These sheets will be fucked. Iza can’t see them. I have to burn them, but oh, God, his mouth is on my neck, fangs scraping my jugular. Yes, do it. I’m frozen, waiting, but then he moves to my breast and draws on my nipple before sliding out of me and replacing his cock with his mouth. I forget everything and let the heat take me. Let his mouth claim me. Let his tongue plunder me.
Twenty-four hours of Azazel’s cock and tongue. Twenty-four hours. This is heaven, and this is hell.
I woke to an empty bed and a weight on my heart. The pain was gone. The heat was gone, and the last twenty-four hours were a blur of fucking, touching, and licking. He’d done everything but kiss me.
He’d done what he needed to and was gone.
He cared… Of course he did, but there was more. There had to be. I wasn’t crazy. I had to know.
“Hey,” Cora said from the dresser. Her eyes were sympathetic smudges in her face.
I sat up, holding the sheet to my chest, and then burst into tears.
Cora didn’t say anything. She held me while I cried and stroked my back.
Finally, the sobs ran out. I wiped my eyes. “Why me? I mean, I’m totally going to throw a pity party, and anyone who says I can’t can fuck off!”
“I don’t know, babe,” Cora said.
“I want him, Cor. I…I think I’m in love with him, and I can’t have him, and that fucking sucks donkey balls. I can’t have Conah or Mal, either.”
“That doesn’t mean they don’t want you.”
“And then there’s Grayson and Hunter who want me, like really want me, but…”
“You don’t want that life.”
“Then take what you want,” Cora said. “What’s the point in living if there’s no love or joy? Steal the moments, babe. Fuck the cosmos.”
I smiled at her. “I love your beautiful mind.”
“And you’ll love the bath I’ve run you too. I even added a bath bomb. Get up, get clean. You’ll feel better. I’m going to pop to Lumiers and grab some cakes.”
“Can I get a large mocha with sprinkles?”
“And a custard-filled donut.”
“Fee, babe, I’ll get you the whole fucking store if that’s what you want.”
There was something totally therapeutic about baked goods. “Oh, God. I love you so fucking much.”
She kissed my forehead and winked out.
I got off the spunk-smeared bed and headed to the bathroom.
The bath did help. The mocha and donuts Cora had left on my dresser helped even more. I needed to speak to Petra. I needed to find out what this heat meant and what I could do to stop it. Like fuck was I being a slave to my vagina every fucking month.
But first, I needed to speak to Azazel. I needed to thank him for loaning me his cock, and I needed to lay the cards on the table. So we couldn’t be together, but we didn’t have to lie about how we felt, right?
I pulled a robe over my underwear and put on my slippers. Third floor, here I come.
Azazel’s domain was sealed with a set of ornately carved double doors at the end of a short walkway at the top of the stairs to the third floor. The whole floor was his, and I’d never been up here.
I knocked, but there was no answer. He was here. I could feel it, and I wasn’t leaving without speaking to him.
I pushed open the door and entered the room beyond. It was a dark wood corridor with paintings hung on the wall. There were no windows up here, no natural light, but maybe that was to protect the paintings? The artificial light was soft and ambient.
I couldn’t help but stare at the pictures. Landscapes, seascapes, and strange, surreal images that begged to be studied for hours. The colors were vibrant in some, and dark and angry in others. Each painting held an emotion, and each emotion hit me hard, so that by the time I was at the door on the other end of the corridor, I was a quivering mass of contradictory feelings.
This door was ajar. I went to knock but changed my mind, suddenly afraid Azazel would slam the door on me before I could say what I needed to. Instead, I stepped into his private quarters, into a room bathed in predawn light. The smell of turpentine hit me first, and then I registered the easel and the various finished canvases leaning against the walls. I took a step closer, taking in the portrait on the easel. The curve of the cheek, the silver-blonde hair, and the bright blue eyes. Me…He was painting me.
I looked down at the canvas propped up against the wall closest to the easel. It was me again, in profile this time, a slight smile on my face. And there was another and another. So many portraits of me in different poses, different expressions. He’d captured the light in my eyes, the mirth in my smile, the essence of me. He’d captured it all and held it captive up here where he could revel in it. My heart swelled, and my eyes grew hot.
