Bonus Scene with Poppy and Cas- Cupcakes an Kisses

May 14, 2022

A featherlight touch to my cheek and then my brow stirred me

awake. Rolling onto my side, I lifted my lashes. Vibrant amber

eyes met mine.

Beautiful eyes.

Beloved ones.

The happy surprise of seeing him sitting on the bed beside

me chased the cobwebs of sleep away. “Cas,” I whispered,

breathing in the unique scent of spice and pine that was all him.

A slow smile spread across his lush lips, revealing a deep

divot in his right cheek, then the left. A hint of two blade-sharp

fangs appeared, sending a wicked, delicious thrill through me.

I’d be hard-pressed to pick a favorite smile, but I cherished

this kind—the wide, real ones that warmed the striking lines and

angles of his features. Especially now.

“My Queen,” he murmured, dragging the pads of his fingers

down the side of my face to just below the scar on my cheek.

The light from the nearby lamp I’d left on cast a glow over

him. He was still dressed from being on the road with Kieran, the

buttery soft leathers he’d taken to wearing of late covered in a

fine layer of dust. He had the collar of his shirt loosened, and I

noticed the numerous weapons he usually bore upon his body

were absent.

“I didn’t think you’d be back so soon.”

“Hmm?” He dragged his gaze from the path he’d been tracing

down my throat to the thin strap of my nightgown. “I’m sorry.

You called me Cas, and now I’m thoroughly distracted.”

I laughed. “Really?”

“You have no idea what hearing you call me that does to me.”

His gaze lifted once more to meet mine. “Truly.”

He was teasing, but I did know.

As did Kieran, who knew everything about the first time the

Ascended had captured Cas. He had forgotten who he was,

made to feel more like a thing than a person. Hearing himself be

called Cas had snapped him out of the darkness. Anger rose in

me just thinking about it, stirring the Primal essence in my veins,

but I pushed it down before it could take on a whole new life

because Cas was free. Safe. And most of those who’d hurt him

all those years ago—and again in the not-so-distant past—had

been dealt with. As would the rest of them.

Every single person who had ever laid a cruel finger on him

would one day pay a grave price.

That was a vow I hadn’t forgotten.

The thin blanket slipped to my hips as I rose onto my elbow,

cupping his cheek. The bristle of the short hairs was rough

against my palm as I guided his mouth to mine. Still unused to

the fangs, I was careful as I pressed my lips to his. Cas opened

for me without hesitation. The sweep of his tongue was a jolt to

my senses, and gods, I missed the taste of him, even though he

hadn’t been gone that long.

A growl rumbled from deep within his chest as he shifted from

where he sat and guided me onto my back. The weight and feel

of him as he settled his body over mine whipped up a shiver of

delight. He deepened the kiss as he palmed my hip, curling his

fingers into the flesh there. I slid my hand into his damp hair,

gasping as he flicked his tongue over one of my sharpened

fangs. Another tight shiver curled its way through me, and my

back arched, pressing my chest into his. I had no idea that my

fangs could be so sensitive.

“That doesn’t help with being less distracting.” Cas dragged

his lips over mine. “I think you missed me.”

I slid my hand over the nape of his neck. “I did.”

He rested his forehead against mine. “A lot.”


His lips curled into a smile against mine. “I missed you, too.

Pretty sure I was getting on everyone’s nerves talking about how

I needed to get back to you.”

“Even Kieran?”

“I think he’s learned to just tune me out.” He kissed the

corner of my lips, and I knew that was somewhat impossible. It

had taken us a while—the three of us—to realize that no one had

ever openly discussed certain things about the Joining. One of

them being the fact that our bodies appeared to sync to one

another’s. Or rather, their bodies synced to mine. But another

thing was Cas’s and Kieran’s ability to not only pick up on each

other’s emotions but also mine. And while Kieran believed that

was an amusing bit of Karma, I found it to be highly annoying

when they sensed the changes in my mood.

Especially when they decided to comment on it.

“I think Netta was about to bite me at one point,” Cas

continued. “Just to shut me up.”

“She would never.”

“She would.” He kissed the other side of my lips. “And has.”

I laughed, but the sound quickly faded as I guided his head

back so his eyes met mine. “Did you…find him?”

Did you find them went unasked.

