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Harvey spread on a broad grin at the revelation and projected telepathically, “Well, well. Keeping secrets, are you? Do you have some fairy in you, twinkle toes?”
Ollie winked. In the bedroom, that always signaled to Tess that she was going to get exactly what she deserved. Harvey had never seen him wink outside of the bedroom…or at him specifically.
Ollie put his elbows on the desk, tented his fingers, and stared at Harvey over them. His gaze tracked down Harvey’s chest to the pillow on his lap. “I might.”
Harvey folded his hands over the brocade cushion. “I…bet that explains some things about you.”
Ollie met his gaze again. “Possibly. If you insist on discussing it, though, let’s do it later. Alone.”
So rarely were they ever in a room alone except on clan business, and there was so much of it that distractions couldn’t come into play.
He was eager to know what made the other man tick, though. What made him so fucking compelling besides his mature alpha bearing and his looks?
Ollie had claimed he wasn’t much of a psychic compared to the others in Tess’s entourage, but he had frighteningly fast reflexes. Harvey had seen him spar with one of the Sídhe—Thom—and even with an ax being swung within an inch of his nose, he didn’t flinch. Just parried and dealt a cringe-inducing swing of his own.
The smooth, practiced movements of Ollie body had been amongst the sexiest things Harvey had ever witnessed. Ollie’s calm strength was what made him such a good a consort for Tess, who tended to be more anxious. Maybe that strength would make Ollie good for Harvey, too.
Not that he could go there.
Tess grabbed the pillow from Harvey’s lap and slugged him with it. “What are you two talking about? Having long, private telepathic conversations is rude.”
“Shit.” Harvey rubbed his sore nose.
Ollie chuckled. “The usual stuff, baby. He threatened me. I threatened back. We’ll fight it out later when you’re not watching.”
The bat was ripped from her hands to clatter on the ground a few yards away. Saying another quick prayer that someone would come out of Marco’s, she threw a punch at the closest man, satisfied when she felt the crunch under her fist. She didn’t have much time to celebrate landing a decent blow, though. A hand wrapped around her throat from behind, squeezing tight enough to cut off her air. Reflexively, her fingers tried to pry the hand away, but she couldn’t get a grip. Her vision began to flare in tiny spots as air ran scarce. She had to make a move. Now. After taking a second to judge where his body was positioned so she could inflict the most damage, Sera got ready to let her body go limp. When she caught him off guard, she’d spin and go for his testicles. Three…two…
Smash. The front door to Marco’s flew open, hitting the side of the building with enough force to splinter the wood. Through her dimming eyesight, Sera made out several men’s silhouettes, including Bowen’s, before his ferocious, earsplitting shout of denial rent the air around her. It startled the man choking her enough that he eased up on the pressure, allowing her to suck precious oxygen into her lungs. She caught herself just before her knees met the concrete, but her relief quickly gave way to horror.
Guns were drawn in quick succession, from both crews. Bowen held one in his outstretched hand. Sera didn’t know what was worse, the inevitable gunfire or Bowen’s expression. She barely recognized him. Never in her life had she seen someone so capable of murder, his body drawn tight, pupils dilated. Everyone in the vicinity sensed it, too. Each and every eye trained on him, waiting for him to react.
No. Sera wanted to rail over the unfairness. She’d been trying to save his life and in the process, she’d put him in a situation where he could very well commit murder. In front of her, an undercover cop. Don’t let it happen. “Bowen,” she whispered, taking a hesitant step toward him.
His haunted gaze made her flinch. She could see the emotional battle taking place on his face. Finger poised on the trigger, he clearly wanted to fire on the man who’d been holding her. Without saying a word, he tore his attention away from her, indicating her captor with a nod of his head. “He doesn’t go anywhere.”
Sera shivered under the iciness of his order. As she watched, the group of men behind Bowen converged on the car, keeping their weapons trained on the intruders. Two of Bowen’s guys lowered their weapons in favor of wrestling her captor to the ground. His friends watched helplessly, unable to lower their weapons and help their friend or they would risk being shot. Finally, one of them cursed and shoved his gun into the waist- band of his jeans, the others quickly following suit. They piled back into the car, leaving their friend behind as they peeled away from the curb.
Bowen jerked his chin at two men in his crew. “Follow them. This ends tonight.”
