Bryce unclipped Syrinx’s leash and looked up to see Hunt Athalar’s solid form standing in front of her stove. The muscles and tendons of his neck twisted delicately as he turned his head to give her a soft grin. Bryce’s stomach dropped as she looked away – the sensation of making eye contact with the angel so overwhelming it lanced through her like a physical pain.
“Bacon?” he asked.
Syrinx lifted his head up from his water bowl at the mention, trotting to Hunt’s feet, where he sat, looking up at him expectantly.
Bryce walked up behind him, wrapping her arms around his torso and burying her face in the space where his wings met his back. His feathers smelled like soap and his own sweet cedar and pine scent. Bryce took a deep inhale. She felt her inner walls clench slightly and the first rush of wetness start to spread between her legs. Gods help her, he was going to be the death of her.
“Yes please,” she whispered into his back. Trailing her fingers down his solid chest, stopping briefly to stroke his hipbones, Bryce began snaking her hands into the waistband of his boxers. The laugh he gave rumbled through the cheek she had planted on his back.
“This is the last of the bacon, don’t make me ruin it,” he warned her gently. “I think you’d have a very sad chimera on your hands if I did.”
Syrinx gave a small whine upon hearing the word again. Bryce smiled at him, bending to scratch his head. “Don’t worry Syrie, I wouldn’t do that to you,” she said.
Standing up from her crouch, Bryce stared once again at Hunt. The warmth that gathered in her chest was suddenly shot through with a twinge of unease. He was strong, whole, at home – their home – cooking breakfast. And yet… while Hunt might have been granted his freedom, Rigelus had made it quite clear that all they had now was entirely at the whim of the Asteri.
Tears started to prick behind Bryce’s eyes. It hit her all at once – how precious and delicate this moment, all of her moments with Hunt would be, while the Asteri were still in charge.
She didn’t want to think about that now, though. Not when the two of them had so much lost time to make up for.
Turning so that Hunt wouldn’t see her wiping her eyes, Bryce finally spotted the tiger lilies sitting in a tall glass in the center of the kitchen table. “Athalar!” she said as she spun around.
He shrugged. “They reminded me of you.”
Bryce smiled to herself as she stroked a bright orange petal. She supposed she would need to get a vase or two now.
A plate was dropped in front of her, Hunt coming up from behind her, breakfast ready. Syrinx was crouched in front of his bowl, scarfing down the bacon Hunt had dropped there.
Hunt swept Bryce’s hair to the side, bending down slightly to whisper in her ear. “Let’s eat, we can talk about how you’ll thank me,” he said.
Tucking into her breakfast, Bryce watched Hunt pour hot sauce onto his eggs. “So, how was the Comitium?” she asked. “Going to fall apart if you take the day off?”
“I can finally say with 95% confidence that it won’t,” he replied. The past few days had settled into a fast-paced, but predictable rhythm. Even Isaiah had finally managed to get some rest, after what seemed like weeks without sleep.
“What do you think you’re going to do? Will you stick around? Stay Isaiah’s number two?” she inquired. She was half-teasing, but quickly realized that Hunt had yet to mention what his plans were now that he wasn’t at the complete disposal of Micah.
Hunt pushed his hair back from his face and let out a sigh. “Honestly,” he said, “I haven’t even thought about it.” He suddenly felt the weight of his freedom pressing down on him. The freedom that he’d longed for, debased himself for, had killed for, had finally been granted. All those years of slavery lifted like the burden hadn’t been a ten-ton weight keeping him tethered to his own personal Hel for half a century.
Bryce watched him stare off into the middle distance, worry creasing his bare forehead. She gently cleared her throat and reached out to grab his hand. “Well,” she said, running her thumb lightly over his beautiful knuckles, “you don’t have to decide now.” He gave her that smile again, the one that made her feel like she was staring directly into the sun and lifted up her hand to kiss it.
They sat in silence for a bit, both contemplating the future, the only sound the gentle clink of utensils on plates, when suddenly it was pierced by the harsh rattling of a phone buzzing on the glass tabletop. Bryce glanced down – call from Ruhn Danaan. Her finger hesitated over the screen before she decisively held down the power button, sending her brother to voicemail and quieting the device.
