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The sun was yet shyly peeking out from behind the towering mountains of Elgeshore when Daphne first opened her eyes. For the first time in nineteen years, she did not wake up in a room illuminated by the light of candles or lanterns; only the light coming from the window broke into the otherwise dark room. And for the first time, she was not afraid.
She looked to her left. Leander Van Halen, the renowned General of the Black Wolves, was sleeping peacefully by her side after a wild night of lovemaking. She smiled.
With the aid of the newly spreading light, she studied him. The first time she saw him up close, she had equated him to a war god: a black-haired, blue-eyed warrior in black armour astride a black horse. A face and a body chiseled by the best artists to capture the essence of being a man.
In a way, she still saw him as that man — that god of war. Awe-inspiring, powerful, passionate. In short, irresistible. But, unlike that first time, she was not afraid of him anymore. She has seen the other side of this warrior: the just, caring, respectful — even humble — side. Now, she knew that he was a man — a very tempting, breath-takingly delectable man.
Daphne shifted her position so that she could study his face closer. Again, she smiled at what she saw. If there was ever a masculine face made to make women swoon, it was this one. Maybe not because he was the most handsome man she has seen — there were many such men in the circle she left behind — but because he had the most alluring personality to back it up. Dangerous and protective at the same time: a warrior and a lover; a threat and a guardian.
Looking at him, Daphne could not stop her longing. It was as if she could not get enough of him. With her forefinger, she lightly touched his stubble-covered chin, remembering the way it had felt against her skin. Colour rose up her face; the mere thought brought memories of something sinfully delicious — something she would not mind having again soon.
Tempted, Daphne found herself kissing Leander’s jaw. The musky, oh-so-masculine scent she associated with him drifted to her nose, together with a fainter yet very distinct smell of sex. Both scents were already familiar to her, as if they had already been etched on her soul.
As memories of what took place the night before came rushing back to her, Daphne moved her lips to Leander’s mouth, planting the kiss gently. Somehow, she adored the way his lips did not respond to her. Maybe because it pointed out that she was ‘stealing’ a kiss. Whatever was behind her sudden amusement, she did not question it; she merely planted another fleeting, chaste kiss on Leander’s lips.
The general, however, spoiled her childish joy prematurely. His lips curved up into a smile as he drawled, “You know you can kiss better than that.”
Somewhat alarmed, Daphne moved away from him so that she could study his face. The “You’re awake” comment that escaped her lips was almost involuntary.
Leander chuckled and sat up, leaning against the headboard. “You woke me up.”
Blood rushed up Daphne’s face, but she thinly smiled. “I didn’t mean to! In fact, I wanted you to get some more rest…”
Her companion laughed as he put his hands on her waist and pulled her close to him. “You didn’t expect me to stay sleeping after you moved that much, did you?”
Daphne just smiled, although, she was actually surprised. If that happened to her, she would still be soundly asleep right now, especially after getting close to no sleep the night before. But maybe it was Leander’s warrior instincts that made him alert so that he easily wakes up when he senses slight movements around him.
“I’m sorry,” she offered lamely.
“Are you, really?” chuckled Leander.
Somewhat feeling awkward, Daphne shifted on the bed. Her movements caused the thin sheet covering them to bunch up near her waist, leaving Leander exposed. Immediately, her attention was captured by his manhood, which was already semi-erect. Her eyes widened in mild surprise, but it was by no means an unwelcome sight.
“No,” she answered, blushing again, as she looked up at Leander’s face. There was awe in her voice. “Not at all.”
Just that, and she found her fingers gently wrapping around his cock.
Her touches would send him directly to hell, Leander was sure. As Daphne’s fingers carefully wound themselves around his throbbing shaft, the general let out a longing sigh. Daphne flashed him a smile before she stopped holding his hard member.
“Are you hungry yet?” Daphne asked, her eyes all but telling him that she wanted his answer to be ‘no’.
Leander could not help but offer her the response she was hoping for. A soft sigh of relief came from her moist lips before Daphne clambered up the bed, straddling his waist. Her mouth covered his, sweet and demanding all at once.
“I should make amends for rudely interrupting your sleep,” she whispered, moving her head away from his for a moment. illegal bahis Her eyes were practically dancing with mischief. “What say you?”
