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Through Paths Where Wolves Fear to Prey

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Bryce Quinlan was lying out on her apartment building’s roof, basking in the sun. The weather had finally warmed up to the point where the sun was actually hot and she had an afternoon off for once, so she was going to take full advantage of those two factors to work on her tan. It had been far too long since she had a few hours all to herself, and it was glorious

It’s not that she minded spending almost all her free time with Hunt at the Comitium, it’s just that between her actual work for Jesiba and the extracurricular work she was doing with Hunt and Isaiah trying to get the city back in working order, she was exhausted. It seemed like she was constantly on the run and barely had time to rest. 

Or to hang out with Hunt outside of the Comitium. He was spending so much time there he had taken to sleeping in his old room in the barracks some nights. She didn’t begrudge him the time he spent away from her and she completely respected his dedication to both Lunathion and Isaiah, but…

Well, to be completely honest, they still hadn’t done it yet and that was beginning to bother her. Not that she was really complaining, nor was Hunt the only one at fault. It’s just the timing never seemed to be right for them. She was either running errands for Jesiba to help her set up the new library (which required a lot of subterfuge), training her new powers with Ruhn, or at the Comitium. When she and Hunt both managed to be home and awake at the same time, they were both so exhausted all they could do was cuddle as they fell asleep. And sometimes, they didn’t even manage to do that, passing out before the other one even climbed into bed. 

She sighed as she turned up the music on her headphones and flipped over to tan her back side. She set a timer on her phone for when she would need to go back inside to walk Syrinx. The poor pup was able to survive on his own just fine - Hunt had explained his powers to her - but she still felt guilty leaving him alone for long periods of time. She had done it enough these past few weeks. And as Hunt was supposed to stay at the barracks tonight, she’d be the only one around to keep him company. 

An image of Hunt playing with the chimera came into her mind and she smiled as she unwittingly drifted off to sleep, the warm sun and relaxing music letting her fall into unconsciousness. 

Hunt Athalar smiled as he landed on the sidewalk in front of his apartment building, a bag of groceries in each hand. He was supposed to be working late at the Comitium tonight, but Sabine actually played nice for once and he was able to finish up sooner than expected. Even more surprising was that Isaiah took pity on him and let him go without assigning him the next task on the seemingly never-ending To Do list. The acting-Governor’s kindness allowed him to be home before sunset and that was glorious. He had stopped by the market on the way back and grabbed some ingredients, intent on cooking Bryce dinner for the first time in a while. The sun also seemed to revitalize him, giving him a new sense of energy that had been drained from him by sitting in endless conference rooms and meetings. 

No wonder Micah had gone mad. 

He decided to forgo his usual roof entrance because he wanted to surprise Bryce by coming home early. He hoped she’d be as excited to see him as he was to see her. They hadn’t really had more than a few minutes with each other in the mornings. He still managed to cook her breakfast - girl has to eat to keep up her energy - but aside from that, they hadn’t really been able to connect. Not in the way he’d been wanting to do ever since that night on the couch. He’d tasted her; now he wanted to devour her. 

But there was time for that later. He didn’t want to go any faster than she wanted to, and he knew her new powers were draining her energy faster than she wanted to admit, even having made the Drop. He would be just as content to curl up with her on the couch and watch some shitty reality TV. Just as long as she was next to him, that was all that mattered. 

When he got to the apartment, however, she was nowhere to be found. Syrinx was still in his cage and her room was empty. He saw her heels discarded by her closet and her dress from work draped over a chair, so she had been home at some point. Where had she gone? 

He checked his phone to see if she had messaged him, but nothing. Furrowing his brow, he put away the groceries as he called her. The phone rang until it went to audiomail. Narrowing his eyes in suspicion he tried her number once more. When she still didn’t answer, he scrolled through the contacts on his phone, wondering if, by some off chance…

Yep, there they were, just as he thought they’d be. He didn’t begrudge her for doing so - especially now - but she really should tell him when she adds something to his phone. 

He sent a separate message to both Juniper and Fury, wondering if they had heard from their best friend. When both of them told him no and then immediately asked if something was wrong, he told them she had turned her phone to silent while she showered but he was able to get a hold of her.  

No need to worry them - yet. 

He debated for another moment. He called her phone again, but again it went to audiomail. He began pacing around the apartment, taking deep breaths to try and calm his nerves and master his anxiety. She was going to be fine, she was more than capable of taking care of herself, she proved that during the Summit. Plus she had all those new powers to protect herself with. 

...yet it was the very existence of those powers that made him fear for her now. 

He took a deliberate inhale, trying to scent if there had been anybody else in the apartment or if Bryce had been afraid the last time she was there. But all he smelled was her - nutmeg and vanilla and...was that coconut? 

He ran his hand through his hair as his frustration built and the debate still raged in his head. Finally giving in to his fear - just a bit - he dialed Danaan. 

“Athalar? What’s up?” the prince asked. 

“You heard from Bryce recently?” Hunt asked, trying to keep his voice steady so the other man wouldn’t worry. 

“No,” he said. “Is something wrong?” he asked immediately. 