The move didn’t go unnoticed by Hunt.
“You know, we still need to discuss how I’m going to thank you for the flowers,” she said, grinning up wickedly at him.
He arched an eyebrow. “Thank you for reminding me, Quinlan. What did you have in mind?”
“Why don’t I just come over and show you?” Bryce said, walking around the table to stand in front of him.
Hunt grabbed her hips, squeezing that perky, round ass as he stood up from the chair. All the power she had fallen into but this – her perfect butt – was how she would take Hunt out. So many things he wanted to do with that ass, most of them depraved beyond reason, but right now, staring down at Bryce, he was overcome with a tenderness he hadn’t felt in a lifetime.
He lifted a hand up to her face, tilting her chin upwards. Her lips parted, and he stuck his thumb inside. She captured it there, gently rolling her tongue around the pad of his finger. Hunt groaned. Moving his hand back to cradle her head, he pressed his lips to hers, slowly easing his tongue in, tasting the inside of her mouth. Bryce pressed back into him with sudden force, making it impossible for them to tell where one of them ended and the other started.
Hunt pulled back suddenly, staring at Bryce’s now slightly swollen lips and dazed expression. As willing as he would be to take her right on the dining room floor, he wanted to do this right. He picked Bryce up, cradling her in his strong arms as he walked to her bedroom. She buried her face in his neck, kissing along his jugular. He felt his dick throb.
As he laid Bryce down on the bed, she reached out, snatching his boxers down. His cock sprang out, already rock hard. She started at it reverently, pre-cum beading on the tip. His eyes rolled to the back of his head as she ran her fingers up his shaft, gathered the drop on her finger and immediately brought it to her mouth to taste.
“So it’s true what they say about angel cum,” she said. “Tastes like honey.”
Hunt had to laugh at that one. Gods, she was perfect. “How many male lives have you ruined, Bryce?” he said as he threw her backwards onto the bed.
“Well, I won’t ruin yours, as long as you give me another taste of that,” she said.
“Oh don’t worry, you’ll have plenty,” he said as he pulled her leggings off. Looking down at her, he idly wondered how much the female spent on her lingerie. Bryce took a shaky breath as he traced his finger along the soft lace at the waistband.
Hips arching off the bed, desperate for his touch she begged, “Hunt, please.”
“What do you want?” he asked, his hands drifting to her inner thighs. She tried to close her legs, desperate to have him closer to her dripping cunt, but he pressed them back open. “I’ll give you whatever you want, but you need to use your words, Bryce.”
She squirmed under him, trying desperately to gather enough of her wits to tell him exactly where she wanted him to put that snarky mouth of his. “I want your face, between my legs. Right now,” she forced out.
“As you wish, Princess,” he said. She would let that one slide.
She lifted her hips slightly, allowing Hunt to slide her panties off, discarded alongside her pants on the floor. Hunt spread her legs carefully, looking at her perfect pussy. Gods – he wondered how it would feel to slide into her for the first time, to feel her hot inner walls gripping his cock as he moved in and out. But first, he wanted to make sure she was ready. Hunt slid a finger inside of Bryce. She gave him a small, surprised little gasp as he repeatedly curled his fingers upwards against the rough patch of skin inside of her. “Bryce, you are soaked,” he said in wonder.
“Taste it. Please, Hunt,” she practically whined. The penetration was driving her wild, but there were other parts of her that needed attention more urgently.
More than happy to oblige her, Hunt brought his lips down over her cunt. Gently, gently he ran his tongue down over her clit, then up the side of her slit, tasting her slightly salty, slightly tart wetness. Underneath him, Bryce’s voice climbed to an octave he didn’t even know she possessed as she let out a sharp gasp.
Bryce was in heaven. Every alphahole in Midgard loved to talk about his prowess in going down on females, but Hunt… Hunt was the real deal. She wished she could thank Shahar and whoever else had taught him how to do this because it was pure bliss. He added another finger alongside the first, occasionally curling them to rub the rough patch of her g-spot. As if that weren’t enough, his tongue was driving her out of her mind. His strokes were slow, the flat of his tongue caressing her most sensitive spots, the pressure on her clit getting lighter as she moved closer to the edge and it became more sensitive. The tightness was radiating out from her core, spreading to her lower stomach and the tops of her thighs. Hunt took a sudden deliberate stroke down the center of her cunt with his tongue and Bryce moaned deep and long. He was going to finish her off in record time. If he stopped now, she would probably murder him.
