Reaver’s Kiss: Chapter Seven


Apparently, I’d completely lost my mind.

At no time in my life had my plans involved falling head over heels in love. Or at least lust.

A few casual relationships, sure.

That was normal. Healthy.

But none of them had ever sparked the growing, almost desperate need that spiraled through me whenever Tirac was near.

We might not have long conversations anytime soon, but from his reaction to my taking the food from his fingers, I wasn’t the only one feeling this way.

A muscle jumping in his jawline was his only movement.

I risked a glance at that loincloth and wondered what it hid.

After a minute, he shook himself from his daze.

“This tree will be our home tonight.”

I stared up into its leafy heights.

Why this tree? I wanted to ask, but knew there wasn’t any point.

They all looked pretty similar to me, thick trunks rising straight and tall far overhead then twisting and branching out, the silver of their bark making the perfect background for the large gold heart-shaped leaves.

I looked around the circle again.

It was strange how they clustered together like this.

Almost as if they’d been planted here.

Craning my neck up, I tried to guess how tall they were, but just made myself dizzy.

Misreading my expression, Tirac thumped the tree twice with his fist, making the leaves high above us whisper as they rustled against each other.

“They are safe,” he said. “Or rather, it is.  The trunks we see are all part of a single plant deep below.” He struck it again. “While other trees of the jungle may weaken and fall with a quake, these will stay strong.”

That was good to know, but didn’t address my primary concern.

“Imnotreallygoodwithheights,” I whispered.

Tirac stooped over one of the long straight branches he’d spent the afternoon collecting.

In the light, I could tell he sorted them based on how straight they were, trimming off stray shoots with his belt knife as needed.

“Good,” he echoed. “Yes, the jobra trees are very good.”

Even as I sighed again, I had to smile a little bit.

I’d have to teach him more of my words.

“Or…” I twisted the comm bangle on my wrist, considering my options.

They all kinda sucked.

“Stay clear,” he said, breaking through my thoughts.

I glanced up to find he’d already lashed one of the ropes I’d made around the middle of the branch.

Then my jaw dropped open as he jumped straight up.

That answered one question.

As fast as I could think, he scaled the tree, hands and feet moving in a blur, that long thick tail swaying back as if to give him better balance.

My hands flew to my mouth as he passed the first set of branches radiating out from the trunk, looping the rope to one above him.

“Be careful, little one,” he called down and I stepped back quickly, his faith in my brand-new rope making skills a little disturbing.

But I shouldn’t have worried.

The vines stretched as he pulled on them, oozing a sticky sap that bound each braid into a flexible cable.

We worked in a steady rhythm all afternoon. I tied a vine rope to one of the branches, fastening the other end to a length he’d let dangle from above.

Tirac pulled the entire thing up to the fork in the tree that he’d claimed as a base, then placed the branch according to his own design.

Then he’d lower the rope and we did it all over again.

Before the shadows began to lengthen all around us, he’d secured a small platform, resting across two of the branches, lashed securely to the trunk.

He leapt down beside me, a proud smile making him even more handsome.

“Are you ready to see our new home?” he asked, encircling my waist with one arm, holding me tightly to his chest.

With a yelp, my arms shot around his neck, clinging to him.

He looked down, amused. “I would not let you fall.”

And that was all the warning I had before he made another one of those amazing jumps onto the tree.

I closed my eyes, burying my face into his chest and held my breath. Before I could make another sound, we stopped.

“See what we have made together today.”

I took a deep breath, turning my head slightly to peek.

All right, it could work. From below the platform hadn’t looked much larger than my old tablet.

From up here, I could tell it was a little larger than that.

Maybe twice the size of my tablet. That counted as larger, right?

“You do not look happy,” he said softly, peering down at me.

Get it together, Allison.

This was the man who’d killed a monster for you. Two of them, counting that stupid arsek.

He lived here, he knew what was best.

If he said this was safe, show a little gratitude.

I plastered a smile on my face and beamed at him.


But I kept my arms around his neck.

He didn’t seem to mind, instead moving to the other edge of the platform.

“We will add more here tomorrow,” he said. “And then we can add a roof.”

A roof sounded good. Like a house, not just a wooden bench tied to a tree with vines.

Besides, it wasn’t forever. It was just until we figured out how to get across the stupid, massive crack in the ground that the earthquake had made.

And then I’d be off, on my way to meet up with the rest of the girls.

“But now, we hunt,” he continued. “Do you want to stay up here?”

“No!” I yelped.

Not that I’d be any use to him while hunting. But surely there was some gathering that could be done.

Or making more rope, right? We’d need that for tomorrow.

I mimed braiding and he nodded.

“That would be wise. I’ll bring you more vines, then find something for the fire.”

A brief remembered taste of the red berries he’d brought for lunch flashed across my tongue and I licked my lips.