“She was supposed to be home and she’s not. I tried calling her phone-” 

“I’ll be right there,” Danaan interrupted him. 

“No, it’ll be fine. Lemme check a few places first. I shouldn’t have bothered you. I’m sorry,” he said. 

“Hunt,” the prince interrupted him. “You wouldn’t have called if you didn’t think something was wrong. I trust your instincts.” 

“Yeah,” he said on an exhale. “I just...lemme just give her a few more minutes. If I don’t hear from her in the next 5, I’ll call you.” 

“Okay. I’m gonna check on the Autumn King.” 

“You don’t think-” 

“I don’t know. Talk to you soon,” the other man said. Hunt agreed, hanging up. 

He paced around the apartment for a few more moments, before deciding to stop by the library’s new location. Maybe Jesiba called her back to work for some reason. 

He climbed the steps to the roof and opened the door, stopping in his tracks when he beheld what was there. 

Bryce woke with a start as a hand insistently shook her shoulder. She turned quickly, reflexes alert, before relaxing as she saw Hunt’s face above her. She smiled at him, pulling out her headphones. 

“Hey!” she said brightly. “This is a surprise! Did you just get home?” She stretched as she sat up, rolling out her neck and shoulders. 

“Bryce.” Hunt was looking at her with a wary eye. 

She furrowed her brow. “What is it? What’s wrong?” She took a sip from the water bottle she sat next to her towel. 

Her boyfriend just scrubbed a hand over his face. “Where’s your phone?” he asked, instead of answering her question. 

“Right here,” she said, indicating the device next to where her water bottle had been. Curious, she grabbed it and checked to see if she had any messages and started when she saw three missed calls from him, one from her brother, and a message from June asking her if she was okay. 

“What-” she began, but didn’t get a chance to finish as Hunt swept her up in a big hug, wrapping his arms and wings around her tightly. 

“I’m sorry,” he murmured into her hair. “I know it was very alphahole-ish of me, but I didn’t know where you were and I-” 

“It’s fine,” she assured him, running her hands along his back. “I’m fine. I’m sorry, I fell asleep.” She pulled back at him and narrowed her eyes, scanning his face. 

“Wait, what do you mean you didn’t know where I was? I was here on the roof. Shouldn’t you have seen me when you landed?” 

And something she never thought she’d see in her whole immortal life happened - Hunt Athalar blushed. “I...I got home early and wanted to surprise you. So I came in the front because it makes more of an entrance.” 

Bryce couldn’t help it - she laughed. “I’m sorry!” she said, as he let her go and turned from her to hide his embarrassment. “I’m sorry,” she said again, catching her breath. “It’s not funny, it’s not. It’s sweet. I just, I never thought -” she was cut off from her explanation by her phone ringing. 

It was Ruhn. 

“Hey,” she said, trying to catch her breath from her laughter. 

“Are you okay?” her brother demanded. “Why are you out of breath? Do you need help?” 

“Shit,” Hunt said, grimacing as he heard her brother on the other end of the conversation. She looked at him. 

“I told him I’d call him in a few minutes. It’s...been more than a few minutes.” He gave her an apologetic half smile. 

She rolled her eyes. Of course he called her brother. That’s probably what June’s message was about, too. 

“I’m fine,” she said into the phone. “I don’t need help. I’m out of breath cause I’m laughing at the situation cause Hunt was being a dumbass. It’s fine,” she assured him. Then, because she knew it would mean something to him, “Thanks for checking.” 

Her brother let out a sigh. “Tell Athalar that next time, he needs to actually call me when he says he will.” 

“He says he’s sorry,” she said. 

“Yeah, yeah.” She heard Ruhn call to someone in the room with him, “False alarm, she’s fine. Yeah you can stand down. Sorry. Have Athalar buy you a drink next time you see him.” 

“You told the guys?” she asked, rolling her eyes. 

“Of course I did,” he said. He paused, as if weighing telling her something. In the end, he went with the same cryptic conversation that they’d begun using out in the open. “It’s getting closer. Just - watch out.” 

“I will,” she said. “And - hey. I meant what I said. Thanks.” 

“And I meant what I told you a few weeks ago,” her brother reminded her. “Anytime.” 

She couldn’t help but smile as she hung up the phone. She shot off a quick message to June, assuring her friend she was fine and asking for a call the next time she got a chance, before turning to face her overprotective boyfriend again.


“Mm?” he asked. He was staring at her and a crease of worry still existed between his brows. 

“I’m fine.”

He let out a slow controlled breath, before closing the distance between them again. He pressed his forehead against hers and breathed her in, seemingly settling as he did so. He wrapped his wings around her again and she let their warmth seep into her skin. It was getting chilly up here now that the sun was going down. 

“So that’s what the coconut smell was,” he murmured onto her skin. 

“Yeah sunscreen. It’s a habit,” she said, smiling sheepishly. “I’m still not used to my new state of being yet.” 

Hunt grinned as he sniffed her again. “I like it.” He took a step back from her and surveyed her bikini. “In fact, I like all of it.” 

She smiled at him as she bent over to pick up her towel and water bottle. 