“I’m so close, baby. Please don’t stop,” she panted.
If his mouth hadn’t been otherwise occupied, Hunt would have smiled. Briefly, he considered stopping, forcing her to beg for it and drawing out her pleasure for a good long while, but he decided against it. She was feeling entirely too warm and inviting around his fingers at the moment. He felt her breathing quicken and her walls begin to clench down around his fingers. Bryce gasped again. “I’m coming,” she said.
The tightness intensified and Bryce could feel herself start to spasm around Hunt’s fingers. She let out another moan and finally, she broke open. The coil that had been building in her lower body unwound, the muscles in her core gripping and releasing, driving her ever higher. Bryce curled upward, weaving her fingers through Hunt’s hair and pressing his beautiful face even closer to the center of her pleasure. She felt another wave of wetness as she continued to ride his face, her whole body vibrating with the intensity of her orgasm. She briefly registered through her haze that her thighs were squeezing tightly around Hunt’s head and that her hands were shaking as they held desperately onto his skull but she was so far from being able to care about any of that. The sounds coming from her throat were desperate needy moans. She wanted to stay here forever.
Eventually, the spasms began slowing and Bryce started coming down from her peak. Her clit throbbed periodically. She collapsed back on the bed while Hunt continued to trace lazy circles with his mouth. Suddenly, it was too much. She shoved Hunt’s head back. “Please, please, please no more,” she begged. “Too much.”
Hunt couldn’t help himself – he took once last taste. At her tiny gasp somewhere between pleasure and pain he lifted his head and grinned down at her. Bryce was splayed out on the bed in front of him, flushed with her post-orgasmic high, her breathing heavy and eyes closed. He crawled up the bed to lie next to her, gently brushing the dark red hair from her face. Slowly, she opened her eyes to look at him, a satiated, lazy little grin on her face.
“Thank you,” she murmured.
He captured her lips in his own, brushing his tongue over them lightly. Bryce tasted herself – musky and acidic – and deepened the kiss. Their tongues danced for a bit before Hunt pulled his head back and started into her eyes. Bryce lifted a hand to Hunt’s face, tracing her fingers over the perfect plane of his cheekbone and sharp angle of his jawline. “You’re beautiful, Hunt Athalar,” she said.
“Back at you, Bryce Quinlan,” he said. He rolled closer to her, hovering over her slightly to kiss her once again. How that felt as good as it did, he didn’t know. She was like a drug. Suddenly, a mischievous spread across his face.
“What?” she asked.
“Open your mouth.”
Bryce, naturally, was powerless. She complied immediately.
Hunt shifted closer to her, gripping her cheeks lightly in his hand. His gaze flicked over her features, and the need to posses her overcame him like a pure animal lust. He spit directly into her mouth.
Bryce swallowed, knowing that this was him claiming her, showing her that she belonged to him completely and totally, that she would do whatever he asked. She looked up at him, desire in her eyes.
Oh, Bryce Quinlan was fun.
Hunt shifted his body closer to her, his still-hard cock bumping up against Bryce’s thigh in the process. Feeling it, she looked down hungrily.
“Hunt?” she asked.
“Yes?” he replied.
“Can you hurry up and put that inside me?”
That was all Hunt needed. He positioned himself fully on top of her, as Bryce spread her legs underneath him. He teased his cock at her entrance for a moment, reveling in the feeling of her slick folds against the head. He knew she would feel better than he could even imagine.
And then, after months of dancing around each other, denying their feelings, and being interrupted at the worst possible moment, Hunt entered Bryce.
The feeling of her tight, hot, wet cunt enveloping him was incredible. He pushed all the way in, finding absolutely no resistance. She had been so ready.
She gasped as his not-inconsiderable girth filled her all the way up. She was still wired and had been left swollen and sensitive from his earlier attention. He stilled once he was fully buried inside of her, making heated eye contact once again. Bryce wrapped her legs around his waist as he brushed his thumb over her cheek.
The two looked at each other for what felt like minutes, the moment heavy with emotion and meaning. They were two people absolutely consumed by each other.
