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And yes, he wanted to pierce her vein and draw her lily-sweet blood into his body until nothing else mattered.

Until she was bound to him as his eternal mate, where no laws, no lies, no damnable fate could keep them apart ever again.

Holy hell.

The urge to make that a reality - right here, right now - nearly set his boots on a reverse course, back to his chamber. It took all the self-control he had to keep himself moving on his forward path. His footsteps echoed sharply on the earthen floor of the bunker's corridor. His transformed eyes threw a bright amber glow against the dingy concrete walls. His head rang with the fevered pound of his pulse, each beat a reminder of the thirst that raked him.

A thirst he knew only one woman would ever truly sate.

Unfortunately, he was Breed, and regardless of what - or whom - his heart craved, his body had needs that could not be ignored. He couldn't recall precisely the last time he'd fed. Too long by far, based on the savage state he was in now.

Kellan stalked up the dark hallway of the old fort, snarling and ripe with aggression. If it were nightfall outside, he'd break for the city and run until exhaustion purged the worst of his dual fevers. Hunting for a blood Host was easy in the thickly settled neighborhoods of Boston and its surrounding boroughs. No trick at all to find a willing and able human vein, even under the strict feeding laws and curfews imposed since First Dawn.

But it was morning beyond the thick cement walls of his rebel lair.

And he knew damn well the wait until sunset would be a torment he couldn't withstand. Not so long as Mira was under the same roof.

Not so long as everything savage and inhuman within him was hammering with the demand to seek her out again. To take her.

To keep her as his own, regardless of the hell they would both be forced to pay in the end.

He let a growl roll through his teeth and fangs as he headed for the main area of the bunker. Up ahead, he heard the soft drip of water in the shower room, the shuffle of bare feet on a wet concrete floor.

Kellan glanced inside as he reached the open entryway. Candice was seated on a stone bench in the dressing area, combing out her wet black hair. Her skin was damp under her white V-neck T-shirt, the ink of her many tattoos bleeding through the thin fabric. She glanced over her shoulder at him as he paused in the doorway.

Hazel-green eyes met his amber gaze and went wide for a second. She saw his hunger. She understood. She always had. With a mild nod, she set down her comb and made room for him beside her on the bench.

Kellan hesitated, knowing this wasn't what he wanted, not really.

Candice knew that too. He saw the understanding in her gentle eyes as she watched him hesitate at the threshold of the room. She knew what he wanted, and from whom, and yet she still gave him a compassionate smile.

She held her hand out to him, as she had so many times before.

Kellan exhaled a ragged breath.

Then he stepped inside.

Chapter Ten


Confusion rooted her bare feet to the floor. Hurt made it hard to breathe for the ache in her breast. And all the while, her pulse was still thrumming, her body still warm and vibrating with futile, foolish desire.

Don't let me make a bad situation worse.

Kellan's rejection stung, more than she wanted to acknowledge.

So, that's all she was to him now - a bad situation that was likely to turn worse?

She didn't want to believe that. His eyes had told a different story, full of amber heat and raging need. So did his body, hard with desire, dermaglyphs lit up like fireworks, his powerful hands trembling when he'd set her away from him and told her it couldn't be.

It was his words that left no room for error.

He didn't want her.

It should have been enough, him telling her he would not have her. He could not let himself feel anything for her, despite the fact that their kiss had lost none of its fire in the time they'd been apart. Or that they still went up in flames for each other with the slightest touch. Still craved each other with a passion that defied even Kellan's iron will.

It should have been enough. It should have relieved her, giving her the chance to put him into an emotional compartment where he belonged: as her enemy. It should have provided some much-needed clarity about her duty as a warrior and her mission to ensure Jeremy Ackmeyer's safety versus her impossible wish to see Kellan somehow brought back into the fold with the Order.

Total fantasy, that.

And yet there was a part of her that refused to let him go, even now.

Especially now.

