From the forthcoming Hunter on a Moonless Night. A man buried in sorrow discovers a woman who offers him laughter and brightness and heat:
He laughed a little, helplessly. “Ah, Nimae. Who needs stars when you’re around?”
She didn’t know what she’d done to amuse him, but she liked the sound of his laughter, rich and deep, and so she smiled back at him.
The laughter slid away from his face, then, leaving something stark and raw and vulnerable. She swallowed, forgetting her own smile under the intensity of his gaze. He had the most regal cheekbones, she thought suddenly. And his eyes were a blue as deep as sorrow.
He leaned closer. She didn’t move away. His mouth covered hers forcefully, and she yielded to the pressure of his lips, the invasion of his tongue. His stubble scraped against her skin, and it only made her nerves blaze more alive.
One of his hands cupped the back of her head, trapping her in the kiss. The other came to rest along her ribs, his thumb just under the curve of her breast. She could feel her nipples pressing against the fabric of her clothes, aching for touch. She wanted to melt into him, let him claim every fiber of her being, down to the marrow of her bones.
Instead he tore himself away. She made a noise of protest. She felt as heated as though summer had overtaken her, and it pulsed most strongly between her legs.
“I can’t,” he said in a low, rough voice that made her think of cats’ tongues and distant thunder. “Nimae, I’ve been fighting in a war for a year and I want you too badly. I won’t be gentle.”
She gave him a slow smile. “I don’t want gentle.”
This is a shorter piece that came to me when I was thinking about the Wild Hunt, and had just read a bunch of short stories by Patricia McKillip.