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Jaguar in the Sun

Anya Richards
Book four in the Unveiled Seductions series.
Cassandra Solinar has a bucket list and jaguar god Xbal Montegro is on it. About to
undergo an essential rite she wont survive, she wants to wring every ounce of pleasure
out of the time left. Including discovering if Xbals sex magic technique is as good as
Its no hardship for Xbal to accept Cassandras invitation for one erotic encounter, but
far more difficult to let her go once he gets a taste of the explosive passion between them.
Now hes determined to hold on to her, no matter what.
Cassie cant tell Xbal the truth about what shes about to do. Its illegal, but without
her death the entire world will perish. Its a job shes been preparing for from birth, but
the loss will be greater now. For in Xbal she finds a soul-deep connection she doesnt
want to lose, and the one thing she made a point of not putting on her bucket listlove.
A Romantica paranormal erotic romance from Elloras Cave



Anya Richards


Chapter One
Cassie paused on the sidewalk outside the Music Roars offices and looked up at the
sky. It was a weird day weather-wise. The sun shone but a light sprinkle of rain fell from
just one small, innocuous-looking cloud, which seemed to be hovering right above her
How appropriate.
She didnt want to think about the meeting shed just come from but, as much as she
tried to push it to the back of her mind, the effect of it lingered. Just like the cloud. Yet
instead of deterring her from her plan, the knowledge time was running out just made
her more determined. There wouldnt be another chance.
Since shed been distracted when she left the temple, shed forgotten to throw up a
shield and the drizzle had turned her previously sleek hair into a mass of waves but she
didnt care. It wasnt a big deal, just a small detail and one she didnt think would really
matter. In her experience a man didnt care that much about how a womans hair looked
when she was propositioning him.
Her belly tensed and Cassie pressed her palm over it, trying to calm the sudden flutter
of nerves. She was about to take a fierce, beautiful, unpredictable man by surprise, and
shed be an idiot not to be a little concerned. If he said no shed definitely be embarrassed
but if he said yes
This time her entire body reacted to her thoughts. Xbal Montegro was delicious to
look at, had a voice like the richest, darkest velvet and a fluid, sensual way of moving
that betrayed his feline nature. Then there were the rumors about his facility with sex
magic, which in the hands of a master practitioner was guaranteed to produce a once-ina-lifetime experience. Just thinking about the combination of all those attributes was
enough to send a wash of heat through her entire body, leaving tight nipples and a low,
thrumming vibration around her clit in its wake.
Cassie had spent a great deal of time imagining what it would be like to sleep with
Xbal. Theyd known each other for a long time, and thered always been sparks of
interest between themsparks shed been unwilling to act on, or even acknowledge.
Shed also spent a lot of time recently wondering why shed shied away from exploring
the attraction, but hadnt found a definitive answer. In the endand this was, in so many
senses of the word, the endshed put the speculation aside. Like the condition of her

hair, it was of little importance. If she ever wanted the experience of a hot fuck with the
jaguar shifter, now was the time to make it happen.
With a final glance at the sky, she smoothed the lapels of her leather coatdress and
took the last step necessary to push open the unmarked door. Immediately she was
bombarded by a blast of sound coming from a group of people lounging in the reception
area, each one with an instrument in hand. This was music unlike any shed heard before,
with a driving, almost discordant backbeat provided by a couple of guys, one with a pair
of Congo drums, the other with what looked like a plastic tub. Above it was overlaid the
wail of a bagpipe and the counter-beat of a bass guitar. And flitting through it all were
the high, sweet notes of a wind instrumenta piccolo by the sound of itdiving and
climbing between the other sounds, weaving them all together into something magical
and strangely compelling. Enchanted, she paused in the vestibule and let the door swing
shut as the music washed over her, somehow soothing her nervousness and, at the same
time, heightening her anticipation.
Consumed in their jam session, most of the musicians ignored her, all except the
young blond drumming on the plastic bin, who gave her a blatant once-over
accompanied by a cheeky, inviting grin. Cassie raised an eyebrow at him and slid her
gaze away, signaling her complete disinterest.
Im here for much stronger fare than you can provide, little man.
The receptionist, Jana-Rose, caught her eye and shrugged. Cassie grinned in response,
knowing it was more the norm than an anomaly to find random groups playing in the
promotional companys reception area. Some were already involved in shows Xbal had
put together and were there for a meeting. Others wanted to be considered for future
projects and, with true artistic oblivion, seemed to think it was fine to drop by and just
start making music. Xbal had once told her he didnt discourage it because hed
discovered more than one new group that way. Besides, it was a simple thing to get rid of
the ones lacking the level of talent he wanted by simply translocating them out the door.
Hed said that with one of his devastating, arrogant grins, and even now Cassie could
remember the shock of mingled desire and apprehension shed felt seeing it. Something
about that smile told her he was a man used to being totally in charge, completely in
control of every facet of his life and surroundings. King of the jungle. Master of all he
surveyed. However you wanted to look at it, despite his charm and seemingly unfailing
courtesy, Xbal wasnt to be trifled with. She, on the other hand, would love to have him
trifle with her, as much as he liked, today.

Another thought that made her legs a little wobbly as she started toward the
reception desk.
Jana-Rose stopped her with a shake of her head and a wave indicating she should go
right up to Xbals office. Cassie swerved away toward the elevator with an answering
wave of thanks. Shed actually made an appointment to see him, which was unusual
considering the length of their relationship. But shed realized when you had a strict
schedule and short timeline nothing should be taken for granted or left to chance, which
rather pissed her off.
Stabbing the button, she swallowed a sudden surge of anger, pushing it down and
locking it away. Yeah, it was annoying to have to abandon her previous spontaneity and
actually plan every little experience, but it had been necessary to get everything done.
Especially now.
The elevator doors opened and she stepped into the sleek, leather-lined interior to
admire, as she always did, the murals stamped into the skins. Done in a primitive,
Mesolithic style and colored with a variety of bright dyes, they were a feast for the eyes.
Unable to resist, she traced the figure directly before her, a half-man, half-jaguar she
always assumed to be Xbal. Her finger trembled as it struck her she may very soon be
touching the real thing, discovering and exploring what shed only dreamed of up to this
point. The lurch of her stomach had nothing to do with riding the elevator to the tenth
floor but made the breath catch in her throat and a shiver course over her back and
As the lift came to a smooth halt, she let her hand drop back to her side and took a
deep breath, trying to put it all back into perspective. In a little while she may or may not
be sleeping with a man she found entirely enthralling. In a short time shed know
whether or not this particular long-held dream would come true or not. Yet, as much as
anticipation and trepidation crackled under her skin, and as exciting as the prospect of
fucking Xbal was, it wouldnt be a life-changing moment.
Strange how knowing the end of your existence was imminent gave one the kind of
cutting clarity that would be beneficial if you had more time to make use of it.
That thought amused her, and she was smiling slightly as she stepped out onto the
floor where Xbals office was located. In contrast to the din downstairs it was quiet, really
serene up here. And instead of the colorful concert posters and modern furniture that
decorated the reception area, the executive floor had a timeless, classical feeling. The
dark wooden floors set off creamy walls and emphasized the crown molding and trim

detailing. Armchairs upholstered in sedate, neutral fabrics were paired with occasional
tables into pleasing arrangements on the huge Persian carpet. Instead of artwork, ancient
instruments graced the walls. It was all a little too formal for her tastes, but she had to
admit the man coming toward her with his customary grace looked right at home.
Xbal Montegro wasnt exceptionally tall in the world of the fey, being just an inch or
so taller than Cassies five-foot-eight-plus-heels, but the way he carried himself made
that unimportant. And although he wasnt handsome in the way so many of the male
inhabitants of the faie side of the Veil were, she found him more beautiful than any other
man she knew. The broad forehead, high cheekbones and slightly hooked nose were
balanced by a firm, determined jaw and sensual mouth, which had a deeply bowed
upper lip and almost too-full lower. It was the kind of mouth that on a lesser man would
look effeminate. On Xbal it simply looked delicious and gave his harsh, copper-hued
visage warmth. Warmth that was now echoed in his eyes as he came to greet her.
Cassie. His voice, just short of a growl, sent another little shiver down her back, and
she tensed so as not to tremble when he put his hands on her shoulders and bent to
lightly kiss first one cheek and then the other. I was surprised to see you on the schedule
for today.
He drew back, his hands remaining warm and firm on her shoulders, and Cassie
smiled in return even as she noticed the slight frown between his brows, the sharpness of
his gaze. By Sol, his eyes were amazinglight-brown around the edges of the irises then
shading to milk-chocolate closer to the pupils. She only just stopped herself from licking
her lips in delight, letting her mouth quirk into a half-smile instead.
I needed to see you but didnt want to take the chance youd be off on one of your
Hmmm Xbals gaze bored into hers for what seemed like eternity before he
turned, dropping one hand to her waist to guide her toward his office. Im not sure
what to make of that. He slid her another searching glance, and Cassie tried her best to
look innocent. You know youre welcome to drop in on me anytime. I can only assume
its something important for you to make an appointment.
Not terribly important. She preceded him into his office and would have continued
over to one of the chairs in front of his desk, but Xbal guided her toward the sofa instead.
More a matter requiring expediency rather than anything else.
He saw her settled on one of the soft, suede cushions before he sat too, turning
slightly sideways so he was facing her. His arm was stretched along the back of the couch

and she glanced at his hand, had to look away from the sight of the long, masculine
fingers that she could oh so easily imagine on her skin. Every sense was heightened by
his proximity. Xbals distinctively earthy, slightly musky scent lingered in the air, giving
her goose bumps. Her palms tingled with the urge to touch the smooth skin of his cheek
and the muscles not fully concealed by the long-sleeved dress shirt and perfectly tailored
Cassie folded her hands on her lap and crossed her legs, not bothering to adjust the
edges of her skirt when they fell open to mid-thigh. Xbals gaze remained on her face. A
little disappointing but not surprising. This was a man who didnt ogle or stare, was as
cool as the proverbial cucumber.
Another of your brainwaves for a concert at the Midnight Caf, needing to be put
together at a moments notice?
Amusement added another layer of richness to his voice and Cassie shifted, glancing
down at her hands in case the heat of rising desire showed in her eyes.
You could say that, I guess, although I will tell you Ive put a great deal of thought
into this idea. She couldnt help the answering laughter in her tone, knowing what she
was about to say. Looking at him through half-lowered lids, wanting to see his reaction,
she said, I actually came by to see if youd be interested in having sex with me today.
Xbal had been absolutely sure he was shockproof. After an obscene number of years of
existence hed seen every facet of peoples natures, the good, bad and extremely ugly.
What was left to surprise him?
Cassandra Solinar, obviously.
He thought his jaw may have sagged just for a moment before he got himself under
control, but he couldnt stop his body going completely still, his predatory instincts
Had Cassie just said what he thought she had?
Hed scented her arousal when hed bent to kiss her cheeks but wouldnt have, in a
thousand years, thought it was specifically for him. Cassie was a naturally sexual
creature, with an aura of wildness just short of abandon, but shed never treated him
with anything other than teasing friendliness. Hed long accepted her lack of interest in
him, although that hadnt stopped him dreaming. Now he couldnt help wondering
what she was playing at.

Her chin was dipped, but not in a position of embarrassment or uncertainty. Rather
there was a sly twist to her lush lips and he saw a gleam of what he interpreted to be
amusement from behind her lowered lashes.
It was just a joke then.
The acuteness of his disappointment wasnt a surprise, but at least he was able to relax
fractionally. All of him but his cock, which had decided it liked the suggestion very, very
much. Not that the rest of him didnt find the idea completely enticing, but his cock in
particular thought having wild sex with Cassie would be the ideal way to spend the rest
of the day. After all, hed only been thinking about it from the first moment they met.
You shouldnt tease me, Cassie. His voice was more gravelly than usual, arousal and
a flash of annoyance deepened it to a low grumble. Its not wise.
Her eyes opened wide then, the amethyst depths sparkling with mischief and
something else he tried to interpret but couldnt get a handle on.
Tease you? She got to her feet with a motion as graceful as water flowing over a
smooth stone. Does this look like Im in the mood to tease?
Before he realized what she was about, she loosened the sash holding her dress closed.
The edges of the soft leather parted, and in his peripheral vision Xbal saw the lush
contours of her body come into view. He tried to keep his gaze on her face, struggled for
what seemed like eternity to resist looking, but willpower seemed to have grabbed his
control by the balls and taken off at a gallop. With his body once more frozen with
hunger, his gaze was the only thing able to move, and it snapped down to her breasts
then did a slow, thorough sweep south.
Hed seen the majority of Cassies tattoos before, or most of them anyway, at The
Midnight Caf anniversary party where shed worn a dress so minuscule he swore he had
pocket handkerchiefs larger. It had been impossible not to notice the delectable inner
curves of her full breasts, the smooth lines of her back, arms and legs. Hed found himself
staring, lusting and almost panting with the urge to touch, to trace the myriad sun signs
dancing across the creamy skin with fingers, tongue and magic.
Now, seeing her body displayed, just for him, tiny wisps of spidersilk hardly masking
her most private flesh, awoke the primitive part of his soul and brought his libido to
snapping, snarling life.
Why then did his brain, even while struggling with the kind of craving a man feels far
too infrequently in life, urge caution?

It was only when he forced his gaze up, away from her body and back to her face, the
full extent of what he was up against was brought home to him. Cassies eyes were still
sparkling with laughter and a sweet hint of desire, but it was the underlying emotion
making him pause, searching, to be sure he was reading it correctly.
She didnt really care, one way or the other, if he said yes.
That wasnt quite right. She cared, but only because she wanted him physically. If he
said no, Cassie would shrug and walk away without a second glance.
Not surprising the knowledge should rouse his competitive spirit. In a way the
challenge she presented with her thinly veiled nonchalance only increased his own
determination to have her. Why it should also bring a spurt of anger, he wasnt sure. All
he knew was he wanted her to want him with as ferocious a need as he felt for her.
Wanted her yearning, maybe even begging, for him to satisfy her lust.
He sat back, willing his body to relax.
Well, thats the best invitation Ive had in a long time. Despite his best efforts, his
voice was still growly, and Cassies smile quirked higher. Lets discuss it over lunch.
Various expressions cycled across her face in quick succession. Surprise, disbelief,
annoyance and, finally, hurt. She masked it all with notable efficiency, but not quickly
enough to hide the emotions from his watchful gaze.
Oh. Amusement still lingered in her tone, but now was completely absent from her
eyes. I didnt know Id have to use bribes to get you into bed, but I guess food is as good
a one as any.
As she spoke her hands were already reaching for her sash, preparing to close her
dress, but Xbal sprang up to stand in front of her before she could even get the chore
properly started. She froze, her eyes wide and a little gasp of surprise escaping her lips at
the suddenness of his movement.
Not a bribe.
He was close enough the sweet scent of her filled his head, made him want to pounce,
to take, to gorge on her delicious body with ferocious greed. It took all his considerable
control to remain still, staring into her now-flashing eyes.
If not a bribe, Xbal, then what?
He bent to brush his lips over her warm, moist, enticing mouth and whispered,
And the shiver that rippled through her was highly gratifying.

