In the Caves...

A/N: This is my first Fever fanfic, though by far not my first fic. Sorry for the liberal use of Karen Marie Moning's actual text. I needed it to set the scene.

Enjoy!

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"I couldn't tell the difference between the two of you anymore!" he roared.

I smashed my fist into his face. Lies roll off us. It's the truths we work hardest to silence. "Then you weren't looking hard enough! I'm the one with boobs!"

"I know you're the one with boobs! They're in my fucking face every fucking time I turn around!"

"Maybe you need to get a grip on your libido, Barrons!"

"Fuck you, Ms. Lane!"

"You just try. I'll kick the shit out of you!"

"You think you could?"

"Bring it on."

He grabbed a fistful of my T-shirt, and dragged me up against him until our noses touched. "I'll bring it on, Ms. Lane. But remember you asked for it. So don't even think of trying to tap out on the mat and quit the fight."

"You hear anyone crying uncle here, Barrons? I don't."

"Fine."

"Fine."

He swapped the fistful of my shirt for one in my hair, and ground his mouth against mine.

I exploded.

I shoved at him, and clawed him closer. He shoved me back, and yanked me tighter to his body. I pulled his hair. He pulled mine. He didn't fight fair. Actually, he fought exactly fair. He didn't extend courtesies, not a single one.

I bit his lip. He tripped me and pushed me down to the stone floor of the cavern. I punched him. He straddled me.

I ripped his shirt down the front, left it hanging in tatters from his shoulders.

"I liked that shirt," he snarled. He rose over me, a dark demon, glistening in the torchlight, dripping sweat and blood, his torso covered with tattoos that disappeared beneath his waistband.

He grabbed the hem of my shirt, tore it straight up to my neck, and inhaled sharply.

I punched him. If he punched me back, I was past feeling it. His mouth was on mine again, the hot silk of his tongue, the sharp, delicate abrasion of his teeth, the exchange of breath and the small, desperate sounds of need. A tsunami of lust—no doubt amplified by the Fae in my blood—crashed into me, knocking me from my feet, and dropping me out to a dangerous sea. There was no lifeboat here in these deep, killing waters, not even a lighthouse, marking the way back to shore with its soft amber promise. There was only the storm of Barrons and the one I seemed to be, and if there were dark shapes moving in the waters beneath my feet that I should probably take a good hard look at and possibly reconsider trying to swim here, I didn't care.

He fitted himself to me and began a driving, erotic, rhythmic bump and grind.

I grabbed his hair and pulled him away from my face for the briefest of moments. The look in his eyes was feral, angry, and definitely hungry. Very hungry. I kissed him fiercely, pushing my tongue into his mouth, copying his earlier kiss. His hands were fire, burning my skin as he traced paths down my side, sliding across my belly, finding the wetness between my legs.

Where were my jeans? My bra? His thumbs brushed across my nipples, circling them as they hardened. I writhed against him, arching my back and pushing my chest against his. I grabbed his arms, feeling the tight muscles of his biceps as he moved. His teeth flashed white in his dark skin as he slowly, deliberately, bent his head to my breast. Now his tongue teased my nipples, liquid fire spreading forth in all directions. I sucked in a quick breath. He'd bitten me! Not to be outdone, I sunk my teeth into his shoulder. With a grunt of pleasure, he pinned me to the floor, his dark hair falling over my face.

His lips were against my neck, kissing and sucking and gently biting. A small moan escaped my lips. I reached for his belt. It was taking too long. He grabbed my hands, putting them above my head, holding my wrists with one hand while the other undid the belt I struggled with the moment before.

I gasped as flesh touched flesh and his hot maleness pressed against me. He was rock hard. In a sudden thrust, I raised my hips and tried to buck him from on top of me. He laughed as he slipped between my legs again. For a moment there was a kind of mocking stillness as we stared at each other. His eyes were dark mirrors, showing me the lust I felt, the futility of fighting it, a fire burning in their depths.

He pushed inside me. I whimpered. He was huge. Bigger than I'd thought, and I figured he'd have to be big with the size of his ego. He froze. His nostrils flared and he pulled out, released my hands. I tried to punch him, scratch him, but he caught my fist and wouldn't let me touch him. I struggled against him, but his weight was pressing me into the stone floor and I couldn't get away, couldn't maneuver him closer.

