32 weeks pregnant
Mock twisted his mouth, trying very hard not to laugh.
‘Ink dot perthi,’ Grinda said.
How he tried. But the laughter burst from his lips, echoing through the forest.
Grinda punched him hard in the shoulder. Or, at least, she thought it was hard.
He looked down at the red mark left behind. ‘What’s that? A fleabite?’
She gave him a light-hearted scowl. ‘I’m trying my best.’
‘I know you are, and I appreciate it.’ And it was cute. Those little frown lines between her eyes as she focused. ‘Learning another language is hard. I should know.’
‘How long did it take for you to learn?’
‘A few months.’
Her blue eyes widened. ‘Months? But I know almost nothing and we’ve been together almost ten!’
‘True. But you didn’t have a whip at your back to give you incentive.’
She frowned, then kissed him on the fading red mark. ‘I’m sorry.’
He sighed. ‘Stop apologising. You’re not the one who tortured me. Now, try again. And this time—’ he leant in toward her and gently took her chin—‘roll your tongue.’
Taking a breath, she closed her eyes and tried again.
‘Better.’ He kissed her on the lips.
‘But not perfect.’
Mock slung an arm around her shoulders and kissed her above the ear. ‘Give yourself time, biala. You’ll get it. Once you’re with my people, you’ll learn quickly.’
They both gazed through the trees. They were getting close now, Mock could feel it. All those old smells and sensations. It made his heart swell and plummet at the same time. So much fond and terrible memories.
‘You’re thinking about her, aren’t you?’
Her name whispered through the trees. Danna.
Mock frowned. ‘I try not to. But this place …’ Shaking his head, he raised his eyes to the canopy where the bright noonday light made the leaves glow.
Grinda pressed in close. ‘Think about her all you like, Mock. She’s a part of you.’
‘As you’re a part of me, biala.’ He kissed her on the head. ‘But I’d rather think of the future.’
He felt her smile against him as she stroked the hairs on his chest. ‘And what do you think about?’
Grinda looked up at him, her face glowing. ‘I think about them too. So much. Already, they make me so happy and they’re not even born.’ She pinched the brown skin at his waist. ‘I wonder what they’ll look like. Half-Toth, half-Quarthi.’
‘They’ll look like you, Grinda. I imagine seeing you in all their faces.’
‘No,’ she frowned. ‘I want them to look like you. I don’t want them to be different to your people.’
‘My people will get what they get. I don’t care what they might think.’
‘But our children might.’
He frowned down at her. ‘Our lives will be happy. I’ll make it so.’ He clenched his fist around his knee. ‘And I dare anyone to threaten that.’
Grinda smoothed her hand along his chest. ‘How many?’
‘How many what?’
‘How many children do you want?’
‘I want the forest filled with their laughter,’ Mock continued. ‘I want the clan terrorised by their troublemaking. I want to be exhausted and sleepless. I want to have my hands so full, my heart so swollen, my mind so tired that all I can think about is my future and their future and your future and nothing of the terrors of the past.
‘I want to know what it’s like to hold my sons in my arms, and my daughters. I want them to run to me when they’re sad. Hug me when they’re scared. Laugh and play with me.’ He pulled Grinda close, wrapping both his arms around her, enjoying the warmth of her against his skin, the feel of her breath against his neck. He stared into her eyes. ‘You don’t know how much.’
Grinda stared back, her mouth slightly open, her eyes shining with unshed tears. ‘I think I might.’ She brushed her fingers through his beard. ‘Ten children, then. Well, Zin will be born soon. It seems we’ve got a lot of work to do in the coming months.’
Mock pressed his lips to hers. ‘I wouldn’t call it work, biala.’
Grinda kissed him back. Ten children. He was exaggerating, of course. But the thought didn’t frighten her. The world could only get better with a few more Mocks running around.
She kissed him harder as he slowly dragged up her brinta. Her breasts were so swollen now, aching every time she moved or even when she didn’t. Hoisting the brinta up over them, Mock stopped to stare. His eyes were dark, he was panting, as he held them both in his big hands. A bead of milk glistened on her left nipple. He stroked it away, then pressed his mouth there. She gasped, arching her neck at the sudden sensation. She had never been so sensitive than when she was pregnant. It sent waves of burning pleasure throughout her body.
He pulled back, licking his lips, then kissed her on the mouth again. His hands lowered to her arse, one long finger stroking her lightly along her crack until she shivered. He slipped down her britches. Then his hand was between her legs, stroking softly. Like her breasts, her groin was hypersensitive too. His finger almost seemed to burn against her skin. Then it penetrated, deeply, slowly, and it was as though her whole body was boiling over.
She felt the heat fill her cheeks. ‘Mock,’ she gasped.
He dragged her into his lap, their hot groins pressed against each other, her swollen breasts pressed up against his hard chest. Kissing. Panting. Sucking. Moisture trickled down the inside of her thigh and Grinda couldn’t tell whether it was from him or from her.
Seizing her waist, he lifted her with his massive strength, his face twisted and strained as he tried to keep control. His hard cock pressed between her legs. Grinda grabbed a hold of it, directing it inside, as he slowly lowered her over him.
She gritted her teeth. It seemed to take forever. And he seemed to swell bigger and bigger the more he entered her. Slowly. Painfully—almost. Then it was done, and she was back in his lap.
Mock was panting. Grinda was gasping. His eyes were so dark they were almost black. His lashes thick and sooty. Coiling her fingers in his beard, she kissed him on the lips. Closing his eyes, he kissed her softly back. How he could be so ravenous one moment and so tender the next never stopped surprising her.
Opening his eyes, he pressed his forehead to hers. They didn’t move for a long time, simply enjoying being a part of each other. The forest disappeared. Her worries along with it.
It didn’t seem so far-fetched anymore. He stroked her cheek. She stroked his. Then they were moving. And it was as though the world was rocking along with them. His arms tightened around her shoulders. Her arms tightened around his waist. Tighter and tighter they squeezed. Faster and faster they rocked. His beard brushed against her ear as she pressed her face into the corner of his jaw.
Then it was over. Mock shuddered inside her. Grinda sucked in a breath. The forest slowly returned. The world stopped rocking. Then there was just their panting breaths and their pounding hearts.
She kissed his throat. He kissed her shoulder. Slowly, they pulled back, still holding each other, still united. The darkness had faded from his eyes. They were pink now, his smile relaxed. Brushing his fingers gently through her fringe, he kissed her on the nose.
His cock slipped out of her. She felt the hot wetness of his seed running down her thigh. And she couldn’t help but think what a waste it was. A potential child. Something more to love.
She lightly dragged her hand down his chest. ‘You’re right, bial.’
‘Right about what?’ he murmured.
She smiled, then kissed him, murmuring against his lips, ‘I wouldn’t call it work.’