He grinned and let his fingers run through her lovely blonde hair. “I’d love that.”
Daphne kissed his lips again, gently this time. Moving with lionine grace, she started licking her way down to his chest. With the aid of the spreading light coming from the window, Leander could make out the teasing manner with which she arched her left eyebrow. The woman, he thought, was obviously loving this.
She delivered soft kisses on his chest, deliberately letting her lips linger longer than was expected. With her eyes, she sent all the erotic messages that her voice would have no way of relating. Her tongue, hot and moist and totally addictive, touched his right nipple, teasing it without mercy before moving to the left one.
Leander knew that it would take less than that to make him hard. Just the sight of Daphne on top of him, moving with careless grace to ensure that he received pleasure, was enough to heighten his arousal. She was too perfect, too flawless.
His hold on her hair tightened slightly, and Leander heard Daphne moaning. Her mouth has travelled to his abdomen, closer to its target. But the lady was not through her foreplay yet: she let her tongue feast on his body, concentrated on the pack of muscles on his stomach. Leander dared not close his eyes — not even if that would afford him the greatest pleasure by making him more aware of the movement of Daphne’s tongue on his skin.
Instead, he watched her. He watched the way the soft rays of the morning sun lent a pale golden hue to her otherwise creamy-white skin. When he parted the curtains last night to let Daphne see the moon through the window as she waited for sleep, Leander did not anticipate the glory that it would lend to the woman’s skin the day after.
“Daphne,” he whispered softly. “My love…”
With a fevered gaze, Daphne looked up at him. Everything on her features looked playfully innocent — except for her eyes. Those eyes betrayed everything she felt, and right now, Leander would be damned if he reached a conclusion other than that Daphne wanted him with all her heart, body, and soul.
“You tempt me so.”
The slow grin that spread on the woman’s face was anything but chaste. In an instant, the innocent, almost child-like look on her face changed to that of a woman born and bred to lure a man to hell. She was made to be a temptress, no doubt.
Without warning, she held the base of his shaft and ran her tongue over its head, all the while watching his reaction. Leander groaned in pleasure, not denying her the satisfaction of knowing what kind of power she holds over him. And to reward him for being so honest, Daphne cut down the moment of torture and let his shaft into her lovely mouth.
He had experienced it before — having his member inside a woman’s mouth. Some of those women were even more experienced in giving head than Daphne ever was. Yet, the thrill that coursed through his body was unlike anything he had felt before. It was not even the same kind of excitement that he felt when Daphne first received him in her mouth. Maybe it was the setting, the mood, the time of the day. Leander did not know, nor did he wish to know. He was having the time of his life being given pleasure by the love of his life, and all facts could go to hell for all he cared.
He grasped Daphne’s hair more tightly. Her hand began playing with his balls while her tongue twirled around and licked along his shaft. It was not long before Leander was moving his hips on his own, burying his huge member in Daphne’s throat. If the lady had any objection, he neither heard nor sensed any; the twinkle in her eyes mostly encouraged him to go on.
Slowly, Leander sensed his body gearing up for his release. Warning Daphne, he continued to fuck her mouth, at no time stopped by the lady nor asked to slow down. She was obviously up to the challenge of swallowing his seeds. Not that Leander did not expect that; it would not be the first time for her. Still…
The general let out a low groan, before pushing his whole cock into Daphne’s mouth. Daphne closed her eyes, fighting her gag reflex. Leander felt his cock draining his balls’ content into Daphne’s throat. Instead of pulling away, she swallowed, the muscles in her throat giving his flesh a squeeze that almost sent Leander’s thoughts out of his head.
When at last, he was sure that his ejaculation was done, he let go of her hair, watching Daphne’s reaction carefully. Slowly, the lady pulled away, licking her lips when his manhood was fully out of her mouth. A smile tugged at the corner of her lips as she let her fingers wind around his cock again to give it a gentle squeeze.
“That was…” she began, crawling up the bed to kiss his mouth. It was a moment before she finished her comment. “Lovely.”
Leander pulled her close for a kiss, his hand already moving illegal bahis siteleri to her wet mound. Daphne groaned but pulled his hand away.
