"No," he denied firmly. "Not Rogue, Savannah. But I am Breed, like they are. Like they were, before they lost themselves to Bloodlust."

"A vampire," she clarified, maybe needing to say the word out loud. Her voice dropped to something less than a whisper. "Are you undead?"

"No." He resisted the urge to laugh off the crude misconception as ridiculous, but only because she was so obviously horrified at the thought. "I'm not undead, Savannah. That's where myth and reality differ the most when it comes to my kind. The Breed is otherworldly in origin. Big difference."

She gaped at him now, studying him. He didn't mind her blatant inspection, since the longer he stood still before her, the calmer she seemed to become. "You have nothing to fear from me," he told her, speaking the words as a promise. A solemn vow. "You need never fear me, Savannah.."

She swallowed hard, her gaze flicking over every inch of his face, his mouth, his dermaglyph-covered chest and shoulders.

When she hesitantly lifted her hand then dropped it back to her side again, Gideon took her fingers in a loose grasp and gently brought her palm to his mouth. He kissed its warm center, giving her none of his sharp edges, only the soft, warm heat of his mouth. Then he guided her hand to his chest, resting it over the heavy beat of his heart. "Feel me, Savannah. I'm flesh and blood and bone, just like you. And I will never harm you."

She kept her hand there, even after he let go. "Tell me how any of this is possible," she murmured. "How can any of this be real?"

Gideon smoothed his fingers along her cheek, then down along the pulse point of her carotid, that fluttered like a caged bird against the pad of his thumb. "Get dressed first," he instructed her tenderly, more for his own good than hers. "Then sit down and we'll talk."

She glanced over at the lone wooden chair in the living room of Tegan's desolate house. To Gideon's relief, she looked back at him not in terror or revulsion, but with the arch wisdom and keen wit of a woman better than twice her young age. "Time for me to risk my own Seat Perilous?"

"I doubt there's ever been anyone more worthy," he replied.

And if he wasn't already half in love with her, Gideon reckoned he fell a little harder in that moment.

Chapter 12

Gideon had paced in front of her the entire time he spoke.

Now that he had finished, he finally paused, watching her with an expectant, oddly endearing kind of silence as Savannah worked to absorb everything she'd just heard.

"Are you all right?" he asked carefully, when the weight of her new education rendered her speechless. "Still with me, Savannah?"

She nodded, trying to make all the pieces fit together in her mind.

The whole incredible history of his kind and where they came from, how they lived in secret alongside humans for thousands of years. And how Gideon and a small number of like-minded, courageous Breed males--modern-day, dark knights, from the sound of it--worked together as a unit right there in Boston to keep the city safe from the violence of Rogues.

It was all pretty mind-boggling.

But she believed him.

She trusted him at his word that the fantastical tale he'd just told her was the truth.

It was, whether she was prepared to accept it or not, her new reality.

A reality that seemed a little less terrifying having Gideon in it with her.

She glanced up at him. "Vampires from outer space, huh?"

He smiled wryly. "The Ancients were otherworlders, not little green men. Deadly predators unlike this planet has ever seen. The very top of the food chain."

"Right. But their offspring--"

"The Breed."

"The Breed," she said, still testing everything out in her mind. "They're part human?"

"Hybrid progeny of the Ancients and Breedmates, females like you," he clarified.

Savannah reached up to her left shoulder blade, where a small birthmark declared her the other half of Gideon's kind. She exhaled a soft laugh and shook her head. "Mama used to say it was a faerie's kiss."

Gideon stepped toward her where she sat on the old wooden chair. He gave a mild shrug. "Something made you and those others born with that mark different from other women. Who's to say it wasn't faeries?" His mouth curved in a tender, intimate smile. "It makes you very special, Savannah. Extraordinary. But you would be both those things and more, even without your mark."

