’m determined to win.

It’s time to stop dancing around this unbearable tension and break it.

He leans down, his mouth only inches from mine. “And I’m telling you that I’m the last thing you need.” The barely leashed growl of his voice rumbles up through his chest, and every nerve ending in my body flares to life.

“Are you suggesting someone else?” My heart races as I chance calling his bluff.

“Fuck no.” The unmistakable flare of jealousy narrows his eyes for a heartbeat before his hips pin mine to the door, and my instant relief at his answer is replaced by a jolt of pure lust. I can see that infamous control of his hovering on the edge, balancing precariously on the point of a knife. All he needs is one. Little. Push. And I’m about to shamelessly shove.

“Good.” I tilt my head up to his and draw his bottom lip between mine, sucking before gently nipping him with my teeth. “Because I only want you, Xaden.”

The words breach something within him, and he gives.


Our mouths collide, and the kiss is hot and hard and completely out of our control. Need streaks down my spine as he takes my ass in his hands and hauls me against his hips, my back raking the ridges of the door behind me as I use it as leverage to push closer to his strength.

I wrap my legs around his waist and lock my ankles. My dressing gown rises with the motion, but I don’t care, not with the all-consuming way he’s kissing me. The caress of his mouth and the strokes of his wicked tongue steal every logical thought, and my world narrows to this kiss, this minute, this man. Mine. In this moment, Xaden Riorson is mine.

Or maybe I’m his. Who fucking cares as long as he keeps kissing me?

Heat floods my body in an addictive rush, setting every inch of my skin aflame as his mouth slides down my neck in a sensual assault that makes me moan.

“Gods,” he says against my throat, and then we’re moving.

Wood scrapes the floor and crashes before my ass hits the desk, and my ankles fall from the small of his back when he leans over me, spearing his fingers through my hair at the nape of my neck as he takes my mouth again. I kiss him back with a hunger I’ve only known with him.

My hands fly back to brace my weight, knocking anything and everything out of my way, sending whatever careening to the floor. The clock stops ticking.

“You’ll hate me in the morning. You. Don’t. Really. Want. This.” He punctuates each word with a kiss along my jaw, making his way to my ear. He bites the lobe, and my core liquefies, going molten.

“Stop telling me what I want.” I breathe raggedly and thread my fingers through the short strands of his hair, tilt my head, giving him better access. He takes it, working his way down my neck to where it curves into my shoulder.

Fuck, that feels good. Every touch of his mouth to my heated skin is flame to kindling, and I suck in a sharp breath when he lingers on a sensitive spot, taking his time. But then he stills again, his breath hot and wet against the side of my neck.

My brow furrows with an unwelcome thought. “Unless you don’t want me.”

“Does this feel like I don’t want you?” He takes my hand and slides it between our bodies, and my fingers curl around his length through his leathers. I whimper with pure want at the feel of how hard he is for me.

“I always fucking want you.” He groans as I squeeze. Then he lifts his head, seizes my gaze with his, and I recognize the wild need in those goldflecked depths. It mirrors my own. “You walk into a room, and I can’t look away. I get anywhere near you, and this is what happens. Instantly hard. Fucking hell, I can barely think when you’re around.” He rocks his hips into my hand, and my grip tightens along with my stomach. “Wanting you is not the problem here.” “Then what is?”

“I’m trying to do the honorable thing and not take advantage of you after you’ve had a shit day.” His jaw flexes.

I smile and kiss the side of his mouth. “It’s always a shit day around here. And it’s not taking advantage when I’m asking”-my teeth nip at his lips -“correction, begging you to make my day better.”

“Violet.” He says my name like a warning, as if he’s something I should be wary of. Violet. He only says my name when it’s just the two of us, when all the walls and the pretenses fall away, and gods if I don’t want to hear it again and again, just like that.

“I don’t want to think, Xaden. I just want to feel.” I release him. One tug of the ribbon is all it takes to unravel the long, loose braid of my hair, and I run my fingers through the mass.

His eyes darken, and I know I’ve won.

