“We can’t wait for anything. I’m greedy for time with you.”

He grinned as he ran his thumb over my forehead. Had I smudged paint there?

“Neither of us has experience with this,” I said. “But if you ever have questions, talk to me, okay? If you ever need something, you have to let me know.”

Nod. “If you will talk to me as well.”

“I promise.”

His tone grew husky as he added, “At present, I do have an urgent need.” His deep voice made my heart race.

I wetted my lips. “What’s that?”

“To wash this paint off my wife.” He leaned down and took my mouth. How could I have already gotten so addicted to his kiss? He slanted his mouth, deepening the contact.

Between kisses, we somehow managed to strip each other and make it into the shower. We washed and explored.

His rough hands on my breasts. My palms gliding over his chest and lower.

I nuzzled his runes and licked the skin. As I had in my dream, I followed the slashing marks down.

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He realized my intention, and a gust of breath left his lips. Eyes aglow, he threaded his fingers through my hair. The lower I went, the more his hands shook on my head. His breaths grew hoarse.

When I kissed, he gave a yell and bucked. Agonized sounds burst from his chest because I was sending him into the throes. Emboldened, I took him between my lips.

“Sievā,” he brokenly rasped. “Sievā! Gods almighty!” Yet even as his body quaked, he reverently caressed my face with the backs of his fingers. . . .

_______________

“You told me we would rewrite history,” he said as I lay against his chest later that night.

I was tracing his runes, relaxed and languid. Though he’d never had sex before me, he must’ve noted some wicked tricks over his long life.

My fingertip glided over a tattoo. “I dreamed of kissing these, following each one down your body. Even when I hated you, I had sexual dreams about you.”

“Welcome to my entire existence,” he said wryly. “When I got these marks, I never imagined they would guide your beautiful lips toward my delight. Tell me, was that a stray impulse?”

“I was imagining it as I painted the wall.”

“Again, you premeditated!” I slapped his chest, and he chuckled. “If you give me the name of the contraceptive shot you had, I will source for more of them. I am keen that nothing interrupts our enjoyment of each other.” His tone indicated the understatement of the millennium.

“It’s called Depo-Provera. It’s supposed to last three months or so, and Paul has a few more doses.” When he’d injected me, I’d said, “The idea of living another three months feels far-fetched right now.” He’d replied, “Better safe than sorry, huh?”

Aric nodded. “I will be on the lookout for it.”

“You are not going anywhere without me, Reaper. The sooner you accept this as fact, the easier your life will be.” Husband training a two-millennia-old man was going to be a challenge.

Aric raised a brow at that. Then, seeming to make a decision, he eased me aside to get out of the bed. “I have something for you.” As he strode to our closet, I gawked at the sight of his flawless body.

The return view was even more rewarding.

He sat beside me and handed me a small jewelry box. “I want you to have this.”

I opened the box, finding a gorgeous gold ring, engraved with runes that called to mind his tattoos. An oval of amber adorned the band. Beautiful. The warm color reminded me of his eyes whenever he was pleased.

“It was my mother’s.” He took the ring out. “I never gave this to you in the past. But would you honor me by wearing it now?”

I nodded breathlessly. “Yes.”

“My homeland was famous for amber—from pine.” He slipped the ring on my finger, and it fit perfectly. Holding my gaze, he said, “We are wed now.”

First priest I find, I’m goan to marry you. Jack’s words. I recalled the love blazing from his gray gaze before I stifled the memory. “Aric, th-this is so beautiful. Thank you.”

“I’m pleased you like it.” He lay down again, pulling me against him.

I laid my palm over his heart, gazing at my wedding ring. “Of all the stones . . .” The symbol of his parents’ marriage had been derived from trees. Another waypoint.

“The amber’s significance wasn’t lost on me.” He grazed his fingertips up and down my back.

I bit my bottom lip. “I don’t have a ring for you yet.” However, I did have an idea where to get one. . . .

“I would wear yarn tied around my finger if it told the world I was taken by you.”

“If I’m your lawfully wedded wife, shouldn’t you call me by my name?” He parted his lips to speak, but I cut him off: “You’re about to tell me that my ever-changing names don’t matter, and maybe they didn’t in the past. But Evie is the Empress who was smart enough to give you a shot. E-V. Just toss the idea around and get back to me.”

He grinned. “I will toss the idea around.”

“And one more thing,” I told him. “I want you to read my chronicles.”

His hand stilled. “You mean that.”

“Of course. Even though I’m worried they’ll make you hate me again.”

“Impossible.”

Then I recalled some of Aric’s recent barbs. “On second thought, I should probably hold them back—since I’m not in your alliance and all.”

“What are you talking about?”