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Chapter no 3

House of Sky and Breath

Ruhn Danaan knew three things with absolute certainty:

  1. He had smoked so much mirthroot that he couldn’t feel his face. Which was a damn shame because there was a female currently sitting on it.
  2. He had downed an obscene amount of whiskey, because he had no idea what the female’s name was, or how they’d gotten to his bedroom, or how he’d wound up with his tongue between her legs.
  3. He really fucking loved his life. At least … right now.

Ruhn dug his fingers into the soft, spotted flanks of the delectable creature moaning above him, dragging his lip ring across that spot he knew would—

Yeah. There it was. That groan of pure pleasure that shot right to his cock, currently aching behind the fly of his black jeans. He hadn’t even undressed before going to town on the sweet faun who’d shyly approached him at the beer pong table. He’d gotten one look at her large green eyes, the long legs that ended in those pretty little hooves, and the creamy skin of her neck, above those high, perky breasts, and known precisely where he wanted this night to end.

Good thing she’d had the same idea. Had told him precisely what she wanted in that whisper-soft voice.

Ruhn flicked his tongue across the taut bud of her clit, savoring the meadow-soft taste of her in his mouth. She arched, thighs straining—and

came with a series of breathy moans that nearly had him spilling in his pants.

Ruhn gripped her bare ass, letting her ride his face through each wave of pleasure, moaning himself as he slipped his tongue inside her to let her delicate inner muscles clench around him.

Fuck, this was hot. She was hot. Even through the haze of drugs and booze, he was ready to go. All he needed was the okay from those full lips and he’d be buried in her within seconds.

For a heartbeat, like an arrow of light fired through the blissed-out darkness of his mind, he remembered that he was, technically, betrothed. And not to some simpering Fae girl whose parents might be pissed at his behavior, but to the Queen of the Valbaran Witches. Granted, they’d sworn no vows of faithfulness—for fuck’s sake, they’d barely spoken to each other during the Summit and in the months afterward—but … did it cross some line, to fuck around like this?

He knew the answer. The weight of it had lain heavy on him for months. And perhaps that was why he was here right now: it did cross a line, but a line he had no say in. And yes, he respected and admired Hypaxia Enador—she was alarmingly beautiful, brave, and intelligent—but until the High Priestess bound their hands at Luna’s Temple, until that titanium ring went on his finger … he’d savor these last months of freedom.

He hoped it would be months, anyway. Hypaxia had not given his father any indication of a timeline.

The faun stilled, chest heaving, and Ruhn let his thoughts of his betrothed fade away as he swallowed the taste of the faun deep into his throat.

“Merciful Cthona,” the faun breathed, rising on her knees to pull herself off his face. Ruhn released the firm cheeks of her ass, meeting her bright gaze as she peered at him, a flush across her high cheekbones.

Ruhn winked up at her, running a tongue over the corner of his mouth to get one final taste of her. Gods, she was delectable. Her throat bobbed, her pulse fluttering like a beckoning drum.

Ruhn ran his hands up her bare thighs, fingers grazing over her narrow hips and waist. “Do you want to—”

The door to his bedroom burst open, and Ruhn, pinned beneath the female, could do nothing but twist his head toward the male standing there.

Apparently, the sight of the Crown Prince of the Valbaran Fae with a female straddling his face was common enough that Tristan Flynn didn’t so much as blink. Didn’t even smirk, though the faun leapt off Ruhn with a squeak, hiding herself behind the bed.

“Get downstairs,” Flynn said, his usually golden-brown skin pale. Gone was any hint of drunken revelry. Even his brown eyes were sharp.

“Why?” Ruhn asked, wishing he had time to talk to the female quickly gathering her clothes on the other side of the bed before he headed for the door.

But Flynn pointed to the far corner—the pile of dirty laundry, and the Starsword propped against the stained wall beside it. “Bring that.”

Ruhn’s raging hard-on had vanished, thankfully, by the time he made it to the top of the stairs above the foyer. Music still shook the floors of the house, people still drank and hooked up and smoked and did whatever bullshit they usually enjoyed during these parties.

No sign of danger, no sign of anything except—

There. A prickle at the back of his neck. Like a chill wind had skittered over the top of his spine.

“Dec’s new security system picked up some kind of anomaly,” Flynn said, scanning the party below. He’d gone into pure Aux mode. “It’s making all the sensors go off. Some kind of aura—Dec said it felt like a storm was circling the house.”

“Great,” Ruhn said, the hilt of the Starsword cool against his back. “And it’s not some drunk asshole dicking around with magic?”

Flynn assessed the crowds. “Dec didn’t think so. He said from the way it circled the house, it seemed like it was surveilling the area.”

Their friend and roommate had spent months designing a system to be placed around their house and the surrounding streets—one that could pick up things like the kristallos demon, formerly too fast for their technology to detect.

“Then let’s see how it likes being watched, too,” Ruhn said, wishing he was slightly less high and drunk as his shadows wobbled around him. Flynn sniggered.

The mirthroot took hold for a moment, and even Ruhn laughed as he moved for the staircase. But his amusement faded as he checked the rooms on either side of the foyer. Where the fuck was Bryce? He’d last seen her with Fury, Juniper, and Athalar in the living room, but from this angle atop the stairs, he couldn’t see her—

Ruhn had made it three steps down the front staircase, dodging discarded beer cans and plastic cups and someone’s zebra-print bra, when the open front doors darkened.

Or rather, the space within them darkened. Exactly as it had when those demons had stormed through the Gates.

Ruhn gaped for a moment at the portal to Hel that had just replaced his front doors.

Then he reached for the sword half-buckled at his back, working past his brain fog to gather shadows in his other hand. Laughter and singing and talking stopped, and the firstlights guttered. The music shut off as if someone had yanked the power cord from the wall.

Then Bryce and Athalar were at the archway into the living room, his sister now wearing Athalar’s hat, and the angel armed with a gun discreetly tucked against his thigh. Athalar was the only person Ruhn would allow to bring a gun into one of his parties. And Axtar—who was now nowhere to be seen.

Ruhn drew his sword as he leapt down the rest of the stairs, managing to land gracefully on the other side of his sister. Flynn and Dec fell into place beside him. His shadows swirled up his left arm like twining snakes.

A faint light glowed from Bryce— No, that was the glow stick on her arm.

A figure stalked from the darkness in the doorway. Straight out of Hel.

And in that moment, Ruhn knew three more things.

  1. He wasn’t looking at a portal to Hel after all. Shadows swirled there instead. Familiar, whispering shadows.
  2. It wasn’t just the glow stick coiled around Bryce’s arm that was shining. The star-shaped scar beneath her T-shirt blazed with iridescent light.
  3. As a familiar golden-haired Fae male strode from those shadows and into the foyer, Ruhn knew his night was about

to take a turn for the worse.

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