“Fuck me, this hair,” he says, then hovers his mouth over mine. “And this mouth. All I ever want to do is kiss you, even when you piss me off.”

“So kiss me.” I arch into him and claim his lips, kissing him like this might be the only time I’ll get the chance. This kind of desperation isn’t natural; it’s a wildfire that’s likely to burn us both to the ground if we let it.

The kiss is blatantly, deliciously carnal, and I melt against him, matching every thrust of his tongue with mine. He tastes like mint, and Xaden, and I can’t get enough.

He’s the worst kind of addiction, dangerous and impossible to sate.

“Tell me to stop,” he whispers, his thumb skimming the hypersensitive skin of my inner thigh.

“Don’t stop.” I’ll die if he does.

“Fuck, Violet,” he groans, slipping his hand between my thighs.

Never mind. That is how I want him to say my name from now on. Just like that.

He glides the fabric of my underwear across my clit, and my back arches at the burst of pleasure that radiates through my body, so sweet I can taste it.

He captures my mouth with his again in a hungry assault, his tongue sliding against mine as his fingers stroke me through the fabric, expertly using it for friction. I try to rock my hips against his hand for more, but my feet dangle off the desk, robbing me of leverage. I can only have what he decides to give.

“Touch me,” I demand, my fingernails biting into the back of his strong neck, desire pounding through me like a drumbeat.

His voice is ragged against my mouth. “If I get my hands on you, really, honestly get my hands on you, I don’t know if I’ll be able to stop.” He would. I know it in my soul. That’s why I trust him with my body.

My heart? It isn’t playing into this decision.

“Stop being so fucking honorable and fuck me, Xaden.”

His eyes flare, and then he kisses me like I’m the air he’s been missing, like his life depends on it, and I think mine just might. His fingers slide under my underwear and stroke my slickened core, and a moan tumbles from my lips. His touch is electric.

“So damned soft.” He kisses me deeply as his fingers touch and tease, making that sweet coil of pleasure tighten in my core. I dig my nails into his shoulder, my back arching as he makes tighter and tighter circles against my swollen clit. “I bet you taste just as good as you feel.”

Pleasure shudders through me, a living, breathing fire beneath my skin.

“More.” It’s all I’m capable of saying, demanding, as my skin flushes and my pulse skyrockets. I’m going to combust, to burst into flames, and all I can do is whimper against his mouth as he slides one finger inside me. My muscles clench around him, and he works in a second.

“You’re so fucking hot.” His voice drops, sounding like it’s been scraped over coals. “It might damn us both, but I can’t wait to feel you come around my cock.”

“Oh gods.” That mouth. I throw my hands back against the wall for leverage, knocking something loose as my hips roll. Something shatters on the floor to the left as I ride his thrusting fingers. He curls them against my inner walls and I gasp, my thighs locking around his leather-clad hips. And when he uses his thumb to stroke my clit, the friction and pressure push me to the edge of mindless bliss.

I cry out, and he covers the sound with his mouth, kissing with devious strokes of his tongue that match the movement of his fingers within me. Power surges, rippling through my bones, and I grab onto Xaden even harder, surprised at the unexpected rush of crackling energy.

“Look at you. You’re fucking beautiful, Violet. Let go for me.” His words curl around my mind, his mouth fused to mine, and the intimacy of it pushes me to the limit of pleasure and then right over it.

He swallows my cry as my back bows, the first wave of my orgasm washing over me, releasing that tight coil of tension in a burst of sparks at the edge of my vision, breaking me into a million scattered stars. Lightning strikes outside my window, flashing light through the room again and again as he strokes me with an expertise that kicks the first climax into a second.

“Xaden,” I moan as the pleasure ebbs and flares again.

He grins and slides his fingers from my body, and I’m nothing but ragged breaths and raw hunger as I reach for his shirt. I want it off now. He accommodates my urgency, ripping off the fabric, and then we’re kissing again, all swirling tongues and roaming hands. The feel of his skin under my fingertips is divine, impossibly soft over yards of hard muscle. I trace the lines of his back, memorizing the dips and hollows as sinew ripples with every move he makes.

