Authors: Belinda Burke
Tags: #Erotic Romance Fiction
“Kas, I—” But Kas took him by the waist and held him still so he could thrust up, once, twice, enough to jar all the breath from Myrddin’s body and start those stars falling inside him again. “Aren’t you…aren’t you ever satisfied? I c-can’t…”
Kas leaned up on one elbow, reached out and took Myrddin’s chin in his hand. He had no choice but to meet that dark gaze while Kas spoke chidingly, shaking his head, reminding him, “Sounds.
, love.” He moaned, and Kas made a soft
of approval, started thrusting up again.
Myrddin choked on a curse, leaned back to balance himself on Kas’ thighs, and gave in to the inevitable—gave in completely.
Myrddin was trembling with exhaustion when Kas finally stopped. He lay shivering in Kas’ arms, every nerve overstimulated, teased and sated past endurance. Kas took one more kiss from him, though his lips were parted with panting, then laid Myrddin back in the grass and only touched him gently, soothing, easing. His hands were warm on Myrddin’s back, his arms, Kas’ fingers warm on his cheek, his lips, across his collarbone.
He made soft sounds, dozed for some hours, then startled awake and stretched slowly,
, before he lowered his arms around Kas’ waist again. “Still here, Kas? Or are you sleeping?”
Kas bent to his cheek, nuzzled him and kissed him. “Not sleeping. Still here.
There was humor in his voice again, but it was faint, though the black of his eyes was just as intense. Myrddin shifted, as uncomfortable under that stare as he had been with the idea of love, but Kas only kissed him once, then sat up and said it again.
“More words now, love.”
“Kas, you…you can’t call me that.”
Kas frowned, and the ground beneath him was suddenly drained of all its energies. The green that had grown out of Myrddin’s blood went to brown dust and dead stalks in an instant. “You call me
Myrddin opened his mouth to say that it wasn’t the same thing, not the same at all, but Kas licked his lips in a way that made Myrddin’s whole body shudder.
“Words. Words for me, love.”
The sound of it ached with defiance, and this time Myrddin only sighed, succumbed to the soft pressure of Kas’ mouth on his lips and tried not to moan. Everywhere they touched, his skin tingled, and he was lightheaded now…and drowsy.
“What do I talk about, what do I say? Anything? Everything? I came looking for you… Well, I didn’t know it was you, but my father sent me looking for
and now I know he meant you. My father’s the Wood God, but my mother was mortal—so it’s not always easy for me, you know? No, never mind, you couldn’t. You’re something else, you… I don’t know what you are.”
“Death. And Kas, because you said so.”
“So helpful.” Myrddin snickered at him, kissed him when he frowned, and again when that frown lingered. “I’m sorry. It’s just that I
that, but it doesn’t help me understand. I only feel with you, around you, that there’s something…so dark.”
He shivered, but this time it wasn’t from pleasure. He didn’t know what it was from—not fear, not cold. “I want it, Kas. I don’t even know what it is and I want it. You like that, don’t you? Isn’t that why you killed me? Or was that just because I needed it, and not because you wanted it—or was it both?”
“Both, love.” Imperative, definite. “
.” Emphatic and oh, so sure.
“How do you learn so fast? You didn’t know anything at first, but now you can answer my questions, and you know the words when I say them.”
everything. But you give me words. You talk to me.”
Myrddin laughed, disbelieving, and shook his head. “
. You make it sound like no one ever—” And he paused, taking in the serious look on Kas’ face, the solemn turn of his lips. “No one’s ever talked to you?”
Something like a smile stretched Kas’ lips, amused and bitter. He didn’t need to say anything this time. After all, who talks to death?
“I’m…sorry.” Myrddin wanted to say something else, something better, but nothing more meaningful came to mind. He had only questions he wasn’t sure he wanted the answers to, questions he wasn’t sure Kas had the words to answer anyway. The how, the why…the where he had come from, the
of his who…mysteries. All of them, mysteries.
