Chapter no 32

Fourth Wing (The Empyrean Book 1)

Walking the parapet on Conscription Day is a certifiable risk.

Walking the parapet in a dress uniform, barefoot, in the dark? Now this is madness.

The first ten feet, while I’m still inside the walls, are the easiest, and as I reach the edge, where the wind ruffles my skirt like a sail, I start to doubt my plan. It’s going to be hard to get to Xaden if I fall to my death.

But I see him sitting about a third of the way across the narrow stone bridge, staring up at the moon like it somehow adds to the burden he carries, and my heart fucking hurts. He had the lives of all one hundred and seven marked ones carved into his back, taking responsibility for them. But who takes responsibility-takes care-of him?

Everyone across the ravine is celebrating his father’s death, and he’s out here mourning it alone. When Brennan died, I had Mira and Dad, but Xaden’s had no one.

You don’t really know me. Not at my core. Isn’t that how he replied when I told him that I’d end up falling for him? As if knowing him would somehow make me want him less, but everything I learn about him only makes me tumble harder and faster.

Oh gods. I know this feeling. Denying it doesn’t make it any less true. My feelings are what they are. I haven’t run from a challenge since I crossed this parapet a year ago, and I’m not about to start now.

The last time I stood here, I was terrified, but the distance to the ground isn’t what has my pulse pounding now. There’s more than one way to fall. Shit. That ache in my chest burns brighter than the power coursing through my veins.

I’m in love with Xaden.

It doesn’t matter that he’s leaving soon or that he probably doesn’t feel the same for me. It doesn’t even matter that he warned me not to fall for him. It’s not an infatuation, our physical chemistry, or even the bond between our dragons that keeps me reaching in every way possible for this man. It’s my reckless heart.

I’ve kept out of his bed-out of his arms-because he’s adamant I can’t fall for him, but that ship has long sailed, so what’s the point in holding back? Shouldn’t I grab hold of every moment we can have while he’s still here?

I take the first step onto the narrow stone bridge and put my arms out for balance. It’s just like walking along Tairn’s spine, which I’ve done hundreds of times.

Except I’m in a dress.

And Tairn isn’t going to catch me if I fall.

He’s going to be so pissed when he hears that I did this- “Already am.”

Xaden’s head snaps in my direction. “Violence?”

I take a step and then another, holding my frame upright with muscle memory I didn’t have last year, and begin to cross.

Xaden swings his legs up and then fucking jumps to his feet. “Turn around right now!” he shouts.

“Come with me,” I call over the wind, bracing myself as a gust whips my skirt against my legs. “Should have gone with the pants,” I mutter and keep walking.

He’s already coming my way, his strides just as long and confident as if he was on solid ground, eating up the distance between us as I move forward slowly until we meet.

“What the fuck are you doing out here?” he asks, locking his hands on my waist. He’s in riding leathers, not a dress uniform, and he’s never looked better.

What am I doing out here? I’m risking everything to reach him. And if he rejects me… No. There’s no room for fear on the parapet.

“I could ask you the same thing.”

His eyes widen. “You could have fallen and died!”

“I could say the same thing.” I smile, but it’s shaky. The look in his eyes is wild, like he’s been driven past the point where he can contain himself in the neat, apathetic facade he usually wears in public.

It doesn’t scare me. I like him better when he’s real with me anyway.

“And did you stop to think that if you fall and die, then I can die?” He leans in and my pulse jumps.

“Again,” I say softly, resting my hands on his firm chest, right above his heartbeat. “I could say the same thing.” Even if Xaden’s death wouldn’t kill Sgaeyl, I’m not sure I could survive it.

Shadows rise, darker than the night that surrounds us. “You’re forgetting that I wield shadows, Violence. I’m just as safe out here as I am in the

courtyard. Are you going to wield lightning to break your fall?” Fine. That’s a good point.

“I…perhaps did not think that part through as thoroughly as you,” I admit. I wanted to be close to him, so I got close, parapet be damned.