“I need you now,” I gasp and reach for the buttons of his leathers.

“You know what you’re saying?” he asks as I shove the fabric-and any cloth beneath-past his hips, freeing the thick length of his cock. It’s hot and hard in my hand, and the moan that rips from his lips makes me feel invincible.

“I’m asking you to fuck me.” I arch up and kiss him.

He groans, dragging my hips to the edge of the desk, then working my underwear down my legs, leaving me bare.

My pulse skyrockets. “I take the fertility suppressant.” Of course, we both do. The last thing anyone wants are little quadrant babies running around. But it’s better said than sorry.

“Same.” He grips my hips, lifting me for a better angle, and the head of his cock rubs against my clit. I gasp and his eyes lock with mine. The hunger I see etched in every tense line of his body is my undoing. I don’t care if it damns us. I need him.

No more holding back. Not anymore.

I reach between us, guiding the head of his cock to my entrance, but this position is shit. He’s considerably taller than the desk, and if I wasn’t so desperate for him, I’d laugh, but I am. I arch, but it doesn’t help. Every second we wait feels like it stretches on for a decade.

“Fucking desk,” he swears.

My thoughts exactly.

His biceps flex as he lifts me by the backs of my thighs, and I wrap my arms around his neck and my legs around his waist, my dressing gown caught between us as he pivots. Our mouths meet in a ravenous kiss as my back hits the armoire, but I barely blink, too consumed with the stroke of his tongue, the feel of him between my thighs. “Shit. Are you all right?” he asks.

“I’m fine. You won’t break me.”

He pushes inside that first, tight inch of me, and I gasp at the fit, the stretch.

“More.” I’m too busy kissing him to speak. “I need all of you.”

“You’re going to be the death of me, Violet.” Whatever’s left of his control slips, and he takes me completely with one hard thrust.

I moan into the kiss. Deep. He’s so fucking deep that I feel him everywhere.

“Tell me you’re all right.” He’s already moving, thank gods.

“I’m perfect.” Better than perfect. Power blazes beneath my skin again, buzzing in wordless, frenzied demand.

“You feel so fucking good.” He slams back into me, again and again, as he sets a brutal, steady pace, his mouth sliding down my neck as his hand rises to cup my breast.

I can’t even think around the maddening pleasure as my back pounds the armoire door with every thrust, filling the room with the sound of our straining bodies and creaking wood. Every stroke is better than the last. My breaths stutter.

“Fuck, I’m never going to get enough of you, am I?” he says, his face buried in my neck as I arch into him.

“Shut up and fuck me, Riorson.” Tomorrow is soon enough for regrets.

Reaching up, I grasp the top edge of the armoire with one hand so I can rock back with more force, meeting the drive of his hips, taking him deeper, harder. He drags one of my nightgown’s straps off my shoulder, and the cool night air kisses the hardened peak of my nipple a heartbeat before his hot mouth covers it. The sensations spiral, spinning and coiling, forming a tight knot of pleasure so deep within me, the tension is sublimely unbearable.

The armoire door groans, then splinters off the hinges, and Xaden’s shadows whip out, protecting me as the frame snaps and wood crashes around us. My power flares, rising in answer to his, sizzling beneath my skin as I grab ahold of his shoulders, my mouth finding his.

There’s no stopping. We can’t stop.

“Fuck,” he curses as he takes me over and over, never stopping, turning us again so there’s cloth against my back. But it’s not the bed. It’s the curtains shoved to the side of the window.

Energy crackles again as our mouths meet, and still he drives on, winding that knot inside me painfully tighter with every movement.

And the power…it’s too much. It’s burning me, heating my blood with the need for release. “Xaden,” I cry out, simultaneously writhing yet holding on to him like he’s the only thing anchoring me to the earth.

“I’ve got you, Violet,” he promises, his breath ragged pants against my lips. “Let it out.”

Lightning whips through me, flashing so bright that my eyes slam shut.

Heat flares above me as thunder cracks immediately.

And I smell smoke.

