Sacrifice Ch. 05

bypandarus©

"Why...why what?"

"Why did you remove it?"

"Um..." For the hundredth time that day, she was stymied. "Well...that's what one does. I've always done so."

"Even before you were sent to me?"

"Yes."

"Who were you doing it for? You weren't married, and I happen to know for a fact that you hadn't taken a lover...so why?"

She frowned, his caressing thumb still pressed against her sex was making it hard to think straight, even so she tried to consider the question. "I don't know. I suppose because smooth skin is more pleasant to the touch...and it makes one look younger and more beautiful. Humans and virgins...remember. I've believed you've complained about that to me a dozen or so times...probably more."

"But you don't remove all of it."

"I don't?"

He smiled and his other hand slid down to her lower back and he dragged his knuckles up and down her spine. "Here."

"Oh! I'm sorry...I guess I couldn't have seen it...I'll get rid of it as well..."

"Don't you dare." he smirked. "I like it. It's so fair that it's very hard to see, but it feels like down when I run my fingers over it. His knuckles uncurled and he spread the pads of his fingers his hand spanning nearly from hip to hip. She felt the heat in her cheeks spread slowly down her throat and across her chest. She couldn't tell if it was embarrassment or arousal.

"You're very strange, you know that?" She murmured thickly.

He lowered his voice to a conspiratorial whisper. "No more so than a woman who can disarm a man and face my sister, and then an hour later gets squeamish about hair."

"Yes, well about that... I still need to clean up...so please...let me go do so."

"I don't care, it doesn't bother me."

"Well it does bother me."

"Again, I ask why."

"Because," she gripped his wrist firmly and he finally allowed her to pull his hand from between her legs so she could sit up straight, "as surprising as it might sound, those of us who are merely fair to middling also like to feel desirable, even when the competition is literally Olympian, and the point is utterly moot."

He only laughed at that as well, but to her surprise lifted her off his lap and back onto her feet. He rose as she straightened her dress, and literally loomed over her. She was forced to tilt back her head somewhat to see his face.

"Start a bath. I'm going to see about getting us a proper supper, and then I'll join you."

She nodded and watched him go...then started looking for the bath.

It was quite easy to find as the first door she checked was a private sleeping quarters. It was a huge room with a large elegant bath on a raised platform in the corner surrounded by hanging censors. This room was quite different from the sitting area. The floor was a darker stone, and the furniture made of carved and gilded wood, and covered with pillows and cushions. The walls were hung with heavy weavings, elaborately patterned, and in the other corner of the room was a large bed, also hung with cloth and covered in pillows.

It was lovely, but she could see why Thelios wouldn't feel all that comfortable here. It just wasn't him. She couldn't help but think of the simple but comfortable bed they shared at home...which was nothing more than a thin pad of stuffed wool made comfortable with skins and furs.

He had a room full of gold—all of what she now saw before her—and yet he chose to live simply. That was who he was. And as comfortable as the extravagant looking bed seemed to be...she felt a sudden and powerful desire to have that simple bed of skins and fur back, if just for tonight.

She shook off her thoughts and turned her attention to the bath. It was an elaborate affair; the pipes already heated and needing nothing more than a hand to turn the latches to release the water. It was nearly ready when Thelios returned. He wasted no time and was stripped and in before she'd finished filling it, and had already stepped out when she was soaping and rinsing the smell of salt water from her hair.

"Aren't you going to soak?" She asked as he roughly and perfunctorily toweled himself off. "The heat might help loosen the muscles in your shoulders."

He shrugged and tossed the towel on the steps leading to the bath. "I've spent too much time in the water today. I'll find some other way to relax." He turned and grinned devilishly at her over his shoulder. She looked away, but wasn't able to suppress her own smile. She decided there was no point in loitering in the bath if he was out as well, and frankly he was right. She'd had enough of water for quite a while. Plus the sight of her bared stomach was beginning to make her nervous. She kept thinking she could see a slight thickness there that she'd not noticed before. It was silly...there wasn't anything to see...probably.

