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  • The Invisible Ring(Black Jewels,Book 4)(62) by Anne Bishop
  • After the Youths’ Dance came the dance celebrating male power in all its primal glory. The Fire Dance. The dance of sex.

    Consorts, husbands, and males who were handfasted could wear short loincloths if they wanted to. The other males, those who had made the Offering but were not yet formally bound to a woman, indicated their willingness to become lovers by wearing nothing but their Jewels and their pride.

    A hot dance. A grinding dance whose steps were as formal as all the others and yet blatant and arousing, promising pleasure.

    You’re not old enough for the Fire Dance, Jared.

    But I’ve made the Offering!

    Yes, you have. But in most other ways, you’re still a youth.

    I’m ready for the Fire Dance, Father.

    Jewels or no, being a man is more than having a hard cock.

    But—

    We’ll talk again before the spring dance. Everything has a price, Jared. You can’t take a man’s pleasure without taking a man’s responsibilities, too. You may be ready for the one, but you aren‘t ready for the other.

    Jared watched the fire rise toward the sky.

    Had that been part of it? Still sulking like the youth he truly was, had he ignored the warnings and accepted that witch’s invitation in order to defy his father’s judgment and prove he was a man?

    Except Belarr had been right. Hehadn’t been ready for the Fire Dance. He had briefly enjoyed a man’s pleasure and then paid a brutal price.

    Stepping forward, Jared inspected the wound on his wrist. It had already begun to clot.

    He called in the knife again, reopened the wound, then vanished the knife. Using Craft and the blood dripping from his wrist, he cast a circle big enough to contain the altar and enough space around the bonfire for a single dancer.

    As soon as the circle was cast, he used healing Craft to seal the wound.

    He closed his eyes, swaying slightly. He could hear the drums and the women’s voices calling the Shalador males to the dance.

    His heart began to beat in time with the drums.

    His blood heated.

    He opened his eyes.

    On the other side of the bonfire was another male, a phantom shape with blazing green eyes and golden skin.

    Jared’s breath caught as the wild stranger bared its teeth in a smile that challenged him to embrace—toaccept —what it meant to be an adult Red-Jeweled male.

    Primal and savage, the Warlord had come to the dance.

    The drums got louder.

    Returning the smile, Jared began the Fire Dance.

    Round and round they went as the music became more urgent, more demanding. Round and round. Skin glistened with sweat from the heat of the bonfire and the heat of the dance.

    Emotional chains that he hadn’t known were there broke and melted away. Social restraints burned in the fire.

    Faster and faster. Heart pounding. Feet pounding.

    Side by side now, they danced, drawing the male fire closer and closer to the surface until it consumed everything else.

    The drums became more insistent as the music built to the climax.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire