Dance of the Gods Page 55

She kissed him, a soft and warm press of lips. Then she poked him.

“Wake up.”

His hand slid down her back to rub lazily over her ass.

“Not that way.”

“’S the best way. Feel how firm you are, smooth and firm. I dreamed I was making love with you in an orchard in the high days of summer. For you always smell of tart, green apples. Makes me want to take a good bite of you.”

“Eat enough green apples, you get a bellyache.”

“My belly’s iron.” His fingers trailed up and down the back of her thigh. “In the dream there was no one but us two, and the trees ladened with fruit under a sky painted the purest of blues.”

His voice was all sleepy and slurry, she thought. Sexy. “Like paradise? Adam and Eve? An apple got them in big, bad trouble, if memory serves.”

He only smiled. He’d yet to open his eyes. “You look on the dark side of things, but I don’t mind that. In the dream, I gave you such pleasure you wept from the joy of it.”

She snorted. “Yeah. In your dreams.”

“And sobbed my name, again and again. Begging me to take you. ‘Use this body,’ you pleaded, ‘take it with your strong hands, with your skilled mouth. Pierce it with your mighty—’”

“Okay, you’re making that up.”

He opened one eye, and there was such laughter in it her belly quivered in response. “Well, yes, but I’m enjoying it. And see there, you’re smiling. That’s what I wanted to see when I opened my eyes. Blair’s smile.”

Tenderness swamped her. “You’re such a goof,” she murmured, and rubbed her hand over his cheek.

“The first part of the dream was true. We should look for the orchard one day.” He closed his eyes again, started to snuggle in.

“Hold on there. Shut-eye’s over. We have to get started.”

“In a hurry, are you? Well, all right then.”

He rolled onto her. “I didn’t mean—” And slipped into her.

The pleasure was so deep, so easy, that her breath caught even as she laughed. “I should’ve known your mighty would be up and ready.”

“And always at your service.”

A fter a later start than she’d planned, she pulled on clothes. “We need to talk about some basics.”

“We’ll break our fast in the little dining hall.”

“I’ve never known you to have a fast to break. And I wasn’t talking about food.”

“Oh?” He looked mildly interested as he belted his tunic. “What else then?”

“To get really basic, bathroom facilities. Elimination, hygiene. The chamber pot deal’s okay for emergencies, but I’m going to have a problem with it on a regular basis.”

“Ah.” Brows knit, he scratched his head over it. “There are toilets of sorts in the family wing, and latrines for the castle guards. But they’re not what you’d be used to.”

“I’ll make do. Bathing?”

“The shower.” He said it wistfully. “I miss it already. I can have a tub brought up, and water heated. Or there’s the river.”

“Okay, that’s a start.” She didn’t need plush, Blair thought. She just needed, well, reasonable. “Now we have to talk about training.”

“Let’s talk about it over food.” He took her arm, pulling her from the room so she wouldn’t argue while his stomach was rumbling.

T here were spiced apples Larkin seemed particularly fond of, and chunks of potatoes fried in, she assumed, the fat of the thick slices of ham that accompanied them. The tea was black as pitch, and nearly had the same kick as coffee.

“I miss the Coke as well,” he commented.

“Going to have to suck that one up.”

While the room was smaller than the parlor had been, it was still large enough to fit the big oak table, a couple of enormous servers, and chests she imagined held linens and dishware.

“Does a drawbridge work like a door?” she wondered. “To keep them out,” she explained when Larkin gave her a questioning smile. “Do they need an invitation to come into the castle compound? We’d better deal with that, cover our ass. Hoyt and Glenna should be able to come up with something.”

“We have a few days.”

“If Lilith sticks to the schedule. Either way, we’ve got our work cut out for us. Organizing, getting civilians transported from the battle area. Hoyt and Glenna might want to try that vamp-free-zone spell, but I have to say, I don’t see it working. We’re not talking about one house, or even a small settlement.”

She shook her head as she ate. “Too much area, too many variables. And, most likely, a waste of their time and energies.”

“That may be. Moving people to safety is more important. My father and I spoke of it last night, before I came to you. Even now runners are out so the word spreads.”

“Good. We’re going to need to put most of our focus on training the troops. You’ve got guards and—knights, maybe?”

“Aye.”

“They have your basic combat skills, but this is a different matter. Then your general population needs to be prepared to defend themselves. We need to get to work on setting those traps. And I’m going to want a firsthand look at the battleground itself.”

Her mind clicked off its list while she plowed through breakfast. “We’re going to need to set up multiple training areas—military and civilian. Then there’s weapons, supplies, transportation. We probably need an area where Hoyt and Glenna can work.”

“It will all be seen to.”

Something in his tone, the calmness of it, reminded her this was his ground now. He knew it, and its people. She didn’t.

“I don’t know the pecking order. The chain of command,” she said. “Who’s in charge of what.”

He poured them both more tea. For a moment he thought how nice it was—even if the talk was of war—to sit, just the two of them, over the morning meal.

“Until the sword is drawn from the stone, my father rules as the head of the first family of Geall. He isn’t king. He will not be king, but Moira, I think, understands that the men…the military as you call it, trust him. They’ll follow the ruler, the one whose hand lifts the sword, but…”

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