She wanted to deny it, but couldn’t. Something had happened in Pandemonia, a shift in her feelings for him. Had a fragile sprout of affection poked its head above snow?

Illusion was reality. Act like partners long enough, guess what you’ll become. . . .

“Already I feel the effects of this place.” He raked his gaze over her body, making her skin flush.

“I do too,” she admitted. Out from under the cascade, the water of this pool was balmy and soft. Warm breezes caressed her face, soothing her.

Before, she’d worried about letting go with him. She’d worried what he would think about her. Now the decision had been taken from her. Had she subconsciously steered them here?

“Why did you await me, Melanthe?” He reached forward to smooth his fingertips along her cheekbone, casting her a proud smile. “Why did my brilliant mate save me?”

Because this entire journey felt bigger than the two of them? Because when he’d called her lamb, her heart had ached from missing their friendship? “I just did, okay? But I didn’t intend to come here!”

At her tone, his smile dimmed, and she wanted to call it back. What was happening to her? She just needed time to think!

She tried to march away from him in the waist-deep pool, but her boots were water-logged. With a curse, she pulled off one, then the other, tossing them to the bank.

He must’ve seen this as an invitation to shed his own clothes. He dragged the remains of his shirt over his head. Faced with the body he was revealing, she couldn’t quite disabuse him.

“I thought Sorceri were hedonists?” Off went his own boots. “We’re in a plane devoted solely to pleasure. You should be gladdened.”

“If we lose control and have sex, it would be disastrous! I might get pregnant.” She could ask him to pull out at the last second, but she doubted a virgin would have the willpower necessary—especially when his instinct would be clamoring for him to break his demon seal and spill his seed.

He closed in on her. “Would it be so bad to have a child with me?”

“You mean a bastard?” she countered. “Look, I know you’re really gung-ho about having kids and all. But to me, getting pregnant would feel like getting trapped.” She reminded herself that Sorceri were unfruitful in general. The odds of it happening were overwhelmingly against.

“Honestly, I’m not as gung-ho as I was,” he said. “Before, I thought our young would be the only thing we had in common, and raising them our sole occupation. Now I’ve realized there’s much else for us to do.” He brought her hand to his groin, to the stiff shaft straining against his sodden breeches.

In a heartbeat’s time, she was just as aroused. “Like sex?” Typical male. And this one didn’t even know what he was missing!

“Not only sex. You could teach me all the references I don’t get. We could travel over realms together, exploring worlds.” With each of his deep raspy words, her willpower dwindled. “You liked exploring with me, didn’t you?”

She had. Their wild-and-woolly adventure in Pandemonia had exhilarated pampered Lanthe.

But there was more to consider! “What about our history? Our families? The war between our factions? We haven’t resolved anything between us.” Even as she expressed her worries, her hand had begun stroking his length.

“We will,” he said, biting back a groan. “But now is not that time. Right now, we’re in Feveris, together, after surviving Pandemonia. We desire each other. Denying pleasure between us would be like squandering our coins.” He curled his finger under her chin. “And that’s something we don’t do.”

Irresistible demon. Her anxiety was diminishing, Feveris’s spell taking hold. Still she fought it. “Turning my words against me?” She dropped her hand—and regretted it immediately. “If we succumb to the magics here, how will we ever escape?”

“Once we’ve burned off the worst of the lust, you can persuade me to feel no Feveris effects. I’ll keep us focused until you can create another portal.”

“And again, you want me to use my power on you.”

“We don’t have a choice. I’m already losing control. For now, lose it with me.”

“Thronos—” She felt a sudden sharp twinge across her entire shoulder. What the hell? But when she glanced down there was no mark, and the pain ebbed. It was forgotten when he reached for her breastplate, unfastening the clips.

He tugged off the piece, tossing it to shore like a Frisbee.

Sunlight met her bare breasts. She couldn’t stop herself from arching toward the warmth, rolling her shoulders. Lingering misgivings receded like the lazy waves of the nearby sea.

When her breasts bobbed with her movement, Thronos was transfixed, as if he was witnessing a miracle. “Melanthe, I’ve never wanted anything like I want this.” With his black claws curling, he reached for her skirt. It soon joined her breastplate. “I must claim my beautiful mate.” He tried to remove her panties, but in his haste, the lace gave way.

Once she was stripped of everything but her necklace, his eyes roamed over her greedily. He never took his gaze from her as he started removing his breeches, fumbling with the laces.

How nervous he must be! Did he worry how he’d measure up to her past lovers? Despite his uneasiness, he wore his determined look. He knew what he wanted—and he knew he was about to get it.

He shoved off his breeches, lobbing them to shore as well, the soaked leather making a fwap sound.

And then he was naked. Mist from the waterfall dotted his tanned skin, drops clinging to his lean muscles. Just beneath the surface, Lanthe could see his shaft pulsing.

She probed his thoughts, finding his blocks wide open. He craved to feel her sex, to taste it.

His gaze met hers. And he wants me to know these things.

Maybe they could just release some steam without consummating anything?

She stiffened when she felt pain on her forearm, like a fresh burn. She broke away to search for a mark, finding none.

He looked to say more, so she reached for his cock, curving her fingers around it, which apparently robbed him of thought. His lips parted, and he couldn’t keep from bucking to her grip.

When she traced her thumb across the taut head, his shaft jerked in her palm, continuing to grow.

“You’re really big,” she said as she fondled him from base to tip.

He had to clear his throat to manage: “Females like big.”

“Only if they’re prepared for it, and it’s deployed properly.”

“I’ll make sure you get me ready.” Because sex was inevitable? It was beginning to feel that way.

She continued to stroke him as he rocked to her fist, but when she cupped his testicles, he went stock-still. “Melanthe,” he grated, grasping her wrist to stay her hand. “I’ve many things I’m dying to do to you. I want to last.”