“No,” he said quietly, squeezing my hip. “The city is huge,

though. We still have large chunks of it to check, and he knows

the layout and where to hide when he doesn’t want to be

found—both of them do. But we’ll find them.”

I exhaled, long and slow, nodding as I let my senses stretch

out to him. Cas had so many layers. The fading sweetness of his

amusement. The rich taste of cinnamon—pride. Chocolate and

berries: love. But underneath them all, I tasted the tart prickliness

of frustration. “I could try to use—”

“Let’s not try that,” he cut in with a teasing grin. “We really

don’t need a repeat of what happened the last time you tried to

use the Primal essence for something one normally wouldn’t.”

“I would like to know who determined what the essence

should and shouldn’t be used for.”

“Your grandfather?” Cas suggested. “Grandmother?”

My eyes narrowed. “Don’t bring logic into this conversation.

That’s normally Kieran’s job. Or at the very least, Naill’s.”

Cas snorted. “None of us wants another impromptu visit from

your grandmother.” Pausing, he shuddered. “Or Nektas.”

“I don’t think either of them likes being referred to as a

grandparent,” I said, and it was weird to even think of them as

such since neither looked much older than us. “And if Tawny can

get over being momentarily frozen, so can they.”

He arched a brow as he stared down at me.

“Fine.” Letting my arms flop to the bed, I sighed. “I won’t try.”

Cas chuckled, dipping his chin to brush his lips over mine.

That quick, press of lips quickly became something infinitely

more, leaving us both breathless and wanting.

“What is it with you and such silly, tiny straps?” Cas asked as

he slid said straps down my arms, baring my breasts.

“I…I don’t know,” I panted as his lips danced over the skin

he’d bared, licking and nipping, tasting. Warmth invaded my

blood, and deep in my chest, the essence throbbed with heat

instead of ice. “It’s just how they make them.”

“I think that’s a lie. You have them altered just to torment

me.” His mouth closed over the tip of my breast, coaxing a

ragged moan from me. “F&ck,” he groaned, lifting his head. The

hollows of his cheeks stood out starkly as he dragged his fangs

over his lower lip. “I do love them, though.”

A pleasant flush spread down my throat and over my chest. “I

don’t think you’re still speaking about the straps.”

The dimple in his right cheek appeared as a slow half grin

spread across his face. He glanced up at me through thick

lashes, his eyes pools of liquid gold.

“You know what I’ve been thinking?” He reared onto his


“Only the gods know what…” I trailed off as he reached

behind himself, grabbing a fistful of his shirt at the collar and then

pulling it over his head. The muscles along his shoulders and

chest tightened as he tossed the garment aside. My gaze

glanced off the delineated lines of his chest and the lean, tightly

coiled muscles of his stomach as his hands went to the snap on

his leathers. He shoved them down his hips. My lips parted on a

sharp inhale as an indecent fluttering motion swept through me.

“Seems like I’m not the only one distracted,” he commented,

the sugary-sweet burst of his amusement tickling my tongue.

“Perhaps it will help you pay attention to what I’m saying if you

refrain from ogling my man bits.”

“Man bits?” I choked on a laugh. “You were just staring at my


“Does manhood sound better?” Cas countered as his hands

went to the hem of my deep green nightgown. “And I was staring

at the straps.”

“Liar.” I bit down on my lip as he drew up the hem of the

gown, the rough calluses of his palms sliding over the scars on

my thighs. “And, no, I would rather you didn’t call it manhood or

man bits.”

“Then what—?” He paused to dip his head and capture the

turgid peak of my breast in his mouth. “Your breast looked

lonely,” he explained. “What would you prefer I call it?”

“Cock?” I whispered.

His gaze flew to mine. “Say that again.”

My cheeks warmed. “Cock.”

Cas’s grin was downright indecent. “How in the hell can you

make such a word sound so…charmingly innocent?”

I rolled my eyes. “I don’t know how or why we’re even talking

about this.”

“You started it.”

“I did not.”

“Was it me, then? My bad.” His lips parted as he got an eyeful

of the lacy undergarments I wore in the same color as the gown.

“Pretty,” he murmured. My hips twitched as he drew his finger

along the delicate, scalloped edge. “Very pretty.” Those heated

eyes lifted to mine. “Do you like them?”

“The undergarments?”

He nodded.

“I suppose so,” I answered, thinking that was a strange


“Then I apologize.”

