"I know." He reached out and gently smoothed his hand along her cheek. "And as I told you last night, I'm here for you, Savannah. I want to help you make sense of it all."


She stared up into his gaze. "Vampires," she said quietly, her voice threadbare, fear still raw and ripe in her breast. "That's what we're talking about, isn't it. That man at the bus terminal. The ones I saw when I touched the sword and Rachel's bracelet...they were vampires."


Something flickered in his gaze now. There was an uncharacteristic hesitation in his steady voice. "By the most basic definition, yes. That's what they were."


"Oh, my God." It had been hard enough to come to grips with the idea when it only lived in her head. But to hear him speak it now--to have witnessed Gideon gutting one of the creatures right in front of her--made the reality crash down on her like a suffocating wave. "You're telling me vampires are real. They're real, and you somehow know how to kill them."


"I, along with a few others like me, yes." He was studying her now, measuring her in some way, as if he wasn't sure she could handle his answers. "Not all of the Breed are like the one who came after you at the station. Or the one who killed your friend. Or the ones who murdered those innocent boys. Only Rogues do that, Savannah. The most depraved, diseased individuals."


"This is madness, Gideon. I don't want to hear any more right now. I can't."


"Savannah, you need to understand that there are dangers in this world. Dangers that few people truly comprehend. After tonight--after everything you've seen--you can't go back to your old life. Maybe not ever. You're part of something darker now, and there are things you need to know if you're going to survive--"


"No." She shook her head and drew away from Gideon's soothing touch. Everything was happening too fast. She was confused and shaken, too overwhelmed to process anything more. "I've heard enough for now. I don't want to hear any more about monsters or danger or death. I'm trying to hold it together, Gideon, but I'm just so fucking scared."


She put her face in her palms, struggling not to lose it in front of him, but failing miserably. A sob shook her. Then Gideon's arm wrapped around her and drew her up against his strong, warm body. He didn't say anything, simply held her close and let her regain herself for a moment.


"I'm so confused," she murmured against his chest. "I'm terrified."


"Don't be." He caressed her back, his touch a welcome comfort, easing her anxiety. His body felt so powerful around her, solid and sheltering, engulfing her in his steady strength. "The last thing I want is for you to be confused," he whispered against her temple. "I don't want you to be afraid of anything. Least of all me."


"Afraid of you? No." She gave a slow shake of her head, then pressed her brow to the center of his chest, feeling the hard drum of his heartbeat against her. "You're the only thing that feels real to me, Gideon. Of everything that's happened the past few days, the only thing I know for sure right now is the way you make me feel."


His answering growl was low, vibrating from somewhere deep inside him. She felt his muscles twitch as he continued to hold her, his strength coiled and deadly, yet wrapped around her with utmost tenderness.


Savannah lifted her head to meet his gaze. His eyes had gone darker in the dim lamplight, yet in the depths of all that stormy blue, a mesmerizing fire seemed to crackle. The heat in him was a palpable thing, radiating into her everywhere they touched.


"You felt right to me last night, Gideon, when you kissed me. I was scared then too, but you felt so right." She reached up to catch his rigid jaw in the cradle of her hand. "How is it you came into my life just when I needed you most?"


He said her name, a thick whisper that leaked from between his clenched teeth. A torment seemed to sweep over him, every sinew growing taut and still as they stood together in the meager sanctuary of the bedroom.


"If anything scares me when it comes to you," she confided softly, "it's how much I need to feel your arms around me like this. You make me feel safe, Gideon. In a way I never knew before. You make me feel as though nothing bad can touch me so long as I'm with you."


"It can't. I won't allow that. Not so long as I am breathing." His voice was thunder, deep and rumbling. "You'll always be safe, Savannah. I'll stake my life on that."


She smiled, moved by the ferocity of his vow. "Spoken like one of Arthur's noble knights. I've never had my own hero."