Their eyes met and held for a long moment. Savannah watched, mesmerized, as the fiery sparks in his bright blue irises glittered like stars. His pupils had thinned to slender, vertical slits--inhuman, like a cat's eye. Maybe she should have been alarmed or repulsed; instead she was transfixed, astonished to see the change coming over him in so many intriguing, fantastical ways.

She reached out to him, invited him closer. He stepped between her knees and sank down on his haunches. His big body radiated a palpable heat. Where her knees and thighs touched him, she could feel the hard hammer of his pulse. Her own heartbeat seemed to answer it, falling into his rhythm as though they were one and the same being.

Savannah couldn't resist touching him.

His bare chest, shoulders, and powerful, muscled arms were alive with a tangle of intricate arcs and swirls that covered him, just a shade darker than his golden skin.

Dermaglyphs, he'd explained, along with the rest of what he'd told her.

She traced one of the patterns over his firm pectoral with her fingertip and marveled at how its color deepened at her touch. She followed the graceful swell and dip of the glyph, watching it come to life and flood from tawny gold to dark jewel tones.

"They're beautiful," she said, and heard his low rumble of approval deep in his chest as she teased more color into other places on his velvety skin. He had fascinated her from the moment she first met him under the Abbey murals at the library. But she was curious about him in a new way now. She wanted to know him better, wanted to know everything about her lover who was something much more than a man. "I could play with your dermaglyphs all day," she admitted, unable to hide her wonder and delight. "I love how the colors change to wine and indigo when I touch them."

"Desire," he rasped thickly. "That's what those colors mean."

She glanced up and saw a growing hunger in his handsome face, heard it in his low, rough-edged voice. "Your eyes," she said, noticing how the sparks had multiplied, now more of an amber glow, slowly swamping the blue of his irises. "When we made love earlier, I felt the heat of your gaze. I saw there was a fire coming to life in your eyes. This kind of fire. You hid it from me."

"I didn't want to frighten you." A flat, unabashed admission.

"I'm not afraid now, Gideon. I want to know." She reached out to him, cupped his rigid jaw in her palm. "I want to understand."

He stared at her for a long moment, then growled her name and covered her mouth in a long, slow kiss.

Savannah melted into him, swept up in the heat and pleasure of his lips on hers. She hungered for a deeper taste, testing the seam of his mouth with her tongue. He didn't give way to her at first, groaning as if to refuse her.

She wouldn't let him hide from her. Not now. Not again, not ever when they were together.

She scooted to the edge of the chair and wrapped her hands around the back of his head, spearing her fingers into the silk of his short hair. She traced her tongue along his mouth, insistent, pressing her body to his.

He gave up with a low curse and she pushed inside, thrilling to the feel of his hungered mouth. The sharp tips of his fangs scraped her tongue as she kissed him deeper. When she could hardly take it any longer, she drew back to look him full in the face.

There was little left to confuse him with a mortal man. His eyes were blazing, fangs enormous and razor-sharp. His dermaglyphs were livid with dark color, churning like living things on his skin.

He was magnificent.

And she felt no fear as she drank in his full transformation.

"Take me to bed, Gideon. Make love to me again, now, like this. I want to be with you just the way you are."

With an otherworldly snarl of agreement, he swept her roughly off the seat and into his strong arms.

Then he rose and carried her into the bedroom as she'd commanded.

Gideon had never seen anything lovelier than the look of pleasure on Savannah's face as she climbed toward orgasm, her dark eyes locked on his gaze while she rode him in an unrushed, but slowly increasing, tempo.

They'd left the bed sometime before morning had dawned outside the sealed-up townhouse. Now, they sat face to face in a tub of warm bathwater, Savannah straddling him, his cock buried deep inside her tight sheath, her breasts dancing in tantalizing motion in front of his thirsting eyes and hungry mouth. He couldn't resist pulling one of the pert brown nipples between his teeth, rolling his tongue over the tight little peak and gently grazing the tip of his fangs along the supple curve of her flesh.

