Home > Kingdom of the Cursed (Kingdom of the Wicked #2)(7)

Kingdom of the Cursed (Kingdom of the Wicked #2)(7)
Author: Kerri Maniscalco

“Your heart is beating very fast.”

His mouth grazed the lobe of my ear and—goddess curse me—I arched into the touch, feeling just how much he liked our current position.

His arousal sent a thrill all the way to my toes. I should not want this. I shouldn’t want him. But I couldn’t erase the phantom image of him bedding someone else from my mind, or the way it made me feel. I wanted to be the one he took to his bed. I wanted him to desire me in that way. And only me. It was a primal, ancient feeling.

One my future husband might not approve of, but I didn’t care. Perhaps the only approval I would seek from now on was my own. To Hell, quite literally, with all else. If I was to be queen of this realm, I would embrace each part of it—and my true self—fully.

“Tell me,” he whispered, his voice sliding like silk over my flushed skin.

“What?” My own voice came out breathless.

“I am your favorite sin.”

At the moment, I wasn’t sure I could manage to speak in full sentences. Wrath had teased me before, kissed me furiously and passionately, even, but he’d never tried seducing me.

He undid the first button on my shirt—his shirt—taking both infinite care and time meandering down to the next. All rational thoughts fled; his touch reduced me to possessing only one primitive need: desire. Raw, untamed, and endless. I felt no shame or worry or trepidation.

My chest rose and fell with each quickening beat of my pulse. Another button came undone. Followed by another. The grip on my emotions soon followed. A sizzling fire slowly consumed me from my toes upward. It was a wonder the snow beneath us hadn’t melted.

If he didn’t touch me, skin to skin, I’d combust. The fifth button popped open, leaving only a few more. I was about to rip the cursed shirt off. Sensing my urge, or perhaps finally giving in to his own, he swiftly undid the remaining buttons and pulled it open, exposing me.

From over my shoulder, he stared down at my body, his gaze darkening as his calloused hand slid across my smooth skin.

He was so tender, so attentive while he stroked my collarbone. When he pressed his palm to my heart, feeling its beat as if it was the most magical source in his world, I thought I might toss him down and bed him right then and there. His light touch was at odds with the mighty, terrifying power that emanated from him.

“Are you nervous?”

Hardly. I was enraptured. Completely at his mercy. Although one look at his raw expression indicated the opposite might be true. I managed to shake my head.

His fingers trailed lower, learning the curve beneath my breast, exploring my stomach and pausing to toy with the serpent belt I forgot I was wearing. If I turned slightly, angled myself up more, he could easily unbuckle it. Which was why he’d stopped. He was waiting for my decision. I thought it was obvious what I wanted.

“Tell me.”

I’d rather show him. Emboldened, I twisted around, winding one arm around his neck, and sunk my fingers into his raven hair. We might be in Hell, but he felt like Heaven.

His obstinate hands traveled upward to skim my breasts again. He gently squeezed them, the roughness of his skin creating pleasant friction.

He felt as good as I remembered. Better, even. I couldn’t help but gasp as his other hand finally obeyed my unspoken desires and slid in the opposite direction. It drifted across my ribs, past my stomach, and lingered right above where I wanted him to explore.

A honeyed heat pooled low in my belly.

Wrath finally slipped his fingers beneath the band of my skirt, brushing the soft skin between my hips, his touch featherlight. Goddess curse me. At the moment I didn’t care about his lies or betrayal. Nothing mattered except the feeling of his hands on my body.

“Please.” I tugged him close. Soft lips brushed against mine. “Kiss me.”

“Say it once.” He gently pulled my backside to him, offering a wicked taste of what was to come. His throbbing arousal fanned the flames of my own passions. I wished he’d do that without our clothes on. I rubbed against the hard length of him, and whatever control he’d had vanished. He captured my mouth with his, kissing me possessively, hungrily.

One of his hands remained locked on my hip and the other went under my skirts, sliding up my ankle, past my calf, then traveled between my thighs as his kiss deepened and his tongue claimed mine. His fingers were almost to the slick, aching center.

I needed him there. I groaned his name as he finally—

“While your current illusion sounds wildly interesting,” Wrath’s silky voice came from across the small enclosure, “you might want to put your clothes on. The temperature is well below freezing now.”

I jerked upright, blinking in the darkness. What in the seven hells…

It took a moment to steady my breaths and another to get my bearings. The shirt he’d let me borrow was discarded along with the cloak, and my bare skin puckered in the icy air. My skirts were wrested up around my waist as if I’d been tugging them off and failed.

I stared down at the cooling, empty spot beside me, confused.

“Is something wrong?” Perhaps my new association with House Pride prevented us from intimately associating with each other. “Did we break a rule?”

“I tried to warn you.” I couldn’t see his face but heard the satisfied, all-too-smug—and very masculine—smile enter his voice, and alarm bells started ringing. “Your longings will taunt and tease you into oblivion if you can’t control them. This is a realm of sin and desire. It depends on your vices for its survival the same way the human world requires oxygen and water. If you lose control for a second, it will pounce. And not always in the way you believe it will. For example, if you were thinking of hatred, it might test to see if the opposite could be true.”

“I—” Goddess above. My lust-addled brain finally caught up with what had happened. He’d said it was an illusion. More like a nightmare. I buried my burning face in my hands, wondering if there was a spell I could use to disappear. “That wasn’t real… any of it?”

“One thing I can promise,” his voice was deep and sensual in the dark, “is you won’t ever doubt it’s real when I touch you.”

Frustrated, embarrassed, and furious to have submitted to desiring him for even one second, I plucked up his shirt and roughly tugged it back on before flopping onto my side. “Someone’s cocky.”

“Says the person rubbing up against my c—”

“Finish that sentence and I’ll smother you in your cursed sleep, demon.”

Wrath’s low chuckle had my toes curling and my imagination flying straight back into the fiery pits of Hell. My treacherous mind replayed one little word choice over and over. He’d said when he touched me, not if. As though he planned on making that erotic fantasy a reality at some point in the future. It was a good long while before sleep found me again.

Only this time I didn’t dream of being happily seduced by the forbidden prince.

I dreamed of a vicious, violent murder. And a beautiful woman with starlight eyes, screaming a curse of vengeance into the darkest of nights.

Most disturbing of all, it felt as if I knew her. And her curse had been directed at me.




Dawn fought its way into our tiny shelter. Not that I could tell for certain what time it was. This world seemed to be stuck in a permanent state of twilight. Maybe the swift approach of the next storm was to blame. So far “overcast” was the preferred state of the atmosphere here. As if proving my theory correct, wind screeched in the distance, raising the small hairs along my arms.

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