Chapter Two
Cassie wasnt quite sure how to feel about the turn her encounter with Xbal had
taken. It was one of those situations where you go in thinking you know whatll happen
but the script you have in your head turns out to be completely wrong. Shed been
envisioning an immediate responseeither a polite no, thank you or a crazy, gottahave-it-now fuck on his couch or desk. Nowhere in her imagined movie was there banal
conversation on the way to a restaurant, the prospect of lunch as a build-up to the actual
deed getting done. Hed turned her plan on its head, and she felt as though she was
upside down with it.
If she werent so completely rattled, the entire situation would be hilarious.
But she was rattled. Not to mention frazzled. Oh, and throw in a wild, inescapable
side order of horny.
Hard to laugh when the sensation of Xbals lips on hers wouldnt go away, when she
kept remembering the timbre of his voice as he said, Foreplay. Then there was the
slow, careful, terribly controlled way hed closed her dress and tied the sash as she stood
there trying hard not to tremble each time his knuckles brushed her skin.
Yes, it was all so ridiculous.
Yes, he was amazingly sexy.
Of course shed wanted to sleep with him for years.
But, in the final analysis, it was still just Xbal, her friend and occasional business
associate, a man she admired and genuinely liked. Just because shed opened the door to
them sleeping together didnt mean any of that had changed, did it?
She glanced up from the menu shed been pretending to peruse and another wave of
need flashed over her skin and through her veins at the sight of him across the table. As
though sensing her stare, he looked up too and smiled. Just a small tilt of one side of that
beautiful mouth and her insides melted, need sending a hot, hard signal to her clit, which
throbbed in response. Refusing to let him see just how affected she was by the entire
situation and knowing from experience just how good she was at hiding these things, she
smiled brightly back.
So. What about this foreplay you promised me?
Good. Nothing in her tone to indicate anything but light amusement. It was all she

was willing to reveal.

Xbal waved an expressive hand, as though subtly brushing the words aside, and tilted
his head a little, his eyes never leaving her face.
Well get there, but I have a couple of questions for you first.
Oh? Cassie tilted her head too, mirroring him, giving back as good as she was
getting. Like what?
Why me? Nothing but curiosity in the words, but his eyes had darkened, his gaze
turning sharp and probing. Cassie suppressed a shiver. Somehow that predatory stare
was just so damn hot. Why now?
The urge was to look away, sever the sense of intimacy suddenly binding them
together, but she wouldnt give him the satisfaction. She was about to lie to him, by
omission if nothing else. Breaking eye contact would be too much an admission of
what? Insecurity? Dishonesty? Vulnerability? A mixture of all three?
She shrugged lightly, pushing those thoughts aside.
Am I the only one to feel theres a certain She lifted an eyebrow, drawing out the
last word. Chemistry between us? If I am
Again came that wave of his fingers, less subtle this time. You know youre not. Ive
wanted you from the first moment I set eyes on you, and you know it.
No, she hadnt really known it. Shed thought it, hoped it, even dreamed it, but he
was such a cool customer she hadnt been one-hundred percent sure. Hearing the words
gave her an aching thrill she couldntdidnt want tofully suppress.
Arching both brows this time, she shook her head slowly. Well, if thats the case,
what more is there to say?
A lot, came the succinct reply. Why me? Why now?
By Sol, he wasnt giving up, was he? What could she say to satisfy him that didnt
involve things like, Youre on my bucket list or I couldnt put it off any longer, lest I
miss the chance? The truth would lead to far more questions and admissions than she
was prepared to allow. What could she say to fend that off and satisfy his curiosity? She
settled on part of the truth.
Youre a sexy man and I want to sleep with you. There was some satisfaction in
seeing eyes widen just enough to show surprise. As for why now? Its the right time for
me, as I hope it is for you.
His eyes still locked on her face, Xbal leaned back in the booth and, just from that

motion, she knew he wasnt satisfied with her answer. Mentally scrambling, she watched
him for a second or two, waiting for him to start digging deeper, before inspiration
Of course, hearing youre a master practitioner of sex magic doesnt hurt. She found
herself licking her lips and didnt stop the movement, knowing hed seen the motion by
the flicker of his gaze. When she continued she let her voice fall low, into a sexy whisper.
The combination of you and atraspa is too much for me to resist any longer.
Now she had him.
Xbals stillness was complete, only his eyes flickering slightly, a big cat sighting his
prey. Cassie suddenly realized she could hardly breathe, so caught up in the intensity of
his gaze air seemed superfluous.
Foreplay. It occurred to her Xbal didnt need to touch her, with hands or lips or magic,
to turn her on. It was all in the eyes. The expression and concentrated focus.
Sol, hes sexy.
There was a part of her wondering why shed waited this long to initiate a sexual
encounter with him, another urging her to run away. It was overwhelming, being the
object of his attention in a way she hadnt expected.
I didnt expect any of this.
Shed thought it would have been over by now. The scenario seemed simple enough.
He says yes, or no. They have sex, or she walks away. Now, mesmerized by the dark,
compelling eyes, it all seemed a hell of a lot more complicated.
Are you folks ready to order?
Thankfully the arrival of the waiter gave her a moment to catch her breath, and
diverted Xbals attention.
It also seemed to break the tension between them, and by the time theyd made their
choices and the waiter left, they slipped back into the easy friendship theyd enjoyed for
Xbal leaned forward and took a sip of his raicilla-and-passion-fruit-juice cocktail
before saying, Herv came to see me a few weeks ago. He wanted to tell me in person
he wouldnt be selling the Caf after all.
Cassie grinned just at the mention of her boss, mentor and friend who had recently,
and totally unexpectedly, found happiness with a man from his past. Isnt it great?
Shed been devastated when Herv told them hed be selling the tattoo parlor and

entertainment venue hed made such a success of, despite knowing she wouldnt be
around to continue on as a part of it for much longer.
Xbals lips quirked at her enthusiasm. When he offered it up for sale, I was tempted
to buy it. Actually, I was going to ask if youd be interested in going into partnership
with me.
That rocked her and Cassie stared at him, shock stealing her breath and voice for a
long moment. As far as she knew, Xbals businesses were one-man operations. The
thought of him being willing to partner with her was somehow both amazing and
Xbal chuckled, obviously amused by the expression on her face.
Why so surprised? I think wed make a great team. You handling the tattoo side of
the business and me taking on the entertainment side. Maybe hiring someone to manage
the day-to-day operations so neither of us got too bogged down in the minutia.
He paused as the waiter came with their meals, neither of them having opted for a
starter. Once the waiter left he perused his plate for a moment, seemingly with
appreciation if his expression of near-lust was anything to go by. Why wasnt she
surprised hed ordered a thick steak, rare, with sweet potato fries and a melange of
mushrooms on the side, or that he was clearly a man who loved his food?
Ula, she said absently, still watching him as she picked up her fork, preparing to dig
into her pasta.
Xbal looked up, knife and fork now poised over the plate. No. Not unless she were
willing to remain an employee. I wouldnt take her on as partner.
It didnt surprise her when he immediately understood what she meant, but she was a
little miffed by his dismissing the suggestion without considering it. No matter that it
was all hypothetical at this point. Why not? She knows that place inside and out. It
would make sense.
He shook his head with a firm, decisive motion. Just you and me. No one else.
And while she was trying to digest that, strangely warmed and gratified by his
pronouncement, he turned his attention back to his food.
Neither of them said much for a while as they tucked in to the delicious meal.
Partway through Cassie realized how nice it was to feel so comfortable with a man there
was no pressure to make conversation, allowing her to enjoy eating the way she liked to.
As she was sopping up the last of her sauce with a heel of crusty bread, Cassie glanced

up and found herself once more the focus of Xbals considered stare. Immediately,
between one heartbeat and the next, her body went from contented to red-alert as a rush
of awareness prickled across her skin.
She knew she sounded both defensive and a little breathless, but there was nothing
she could do to quell the knee-jerk reaction.
So my ability with atraspa is what made you decide to proposition me today?
It was just a bonus, a happy happenstance, but Cassie wasnt going to admit that to
Xbalnot in a thousand years.
She shrugged slightly, quirking an eyebrow at him, letting a hint of a sultry smile tip
the edges of her lips.
Ill admit to being curious about how a master practitioner uses it. There arent that
many around, are there?
No. He was once more leaning back against the cushions of the booth, slowly
twisting the almost-empty cocktail glass in front of him on the table back and forth
between his fingers. From a distance he probably looked completely relaxed, but Cassie
knew otherwise. The predatory gaze was unmistakable, and it took all her control not to
fidget, to touch her hair or squirm beneath that look. Not many people have what it
takes to make it to master status.
Oh? She made it a subtle goad, wanting to distract him, rile him maybe. Anything
to break that unwavering stare. And what does it take?
Control. Dedication. The willingness to keep at it, even when you think its
impossible to go one step past where you are.
You make it sound so difficult.
That made him smile, just a little, and he looked down at where the glass still twisted
between his fingers. Cassie took a deep, silent breath, trying to recover from the force of
his gaze while she had a chance.
Learning the basics is easy enough, if you have the ability and the will. Mastering it,
without allowing it to master you, is the hard part.
She wanted to question him on it further but once more the waiter interrupted,
bringing dessert and clearing away the used dishes. When he left, before she could pick
the conversation up again, Xbal beat her to the punch.
Have you ever experienced atraspa?

Looking down at the decadent chocolate lava cake in front of her, Cassie quipped,
Shame on you. I dont kiss and tell.
Tell me.
The low, demanding growl took her by surprise and she looked up, was caught and
effortlessly held again by his glittering stare.
Once or twice. Was mind control a part of atraspa, or was it just him, his presence
and insistence, forcing her to answer?
And did you like it?
There was something in his voice, the set of his mouth, that released her from
whatever spell he had her under and, with a fortifying, mind-clearing breath, Cassie was
once more in complete control.
Leaning back against the padded seat, she replied, It wasnt bad, but it wasnt great
Xbal seemed to relax as well, although he didnt appear to move. What was wrong
with it? He held up one hand. Im not asking for details, just your general
Tilting her head, Cassie tried to read him, to see what he was getting at, but Xbal was
giving nothing away. There wasnt any reason to refuse to answer, so she mentally
shrugged and said, In one case it wasinteresting, but didnt last very long. In the other
there was a sensation of it not being right, as though there was something lacking.
Picking up her fork, she stabbed at the cake with a wee bit more force than was
absolutely necessary. I dont think he really knew what he was doing.
She didnt add that shed demanded he stop and the warlock had gotten so angry hed
stormed out of his own apartment and left her there.
I agree. Xbal picked up his glass and drained the last little bit of his cocktail. Setting
it down, he lightly pushed his untouched orange-sunflower gelato aside. Atraspa should
leave the one its practiced on sated and satisfied.
Huh. She didnt look up, not wanting to get snagged by his gaze again. Jasmina
told me the one time she tried it, she got a horrid headache.
Another amateur. The inflection in his voice made it clear just how he viewed those
who didnt measure up to whatever mark of excellence he had in his mind. If done
correctly, a woman should scream and moan and beg for more, not for it to stop.
The laugh that broke from Cassies throat wasnt planned but she couldnt suppress it.

In fact it was such a relief after the strangeness of the entire encounter between them, she
made no effort to rein in her mirth. Only when she was spluttering, using her napkin to
wipe her eyes, did she suddenly wonder what Xbal was thinking of her amusement and
felt a pang of guilt. If he were like most men hed be glaring, annoyed she was laughing
at him. Getting herself under control, blotting the last few tears, she peeked at him over
the linen serviette.
Xbal was still leaning back, smilingas relaxed as a big cat in the sun, as sexy as sin
and twice as dangerous. Cassies breath hitched in her throat and she tightened her grip
on the cloth in her hand, her stomach turning a slow somersault, every nerve ending
jumping to electrified life. A sensation, akin to freefalling but scarier, came over her as
she took in his posture, expression, the aura of complete and utter confidence
surrounding him.
Whats so funny?
Goose bumps flared across her lower back, down her legs. Her brain screamed at her
to end this now, tell him shed changed her mind and walk away, although why this
sensation of deep, dark jeopardy should suddenly assail her, she had no clue. It made no
sense. Shed been the object of his predatory stare, his concentrated focus, but neither
scared her as much as this seemingly innocuous smile. Never, ever before had she
wanted a man the way she wanted him at that moment, and it was terrifying.
Yet the part of her urging retreat wasnt stronger than her innate recklessness, or her
desire. If anything the potential of risk beyond what shed anticipated spurred her on.
Meeting his gaze, she lowered the napkin back to her lap and straightened in her seat,
chin lifted, fully aware of the arrogance of her stance.
I never moan or scream, much less beg.
His eyes flared, her words hanging between them for what seemed like a very, very
long time although it was no more than a second or two. Then his lids drifted down,
masking his expression, but his lips were still tilted up.
A silent lover, then?
Cassie tilted her chin a little higher. Pretty much.
The question left her at a loss. It wasnt something shed ever really thought about,
and she had no intention of doing so now, for him.
Its just the way I amhow Ive always been. No reason for it that I know of.

Xbals smile seemed to widen infinitesimally. Interesting.

Really? She couldnt resist poking at him, annoyance rising at his continued
amusement. Whats so interesting about that?
His movement was so swift, so smooth, she could only gasp. One moment he was
leaning back in the booth, the next his elbows were on the table and he was close enough
for her to see how his pupils had dilated, his face had gone from amusement to near
The predator was back and her body heated, softened, tightened all at the same time,
lust heightening in a rush that almost left her breathless.
It makes me wonder whether its a mark of your control or an indication of your
former lovers lack of imagination.
She sought a snappy comeback, was forestalled by the realization he wasnt being
funny, didnt seek to bait her with his words. When she spoke, it was without conscious
decision, the words simply flowing from between her lips in a teasing, taunting whisper.
Wouldnt you like to know.
Im inclined to find out. The low rumble seemed to have a physical manifestation,
brushing against her cheek, slicking across her lower lip, reminding her of the touch of
his mouth on hers. Lets test it out, shall we?
It wasnt her imagination, Cassie realized, as the soft, sweeping sensation trailed along
her neck and came to rest against the pulse now pounding at the base of her throat. The
bastard was using his command of sex magic to reach across the table and touch her.
Her heart leapt, but Cassie gave him a challenging stare, even as her breasts ached and
her pussy began to throb with the promise of what was ahead.
Go for it.

