A Star in the Sky
Chapter 21-24 from Orna's POV
The beat pulsed around the camp. Night winds blew. Fires cackled. And both Fae and humans held their breaths, hearts beating in time to the Fire Dancer’s thumping steps. Her body twirled and undulated. She spoke a story, sang a song. Her cries of rage screamed with every flick of her wrists and every pivot of her heel.
It was no wonder she was infamous.
Orna could imagine Shula before a crowd of thousands, enrapturing each one with the tale she wove using nothing more than her body. It was a tale that no one could understand, but everyone could feel.
Orna’s body vibrated, the Unseelie savagery in her blood awakening. It was the revelry. The thumping heartbeats. It was the magic that danced along Shula’s fingertips and enveloped her like caressing hands.
And when it ended, there was silence. Like no one dared to breathe. She weaved magic and awe with her body, and everyone was caught up in it, as if it were a web of glamor, clinging to them with sticky threads. It was a heady fog, one that was broken when the strong arm of the Fae named Julius was thrown around Shula’s shoulders.
“Now that’s how we start a party!” He raised his glass, then swallowed the contents in one go.
Everyone jerked out of their stupors. The music resumed, alcohol was ingested, dancing thrummed along the ground. All the while, Orna’s heart was pounding, her body trembling. Desire coursed through her, her baser instincts shining through, making her skin glow, demanding that she dance, party, and fuck.
With a groan, Orna leaned against Des, inhaling his fresh scent. It superseded the sweet smells of wine and the stronger scents of the Fae that surrounded them. Humans did not share the same scents as Fae. They weren’t dense or even heady, but nice just the same. Their scents were as different as a Fae’s, and Des’ was like springtime. It was fresh with the scent of grass and flowers, of wind and sunlight. Subtle. Calming.
His calloused fingers reached for her hand and began tracing a pattern of stars against her bright blue skin. The buzz of Fae wine had made her drop her glamor, but she couldn’t find it in her to care that her true form was on display. Her blue skin blended with the night sky, and the shimmering specks of white glowed like stars.
His dull nails traced constellations against her body and she shivered with wanting. Sometimes that’s all it took. A touch. A trace. A whisper. It made bumps rise along her arms, her mind swirling with the perfect combination of wine and desire.
It had been difficult at first. To be in a world that hated her for her appearance. If it was not the humans hating her for being Fae, it was the Seelie hating her for being Unseelie.
For years, the Seelie and Unseelie had a tension between them that dated back centuries. Especially after the war had started with thehuman lands, and the Unseelie had closed their borders and refused to help. Effectively trapping their own on the other side. Any Unseelie left on Seelie courts were to face their fate.
Now, the Seelie did not stare at her with wariness. Not when there were bigger things out there to occupy their minds. But
discrimination still pulsed. So she’d strengthened her glamor. She’d given herself new skin, new hair.
Because normal girls did not emit starlight and night. Normal girls did not have periwinkle hair. Normal girls did not glitter or glow.
Orna was anything but normal.
And Des made her feel like that was okay.
He leaned over, his lips pressing against the spot just below her ear. He breathed her in with sharp inhalations, and loosed a breath over her flesh.
“It’s too crowded, don’t you think?” His words were a caress themselves. Like fingers trailing against her exposed skin. She shivered against him and her own skin betrayed her wanting as it shimmered in response.
It was a game between them. To slip from camp and catch those moments alone. They’d never dare to do the things they did in front of so many. So they left. Far enough away, but close enough. In case someone stumbled upon them and wanted to watch. An audience of a few was alright. Like when Ryker and Shula had caught them.
It made a thrill shoot through her body.
Instead of answering with words, she stood up and took his hand. After that, she wasn’t sure who led who away from the festivities.
All she knew was that within moments, they were tearing through the forest, her laughter ringing through the sky.
They stopped in a clearing. Fires danced from beyond the shadowy copse of trees. The noises were muffled, the music dulled. But it still thrummed a beat against the earth. Her breath moved in time to the rhythm.
Des’ fingers met her body, shoving aside the drab clothing to reach for the prize beneath. Her own hands did the same. Sliding up the hem of his tunic until she met his stomach, she went higher to his nipples, flicking her thumbs against the tight nubs. Their mouths met in a frenzy of desperation. Kisses, drunk with wine, tongues, tangling like swords.
Their bodies fought and danced until they were both naked, exposed to the chilly air. But Des warmed her, pressing his body to hers.
He laid her against a bed of leaves, covering her with his heat. His palms met her thighs, spreading them wide. And then his tip was against her entrance, sliding against her folds.
It was a teasing touch and she groaned, arching into it. Wanting more. Always wanting more. Fire lived beneath her skin like it did beneath Shula’s. It shocked through her, sparking desire. Her hips canted, trying to squeeze him in deeper.
