Deeper than midnight, p.40
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       Deeper Than Midnight, p.40
 

         Part #9 of Midnight Breed series by Lara Adrian
Page 40

 

  She nodded, appreciating that Hunter didn't feel the need to cushion her from the truth. There would be no more secrets between them anymore, no matter how small. It was something they'd promised each other as they'd made the journey to the isolated cabin in the Georgia woodlands last night, after Hunter's disclosure of Mira's vision had nearly rent them apart. Corinne exhaled a shaky sigh. "At least we were able to change the outcome of the vision. If nothing else, at least we know now that not everything Mira sees must come true. "

  Hunter shook his head. "There was no altering of what I saw in Mira's eyes. The vision she showed me played out exactly as she predicted. It was my interpretation that was wrong. "

  "What do you mean?"

  "Everything you said in those last few moments was part of it, Corinne. You asked me to spare him. You pleaded for me to let him go. All your words, just as you said them, were part of Mira's precognition. " He brought her fingers up to his mouth and pressed a gentle kiss to them.

  "When I raised my hand and prepared to bring it down on him, you physically tried to stop me. And I let my hand drop anyway. I had to - it was the only way. "

  "I don't understand," she murmured. "You didn't kill Nathan. The vision was wrong. "

  "No," he said. "The blow I delivered should have killed him - it would have, if his collar had not been disabled. That was the thing I didn't know, the thing the vision had not revealed to me. I didn't realize until the moment it was happening that the strike I made against your son was meant to save his life, not take it away. "

  "Thank God," Corinne whispered, curling herself into the shelter of his embrace. "But Nathan is gone anyway. I've lost him, just the same. "

  "We will find him," Hunter said, his deep voice rumbling from all around her, low and soothing, as strong as his protective arms. "I give you my vow on this, Corinne. No matter how long it takes, or how far I must go to see it through. I will do this . . . I do it for you. Everything for you. "

  She turned her head to gaze up at him, moved by his promise.

  "I love you," he told her. "My life now and for the rest of my years is committed to your happiness. "

  "Oh, Hunter," she sighed, emotion catching in her throat. "I love you so much. You've already shown me happiness I didn't think possible for a very long time. "

  He bent and dropped a kiss on her brow. "And I have never known any of the things you've made me feel in our brief time together. You have made me want to experience everything in life. I want to experience it all with you at my side . . . as my mate, if you deem me worthy. "

  "I don't want to live a day without you either," she confessed. "You are a part of me now. "

  "I want that," he said, catching her lips in a sensual, passionate joining of their mouths. When he drew back a moment later, his eyes were glowing bright as coals. His fangs gleamed, the sharp points extending even farther as he gazed at her. "I can't help but desire you. I want to taste you again. This feeling I have for you is more than intense," he said roughly. "It is a possessive thing, greedy. I look at you, Corinne Bishop, and all I can think is that you are mine. "

  "I am yours," she confirmed, stroking the proud jaw and muscled cheek of the male she wanted beside her eternally. "I am yours alone, Hunter. Yours forever. "

  With a growl, he pulled her into another, deeper kiss. "I want you to belong to me," he murmured against her mouth. "I want to know my blood lives inside you, as a part of you. "

  "Yes," she gasped, thrilling to the idea of binding herself to him now and for always. Their eyes locked together, he raised his wrist to his mouth and sank his long fangs into the flesh. He brought it to her, the most precious gift he could give her. Corinne put her lips to his opened vein and drew the first taste of him into her mouth.

  His blood hit her tongue like wildfire.

  Thick and strong and roaring with power, it was the very essence of all Hunter was. And now that vitality was feeding her, enriching her cells, filling her senses . . . weaving into every fiber of her being. She felt the bond take hold, a radiant, glorious connection. She grabbed on to it and let it wrap around her, reveling in the total saturation of joy that engulfed her as she continued to drink from Hunter.

  His blood obliterated the horror of all she'd been through. The torture was swept away, the degradation lifted, all of it scattering like dust under the power of the bond that was now growing, intensifying between them.