"You giving up already, Barrons?" I taunted. "That's not like you. You never leave a fight." I thrust my hips into his again, feeling the hardness of him, the length. Wanting him. Hating him for making me feel this way, this out of control.

"You didn't tell me you were –"

"As if that's any of your business! Are we doing this or not?" I demanded, my voice rough. I bared my teeth and snarled, growling deep in my throat, demanding.

"Don't rush, Mac. I don't want to hurt you."

It was my turn to laugh, a harsh sound. I had to wet my lips to speak. "As if you could."

His eyes darkened and I had a sudden image of him, seeing through his eyes. A woman dying, a man dead, blood dripping from my hands, my cock hard and ready to take the woman again. I was the master here, and she knew it. Somehow, I was in his head, his memories. I wanted out. He drove me from his mind with sudden force, danger in his expression, an angry twist to his lips.

He looked down at me, his eyes softening. "Not with you, Mac. Never like that with you." I almost believed him. He touched my cheek gently, caressingly. Being touched by Jericho Barrons with tenderness makes you feel like you must be the most special person in the world. I turned my face away.

He grabbed my head and pulled it back to look at him, his hands vises on either side, holding me still. I was frozen, mind blank as I stared into his eyes yet again, seeing truths and lies, and above all else, desire. My body betrayed me by writhing against him, the Fae flesh I'd eaten demanding what he promised. Gone was the sun worshiper of a few months ago. Gone was pink Mac, replaced by an animal made of need and little else. Black and red and wanting.

He slipped a single finger inside me, igniting an orange and yellow fire in my blood that raced from my belly to my brain. I cried out. He covered my mouth with his, taking my breath. When we stopped kissing long enough to breathe, our breath was harsh and quick. I took his length in my hand, stroking up and down, tugging gently, enticing a groan from him. Oh, he felt good in my hands. A second finger turned regular fire to molten lava, deep orange flowing through black, like the fire in his eyes.

I don't know how long we lay there, tangled together, breathing in gasps and moans, thrashing and thrusting. When he finally pushed inside me again, I was ready for it and contracted around him in glorious heat. I took him as far into me as he could go, then begged for more. I was the animal, needing release, needing his touch, needing his release as my own. He quickened the tempo. Molten lava burned to white fire.

I carved grooves down his back with my nails as his thrusts increased. I shut my eyes and let myself experience everything I could. Warm tears slipped down my cheeks, mingling with sweat, with the blood from my ordeal. He licked the tears away, his breath hot on my skin. I'd never been touched like this before, and something in my subconscious told me that no other would ever live up to the pleasure I was receiving at the hands of Jericho Barrons.

My last thought before my brain melted out my ears, white flames eclipsing into iridescent colors I've only ever seen in Faery, was that this was how it was supposed to be.

I woke in my own bed in my borrowed room behind the bookstore. Alone. I was wearing my favorite pink nightgown, the one with yellow flowers embroidered around the neckline and matching panties. My head was pounding.

How much of what I remembered about yesterday actually happened? Clearly, Barrons had come for me, otherwise I would still be underground. There wasn't a single scratch or bruise on me, so I assumed eating the Unseelie had been real. But that last part? Had I really let Barrons have sex with me?

No. Not let. I had encouraged him. Once his weight was on top of me, it was all I could do to pretend I was still angry. It hadn't even been his idea, as I knew he'd remind me when I finally found him. This was all me.

For a moment, I thought shame would cripple me, but then the anger blazed up, singeing away all other emotions. Where was he? Why did he bring me here instead of where he slept? Didn't I rate that courtesy, at least? To wake up in a big bed, with silk sheets and mounds of pillows? I couldn't imagine anything else for the carnal, predatorily sexual Jericho Barrons.

The realization hit me then that I was just another quick fuck to add to his list of conquests. I wasn't sophisticated and movie-star beautiful like his last lover, Fiona. I wasn't like that cold bitch Marilyn we met at Casa Blanc, dripping diamonds and venom. I was just a piece of ass. He'd even called me that himself, that night, when he spoke with McCabe. He didn't bring me home because I wasn't anything more to him than a walking, talking, fucking, OOP detector.