I felt his presence as a warmth blooming between my shoulder blades. I inhaled him as he stepped closer and closed my eyes as his hands cupped my shoulders.
“You shouldn’t be up here.” His voice was gruff and hungry. “This is my space.”
“I want you, Azazel.”
“You’ve had me. No more.”
“I want your heart.”
“It will kill you.”
I bit my bottom lip. “I don’t care.”
“Tell me how much?”
“Enough to stop.” He spun me to face him.
His eyes were silver shards cutting into my soul. His chest was bare and damp against my fingers. I ached to kiss the water from his skin, to run my fingers through his wet hair. He smelled like an approaching storm, and I wanted to be washed away in him.
“You shouldn’t be here, Fee,” he said again. “This connection needs to cool.”
“I know. But I can still feel you inside me.”
His chest rumbled. “Fee, please…”
“One more hour, Azazel. One hour without the heat. Just you and me. Just us.”
Heat pricked the back of my eyes as I searched his face for some give. The hard line of his mouth softened, his eyes darkened, and then his hand slid into my hair. He cupped the back of my head and brought his lips so close they almost kissed mine.
“If we do this, it can’t happen again, Fee. Do you understand?”
The slight hitch to his voice, the hard ridge of his cock pressed to my belly told me how much he wanted this, too.
I nodded, my pulse beating faster in my throat. I wanted him to kiss me. I wanted all of him because there was no longer any doubt in my mind about my feelings for Azazel. It was more than lust. More than soulmates. This was love.
“Say it, Fee. Say you understand.”
“I love you.” The words exploded from my lips, and he sucked them in with his inhalation. “Azazel, make love to me.”
“Damn it, Fee. Why…why did you—”
I pressed my lips to his, and then his tongue was in my mouth, licking and wrestling with mine. He kissed me like I was an oasis, deep and satisfying. His hands tangled in my hair, and we crumpled to the ground, mouths still fused together in a desperate, hungry kiss, but the kiss softened, turning to something more, something that sent tingles racing down my neck. He plucked at my lips with his, our gazes connected deep and meaningful between each peck.
“Just once,” he said.
I nodded mutely.
“I can’t say it, Fee. I can’t think it.”
A lump formed in my throat, and tears spilled from the corners of my eyes. “I know.”
“But I can show you.”
He proceeded to do just that, with his hands and his mouth and his tongue, and this time, when we connected, it was slow and sensual, eyes locked as we joined. His fangs slid out of his gums, and I turned my head to the side, offering him my neck.
He didn’t resist, he latched on and pierced me, sucking and feeding as we coupled deep and slow. I’d come hard during the heat, but this time, with Azazel inside me and my blood flowing into him, the orgasm stretched out over several minutes until I was sobbing his name over and over again.
Later would bring the emptiness, but for the next hour, I’d enjoy being whole.
I stared at Petra over my coffee mug. Lumiers was busy at lunchtime, and the noise was enough to drown out the thud of my erratic heartbeat at her words.
“Can you repeat that?”
The look of pity on her face didn’t give me much hope that I’d misheard her the first time.
“The heat will get worse,” she repeated. “Coming closer and closer together until you either expire from it or complete the bond. There is no way to stop it.”
Yep, I’d definitely heard right.
I wanted to scream.
“I’m surprised the heat accepted an unconfirmed soulmate as a substitute. I doubt it will do so next time.”
“What if Azazel was my confirmed soulmate?”
“You might trick it, but it won’t stop it. It will get worse.”
I took a gulp of my mocha and reveled in the burn. “What if I kill Hunter?”
She blinked in surprise at me. “Kill him?”
I shrugged. “You know, if he’s dead, then I’d be free, right?”
“You really don’t want this, do you?”
“Is it that obvious?”
“And you’d kill your fated mate?”
I covered my face with my hands. “No. No, I couldn’t do that. I wish I fucking could, though.”
She placed her hand over mine. “There is another option…”
“Mate with Grayson.”
“How will that help?”
“Your wolf was drawn to him and his to yours. There is a match there, not as strong as with Hunter, but maybe strong enough to stop the heat for Hunter. They are fraternal twins, and their genes are practically identical…Complete the mating with Grayson in human form, and maybe that will be enough to banish the heat.”