Chapter Three
Oh, she was a cool one.
Xbal grinned with almost savage joy, knowing such an expression would send the
average woman running for the hills. But this was Cassandra, and she merely stared back
at him, amethyst eyes snapping, even as a blush stained her cheeks.
What an utter delight she was. What a challenge. He couldnt remember the last time
hed felt like thisfull of anticipation, so alive each throb of his blood through his veins
was a visceral, discrete sensation. Through the bond of the atraspa he could feel her
heartbeat too, faster, excited, and the two rhythms, hers and his, became the music of
So she didnt moan during sex, or scream with pleasure when she came? Xbal almost
laughed aloud at the thought. Hopefully she was telling the truth, because there was no
way in hell he was leaving this booth without giving her an orgasm.
Let me know if you want me to stop. As he said it he pushed the magic lower so it
brushed the tops of her breasts, exposed by the vee of her dress.
I doubt I will. She was still giving him the stink-eye, that determined chin jutting,
the picture of determination. Do your worst.
That did make him chuckle, but it wasnt amusement echoing in the low sound.
Worst? Ill do even worse than that. He strengthened the magic, made the touch more
intense, pushed it beneath the leather of her top so it cupped her breasts completely. Ill
do my very best.
Her lips parted on a silent gasp, and Xbal inhaled, marshaling his control, pulling it
around him so as to really begin.
What most people didnt realize was, like all magic, atraspa was both cause and effect.
It was not just an extension of magic and mind, but of all the senses. When he touched
with the magic of sex his fingers felt the flesh, his tongue tasted, the scents flooded his
head. And whatever pleasure was given out was also given back to the practitioner
threefold. That was why so few initiates made it past the first few levels. They lacked the
ability to withstand the blowback, the sensations returning to them too strong to be
tolerated, often bringing themselves off before the receiver achieved orgasm.
Xbal didnt have that problem. Or, to be more truthful, hed taught himself how not
to, after a long and determined battle with his very strong, very insistent libido. And he

had never been more glad for the centuries of work, as the sensations traveling back
through the bond grew in intensity.
He turned inward, savoring the feeling of the warm weight of her breasts even as he
watched every changing expression on Cassandras face. Her nipples were already hard
peaks under the silky bra, and he couldnt resist slipping beneath the filmy fabric to
pinch at them. That elicited another silent gasp and a flutter of her lashes. He pinched a
little harder and her eyes widened for an instant before half-closing.
Harder? he asked in a low, intimate whisper, and from the rush of lust that came
back at him knew what the answer would be even before she nodded slightly.
He indulged her, increasing the strength, gauging her reactions from the throb of her
pulse, the increasing shallowness of her breathing. As soon as she held her breath he
stopped, knowing she was on the brink of pain and the optimal pressure had been
Is that good?
Yes, thank you.
The wobble in her voice gave lie to the polite words and the dichotomy ratcheted his
own desire up a notch.
Suddenly, as though struck by lightning, Xbal realized exactly what was happening,
and the realization made him want to smile again. Finally, finally, he had the opportunity
to do to this woman all the things hed dreamed of doing. Touch her, explore the lush,
enticing body, watch her come apart under his hands.
His excitement faded slightly. He was an idiot to do this here, in a restaurant, in
public where he could only use magic, not his hands and mouth and cock the way he
really wanted to.
Yet she was loving it. He could tell by the shivering waves of pleasure coming back at
him through the bond and her glazed eyes, dark now, closer to violet than their usual
lighter hue. Her heart was pounding, her skin growing moist as her temperature rose.
Inhaling through the bond brought a rush of her gloriously aroused scent to fill his head.
There was no way he was going to stop.
Leaving the pressure on her nipples, he let the atraspa caress down her arms, over her
torso. By the Heavens, her skin was soft, smoother than the spidersilk over her breasts, the
warm, trembling expanse stretched taut across the sweet, full curves of her body. She
shivered when he touched the insides of her elbows, clenched her fingers into fists as he

circled her navel, shifted in her seat when he slowly, carefully explored the length of her
You are incredibly lovely. It took a lot more effort than he expected to keep his
voice conversational. Your body is so delectable, I want to gorge myself on you.
I Her voice faltered and she blinked slowly, as though trying to pull herself
together. I wish you would.
I will. Later. In bed. With you completely naked and spread wide for me, so I can
look and touch and taste and fuck you until youre too exhausted to move.
Cassie didnt answer, but the powerful jolt coming through the bond made him have
to tighten his own control when his cock pulsed for a moment, as though catching the
frantic beat of her heart and wanting to mimic it.
Through the atraspa he found her toes, used his magic to fully explore each one,
feeling them curl and flex, her foot arching in response. Later hed suck on them, now he
knew how sensitive they were, how much she enjoyed having them touched.
Up now to her calves, where the muscles strained and shivered beneath the long, slow
strokes of his caresses. Then to the backs of her knees, which didnt seem to thrill her as
much, despite the slight spike in her excitement. When her legs inched apart, he knew
she was anticipating him going higher, to her thighs, her pussy.
Oh, he wasnt in a hurry. He no longer cared where they were, only wanted to know
what it would be like to take her lust to the edge of madness, feel the explosion of her
Do you like what Im doing, Cassandra? Does it feel rushed, or incomplete?
Her eyes had fallen almost shut, and her lashes fluttered slightly at his question, a
shiver working its way along her spine to her shoulders, her temperature rising again.
No. It was little more than a breath of sound, laden with enjoyment and longing.
Resting her head back against the high cushion of the booth, she licked her lips and
repeated, No, it doesnt.
Xbal watched her, felt her through the bond, not ready to take her to orgasm although
he knew how badly she already wanted it. How badly he wanted to do it. Beneath the
thrum and pulse of her arousal was still a barrier between her and final, fully actualized
pleasure. Hed seen it before in a couple of women, an inability to trust or to relinquish
the self to desire, and it hadnt bothered him before. It didnt mean they werent
enjoying themselves, werent able to find release, just that they held a part of themselves

in abeyance. Why was it he wanted so badly to break through Cassandras wall of

control, have all of her, not just the little part she was willing to give?
He pushed the thought aside, but couldnt help upping the power of his magic,
wanting her to know this was just a taste of what he was capable of.
As he stroked along the outsides of her thighs, from knees to hips, he changed the
tenor of his attention on her nipples, which before this hed kept at that initial, constant
pinch. Now he sucked and laved, as though a pair of mouths were on her breasts, two
men dedicated to nothing but bringing those pink, tight peaks to the highest pitch of
sensation. Her back arched slightly, her eyes flew open and her lips parted but she didnt
make a sound. Holding her shocked, pleasure-drunk gaze, he let the atraspa on her legs
stroke inward, knead the soft, silken skin of her inner thighs.
She sighed, as though releasing a long-held breath, and her eyes drooped closed, her
legs moving apart in silent appeal. Her belly tightened, shivered, and he knew she was
getting closer and closer to orgasm. It wouldnt take much to push her over the edge.
How tempting it was to pause right then and ask her if she wanted him to continue,
make her ask for him to make her come, but Xbal knew he wouldnt. Strange to be
unsure about whether she would give in or not, to care whether she would be able to
walk away and not be willing to take the chance she would.
Leaning a little closer, he growled, I hope you have nothing else planned for this
afternoon, Cassandra, or for the rest of the night. You came and asked me to have sex
with you, and I plan to do just thatrepeatedly, all night long. In as many positions and
ways as I can think of.
Not giving her a chance to reply, bracing himself against the harsh stab of her
reaction, he found her most intimate flesh, bombarded it with sensation. There was an
almost vicious edge to his need, to the attention he gave the wet, slick folds and
crevasses. His exploration was thorough, from the puffy outer lips to the delicate inner,
swirling and teasing and pressing. Finding her opening he circled it, even as he was also
going lower, finding the tight pucker of her ass and circling it too. He touched
everywhere, except the place he knew she wanted it mosther clit. Oh, no, he wasnt
letting her off that easily.
The sudden bloom of red in her already flushed cheeks was beautiful, the shocks and
pulses of her rise to release made Xbal have to grit his teeth, draw on reserves of control
he hadnt needed in centuries. She was panting through barely opened lips, squirming
slightly in her seat, yet he knew to anyone who might happen to look across, it would

seem almost as though Cassandra were taking a nap. By the Heavens, her silent yet fervent
inner response to his magic was enough to make him want to lunge across the table, tear
off her clothes and have her, right there in front of everyone.
He couldnt resist pushing into her body, wanting the sensation of her wetness and
heat surrounding his magic. When he did, and the walls of her pussy clamped around it,
Xbal bit back a growl of pleasure.
It was what he wanted to hear her say, but instead it was the chant inside his own
head, demanding he force her higher, press her to the breaking point.
Snaking a tendril of magic into her ass made her gasp, low and hot and passion-struck,
and he let it linger there, twirling in a slow, intimate dance. Cassies eyelids lifted
fractionally, revealing just a sliver of gleaming purple, and her lower lip trembled. Her
hand, which had been lying on the table clenched in a fist, slowly slid off into her lap and
she pressed her palm against her shuddering abdomen. There was a hard clench of her
inner muscles, a rush of intense bliss coming at him through the bond, as she slid down a
little in her seat and spread her legs wider for him.
She was wet, hot, ready, and Xbal wanted more than anything in the world to be
inside her, physically rather than just magically. Once more he cursed himself for starting
this. Once more he knew, no matter what, he wasnt going to stop.
Clawing back the need tearing at his control, he began to work all the points of
magical contact in tandem. The sucking on her nipples and twirling in her ass were
joined by deep, strong thrusts into the willing, pulsing heat of her cunt. Through the
bond of atraspa he felt her heart rate accelerate, her breathing pick up speed too, until
both magical movements and physical responses were in sync, rushing her toward
The muscles in her beautiful throat tightened, the glowing flesh of her breasts began
to tremble, just enough for him to see it from across the table. He couldnt help feeling a
flash of respect for her, for the ability to take all he was giving without making even one
revealing sound.
It was the hottest thing hed ever witnessed.
And, suddenly, Xbal knew he couldnt wait a moment more. The sensations charging
back at him, coupled with those received from the actual connection of the magic to his
own flesh, were growing too much to handle. His cock was so hard it hurt, his balls

pulsed with an almost angry beat. Sweat coated his skin beneath his clothing, and the
snarl of the jaguar inside was that of a cat on the verge of the kill.
Yet he held on to his control, tightening it until he felt almost sick from the strain, and
leaned a little farther over the table to growl.
Im going to make you come now, Cassandra, then Im going to take you home and
make you come, and come, and come again.
Using the magic to open her outer lips, he flicked across her clitoris, once, twice and,
before he could do it a third time, her body went rigid, her head rolled toward the back
of the booth, hiding the unmistakable grimace of orgasm from the other patrons of the
restaurant. But he didnt stop, didnt ease up, loving the sensation of it, the look of her
lost in passion, the thrill of finally having her body pulsing and coming for him too much
to be easily relinquished.
It was only when the insistent urges of his body broke through the atraspa and he
realized he too was on the verge of orgasm did he stop, break the bond and sit back.
Battling the almost overwhelming need to come, he took a couple of deep breaths and
forced the magic to settle. Cassandra still had her face turned toward the back of the
booth, and Xbal watched the pulse beneath her ear slowly begin to go back to a normal
pace. When they were alone and she was naked beneath him, he would put his lips there,
feed the inner beast with the sensation of her life rushing through her veins.
Just the thought made the jaguar snarl with pleasure.
Are you all right?
As though the sound of his voice brought her back to herself, Cassandra straightened
in her seat, brushed at the curls clinging to her cheek. She took a deep breath, then
released it slowly. Her hand wavered for a moment, as though to straighten her lapel,
then fell to her lap.
Im fine. Her voice was rough, her eyes gleaming, still darker than usual, and the
rosy blush across her cheeks and cleavage hadnt completely faded. By Sol, Xbal. That
She shook her head, obviously at a loss for words, and Xbal found himself smiling,
inordinately pleased by her inability to articulate.
Im glad you enjoyed it.
The look she gave him, part amusement, part promise, made his entire body tighten
even more.

I dont think thats the appropriate word, but it will do until I think of one better.
By the Heavens, why was it the sound of her voice, so calm and collected, drove him
Xbal looked away, taking another deep breath as he signaled to the waiter for the bill.
The atmosphere between them was heavy, filled with the remnants of what theyd just
done, the anticipation of what would come next. Xbal wondered if he would be able to
walk he was so hard, so aroused, but it wouldnt do to let her know just how painful the
experience had been for him. It was worth every instance of discomfort to give her the
The hesitancy in her voice made his stomach clench. Was she about to say shed had
enough, wasnt willing to go home with him? He had to force himself not to snarl at the
thought, to turn a merely questioning face to her.
Would you mind terribly if we just translocate out of here? She smiled, but
something else, other than humor, flickered in her eyes. I dont think Ill be able to walk
after what you just did.
Relief made his head light, and Xbal could only nod, release the breath hed been
holding and say, Not a problem, at all.
In fact it was the best idea hed heard in a long time, if he didnt count Cassies initial
one that they have sex.
They stayed silent until the waiter brought the bill, and Xbal watched her look around
the restaurant, her long, narrow fingers playing with the strap of her bag. He could
almost see her rebuilding whatever barriers she may have lost during their encounter, or
building new ones in preparation of whatever was to come next.
He wouldnt let them stand.
Suddenly he knew, without a doubt, he would be tearing at whatever walls she built,
all the ones hed felt already existing inside, with teeth and claws and every trick hed
learned over the centuries of his life. Cassandra may think they were going to have one
day of unbridled sex then go their separate ways, but he hadnt lived this long without
knowing the connection between them was something special. It had been built over
years of knowing each other, liking each other, apparently each wanting the other too.
Now that hed linked to her with his magic, felt her responses, almost lost control
because of them, he wasnt willing to let it all go so easily.

An unexpected wave of sadness made his stomach clench, but he wouldnt let it spoil
the moment. It had been too long since hed wanted a woman for more than just fun, a
few months of sex and enjoyment before he pushed them away and moved on. There
were definite benefits to being immortal, and decided disadvantages too. He wouldnt
think about the implications of what he was feeling, what he wanted from her now.
Unfortunately, there would be lots of time to do so in the future.

