A Knight's Sacrifice

Chapter Three

Audric had snuffed all but two of the candles, throwing his bedchamber into deep shadows. His shutters were wide open, letting in the soft, late-summer breeze, cooling the room slightly. It was still sticky and hot, and Audric shed his robe, standing naked near the bank of windows. The breeze felt much better, kissing the sweat on his body and making him moan softly. These nights, even with the unbearable heat, had been some of Malin's favorites.

A small, sad smile curved Audric's lips. Memory was a potent bedmate, and he closed his eyes, remembering vividly the last summer he'd spent with his lover. Oh, how he'd wanted to simply run off to the lake, swim and make love in the water until the heat was forgotten. Malin, though, hadn't wanted such relief. He could hear him now, laughing as he stripped Audric, pushed him to the warmth of the bed.

"I like you sweaty, Audric," Malin whispered, hands gliding down his king's body with such knowledge that Audric was soon arching, begging with body and voice for relief.

"It's too hot," he'd argued as Malin had bent his mouth to him. He'd cried out, sank his fingers into the russet hair. "Too damn hot!"

Malin had chuckled, rich and low, sending a thrill through Audric. "It's going to become much hotter, Sire, just you wait."

It had. Every summer had been the same. Summer had been Malin's season. Bright and hot and far too short.

Audric opened his eyes and swiped at a wayward tear that trickled down his cheek. A knock at his door pulled him from the bittersweet memories. He thought to send the intruder away, but he knew the one knocking was the knight he'd sent for. Again. And he would send for him the following night, too, he just knew it. He needed the knight, needed... Malin.

"Come!"

Jarrett entered his bedchamber, dressed simply in trousers and tunic, his feet still in his boots. The flickering candles hid a multitude of small differences between the dead lover and the living one, and Audric didn't fight the fantasy.

Audric smiled and held out his hand, repeating, "Come."

Without hesitation, Jarrett crossed the room, his hair loose, like rust around his pale face. Audric lifted his hands, ran them over the fabric of Mal—Jarrett's—it was Jarrett with him, his mind whispered—tunic. "It's much too hot to be even moderately clothed," Audric murmured.

"Yes," Jarrett replied, his voice pitched low, just the way Malin would when they were alone. "Much too hot."

"Strip."

Mal—Jarrett, dammit, it was Jarrett—pulled the tunic up over his head, dropping it into a heap on the floor. Before he could begin to remove his boots and trousers, Audric had stepped close again, his hands moving over hot, damp, flushed skin. So much smoother than Malin's, younger. Yes, he was just as broad, but there was muscle yet to appear on Jarrett's torso. In time, though, Audric thought, Jarrett would look almost as Malin did in that final year they'd spent together.

In time.

For now, Audric brushed his thumbs over Jarrett's nipples, tilted his lover's head so their lips brushed. "I want you naked."

Malin smiled, and it was devastatingly beautiful. "I believe I was doing just that when you stopped me."

The teasing brought a smile to Audric's lips, too, and he stepped back, his hand wrapping around his half-hard cock and pumping slowly. "How can I keep my hands to myself? I never could with you."

Something flickered in Malin's eyes, something Audric couldn't quite place, and then he was smiling again, a dark edge to the usually sweet lips. "Restraint was never your strong suit with me," Malin purred as he toed off his boots and began to tug at the lacing of his trousers. Malin's gaze was then drawn down to Audric's shifting hand, and Audric recognized that expression immediately.

"I've been thinking about you non-stop all day," Audric panted, tightening his hand. "Thought I would go crazy before the day ended and you'd come to me."

Malin's trousers pooled at his ankles, and he stepped out of them, hard and ready for Audric. Audric couldn't help but lick his lips as his eyes trailed over the thickness jutting out from the fiery hair between Malin's legs. Malin grinned, openly amused and aroused. "Enough talk, Audric. You always talked too much."

