Excerpt from The NightWind’s Gamble by Charlotte Boyett-Compo

Copyright © Charlotte Boyett-Compo, 2015

Ardian ran his hand through his hair as he paced. His lady had gone into the bathroom to take a shower. The sweet smell of the an Tuirc tobacco many of the patrons in the casino smoked from hookahs clung to her clothing and had given her a bad headache. He could hear the shower going and thought of joining her.

He may demand you hand over what is yours to him.’

The memory of those words stopped him from following her into the shower.

A low growl rumbled from his throat. He went to the porthole and activated the shutter that covered the plexigon to keep out the bright sun. Staring out at the wide vista of swaying palm trees, sparkling white sands and gently crashing waves, it was hard to imagine any kind of calamity looming on the horizon. People were running along the beach, tossing flying disks to one another, playing volleyball, lounging on towels after a brisk swim in the azure water—all perfectly content that everything was right in their worlds. They were at the resort to have fun, to relax, to leave their troubles behind. Not a one of them expected those troubles to come looking for them.

As his might be coming to find him.

Cursing, he spun away from the window.

Why hadn’t he answered the Prime’s summons when it came? he wondered. He’d heard the low, insistent whistle that night but he’d ignored it. The trip to the resort would be the very next morning. Boarding passes on the Fiach bound for Lycana were in his overnight bag. All the pertinent bloodwork and DNA samples had been taken by the Healer on Margeaux’s home world. Their heat sigs had been read and forwarded to Lycana. They had been approved and their travel visas issued. All was in readiness. The only thing left to do was pack and board and flee the harsh winter that had brought her world almost to a standstill.

The summons had come while he lay in bed beside his life-mate. It had wound through his head like a deadly ghoret and struck hard before he willed it away.

“Not now,” he’d said with a fierce growl.

Margeaux was more important to him than anything else and her happiness was his happiness.

It had taken him months—months—to coax her from her house and into the yard. Severely agoraphobic, it had taken even more months to get her to venture into the closest town for less than an hour. With him at her side, the fear and incapacitation she had known, that had crippled her, slowly dwindled until she was almost at ease in the world beyond her little house. When the day came that she asked him to take her off-world, he had known an elation more wonderful than when he had been released from the Abyss. Nothing would stop him from giving her the vacation she’d asked for. That was all that mattered to him. The Nightwind Prime could just hold his water until they returned to her home world.

Slumping down on the sofa in the sitting area of their suite, he dropped his head into his hands, grabbed handfuls of his hair and squeezed his eyes shut. If the Prime came to the resort and found him there, Ardian had no doubt hell would be rained down on his head. Syntian Cree had a reputation for being a badass of the highest order. His incarceration in the Abyss—having been sent there by the very woman he loved—had turned him into a monster of legend among the Mealladhs. The demon had developed a perpetual hardon for things that pissed him off.

So engrossed in his own misery, he didn’t hear his lady come into the room until she spoke.

“Did I tell you I saw a coven mate of mine at the spa this morning?” Margeaux asked as she came into the sitting room.

He lifted his head. “What?”

A part of him stirred at seeing her wrapped in a semi-wet towel as she blotted at her wet hair with another towel. With her head tilted to one side, she was absolutely adorable—like an inquisitive kitten. His body hardened as he swept his gaze down her shapely bare legs. Her bare feet never failed to arouse him, and he had to force himself to look away from the bright red toenail polish she wore.

“Her name is Annaliese,” she said. “We took our tenth degree adept training together.”

“That’s nice,” he mumbled.

“She teaches at a private school for girls on Amhantar and will be here her entire summer vacation.”

“Good for her,” he said although he couldn’t have cared less.

“I hope she finds someone to hang with,” she said as she rubbed her hair dry with the towel. “Someone of the male persuasion.”

The towel clung to her ripe curves in such an enticing way all thoughts save one evaporated from his mind. He straightened and leaned back on the sofa.

