Ascend / Page 38

Page 38


“I want you, Loki,” I said before I could let myself think about anything.

I wanted him, needed him, and for one night I refused to think about the consequences or the repercussions. I just wanted to be with him.

Loki smiled, relieved, and he almost seemed to glow. He bent down, kissing me again, only more fervently and deeper.

His hand slid under my nightgown, strong and sure on my thigh. I loved his strength and power, and the way I could feel it in even his smallest touches. He tried to hold back, to be gentle so he wouldn’t hurt me, but when he tried to slide off my panties, he tore them in half.

I took off my nightgown, slipping it up over my head, because I didn’t want him ripping that too. He tried to be gentle with me, and some part of me did want him to be, because that’s the way I thought my first time should be. But we were both far too eager.

He started out slow, trying to ease himself in me, but I moaned in his ear, gripping tightly onto him, and any pretense of restraint was gone. It hurt, and I buried my face into his shoulder to keep from crying out. But he didn’t slow, and very soon, the heat grew inside me. I was glad he didn’t slow. Even the pain felt like pleasure.

Afterward, he collapsed on the bed next to me, both of us gasping for breath. We’d knocked the bed off kilter, and I vaguely remembered hearing the sound of a board cracking, so we might have broken it. The red curtains of the four-poster bed had been tied open, but they had come loose, so they closed around the bed.

A few candles lit the room outside, but on the bed, we were shrouded in the warm red glow as the light flickered through the curtains. It felt sheltered, like a warm cocoon, and I don’t think I’d ever felt more content or safe.

I lay on my back, and Loki moved next to me, almost encircling me. One arm was behind my neck, and the other one was draped over my belly. I wrapped my arms around his so I could hold him closer to me.

Nestled in his arms this way, the scar on his chest was right next to me. I’d never seen it this close before. It looked so jagged and rough. It slashed at an angle, starting right above his heart, and stopping below his other nipple.

“Do you hate me?” I asked quietly.

“Why on earth would I hate you?” Loki asked, laughing.

“Because of this.” I touched his scar, and his skin trembled around it. “Because of what my father did to you over me.”

“No, I don’t hate you.” He kissed my temple. “I could never hate you. And it’s not your fault what the King did.”

“How did you get this?” I asked.

“Before he decided to punish me, the King considered execution,” Loki said, almost wearily. “He used a sword before deciding that torture might be more fun.”

“He almost killed you?” I looked at him, and the very thought of Loki dying made me want to cry.

“He didn’t, though.” He brushed back my hair, his fingers running through the tangles of it, and he smiled down at me. “The King couldn’t, no matter how hard he tried. My heart refused to give up. It knew I had something to fight for.”

“You shouldn’t say things like that.” I swallowed back tears and lowered my eyes. “Tonight was… beautiful and amazing, but it was only for tonight.”

“Wendy.” Loki groaned and rolled onto his back. “Why do you have to say something like that now?”

“Because.” I sat up and pulled my knees to my chest. The sheets hung over my legs, but my back was bare to him. “I don’t want you to…” I sighed. “I don’t want to hurt you any more than I already have.”

“It looks like I hurt you, actually.” Loki sat up and touched my arm. “You have a bruise.”

“What?” I looked down and saw a purplish blotch on my arm. “I don’t remember you doing that.” I’d probably have bruises on my thighs, but Loki didn’t grab my arms. “Oh. This isn’t from you. It’s from Tove.”

“Tove,” Loki sighed. He didn’t say anything for a minute, then looked over at me. “You’re going back to him tomorrow, aren’t you?”

“He is my husband.”

“He hit you,” he said, but without much conviction. Even Loki knew that Tove would never have done that, not if he was in his right mind.

“He won’t hit me again,” I said. “I married him for a reason, and that hasn’t changed.”

“What reason is that?” Loki asked. “I know you don’t love him.”

“The Trylle don’t want me to be Queen,” I said. “They don’t trust me because of who my father is, among other things. Tove’s family is very influential and helps balance it out. If I wasn’t married to him, his mother would be leading the campaign to get me overthrown. Without Tove, I’d never be Queen.”

“Why is that a bad thing?” Loki asked. “These people don’t trust you or like you, and you’re sacrificing everything for them. How does that make sense?”

“Because they need me. I can help them. I can save them. I’m the only one who can stand up to my father, and I’m the only one that cares enough to fight for the rights of the trackers and the other Trylle. I have to do this.”

“I wish you didn’t say that with such conviction.” He put his arm around me and moved closer. He kissed my shoulder, then whispered, “I don’t want you to go back to Tove tomorrow.”

“I have to,” I said.

“I know,” he said. “But I don’t want you to.”

“You can have me for tonight, though.” I gave him a small smile, and he lifted his head so his eyes met mine. “That’s all I can give you.”

“I don’t want only one night. I want all the nights. I want all of you, forever.”

Tears swam in my eyes, and my heart yearned so badly it hurt. Sitting there with Loki, I don’t think I’d ever felt quite so heartbroken.

“Don’t cry, Wendy.” He smiled sadly at me, and I saw the heartbreak in his eyes mirroring my own. He pulled me to him and kissed my forehead, then my cheeks, then my mouth.

“So, if this is all you’ll let me have, then I will take it all,” Loki said. “No talking or even worrying about the kingdom or responsibility or anyone else. You’re not the Princess. I’m not Vittra. We’re only a boy and a girl crazy about each other, and we’re naked in bed.”

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