“Can we go inside now? I’m hungry.” 

“Sure,” he said, a glint in his eye. “After you.” She rolled her eyes at him as she headed down the stairs in front of him, sure that his eyes were on her ass the entire time he followed her. 

Hunt had almost sagged with relief when he saw Bryce, whole and unharmed. He also could have kicked himself for not landing on the roof like he normally did. If he’d have done that, they wouldn’t have been in this fucking mess in the first place. The whole situation would have been hilarious if it wasn’t so fucking terrifying. He knew Bryce was more than capable of taking care of herself, but still…

Bryce was the first person he’d loved since Shahar - loved more than Shahar - and if something happened to her...he wasn’t sure he could survive that again. 

He knew he couldn’t.

He was overcome with the sudden need to pull her close to him again, but knew she would balk at it. It was just his adrenaline coming down. He was fine, she was fine - she was more than fine, as she flaunted her fit figure in that itty bitty bathing suit - it was all going to be okay. 

He just wished there wasn’t a need for him to be worried when she wasn’t home or answering her phone. She knew his fear had merit; it’s why she didn’t call him out on his behavior. With her new power, she was a threat to so many...they were bound to come around sooner or later. And he’d be ready for them. 

Unless the Asteri held them off. He didn’t even want to think about what that meant. 

Not yet anyway. Not when it was still so new. 

Bryce waved him off as she went to her bathroom to shower off the sweat and sunscreen and change. He headed into the kitchen to cook them some food. It had been too long since he was able to cook dinner for her - he wasn’t home enough. He was going to enjoy making her one of his mom’s favorite dishes tonight - pasta with ground beef, green peppers, onions, and spices in a tomato sauce. 

He began the preparation, chopping the peppers and onions and dicing the garlic as he sautéed the beef. The rhythm of cooking soothed him, and the knife moved seamlessly in his hand, the movement much too practiced for his liking. But if he could translate his skills with a blade to the kitchen, maybe his whole life hadn’t been a waste after all. 

He drained the beef fat from the cooking meat into another frying pan and used it to sweat the onions, adding the garlic and peppers at the right time. He breathed in the scent, the smells of this particular food combination a specific comfort to him, as it reminded him of the only person who had truly cared about him in the world. Well, before Bryce, that is. 

When the veggies were almost cooked to his satisfaction, he added them and the fresh tomato sauce he bought from the market to the beef, allowing the whole mixture to coalesce into one flavor profile. He added some basil, oregano, salt, and pepper to the sauce as well. 

As he let that simmer, he turned his attention to the salad. He had bought a bag of pre-packaged arugula - he rarely had a desire to deal with lettuce - but set to chopping the remaining peppers, cucumbers, and mushrooms. He got a large bowl out of the cupboard, throwing what he had cut so far on top of the arugula he had dumped into it. He grated some carrots then sprinkled the top with some cherry tomatoes and feta cheese. He grabbed the blueberry vinaigrette he purchased out of the fridge as well, setting it next to the salad bowl. 

Finally, he took the loaf of bread he bought and cut it down the middle, splitting it in two longways. He brushed some melted butter and olive oil on it before spreading crushed cloves of garlic and adding some parsley flakes. He prepped the oven and wrapped the bread in foil before popping it in to warm up. 

When he heard the shower stop, he put the pot of water on the stove to boil for the pasta. Just as it reached the point where he could add the noodles, he heard her padding down the hallway. The smells from the kitchen permeated his senses, but he still could scent her - that nutmeg and vanilla scent now coupled with orange blossom and jasmine. Her scent mixed in with the smells of the cooking food to form one sort of super scent that settled within him. As he inhaled the joined scents, one word kept rattling around in his brain - home

Bryce came into the kitchen dressed in one of Hunt’s sunball t-shirts and a pair of black leggings. Hunt was busy at the stove, so she moved to the cabinets to set the places. 

“Mm, that smells amazing,” she told him. “Whatcha making?” 

Hunt didn’t answer and, when she looked over to him, she noticed that his back had stiffened. 

“Hunt? You okay?” she asked. 

He seemed to exhale a breath that he was holding before lifting the lid off the sauté pan and stirring something. 

“Yeah, I’m fine.” He turned to her and smiled. “I was just concentrating, sorry. Don’t want it to overcook.” 

She was sure there was something he wasn’t telling her, but she decided to let it slide. After the little scare she just gave him, she was sure there were some lingering anxieties racing through his mind. She hoped she’d be able to reassure him enough to allow him to relax and enjoy this rare night off they had together. 

“Need any help?” she asked, leaning against the island. 

Hunt nodded his head to his left. “I got a bottle of wine. I wasn’t sure…” he trailed off, looking at her. 

She smiled at his thoughtfulness. “I’m good with a glass at a meal. It adds to the experience, it isn’t the experience, if that makes sense.” He nodded. “As it stands, I think I might be okay with it now in general,” she said, opening the bottle with a satisfying pop

“Danika…” she trailed off. He turned to her and his face was so open and full of love and understanding that she almost burst into tears. It did give her the resolve to keep going, however. “I’m okay. We talked it through and...I don’t have closure per se, but, I’m getting there. I can’t stop living.’s not my fault she died. If I’d have been there, I just would have died too. It still makes me sad, but...the hole hurts less. No sense not living my life though - not taking advantage of the gift I was given.” 