As they jogged off to follow Bowen’s dictate, he sauntered forward. Almost as an afterthought, he picked the bat up off the ground and went toward the man who’d been left behind. Dozens of patrons had spilled from Marco’s to witness the action and they all watched in rapt silence now as Bowen tapped the bat against his palm. Every tap felt like a physical blow to Sera, who wanted desperately to wrap her arms around him and beg him to stop, but she couldn’t move. This man, this frozen, rage-filled version of Bowen…she didn’t know him.
He came to a stop directly over the left-behind crew member, twirling the bat in his hand. His gaze met hers for a brief, heavy second before he raised the bat and brought it down with enough force to make her gasp and jump back. Her heart raced out of control, breath shallow in her ears. She was terrified to watch, to see the death her decision had caused. The bat connected with the sidewalk beside the man’s head, sending shards of wood in every direction. Some members of the crowd reacted with relief, others with disappointment. The latter made her sick even as thankfulness swamped her. He hadn’t done it. Her stunning relief was short-lived. Bowen crouched down and looked the cowering man square in the eye. “You. Are a dead man.”
Something primal in Vike snarled. “Stay the hell away from her. She’s Scion.”
“So? Scions fuck.” A knowing smirk lifted Rex’s upper lip. “Trust me on that one, Viking.”
“You want to keep your teeth, don’t fuck with this one, Roman.”
The grief over losing Gen mixed with annoyance at the Righteous, and blended with the supernatural ass-fuck of his daily existence. His fists clenched, hungering for the crack of bone.
Vike had no qualms about giving Rex a beat-down. Fights among the Forsaken were common, hot and furious. They weren’t sit-down-and-talk-it-out kind of men. Fists replaced words, knives replaced arguments, might replaced logic. Anger was a purging agent, a sandstone to scrape away the sharp layers and reveal the smoothed edges of calm they needed to survive. Sela allowed the fights, even encouraged them, as a release valve to the pressure cooker they existed in.
Fighting was what Forsaken did and they were shit-perfect at delivering pain.
Fuck or fight was Rex’s motto and unfulfilled sexual need vibrated, almost visible in his frame. He brought his nose within inches of Vike’s. “I’ll screw anyone I want.”
“Says the man who fucked his own sisters.”
Rex growled. “I’ll let you know if the Cake’s any good after I feed her my dick.”
Vike’s vision narrowed and edged with crimson. His Berserker blood boiled, craving pain and death. A lack of weapons meant nothing. Every bone in his body was lethal.
“He said he was… He had a badge.”
“Any jackass can get a badge online.”
A violent tremor shuddered through her. She couldn’t trust anyone, not even the police. Erik tugged her close, wrapping his arms around her and she corrected herself. She could trust him.
“If you hadn’t —”
“I’m not going anywhere. You’re safe.”
His arms felt like the safest place in the world. She’d never been this close to anyone as big as he was. It made her feel feminine and tiny, things she’d given up ever feeling somewhere around age sixteen. His chest was rock-hard against her breasts, his arms like steel around her, but his hands were gentle, stroking her back as if she were a kitten. An electric crackle danced up her spine. Someone wanted her dead. She didn’t know why or even who really. She only knew that nothing would hurt her while Erik held her. He was her hero.
Security made her brave and she lifted her face from the curve of his neck, bringing her eyes to his. The matching hunger on his face made her braver and her fingers brushed his jaw. Sharp tiny bites from barely seen whiskers pricked her skin. The fullness along his bottom lip enchanted her and she stroked it.
His breath grew shallow and hot against her finger. “Be careful what you wish for, Lace.”
Lace. He shortened her name and gave it an elegance, an intricacy. He made her name beautiful, delicate and fragile, things she’d never been. “What am I wishing for, Erik?”
“Whatever it is, I’m not it.” Regret darkened his eyes to shale. “I’m not a good guy. I’m not a hero.”
“You are to me.”
He gave her every chance. His body moved with power and grace, each action signaling his intent, but she never shied away. All reservations, if there had been any, melted away as he tipped her chin higher with his knuckle.
Warm and solid yet light as a butterfly’s landing, his lips grazed hers. They halted as if to pull away but returned and grazed once more. He let his lips glide over hers until they parted then stole inside like a shiver at midnight. That shiver started at her neck and shimmied down her spine until it hit between her legs with a tingling heat.
