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His hands fisted where she’d tied them to the headboard, muscles straining but making no effort to break loose of his bonds. He was learning to enjoy letting Jordana be in control.


Enjoy it, because eventually it would be his turn, and he loved dealing pleasure to her as mercilessly as she did to him.


She’d already sucked him off once, so he was content to watch her ride him for now. Jordana rocked atop him, her breasts bouncing prettily, rosebud nipples still peaked and glistening from his kisses. She pinched them as she slid up and down his length with deliberate slowness, ruthlessly teasing him with all the fruits just outside his reach.


“You feel so good, Nathan. I think I may never let you out of this bed.” She leaned down over him then, bracing her forearms on either side of his head while she kissed him.


Her tongue slid past his teeth and fangs, deep into his mouth. Her naked body pressed all along his length made him mad with need. She squirmed and flexed the tiny muscles of her sex, milking his already engorged shaft in the best kind of agony.


Finally, he couldn’t take another second more.


Ripping free of his silken restraints, he caught her in his arms and tumbled her around beneath him on the bed. He gave her a deep, hard pump of his hips, burying himself to the hilt. He picked up the tempo while increasing the depth of his thrusts, loving the way her body responded so readily to him.


He could feel her orgasm building along with his own. He felt her mounting pleasure in the heavy drum of her heartbeat and in the echoing throb of their bond. The first shudder overtook her, and she gripped his shoulders as a trembling sigh escaped her parted lips.


She moaned and bit her bottom lip. “Oh, you don’t play fair. You’re going to make me come too fast.”


Normally, he’d be in no rush to finish making love with Jordana. But it was past sundown, and while the Order’s patrols were called off for the night, the Boston command center was anticipating the arrival of important visitors any minute now.


“Tomorrow we’ll start earlier,” he promised. “That way, I can make you scream all day.”


She looped her arms around his neck as he pumped into her. “Why? Because it’s my birthday tomorrow?”


“No,” he said. “Because I love you. Your birthday only comes once a year. We both know that’s not nearly enough.”


She laughed, but it was swallowed up quickly by the gasp and rising cry that heralded her release. Nathan kept up his relentless rhythm, pushing her toward the brink, then toppling her over the edge with him as his own climax gripped him in a tight, pulsing fist.


They were still flushed with passion twenty minutes later, after they’d shared a quick shower and gotten dressed and ready to join everyone who had gathered in the war room that evening.


All of the North American–based Order and their mates were there.


Sterling Chase and Tavia. Nathan’s teammates, Rafe, Elijah, and Jax. Carys and Aric.


Nathan’s mother, raven-haired, delicately beautiful Corinne, was there with her big, golden-eyed Gen One mate, Hunter, who headed up the New Orleans command. They had arrived from the D.C. headquarters with the Order’s leader, Lucan Thorne, and his mate, Gabrielle, as well as Gideon and Savannah, and the New York chief, Tegan, who was there with his beloved Elise.


Nathan’s recently mated friends Kellan and Mira had arrived with her adoptive parents, Nikolai and Renata, the longtime couple only weeks away from welcoming a new son, their first child together.


The rest of the stateside warriors and their mates—Dante and Tess, Rio and Dylan, Kade and Alexandra, and Brock and Jenna—had all assembled with the others for the express purpose of meeting Jordana.


And to see firsthand if her suspicions about her father’s secrets were correct.


The object at the center of that question now sat on the war room conference table.


As soon as Nathan and Jordana had returned to Boston, she’d gone back to the museum to switch the pieces and bring Cass’s remarkable fake to the Order.


More than one pair of eyes drifted to the innocuous-looking sculpted terra cotta as Nathan made the introductions among his family and extended kin of the Order and the extraordinary female who had become his mate.


His mother was visibly moved, tears glistening in her eyes, which were the same bluish green as Nathan’s. She came toward him tentatively, conditioned by her son’s damaged past to be careful when it came to affection and motherly warmth.


To see her caution now shamed Nathan. Truth to tell, it broke his heart a little.


So, when Corinne approached him, he moved first, bringing her petite frame into his arms.


“Oh!” she exclaimed, then instantly wrapped him in a sweet, loving hug. “Nathan, I’m so happy for you.”


She was laughing through her tears as he released her and made her introduction to Jordana. The two women greeted each other warmly, and seeing them embrace was a balm Nathan hadn’t realized he needed.


Nathan reached out to Hunter, clasping the former assassin’s hand in a firm shake. “I understand now,” Nathan said. “I didn’t know it would be possible to feel—”


The massive warrior only nodded. No need for more words.