Her nails dug into the skin at his lower back, her heels rising to his ass to pull him closer. He slipped inside of her, stretching her with his cock until she felt full. Full of him, his essence. Their souls brushed together where they were intertwined.
Because Des was human, he didn’t have canines to mark her. But that didn’t matter. Orna had marked him with her teeth, sealing their bond. And she could feel him as much as he could feel her. Thoughts weren’t secret, emotions were heightened.
It was effervescent.
He began moving within her. Faster and faster. Her own eyes closed against the joy of how he felt. Pleasure tingled from the base of her spine and moved upwards.
Then suddenly, the movements of his hips stopped and warmth splatted against her face. Her eyes opened and her vision stained red.
Her mouth dropped, a silent sound shrieking from her mouth as blood dripped from Des’ opened lips and fell onto her.
“Des.” His name was but a whisper on her mouth that even she couldn’t hear. She couldn’t hear anything. But inside, her mind frantically reached out for the bond they shared, finding it frayed at the edges, grasping with weak fingers…
Blood bloomed across Des’ chest and it was all she could see. Then she heard the unmistakable squelch of a weapon leaving a body.
Their connection frayed.
And his body slumped over Orna’s.
She opened her mouth to scream but no sound came out. Not when the bond had just cracked, splintering through her body like a fragment of breaking souls. It cleaved her heart in two and the space where Des was supposed to be was suddenly… empty.
She was hollow. Her chest aching.
Her fingers reached for her mate to feel for a pulse she knew wasn’t there. Then he was being shifted, kicked away from her. And she was empty. From the inside. From body and soul.
“Poor bloke,” a voice sounded, harsh and gravely in the night. “You should have let him finish.”
Her eyes adjusted and she caught sight of three human men. They sprung from the shadows as if phantoms. One of them held a spear that was dripping her mate’s blood.
Bile rose in her throat. She hadn’t heard them approach. Hadn’t felt or sensed them.
The human wielding the weapon stepped closer to Orna’s naked body and slid it against her skin. She whimpered as it singed and she realized why she hadn’t sensed them.
They carried iron with them.
“Hey, little Fae bitch. Sorry about killing your lover. Did he at least make you come?”
Through trembling nerves, she found her bravery then. Or whatever was left of it. She started to scramble away from him, from them.
But her nerves made her clumsy. She slipped against the foliage on the ground, and they were too close, and she was no match for their iron weapons.
Their bodies lunged for her.
And Orna didn’t even get a chance to scream.
“Des… Des… Des…” She whispered his name like a prayer. Even while her body was broken in ways it should not have been. Even when they broke her, used her, she could do nothing but look up at the sky and whisper her mate’s name.
She wondered if Mana had taken his soul out into the universe. If Mana had gifted him back to the earth, to the elements, to nurture and provide for the world.
She hoped Mana would be so caring, even for humans.
She hoped he was there, shining brightly above her. Waiting for her to join him on the other side. But death was slow-coming. They wanted her tortured first. They wanted to break her body and her spirit. Her body they could have, but her soul was for Mana and Des alone.
And that was something the vile humans could never take from her.
Perhaps it was a betrayal to wish for death when life was such a gift. But as they dragged her body and tossed her into an iron cage, she wished for death. Not to ease the pain, but so she could be with Des again.
She’d lived without him the better part of her life. But the time they’d had together had been enough to know that she couldn’t live another day, another hour, another minute without him.
That’s what a mate was. They were their own separate person, but they completed the emptiness inside you. Des had been all the brighter sides of her. Her skin might have glowed, but only because he illuminated the darkest parts of herself.
And now he was gone.
Tears slid against her cheeks and didn’t stop. Blood seeped from her wounds, from cuts and scrapes. And every time she shifted in her confines her bruises screamed. Even if she did not.
Maybe she should have screamed. Maybe someone would have heard her. The prince, the blacksmith, Shula Azzarh.
For a second, thoughts of death made room for thoughts of the Fire Dancer and her heart felt like it was breaking once more.
She hadn’t imagined the kinship between them. Of a slow-budding friendship that could have blossomed into something great. Her one regret was this. That she hadn’t gotten to know Shula the way she wanted. That she hadn’t had the time to prove to the Fire Dancer what a real friendship could be.
But at least she would have her peace.
At least her soul would drift.
And drift it did. When death finally came to claim her, it was when the Resistance come to save her. It was with fire blazing through the camp as her friend pushed her way through iron and humans and screamed her rage. Perhaps, Orna thought, she had been considered Shula’s friend after all. That was her last thought as Mana, both ethereal and not, took form before her and held out a hand.
“Come,” a voice whispered. “Des awaits.”
And Orna was all too eager to go.
And her soul drifted. Rising, twinkling.
Shining bright like the stars in the sky.