He blew out a low, strangled curse. "No, not noble. And most certainly not anyone's hero. Just someone who cares about you. A man who wants to know you're never in harm's way. A man who wants you to find the happiness you deserve. A man who wants...ah, fuck." His gaze burned as he looked at her. "I'm a man who wants too damn much where you're concerned.."


Savannah watched the tension play across his lean, angular cheeks and the broad line of his mouth. It deepened when his hot gaze locked on to her unflinching stare. "What do you want, Gideon?"


His searing eyes drank her in, and when he spoke, his answer came in the form of a guttural, almost animal snarl. "I want this," he said, and brought her deeper into his embrace with only the faintest twitch of the muscles that held her caged against him. Power coursed through him with barely an effort, his pulse points drumming against her skin everywhere their bodies connected.


"And this." He softly skated his fingertips along the side of her face, then brushed the pad of his thumb across her lower lip. Lowering his head to hers, he descended on her until their mouths were less than a breath apart. "And I want this."


He kissed her.


Not the slow meeting of their lips from the other night, but a hungered kiss that claimed her mouth without apology, his tongue pushing past her teeth in fevered demand. He growled something indiscernible as he crushed her against him, his breath coming fast and hard, hot against her face.


His mouth consumed her. Drank her in with a ferocity that both startled and enflamed her.


Gideon's hold on her tightened. His arousal was unmistakable, a hard, heavy presence that called to the most primal part of her. Savannah's body answered, pooling with warm need at her core. She moaned as Gideon's kiss deepened, passion-filled, questing. So naked with desire, it sucked the breath from her lungs.


He dragged her body flush against him now, catching her nape in his big hand. His fingers burned where they wrapped around the side of her neck, branding his touch on her skin.


And his kiss owned her too.


Her pulse throbbed everywhere he touched her, building to a roar that filled her ears as his lips and tongue consumed her. She gave it back to him, meeting his tongue with hers and drawing him deep. Pleasure rumbled through him, low like thunder, vibrating against her breasts and belly.


Savannah arced into him as his free hand found the hem of her sweater and slipped inside. His hard, hot fingers ran up her ribs and over the thin lace of her bra. She groaned with pleasure, lost to his touch as he kneaded her breasts and continued to wreak havoc on her senses with his kiss.


"I have to have you, Savannah," he rasped against her lips, breathless, his voice oddly thick. "Ah, Christ...I've never wanted anything more than I want this with you now. I want you. All of you."


He didn't wait for permission. Stripping off her sweater and bra and tossing them aside, he bent to lavish her bare breasts with the delicious heat of his mouth. Her nipples were taut and achy under his attention, the wet need in her core turning to fiery lava with every lap and nip and suckle of his mouth.


Desperate to have her hands on him, she reached down to the zippered fly of his black fatigues and felt the steely bulge of his cock swell even fuller under her palm and fingers. His sex was raw power beneath her hand, pulsing with carnal demand.


She was on fire for him too. Hungry with the same need, the same urgency to feel his hard body up against her, inside her. She gripped him through the fabric, and he tore away from her breasts on a ragged growl. Head down, he kissed a descending trail of fire across her ribs and abdomen, sinking to his haunches before her. His questing mouth went lower then, teasing her sensitive skin above the low-slung waistline of her hip-hugging jeans.


"Gideon, yes," she panted, trembling with sensation, her own words little more than a gasp of sound. "Oh, God, yes. I need this too. I need you now."


She sucked in a shallow gasp as he unfastened the buttons and tugged both jeans and panties down with one swift, unswerving motion. Cool air hit the naked tops of her thighs and the exposed thatch of curls between them. Then a moment later, it was all heat, as Gideon pressed his face to her mound and kissed that most private place.


Savannah dropped her hands to his shoulders, holding on for dear life as his mouth closed down on her sex. His tongue cleaved into the seam of her, wet and hot and wicked. He suckled her, taking her tight little pearl between his teeth, toying with it, swirling the tip of his tongue over her flesh and making her mewl with mounting pleasure.


"You taste so sweet, Savannah," he told her between those erotic, sensual kisses. "I wanna eat you up. Lick every sweet inch of you. Hear you scream my name."