Hunt stared at her, his face unreadable. 

“Sorry,” she said, turning away from him. “I didn’t mean-” her words were cut off when he grabbed her arm and pulled her toward him, crushing her against his body. He brought his mouth down to hers in a searing kiss that left her breathless. He cupped her cheeks with both his hands, thumbs stroking down her jawline. 

“Don’t ever be sorry for expressing your feelings. And don’t ever be sorry for wanting to live,” he told her, pressing his forehead against hers. 

She grasped his wrists with her hands as she closed her eyes and took a few deep, steadying breaths. She was so, so thankful for him. She wasn’t sure how she could properly express it. 

She pressed herself close to his body to absorb his strength and felt something poke her leg. She met his eyes then, raising an eyebrow in silent question, as thoughts entered her head of finally, finally finishing what they had started all those weeks ago. She flushed as the memories came rushing to her, and she shifted against him slightly. 

He planted a kiss on her nose and smiled at her, a knowing glint in his eye that told her he was well-aware of the new thoughts that had entered her mind. 

“Soon,” he murmured against her hair as he placed a kiss on her head. “Soon.”

She nodded as she took a step back from him. “I wouldn’t want all this effort to go to waste,” she said, gesturing to the pots on the stove. He smiled as he headed back to the boiling one. He pulled out a piece of the pasta and tasted it. 

“Perfect,” he said, taking it off the heat and draining it, before dishing some out on each of their plates. He did the same thing with the sauce, and then grabbed something that was wrapped in foil out of the oven. Upon opening it, Bryce discovered he had made garlic bread. She took in a big whiff of the food - it smelled divine. 

“This is amazing,” she told him, as she served herself some salad. “You cooked all of this while I was in the shower?” 

He shrugged somewhat sheepishly as he poured the wine, a red blend that had a spicy bouquet. “It actually doesn’t take me too long. I can make this meal from memory, and the chopping isn’t difficult. I’m pretty good with a knife,” he said, offering her a sly smile. 

She laughed at that. “You are. Sword work I’m comfortable with, but I never got intense training in knife work. Do you think you could teach me?” she asked. 

He paused with his fork halfway up to his mouth at her request. He seemed to be thinking about something as he set the utensil back down on his plate. He took a sip of wine. 

“I’m sorry,” she said, mirroring his actions. Damn the wine tasted good. “I didn’t mean-” 

“It’s fine,” he said, resuming eating. They sat in silence for a bit. Bryce knew he was working through something and didn’t want to press him, so she let it stretch on. 

“I...yes,” he said finally, turning to look at her. “I can teach you.” 

She smiled at that, unsure of exactly what breakthrough had just happened, though she knew enough to recognize that one had occurred. 

Not wanting to push any further, she changed the subject. “This seems to be a strange recipe for a soldier to memorize. I’d think you’d want less complicated meals in the field.” 

“I didn’t learn this in the Legion,” he said, offering her a small smile. “This is one of the meals my mom would make for special occasions. Birthdays and holidays and the like. It wasn’t too complicated, but it was more involved than what we usually ate. She knew I was special, knew I’d be taken away from her soon, so she taught it to me. She told me -” he cut himself off and swallowed. “She told me that I should learn to make it, because whenever I did, I’d be home.” 

Bryce’s heart contracted at that, at the pure, unadulterated love Hunt had for his mom. It was so endearing it made her long for him even more. She shifted in her seat, suddenly overcome with a desire to be as close to him as possible. She felt Hunt stiffen next to her as he glanced over to her. 

“Hunt…” she said, biting her lip as she met his eyes. 

“Finish your meal,” he told her quietly. She wanted to protest, but knew he was right. She needed to keep up her energy, especially if they were headed to do what she thought they were going to do. 

She smiled into her glass as she took another sip of wine, not daring to hope too much that she’d finally be able to feel what it was like to have him inside her. 

It took all of Hunt’s considerable control to keep from saying fuck it and just taking her then and there. But he wanted to worship her, she deserved to be worshipped, and that consisted of more than just shoving his cock inside her.

No matter how much he wanted to. 

Thankfully, he was able to concentrate on the meal, and the two of them were able to discuss more mundane things, like work and the most recent sunball game, as they finished eating. As they completed dinner, they both began cleaning up the kitchen, Hunt concentrating on putting the leftover food away (he always made more than enough sauce - it was an easy thing to reheat on those lazy days) while Bryce put the dirty dishes in the washer. 

It was a dance they had, walking by each other, leaving little brushes on various parts of the other’s body. He swept a possessive touch across her lower back, she ran her hand across his lower abdomen. He brushed her arm with a wing and she lightly rubbed her chest against his back. It was absolute torture, but he didn’t mind how much it seemed to be ramping her up. He could smell it on her and it stirred something primal in him that he could elicit that response from her just by simple touches. 

