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“We had to assume that as Cass’s longtime business partner, Gates knew he wasn’t human. We needed to know why they were keeping those kinds of secrets, Jordana. And more urgently, we needed to determine whether Martin Gates and Cass could also have ties to Opus Nostrum.”

“No. That’s impossible.” As incredible as it was to her to imagine Martin Gates having anything to do with Cass’s notorious club, she refused to believe her father—either of them, for any reason—would ever be part of the terrorist group responsible for multiple assassinations and the recent attack on the global peace summit in D.C.

Nathan nodded. “We realized soon enough that wasn’t the case. Martin Gates and Cassian Gray were keeping a very big secret, but it wasn’t Opus Nostrum. It was you.”

He stepped closer, but she retreated a pace. “How long did you know the Order would be coming after my father? Did you know the whole time last night?” Jordana’s voice sounded broken, even to her own ears. “Were you planning for his arrest even while you and I were alone together in my office? Did you use me, Nathan?”

Now Zael growled, low under his breath.

Nathan’s scowl deepened. “Did I use you? Fuck no. Never, Jordana.” He gave a sharp shake of his head. “But understand I also had to do my job.”

She scoffed quietly, even while her heart caved to him a little more. “Are you just doing your job now too? Is that why you’re here—because of what I am? Because of who I am?”

“I came because as soon as we figured out where you might be, nothing would’ve kept me from finding you. Nothing.”

He stared at her, moved forward despite the further warning that curled up from the back of Zael’s throat. “You need to come back with me, Jordana. Yes, because of everything we know about you now. You need to come back to Boston, where it will be my job and the Order’s to keep you safe from Cass’s enemies. Or anyone else who might think he has a claim on you,” he added, slanting a challenging look on Zael.

“I have no claim,” Zael said evenly. “But someone more powerful than any of us does. It was at her command that those soldiers tracked and killed my old friend Cassianus. And unless they’re stopped—or unless they lose the trail they’re most certainly on now—those same men will continue to look for Jordana by order of their queen.”

“Their queen,” Nathan murmured, clearly suspicious. “What are you talking about?”

“Jordana is her granddaughter.”

Nathan’s answering curse was rough, disbelieving. But Zael continued, undaunted. “The soldiers were closing in on Jordana last night in Boston.”

“Closing in on her,” Nathan said, then he seemed to understand. “Because her latent powers are maturing. Her Atlantean nature is leading them to her like some kind of beacon?”

Zael gave a grim nod. “They will track her to the ends of the earth unless steps are taken. They were in Boston since the night they located Cass. They would’ve found Jordana. If I hadn’t reached her first, they would’ve already taken her back to the realm.”

“Ah, Christ.” Nathan turned a stricken look on her. “And I had left you alone. They might’ve come for you, and I wasn’t there.”

Anger flared in her. “It’s not your job to protect me, Nathan. Dammit, it’s not anyone’s job to protect me!”

As her voice rose, the prickling in her hands intensified. The buzzing in her veins grew deeper, a pulsating thrum that filled her ears.

She swung a furious look between Nathan and Zael. “I’m not made of glass. I’m not a child. I’m a grown woman, and I’m tired of being treated as if everyone else knows what’s best for me.”

She didn’t realize how strong the sensation of heat and energy had gotten in her hands until she noticed both Zael and Nathan staring at her. Only then did she look down at her palms.

At the fiery glow that emanated from their centers.

And in the midst of that ember-bright light was the outline of a crescent moon and teardrop.

The Atlantean mark.

“Holy hell,” Nathan gasped. His stormy eyes lifted to her gaze and he seemed speechless for a long moment, awestruck. “My God … Jordana.”

Zael’s response was less amazed than it was grim. “Son of a bitch.” He cocked his head, then shot a grave look at Jordana. “We delayed too long. They’re here.”



There was no time to process the astonishing change he’d seen in Jordana. No opportunity to assess the newly arrived danger, or to catalog the numerous vulnerabilities of their surroundings in preparation for the battle to come.

