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“How have I tormented you, beautiful Jordana?” When she tried to glance away, he caught her chin in his other hand and guided her gaze back up to him. “You won’t say it?”


When she gave him a wordless, weak shake of her head, his gaze flashed with amber fire and a dangerous smile curved his grim mouth. “Then I’ll have to guess. Was it torment when I kissed you like this?” He bent toward her and took her mouth, swallowing her breathless gasp in a kiss so deep and fevered, she nearly collapsed in a quivery puddle on the floor. His tongue invaded, pushing past her teeth in a profane rhythm that made her hips respond in time with his movements, answering some primal call she had no will to resist.


It wasn’t torment. Not until he drew back, denying her any more than a heart-stopping taste of what she craved.


“Was it torment when I touched you?” he asked, pulling her to his body by the hand wrapped tight in her sash, while his other hand slipped inside her robe and beneath the loose pajama tank to cup her bare breast in the heat of his palm.


He caressed her breast, tweaking the hard nipple with his thumb, pinching it with a pleasure-pain that made her sink her teeth into her lower lip as her body shuddered with excitement.


God, she could hardly take it, the dark need he stoked in her. She was already half mad with desire and mounting pleasure when he abandoned her breast to begin a descending trail along her ribs and abdomen.


He met with little resistance from the drawstring waistband of her silk shorts. His fingers delved between her thighs, into the slick juices of her sex.


“Was the feel of my hands on you last night—inside you—a torment, sweet, wet Jordana?” He stroked the swollen pearl of her clitoris, making her moan in pure abandon. “Tell me you didn’t enjoy what we shared last night. Tell me it was torment. Torment enough to send you running into the arms of another male, is that right?”


“No,” she gasped, too lost in sensation to deny him now. “No, that’s not right. You were the one … you ran to someone else. Not me.”


He reared back as abruptly as if she’d slapped him. His sharp amber-drenched eyes narrowed on her, suspicious and questioning. “I ran?”


“Back to La Notte,” she replied, still panting, her body still throbbing with need.


She didn’t want the pleasure to end, but it was too late to call it back. Nathan was staring at her in a dark, dangerous silence, his jaw clenched.


He released her, let the silk ties of her robe fall away from his grasp. In the sudden quiet, Jordana felt a coldness sweep over her, replacing the heat she’d been enjoying so thoroughly a moment ago.


“I know you go to the BDSM dens at the club,” she said lamely. “I know what you do there.”


He didn’t try to deny it, which was a relief in some small way. “Rune told you?”


Jordana shook her head. “It wasn’t him. It doesn’t matter how I know. I only wish I’d understood how interchangeable I was to you before I let you touch me last night.” She blew out a jagged laugh. “Then again, I knew that today and I didn’t stop you just now.”


“What are you talking about?” Nathan demanded, his deep voice taking on a thunderous edge. “What the hell makes you say I think you’re interchangeable with anyone?”


“I know you were with one of the club’s sex workers after you left me with Elliott last night. I saw you, Nathan. That’s what I meant by torment.”


She tried to pivot from him, but he caught her, didn’t give her the chance to get away. “Are you saying you were there? When? Just what do you think you saw, Jordana?”


“I saw you with her—the brunette,” she blurted, glad she didn’t know the woman’s name for fear that she would sound even more jealous and injured. “You were in one of the private rooms with her. You paid her a lot of cash and the two of you walked out together.”


He listened, more calmly than she might have expected. He didn’t say anything, but as she spoke, the hardness began to ebb from his ruthless gaze. His square jaw was still rigid but no longer seemed on the verge of shattering. “You’re right, Jordana. I did take one of La Notte’s sex workers into the dens with me last night. As you saw, I compensated her for her service.”


Jordana stared up at him. Had she really felt relief that he hadn’t tried to spare her feelings by lying about what he’d done? Hearing him admit it all so casually seemed to chip off tiny pieces of her heart with each detail he confirmed.


