Chapter 31

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Lucas


Last man standing. No pressure, Lucas.

Kieran was hunched over and wheezing, looking like he was about to cast up his accounts at any moment. Fenrir was out cold but thankfully breathing. Jace was outright snoring, the lucky bastard.

Our mate squirmed in my hold, eyes wide and glassy.

The lights are on but no one's home. I'd heard it before, but I'd never really seen it. Could've gone another few hundred years without seeing it.

Dazed, slender fingers fluttered as she tried to capture mine.

Lifting her hands up above her head, I stepped behind her, securing her with an arm around her waist. Delicious curved pressed against me as she arched, straining to get free, to get the contact she needed.

"Little do you know, you already have me. The question now is what will you do with me?"

The whatever-it-was had snapped to life between Adora and the others as soon as they touched. Was a single touch enough to establish the bond, or did it get stronger when she entwined her fingers with theirs?

"Foolhardy," I murmured to her. "We were brash, thinking that four of us would be more than enough to handle you. I suspect that hubris will come back to bite us in the ass."

Fates were kind and she no longer had that look on her face, starving, insatiable, blind with pain and terror. Still, she grasped, searching.

"Be gentle, princess, because I don't think you left Kieran in a condition where he could stop you if you snapped."

"Fuck you," Kieran suggested mildly, through gasps.

"It's not just because you did something to unman him, a miracle in of itself, but because he loves you and it would destroy him if he had to put you down like a rabid dog."

"Lucas!"

Ignoring him, I continued, nuzzling my cheek against the top of her head. "You're a princess. Our princess. Remember what good little princesses do? I've met your parents. I'm sure you've had the idea of noblesse oblige drummed into you from birth. Be the princess, then. Pull yourself out of this."

Kieran stared at me, eyes blazing, silent.

Silent was good. I didn't need him interfering.

Our mate was strong; she had to be. Giving into whatever had her under its spell would be weakness and I knew enough of her to know that she would loathe every second she didn't have control.

Pressure coiled around my heart.

That she would have succumbed in the first place said much about how she had been suffering.

"You don't need much more, do you? Three males have given you all that they had. Don't tell me that you're a proper little man-eater."

Adora jerked in my hold, the movement sharp and angry. Good.

"What will you do if I give in, sweet little mate? Will you drain me dry, then finish off the others? What's next? World domination?"

She lifted her feet off the ground and drove her heels into my shins, one foot coming too close to my knee for comfort. Stars burst across my vision.

"She can be rather vicious, can't she?" Kieran mused, sounding too admiring for my taste.

"Yes," I ground out. "You can be rather vicious, princess. So use it in the right direction. Fight this. Fight."

Her butt pressed into my cock, further rousing the horny fucker.

"If your pride can allow this, think of what will happen to the children if you let things continue. They're why we're doing all this, right? So they can be born rather than dragged from your body with a prayer or two that they might survive. What do you think they do to children of Desekthroi? They wouldn't simply toss the egg sacs aside and let the mother earth decide whether she's going to nurture them to viability or not. They'd kill you, turn you to ash to make sure you won't rise again, and crush our eggs beneath their heels."

A wordless cry of rage rattled my ears. Or was that the glancing strike of her head against my nose?

"Your parents wouldn't be able to save them, not if you went Desekthroi. Even if they are Ancients. Even if they are king and queen and rule an ancient House. What might happen to your parents, do you think? Would they allow your execution and the murder of our eggs as the due for the selfish risk we have taken? Or, knowing your parents as you do, do you think they would fight for their grandchildren? If they did so, what would happen then? A king and queen, harboring a Desekthroi, one of our race's most hated, and the younglings that might then grown up to be more Desekthroi. Would they be able to keep their thrones? Would they even be able to keep their lives if the rest of our race goes after them?"

Another wordless howl. Her heels drummed against my shins, her wrists twisting in my hold.

"Control yourself. Control it. You are better than this, princess."

She had to. I wouldn't be able to hold her off for much longer and when I gave in, it would be that much harder to deny her. Everything in me screamed to give her what she needed, what she wanted.

You protect her more by denying her.

So you say, but I don't see you volunteering for the job, I snapped back at my dragon.

You're the one with the opposable thumbs.

You have thumbs too.

Not like yours.

I snorted, but let it go. We both knew that the basic instincts of the dragon would have him twisted around her little finger within seconds, even if his mind wanted to do otherwise.

"Adora mine," I murmured against her hair. "My princess. My mate."

She stilled. Silence hung between us, breathless.

"My love. Come back to us."

I brushed my cheek against her hair, over and over, soothing myself with her scent, her warmth.

"Who's a good little princess? Who's a sweet little mate?"

My dragon rolled his eyes and hid his head under his wing.

"Sweet little precious. Who's a good girl? Who's a sweet girl?"

She stiffened further.

I hid a smile against her hair.

"Aren't you going to be a good little princess?"

"Stop. For the love of the Fates, stop."

I nearly sagged to the ground in relief.

Her voice was ragged, but it was undeniably her. 

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