“Shit.” Xaden’s power fills the room, eclipsing what light we had, and the curtain falls, but we’re moving before the charred fabric can so much as touch my skin.

That knot of pleasure builds to a breaking point as he takes me to the floor, and finally, I have all of his weight as he drives into me. Shadows fall away and the sight of him above me, his dark gaze locked on mine in intense concentration, is the most beautiful sight I’ve ever seen.

“So. Very. Beautiful.” I punctate each word with a kiss.

He draws back, his eyes searching mine for a heartbeat or two before he devastates me with another kiss that has me straining for more, rocking my hips against his.

This man kisses with his whole body, rolling his hips in time with the thrust of his tongue, bracing just enough of his weight so I can breathe while stroking his chest over my hypersensitive nipples. He keeps me on the same edge he’s riding, and I don’t know how much longer I can take it before I set this entire room on fire.

“I need…I need…” My frantic eyes search his. Where are my words?

“I know.” He claims my mouth again and reaches between us, using those talented fingers to stroke me into another orgasm, and light flashes again, followed by thunder and darkness as I come apart under him.

Pleasure takes me in waves, rolling through me again and again until all I can do is clutch Xaden’s shoulders and ride it out in blissful surrender.

“Beautiful,” he whispers.

The second I come down, his rhythm breaks, and he presses my knee up toward my chest and takes me even deeper. I rock my hips up to meet his, sweat beading on our skin as I watch him unravel with rapt fascination. I love his loss of control just as much as I fear my own, and when I swirl my hips, he groans, arching his neck as he thrusts once. Twice.

On the third, he shouts, then shudders within me, and his power lashes out in streaks of shadows, the force splitting the wooden target on the other side of the window.

Pieces fly and Xaden throws out another wave of darkness that lasts just long enough to shield us from the debris. Then the shadows retreat and daggers clatter to the ground behind me.

He looks as shocked, and as enthralled, as I feel as we lay there, staring at each other, our chests heaving in the aftermath of what can only be described as complete and utter madness.

“I’ve never lost control like that,” he says, bracing his weight on one arm and brushing my hair back from my face with the other. The move is so gentle, so at odds with what we’ve just experienced, that I can’t help but blink, then smile.

“Me neither.” The smile morphs into a full-out grin. “Not that I’ve ever had power to lose control of before.”

He laughs and rolls us to his side, keeping me close and cushioning my head with his biceps.

I sniff at the smoke in the air. “Did I…”

“Set the curtains on fire?” He lifts a brow. “Yes.”

“Oh.” I can’t find it in me to be embarrassed, so I brush the backs of my fingers across the stubble along his jaw. “And you put it out.”

“Yes. Right before I destroyed your throwing target.” He grimaces. “I’ll get you a new one.”

I glance over at the armoire. “And we…”

“Yep.” He lifts his brows. “And I’m pretty sure you need a new chair, too.”

“That was…” I didn’t even get the man’s pants entirely off, and my dressing gown is haphazardly hanging from one shoulder.

“Frighteningly perfect.” He cups the side of my face. “We should get you cleaned up and to sleep. We can worry about…your room tomorrow. Ironically, your bed is the only thing we didn’t wreck.”

I sit up to confirm that the bed made it, and Xaden does the same next to me, leaning forward. Immediately, I lose interest in everything but the muscled lines of his back and the navy-blue relic Sgaeyl transferred to him.

I reach out and trace the dragon relic on his back, my fingers lingering on the raised silver scars, and he stiffens. They’re all short, thin lines, too precise to be a whip, no rhyme or reason to their pattern but never intersecting. “What happened?” I whisper, holding my breath.

“You really don’t want to know.” He’s tense but doesn’t move away from my touch.

“I do.” They don’t look accidental. Someone hurt him deliberately, maliciously, and it makes me want to hunt the person down and do the same to them.

His jaw flexes as he looks over his shoulder, and his eyes meet mine. I bite my lip, knowing this moment can go either way. He can shut me out like always or he can actually let me in.

“There’s a lot of them,” I murmur, dragging my fingers down his spine.

