Pahele shuddered as his realm shifted and came into balance once more. The returning balance could only mean one thing.
His queen had returned at last.
“Master?” Sadrina entered the throne room and knelt before him in absolute submission. She was as beautiful as ever. Her sensual presence filled his senses. The mere fact that she knelt before him in the realm she had once called home, told him clearly that she was desperate.
Hell simply wasn’t the same without her, but what was it that had finally brought her home? He reined in his physical response and opened his mind to her. As had always been, the connection supplied all that was lacking in his soul. His essence pulsed with power. He couldn’t let her leave him again. No matter what brought her back, he would bind her here, to his side.
Her love, hate and fear crossed their tendril thin bond and filled him. She came for the sake of her son. The boy dominated her thoughts, filled almost all of her mind. Almost, but not quite.
She also feared being enslaved. Her fears filled him with regret. Not much of a surprise considering that was exactly what he had allowed to happen before. Another slippery fast thought crossed her mind. This one giving him hope. She liked his hair long. Her thought about his hair caught him by surprise. If he had known that, he would have grown it out long ago.
“Sadrina, finally you’ve returned to my side.” He reached toward her and used his powers to pick her up. She should never be forced to kneel, not even to him.
She allowed him to draw her into his arms.
What had changed this time? In the beginning she had welcomed his touch, but in more recent millennia, she had flinched away from him. And the part of her mind that might have explained the mystery remained silent.
Her skin was warm and scented like the flowers he’d long dreamed of her dancing in. His cock hardened while he wrestled for control. She felt so good pressed against him.
She struggled slightly, succeeding only in rubbing against him, arousing him further. His powers surged and her human clothing melting away. Sadrina should take her true form here in their home. Her skin darkened from olive to bluish black. Her silken wings flowed the full length to the floor.
“If you wish to have the answer you seek, you must convince me of your desire to please.” He stroked his hand down her back, his finger tips trailing under the softness of her wings. Would she ever accept him without being forced? Perhaps someday, but not yet. “Please me, and your son will know the truth.”
She would do anything for Grant, for the son that should have been his. Damn the politics of the gods. And damn the Norns and Fates who played them all like pawns. They had kept him and Sadrina apart for long enough. But their control was limited. Sadrina was bound to him by destiny, and nothing they could do would change that one truth.
For now, the child, Grant, would be his hold over her, but soon she would be given a choice. He begged the Creator that this time she chose him.
He was demon lord over all the Tascryn demons, holding more power than most gods. Yet, staring down at the woman who had always been the second half of his heart, it all meant nothing without her. Their immortal years had been passages of pain, while a world of misplaced loyalties separated them. Perhaps this time, they would be allowed the love he’d long yearned for.
He tipped her chin up, forcing her shuttered gaze to meet his. “Your weakness does nothing to please me.”
Sadrina’s eyes flashed fire bright red. “You know why I am here. Nothing but desperation would bring me back to my prison.”
He wanted to apologize for his mistakes and make beg her for forgiveness, but he bit back on those words. Instead he offered her only the truth. “You will never be imprisoned again.” He would see to that promise.
“What is a place, but a prison, if I cannot leave or choose to do as I wish.” He closed his mind to her wasted anger. He could not afford to let her leave him again. Her years of freedom had cost him too greatly.
“Then for now, call it a prison, but before you choose your path, be aware that I can use any here without question. I have no need for an unwilling partner.” In a way it was the truth, but it was also a lie. He had no need or desire for any other. Only Sadrina’s body held the promise of ultimate satisfaction.
“Bed partner you mean?” She tensed and he felt her sudden fear.
He relaxed his dark expression. She didn’t yet understand his needs, but she would soon. Her disdain for sharing his bed cut him, but her fear tore him to shreds. “Bed, floor, or any other surface we find appealing.”
Her eyes closed, hiding their beautiful smoke shades. “I want to be free,” Sadrina whispered.
He swallowed a sigh. Her despair pained him. Anything that caused her pain would do twice the damage to him, for above all else it was his duty to protect her. “I need you here with me.” She would take her place as his queen. The time for patience had passed.
“I only returned for Grant.”
“I will accept that for now. If it is a barter that you offer, then I accept for as long as the merchandise pleases me.”
“What about Grant?”
Grant, always Grant. How differently would their lives have been if they had bonded before and Grant had been his son? “I will see that he comes to no harm.”
“What drives his thirst?” She persisted, her quiet voice demanding he fulfill his part before she even considered hers.
Pahele closed his eyes and expanded his senses to all the realms they touched. Grant held onto a human woman, his soul filled with devotion and indeed, love. “His heart does.”
“What does that mean?” Sadrina caught his hand in her fear. The contact sizzled through him.
Finally, he could offer her pleasing news. “Your son is in love with the girl. The more powerful his emotions, the more he will yearn to be with her in every way.” Pahele knew those desires very well indeed. Love led to desire and desire to hunger. Together, they were the magic that bound the realms.
She gasped. “But his cravings are dangerous. He would be destroyed if he harmed her, even by accident.”
Such was the truth. The boy would need more control than his mortal form held. Grant was unique in all nine realms. He was half demon by his mother, but his father had been a mortal man. He had unfortunately inherited his father’s mortality. For Sadrina, he had fed the boy a sip of royal blood and with it a few vampire-like tendencies. Both Grant and Sadrina believed the blood had been from a cyvampis demon, when it was his own powerful blood that sustained Grant.
Pahele strengthened the connection to Grant and drew off the hunger. For now he would control the boy’s need to feed and keep it gentle enough to allow him this woman.
“I have dampened the draw of his hunger. He will have full control of his desire to feed.”
“Thank you.” Sadrina’s fingers tightened over his hand. He ached to open his palm and accept her touch as an equal, but it was not yet that time.
“It was nothing to do so little for the one you hold most dear.” He cared for Grant as well and had done this much and more to see to the boy’s happiness in the past.
“I leave my gratitude, but I wish to return and meet his bride.”
If she left, how long would it be before she had reason to return? “No.” Regret washed over him with the rejection. He would give her anything, but not her freedom. Not this time.
“Please, let me go.” Her plea almost undid him. She was royalty, from the eldest, strongest blood and should never beg.
“No. If you attempt to leave, I will withdraw my control from your son and allow him to deal with the craving however he must.”
“You are still a cold bastard.” She pulled away from him and would have fled further if not for him grabbing her wrist and shackling her still on the dais.
“I do what is necessary.” He restrained another sigh. “You must stay here.”
“Here in the throne room? That could prove interesting.” Her cutting wit, which was always such a pleasure, rose once more to the surface.
Now she would fight him and he couldn’t wait for the battle to begin. “You will share my chambers and serve only me. All others will serve you as is proper for your rank.”
She stared longingly toward the door-less exit. “So I will be a slave, your slave.”
He caressed the soft flesh of her arm, allowing one of his claws to scrape over her pulse point. “You have never been and never will be a slave. You are the rightful queen here whether you take up that position or not.”