Lord of the Hunt(59)
Author:Shona Husk


    A better question was would the changeling like him after their first inauspicious meeting? Would he rub it in Verden’s face that he was now a Grey? But he kept his doubts to himself. He’d made the deal and now he had to live with it.

    “Did you know that’s where my parents used to be Brownies?”

    He blinked and looked down at her. Used to be. “You got the pardon? Well done.” He tried not to think about what she’d given up to get them home, even though the question was on the tip of his tongue.

    She must have seen something in his eyes because she grinned. “It’s all okay. I won the King’s bet. My father got the pardon, but…Felan asked that I take their place after the power shift.”

    Her words settled around him as he worked out what she was saying. They would be in the same house. Taryn was going to be released from Court. He picked her up and swung her around as if they were dancing again at Court. When her toes touched the ground, he kissed her again. “I hope that means what I think it means.”

    She nodded. “We will be together.”

    Was this some kind of trap he was failing to see the whole of? His mind raced with possibilities, but he found nothing.

    “And the King? The fallout from the hunt?” By rights, the King should own her after winning the hunt. Verden shouldn’t be touching her and yet he couldn’t let her go.

    She didn’t answer; she just looked at him with a faint smile on her lips.

    What was he missing? “What is it? Just say it.”

    “I am the Hunter. That is all that he asked.”

    “But you are stuck at Court.” He covered her hand with his and rested his cheek against her hair. She smelled like flowers, sweet and tempting. “While I will be stuck in Charleston.” And a Grey.

    She turned her head and brushed her lips against his. “But I can come and see you whenever I want. In fact, there is no rule that the Hunter must live at Court…” Her suggestion hung in the air like a tempting promise. It was almost too good. Too easy.

    He drew in a breath. “You plan to live in the mortal world while being Hunter?”

    She nodded. “Since my main job will be monitoring fairies in the mortal world, I can see no better place to be based.”

    He kissed her again. His tongue tasted her lips before she opened her mouth to him. Her body melted against him, and for a moment he felt like the luckiest fairy on either side of the veil. “I love you.”

    “I love you too.” She rested her head on his chest.

    In just two weeks, he would be free from Court and obligated to stay in the mortal world. And Taryn would be there with him.

    That was all that mattered. Not status or deals. The one thing he could never have at Court was the only thing he wanted. Love.

    She stepped back and pulled a set of silver handcuffs from her belt. “Ready?”

    He eyed the enchanted silver cuffs, well aware of what they were. She was actually going to transport him like a common prisoner. Like a Grey. “That isn’t necessary.”

    “You have transported Greys before.”

    “Yes, but…” But nothing. Without the silver cuffs, he wouldn’t be allowed into Annwyn. He wouldn’t be able cross the veil. Once there, they would start burning him. He’d had one Grey run away only to come back screaming for them to be removed. And the only person who could remove them was the Hunter.

    Verden held his hands out as Taryn placed the silver cuffs around his wrists. A thread of heat raced through his body as he remembered the last time she’d pinned his hands in the grass. She ran her finger around the edge of the cuff and then up his arm. A faint smile curved her lips. Was she thinking the same thing?

    He lifted his hands and touched her cheek. “You know we could kill some time.” He smiled and gave the cuffs a rattle.

    That made her laugh. It was the way he remembered, like bells ringing through the still night air. She didn’t care that he was a Grey and had no status at Court. She was here because of him. He looped his arms over her head and pulled her into an embrace that was more than a little awkward because of the cuffs. He pulled her close, so she could feel him hard against her belly.

    Her lips brushed against his. “Not here. We’ll celebrate at the changeling’s house.”

    He grinned and released her. “Lead the way, Hunter. I am yours to command.”





    Chapter 24




    The cabin on the edge of the Charleston property was only habitable because she’d used some magic on it. Verden couldn’t go into the house because it was protected from Greys by a magical silver tea set. Not that it mattered. Living out here was fine for now. It was theirs, even if was just some blankets on the floor at the moment.

    She moved closer to Verden, not wanting to get up yet but knowing she needed to run some errands for Felan and make an appearance at Court. Verden looped his arm over her, his wrist still marked from the enchanted cuff.

    “What are you thinking about?” His fingers trailed over her stomach.

    “Nothing.”

    “Liar. I knew you were smiling.” He gave her belly a tickle.

    Taryn rolled over to face him. “I’m smiling because we are here, together.” Something which had almost seemed impossible only days ago.

    He traced her cheek with the back of his hand. “Whatever happens, we’ll survive.”

    She nodded, then leaned over and kissed him. “I have to get moving.”

    “I’m sure a few more minutes won’t matter.” He rolled onto his back and drew her to him, the length of his shaft pressing against her, tempting her to delay doing her job.

    “Yeah?” She sat up so she straddled him, heat already simmering in her blood.

    “I need you more than Annwyn does.” He placed his hands on her hips, positioning her directly over his shaft.

    She laughed. “That may be true, but I still have a job to do, and so do you.”

    “By the time you get back, this place will have a bed and curtains.”

    “Is that right?” Having an actual bed would be nice.

    Verden had taken on the job of fixing up all three cabins to give him something to do. She knew that not using magic was bugging him. While he wasn’t complaining, he was being very strict with himself and conserving all power that he had—few Greys did that. He and the changeling, Caspian, were getting on. Caspian had been wary at first but had come around fast when Taryn had explained the situation and Verden’s new status as Grey and guardian. Her parents had returned to Annwyn in preparation…and she’d let Caspian know that he’d get a new Brownie after the power shift. She was sure he understood what she wasn’t saying but was smart enough to say nothing.

    “It’s all arranged. While you run around for Annwyn, I’m remembering what manual labor feels like.” He ran his roughened palms over her thighs so his fingers brushed the lips of her sex.

    A few more minutes with Verden wouldn’t matter. Then she’d go. She leaned down to kiss him, taking her time, knowing that days here were a fraction of the time in Annwyn. Annwyn could wait, but she couldn’t.

    Verden smiled, knowing he’d won. They both had.

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