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Authors: Lindsey Piper

Tags: #Dragon Kings#0.5

Silent Warrior (7 page)

BOOK: Silent Warrior
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She was mindless now. Only his words and his rhythm. Both hypnotic. Both elemental. The release she’d craved swept over her with the force of a hurricane’s wind. And Dragon damn him, she did exactly as Hark had commanded. She came in wild bursts of color and greedy, ravaging pleasure. Foul words spilled from her mouth as angered whispers, there against his bare throat. The moist heat from her tirade pushed back from his skin, like an echo of breath.

“Orla,” she gasped at last, her world spinning. “My name is Orla.”

7

H
ark exploded.

Triumph.

His orgasm was as ravaging as a punch to the face, where his brain smacked the back of his skull. As he pumped one last time, he was adrenaline and sex and a god of old.

And she was Orla. She had given him what she’d given no one else.

Her name.

If he believed her. At that moment, trying to catch his breath while this beautiful, mysterious woman looked down from where she straddled his hips, he was willing to believe just about anything.
Just
leading with his dick? That didn’t ring true. He wrapped a hand around the base of her skull and drew her closer. Without venom or contest, he kissed her. He was surprised, damn surprised, to find tenderness in the kiss she returned. Her arms were locked behind his neck. Holding. Close. Radiant in each other’s embrace, as sweat cooled and the animalistic ardor retreated like a lizard back into the shade.

The kiss remained. He shared it with her, not taking, not forcing—not being taken or being forced. She had soft lips that slid across his, with movements as rare as she was. Her tongue touched his and flinched back. He cradled her head and invited her return. When had he last savored the moments after a good fuck? Back alleys, club basements, and by-the-hour hotels didn’t inspire gentleness. Yet there they were, savoring something as unknown to him as being at a loss for words.

Hark withdrew from her body, both of them sated, but she didn’t let him go. Orla pulled his head against her bare chest. A deeper embrace. He hadn’t thought it possible.

“You’re a witch,” he whispered against her damp skin. Her heart beat so strong, loud, vital inside the swell and collapse of her chest. He drew her scent into his nose, still savoring, and he closed his eyes.

“The Pendray are the witches.” She spoke against his crown, then smoothed his hair back from his temples. “I’m Sath, just as you are.”

“Orla of Sath.”

Her body jumped as if stabbed from behind, obviously provoked by his words. But she didn’t shove free, or even withdraw in a way that signaled the end of their respite. Her arms tightened. She nestled her mouth against his ear and whispered as if a hundred people surrounded them. She needed to be Silence once again. “No one has called me that since I lived in Egypt.”

“So is that bad or good? Egypt is a challenge at the best of times. And living among the stodgy old Sath couldn’t have been a bed of roses. What roses grow in the desert, anyway? Maybe just you.” His wicked, tumbling thoughts were back again, but they were saying a lot more than he’d intended. He swallowed. “You wouldn’t have left had life there been awesome and bursting with potential.”

“The Leadership killed my guardians.”

“Even for you, that was a sentence completely devoid of emotion.”

“I wanted them dead. No loss.” She began to untangle their limbs. “I didn’t want to join them.”

Hark broke their easy companionship by holding her close, using tense arms to remind her that he was still a man. Still
stronger
. “This is a onetime deal. It’s been great and it’ll be great a few more times before that seven hours is up. But we knew that going in.”

“Your point?”

“You’ve got something pent up in this amazing body and damn frustrating brain.” He stroked her cheek, stroked his fingers into her white-blond hair. “So other than a heart-to-heart with the wall of some bedroom, who else have you told? Who else
would
you tell?”

“There’s nothing to tell.”

Her words were a protest, but her body had relaxed—as if she needed only a few more inducements.

Grinning against her mouth, he asked, “Would it help to say that on occasion I talk to the
nighnor
like Hamlet talking to a skull?”

“No. That’s just weird.”

“Close your eyes.” He helped her by sliding one big palm down her forehead until his fingers loosely covered her line of sight. “Tell me.”

“Our clan likes its treasures and secrets,” she began haltingly.

He kissed her ear, whisper soft. “And here you are telling one to me, Orla of Sath. Of course we love our secrets. That means it stays with me. I don’t share precious things.”

They both froze. Hark cursed himself, wondering where the fuck squishy sentiment like that had come from.

But he’d meant it. No one would ever learn a thing about this gorgeous, unexpected evening.

“I never knew my parents. Some said they headed down to fight in the Cages.” She tucked her face in the hollow between his shoulder and chest. “Debts, apparently.”

“Great.”

“I was placed with two guardians. The woman was Elga. She was probably one hundred and fifty years old, but maybe more. Joal was her partner. They’d never performed the Ritual of Thorns. That would mean keeping their word, and neither was capable.”