“I think it’s best if you go now, Nathan. I hope you’ll respect my wishes and not come back again.”


He gave the slightest shake of his dark head. “I don’t think so.”


Jordana frowned. “I want you out of my house.”


“No, you don’t.”


His hand was still wrapped around her wrist. With one flex of his powerful arm, he drew her toward him. Their bodies contacted, his hard and unyielding, hers boneless and melting at the feel of so much hot male power pressed against her.


“You don’t want any such thing. You want me to tell you I didn’t do things with the human female at the club that you want me to do to you. You want to hear that I didn’t fuck her. That I wouldn’t have used you last night the same way I’ve used the workers at La Notte. As a meaningless, interchangeable tool for my release.”


“Let go of me, Nathan.”


“I’d like to.” He exhaled a sharp, humorless laugh. His eyes glittered, sparking with fresh embers. “Believe me, I’d like nothing more than to be able to let you go. I’d like to tell you that I’m every bit the asshole you think I am. I’m no prize, make no mistake there. I did leave here to finish what we started with someone else at the club. Touching you, feeling your tight, wet heat with my fingers made my cock so hard, all I could think about was burying it inside you. God help you, it’s all I’m thinking about right now too.”


His erection crushed into her abdomen, thick and alive with heat. It pulsed through the thin barrier of her clothing, each heavy throb making her own heartbeat pound deeper in response. Awareness made her stomach clench, turned the ache in her core into a molten yearning.


“I’m a Hunter, Jordana. I don’t wait for invitations. I don’t ask for permission. I pursue, I conquer. Then I move on and I don’t look back. That’s how it’s always been for me. That’s how I live.” Cold truth, made all the more cruel when he was stroking her cheek and neck, his thumb moving in maddening little swirls over her throbbing carotid. “I’m not a gentle man. Neither are my needs. You wouldn’t like my methods for slaking them. So when I left here last night, it was because I wanted to fuck my need for you out of my head, out of my system. I had to, do you understand?”


“Stop,” she whispered brokenly.


Despite the harshness in him, despite the fear she knew she should be feeling because of all that he said and all that he was, it was this last admission that was the hardest to accept.


It was all too easy to picture him doing just what he described. His mouth on another woman. His hands giving pleasure to someone else.


Someone else whose heart probably wasn’t as foolish as hers.


“I don’t want to hear any more, Nathan. I can’t do this with you anymore. I’m not like those other females you prefer. Those other females you … fuck.”


The word felt foreign on her tongue, not something she’d ever uttered in front of a man before. Certainly not to a man who’d had his tongue down her throat and his fingers between her legs more than once in the past twenty-four hours.


A man she wanted inside her with a yearning that bordered on sheer, reckless lunacy.


Nathan growled then, low and deep and lethal.


“No, you’re not like them, Jordana.” When she tried to look away, to hide her need from him, he brought her face back up, forcing her to meet his gaze. “I wanted to prove that to myself last night. I wanted to convince myself that you meant nothing to me and that my craving for you could be satisfied by someone else. Anyone else. I wanted to … but I didn’t.”


Jordana gaped at him, afraid to believe. Afraid to hope. “But I saw you with that woman. You said yourself you paid her for servicing you.”


“Yes,” he admitted evenly. “She offered me her vein and her body, for a price. But once I took the woman into the dens, I realized she didn’t have anything I wanted. I paid her because the problem wasn’t with her, it was with me.”


Was he serious? The human female hadn’t been with him at all—not even to serve as his blood Host?


Jordana could hardly contain the surge of relief that flooded through her.


His seductive mouth curved in satisfaction and challenge. “Now tell me you want me to leave.” He put his face beside hers, the rough scrape of his cheek and jaw a delicious abrasion that sent a shiver up and down her spine. “Last night, you had the excuse of Elliott Bentley-Squire to keep you from taking what you really wanted. He may have saved you from me then, but I don’t see him here right now.”