Chapter Four
Cassie slid out of the booth carefully, not at all sure her legs would even hold her
weight. Her head was still spinning, her insides vibrating with the aftermath of the best
orgasm shed ever experienced. Xbal hadnt touched her with anything but his magic, for
fucks sake, and she was already overwhelmed, undone.
He was standing beside the table, waiting for her with his hand out to help her rise,
and for a split second Cassie hesitated, almost afraid to touch him. If his magic could
wreak such havoc with her senses, what would it be like when they were together
physically? When he made good on the promises hed whispered while his atraspa
surrounded her, stroking and taking her to ecstasy?
Yet, she wanted to knowwanted him even more now than she had before.
She put her fingers over his, couldnt suppress a little shiver of anticipation when his
warm, strong hand enveloped hers and he pulled her to her feet.
Into his arms.
The shiver turned to a shudder as Xbal pulled her close, his other hand pressed to her
back so her body was flush against his and she could feel the length of his erection
against her stomach. A sweet, hot rush of need bloomed deep inside and fired out, up her
back, down her legs and, just like that, she was completely, utterly aroused all over again.
And this had nothing to do with atraspa and everything to do with the man holding
her, looking down at her with an expression shed never seen before. There was the
unmistakable look of desire in his eyes, in the set of his mouth, as well as the barely
leashed tension in his body. But there was something else too, and she couldnt interpret
it. Only knew whatever it was made her blood quicken in her veins and almost caused
her to look away as a frisson of fear tickled across her senses.
Are you ready, Cassandra Solinar?
Even the way he said her name, in a deep, velvety growl, heightened her awareness
and lust. And her fear. But that only added a sharper edge to the moment, to her
eagerness for what was to come.
Tilting her face up, so there were only a couple of inches separating their lips, she
whispered, So ready that if you dont get me out of here now, I may have to have my
way with you right here, in front of all these people.

The sound he made was indescribable, part snarl, part huff of laughterall male, all
agreementand Cassie felt the rush of magic as he cast his translocation spell.
She had a brief moment to realize, by the warm humidity and lack of noise, they
hadnt reemerged anywhere in the city, before Xbal cupped her cheeks, holding her head
tilted up to his. The darkness of his eyes, the intent in his gaze, made her shiver again,
made her desperate for the sensation of his body over her, in her.
Im going to make you scream, Cassie. Make you beg me to take you again, make you
come again.
She shook her head, although she couldnt force her lips to fall into their habitual
confident, slightly dismissive smile.
You can try, and I have no doubt Ill enjoy every moment of the effort, but dont be
disappointed when it never happens.
His expression didnt change. He didnt smile, or frown, or look challenged, only held
her gaze with the predatory stare that did such destructive things to her control.
It will happen. It wasnt a boast, just a statement of fact. You cant beg for what
you dont know you can feel, what you dont know you can have. Ill show you how it
can be between us, find all your hidden secrets, the places and positions you never knew
would make you wild. Then youll want me enough to beg.
Swooping in, he claimed her mouth, his hot and hungry, his tongue sweeping over
her lips, demanding entrance. Unable, unwilling to deny him, craving his kiss, she
opened for him, expecting the plunge of his tongue, a claiming of her mouth. Instead he
began a slow, thorough exploration that seemed to seek more than just the physical
pleasure of mouth on mouth.
Increment by thrilling increment he deepened the contact until she was breathless,
needy, her body arching and rubbing against his. A low rumbling growl came from his
throat, an untamed, feral sound so out of character with the urbane faade he presented
to the world it weakened her knees. When he lifted his head she clung to his shoulders,
needing his strength just to stay upright.
If you come inside with me, Cassandra, expect no quarter. The velvet was gone
from his voice, leaving it raw and ravenous. I want you, want to glut myself on your
sweetness, on your pleasure.
Fearno, terrordrove through her. Not enough to make her back off but sufficient
to take the wild edge off her desire, and she was able to reply, although she had to lick

suddenly dry lips to get the words out.

Is this where I start begging, Xbal? Because Im not inclined to do that.
One side of that delectable mouth tipped up, and he shook his head. Not yet, Cassie.
Not yet. Therell be time for that later, if you come in with me.
She glanced over her shoulder at the house behind her, finally able to give attention to
something other than him. The long, single-story structure, with its row of arched
windows set into smoothly plastered walls, glinted in the early-afternoon light. With the
sun high in the sky it was impossible to see in through the windows, and the tall, arched,
wooden double doors were closed.
Looking back at him, ignoring the insistent thrum of arousal, the urge to drag him
closer and end the discussion with another mind-altering kiss, she smiled slightly.
It doesnt look too dangerous.
With one of his swift, smooth, surprising movements, he bent and picked her up,
eliciting a gasp from Cassie as she found herself being carried sideways against his chest.
It isnt dangerous. Impossible to miss the hint of laughter in his tone. As long as
Im out here.
Cassie chuckled, winding her arms around his neck and tunneling her fingers into the
black satin of his thick hair. Wanting to tease him, make him want her just a little more,
she leaned against his shoulder and put her lips close to his ear. Im willing to risk it, if
you are.
Using the tip of her tongue, she traced the inner whorl of his ear and was rewarded
with a rumbling vibration from his chest as he began to stride toward the house. There
was a tingle of magic while they were still a few feet away from the door, and Cassie
leaned back slightly so as to be able to see his face.
You ward your house?
He shrugged slightly. An old habit. A holdover from the days when things werent
as peaceful as they are now.
Cassie contemplated his words, thinking back on what she knew of their worlds
history, the conflicts that had occurred over the millennia past, wondering how old he
was, exactly. It wasnt the kind of question considered polite to ask, but she was tempted
nonetheless. What had he seen, experienced? Which of the figures, now consigned to the
mists of time, had he known or seen personally?
As the double doors swung open, she also found herself wondering how many other

women had crossed the wards and entered his home, knowing they were about to be
thoroughly, completely seduced?
It was none of her business, just as the men shed been with were none of his, yet the
thought made her bristle slightly, even as she was chastising herself for what could only
be described as a flash of jealousy. This was a one-time thing, hopefully a fuck-fest for the
ages, but not a love story. There was no need to tangle any emotion into it.
Inside the house was cool but bright, with light streaming in through the multiplicity
of windows to illuminate the white walls of the corridor he was carrying her along.
Outside she could see a swathe of grass leading to a tangled jungle beyond. Inside,
through arches set in the wall opposite to the windows, she saw what looked like a
courtyard complete with a fountain, the tinkling of the water a musical underscore to the
beat of his footsteps on the stone floor. There was an almost dreamlike quality to the
moment, a sensation of coming home, as though the house welcomed her not as a guest
but as a long-awaited resident returning from a distant place. She tried to shake the
feeling away but the movement of Xbals muscles against her side, his heat and scent,
which both enfolded her as tightly as his arms, only intensified it.
She glanced up at him, found him watching her in turn. The tender set of his lips was
at odds with the heat in his eyes, and the contradiction made her heart stutter.
The word was combative, but she couldnt help it. Suddenly she knew she was
entering even deeper waters than shed anticipated and it made her want to pick a fight.
I like having you here. The intent in his gaze was unmistakable, and her body
tightened in response. I dont usually invite women to my home.
She raised her eyebrows in disbelief, even as a tingle of warmth shot through her at
his words. Why do I find that hard to believe?
His lips quirked and he shrugged slightly as he turned into another corridor. Believe
what you will, but its the truth.
Why dont you? She glanced ahead and saw a door open for them, making her
pulse begin to pound at the thought it would, finally, be his bedroom.
Turning into the doorway, he paused, holding her gaze in that effortless way he had.
Any person who enters your home leaves a residue of themselves behind, no matter
how innocent their visit, or how little time they spend there. For a moment there was a
flash of something in his expression, sadness, she thought, or weariness. I have enough

ghosts here. Im careful about adding any more.

Her heart dropped into her toes. If what he had said was true, he was about to add
another and she just couldnt allow him to do it. As much as she wanted him, she
couldnt let him add her to whatever list of regrets he was carrying around in his heart.
He stepped forward into the room and let her legs swing down to the ground, but
before she could finish what she wanted to say, the door slammed closed and he had her
backed up against it. The heated expanse of his chest and strong arms caged her there,
and his mouth was so close to hers when he spoke Cassie swore she could feel the
vibrations in her lips.
Oh, no, Cassandra. Its too late for second thoughts.
You dont understand
And how could she explain it? He wouldnt understandno one outside of The
Children of Sol would. If he wanted an explanation for her sudden change of heart, she
couldnt tell him she didnt want him. Her body wouldnt support that lie. Just being
close to him made her breathing grow shallow, her heart race. The heat between them
was unmistakable, inescapable, and growing hotter every moment they were together.
I want you here, Cassandra. I want to see you spread out in my bed, your hair like
fire over my pillows, your body coated in sweat, your lips red from mine. I want to lick
every inch of your skin as though it were cream, sink my cock into your mouth, your
cunt, your ass. The next time I walk into this room I want to smell your sweet scent in the
air, hear the echo of your pleasure in the wind, close my eyes and be able to see you,
sated and spent, on the sheets.
Even By Sol, she could hardly speak, his words robbing her of breath, making her
burn. Even if the memory is all you have? This is a one-shot proposition, Xbal. Thats all
I have to give you.
He drew back slightly, so his eyes came into focus and he could search her face. She
wasnt sure what he saw, but whatever it was, he obviously didnt believe it, for he shook
his head and repeated what hed said before.
Its too late.
There was no time to ask anything more, say anything more, for his lips found hers
again and Cassie lost breath, thought and the ability to articulate under his potent,
concentrated kiss.

Xbal had said he wanted to devour her, glut himself on her, and it was impossible not
to think this was the beginning of the feast. Their lips were the only point of contact
between them but she felt consumed, as though he were trying to absorb her into himself
through that kiss. He tilted his head, fitting his mouth over hers even more securely,
their tongues tangling in glorious combat. Cassie felt her head begin to swim under the
forceful, erotic onslaught and she loved the sensation, the feeling of being overcome,
overwhelmed by what should just be a foretaste of what they were about to do.
Fisting her fingers into the sides of his shirt, she yanked it out of his waistband,
seeking the skin below. The need to touch him was atavistic and her hands were
trembling as they plunged beneath the fabric.
Hot. His flesh was so hot. And smooth. Like the richest satin. Beneath her palms his
muscles coiled and flexed, hard, masculine and enticing. Cassie pressed her fingers
against his sides and then slicked around to investigate the ridges of Xbals stomach,
earning a low growl of approval. Spreading her fingers wide over his abs, she dipped a
thumb into his navel while using the other to ruffle the thin line of soft, straight hair
running up toward his chest.
Xbal hadnt moved. He still held his body slightly away from hers, arms braced on the
door, and Cassie made full use of his position, learning through her fingertips the
contours of his chest and back, the width and strength of his shoulders. He let her,
signaling his pleasure with echoing, primitive sounds coming from deep in his throat,
each one sending a shiver of lust through Cassies body. When she found his nipples with
her fingertips, pinched them lightly between forefinger and thumb so they puckered to
tiny points, a hard shudder fired through him.
Without thought, with only the flaring need to feel his body against hers driving her,
she pulled her hands from beneath his shirt to reach up and grasp the front. With one
strong, desperate yank, she tore the placket open, sending buttons flying everywhere.
Maybe he felt the same way, for the edges of her dress suddenly sagged apart, the tie
undone with a swirl of magic. Putting her arms around his waist, Cassie tried to reel him
in, but Xbal was immovable, holding himself away, kissing her with a mingling of finesse
and wild abandon she found unbearably erotic.
Tugging harder got her nowhere, and she dug her nails into the taut muscles of his
back, earning a rumbling moan from Xbal. He pulled his head away just enough to break
the kiss, staying so close his lips brushed hers as he said, Wait.

For what? Cassie made sure her mouth caressed his in return as she asked.
As though unable to resist, Xbal sipped at her lipsonce, twice, a third timebefore
For me to get your beautiful body naked. For me to look my fill, touch you, taste
As he spoke he straightened and slid his hands beneath the parted edges of her dress,
above her breasts. The heat of his skin on hers made Cassie gasp silently and arch into his
palms, but instead of sliding his hands down to cover her aching nipples Xbal moved
them up, pushing her dress off her shoulders. As much as she wanted to get naked with
him, it was almost painful to let him go to facilitate getting the sleeves down her arms.
All she wanted was to have him as close as possible.
He got the tight sleeves partway down and paused, his gaze slipping down to devour
her body just as effectively as his lips had consumed her mouth. The tightening of his
fingers on her upper arms, the flare of desire in his eyes and his low moan of
appreciation made her shiver with anticipation. It would be easy to pull the sleeves the
rest of the way off herself but she stayed where she was, arms trapped slightly behind
her body, basking in the heat of Xbals perusal. Passivity wasnt her usual style. She liked
being an active participant during sex and still wanted, oh so badly, to experience the feel
of his body against hers. Yet here, now, it felt right to let him take the lead, to lie back
against the door with her back slightly arched, breasts thrust out, offering herself up for
his delectation.
Xbal took a deep breath, his nostrils flaring slightly as he did.
Gorgeous, he growled. His gaze still tracked along her body, flicking over her legs
and torso, bringing the sparks of arousal beneath her skin to full burn. Cassie couldnt
remember ever feeling as beautifulor as wantedas she did in that moment. Couldnt
recall ever craving a man as much as she craved Xbal.
Are you just going to look?
Try as she might to make the words amused and inviting, they came out rushed and
breathyfar needier than she intended.
Releasing her arms, Xbal flicked open the clasp at the front of her bra, holding on to
the edges of the cups to slowly let them part. The spidersilk got caught on her nipples,
the soft brush and minute drag making her gasp, and he left it clinging there. His eyelids
lifted, and she found herself once more held captive by the dark enticement of his gaze.

No. Stark need and blatant intent made the word scrape across her consciousness,
sending a shock of fire along her spine. Now I make you mine.

Chapter Five
Xbals words echoed between them, but he gave Cassie no chance to respond.
Between one heartbeat and the next she found his lips next to her ear, felt the soft caress
of his fingers at her neck.
Im going to learn your body now, Cassie. Touch and kiss and lick every inch of your
flesh, as Ive wanted to for so long. No atraspa between us, just my lips and tongue and
fingers on you, your scent and taste and softness filling my senses, making me crazy.
She shuddered at the words, the warm, moist heat of his breath and brush of his lips,
her body clenching with a shockwave of pre-orgasmic strength. Her head started to swim
and it was only then she realized shed forgotten to inhale. All she had time to do was
drag in a tremulous draught of air before his lips drifted to her neck and he spoke again.
Ive watched you so often, wondering what your skin would feel like against my lips.
Stood next to you, inhaling your sweet scent, wishing I could get closer, hold you, know
you wanted me the way I wanted you. He brushed his mouth in a soft, searing motion
from the sensitive hollow beneath her ear down to the base of her throat. When he
continued the words vibrated into her bloodstream, like a drug she couldnt resist.
Youre everything I dreamed and more. So much more. You overwhelm me. Bring out
the beast in me.
Oh she wanted that beast, the one she heard snarling beneath the words, the one she
was sure would take her body to heights she didnt know it could reach. But shed lost
the ability to speak from the moment hed begun this slow, inexorable seduction and her
lungs had forgotten how to take in air or let it out in even, brain-sustaining breaths. All
she was capable of were these short, desperate gulps rushing in and just as quickly back
out. All she could do was stay still, letting him take whatever he would, surrendering to
the overwhelming demand of his mouth.
He circled her neck with kisses and hot, tender flicks of his tongue, his hair brushing
her cheeks and shoulders as he moved from place to place, the harsh rush of his
breathing filling her ears and adding to the sensations.
Lingering over the sun sign low on the side of her throat, he murmured, How many
tattoos do you have?
It was a mark of how far gone she was already that she had to force her brain to come
up with the number. Twenty-six.