“What for?” I gasped as he tore the material with one quick

swipe of his hand. “Cas!”

“I’ll get you a new pair,” he promised.

My heart pounded, and I knew his did, too. “You know, you

could’ve just removed them like a normal person.”

“And what fun is there in behaving like a normal person?” A

wicked smile appeared as his finger moved down the very center

of me with nothing between him and my damp skin. He eased

that finger inside me. “My Queen?”

My back arched, and my hands curled into the sheet on either

side of me.

His laugh was rich, husky, and his stare as he watched

himself slowly thrust his finger in and out was nothing short of

scandalous. “Ah, now I remember what I was trying to tell you,”

he said, doing something utterly devious with his thumb. “What

I’ve been thinking about. I’m not sure calling you ‘my Queen’ is

still appropriate.”

I wasn’t exactly sure what he was talking about. My hips

lifted, matching the plunging of his finger before he added


“Especially considering you’re more than a Queen.” His hand

still moved between my thighs as he stretched over me, his

mouth dancing across the skin of my chest and the underside of

my jaw. “Should I call you my Primal Highness?”

I shook my head.

“I believe that’s the official title.” Cas nipped at where my

pulse thrummed wildly. “We should see how it rolls off the

tongue,” he decided. “Your pu$$y is so wet, my Primal


“Oh, my gods,” I half-laughed, half-moaned. “I can’t believe

you just said that sentence out loud.”

“Believe it.” His mouth danced over my cheek. “Or how

about…do you want my cock inside you, my Primal Highness?”

I clasped his cheek. “How about—?” My head kicked back as

he pressed his thumb against the most sensitive part of me.

He stared down at me, his features a mask of innocence.

“How about what?”

“How…how about you just call me Poppy?” I managed.

“That seems inappropriate.”

“All of what you just said sounded highly inappropriate.”

“True.” He caught my lower lip between his teeth. “But you

didn’t answer my question.”

Muscles deep inside me began to coil and tighten as I rasped,

“W-what question?”

Cas’s mouth went to my ear, and he whispered, “Do you want

my cock?”

A fire lit my blood, and I wasn’t sure if it was that or his

question that heated my cheeks. Or my answer. “Yes.”

“Thank f$ck.” He eased his hand from me.

I watched, my chest rising and falling rapidly as he brought

those slick fingers up and closed his lips over them. I turned

liquid inside.

“Honeydew,” he growled.

His mouth closed over mine then, and the taste of him—the

taste of me—twisted my insides in a dizzying, heady way.

There were no more words, not for a while. There didn’t need

to be as our hearts and bodies seized control. He hadn’t been

gone long, only a few days, but it still felt like a small eternity

since I’d felt him like this, on the tenuous edge of control as we

came together. Within a few heartbeats, I was lost to him, all of

him, and I knew he was lost to me. All of me.

Because I was drenched in the spicy, smoky flavor of his lust,

drowning in it, right along with him.

Cas took his time. We took our time, my legs curled over his

waist, and our arms wrapped around each other. There wasn’t an

inch of space between us as he drove into me, and I rose to meet

each decadently slow roll of his hips. There was no rush. No

greedy hands or frantic thrusts. When release came, it found us

together, and it was shocking and complete, leaving our bodies

damp, and our hearts pounding in tune, our breaths mingling as

we lay side by side, facing each other on the now-tangled




Cas fingers scooped up a few strands of my hair, tucking

them behind my ear. “Did you think I wouldn’t be here? Today?”

Today? Confusion rose as I opened my eyes.

His gaze searched mine. “You’ve forgotten.” A grin appeared.

“Totally understandable. You have a lot on your mind. The

upcoming coronation…”

Nervousness surged through me. The more official coronation

and ball, which would be held soon in Carsodonia instead of

Evaemon, but that was the least of the things occupying my

thoughts. “We both have a lot on our mind.”

Cas nodded. “My brother.”

“My sister.”

He cracked a grin. “Your parents-in-law.”

“You mean, your parents.”

“Your grandparents.” He touched his thumb to my lower lip.

I ignored that. “The kingdoms that became a single kingdom.”

“The Unseen,” he continued, drawing his thumb to my cheek.

“The Ascended that are…different.”

“And the Ascended that are the same,” I added. “The Rot.”

His eyes met mine. “Kolis.”

