Janus is a planet that lacks both tilt and spin. Shadowlands is the pewter band of dusk dividing the violently hot Lightside of the planet from its Darkside, which is imprisoned by eternal night. Birth rates on the planet are low and indiscriminate mating and ménage sex are encouraged.
Audryn, Queen of Shadow, has reached that time in her life when she must choose a King to rule with her or fail to bear an heir, casting not only her realm but all of Janus into chaos. Despite her duty, she is reluctant to share power, even a bit distrustful. Janus’ nobles vie for Audryn’s hand. Although she enjoys trysting with all her suitors, none seize her heart.
Then Storne, the warrior Prince of Darkness, arrives to claim her as his bride, and she finds she cannot resist his masterful ways.
Inside Scoop: This book contains lots of hot ménage action including a F/F/M scene.
I sent a message to Storne, the Prince of Darkness, requesting that he attend me toward the end of my toilette, and told Maia to prepare me with especial care for that evening’s dinner. I sent out all other servants so I could speak with her privately about him.
As I reclined on a golden velvet settee, she shaved me, a bolster beneath my hips and my legs wide so my pussy was accessible. With quick, deft strokes of the razor, she cleared the curls from both sides of my delta, then from my labia, so the area ‘round my clitoris was smooth. She then cleansed me with a damp cloth before massaging my sex flesh with lotion scented with soothing lavender and chamomile.
I raised my arms above my head, lifting my breasts so they crinkled in the cool air. Storne, I thought, and I tingled from head to toe. “What did you think of him?”
She did not ask me the subject of my question, but said, “I like him. He is direct and honest in his ways, and has the respect of his men.” She fluffed a powderpuff between my thighs.
I sighed, my pussy throbbing. “How large is his…entourage?”
“Large enough, I trow. The DarkDwellers make dwarves of us all.”
“I have a task for you.”
Maia set the shaving implements on the sideboard, then turned to regard me with her fullest attention. I sat up and took a hairbrush, handing it to her. As she brushed, I talked.
“I do not wish the leaders of Darkness and Light to ever be alone together.”
She paused, and the brush stilled. “I see your concern. If they join against Shadow, we would have no chance against their combined forces.”
“Yes. We would be squeezed like an orange in a press, the life-giving juices extracted and the dry husk left to rot.” Fear twisted deep in my belly.
The brushing resumed. “Kaldir strikes me as ignorant of statecraft.”
“I agree. He may not have thought of such a strategy, but Storne…”
“Yes. I, also, believe it must have occurred to the Prince of Darkness. Storne is far too canny a warrior to allow this opportunity to pass unheeded.”
“Or at least considered the possibilities. He has a reputation as a fine soldier.”
The brushing concluded, she tugged at a bellpull. “I will make certain that Darkness and Light do not merge. But you must also do your part.”
I smiled. “That will be my pleasure.”
Several of my ladies entered, opening wardrobes and bringing out gowns for my inspection. Others braided my hair and pinned it to the top of my head like a crown while others rimmed my eyes with charcoal, pinkened my lips with a rose tint. With unaccustomed nerves, I dithered over my choices, wondering which dress or what color would most entice Storne. I finally said, “The rose pink, the one trimmed with gold lace.” I felt overheated, and the gown was of thin, slick satin. Cooling, as in cooling my lust. I did not want to indulge in hasty actions with the Prince of Darkness.
I continued, “And high shoes. I do not wish to look like a dwarf.”
Maia emitted a sharp bark of laughter as she found pink stockings, which were fastened above my knees with ruffled garters of golden lace. She draped a pink chemise over my head, which was followed by a matching corset, laced tightly to show my narrow waist and lift my breasts. I slid my feet into the heeled slippers, and as the satin gown was tossed over my head, I heard a door open, followed by the clatter of boots.
“Lord Storne.” Maia’s tone was respectful.
I shook my head free of the enveloping folds of lace and satin as she tugged the gown into place. “Good evening,” I said.