“We need to get out of here,” she cooed, kissing his mouth briefly before moving her face away. “I am very hungry.”
“Wouldn’t you give me the chance to take care of you first?” he asked, grinning as he watched Daphne slipping out of bed. Her backside, curved and fleshy in all the right places, was beautiful.
“It’s not necessary,” she answered, pouting as she looked back at him. “I need to talk to Gabriel anyhow. You already kept me all night, and I think he will be throwing us all out of his duchy if I fail to show my face to him this morning.”
Leander could see her point, but he had also felt her wetness. He knew she needed to get off, and the sooner, the better. But he respected her decision and admired her resolve to ignore her own body’s desires and rush toward her duty.
“If that is what you wish,” he said, himself climbing out of the bed. He walked to her and cradled her in his arms, delivering a loving kiss on her forehead. “But I promise to make it up to you later.”
Her green eyes were already twinkling with anticipation when she looked up at him. “I’ll take you by your word, General.”
Anthony Renard watched as Daphne watched Leander from the window on the second floor of Northcove’s ducal palace. The lady was somewhat hidden, standing as she was beside the heavy velvet curtain, but Anthony’s eyes were trained to spot men in hiding. He spotted her almost right away, although he tried to appear as if he had not.
He must admit: her bold move of recruiting Northcove to their side impressed Anthony. Not even in his wildest dream did he imagine Daphne going to such lengths to ensure that her father would not mistake the Black Wolves for traitors. His esteem of her instantly went up.
Still, it did not erase the fact that he disliked the woman. The reason behind his dislike was apparent, yet, it might not be her fault. In fact, it was Leander’s fault. But it was easier to blame the woman who changed the general, than to blame the general himself.
When he glanced at her again, Anthony found Daphne staring at him. She was startled when she realized that she had been caught, and with haste, she withdrew from her hiding place and ran away. Anthony grinned. Maybe Leander was right: the woman was harmless. The same could not be said, however, of the people who protected her.
Almost with regret, Anthony let his mind wander down memory lane. How long has it been? Sixteen, seventeen years ago? Daphne was barely two, and yet, she had already robbed Leander of his childhood, his life. Anthony remembered the way the toddler would guard Leander’s attention with vehemence. She was a selfish girl, and she wanted Leander to herself.
Anthony understood the child. He even thought her amusing. Even though Leander’s life clearly revolved around the little girl, Anthony could not blame her, or him. He would have lived the same way had he been as attached to Daphne as Leander was.
But she forgot about Leander. Not even half a year after she was taken by her father, Daphne already seemed to forget the first friend she ever had. Anthony was secretly glad, thinking that, at least, Leander would be released from his duty of guarding the girl. But he was wrong. His best friend’s life continued to revolve around Daphne despite the distance. And everyday, she grew to be like the other women in the higher echelon: haughty, disdainful, without character.
That was when Anthony started resenting Daphne. He liked her when she was still a toddler who asserted what she wanted. At least, then, she had life; she had disposition. But all that vanished when she became Daphne Wildercross, favourite child of the most powerful duke in the kingdom. She lost the fire in her personality, blending with the background of dull high-society life. And all along, Leander was still watching her, weaving his life around her.
Anthony was aware when Leander started falling for the woman. After her sixteenth birthday, when it was apparent to all that she was ripe for the picking, everybody saw the kind of trophy wife that Daphne would be. Anthony knew that, for Leander, she was more than that: she was his unreachable dream, the untouchable woman that every poem, every sonnet seemed to talk about.
Just when Anthony thought that Leander would finally distance himself from Daphne, Daphne suddenly ran away from the arranged marriage to Gabriel Northcove, the then-Earl of Chantercy. It was during that time that Leander’s life seemed to suddenly spiral out of control, and Anthony resented Daphne even more.
Now, she was back in Leander’s life. Anthony knew he should back off. The girl already proved that she still had the fire that Anthony liked about her. And maybe this time, she would not leave his best friend in pieces. Maybe this time, she would be nice enough to show her canlı bahis siteleri gratitude.
But that was not at the centre of Anthony’s concern now. He was more concerned of Leander’s life. Literally. The general’s obsession with the woman has imperilled his life.
“Thinking of something?”
