With a little help from Rhys, Feyre escorted Elain and Lucien to the Inner Circle’s cabin, secluded in the woods with nothing else around for miles. Feyre lingered just long enough to explain the magic of the cabin and the warding and then winnowed away without saying so much as a goodbye.
Lucien barked out a laugh as he opened the door to the quaint, comfortable cabin. “She couldn’t get out of here fast enough. She acted like we were going to just start tearing into each other the second the door opened.”
Elain forced a casual laugh. That was exactly what she wanted to do. But she forced herself to exercise restraint. They had the rest of their lives to devour one another. She wandered over to the fireplace but didn’t see any tools for stoking the fire.
“Feyre said you just have to ask for what you need and the cabin provides it,” Lucien said, his brows furrowed.
He walked up behind her, his scent overpowering her in the best possible ways.
“But where’s the fun in that,” he said with a slightly wolfish grin. Lucien balled his fist and when he opened his hand, a tiny ball of flames danced in his palm. The light of it reflected in Elain’s eyes as he dropped it onto the dry logs in the hearth. They ignited instantly, crackling and popping as if they’d been burning for hours.
Elain spied the basket of rolls on the sturdy wooden table. She stifled a giggle that he brought them here.
“Did you even get a chance to eat anything at dinner?” She asked him.
“Barely,” he replied, his stomach growling for emphasis. “Did you?”
Elain shook her head. She decided to test the cabin’s magic by going into the kitchen and asking for something to eat. A bowl of fruit materialized on the table, along with a platter of cheeses, some biscuits, and a carafe of wine. She collected the food and carried it into the sitting room, setting it down on the low-lying table in front of the sofa.
She sat down next to Lucien and pulled the tray into her lap. He had removed his baldric, leaving it in a crumpled pile on the floor next to the sofa.
“It really does provide whatever you ask for,” she said as she popped a small cube of cheese into her mouth.
Lucien idly plucked pieces of cheese and a handful of grapes from the tray, munching quietly. Once the cheese and biscuits were gone, Elain set the empty tray back on the table. She readjusted, wincing as she tucked one of her feet beneath her.
“Oh, nothing,” she said dismissively. “Deidre made me a new pair of slippers and they’re just not broken in yet. They are adorable and they match my dress but they pinch my feet something fierce.”
She straightened her legs and pointed her toes, demonstrating the stiffness of the new shoes. Lucien took her ankle in his rough, calloused hands and slipped the shoe off her foot, revealing her red swollen toes. Elain held her breath as Lucien gently, methodically massaged her sore foot.
“Oh, you don’t have to—”
“Hush,” he murmured.
The only sound around them was the soft crackling of the fireplace. Lucien rubbed her foot for another few moments and then gently set it down in his lap. He twitched his fingers, motioning for her to bring her other foot up. She made a weak sound of protest which he ignored. He took her other slipper off and began massaging that foot as well.
Elain leaned back against the armrest of the sofa, her head lolling onto a throw pillow. She couldn’t remember the last time she felt this relaxed. This content.
She wanted to ask him about what had happened on the continent and then in the Spring Court, but she suspected that those were all unpleasant stories that were best saved for another day. She let out a soft, audible sigh as Lucien put pressure on the sore spot of her foot.
You’re quite good at that, you know.
Wait til I show you what else I’m good at.
Elain’s eyes went wide and heat rushed to her core. She practically shivered with anticipation.
Through the bond, she felt a flash of restlessness and impatience immediately followed by shame.
Lucien just shook his head, his eyes on her small feet still lad across his lap. Elain tugged on the bond firmly, purposefully.
Are you going to show me or not?
Lucien’s eyes snapped up to meet hers. There was a smoldering intensity burning in his russet eye that made Elain’s breath catch. She wasn’t sure if the tiny nod she gave him was real or just an image sent down the bond, but either way, he understood it.
He pushed himself up onto one knee, Elain’s feet sliding out of his lap. He inched closer to her and she sat up. He brushed one hand across the side of her face and wove his fingers into her loose flowing curls.
“Are you certain you’re not a dream?” He breathed.
Elain put her hands on either side of his face and held his gaze. “This is real,” she promised him. “And I’m yours.”
Those last two words seemed to snap whatever meager tether of restraint Lucien had been holding back. He breathed a sigh of longing and tightened his grip on her hair, pulling her closer to him and covering her mouth with his.