She climbed out of the bath and dried herself quickly as well, letting her hair fall as it would in wet curls, and opting to wrap a loincloth about her hips and between her thighs instead of dressing completely. She still had every intention of using sugar on her legs before she let Thelios anywhere near them again, so there was no point in dressing. Besides which she was generally used to being naked with him now, not like those first few days. Even so, it was still easier for her to make at least a gesture of modesty, even if it was halfhearted.

When she went to leave the room to find her things he stopped her, asking her to stay with him, still grinning suggestively.

"I told you, I'm going to do it whether you care or not." Her mind briefly flitted to Demitri joking about how bossy she was with them, and momentarily regretted her words, that is until she noted the expression on his face and decided there was no harm in it after all.

"Fine...just do it in here."

She frowned. "Why?"

"I want to watch."

"Again I have to ask...why?" She smarmed, turning his own words back on him. He grinned, revealing his fangs.

"I'm curious...humor me."

"It's rather embarrassing." She hedged, sincerely unsure about why he would want to see such a thing. It was her understanding that men didn't want to see the process of 'beauty' in all of its awkward and often painful glory...just the pretty, uncomplicated results.

"I promise to make it worth your while." He gave her a smirking grin, half charmingly boyish, and half devilish, and she was forced to capitulate. Maybe that was the smile Nagi had been speaking of when she referred to Zeus. She frowned again as she left to collect her things. Certainly that wasn't the father they spoke of? No...it couldn't be...but she was curious about who it Could be. And she was rapidly becoming all the more curious.

When she returned, still wearing just the simple hip wrap, though with the minimal addition of her few and simple pieces of jewelry as a gesture to the opulence of her surroundings, she found him lounging on one of the oversized couches. Oversized by her standards, it still looked small under him. He was wearing his usual wrap, and she was surprised that he had bothered to dress at all until she noticed the platter of food on the low table next to him. She caught his eye then looked pointedly from the platter to his cloth wrapped hips.

"Not an exhibitionist either?" She asked archly as she passed his couch on her way back to the bath.

"Well, I didn't want to frighten the poor creature...I'm a lot to take in."

She bit back her laugh, glad she was facing away.

Literally and figuratively she thought, only half joking to herself. "Indeed you are my Lord." She agreed, toning her voice with mild indifference. "To be frank, I'm not sure how I've survived you thus far...I can only hope your ego doesn't swell with the rest of you, or you will most certainly be the death of me."

"It's really not my ego you should be worried about."

"Well," She countered, still looking away to hide her smile and busying herself with heating the honey mixture, "it's a good thing I don't frighten easily, isn't it."

He laughed. "You must be joking. Your legs snapped together so tightly that first night, I thought I was going to need a chisel to get them apart." She couldn't help but chuckle at that and threw him an amused look.

"You can hardly blame me for being a little hesitant. Besides, I thought I was remarkably stoic about the whole thing. Don't you? I could have run screaming from the premises."

"For a moment I thought you might." He teased.

"Hardly."

"Aren't you glad you didn't? You would have missed out on all this." He waved dismissively to the room around him. His sarcasm was palpable.

"Yes, well, this I could have done without." She paused and smiled a little more sincerely, "But I am glad nonetheless."

"Obviously. Because I arouse you." It wasn't a question. She shook her head, laughing.

"You're incorrigible."

"I think you mean encouragable."

"That isn't even a proper word."

"That's because there aren't words to describe the wonder that is I. At least...not proper ones."

"Stop it." She admonished, laughing outright now, and unable to contain it. "I'm not going to be able to do this properly if you keep distracting me.

He said nothing but waved her on to her task with an imperious arch of his brow. The effect was ruined by the slight spasm at the left corner of his mouth.

"Are you sure you want to see this?" He nodded. She shrugged. "Fine." She was forced to turn partially away from him so as not to be unnerved by the sight of him watching. She knew it was silly to be embarrassed about it...but she felt oddly exposed by the whole thing. No doubt, she thought as she began, because of his earlier comments about exhibitionism.

"Did that hurt as much as it looked like it did?" He asked after she'd pressed and ripped the first strip of cotton cloth.