  As she drew from Hunter's vein, she watched her magnificent mate's eyes blaze with passion and possession . . . with a love so intense it stole her breath. She was on fire for him now, her own need amplified by the intoxicating power of his blood.

  She could hardly stand the wait as he carefully withdrew his wrist and sealed the wounds closed with his tongue. She was trembling as he undressed her, his own clothes gone in the next instant.

  He covered her with his body and made love to her, sweetly, thoroughly . . . an ecstasy that burned as brightly as their love.

  And while this moment of commitment and completion filled her beyond measure, there was still a corner of her heart that she knew would ache as long as her son was gone. But Hunter's promise to stand by her until they found him gave her faith. Perhaps he wasn't lost to her forever. Not yet.

  With Hunter's love, and the blood bond that flowed through her, stronger than any storm, everything seemed possible.

  A heavy rain had swept into the area by the time dusk finally settled. Hunter shrugged into his leather trench coat, preparing to head back out to search for Nathan one last time before pushing on to New England. Based on his quick check-in with the Order a short while ago, things were going from bad to worse at the compound. As much as he hated to leave without Corinne's son, Hunter also could not ignore his duty to his fellow warriors. More than even that, he needed to ensure that Corinne was somewhere safe and protected while he carried out all of his duties, not left to wait for him in the back of an unsecured delivery truck.

  "I will be fine," she told him, reading his concern with an ease that should have unsettled him.

  It didn't unsettle, however. It was reassuring how well she'd come to know him. Incredible how visceral their bond was now, solidified by their mingling blood. He caressed her beautiful, brave face. "I'll be gone only for a couple of hours. I can cover the entire area near the river and the state park around it in that time. "

  "Thank you," she said, turning a kiss into his palm. "Whatever happens - whether you find him out there tonight or not, just know that I'm grateful you're willing to try. "

  "Nathan is your family. That means he's my family too. "

  She gave a wobbly nod as he gathered her close. As Hunter gazed into her trusting eyes, he knew a deep wish to build a larger family with her - to give her more sons to love, once Nathan was safe.

  Together they walked to the doors of the truck. Hunter opened them into the hiss of the steadily pouring rain.

  Nathan stood outside in the deluge.

  He was drenched, barefoot and half dressed in just the gray sweatpants he'd been wearing when he'd bolted earlier that day. Water sluiced off his shaved head and down the lean muscled plates of his dermaglyph- covered chest. His hands hung loosely at his sides, fingers dripping water into the mud beneath his feet.

  Corinne went very quiet next to Hunter, as though not trusting her own eyes and afraid the boy was just an illusion that could shatter if she so much as breathed. Nathan stared at them. "I don't have anywhere to go. "

  "Yes, you do," Hunter replied.

  He held out his hand.

  It took a long moment before the boy made any move whatsoever. Then, with a faint nod, he reached up and clasped Hunter's hand, stepping up into the truck. Beside him now, Hunter heard Corinne's lungs expel a soft, shaky sigh. Her pulse was pounding, beating as hard as a drum, her blood racing so hard he could feel her excitement - her hope - in his own veins. But she held herself back, doing everythin
g in her power to resist throwing her arms around her child in relief and elation.

  She stood unmoving, waiting, watching her beloved son slowly make his way over to her first.

  "Is everything you said true?" he asked her.

  She nodded, tears overflowing her eyes. "Everything. "

  Hunter removed his coat and draped it over the boy's soaked shoulders. Nathan glanced over at him, still not entirely certain of them. "If I go with you, where will you take me?"

  "Home," Hunter answered.

  He glanced at Corinne then, understanding in just that moment how powerful the word truly was.

  Home.

  It struck him with the same staggering force as a weapon hammered out of steel, as unbreakable as a diamond, as steady as a mountain.

  Home.

  It was something neither he nor this lethal teenage assassin had ever known. Something they both had found in the beautiful woman who had somehow, miraculously, opened her gentle, stalwart heart to both of them.

  Hunter put his arm around her slender shoulders, gazing at her with all the love that was overflowing in his own heart. He leaned in close to her and whispered for her ears alone: "Thank you for bringing me home. "

  Chapter Thirty-four

  Are you going to pace all morning, Lucan? Some rest would do you good, you know. "

  Gabrielle patted the empty spot beside her on the massive bed in their quarters at the compound. It was midmorning according to the clock on the nightstand, but he had been on his feet nonstop since the day before.

