This is an exclusive preview of Chapter 12 from my upcoming steamy monster romance novel, Monster's Bride. Enjoy!
Chapter 12. Sera
Sunlight streamed through the library’s vaulted windows, gilding the dust motes dancing lazily through the air. I sat tucked in an alcove beside Rhys, surrounded by a chaotic pile of albums and playlists. Officially, we were selecting music for the Starry Night Ball; but lately, our sessions had inevitably devolved into stolen caresses and hungry kisses.
Ever since the snarevine’s attack, the wire of desire thrumming between us had become a relentless force, leaving me distracted and all too aware of Rhys’ every breath and movement. Even now, my gaze strayed more often to the graceful line of his neck bared temptingly before me than the task at hand.
His heavenly scent permeated my lungs—smoke and pine needles with a hint of spice. The heady mixture enveloped my senses, making concentrating nearly impossible. I could feel the heat from his body so near to mine, the sound of his steady breathing. My skin prickled pleasurably at his nearness. With some effort, I tried refocusing on the open album in my lap. We really did need to finalize the band and song list soon before the Headmistress lost patience.
Sensing my frustration, Rhys leaned closer, his warmth washing over me.
“Hey Seraphina, what do you think of this group?” he asked softly. “Their sound seems perfect for the Starry Night Ball. We might consider adding them to the audition list.”
I managed to tear my eyes away from his face long enough to see the video clip illuminated on his phone. As the haunting music filled my ears, I couldn’t deny it was a perfect fit.
“Absolutely,” I agreed, nodding. “Great find, Rhys.”
His eyes lit up at my praise, making my heart flip pleasantly. “I’m glad we’re working together on this,” he said. “You have a great ear for music.”
I felt my cheeks flush with shy pleasure. “Likewise.” It wasn’t just his kind words that moved me—simply having him near made me feel enveloped in a protective bubble where nothing could touch us. With Rhys beside me, I found the courage to face each day.
Our gazes caught and held, the unfinished work around us forgotten... Unable to resist, I leaned over to brush my lips against the tender spot beneath his ear, eliciting a satisfying shiver. Rhys turned, eyes smoldering, to capture my mouth fully. The albums lay abandoned as I lost myself in his embrace. He kissed me tenderly yet thoroughly, leaving me dizzy and breathless, the rest of the world receding.
His kiss became deeper and more demanding, our hands exploring each other’s bodies—gods, I wanted him. I longed to be full of him, and only him. I pulled back and looked into his eyes, my breath choppy. His own breathing was heavy as his fierce eyes roved my face, searching for the answer to an unspoken question.
Rhys gently trailed a finger down my cheek and along my jawline before lifting my chin so our eyes met again. His gaze was soft yet smoldering, like melted chocolate with notes of fire underneath. All thoughts fled from me as his lips descended on mine once more in a feverish exploration that felt both familiar and new all at once. I gasped softly at the sensation of his warmth against me—electricity raced through every nerve ending in my body, and I shivered in pleasure and anticipation for what was to come next.
As he deepened the kiss further, we locked together in a blissful dance of desire that seemed to last an eternity. His hands roamed tantalizingly over my body, as if he were memorizing every curve and contour with his fingertips. The heat between us rose higher until it felt like my very soul had been set ablaze by him alone.
His firm hand dipped between my knees and climbed beneath my wool-pleated skirt, caressing my inner thigh with determined intent. I quaked with anticipation as his fingers deftly danced over familiar, forbidden places. His touch inched higher and higher until it reached my most intimate spot, sending electric shocks through my body. Lazily, his fingers pumped inside and out of me, and a wave of exquisite rapture washed over me like the cresting ocean.
Rhys quickened the pace, and my body arched against the chair, trapped between the wall and his commanding form. As I came closer to the edge, I could no longer restrain my muted moans of pleasure. But Rhys silenced my cries with a fervent kiss as I quivered and shuddered in his arms.
He pulled away slowly—painfully slowly—and we stared into each other’s eyes for what felt like an eternity.
My lips still tingling from his kiss, I watched Rhys as mixed emotions warred inside me: happiness for the passionate moment we’d just shared; sadness that it had ended too soon; fear that it might never happen again.
We both remained silent, lost in the moment until eventually our surroundings gradually returned to us. The albums were still scattered on the ground. Rhys absently trailed his fingers down my arm when his touch stilled abruptly, gaze sharpening. I didn’t need to follow his eyes to know what had concerned him. A mottled bruise circled my wrist, courtesy of Drazhan’s vicious grip in our latest encounter.
Rhys took my hand gently, rage simmering beneath his quiet exterior. “Who did this to you?” Though spoken softly, the question demanded an answer.
When I hesitated, that dangerous light flickered in his eyes. My lips parted, but no words came through.
“Tell me,” he compelled.
I glanced away, shame turning my neck hot. Our joyous bubble had burst, harsh reality intruding once more. With a heavy exhale, I unraveled the bitter tale, laying bare every cruel taunt and vicious prank Drazhan had subjected me to since the term’s start. Rhys listened silently, jaw twitching, but he held his tongue until I had finished.
“Why did you not tell me sooner?” Hurt colored his words.
I clasped his hands beseechingly. “I did not wish to spoil our happiness. Please don’t blame yourself—Drazhan would torment me whether you were here or not.”
Rhys’ gaze gentled, but remained shadowed with remorse. “You should not have had to endure such cruelty. I will set this right. You have my word.” Dark promise edged his solemn vow. I didn’t doubt he would teach Drazhan a blistering lesson. But fire could not drive out fire. More violence would only breed greater discord in the end.
“Let it go,” I pleaded softly. “He’s not worth sullying yourself over. All I need is your comfort.” To emphasize it, I wrapped my arms around him, laying my head over his heart. His rapid pulse gradually slowed as he folded me close.
“You are far too forgiving, my light,” he whispered into my hair.
I squeezed him tighter, aching with gratitude for this patient, steadfast man who had weathered so much hatred with the capacity for gentleness somehow still intact. “Your love is enough,” I murmured. “As long as I have you close, the rest shall sort itself out in time.”
A deep sigh rumbled through his chest. “Your boundless faith continually humbles me.” He drew back to cup my face, eyes grave with tender emotion. “I vow you shall never have cause to regret placing your precious trust in me, Seraphina.”
The way he spoke to me—always with my full name, with such meaningful intent—shot a thrill through my core. My heart clenched with the depth of feeling welling inside me. Rhys made me believe anything was possible, even taming the demons of our past. Together, we would build something pure and enduring, our love proved stronger by weathering these early storms. I would spend every day striving to be worthy of this rare gift fate had bestowed on me.
“Kiss me again and seal that vow,” I breathed, our lips meeting to reaffirm the promises carried in each searing caress. The outside world ebbed away, leaving only Rhys and I wrapped in our haven of light against gathering shadow.
Monster’s Bride is book eleven in the Blackthorn Academy for Supernaturals shared world, featuring a brooding cursed gargoyle shifter, a sassy witch, an extraordinary battle between light and darkness, and more.