"Yes. More, probably."

"It's amazing that women will willingly submit to that, and yet, as you noted, run screaming from me."

"Don't take that too personally." She offered sympathetically. "The first time I had to, I literally begged to put it off, and was crying before it had even started. It wasn't easy, but it wasn't as awful as I imagined. And really, like anything, you get used to it and it becomes easier each time you do it. Inured, I think, is the word."

"I really hope you're still talking about your legs." He muttered. She laughed. "Yes...but you weren't so bad either. You said yourself they should never have sent virgins. How were we to know anything about anything."

"You seemed fine."

"I thought I needed a chisel?" She teased.

"Well, 'fine,' comparatively speaking."

"Ah. How kind. You know, in all honesty I'd made up my mind to be stiff lipped about the whole thing...and I was expecting to die. Everything else seemed like a major improvement."

"Not as bad as death. What a charming thought. You can be very hard on my pride sometimes, you know that?"

"I'm not worried about your pride. It will be fine, I'm sure. Lord knows there's plenty of it to go around."

He had nothing to add to that, and simply watched her in silence. She could feel his eyes on her, and watched him back from the corner of her eye. When it came time to attend to her...more personal areas, she turned her back to him completely.

He said nothing at first but she could feel the burn of his eyes even more intensely...or perhaps that was only in her imagination. Gods knew she'd never been quite so aware of what she was doing before, the strangeness of it, or the intimacy. It was always just something one did...a painful chore...now it was, she had to admit...oddly sexual. She kept catching herself lingering, her fingers sliding through the slippery folds of her sex more often than they needed to, or catching for a moment too long against the rapidly hardening nub at the apex. Even the pain was in a small, strange way erotic, as if his presence in the room was conjuring those other associations, other moments when the line between pain and pleasure was obscured...or even obliterated.

"Are you enjoying yourself?" She asked softly when she was nearly finished, her voice sounding a little rough to her ears, but remarkably even considering the rapidity of her breathing.

"I would be enjoying myself more if you were facing the other way."

She smirked even though her skin flushed even hotter with...with what, she couldn't quite say. Was it excitement, at the idea? Certainly shyness...aroused embarrassment...what did it matter, the effect was the same...and she half considered indulging him. Indulging him or yourself? She thought, with a surge of something she definitely recognized as clear, burning shame.

"Perhaps next time." She conceded, her voice nearly a whisper.

There was another long silence before she ran a cloth once more carefully over her skin and rose with a small secretive smile. She was embarrassed by the intimacy, it was true, but there was also something so very appealing about him watching her the way he was, as if there were something intensely fascinating about her. It made her feel alluring...like an object of desire, even with more exotic and lovely objects filling the halls around them.

Not a small feat after the day she'd had, one that started with her nauseous and ill on a boat full of men who wouldn't even look at her, which had been highlighted by the gauntlet of stunningly beautiful women, one of which was some sort of half serpent demigod and their apparent housemate, and which had ended with her tired, confused and in no condition to be appealing to anyone.

And yet the look in his eyes as she slowly crossed the room toward him told her very much otherwise.

That look still seared her insides and made her skin prickle and flush, no matter how many times she'd seen it, but she had weathered it enough to keep her head. She intentionally rocked her hips as she walked, hanging on that feeling...to the idea that she was as enticing as any other. She slid one hand down her stomach to the edge of the silk cloth, and pulled the end loose, letting it unravel as she moved and casting it to the floor behind her. By the time she stood before him her skin was on fire and her breathing quick and shallow. Even her nipples had hardened, making her arousal painfully obvious, if it wasn't already.

Boldly she lifted a leg and propped her foot up on the edge of the couch, her hands on her cocked hips. Her wry smile was more confident than she felt, as she exposed herself to him.

The look in his eyes was indescribable...and physical in its intensity.

"Well? Tell me how it feels." Her heart pounded in her chest as his hand slid up her calf. "Good?"

"Very." He rumbled, leaning in toward her to wrap his fingers around her leg and hold her still as his mouth found her skin. His lips felt unusually cool against her skin, and she moaned softly as she felt his broad tongue trace a short path up the soft flesh of her inner thigh. He pulled away with a curious expression on his face. "You taste like sweet citrons."

