Rolling my shoulders to release the tension there, I nod and say, “No time like the present.”
Nathair hesitates but jerks his chin. “Osis, you first. Reve, we already know she can channel yours.”
Lycus heads my way, lifting me so he can give me a lingering kiss. “I meant what I said,” he murmurs, and then he puts me down gently and heads out of the room.
Huffing, Reve approaches, rolling back his sleeves dramatically. “I can do better than that.” He dips me, making me laugh before he kisses me so deeply, I moan, and then he swings me back up with a cocky grin.
Zale kisses my cheek on the way past, and Azul simply looks at me with such longing that it hurts. Conall winks and follows after them, whistling.
Nathair watches them go with a smile, and when he glances back at me, his eyes darken. “When you are done, I will send one of the others in. Behave, Althea. We all know you live to tempt us.” He sweeps from the room, leaving me with Osis, who seems unsure.
* * *
I don’t know if she will be able to channel my tiger, but if Nathair is right and she can access some of our powers, then we need to try. It would be useful, and it would also make us stronger. I guess everything has changed with our queen’s arrival.
Sliding gracefully to my bum, I cross my legs. She slowly heads my way, sitting before me in the exact same manner with her knees pressed to mine. Even that small touch sends need hammering through me, but I try to push it back and focus on what Nathair wants us to do.
Watching first Lycus and then Nathair feed and taste her drove my tiger wild. He roared inside, wanting out, but she didn’t seem ready for that yet. I can tell she’s slightly overwhelmed and lost. She needs a steadying hand, not a demanding one.
“A lot of my powers are from my mind, and they are about focusing and finding peace. It took me a very long time. Despite my tiger being hot-blooded, he is also a protector, and for that, he needs focus.” She nods in understanding. “I do not know if you can access my change. We will try that later, but for now, let’s clear your mind and focus on the other part of my powers—guarding the realm between death and life.”
“No biggie.” She grins, and a smile curves my lips.
“Close your eyes,” I murmur.
She does as she’s told, and other ideas of what I could order her to do fill me before I push them away. One eye cracks open, and she grins at me, making me realise she can probably read my projected thoughts.
Licking my lips nervously, I gruffly order her to shut them again.
“Yes, sir,” she purrs submissively. “Just so you know, I like your orders.”
Fuck, she did hear. This is not helping me with my balance.
Focus, I demand, feeling my tiger slash me inside, demanding to play and take her up on her evident offer. “Okay, and clear your thoughts.” I watch the expressions play over her face and smile. “It is easier said than done but keep trying. You’ll get used to this part, and it will become easy one day.”
“Sure,” she mumbles.
“Stop focusing on your emotions and your worries. Just focus on your breathing, slowly in and out. Imagine everything flowing out with it. Good girl.”
She tenses at that, and I file that away for later. When she’s relaxed, I take her hands, smooth my fingers across her slow, steady pulse, and lower my voice so I don’t disturb her.
“Good.” I close my eyes and focus on that spot inside me, finding it in seconds. It’s a connection deeper than anything else, and it takes me to another dimension. I feel it flow through me to her because I have nothing else to focus on.
She gasps.It’s beautiful.
“Those are the gates of death. Every soul must pass through them after judgement,” I whisper to her.
I focus on what she is seeing. The gates are surrounded by fog. They change all the time, a myriad of colours. I don’t know what is beyond them, only the dead do, but I’ve seen them open. I’m no god of death. No, he is a far more powerful and terrifying being, but I can drag the living here or I can help those who are struggling to pass over. I also guide them after judgement. I explain this all to her, and when our eyes open in sync, I know time has passed, but I do not know how much. I never do.
“Wow,” she whispers, blinking slowly. “Your powers . . .”
I hesitate. They are not as flashy or as great as some of the others’, but when she looks at me like that, I feel like I truly am a god.
“. . . are incredible, Osis,” she says, squeezing my hand. “I’ve never felt such peace, and what you do is more important than anything we could ever do.”
I sit up straighter, and my eyes drop to her lips when I remember her reaction to my orders, to my praise. Althea liked it, and just like all of us, she has been searching for love most of her life.