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Jordana touched his face, his harsh, handsome face. She stroked his cheek and hard jaw, then gently traced her fingertips down his neck, where she’d tried to kiss away the memory of his punishing Hunter’s collar.


He didn’t stop her from touching him now. He didn’t take his eyes off her, didn’t flinch as she skimmed a tender caress over his strong shoulders and the bulky muscles of his arms.


Only when she reached lower, to where his thick cock jutted between them, velvety, warm, as firm as steel, did he close his eyes and emit a low hiss between his teeth and fangs. He groaned as she stroked his rigid shaft.


He growled as she squeezed him, then uttered her name like a curse and a prayer as she opened her legs wider to him and guided him through the slick cleft of her body.


Then he devoured her mouth in a consuming kiss, nothing gentle in him now. Only raw desire, fueled by the intensity of their bond.


Wet heat boiled in her core. She was ready, so ready.


“Yes,” she hissed against his mouth. “Take me.”


He sank in on a ragged snarl, plunging deep and hard and full. His hips bucked, thrusted, then kicked into a ravenous urgency that made her dizzy. He buried his head against her shoulder, driving into her with the sweetest frenzy, the hottest passion she would ever know. “Ah, Christ. Jordana, you feel too good. I can’t be gentle. Jesus, fuck … I can’t stop.”


“I don’t want gentle. Not right now.” She wrapped her legs around him and dug her heels into his pumping ass as he rode her toward the crest of a shattering climax. “Oh, God, Nathan. Yes. Give me everything.”


And so he did.


He gave her the storm and the cliff and the leap into a wild tempest. He gave her all of that and more, taking her senses to a height she never dreamed existed.


All she could do was hold on tight as he crashed into her, their gazes locked as passionately as their bodies.


It felt so right, the need they shared, the bond that joined them now, forever.


He shouted as he came, and Jordana followed him there at the same time, hurtling into a brilliant wave of release. She felt his pleasure, and knew he felt hers too. She shattered beneath the pleasing weight of him, all her nerve endings crackling with sensation, with pure pleasure, as her body slowly spiraled back down to earth.


Panting, shivering with a thousand little aftershocks, she exhaled a shaky laugh. “That was, ah … wow.” She sifted her fingers through his short dark hair, his forehead resting on her shoulder. “Do you think it’s always going to be like this for us?”


He grunted, his breath hot against the side of her neck. “No, I don’t.”


Not the answer she expected. She was frowning when he lifted his head to look at her. But his dark, blue-green eyes didn’t have a speck of doubt in them. They glittered with bright amber sparks. And deep inside her, his cock twitched, already hard again.


Nathan grinned, one black brow rising wickedly. “I have a feeling it’s only going to get better.”


Then, with no more warning than that, he rolled over onto his back, bringing her with him so that she was seated astride him, their bodies still joined.


“But why wait to find out,” he said, and dragged her down for another hot, claiming kiss.


29


THEY MADE LOVE FOR ANOTHER COUPLE OF HOURS.


He’d been right; sex was only going to get better between them. Nathan had enjoyed watching Jordana’s pleasure as she straddled his body and set the tempo for their next round.


He’d never seen anything so erotic as her insatiable enthusiasm—her relentless ferocity—while she chased a second, and then, God help him, a third and fourth explosive climax.


No doubt about it, his lovely mate was extraordinary.


But then, he’d known that all along.


And he knew it was going to take a lot longer than the years they would have together—eternity, if he had anything to say about it—before he would desire her any less than he did tonight.


It was desire that woke him from a brief, recharging doze. He wanted Jordana again, but when he moved his hand to find her, he felt nothing but cool, empty sheets.


Where was she?


He vaulted out of the bed, alarm shooting through him.


But only for an instant.


Then he felt her, safe and serene, in his blood.


Their bond reassured him. It led him out to the terrace, where he found Jordana, wrapped in a thin coverlet from the bed, standing beneath the moonlight.


