Read Deathless Online

Authors: Belinda Burke

Tags: #Erotic Romance Fiction

Deathless (8 page)

“Hey Da, Da, look! A merlin, Da—hawk’s good luck, isn’t it?”

The answer came low, lower than Kas could hear, but he no longer cared. His eyes were on the bird in the sky, the flickering blue-gray of its feathers dyed blood red by the sinking sun. A merlin—

“My hawk, love.
Merlin
.”

It was, he knew, the word, the
name
, that he had been waiting for. The words, having been wanted for so long, came quick to his lips and stayed there, hovering, quenchless thirsts in every syllable. They gave him back purpose, which he had been missing…and he thought that maybe, finally, after so many days listening greedily to words meant for other ears, he could say the things that needed to be said. Make clear everything he had said already…

The first step was unknown to him, and yet at the same time simple. Away from here, but to where? Myrddin had come seeking him, pulled from the west. Was that the only thing
he
could do, wander westward, seeking? There were wide lands in that direction, and the ocean…its sheltered isles.

But his feet knew where to take him even if he didn’t yet know where he was going. Kas was moving before he realized it, through the wood and the cool fields with their waiting quiet. When he stopped, it was because he had found the scent of strawberries in the autumn chill—not a mortal odor, not a mortal presence. It was the fragrance of the last wisp of enchantment that remained where the garden Myrddin had called out of the ground had faded.

Kas tasted memories in that scent, and something like a promise, but neither was enough. He knew, encountering it, why he’d been drawn here, come back here. This presence, this power, he could follow. It was more than enough to lead him where he wanted to go—to the one he wanted to find.

West
. As he had suspected, that was the direction Myrddin had gone, but now Kas had no reason to wander, followed the straight track of his passage. West, through a wide, dark wood rich with autumn in all its blazing glory, to a grove near its edge that was nearly as strong with that terrible scent and its promises as the one he had left behind.

West, and he ignored the narrow bridge of land and crossed the water instead.

The sea churned under him, black as he passed over it, wide and empty and no odor on its winds but the salt and what he knew now was freedom—too late.
Too late
. His need was what it was, and already it bound him as if with chains.

If that was the price, he would pay it willingly—desire answered by need, as long as need was answered by sounds, and not silences.

The shore of the isle he was led to was cold and quiet, not empty but still, life vanished in his presence, or curled in on itself seeking to avoid him. He didn’t care. The life he wanted wasn’t there, anyway, and these things were not yet come to their time. Not his. No, not his…

What I am seeking is mine. He. My hawk…

Bit by bit his thoughts were starting to take the form of words, even when they were not needed. They gave his reality a new shape, changed the context of what he knew. Kas had learned
sleep
and
dream
as words for things that were, though he had not experienced them himself. Now he thought that perhaps, though this journey had been real, though he was
awake
, it was also a dream. It had…the
feeling
of one.

But outside his mind, it was silent, and that silence, unwanted, followed him on his passage along the curl of promise that was the aura of Myrddin’s power.

The green is near.

The world of his dream wanted to be a world of eager sounds, but that kind of truth was confined within his memory, beating to get out. It would tear through, he knew, and the slippery curtain of the reality he had known since the beginning of things would never be whole again.

There were two starting points in his life now, where until recently there had been only one. Somehow it was the first, the oldest, that was weak. The first was the moment which came before all others, dimly distant. The first death. The origin of shadow…
his
origin.

The second was Myrddin, the taste of strawberries on his skin, the word that was
kiss
and the glow of a pair of eyes that stared at him with both sides of the horizon—green grass, blue sky. The second beginning was also the end, even as it was, again, beginning.

Close, now
.

Power was around him, swelling, glowing, out of its time but somehow, here, in this place…not out of place. The late autumn wood was losing its naked look, was turning spring green the deeper he went, until finally he knew he’d come to the center, come to the source. A single grove, a single clearing—the little huts of a little tribe, and growing among them, snowdrops, bluebells, all the flowers of spring.

