Destined to Crave(3)

By: Setta Jay

She stared out over the glittering blue waters, sensing the animals watching her from the lush green trees around her. One of the wild, wolflike creatures, native to the Immortal Realm, peeked out from the woods, its silver eyes flashing in the crisp morning light. She watched as it bounded out from the tree line so she could scratch behind its ears. “Hi there,” she said in greeting, but her stomach churned with far too much turmoil to focus on the normally bloodthirsty breed. It didn’t require her full attention, as the animal would never harm her.

She sucked in a deep breath. Her own beast snorted in her mind, not at the wolf’s presence, but at Lucy. Her warhorse was vehement that she not stay her particular course, but her mind was made up.

As if there’d been any real choice.

The moment Rykr reformed in the air, the wolf darted back to the forest. It feared Rykr’s crackling energy even though he was only a boy. She watched as his massive black wings beat the air, carrying him over the lake in her direction. He was fifteen to her nineteen, yet he was at least six inches taller than her five foot five inches. One day, he’d be the hulking size of the Gods from whom he was descended. He already looked so much like his grandfather Hades, with his brilliant blue eyes and black hair. When he smiled down at her, his beautiful face lit with intense pleasure, and that only made her heart ache more.

His sapphire eyes didn’t hold any heat, yet—Immortals weren’t fully matured until twenty—but there was still love shining in their depths, innocent, pure love from the boy she’d grown up with. And in moments, she knew she’d crush that light, along with his heart, under the heel of one of her low sandals.

Her hand absently rubbed the ache in her chest.

They were fifteen hours from her twentieth birthday, and they shouldn’t be taking any more chances seeing each other. A part of her was secretly horrified that she might suddenly start lusting after the boy.

He touched down in front of her, immediately chastising her. “Don’t look so upset, Lucy. They don’t know what they’re talking about. There is no reason for us to stay apart after your birthday.”

She gave him a hard look. His arrogance used to add to his charm, but that wasn’t the case at the moment. It just spotlighted his youth and their age difference in a blinding light. If he thought she was going to ignore not only their parents, but the healers as well, he’d lost his mind.

No one knew what kind of repercussions there might be if her beast half caught so much as his scent after Lucy was fully matured. Immortal mates generally met as adults thousands of years old. The second they touched, they went into a frenzy of lust that didn’t relent until the bonds were complete and their souls were one.

Sometimes, scent alone could trigger the need.

So no, she wouldn’t be getting anywhere near him after she turned twenty.

Undeterred by her hard look, he tried tempting her. “I brought you something.” Mischief sparked in his eyes as he reached a hand into what seemed to be thin air. He did it slowly, making her wait for what he’d reveal. She knew he was trying to make her smile, and it just made her hurt a little more. She already missed him.

The magical air trick he was using to tease her came from his mother. Rykr had been born of two worlds—Earth and the magical Norse world Thule. His mother was an ethereal Goddess of Thule, and his father was the son of Hades and a Thulian priestess. The magic he would wield at twenty would be nearly that of a full-blooded God.

With a wink, he finally revealed his treasure. She could only stare at the bouquet of wild, tropical-looking blooms of crimson draped lovingly along lush green vines. They were the most beautiful flowers she’d ever seen, but it wasn’t the beauty that had her mouth gaping. For a moment, she allowed the raw magic of the blooms to slide over her fingers. It felt oddly like the warm power that came from healers.

“They’re full of magic,” she murmured, looking up into his twinkling blue eyes. “And beautiful. Thank you.”

He stood a little taller as he smiled down at her. “I picked them for you in Fólkvangr. Happy birthday, Lucy.”

Her heart panged and her stomach clenched until she swallowed through it.

The Celestial Realm he spoke of was said to be even more magical than the Norse world of Thule. Only the rare and powerful Thulian priestesses had the ability to venture there. Even the Gods of that world were denied entrance to the heaven-like plane. Since Rykr’s paternal grandmother was a priestess, he could enter at will.

She firmed her lips. “Were you allowed to take these from Fólkvangr?”

He smirked. “Define allowed.”