Im going to find and kiss each one. He slicked his tongue around the tiny symbol,
then continued. And if I lose count, Ill just have to start again.
But it seemed he was in no hurry to start cataloging her ink. A lifetime seemed to pass
as he explored just that one part of her body, and the escalation of desire was measured
in almost torturous increments. A small rise when his teeth scraped the now-straining
tendon at the side of her neck, a little more as his lips feathered along the line of her jaw.
A swift rush as he moved to where her shoulder began, finding a spot she never knew
could be an erogenous zone and sucking on it until she arched in silent desperation.
I cant get enough of you. Xbal rubbed his lips along her collarbone as he spoke,
then brushed his cheek against it too. Cassie clenched her teeth, the rasp of his faint
stubble so deliciously rough on her skin. I want everything you have to give, and Ill do
everything I can to get it.
She heard him, part of her understanding the words and their attendant danger. But
instead of shaking her out of the spell he seemed to have cast on her the implication just
pulled her deeper in. Cassie wanted him to do his worst, his best, wanted to revel in it,
take as much from him as he seemed set to take from her.
When his lips moved lower, toward her breast, she almost cried with relief, strung so
tight she was already on the edge of falling apart. She needed his attention on her
nipples, her pussy. Needed rescuing from the lust hed already churned into a frenzy.
Not yet, Cassandra. His words seemed to come from far away, percolating into her
fogged brain and making her shiver with the agonized realization he wasnt about to
offer her surcease. Give me a little more time, sweetheart, and it will be better for the
I dont want to wait!
Yet the words couldnt pass her throat, and her back bowed in supplication as his
mouth slipped between her breasts, lingering there for a moment before moving to her
trembling stomach. As he licked and nipped at her, teased her bellybutton with the tip of
his tongue, Cassie tried to lift her leg to put it over his shoulder, but found she didnt
have the strength. While her insides burned and quaked with need, her limbs were
weighed-down, useless, trembling appendages. No longer did she think she had the
strength to pull the leather sleeves down her arms. Nor could her legs do anything more
than hold her upand even that was becoming harder with each sweet swipe of his
tongue over her skin.

As though sensing her growing weakness, Xbal slid his hands beneath the leather
dress and cupped her bottom.
By the Heavens, I love your ass. His fingers kneading and palms pressing her cheeks
apart made Cassies toes curl in her boots. So plump and soft, just made to be adored. I
cant wait to give it the attention it deserves.
By Sol, she was going to die, any minute now, if he kept saying things like that to her.
How easy it was to imagine that talented tongue of his rimming her, getting her ready
for his cock. Or being fucked from behind, the roughness of his thrusts into her pussy
punctuated by equally hard slaps on her tender flesh.
Then the images fled like pixie dust in the wind as Xbal traced a hot, wet arc from her
stomach, across her hipbone to her upper thigh, stopping just on the crease where hip
and leg met. Just one small kiss away from her mound. But instead of going closer, giving
her what she craved, Xbal leaned back.
I want to look at you. His fingers were at the elastic top of her panties and already
pulling them down as he spoke. Let me see your sweet pussy, baby. Ive imagined doing
that for so long. Dont deny me the chance.
He was pleading, as though she could or would deny him anything now. As though
the thought of his voracious gaze trained on her cunt didnt take her straight to the
quivering edge of orgasm.
Through the fog of her desire she felt her underwear catch on the tops of her boots,
heard him say something she didnt need to understand to know was a profanity. Getting
the minute triangle of spidersilk down to her ankles, he lifted her left foot and tugged the
thong free. Then he raised that foot higher, until the sole was resting on his shoulder, and
pushed her knee out, holding it there as his other hand returned to cup her ass. There
was a rush of cool air against the heated flesh between her thighs and Cassie realized she
was spread open to his gaze, just as hed wanted.
Ah, fuck Xbals voice trailed away into a sound redolent with such hunger it
caused her cunt to spasm with pleasure. By the Heavens, youre so beautiful, all wet and
flushed, your clit so hard it wouldnt take more than a touch to make you come.
Yes. That was all it would take, all she needed. She tilted her hips closer to him,
widening her legs as much as she could, hoping hed give it to hergive her that one
kiss, the one flick of his tongue she craved.
Oh, sweetheart. I wish you could see yourself like this, wish you could feel how

much harder I get when I look at you, when your scent fills my head, makes my mouth
The hand on her knee slid up along the inside of her thigh and the leg she was
standing on turned to water. It was only Xbals strength holding her aloft now, only the
hand on her ass stopping her from melting to the floor. With his palm on her thigh, he
delicately thumbed her outer labia farther open and groaned at the expanded view.
Look at that, he crooned, the words a low, growled whisper. Just look at that.
He wasnt talking to her, but suddenly she wanted to see if his face reflected the
appreciation and longing echoing in his voice. She needed to know if he truly wanted her
that waywith the all-encompassing passion she heard in his words. Forcing her eyelids
open, Cassie looked down to where Xbal knelt at her feet.
She hardly recognized him.
Gone was the cool, suave man shed come to know. In his place was a disheveled,
flushed, beautiful godhair in disarray, shirt torn open, a light slick of perspiration
glistening on his skin. Taut flesh highlighted every plane and hollow of his face, desire
revealing the untamed side of his character he usually kept so carefully hidden. Just the
sight of him adoring her body, touching her so gently, made her soul blossom and her
arousal take on a sharper, yet also tenderer edge.
Xbal lifted his gaze to her face and Cassie lost herself in his eyesso dark now the tiny
ring of light-brown around the edge glowed. It was like looking into the heart of a solar
eclipse, seeing eternity and wanting, so badly, to become a part of it.
Will you trust me, Cassandra? The hint of an accent in his voice was more
noticeable now, but there was no mistaking the mixture of appeal and command. Trust
me to take you where youve never been before?
He already had, but she wasnt prepared to admit thatcould hardly bear to admit it
to herself, much less to himand wished she had the control to say something, to hide
just how badly affected she was by what theyd shared so far. It was, she knew, a forlorn
hope. Sagging against the door, scarcely able to stand, her body shivering uncontrollably
with need, there was no doubt he knew exactly how close hed taken her to release
without even a touch on the more intimate parts of her body. What did he plan to do
next, that he demanded her agreement? Just wondering made her even weaker with lust,
had her thinking she shouldnt say yes, shouldnt take the chance of finding out exactly
how much further he could push her.

She nodded.
Xbal smiled and Cassies heart turned over, began to pound even harder at that
expression of mingled triumph and delight.
Still holding her gaze, he crouched lower, dipped his head and she caught a glimpse
of his tongue as he dampened his lips. She shuddered, tilting her hips to open even wider
for him, ravenous for the pleasure his eyes so freely promised.
Slick heat circling the entrance to her pussy had her head dropping back, her spine
arching as she attempted to get closer to his wicked mouth. Holding her almost
immobilized, Xbal flicked and slipped his tongue along her outer lips, through her folds,
everywhere but on her clitoris, which pulsed in time to her racing heart. Just one lick
there, she knew, and shed be goneblasted into the stratosphereso she writhed and
squirmed, trying to get him to do it, hoping hed slip, take pity, have mercy on her
overwrought body. But Xbal was a master tormentor. He wasnt allowing her to mess
with whatever diabolical plan he had in store. Over and over again he circled around the
straining bundle of nerves, never touching, never giving her more than a hint of what he
could do if he concentrated his focus there.
Just ask for it.
Somehow she knew if she did, hed give her what she craved, take her over the top,
but the part of her psyche she kept just for herself, that she never allowed anyone to
access, wouldnt allow it. Giving in, begging, would be crossing a line shed drawn for
herself, and couldnt afford to cross. So she stayed silent, even as her body tried to speak
for her and inside she was screaming, please, please, please.
Was this what hed meant when he said hed make her beg? Did he think she was so
weak shed give in just because hed refused to give her the satisfaction she wanted?
She wished she could convince herself she wouldnt beg soon if he didnt take her to
orgasm. Realistically, she was on the verge of doing just that and the realization should
have made her angry, should cause her desperate need to abate, but it didnt.
By Sol, Im lost.
He pulled away slightly, leaving her shivering and bereft, her hips pulsing in his grip.
Are you ready, darling? His breath rushed over her, warm even against the heat
and dampness between her quivering thighs. Trust me. I promise, itll be worth it.
Cassie couldnt reply, so it was just as well he didnt wait for an answer. His thumb
moved to the top of her cleft and pulled up, the shifting of the flesh over her clitoris so

sublime it took her up onto her toes. Hed pulled back the hood, she knew, exposing the
sensitive, engorged flesh beneath.
She held her breath.
But she wasnt prepared for the first touch of his tongue, for it wasnt soft and slick
but slightly rough, and Cassie realized he was tapping into his jaguar nature, the texture
of his tongue changed by a partial shift. The shock of it made the desperate need to come
retreat, even as her body accepted and derived a strange type of pleasure from the
unexpected pain.
And as he continued, his tongue rasping gently over her clitoris, the pressure inside
began to build again, stronger and more insistent although very different from before. It
was as though her body refused to find release, even though it couldnt help being
stimulated by the sensation, working itself up to a state of hypersensitivity but shutting
down the mechanism by which it could orgasm. Cassie tried to close her thighs, to lower
her leg, but Xbal held her in an unbreakable grip and it was a halfhearted effort at best.
She wanted it to stop, but never wanted it to stop. She wanted the excruciating pleasure,
but also yearned desperately for the culmination it couldnt provide.
The contradictions were almost too much for her to take, pushing her into a place
where the entire world shrank to just Xbal between her legs and the slow, hot, painfully
decadent slide of his tongue. Her body went rigid, the only movements a jerk of her hips
to meet each determined swipe of his tongue. Behind eyelids screwed tightly shut with
passion flashed remembered images of Xbaltalking, laughing, looking at her with
amusement, interest, annoyanceeach one a precious taste of the man controlling her
every desire now. And she could imagine the picture they made together, with her
spread open for him, bound in her dress, helpless to resist the beautiful man between her
thighs. Unable but, most importantly, unwilling to resist.
Wherever this divine torture was taking her, she wanted to go.
It took a moment for her to realize hed stopped lapping at her clitoris and for a few
beats she continued rocking in tandem with the rhythm hed set. Impossible to interpret
what she was feeling, for it was all a jumble, the inferno inside her belly engulfing all
sensibilities and leaving her nothing but a column of caged longing, waiting for him to
set her free. She wasnt sure how she retained her footing. Lethargy swamped her limbs,
although she felt anything but sleepy. The urge to slide down the door was
overwhelming, although Cassie couldnt move, afraid to lose the contact between them.
I have you, baby. His voice came at her from a distance, but still had the ability to

both pacify and excite. Ill never let you go.

Somehow she believed him, and that belief brought tears to her eyes, while a shiver of
anticipation traveled the length of her spine. Xbals hands shifted, tightened on her flesh,
intensifying the sense of safety, of being exactly where she needed to be. Crazy to feel
this way, to give in to it, even as a part of her tried to say she shouldnt, couldnt take
what he seemed to be offering.
Come for me now, sweetheart. Come for me.
He barely touched her, his tongue soft again, slick and gentle as it fluttered over her
aching clitoris. Cassie jerked, all the heat fleeing her limbs to settle in her core, her inner
muscles clenching, the tender assault pushing her toward ecstasy. She wanted him to
increase the pressure, but he didnt, keeping the contact so light she strained to feel it.
Yet each touch was like experiencing the flick of a lash, the sensations shocking in their
intensity, pulling her outside herself and into a swirling, crazy world of physical
fulfillment unlike anything shed experienced previously. Even before her orgasm struck
she was almost crying with satisfaction, her overstimulated flesh soothed into accepting
the release it wouldnt tolerate before.
It built, growing like a tidal wave within, then it struck and the world went dark,
leaving only the memory of Xbals eyes and the awareness of having been flung out of
what shed always known and expected into a new, thrilling, frightening place.
A place where Xbal the jaguar god, rather than Sol, her deity, was the center of the
Somewhere she had no business being, but couldnt find the strength to regret
The place she wanted, more than anything, to stay.

Chapter Six
Cassie was coming and coming, and Xbal didnt want her to stop. Covering her pussy
with his mouth, he pulled at the smooth outer lips and ran his tongue between them
each time she started to descend from her orgasmic high. Just slicking over her clitoris,
now once more covered by its delicate outer membrane, made another shock fire through
her body and brought him a corresponding shudder of pleasure. Shed wrapped her leg
around his neck and was holding his head clenched between her plump, strong thighs, as
though she never wanted to let him go. The scent and taste of her made him crazy for
more and he kept stimulating her, drawing her climax out as long as he could, holding
her up, knowing from the weight on his arm shed crumple to the floor if he let her go.
And the sounds she was makinglittle whimpers and gasping cries indicative of
gratified needby the Heavens, they were driving him mad with lust.
Shed told him she didnt moan or cry out during sex, and knowing hed broken
through that barrier, given her an experience shed never had before, was like being
crowned emperor of the Universe. In all his centuries of existence hed never derived
such intense, savage satisfaction from making love to another. Especially since he had yet
to actually reach orgasm himself.
It didnt seem that significant. Of overriding importance was driving Cassie to new
levels of pleasure, feeling and hearing her achieve them, savoring every second they
were together.
One more time, he groaned against her, knowing she couldnt hear him but would
feel the words rumbling into her trembling flesh. Come for me one more time.
He took her clitoris between his lips and flicked it with his tongue, lashing it fast and
Xbal, she whispered, the muscles in her thighs going taut and hard. Xbal. Xbal.
With each repetition of his name her voice rose, and his need rose with it, for to hear
her cry out for him with such abandon was almost more than he could stand. His
delicious, silent lover had, whether she realized it or not, just given herself to him in a
way he knew she hadnt anticipated and the jaguar within snarled triumphant.
Cassandras body jerked, muscles so tight they seemed set to snap, and he gentled his
touch, releasing her after one final tender swipe of his tongue. As if shed suddenly

become boneless her leg began to slip off his shoulder and he held on to it, lowering it to
the ground. But he retained his grip on her ass, using it to support her while he got to his
feet. Dragging her to his chest he held her tight, absorbing the last tremors of her orgasm,
taking her weight, trying to stop himself from tearing off the rest of their clothes and
thrusting into her wet heat on the floor right in front of the door. Her breasts tormented
his chest with each shuddering breath she took. The scent of her perfume mingled with
the tang of lust surrounded them, driving him toward the edge of sexual insanity.
Using one hand and then the other, he eased the dress the rest of the way down her
arms, freeing her from the constricting garment. She was still limp but her fingers
fluttered against his thighs, as though trying to find purchase, and her legs shifted
between his, bringing her into closer contact with his aching cock.
By the Heavens, he wanted her, needed her with a desire so voracious it was almost
frightening. Shed said all she could offer him was today. He was determined to make
her change her mind. This kind of passion, this kind of connection didnt come along
oftenwas usually a once-in-a-lifetime experienceand he wouldnt stop until she
realized it.
Cassie sighed, the rush of warm air making goose flesh prickle across his chest.
You didnt use magic?
The husky rasp of her voice was glorious to his ears and he tightened his grip on her,
bending to touch his lips to her forehead.
She leaned away slightly, lifting her head to look at him and blinking slowly, as
though awakening from slumber.
He didnt know how one such innocuous a word could make him grin like a fool,
even in the face of his still-painful arousal, but it did.
Glad you enjoyed it.
I did. Cassies answering smile made both his heart and his cock ache, for it was a
unique combination of sweet satisfaction and continuing desire. I cant wait to see what
youll do as a follow-up act.
When she reached between them and began unbuckling his belt, Xbal growled low in
his throat and immediately undid first one cufflink and then the other. He should take
her to the bed, he knew, but with her leg now hooked behind his, he also realized she

had no intention of going anywhere just yet.

