She felt a warmth blooming in her breast, seeping through her veins. Not her own emotion, but Gideon's. Flowing through their bond.


"I know you feel it," he said, his grasp warm on her hand. "I know you can feel my love inside you now, in your blood. Tell me you love me too, Savannah. Tell me you'll let me prove it to you. Be my mate. Come back with me to Boston. Let me try to be the hero you deserve."


She slipped her hand out of his and gave a small shake of her head. "I don't want a hero."


She thought about how he almost died last night--in combat, now with a bullet buried deep in his brain. A bullet that could dislodge anytime and wreak more damage, maybe something her blood wouldn't be able to fix.


Maybe the bullet already had taken things from him: His ESP talent. His eyes.


"I couldn't bear it," she murmured. "I can't stand by while you go out to war every night. I'm not strong enough to give you permission to fight and bleed and maybe never come back."


Gideon was silent for a very long while, his face downcast. "I've been killing Rogues nearly all my adult life, trying to even a score. Trying to atone. It was an empty quest. But the Order is my family, Savannah. The warriors are my brothers now, the only ones I'll ever have. I can't give them up, not even for you."


Her heart breaking, she nodded mutely. Struggled to find her voice. "I understand. It wouldn't be fair for me to ask that of you."


He lifted her chin on the edge of his hand. "You didn't. You asked me not to go out and fight. Maybe that I can do. Maybe there are other ways--non-combat ways--that I can serve the Order's missions, yet keep a pledge to you...my woman. My Breedmate. My forever love."


Savannah wanted to let her elation flood over her, but she was still stung by the way they'd left things back in Boston. "You hurt me, Gideon. You weren't honest with me. Without that, we'll have nothing."


"I know." He stroked her cheek. "I know, and I'm sorry. Let me make it up to you. Let me love you." He caught her nape in his big, strong hand and pulled her to him for a brief, tender kiss. "Say you love me, and let me start being the man you make me want to be."


She let out a sigh, unable to resist him or refuse him. "I do love you, Gideon."


"Then let me bond with you properly, the way I want it to be for you, for us. Be mine, Savannah."


"Yes," she whispered against his lips. "Yes, Gideon. I will be your mate."


He pulled her against him, letting her feel his arousal. "Let's make it right, now."


She reached out with her index finger to push the ridiculous sunglasses down on the bridge of his nose. Amber sparks shot through the pale blue of his eyes. "You're only a few hours out of death's doorway, and you want to make love?"


He grinned. "Oh, I want to do more than that."


"My sister is in the other room," she reminded him, whispering on a scandalized laugh.


Gideon was still for a moment, time during which the bedroom door quietly closed on its own volition, the lock softly clicking into place.


He kissed her, then trailed his lips along the side of her neck. Savannah's heartbeat throbbed in response to the subtle grazing of his fang tips at her pulse point. He dragged her farther up alongside him and rolled toward her, grinding his rigid length into her hip in invitation and demand.


"You're very bad," she said, as he opened his mouth over her carotid.


And then gently, sensually, she felt those razor-sharp points pierce her delicate skin. Her veins lit up, electric and hot with power, as Gideon drew the first deep swallow from her vein.


"Oh, God," she gasped, pleasure flooding her. "You are very, very bad."


And as her body melted into him, Savannah was thinking how a lifetime with Gideon was going to be very, very good.


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