After what felt like an eternity, everything was put away and the kitchen cleaned. Bryce went to turn away from him, but he grabbed her arm and pulled her against him, crushing her breasts to his chest and slanting his mouth over hers. She groaned as his hands caressed down her back and he took full advantage of her open mouth to dart his tongue in, tasting her fully. Her tongue played with his and he beckoned it back into his own mouth. She followed and he closed his lips around it, sucking gently. She squirmed against him and he let go, stepping back from her. 

“I’m sorry,” he said, trying his hardest to keep a serious look on his face. “If you don’t want to…” 

“Fuck you, Athalar,” she said, stepping up close to him again. 

“Actually, I was hoping to fuck you, Quinlan,” he said, with what he knew to be a shit-eating grin spreading across his face. 

Her eyes grew slightly wider at his words, before she mastered her expression and gave him a sly smile. 

“Come and get me,” she said, turning to saunter down the hallway toward her bedroom. She swayed her hips so her ass tantalizingly taunted him in those skintight leggings. His cock twitched as he beheld her curves, and he let her walk away from him so he could appreciate the view. 

When she reached her bedroom, she grasped the doorframe and threw her head over her shoulder while arching her back and wriggling her hips slightly. “You just gonna stand there?” she asked, raising an eyebrow. 

“Fuck no,” he said, closing the distance between them in just a few steps. He ran into her back, grasping her hips as he dug his erection into her backside. She groaned as she felt him and leaned back, pressing against his body. 

He bent down and kissed her neck, running his nose along the tract of skin behind her ear, breathing her in. He’d never get tired of that scent, not as long as he lived. He placed light kisses along her neck, Bryce tilting her head to the side to give him better access. He pulled her against him more firmly as he bit down slightly on the spot where her neck met her shoulder. He then lifted her up in his arms, cradling her back and legs. 

“I can walk,” she said, giggling and throwing her arms around his neck. 

“You’re a princess,” he said by way of explanation. When she opened her mouth to object, he plowed on. “Even if you don’t agree, even if the Autumn King doesn’t agree, you’re my princess. Let me treat you as such.” 

She seemed to consider for a moment, then relented. Shocked that she hadn’t put up more of a fight about it, he kissed her again as he carried her to the bed. 

Gods, she tasted amazing, a heady mixture of garlic, tomatoes, cherry, and nutmeg. She was intoxicating. 

He kissed her slowly, gently moving his mouth against hers as he laid her down in the middle of her bed. He moved away from her to remove his t-shirt, quickly pulling it over his head, before he climbed onto the bed himself, straddling her hips. He sat back on his heels and just looked at her, this beautiful red-headed creature before him. 

He bent down toward her, bracing his arms on either side of her head as he pressed his forehead to hers and ran his nose along her own. He placed a kiss on her forehead, before moving down to her temple, gently kissing that sensitive spot. He continued kissing down along her jaw, nuzzling her along the way. He then moved along the column of her throat, kissing her fluttering pulse point before latching his teeth on it, lightly biting down on her again. 

She groaned when she felt him nip her. 

“You like that?” he asked her, voice husky with need. 

“Yeah,” she said, opening her eyes to meet his own. Her amber eyes were glazed slightly, but this time it was due to desire, not lightseeker. He kissed her again as he ran his right hand down her side, over her t-shirt. He felt her ribs and the taut muscle of her stomach before he traced his fingers along the hem of her leggings. He turned north again, even as she squirmed under him, this time slipping his hand under her shirt. He ran his hand up her abs, marveling at how such an unassuming figure could hold so much power - and he wasn’t talking about the magical kind. It made his heart swell with pride when he knew she could probably be a formidable opponent in a hand-to-hand spar. 

His thumb traced upward and he hummed his approval against her lips as he felt she wasn’t wearing a bra. He skimmed the digit against the underside of her right breast, taken in with just how soft it was. He cupped the heavy mound, loving how it seemed to fit his hand perfectly. She moaned against his mouth, his tongue still slowly working against her own, and she arched against him, begging with her body for more contact. 

“Not yet, sweetheart,” he said, chuckling. 

He ran his thumb along the underside of her breast again, before skimming it over her abs once more and withdrawing it from underneath her shirt. She whimpered at the lost contact, but she didn’t have to wait long. He shifted his weight from his left arm to his right, bracing that hand near her hair, before repeating the whole process again for the other side, starting with the kiss on her brow. It was agonizingly slow and torturous, but he could sense just how much he was ramping up her need for him, and it was going to be worth it. 

Like he promised her - he was going to make her forget her own name. 

After he tested out her left breast, he broke off the kiss and sat back on his heels. She looked up at him with half-lidded eyes, and it made his cock twitch to see her so lush under him. He ran his hands up over her hips, settling them under the hem of her - well, his - t-shirt. God she was fucking sexy. 

He grasped the material and slowly began pushing it up, exposing her skin to his eyes. He’d seen her naked a few times, but he still hadn't gotten used to the fact that this perfect specimen could exist, let alone love him. It was overwhelming sometimes. 

As he continued lifting up her shirt, her breaths began to get more and more shallow. 