Im sure I can come up with something, he replied, earning a soft laugh and a
heavy-lidded look.
Im sure you can too.
Shoving the cufflinks into his pants pocket, he quickly shrugged out of the ruined
shirt, toeing off one loafer as he did. Cassandra was making swift work of unzipping his
pants and he was vibrating inside with eagerness to have her hands on his aching flesh.
When she pushed both pants and boxer-briefs down, he swiveled his hips to help her and
was ridiculously gratified by her little purr of appreciation when his cock sprang free.
Mmm She licked her lips, skimmed her fingers up his straining length, and he
clenched his teeth as a shock of lust made his balls tighten even more. Beautiful.
When her fingers closed around him Xbal realized he was losing control faster than he
ever had before. If he didnt take the situation in hand, hed be coming in a trice and that
just wouldnt do.
He clasped her wrists, pulled her hands away from his body.
Cassie snarled, tugging against his grip. Let go. I want to touch you.
He snarled right back, saw her eyes widen as he said, If you touch me any more my
follow-up act will be over before Im ready. When I come, I want to be inside you. Want
to feel you coming around me.
Spanning both of her wrists with one hand, he held them above her head, pinned to
the door. As he toed off his other shoe, he lost patience with undressing himself and
magicked his pants away. Then he leaned against Cassandra, letting the full length of his
body settle on hers, absorbing and savoring the soft press of her breasts and thighs, the
way she undulated against him in obvious pleasure.
Once he entered her he wasnt going to last. His head was already spinning with
anticipation, his body strung tight and wired to explode. Where was his vaulted control
now? Why did it feel as though the lessons of centuries had deserted him, just when he
needed them most?
Yet, even knowing it might be over far sooner than he wanted, there was no way to
resist having Cassandra right here, right now.
Releasing her wrists, he reached down and around her thighs, lifting her high against
the door. Immediately her legs went around his waist, and she made a sound of pure
appreciation. A tilt of her hips caused the head of his erection to slick between her pussy

lips, and the sublimely erotic sensation had Xbal growling with frustration. Cassandra
laughed softly, rocked against him again, but when he bumped her clitoris the laughter
was curtailed by a swift inhalation and she buried her face in his neck.
Hitching her a little higher, promising himself hed go slower next time and give her a
long, unhurried fuck, he swiveled his hips slightly, until the hot, wet flesh parted to
welcome the tip of his cock. He froze, just that first contact almost too much to bear, the
intimacy and perfection of it stunning in its beauty.
Cassie had gone still too, her ragged breaths gusting against his throat, her arms
locked tight around his shoulders. Somehow, for all the glory of it, the moment was
incomplete and Xbal knew why.
Look at me, Cassandra. He leaned his torso back, giving her room to comply. Look
at me while I take you.
She stayed where she was, her fingers digging into his back, as though in an effort to
defy him.
Look at me, he commanded again, even as his body cried out for full penetration,
for the release it so desperately craved.
Making a soundalmost a sobdeep in her throat, she tossed her head back, fiery
tresses whipping across his face before settling over her shoulders and breasts, revealing
the expression of stark passion on her face. Heavy-lidded violet eyes locked with his and
Xbal groaned her name, feeling the connection between them strengthen into something
infinite and unbreakable.
It steadied him, took him beyond the mere physicality of the moment and into a place
of almost spiritual joy. Stunned by the immensity of it, Xbal slowly lowered her, feeling
her body flower open to take him, her inner muscles gripping as if to urge him inside.
She was holding her breath, her gaze reflecting the same shocked bliss he felt, and, as
Xbal entered her fully, tears gathered to pool against her lower lashes.
Dont cry, querida. The sight of her undone in his arms rocked him to his soul.
Please, dont cry.
I never cry, she choked out, even as a blink caused the first drops to fall.
Xbal bent to sip the moisture from her cheeks, his body trembling with the intensity of
his need and emotions. Cassie turned her head, her mouth seeking his, and as they kissed
he began to move inside her, withdrawing slowly and then driving back in.
Each thrust drew another sobbing moan from her throat, but the way she moved to

meet him, tilting her hips to take him deep, drove him to withdraw and thrust again.
Querida, he groaned against her lips, holding her as close as possible, filling her as
much as he could, wanting her to feel the way he didutterly completed by their
joining. Ah, cario.
Cassandra arched, her hips rocking against him, her legs gripping him harder, thigh
muscles growing tight. Xbal caught the rhythm she set and added a counter-motion that
instantly boosted his own arousal to insane levels. They were hardly moving, really, but
each roll of their pelvises caused the most sublime sensationsthe twist of her inner
walls around his cock, the slide of her nipples against his chestand Xbal knew orgasm
was just a heartbeat or two away.
He found the rushed pulse just beneath her ear, licked over the vein, absorbing the
frantic pace, evidence of her life force and excitement.
As though that final touch was all she needed, she writhed in his arms, grinding
against him, fingernails digging into his back, her pussy contracting and releasing with a
beat as wild as her pulse. And, unable to hold back even one moment more, Xbal came
with her, wanting to shout her name, shout triumphant at the bond hed found with her,
but incapable of forcing even one sound out from his throat.
They shuddered together, locked tight in each others arms, and the thought he was
experiencing one of the most pivotal moments of his life exploded in Xbals brain. The
jaguar snarled in agreement and suddenly he knew what had to be said, was able to
growl it into her ear.
Mine. Only mine.
She was shattered, devastated by the emotion Xbal so effortlessly brought out in her
and the knowledge she didnt wantcouldnt affordto feel the way she was right now.
All she wanted was to stay exactly where she was, wrapped in Xbals powerful arms, his
words ringing in her ears and giving her a sense of having found a safe harbor. Never
had she felt more alivemore completely herself and yet one with anotherthan she
did in this moment.
The worse of it was she believed what hed said.
In her heart shed felt it too, the soul-shaking certainty that shed surrendered
everything she had and was to him, received the same from him in return. Somehow

what should have been just sex had morphed into the most tender and loving experience
shed ever had.
The hard shell shed so diligently built around her heart had melted beneath Xbals
passion, leaving her so vulnerable a newborn baby was better protected from pain than
she was right now.
It frightened her more than anything else shed ever had to face, made her realize just
why shed avoided getting involved with him. And the surfeit of emotion pissed her
right off too.
Thank Sol for that last part because her angerat herself for allowing this to happen,
at him for being so open to itgave her the strength she needed.
Still holding her so tightly she could barely breathe, his cock still firmly embedded in
her body, Xbal was carrying her to his high, four-poster bed. Cassie let herself savor the
sensation of being his just for a moment more, knowing everything was about to blow
up. She had to get away. If she didnt, if she remained in his arms, she wasnt sure shed
ever be able to let him go.
And staying wasnt an option.
As he climbed the two steps, bringing them up to the level of the mattress, Cassie
drew a deep breath, preparing for battle. He laid her on the soft counterpane and, still
standing on the top step, planted his hands on either side of her shoulders, so he was
looking down into her face. By Sol, if having Xbal cradled between her legs and being
surrounded by his strength wasnt enough to make her want to surrender, the tender
heat in his eyes was like a barrage aimed straight at her heart. There was no option but to
burst the bubble of intimacy surrounding them. Deny the bond she already knew theyd
That was a good fuck. She kept her voice level, forced feigned amusement into the
words. You know your way around a womans body, Ill give you that.
She expected surprise or anger from him, but the only noticeable reaction was a
sharpening of his gaze and his voice was soft when he replied, Im learning my way
around yours, finding a path into that fortress you call a heart.
His admission was shocking, sent another wave of anger and fear into her
bloodstream. Damn him for saying it aloud, for laying it out in words so it couldnt be
ignored or passively negated.
Dont even try it. He didnt need to know hed already invaded her heart and soul

as he took her body. The fact she would forever be his, as she had never been any others,
was her secret to hold. I told you from the beginning its just one afternoon. And just
For a long moment he said nothing in reply. Although she didnt see any change in
his expression, she was suddenly more aware than ever of the primitive nature beneath
his urbane exterior and her heartbeat escalated.
Do you still really believe that, Cassandra? With an almost leisurely tilt of his hips,
he pushed his cock deeper into her, fusing them even tighter together. Can you really lie
to yourself so effectively?
Its how it has to be. By Sol, she wouldnt cry. No matter how badly she wanted to.
No matter how saying the words tore at the core of her being, shredding her emotionally.
Im not lying. There cant be anything more between us.
The single word was like a gunshot cracking in the room, startling her with its
ferocity. All she could do was shake her head, biting her tongue so as not to give in and
tell him the truth. There was more at stake than just the two of them, their needs and
feelings. What she was going to do when she left him was actually illegal, the instigators
including her own parentsliable to punishment so severe she didnt dare tell anyone
what was planned. Yet it had to happen. The fate of the entire world, both on this side of
the Veil and the other, depended on her.
That knowledge was the only thing holding her together. If she reneged on her duty
even Xbal would cease to exist, and that was a thought so heinous she refused to
contemplate it.
Tell me why. The demand in his voice was unmistakable. Tell me why you wont
acknowledge the connection between us, wont even consider there is more to whats
happening between us than just the physical.
I cant. The words were jerked from her throat, a hoarse plea. Just take me at my
word, Xbal. This afternoon is all we have. This She lifted her lower body to press
against his, gasping as the motion brought a sharp, somehow surprising spasm of desire.
This is all I can give you.
He searched her eyes, his body growing tenser with each second that passed, until he
seemed coiled to the breaking point. A beast about to strike, full of untamed intent. Yet
she felt no fear, only a rapid rise of renewed passion and even more powerful need. It

was only when he spoke again, the words little more than a growl, that she knew the first
frisson of unease.
Then Ill take it all. Everything you have, Cassandra. More than you ever thought
you could give.

Chapter Seven
There was a hard slam of magic, which stole her breath and made her stomach drop
and roll. Everything around them warped, only Xbals eyes remaining in focus. When the
magic dissipated Cassie realized the softness of the bed beneath her and the brightness of
the afternoon sun were gone. Instead she was lying on cool, slightly rough stone and they
were surrounded by dim, green-hued light.
Xbal was still above her, but as she tried to get her bearings he straightened and
pulled back, disengaging their bodies and leaving her feeling empty.
When he walked away she was bereft, unable to fight a rush of sadness and loss.
After a moment she forced back the emotions and sat up, looking around. The sight
that met her eyes made her gasp.
It was a temple, apparently long abandoned. The roof was gone, replaced with thick,
twisted vines which, with the sunlight filtering through them, gave the space its green
glow. At the opposite end of the temple was a thick, raised stone slab, an altar of some
type she thought, with a throne-like stone seat behind it. On either side of the wide room
was a colonnade, freestanding columns at least thirty feet high, and through the
encroaching vines carved figures and unfamiliar symbols were visible. High up on the
outer walls and set between each column were niches, each one containing a huge stone
statue she easily recognized as the figure shed often seen on the interior of the Music
Roars elevator.
And every one of those stone Xbals seemed to be looking right at her.
It made a strange shivernot quite apprehension, not quite excitementtrickle down
her spine.
Xbal was walking toward the altar, his feet making no sound despite the thick carpet
of fallen leaves and other detritus on the ground. In that instant she saw his jaguar nature
clearly, as though man and cat were transposed, one atop the other, stalking toward
some battle only he could see. A rush of heat, which owed nothing to the humid jungle
air, flared over her skin, and her mouth went dry.
With a graceful, effortless leap Xbal jumped up onto the altar and turned to face her,
his gorgeous, aroused body unselfconsciously displayed by his wide-legged stance. Even
with the entire length of the massive room between them, Cassie felt his gaze settle on
her and she shivered, her nipples tightening, passion unfurling to twist through her

veins. Just like that, within the space of a heartbeat, she was ready for him again, craving
a sweet ache in her belly and between her legs.
Licking her lips, she found the wherewithal to ask, Where are we?
Deep in the jungles of South America, on the human side of the Veil. He tilted his
head slightly, a small smile flirting at the corners of his lips. Strangely enough, this is
where I am most at home, where my power is strongest. The smile faded, and Cassie
saw his eyes begin to glow. Dont you feel it, Cassandra?
When she paid attention she did, recognizing the magic potent in the air, pulsing and
twirling, making her scalp prickle and goose bumps flare across her arms and torso. What
shed taken at first to be just the heat and dampness of the jungle was actually a
manifestation of natural power rising from the earth. Reaching out to it with her own
abilities brought no increase in her magic, and she realized she was, for want of a better
description, on the wrong frequency. This magic was for Xbal alone and she shivered
again, wondering what he planned to do with it. What he planned for her.
It seemed she was about to find out, as he held out one hand to her, fingers crooked in
command. Come to me.
Before she could get up from the stone ledge she was on Cassie felt it drop away and
she was floating upright through the air toward the altar. Toward Xbals open arms. He
caught her, holding her so tightly she found it hard to take a breath.
Yet breathing wasnt high on the list of her priorities anyway. There was something
about being in the seat of his power, having his rigid, aroused body pressed so tightly to
hers and knowing herself to be truly at his mercy that made her shake with passion.
Ive never brought anyone here. His breath was hot against her skin and ruffled the
hair near her ear. Never done atraspa within the confines of the temple once sacred to
me. He pulled back, cupping her cheek so their eyes met, the glow of need in his
making her want to moan with pleasure. Be warned, querida. I wont stop until Ive
wrung the last orgasm I can from your body.
She thought he might say more, but instead he kissed her, his mouth firm and
demanding, pressing her head back as their tongues dueled and danced together.
Drinking him in, reveling in the sensations of his cock hard against her belly, one hand
kneading her ass and the other tangled in her hair, Cassie knew shed give him whatever
he desired, let him do whatever he wanted. And although it went against every instinct
she had, there was nothing shed do to change it.