“I love, you Bryce,” Hunt said.
“I love you too, Hunt.”
With that, he pulled back slowly, enjoying the gentle grip of her walls around him. Then, finally finally, possessing this woman who had been driving him crazy since the minute he saw her flaunting that lush ass in her bedroom window, he pounded back in.
Hunt pulled Bryce’s legs over his shoulders, driving their chests and mouths together. It was almost too much for Hunt. He had known that after all those months of buildup and tension that when he finally got himself inside Bryce Quinlan, he wasn’t going to last very long. But she had turned out to be even more devastating than he’d anticipated.
Bryce noticed that Hunt’s breathing was getting ragged, his strokes becoming more and more desperate as he plunged in and out of her. The grip he had around her arms tightened. She momentarily broke away from his mouth to whisper in his ear. “Are you getting close, baby?”
His rhythm faltered. Fuck. He’d hoped he’d be able to hold out at least a little longer. But as soon as Bryce asked him that question, he knew he was moments away from finishing and filling up that sweet little cunt.
“I’m sorry, Bryce, I’m going to come,” he said, his voice shaking with the effort.
“That’s ok, baby. Come for me,” she said.
Hunt’s thrusts grew more erratic, desperate for that last bit of sensation that would finish him off. His balls were tight against his skin as he felt the beginnings of his release. He wrapped his arms around Bryce beneath him, squeezing her smaller form against his, a thin sheen of sweat creating a slickness between their bodies. Hunt gave a deep-throated moan and let go.
Bryce could feel him unravel on top of her. His hands, now tightly wrapped around her arms, were squeezing down periodically. His breathing hitched and stopped. He moaned deep and long into Bryce’s ear. Hunt gave a few final thrusts and then stilled, his heavy chest pressing down against hers. She felt his cock throb as it rested inside of her, completely spent. For a moment, they lay like that, foreheads pressed together, breathing each other in. Hunt gave her one last kiss and rolled to the side, pulling himself out of her with just a twinge of regret.
He pulled her into him, shoving a leg between her soft thighs. She rested her head on his chest. He wove his hand through the hair at the base of her skull, the sweat that had formed there beginning to cool.
Hunt was home.
Chapter 2: Chapter 2
The Autumn King pays Bryce a visit. She doesn't like what he has to say.
“I’m not kidding,” Bryce said, as she flipped through a series of photos on her phone. “The pictures don’t even begin to do this place justice.”
Hunt gave a low hum of approval into the crook of her neck, sending another wave of heat directly through her.
“And they have these little bungalows, right on the beach,” she continued, opening up a page filled with pictures of a small but well-appointed cottage on the shores of a pristine white-sand beach. Hunt smiled into her hair as she thumbed to a picture of the screened-in porch at the front of the rental, complete with a hot tub facing the ocean.
“And what would we do out there?” he murmured into her ear.
Bryce, leaning against his solid chest, turned slightly to look him in the eye. The corner of her mouth tugged up into a small smile. “Oh, I don’t know – sunbathe, swim, snorkel. Did you have anything in mind?” she asked.
“You’re giving me a few ideas,” he replied before pressing his lips roughly to hers. Bryce dropped her phone beside her on the bed as her hands moved to run through Hunt’s thick hair. Both still naked from their earlier exploits, Bryce shivered as her bare breasts made contact with Hunt’s skin.
He trailed his hands down from her face, over her neck, past her shoulders to the soft, sensitive, sides of her waist. There, Hunt’s fingers danced lightly over her, a delicate brushing that sent jolts of electricity through her body. While Hunt’s touch always had a powerful effect on her, the prickling, staticky sensation continued well past what was normal. Breaking the kiss to look down, Bryce saw small sparks of electricity emanating from the very tips of Hunt’s fingers. Realizing what he was doing, Bryce gave a small whimper at the heady mix of pain and pleasure he was giving her.
The look in Hunt’s eyes as she put together what was happening – a near predatory lust – completely broke down any of the restraint she had left. Bryce reached down to grip Hunt’s once-again hardening member, guided it towards her slick entrance, prepared herself to –
Knock knock knock
Three sharp raps on her apartment door froze the two where they sat – Bryce’s nude form straddling Hunt’s equally naked body. Bryce’s forehead creased in worry.
