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~ Previous Chapter ~
Well, it finally happened. I do hope it isn’t going to be awkward…
HEAT RUSHED THROUGH her. A simple brush of Lyrai’s lips and she was on fire. She almost flinched from the unexpected sensation, but then his breath stroked her cheek and she melted.
This was such a bad idea, but Gods, she wished all mistakes felt this good.
She breathed in the scent of him: clear air, male skin, the mint of Lansbrig tea. Then, as he coaxed her mouth open with a lick and a drag of his thumb, she could taste him too.
Her mind stopped.
WHAT WAS HE doing? Even as a distant voice in the back of his mind screamed about students, wellborn ladies and stupid, stupid, stupidity, Lyrai relaxed into the kiss. It had been too long since he’d held someone this way, too long since he shared the breath of someone else. The intimacy of two tongues touching sent a bolt of heat through him.
He had to get closer.
Sliding his hands from her face, he spread his fingers through her hair, revelling in the soft curls that felt like miryhl feathers. Holding her head with one hand, he slid the other down her back, turning her to face him even as he drew her against his chest. His fingertips stroked every bump of her spine and she shivered.
He smiled, enjoying her response, especially when she put tentative hands on his shoulders.
She was nervous. Endearing. Sweet. She tasted of skies and storms. Home.
Her hands tightened on his shoulders, then moved towards his neck. Her thumb found his pounding pulse and stroked, sending a shudder of heat through him. She cupped his jaw, her calloused fingers rasped pleasurably against his stubble, making them both tremble.
Then she pushed him away – and his senses were left reeling.
What just happened?
HEART POUNDING, BREATH short, Mhysra scrambled to her feet and stumbled away, one hand on her chest, the other against her lips. Had she just -?
Had Lieutenant Lyrai just – ?
“Maegla,” she groaned, resting her forehead against a tree, unable to think about what had happened, and even more unable to look at him. What did she do now?
“MHYSRA?” THE CALL from the forest, not nearly far enough away, explained to Lyrai why they were now on opposite sides of the brook. Mhysra stood facing a tree, her back to him, fists resting against the bark, her forehead –
Was she banging her head against the trunk?
“Don’t.” Hopping to his feet, surprised he could walk after the last few memorable moments, Lyrai reached out to stop her from hurting herself.
A lightning bolt couldn’t have made her jump as much. Staggering sideways, she tripped on the undergrowth and landed with an inelegant oof.
Wonderful. As if Lyrai didn’t already feel like an ass. Now she was too embarrassed to even open her eyes, let alone look at him. She was so young; it was probably her first kiss. What had he been thinking? She was his student.
“Gods,” he muttered, turning away to scrub his hands through his hair, hoping to revive what few wits were still rattling around inside his head.
“There you are!” Corin emerged from the trees, Dhori and Jaymes in tow, draped in dragonets. “Where have you -?” She stopped, eyes widening as she took in the distance between them, the awkwardness, the fact that Mhysra was lying on the floor and Lyrai clearly hadn’t offered to help her up.
Her lips rounded in a silent O.
Great. His reputation as an ass was complete.
“NEED A HAND?”
Mhysra reluctantly opened her eyes to find Dhori in front of her, smiling sympathetically. Behind him a wide-eyed Corin was staring at Lyrai, trembling with the need to ask any number of astonished questions, but for once not quite daring. Next to her Jaymes was paying extra attention to Emberbright, his cheeks a livid, embarrassed red.
Gods, kill her now and have done. This was officially the most awkward moment of her life.
Since death was not forthcoming, she smiled ruefully and accepted Dhori’s hand. “My hero.”
“Liar,” he muttered. “You’d rather we were all a thousand miles away. Would you like us to leave?”
She looked at Lyrai just as he was glancing at her. Their eyes met and heat washed through her, more intense than any memory. They both looked away.
Dhori chuckled and squeezed her shoulder. “Come on, Corin. Looks like she didn’t get lost after all.”
“No!” Mhysra lunged for him. Everyone stared at her, probably thinking she’d lost her mind. Aware she might have overreacted a tiny bit, she cleared her throat. “Er… not lost. I just… clumsy – you know – idiot – lieutenant found me and… anyway,” she mumbled miserably, unable to look at anyone, aware she was making a complete fool of herself and wishing the ground would swallow her up.
“We should head back.” Lyrai was using his lieutenant voice, the one she hadn’t heard since the Nimbys selection school days. Cold, distant, horrible. “It’ll be dinner time soon.”
Jaymes and Corin made relieved sounds of agreement and couldn’t leave fast enough. Lyrai hesitated before heading after them, shaking his head. Leaving Mhysra alone with Dhori.
“Maegla,” she groaned, resting her head against his shoulder.
“Poor Wingborn,” he soothed, putting an arm around her. “These growing pains smart, don’t they?”
She gave a reluctant laugh, thinking he was almost as good a friend as Derrain sometimes. “Just you wait.”
He chuckled and kissed her head. “I wouldn’t give you the satisfaction. Best save your breath to kiss your prince.”
“Don’t tell me it was all a misunderstanding,” he teased. “Because that was not what it looked like. I haven’t seen that much tension between two people since Stirla and your sister said goodbye in Nimbys.” She elbowed him, but he didn’t even have the grace to feign an injury. “Come on, Wingborn, let’s get you back before the lieutenant returns in a fit of misplaced jealousy. I’m too pretty to punch.”
She hid her burning face against his side. “I hate you.”
He patted her shoulder. “Of course you do.”
~ Next Chapter ~
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