“We cannot let Jordana be taken.” Zael looked to Nathan, gravity in his face and his words. As he spoke, Nathan noticed the leather thong looped around Zael’s wrist. The silvery emblem that dangled from the cord was lit with unearthly fire. “This crystal can transport her far from the queen’s reach, but I must take her now.”

Nathan gave the Atlantean warrior a nod. He looked at Jordana, his heart choking as though it were caught in a vise. “Go with him. I need to know you’re somewhere safe.”

“What about you?” Panic bled into her face, into the ice-blue eyes that had looked at him with so much pain and mistrust tonight. “Zael,” she said, an urgency—a clipped, regal demand—in her voice. “What about Nathan?”

The Atlantean shook his head in faint denial. “I’m sorry, Jordana. The crystal will only work for our kind. And besides, he can’t go where I must take you.”

His sword in one hand, Zael reached out for her with the other, the crystal’s light building.

“No. I’m not going anywhere. Don’t touch me, Zael.” Jordana snatched her hand away from him. She swung a tormented look on Nathan. “How could you think I would leave you behind only to save myself? Don’t you realize what that would do to me?”

Nathan cursed. If anything happened to her, it would be worse than any abuse he’d ever suffered. He would never forgive himself. “Jordana, I don’t matter. I want you to go—”

“Dammit, Nathan, don’t you realize that I love you?”

She had no sooner said the words than the air stirred outside the open French doors to the terrace.

In the blink of an eye, a pair of immense males materialized there. It was apparent they were soldiers. Obvious they had come for her, just as Zael said they would.

Each man held a long, gleaming blade much like the one Zael now raised in front of him, as he swiftly ushered Jordana behind him.

Nathan wasted no time waiting for the attack to come. He drew one of his guns and opened fire on the two Atlanteans.

The larger of the two, dark-haired and snarling, staggered back on his heels under the sudden barrage of bullets that ripped into his chest and skull. His companion, a copper-haired warrior with piercing, determined green eyes, took a couple of rounds in his torso before vanishing into thin air.

Nathan kept firing on the big male, blasting holes into the bastard until his tattered, unmoving weight tumbled right over the railing of the balcony.

Jordana’s scream jerked Nathan’s head around. The other soldier had reappeared farther inside the villa and was now bearing down on her and Zael.

Zael put his body between Jordana and their attacker, raising his blade as the other male’s sword came slashing toward him. The Atlantean weapons clashed in a screech of metal and a brief shower of blue and green sparks. Zael went down on one knee, driven low by the sudden, wrenching thrust of his opponent’s arm.

Nathan dropped his empty pistol. Using the speed of his Breed genetics, he flashed across the room and came up behind the copper-haired soldier. He grabbed the Atlantean’s head in both his hands and gave a violent twist. Vertebrae popped like firecrackers. The soldier let go of his blade and slumped to the floor in a lifeless heap.

As the body fell away, Zael opened his mouth in a shout of warning.

Too late.

Nathan felt a sharp length of ice impale his torso from behind.

The blade withdrew and he wheeled around on his heel, astonished to find the dark-haired Atlantean standing there. Blood was all over the soldier, but not a single bullet wound remained.

The immortal had come back from the gunfire and the fall. His gleaming sword was dripping, stained scarlet from the hole that now bled from Nathan’s back and abdomen.

The wound was bad, but it wouldn’t kill Nathan. It did, however, severely piss him off.

And before he could regroup and retaliate, Jordana’s terrified cry rent the air.

“Oh, my God. Nathan!” She lunged from behind Zael.

The dark-haired Atlantean’s hand shot out and grabbed hold of her, merciless, unrelenting. His long fingers wrapped tightly around her arm. Nathan saw that he wore a thong around his wrist similar to Zael’s. The crystal emblem affixed to it now began to throw off powerful, fiery light.

He was going to take her away. Back to their realm. Back to their queen.

Jordana’s wild, terrified gaze shot to Nathan.

No. He couldn’t lose her.

“Goddamn it, no!” Nathan shouted.

