Home > A Strange Hymn (The Bargainer #2)(7)

A Strange Hymn (The Bargainer #2)(7)
Author: Laura Thalassa

“What are you doing?”

His hand caresses my upper thigh. “Disrobing my queen.”

That stops me completely.

Oh God, his queen.

“Des, you don’t mean that, do you?” Because—nope. Nope, nope, nope.

I’m just getting used to the idea of there even being an us. Anything more is beyond what I can handle.

“It was a turn of phrase,” he says smoothly. “If you’d rather I call you a scullery maid—”

I whack his back, which only makes him laugh again. The sound of his laughter has me relaxing again. Just a turn of phrase.

As he carries me, his own pants slide off his hips and down his ankles. Gracefully, he steps out of them.

And now we’re both naked.

Ahead of us, the grand bathtub’s spigot turns itself on.

He steps into the giant tub, setting me carefully on my feet. For a moment, I stare at my soulmate, his face just as painfully lovely as the first time I laid eyes on him, his white hair loose. His crown and war cuffs are gone, and the only remaining adornment he wears is the ink that runs down his arm.

Without clothes, Des is all the more appealing, his torso massive, large ropes of muscles cording it.

Just as I drink him in, he drinks me in, his eyes moving to my breasts, then downwards, to my waist and hips.

He steps in close, tilting my chin up. “I want to be good at this, cherub. At us.”

I reach out and run a hand down his sleeve of tattoos, my finger lingering over the tears inked onto his skin. “I do too.”

For several seconds, the only sound is the spray of water filling up the tub we stand in. Then, out of the near silence, Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” comes on, the song filling the room.

Just as I look around for the phantom speakers that must be playing the music, I catch sight of a polished wood tray resting to the side of the tub, On it sits a steaming mug of coffee, an espresso (in an impossibly small cup), and a plate of macaroons. It’s our usual order from Douglas Café.

And for whatever reason, that does me in.

I take a shaky breath and laugh, though it comes out more like a sob. “Stop it,” I say, my voice soft and rough all at the same time.

But rather than stopping, Des pulls me in close, his pretty, pretty muscles pressed against my soft curves.

He leans in, his lips a hair’s breadth from mine. “Never.”

Chapter 5

Des is a romantic.


That’s so not what my heart needed. It’s not like there’s any turning back at this point, but still. It wounds my ego a little to know how easily I can be done in by a few thoughtful gestures.

Close to an hour after the two of us get in the tub, I step out of it, my stomach full of macaroons and coffee as I dry myself off. I watch Des—wings and all—as he saunters out of the room, a towel wrapped low around his waist.

Once he gets to the far side of the bed, his towel drops to the ground, and holy virgins and saints, that backside is everything.

I wrap my own towel the best I can around myself, accidently plucking a few of my feathers in the process, my eyes fixed on the Bargainer. I am absolutely creeping on this man right now and I have zero regrets.

He glances over his shoulder at me, his pale hair slicked back. I should be embarrassed that he caught me blatantly ogling him, but his own expression heats at whatever he sees in mine.

We still haven’t done anything together—naked espresso-drinking and macaroon-eating aside—and the need to rectify that situation is beginning to grow.

I ring out my hair as I pad into his bedroom, the hanging lanterns above us glowing softly.

I’m about to head over to the fancy armoire already stocked with a million fae outfits for me when Des reaches into a dresser drawer near the bed and tosses me a black piece of clothing. I catch it, the material soft beneath my fingertips.

“What’s this?” I ask.

“A concession prize. It’s the next best thing to earth I can give you.”

I furrow my brows.

He nods to the garment in my hand, and reluctantly I tear my gaze from his to shake the faded material open.

A huge grin spreads across my face when I see the giant lips and tongue printed across the faded T-shirt. It’s one of Des’s vintage Rolling Stone’s shirts.

“That’s on loan to you,” he says.

“On loan?” I say, raising my eyebrows.

Des steps into a loose pair of pants. “Just because I love you doesn’t mean I’m going to give you one of my most prized possessions.”

He just made it official: I now fully intend to keep this shirt.

Taking my cue from Des, I let my towel drop to the ground and drag the shirt over my shoulders. My light mood wipes away the moment the hem of the shirt comes in contact with my wings.

I forgot all about them. Now that I have wings, I can’t just pull clothing over my shoulders.

Before I can consider throwing myself a pity party, the T-shirt’s soft material, which was bunched just above my wing joints, now slips down my back as if there were no obstacle in the way, the hem of the shirt falling to mid-thigh.

My head snaps up to Des, who’s smirking a little. “How did you—?”

“Magic, love.”

I reach around my back, feeling for where my wings connect to my back. The edges of the shirt split around my wing bones.

I’m so focused on the logistics of Des’s shirt that I fail to see the way he stares at me. It’s not until he disappears, reappearing at my side, that I take notice.

He fingers the hem of the shirt. “This looks good on you.”

I freeze.

Des is all coiled purpose. His eyes flick to mine. We’re just moths circling a flame.

It’s right then that a yawn slips out.


I’m not tired—I mean, I am—it’s been a long day, from waking up early to the hours-long training session, to watching a man get eaten by a living nightmare—but I’m not tired enough to miss out on this.

Des’s eyes drop to my mouth. Whatever passion took him over a moment before, he tucks it away.

I want to cry out when I see him slip on the respectful mask he used to wear back when I was in high school. For all his wicked tendencies, he can be surprisingly chivalrous.

He tugs the edge of my shirt. “We’re not done with this yet,” he says, his voice still rough with promises of sex.

He drags me to bed, and I almost think that the man hasn’t been deterred by my yawn.

Des’s wings disappear so he can roll on his back. A moment later, he pulls me half onto his chest. The way he holds me … the dude has definitely shelved getting frisky for the moment.

I could probably make him reconsider, but damn, there might literally be nothing comfier than being curled up against Des.

“Tell me a secret,” I whisper.

“Another one?” He looks so legitimately put out that I laugh.

I can’t even remember the last secret he told me—was it about his friendship with Malaki?

“Yes, another one,” I say.

He groans and pulls me tighter. “Fine—but only because I like you.”

I smile a little against him.

Can’t believe asking him actually worked.

Des smooths a hand over my feathers. “The only thing I dislike about your wings is that they hide your ass—and I really like your ass.”

The room is silent for all of three seconds, and then I can’t contain my laugh.

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