The ​Crown of Gilded Bones

Page 83

“Fuck.” His body jerked. “I…I wasn’t expecting that.”

Fighting a smile, I did it again, and he swore. “Did you read about that in Miss Willa’s book?”

I hummed out an agreement, and the act seemed to vibrate through him. His entire body flexed, and I felt him throb.

“Fuck,” he rasped. “I love that godsdamn diary.”

A laugh escaped me then, and based on the way his hips jerked, he liked how it felt. There was nothing in Miss Willa’s diary about laughing while doing this, but as I curled my hand around his base, I stopped thinking about that damn journal and just let instinct take over. I flicked my tongue across the head of his cock, marveling at his reaction—at the lazy heat swamping my senses. I liked doing this. Liked knowing he enjoyed it.

His hand slid from my cheek as his fingers threaded through my hair. He cupped the back of my neck, but he didn’t put any pressure there. All he did was move his thumb, gently massaging the muscles. It was a…supportive presence as he continued letting me learn what made his body move in short, shallow thrusts, what caused his breath to catch, and what made the spicy flavor intensify. I realized something. Not only did I like this but I also enjoyed the control, the way I could slow his breathing or increase the way he throbbed against my tongue just by the pressure of my mouth, or how hard or soft I sucked on his skin.

“Poppy, I’m not…gods, I’m not going to last much longer.” His grip on my neck tightened as he rocked against my hand, in my mouth. “And I don’t know if that diary spoke of what happens.”

It had.

And I wanted that. Wanted to feel him finish, to experience that, knowing I had brought him to that point. I drew my hand up the length of him, closing my mouth over his head. He shouted my name, and then his hips stiffened as he pulsed and spasmed against my tongue.

No sooner had I finished, and before I could even feel rather proud of myself, he dropped to his knees before me, clasping my cheeks. Tilting his head to the side, his mouth was suddenly on mine, his tongue against mine. The kiss was as demanding as it was worshipping, all-consuming as it left little room for anything else.

Casteel lifted his head, his eyes locked on mine. “You,” he said, his voice thick and tone reverent. “All I ever need is you. Now. Always.”

Chapter 25

Casteel and I had spent the day before living, so we would spend today ensuring we had more days like yesterday.

We would meet with his parents.

But first, we needed to get out of bed, something neither of us seemed in a rush to do. While Casteel toyed with my hair, we chatted about what I had seen the day before, which included me waxing on rather poetically about the frozen treat I’d consumed.

In a lull of silence as I convinced myself it was far past time to get up, Casteel asked, “When you healed that girl yesterday, did you notice anything different about your abilities?”

“Not really,” I told him as I traced figure eights across his chest. “Well, I’m not sure if that’s true. When I healed Beckett’s injuries, I didn’t really need to think about it. It just happened. But this time, I had to do what I normally did before.”

“Think of happy memories?” He twisted a strand of hair around his finger.

“Yes. I thought of when we married.” I lifted my head, resting my chin on his chest. He smiled softly at me. “And I thought about how unfair the girl’s injuries were, and I…”


I drew my lip between my teeth. “It seems silly to even consider this, but I did think to myself that it wasn’t too late—that she would live while my hands were on her.”

His gaze coasted over my features. “Did you know that she was already gone?”

“I…” I’d started to deny it, but I stopped myself as what Casteel had said the morning before resurfaced. Denial was no longer a luxury. He spoke of the Crown, but the same logic applied here. “I can’t say that she was gone for certain, but she was close.”

He slowly unwound my hair. “Then you either willed her soul to remain with her, or you brought her back to life, Poppy.”

My heart tripped over itself. “It’s hard for me to accept that, but I think I did.” Hair tumbled over my shoulders as I rose onto my knees. “It makes sense that I can do that because of who Nyktos is, but it’s kind of—”

“Amazing.” He carefully untangled his hand from my hair.

“I was going to go with unnerving,” I said.

His brow furrowed. “You gave that child a second chance at life. How can that be anything but marvelous?”

I glanced down at my hands, unsure of how to explain what I was thinking. “It’s just that kind of ability…is powerful in a frightening way.”


Sighing, I shook my head. “I know the people who saw what happened yesterday think I am a deity—”

“I believe they think you’re a goddess,” he countered. “And there is a difference between the two.”

“Okay. They think I’m a goddess. But we both know that isn’t the case,” I pointed out, and he simply raised a brow. I rolled my eyes. “Either way, doing that felt like…playing god. It feels like an ability that could be misused without even realizing it—that is if I can even do it again.”

He was quiet for a moment. “Do you think it was her time, and you interfered?”

I stiffened. “I cannot believe that it was time for anyone that young to pass on to the Vale. I don’t think that at all.”

“Neither do I.” He tapped his fingers on my hand. “But you’re worried about interfering when it is someone’s time, aren’t you? Because if someone is hurt and dying, you won’t be able to stand by and allow that.”

He knew me all too well. “How do you know when it’s someone’s time?” I asked and then laughed at the absurdity of the question. “How would any of us know that?”

“We don’t.” His eyes met mine. “I think all we can do is what feels right. It felt right for you to save that girl. But maybe another time will come when it won’t feel right.”

I couldn’t imagine a time when helping someone wouldn’t feel right, but that kind of unanswerable question would have to wait. We needed to get ready for the day.

A nervous sort of energy buzzed through me that had nothing to do with our conversation as I changed into black leggings and a sleeveless wrap tunic dyed in a shade that reminded me of Jasper’s hair and fur. I was surprised that the delicate silver chain held the tunic together, and I only hoped it remained that way throughout the day. The last thing I needed was to expose the nearly transparent slip I wore underneath.

Then again, considering how Casteel’s father had last seen me, it probably wouldn’t come as much of a shock.

But I just wanted things to go smoothly between his parents and me because I knew if they didn’t, the path would be rocky between Casteel and his parents going forward.

The moment I joined him in the sitting room, his fingers found their way into the waves and curls of my hair. “I love your hair like this,” he murmured. “I’m beginning to think you do this because you know I become distracted by it.”

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