She sensed him as well. Without turning around, she reached back to him, beckoning him out to join her. Nathan took her hand and walked up beside her. Then he gathered her into his arms and looked out with her at the dark, rippling water and shadowed cliffs below.


“It’s so beautiful here,” she said quietly. “I can see why this place was special to him. It must have broken his heart when my mother decided she couldn’t stay here with him. With us.”


Nathan kissed the top of her head and nestled her closer. She was talking about her parents, Cass and Soraya. Jordana had told him about them while Nathan and she had lain in bed a short while ago. She told him everything Zael had shared with her, including the fact that Jordana had been born in this very villa.


And he knew about her mother’s punishment for falling in love with a man deemed beneath her. He knew about the suicide that had robbed Cassian Gray—Cassianus—of the woman he loved and sent him on the run with an infant daughter he was desperate to hide.


A daughter who would never know him.


A young woman who wouldn’t find out just how loved she’d been by her father until it was too late to return that affection.


Nathan hugged her deeper into his arms. “Do you think you’ll want to come back here sometime?”


She shook her head where it rested against his bare chest. “No. This was his place, their place. It belongs to them, not me.” Her face tilted up to meet his gaze. “The only home I need is in Boston. With you.”


They’d already discussed living arrangements, and although Nathan’s quarters at the command center were nothing close to Jordana’s lavish penthouse, she conceded to living with him as part of the Order.


Nathan was prepared to go anywhere she wanted. There was a part of him that wanted nothing more than to take her as far away as possible from Boston and this villa—all the places Selene’s legion might begin to look for her again—but she refused to run. She refused to cower or hide.


She was stronger than either of her parents; Nathan recognized that easily enough.


Jordana was gentle and sweet, innocent in many ways, but she was also fierce and courageous. If the Atlantean queen was a force to be reckoned with, she would find her granddaughter every bit her equal in terms of tenacity and the refusal to let anyone intimidate her.


It would likely surprise few to learn that royal blood, immortal blood, ran through Jordana’s veins.


And now Nathan’s blood ran through her too.


He couldn’t be more humbled by that fact. He had an entire future to make sure she never regretted giving herself to him as his mate.


A future he was eager to begin.


“We should go soon,” he murmured against her brow. “Lazaro Archer can have the Order’s private jet ready for us at any time. If I don’t call him soon and make the arrangements, there’s a very good chance I’ll tie you to the bed and have my wicked way with you again.”


She smiled, looking anything but worried. “I like your wicked ways. And I also liked being on top. So maybe I’ll be the one to tie you to the bed sometime.”


His cock responded instantly, evidence she could see plainly enough, not to mention feel. As if to let him know she had him precisely where she wanted him, Jordana reached down and stroked his erect shaft.


On a groan, he caught her hand and linked his fingers through hers. “Come on, let’s go inside before I spread you beneath me on the tiles out here.”


He led her back into the villa, past the blood from the battle they’d survived together and into the living area. Nathan hadn’t realized until now how rich Cass’s villa was with original art and other treasures.


And there was something else he hadn’t noticed until now either.


A small, framed snapshot occupying a private place of honor on the far wall of the living area. It was a black-and-white photo of a young woman. A woman with long dark hair, dressed in a pale linen, ankle-length sheath. She stood on the same terrace Nathan and Jordana had just come in from, overlooking the same cliffside and coast, except she stood there under the full light of day, the sun glinting off the sheen of her hair.


Nathan frowned. “Is that a picture of—”


“My mother,” Jordana murmured at nearly the same moment, shock and wonder in her quiet reply. “Oh, my God. That has to be her.”


She broke away from Nathan and crossed the room for a closer look. He followed, taking in the details of the candid shot, which had been captured from inside the villa by someone who clearly adored the subject.


The woman stood half turned near the railing, her delicate face dipped down toward her shoulder, wistful, smiling with a private joy. Nathan knew the elegant profile well enough: One glance in Jordana’s direction would have confirmed the same high cheekbones, the small, straight nose and regal, if stubborn, chin.


