He sank to his knees before her, abandoning his resistance completely, and she drew him to her, cradling his head in her lap, and stroking his hair.
Still kneeling in front of her, he wrapped his arms around her hips and drew her from the bed and into him, connecting them from their knees to their noses, his arms supporting her weight. For a moment she hovered slightly above him, her hands braced on his shoulders, eyes searching, wanting but waiting, until the exquisite became the excruciating, and he wound one hand in her hair, lifted his chin, and pulled her to him, mouth to mouth.
He kissed her, taking her to the floor because he was too overcome to stand, clinging to her body because he was too undone to go slow. The storm pounding in his limbs and in his belly began to build in his heart, seeping through his skin and gathering in the corners of his eyes. He wanted to weep. It was the strangest sensation, the most puzzling reaction he’d ever experienced. He wanted to lay his head on Sasha’s chest and weep.
Instead he breathed against her lips, withdrawing enough to move his mouth along the delicate bones of her collar, over the swell of her breasts, before he paused, his eyes closed, his forehead pressed to her abdomen.
He was happy. The feeling surged through him, an echo of the swelling he’d felt when Sasha had told him his kisses made her joyful. He was . . . happy. And he wasn’t killing anything. There wasn’t a sword in sight or a birdman in the sky. He was lying on a stone floor with Sasha in his arms, her hair twined around them, her hands on his face, her heart pounding beneath his cheek, and he was perfectly and completely happy.
“There once was a man named Kjell of Jeru who could pull trees from the ground with his bare hands,” he began, not even knowing exactly what he was going to say.
“So he was a very strong man?” Sasha asked, not missing a beat.
“Yes. The strongest.”
She laughed softly, the tremor making her body move against his.
“He could wrestle lions and toss bears and once killed ten birdmen with his bare hands. But the man was lonely. And his heart was dark.”
“Not so dark,” she murmured.
“Shh. It is my story.”
She pinched him and he rose up to kiss her again, punishing her mouth with his lips and his tongue, unable to help himself.
After a breathless moment he withdrew, panting, his eyes still on her mouth, even as he tried to refocus his thoughts. Sasha’s eyes pleaded and her lips begged, and he knew if he didn’t continue with his story now, there would be no more conversation.