Myrddin had met others like himself, though infrequently, other children of mortals and divine beings. Kas wasn’t like them, wasn’t like him. The only thing mortal in him was the influence of his power…and that, at least, was death.
. He could taste it without saying it, rich as autumn loam, but he didn’t understand where it came from.
Despite himself, the question slid past his lips. “Kas…you still haven’t told me what you are. Where you came from. I’d like to know, would you tell me?
you tell me? I’ll give you all the words I can, but—”
. I came from…what is
? That means something, but not to me. Since I was needed, I am here.”
A dry chuckle filled the space between them, and Myrddin shook his head. “So, you
like me—at least that way. And you don’t know anything except that you’re death…and you aren’t, you know, not really, not
, not any more than Fionnbarr is the moon. But…” He paused, squinted then shrugged. “You
death. Endings… You really are, and I just don’t understand.”
“Do you want to?”
“Do I…” Myrddin paused, looked up and met Kas’ gaze. There was an intensity there far different from that which had held him still during their lovemaking. Intensity that promised something he was quite certain he should fear.
The thought sprang into being fully formed, and he swallowed a thickness in his throat that came just as much from nowhere.
“I don’t…” He licked his lips, shook his head and tried to smile, but it wouldn’t come. “No. No, I— That’s…not a good idea.” He turned away, tried to find something else—anything else—to talk about, to focus on. He regretted a thousand times even
that question, never mind actually asking it.
Maybe I should go
. But he was tired, and hungry. A smile
come to him then, and he reached out a hand and dug his fingers into the earth. There was a pulse of life there that was familiar, throbbing, sleeping under the promise of winter, as he should be. It was as green as the feeling of his own magic, and Myrddin tapped it easily, pulled at the threads of power until they began to unwind from the soil.
Grasses, bushes, trees—the shadows of things became the things themselves, slowly, carefully, every fractal pattern of life exposed to its basest seed. What he wanted, he grew. Grapevines, tangled, heavy with black grapes, ripe apples on boughs as bright with leaves as with fruit. Pears, plums, golden quince and greengage weighted the branches of new trees that looked as if they’d been there fifty years.
Low bushes showed gleaming boysenberries, raspberries taut with cerise juices, and blackberries gorged on sun peeked up through flat, soft leaves. Wild strawberries lay in profusion on curled vines, their tiny seeds glittering like a fall of silver dust.
Well satisfied, Myrddin grinned at his work and chose a raspberry, then a grape, savored the juices as they burst together across his tongue. He plucked a quince from a low-hanging branch, bit it, then frowned and tossed it aside, took an apple instead. “Mmm…be’er. You wan’ some? Take wha’ you like.” He spoke over his shoulder at Kas, mouth full of apple, but Kas only stared at him and stayed very still.
“You do not want me to touch. I will kill it.”
“No—” But even as Myrddin began his denial, Kas reached out a hand, touched the bramble of blackberries. The fruit fell instantly, almost overripe, and settled into the green, though the green didn’t last.
The plants were dying under Kas’ touch, the vines shrinking and the leaves crisp and shriveled on branches that went brown and curled in on themselves. Only the tree trunks seem not to care, sturdy, steadfast, perhaps not immune, but they didn’t show the passage of time as the green did. “Kas, you don’t have to kill everything you touch. You didn’t kill
“Yes, I did.”
He huffed, but it was obvious Kas wasn’t joking. “You
other things too, you know, you have to be. You don’t have to use that power all the time. You could just…be.”
“But—” And just like that, a fragment of what Myrddin didn’t know was there inside him, sharp-edged, sibilant, hissing its truth at the back of his mind. “
.” He reached out and touched the blackberries, gave them back their spark, their life, but Kas didn’t move, and when he turned to look at him again, there was something almost wistful on his face.
“You know, you could do something about that, if you wanted. Keep it back—that power. Bind it to something, somewhere…”
“No. In this world, death is
“You haven’t met my father.” One corner of his mouth quirked upward, but Kas stared at him quietly. In his motionless attention Myrddin sensed a shrug and dissatisfaction both.
