He glanced up, saw the hook. Shifting his attention to Lyssa, he waited for her nod before he lifted his arms. The hook distorted and split, becoming a two-headed silver snake that slithered down over his arms, holding him fast. It delivered a menacing hiss inches from his face before melding back into inanimate silver, tightening so his body was stretched taut between the frame above and the ankle restraints below. He felt the pul in his back and shoulder muscles, the thighs and groin. And particularly in the nipple area, that excruciating stimulation.
“A nice display.” Rhoswen nodded to the tea set then. “Can I interest you in a cup of tea, Lady Lyssa?”
“My Irish servant has told me it's not wise to eat or drink of Fae fare. That it can bind you here forever, or make you forget things you don't wish to forget.”
“That applies to humans, not to vampires and part Fae.” Rhoswen shrugged. “And most human minds are fil ed with things they'd like to forget, or that are already so forgettable, our magic is almost unnecessary to drive it entirely from their minds.”
“Hmm” was Lyssa's only comment. “What kind of tea?”
“It's from the honey of a flower here cal ed a lilania.
It ensures one's pleasure is endless, because after every climax, your stamina and desire are doubled. If we drank enough of it, and if he was human, we could literal y couple with your servant until he died.
We had a mortal steal some of it once, a long time ago. Not only did he rut on his female until he kil ed her, he devoured her afterward. Literal y. A cautionary tale to humans, that Fae magic is dangerous to play with, and that our worlds should not cross paths.”
“Yet there was a time they did, quite often.”
“Yes. And the tragedies far outweighed anything else.” Rhoswen extended the tea. “You said you wished to share your servant with me. will you all ow me to enhance that experience, Lyssa?”
“And it is the only thing this tea does, enhances sexual pleasure?”
“It is. You have my word.”
Two women, completely comfortable with having a naked, aroused and restrained man awaiting their pleasure, overhearing how they intended to push him far beyond his limits. To all appearances, they were both indifferent to his reaction to that, though Jacob knew his lady was quite conscious of how the erotic apprehension would keep him in an excruciating state of want. He bit back another painful grunt. God, even at vampire hands, he'd never experienced an agony quite like this.
He wasn't sure if he could bear it, but that choice was beyond his grasp. In reaction to the tangle of physical and emotional strain, his hands quivered in the restraints. The shudder that started there rippled out through his body, despite his efforts to quel it. The movement caught their attention. When they turned toward him, tracking him with twin focus, they were perfectly synchronized.
Their body language, the tilt of their heads, the shape of their mouths—they were an unimistakable mirror of one another. For a moment, it was so unlikely he doubted himself. But then, replaying it in his mind, he was sure.
My lady . . . you share blood. You can see the family resemblance.
An aunt? Grandmother? It was impossible to tel Rhoswen's age, just as it was impossible to tel Lyssa's, unless one got lost in her jade eyes. Then the centuries of wisdom swept over one like a wave, awe-inspiring or deeply terrifying, depending on what mood she wanted to project.
This was one of the instances where that wisdom proved itself. Not by a twitch did she betray a reaction, and he knew she'd heard him. Releasing a thought inside her head had an intimacy to it, like touching her inner thigh, that silken skin sliding beneath his fingers as she opened herself to him.
Holy Mother of Christ, he needed to stay away from analogies like that, though it was kind of difficult to do so. Especial y with him prepared like this, and the two of them looking so incredibly fuckable. Each incremental hardening of his cock inside that enchantment of ice and heat wrenched a higher pain and a more blatant level of lust out of him.
Lyssa sipped her tea, pressing her lips together over the taste. “Like lemon,” she said. “A very mel ow form of it. With a touch of vanil a.”
“Yes,” Rhoswen said. The Fae queen sat back in the throne. Whether or not she truly was, she appeared far more relaxed than she'd been in her great hal . “I've had some of your foods, you know. Chocolate.”
“And what did you think?”
“That your foods and liquids are far more likely than ours to lead to dangerous, forgetful bliss. Our younger Fae can't resist your Starbucks.”
“Their hot chocolate is ambrosia of the gods.” Lyssa put down the tea. “You sound indulgent with them. Yet you locked Catriona in a tree for twenty years. Was the lesson for her, truly, or was it for Keldwyn?”
Her tone was merely curious. Showing the effects of the tea, she let her gaze wander over Jacob, lingering in places that made her moisten her lips and made him stifle another groan of need.
