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A tide of possessiveness swamped him. Unbidden. Undeserved.

Yet undeniable, especially when Mira was melting for him so sweetly.

He swiveled his head back to admire the flushed pink temptation of her sex. A brief kiss made her shiver. His lips and fangs teasing the juicy petals made her suck in a sharp breath, sent her hands into his hair, holding him steady as he cleaved her flesh with his tongue and brought the intoxicating taste of her into his mouth.

"Oh, my God," she rasped brokenly. "I'm going to come."

"Not yet," he murmured. Then he reached around to grasp her firm little ass in both hands and hauled her to his hungry mouth.

He buried his face in her, drinking her in, drowning in her. In that next instant, she shattered against his mouth, hips bucking, spasms rippling through her in pretty waves. He lapped her up, thirsty for more.

As her climax began to ebb, she swung her leg down off his shoulder and grabbed at him. Her fingers were demanding, twisting in his soaked T-shirt, trying to yank it off him. "Inside me," she panted. "Now, Kellan."

He rose without argument. Pulled off his shirt and tossed it to the shower floor in a wet heap, then kicked off his boots while Mira worked on the buttons of his drenched jeans. She fumbled more than once and he took over. No sooner had he opened the last button, Mira pushed his pants down over his hips, freeing his engorged cock into her wet, waiting hands.

She stroked him a few times, and God help him, it was all he could bear.

Gathering her up in his arms, he lifted her thighs around his waist and drove home in one deep thrust. Both of them grunted with the force of their joining, both of them shuddering as he seated himself to the root, filling her, stretching her like a silken glove around his girth. He pumped his pelvis a few times, but he was too far gone to take it easy.

He fell into an urgent rhythm, holding fast to Mira, watching her face as the crest of another climax rose up on her. She clutched at him, heels digging into his ass, fingernails scoring his shoulders. His own orgasm was coiling at the base of his spine, heat shooting through his veins.

Mira gripped him more fiercely, her pleasured sighs turning into rapid pants as the first tremors of her release coursed along the length of Kellan's shaft. He plunged deeper, harder, pushing her toward it. Holding back his own need until he felt her start to splinter around him. She let out a throaty cry as she came, her breath blowing like a furnace against his ear.

Kellan kept his fevered eyes on her, drinking in every nuance of her release. She was so beautiful. So damn sexy. So hot and wet and greedy, her tiny muscles milking him as he thrust at a frenzied tempo, his cock pistoning in and out of her slick sheath.

His orgasm rolled up on him like a freight train, fierce and uncontainable.

He came on a roar, hips bucking wildly, unable to stop even after the last of his seed had poured out of him. Spent but far from sated, he dropped his head to the curve of her shoulder and simply rocked into her, savoring the feel of her body pressed to his, the hot, wet haven of her sex holding him inside.

"You stayed," he murmured, mouth moving over the side of her neck, where her pulse throbbed in time with his.

Her softly whispered answer sifted into his hair where her lips rested against the top of his head. "You didn't let go."

Chapter Fifteen

THEY MADE LOVE AGAIN, SLOWLY, THEN TOOK TURNS washing each other under the warm spray of the shower.

A few minutes later, Mira was in Kellan's quarters, getting dressed with him in a comfortable silence. She could almost imagine that they were a couple in truth, sharing this space as bonded mates. Sharing the bed as lovers, which shouldn't have been as tempting to her, considering the number of times he'd just made her come.

Mira watched Kellan move as he put on fresh clothes, a black T-shirt that clung to his muscled chest and shoulders, short sleeves tight around his glyph-adorned biceps. His long, firm thighs disappeared into dark jeans that hugged his fine ass and rode at just the right level on his sharply cut hips.

He was gorgeous, and a few minutes ago she had tasted every divine inch of him. She allowed herself to savor that memory for a moment, standing near the foot of the bed in just her bra and panties.

It was so easy to feel normal around him. To feel whole. She wasn't ready to give that up. She'd never be ready for that, no matter what her damned vision had shown him.

Kellan shot her an appraising glance over his shoulder as he buttoned the fly of his jeans. "Good as you look like that, you'd better put something on before I jump you again." He lifted his chin, indicating his clothing trunk at her feet. "You'll find more shirts in there. Take your pick."

The black jeans she'd had on the day she and Jeremy Ackmeyer were brought to the rebel base were still in decent shape, a bit worse for wear, but doable. Her shirt had been toast, ripped up in the scuffle and ruined with blood and grime. Mira hunkered down on folded legs in front of Kellan's clothing locker and sifted through the dozen or so Ts and jerseys stacked neatly inside.