They’d both come through the fire of a terrible upbringing in Dragos’s labs.


Both men now stood in the light of a redeeming bond.


As Nathan and Hunter watched their mates get acquainted, Dante, one of the Order’s former Boston members, who was now commander of the Seattle operation, strode over hand in hand with his Breedmate, Tess.


The pair had been talking with their son, Rafe, but now walked toward the sculpture sitting in the center of the conference table. Jordana and Corinne, Nathan and Hunter, all joined them near the piece.


Tess’s smile was wistful as she looked at Sleeping Endymion, then back to her dark-haired warrior mate. “Twenty years ago, we met in the art museum, in front of this very sculpture. Do you remember?”


Dante grunted, his mouth quirking with private humor. “I remember it was the second time we met. The first time, I greeted you with my fangs in your throat and you, in turn, stuck a syringe full of animal tranquilizer in me. Well deserved, I might add.”


Tess laughed. “Not exactly a Hallmark moment, was it?”


Dante shook his head. “Hearts and flowers were never my style. Fortunately, I have other gifts.”


“Oh, yes. You definitely do,” she said, wrapping her arms around him in obvious devotion.


As they all conversed and reminisced and more of the group gathered close, Gideon and his Breedmate, Savannah, came over to greet Jordana and Nathan.


The Order’s resident genius had had the good sense to make gentle but strong Savannah his mate some fifty years ago. The mocha-skinned beauty’s kindness and intellect were her abiding traits, but she also had an insatiable curiosity. One that was aided by the Breedmate’s extrasensory talent of psychometry.


She studied the sculpture for a moment, then glanced at Jordana, a fervent, impatient eagerness in her soft brown eyes. “Would it be all right … may I touch it?”


“Of course.” Jordana nodded. “We can do whatever we like with it. The sculpture—and any secrets it might contain—belongs to the Order now. You’re all my family now. Whatever I have belongs to all of us.”


And Jordana had a lot.


A vast wealth in priceless art, as it turned out. Soon after their return to Boston, Nathan and Jordana had gone to see Martin Gates. Jordana wanted the Breed male to know that she was grateful for the life he gave her as his daughter, and assured him that he would always be her family—the father who raised her.


No more secrets. No more lies.


The only unknown that remained was the terra cotta piece on the table before them.


Savannah reached out cautiously, settling her hand lightly on the sculpture. No one spoke in the long moment that followed.


Then she shook her head and withdrew her touch. “I don’t feel anything. It’s as if there’s something standing in the way of my ability. Blocking it.”


Lucan grunted, his dark brows knit in a heavy scowl. “We need to know what this sculpture means. Not only to the Order, but to the Atlanteans and the rest of the world.” He turned his sober gray gaze on Jordana. “If this contains what you suspect, we need to understand its power and either harness it or, if necessary, take steps to destroy it.”


Carys glanced at her best friend. “Do you really think there’s an Atlantean crystal in Endymion, Jordana?”


Jordana looked up at Nathan before meeting the expectant eyes of everyone gathered in the war room. “There’s one way to find out.”


Lucan gave her a resolute nod, but Nathan noticed the Order’s leader protectively pulled his Breedmate closer to him. The rest of the warriors did likewise with their women, everyone braced for whatever was about to occur.


Jordana lifted the sculpture in both hands.


With an indrawn breath and a confirming glance at Nathan, she released it.


The terra cotta hit the floor at her feet with a hard crash. It shattered into pieces.


In the center of the rubble lay a polished metal box about the size of her palm.


“Titanium,” Nikolai guessed, the blond warrior well versed in the material, having handcrafted custom bullets and blades out of the precious metal for the Order over the years.


Jordana bent down to pick up the box.


With an encouraging look from Nathan and the rest of the Order, she carefully unfastened the latch and opened the container.


A smooth, silvery crystal the size of a hen’s egg rested inside.


It was remarkable, otherworldly. A thing of cosmic power and beauty.


Just like the woman holding it.


Jordana rose, looking up at Nathan and smiling. Wonder and amazement danced in her ice-blue eyes.


“The crystal,” she whispered, as everyone moved in closer to have a better look at this extraordinary treasure.


Jordana handed it off to Lucan, and Nathan took the opportunity to pull his mate into the shelter of his arms.


He kissed her, relished the feel of her body against him. Savored the feel of her heart beating in time with his.


And as he held her close, he understood with his whole heart—with his entire being—that whatever power the crystal might contain, with Jordana at his side, loving him as she did now, he already possessed the greatest treasure any world would ever know.


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