These were the memories shed take with her into the unknown, the only ones that
would completely break her heart and the only ones shed be glad to have.
Xbal ended the kiss, and she was glad to see she wasnt the only one finding it hard to
catch a full breath. The air rasped in and out of his throat, and his ribcage heaved beneath
her questing hands.
You destroy me, Cassandra. The growled words went through her like a flash-fire,
and she leaned back in his arms, blatantly offering herself to him. I want you more than
I want food, air or even my magic.
Then take me. Shed never offered herself this way, meaning it completely, utterly.
Take me, Xbal.
I will. With one more hard kiss he turned her so her back nestled against his chest,
then guided her to sit, so she was between his thighs, their legs hanging over the edge of
the altar. Repeatedly.
Leaning her head back on his shoulder, Cassie let go of all misgivings, all control, and
surrendered. As though feeling her capitulation, Xbal growled low in his chest and swept
her hair aside so as to bite the tender flesh at the start of her shoulder. The sweet sting
jolted her and she gasped, making Xbal growl again.
When I watched you come in the restaurant, when I felt and smelled and tasted you
through the atraspa I almost lost control. Reaching down he grasped her thighs, lifted
them so they lay over his. Then he moved his legs farther apart, opening her to the first
soft twist of magic as it glided over her breasts and down to lightly brush her labia. I
cursed myself for starting something I couldnt finish the way I wanted to, but here
theres nothing to stop me. The magic grew stronger, pinching at her nipples so her back
arched and her belly trembled. I can love you with my magic and my hands and my
cock, all at once. Do to you all the things Ive dreamed of doing over the years Ive known
He already had her quivering, climbing toward orgasm, his words as potent and
exciting as the sensations overtaking her body. Strong hands cupped the undersides of
her breasts, lifting and kneading, adding a new layer of sensation to the hard clasp of the
atraspa on her nipples. His tongue traced the edge of her ear and he used his magic to
echo the movement on the other side, so it was as though she were sandwiched between
two men, both intent on nothing but her pleasure.
Youd come to my office and Id imagine bending you over my desk, lifting that

beautiful ass to lick and suck your pussy, rim your ass, make you come over and over
until you were begging me to fuck you.
He lifted his thighs slightly, opening her wider, tilting her pelvis up, as the magic put
his words into actions. There were tongues and lips tormenting her pussy and ass,
circling and flicking, pressing for entrance, forcing her to open for them. Undone by a
whirling rush of bliss, she jerked and cried out, unable to stop the sudden, overwhelming
orgasm building within.
Come for me, baby. Lost in the maddening grip of his caresses she could hardly hear
the words but her body reacted, tightening to the breaking point. Let me feel you lose
His fingers tightened on her breasts. There was the sharp nip of teeth on her neck,
which was echoed with thrilling effect on her nipples. The mouths between her legs
became more insistent, sucking at her clit, a tongue sliding in and out of her ass, another
circling the entrance to her pussy. Unable to withstand even a second more, Cassie cried
out again, ecstasy firing through her veins like a solar flare, scorching her from the inside
out, burning away everything but Xbal and the erotic havoc he was creating.
Yes, he growled, not letting up, keeping the torment of pleasure going so just as she
thought shed found the crest he flung her up a higher wave. More.
It was too much, but she never wanted it to end. Her body no longer belonged to her
but was one with Xbal and his magic, taken beyond the borders of purely physical release
to a place shed never been before. It was as though she felt not only her pleasure but his
too. And something more. Something as strong and sure as the man holding her, and just
as thrilling. An emotion that only served to heighten her explosion of ecstasy, making it
Little by little he brought her down, gentling her with soft kisses and equally soft
words, letting the magic slowly subside, until she lay boneless in his arms.
A good start, querida. He stroked her arms, drawing a little wake of goose bumps
behind his fingers and making her still oversensitive body tremble. I love how you react
to me. But now I want to watch you when you come, not just feel it.
She wanted to tell him she couldnt take any more but, even sated and still quivering
from her orgasm, she knew it would be a lie. It would take more than a lifetime to get
enough of Xbal, and she only had today. There was no way shed refuse him.
Taking her legs off his, he eased out from behind her then lowered her to lie back on

the altar. Bending, he dropped a hard kiss on her lips.

Hold on, cario. There was a brief flash of teeth, white against his bronze skin.
Now it really begins.
And immediately, with that promise, she was aroused and hot for him again.
Xbal knew her now, knew what she liked, what took her to the heights. A little pain
to put a keener edge on her need and a lot of tenderness to counterbalance it. Enough
magic to put her body into hyperawareness and some dirty talk to keep it there.
Exactly the things he liked to do.
Cassandra was perfect for him in every way, and if he could just get her to admit that
or explain why she hesitated to do so, allowing him to blast through whatever her
objections might be, his joy would be complete.
It wasnt as though hed been looking for someone to love. On the contrary, hed been
avoiding just that scenario for a long time. His existence seemed eternal. Hell, hed been
alive for more than three thousand years and showed no signs of aging, much less dying.
Twice before hed loved. His first love had been a human woman whose life, although
long by the standards of her kind, had seemed to pass in the blink of his eyes, leaving him
grief-stricken for centuries. The second woman had been Fey, and theyd lived happily
together for five hundred years. But eventually she too had died, and hed known he
didnt have the strength to go through that pain again.
Then hed met Cassandra, and something in her had called to him on the most primal
level. Oh, hed ignored it as best he could but it had been there, shimmering in his chest,
boiling in his blood. Every conversation, every touch, no matter how casual or fleeting,
had pulled him deeper under her spell. There was a part of him that had been glad shed
showed no particular interest in getting closer. Deep inside hed known she had
heartbreak written all over her, and he hadnt wanted any more of that. But by coming to
him today shed loosed the jaguar, and there was no putting it back under wraps.
So now he held her sprawled on his altar, letting the untamed power of the magic
that had brought him into being run amok through his body, using it to take her from
plateau to plateau of desire. Laving her nipples with his roughened tongue had her
squirming and panting, those sweet little gasps and moans breaking from her lips. When
he added a little atraspa, insinuating it into her pulsing cunt, shed gripped his hair so
hard he thought she might pull it out.

But he hadnt cared. The end result was worth the pain. Cassandra was arching up to
meet each lick, her hips undulating in time to the slow fucking motion of his magic. And
he wanted her so badly right then Xbal thought he might lose his mind.
Lifting his head, he looked at her flushed, damp face, her swollen, parted lips, and
knew hed never seen anything so beautiful.
Xbal Her voice was rough, just a thread of sound. I cant
Yes, you can, cario. He wasnt ready to stop, couldnt bear the thought of the day
coming to an end, irrespective of the fact that it would have to eventually. Making love
to her would keep her with him a little longer. You must.
But he knew she was at saturation point. Too much more would tip the pain to an
unbearable state. He needed to let her breathe for a little while before taking her to the
next level.
Withdrawing his magic from her body caused a lessening in their bond and when he
heard her little sob of disappointment his heart leapt. It wasnt his imagination then. The
connection between them had grown to the point where it wasnt just him getting
feedback through the connection. She was feeling it too.
Gathering her up, he wrapped her in his arms and magic, not stimulating her but just
holding her close. With a shuddering sigh she nestled her cheek against his chest, the
periodic tremors shivering over her skin lessening incrementally until she was still and
her heart rate slowed almost to normal.
Ive never
The words faded to silence, and she sighed again. When she didnt continue, he
Through the cloak of magic he felt her heart jerk and begin to race again, and she
stiffened slightly. After a long pause she answered, her voice determinedly amused.
Ive never been so passive a lover before.
He knew it wasnt what shed started to say before but let it pass, replying in the same
vein and letting humor color his words too. Was it that bad?
Her head came up and he saw the truth in her glistening, desire-blown eyes, even if
she wouldnt say it aloud, still intent on keeping her secrets.
I just think its time I gave as good as Ive gotten.

The tip of her tongue touched the center of her top lip and then the corresponding
spot on the lower. When she pushed him to lie back, her head dipping toward his
straining erection, Xbal didnt object. Only drew what control he still had around himself
and tried to hold on to it as long as he could under the glorious onslaught of her mouth.

Chapter Eight
Cassie tried to take Xbal over the edge with her blowjob, but almost took herself over
instead. There was something so erotic about the feel of his silken hardness against her
palate, his taste at the back of her throat and his deep, appreciative sounds. And even
when she was trying to pleasure him, he couldnt seem to resist touching her in return,
both physically and with soft brushes of magic. Reaching down he caressed the top of her
head, let his fingers slip down to cradle her cheek. While loving him she could feel his
love coming back at her at the same time.
She was long past the stage of trying to deny how she felt about him. Maybe shed
known all along, since that first fateful meeting so many years ago. How else to explain
why shed done everything in her power not to give in to the attraction shed felt, or why
when shed known her time was almost up shed turned to him?
In a way she now understood why her mother had tried so hard to get her to settle
down as soon as she was old enough for it to be viable. How sad it would have been
never to have experienced this kind of closeness with another being. How saddening it
was to know she could have had more, if shed been brave enough to risk it.
Pushing the thought away, blinking to stem the stupid tears trying to escape, she took
his cock as deeply into her mouth as she could, feeling the pulse at its base, the way his
balls were drawn tight to his body.
Cassandra Xbal growled, his hips rising. If you dont want me to come in your
mouth, you better let go. The way youre sucking me should be illegal.
Damn, when he spoke dirty it just made her crazy-hot. Moaning around his rigid
flesh, she felt it pulse again. Looking up along his body, she found him staring down at
her, his face tight, ferocious. Slowly she lifted away, letting the length of his cock slide
slowly from between her lips, until only the head remained in her mouth. Holding his
gaze, she swirled her tongue under the glans and across the delicate tendon where the
ridge curled up to the tip before pulling all the way back, releasing him with a wet pop.
I want you to come in my mouth. She touched the tip of her tongue to the slit at the
end of his cock, saw the muscle along his jaw tighten as he clenched his teeth. I want all
of you.
You have it. He spoke as though the words hurt and her heart ached too, but she
wouldnt let anything but their mutual pleasure hold sway just now. Not even when she

could see his heart in his eyes as he said, All of me is yours.

Instead she took him deep again, felt his muscles ratchet tighter and tighter, his hips
jerking as he let go. Her name burst from his throat as he shot spurt after hot, sweet spurt
into her mouth and she shuddered with him, the echoes of his orgasm spiking along the
magical connection and into her aroused flesh.
She should have known that wouldnt be the end, but shed thought hed take a
couple of minutes to recover. Ha. Apparently being a god gave Xbal limitless sexual
energy, because almost before shed caught her breath she was on her back and his head
was between her thighs.
Damn. His breath rushed across her pussy, making her gasp. Your pussys so wet
and gorgeous. He thumbed her outer lips open and she quivered, remembering the way
hed taken her to orgasm with his mouth beforefrom roughness to delicacy, near pain
to excruciating pleasure. His eyelids lifted, and she saw the intent in his gleaming, jaguar
eyes. Dont think because you brought me off Im finished with you, Cassandra. We still
have a way to goa long way.
Before she could answer his thumbs were at the top of her cleft, pulling back on the
flesh over her clit, and she knew the orgasm to end all orgasms loomed in her very near
He took her, whimpering, to the edge of erotic agony with the roughness of his
tongue and left her there as he slipped off the altar and turned her so her ass was on the
edge of the stone.
Roll over.
The rough demand made her belly clench, even as she was doing what he
commanded. Curling her fingers around the other side of the altar, she held on, her feet
only just finding purchase on the ground. Prone before him, a sacrifice to his lovemaking.
I want to take your ass, its so beautiful. He palmed her buttocks and she
whimpered again, unashamed of the weak, pleading sound. Next time. He slicked his
tongue around her puckered hole, drawing a cry of surprise and delight from her throat.
He straightened and said, Definitely next time, from that reaction.
By Sol, she hoped there was a next time. Then thought fled as he wrapped her in his
magic and thrust his cock into her pussy, filling her completely with his length, his balls
slapping against her distended, aching clit.
She screamed, already coming, pushing up with her toes to get more as he fucked her

with short, hard strokes, each stinging impact of his testicles against her clitoris
prolonging the orgasm. And there were other sensations battering her, coming at her
through the magic, so she felt as though she were not only having the orgasm but
somehow also complicit in giving it as well. Bracing her palms on the stone, she arched
her back, wanting more, even when it felt as though one more instant would make her
fly to pieces.
You feel so good around my cock, baby. Xbal leaned into her, pressing his chest to
her back, reaching around to cover her breasts with his hands. And I can feel you
coming through our bond. Can you feel me, cario?
Yes There was no holding back the answer. She was too shattered to hide the
truth of that from him, almost sobbing from the dual stimulation. Oh Sol, I feel it.
Can you feel how much I want you? How you make me almost crazy with love and
Yes Tears flooded her eyes, dripped down her cheeks, and there was nothing she
could do to stop them. I dont want to feel it, but I do.
And it suddenly struck her that if she could feel his emotions so acutely, he could feel
hers too, and that was more than she could bear.
Its okay, baby. He was rocking slowly in and out of her, almost withdrawing
completely before sliding back in. Its okay to be afraid. But I have you. One hand
slipped down her belly, easing her up enough so his fingers could brush her clit. I have
you. You can let go, completely.
She shouldnt. Everything inside said not to but she did anyway, giving up, feeling the
barriers crumble beneath his tenderness and the intensity of his loving.
They flowed together, emotion and pleasure rippling back and forth between them so
each wave took them further into erotic bliss. Cassie knew when Xbal was nearing
orgasm and the knowledge only enhanced her own building release.
Yes, he growled, maintaining his slow, long thrusts, even as she felt his need to
speed up, get rough and wild. Thats it, baby. Just like this.
The finger on her clit found a new rhythm and she gasped through her still-falling
tears, want rushing through her, making her rock her hips with new urgency.
Now, Xbal. She was begging, and didnt care. Fuck me hard now, darling. Please.
He was already complying even before the words were fully formed, slamming home,
driving them both to the edge and then, as they cried out each others names, over into