“That’s Soraya,” Jordana whispered. She pointed to the photo, where it was just possible to see from the woman’s angle the hint of a rounded belly. “Oh, Nathan. That’s my mother and me.”


Jordana carefully reached out to take the frame off its fixture on the wall. It stuck a bit, then sprang free on a soft click, followed by a mechanical whir from somewhere within the wall on which the photo had hung.


The tall millwork panel began to slide open, revealing an alcove hidden behind the false wall.


Nathan stepped back, taking Jordana with him by the arm. “What the hell …”


He tried to sweep her behind him, but she stepped forward, unafraid. “Nothing in my father’s house will hurt me,” she reassured him.


Even so, as the panel slid all the way open, Nathan’s muscles tensed for battle, his senses instantly on high alert. He realized right away his concerns were unfounded.


The panel hid another piece of Cass’s art.


A sculpture, roughly a foot tall, depicting a handsome shepherd youth asleep beneath a crescent moon.


Nathan had seen this piece before.


It was on display in the exhibit Jordana had lovingly curated and unveiled to the public just the other night.


“Sleeping Endymion,” Jordana whispered, astonished to find the sculpture here, in her father’s Amalfi villa. “How can this be?”


Nathan stood beside her as she gaped at the terra cotta work of art she knew so well.


Or, rather, thought she had.


Now she realized she’d made a mistake.


There were things she hadn’t seen before. Not until this very moment.


“When Cass came to the museum that afternoon, we talked about art. He knew so much. Seeing this place, I understand why now,” she said, trying to put the puzzle together in her mind. “He asked me what my favorite piece was in the exhibit. He seemed so pleased when I told him it was this one.” She shook her head as understanding dawned. “Not this one precisely, but the one Cass donated to the museum anonymously twenty-some-odd years ago. It was him.”


“What are you saying? That this sculpture meant enough to Cass that he had a second one made for himself?”


“No.” She shook her head, incredulous as she inspected the piece more carefully. “Oh, no, Nathan. I think this may be the original. In fact, I’m practically certain it is.”


“This is the real one?” He glanced at her, scowling in question. “Then the one in your exhibit at the museum …”


She nodded, completely confident that Cass had fooled them all. “It’s a fake. The one in Boston is a very good, flawless reproduction. So good, it got past everyone. Even the curators and art historians who handled it before me.”


Nathan peered at the sculpture more closely and blew out a sigh. “Maybe he didn’t know. Why give the museum anything at all, if he was knowingly giving them a fake?”


“I don’t know. It doesn’t make sense. It’s not that important of a piece for any deliberate attempt to bait and switch. Unless—” She considered for a moment, then turned a look on Nathan. “Unless Cass had something he wanted to hide. Maybe something else he took from the Atlantean realm.”


“Something he felt would be safest hidden in plain sight,” Nathan said, finishing her thought. He ran a hand over his head. “Holy hell. You don’t really think …”


Zael’s recounting of the destruction of Atlantis came back to her in a rush.


She recalled his mention of the crystals that had once belonged to their people. The ones stolen by the enemy Ancients and used against the Atlanteans …


And the one rumored to have vanished around the same time Cassianus whisked his infant daughter away to live as something she wasn’t.


To masquerade unknowingly among the general public, protected by the simple fact that no one had any cause to suspect a thing.


“We have to go,” Jordana murmured. “I need to get back to Boston now. We need to know if my father has been hiding any other secrets all these years.”


Nathan nodded. “I’ll call Lazaro now.”


Epilogue


Boston. Two days later.


Jordana’s pleasured cry tore from her throat as she came, a sound that never failed to make Nathan grin with unrepentant male pride.


Hard as granite inside her tight, wet sheath, he was ready for the third climax certain to follow swiftly on the heels of this explosive second. He groaned as the tremors of her release rippled all along his cock, tempting him to spill. But he held steady for her. He knew what she liked, knew just how to please his insatiable, immortal mate.

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