Jeffe Kennedy
Fantasy. Power. Passion

The Mark of the Tala

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He sighed, and there might have been disappointment in it. “Put your dagger away and give me the ring, please.”

I hesitated.

“Believe me, you won’t get the drop on me so easily again. And the blade is at the wrong angle—you’d only get it stuck in a rib.”

“It would hurt, though.” I tried to sneer at him. He regarded me somberly, eyes dark.

“Yes, but my heart would be in no danger. The ring, Andromeda.”

I put the knife back in its sheath—what else could I do?—and opened my palm. He took the ring from me and brought it to his lips.

“I hadn’t dared hope that I might be able to do this for the first time myself. Your other hand, please.”

Mesmerized, I gave him my hand and watched him slide the ring onto my finger.

“My vow to you, Andromeda. I accept your plan. No harm will come to your sister.”

And to me? The dark stone glittered in the moonlight, my hand white against his fine black gloves.

“I can’t wear it—they’ll see.”

“For now. Then, keep it hidden, until our wedding.”

Our wedding. I knew that. Still the word blew through me like a hard fall.

“And to seal our pact—a kiss.” His voice echoed rough with hunger.

Did he kiss you?

            “What?”

“You heard me.”

            “What will it do?”

“Do?”

I cleared my throat and made myself look at him, his lips, just a hand’s length away. “It binds me to you somehow, doesn’t it?”

He smiled, a flash of true amusement. “Not in the way you mean.”

“Does it have to be now? Can’t it be…later?”

“No. I think not. I’ve given you my vow; now I require yours. A kiss, Andromeda.”

“Everyone calls me Andi.” I wanted to sound strong, but my voice came out nervous.

He lifted his hands and cupped my face, coaxing me to look into his eyes, black in the darkness.

“I’m not everyone else. My kiss.”

With a sense of fatality, I nodded and steeled myself. I would have to give him much more than this. He sighed out a long breath, as if he’d been holding it, and dropped his head, angling a bit. Unable to bear it, I closed my eyes.

His lips brushed over mine, warm and soft. Just a whisper of a kiss. He pulled back and I opened my eyes, surprised. He flashed a grin at me, then wrapped his arms around me and pulled me in tight against his hard body. His mouth captured mine again, lips feeding on mine, coaxing and pulling, until I opened up and his tongue swept mine, hot, arousing.

Fire blazed through me. That animal something that had been pacing through my heart, clawing at my veins, swelled up and rose to meet him. I kissed him back, ferocious, starving.

I clung to him, rising on my toes to better reach him, to press my body against his, my fingers tangling in the black silk of his hair while his hands plunged under the cloak to roam my body.

He hummed, low in his throat, a pleased male animal. The sound wrenched me back to reality. I pulled back but he held me tight.

Dropping my weight, I fixed my palms on his chest and pushed, with more strength than I ever remembered having, sending him staggering back an arm’s length, a surprised and delighted laugh escaping him.

“It’s not funny,” I hissed. “And be quiet—what if we’re discovered?”

“Then I take you with me now and we begin our wedding night that much sooner.”