“Are you expecting anyone?” she asked Hunt.
Hunt shook his head.
The knocking – this time slightly more forceful than the last – echoed through the apartment once more. Bryce lifted herself off Hunt’s lap and started making her way towards the bedroom door. Hunt, concerned, grabbed her arm and pulled her back.
He shook his head silently, putting a finger to his lips. With Bryce trailing behind him, he made his way towards the apartment’s front door.
His eye to the peephole, Bryce watched Hunt’s face tighten into disapproval before he turned away and gestured for her to look through herself.
Standing outside the door was the Autumn King.
Bryce – on principle refusing to give her father the respect he felt he was due – had changed into her oldest CCU t-shirt and a well-loved pair of sweatpants, and was now sitting on the couch with her arms crossed over her chest, waiting for the Autumn King to begin speaking. Hunt – who despite having no great love for the Autumn King – was still acutely cognizant of the fact that the powerful fae was his girlfriend’s father. Accordingly, he had changed into a slightly more respectable jeans and white t-shirt and was sitting next to Bryce with his arm resting along the back of the couch behind her head.
The Autumn King stood looking out the window, down at the Crescent City streets below. Silence settled between father and daughter like a taught rope.
Finally, the Autumn King turned to face Bryce and Hunt on the couch. “I suppose you’re wondering why I’m here,” the Autumn King said.
“Wondering how, as well,” Bryce replied. She was going to need to have a chat with Marrin after this.
The Autumn King ignored her question as he paced back and forth in front of the floor to ceiling windows of Bryce’s living room. “I realize that being my daughter hasn’t always been easy for you,” he began.
Bryce snorted. The Autumn King ignored it and continued. “But I need you to know, Bryce, that while you may never understand why, everything I did was what I believed best for you and your brother.”
Bryce opened her mouth to reply, but the Autumn King held up a hand. “As you’re well aware, your identity, as well as the extent of your power, is common knowledge in Crescent City and beyond. While you may not agree, before this, the best way for me to keep you safe was to keep you a secret. Now that that is no longer a viable plan, I would like to formally recognize you as my daughter.”
“What the fuck?” she asked. She felt Hunt tense beside her.
The King looked resigned, Hunt thought, he was probably expecting a reaction like this out of his daughter. There certainly hadn’t been much love lost between the two in recent years.
“Yes, Bryce, I would like to formally and publicly recognize you as my daughter, princess of the Autumn Court and Starborn fae. While I appreciate that this was not a responsibility you asked for, there are certain things we must do in the name of duty.” The Autumn King continued, “I would appreciate if you could assume this role and title willingly, and take your responsibilities seriously.”
Sitting on the couch, Bryce had gone deadly still. She didn’t even seem to be breathing, nor was she looking at the Autumn King. She was staring at the wall beside her, her mouth set into a tight line.
The Autumn King, either not picking up on the tension radiating from his daughter or (more likely) choosing to ignore it, continued on. “We are currently planning a ceremony where you will be granted your title and where you will be honored by all of the fae courts in Midgard. Should you choose to, you may help in planning the ceremony, though the individuals I’ve assembled to execute on this are highly competent. You should, however, begin putting together your team of royal advisors immediately, as their support will be crucial as your role at court grows. I have also taken the liberty of – “
“No, really father, what the fuck?” Bryce interrupted him. “You come barging in here, no notice, no call, trying to welcome me into a family you’ve spent most of my life making sure I knew I wasn’t a part of, bringing me into the fold, getting me to work for you? And all without even trying to apologize? No. I’m not interested. Fuck off.”
By this time, she was blazing. Spots of red had appeared high on her cheeks and her knuckles were white as she balled them into fists on her lap.
“Don’t think I didn’t expect this reaction from you, Bryce,” the Autumn King said, massaging his temples. “I will have you know that this is not a choice for you. You are now a public figure and with that comes certain responsibilities.”
“I may be a public figure, but that doesn’t mean I have to play your little game, or fall in line.” Bryce spit back. “And what do you mean, ‘keep me safe’? What exactly do you think you were protecting me from all those years? I’m not sure if you’d noticed, but despite your ‘protection’ I almost died – several times – last week while I was saving the city and the Aux was hiding out in FiRo, doing nothing!”
