The ​Crown of Gilded Bones

Page 50

He could…he could drink from there? “I don’t have an issue with any of those things.”

He made that rough, needy sound again. “Your body has been through a lot, Poppy, and in a very short period of time. You may feel fine. You might even be, but less than two days ago, you barely had a drop of blood left in you. I’m not going to risk feeding from you. Not today. So, one of us needs to be the responsible party.”

A throaty laugh left me. “You’re the responsible one?”

“Obviously.” He skimmed a finger through the dampness gathering at my center, stroking the fire already flaming to life in my veins.

“I don’t think you know what being responsible means.”

“You might be right.” Casteel kissed me, tugging at my lower lip. “So, you need to be the responsible one.”

“I don’t want to.”

He chuckled against my mouth and then kissed me again, slipping his hand out from between my thighs. “Shower,” he reminded me—or himself.

The level of disappointment I felt when he took my hand was quite shameful, especially when he turned, and the hard length of him brushed my thigh. Another wanton pulse rolled through me as he led me into the stall. He stepped into the shower and turned to me, water wetting his hair, coursing over his shoulders, and droplets—warm droplets—sprinkling my outstretched arm. His heated gaze was so intense it was like a physical caress as it swept over me.

My body trembled as I stood there, letting him look his fill. It wasn’t exactly easy. I fought the urge to shield myself as he held onto my hand. It wasn’t that I was uncomfortable around him or ashamed of the numerous imperfections. No matter how much I trained with weapons and my body, my waist would never be narrow, nor would my hips ever be slender like the Ladies in Wait in Solis.

I liked cheese and bacon and chocolate-covered everything too much for that.

I wasn’t embarrassed by my scars, either. Not when he looked at me like he did now, as if I could very well be a deity or a goddess. Not when those scars, like his, were proof of the life I’d lived and the things I’d survived.

It was just this…openness was new to me. I’d spent the better part of my life clothed from chin to floor, and more than half of my face covered. I knew how to hide. I was only now learning how to be seen. I fought that urge, feeling a little giddy with pride and awareness, and with each second, I grew more comfortable.

“You’re beautiful.” Casteel’s voice was like a balmy summer night. “And you’re mine.”

I was, completely.

And that didn’t make my skin feel itchy, or my tongue burn with words of denial. It wasn’t a statement of dominance or control. I knew exactly what those two things were. This was simply the truth. I was his.

And he was mine.

Casteel tugged me forward, and I went. Water fell over me, and I squeaked at the sensation of the spray pattering over my skin. “Did you forget you were in a shower?” he asked, letting go of my hand.

“I think so.” I turned my palms up, watching the water form shallow puddles. It bordered on almost too hot, just like I liked it. Tipping my head back, I gasped as the water fell over my face and through my hair. It was like a heated rain shower. I turned in a slow circle, thrilled by how the water felt against my skin, even the raw and achy parts.

Opening my eyes, I glanced over at him. He was smiling—a real one. A rare one, both dimples on display. “Do I look foolish?”

“You look perfect.”

I grinned as I moved under the next pipe, where the water fell heavier. It plastered the hair to my face, and I laughed. Shoving the strands back, I saw him grab one of the bottles from the shelf near the faucets. The liquid was clear and smelled of lemons and pine.

As I played in the water, moving between what Casteel explained were showerheads, he bathed himself. When he was finished, he came up behind me, more of that enticingly scented soap in hand.

“Close your eyes,” he ordered.

I obeyed, enjoying the feeling of his fingers against my scalp as he worked the soap into a lather. “I could get used to this,” I whispered.

“So could I.” He moved closer, and I felt the heated brand of him against my lower back. “Tip your head back and keep your eyes closed.”

I did as he requested. His lips touched mine, and I smiled. He then gathered my hair, rinsing the soap out. It was so much easier in a shower. All I had to do was stand there.

I may just move into the shower and never leave.

The idea continued to grow in its appeal as Casteel left my side briefly, returning with a soapy square. Foam followed the soft sponge as he dragged it over my arms, chest, stomach, and then to my lower back. He was careful with the small cuts the stones had left behind, and the tenderness of his care tugged at my heart. My chest swelled with all the love I felt for him and it grew achy, heavy even as the sponge seemed to vanish, replaced by the roughened glide of Casteel’s soapy palms.

My eyes drifted shut once more, and my mind wandered to pure, sinful places as his hands took the same path the sponge had minutes before. I thought about what he’d said he would do with his fangs and…his cock. My blood heated as the fire roared to life inside me once more. Could he do that here, under the shower? That seemed quite slippery, but if anyone could do it, it would be Casteel.

He glided his hands over my breasts. My head fell back against his chest as they lingered there. I bit down on my lip as one of his hands coasted over my belly. My skin tightened as pleasure curled low. His fingers on the hardened peak of my breast wrung a gasp from me as his other hand made its way below my navel. My body reacted without thought, widening the space between my thighs.

“Enjoying your shower?” His voice was thick with smoke.

He knew exactly how much I was enjoying it, and the knowledge that he could scent my arousal enflamed me instead of embarrassing me. I nodded anyway. “Are you being responsible?”

“Of course.” His hand slipped between my thighs. “Just being thorough,” he said, swirling his thumb across the bundle of nerves there.

I gasped, rising on tiptoe. The ache twisted deeply as my lips parted. I moaned as my hips lifted to meet his hand.

He kissed my shoulder as he eased his hands away. My eyes snapped open, and I started to turn toward him. “I’m not finished,” he said before I could speak. “Your legs still need to be cleaned.”

My brows rose. “Seriously?”

His eyes were like pools of warm honey. “Very serious.”

I couldn’t care less about my legs. “Casteel—”

“I would never forgive myself if you didn’t find your first shower to be as effective as a bath,” he said, and I resisted the urge to roll my eyes. “But you should sit. You’re looking a little…flushed.”

“I wonder why.”

He chuckled deeply, and I briefly considered hitting him but decided against it even though he truly deserved it for teasing me like this. I let him take me to the bench and sat, sucking in a soft breath of surprise as I realized a faint mist of water fell over the space.

Casteel added more soap to his hands and lowered himself to his knees before me. “Comfortable?”

I glanced down between his legs as I nodded. He wasn’t even remotely unaffected by this.

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