“You’re seriously going to be the death of me.” His fingers flex at my waist. “Go back.”

It’s not a rejection, not with the way he’s looking at me. We’ve been sparring emotionally for the past month, hell, even longer than that, and one of us has to expose our jugular. I finally trust him enough to know he won’t go for the kill.

“Only if you do. I want to be wherever you are.” And I mean it. Everyone else-everything else in the world can fall away and I won’t care as long as I’m with him.


“I know why you said you don’t see a future for us.” My heart races like it’s trying to take flight as I blurt out the words.

“Do you?” Of course he isn’t going to make this easy. I’m not sure the man even knows what easy is.

“You want me,” I say, looking him in the eyes. “And no, I’m not just talking about in bed. You. Want. Me, Xaden Riorson. You might not say it, but you do one better and show it. You show it every time you choose to trust me, every time your eyes linger on mine. You show it with every sparring lesson you don’t have time for and every flight lesson that pulls you away from your own studies. You show it when you refuse to touch me because you’re worried I don’t really want you, then show it again when you take the time to hunt down violets before a leadership meeting so I don’t wake up feeling alone. You show it in a million different ways. Please don’t deny it.”

His jaw flexes, but he doesn’t deny it.

“You think we don’t have a future because you’re scared that I won’t like who you really are behind all those walls you keep. And I’m scared, too. I can admit it. You’re graduating. I’m not. You’ll be gone in a matter of weeks, and we’re probably setting ourselves up for heartbreak. But if we let fear kill whatever this is between us, then we don’t deserve it.” I lift one hand to the back of his neck. “I told you that I was the one who would decide when I’m ready to risk my heart, and I’m saying it.”

The way he looks at me, with the same mix of hope and apprehension currently flooding my system, gives me absolute life. “You don’t mean that,” he says, shaking his head.

And there he goes, sucking the life right out again.

“I mean it.”

“If this is about the Imogen thing-”

“It’s not.” I shake my head, the wind catching the curls Quinn spent so much time on. “I know there’s no one else. I wouldn’t be walking the parapet in the middle of the night if I thought you were playing me.”

His brow furrows, and he pulls me in closer against the warmth of his body. “Then what made you even think that? Have to admit, it pissed me off. I’ve given you exactly zero reasons to think I’m in anyone else’s bed.” Which means he’s only in mine.

“My own insecurities and the way she looked at you and Garrick sparring. You might not have a thing for her, but she definitely has one for you. I know that look. It’s the same look I have when I’m watching you.” Embarrassment heats my cheeks. I could change the subject or deflect, but it’s not going to do our relationship-if that’s even what this is-any favors if I hide my feelings, no matter how weak the irrational ones might make me seem.

“You’re jealous.” He bites back a smile.

“Maybe,” I admit, then decide that answer is half-assed. “Fine. Yes. She’s strong and fierce and has that same ruthless streak you do. I’ve always thought she was a better match for you.”

“I know the feeling well.” He shakes his head. “And you are strong and fierce and have a ruthless streak, too. Not to mention you’re the smartest person I’ve ever met. That mind of yours is sexy as hell. Imogen and I are just friends. Trust me, she wasn’t looking at me, and even if she were…” He pauses, his hand slipping to cradle the back of my head as he holds us steady despite the gusting wind. “Gods help me, I’m only looking at you.” Hope is a stronger buzz than anything they were serving at the party.

“She wasn’t looking at you?”

“No. Rethink what you just said but take me out of the equation.” He lifts his brows, waiting for me to come to the right conclusion.

“But on the sparring mat…” My eyes widen. “She has a thing for


“Catching on fast, aren’t you?”

“I am. Are you done pushing me away?”

He draws back, searching my eyes in the moonlight before glancing over my shoulder. “You done putting yourself in harm’s way to get your point across?”

“Probably not.”

He sighs. “There’s only you, Violence. Is that what you needed to hear?” I nod.