Tirac bent over me, his eyes darkening, and suddenly the memory of his lips on mine wiped everything else away.

His face came closer, a fierceness in his expression that had me trembling from its intensity, his tail coming up to brush against my leg leaving goosebumps in its wake.

What was I doing?

And did I want him to stop?

But before I figured out what to do about the liquid pool of want in my belly, he straightened back up.

“Dusk is coming. I must begin the hunt.”


That was for the best.

My mind still in a whirl, I barely made a squeak as he brought me back down to the ground.

My fingers braided on autopilot throughout the evening.

Some other sort of reptile was on the menu tonight. Tirac carved and wrapped it in leaves, leaving it to roast over the fire while he helped me with the vines.

“Tomorrow, I will make a new bow, find something different for our bellies,” he said. “Tonight, we’ll sleep better if we finish these.”

“Why?” I asked, but of course, he didn’t answer.

As the coals burned down, he took the finished ropes and laid them out, crisscrossing them like a net.

Something to hang under the platform, in case I rolled off?

I didn’t know if I should find that reassuring or more terrifying.

Finally, he was finished with the whatever-it-was, and the small tasks that’d quickly become my new evening routine were done.

Instead of skin cream and 100 strokes with the hairbrush, now it was watching him check the fire, making sure there was water in the skin, and finding a reasonable looking bush.

And then, I couldn’t delay any longer.

“We should sleep now,” Tirac said, slinging the net over one shoulder and holding out his hand. “In the morning, we will have much to do.”

“I can just stay down here,” I offered, pointing between me and the fire, pillowing my head on my hands. “It’ll be cozy.”

He frowned. “The fire is safe, I promise you.” But he checked it again, showing me the softly glowing coals banked under the thick layer of ash before wrapping his arm around my waist.

Trust him, I told myself, but I still closed my eyes as he scaled the trunk.

This time when we reached the platform, he let me go.

Heart pounding in my ears, I scrambled away from the edge, pressing my back against the trunk, unable to look away from the end of the platform.

“A railing would be good,” I whispered. “Or a wall. There could be a nice, tall wall, right there.”

Tirac didn’t seem to notice anything was wrong, instead climbing to a branch overhead, fastening one end of the net to it before leaping to another branch, tying the other end there.

With growing horror, I realized what he was doing.

“I’m not sleeping in a hammock,” I told him, fingers trying to claw into the tree trunk behind me.

Something in my tone caught his attention.

“I will sleep on the platform,” he waved me over. “You will be more comfortable here.”

“No. Not happening. Not now, not ever.”

He frowned at my torrent of words, head tilted to the side, then patted the netting. “Good.”


Seriously, I needed to learn more of his language.

But that was a problem for tomorrow. Right now, I needed to figure out how to get the hell out of this tree.

I glanced down. It couldn’t be that hard, right?

That was a mistake.

The shadows of the forest floor seemed to dance before me, the smooth bark I’d clung to sliding under my skin.

“Allison!” Tirac snapped, pulling me back from where I swayed over the edge.

Turning my face to his chest, I breathed deeply, his strange spicy scent grounding me, sliding as securely around me as his arms.

“Are you afraid?” he murmured softly. “Of me?”

I looked up at him, scrunched my face up to try to convey just how ridiculous that was, and shook my head.


“Of the tree?”

“No,” I whispered.

Comprehension donned across his face.

“Of being high in the tree?”


His arms tightened around me.  “It is safe. And far more comfortable than sleeping on the ground.”

I trusted him. I really did.

But the thought of crossing the platform to climb into the hammock kept my feet frozen into place.

“Here, I will show you.”

I wrapped my legs around his waist as he stepped to the hammock, trying to look at it objectively.

Three ropes dangled from the branches above to each end, and a layer of soft leaves lined the net, holding it slightly open.

Tirac’s tail twined around my waist, and feeling a tiny bit bolder with an extra tether, I peeked over the edge.

All right, the hammock wasn’t just hanging over nothing at all.

It was actually just a few feet above the platform.

That was slightly less terrifying.

I relaxed my death grip around his neck, leaning over to pull on the ropes with both hands.

He chuckled. “Nothing to fear at all.”

Maybe not, but I wasn’t getting into that thing by myself.

“Allison.” I raised one hand up, then the other. “Tirac.” Then I pressed them tight to each other before pointing at the hammock. “Together.”

No matter how he protested, I refused to get in without him.

“For someone so small, you have very large opinions.”

I laughed, the sheer ridiculousness of the situation finally overwhelming me.

“That’s the kindest way anyone has put it,” I told him.

With me still wrapped around him, he straddled the netting, then leaned back, the hammock swinging slightly as he lifted one foot then the other, until we were totally suspended.

I lay rigid against his chest, knees on either side of his hips, keeping my gaze firmly on the pattern of stripes on his chest.