soul-shaking ecstasy.
Xbal slumped against her, his arms braced on either side of her body, taking most of
his weight.
Mine, he whispered into her ear. Whether you will admit it or not. Whether this is
the only time we have together or not. No matter what may come, you will always be
Im afraid not, Xbal. The deep, slightly mocking voice came out of nowhere, was
accompanied by a flash of light so intense Cassie had to scrunch her eyes closed against it.
You might be buried balls-deep in my acolyte at the moment but, irrespective of that,
shes actually promised to me.
Xbal jerked upright, pulling her with him but turning and holding her behind him,
shielding her with his body. Shocked, mortified and frightened all at once, Cassie could
only look at the tall blond man standing at the center point of the temple and whisper,
Oh Sol.
The mans firm lips quirked as he replied, In the flesh.
Xbal held on to his temper by a thread, desperate to take jaguar form and go for Sols
throat. Not that it would make any difference. It was doubtful he could damage the sun
god, and the last thing he needed was to start a war.
Although he would if this asshole tried to come between him and Cassie.
What exactly do you mean by promised? He snarled the question, shaking off
Cassies restraining hand to take a step forward. Promised how? By whom?
Sol shrugged, but although the gesture was casual, Xbal could see the watchfulness in
his eyes. Promised by the Children of Sol to be a sacrifice to me, so the world will
continue on its appointed course around the sun. The bastard shrugged again, as though
what he was saying wasnt one of the most monstrous things he could come out with.
Its tradition. Used to be yearly, back in the early days. Now its once every fivehundred years. And if Im not mistaken, and I rarely am when it comes to time,
Cassandra is due at the temple in about an hour.
Thats illegal. And atrocious. Xbal swallowed against the rage-fueled bile rising in
his throat. What the fuck is wrong with you, letting that go on in your name?
Xbal, no Cassandra whispered it, her distress evident. Please dont.
He couldnt look at her, knowing if he did hed lose it. Instead he kept his gaze on the

sun god, letting him see his hatred and contempt. I know how it was in the old days.
There was no stopping the humans from their damn sacrifices, no matter what we did.
As soon as things got hard they were back at it, but then they grew upwe grew up
and left that crap behind. What gives you the right to let it continue in your name?
Because it really is necessary. Now there was a hint of regret in Sols voice, even
though his expression didnt change. There are some things time cant alter, Xbal, no
matter how we wish them to be different. Its codified into my existence. I need a
sacrifice of flame to keep everything in its true order. Without it I die and, with me, so
goes the rest of our galaxy.
Bullshit! He shouted it, heard the word echo through the barren temple. I dont
believe you.
Doesnt matter if you do or not. Sol looked past him to Cassandra and Xbal heard
her sharp intake of breath. Cassandras free to refuse, if shes willing to take the chance
that youre right and Im just bullshitting for my own enjoyment.
I cant take that chance. Xbal turned then, hearing the pain and sadness in her voice,
and the sight of her tearstained face almost undid him. Dont ask me to do that, Xbal.
Cassandra Words stuck in his throat, held there by the immensity of his love and
She touched his cheek and shook her head. I dont want to leave you, but Im the
appointed one, born on the solstice of the rising year, at the very moment winter gave
way to spring. Its been my fate from the minute I was conceived. She tried to smile but
her lips quivered, making it an expression of such sadness his already lacerated heart was
flayed anew. Im just sorry I waited so long to be with you. I would have liked more
than just this one day.
He reached for her, pulled her close, held her as tightly as he could, wishing there was
some way to stop her, knowing there wasnt. Sol was right. Not even a love this strong
was important enough to gamble with the lives of the billions of beings on either side of
the Veil.
Its okay, Xbal. Strange to have her comforting him, instead of it being the other
way around. She drew back, and her amethyst eyes held all the love he could have ever
wanted to see. All the love hed ever craved. I love you so much. All I could think about
was having one chance to be with you. Even if you said no I couldnt not try. I think deep

inside Ive always loved you, but I knew what my future held and I didnt want anyone
else to suffer because of my fate. She shook her head. Guess I fucked that up royally,
No. He couldnt let her leave thinking that. Our time together was too short, but
Im so grateful to have had it. He cupped her cheeks, used his thumbs to rub at her tears.
Ill always love you. Always long for you, hold you as the center of my heart. If theres
some kind of life beyond this one, look for me, for Ill join you there one day.
She smiled then, just slightly, and it was redolent with sadness and determination.
And if theres any way to come back to you, to rise from my ashes, I will.
Xbal bent and took her lips, savoring their softness once more, losing himself in her
for the last time.
What did you say? Sols voice, sharp and vibrating with suppressed excitement,
jolted them apart and they turned to stare at him. Holy crap, why didnt I think of that
before? The sun god strode away for a few paces, then came back toward them,
snapping his fingers in a weird, off-kilter beat. It could work It might just fucking
work. His gaze whipped to Cassandra, and the gleam in his eyes made them almost
blinding. Come. Walk with me for a minute. I want to run something past you.

Chapter Nine
The adult members of the Children of Sol gathered at the temple, carefully warding
the doors against intruders, knowing every one of them risked their lives by taking part
in the coming ceremony.
It was written in the annals that when the first combined council of all the clans came
together and it was suggested blood sacrifice should be outlawed, only the Children of
Sol voted against it. It had been a difficult time and difficult situation, as only those with
intimate knowledge of the mysteries knew the true significance of their sacrifices, and all
of them were sworn to secrecy. The members at that first council had signed the resultant
laws into being, knowing there was one they wouldnt be able to follow.
The sacrifices had to continue.
At the time they had already extended the sacrificial time to every hundred years, but
they made appeals to Sol and, when all the proper calculations had been made, they
determined it would be appropriate to extend the time further. When they had lived on
the human side of the Veil, it had been imperative it take place often. On this side they
found time worked differently and they rejoiced in it. No one liked having to give up one
of their own to the flames, no matter how necessary it was. Even every five hundred
years was too soon for them.
All this Cassandra knew, having read the annals for herself. Now she stood before the
assembled clan, the pyre laid behind her waiting to be set alight. There was sadness in
many of the eyes looking up at her, and she appreciated that more than she ever thought
she would. Shed accepted her role but distanced herself from the clan, first out of anger
for having been born the chosen and then from a wish not to be pitied, or to form bonds
with people shed only have to leave behind. Of course life wasnt lived in a vacuum, and
there had been others shed grown close to. Shed worried about how her friends at the
caf would feel when they heard shed died, was sorry she couldnt prepare them for it,
but shed taken a vow of silence and shed had to stick with it, no matter what.
The sand trickling through the hourglass in the corner of the temple, which was
turned each year on the autumnal equinox, was almost gone and the priests stepped
forward to light the pyre.
Sweat broke out beneath her long white robe. Something was wrong. Sol had
promised hed intervene, explain to the clan what was going to happen, but there was no

sign of him. That probably meant hed realized it wouldnt work, and she was going up
in flames after all. The kernel of hope that had begun to grow in her heart earlier
withered, but she kept all signs of pain off her face. Displaying her terror would only
make it worse for everyone else.
I love you, Xbal.
The connection between them was so strong she thought she felt him, his love flowing
into her frigid limbs, warming her.
Its time, Cassandra.
The priests came to flank her, two on either side, and she nodded, looked one more
time at her parents before turning to face the pyre. Taking a deep breath, she stepped
forward and then almost leapt back as the fire unexpectedly flared white-hot. She
blinked to clear her vision and it was only then she saw the figure in the midst of the
Clearly Sol was something of a showman.
A collective gasp rose from the crowd, and there was the sound of everyone going
down on one knee. Cassie followed suit, but not before getting a wink from the
irrepressible god.
Children of Sol, your service finds favor in my eyes. The gods voice boomed and
echoed through the temple, and Cassie heard someone begin to sob. She couldnt blame
the person. It was pretty freaky even for her, who had met Sol in person before. Because
of your faithful commitment and the sacrifices of my sons and daughters the world still
exists. But this continued loss of life causes me great pain, no matter how far apart the
sacrifices come.
He fell silent for a moment, and Cassie heard a low murmur from the crowd behind
her. Glancing up, she saw Sol looking back at her, his face solemn and stern, and his
expression made a shiver trickle down her spine.
So now I ask this chosen one to make the ultimate sacrifice, so no one else has to
walk the path she has. If Cassandra Solinar agrees she will take the burden of sacrifice on
herself for all time.
There was a collective gasp, questioning and shocked, and Sol spoke over the rising
murmur. I will make of her a phoenix, able to burn in the sacred fire and, after one cycle
of Sister Moon, rise again from a jeweled egg, reborn. On her shoulders will rest this
charge, eternally, and because she will not truly die the Children of Sol can step out of

the shadows, unafraid that others will discover their secret and condemn them before the
Now the murmurs turned to rapid-fire talk, excitement and fear seeming to permeate
the room until the air was thick and soupy. Now that the choice was laid before her,
Cassie wondered if she were crazy to consider it. Life eternal, watching all she knew and
loved wither away, punctuated by periodic trips into the flames to burn?
Not all I love.
The thought came to her, steadying the nerves sparking beneath her trembling skin.
She would have Xbal, and the knowledge that no other of her clan would ever awaken to
the knowledge his or her existence would be foreshortened. That shadow had followed
her all through life, slowly killing something fundamental in her soul, leaving her unable
to give of herself freely. Making her unable to fully love. It was a fate she wouldnt wish
on anyone else.
No matter what was to come, her sacrifice would be worth it.
Cassandra Solinar. Sols voice cut through the noise, and the temple immediately
fell silent again. Will you take this burden on yourself? Accept the pain that inevitably
will come, the losses and hurts this path will bring?
Yes. She didnt hesitate, knowing it was the right thing to do, the only thing.
Then come to me, my daughter. Come into the fire and let me transform you into a
gift for your clan, and for the world.
Rising, ignoring how her legs shook and her belly rolled, she walked toward the god,
keeping her gaze on his, seeing the fire part to let her in. Not flinching even when the
heat and flames licked at her robe and then began to scorch her skin.
Good girl, Sol murmured, taking her hand, obviously seeing how she clenched her
teeth to hold back the agonized scream building in her chest. Just a moment more
And then everything went blessedly black.

Wow. Couldnt you have just let me rise immediately, instead of going through all
this rigmarole? Cassie stretched, trying to forget the sensation of being burned alive,
and looked around the large, high-ceilinged room. Sol apparently liked plants. The entire
place was filled with them, and beyond the huge windows was a garden, bright with
flowers of every hue. I do have a life to go back to.

Sol chuckled. Therell be plenty of time to do whatever it is you have planned.

Believe me. Besides, you know how the clan likes ritual and ceremony. Just having you
burn and then reappear would be anticlimactic. They need to feel theyre an integral part
of the process, so guarding the jeweled egg will give them that.
Cassie wandered over to the window and looked out. Just beyond the garden she
could see the sea and the sight made her smile.
Well, I guess Im due a little vacation anyway. Here is as good a place as any.
She just wished she could see Xbal, reassure him all was well. There had been scant
time to explain what Sol suggested and none to go into the detail he wanted. There had
even been some threats thrown Sols way, which the sun god had ignored after one long
glare at Xbal.
Make yourself at home. Im rarely here, so youll pretty much have the place to
The thought was a little scarybeing stuck in a strange place with no one else around
and Cassie turned, saying, Oh, but
Her voice faded, as she saw Sol was already gone and in his place stood Xbal. For the
course of three or four long beats neither of them moved and Cassies heart stumbled at
the light in the jaguar gods eyes.
Now, he said, in that low growling tone that immediately made her weak with
desire. Where were we before we were so rudely interrupted by that damn sun god?
Reaching for the fastenings of her robe, she started to undo it. Dont forget the
ceremony of fire. That was a bit of an interruption too.
His nostrils flared. How could I? With a few long, silent strides he was in front of
her, dragging her into his arms. Dammit, Cassandra. I never want to go through that
again, wondering if it would work the way Sol said it would, crazy with terror that I
might never see you again. Tangling his fingers into her hair, he tugged her head back
and kissed her, hard. When their lips parted they were both panting and there was no
mistaking the roughness of his voice as he demanded, Tell me you meant what you said
before you left. Say you still love methat nothing has changed except now we can be
together forever.
With his words a weight she hadnt known she was carrying fell away, and Cassie
pulled his mouth back to hers for a long, love-filled kiss. Deep inside shed been worried
he wouldnt still want her, that the promises hed made in the heat of passion wouldnt

stand up to the reality of this new life shed been given. Knowing his feelings hadnt
changed freed her, causing the last bonds holding her emotions in check to fall away.
When she drew back far enough to see his eyes, she knew he already had his answer, but
told him anyway, wanting to say the words.
I wanted to do this for the other Children of Sol, for those not yet born on those
solstice nights to come, to free the clan from the continual fear and burden. But the only
thing that made the thought of living forever bearable was knowing you would be with
me, loving me as much as I love you.
The expression on his face almost undid her, for it was one of love so full and true and
strong she knew shed never have reason to doubt ever again, no matter how long
eternity turned out to be.
Youre mine, Cassandra. The words were a pledge and demand all in one, and her
body and heart thrilled to hear them. As long as I exist Ill love you, want you, need
Then he gave her no chance to reply, for he was kissing her again, his hands freeing
her from her clothes even as she fumbled to get his off too. And they made love, reveling
in the magic they created between them, coming together with an explosion of erotic
pleasure so intense Cassie was left thinking if she werent immortal, it just might have
killed her.
Lying spent and sated in his arms, listening to his heartbeat slowing, enjoying the rise
and fall of his chest beneath her cheek, she smiled, even knowing he couldnt see it.
Pressing a kiss to one handily close nipple, she said, Hey, you know what?
The thread of amusement in his voice made her smile widen to a grin. She loved how
easily he read her moods and responded in kind. I was just thinking I have the time to
master it now, so how about teaching me atraspa?
Shit. He half-groaned, half-growled. I may be a god, but if you started practicing
sex magic on me it might just spell the end of me.
Rolling onto one elbow, Cassie grinned down at him, knowing hed do it and enjoy
every damn minute of the tutoring. Yeah, but what a way to go.
He laughed with her, already letting the magic loose to caress and stroke and tickle
over her skin, sensitizing it, getting her ready for another round of loving. Then he
dragged her across his chest to kiss her, and murmur against her lips, The only way to

go, querida. The only way to go.

About Anya Richards

After living a checkered past, and despite an avowed disinterest in domesticity, multipublished author Anya Richards settled in Ontario, Canada, with husband, kids and two
cats who plot world domination, one food bowl at a time. Having trained the humans
around her to recognize the Do Not Disturb vibes she gives off when writing, shes still
trying to get the cats to honor her need for space. The suspicion is that they perfectly
understand, but choose those moments when shes most engrossed to once more prove
who wears the pants in the house.

Anya welcomes comments from readers. You can find her website and email
addresses on her author bio page at

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Also by Anya Richards

Arctic Destiny
Beyond Prudence
Fondled and Gobbled: Someone Had To Do It anthology
Fondled and Gobbled: One More Slurp anthology
Shaken Up
Unveiled Seductions 1: Fleeing Fate
Unveiled Seductions 2: Stone-Hard Passion
Unveiled Seductions 3: Dragons Claim

Print books by Anya Richards

A Mans Fantasies anthology
Beyond Prudence
Fondled and Gobbled! anthology
Unveiled Seductions 1 & 2: Passion Unveiled
Elloras Cave Publishing

Jaguar in the Sun

ISBN 9781419947193
Jaguar in the Sun Copyright 2013 Anya Richards
Edited by Grace Bradley
Cover design by Fiona Jayde
Cover photography by, iconizer, HunterXt,Janelle Lugge/
Electronic book publication December 2013
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