“You okay?” he asked, slowing his progression to a glacial speed in case she wanted to stop. 

“Yeah I’m fine,” she said, locking eyes with him. He could see so much emotion playing in those amber eyes, so much love and compassion and understanding that this time was going to be different - and the physical connection was only part of what was changing. 

He finally got her shirt high enough that her underboobs were exposed. The beautiful, perfect mounds beckoned him to touch, to taste. It took all of his willpower to keep his hands and mouth where they were. He then revealed enough of her chest that the dark pink of her nipples came into view, and he almost drooled. Gods, how he wanted to taste them - badly. But no. He was strong enough to wait. 

Hunt lifted her shirt until it couldn’t go any higher. He ran his hands down the outsides of her breasts and over her ribcage, before sliding them under her back and lifting her up. He brought her close to his chest and she wrapped her arms around him as she kissed him, devouring his mouth with her lips and tongue. He answered in kind as he drew her shirt the rest of the way up, tugging it enough that she knew what he wanted and raised her arms above her head so he could get rid of the item. His large hands splayed across her back, tracing soft lines down her spine. 

She had her arms around his neck again and squeezed him tighter when he settled his arms around her ribcage and rubbed his thumbs along the sides of her breasts. 

“Hunt…” she moaned into his mouth. 

Chuckling at how impatient she was already, he laid her gently back down on the bed, kissing her the whole time. As she became horizontal once again, he broke away from her mouth and nipped along her jawline and down the column of her throat. As he did so, he cupped her breasts with both hands, weighing them in his palms, memorizing them with his touch. He wanted to remember how they felt at this moment for the rest of his life. 

As he suckled the place where her neck met her shoulder, he finally allowed himself to swipe a thumb over a nipple. He did them one at a time - first her right, and then her left. She arched up against him when he did so, letting out a wanton moan that almost made him come then and there. 

“Fuck, Hunt,” she said. He leaned back but kept his hands on her chest. He watched her face as he ran his thumbs over her peaks again, marveling at how hard her nipples had gotten already - and how perfectly kissable they looked. Bryce’s eyes were closed and she seemed to be enjoying his touch as much as he was enjoying touching her. 

“Not yet, sweetheart,” he told her again. He smiled to himself as he realized that might be the mantra of this whole evening. He didn’t mind though. He knew all this buildup was worth it - that the tension would pay off in the end. The first time with someone only happened once, after all. And he had vowed to make it as memorable an experience as possible. 

Bryce was going to explode. If Hunt didn’t touch her harder, if he didn’t do something with that presumably glorious dick of his, if he didn’t - 

She arched off the bed as his tongue flicked her left nipple. Holy fuck. She whimpered at the fleeting nature of the touch. 

“Did I do something you like?” he asked. Bastard. 

“Yes,” she breathed, already finding it hard to form words. He really was going to make her forget her name. 

Thankfully, he did it again, briefly running his tongue over her left nipple, then her right. He kept doing that, over and over, alternating from one breast to the other. He was tasting her nipples slightly longer each time, until he finally gave her what she wanted and sucked her right one into his mouth. She groaned and squirmed under him, arching into his warm mouth. As she did so, his left hand snaked under her, holding her up off the bed, presumably giving him easier access to her breasts. 

Meanwhile, his right hand worked its way over to her left breast, palming it before running his thumb over her nipple. He then pinched it with his thumb and forefinger as he bit down on her right one. Both hand and mouth stretched her skin as far as it would go and she let out a loud groan at just how wonderful that felt. 

“My gods, Hunt, that feels…” she trailed off as his hand and mouth pulled at her again, driving a direct bolt of pleasure straight to her core. 

“Yeah?” he asked, slightly breathless and he switched sides, now holding her up with his right hand and kissing her left breast as he fondled the right. 

“Fucking amazing,” she finished as he sucked her left nipple into his mouth once more. Oh gods, if this is just what he did to her top half...she couldn’t imagine how she was going to handle the bottom half.  

“I’m glad,” he said, as he went back to worshipping her chest. Gods she never wanted him to stop. 

After what simultaneously felt like an eternity and no time at all, Hunt moved on from her breasts. He laid her back down on the bed - still gentle as ever - before coming back to kiss her again. 

She threw herself into him, pressing her chest against the hard muscles of his own and wrapping her arms around his neck, pulling her to him as much as she could. Her kisses were full of urgent need, frenzied and desperate, but his were still as calm and controlled as ever. She didn’t know how the fuck he could keep his dick in his pants, but he could. She couldn’t help but be impressed. 

He kissed her at a leisurely pace. It was sweet and sensual and full of love, but it was the exact opposite of what she needed at the moment. She broke off the kiss and met his eyes, pleading for more. 

“Alright, sweetheart,” he murmured, running his thumb over her bottom lip. She flicked her tongue out to taste it and his eyes darkened at her actions. Before she could do it again, he dragged it over the center of her body. He started at her chin then continued down the middle of her throat and through the valley of her breasts. He continued on over her torso, before coming to rest at the waistband of her leggings. She squirmed under him again and he slid further down the bed. 