He reached for her other hand and held on tight. He couldn’t bear to let her go.

And at that same moment, in no time at all, he felt a heat begin to surge through Jordana’s fingers. The energy was immense, awesome.

Not of this world.

“Release me,” she growled at the soldier who captured her. The power within her expanded, growing swiftly. In a blinding flash, it erupted out of her as she roared the command again. “Release me!”

The Atlantean guard flew off her as if torn away by an unseen force. Nathan too was staggered by the sudden blast of light and power that surged through Jordana’s hands.

He let go, only because he noticed that the dark-haired male had dropped his sword in that moment. Nathan grabbed for it, at the same time Zael hurled himself at the soldier, tackling the guard while his reflexes were dazed from Jordana’s defensive strike.

But now the second of the Atlantean soldiers had come back from his injuries.

Although Nathan had broken the male’s neck, the copper-haired immortal shook it off with a menacing chuckle as he got to his feet. He swiveled his head, popping his spinal column back into alignment.

Nathan vaulted up from the floor, pivoting around at the same time. The dark-haired immortal’s sword held in his hands, he swung it around as the second guard charged at him.

Steel met flesh and cleaved in deep, sweeping the immortal’s head off in one sure, lethal blow.

Behind him, Zael’s sword was also biting into muscle and bone, the head of the other Atlantean hitting the floor with a wet, final thud.

“Nathan!” Jordana flew across the carnage toward him.

Her heart lodged in her throat, panic and relief swamping her at the same time, Jordana raced to Nathan’s side and threw her arms around him.

He was wounded and bleeding, but still standing. He was alive.

He had saved her—he’d likely saved Zael as well—and nothing could have kept Jordana from embracing Nathan and burying her face in the living, breathing warmth of him.

“Oh, God,” she murmured against his chest. She clung to him, needing to feel his body against hers, whole and hale. “I’ve never been so scared, Nathan. When that soldier ran his blade through you, I thought he’d killed you—”

“Shh,” he soothed, his palm stroking her back as he dropped a kiss on top of her bent head. He held her close, his pulse drumming beneath her ear. So strong and steady, so comforting. “I’ll heal soon enough. I’ve survived worse than this before.”

He lifted her chin, both his fingers and his gaze tender on her. “It would’ve taken a hell of a lot more than that blade to stop me. I wasn’t about to let them have you. I don’t give a fuck if the Atlantean queen and her entire army think they have any claim on you. They’ll all have to come through me first.”

He lowered his head and kissed her. Not a tentative kiss but a fierce, possessive one.

Jordana melted into it, savoring the taste of him, the feel of him. The unearthly energy that had poured through her veins during the battle stirred again, but with a different power, as Nathan’s mouth moved over hers in a deep, passionate joining.

Would she always respond so easily to his touch, his kiss?

Or now that her Atlantean genetics were awakening, becoming part of her, would she crave him with an even greater need?

She hoped she’d have the chance to find that out.

She hoped she’d have an entire future ahead of her with Nathan to find that out.

But right now, his injury needed tending, and across the room, Zael was standing over the corpses of the two Atlantean warriors.

Nathan broke contact on a low moan. As he raised his head to regard Zael, he brought Jordana under his arm in a protective stance. “Will more soldiers come?”

Zael gave a sober nod. “Once it’s determined these men have failed and are lost to her, Selene will send out more. She’ll keep sending out more. The queen does not accept defeat easily. She forgives even less.” Zael’s gaze slid to Jordana. “The best place to elude her is in the colony.”

“Or through a blood bond,” Jordana pointed out.

“If you remain in the mortal world, that’s all that would protect you. But only if Selene’s legion doesn’t find you first.”

“And she has me.” Nathan said it like a vow: firm, unwavering.

“True,” Zael acknowledged with a level glance, but his grave tone stopped short of encouragement. “Unfortunately, nothing can be as certain as the asylum the colony can provide. It’s hidden, known only by a small few outside the realm. I am one of only a handful trusted with its location, aside from the exiles who live there in seclusion under the colony’s protection.”


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