She chuckled. It was a low, dark sound filtered as it was through her arousal. "The mixture had both citrons and honey...the scent lingers." His mouth returned to her thigh and his free hand reached up to cup and grip her ass. She couldn't help but wonder at and delight in the fact that his sheer size allowed him to hold her so easily. More remarkable was how gently he did so, and how light and teasing his cool caresses were when he could quite literally snap her in half if he was of a mind to. Something which had never been so apparent, at least not since she'd first seen him at his full height...and then she'd certainly not been naked with his hands wrapped firmly around her, and his mouth sliding up over her hip and stomach. She had to wonder how she'd managed to put that aspect of him, the dangerous part of him, out of her mind for so long. Was it so easy to forget?

Perhaps it was, she thought with a shiver as his lips brushed down over her mound until his tongue could reach out and lightly flick the exposed and achingly sensitive nub of flesh beneath. She gasped and reached out to clasp the back of his head as he pulled her closer and his teeth joined his tongue. He wasted no more time with teasing and his mouth moved to cover her smooth sex completely, his thick tongue digging deeply between the folds. She let out a gasping sigh and immediately tilted her hips to allow him better access.

He pulled her closer and leaned back, forcing her to steady herself against his shoulders. Her free hand slid up the back of his neck, her fingers trailing over his skull until they found his horns. She grinned between gasps, fighting to keep her head as his hungry tongue attempted to burrow inside of her.

She wrapped her fingers around one of his horns, gently squeezing and sliding her hand along its length and base. She felt him chuckle against her sex, and nearly lost her balance when his shoulders began to shake with mirth.

Giggling breathlessly, she kept it up until he was forced to tear his mouth away from her.

"Woman, are you trying to tell me something?"

She laughed more fully and released him as he released her, and moved to straddle him on the couch instead. He shifted to allow it, though with his size, there was barely any room for her to rest her knees...even if they could have reached. Instead her legs dangled over his sides with her toes brushing the floor. He was lying back now, but the couch curved up on either side, elevating his shoulders...as it was they were nearly eye to eye.

She was straddling his waist and leaned forward to brush her lips against his. He leaned in a little to help, making an appreciative sound when her tongue flicked out to trace the gap between.

"I think it tastes more like regular citrons— too tart for the sweet ones."

He grinned, grasping her hips and grinding her down against his stomach. "I don't think you're tasting what you think you're tasting."

She gave him her own grin, which she had intended to be enticing but knew was at least partially ruined by the flush which accompanied it, and leaned in again, letting her mouth linger a little longer, flicking her tongue against his playfully. "Aren't I?"

He growled and forced an end to her teasing by jerking her hips forward and crushing her mouth against his.

She melted into him, into his heat. She surprised herself. If she'd been flushed and warmed before, she was on fire now and writhed against him as she fought him for control of the kiss, nipping at his lips, lashing his fangs and tongue with her own. She could still taste a trace of herself on his lips and the thought made her that much hotter. She pulled her mouth from his, drawing needful trails over the line of his jaw, down his throat and collar and chest, grazing the rough skin with her teeth and scoring it lightly with her nails.

Before long he made it clear he'd had enough and she gasped harshly as a fist reached up and tightened in her hair, pulling her mouth from his body and angling her head back so that she was forced to look panting up into his fiery red eyes. Fierce red eyes glared down into hers, but he made no other move and said nothing...just held her in his grip and gaze. Only seconds passed, but it felt like hours. Her skin prickled and tightened and suddenly she could feel her own heartbeat pulsing in the tips of her fingers, a staccato counter-point to the much slower, heavier rhythm reverberating the chest beneath her palms.

It was suddenly very hard to breath.

"You want me, don't you?" She whispered in a trembling, almost frightened voice.

The words, and the sentiment behind them, were unexpected and they surprised her...even as she heard them spilling from her mouth. She instantly regretted them and wondered where they were coming from. A moment of panic, bred from too many days of fear and anxiety?

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