“Audryn.” Without being bidden, he approached. He reached for me, then stopped. “May I?”
“Y-yes.” I did not know what he intended, but…
His smile transformed his angular face. He wrapped a big hand behind my neck. His grasp was firm, warm, the skin of his palm a little rough, from swordplay or riding, I imagined. I tried to breathe through a tight, nervous throat.
He kissed me full on the lips, rather than a chaste buss on my cheek, which would have been proper. Though he did not intrude his tongue, the contact was warm, vital and vigorous, hinting at the pleasure we could share.
As he withdrew, his gaze met mine, the gray eyes demanding, gentle and amused. How he packed so many emotions into one glance was a mystery to me. I told myself I was imagining more in his look than actually was there.
I had become infatuated by the Prince of Darkness swiftly…far too swiftly. That was bad. I could not make decisions affecting the history and welfare of my realm based on a passing fancy.
Maia bustled around me, fastening golden earbobs onto my lobes, bracelets on my wrists. Another lady laced my gown up the back. I was grateful for their presence, for the respite that the mundane tasks afforded; I could collect myself, regain my lost poise.
When I was dressed, Storne said, “Let’s walk before dinner.”
“Certainly.” I donned long, pink satin gloves. Fingerless, they wouldn’t impede me when eating or touching. Again, anxiety cramped me to the guts, but I laid a hand onto his elbow.
He had bathed from top to toe. Most of his dark mane hung loose, but the thick locks at each side of his face were braided, leaving his features, angular but pleasing, exposed. Amber and musk from the EastMarch scented his hair. He wore fine garments subdued in color: deep blue shot and trimmed with silver. The hue complemented his coloring. Hose of the same rich tone limned brawny legs. He was aware of Shadowland fashion, for his codpiece was large and embroidered with thick silver thread. His velvet doublet bore a design with the sacred oak and fiery mountain, traditional symbols of Darkside nobility, nature-worshippers all.
His gray eyes continued expressive, holding intelligence and humor, and his mouth was unexpectedly sensual. A fantasy image of his lips caressing my pussy drifted across my mind.
He led me through the palace with a sure step, showing no uncertainty. Our respective retinues followed. Behind me, the train of my gown swept the slates, but as it didn’t have panniers or hoops, our bodies occasionally bumped as we walked. Each contact shot a scintillating trail of desire along my skin.
“Do you know your way? Where are we going?” I asked.
He cast me an amused glance. “I had a free hour to explore your castle. It is an admirable stronghold.”
He took me to the same terrace where I’d so joyously given my virginity on my Exhibition Day. When our servants attempted to follow, I said, “It’s all right. There are plenty of people below.”
True enough; down on the lawns, tearing apart the sod, a herd of magnificent taqqa milled and stamped, huge animals with shaggy ochre-colored pelts, massive humped shoulders and curved horns, themselves long, sharp weapons. Some of the beasts were mounted by armored warriors almost as big as Storne, while the rest were laden. Servants, both Shadowlanders and Darksiders, busily unloaded and stacked boxes, baskets, trunks, rugs and portmanteaux. That our people worked together amicably was not lost on me.
“For you,” Storne said.
I stared at him.
My eyes widened. “You owe me no tribute, and you cannot buy me.”
“No, but I see that I must woo you.” That smile again, so unexpected from such a solemn mien. “I am but a rough warrior, but I wish to be your rough warrior.”
Pleasure robbed me of speech. I was touched by his courtliness, so at odds with his earlier arrogance. And he was an astute judge of character. He had taken my measure immediately and adjusted his approach. He had also come prepared for any eventuality.
He took out a small pouch from a hidden pocket in his doublet. “My first gift to you.”
My face felt too small for my smile. “Thank you.” Excited, I reached for the red satin bag, hoping it contained jewelry. Darkside boasted a wealth of minerals and gems, and its artisans excelled in the craft of jewelry design.