He was startled out of his reverie by Leander’s question. The general was drinking from a canteen of water, apparently resting after training with a few of the men.
Anthony frowned, but decided that it was now or never. “Yes. I’m thinking of Daphne.”
That evoked Leander’s interest. “What about her?”
“It’s not exactly about her alone,” Anthony answered. “It’s about your relationship with her.” When Leander gave him a blank stare, he glared. “Are you really blind to the kind of mess you are currently in?”
Leander sighed, seemingly unconcerned. “What mess?”
“You must know what I’m talking about!” Anthony complained, scowling. “This whole thing about you taking her as a lover. By the gods, Leander, I know that the duke already knows by now.”
His friend looked at him with a clearly annoyed gaze. “What do you suggest I do? Try to convince the duke that I never really bedded his daughter? My head will be at the end of a stake long before I could even open my mouth and mention Daphne’s name.”
“Exactly,” Anthony said slowly. “I can’t believe you’d be foolish enough to fuck the woman when you realized that she’s the girl you’re supposed to be looking after. I can’t believe you will throw away your whole life just for a few blissful nights with her.”
“If, four years ago, I told you to leave Olivia alone…” Leander began. Anthony flinched upon hearing the name, so Leander did not pursue the issue. Instead, the general said, “My point is that I’ve placed Daphne on the same pedestal you placed Olivia on. Daphne is everything I have.”
“That’s a bad case of obsession, brother,” he observed quietly.
He and his friend stared at each other for a while before Leander agreed. “Maybe. But she’s the centre of my world. I thought I could build a life along the edges, but the past two years of not knowing where she was changed my belief. I live for her.” He paused, before adding, “I live for her alone.”
Anthony watched the men practicing their combat skills. He, of all people, knew the truth of his friend’s words. Indeed, it seemed that Leander only lived for the woman. Nothing he would do or say could ever stop Leander’s dogged pursuit of the Wildercross girl.
“I know you understand me,” Leander said quietly. “You once loved a woman, too.”
“Olivia loved me back,” Anthony retorted. “Does Daphne feel the same way for you?”
Leander chuckled and flashed him his carefree grin before turning his back. “Does it matter?”
His friend’s attitude was starting to annoy Anthony. “Van Halen — “
“We’re at war, Anthony,” Leander cut him off. “We don’t know when the enemy will strike and kill us all. I wanted a chance to get to know her personally and physically. Can you fault a man for asking for his favourite wine when he believes he is at the final hours of his life?”
“What’s the point of asking for the wine when he knows that it is poisoned?” Anthony asked. “Maybe he is wrong. Maybe those are not yet the final hours of his life.”
Leander laughed, looked back at him, and threw him the canteen of water that he was holding. “The point is that he is still able to drink his favourite wine. If he dies, at least, he dies with that taste lingering in his mouth. No regrets.”
He had known for a long time that this would be Leander’s defence. Anthony knew he should now be ready to face the fact that his best friend would rather die than let go of Daphne. Still, he was not prepared to think of the demise of the man who had helped him more times than he could remember — the man who was both his friend and his brother, and on many occasions, the saviour of his life in battle.
Finally, Anthony conceded defeat. Clearly, Daphne wins.
“Damn you,” he hissed, grabbing his sword and nodding at Leander to grab his, too. “If you really have a death wish, you could have just told me sooner. I would have gladly slit your throat for you.”
Leander laughed again and prepared for mock combat. “Brother, the thing is, you still don’t possess the necessary skills to bury me six feet under. Don’t kid yourself; you know I would have ended up killing you instead.”
Daphne sighed. She really could not understand why Anthony hated her so much. There was nothing she could do, it seemed, to erase the man’s intense dislike. If she did not know better, she would think that the man harboured romantic feelings for Leander.
“You look gorgeous today,” Gabriel teased her when they finally met on the hallway.
She had been looking all over the place for the duke. If she had known that it would take her this long to finally come face to face with Gabriel, she would have just stayed with Leander earlier.
“Why, thank you,” she said, smiling.
The duke grinned and proffered his arm. “Your legs are feeling better, I see.”
Her face reddened. She could not believe this! Gabriel chuckled; Daphne almost twisted his arm.
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