  Too many fires to put out. Too many lives resting in his hands - not the least of which being the infant son newly born to Dante and Tess.

  And then there was Sterling Chase, currently cooling his heels under lockdown in the infirmary. Lucan and the rest of the Order had been on high alert since he'd shown up on the estate grounds more than twenty-four hours ago, bleeding from multiple gunshot wounds and sporting a rather massive target on his ass.

  The news stations were still having a field day with the eyewitness sketch they'd obtained of him. It was being played on every broadcast - local, national, and cable - and had been a permanent fixture on the various Internet news sites since the incident at the senator's party took place. Lucan wondered just how long it would take for the heat on Chase from human law enforcement to subside.

  Not good, that the Order was harboring an individual wanted by several local police entities and the goddamned feds as well.

  As pissed as he was at Chase not only for letting Dragos get away but also for getting himself shot and ID'd in the process, he had to admit it had been a good thing - a bloody admirable hunch - that had put Chase at the senator's party. Regardless of his personal issues of late, Chase's instincts had been solid, and royal fuck-up on the execution notwithstanding, his public disruption had managed to thwart whatever Dragos had up his sleeve. And there had been something going on, Lucan was certain of that. The conniving son of a bitch sure hadn't been there for the canapes and conversation.

  He hated to consider what Dragos might have intended, considering the fact that some of the United States's top government officials had been in attendance. Lucan walked another hard track in the rug. "Something big is about to blow. I can feel it in my bones, Gabrielle. Some shit is about to go down, and unless I get my hands around it quick, it's going to explode not just in my face, but in everyone else's too. "

  "Come here," she said, frowning now as she threw back the sheet and comforter to make room beside her naked body on the bed. She was gorgeous, and too tempting to resist, despite the gravity of his thoughts. "You're doing all you can," she told him as he settled in next to her.

  "We'll figure this out. All of us, together. You are not alone in this, Lucan. "

  He felt himself relax as she spoke, his troubles seeming to ease just by the fact that she was near. It was a power she had over him that never ceased to amaze him. "How did I ever manage to convince you to be my mate?"

  Her soft laugh vibrated against his ear where it rested on her breast. "There was kissing involved, if I recall. Maybe even some kicking and screaming. On your part, primarily. "

  He pulled back and stared darkly into her eyes. "I don't kick, and I most definitely never scream. "

  "Maybe not," she conceded, a wry smile tugging at her full lips. "But you didn't go down easy, you have to at least admit that much. "

  "I'm thick-headed, according to rumor," he said. "Half the time, I don't know what's good for me. "

  Her auburn brows quirked. "Fortunately for you, I do know what's good for you. "

  She pulled him up for her kiss, sealing her mouth over his in a slow, penetrating claiming that had him going stiff as granite in his fatigues. With a snarl of pure masculine approval, he caught her around her tender nape and plunged his tongue between her teeth. He already had her pressed beneath him when the phone line from the tech lab started ringing.

  Lucan's warning bells went off like sirens as he tore himself away from Gabrielle's warm body and put the receiver to his ear. "What's going on, Gideon?"

  "You don't, by chance, have the television on, do you?"

  "No. "

  Gideon's voice didn't have its usual levity. Not even close. "All hell's breaking loose downtown, Lucan. You'd better come quick. You need to see this. "

  Chase brought his head up from the pillow of his bed in the infirmary, straining to get a better look at the television screen mounted in the corner of the room. It had been parked on one of those pointless morning chatter shows, where a pair of hosts kibitzed and chuckled over vapid news items while sipping tall cups of coffee and flashing a lot of veneered white teeth at the camera. Even on mute, the thing had annoyed him, but he'd left it on just to give his eyes something to focus on, other than the four clinical walls that caged him inside the compound. It had been either that, or let himself go mad and give in to the hunger that was still clawing at him from the inside out. The addict in him had wanted out of there in a bad way -
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