As the moon rolled up into the sky, the grove filled with sleeping scents. Dim noises came to him—rustling, murmurs, breathing. One at a time he went to each door, peered inward, and it was the fifth he opened that gave him what he wanted.
Mine. O, mine
.

Myrddin lay visible from the door, asleep on a pallet by a solitary window. His breathing was slow and deep, but his body was restless, turning, reaching, and Kas crossed the shadowed floor of the little hut, slipped into the bed beside him and relaxed as warm, slender arms wrapped around his waist.


Found you
.”

Myrddin let out a long, long breath, almost a sigh, and stopped moving, slipped into a deeper sleep instead of waking. Kas returned his embrace and settled in to wait for morning.

Chapter Five

 

 

 

Myrddin woke confused, warmer than he had been when he went to sleep, and far more crowded. There were arms around him, a lean body beside him that was familiar, but strange even in that. He’d not gone to bed with a lover last night, and there was distance enough between him and his mother’s people that no one would dare just come to him, though the thought gave him a quirk of the lips.

Warm fingers trailed down his arm, across his hip, up his back, and Myrddin let out a sigh, relaxed despite himself, then stiffened at the feel of breath near his ear.

“Awake now, love? I think you are awake now.” The words were as warm as the breath, and the tone of them, husky, intimate, curled into a lick of heat inside him. Myrddin knew that voice.


Kas
. How did you—what are you—?”

“I followed the green to your door. I came to find you, because you did not come for me.”

“It’s only been—”

“Almost a year. Almost…so I came to find you. Because you would come to me asking for
help
again. Because you are mine and I want more than just our rite.”

“Our…rite. But that was—”


Just once
?” Like many other things Kas had said, it was a mocking echo, but this time Myrddin really didn’t understand.

“Yes!”

“But you are becoming the overflowing spring again, and you sleep such a restless sleep. How is it you intend to change that if not with me? With me, love—”


Stop that.
Just stop! You don’t know—”

“What I am saying? Yes, I know that is what you wish were true. But I do not ask, I tell you, love. My lover, my love, beautiful one who comes with the green. Bright eyes, strawberry kiss, soft skin and soft mouth and soft noises.”

Myrddin drew in a little breath at the sudden warmth of Kas’ lips on his throat.

“I have found many words, many, because I knew when I found you there would be many things to say, all your words, your questions…and I must answer even if I do not know why. But you will not tell me
stop
now, not in this, even if you have no answer for the word you do not want.

“I found you, love. Ask what you want, say what you will—it changes nothing. I was alone until you found me, and now I know what that means and I do not want to
be
that way. I will be, instead, with you, who are mine. My hawk…
Merlin
.”

Myrddin was quiet, unsure of how to answer just as Kas had said, but the last bit—there was something he could say to that. “
Myrddin
, Kas. Not Merlin.”


No
. If I am Kas for you, then you are Merlin for me. It is the only word that fits enough to be a name.”

“Fits—” And then he grinned, though faintly. “Maybe it does.”


No.
Not maybe. What is maybe? You—fly from me. Fly
for
me. And so you are my hawk, love.”

“Kas…” Myrddin turned against him, lifted his head to look up and was caught in Kas’ stare as if in amber. “You know it’s not—safe—for you to be here.”

“It is safe as long as
you
are here.”

“For now…”

Kas laughed against his hair, then bent closer and finally—
finally?
—kissed him, licked his way into Myrddin’s mouth. So thorough, his kiss. Intent, and enticing, and just enough of an edge in it to keep it from softness. He moaned softly against Kas’ mouth, and Kas rewarded him for the sound, sucked on his tongue, bit his lip then kissed him more deeply.

He considered for only an instant before he pulled the cover out of the way and pressed the whole of his naked body against Kas’ skin, reached his hands up around Kas’ shoulders and slipped on top of him as if by accident.


Merlin
. You—”

“Want you? Yes. What did you think was going to happen if you came to me like this, came into my bed, kissed me like that? I love your kiss, Kas.”

“But not me?”

Myrddin stopped his slow lean forward toward Kas’ mouth, was completely still. “I don’t—I don’t know you well enough yet to love you.”