“Do you…” He paused, then dropped to his knees by Kas’ legs and plucked the nearest berry, red dark as blood. “Do you know what this is? The word for it?” Kas shook his head, and Myrddin grinned, took a bite of the fruit and kissed Kas with the juice on his lips. “
” Then he ate the other half, picked another and ate that too, then reached for something else.
“Blackberries, Kas—” But Kas was already licking Myrddin’s lips for their sweetness, the soft flavor of the fruit, and when he pulled back, his eyes held impatience that was…intent.
“You are teasing me. Why? You will make me want you, but you will say
. You will say it again…
It was the most Kas had yet said all at once, but Myrddin reached up as if he hadn’t heard, pulled down a pear and bit into it once, twice. The juice ran down his chin, onto his chest, dripped over his fingers. Kas licked it up, drop by drop, his tongue hot and velvety. Myrddin shivered, stayed still as Kas’ mouth passed over one nipple, up his throat. Kas paused at his lips for only a moment before he took hold of Myrddin’s hand, grabbed hold of his palm and spilled the fruit from his grip.
Kas pulled Myrddin’s hand to his mouth, and one at a time curled his tongue around sticky fingers, licking, sucking until Myrddin drew in a heavy breath, reached out to steady himself on Kas’ shoulder. “
The prompt was sly, the humor back in Kas’ voice as if it had never left, and Myrddin grinned faintly. “
. But Kas, you were wrong.”
“But you will
.” Exasperated, half laughing, he pressed his mouth against Kas’ lips, but Kas pulled back almost at once.
“Word, love, or no kisses.”
Myrddin stared at him, mouth open, then shook his head and reached blindly into the leaves, plucked a raspberry and ate it. This time when he kissed Kas, his lover gave in, sought out the taste of the fruit in his mouth, sucked on his tongue and pulled him across his lap. Kas dragged his legs open and made Myrddin straddle his thighs, held him against his chest and kissed him until no hint of sweetness was left.
His breathing was ragged, but he met Kas’ eyes and licked his own lips compulsively. “
“I like that one.”
“Kas, I want you to touch me. I want you to touch me again.”
, love?” The mocking echo was back in Kas’ voice, but this time Myrddin detected hints of promise, passion—so many things. He looked away from the swallowing blackness of Kas’ gaze, the irises of his eyes indistinguishable from the pupils and his focus impenetrable, undeniable.
He keeps calling me that, he keeps saying— Why?
But Myrddin knew there was no point in asking. He had tried already, had gotten the only answer he knew he was likely to get, at least for now. “
You call me Kas.”
He smiled despite himself. It
the perfect name, more fitting for this one than his own was for him. “Yes. Or I wouldn’t have said it, would I?”
Kas stared directly at him, held his chin for the second time that day when Myrddin tried to look away. “You said it, but sometimes you—” He stopped, frustrated by the lack of a word he needed, and Myrddin touched his mouth with the tips of his fingers.
. I know.” He shrugged, a gesture that was almost flippant. “Can’t help it. I’m the spring, you know. Lies, secrets, green, they’re all mine. I could tell you—”
Myrddin nodded, agreeing. “More words, then?” He was teasing, but Kas shook his head, more than serious.
“Not now. I want—”
.” Myrddin meant it to be an echo, mocking just as Kas had been mocking him, but Kas stared at him with sudden light in his eyes, two stars born in the dark spaces.
With a sudden movement, half lunge, half embrace, Kas tumbled him into the strawberries, crushed them under Myrddin’s back and bent to kiss his gasp away. This time Myrddin was ready, lifted himself up, pressed back, but Kas was stronger, and though they rolled over, again, and again, Kas always ended up on top.
Myrddin wanted to care. He did—
. But he couldn’t. He just…
. Sweeter than strawberry, darker than blackberry—better than
. It was the best taste, stinging, sharp, and Kas pulled back and stared down at the expanse of Myrddin’s brown skin stained with red fruit. One blue eye glinted up at him, a shard of cloudless sky displaced, but the other was invisible in the shadow of the green until Kas put his hand down by Myrddin’s head.