This is Issue #17 of DeathWatch, Book II: tentatively called Heart Of Ilona, an ongoing Serial. Click that link to go find DeathWatch, the first in the series, or start from the beginning of Book II!
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The kiss was pleasant, but it was also short, and he held her shoulders firmly, pushing her back, turning away from her, flushed even as he was saying, “You’re drunk, Commander. This isn’t–“
“Shut up, Legatus,” Jules said, reaching up to turn his face back to hers. She leaned into him, pressed against him, walked him back to the table with their dinner on it, put one hand behind his head and pulled him down to kiss her. “Isn’t this what you want? It’s what I want. Right now.”
With each successive kiss, his resistance fell. Coryphaeus could feel the desire to deny himself, the willingness to push her away melting quickly from the heat of her presence.
She could feel the way his heart sped up, the way his skin flushed, the way he struggled to stop himself — until at last he was kissing her with just as much ferocity as she’d hoped for. Maybe it would drown out the sound of her broken heart’s ragged tattoo: he’s gone, he’s gone, he’s gone.
Stop. Stop this. This is beyond madness. You’re Ilonan. She’s a Westlander. If you thought your family hated you before, that is nothing compared to the shame of what you are doing now. Coryphaeus’s mind wouldn’t stop; he pulled Jules against his chest and kissed her in earnest, fingers reaching to play with the red curls haloing her face. “We shouldn’t,” he gasped against her lips.
More than that, though, was the knowing it wouldn’t last, couldn’t last. She would blaze through him, seeking to heal her own heart.
She doesn’t love you. She won’t want you. Don’t fly too close to this sun; you’ll get burned.
Jules gave in, gave up, and let the last few weeks fall away, let everything simply fall to the background, except for the way the aetheris seem to buzz like white noise through her, erasing everything except its own warmth. “Shut up,” Jules murmured, biting his lips.
Coryphaeus turned, guiding Jules, then, picking her up by her hips to set her on the edge of the table, and step between her legs. He kissed her warmly, thoroughly, but let her direct him, let her set the pace of her own needs, lest he push too hard, too fast — though, some part of him noted, she was pushing hard and fast, all on her own.
Jules opened her robe, and reached for Coryphaeus’s hand, to pull it against her skin, arching herself into his touch, pulling him close, demanding his attentions, nipping at him, dragging her nails over his skin.
He slowed, beginning to pull back, but she pressed herself to him more completely, panting, “Don’t stop–“
“Jules,” he gasped, his cheek against hers, his breath hot in her ear. “I don’t want to hurt you–“
“Then don’t stop,” Jules demanded, turning to nip his earlobe.
When she took his hand and pulled it between her legs, he nearly flinched, nearly laughed, but instead, it came as a groan, quiet and needful, to be demanded of so intimately.
“It doesn’t mean anything,” she promised, not knowing how those words struck him like blows. “It doesn’t have to mean anything. I just need to forget. I need to feel something that isn’t this. Let’s not make it complicated,” she whispered.
Each individual sensation was nearly too much; Coryphaeus shuddered in Jules’s arms, his breath warm and heavy, panted against her mouth. He shifted her, his hand between them, fingers pressed to the apex of her thighs, moving urgently, and held her as she rocked against him, her cries growing louder, insistent. “It doesn’t mean anyth–” she breathed, and Coryphaeus silenced her with his kisses, working against her faster and faster.
Jules bucked against him, feverskinned, until she hit the peak she’d been aiming for; she ground herself against him, trembling, and he could feel the release move through her, a convulsion of pleasure that left her momentarily spent, gasping for breath, clinging to him.
Once he was certain she would not simply tumble off the table, Coryphaeus carefully withdrew his hand from between her legs, pulling back to look at her.
Her expression was glassy, but mischievous, and he was startled when she slid from the table, and turned him to lean back against it. She kissed him again, and then pulled open his robes, and slowly kissed lower and lower, lips touching scars without hesitation.
When she reached the downward trailing scar below his navel, and her fingertips found the waistband of his braccae and began to undo its ties, he seized her wrists, looking guarded. “I don’t –” he began. “I’m not–“
“Shh,” Jules whispered, leaning to kiss his hands as he held her. “It’s all right,” she said, pale eyes bright, bitten-lips promising. “It doesn’t have to m–“
“–mean anything?” Coryphaeus laughed darkly. His eyes were on hers, piercing and merciless.
Jules felt her heart in her throat; had she gone too far?
“It doesn’t have to mean a thing to you, and I won’t make it,” he said quietly, looking to her. “But it does to me, Jules. It means a lot to me,” he said, and he carefully released her, but snagged the ties of his pants and closed them carefully. He reached down and took hold of her wrists again, standing her back up, putting her back against the table.
One hand lifted to take a fistful of her curls at the back of neck, while the other hand slipped inside the waistband of her braccae.
Jules moaned as he slowly bent her backwards, her eyes fluttering shut.
“I’ll spread you across this table and I’ll do everything I can to make you forget,” Coryphaeus whispered lowly. “But I won’t pretend it doesn’t mean anything to me,” he said, once she laid to the glossy wood.
“Please,” Jules breathed, trembling as her clothes were untied, opened, and pulled away. She spread her thighs and lifted her hips in offering to Coryphaeus, who brought his mouth to her flesh, and was true to his word —
–she forgot herself, and everything else, entirely.
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