He tasted each corner of her mouth and a connection sparked, snapped and forged. In a single kiss, they melded. He didn’t try to shove his tongue down her throat or scrape her teeth or paw her. The demands on her lips just increased to nips and nibbles. His palm slid along her waist and tingles spread to her breasts. Full and aching, they swelled, longing for his touch.
Erik lowered her onto the couch cushions, brought his body down atop hers, never lifting his mouth from hers. His hands cupped her breasts before sliding under her shirt. The sensitive skin tingled under his caress. Her inhale breathed his scent deep into her lungs, carrying Erik deep inside her soul.
“You still haven’t said why you had to come here.” He didn’t care how many deflections she threw out there or how pissed he was that she might actually be telling the truth now, after all this wasted time. He could play being calm, knowing every second of it was keeping her off balance enough to keep giving him the truth. No matter what, he wasn’t letting her get away without answers.
“Shana.” Trina began shrugging out of her coat, her coordination stilted.
Impatient, Cade helped her push her jacket off her shoulders, letting it fall to the cushions behind her. Next he moved to the open sides of her blouse. “She’s off with that Daniel guy you trust so much.”
The knowing curve to her lips only partially soothed him. “I trust him with my life, not my body.”
Which didn’t say anything about her heart, did it?
“Doesn’t mean I have to like him. Did Carter find her?”
“No, but I’m starting to think there might be more on that flash drive than we thought. He’s more than desperate. He’s terrified.” Trina bit back a hiss at lifting her arms to peel the shirt over her head. Her bra, a pretty blue silky thing, seemed more functional than flirtatious with straps that angled behind her neck instead of looping over her shoulders. Sexy without even trying. Perfectly Trina. He decided Peek-a-Blue could be a wickedly satisfying game for the rest of the night.
“I’ve been so locked down, I’m essentially flying blind right now. Frank seems to know everything I was doing. My only guess is that he dug hard enough that someone in your department must have cracked.” Trina’s disgust gave way to her sigh of relief to have the constricting clothing off.
In just her bra, she sank against the cement-like cushions as if they were silk pillows. Dark bruises marred her upper arms, clearly caused by the grip of men’s hands. Smears of tiny blood vessels crushed under heavy pressure. An array of contusions spread over her ribs and chest, scratches and more dark fingerprints lined the side of her neck. His gaze tracked one injury to the next, all the way down to her red, swollen knuckles, where purplish marks had begun to form on the scuffed joints and dark brown blood crusted her fingernails. He immediately grabbed another towelette to wash it off, but every stroke just made the truth clearer. She’d put up the fight of her life tonight.
And he hadn’t been there to help her.
Fire licked in his belly. Rage ignited, like a dragon waking in the depths of him, sizzling away any doubts about her story or what had to be done.
“Who?” He’d snap the necks of every single one of those malignant bastards. Every. Single. One.
Heavy lashes lifted and her blue eyes peered at him from beneath them. She seemed to be taking in his rigid posture or maybe she could just feel the homicidal waves rolling off him. “Cade?”
“Tell me who did this to you. I know it wasn’t just Frank.”
She sat up again, elbows on her knees. “Look at me.”
“I am.” And seeing more and more reasons to simply end every single one of those fuckers. But the ones who touched her, who’d violated her, they were going to die slow. Broken. Begging…
Her hands rose to cup his jaw, squaring her face right in his line of vision. “Look at me. Look in my eyes. I’m here. I’m fine.”
“I’m fine. I’m alive and believe me, I can take care of myself. I already handled it.”
“They’re dead? All of them?”
Her gaze slid away. “One for sure. I’m not sure about the second one, but I doubt he has any teeth left. As for Frank—”
He didn’t want to hear that evasion. “Carter’s still alive or you wouldn’t have worried about bringing your bike up here.”
She nodded. “I did shoot him, if that makes you feel any better.”
“There’s more than one place to shoot a man.” And he knew all the ones that hurt the most.
“Killing him isn’t going to change anything, Cade.” It wouldn’t make him pay for his crimes.
“I’m not killing anyone. I’m just going to shoot him several times. If he dies, that’s his fault.”
Her lips quirked. “Not sure you’ll get that one past a court of law.”