Dance of the Gods Page 41

But that didn’t mean she’d make it easy for him.

She kept her seat. “Obviously, you’ve missed the fact I’m busy.”

“Obviously, you’ve missed the fact I don’t give a bleeding damn.”

“My room,” she said coolly, “my choice.”

“Toss me out then, why don’t you?”

She swiveled toward him, stretched out her legs casually in what she knew was an insulting gesture. “Think I couldn’t?”

“I think you’d have considerable trouble with it right at the moment.”

“From the look of you, you came looking for trouble. Fine.” She crossed her feet at the ankles—just a little more insulting body language, she thought. Idly, she picked up a bottle of water to gesture with. “Have your word, then get out.”

“From the sound of you, cara, you’ve been expecting trouble.”

“I know you’ve got a problem with me. You made that clear enough. So spit it out, Larkin. We haven’t got time, and I haven’t got the patience for petty grievances.”

“Is it petty to talk so callously of destroying people’s homes, their life’s work, everything they’ve built and sweated for?”

“It’s a legitimate, and proven, strategy in wartime.”

“I’d expect to hear that from Cian. He is what he is, and can’t help it. But not from you, Blair. And it wasn’t just the strategy, but the way it was spoken, and how you talked of those who would defend those homes—rebel as you put it—as a nuisance.”

“They would be, creating a liability we couldn’t afford.”

“But otherwise, you could afford to burn them out.”

She knew, too well, the look and sound of angry revulsion on a man. All she could do was harden herself against it. “Better to lose brick and wood than flesh and blood.”

“A home’s more than brick and wood.”

“I wouldn’t know, I never had one. But that’s not the point. In any case, it’s moot. It’s not being done. So if that’s it—”

“What do you mean you never had a home?”

“We’ll say I never developed an emotional attachment to the roof over my head. But if I had, I’d rather see it go than me, or anyone I cared about.” The muscles in the back of her neck had tightened like wire, shooting a headache straight up into her skull. “And this is a ridiculous discussion because we’re not burning down anything.”

“No, because we’re not the monsters here.”

She lost her color at that. He could see it just sink out of her face. “Meaning you’re not, Hoyt’s not, but Cian and I are another matter. Fine. It’s not the first time I’ve been compared to a vampire.”

“That’s not what I’m doing.”

“You expect it from him, but not from me,” she repeated. “Well, expect it. No, strike that, don’t expect anything. Now, get out.”

“I’m not finished.”

“I am.” She rose, started for the door. When he stepped in front of her, took her arm, she yanked free. “Move, or I make you move.”

“Is that your solution? Threaten, push, shove?”

“Not always.”

She hit him. Her fist came up, connected, before the thought of doing it clicked in her brain. It knocked him down, and left her stunned, shocked and shamed. Losing control with another person, physically harming another person, was simply not allowed.

“I’m not going to apologize because you asked for it. But that was crossing the line. The fact that I did means I’m already over the line, and this conversation has got to be over. Here, get up.”

She offered a hand.

She didn’t see it coming, another mistake, the yank on her hand, the sweep of his leg knocking her feet out from under her. When she hit the floor, he rolled on top of her before she countered.

She had an instant to think he’d been training very well.

“Is that how you win arguments?” he demanded. “A fist to the face?”

“I was done arguing. That was punctuation. You’re going to want to get off me, Larkin, and fast. I’ve got a slippery hold right now.”

“Bugger that.”

“Bugger you.” She flipped him off, then sprang to a crouch to block anything he might throw at her. “I won’t be played like this. It’s all so easy when it’s walks in the sunshine, and talking about picnics, but when things get hard, when I have to be hard, then you’re revolted. I’m a f**king monster.”

“I never called you that, and I’m not revolted. I’m sodding mad is what I am.” He dived at her, and they hit the floor again, rolled. Their bodies rammed into a table, tipping it over so the blown glass bowl on it shattered.

“If you’d stop trying to bruise and bloody me for five bloody seconds we could finish this.”

“If I wanted you bloody, you’d be pumping from an artery. I don’t need you passing judgment on me, or giving me the big chill because I’ve shocked your sensibilities. I don’t need this bullshit from you or—”

“What you need is to shut the hell up.”

He crushed his mouth to hers in an angry, frustrated kiss even as her elbow found its way into his gut. He had to lift his head to wheeze back in the air she stole.

“Don’t tell me to shut up.” She grabbed his hair with both hands, yanked his mouth back down to hers.

Just as angry, just as frustrated. Just as needy. The hell with it, she thought. The hell with right and wrong, with sense, with safety. Screw control.

There were times you just took, and let yourself be taken.

Didn’t mean anything, she told herself as she dragged at his shirt. It was only flesh, it was only heat. She wanted to weep and rage as much as she wanted to consume.

She shoved him over, straddled him as she pulled her shirt over her head. But he reared up, clamping his arms around her as his mouth found her breast. So she held on, letting her head fall back, letting him plunder.

Now he was riding the dragon, he thought, flying on the power of it. She was like trying to hold flame, so the sheer burn of her made him delirious. He used teeth and tongue, gorging himself as her fingers dug into his shoulders, his back, his sides. Then she was under him again, her hips grinding up while their mouths clashed.

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