“Both,” Rhoswen said, watching her. “Too many of our young Fae are overly curious about the human world. I control the gateways, but youth can be clever and foolish at once. One tragic, horrifying example such as hers helped reinforce the gates better than a hundred enchantments. There have been far fewer infractions since.” Rhoswen put down her cup as well. “She was a lovely girl. It was regrettable, but necessary.”
“The vampire world has lived in the shadows of the human one for a very long time. Why can't the Fae?”
“I think you already know the answer to that question.” Rhoswen gestured to the open window, past Jacob's stretched form. She directed Lyssa's attention to the Castle of Fire, the green rol ing hil s beyond, a dragon soaring through the sky against the yel ow moon. “How does all this fit into your concrete world? The earth, the source of magic and life, is desecrated with your asphalt and garbage, your greed and fear. You drown out everything but your own voices with your ceaseless noise. What kind of queen would I be if I threw open the gates, let youthful foolishness like Catriona's destroy the next generations of our Fae in that cacophony? Free will is earned, not by simple existence, but by maturity, wisdom.”
“That sounds quite sensible,” Lyssa noted. “But even if you are the wisest queen in the world, eventual y the throne must pass to someone else.
And what if the next one isn't so wise? What if it is someone who uses the restriction of free will not to teach and protect, but to increase their own power and abuse it? It's a very delicate line, and all leaders face it. A civilization governed by free will always teeters on the brink of self-destruction. That's part of its appeal and danger at once.”
The Fae queen gave a delicate snort. “You are practiced in such conversations.”
“Not so much. It's difficult to find someone who understands the unique issues a monarch faces.” The Fae queen rose abruptly, moved to a cabinet where she added what looked like more lemon to her tea. As she did, one of the bumblebee-like Fae left her hair and drifted over to Jacob. It was a female in bright yel ow clothing, her feet enclosed in remarkably tiny slippers. When she hovered directly in front of his face, violet eyes staring at him out of a halo of brown curly hair, Jacob pursed his lips and blew gently. It sent her back in a lazy somersault.
Immediately, she returned to the same position and four others zipped over from Rhoswen, wanting the same treatment.
The pixies they'd met in the mountains had been similar in their childlike delight with the simplest things, and Lyssa expected Jacob had acted on his memory of that. He took the time to blow each one back in the same manner, patiently giving them all a turn, though his body continued to quiver from the sensual abuse it was enduring. Her servant, nearly tormented to madness for their pleasure, at the same time indulging the whimsical play of the tiny creatures. He couldn't resist female demands, large or smal .
You have a generous heart, my love.
And a cock so frozen it's going to snap off if you don't decide to do something to heat it up soon.
With respect, my lady.
He bared his fangs, the reddish glint of his eyes tel ing her that, whimsical play or not, her servant's savage lust was stil ready to be cal ed at her will .
Rhoswen returned to the table, but not to take a seat. She took one more swal ow out of the smal teacup, spreading the lingering moisture over her lips to make them glisten. When Jacob's gaze focused on them, she gave a feline smile, glanced at Lyssa. “I tire of idle chatter.”
Sliding her filmy garment off her shoulders, she let it drop. She wore nothing under it, but her body was marked with inked patterns like henna, intricate symbols and swirls that caught the eye, drew in the mind. The design curved over her shoulders, around her biceps and snaked down her back and upper abdomen, finishing in a single curl on her upper thigh. Butterflies, exotic flowers and dragons hid in the pattern. It was dizzying and titil ating both, inviting touch.
Jacob looked, as he knew she wanted him to do.
The round high breasts she'd displayed in the corset were just as appealing now, every man's fantasy in proportion with the curved hips and slim thighs.
When she pul ed the jeweled clasp out of her hair, the pale silken skeins fel past her hips.
She turned to Lyssa then, a mute invitation. Lyssa rose, dropping the gold and green robe, but kept on the transparent black lace garment. She moved around the chair with that dark, dangerous sensuality she did so well. As she came closer to the queen, close enough to touch, Jacob thought that seeing them together was enough to tempt a man with all sorts of damnation.
“I think you rarely get the chance to have a conversation like this, either,” Lyssa observed.
Rhoswen obviously hadn't expected Lyssa to move into her personal space so intimately or continue the conversation thread. Her face tightened, her body going rigid, but she held her ground. The corner of her mouth curled in scorn. “I do not feel any kinship with you. Your being a queen in your world means nothing here.”
“I was told the Fae do not lie. We are not in front of your guard, or your imaginary retainers. It is just us.