“Even when I’m not with you, there’s only you. Next time, just ask. You’ve never had a problem being bluntly honest with me.” Wind blows around us, but he’s as immovable as the parapet itself. “As I remember, you’ve even thrown daggers at my head, which I greatly prefer over watching you get tangled up in your thoughts. If we’re going to do this, then we have to trust each other.”

“And you want to do this?” I hold my breath.

He sighs, long and hard, then admits, “Yes.” His hand slides up, and he caresses my cheek with his thumb. “I can’t make you any promises, Violence. But I’m tired of fighting it.”

“Yes.” One word has never meant so much to me. Then I blink, remembering his previous comment about jealousy. “What do you mean you know the feeling of jealousy well?”

His hands tighten on my waist, and he looks away.

“Oh no, if I have to trust you and tell you what I’m thinking, then I expect the same from you.” I’m not going to be the only vulnerable one out on this ledge.

He grumbles, dragging his gaze back to mine. “I saw Aetos kiss you after Threshing and nearly lost my shit.”

If I didn’t already love him, that might have pushed me over the edge. “You wanted me then?”

“I’ve wanted you from the first second I saw you, Violence,” he admits.

“And if I was short with you today…well, it’s just a shit day.”

“I understand. And you know Dain and I are just friends, right?”

“I know that’s how you feel, though I wasn’t sure back then.” He runs his thumb over the swell of my lips. “Now get your ass back on solid ground.” He wants to stay out here and wallow.

“Come with me.” My fingers grasp the material of his flight leathers, ready to tug him along if I have to.

He shakes his head and looks away. “I’m not in a place to take care of anyone tonight. And yes, I know that’s a shitty thing to say, since it’s the anniversary of losing Brennan-”

“I know.” I slide my hands down his arms. “Come with me, Xaden.”

“Vi…” His shoulders dip, and the sadness that permeates the air between us puts a lump in my throat.

“Trust me.” I step back out of his arms and take his hands. “Come on.”

A moment of tense silence passes before he nods once, moving forward and holding me steady while I turn around. “I’m much better at this than I was last July.”

“So I see.” He stays close, one hand on my waist as I walk the last part of the parapet. “In a fucking dress.”

“It’s a skirt, actually,” I say over my shoulder, only feet away from the wall.

“Eyes forward!” he grumbles, and it’s only the fear in his tone that keeps me from doing something arrogant like skipping the last few feet.

The second we’re within the confines of the wall, he hauls me against him, my back to his front. “Don’t ever put your life at risk over something as trivial as talking to me again.” It’s as low as a growl against my ear, sending a shiver down my spine.

“Next year is going to be so much fun,” I tease, walking forward and lacing my fingers with his so he follows.

“Liam will be here next year to make sure you’re not doing asinine things,” he mutters.

“You’re going to love getting his letters,” I promise, jumping the final foot off the parapet to the courtyard below. “Huh.” I glance around the empty courtyard while putting my slippers back on. “Garrick and Bodhi were just here.”

“They probably know I’m going to kill them for letting you out there. A dress, Sorrengail? Really?”

I take his hand in mine and head across the courtyard.

“Where are we going?” He sounds just as much the asshole as the day I met him.

“You’re taking me to your room,” I say over my shoulder as we approach the dormitory.

“I’m what?”

I throw open the door, grateful for the mage lights that make it easy to see him now, sneer and all. “You’re taking me to your room.” Turning left, I lead us past the hallway to my room and then start up the wide spiral staircase.

“Someone will see,” he argues. “It’s not my reputation I’m worried about, Sorrengail. You’re a first-year and I’m your wingleader-”

“Pretty sure everyone already knows-we set half the forest on fire that night,” I remind him as we climb past the door to the second-year hallway. “Did you know that the first time I climbed these steps with Dain, I was horrified that there wasn’t a handrail?”

