Savannah’s dark brown eyes were sober as she glanced at Dare. “Calling it a Darkhaven is being too generous. The same goes for calling Riordan her family. Nova didn’t have to tell us everything she suffered at her adoptive father’s hands, but it’s obvious her treatment there was nothing short of brutal.”

Nova was Mathias Rowan’s Breedmate of a few weeks now. The couple had met while the Order’s London-based commander had been investigating a string of murders in his city and a missing shipment of Russian arms.

The tattooed, blue-and-black-haired young woman—whose given name was Catriona Riordan—had been instrumental in providing the Order with most of the intel they currently had on the Breed male who’d raised her. Because of Nova, they had learned that the black scarab tattoos on the dead men had marked them as Fineas Riordan’s thugs.

But the Order had no evidence to link Riordan to Opus Nostrum until Derek Walsh’s confession about the assassinations in Italy. Derek’s boast of his plans to impress Opus’s inner circle through the shocking murders was made even more significant for the fact that he also bore the black scarab tattoo.

Lucan glanced at the sketches of the Riordan stronghold and shook his head. “We need something solid to tell us what this bastard is up to now, or what he might’ve wanted with that container of weapons his thugs tried to collect for him in London.” Lucan glanced at Gideon. “How long before we send our little drone out for a fly-by?”

“It went up a couple of hours ago.”

“And got shot down only a few seconds into its surveillance,” Darion finished, his face grim. “We didn’t get any data.”

“Jesus Christ.” Lucan swung his scowl on Gideon. “Satellite images?”

“We’re working on it.”

“Work faster. In the meantime, I’ve got to go assure the GNC and all of the other whining armchair quarterbacks at the Capitol that the attack in Italy was an isolated incident orchestrated by Walsh’s mentally unstable son. The last thing we need is word getting out that Opus was even loosely connected to those killings. All that’ll do is fan the flames of public hysteria, and we’ve got enough of that shit to deal with as it is.”

Everyone in the room nodded in agreement, but Darion’s expression still held an edge of concern. “We can handle scum like Riordan. We can even handle Opus Nostrum when the time comes. But that still leaves the Atlanteans.”

“It does,” Lucan said. “And we have to be prepared for that fight too. One thing Reginald Crowe showed us is that his kind can be living right under our noses and we won’t even know it. Just like the now-dead owner of La Notte in Boston. No one ever would’ve suspected Cassian Gray was anything other than human until his Atlantean brethren cut him down.”

Gabrielle’s hand came down gently on Lucan’s arm. “Yes, but where Crowe was evil, Cass’s only crime was trying to steal his Atlantean daughter away from his people to give her a better life. There’s nothing evil in Jordana. There was nothing evil in her father either.”

“It’s not any of them we have to contend with,” Lucan reminded his mate. “It’s their queen who wants a war. Cass lost his head on Selene’s command and Jordana will be in hiding from her royal grandmother for the rest of her life unless we find Selene first.”

Darion nodded gravely. “If what Crowe said is true, that their queen has been plotting a war to end all others, then we have no choice but to hunt the bitch down and destroy her. The rest of her legion too.”

Lucan stared at the man his son had become—the fearless champion. He didn’t want to imagine Darion on the front lines of a clash with a powerful enemy race. But the commander in him couldn’t ask for a better warrior to one day lead that charge.

“Let me know when you have something on Riordan,” he instructed them. “Every minute we let that bastard breathe gives Opus another opportunity to strike.”

CHAPTER 3

With Carys’s jean-clad legs wrapped around him and her mouth locked hard on his since they’d left the arena, Rune strode toward his quarters in the back of the club.

Heavy bass and industrial dance music throbbed all around, the din of the packed club and hundreds of voices muffled to a low drone the closer Rune and Carys got to the fighters’ quarters in La Notte’s underground level.

Not that he could hear much over the hammering of his blood through his veins.

He kicked open the door and carried her inside. He couldn’t wait to be alone with her. To be inside her. Pivoting just as they cleared the threshold, he pressed Carys’s back to the closed panel and took her lips and tongue in a fevered, primal kiss.

Twenty-five minutes of hand-to-hand combat in the cage always left him wired with adrenaline and the need to fuck and feed. His post-match ritual had long been to slake both thirsts in La Notte’s BDSM dens, but he hadn’t stepped foot in that part of the club for the past seven weeks.

Carys Chase was all he craved now.

She’d been the only woman in his bed all this time—on those few occasions they actually made it that far before tearing each other’s clothes off. Sex with Carys had ruined him for any other woman. She brought out the feral side of him like no other, made his veins light up so hot he could hardly stand it, especially when her strong, gorgeous body was clinging to him the way she was now.

Wild and uninhibited, the beautiful Breed female was a raw and powerful force of nature.

As for her blood . . .

Fuck. He couldn’t think about the temptation of her blood. Especially not when his cock was as stiff as granite and aching to be inside her.

He needed a shower to soap off the sweat and grime from the cage, but Carys didn’t seem to mind. Even though she deserved far better, she welcomed him however he came to her. And damn if that didn’t make him even harder.

With one arm looped around the back of his neck, she used her other to work the ties of his leather shorts. They peeled down his bare thighs and she grasped his freed shaft. Rune groaned as she caressed his length. Her mouth was still crushed against his, and with each sure stroke of her hand, she pushed her demanding little tongue deeper into his mouth.

Christ, she truly was his addiction.

He thrust his hips up to grind the ridge of his arousal against her core. The denim abraded his skin, but it was her body’s heat that dragged a hiss from him.

“Feel how hard you make me,” he muttered against her lips, his voice thick from the presence of his fangs. “You need to be naked. Right now.”

“I agree.” She smiled, baring the sharp tips of her own as he set her feet onto the floor.

Seeing Carys in her true Breed form still unnerved him at times. Desire made her bright blue eyes glow with amber sparks, as it did his dark ones. Like his, her pupils narrowed to catlike slits in her need.

With eager hands, they made quick work of her black blouse and body-hugging jeans, then Carys shimmied out of her silky bra and barely-there panties. He’d seen her undressed easily a dozen times already, but it didn’t keep him from staring in fascination at the dermaglyphs that swirled and arced over her shoulders, chest and torso.

The Breed skin markings were more delicate than those that tracked over his body. But her feathery flourishes and lacy patterns churned with deep colors, the same as his, indicating the height of her desire.

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