It outraged her that he could just walk away from her and assume she'd accept it. Still pushing her away, the same way he'd done as that sullen, broken thirteen-year-old boy who'd arrived at the Order's compound so full of pain and grief over the loss of his parents and kin. She hadn't stood for that then, at age eight, and she sure as hell wasn't about to stand for it now.

Mira glared at the closed door he'd stormed out of a few moments ago.

She thought about how hastily he'd gone - so hastily, she hadn't heard the lock tumble into place behind him. She crossed the floor and tried the latch. It was open.

Holy shit.

A number of choices presented themselves to her in rapid succession. One, she could simply stay put like he expected her to and fume until he decided what to do with her next. Which totally wasn't happening.

Two, she could consider his rejection a gift to her mission objectives and attempt an immediate escape with Jeremy Ackmeyer. A risk, considering she and her human package would have to get past Kellan and all of his well-armed rebel crew.

Or three, she could go after Kellan right now and make him face her. Force him to tell her that he cares nothing about her anymore, or if he does, then make him explain to her why he won't try to fix things so they could try to renew what they once had together.

No contest. She was taking Door Number Three.

Mira had years of practice pulling Kellan out from behind the walls he'd constructed around himself. She wasn't about to give up now.

She quickly tossed on his sweatpants under the oversized T-shirt she'd slept in, then slipped out the door and into the hallway outside.

The bunker was very still, little sign of early morning activity at this end of the stronghold. Mira headed in the direction she recalled would lead her to the base's main room, where she assumed she might find Kellan. Worst case, if she ran into one of his crew instead, they would no doubt immediately summon their leader to her.

But the place was so quiet, Mira wasn't even sure anyone was around.

Until she heard it . . . a soft sound, coming from up ahead, in one of the chambers off the corridor. The showers, where Candice had taken her to clean up last night.

The sound coming from inside that room now was muffled, wet.


Something went tight in Mira's stomach as her feet continued a silent trek up the hallway.

There was a low murmur of voices - a female, then a male. Mira's heart gave a heavy thud, like a clump of lead lodging in her rib cage. She knew that deep, low rumble. She knew the cadence of the softly spoken words. Private words. Caring words.

Ah, God.

Dread unlike any she'd known - not since the night she watched a warehouse go up in flames with Kellan inside it - seized her as she crept forward, agonizing, slow steps that eventually brought her to the open doorway.

Candice was inside, seated on a flat bench outside the showers. Her long black hair was damp and glossy against her thin white T-shirt, her head tipped back, eyes closed in a reverent kind of bliss.

And suckling at her wrist was Kellan. He crouched beside her, his dark head bent low over the human female's arm, his sharp white fangs sunk into the tattooed flames that rode from Candice's wrist to her forearm. With her free hand, Candice gently caressed his bare back with an easy familiarity that cut Mira straight to the bone.

No, she corrected, finding it impossible to catch her breath.

This cut straight to her broken heart.

Horrified, all the fight drained out of her in an instant. Mira backed away silently, grateful she'd been unnoticed.

Maybe this was why Kellan didn't want her help bringing him back to the Order. Maybe this was the reason he seemed determined to stay with the human rebels who saved his life eight years ago.

Maybe this was why he apparently found it so easy to turn his back on Mira and what they once had. Because he'd found someone else. Pretty, compassionate Candice.

Now Mira's idea to escape and take Jeremy Ackmeyer with her sounded like the better one by far. The way her chest ached, as though it might crack open any second, she couldn't wait to get out of this place. She had to get as far away as possible, before the pain had a chance to dissolve her where she stood.

She pivoted around - and came face-to-face with Vince.

"Well, well. What have we here?" His mouth went flat along with his gaze. "The boss know one of his chickens has flown its coop?"

Mira winced at the deliberately loud warning in the rebel's voice. Movement in the shower room now. Urgent scrambling. A combination of combat boots and bare feet on the concrete floor.

"Get out of my way." Mira shoved Vince with all she had. The human stumbled backward on his heels, obviously caught off guard by her strength.

