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“I want to know why you feel the need to clamp a hard lid down on who you truly are, Jordana. The woman who kissed me in this very building last week. The woman who looked at me at the museum party last night like she was drowning under the weight of everything that was expected of her.” Nathan came closer still, until his chest brushed hers, his body searing the length of her. “I want to know why you try so hard to deny the woman you truly are, Jordana.”


“I don’t know what you mean.” Her voice sounded very small, unconvincing, even to her own ears. “I’m not hiding behind anything. And you don’t know the first thing about me.”


“Don’t I?” His dark eyes flashed with amber. When he spoke again, she spied the razor-sharp tips of his fangs behind his sensual upper lip. “You wanted me to take you out of that party last night. You would’ve fought me and denied it, but in the end, we both know you would’ve gone with me.”


Oh, God. He was right.


Even so, she gave a sharp toss of her head. “No. I would have done no such thing—”


“Yes, Jordana, you would have.” He smiled now, a confident, knowing smile that gave her no mercy at all. “And today in the supply room of the command center, you wanted me to touch you, to kiss you. To do whatever wicked things I wanted to you.”


She swallowed hard, her mouth going dry under the scorching heat of his gaze.


“You waited for it,” he said. “You crave it now, as much as I do.”


A sound curled up from her throat, but if she’d hoped to be able to deny what he was saying, the soft moan that slipped past her lips was a pitiful effort. “Don’t say such things. You have no right—”


“Why not, Jordana?” he pressed. “Why not say it if it’s the truth? Why should either of us pretend we can stop what’s going on between us?”


“Because—” She sucked in a breath, searching for the strength to refuse him.


“Because, why?” he asked, more gently now, yet no less commanding. “Tell me why you’d rather scurry back behind your family name and the obligations you’ve constructed into your own prison?”


Jordana brought her fingers up to her lips, trying to bite back the words that would betray her. They spilled out anyway, a whispered rush. “Because I’m afraid.”


Something flickered over Nathan’s stern features—shock or understanding, sympathy or pity; she couldn’t be sure.


He reached behind him and hit the stop button on the elevator. With a soft rock, the car came to a cushioned halt inside the shaft.


Jordana’s eyes went wide. “What are you doing?”


Nathan didn’t answer. “Tell me what you’re afraid of.”


Anxiety shot through her. “Seamus will notice that we’ve stopped. He’ll wonder what’s going on in here.”


“I don’t give a fuck,” Nathan growled. “Neither should you.”


“He can see us,” Jordana pointed out, glancing past Nathan, toward the small security camera lens staring down at them from the ceiling of the lift.


Although he didn’t so much as flinch, the tiny red light on the monitoring device blinked out, snuffed by the power of Nathan’s Gen One Breed mind. “Now it’s just you and me, Jordana. I’m the only one who can see you. I’m the only one who will hear you. Are you afraid now?”


When she looked down in silence, Nathan’s warm, strong fingers came to rest beneath her chin. He lifted her face, refusing to let her hide even her gaze from him. “Are you afraid of me, Jordana?”


She gave a weak shake of her head, astonished that it wasn’t fear she felt with this man right now. It was something far more powerful than that. More powerful than the desire he stirred in her as well. She trusted him.


Nathan didn’t have to demand she bare her soul to him; his turbulent blue-green eyes and unexpectedly gentle touch compelled her with equal measure. “My father’s had a very strict path laid out for me to follow from the time I was a child. He wants things for me. Expects me to act a certain way, to achieve certain goals he’s set for me. He does it out of love, I know that. He only wants what’s best for me.”


“I’m sure he does.” Nathan closed the scant distance between them, a towering wall of muscle and dark, simmering intent. “What do you want?”


“I don’t know,” she admitted quietly. “But sometimes I’m afraid I’ll never be the daughter he wants me to be. I’m terrified I’m going to wake up one day and realize I no longer want the things he thinks are best for me.” She let out a soft sigh, still holding Nathan’s stormy gaze. “I’m afraid I already have.”


He growled a curse, something low and dark, under his breath. His features sharpened, making his face more fierce, as profane as it was handsome. Jordana lifted her hand, wanting to brave a touch of his angled cheekbone and rigid jaw.


Nathan caught her in midmotion, wrapping his fingers around her wrist before she could make contact. His grip was warm but firm. Wordlessly, he raised her hand up and away from him, pinning it over her head against the back wall of the elevator car.


Jordana didn’t know what to say—she didn’t know what to think—as he then brought her other hand up as well and held it there. She tested his hold and found it unyielding. As unbreakable as iron.


Staring up at him, she swallowed, all too aware of how her current position left her totally at Nathan’s mercy. With her hands held above her head, her spine pressed against the solid wall of the elevator car, the only place she could possibly move was toward the crowding heat of his body. Her breasts strained against the buttons of her conservative silk blouse. Her legs were spread slightly to keep her balance, and cool air tickled up the bare lengths of her calves and thighs, making her even more aware of the moist heat pulsing at her core.


Every feminine particle of her being thrummed in response to Nathan’s presence, anticipation pounding in her blood.


He switched his grasp so that one hand shackled her wrists, leaving his other free to roam. He stroked the backs of his knuckles along the slope of her cheek, then down along the swells of her breasts, hardly touching her yet making her burn with sensation. “Are you afraid of me now, Jordana?”


“No.” Her reply was little more than a gasp, breathless not from worry but from the startling sense of her own vulnerability.


Nathan held her completely under his control. She couldn’t have broken loose of his hold if her life depended on it. Nor did she want to.


He owned her in that moment, and damn him if he didn’t know it too.


He reveled in it; she could see the dark pleasure in his eyes as he drank her in from head to foot in the tight confines of the lift. Amber sparks pierced the thundercloud color of his irises. His broad mouth was grim yet sensual, barely concealing the growing length of his fangs.


He bent toward her and took her mouth in a scorching, commanding kiss.


Jordana had no experience with such hard passion, such hungered demand. She could only surrender to it, moaning as his lips covered hers, claimed her. His tongue pushed at the seam of her mouth, and she opened to him, submitting to this further claiming with a shudder of raw pleasure that rippled through her, then pooled molten hot between her thighs.


She’d never been kissed like this. She was lost to it, her limbs languid and boneless, her veins lit up and electric.


Where Elliott’s kisses were earnest, even passionately inflamed at times, Nathan’s mouth was wild and untamed on hers. Possessive and fevered. His kiss branded her in a way that left all other comparisons in ashes.


When he abruptly broke contact and reared back from her, Jordana couldn’t contain her cry of dismay. Nathan stared at her, his dark eyes glittering with bright amber light that swamped the thin vertical slits of his transformed pupils.


She wanted more. Jordana tried to reach for him, only to remember that he still held her hands in the manacle of his iron grasp. She frowned, struggling a bit more determinedly against his hold.


The corner of his mouth quirked with dark amusement, but his eyes were serious, unflinching, as he gave her an admonishing shake of his head. “Tonight we play on my terms.”


Jordana stood there, panting and confused. So alive with desire, she thought she might explode if he didn’t give her more.


“Everything all right, Miss Gates?” Seamus’s voice came over the emergency speaker inside the elevator car, the intrusion unwelcome but no surprise. “Looks like the lift’s not moving for some reason …”


She knew she should answer him. If she had any hope of saving her dignity—of lessening the man’s suspicions of what might be going on inside the elevator—she needed to assure Seamus that they had halted the lift by accident.


But to do so meant she’d have to push the intercom button on the panel on the other side of the car. And that meant she’d have to insist that Nathan let her go.


He stared at her in waiting silence, seeming to understand her inner struggle, even if his smoldering gaze said he had no intention of offering her any mercy.


“Miss Gates?”


Jordana couldn’t speak. She couldn’t break the hot connection of Nathan’s eyes as he leaned into her in a full-body press that ignited her every nerve ending and made her acutely aware of just how masculine and powerful this Breed warrior truly was.


He cupped her nape with his free hand, stroking the pulse point of her carotid with the pad of his thumb. So tender, even as he restrained her, even as he tempted her to shred her reputation and her virtue in the same reckless moment.


And yet Jordana swayed into his touch, as helpless to resist him as a sapling bending for the wind.


He splayed his fingers into her unbound hair, then gathered the mass of platinum waves into his hand, winding her tresses into a coil around his fist. He slowly pulled her head back, baring her throat to his hot gaze. Jordana gasped, shivering with a heady combination of fear and arousal.


Danger gleamed in Nathan’s otherworldly amber eyes. His fangs were enormous, as sharp as daggers. He bent forward in aching deliberation, then kissed a searing trail from the underside of her chin to the sensitive hollow at the base of her throat.


“Miss Gates, can you hear me?”


“Oh, God,” she whispered, letting the doorman’s concerned voice fade into oblivion as Nathan delved deeper and began to lick and nip his way down toward her breasts.


10


NATHAN HAD LONG CONSIDERED DISCIPLINE TO BE HIS GREATEST strength—even more so than any of his Breed-born abilities or his myriad lethal skills that made him one of the most dangerous of his entire race.


But as he dragged his mouth along the silky arch of Jordana’s throat, then down, toward the delectable valley between her pert breasts, he clung to his self-control by a thin tether.


She was sweet against his tongue. Responsive to his every touch. Open and compliant, her trust a gift he hadn’t expected and was certain he didn’t deserve.


She was so damned hot and sexy, it took all he had not to rip away her boardroom blouse and sensible skirt and bury himself to the hilt inside her beautiful body.


Nathan released the thick rope of her hair only because his palm itched to feel the pebbled buds of her nipples. His other hand stayed locked around her wrists where he still held them pinned above her head. She moaned as he fondled her breasts over the fabric of her blouse.


She gasped a moment later, when he put his hand inside and cupped one rounded, perfect globe.


“Nathan, please,” she whispered, testing his grip on her hands. “I want to touch you too.”


He gave her a dark look and a sober shake of his head. “My terms tonight, remember?”


Her ice-blue eyes went a bit wider, but she didn’t deny him. Her tension leaked away, and Nathan went back to the business of her breasts, hissing with the pleasure of her warm heat filling his palm.


He squeezed and caressed, then pinched the little knotted peak between his fingers. It wasn’t a gentle tweak—he wasn’t capable of softness under the best circumstances, and right now he was on the verge of a need that could easily consume him if he allowed it.


Despite what he told her, all it would have taken from Jordana was a flinch and he would have released her. One shudder of fear or uncertainty and he would have known enough to stop.


He would have accepted that this thing that burned between them could go no further than this moment.


But she didn’t fight him.


No, she submitted to him now. Sweetly. Trustingly.


Dipping her chin, she watched him roll and tug her tender nipple in his fingers, her eyes heavy-lidded, their color gone from cool blue to the shadowed hue of dusk. She cried out, breathless and panting, her gaze rooted to his as he lowered his head and suckled the abused bud between his teeth and fangs.


“Miss Gates, do you need help?” The doorman’s voice had taken on a more anxious tone now. No doubt the aging human worried that his building’s most attractive, high-society tenant was being devoured by the blood-drinking monster she’d brought in with her tonight.


Nathan smirked as he drew Jordana’s breast more deeply into his mouth. Devouring her definitely had its appeal.


“Miss Gates, please,” the rent-a-cop urged. “I need to know if you’re all right in there.”


“Are you, Jordana?” Nathan’s voice was a rough snarl in his throat, sounding more savage than normal for the way his veins were throbbing, his fangs filling his mouth. He glanced up at her in sensual challenge, the amber light of his irises washing her pale skin in a burnished glow. His cock ached, growing harder, more demanding, with each hammered beat of his pulse. “Are you all right in here, or do you need Seamus to save you from me?”

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