“Come here, milady,” he said in a deep, husky tone that made her arch a brow.

She gave him a coy look.

“And if I don’t?” she asked.

He knew his slow smile did delicious things to her lower body—she’d told him as much—so he bestowed his slowest, most promising one upon her.

“I’ll come get you,” he stated. He patted his knee twice. “Now come here.”

Her answering smile took his breath away as she dropped the towel in her hand and came over to crawl into his lap. Her weight was so minimal he barely felt it settle on his legs but his cock felt her thigh pressing against it so that his entire body became aware of her. He wrapped his arms around her and she laid her head on his shoulder.

“Feeling better?” he asked. He loved the gardenia smell of the body wash that clung to her flawless skin, and the dampness of her curls tickling the side of his neck sent spirals of desire racing through his bloodstream. He could just make out the swell of her lovely breasts over the edge of the towel in which she had wrapped herself.

“You don’t believe what the Gravelord said about that card, do you?” she asked. Her fingers were toying with the button on his shirt.

“Of course, not,” he said.

That wasn’t true but he wanted to alleviate her worries, not underscore them.

“What if he does come?” she asked.

“He won’t,” he said, tightening his arms around her protectively. “The Prime has more important matters at hand than visiting a resort. If Syntian Cree were to ever take a holiday, the Megaverse might well implode.”

“Still…” she said.

He crooked a finger under her chin to lift her face so he could look into her beautiful eyes. He searched those gentle orbs, hurt that unease was registering there.

“Stop worrying,” he said then bent his head to kiss the tip of her nose.

“I can’t lose you, Ardy,” she said. The worry that put a quiver in her voice angered him.

“You aren’t going to, dearling,” he stated. “So let’s get your mind off doing so.”

He slid his hand from her chin to the top of the towel where it was tucked tightly against her chest and pulled it from its nesting place. The towel parted to reveal the soft flesh and full bosom that never failed to inspire him.

“What do we have here?” he asked as he ran his palm inside the fold to cover one breast.

“Has something caught your eye, milord?” she countered.

“Aye,” he replied. “Something that looks very tasty.”

He moved the arm behind her back to lean her gently over it so he could lower his mouth to the taunting nipple of the breast around which his palm was molded. The moment he drew the nubbin between his lips, his lady sighed and closed her eyes—her body going limp in his hold. She threaded her fingers through his hair to hold him to her.

Swirling his tongue over the peak, he could feel the nipple swelling, hardening beneath his touch. He lightly clamped the straining tip between his teeth and a shudder rippled down Margeaux’s body. When it did, he released his grip on her breast to glide his hand down her ribcage then lower to the spiky curls at the juncture of her thighs.

“Ardian,” she whispered, her head falling back in surrender.

Very slowly, he rubbed her mound with his palm. Let his fingertips slide fleetingly over her clit with every circuit until she was writhing in his lap—her sweet rump grinding against his groin. Her thighs fell apart. A low moan came from deep within her throat.

He smiled, for he knew all the right places to touch her. How those places should be touched, when and with the correct amount of pressure and time spent stroking them. With infinite care, he spread his index and middle finger to spike them into the valleys on both sides of labia. With even more care, he dragged them up again but this time spreading her nether lips farther apart. Down again and when he drew his fingers up once more, he allowed her to feel the light scrape of his short fingernails on her flesh.

“Ardy!” she called out with a hiss.

She liked that. How well he knew she liked that.

Lifting his middle finger, he replaced it with his ring finger—holding his middle one away from her as he began the slow descent down the valleys again. When he pulled his hand up, he pressed the elevated digit into the sweet channel where his cock was aching to be.

She wiggled against that gentle invasion until he sank his finger inside her. Another low, satisfied moan left her lips and he began a slow press and withdraw, press and withdraw that soon had her wetting his flesh with each insertion.

“That feel good?” he asked.

“Aye,” she said with a groan. “But I know something that would feel even better.”

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