She inhaled deeply, and Hark began to caress her upper arms and sides in a quiet plea to keep talking. Talking to
him
. Who in the name of the Dragon was he to be on the receiving end of this hardened, capable woman’s trust—if only for the night? Maybe that’s why, for the first time in longer than he could remember, he felt absolutely no urge to talk.

“Looking back, I think they adopted me as a front. If I was healthy, unblemished, and consistently attending school, no one would think about what they really enjoyed doing. ‘Elga and Joal, so generous in their later years. Orla, you’re very lucky.’ No one knew that they stole secrets and artifacts from the Leadership’s reserves and traded them for opium and enslaved Sath girls. I could’ve just as easily been one of them. Instead, I was the one living two lives.” She paused on a hard shudder. “It’s easy to stop talking when there are
too
many secrets to keep.”

Although Hark didn’t want to, he released his secure hold when she moved to sit up. “They got their hands on an idol,” she continued. “That was overreaching. It was priceless, and the Leadership found out. Their double life was exposed. I was caught up in it, suspected just like they were. Had I been any less savvy, any less observant, I would’ve been executed with them. So I ran.”

Identifying the moment when she shut it all down—all emotion, all warped nostalgia—was something of a revelation. She hadn’t said any word with more inflection or emotion, but those last three words were a conclusion.
So I ran
. Although he still had a bucketload of questions, he didn’t need much of a brain to realize that was the end of the story.

At least, it was the end of the story she intended to tell.

“You ran?” Old habits were the best cure for veering too close to reality. He grinned and gave her ass a slap as she stood. “Sensible enough. I like self-preservation in a woman.”

Her smile was forced, a little sad, but she played along. “You like
yourself
in a woman.”

“Not gonna complain, nope.”

While Orla dressed and wrapped her warrior persona around her supple body, Hark scrubbed his face with hands that were just regaining the steady agility of a lifelong thief. What in the name of the Dragon had just happened? Whatever it was, he wouldn’t see it end while he was stark naked. And that’s what was going on. She was ending it.

By all means. See ya.

Except now he was a thief
and
a liar.

He wanted more. He wanted the real end of that story, and the rest of the details she’d never shared with another person. It was probably an ego thing. Sex was easy—although this time had been . . . stronger. But he dressed. The dingy overhead lamp was more than enough to light the way. Only minutes ago, it had bronzed them both. In the aftermath, it lit smears on the walls and soggy, warped dips in the ceiling.

“Ah, what memories we’ll take away from this bastion of pure wonder,” he said, tugging his clothes in place. Emotional distance followed close behind. “Fucking in a building that should be condemned. And you’re back to normal, too. Straight back. Tight lips. I wish I’d have gotten those lips around my cock. Alas. Next lifetime.”

The glass of the room’s single window shattered.

 
 

Hark’s brain jumped to high alert. He’d only lingered because time and circumstance had lulled him into thinking he lived some other man’s life. Three armed thugs bursting into the room, however, left no time for such luxury.

He landed a roundhouse kick to the center of the lead man’s chest. “
Nighnor!

Delight that resembled his sexual release washed over him when Orla tossed his satchel. Perfect aim. No hesitation. After another spin he came out swinging, with the satchel firmly strapped across his chest. Soon he filled his hand with the
nighnor
. It was heavy. It was deadly. That satisfying weight pulled at his muscles, enough to remind him of his own strength. He’d trained to wield the ancient skull with the ease of walking.

The man he’d kicked suffered the results. Hark swept his legs, pinned him with a knee to the groin, and collapsed his opponent’s chest with a single blow. Bone cracked. Wet screams followed. A heart stopped beating.

Orla had been Hark’s lover, but the woman who slashed her serrated shield was Silence. Face impassive. Body fluid and deadly. She dropped low. One of the attackers found himself suddenly without kneecaps.

Three . . . they could’ve handled three. Two were already dead or mewling like kittens on a barbeque.

But another six? Those odds sucked.

“Time to go,” he shouted.

Silence was on his heels as they barreled through hallways and shot through the main lobby. Another four waited for them. Hark recognized one as the hired muscle of a loan shark.

Great.

Silence held her own. He wouldn’t have expected anything less from the slender, deadly amazon.

Heh. Wrong river, asshole.

She was a daughter of the Nile, but that didn’t change how badly they were outnumbered. Physical strength would only get them so far.

With the
nighnor
in both hands, he obliterated a man’s face. “We need a Dragon King.”

They were Sath. They were no better than humans without being able to inhale other skills—skills better suited to not dying.

BOOK: Silent Warrior
7.11Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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