Chapter 16

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I flowed through the familiar movements of the sword dance, narrowing my focus to the swords and how they whistled through the air as I spun and thrust. Dawn painted the sky in tints of rose and gold, and I knew that Fenrir was rousing Adora from her sleep.

Heat and pain coiled in my stomach at the thought of how he would be waking her. He'd asked if we wanted to be around when he woke her, but we all knew the correct answer. It was one thing to involve her in an orgy with questionable consent while she was safely asleep, quite another to have her wake to four men spilling themselves all over her.

Thus, Jace had ensconced himself in the library, Kieran had gone off on a flight, and I was trying to tire myself and my imagination out so that I could be civilized later. Fates knew if I could hold onto my composure if she chose to spend the entire day with Fenrir, but I could try.

Would she even want to see us today? She was newly mated to Fenrir after all, with barely three weeks past before she was forced into Sleep, and it wasn't as if she knew any of us.

One of my blades slid against the other, a miscalculation due to loss of focus, and I let the swords droop in my hold.

What had we been thinking?

I almost scoffed at the errant thought. Obviously we'd been thinking with our too-romantic hearts and probably our balls as well. We'd been raised with the dreams of finding our mate, the one who would click with us, the one who would splash the world in glittering color when we were all too used to the starkness of space. I'd thought that we were content with what we did have with each other, but one look at the sleeping beauty curled in a nest of gold and we'd fallen, one right after the other.

Interestingly enough, Kieran was the first.

Amusement, foreign for too many days, bubbled at up at the memory of how he'd stopped short, eyes widening at the sight of her.

We'd grinned at the invitation and Jace had joked about our mate being delivered to us upon a golden platter, but it had never really occurred to me that it might be true.

Kieran couldn't tear his eyes away from her. No matter where he circled in the room, his gaze always returned to her mouth, his expression turning contemplative, his decision gelling in the set of his jaw.

Jaceon had hidden it better. Trickster and joker he might be, but he'd kept a secure hold on his desire until the truth stared us all in the face.

I'd felt the pull, but I'd dismissed it as a natural reaction to a beautiful female, one who we hadn't grown up with, one who was clearly offered up as available. Most of the females we came across in our travels were either staunchly content in their virginity or fiercely guarded by their male.

Then the first suitor had pressed a kiss to her cheek. Jace growled under his breath, Kieran tensed, and I had to fight the urge to tear him apart when she flinched away from his touch even in her sleep.

There was no question then. We had to test, to see if she was receptive to us. But was it the right decision? I'd hesitated, choosing to be the last to kiss her, wanting some indication that she wanted me. Me, and not someone else. Not as part of the trio. Not simply because she needed my magic to live. Joy and the strangest sense of relief spilled through me when she'd taken the step forward and pressed her lips to mine, but that glow had faded in the time she'd remained asleep until I couldn't help but rethink and second guess my decision over and over again.


I spun around.

Adora stood in the arched doorway leading to the courtyard, draped in layer upon layer of golden gauze. A shaft of sunlight shone down on her, and she seemed to glow. Need twisted in my heart and snatched my breath away.

She started walking toward me, but her steps were uncertain, as if her body had not come fully awake yet.

I bit my tongue on the urge to tell her to stay where she was so I could walk to her. Instead, I lengthened my stride to meet her halfway.

"Adora," I murmured, stopping a step away from her and searching her face. Could I greet her with a kiss and embrace the way I wanted to, or would she prefer if I kept my distance until we had our first conversation?

A small smile lit her eyes, turning them from chocolate to darkest gold.

"It seems that you're always insisting that I come to you."

I couldn't help but relax at the little pout in her voice. "It's only proper, all things considered."

"You're right." Her smile turned rueful. "I wouldn't have liked it otherwise."

My mate took another step forward and lifted her face, her hands resting lightly on my hips.

Fates, how this female twisted me up inside.

I bent my head and brushed my lips against hers, the lightest of butterfly caresses.

"Good morning, mate. It's good to see you awake."

Roses bloomed in her cheeks and her lashes fluttered as she bit her lip.

"This is so strange," she muttered to my chest.

"It is," I agreed readily. For it was. It was beyond strange.

"But it's what we have."

She lifted her head at that.

"So, it is." A pause, and then, "will you come have breakfast with me?"

Her mouth firmed in a line before she continued, "I'd like it if we could have our meals together at least, but I can't find Jaceon or Kieran and Fenrir ran off. Probably through some misguided thought of fairness."


I offered her my arm. "With the utmost pleasure."

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