Then he soaped her all over again, taking his time, even washing her hair. She felt revered, worshipped. Safe, protected. And so deeply loved by this dangerous, powerfully lethal male.

Rune cut off the water and they stepped out of the shower together, kissing some more. He wrapped her in a fluffy towel and helped her dry off, smoothing her wet hair off her face, his amber-flecked gaze lit with tenderness and desire.

He groaned as though weighing a difficult decision. “I want to take you back to bed, but I should get you home. Your family will be concerned.”

“They would’ve been,” she said. “But I called before I left the museum tonight and told them I was going out on a date and they shouldn’t wait up.”

Rune drew back, a sardonic look on his face. “They know you’re with me?”

“Of course.”

He smirked and playfully smacked her bare backside. “In that case, we’d better get dressed before Nathan or your brother comes beating on the penthouse door to rescue you.”

Carys laughed and shook her head. “Things are different at home now. Better since I went back. My father even told me I should bring you around sometime to meet him.”

Rune nearly choked. “He said that?”

“Not his exact words, but the point is, he’s open to it.” Leaning against him, she arched a brow. “I’m not sure which of you is more opposed to the thought of being in the same room together. Does meeting my family sound so awful to you?”

“A male like me, walking into the Order’s command center to meet your parents? Not exactly my idea of a good time.” He exhaled a short breath. “Wouldn’t be your father or brother’s idea of a good time, either.”

“Why don’t you let them be the judge of that?” When he started to dismiss the idea with a chuckle and a shake of his head, she reached up to touch the side of his stubble-shadowed cheek. No teasing or laughter now, but utterly serious. “What if I asked you to? Would you do it for me?”

He didn’t speak for a long moment. His dark eyes studied her. Contemplative, conflicted. “That’s what you want?”

“You’re what I want, Rune. And I need my family to understand that. I want them to see what I see in you.”

That silence fell over him again, and the pensive look in his gaze went distant, almost unreachable. She resisted the urge to bring him back to her, but only barely. She was so prepared to hear his refusal, that when he finally spoke, it took her a moment to register the word.

“When?”

“You mean it?”

“Tell me when,” he said again, his voice gruff. “Before I come to my senses.”

Her heart leapt in her breast. “Let’s go now.”

He barked out a laugh. “In the middle of the night, with your mouth still bruised from my kiss—not to mention other things—and my cock still hungry for more of you?” He shook his head and brought her naked body against his. “I may be undefeated in the cage, love, but I’m not suicidal. Every male in that compound would want a piece of my ass. Hmm, speaking of . . .”

His hands slid down to cup her backside. Heat licked through her veins as he kneaded the muscled rounds and dragged her into a bone-melting kiss.

Carys put her hands on his shoulders and levered herself away from what would be an easy conquest. “Tomorrow night, then. You can come by before you have to open the club. Then we can go to La Notte together, after you meet everyone.”

“Tomorrow night.” He groaned as if regretting the decision already. “I’ll do it. For you. But you’re never going to convince me that this is a good idea.”

She grinned. “Oh, I think I probably can.”

Grasping his strong nape, she pulled him down for a searing kiss. His big body tensed against her, vibrating with the force of their shared desire. He was hard and ready. She was molten and aching to be filled.

“We’re gonna need another shower before I’m finished with you tonight,” he murmured thickly over her parted lips.

Carys smiled as the head of his cock slid between her slick folds. “Oh, yeah. Maybe a couple more.”

CHAPTER 21

There should have been a track worn into the rug in Lucan’s study at the D.C. headquarters, given how many miles the Order’s leader had clocked in his pacing of the room since the news two nights ago from Mathias Rowan. The report of Ivers’s death had been a headache the Order didn’t need. But it had also opened up a whole new set of questions they hadn’t known to ask.

What had Hayden Ivers been hiding?

Had he known the Order was on to him? Had he been tipped off before Mathias’s team descended on his residence the other night? Or had the surprise of their arrival been the trigger that had made him pop his lethal pill?

Had it been slavish loyalty that made him choose death over discovery and capture? Or was it fear that had motivated him to take his own life before the Order had the chance to question him?

A hundred questions and so far, no answers.

Lucan cursed, his thoughts churning as he began another circuit around his desk. “Not a single goddamn file or document in the place,” he grumbled. “Nothing but sanitized hard drives and empty cabinets. What secrets had the bastard been hiding for Crowe and Riordan?”

“Hopefully we’ll have that answer once we figure out what that safe deposit key unlocks,” Gideon said, leaning against the millwork wall on the west side of the room.

Also standing in wait with them were Brock and Darion. Gabrielle, Savannah and Jenna occupied the chairs and sofa in the study’s sitting area near the floor-to-ceiling bookcases.

Lucan grunted and glanced to Gideon’s Breedmate, Savannah. “You think your ability can help us determine where the box is located?”

Her dark brown eyes glittered with confidence. “I’ll know the key’s history when I touch it. I’ll see whoever handled it, and where they were when they used it.” She nodded. “Yeah, I can figure out where the key will take us.”

“Good. I’ll tell Mathias to have one of his team hand-carry the bloody thing over from London ASAP.” Lucan rubbed a hand over his tense jaw. “What I’d prefer to do instead is strangle the answers out of Riordan with my bare hands. How soon before you’re comfortable that we can move in on that son of a bitch, Gideon?”

“Not long. I’m trying a new approach with his network protocols. I should know if I’m in or not in a matter of hours. Maybe a day.”

“Too fucking long.” Lucan felt the heat of his anger flash in his eyes. “Now that Ivers is dead, we’ve lost part of our window of surprise. Riordan’s either going to get nervous or he’s going to get bold. Either way, we need to be ready. We need to hit the bastard before he decides his next move. We know he’s Opus, damn it. We have him directly linked to the assassinations in Italy last week.”

“Only on the word of a dead man,” Brock cautioned.

Gideon nodded. “We’ll need more proof than that if we go in and take Riordan out on our own.”

Lucan’s fangs punched out of his gums. “If we need to answer any GNC or JUSTIS inquiries, I’ll present his rotting corpse as evidence.”

Gabrielle gently cleared her throat from across the room. “The GNC is already looking for reasons to remove you from the council, Lucan. The Order needs you there. The GNC needs you there as well, but they’re too blind to see that right now.”

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