With his free hand, Nathan palmed her breast, then splayed his fingers up toward the base of her throat and coaxed her head back onto her shoulders so he could place a hot, deliriously erotic kiss to the pulse point that kicked into a frantic rhythm under his warm, wet tongue.


He growled against her skin, and for the briefest instant, Jordana felt the sharp tips of his fangs dragging over her vein. “Christ,” he hissed. “Even if the son of a bitch walked in the door right now, I wouldn’t take my hands off you, Jordana. I want him to know he’ll never have you.”


“No, he won’t,” she panted. “And he won’t be coming here anytime soon because I ended things with him.”


Nathan stilled. Then his head lifted, his stormy eyes ablaze with crackling heat. “You ended it.”


She gave him a small nod. “Last night. Just before I went after you and found you at La Notte.”


For a long moment, he didn’t move. Didn’t speak a single word.


When his lips parted, his fangs gleamed, the tips as sharp as daggers.


He muttered something dark and hungered.


Then, without warning or excuse, he scooped her up into his arms and headed toward the bedroom.


15


JORDANA WAS LIGHT IN HIS ARMS AS NATHAN BROUGHT HER TO the bedroom at the end of the hallway.


A delicate crystal chandelier hung from the center of the vaulted ceiling, casting soft light in the room. Beneath the elegant fixture sat Jordana’s sumptuous king-size bed, which was heaped with fluffy pillows, frothy white coverlets, and fine, crisp sheets. The walls were painted in an equally snowy hue, the plush area rug just inside the door crushing easily under his black combat boot as he entered the room.


Everything about Jordana’s private sanctuary was soft like her, pure like her.


And he, the invading darkness soon to defile both.


Crossing the threshold into her bedroom, Nathan recognized the moment now was do or die. Jordana could leap out of his arms and barricade herself inside. Or he could set her down on her feet and make his escape.


Run? Hell, yes. That was exactly what he was contemplating—admittedly, not for the first time where this woman was concerned.


The thought perished swiftly, scorched into oblivion, when instead of fighting to get loose from his arms, Jordana turned her head and buried her face into the crook of his neck and shoulder.


Christ, the feel of her so close to him was arresting. It shot through him like a jagged flash of lightning, impossible to ignore.


And bewildering too. He didn’t know what to do with the humid rush of her breath against his throat. The touch was too intimate. Too tender.


Too honest and trusting.


It wasn’t too late to stop this. His intellect was quick to warn him of that, but his body had other ideas. With blood pounding furiously through his veins and to points lower, his cock grew even more demanding behind the confines of his patrol fatigues. His lust was vying for control of the situation now, and it had no intention of backing down.


Jordana nuzzled closer, innocently unaware of the depth of her impact on him. The scent of her swamped his nose, drugging him with the combined fragrance of the vanilla soap that she must have used in her bath and the more intoxicating perfume that was simply Jordana. She smelled warm and soft and innocent, yet heady with the scent of arousal.


How would her body taste against his tongue? And if he pierced the tender vein that fluttered so temptingly in the side of her neck, would her Breedmate’s blood flow down his throat like sweet nectar or boldly exotic spice?


Saliva surged at the mere idea. His fangs were already filling his mouth, but now they ripped farther out of his gums, the long canines pulsing with an even darker need than the one that practically owned him tonight.


Nathan set Jordana down on her feet beside the bed, his entire being vibrating with a barely restrained hunger.


If she were any other woman, he’d already have her naked and spread open wide to receive him—facedown or tied down, his long-standing requirement of anyone he fucked.


No kissing him.


No touching him.


No watching him as he exorcised the weakness of his flesh-and-bone body.


He fed and fucked because he had to, but he did it on his terms. Always under his strict control, in order to retain the edge of the honed, unfeeling weapon he’d been born and raised, mercilessly trained to be.


Jordana Gates had broken all of his rules.


If she were anyone else, he wouldn’t be standing there with a raging hard-on, a need that bordered on savage, and no damned clue how to begin what he’d started here tonight, let alone how to finish it.

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