“A hundred and seven.” He looks away.

That number makes my stomach lurch, and then my hand pauses. A hundred and seven. That’s the number Liam mentioned. “That’s how many kids under the age of majority carry the rebellion relic.”


I shift so I can see his face. “What happened, Xaden?”

He brushes my hair back, and the look that passes over his face is so close to tender that it makes my heart stutter. “I saw the opportunity to make a deal,” he says softly. “And I took it.”

“What kind of deal leaves you with scars like that?”

Conflict rages in his eyes, but then he sighs. “The kind where I take personal responsibility for the loyalty of the hundred and seven kids the rebellion’s leaders left behind, and in return, we’re allowed to fight for our lives in the Riders Quadrant instead of being put to death like our parents.” He averts his gaze. “I chose the chance of death over the certainty.”

The cruelty of the offer and the sacrifice he made to save the others hits like a physical blow. I cradle his cheek and guide his face back to mine. “So if any of them betray Navarre…” I lift my brows.

“Then my life is forfeit. The scars are a reminder.”

It’s why Liam says he owes him everything. “I’m so sorry that happened to you.” Especially when he wasn’t the one who led the rebellion.

He looks at me like he sees into the very depths of who I am. “You have nothing to apologize for.”

I grab his hand as he moves to stand. “Stay.”

“I shouldn’t.” Two lines appear between his brows as he searches my eyes. “People will talk.”

“When did I ever give you the impression that I give a fuck what people think?” I use his earlier words against him and sit up, curling my hand around the section of his neck that bears his relic. “Stay with me, Xaden.

Don’t make me beg.”

“We both know this is a bad idea.”

“Then it’s our bad idea.”

His shoulders dip, and I know I’ve won. He’s mine for the night. We take turns sneaking out long enough to clean up, and then he slides into bed behind me. “Only within these walls,” he says quietly, and I understand what he means.

“Only within these walls,” I agree. It’s not like we’re in a relationship or anything. That would be…disastrous given the chain of command. “We’re riders, after all.”

“I just don’t trust my temper if anyone says-”

I brush a kiss over his mouth, silencing him. “I know what you’re saying.


He nips at my skin. “I’m not sweet. Please don’t mistake any part of me for soft or kind. That will only get you hurt, and whatever you do…” He buries his face in my neck, inhaling deeply. “Don’t fall for me.”

I stroke my hand over his marked arm and pray that’s not exactly what I’m doing. This overwhelming juxtaposition of longing and satisfaction in my chest has to be the aftereffects of coming not once but three times, right? It can’t be more.


I look out my window at the infinite black sky and change the topic, my eyelids growing heavier by the second. “Why did you guess I could wield lightning?”

He stretches just enough to tuck my head under his chin. “I thought you did it the first night Tairn channeled power to you, but I wasn’t sure, so I didn’t say anything.”

“Really?” I blink, thinking back, but my brain is full of a pleasant, dull hum as sleep fights to pull me under. “When?” My eyes drift shut.

His arms tighten around me as he tucks me closer, the backs of my thighs pressed tight against his pants as I start to drift off. “The first time you kissed me.”

When I wake, Xaden is gone, but that’s not exactly a surprise. Him staying the night to begin with? Now that was the shocker.

Finding a jar on my nightstand with a handful of spring violets? My heart swells. I’m in so much fucking trouble.

He even moved all the debris to a pile in the corner, which means he must have used his shadows while I was sleeping because I didn’t hear a thing.

I’m still exhausted, but I dress and pin my hair up quickly, noting the sun has already risen. With Liam in the infirmary, I’ll be solo for my Archives trip today, but I might be able to sneak in to see him on the way back.

I’m lacing my boots when there’s a knock at my door.

“You have to be kidding,” I say loudly enough for the knocker to hear. “Just because Liam is healing doesn’t mean I need another”-I wrench the door open and stumble over the last word-“bodyguard.”

Professor Carr stands in my hallway, his hair standing on end as he looks at me with scientific appraisal, then lifts his eyebrows as he stares past me

into the wreckage of my room. “We have work to do.” “I have Archives duty,” I argue.

