Or The Queen of Fire and the Empress of Ice
“I knew you would come.” Rafaela, queen of the Reattlen, couldn’t keep the smirk of her face as she looked at the intruder in her chamber.
Talanamar, the leader of the Eibmoz – a people made up of only mercenaries – walked towards her on visibly stiff legs. Rafaela hated the way Tala walked, it reminded her of old injuries, and yet it was something she wouldn’t change. It was part of Tala, part of her past and her present. Probably her future too.
Not that Rafaela would know of Tala’s future. Their time together was over now. Rafaela had called for help across the five domains and Tala had answered. She had, together with over five thousand soldiers, come to the Reattlen’s aid. The threat was gone. The Eibmoz had to return to the Frozen Lower Islands now.
“Yeah well… You made it clear, my queen.” Tala sounded pained. “You made it clear that you wanted me to come to you. I couldn’t find it in myself to refuse.”
Rafaela got up from her throne and walked forward. The look in Tala’s eyes as she took step after step, made Rafaela throb inside. It made her feel powerful and very, very female. Tala almost looked scared. Having the tall, buff and heavily armored warrior woman tremble at her feet was dizzying. Rafaela’s throne was on a stage so even when she stopped right in front of Tala, she could look down on her.
“Why are you still wearing your armor?” It made no sense to Rafaela. Surely, despite the dimwitted emotional slowness Tala did understand why she was there, yes? So why the ever-present armor? “Talanamar?” Despite calling her Tala in her head, Rafaela wasn’t sure it would be appreciated said outloud.
“I need to leave at dawn.” Tala looked down, a blush spreading on her cheeks. “I was uncertain how long you wanted me to stay so I thought it was better I take my armor with me.”
Rafaela smiled triumphantly. So Tala had understood what it was that Rafaela wanted from her. Good.
“Do you have a long way home?” Rafaela went off the ledge and walked toward a small cabinet by the side of the room. She poured them two cups of wine and went over to Tala with them. They were on the same level now and Rafaela was again almost a head shorter.
“It’s several days, my queen.”
She handed Tala one of the cups.
“Have you tried this before during your stay?”
Tala smelled the wine and regarded it carefully. Rafaela counted the lashes above her eyes. Such a feminine feature on the otherwise not-so-feminine woman. Long black eyelashes.
“I haven’t had much time off, my queen.” Tala took a tentative sip of from the cup. “I’m sure there are many things from your great nation that I haven’t had a chance to sample.”
I’ll say. Rafaela quickly swallowed her wine, needing the liquid courage. She threw the cup to the floor, ignoring Tala’s puzzled look. She was tired of beating around the bush.
“Kiss me now.” One last command. Then she stepped forward and waited, their lips almost touching. Their breaths mingled.
She enjoyed the small gasp that Tala produced and how her mouth dropped open. She reached up and touched her fingers to the tattoo that Tala had framing one of her eyes. Rafaela had asked about it several times but Tala had never said what it meant. Eibmoz secrets probably. She let her thumb dance over the small scar that ran down the side of Tala’s face. Despite the blemishes and the tattoo, Tala was absolutely glorious. Her skin was pale but it made such a nice contrast to her pitch black hair and her icy blue eyes. She was so different from Rafaela’s own sun-kissed brown skin and golden locks.
Ice and fire. And Rafaela wanted to make Tala burn.
The kiss was sudden. And surprisingly forceful. Tala was always gentle outside the battlefield but there was nothing gentle about this kiss. Before Rafaela could really register what was happening, she had Tala’s tongue in her mouth and she was pressed against the nearest wall.
“You drive me insane.” Rafaela groaned when Tala moved to nibble on her neck. “You drive me completely insane. No marks!” But it was too late and she knew it. Tala had latched onto her neck and was sucking on the skin there like her life depended on it.
“I’m sorry.” Tala pulled away, breathing deeply and leaned her forehead on Rafaela’s shoulder. “I don’t know what came over me. Forgive me, my queen.”
It was true that Rafaela hurt. Her head had banged on the wall when Tala had pushed her there, and the spot on her neck was pulsing like a second heartbeat. There was a third heartbeat somewhere low in her abdomen too, but that one didn’t hurt and it made all the other aches and little pains obsolete.
“I don’t want your apologies,” Rafaela bit out. “I want you to touch me.”
Tala’s jaw tensed and she looked like she was fighting an inner battle. It meant nothing to Rafaela. She knew that Tala had a knight in shining armor thing going on, but she could care less. If Tala didn’t touch her within the next couple of minutes she couldn’t be responsible for her actions.
Tala almost looked like she did in the negotiations and planning room. Looking over plans. Discussing attacks. Rafaela, being a queen and not a warrior, hadn’t joined in the talks. But she had watched. And the look in Tala’s face had made her ache. She had wondered for weeks if Tala brought that quiet intensity into the bedroom. It didn’t matter if such thoughts were beyond a queen.