“Hmm. What things?” By the way he was staring at her eyes, she knew they must be glittering.

In an anguished tone, he said, “Readying you?”

Without a word, he did.

She took his hand in both of hers. When she guided his forefinger into her core, his lids went heavy. Eyes on his, she gave a soft moan.

“My gods,” he choked out, his horns straightening fully. She caught his thought: How will I ever fit inside her?

Fit? No, they didn’t have to have sex! She told herself this, even as she was motioning for him to move his finger. Once he began to thrust with it, they both shuddered.

Her clitoris swelled for attention, her lips plumping around his finger. Soon she was panting, kissing and licking the warm skin of his chest.

Yet then he drew his hand away. Lifting it to his mouth, he sucked his forefinger down to the second knuckle, his eyes hooded.

“Oh!” Her breath hitched. Who was this sexy male? “Ohhh.”

When he’d taken all of her taste, he released his finger. “I want more of that, Melanthe.”

Should she broach oral sex with him? He might want more, but it was an offendment. Feveris’s spell made her feel reckless: Bring it up. He’ll totally love it! “Speaking of readying me? I think oral sex would help—”

In the space of a heartbeat, he’d seized her in his arms. Striding through the water as if something chased them, he carried her to the bank of the pool. Scrambling out, he strode toward the sea, setting her down on a mat of flowers beneath swaying palms.

His gaze seemed to follow the drops sluicing down her body as he joined her. Soft rays of sunlight filtered through the palm fronds, glinting off her necklace.

With a questioning glance, he reached for it. Though she was loath to remove it, even for a minute, she didn’t want anything to distract her from this male. She nodded, and he set it close by.

“I truly was going to give this to you, as a courtship gift.”

He grinned. “When it’s the one your mate’s set her heart on . . .” Then he moved between her legs, clasping her behind her knees, lifting until she brought her feet up.

She rose up on her elbows, needing to see his every reaction. Judging by the intent look on his face, nothing could stop him from this.

He laid his roughened palms on her inner thighs, spreading them till her knees opened wider. A breeze blew sultry air against her slickened sex.

Even if she hadn’t known it was his first time in this position, the way he stared in fascination would give him away. His smoldering eyes were rapt, his expression saying, Mercy.

His thoughts drifted into her mind: —Her exquisite flesh . . . so delicate. Want to set upon her . . . — When he licked his lips in anticipation, the sight of that pointed tongue made her tremble.

In a barely recognizable voice, he said, “I had my turn in the glade. You’ll have yours now.” His gaze bored into hers. “See that it happens.”

It? Her orgasm? He was telling her in his own way to guide him—because he’d never done this before.

When she gave an unsteady nod, he eased in to press his mouth to one of her thighs. With a tender lick, he told her, “Hold back nothing, Melanthe. . . .”

When he’d sampled her taste on his finger, Thronos had known what forbidden thing he would do. And then for her to suggest it? That she wanted his kiss aroused him like nothing he’d ever imagined.

He could scarcely think past the ache in his shaft. His horns had straightened and were aching along with it.

He knew only two things for certain:

His mate was incomparable, her glistening sex a thing of beauty.

And he was the luckiest male alive.

Yet then he frowned when he felt a stabbing pain low on his torso. He glanced down, spied no matching injury, just old scars.

His pain was forgotten when she rolled her hips, as if to attract his mouth. He gently eased her pink folds apart with his thumbs, riveted by the shadowy dip he uncovered. Her entrance. While he wondered again how he’d ever fit that tiny opening, his shaft jerked, straining for it.

Brows drawn with absorption, he rubbed the dip with his finger, breaching her slick core. Her cream was more slippery than water, and sweet.

The intoxicating taste of his mate.

As his head descended, his sensual female was panting in anticipation, her blue eyes shimmering like metal.

She cried out when he delved his tongue right at her opening. Now that he’d taken her taste into him, he didn’t understand how he’d lived his entire life without it. He licked his lips, shuddered, then set back in with a ravening hunger.

“Oh, ohh!” As she undulated, he followed her sex, piercing that slight dip with the tip of his tongue.

He gazed up to gauge her reaction. Her hands had found her lush breasts and started to squeeze. Her expression was lost. When the breeze blew, she arched her back, her nipples stiffening even more.

He rubbed his palms up her thighs, pressing her legs even wider. As he gave her seeking licks, she thumbed those stiff nipples, the peaks he would soon suckle at his leisure.

His hips had begun rocking, his erection hanging down like a steel rod. The pressure within it surged. Even still, his lips curled against her. Because Melanthe seemed to be going out of her head with pleasure.

He was as well. How could he not when her flaring folds grew ever wetter against his tongue?

Between kisses, he murmured, “Lanthe, I can’t ever go back.”

To life without her. Without sharing this.

She curled one arm under her head like a pillow. Her free hand descended down her flat belly, her palm curving over her mons. Brows drawn, he pulled back, his breaths ragged against her rosy flesh.

She caught his eyes, then grazed the pad of her forefinger over the little bud at the apex of her sex. “If you lick my clitoris like this . . .” She slowly masturbated it, rubbing back and forth as her tongue moistened her lips.

Telling him how she wished to be kissed.

Then her hand wandered back to her chest, to nipples so hard they looked like they throbbed.

He eagerly leaned in, tonguing her clitoris as she’d instructed.

“Yes, Thronos! Just like that,” she cried out, earning herself another slick lash. “Now your finger. Put it back inside me while you kiss.”

He penetrated the gripping heat of her channel, thrusting his finger in and out as he licked.

“Ah! It’s so good!” She reached forward to grasp his horns.

At the contact, he yelled out against her.