He snorts. “You’re off Archives duty until we can be sure you’re not going to burn the place down. Lightning and paper don’t mix well. Trust me, Sorrengail, the scribes aren’t going to want you anywhere near their precious books, and from the looks of it, you can’t even control your powers in your sleep.”

I try to ignore the sting of his words, since he’s far off, but end up following him down the hall when he leaves. “Where are we going?”

“Somewhere you won’t start a forest fire,” he says without looking back.

Twenty minutes later, we’re in the flight field, and to my surprise, Tairn is saddled.

“How the hell did you do that?”

He chuffs in indignation. “As if I’d let them design something I couldn’t figure out how to get on myself. Remember where you get your power from, Silver One.”

“How’s Andarna?” I ask as Professor Carr thrusts a satchel into my hands. “What is this for?”

“Sleeping, but she’s fine,” Tairn promises.

“Breakfast,” Carr answers. “With all the wielding you’re about to do, you’re going to need it.” He climbs onto his Orange Daggertail and, after I mount Tairn and strap in, we’re airborne.

The bite of spring wind stings my cheeks as we fly deep into the mountain range, and I’m thankful I dressed in flight leathers this morning, thinking I’d have a session before lunch.

We land almost a half hour later, high above the tree line.

I shiver and rub my arms to fight off the low temperatures that come with high altitude.

“Don’t worry. You won’t be cold for long,” Carr assures, dismounting and pulling a small tome from his pocket. “According to what I read last night, this particular ability has the power to overheat your system, hence -” He gestures around us.

“Plus, there’s not much to burn up here, is there?” And no witnesses if he decides to break my neck, either. I glance at him quickly before looking away, undoing the buckles of my saddle, then sliding down Tairn’s foreleg.

“Don’t leave me.”

“Never. I’ll burn him alive before he takes a single step toward you.”

“Exactly.” He studies me carefully, and I avoid meeting his eyes as I check the wrap on my knee to make sure it hasn’t slipped under my leathers. “It’s always intriguing to me how nature finds the balance.”

“I’m not sure I know what you mean, Professor.”

“This kind of power found in one so…” He sighs. “Would you not call yourself fragile?”

“I am who I am.” I bristle. I’ve never given this particular professor any reason to think of me as different.

“It’s not an insult, cadet.” He shrugs, looking at the saddle. “It’s a balance. In the course of my duties, I’ve found a correlation of sorts that keeps a system of checks on power. Yours seems to be your body.”

A growl rumbles in Tairn’s chest as he edges Carr’s smaller dragon out of his space.

“Your dragon doesn’t trust me,” Carr states, like it’s an academic problem to be solved. “And considering he’s the most powerful of them in the quadrant at the moment-”

“But not the Continent,” Tairn admits.

“-that means you don’t trust me, either, Cadet Sorrengail.” He holds my gaze, and the mountaintop wind makes his white hair dance like feathers. “Why is that?”

“No point lying.”

“Other than you calling me frail?” I stay at the base of Tairn’s foreleg, ready to mount if necessary. “I was there the day you killed Jeremiah. His signet manifested, and you snapped his neck like a twig in front of all of us.”

Carr tilts his head in thought. “Yes, well, he was in a considerable amount of panic, and it’s widely known that inntinnsics aren’t allowed to live. I ended his suffering before he could see the end coming.”

“I’ll never understand why mind-reading is a death sentence.” I place my hand on Tairn’s leg like I can absorb his strength, even though I already feel it flowing through me.

“Because knowledge is power. As a general’s daughter, you should know that. We can’t have someone walking around with unfettered access to

classified material. They’re a security risk to the entire kingdom.” And yet Dain is living.

“Because Aetos will be useful to them as long as they can keep him under their control.” Tairn blasts a puff of steam over my head, and the Orange Daggertail backs up even more. “His power is also limited to touch, so more controllable.”