But Rafaela was a merciful ruler. She got away from her place by the wall and picked up her cup that laid there, still abandoned on the floor. She turned her back to Tala as she went to the table and put the cup down. She fought against the impulse to pour Tala another drink. Rafaela didn’t want her inebriated. She wanted Tala here. And she didn’t want to live with the question if Tala had actually wanted her or if it was just the drink.
She turned towards Tala again and regarded her from afar. The warrior leader who always seemed to have control over her emotions, even in the face of death, seemed to be close to coming undone. When Rafaela reached up and undid her coat, letting it fall open, Tala’s eyes visibly expanded and her mouth fell open. Rafaela felt like laughing. However Tala was actually feeling, it was clear that she wasn’t completely unaffected by Rafaela’’s presence or the now exposed skin of her upper chest.
It was strange, Rafaela mused. She wanted to see all of Tala. She wanted to feast her eyes and hands on everything that was inside Tala’s armor. But more than that she wanted Tala to see her. She wanted to take her pretty gown – her own armor – off and know that Tala had seen her. She didn’t even know why.
“My queen.” Tala sounded lost. “Maybe this was a mistake.”
No! Don’t do this to me.
It took Rafaela a moment to realise that she had actually said the words out loud. She crossed her arms over her chest and shook her head. “There is nothing wrong with what we’re about to do.”
“Lady,” Tala took a step closer but looking like she didn’t want to. “Without proper courtship, it doesn’t feel right to -”
Rafaela walked over to her and silenced her with a finger to her lips.
“It’s my honor you’re worried about right?” She waited until Tala nodded. “Well, I’m telling you that I don’t care.” Come on, just kiss me. Just once more. I need to remember what it feels like.
“I don’t want us to regret this.” Tala spoke against her finger.
“We won’t.” Before Tala could say something else, Rafaela removed her finger, stood on tiptoe and pressed their lips together.
Tala groaned but held back so Rafaela kept the kiss gentle, unwilling to scare her and push her too hard. She opened her mouth and smiled internally when Tala did the same and their kiss naturally deepened.
When they had been kissing for several minutes and Tala hadn’t moved her arms despite tensing them several times, Rafaela had had enough.
“I need you.” She pulled away just long enough to whisper the urgent words. “Touch me here.” She pulled Tala’s hand to her breast. She didn’t care that it was still gloved. Rafaela felt as if she didn’t feel Tala’s hand on her right this second she would die, or go insane or likely both.
Tala’s hand twitched upon her breast.
“Let me get my gloves off, please.” Finally there was a note of pleading in Tala’s voice.
Yes, Rafaela thought triumphantly, I’ve got her now.
“Come to bed.” She took Tala’s hand and led her into the small alcove that lay to the side of the room.
She pulled the canopy out of the way and sat down on the flowery blanket. Not for one to beat around the bush, she pulled her dress off. She wore nothing underneath.
As she felt more than saw Tala come closer, she kept her gaze low. There was a shyness inside her she didn’t recognize. She hoped that Tala would like what she saw.
“Why are you shy?” Tala came to her, put a finger on her chin and made her look up. “I’m the one who isn’t worthy.”
“How can you say that?” Rafaela whispered. “You’re Talanamar Rei, leader of the Eibmoz, empress of the the Frozen Islands.” Tala jerked at the word empress. “You’re known for your bravery and skill on the battlefield. If you’re not worthy, who is?”
“No one.” Tala’s eyes was filled with something close to reverence and it made Rafaela’s stomach churn. “No one is worthy.”
Rafaela giggled, nervously.
“Such things you say.” She stood up on her knees and pulled Tala closer. “Are you to tell me that the brave Talanamar Rei runs from my bedroom with her tail between her legs?”
Tala sucked in air through her teeth.
“What have you done to me?” Her voice was breathless.
“Get your clothes off,” Rafaela said instead of answering Tala’s question. After all she had no answers. She could have asked Tala the same thing. But there were more pressing matters at hand. She wanted Tala naked and in her bed.
Their gazes stayed locked as Tala took a step back and slowly took her armor off. Within moments Tala stood in front of her, in the nude. When she took a step toward Rafaela’s bed, Rafaela held up her hand to make her stop.
“Let me look at you first.”
Tala was indeed glorious. Muscles under soft looking skin, subtle lines from scars, both old and new. The new ones were harder to look at. They were there because of Rafaela, because of the battles Tala had been in for her domain. Without the woman in front of her, the Reattlen would have been invaded and Rafaela would have probably been married off or dead. She certainly wouldn’t have been free and alive and happy.