He pulled it out of my reach. “Let me show you. Rumor tells me that women of the Shadowlands enjoy this kind of gift, and I will enjoy knowing that you wear it.” He tugged apart the drawstring at the pouch’s top and upended it above his cupped palm. A stream of molten gold spilled forth, resolving into a fine chain, nearly three feet long.
Puzzled, I took it out of his hand and held it up to examine it by the light of the torches lining the marble terrace. The chain had little scissor-like appendages at each end, each maybe the size of my thumbnail. The scissors had curved blades that weren’t sharp but were lined with tiny seed pearls, leaving a circular gap in the center perhaps the size of a baby pea. The ends were curlicued to wrap around each other.
I raised my brows at Storne.
“Allow me.” But he didn’t take the chain, instead reaching for my bodice.
I gasped and pulled away. “Sir, you presume too much.”
“Do I?” He paced the length of the terrace, then returned. “Audryn, there is only one sure test of our ability to rule together, and this mating is a radical step neither of us can take without some…experimentation. I know you approach your seventeenth starturn, and you have sworn to crown your king on that day.”
My jaw tightened. “Your spies are most effective.”
“Thus, time grows short. Please.” He reached for me again, and this time I did not resist. He was right; besides, I wanted him to touch me intimately. Though his hands were rough, he handled my breasts with tenderness, lifting them above the gown and away from the corset’s confinement, resting them atop my lace-trimmed neckline. Cool air washed my breasts, a delightful sensation. My nipples wrinkled. He passed a hand over the mounded flesh, traced one curved pink aureole’s edge. Need flared through me, and my pussy dampened anew.
He smiled. “I suppose that I will have to learn to enjoy the public sex that your customs demand. And I may as well begin…now.” He slid an arm around me and bent his head to kiss first one nipple and then the other, licking around the aureole, sucking to lengthen the tips until they were hard and distended.
He gripped my left one between his teeth and gave it a sharp little nip. I gasped, “Storne!”
“Did that hurt?”
He rubbed his lips over the tiny pain he’d caused, and the sting dissolved into a haze of pleasure. He took one of the scissorlike appendages and opened the clasp, then closed it around my swollen nipple.
The tiny pearls gripped the very tip of my breast, lighting a spark of need that zipped to my pussy. I rested my face against his chest, breathing deeply in a vain attempt to control my reaction. I felt heat in my cheeks and the softness of his velvet doublet, my pulsing clit…an array of dizzying sensations.
He dropped the chain, and the slight weight tugging on my nipple built my pussy’s spark into a fire. He lifted my right breast higher and pinched my nipple, kissed and licked the tip. When it also swelled, he fastened the other clip to it. The fire roared into a blaze, and I grabbed his shoulders, flinging back my head. He laid a trail of kisses across my bare chest, up to my throat, along my jawline before he reached my lips.
This time, he took my mouth with a commanding kiss, holding me so tightly that I could feel the embroidery on his doublet abrade my naked breasts. My captured nipples rubbed across velvet, scraped across silver thread. I tore my lips away from his and I cried out, heedless of the warriors and servants below. I cared for nothing but the man who held me in his arms, who had claimed me when he chained my breasts, took my mouth.
Best-selling, award-winning author Suz deMello, a.k.a Sue Swift, has written over sixteen romance novels in several subgenres, including erotica, comedy, historical, paranormal, mystery and suspense, plus a number of short stories and non-fiction articles on writing. A freelance editor, she’s worked for Total-E-Bound, Liquid Silver Books and Ai Press, where she is currently Managing Editor. She also takes private clients.
Her books have been favorably reviewed in Publishers Weekly, Kirkus and Booklist, won a contest or two, attained the finals of the RITA and hit several bestseller lists.
A former trial attorney, her passion is world travel. She’s left the US over a dozen times, including lengthy stints working overseas. She’s now writing a vampire tale and planning her next trip.
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