Despite my expectations, we didn’t plummet to our deaths.

We didn’t even swing wildly around, instead swaying gently, the golden leaves of the trees all around us whispering to each other.

This was… not terrible?

Tirac’s hands stroked my back, kneading at my neck. Slowly I relaxed into him, stiff muscles slowly melting with his touch.

“Are you all right now?” he asked softly.

I nodded. “Good.”

Suddenly I was very aware of the hard length pushing against my belly, and the question about what was underneath his loincloth became more than theoretical.

The tension that’d strained between us all day since that kiss on the beach grew, tightening until I had to do something.

Carefully, I pushed up on my elbows until I saw his face in the moonlight.

His gaze held mine, unblinking.

I swallowed hard.

This should be scarier than sleeping in a tree.

Maybe too many things had scared me lately. Maybe there wasn’t room for another one.

I inched forward on his chest, lowering my lips to his for the lightest of kisses.


His arms hardened around me like a snare, one hand sliding down my back, fingers caressing the curve of my hip as his other hand cupped the back of my head.

“Better than good. I have no words for you.” His hand tightened slightly at my neck and I gasped, a wave of sensation running straight from his touch to my core. Immediately, he plundered my mouth, plunging his tongue against mine, stealing my breath with his demands.

I moaned, writhing against his chest, the rod of his cock grinding into my mound.

“I do not know what you have done to me,” he growled, breaking away. “And I do not care.”

Without warning, he rolled us in the hammock, his body covering mine, trapping me in the heat of his desire.

And then I was lost, his hands roving over me, his mouth claiming me as his own.

Every nerve felt like it was on fire as I melted into him, blinding need wiping away every other thought.

“Move your hands, little one,” he purred.

I blinked, dizzy from his kisses, not understanding.

“Put them here.” He moved my hands over my head. “Hold tightly. You are a gift, and I would like to take my time to explore you.”

My fingers curled around the netting, just the rumble of his words sending thrill through my belly.

He rose over me, a dark shadow against the stars, the curve of his tail over his head like a black question mark across the sky.

But as he slowly dragged my shirt up to expose my breasts, I realized every question I had could be answered by him.

My breath came in short pants as he stroked the sides of my torso, strong hands working their way slowly, inevitably towards my breasts.

At the first light touch of his fingertips, I groaned and he leaned closer.

“You must tell me if I should stop,” he whispered, lips caressing the shell of my ear before his teeth nipped at my neck, the contrast with the gentle kneading of my breasts enough to make me quiver beneath him.

He pulled away, and I almost cried out at the absence of his touch.

“Good,” I promised him, releasing the net to pull him back to me. “So good.”

His hands wrapped around my wrists as he brought them above my head again.

“I can find more rope, but I would rather not move.”

My hands clutched the hammock while my mind stuttered, unable to decide if more rope was a good thing or a bad thing.

Then I couldn’t think at all as his mouth fell on my breasts, licking and sucking, nibbling and kissing.

Tirac was talking, that slow rumbling growl only sent the burning in my veins higher, but I couldn’t understand him, couldn’t hold onto anything right now, the words slipping away from me.

Either the translator was on the blink or my mind simply could no longer process my whole world devolving to Tirac, his body over mine.

His touch.

My need.

The hammock swung slightly as I felt him shift, his hands drifting away from me.

I shook my head, trying to focus, trying to figure out what was going on.

He had moved to one side, standing on the platform, leaving me sprawled and panting before him.

“These must go,” he growled, thick fingers hooking around the waistband of my tights.

“Wait! No!”

He froze.

Oh shit.

I struggled to stand and gave up, wriggling in the hammock until I managed to push the leggings down over my hips.

“Should I help now?”

“Yes.” I should’ve been able to do it, but right now, figuring out how to get undressed in a hammock seemed impossible.

His hands skimmed down my legs, gently peeling the fabric away from my legs until I was exposed.

“I’ll be more careful in the future, little one.”

His hands caressed my thighs, long strokes moving up and down until I shook.

There was no way of knowing what he’d do next.

No way of guiding him.

Except maybe…

I reached above my head, my hands where he’d obviously wanted them.


He loomed over me again, and I moved my hands back down to cross them over my chest.


Tirac stopped, fingers tapping against my leg as I repeated the performance.

“Yes. No.”

Then I laced my hands firmly into the netting, licking my lips. “Yes.”

All throughout the day, I’d seen how smart he was.

And right now, he had a strong incentive to figure it out.

He dropped the leggings to the platform, then with one swift motion, slid his hands underneath my hips. He stepped back over the hammock, straddling it as he had before.

But this time, my legs were over his shoulders.

And I was half-naked before him.

And when his tongue stroked up the inside of my leg, my shouts were only answered by the wild cries of the birds above.

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