“Did you know I can’t stand to hear his name on your lips while you’re leading the way to my room?” He trudges up the steps behind me, shadows curling from the wall as if they sense his mood and want nothing to do with it. But his shadows don’t scare me. There’s nothing about this man that scares me anymore, except the magnitude of my feelings for him.

“Point is, and now look at me.” I grin as we reach the third-year floor, and I push open the arched door. “All but dancing on the parapet in a dress.”

“Probably not a good time to remind me.” He follows me into the hallway. It looks like the second-year floor, except there are fewer doors and a high, vaulted roof.

“Which one is yours?”

“I should make you guess,” he mutters but keeps my fingers laced with his as we walk to the end of the massively long hall. Of course it’s the last one.

“Fourth Wing,” I scoff. “Always has to go the farthest.”

He unweaves his own wards and opens his door, standing back so I can walk in first. “I’m going to have to either ward your new door before I go or teach you how in the next ten days.”

I’m not thinking about the looming deadline of his departure as I step into his room for the first time. It’s twice as big as mine-and so is the bed. Surviving to third year has some serious perks. Or maybe the size reflects his rank, who knows.

It’s immaculately clean, with a large armchair by the bed, dark-gray rug, wide wooden armoire, tidy desk, and a bookshelf that gives me instant envy. A sword rack consumes the area beside the door, complete with so many daggers that I can’t possibly count them all, and across the space, next to the desk, stands a throwing target just like I have in my room. There’s a table and chairs in the corner, and his window faces Basgiath but is framed by thick black curtains with Fourth Wing’s emblem on the bottom.

“We do leadership meetings for the sections in here sometimes,” he says from the doorway.

I pivot to find him watching me with curious eyes, like he’s waiting for me to pass judgment on his space. Walking past the sword rack, I let my fingers graze across the handles of the different daggers. “How many challenges have you won anyway?”

“The better question is how many have I lost,” he says, coming in and closing the door behind him.

“There’s the ego I know and love so much,” I mutter, making my way to the bed, which, just like mine, is outfitted in black.

“Have I told you how beautiful you look tonight?” His voice lowers. “If not, I’m a fool, because you are magnificently beautiful.”

Heat rises in my cheeks, and my mouth curves into a smile. “Thank you.

Now sit.” I pat the edge of his bed. “What?” His eyebrows rise.

“Sit,” I order, staring him down.

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

“I never said you had to.” There’s no need to ask what it is, nor am I going to let what happened nearly six years ago drive a wedge between us, not even for one night.

To my absolute surprise, he does as I ask, sitting on the side of his bed. His long legs stretch out in front of him, and he leans back slightly on the heels of his hands. “Now what?”

I move between his thighs and run my fingers through his hair. He closes his eyes and leans into my touch, and I swear, I feel my heart crack wide open. “Now I take care of you.”

His eyes fly open and gods, are they beautiful. I’ve memorized every gold fleck in those onyx depths, and it’s a good thing, since I don’t know where he’ll be sent after graduation. Seeing him once every few days isn’t the same as being able to touch him anytime I like.

Leaving his hair, I sink to my knees before him.


“I’m just taking off your boots.” A smirk plays at my lips as I unlace one, then the other, taking them off. I rise and carry his boots toward the armoire.

“You can just leave them there,” he blurts.

I put them on the floor next to the armoire and walk back. “I wasn’t going to go snooping through your clothes, and it’s not like I haven’t seen them all anyway.”

His gaze locks on my skirt, heating every time the slit reveals a section of my thigh. “You’ve been wearing that all night?”

“That’s what you get for walking behind me,” I tease, coming to stand between his thighs again.

“I can’t really argue about the view from the back, either.” He tilts his chin to look up at me.

“Be quiet and let me get this off you.” I undo the line of diagonal buttons across his chest, and he shrugs out of the leathers. “Were you flying tonight?”

“It usually helps.” He nods as I lean over to set them on the armchair. “This day is always…”

“I’m sorry.” I look him in the eyes as I say it, hoping he knows how very much I mean it as I return, reaching for his shirt.