“Not like
I
know
you
? Then tell me, how do I make you love me? How do I make you know me enough?”

“I don’t know, how would… I don’t know.” He laughed, but that was maybe the wrong thing to do. Kas was suddenly frowning at him—and then he smiled, and Myrddin was struck dumb. So…so
something
. That smile! “Kas?”

“I will stay with you until you know—until you tell me, yes, or no, if you can love me. But you know,
you know
that I want it to be yes.”

“Oh…” Myrddin bent completely over him, pressed his lips against Kas’ mouth and sighed when he felt Kas’ hands slip around his waist again. “There’s something about you—something about you, Kas. It’s going to be dangerous and terrible, getting to know you.”

Kas frowned at him, appeared to be considering. “Dangerous. Yes. Not terrible—but it is always dangerous to be near me, I…even for you, it is not safe. Not always. Not forever, without warning, without waiting. But I can make it be, make it safe just for you. As long as you do not come to your own ending. Then,
then
you would be mine in the way I do not want. The only way…I do not want.”

He slid his hands up Myrddin’s back, over the line of his spine and up into his hair. “But if it comes to that I will wrap you in shadow forever, all of you, every piece. You are already mine, whether you love me or not. I will keep you that way.”

“Kas—
Death
. I don’t know if I can die, but if I can, then—”

“Anything and everything can die. Gods and wild spirits and mortals—worlds and stars and their black spaces.”

“And you?”

“And I. The last dark to go out after the last light—but yes. And I.”


I wouldn’t mind
.” He kissed Kas again, reached for his hands and held them against his bed. “If I had to die, I wouldn’t mind…being with you.”

“I will not let go.” Simple, breathless. And still, like the rest of him, so demanding.


So don’t
. Are you going to take me now, Kas?”


Yes
.” And Myrddin had been wrong, so wrong, because this,
this
was a kiss. The eager softness of the mouth pressed against his lips, the heat of his tongue—the way his hands clutched, bruising, at Myrddin’s hips, slid up his back and dragged him down against warm, naked skin.

“Do you want to know all the words I learned, love? All of them?”


Mmm…
I—”

“You gave me lips…and mouth…and tongue.” Kas kissed him once, hard, then slipped his mouth along the line of Myrddin’s jaw. “Now I have throat…and teeth.” He nipped once, sharply, then fastened his mouth to Myrddin’s collarbone and sucked heat to the surface, then paused. “You do not taste like strawberries now, love.”

“No? I—haven’t been rolling around in them, have I?
Ah…

Kas nipped at his throat again. “You taste better than strawberries. You taste…like
everything
.” He pulled Myrddin up his body with one sharp jerk, leaned up and dragged his tongue over a nipple. “When will it be too much for you again? When will you let me kill you?
I love to kill you, love
.”

Myrddin laughed breathlessly, couldn’t bring himself to admit that he was wanting the same thing. Dangerous—
dangerous
, but he couldn’t decide if telling the truth would be worse than the desire itself, and so he said nothing, kissed Kas again instead of daring words.

He rocked back against the heat of Kas’ erection prodding at him, groaned against his mouth. He remembered too well how good it was to have Kas inside him, take him, and his own cock slid slickly against Kas’ body. He groaned again when Kas reached down and grasped his buttocks, squeezed tight, rocked against him, the head of his cock prodding, pressing.

“Kas,
Kas
, you can’t just—”


I know
.”

But he didn’t stop rocking, slowly, the tip of his cock wet and almost,
almost
— Myrddin had to stop himself from sinking back, from just
taking
it, even though he knew it would be too much. Then he heard Kas laughing at him, felt a finger circling, pressing in and in, one long finger that stopped at the knuckle. “Kas, please, more—”

“No.”

“Kas!”

“You do not get to say
more
until you want all of me. Are you ready for that, love? I do not think you are.”


No…
no…but I want it. I want you.”

“I know you do.” Kas sank his finger deeper, withdrew it slowly, again and again, until Myrddin couldn’t keep from lifting his hips back against the penetration, until he braced himself on the bed with both hands and bent over Kas’ mouth, kissed him again and again, urgent with desire.

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