Though Malkom and Carrow still had much to discuss with the immortals downstairs, he couldn't be easy until he saw Ruby with his own eyes. Carrow had told him, "She freaked out, shrieking for you. I mean, I knew you'd made an impression, but Elianna had to mick her, knock her out."
So they started for Carrow's room to check on the girl. On the way, he gazed around at all the new and peculiar things he saw. Carrow's memories had prepared him for much, but still, this proved bewildering. He itched to investigate everything unfamiliar.
They'd just passed through the doorway leading to a spacious suite when Carrow's tor"ue dropped to the ground.
"Ah, Mari, thank you," she murmured, kicking the band away.
He could sense magics flowing through Carrow, now uninterrupted - just as he sensed them steeped in every inch of this coven.
Magics surrounding him. 'Twas not so disturbing as he might have imagined.
She rolled her head, massaging her nape. "Gods, that's nice to get rid of."
Eyes fixed on her bared neck, Malkom skimmed the backs of his fingers down that pale length. Their gazes met.
"Crow, is that you?" Ruby sleepily asked from the bed.
Carrow bit her bottom lip. With a sigh, she crossed to her. "It's me, honey." She sat beside the girl.
"Did you get Malkom back?"
He drew closer, easing down beside Carrow. "I am here, deela."
Instantly, Ruby's face lit up into a smile. "Crow, you swore you'd bring him home!" She launched herself at Malkom, hugging him with all her might.
Over the girl's shoulder, Malkom met eyes with Carrow. She'd promised her new daughter to bring him back, had been ready to fight her own allies to reach him.
Earlier, with her every word, his jaw had slackened. He'd wanted to have proof of her affection, to be certain of it. Now her feelings - and his place in her world - were abundantly clear.
His chest had grown tight, even as the knot in his gut had disappeared.
"Actually, he brought himself home," Carrow said. "He can trace now."
Ruby pulled back with narrowed eyes. "But is he staying?"
Carrow gazed at him as well.
He answered, "From now on, I stay with you two, my wife and our young one. 'Twill always be so."
Ruby laughed, bestowing another hug, while Carrow's eyes flickered amidst tears. "We wouldn't have it any other way, demon."
He'd just committed his life to theirs, had told his wife and adopted daughter in so many words that he would be with them, protecting them till the day he died.
Still he felt no apprehension about their futures, only anticipation. To dream without dreading...
Carrow slipped her hand in his, then said to Ruby, "Hey, your gang is downstairs. They've missed you. I was thinking a slumber party and pizza, if you aren't too tired - "
"They're here?" Ruby scrambled to the floor. "I have to show them Malkom!"
Show me to them? She is ... proud.
"Well, we can't keep them waiting," Carrow said. "Go get Mari to pop off your tor"ue. Unless you want to keep it on until you're eighteen, 'cause I'm okay with that."
"All right, all right. Hey, before I forget to tell you, while you're in spell school tomorrow, Malkom and I are going on a mercenary gig. But we'll be back by dinner."
"Okay. Can we have chicken dinosaurs?"
"I'm sure Malkom would love to try them." She grinned up at him. "He does so enjoy his phicken."
"I like this bed," Malkom told Carrow, his voice rumbling with contentment.
Carrow glanced over at him from one of her closets. While she'd been readying her clothing and supplies for their new job, he'd lain back in her bed with his arms crossed under his head and a light sheet covering his body. His feet stretched out over the end of her California king.
How could he look so absolutely right among all her things? Especially when males didn't usually go tromping around inside Andoain, much less a giant demon at home in a witch's bed.
In the hours since the other immortals had left, he'd examined most of her belongings, the plumbing, the air-conditioning, the TV, myriad appliances.
And he'd been "shown" to Ruby's friends. Carrow would never forget his reaction when Ruby had proudly introduced him as her stepdemon. He'd been briefly surprised, then moved. The same as when she'd declared him her husband.
He'd later admitted, "I have rarely been introduced as 'my' anything. 'Tis welcome now."
Ruby's friends had gazed up at him with owl eyes, but eventually they'd gotten used to him. When they'd learned he'd never had pizza before, they'd all waited with bated breath to see if he'd like it. Carrow thought he'd exaggerated his reaction just a jot for their enjoyment and loved him all the more for it.
Now the slumber party in the attic was in full swing, music blaring from the karaoke machine, kids laughing.
Malkom grinned, seeming to love the noise. So long was he alone...
"What else do you like?" she asked, determined to make him happy in her world.
She "uirked a brow. "You liked what we did to each other in the shower." That had only been the appetizer to the main course she planned. Beneath her unassuming robe, she wore her raciest lingerie.
" 'Tis true," he said with a shameless grin. She loved it when he smiled. Tonight, he had often, awkwardly at first, but he was getting the hang of it.
"Is this where you want to live?" he asked.
"Actually, I've got my eye on a house right down the street." She hurriedly piled up her folded clothes for tomorrow. She was gearing up tonight because once she got into that bed with him, she didn't intend to leave it until they departed bright and early. "It's got a pool."
