Dark Fantasy ~ with a dash of sex…
Smelling like an overcooked pig was only the start of a bad day…
Damn it, no. He was leaving. “Merlin! Wait.”
Nimue stretched out her hand, caught his, gripped it. Something slick wet her skin. She turned over his hand and found blood and crescent-shaped cuts dug deep into his palm. “You’re bleeding.”
Merlin tugged his hand free and eyes as dark as her own narrowed. “It’s nothing.” He stepped back. “You need to rest, Nimue. We’re strong. It’s how we have the Sight…but we still need to eat and sleep after an…encounter.”
Strong? True. Already, the shakes, the dull throbs of pain through every muscle, were fading. A smile pulled at her mouth and Merlin’s eyes deadened in response. Silent curses ran through her head. He’d wanted her. Every sense had screamed it. Now, that had changed.
All right. She would start again. Morgan had given her time.
Her gaze dropped, fixing on the strong column of his throat. She focused on the strip of black leather slipping beneath his tunic. Nimue had seen the crested ring that hung from it. He had held it up to a flickering candle, the black, carved stone blazing, and told her of his father. The ring was his only connection to that long-dead man. She calmed her nerves. “Will…will you be my teacher?”
Her name was almost a growl. She ignored the delicious shiver running over her skin. Morgan had warned her about this. He will weave his magic around you, Nimue. Wrap darkness around your heart. Resist that. And you can destroy him. She let out a slow breath. “Who else can show me, Merlin? It’s taken you years.” Her eyes lifted and she ran slow fingers over the sharp edge of his jaw. He flinched. “I’m…I’m scared.”
Something flickered in the dark depths of his eyes. Then was gone. Merlin backed away. “It’s the king’s decision.”
“Then we go now.”
A muscle in his jaw jumped. His mouth opened. Then shut. “Yes.”
He stared over her long, creased dress. She followed his gaze and saw the stains of blood and urine “I have to change. I’m sure the king wouldn’t approve.” A smile twisted her mouth. “And the Queen would be horrified.”
Merlin’s mouth flattened. “If the king decides I am to be your mentor, your irreverence stops, Nimue.”
She couldn’t help herself. “So I have till then?”
“You know that’s not–” Merlin bit back more words and turned to the solid wooden door. “Let’s go.”
He shot back four heavy bolts and tugged at the wrought-iron ring. The door groaned. Nimue stared back at the raised circle that had burned her with agonising light. She hadn’t told him a lie. She was scared. Voices had whispered in that searing light, whispered of the distant future, the forgotten past. One Voice told her power could be hers. It would be hers. All of it.
Nimue crushed her eyes shut. She had to deny the memories, and shook her head against them.
She drew air into her lungs and she focused on Merlin’s straight back.
The Voice had promised her his power.
Her bare feet padded over cold stone. Think about the cold. Concentrate on the chill numbing her soles. She couldn’t let her thoughts dwell. But she failed. Arthur’s sister had sent her to the court to worm her way into Merlin’s affections. And she had done that. The ease of doing so still surprised her. However, there was the other side.
She needed to see the brooding lines lift from his sharp, handsome face. To have Merlin smile at her and let that smile light eyes too used to looking inwards and seeing horror.
That was his magic.
Morgan had said.
She tugged at his arm. “Will I have to endure the light again?”
Merlin pulled free and didn’t stop his fast pace through the curving, torch-lit tunnel. “No.”
“What happens if the king says no?”
He stopped. He didn’t look at her, instead his face turned down the smooth-stoned tunnel. His voice was cold, hard. “The Iselin Dal will use you as they wish. As They used me. Until I learned.”
Panic skittered through Nimue. She knew the stories of the screaming, insane wild-man Merlin had once been. Sometimes she saw the memory of it flicker across his face. “I–“
Narrowed eyes fixed on her. The power in them prickled over her skin. “It’s something you must be prepared for, Nimue.”
She forgot her role. “And you would be relieved!”
Merlin’s jaw tightened. “Yes.”
The shock and pain of that answer shot through her nerves. Nimue grabbed at the carved stone for support, felt the sharp edge dig into her palm. “How could you…?”
“You were a dalliance, Nimue. Nothing more. Now you’re a threat to me. And we both know it.” She swung her hand without thinking. Merlin’s strong fingers caught her wrist, pinned her arm to the wall, blocked her with his body. “Don’t we?”
Nimue couldn’t breathe.
The mixing odours of stone, leather and Merlin’s clean, male scent shot through her. The hard strength of him pressed against her had her heart thumping. She stared up into dark eyes, catching the flicker of fire in their depths.
Her hips shifted. Slow. Sure.
Merlin groaned, his gaze dragging to her mouth.
“Just one taste, Merlin.” Was that her voice? Soft, breathless? “Where’s the harm?”
His lips parted, his breathing harsh, and the liquid fire low in her belly flared. The urge to sink her teeth into his lip consumed her. For her to finally taste him, let his tongue, her tongue–
“Enough!” Merlin stumbled back. “I’m stronger than that,” he muttered. Cold eyes fixed on her. “They must have you for my own sanity.”
“And that’s what you’ll tell the king?”
Merlin’s jaw lifted, his spine straightened. “Yes.”
“You condemn me, Merlin.”
He turned. “You shouldn’t have come to the court.”
Nimue watched him stride down the tunnel. “I had no choice.”
(c) 2007 Kim Knox
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Reviewer: Annie http://sensual.ecataromance.com/11-reviews?type=&id=809