She smiled, no doubt in the knowledge of what the simple pleasure of seeing her disrobe did to him. Her movements had ceased to be tentative weeks ago, and the woman left was nothing but sensuous and bold. That, as much as her body, had him aching long before he took her every night she came to him.
Disrobed and with her black hair cascading around her hips in silken waves, she reached her hands out to him in invitation. Regana was one of a kind, a rare jewel. She looked and acted like no other woman he’d met. Some of the villagers considered her a bad omen, but Jörg could see nothing bad about her.
Jörg groaned in anticipation as he took her mouth fiercely and drew a hand from her hip up to capture the full swell of her breast. “All I can think about when you’re not with me is this,” he breathed as he swept her down onto the furs with him and covered her with his body.
“I’ve noticed,” she teased, running her hand over the bruise on his shoulder. “Gawen will not be kind if you let your attention wander again.”
“Neither will Sibold, but enough of them. I want you.”
“Good,” she purred, moving against him purposefully.
“Tell me,” he requested.
“I am yours, Jörg.”
“You will marry me when the battle is over?”
“As soon as it is allowed. You are permitted your choice then, and Gawen must agree. He will be so intent on Bavin, he won’t care about anything else.” She smiled widely. “Besides, we have a blood oath,” she reminded him.
Jörg chuckled. “All that time, you complained that I tricked you to it, and now you throw it back at me,” he mused.
“You did, but maybe I wanted to be tricked.”
She was suddenly very subdued.
Jörg tried to meet her eyes. “Regana?”
She smiled weakly. “I only fear that the others will learn about us. If they do, Gawen will kill you. You know he will.”
Jörg sighed raggedly. “If I don’t have you, I die anyway.”
knew that was true. Jörg had fought off the fire in his blood for
months before he gave in. Sibold had warned them about this part of the
curse. With the speed, increased healing, reaction time, and
Blutjagd—the thirst for the fight—came the sexual burn, the urge to
choose a mate.
Sibold had decreed that none could make that choice until after the battle, to maximize their Blutjagd in battle he was sure, but Jörg couldn’t wait. The want had burned at him until he’d felt he was going insane. He’d felt himself printing and had been powerless to stop it. After that, Jörg had been tortured until he’d consummated the union with Regana. Other women had ceased to be a comfort long before that time, though he still occasionally performed with one to this day—with Regana’s blessing—so that no one would get suspicious.
It surprised him that she’d accepted him so readily. In retrospect, Jörg wondered if the Fluch—the curse—had helped in that respect somehow. Regana, though not the meek flower many in the village painted her, was still proper and fine, having left her tree climbing and hunting days far behind. Still she’d reacted to his first, admittedly skirting the edges of brutal, advances so readily that he’d rationalized later that the Fluch could only be to blame for her response somehow. He’d rationalized that much later—after she’d succumbed to him, after Jörg had taken her several times without even the benefit of shelter, after she’d started coming to his chamber to meet him, once his mind had formed a truce with the fire that consumed him any night Regana did not come to lie with him.
As he moved his hands over her, drawing her into a need that would have her ready for his invasion in mere moments, Jörg considered his situation. He had given up his life the first time he’d touched her, with that first demanding kiss that he stole from her beneath their tree that had rolled over into his first possession of her with hardly a breath between.
To this day, Jörg was not entirely sure what happened in those fevered moments between meeting her eyes and taking her on the cool grass, but once embarked upon, it was a course he could never turn from. Some part of him wasn’t sure, even now, that Regana had admitted her willingness to the course, but she had been willing. He knew that much, and the knowledge had saved his soul and his life.
In that pivotal moment, Jörg had broken the rules of training. Until he earned his seal and was granted his autonomy, he was at Sibold’s whim, and Sibold would not be sparing in his death if he learned of this trespass.
Worse, he’d taken...and continued to take Regana, a Schwertträger woman. Her father was dead, but even were he not, by virtue of Gawen’s place as first-cursed and having completed his training, he was lord of the house. By all rights, Jörg’s life was forfeit to Gawen alone if they were caught. Blutjagd upon him, Gawen would demand Jörg’s life when he could show mercy and be content with a beating for the trespass.
Even if Gawen did show mercy, Sibold would not. If they were caught, Jörg would die by someone’s hand within the hour.
moaned beneath him and arched to his caresses. His blood screamed for
release, and he moved to take her, shuddering in pleasure as he thrust
into her. Jörg took her fast and hard.
He argued with himself often that he’d like to take her slowly, but in the heat of the moment, he had no control. A part of him feared that he never would know such control with Regana, even when they gained the leisure of time for such pursuits. It was probably a good thing that she reveled in this type of passion.
It would be over soon, the midnight meeting and hiding. The battle was less than a week off. Once they returned victorious, he could claim her openly, properly. His duty completed, Jörg would reap his reward. He would have his wife and children. He would live a life of ease, until duty called him again.
Jörg roared out his release to the empty house around them, too empty since his mother had died, wrapping himself protectively around her. Anything for Regana! He would go into battle and face the gates of hell itself for her—and he might. They were outnumbered more than ten to one, but the Fluch allowed them the ability to defeat many more than that.
“More than human,” he could hear Sibold quote in his mind.
shuddered at the thought. Faster and stronger, yes. But in many ways,
the Warriors were less than human now. They were vicious, predatory,
territorial, rutting animals that were only stable killing or training
to do so and lying with a woman. Regana was his salvation and his life.
He held her close to him as long as she would allow and groaned in pleasure as she kissed his blood mark tenderly. Finally, she planted a kiss on his cheek and rose to collect her dress. She donned it quickly and pulled on her cloak against the chill of the night. As always, it was Regana who saw the truth that she must leave before they were discovered together. Left to Jörg, they would have been found in each other’s arms at daybreak long ago.
“I live for the night you don’t have to leave,” he told her yet again. It was an old refrain, but no less true. The idea of having her in his bed all night... To have her again and again in a night was his idea of paradise.
Regana smiled patiently. “Then make your choice of me as soon as the battle ends,” she teased. “Tell them you’ve printed so far that you cannot wait for the ceremony. By the while, I must go before Gawen finds me gone.”
“Take care, Geliebte,” he called after her as she left. Jörg smiled at the small endearment.
Regana had always been his beloved. She would always be his only beloved.
Jörg sighed as the door closed behind her. He stretched out on the furs and drank in the heat of the fire. It didn’t warm him as much as Regana did, but until she was in his arms again, it would be his only comfort.
Something intruded on his senses, and he furrowed his brow. Jörg couldn’t identify it readily, save its obvious malice, and he sat up, grasping for his weapons.
The blow to his head sent him sprawling over the drawn blade, and he vaguely felt it cut into his arm as he landed unceremoniously on the furs. A shadowy figure crossed the blurry brightness of the fire; then the darkness took him.