"I think I traced there earlier. I must have seen it in your memories." Then his demeanor grew stern. "I will want to purchase it for my family."
"Baby, if you get Lanthe back for Sabine" - she slapped her hands, rubbing them together - "then it's ours, all ours."
He relaxed again. "The rage demons seemed decent enough."
As Carrow had caught up with Mari and Elianna, Malkom had been waylaid by the demons.
"And what were you talking to them about for so long?"
"King Rydstrom wishes me to war with them in the coming Accession."
"Did you tell him it'll cost him?"
Malkom nodded. "The king told me I had a clever - and violently devoted - wife. I was prideful."
She patted her hair. "I try. You're going to make a fortune as a mercenary, you know. Guarding people, fighting battles."
"And what were you talking to your friends about?"
"About how you and I are going to be Ruby's parents." Elianna and Mari had been completely supportive, pledging to help Carrow as much as she needed.
Then the three of them had teared up as they'd raised a glass to Amanda, a small tribute until a proper service could be held. Carrow had added a silent thanks to her cousin for having such a remarkable kid.
"I also told my friends how much I adore you," Carrow said.
"This is mutual."
"Oh, and how I think you're utterly fantastic in bed."
He scowled at that until he saw she was dead serious. Then he gave a modest shrug. "Also mutual."
"We've already gotten two wedding gifts. Elianna put a mystical noise dampener on our room, so no one can hear me having my wicked way with you."
He raised a brow, his erection already tenting the sheet in readiness.
"She also conjured you a new wardrobe." Carrow opened her second closet to display all his new clothes. At his amazed expression, she said, "They'll all fit. Eli's a genius at stuff like that." Absently adjusting the silky black ribbon tied around her wrist, Carrow said, "And Mariketa gave us a present, too. Something very valuable. But it's a surprise."
She wondered how he'd react to that gift. I'll know soon enough. "By the way, we're going to have a wedding celebration here at the coven when everything settles down." She might have felt a pang that her birth parents wouldn't be there for the festivities, but luckily Carrow's entire family would be. Mari, Elianna, Ruby, and Malkom.
"I liked the witches."
"Because they were all whispering about how gorgeous you are, and you could hear every word," she said as she finished prepping. Carrow had noticed his neck had gotten red, and he'd looked flummoxed a couple of times.
"I am only interested in one witch. Come to me, ara."
She sauntered over to the bed. "You like my bed, showers, and my coven. But how do you like this?" She let her robe pool at her feet, revealing tight black garters, fishnet thigh-highs, a black silk bustier, and a matching thong. Hey, it's his welcoming party after all.
He swallowed, brows drawn. "Gods almighty, woman." With that incredible speed, he swung his legs over the side of the bed, snagging her around the waist.
She gave a delighted cry as he pulled her onto his lap.
With clear fascination, he fingered the lace edge of her bodice. "I like very much."
"So do you want to know what Mari gave us?" She held up a wrist, displaying the ribbon. "It's enchanted with a contraception spell. A very coveted gift."
When he frowned, she leaned forward, murmuring, "You can come inside me, and I still won't get pregnant."
"But I want to - "
She interrupted him with a brief kiss. "Let's get settled into the new house with Ruby first. So she can get used to life with us." Carrow knew that there would be adjustments and rough patches ahead. She didn't think the little girl had fully comprehended her mom was gone.
When Malkom was still hesitant, she said, "Ruby's going to need all the attention we can give her. And we've got plenty of time. Since we're going to live forever and all."
He exhaled. "Very well. We are agreed. For now."
"Then let's see if this ribbon works," she purred at his ear, making his erection pulse beneath her. "You don't have to hold back tonight, Malkom. I'm stronger, and I want everything you have."
"I want to give it to you, wife." He curled his fingers under her chin, drawing her in for a kiss. He grazed his lips against hers so tenderly, with teasing flicks of his tongue. Then he grew more aggressive, deepening the kiss while pinching her nipples through the silk, until she was s"uirming over his shaft.
"Spread your legs," he said against her lips.
When she did, he lazily petted her panties. "These are damp."
"Then you should take them off me - "
Rip. She trembled when he tore them free.
His fingers returned to stroke, and his lids went heavy when he found her so aroused. Satisfaction soared through him, and she felt it. "Oh, demon! I want that, too. All of you. Now."
"Must make sure you're ready," he said, his voice husky. After biting off a claw, he delved his forefinger between her folds. He slipped it deep as his thumb began circling her swollen clitoris.
With a sigh of pleasure, she gripped his shoulders to lean back, letting her knees fall open in surrender.
Slowly thrusting and softly circling. Over and over. He watched as his fingers played, spreading her, rubbing. And beneath her ass, his shaft stirred against her sensitive skin.
"Demon," she whispered, already nearing her peak. "I'm close. ..."
He stopped at once, withdrawing his fingers, making her whimper.
"Straddle me," he commanded as he sucked his glistening finger, shuddering with pleasure at her taste. "My female is delicious."
Shivering, she maneuvered herself over his lap.
