“No, Rune. You can’t. You won’t heal, not from wounds like this. Not unless you get blood right now.” Her Breed instincts were already responding to the fresh red cells on the ground. Amber light sparked in the blue of her eyes. The tips of her fangs now glinted behind her parted lips. “You need to feed, Rune. The only thing that can heal this is the bond. My blood.”

Even as he growled in denial, everything Breed in him ached for what she offered.

In his heart, in his soul, Carys already was his mate. In all ways except this one. And he wanted it with her more than anything. But not now. Not like this.

He shook his head, scowling furiously. “I’ve never wanted to bond with anyone. Not until you, Carys. I sure as hell never wanted it to happen in this hellish place. With you offering your vein out of worry for me, or, fuck . . . out of pity.”

“Is that what you think I’m doing?” Anger gave her voice a sharp edge. “I love you, Rune. And if drinking from me now, in this place—under these fucked up circumstances—saves your life, then I can’t think of any better time or place to do it.”

He blew out a low chuckle in spite of his pain and doubts. “You are a stubborn female.”

“Goddamn right I am. You said you love me.”

“Christ, yes. More than anything in this world.”

“Then drink, Rune.” She didn’t give him another second to refuse.

Bringing her wrist up to her own mouth, she sank her fangs into the flesh. Blood pumped from the twin punctures, red and sweet and powerful.

The fragrance hit his senses more intensely than any drug his father or Opus Nostrum could ever hope to concoct.

He took her hand and forearm in his grasp and lowered his head over her wrist. The instant her blood hit his tongue, the rush of power was so swift and immense, he staggered back as if he’d been punched.

Holy hell.

He’d had no idea what to expect. Nothing could have prepared him for the astonishing roar of liquid energy that coursed down his throat with each hard draw of his mouth. Carys’s strength poured into him, feeding his injured cells and tissues. Nourishing him the way no human’s blood had even come close to doing.

His veins lit up as his bond to her took root.

She had been his from the moment they’d first met.

Now, she was his forever.

He only had to prove to her—and to himself—that he could be worthy of her gift.

CHAPTER 37

Carys sucked in her breath in amazement as Rune’s mouth settled over her wrist and he took the first few pulls from her veins. Seeing him feed from her was more intimate than she could have imagined, more profoundly sensual than anything she’d ever experienced.

It felt so right, her blood nourishing him, bonding him to her.

And, oh, God, it was erotic too.

The suction of his mouth, every tug of his lips and tongue, stoked a powerful heat in her core. It bloomed outward, into her veins and arteries, into each crackling nerve ending.

Her eyes were burning with desire, even as contentment poured through her while she stroked Rune’s dark head and watched him drink his fill.

She moaned when he finally stopped sucking and sealed her wounds closed with a swipe of his tongue.

He was panting as he drew away and met her gaze, his own eyes blazing like hot coals too.

“Jesus Christ,” he hissed thickly. His fangs were deadly sharp, glinting as bright as diamonds in the dim light of the tunnel. “Carys, holy fuck. That was . . .”

He didn’t seem capable of describing it. Nor did he seem to have the patience to try. With a possessive growl, he wrapped his palm around the back of her neck and pulled her to him for a fierce, hard kiss.

Love and desire swept through her like wildfire, and it was all she could do not to bury her fangs in his neck and complete their bond.

“I want that too,” he murmured against her mouth. He lifted his head and stared at her, his hot gaze filled with awe. “I can feel you inside me, love. I can feel you in my veins, in all of my senses. God, Carys . . . you’re a presence in me now that’s as bright and strong as lightning.”

He licked his lips, his amber eyes drifting to her throat. His grin was purely male and so primal it made her sex clench with yearning. “I can’t wait to do this again when I have you in bed with me.”

“Neither can I,” she said. “So let’s get the fuck out of here.”

He nodded. “Yeah. The sooner, the better.”

He was still bleeding from his many bullet wounds. They would need tending as soon as possible, but his color was better already thanks to her blood. As they resumed their flight through the tunnel, she couldn’t have been more relieved to see him moving with renewed strength and stamina.

He was alive and her blood would keep him that way. At least, long enough for him to get help once they were out of this place. They had their whole future ahead of them now, and it waited just on the other side of this hell.

We will make it out of here together.

We have to.

It was her mantra as she ran with him, deeper into the darkness.

“There’s an old tower stairwell up here that’ll take us to the main floor,” Rune told her, glancing over his shoulder at her as they hurried along. “With any luck, we can make the climb before the guards think to block it. Promise me you won’t let me slow you down.”

“No,” she replied, refusing to even consider the thought. “We do this together. No matter what.”

She knew what he was telling her. Normally, with their Breed genetics, it would take no more than a few seconds to speed from one location to another, but Rune’s injuries would not permit that now. He was too depleted, and she wasn’t about to do it without him.

They reached the entry to the tower stairs. “This way, Carys.”

Rune went in ahead of her, holding his gun vertical in the confines of the narrow stairwell. The worn stone steps spiraled upward, around and around and around, one blind turn after another.

Low voices sounded from somewhere above now—urgent shouts coupled with the heavy pound of boots across the floors.

“Be ready,” Rune cautioned her. “We’re coming to the main floor now.”

“Okay. Let’s do this.”

No sooner had they reached the archway that opened out from the stairwell than they saw a pair of guards heading their way.

“There they are!” the men shouted, opening fire the instant they saw Rune and Carys.

“Get back!” Rune pulled her behind him as gunshots chewed into the stone beside their heads.

Flying shrapnel exploded, biting Carys’s cheek. She felt blood run in a warm trail down her face, just below her left eye.

Rune saw it too. Now, through his blood-bond to her, he would also feel her pain. Rage ignited in his eyes. On a bellowed roar, he returned a spray of gunfire.

“You have to run,” he growled at her. “Flash past the guards. I’ll cover you from here. Use the shadows, Carys. You have to make it through the great hall to get to the kitchens and the carriage house outside.”

She swiped at the streak of blood that dripped off her chin, peering around him as he continued to volley shots with the advancing guards. “I’m not leaving without you.”

“We only have one gun, Carys. Both of us can’t hope to make it past these two men. More will be coming any second. You have to try to get away, damn it!”

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