This scene from Dancer’s Flame includes spoilers from book one: Death’s Dancer. If you haven’t read Death’s Dancer yet, you may want to skip this for now. Don’t worry, it will still be here when you’re done!
Midnight in the garden
A goddess tilted her face up to the sky, drinking in the stars and the distant moon and her own thin breath, and wondering what greater magic there was than this. Her skin prickled. She relished the sensation of gooseflesh and the tickling of hair on her shoulder blades and breasts.
The other stirred fitfully in the back of her mind. Sleep, little one, she stroked it tenderly. Tonight is for me.
She lifted her arms, bathed in the moonlight, and danced.
Azrael woke alone in the dark. His fingers reached for Isela. The sheets where she should be were rumpled but cool. He sat up.
Lysippe? A quick scan of the room determined Isela was gone.
The garden. Her telepathic voice was terse, worried.
Azrael leapt from the bed, tugging on the pants discarded hours ago when Isela had decided to show him her own version of the dance of seven veils. Returning arousal at the memory was immediately dampened by unease. He may not have been able to read Isela’s mind, but even when she turned restlessly in her dreams he was aware of her. What happened?
Barefoot, he jogged down the stairs. The glass doors to the garden stood wide open. Rory waited on the other side, scowling.
“Thought it best for Lysippe to keep an eye on her until you got here,” Rory grunted, thrusting a bit of fabric at him.
It took him a moment before he recognized the heavy silk. Isela’s robe. He looked at Rory. The bigger man shrugged, articulating his opinion without words: your choice, your problem, mate.
Azrael followed two pair of tracks through the snow-dusted garden. He recognized only Lysippe’s. He stepped over a familiar crumpled length of cotton jersey. Isela’s nightshirt.
Lysippe stood in the shadows cast by the trees circling the fountain. The old winter palace, long ago closed up, loomed in the background. He followed her gaze.
Isela danced in the moonlight, clothed only in the spill of her sleep-tousled hair. She’d been in the fountain; water dappled over the velvet expanse of her brown skin. The pale moonlight caught in droplets and glittered like jewels. Her muscles bunched and lengthened as she swept through wild, uncoordinated movements.
Desire jetted through him even as the hair on his arms stood on end.
Lysippe said, Rory called me when she started—
Her brow rose. Isela cartwheeled, missed the landing and tumbled into the snow, laughing. Snow clumped in her hair, mud on her elbows and knees. He’d seen her perform more acrobatic maneuvers. She didn’t just fall.
Lysippe dropped back into the shadow of the tress.
Azrael turned his attention to his consort. “Little Wolf.”
She didn’t respond. He stepped forward. She was on her feet again, dancing. The movements were uncontrolled and uncoordinated, like a child’s.
He raised his voice. “Isela.”
She froze, deer like, and turned to him. He’d followed the contours of her face a hundred times with his fingertips. Fast asleep or in the throes of passion, he knew every curve. Whatever was looking out at him wore her features like a mask.
It was said that gods had no language before humans danced for them, but it wasn’t entirely true. Most had just forgotten it by then.
“Goddess.” He spoke in the oldest tongue, the one he used to summon the dead and command the essence of his power.
Eyes the color of molten gold fixed on him. “Be gone, death dealer. This night is mine.”
“Where is she?”
“Her heart was heavy, I offered to lighten it.” The goddess curled around herself as if cradling a child. “She sleeps. Safe as a babe.”
“This was not the agreement you made,” he said.
The goddess flung out her arms as she stalked toward him. Her mouth curved, teasing. “How do you know what bargain was made, between she and I, oh Lord of Death?”
She slid against him. His body responded and she smiled.
“I know Isela,” he said into the gilded pools of her eyes. “She would not want this.”
“She wanted you so badly, she would have agreed anything.” Her mouth brushed his. “Now I know why.”
His arousal throbbed, painful. She danced her fingertips down his chest, nails having tracks as they went.
“Come, death dealer,” she whispered. “Let this night be ours. Do you think you can bring a goddess to her knees?”
TO BE CONTINUED in Dancer’s Flame…
© Jasmine Silvera
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