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Her response was immediate, her release a sudden, violent shudder that vibrated all along his shaft and down into his marrow. She cried his name on a broken gasp, arching into his thrusts as his own release roared up to overtake him.


He was gone in that same instant. He came hard and fast, blinded by pure, white-hot ecstasy as his seed shot loose into the contracting glove of her sex.


He didn’t know how long they remained there, Jordana panting softly beneath him, splayed over the desk; he braced above her on locked elbows and fists, unmoving, unwilling to break the sexual connection of their bodies.


He was hard again. More accurately, still hard.


Jordana’s pulse was a heavy, seductive thrum against his shaft. Her delicate muscles gripped him snugly, even now. When she shifted her hips in tempting invitation, Nathan groaned.


“Keep that up, and I’ll never let you out of this room.”


She turned her head and regarded him over her shoulder, her lips curved in a satisfied smile. “I think I might like that.”


So would he, but they couldn’t stay there much longer and expect her not to be missed. Exercising more self-control than he’d been able to claim since he met her, Nathan slowly eased out of her. Her disappointed moan nearly undid him.


“Give me your hand,” he said, and reached down to help her rise up off the desk.


She turned around to face him, her light blue eyes dusky below the thick fringe of her lashes. Her cheeks were flushed, her lips cherry red and glistening.


He drew her close, brushed his fingers over her moist, tantalizing mouth. “You make me hard as stone, just thinking about how good your lips felt on me tonight.” His cock twitched in agreement, ready to start all over again. “I can’t wait to get you out of here and into bed with me. I’ve got some very creative ideas for how I’m gonna pay you back.”


She grinned up at him. “Mm, I can’t wait to hold you to that.”


Tilting her face, she caught the tip of his finger between her teeth. Her tongue played him the same way she’d tormented his cock, maddening little flicks combined with ruthlessly intense suction.


Nathan grunted, a spasm shooting up his spine and straight into his rigid shaft. “Holy hell … on second thought, who needs a bed?”


She laughed softly as she released him. Nathan grabbed for her, but she ducked away, playful. The sexiest damned woman he’d ever seen. He wanted her badly, and he wanted her now.


She smoothed the hem of her red dress down over her fine bare ass and long legs, shimmying to adjust the silky fabric back into place. “I should get back out there, don’t you think?”


He shook his head, eyes hot on her. “I think you belong right here, with me.”


“Now who’s the greedy one?” she tossed back at him, arching one delicate brow. Bending down, she retrieved the tattered remains of her thong from near his discarded pants. “I’m going to go freshen up, and, ah, destroy the evidence.”


The scrap of black silk dangled from her fingers, and the understanding that she would be naked under the dress for the remainder of the night sent another shock wave of lust into his bloodstream. How he was going to survive the next few minutes, let alone potentially another couple of hours, in public without pouncing on her again, he didn’t know.


As he contemplated all the things he wanted to do to her, a low buzz sounded from somewhere near his feet. Despite his preternatural senses, he could hardly hear the faint hum over the roar of his pulse in his ears.


Shit. His comm unit.


Jordana gestured toward the floor where the device lay forgotten in his pants pocket. “You take care of your business,” she said lightly. “I’ll go take care of mine.”


Nathan stooped to pick up the comm, bringing his pants up at the same time. He fastened them hastily, unable to tear his eyes away from her as she strode for the door.


“See you back inside the exhibit hall in a few minutes,” she said, beaming as she opened the door and slipped out.


Nathan glanced down at the comm unit buzzing again in his palm.


“Yeah,” he said into the receiver, struggling to wrench his attention away from thoughts of Jordana as he took the call from the Boston headquarters.


“Nathan.” Chase’s deep voice held a grim edge. “We just got intel from Gideon in D.C.”


Nathan’s combat instincts went on immediate full alert. “What is it?”


“Are you with Jordana?”


Fuck. This couldn’t be good. “She was just here with me a minute ago.” Nathan gripped the comm device harder in his fist, started stalking toward the office door. “Tell me what’s going on.”


