Zadri(Dragons of Preor Book 5)(9)

By: Celia Kyle

“Sorry,” she whispered the apology and he cursed himself for being such a bumbling male. “I didn’t mean—“

Zadri was an idiot. He believed that was the correct term for someone no longer in possession of his mind. He turned once more, facing Delaney, and reached for her hands. The volume of her screams still rang in his ears, but there were no tears or further scents of fear in the air. When the fear had gripped her tightest, she had not demanded he leave as well. Perhaps it was not as great as he feared.

“You can touch me however—whenever—you desire, yet…” he wondered why the Knowing had not provided her with this information, but she truly seemed confused by his reaction. He lifted one hand and brought it toward the upper bend of his wing, the knuckle peeking over his shoulder. “Preor find pleasure in the touch of their mates. We are a tactile species.” He drew her fingers even closer, straightening his spine and preparing for the unimaginable pleasure that was to come. “But when a male is touched by his mate, should her torment move to his wings, a warrior can lose every ounce of his hard-won control.”

Zadri forced the very tips of her fingers to brush his wing and a violent shudder racked his body. He trembled, balls drawing up tight and hard against his body. He would not fill his pants with his syha’i—cum—like an adolescent. “This gives me great pleasure, Delaney, and unless that is your wish, it would be best if you do not touch my wings.”

He let go of her and prayed to the skies that her hand would remain in place. It did not and Zadri attempted not to allow his disappointment to show.

“I didn’t want you to get Chashan. Peachy is a human idiom. It means I’m fine.” She twined her fingers together and rested them on the mound of her belly. “That’s all. I’m fine.”

He grunted. He was not sure he believed her but he would not call his mate a liar. That would be dishonorable.

“You are this ‘fine,’ then?” He watched her closely, searching for any hint of an untruth.

“-ish?” She raised her eyebrows. “I’m fine-ish.”

“I do not know the word ish.” He sought the Knowing inside him, hunted the blood knowledge. Since it was human knowledge he sought, it was blunted and slow, a gradually meandering river instead of raging rapids.

And it did not give him the answer. Other mated males indicated the Knowing provided them with all information about humans as well as their genetic history, but he was not receiving that full gift.

Because Delaney was not his mate? No. The Knowing’s presence confirmed his tie to her. Then why…

It did not matter. He would ask Chashan about it. Later. At that moment, Delaney swayed slightly on the platform and he moved even closer, allowing her to use him to remain upright.

“It means I’m not one-hundred-percent, but I’m not going to die.”

Zadri growled low, a rush of unfamiliar anger suffusing him. “You will never die.”

He would not allow it.

Delaney snorted and pulled away from him. He did not wish to be parted, but he could not force a female to do anything she did not wish. He would not insult the skies by dishonoring his mate.

“But I’ve already seen my death.” It was not simply her words that scared him—him, a Preor warrior—but the flat, defeated tone. “Haven’t I?”

Zadri cursed himself and even allowed some of his anger to flow to the skies, as well. Why did his mate have to see his battle with Ballakin? By the skies, why?

Acting on instinct and memories from his own past, he scooped Delaney into his arms and carried her to a nearby seat. He held her close, recalling how comforting it was to be wrapped in another’s arms and soothed. He’d merely been five turnings the last time he’d experienced such a comforting, but he still remembered. Even to this day.

He expected her to fight him, to push and shove at his touch, but her head merely thumped against his shoulder while she released a soft sigh. She was boneless in his arms, a comfortable weight in his embrace.

Was it dead weight? Had he killed her so easily?

A jolt of panic struck him and pushed her away from him enough to meet her surprised stare. Her chest heaved with breath and her eyes were open though they were filled with an odd moisture. He would focus on their open status. Perhaps he had not killed her?

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