“Now, you don’t have to trust me, and you can even wield from your seat on your dragon if you like, but I hope you believe me when I tell you that I have no plans on killing you, Cadet Sorrengail. Losing an asset like you would be a tragedy for the war effort.” An asset.

“And the fact that you bonded Tairn makes you and Riorson the most coveted pair of riders this kingdom has seen in far too long. If I could offer a piece of advice?” His eyes narrow.

“Please do.” At least he’s brutally honest, so I know where I stand with him.

“Keep your loyalties clear. You and Riorson both have exceptional, lethal power that any rider would be envious of. But together?” His bushy brows furrow. “You would be a formidable enemy who command could simply not afford to let exist. Do you understand what I’m saying?” His voice softens.

“Navarre is my home, Professor. I will give my life to defend it just like every Sorrengail who has ridden before me.”

“Excellent.” He nods. “Now let’s get to work. The sooner you can contain the lightning, the sooner we can both stop freezing our asses off.”

“Good point.” I look out over the range. “You just want me to…” I gesture to the mountains around us.

“Preferably anywhere but right here, yes.”

I stare out at the mountains in the distance. “I’m not really sure what I did to call it before. It was an…emotional reaction.” And what happened last night definitely isn’t up for discussion.

“Interesting.” He jots something down in his notebook with a piece of charcoal. “You’ve wielded lightning besides yesterday’s display during the War Games?”

I debate keeping my answer to myself, but my silence isn’t going to help.

“A few times.”

“And both times were the result of emotional reactions?”

Tairn snorts, and I smack his foreleg with the back of my hand. “Yes.”

“Well, then start there. Ground in your power and try to feel whatever it was you were feeling.” He goes back to his notebook.

“Should I get the wingleader?” Tairn flat-out laughs in my head.

“Shut up.” I ground both feet in my Archives and power flows around me, through me. Andarna’s golden light is there, too, but it’s softened from having been drained yesterday, and high above me swirl the inky-black shadows I know represent the connection to Xaden.

“Problems?” Xaden asks, as if he feels my inquiry. “And what are you doing so far away?”

“Training with Carr.” My cheeks heat at the sound of his low voice.

“And how do you know how far away I am anyway?”

“Get stronger in wielding, and you’ll be able to do it, too. There’s nowhere in existence you could go that I wouldn’t find you, Violence.” The promise should be a threat, but it’s not. It’s too damned comforting for that.

“Right now, I’d settle for wielding some lightning. Carr is staring at me, and it’s about to get really fucking awkward if I can’t figure out how-”

Images of…me flood my mind. It’s last night, except I’m somehow seeing it through Xaden’s eyes, feeling the unmistakable burn of insatiable desire. My control slips-no, it’s Xaden’s control slipping as I moan beneath him, my hips riding his hand, my nails biting into his skin with a pain that borders on pleasure as I writhe. Gods, I need-no-he needs me. His hunger walks the line of starvation to know my touch, my taste, the feel of-

Power floods my entire system, crackling along my skin, and light flashes behind my closed eyes.

The images stop, and my feelings are once again my own.

And fuck if I’m not so turned on that I have to shift my weight to ease the ache between my thighs.

“Good job!” Professor Carr nods, jotting something down.

“I can’t believe you just did that.”

“You’re welcome.”

My cheeks are flaming hot as I lift the backs of my hands to my skin.

“See, I told you.” Carr lifts the notebook. “The last lightning wielder said it made them overheat. Now do it again.” Tairn chortles.

“Not a single fucking word out of you,” I warn.

This time, I focus on the feeling of the power rush and not what got it there, opening every sense and letting white-hot energy course through me, gathering to a breaking point. Then I release it, and lightning strikes more than a mile away. Well, look at that. I am a certified badass.

“Maybe you could work at aiming it this time?” Professor Carr peers over his notebook. “Just remember not to exhaust the physical strength with which you control the power. No one wants to see you burn out. A power like Tairn’s will eat you alive if you can’t contain it.”

Lightning strikes five more times before I’m exhausted, and none of it hits where I was aiming.

This is going to be harder than I thought.

You'll Also Like