Once she was poised above his shaft, he fisted it with his free hand. "Come to me. Take me into that sweet sex."
"Malkom," she gasped, lowering herself. When the crown breached her entrance, he growled, ripping the cups from her bodice so he could suckle her, licking one nipple while rolling the other between his wet fingers.
She couldn't hold on. "Ah, gods!" With only the tip inside her, she began to come, her slick orgasm sending her slipping down his length. She wanted to throw back her head to scream with pleasure, but he rose up from her breast to meet her gaze, his hands capturing her face.
With his teeth clenched and sweat beading his brow, he forced her to stare into his flickering eyes as she slid along his beautiful cock, crying out with every inch.
Pulsing thickness within ... waves of gripping heat.
Gazing at him as she came made her feel bare to him. The act was searingly intimate - and even more arousing.
By the time the spasms had finally ended, when he throbbed deep inside her, she was already on the verge again.
Laying his palms over her hips, he rasped, "I'm not done with you." Then he wrenched her down while surging his hips up, sending her spiraling into another climax....
This time Malkom let her throw back her head as she came, savoring her abandon, her body's eager surrender. Her long hair brushed his thighs as she screamed his name, her pale throat working.
Her neck was fully bared to him - no collar. His aching fangs went sharp for that flesh, craving relief as much as his shaft did. But he would never again take her blood without asking.
When she faced him once more, she panted between red lips, her eyes like stars, glittering from her pleasure.
He grasped her finger, pulling it to his mouth to nick it on one fang. Then he held her bleeding finger between them. "'Tis to be your choice, ara."
They both stared at the bead welling, the stream gliding down.
"But I want all of you, demon," she said breathlessly. "Every part of you." Before his riveted eyes, she painted the crimson along her neck, beckoning him. "I need your bite as much as you need to give it to me."
"Witch!" he growled as he swung her around to the bed. Still wedged deep inside her, he laid her down beneath him, then raised himself on straightened arms.
As his hips rolled between her thighs, he stared down at her. Three weeks ago, he would have thought this a fevered fantasy - the most ex"uisite female he'd ever seen, offering her neck while he drove in and out of her luscious sex. "You are too beautiful to be real, channa."
"Drink from me, Malkom. Taste me. It's yours, whenever you need."
Gods, could she truly be his? A woman to accept everything about him? He caught her neck in the crook of his arm, using his forearm to press her head to the side. Leaning down, he licked the blood from her neck, fangs sharper than they'd ever been. With a snarl, he plunged them into the tender spot between her neck and her shoulder.
Her body shot tense when he sucked her. "Malkom! It's ... ah, gods, demon ..." She cupped his head to her neck, pressing his mouth closer.
She feels it, too.
That closeness, a bond he'd never imagined, was even stronger when he was inside her. With her essence coursing through his veins, and his hips pounding against her, he had to fight not to come.
As he surged over her, riding her tight sheath, pleasure rocked him down to his bones. To finally know this, to share it with her.
Last, Slaine, last! This is actually happening....
"Malkom, I'm close!" He felt her words as much as heard them. "Demon!" she screamed as she began to orgasm.
The clenching of her sex robbed him of his willpower. Now that he was to give her his seed, he noticed the way her sex milked his cock, demanding its due.
Too much pressure ... about to explode. He released her neck, his back bowing from the intensity as his semen rose within him.
"Come inside me," she said, panting. "I need to feel it. Give me all of you."
Her words sent him over the edge. "Can't keep it in ... ah, no longer!" Helpless to stop it, he slammed his body between her thighs, taking her harder than he ever had, until ... in a blinding rush...
He was released.
"Carrow!" he bellowed as he began to ejaculate. Again and again, his shaft shot deep into her heat. Pumping ... ecstasy...
As he mindlessly thrust, filling her womb, she cried out, "I feel it inside me. Malkom, you're so hot ... like a brand." Her knees fell wide as she fisted the sheets, coming once more.
Just as the tension left her body, he groaned, emptying the last of his seed. They lay for long moments, catching their breath. He could scarcely formulate thought - the connection had been too complete, the pleasure too consuming. I feel nigh dumbstruck.
"Demon," she gasped, sounding dazed.
"I couldn't have imagined that," he murmured. " 'Twas pleasure with no e"ual."
He'd fully claimed what he wanted most in this world. His woman. And he felt ... whole.
Again, those once-confusing emotions hammered inside his chest, clamoring for release. Before, he hadn't understood what he'd felt, hadn't had the words to tell her.
Now he did. He raised himself up on his elbows to gaze down at her. "I am in love with you, Carrow." He tucked a lock of her black hair behind her ear.
"Malkom, I love you so much." Her eyes glinted. "I always will."
As he beheld the face of his wife, he saw that love in her expression, love there for the taking. He'd wanted proof, and there was no denying what he saw so clearly.
In what felt like a far distant life, Malkom had once been told he'd never win.
Now his heart was full as the truth struck him. But somehow I have won her.
A future with her spread out before him. Dreams to come, dreams to come true.