He hooked his thumbs into her pants and pulled them down. She lifted her hips slightly to get the garment over her ass, then watched his expression as he revealed her body further. When the leggings passed her hip bones, she could have sworn she heard his breath catch. He paused his movements and glanced up at her. She gave him a small half smile and a wink.

He swallowed before he spoke. “Really Bryce?” 

“You seemed to like it the last time I didn’t wear any panties. Plus, even the thongs leave underwear lines in these.” 

He rolled his eyes at her but smiled all the same. “You’re a fucking tease.” 

“Says the man who’s taking an eternity to fuck me.” 

His eyes flashed and a feral grin spread across his face. Her mouth went dry at that look as her stomach tightened in anticipation. Was it finally gonna happen? 

He continued removing her leggings at a leisurely pace, seemingly going even slower than he was before. Fucking Hel he could be such an ass when he wanted to. 

The waistband of her pants finally passed her ankles and he tossed them over his shoulder. Still grinning, he ran his hands up the outside of her legs, stroking her muscles with his thumbs. He applied some pressure and massaged her muscles a bit. His hands were strong and it felt good. She hoped getting a massage from him would become a more regular occurrence. 

But not now. Now she unapologetically wanted him between her legs. 

“Hunt,” she said. It came out as half a moan and half a whine. “Please.”  

He chuckled at that, a purely male sound that made her heart rate speed up, just a little. 

“Bryce Quinlan begging,” he said, slowly dragging his hands up her outer thighs. “I’d never thought I’d see the day.” 

Despite everything, she lightly punched him on the arm. “Ass.” 

“I do have rather a good-looking one, don’t I?” he said, smirking. “As do you.” He grabbed the aforementioned part of her body now, kneading his fingers into the round flesh. “Gods I almost forgot how good this feels.” He spent the next few moments giving all his attention to her butt, massaging it, caressing it, even pinching it. 

“You okay if I get a little rough with it?” he asked, slightly breathless. He really did love that part of her anatomy. 

She bit her lip and looked up at him through her lashes. “Yeah,” she said, just as breathlessly. 

He closed his eyes and let out a small groan. “Thank you.” 

She smiled then, her stomach tightening with excitement and anticipation of what he was going to do. 

He dragged his hands over the tops of her thighs and gently pulled them apart, opening her to him. He was still frustratingly overdressed though. 

“Are you gonna do something about that?” she asked, gesturing to his jeans. 

“Not until I’m done with you,” he told her. Oh. 

He ran his fingers lightly up her inner thighs, getting ever closer to where she desperately needed him to be. He slowed down as he neared her apex, then grabbed her legs and settled them against his own thighs as he knelt between them, tilting her hips up a bit. He then took a deep inhale. 

“Fucking Hel, Bryce,” he murmured, meeting her eyes. 

“I told you,” she said, refusing to break eye contact with him, even though a small blush spread across her cheeks. 

“How can you so fucking hot?” 

“It’s a gift,” she quipped. 

“Damn right it is,” he said, as he slowly dipped his finger between her folds. She sighed as she finally had contact, though it wasn’t exactly where she wanted it. He ran his fingers through her damp curls, then explored her folds with his index finger. She shifted as she tried to get him to the right spot, but he held her hip down with his other hand, preventing her movement. 

“Patience, sweetheart,” he said. He leaned toward her and kissed her again, still those slow, languishing ones, as he slipped two fingers inside of her. She was so wet they went in easily and she moaned against him, arching a bit to try and increase the amount of contact between them. 

He slid his fingers in and out of her, his pace matching that of his kisses. It wasn’t nearly enough. 

She squirmed under him again and broke off their embrace. 

“Hunt, do I have to beg again?” she panted. 

“No,” he said, quirking his eyebrow. “You’re gonna get what you want.” 

“When?” she demanded. “We already did this. I want more.” 

He let out an overly dramatic sigh. “Oh alright, if you insist.” 

“I do,” she said, biting her lip to keep from smiling. 

He slowly withdrew his fingers from her and sat back. He set her hips down on the bed as he stood up. But instead of taking off the rest of his clothes, he knelt on the ground by the end of the mattress. 

“Wait, what’re you doing? I thought-” but she was cut off as she let out a squeal when Hunt grabbed her hips and drug her to the bed’s edge. 

“Hunt-” she began. But she never finished, as the world exploded into stars. 

Hearing Bryce come was the hottest thing he’d ever experienced in his whole fucking life. He wished he’d been able to see it, but his head was otherwise occupied at the moment. 

All it had taken was one swipe of his tongue against her clit, and she flew apart. He knew she was ramped up, but damn. Even he was impressed with himself. He continued licking her as she came, reveling in her taste as she gushed into his mouth. As he’d expected, she tasted exquisite, like the sweetest nectar. He didn’t want to miss any of it. 

He dragged his tongue up and down her folds, mindful not to touch her clit and over stimulate her. He stayed with her, holding onto her hips to keep her from bucking off of him. Gods, he was fucking intoxicated by this beautiful creature. 