“I’m sorry, too.” He lifts his arms, and I tug the shirt off before putting it with the flight jacket.

“You have nothing to be sorry about.” I keep my eyes on his as I cup the unrelenting angles of his face, then trace the scar that bisects a brow.


“Sgaeyl.” He shrugs. “Threshing.”

“Most dragons scar their riders, but Tairn and Andarna have never hurt me,” I say absent-mindedly, my hand slipping down his neck.

“Or maybe they knew you already carried a scar.” He trails his fingers down the long silver scar on my arm from Tynan’s blade. “I wanted to fucking kill them. And instead, I had to stand there and watch them go at you three-on-one. I was at the edge of my control and ready to step in when Tairn landed.”

“It was only two-on-one once Jack ran,” I reminded him. “And you couldn’t have interfered. It’s against the rules, remember?” But he took that step. That single step that told me he would have.

A corner of his mouth quirks into one of the sexiest smirks I’ve ever seen. “At the end of the day, you walked away with two dragons.” His expression falls. “Two weeks from now, I won’t even be here to watch when you’re challenged, let alone do anything about it.”

“I’ll be fine,” I promise. “Whomever I can’t beat in a challenge, I’ll just poison.”

He doesn’t laugh.

“Come on, let’s get you to bed.” I lean in and kiss the scar on his eyebrow. “It will be tomorrow when you wake up.”

“I don’t deserve you.” His arm curls around my hips and he tugs me closer. “But I’m going to keep you all the same.”

“Good.” I lean in and brush my lips over his. “Because I think I’m in love with you.” My heart beats erratically, and panic claws up my rib cage. I shouldn’t have said it.

His eyes flare wide and his arms tighten around me. “You think? Or you know?”

Be brave.

Even if he doesn’t feel the same, at least I will have spoken my truth. “I know. I’m so wildly in love with you that I can’t imagine what my life would even look like without you in it. And I probably shouldn’t have said that, but if we’re doing this, then we’re starting from a place of complete honesty.”

He crushes his mouth to mine and pulls me fully into his lap so I’m straddling him. He kisses me so deep that I lose myself in it, in him. There are no words as he takes off my sash, my top, and unbuttons my skirt, all without breaking the kiss. “Stand,” he says against my lips.

“Xaden.” My heart thunders.

“I fucking need you, Violet. Right now. And I don’t need anyone, so I’m not quite sure how to handle this feeling, but I’m giving it my best. And if you don’t want this tonight, that’s fine, but I’m going to need you to walk out that door right now, because if you don’t, I’m going to have you naked on your back in the next two minutes.”

The intensity in his eyes and the vehemence of his words should frighten me, but they don’t. Even if this man loses every ounce of his self-control, I know he’ll never hurt me.

Not with his body, at least.

“Walk away or stay, but either way, I need you to stand up,” he begs.

“I think two minutes might be overestimating your skills with a corset.” I glance down at my armor.

He grins and lifts me from his lap.

My feet hit the floor. “I’m timing you.”

“Is that-”

“One. Two.” I hold up my fingers. “Three.”

He’s on his feet in a heartbeat, and then his mouth is on mine, and I stop counting. I’m too busy chasing the strokes of his tongue, feeling the ripple of his muscles beneath my fingertips, to give a shit where my clothes are going.

I feel air rush against my legs as my skirt hits the floor, and I help him out by kicking off my slippers while I suck on his tongue.

He groans, his hands flying over my back. Laces loosen in record time, and the corset falls to the floor, leaving me in my underwear, since there wasn’t much else fitting underneath that dress uniform.

Daggers, both his and mine, hit the ground as he unstraps the sheaths at my thighs and undoes his own. It’s a glorious cacophony of metal until we’re both naked and he’s kissing me breathless.

Then his hands are in my hair, and pins fly until the mass falls down my back, unbound. He pulls back only long enough to rake his ravenous gaze down my body. “So fucking beautiful.”