Well, he could go fuck himself and his OOPs for all I care. I wasn't going to stay here any longer than I had to to pull myself together. I stepped into the shower.

Being clean and dressed and accessorized is an essential part of my armor for facing the world. It felt that much more important than usual this morning. Err…Afternoon. It took three scrubbings to feel clean again after what Mallucé had done to me, and another to make sure I didn't smell like Barrons.

When I stepped out of my bedroom an hour later, a cup of Starbucks and a note were waiting for me. The coffee was still hot. And he'd added cream and sugar the way I like it. Nice touch. I caught myself smiling and forced the grin from my face. I was still too angry to let something as simple as coffee made the way I prefer change my mind about him.

Unfortunately, any good feelings I'd had towards him because of the coffee evaporated as I read the note.

I will return at 10pm. Be ready. –JZB

Coffee splattered me, the rug, and walls as my Fae-induced strength mutilated the cup in my hands. I cursed him thoroughly as I cleaned the hall and changed my clothes. I thought about leaving the crushed mess of cardboard for him but changed my mind. I didn't need to add his overreaction to that to my list of experiences. My phone awaited me next to the cash register and I didn't hesitate to call his bluff.

"Be ready for what?" I snarled when he picked up on the first ring. "And where are you?" Why aren't you here, my inner voice demanded, with me? I shut her down. This was no time for sentimentality. Not with him.

There was a pause before he answered, and I tensed for danger. "I'm researching the ramifications of what you did last night. I thought it might interest you."

"I know about sex, Barrons, you don't have to – "

"You ate Unseelie last night, Mac. That's something no one's ever done, that I'm aware of." His voice sounded odd, rougher than usual. He was annoyed about something. I wondered what had happened. "I need to find out how long the effects will last."

Mac. He called me Mac. He never called me Mac. It was always Ms. Lane this, and Ms. Lane that. What was going on? But he'd called me Mac last night, too. Several times. First when he thought I was dying, then when our bodies were pressed together in that all too human dance.

I suddenly remembered something from yesterday. His face above mine, his long, beautiful fingers stroking my cheek and hair. His sharp masculine scent as he kissed my eyelids, murmuring, "Sleep now, Mac. I'll get you home." He picked me up, his arms under my knees and shoulders, my arms wrapped around his neck. Was he smiling?

The image did nothing for my temper. How could he be so kind in that moment and then leave me to wake up alone the next day?

"Aren't you being a bit forward, Barrons?" The question flew from my mouth before my mind had registered that I was even talking. I instantly regretted it, but trying to take something like that back is nearly impossible, and I was too tired and headachy to try.

"My apologies, Ms. Lane," he said after a lengthy pause. "I shall endeavor not to take liberties with your name again." His voice had gone cold. The damage had been done, and he would remember this conversation for a long time. So would I. "Be ready at 10. We have a long night ahead of us."

"Fuck you!" I snapped the phone shut, wishing I could have slammed it. How had things gone so wrong? What was I doing, alienating my best chance at finding the Book and Alina's killer? Before I could start feeling sorry for myself, the phone blared in my hand. I flipped it open. "That was not an invitation," I yelled. "Just because I fucked you once, Barrons, doesn't mean it'll happen again." I hung up before he could say anything.

The phone rang again. I looked at caller ID this time. IYCGM. Shit. I hit ignore and scrolled through received calls. IYCGM. Shit and double shit. Whoever had just called, twice, wasn't Barrons, and I'd acted like a fool. As if my day couldn't get any worse.

When the phone rang a third time, I pressed send.

"Mac? What the hell is this about you fucking Barrons?" His voice sounded like gravel.

"Who are you?"

"Ryodan. Are you going to answer my question?"

"No. Go ask him if you really need to. Why are you calling me?"

"Thought I would check up on you while Barrons is out of town."

"He's out of town?" I shrieked.

"He'll be back tonight. He said he'd left a note. Though, clearly, he left out some details."

"Ok, so you checked on me. I'm fine. Can I go now?"

He laughed. "Watch yourself with him, Mac. You don't want him as an enemy." Just as I was about to hang up, I heard the second part of Ryodan's warning. "Because if he's your enemy, so are we."