Elain immediately opened her mouth to him, allowing his tongue to rake over the roof of her mouth. She nibbled on his lip, hoping it would elicit the same growl of arousal that it had the night before he left for the continent. She was not disappointed.
Lucien groaned as he pushed her back against the sofa. Elain kissed every bit of him that her mouth could reach—his lips, his jaw, his neck... when she drew his earlobe between her teeth, he hissed sharply, his jaw clenched.
“Oh, you wicked female,” he growled as she let her hands roam down his chest. Her fingers found the laces on the side of his tunic and she tugged frantically at them. When they were loose enough, she pulled the tunic up and over his head. Warmth settled between her legs when she got a glimpse of his defined hip bones. She wanted him now.
His own fingers pulled at the long, intricate laces of her bodice. Even as he untied them, he seemed to hesitate, as if he feared at any moment she would tell him to stop. She captured his mouth with hers, dragging her tongue over his teeth, reassuring him that she wanted this every bit as much as he did.
The laces were proving difficult to untie. Nuala and Cerridwen had done their jobs too well, it seemed.
“Cut it,” Elain ordered.
Her eyes went to the baldric on the floor, outfitted with Lucien's dagger.
"It's your favorite dress," he protested weakly.
“Cut it,” she insisted. “Deidre can make me a new one.”
Lucien didn’t argue any further. He retrieved the dagger, drew it carefully over the laces, and tugged. She let out a gasp when he pulled the bodice free and tossed the dagger to the floor. His hands seemed to be everywhere all at once. They were in her hair and raking up her sides and cupping her breasts. Her breath hitched when his rough hands burrowed beneath her skirts. She bunched them up to one side until she could slip the rest of the dress off entirely. His fingernails drug across the inside of her thighs. He sucked in a sharp breath when his fingers found the dampness waiting for him.
But she knew what. She was drenched. No one had ever aroused her quite like this before. Her center ached at the taunting of his hand, so very close to where she wanted it.
She shuddered as he slowly, teasingly, traced circles on her inner thigh.
Lucien had barely taken his mouth away from hers. But he drew back, nipping at her jaw, and watched her face carefully as he sank two of his fingers into her. Elain threw her head back and moaned.
He pulled his fingers out, so frustratingly slowly, and then sunk them back in. He plunged his fingers back and forth, deeper and faster, until she was breathing heavily. He was pressed tightly against her and there was no hiding how hard he was. She needed him inside her before she exploded.
Her head was still thrown back over the armrest of the sofa. She opened her eyes and was met with a jarring sight.
Mor, Cassian, Amren, Azriel... they were all peering down at her.
“Lucien,” she said sharply. “Lucien stop.”
He instantly obeyed, but through the bond, she felt the severe restraint it took for him to do as she asked.
She jerked her head toward the eyes that Feyre had painted above the door frames.
“Oh, gods, it’s like they’re all watching us.”
“It’s creepy, right?”
“Very creepy,” he agreed. Elain shrieked as he scooped her up and carried her into one of the bedrooms, kicking the door closed behind him.
“She better not have painted fucking eyes in every room,” he muttered, “or so help me...”
But the bedroom was, mercifully, unpainted. He set her down gently on the mattress, the brass bed frame creaking slightly.
She sat in the middle of the bed, orange and copper skirts fanned out around her and Lucien couldn’t help but think that she looked like an autumn leaf resting gently atop the first snow of the season. He stood at the edge of the bed, just gazing down at her.
Elain tried to slide to the edge of the bed, but her skirts kept tangling beneath her. With a soft growl of frustration, she pulled the remains of the dress over her head and tossed it aside. Lucien’s mouth went dry at the sight of her.
“You are... so beautiful,” he choked out. “I have no idea how I got lucky enough to have you. I will never understand why the Mother thought I could ever be worthy of you.”
She sat on the edge of the mattress, one leg on either side of him. She reached for the waistband of his trousers and tugged, coaxing him closer to her.
“You are mine,” she avowed. “And I’m yours. Only yours.”
Lucien just closed his eyes and shook his head. Elain caught flashes through the bond—not complete thoughts or sentences but fragments. Undeserving was the word she heard most clearly.
“Look at me,” she ordered. His russet eye locked onto her round doe-brown eyes. “You are deserving. You are kind and selfless and loyal.”
Elain took a deep, steadying breath. “Lucien, I love you.”