Say what you would about the Autumn King, his restraint was unmatched. His face remained impassive throughout Bryce’s entire tirade.
“This is not a discussion, Bryce. You are a Starborn fae, and you have come into a power you were never prepared for and don’t know how to use. There are going to be a number of parties looking to take advantage of those facts,” he said. “My assistant, Hana will come by tomorrow morning at 9 to work through some of the particulars of your transition. Please be ready. Do you have any questions?”
“Yeah, sure – can you please get the fuck out of my apartment?” Bryce retorted.
Bryce’s father inclined his head ever so slightly and moved towards the exit, his fae guard trailing behind him.
As the Autumn King reached the door, he paused, with his hand lightly resting on the handle. As if something had just occurred to him, he turned back towards Bryce, and over his shoulder said, “I would also have you know, Bryce, that once you are a high ranking member of the Autumn Court, your conduct will represent all of us. In light of that, I suggest that you begin to rethink your… colorful use of language.”
The door clicked shut.
Bryce picked up the nearest couch cushion, buried her head into it, and screamed.
“FUCK him,” Bryce shouted in frustration from her spot over on the couch.
Hunt tried to mask his smirk as he entered the apartment. After making sure that Bryce wasn’t going to do something that she’d regret, he had gently suggested a run and perhaps a hot bath before leaving her alone to run errands. He noted the leggings and sports bra she was wearing, but her perfect ponytail and lack of sweat didn’t indicate that any steam had been blown off while he was out.
It wasn’t that he didn’t feel for her – his heart broke for the young Bryce that had been rejected by her father and denied the opportunity to be part of half of her family. He knew that in large part, her rejection of her father’s offer stemmed from a desire to keep herself from a position where those types of wounds could ever be inflicted upon her again.
He knew her well enough, though, to know that Bryce also wanted a little revenge. Refusing to give the Autumn King what he wanted was immensely satisfying to her. And so, he found it a little hard to convince himself that all of her rage over enormous wealth and an important title was genuine.
“I don’t know Bryce, I’m pretty excited to see you in that crown,” Hunt called from over in front of the fridge. “I might be warming up to your dad.”
“He told Ruhn, who tried to warn me this morning,” she said as she walked towards the kitchen.
She held out her phone for him to read a text from her brother.
Pick up your phone! Dad en route to yours and you’re not going to like what he has to say.
Hunt’s eyebrows raised. Bryce’s rage was entirely justified here. Ruhn had been heir apparent for his entire life, and now the Autumn King knew that Bryce had been hiding her Starborn abilities so as not to upset Ruhn’s status as next in line for the throne. If the Autumn King was making his intentions known to Ruhn before even coming to Bryce, it wasn’t a stretch to imagine that he was trying to create animosity between the siblings.
Why, exactly, he would be doing that was something Hunt would think about later.
Bryce’s shoulders slumped.
“I know,” she said, but her brow remained furrowed and her look distant.
“He did this to drive a wedge between the two of you. You know that, Bryce. Don’t let him,” Hunt said.
“You’re right,” Bryce said, grabbing back her phone. “I’ll give him a call.”
“Bryce! What did you tell him? What did he say?” Ruhn asked, his volume gradually decreasing along with the music that was playing in the background.
“What do you think?” she replied. “Told him to fuck all the way off.”
“How’d he take it?”
“He… ignored it,” Bryce said. “Completely steamrolled me. Hana is coming by tomorrow morning to walk me through the ‘particulars’, whatever that means.”
“He’s such a fucking asshole,” Ruhn said. Bryce could hear the years and years of resentment in Ruhn’s declaration. There was a tense pause on the other end of the phone before Ruhn continued. “You know I love you, right Bryce?”
“Yeah, I know,” Bryce responded, smiling despite how angry she still was. Most of what she’d gotten from her father’s side of the family was a burden at best, but she’d always be grateful for Ruhn, who’d managed to be the best older brother she could have asked for, in spite of the Autumn King.
“There’s something I need to tell you. It’s about the title and it’s important. I think I should tell you in person though.”
“Sure,” Bryce said. “Why don’t you come over for dinner? Hunt’s cooking.”