When her breathing finally slowed, he made one long swipe of his tongue from the bottom of her folds to the top, swirling around her nub, and then heading back down to her center. He inserted his tongue as far as he could, wanting to taste as much of her as possible. He curled his tongue inside her and ran the tip of it against her front wall. She shuddered underneath him, so he did it again. But her hand came up to his head and she pulled on his hair a bit.

He looked up at her then, chin dribbling some of her down onto his bare chest. “Too much?” he asked. 

Her head was lolled to the side and her arms were splayed out to her sides, the duvet scrunched up where she had grabbed onto it as she came. She stared at him with half-lidded eyes and shook her head. 

“Not enough,” she whispered. 

Fucking Hel. 

He chuckled then, wiping the back of his hand over his chin to remove the excess moisture. He ran his hands up her body as he climbed onto the bed again, marveling at her soft skin and tight muscles. When he got to her chest, he squeezed her breasts and ran his thumbs over the stiff peaks. He leaned over her again, flicking each nipple with his tongue, before suckling them again. 

“Hunt,” she moaned, drawing out his name as she shifted underneath him, searching for something to fill her where she desperately wanted to be. 

He moved up and kissed her again, a searing kiss that left even him breathless. Okay, it was probably time to end her misery. Well, almost. 

“What?” he asked, as he broke off from her and sat back on his heels as he straddled her. He knew he was so close to where she wanted him to be. 

“Fuck me,” she said softly. She looked at him through her gorgeous lashes. “Hunt, I need you. Please, please fuck me.” 

“Well, when you put it that way,” he said, kissing the tip of her nose. 

He stood up and unbuttoned his jeans. He hesitated as he went to remove them, however. 

“Hey, I don’t have-” 

“Left drawer,” she said. 

He smirked. Of course that’s where they were. 

He slid his pants and boxers-briefs past his hips and almost sighed with relief as his erection was free at last. Things had been uncomfortable in his pants for a while, but the last few minutes had gotten almost unbearable.    

He stepped out of his clothes and walked over to her left nightstand. He opened the drawer and raised his eyebrows as he beheld what was in there. He grabbed one of the foil packets sitting in the front, glancing at the expiration date just to make sure, and then turned to look at his girlfriend, intent on giving her shit about what he found. 

But she wasn’t looking at his face. Instead, he found her sitting up with her eyes glued to his cock. It bobbed a bit as blood pumped to it at his realization. 

“See something you like?” he asked. She didn’t answer him, however. She just continued staring at it, licking her lips. 

“Bryce?” he asked, chuckling. When she still didn’t respond, he stepped closer to the bed.  “Hey Bryce, my eyes are up here.” 

That got her. She bit her lower lip as she seemingly tore her gaze away from his thick appendage and met his eyes. He was taken aback by the blown out look in them. He just raised an eyebrow in question. 

“Hunt,” she breathed, finally breaking her silence. “You’re fucking gorgeous.” 

He blushed at that, still not quite used to compliments. “Not as gorgeous as you sweetheart,” he told her. 

She groaned and rose to her hands and knees, crawling over to where he stood by the bed. She reached out to touch his cock, but he caught her wrist, preventing her from doing so, causing her to let out a hot-as-fuck whimper. 

“Not now,” he told her quietly, and she pouted - pouted - at him. Oh, he was gonna do something about that, that’s for sure. 

“If you want this to last,” he said, pushing her back so she was lying back down on the bed again, “you can’t. I’m barely holding on.” 

She smiled at that, lying down and spreading herself for him. “Then fuck me, Athalar.” 

He tore the package open and rolled the condom down on himself with practiced ease. “With pleasure, Quinlan,” he replied. 

He climbed back up her body and kissed her again, with a bit more heat than he’d done earlier. She responded eagerly, opening up for him and taking his tongue into her mouth. He touched her center just to make sure they were still good to go and - fucking Hel, nothing had changed since he’d tasted her. In fact, it seemed as if she was more wet. Gods he loved her. 

He grasped her legs, spreading them further apart and tilted her hips up, aligning himself with her entrance. 

“Ready?” he asked her, his heart racing, his eyes trying to take in everything, his mind trying to memorize every sight, every scent, every feel of this moment. He wanted it imprinted on his soul for the rest of his life. 

“Yes,” she said, eyes locked onto where they were almost joined. 

He smiled at her agreement, then took a deep breath, ready to finally take that final step in their relationship. Finally, after months of waiting, after months of imagining this very moment, of wondering how she would feel around him, he was going to find out. He shifted himself, ready to push in - 

When a phone rang. 

Fuck,” he swore. This time it was his phone, not Bryce’s, that was ringing. There were only a handful of people who’d call him at this hour, all important enough that he should pick up.

Gently, he set Bryce’s legs down as he climbed off the bed to grab his jeans from the floor. For her part, she still seemed a bit dazed. She blinked her eyes a few times as she tried to focus on him. 

He grimaced to her as he fished out his phone from his pants pocket and saw who was calling. 

“Hey Isaiah,” he said. He paused for a moment, listening to what the other man had to say. “Yeah, I will. I’ll be there in a minute.” 

He sighed as he glanced at Bryce. Fucking Hel.