Rafaela noticed to her distress that she been shamelessly staring at the patch of dark hair between Tala’s thigh for longer than appropriate. She lifted her gaze and stared into the careful amusement of Tala’s face.
“Come here.” She held out her hand.
Tala came closer and took it, their fingers immediately entwining.
Rafaela pulled her closer, groaning when their naked bodies touched. She leaned up and bit Tala’s earlobe, hard.
“I want your fingers inside,” she whispered.
She felt Tala’s heart speed up under her fingertips before she had even noticed that her hand was cupping Tala’s firm breast. A nipple hardened in her palm which made waves of pleasure skitter down her spine.
They fell together on top of the bed, both of them completely naked. At first they landed with Tala on top but, as much as Rafaela enjoyed the heady weight of Tala on top of her, she was forcefully turned around until Rafaela was on top.
Tala held her close. Her skin was warm and the callouses on her hands scratched Rafaela as Tala ran her hands up and down Rafaela’s back. Eventually they landed on her buttocks and Rafaela was pushed into her.
“Oh.” Rafaela couldn’t help but rock against Tala again. And then again. She felt empty, pulsing around nothing as she ground herself even harder into Tala.
Their gazes met and Rafaela hoped that Tala could see the plea in her eyes. She didn’t want to have to beg.
“I’ve got you.” Tale leaned down to nibble at her neck. Rafaela let her, there was already a substantial love bite forming there anyway. So she would have to cover up her neck for a few days, it was no big –
Oh! Suddenly Tala mouth moved from her neck and with a hand under Rafaela’s breast, Tala held it to her mouth and gently bit around her nipple.
“Tala.” Rafaela couldn’t help the whimper that escaped her lips. Her hands went up in Tala’s hair, the soft strands tickling her fingers as she held Tala’s head close to her breast. Whatever it was that Tala was doing, it was making Rafaela feel great. At first it was everything and then it wasn’t enough enough.
Tala was sitting up, propped up against the pillows and Rafaela was sitting in her lap, straddling her upper thighs. One of Tala’s arms were around her waist, holding her close, the other was lingering back and forth across Rafaela’s naked thigh.
Rafaela put her palms on both sides of Tala’s face and pulled her face up. It wasn’t that she wouldn’t miss the sweet heat of Tala’s mouth on her nipple, but there was other things she wanted more.
She guided Tala until their faces were aligned, their breaths mingling. They kissed again. Slowly. Gently. Heat was pooling at the core of her and she knew she was dripping on Tala.
She pulled back first and took hold of the hand that was playing with her nipple.
“Touch me here.” She pulled it to between her thighs, not caring how wanton she seemed.
“Oh by The Great Red Snow,” Tala swore when she came into contact with the copious amount of wetness between Rafaela’s leg.
“Talanamar.” Rafaela groaned when Tala’s fingers rubbed a tentative circle around her clit. “You break my heart.”
“My queen.” Tala started to pull away. “What do you -”
“Don’t.” Rafaela grabbed hold of Tala’s arm. “Don’t you dare.” She was almost growling.
Something gentle ran through Tala’s eyes and she nodded.
“I won’t stop.” Somehow knowing exactly what Rafaela needed to hear. She slowly but surely cupped Rafaela and then slipped inside her with slightly more force than necessary.
Rafaela couldn’t help but yelp, and Tala immediately leaned back, seeking her gaze. Her face was filled with worry and Rafaela shook her head.
“I’m okay.” She pressed a kiss to Tala’s usually cook cheek. “I was just a bit unprepared.”
She started moving against Tala, lost in pleasure. She kept her eyes open, needing to keep their gazes locked, needing to share this with someone. The other times she had invited someone to her bed, she hadn’t felt this way. She hadn’t been this… present. Tala kept her there, with fingers reaching into her depths and a hand on the small of her back, pushing her onto Tala’s hand.
Tala was panting and it wasn’t hard to see that she was trying to hold herself back. It really wasn’t fair.
Rafaela claimed her lips as she reached between them and palmed Tala. She wanted to moan at the hot sensation of wetness and silky skin under her fingers. Tala groaned and pushed into her hand, which in turn moved the finger inside Rafaela.
Rafaela gasped and arched her back, knowing that Tala would hold her. Wouldn’t drop her. She continued stroking at the heart of Tala, drunk on the feel and smell of her. Tala was trembling now and the low grunts that were escaping her were so unbelievably sexy, it pushed Rafaela right to the edge.
“Rafaela.” Her name sounded like a prayer in Tala’s mouth. “Rafaela, I can’t.”
She twitched under Rafaela fingers, and a similar pulsing was starting in Rafaela’s lower abdomen.