She drew in a sharp, shivery breath when he closed his mouth down on her a bit harder, just enough to remind her what he was and to torment himself with the want he felt to take things further with her--to make her his in every way.

Making love to her openly, without fear or concealment of his true nature, had been amazing. Mind-blowingly good. They had exhausted each other last night, sleeping for a short while in each other's arms before waking more than once to kiss and caress and make love all over again.

Gideon knew he should have broken away at some point to report in to the compound, but he hadn't been able to find the will to leave the bed he'd shared with Savannah. The way things were going this morning, he might never make it back. Savannah rocked on him, their eyes locked, her face aglow with the amber light of his pleasured gaze.

He stroked her face and throat as she moved on him in a deeper, faster rhythm. The bathwater lapped around them noisily, the sound of their lovemaking wet and erotic. She started to come then, soft moans slipping through her parted lips.

Gideon gripped her ass in a firmer hold and moved his pelvis in time with her undulations. His cock felt like hot steel inside the tight clutch of her body, pressure building to a fever pitch at the base of his spine. His fangs filled his mouth. His gums throbbed with the urge to taste the graceful column of Savannah's neck as she threw her head back and cried out with her climax.

Gideon followed her over the edge a moment later, his orgasm racking him in a full-body heave and a coarse shout of release. He shuddered inside her, wave after wave of scalding heat shooting out of him. He swore her name, prayer or curse, he didn't know.

She smiled as he filled her, her dark eyes drinking him in, even though he knew he must look savage and unearthly. She didn't shrink away. Not his Savannah, not now.

She slumped against him, limp and satiated. Gideon held her close, smoothing his hands along her back. Her breath was warm against the side of his neck, her lips soft and moist on the pulse point where she rested, making his carotid jump and pound in response.

"I can't get enough of you," she murmured. "Are you working some kind of Breed mojo on me that makes me want you so bad?"

He chuckled. "If only I had that kind of power. I'd never let you out of my bed. Or my bathtub."

"Or off the chair in the other room," she added, a reminder of yet another location they'd made use of in the past few blissful hours.

Gideon's arousal woke anew at the thought, and he wondered how intense their lovemaking would be if they were mated, sharing a blood bond. One little bite and she would be his forever. Dangerous thinking. Something he wasn't prepared to consider, no matter how much his body seemed to feel otherwise.

"I can't get enough of you, either," he told her, pressing a kiss to her temple. "It's been a long time since I've been with someone. I've had to remember all over again how it's done. Although I can't think of anything better than studying your body and learning all the ways to please you."

He felt her smile against him. "Well, you're doing everything right."

"I'm a fast study."

Savannah laughed and nestled in closer, mostly on top of him in the cramped, Victorian-era tub. Her long leg was draped over him, her arms wrapped around his chest. Gideon stroked her arm. "For a long time, I've been putting all of my energy and focus into the Order's missions. I'm definitely slacking there now. I'll likely have hell to pay--and rightly so--when I report back about where I've been."

Savannah lifted her head, studying his face. "How long?"

"How long since I've wanted anyone the way I want you?"

She nodded.

"Never," he said. "You're a first in that regard. I've had my share of liaisons. Thoughtless dalliances that meant nothing to me."

"How long since you've made love?" she pressed.

"The last time?" He shrugged. "Eighteen or nineteen years, if I had to guess." The span of her whole lifetime, which seemed somehow fitting to him now. "It wasn't memorable, Savannah. None of them were, compared to this. Compared to you."

She grew quiet, tracing a glyph on his chest. "I've only been with one guy before--Danny Meeks, a boy from my hometown. High school jock, varsity quarterback, homecoming king...the boy every girl in school dreamed of being with."

Gideon grunted, feeling a surge of bald possessiveness. He wanted to make a smartass comment about steakhead athletes with IQs smaller than his boot size, but he could sense Savannah holding back as she spoke.

"What did he do to you?" he asked, his possessiveness darkening toward fury with his suspicion that the stupid boy-man had wounded her somehow.


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