“It’s Gates,” Chase said. “He’s been allied with Cassian Gray this whole time, partnered with him in the club. Gates isn’t who he’s pretending to be. The son of a bitch is dirty.”


Ah, Christ. No.


“Do you think he’s part of Opus Nostrum?”


“We don’t know that yet,” Chase said. “We’re digging deeper. If it turns out Gates is involved with Opus …”


The commander let the statement trail off, but Nathan knew well enough what it meant. If Gates’s partnership with Cassian Gray tied back to Opus Nostrum in any way, the Order would have no choice but to deal with him as an enemy and terminate him.


Nathan didn’t even want to consider what all of this would do to Jordana.


He exited to the gallery outside, swiveling his head to ascertain which direction she might have gone.


“In light of this new intelligence,” Chase said, a carefulness to his tone, “it makes Cass’s visit to Jordana at the museum the day he was killed more than a bit troubling. Is it possible she’s aware of the link between her father and Cassian Gray?”


“She doesn’t know any of this,” Nathan blurted. He would stake his life on it.


Jordana couldn’t have been keeping a secret like that. She was too open, too innocent. She couldn’t have been playing Nathan for a fool this whole time.


“The team and I are en route to the museum now,” the commander said. “We know Gates is there tonight. We have to take him in for questioning. No delays. No warnings.”


Goddammit.


“I understand,” Nathan replied, his cold warrior’s logic instantly at war with the man who dreaded the heartbreak about to visit the woman he loved.


“Don’t let him leave,” Chase ordered. “We’re two minutes out at most. I need you to do whatever you must to hold him until we arrive.”


“I understand,” Nathan confirmed woodenly, ending the communication on a harsh curse.


Outside the open entryway of the exhibit hall, he spotted Carys chatting pleasantly with a small group of ladies. He motioned her toward him as he marched at a soldier’s clip across the marble floor. “Find Jordana. Now. Keep her out of the exhibit hall.”


The Breed female’s face blanched. “What’s happened?”


“Find her,” he barked sharply. “Take her home. Don’t leave her side, do you understand? And tell her … ah, fuck. Tell her I’m sorry.”


“Nathan?” Carys called from behind him, but he didn’t answer.


His heart as heavy as his feet, he strode into the glittering society event like a wraith, his ruthless Hunter’s gaze searching out his quarry through the crowds.


22


STANDING IN FRONT OF THE RESTROOM MIRROR, JORDANA finger-combed her hair back into some semblance of order and checked her appearance one last time after freshening up.


Aside from the cat-in-the-cream grin she couldn’t seem to suppress, she supposed she looked presentable enough. Although no one in the exhibit hall would detect what she’d been up to, Jordana wasn’t sure how she was going to manage to look anyone in the eye without blushing from head to toe over the knowledge of where she’d been and with whom—or the fact that her shredded thong now lay in the bottom of the ladies’ room waste bin.


She didn’t know how she’d be able to pretend as if she hadn’t just been thoroughly, magnificently fucked just a few scant yards and one closed door away from hundreds of Boston’s most affluent, important citizens.


Not to mention her father.


She’d intended to seek him out after her welcome speech and introduce him to Nathan. So much for that plan. Her libido had other ideas.


Very good ideas, as it turned out.


She would just have to introduce the two men later in the evening—


Someone let out a scream in the exhibit hall outside. There was a crash of glassware and china, then a loud, discordant note from the orchestra before the music cut off abruptly.


Jordana’s stomach dropped like a stone. “What on earth?”


The restroom door swung open and there was Carys. “Jordana,” she said gently. Her friend’s face was drawn and sober, her tawny brows pinched over anxious eyes. “Nathan wanted me to come find you—”


“What’s wrong?” Now Jordana’s stomach plummeted even further. A cold pit opened up in her gut. “Where is he? What the hell just happened out there?”