There was no use in arguing. Audric stepped forward, drawing Malin into a deep, possessive kiss. An odd moment of hesitation from Malin nearly pulled him out of the kiss, but then Malin's hands were on him, moving down his front, circling around his waist, and kneading firmly at his backside. Calloused fingers played along his sweaty skin, and the tingling heat of the touch coupled with the breeze from the window. Audric shuddered, marveling at the way a single dominant caress from Malin could still make his knees weak.

Their tongues curled, teasing one another, but still there was that hint of submission from Malin that Audric couldn't understand. Perhaps something was weighing heavily on Malin's mind. There were a thousand different things that could be wrong—not the least of which could be the Lady Primeveire's arrival tomorrow—but rather than guessing at them, Audric took the lead, thrusting his tongue deeper and tugging lightly at a handful of Malin's hair.

His name was a long moan from deep within Malin's chest, and he grinned as he nibbled down Malin's throat and rubbed their cocks together. "Mmm?" he purred, reveling in the groan he pulled from Malin by teasing his fingertips against Malin's entrance.

"I want..."

Malin's voice trailed off, but Audric smiled and nipped at Malin's ear. "I know." Malin never really had to ask him for anything. They had been together for so long that reading one another's needs was second nature. He massaged Malin's hole before dipping one finger inside a fraction, and Malin melted against him, moaning into his hair.

Audric's cock twitched, and he brought his hands back up Malin's torso, already slick with sweat, skin prickling with excitement. He loved that sensation, knowing how aroused the heat and breeze made Malin. For a moment, it was like no time had passed between them. They were years younger, sharing a summer tryst without a care, their kingdom still strong and secure. Malin had driven him mad with need most summer nights. To give Malin the same treatment now made his cock ache.

He pulled back, making to turn Malin around and bend him over the edge of the bed a few steps away, but Malin's muscles rippled, tensing against him, and he looked up with a raised eyebrow.

Malin swallowed thickly, and again, that strange expression appeared, so foreign, so unlike Malin. "Like this, Audric," Malin whispered, keeping their bodies pressed close, face-to-face. "I want you to take me like this."

"Standing?" Audric teased, smirking when that hint of uncertainty melted away from Malin's features, replaced by frustration and desire. Yes, that expression was much better. He carded his fingers through Malin's hair and nodded. "Lie back."

Malin's eyes, deeply shadowed, never left his as he climbed back onto the bed. He settled against the pillows, his legs wantonly spread. Audric cast back in his memory, wondering when he'd last made love with Malin like this. He frowned a little as he gathered the oil, something tugging at his mind. Not recently, no, it had been mostly fucking followed by sleepy cuddling. He'd been remiss in giving the softer, more tender touches, and Audric set to rectifying that.

"We haven't done this in too long," he said, mounting the bed. Audric crawled up between Malin's splayed legs, lapped at the plump head of his cock. Again, something nagged at him—the taste wasn't quite right, the size just a little off—but Audric shoved the misgivings aside. He hadn't blown Malin in months, after all. Perhaps his memory was playing tricks on him as it tended to do on the nights Malin came to him. He turned his eyes up to Malin at the moan that filled the silence, his heart hammering in his chest. "You taste thick... so thick..."

"Enough talk," Malin growled, need shining in his eyes as his hand cupped the back of Audric's head and brought it back to his cock.

Audric didn't fight Malin. He didn't want to. He drew the shaft between his lips, sucked him in with a groan, and lost himself to the stretch Malin's cock always was in his throat. Bobbing up and down, riding Malin's eager, impatient thrusts, Audric oiled his fingers and eased two inside his lover. Without grief and lust clouding his mind, Audric indulged in the foreplay. He spread the oil deep, teased that gland inside, a spike of need moving through him when Malin cried out and bucked up into his mouth.

It was wonderful and slow, easy and familiar. Even if Malin's smell wasn't quite right—perhaps his lover had spent far too much time with the horses today—it was still everything he'd spent the day fantasizing about. Audric pulled off Malin's cock, kissed his way up the wet, burning skin of his stomach and chest, until their lips touched. "I want inside you," he breathed into the parted lips.

