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Wings and Embers, Page 2

Sarah J. Maas

  Soft - her skin was so soft; so fragile. He could scent the mortal blood rushing just beneath. Cassian breathed in the smell of her into his lungs, stirring his cock as it latched onto some intrinsic part of him and sank its talons deep.

  Nesta Nesta Nesta

  Her eyes drifted closed, and a small, breathless sound came out of her as Cassian brushed his lips over where his nose had touched.

  His knees nearly buckled as her slender hand dug into his fighting leathers. He tried not to think of what that hand would feel like on other parts of him. Gripping him; stroking him.

  More more more, his body sang.

  He angled his head and kissed another spot, closer to her jaw.

  Her frantic heartbeat was like a hummingbird's wings, though her body remained tight and loose in all the right places, a flush spreading across those gorgeous breasts of hers. Big enough to fill his hands, to nuzzle until she was begging him -

  Her pulse hammered right beneath his mouth. His tongue brushed it.

  It was that touch that had her jolting back.

  Nesta slammed into the wood paneling hard enough that he reached for her. But she was wide-eyed, livid, as she put a hand to her throat.

  Cassian beat her to the venom about to blast from that throat and said, "Wound a bit tight these days, Nesta?"

  She lowered her hand and hissed, "Is it some faerie magic of yours, to do such things?"

  He barked a laugh. "No. Though I'm flattered you think so."

  Nesta glowered, but let out a low, considering chuckle. "Well," she said, sliding past him and pacing for the window with smooth, calculated steps. "If that's what a bastard-born Fae warrior can do, no wonder my sister has become so entangled with the High Lords."


  Bitchfor insult to him and to Feyre. "Did it bother you more that you wanted it, or that it was a bastard-born nobody who made you feel such things, Nesta?"

  "It's been a long winter. Beggars can't be picky, I suppose." Wall after wall after wall snapped up, her posture going stiffer, and -

  What did he care? What did he care? He had enough shit to deal with. Throwing in a mortal who would have a few more decades before things between them became awkward was... foolish. And then there would be the matter of explaining it to everyone.

  To Mor. His blood chilled.

  He wasn't stupid. He knew she and Azriel were... whatever they were. Knew Azriel had been in love with Mor from the moment she'd strutted into the Illyrian war-camp five centuries ago. And Cassian had been jealous - of Mor's shy glances at Azriel in those first few weeks, and the fact that his dearest friend and brother... was looking at someone else. That she'd appeared, and then Azriel had changed. Only slightly, but Cassian had known his friend did not belong solely to him and Rhys anymore.

  So when Mor had asked him to bed her... He'd done it. A jealous, stupid prick, he'd done it, and regretted it at that very first thrust, when he'd felt her maidenhead yield to him, and realized the enormity of what she'd done.

  But then she'd walked away, and Azriel hadn't made a move, and... Mor was still there between them. Somewhere between friend and lover. Dear to him as family, but... Cassian had hated himself for that look on Azriel's face afterward.

  And then for what had happened to Mor at her family's hands.

  He'd had lovers, some for a night and some for months, and Mor had never cared, but...

  This woman standing before him like a pillar of steel and flame...Cassian didn't want to tell Mor about her. About how he'd touched her neck.

  Cassian managed to say, "Since you were happy for a distraction, I'll assume the queens haven't been in touch and be on my way." Before she managed to completely castrate him. He flicked his fingers, Rhys's letter appearing between them. He chucked it onto a low-lying nearby table. "Mail that to the queens as soon as you can."

  Nesta glanced between the letter and him, her shoulders squaring. "Tell my sister and that new High Lord of hers to send someone else next time."

  Cassian bared his teeth in a feral grin. "Tell your other sister we'd rather deal with her."

  "Elain stays out of this. The less association with your kind, the better."

  "Why are you letting her marry that bigoted prick?" The question snapped out of him.

  "He has good reasons to hate your kind. As do we all."

  "That's bullshit and you know it."

  "I thought you were leaving."

  "You have a damned opinion on everyone else in the world. Why not tell Elain she's marrying a monster?"

  "Perhaps all you males are monsters."

  If she'd been harmed by one, he didn't blame her for that feeling at all. But his words were still sharp as he said, "She deserves better than someone like that."

  "Indeed she does." Flat and cold.

  He pushed, simply because he damn well couldn't stop himself, "And what do you deserve?"

  A slow smile, indeed a plains-cat readying for the kill. Then, "Certainly more than a bastard-born nobody."

  Bitch. But he drawled, "What a fine partner you are, Nesta. Remind me to bring a book on military strategy the next time. Maybe you'll stand a chance then."

  A cold, flat look.

  "It's easier, isn't it," Cassian breathed, crossing the distance again, not caring who saw them standing in the bay window. "To wield the words and the coldness as armor to keep everyone from seeing where and who you failed and how you did not care until it was too late."

  Only hatred gleamed in her eyes, no hint of that slumbering lust that had addled his senses.

  "Well, I see it, Nesta Archeron. And all I see is a bored and spoiled girl -"

  She moved with impressive swiftness for a human, but still too slow to prevent him from blocking her.

  Cassian gripped her raised knee, a mere inch from his balls, and squeezed tight enough to make her hiss.

  "Cheap shot," he said with a half smile. "Come play with me, Nesta, and I'll teach you far more interesting ways to bring a male to his knees."

  She tried to wrench herself free, but he didn't let go. She swayed back, and he caught her by the waist, hauling her closer to keep her from falling through the window. He snickered at the skirts around him. "What are you hiding beneath all this, anyway?"

  Nesta steadied herself enough to wrench her knees out of his grip. "Get out of my house."

  Cassian simply grinned at her.

  She surged for him.

  He thought she'd strangle him, which was precisely why he gripped her wrists, but -

  Her hands, cool and steady, landed on either side of his face. Tugged his head down.

  Cassians breathing turned jagged as her eyes flicked to his mouth, as her body came flush with his, those breasts so soft against him. Stupid, stupid, stupid -

  He didn't care. Didn't give a shit as she rose up on her toes, her mouth nearing his -

  Pain exploded between his legs, knocking the breath from his chest as that gods-damned knee of hers indeed found its mark.

  Cassian staggered back, swearing viciously. She snorted, looking down at him as he fell on his ass into an armchair, clutching his stomach, trying to reorder his brain -

  "You're all the same," she said, imperious as the night and cold as the dawn. "Perhaps being an immortal makes you predictable."

  "You," he gasped out.

  A low laugh broke from those lips, which he'd been fully prepared to taste, to devour -

  "No, the queens did not send word," Nesta said, drifting toward the door. "I haven't heard from them at all."

  Cassian willed his legs to move, but the pain lingered, immobilizing his knees.

  "I'll mail the letter tomorrow morning." Nesta pause with her hand on the knob and looked over a shoulder. "You know nothing about who I am, and what I've done, and what I want. And while we're on the subject... Send someone else next time. If I see you on my doorstep I'll scream loud enough for the servants to come running."

  He gaped at her, the pain ebbing enough that he could stag
ger upright.

  But Nesta was gone, slipping down the hall, where some servant called out to her and she murmured a response.

  A minute later, he left. Not by the front door, but by squeezing through her gods-damned bedroom window like a thief in the night. He launched himself into the sky before anyone could wonder at the rustle and boom of wings.

  Cassian did not circle over the house. But he could feel Nesta's attention as he soared for the wall. Even shielded from sight, he could feel those blue-grey eyes on him.

  The feeling chased him all the way back to Velaris.