Give Me Strength

“You misunderstand,” the redhead girl tells him, but he is not listening, especially because no one in the world, in their right mind, would ever tell the Emperor that he was mistaken, that he was about to do something that would be a terrible idea.

He goes to her in a rush, and he pulls her into his arms and buries his face in her throat, breathing in the musk and need from her skin, her hair, and he pulls at her fine clothes and her cries and her fluttering hands only spur him on. She utters a low sob, turning her face away, and bites her lip, closing her eyes. Amari, give me strength.

In thinking that word, that name, she seems to find peace; her whole self shudders, and she reaches for him with desire and hope, instead of fear, imagining that since he won’t stop, since he isn’t going to stop, perhaps she can hold his interest, his attention, for longer than a quick coupling — she needs to talk to him, and not be simply set aside once he’s done.

She spreads for him, taunting, teasing, moving in all the ways she imagines Xand would have loved, had they been able to love one another for more than a moment, and when he is in her, thrusting, she turns his face up to hers, cupping his cheeks in her hands, nodding, smiling, wearing an expression of hope and adoration.

“Don’t stop,” she urges. “You have the look of my husband. My Amari,” she whispers.

“I am already taken by that name,” he says, his hips smacking against hers more roughly, as though to prove he is not tender for her.

“No,” she breathes. “No, not you. My own, my love,” she whispers. “You called him Xand. His sister will be your wife. He is my Amari, mine,” she says, and she lays her hands to his hips as the thought hits him, and hits hard.

He bows his head, clenching his teeth, knowing that this woman who writhes for him had also spread for Xand. Xand, who is alive. Xand, who is claimed and joined and bound to another.

Xand.

He moans, clutching at her, and she closes her eyes and folds herself to him when she feels him come, hard, spasming as he fills her. “Please,” she breathes. “Don’t go yet. Help him. Help us.”

“He’s dead. Gone,” he says, sounding defeated. “No,” she breathes, and he tenses, holding her hips. “No,” she whispers, and at her last words, he loses himself again, spiraling into oblivion that is both pleasure and confusion.

“He lives.”

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