Page 43

“So, we’re just going to leave him here?”

Thrusting his hand through his hair again, he nodded. “I think that’s the right thing to do.”

I didn’t think that was the right thing to do at all. Leaving Kyle alive meant we’d be looking over our shoulder every single second while we dealt with Drake and everything else. We needed to talk about this.

“Kyle was right.”

Blinking, I frowned. “Right about what?”

Ren leaned forward, resting his arms on his legs. “About me killing the halflings.”

All thoughts about killing Kyle vanished. “Ren—”

“You know how many I killed?” He lowered his chin and gave a little shake of his head. “I do.”

Oh, no. “That doesn’t matter.”

“It doesn’t? I kind of think it does.” He was quiet for a moment. “I would’ve killed you if I hadn’t gotten to know you—if I had learned you were a halfling before I learned who you were.”

That was hard to hear, but I walked toward him. “But that’s not what happened.”

“It could have.” He lifted his head, his gaze so troubled that it made my heart ache. “They were like you, Ivy. Some weren’t Order members, but others were, and they had no idea what they were. No idea why they were seconds away from dying. They never even knew what hit them.”

My breath caught, and I found myself at a loss for words.

“Sometimes I don’t know how you can be with me,” he said, and those words broke my heart. “How you can look at me, love me, knowing why I came to New Orleans.”

I swallowed down the lump in my throat. “Well, it helps that you didn’t try to kill me.”

Ren didn’t smile like I thought he would. I knelt in front of him, placing one hand on his leg and cupping his chin with the other. “Look at me.”

Slowly, his gaze lifted to mine. “I’m looking at you, Sweetness. Always am even when my eyes aren’t on you.”

My chest squeezed in response to those words. God, Ren was . . . he was too good for all of this. I saw that with sudden clarity. If he hadn’t been born into this world, he’d probably be a doctor, saving lives, or a teacher ushering in a better youth for tomorrow.

And maybe if I wasn’t born into this, I’d also be . . . too good.

“Who you were before and what you did is not who you are now and what you’re going to do.” I dragged my thumb under his lip. “Both of us have done things we wished we hadn’t, and I like to think that we wouldn’t have done those things if we had known differently. We are not who we used to be.”

Ren’s eyes closed as he turned his head, kissing my palm, but I could feel the tension rolling off him. “We killed people today—people I once worked with. I recognized at least three of them.”

I sucked in a sharp breath.

“I know we had to. If we hadn’t, they wouldn’t think twice about killing us.” A shudder rippled through him. “But that doesn’t make it any easier.”

“I’m so sorry,” I whispered.

Ren didn’t respond, and as I stared up at him, I knew right then that Kyle’s blood couldn’t be on Ren’s hands. There was no way I could push the issue of killing Kyle.

The stress continued to pour off him, and I decided I had to do something. Anything to ease his troubles. Sleep would help, and we both needed that, but all I wanted in that moment was to take his pain and self-loathing away, and there was only one way I knew how.

I didn’t think about the thin, dirty carpet as I dropped to my knees between his legs and reached for the button on his pants.

He straightened, lifting his head as he caught my wrist. “Ivy—”

I shushed him as I stretched up, kissing him softly as I worked on his zipper. I felt him then, already hard and straining. I broke the kiss and lowered back down as my gaze moved to his.

“Please?” I whispered.

Ren let go of my wrist, lifting one finger at a time.

Tugging the zipper down the rest of the way, I grabbed ahold of his pants and boxers. He lifted his hips and I was able to drag them past his knees and off. Then I took him in my hand, marveling at how he could feel as smooth as silk and yet hard as steel.

He exhaled harshly as I moved my hand from the tip to the base and back up. A bead of liquid glistened. His entire body jerked as I moved my thumb along the tip, and my gaze flew to his. He watched me intently, his lips slightly parted as he reached behind my head, finding the pin in my hair and tugging it out. Curls fell past my shoulders in a tangled mess, and then his hand was threading through them, curling around the back of my head. He used the slightest pressure to show me what he wanted.

The salty taste of him danced over my tongue, and my ears blistered at the ragged sound he made. I didn’t drag it out. This wasn’t about playing and teasing. This was all about taking his mind out of the dark places it had gone. It was about easing him. I took him in my mouth, and even though I didn’t have a ton of experience with blow jobs, I quickly learned that when a guy was into you, there really wasn’t a wrong way of doing this.

Well, except for probably using the teeth in a not so seductive manner, but whatever.

“Ivy,” he growled, his entire body flexing as I sucked and moved up, swirling my tongue along the head. He swore and his body tightened.

Heat swamped me, slipping down my body. I ached for him in a different way than moments before.

I took him as far as I could, and that seemed to be enough based on the way his hand tightened around my head and the deep sounds he was making. Then his hand slipped to my neck and his thumb found my pulse, that oddly sensitive spot for me, and he gently massaged the skin until I was squeezing my thighs together. He swelled against my tongue a second before he tried to pull me away, but I didn’t let him, not as he pulsed and growled my name.

When it was over, I sat back, rather proud of myself. Or, I tried to sit back. That wasn’t what happened though. Ren moved fast, grabbing me under the arms and lifting me onto my feet. I gasped as his fingers made quick work of my pants, and before I could even say ‘yum’ he had my pants, my underwear, and my boots off of me.

Jesus, he was talented.

And strong—really strong.

Ren lifted me up onto the bed as he sat down, holding me up so that a very private part of me was lined up with his mouth.

He said nothing as I looked down at him. My heart thundered at the fierce, raw intensity etched into his striking features. Stunned, I locked my legs to stay balanced as he gripped my hips—my ass, his fingers digging into my flesh.

And then his mouth was on me.

With no warning. No slow build-up. Lips. Tongue. Sucking. Dragging. I gasped, holding on to his head for support. He devoured me, his mouth hot and wet and all-consuming.

I tried to say his name, but I lost all control as my body coiled tight. I was beyond coherent speech, beyond anything other than what his mouth was doing between my thighs. I felt like I was going to die, that I was dying, and then it happened. I cried out, my body liquefying as release pounded through me, throbbing and pulsing and never-ending. It took my legs right out from underneath me.

And Ren caught me.

I collapsed in his arms—limp, sated, and exhausted. I barely processed him twisting so we were both lying on our sides, my cheek plastered to his chest. Not a word passed between us, and that was how he fell asleep, holding me close as if he feared I was going to float away from him.

I didn’t sleep though.

I couldn’t as the pleasant haze of release faded away and I thought about what I had to do.

What I had to do for him.

Chapter 25

Ren was still in the shower when I slipped out of the room. I told him that I would check on Kyle and make sure he was fine before we hit the road. I insisted on it, because I didn’t want Ren anywhere near that bastard.

It was early and the morning sun caused me to wince as it burned up the parking lot. I wasn’t alone when I stepped outside.

Fabian stood in front of the door Kyle was being kept in.

“Have you been out here all night?” I asked.

“On and off,” he replied, face expressionless. “Wanted to make sure he stayed where he needed to be.”