“I think that might have been a little longer than two-” I start, but he grabs the back of my thighs and lifts, sweeping my feet out from underneath me. My back hits the bed with a slight bounce, and honestly, I should have seen that move coming given that he’s been putting me on my back for the better part of a year now.

“Still counting?” he asks, dropping to his knees beside the bed and dragging me across the soft coverlet to the edge.

“Do you need me to keep score?” I tease as my ass hits the end of the bed.

“Feel free.” He grins, and before I can get another word in, his mouth is between my thighs.

I suck in a sharp breath and throw my head back at the sheer pleasure of his tongue, licking and swirling around my clit. “Oh gods.”

“Which one are you calling out for?” he asks against my flesh. “Because it’s just you and me in this room, Vi, and I don’t share.”

“You.” My fingers tangle in his hair. “I’m calling out for you.”

“I appreciate the elevation to deity, but my name will do.” He licks me from entrance to clit, finally flicking his tongue over that sensitive bud, and I moan. “Fuck, you taste good.” He lifts my thighs up onto his shoulders and settles in like he has nowhere else to be tonight.

Then he absolutely devours me with tongue and teeth.

Pleasure, hot and insistent, spirals in my stomach and I’m lost in sensation, my hips rising and falling as I chase the high he drives me toward with every expert stab of his tongue.

My thighs tremble when he takes up a rhythm against my clit and drives two fingers inside me. They lock when he strokes his fingers in time with his tongue. Mindless, I’m simply mindless.

Power rushes through me in a deluge, mingling with the pleasure until they’re one and the same, and when he tips me over the edge of oblivion, it’s his name I scream as that power whips outward with every wave of my climax.

Thunder booms, shaking the paneled glass in Xaden’s windows.

“That’s one,” he says, kissing his way up my limp body. “Though I do think we’re going to have to work on the fireworks show or people are always going to know what we’re doing.”

“Your mouth is…” I shake my head as his hands slide under me, moving us to the center of his bed. “There are no words for that.”

“Delicious,” he whispers, his lips skimming the plane of my stomach. “You are absolutely delicious. I never should have waited this long to get my mouth on you.”

I gasp when he sucks the peak of my breast into his mouth, his tongue lashing and stroking my nipple as he works the other between thumb and forefinger, setting a whole new fire within me built on the embers of the first.

By the time he gets to my neck, I’m a writhing flame beneath him, touching every part of him I can reach, stroking my hands down his arms, his back, his chest. Gods, this man is incredible, every line of him carved for battle and built by sparring and swordplay.

Our mouths meet in a deep kiss, and I can taste us both in it as I draw my knees upward, settling his hips right where they’re meant to be-between my thighs.

“Violet,” he groans, and I can feel the head of him at my entrance.

“I don’t get equal time to play?” I tease, arching my hips so he slides against me and making my own breath catch with the motion.

He nips my lower lip. “You can play all you want later if I can have you right now.”

Yeah, that’s a plan I can get with. “You already have me.”

His gaze collides with mine as he hovers above me, bracing his weight to keep from crushing me. “You have everything I have to give.” That’s enough…for now. I nod, arching my hips again.

Eyes locked with mine, he pushes into me with one long roll of his hips, consuming every inch and then taking another until he’s seated to the hilt.

The pressure, the stretch, the fit of him is beyond words.

“You feel so damn good.” I roll my hips because I can’t help myself.

“I could say the same thing about you.” He smiles, using my own words from earlier against me. Hard, deep, and slow, he sets a rhythm that has me arching for every thrust as we come together again and again and again.

He drives us up the bed, and I throw my arms back, bracing against the headboard for leverage as I meet every plunge of his hips. Gods, each is better than the last. When I urge him to move faster, he gives me a wicked grin and takes me at the same mind-blowing, heart-jolting pace. “I want this to last. I need this to last.”

“But I’m…” That fire in my core is coiled tight and so ready to burst free that I can almost taste how sweet it will be.