"Then stop wasting time and take me," Malin ordered, nipping at Audric's lower lip.

Even receiving, Malin was perfectly dominant. Audric pulled his fingers from Malin as they kissed and slicked his cock. The kiss started brief, but he couldn't help but deepen it, thrusting his tongue between the welcoming lips and claiming every inch of Malin's mouth as his. The summer heat only made the heat between them that much hotter, and Audric tore his mouth from Malin's when he pushed forward, slipped easily into Malin's body. Malin arched his body, offered himself so selflessly, so willingly, and Audric fell in love with the man all over again as he settled root-deep within Malin.

It wasn't the rough, desperate fucks they had shared more and more often of late. The glide was perfect, allowing his cock to thrust slow and deep. When he finally became dizzy from Malin's kisses, he drew back a fraction and panted into that vibrant hair he so loved. Even in the low light, Malin's hair glimmered with copper and flames. He inhaled Malin's scent, the spice of his musk amid the strong aroma of sweat, horses, and wild grass.

Malin's hands wandered over his skin, tracing the ragged lines of his scars. There was such reverence in that touch, such familiarity. It made Audric sink deeper into his pace, rocking Malin into the bed and sucking over the area of Malin's throat that vibrated with each moan. The throb of his own pulse was maddening, a tempo sending heat across his skin in blistering waves, faster and stronger with each thrust.

As his thrusts became more desperate, Malin cried out and tugged sharply at his hair, forcing his face up from Malin's throat for a hungry kiss. He barely caught a glimpse of those beautiful green eyes, the large pupils ringed with gold—gold? when had Malin's eyes borne a kiss of gold?—but that flash of color remained behind his closed eyes as they kissed, the pleasure mounting.

They spiraled higher and higher, feeding off one another's moans and clinging as much as their sweaty forms would allow. Audric snaked a hand between their bodies and pumped Malin's cock just as motes of light invaded his own vision. When his climax came, it was with a flash of brightness and a blast of heat so intense that it nearly felt cold. In the haze of his own release, he barely felt the splash of fluid over his palm, barely heard the cry of pleasure coupled with his own deep moans.

Audric sagged against Malin, his kisses wet and sloppy as he panted in the aftermath. Gods above, had it ever been this good? This right? He nuzzled against Malin's throat, murmuring against the heated flesh. "Love you... love you so much..."

Malin's fingers combed through his hair, caressed his ears. "I love you, too."

The heat sapped the last of his energy, and Audric pulled out, laid beside Malin. Within moments, Malin's arms were around him, holding him as if he was the most precious thing in Malin's life. The thought made Audric smile lazily as he stroked his hand through the cooling seed on Malin's stomach. "I don't want a night to pass without you here with me," he admitted. "We've spent too much time apart."

A kiss was pressed to the crown of his head, and Malin's arms tightened. "Every night?"

Audric nodded against Malin's chest, half-asleep. "Every night." There was a strange, long silence. It pulled Audric up from that drowsing state. Why wouldn't Malin want to spend every night with him? Well, every night within reason, but it would be most nights. He tilted his head, tried to meet Malin's eyes, but his lover was too deep in the shadows, the angle of their hands preventing him from seeing Malin's expression. "Malin?"

"Every night," Malin repeated again, and Audric caught that faint, sad smile on Malin's lips before Malin forced his head back against his chest. They settled there, the sheets kicked to the foot of the bed. "I can think of nothing better than every night in your bed, Audric."

"Me, either," Audric yawned, sleep pulling at him. "It's about... damn... time."

The last thing he heard was Malin sighing, and the sound was so resigned, so sad, and Audric didn't understand it. Why would Malin be resigned to a nightly routine? Maybe it was because of Primeveire. Yes, yes, it was because of Primeveire. He would have to speak with Malin about it tomorrow night, assure him of his place. Cuddling closer despite the heat, Audric smiled against Malin's chest.

Malin's place was here, with him, in his bed.




All works contained here are copyrighted to S.L. Armstrong. No reproduction or usage is permitted without written, express consent by the author.