Whatever dam was holding him together broke free. He wrapped his arms tightly around her and buried his face into her hair. “Oh, gods, I thought I would die before I heard those words.” His body shuddered against hers as a muffled sob ripped from him.
Elain hated herself at that moment. Hated herself for making him endure her months of indecisiveness and uncertainty. He had waited so long for her, never asking for anything, content to wait for her to make up her mind. Yet clearly, it had almost destroyed him. How could she have been so selfish?
She kept one hand pressed against his lower back and ran her other through his long, unbound hair. His arms tightened around her, his rough fingers grazing gently across her smooth bare back. She shivered even though it was plenty warm inside the cabin.
“I’m yours,” she murmured into his chest. Her hands became restless again, determined to learn every contour and line of his body. His breath caught when she let her fingers slide beneath the waistband of his trousers. She deftly unclasped the top two buttons and slid his pants down off of those sinful hip bones.
Elain involuntarily licked her bottom lip once he was bare before her. She was his, indisputably and completely. He was hers... and she wanted all of him. She tried to grasp him in her hand but he angled his hips away.
“Ah, ah, ah,” he taunted, wagging his finger back and forth. “Me first.”
Elain gave him a quizzical look before he dragged his hand down her stomach and past her aching bundle of nerves, making her breath catch again as he returned his fingers to the soaking puddle between her legs.
She was barely conscious of her next moves as she moved back to the middle of the mattress, Lucien prowling after her. She lay back onto the mountain of pillows that propped her up enough to still be able to watch him.
Lucien withdrew his fingers from her and dragged one across his lips. Elain felt lightheaded and he wasn’t even touching her. But her mind went completely blank when he slung her ankles over his shoulders and buried his head between her legs. He drew his tongue in long, slow circles around her mound that throbbed, wanting that contact.
Elain was panting, her breath short and shallow. In one fluid motion, Lucien closed his mouth over her delicate mound at the same time that he plunged his fingers deep inside her. She arched her back and writhed, a breathless moan escaping her lips.
My gods, you are the most delicious thing I have ever tasted.
Elain came apart as pleasure ripped through her. She had never come so quickly before, but the feeling of his tongue against her... She cried out as her climax made her see stars. Even as she trembled from shockwaves of her climax, she already wanted more. This had to be the... frenzy that Feyre had mentioned.
Elain also recalled something else her sister had told her, probably not thinking of the implications of it at the time. It had been in the weeks following Hybern’s defeat and Feyre was just getting around to telling them all her full account of what happened in the Spring Court. She was recounting the trips to the wall with Brannagh and her twin when the Hybern princess had insinuated that Feyre was sleeping with Lucien to make Tamlin jealous. “Autumn court males have fire in their blood,” Brannagh had said to Feyre, “and they fuck like it too.”
Her own Autumn court male was lying beside her, breathing heavily. But he had the same insatiable desire in his eye that she knew mirrored her own. If he truly had fire in his blood, then Elain was prepared to burn. She grabbed his arm and pulled him on top of her. Lucien’s mouth went to her neck, nipping softly.
“Please,” she begged him. She'd had his fingers and his tongue and now she wanted him.
He let out a primal growl and pressed himself against her entrance. She was already so drenched that he slid into her in one smooth motion. Elain cried out as he entered her, her sigh of gratification ignited the spark that was already burning in his eye.
He withdrew from her and pumped in again.
“Elain,” he said breathlessly, as he pulled out and pushed back into her. “I love you.”
Again. Pulling out and plunging back in, harder.
"I love you so much."
And again. Deeper.
Harder and faster with each thrust, she writhed beneath him and whined his name weakly.
Lucien held her tightly as he flipped her over so that he was on his back and she was atop him. He sat up and Elain’s legs wrapped around his waist, clinging to him. She felt it—the fire that coursed through him as he relentlessly thrust into her. It burned through her core and set her own soul ablaze.
Waves of pleasure wracked through Elain as he sheathed himself into her, plunging all the way down to the hilt. He filled her, both body and soul, and she thought she might die from the bliss. She lost count of the number of times she climaxed, not wholly convinced she hadn’t been on one long, continuous high. He thrust his hips against her and whispered over and over how much he loved her. When she pushed him down onto his back, grinding her hips against his, he growled as he came—and Elain felt the inferno within him explode into a raging fireball.
They lay beside each other, both gasping for breath, completely spent, as the blinding white sun rose over the snow-covered mountains.