Oh, God, it wouldn't take much more, she thought, closing her eyes and dropping her head back on her shoulders as he gripped her bare ass and buried his face between her parted legs. He teased her clit with his mouth, tantalizing strokes as he gently spread the swollen, wet petals of her core with fingertips made slick from her body's juices.


"So tight," he murmured, penetrating her slowly with just one finger. Her body clung to him instantly, greedily, her thighs quivering as he lapped at her and worked his finger inside the core of her sex. "God, Savannah...I knew you were extraordinary, but damn. I never would've been ready for this. You're so sweet the way you respond to me. So fucking beautiful."


She moaned at his sensual praise, the only reply she could manage as her blood rushed feverishly through her veins, setting every nerve ending on fire.


And Gideon gave her no quarter whatsoever. His fingers played her with masterful skill. His mouth was relentless, his tongue so very, very good.


Her legs were going boneless beneath her. She clutched his head, buried her fingers in the short blond silk of his hair as her pleasure built and crested, about to crash into her. "Gideon," she gasped. "I can't take anymore. Please...you have to stop..."


"Never," he growled. "Let go, baby. Let me take you there."


Her knees were jelly, the muscles of her thighs quaking as the rush of orgasm roared up on her.


"Mmm, that's it, Savannah," he coaxed. "Come for me. Let me hear you."


Her voice was a strangled cry as he suckled her harder, driving her higher as her climax raced for its peak. She couldn't slow it down. Couldn't hold it back another moment.


And then she did scream his name. It tore out of her on a ragged gasp as her entire being shattered against Gideon's mouth. She was still quivering with aftershocks as he rose up from his crouch and quickly shed his pants.


"Shirt too," she murmured, drowning in pleasure but wanting to feel his naked skin against her. He hesitated for a moment, his face averted--a strange pause that might have registered more fully, had she not been wrapped in the fog of the most incredible orgasm she'd ever had.


Gideon pulled off his shirt and she caught only a fleeting glimpse of intricate, tribal-like tattoos on his chest in the instant before he swooped down on her with a fevered kiss. "I need to be inside you," he growled, sounding dark and hungered, the rough scrape of his deep voice virtually unrecognizable. "Now, Savannah."


"Yes," she agreed, needing to feel more of him too. "Now."


He claimed her with a kiss so savage and carnal, it rocked her. She felt herself moving backward swiftly, her feet hardly touching the floor. She came up hard against the wall of the bedroom, Gideon's big body covering her. His mouth still locked on hers, his strong hands drifted down to cup the cheeks of her ass. He squeezed her possessively, his erection rising hot and proud against her hip. He shifted his weight on his feet, catching her in a different hold now. Then he lifted her as though she weighed no more than a feather, guiding her legs around him.


He felt so good against her, warm and hard and hungry.


So real.


In the midst of so much terror and confusion, being with Gideon was the only place she felt safe.


She'd never known anything that felt so right.


"Take me now," she murmured. "Take all that you want, Gideon."


He didn't answer. Not in words, that is.


Holding her aloft in his hands, he thrust his pelvis forward and seated her to the hilt on the thick spear of his cock. He moved with urgent strokes, in and out, deeper and then deeper still, pistoning her on his length.


Savannah felt tension rack him as his tempo increased to a fevered pitch. His shoulders were granite under her curled fingers, his muscles bunched and knotted as she clung to him and let him chase his own climax.


He found it swiftly, his hips bucking wildly, pushing farther inside with every claiming pound of his flesh against hers. Savannah was already breaking apart again, splintering with pleasure, as Gideon roared a wordless, reverent-sounding oath and filled her with the hot rush of his release.


Chapter 11


Bill Keaton knew he had company at his house in Southie that night, even before the tall, impeccably suited man peeled away from the shadows inside the front door.


He'd been expecting this visit, forbidden to ever seek the man out, but to wait always for his instructions. To carry them out without question or failure. Keaton was loath to disappoint, and he knew the news he had to impart tonight would not be welcome.

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