“I’m sorry.” Sweat was running from Tala’s hairline and dropping onto Rafaela’s shoulder. “I’m sorry,” she repeated, breathless and less controlled than Rafaela had ever heard her be. “Rafaela, I can’t. I’ll… if you touch me like that I will…”
Rafaela whimpered but really she wanted to laugh. Even in the throes of passion, Talanamar upheld her chevalier nature. But Rafaela didn’t want her to be a chevalier anymore. She wanted Tala the woman, Tala the person.
With her one free hand, she dug her fingers into her hair and angled her hips up. She pressed their bodies together, craving Tala’s climax as much as her own.
Tala moaned in an almost sultry fashion, a strange feminine noise that again lmost made Rafaela giggle. It made her thrust harder until two of her fingers were buried deep inside Tala.
That did it.
Tala’s face fell forward and she shuddered violently. The muscles around Rafaela’s fingers tensed and pulsed, but even though Tala must have been feeling intense pleasure, she didn’t utter a single word. It was as if it was too much.
It was different to Rafaela’s reaction. One moment she was taking stock of every reaction her lover made and the next, climax hit her. Waves of pleasure flowed through her and she moaned loudly. Rafaela didn’t care if anybody heard her. If this was the only time they would ever have together, she would be damned if Tala couldn’t understand exactly what she was doing to her and what she was making her feel.
* * *
They held each other for a long time, keeping warm together under the down blanket. Tala could hardly believe what had happened. Part of her still felt guilty. Rafaela deserved so much more than a desperate tryste during their last night together. The queen in her arms deserved a proper courtship, marriage and stability. She did not deserve to be left alone after a night of passion.
And yet she couldn’t regret anything that had passed between them.
Tala smiled down at the little woman in her arms. No one had ever called her Tala before tonight and yet it was already her favourite nickname. It was upsetting that when she got home later today, there would be no one there to welcome her home. No one would call her Tala. No one would kiss her. Or worry about her. Or make sure she had eaten. No one would do the things that the queen of Reattlen had done for her, unbidden, during the past couple of weeks.
“What is it?”
“Maybe the relations between our domains could use some further greasing.” Rafaela looked tired and lively at the same time, her skin a healthy glow. To Tala, she was breathtakingly beautiful.
“Really?” Tala pulled Rafaela’s head to her shoulder and ran her fingers up and down her arm. “What do you suggest?”
“Maybe my ambassadors and I should call upon you in a few months.” Rafaela pressed a quick kiss Tala’s breast. “Visit the Frozen Islands. I have never been there.”
Visions of showing Rafaela her home filled Tala’s head and she smiled at the thought.
“You’d have to wear more clothes though.” Tala chuckled softly.
“What?” Rafaela spoke into Tala’s skin. “You’re saying my silk dresses won’t be enough?”
“Hardly, my queen.” Tala kissed the top of her head. “I’d have to cover you in bear pelts.”
Rafaela sat up and looked at her.
“What about in your bed?” Her tone was soft. “Will I be cold in your bed?”
Heat gripped a hold of Tala’s heart and she gasped.
“No.” Her voice turned husky. “When you’re in it, my bed will never be cold.” Not even in the midst of deepest winter.
A bell chimed somewhere not far away. It was time.
Rafaela coughed and turned around.
“Well, Talanamar.” Tala hated the sudden distance in Rafaela’s voice.
“My queen?” Tala sat up as well.
“You have a long way home.” Without looking back, Rafaela got up and got a robe from somewhere in her closet. It was red and gold, fit for a queen from the land of fire. “You should go.”
Tala knew that she was right, but it didn’t make it any easier. She got up as well and started putting her armor on. At least all her packing were already in the stable and there was nothing she had to do except show up and start the long ride home.
She was tying her belt when two thin arms, hands adorned with rings and rubies, snaked their way around her. She covered Rafaela’s hands with her own gloved ones. Not being able to feel Rafaela’s soft skin under her own felt like a cruel reminder that their time was now over. It was time to return to reality.
It didn’t matter how much it felt like her heart was breaking, Tala was in no position to come with an offer of courtship or marriage. What she had been free to give, she already had.
“You have my heart.” Rafaela’s arms tightened around her.
“And you have mine.”
That would have to be enough for now.
There were no talks of goodbyes and no farewell kisses. Tala’s heart couldn’t bear it and Rafaela seemed to feel the same way. Instead they walked to the exit, neither of them touching each other.
“Talanamar.” Her name and title wrapped into one. It didn’t feel like such a burden when it came from Rafaela’s lips.
“My queen.” They didn’t face each other, instead they looked at the sun rising above the mountain. “Write me?”
“Of course.” Rafaela nodded and squeezed Tala’s arm briefly. “I’ll start writing as soon as you’ve left.”
Tala nodded as well. Then she left.
She didn’t turn around.