“I know.” He drives forward again, and I whimper at how fucking good it feels. “Just stay with me.” He adjusts the angle so he hits my clit with every thrust and presses my knee forward, taking me even deeper.

I’m not going to survive this. I’m going to die right here in this bed.

“Then I’m going to die with you,” he promises, kissing me.

I’m so far gone, I didn’t even realize I said the words out loud, and then I remember that I don’t have to. “More. I need more.” Power simmers beneath my skin and my legs lock.

“You’re almost there. Fuck, you feel so damn good around me. I’m never going to get enough of this, enough of you.”

“I love you.” The words are so incredibly freeing, even if he doesn’t say them back.

His eyes flare and his control snaps as he pounds into me, and that coiled pleasure explodes as my powers whip out again, cracking through the room, shattering like glass as he throws his weight to the side, bringing me with him as he drives toward his own release, groaning into the side of my neck as the last waves of my orgasm leave me shuddering against him.

Long minutes pass before our breathing steadies, and a light breeze kisses my thigh that’s thrown over his. “You’re all right?” he asks, brushing my hair back from my face.

“I’m great. You’re great. That was…” “Great?” he supplies.


“I was going to use the word ‘explosive,’ but I think ‘great’ covers it.” His fingers tangle in my hair. “I fucking love your hair. If you ever want to bring me to my knees or win an argument, just let it down. I’ll get the point.”

I grin as the breeze rustles through the brown-to-silver strands.

Wait. There shouldn’t be a breeze.

My stomach drops as I push myself up on an elbow to look over Xaden’s shoulder. “Oh no, no, no.” My hand covers my mouth as I glimpse the destruction. “I’m pretty sure I blew your window out.”

“Unless there’s someone else throwing lightning around, then yeah, that was you. See what I mean? Explosive.” He laughs.

I gasp. That’s why he threw himself sideways, to shield me from my own wreckage. “I’m so sorry.” I scan over the damage, but there’s only sand on the bed. “I’m going to have to get that under control.”

“I threw up a shield. Don’t worry about it.” He pulls me back in for a kiss.

“What are we going to do?” Repairing a window is on a whole different level from replacing an armoire.

“Right now?” He strokes my hair back from my face again. “That was two, if we’re still counting, and I say we clean up, get the sand out of the

bed, and get you to three, maybe four if you’re still awake.”

My jaw drops. “After I just shattered your window?”

He smiles and shrugs. “I’ve got us covered just in case you decide to take out the dresser next.”

I gaze down at his body, and the craving for him ignites again. How could it not when he looks like the gods blessed him and feels like the gods blessed me? “Yeah, let’s go for three.”

We’re going for five, my hips in Xaden’s hands while I slowly ride him, when I trail my fingers down the black swirls of the relic on his neck. I’m not sure how either of us is still moving, and yet we can’t seem to stop tonight, can’t get enough. “It really is beautiful,” I tell him, rising up only to sink back down again, taking him deep within me.

His dark eyes flare as his hands flex. “I used to think of it as a curse, but now I realize it’s a gift.” He arches his hips, hitting me at a sublime angle.

“A gift?” Gods, he’s robbing me of every thought.

Someone pounds on the door.

“Go the fuck away!” Xaden snarls, reaching up my back and hooking onto my shoulder to pull me down into his next thrust.

I fall forward, muffling my moan in his neck.

“I really wish I could.” There’s enough regret in the voice that I believe it.

“Someone better be dead if I get out of this bed, Garrick,” Xaden retorts.

“I think there’re a lot of people dead, which is why they’re calling the full quadrant to formation, jackass!” Garrick growls.

Both Xaden and I startle, our gazes colliding in shock. I slide off him, and Xaden covers me with his blanket before shoving his legs into his leathers and striding for the door.

“What the fuck are you talking about?” he asks through a tiny opening in the door.

“Grab your flight leathers, and you’d better bring Sorrengail with you, too,” Garrick says. “We’re under attack.”

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