Jordana lunged for the exit, but Carys held her back. “He told me to keep you out of the exhibit hall.”


“What? Why would he do that?” Confusion, incredulity, a barrage of disorienting emotions collided inside her as she tried to process what was going on.


She shook it all off and tried to step around her friend.


Tried, and failed.


Carys’s halting grasp was Breed strong, and so was the female’s determination. “I don’t think you should go out there—”


Outrage spiked through Jordana’s haze of confusion. “Let go of me.”


Wrenching out of her friend’s hold, she pushed out to the hallway. People were pouring out of the exhibit hall and adjacent gallery, faces awash in alarm.


A growing crowd gathered at the railing of the promenade that overlooked the museum’s lobby, where the sounds of a struggle—the shouts of a furious man, the rapid drum of boots traveling over polished marble tiles—carried up from below.


Someone was being physically dragged out of the party, fighting and cursing every inch of the way.


Jordana raced to the balcony edge and her heart stopped.


“Father?”


He was fighting madly, fangs bared, head thrashing.


Bucking and twisting, Martin Gates tried desperately to get loose of the larger Breed male who held his arms behind his back like a criminal, ushering him swiftly across the lobby toward the main exit.


“Father!” Jordana cried. She ran to the wide staircase leading to the lobby, panic beating in her breast like a caged bird.


Cool night air gusted in as the glass doors opened to admit a team of warriors from the Order. They swarmed in to assist, garbed in black combat gear, bristling with deadly weapons.


“Unhand me!” her father shouted. “You have no right to treat me this way!”


Distantly, as though caught up in the slow-motion horror of a terrible dream, Jordana could hear herself screaming.


She could feel the hard marble floor beneath her tall heels as she ran down the stairs, yet each step seemed mired in quicksand, agonizingly slow.


She saw the grim faces of the Boston warriors positioned at the door as her father was pushed toward them in unyielding, merciless purpose.


And, with terrible dawning, she finally caught a glimpse of the immense Breed male whose hands were gripped so punishingly on her father. Hands that had only minutes ago been hot and pleasurable on every inch of her naked body.


“Nathan. Why are you doing this?” she gasped brokenly, stricken with shock. It took him a long moment before he turned his head at her approach into the lobby. “What’s going on here? Where are you taking my father?”


She couldn’t read the flat expression that Nathan held on her. His storm-cloud eyes were emotionless, chillingly so.


Gone was the passionate lover she’d left behind in her office. In his place stood the cold Breed warrior.


The merciless Hunter.


“Carys.” Nathan’s impenetrable gaze was looking past Jordana now. His voice was airless, a low command. “For fuck’s sake, I told you to keep her out of here.”


Gentle hands came down on Jordana’s shoulders. She jerked out of the comforting hold on a strangled cry. Jordana shook her head mutely, blindsided and lost for words under the weight of her confusion.


Nathan gave her one last glance—this time, a note of regret shadowing his gaze. Then he shoved her father forward and the rest of the Order closed in to surround them.


In moments, they were all gone, swallowed up into a waiting black SUV at the curb, then vanished into the night in a squeal of tires on pavement as they sped away.


Most of Gates’s fury and venom had left him by the time Nathan and the Order brought the Darkhaven leader into the command center for questioning. He’d roared and protested for most of the quick drive across town, but once seated in the interrogation room, the Breed male’s broad shoulders sagged in his rumpled tuxedo.


His gaze was no longer simmering with anger but cautious. Cagey and wary, as he eyed Nathan and the other warriors from beneath the dark brown slashes of his brows. “I demand to know what this is about,” he grumbled. “This is an outrage! I am a private citizen. The Order has no right—”


“We have every right,” Sterling Chase informed him. The Boston commander leaned against the back wall of the closed room, his arms crossed over his chest. “We have evidence linking you to criminal activity in this city—”


“Criminal activity?” Gates scoffed. “Don’t be ridiculous. You have no cause to believe that, let alone evidence.”

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