I was about to turn down the hallway when a tall male figure appeared before me. The moonlight from the open window turned his mask silver, and his golden hair—unbound and crowned with laurel leaves—gleamed.
“Going somewhere?” Tamlin asked. His voice was not entirely of this world.
I suppressed a shudder. “Midnight snack,” I said, and I was keenly aware of every movement, every breath I took as I neared him.
His bare chest was painted with whorls of dark blue woad, and from the smudges in the paint, I knew exactly where he’d been touched. I tried not to notice that they descended past his muscled midriff.
I was about to pass him when he grabbed me, so fast that I didn’t see anything until he had me pinned against the wall. The cookie dropped from my hand as he grasped my wrists. “I smelled you,” he breathed, his painted chest rising and falling so close to mine. “I searched for you, and you weren’t there.”
He reeked of magic. When I looked into his eyes, remnants of power flickered there. No kindness, none of the wry humor and gentle reprimands. The Tamlin I knew was gone.
“Let go,” I said as evenly as I could, but his claws punched out, imbedding in the wood above my hands. Still riding the magic, he was half-wild.
“You drove me mad,” he growled, and the sound trembled down my neck, along my breasts until they ached. “I searched for you, and you weren’t there. When I didn’t find you,” he said, bringing his face closer to mine, until we shared breath, “it made me pick another.”
I couldn’t escape. I wasn’t entirely sure that I wanted to.
“She asked me not to be gentle with her, either,” he snarled, his teeth bright in the moonlight. He brought his lips to my ear. “I would have been gentle with you, though.” I shuddered as I closed my eyes. Every inch of my body went taut as his words echoed through me. “I would have had you moaning my name throughout it all. And I would have taken a very, very long time, Feyre.” He said my name like a caress, and his hot breath tickled my ear. My back arched slightly.
He ripped his claws free from the wall, and my knees buckled as he let go. I grasped the wall to keep from sinking to the floor, to keep from grabbing him—to strike or caress, I didn’t know. I opened my eyes. He still smiled—smiled like an animal.
“Why should I want someone’s leftovers?” I said, making to push him away. He grabbed my hands again and bit my neck.
I cried out as his teeth clamped onto the tender spot where my neck met my shoulder. I couldn’t move—couldn’t think, and my world narrowed to the feeling of his lips and teeth against my skin. He didn’t pierce my flesh, but rather bit to keep me pinned. The push of his body against mine, the hard and the soft, made me see red—see lightning, made me grind my hips against his. I should hate him—hate him for his stupid ritual, for the female he’d been with tonight …
His bite lightened, and his tongue caressed the places his teeth had been. He didn’t move—he just remained in that spot, kissing my neck. Intently, territorially, lazily. Heat pounded between my legs, and as he ground his body against me, against every aching spot, a moan slipped past my lips.
He jerked away. The air was bitingly cold against my freed skin, and I panted as he stared at me. “Don’t ever disobey me again,” he said, his voice a deep purr that ricocheted through me, awakening everything and lulling it into complicity.
Then I reconsidered his words and straightened. He grinned at me in that wild way, and my hand connected with his face.
“Don’t tell me what to do,” I breathed, my palm stinging. “And don’t bite me like some enraged beast.”
He chuckled bitterly. The moonlight turned his eyes to the color of leaves in shadow. More—I wanted the hardness of his body crushing against mine; I wanted his mouth and teeth and tongue on my bare skin, on my breasts, between my legs. Everywhere—I wanted him everywhere. I was drowning in that need.
His nostrils flared as he scented me—scented every burning, raging thought that was pounding through my body, my senses. The breath rushed from him in a mighty whoosh.
He growled once, low and frustrated and vicious, before prowling away.
I awoke when the sun was high, after tossing and turning all night, empty and aching.
The servants were sleeping in after their night of celebrating, so I made myself a bath and took a good, long soak. Try as I might to forget the feel of Tamlin’s lips on my neck, I had an enormous bruise where he’d bitten me. After bathing, I dressed and sat at the vanity to braid my hair.
I opened the drawers of the vanity, searching for a scarf or something to cover the bruise peeking over the collar of my blue tunic, but then paused and glared at myself in the mirror. He’d acted like a brute and a savage, and if he’d come to his senses by this morning, then seeing what he’d done would be minimal punishment.
Sniffing, I opened the collar of my tunic farther and tucked stray strands of my golden-brown hair behind my ears so there would be no concealing it. I was beyond cowering.
Humming to myself and swinging my hands, I strode downstairs and followed my nose to the dining room, where I knew lunch was usually served for Tamlin and Lucien. When I flung open the doors, I found them both sprawled in their chairs. I could have sworn that Lucien was sleeping upright, fork in hand.
“Good afternoon,” I said cheerfully, with an especially saccharine smile for the High Lord. He blinked at me, and both of the faerie men murmured their greetings as I took a seat across from Lucien, not my usual place facing Tamlin.
I drank deeply from my goblet of water before piling food on my plate. I savored the tense silence as I consumed the meal before me.
“You look … refreshed,” Lucien observed with a glance at Tamlin. I shrugged. “Sleep well?”
“Like a babe.” I smiled at him and took another bite of food, and felt Lucien’s eyes travel inexorably to my neck.
“What is that bruise?” Lucien demanded.
I pointed with my fork to Tamlin. “Ask him. He did it.”
Lucien looked from Tamlin to me and then back again. “Why does Feyre have a bruise on her neck from you?” he asked with no small amount of amusement.
“I bit her,” Tamlin said, not pausing as he cut his steak. “We ran into each other in the hall after the Rite.”
I straightened in my chair.
“She seems to have a death wish,” he went on, cutting his meat. The claws stayed retracted but pushed against the skin above his knuckles. My throat closed up. Oh, he was mad—furious at my foolishness for leaving my room—but somehow managed to keep his anger on a tight, tight leash. “So, if Feyre can’t be bothered to listen to orders, then I can’t be held accountable for the consequences.”