She ran past him, heading up the corridor.

Kellan was behind her now. Mira could feel his presence in the corridor but, against her own will, stole a glance back at him. He was wiping Candice's blood from his lips. His eyes were bright amber, fiery orbs devouring pupils reduced to thinnest slits in their centers. His fangs were huge, and his dermaglyphs pulsed, still saturated with vivid color even after his feeding.

The sight of him like that - fresh from drinking of another female - crushed her.

Mira wheeled back around and bolted, for where specifically, she had no idea. Just away from Kellan and everything she'd just witnessed.

"Everyone, stay put," he barked, voice rough and otherworldly. "Mira!"

She ignored him, tearing up the corridor, desperate to be gone from him.

Out of nowhere, she felt a rush of cool air brush past her. Then Kellan stood in front of her, blocking her path. "Mira, stop."

She shook her head. Her voice had dried up, leaving only a raw sob in her throat. She choked on it, tried to feint past Kellan. He grabbed hold of her shoulders.

"Let go!" she cried hoarsely. "I want to go. I have to get out of here right now!"

"I can't let you do that." Calm words, allowing no argument.

She didn't care. "Try to stop me," she hissed, and managed to wrench herself free.

She spun around to head in the opposite way now. Vince and Candice waited at that end of the corridor, both of them gaping, observing the whole disastrous scene in quiet judgment. Mira had never felt more the fool.

Kellan ordered them to go. "This is private business. I don't need an audience."

They cleared out quickly, but Mira didn't feel any better once she was alone with Kellan. She took a few hurried steps and he was there in front of her again, forcing her to face him. "We can do this all day, Mouse. Calm down, be reasonable for a minute."

She choked on a hard laugh. "Be reasonable? Fuck you. How's that for calm and reasonable?"

Once more she spun away from him and lunged into a bolt with all she had. He moved so fast this time, she didn't see him or feel him - not until she was swept off her feet and scooped into Kellan's powerful arms.

"Let go of me!" She fought his hold, but he was strong - warm and solid and unyielding, a tangible reminder of the fact that he was something more than man, something deadly, dark, and formidable.

He ignored her struggles and carried her back to his quarters. Kicked the door closed behind him with a heavy bang. He set her down but gave her no chance to get away from him. Before she could take her next breath, Kellan had her spine pressed against the closed door, hemming her in with the bulk of his body, muscled arms caging her on either side.

She glared up at him, trying to ignore the hot spike of awareness that arrowed through her at the near press of their bodies. Her breasts ached to feel him against her, nipples going hard despite the rolling boil of her fury.

Kellan exhaled gruffly, amber eyes searing into her. "Damn it, Mira. I told you not to leave this room."

"Afraid of what I might see?" She lifted her chin, jealousy still burning like acid in the back of her throat. "Guess you should've been more careful, Bowman. You're the one who left the door unlocked."

His stare didn't leave her, not even for an instant. But behind her, she heard the metallic clack of the tumbler sliding into place, turned by the force of his mind alone. "It's locked now."

He bared his teeth and fangs as he said it, his voice a dark growl that should not have made her heart race like it did. Her veins shouldn't have been humming, pulse gone wild and electric, as he held her there, trapped in an unbearable place between anger and hurt, awareness and need.

She didn't want to crave him - not now. Not when she was fuming, still fighting off bitter tears that threatened to spill at having seen his mouth on another woman. A human woman who could feed him, nourish him, give him something Kellan had never taken from Mira.

"Why didn't you tell me?" The words, a broken whisper, slipped off her tongue before she could call them back. "Why couldn't you just say there was someone else?"

Fiery eyes flared brighter. "Because it wouldn't be the truth."

"I saw you, Kellan - just now, with Candice. I saw your fangs in her wrist. Her blood was on your lips - "

"Yes," he admitted, unblinking, unflinching. "I fed from Candice out of necessity. I've fed from her many times, because I am Breed and I cannot live without blood. I feed from her because I can trust her and because she demands nothing from me."


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