“Kolis,” I repeated, shivering as I wiggled closer to him.

Cas folded over me, bringing our bodies close. And then

there was what had been left unsaid.

The Primal power in me.

What it was doing.

To me.

To us.

To the three of us.

I pressed my cheek to his chest, squeezing my eyes shut. His

arm tightened around me, and neither of us spoke for several

moments. Not until the dread left us both. “What am I


“Today.” Cas reached between us, curling his fingers under

my chin. He brought my gaze to his. “It turned midnight just as I

arrived. April 20th. Your birthday.”

A ripple of surprise went through me as my eyes widened.

Good gods, I hadn’t been paying attention to the dates, and it

had completely slipped my mind that I’d been approaching my

self-designated birthday.

Cas smiled. Just one dimple was visible, and that surprise

gave way to a sweet rise of love, so much love that it almost hurt

for my heart to be so full of it.

“You remembered,” I whispered.

“Apparently, someone had to,” he teased, sweeping his

thumb over my cheek. His eyes fixed on mine. “And I would

never forget, Poppy. I will be with you for each and every


I stared at him as a wealth of emotion swelled and crested.

The back of my eyes stung as tears crowded my throat.

“Don’t.” Cas rose onto his elbow to hover over me. “Don’t

cry, Poppy.”

I smacked my hand over my face.

“Why do you keep doing that?” He laughed roughly. “It

sounds like it hurts.”

“I’m trying not to cry,” I sniffled.

He took hold of my wrist. “I don’t see how smacking yourself

in the face helps.”

“It does.”

“Poppy.” He drew my hand from my face.

“They’re happy tears,” I told him.

“I know.” He kissed my palm, right where a faint sheen of

dampness smudged the golden imprint. “But your tears still kill

me,” he said, his brows knitting as something small and hard

suddenly poked at my palm. “Even when they turn into


I followed his stare to where two tiny diamonds shaped like

tears rested in my palm. “Damn it,” I whispered. “I still don’t get

how that’s possible.”

“Neither do I.” He plucked them from my palm and then

stretched, placing them on the nightstand before settling once

more beside me. “But it’s rather impressive.”

“Yeah, it…it kind of is.” I plastered myself to his chest. “Thank


“You don’t need to thank me for that.” Cas kissed the top of

my head. “And you probably won’t be thanking me later.”

“Doubtful.” I threw an arm over him, squeezing him as hard as

I could.

“Remember that when Kieran arrives with cupcakes—”

“Cupcakes? Kieran has cupcakes?” I sat up straight, my eyes

going wide. “Where is he with these cupcakes?”

Cas was clearly fighting a grin. “Remember this when Kieran

arrives with cupcakes,” he repeated,” that Tawny and Emil

insisted on making.”

My eagerness faded into confusion. “Tawny made them? I

don’t think she or Emil have ever baked a thing in their lives.”

“Exactly,” Cas replied dryly.

“Oh.” My shoulders slumped but didn’t stay that way. “But

it’s the thought that counts.” And that was the truth. To have any

of them remember my birthday and do something to celebrate it

made me want to cry again. “And that’s incredibly sweet.”

Cas arched a brow. “I’ve seen the cupcakes, Poppy.”

“What do they look like?”

“It’s hard to describe, but they look like they’d be better

suited for throwing at the Craven.”


His lips twitched. “However, Netta made a batch or two. Just

let Kieran pick which ones you should eat.”

“Oh, thank the gods.”

Cas’s gaze dropped to my chest. “I’m thanking the gods right


“Stop it.” I planted my hands on his chest as I started to climb

over him.

He stopped me, palming my hips. “I know you’re excited

about cupcakes and that’s all you’re thinking about right now…”

I glared down at him because that was all I was thinking

about right now.

“But it’s the middle of the night.”

Oh. Yeah. It was. I sighed.

His grin kicked up a notch. “And while I have you all to

myself, I’m thinking about other things I’d like to have in our

mouths,” he said.

A fine shiver rippled through me as I curled my fingers inward,

pressing my nails into his chest. My breath caught as his hands

slid to my rear. “Like what?”

Cas chuckled. “How about I show you?”

And he did, long into the night and the early morning hours of

my birthday.

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About Me

#1 New York Times and #1 International Bestselling author Jennifer lives in West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. she spends her time reading, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, hanging out with her husband and her Border Jack Apollo.

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