Her hand bumped against something cold and metallic, tucked between a few of the articles. She pulled it out to see what it was. A hand mirror, elegant and feminine, the back of it fashioned of polished silver, inlaid with delicate black onyx cut into the shape of a gracefully arched bow bearing a nocked arrow - the Archer family emblem.

"It belonged to my grandmother," Kellan said when Mira looked up at him in question.

"It's stunning." She ran her fingertip over the careful crafts-manship, admiring each flawless line. "How did you get this?"

When he disappeared years earlier, he'd taken nothing with him but the clothes on his back the night of the patrol that had gone so wrong.

Kellan strode over and gently took the mirror from her grasp. He turned it over in his hands, his mouth curving into a distant smile. "A couple years ago, I ran reconnaissance on a militia group I planned to shut down. They were dealing drugs and small arms out of Maine, north of Augusta. Realized when my intel gathering was over, I was only a few miles from my grandfather, Lazaro's, old place up there."

"The temporary compound the Order moved into after our headquarters in Boston was compromised." Mira recalled it well, even though she'd been just a girl at the time she and Kellan and the rest of the warriors and their mates had lived there.

After First Dawn, it was decided by Lucan and the other elders that the Order needed to spread its resources around the United States and Europe, to better combat uprisings and violence that occurred in the wake of the Breed's outing to mankind. Lazaro Archer, Kellan's grandfather, was now the leader of the Order's command center in Italy.

Mira thought about the many good times - and the handful of bad - that had taken place in that hidden Darkhaven compound nestled in the deep woods of northern Maine. Her first snowball fight, pitted against Kellan and Nathan. Her first Christmas tree, shared with Renata and Nikolai and the rest of her new family, all of the warriors and their mates. The presentation ceremony for Xander Raphael, Dante and Tess's son, who'd been born just days before the Order's emergency relocation from Boston.

So many memories, and she could see that Kellan was reliving them too.

"The place was vacant, or I never would've risked going near it," he said. "But there were a few things left behind. Furnishings, some clothing . . . and this." He touched the bow-and-arrow emblem with reverent fingers. "It was in my grandfather's quarters, on top of a dressing table he'd made for my grandmother out of the surrounding pines. The mirror was charred and blackened with soot and ash. I realized then and there that he must've gone back to our Boston Darkhaven after it had been razed. He must've crawled through the rubble to retrieve this, even though he'd vowed he would never go back to the scene of her death. Back to the house that took her and my parents - all of my kin, his kin - down in flames."

"Kellan," Mira whispered, her heart squeezing in her breast.

"I had no right to take it, but once it was in my hand, I couldn't leave it behind." He carefully replaced the mirror into the chest, setting it gingerly on top of the soft contents. "I have something else that I have no right keeping either."

He strode over to his bureau and opened the top drawer. Took out her treasured dagger and walked it back to her. She took it from his outstretched hand with a small, grateful smile.

She read the word that was carved onto each side of the precious blade. "Honor. Sacrifice." The other one, the other half of the pair, which she'd lost the day she was brought back into Kellan's life, bore another set of tenets she strove to live by: Faith. Courage. "It feels strange, just the one," she murmured. "Unbalanced. Not as strong without its mate. I never thought they'd be separated."

Kellan's eyes were tender on her, his expression sober, regretful. He clearly understood that she could as easily be speaking about the two of them. "I never wanted to take anything away from you, Mouse. Least of all your happiness. I didn't want to cost you anything, including the blade that I promised you'd have again, before everything went so wrong. Just another way I've let you down."

He reached out, gently lifted her to her feet. He stroked her face, his touch so careful and kind, she nearly choked on the sob building in her throat. "If I could go back in time, I'd change so much," he said. "I would do whatever it took to make sure you'd never be caught up in this with me in the first place."

"No," she replied, pulling herself together and giving a firm shake of her head. "No. I wouldn't trade a minute of what we just shared. Would you?"

He didn't speak for a long moment, just caressed her cheeks and brushed his thumb over her lips, before settling his warm hand along the nape of her neck.

"Would you really take it all back?" she asked, terrified of his answer.

His smile was slow as his eyes crackled with banked but still burning heat. "I'm still holding on to you, aren't I?"

He kissed her, and Mira couldn't curb the dread that rose in her when she thought of losing him again. She didn't want to let the awfulness of her vision ruin this moment, but it was there just the same, refusing to give her any peace. She drew back from Kellan's sweet kiss and tipped her head down, closing her eyes as he rested his forehead against hers, still holding her close.

"Kellan," she said, then pulled away, looking up into his amber-flecked hazel eyes. "Tell me again about the vision you saw. About the charges leveled against you."

His handsome face sobered, jaw going a bit tighter as he clamped his molars together. "They were capital charges, Mouse. Just like I told you."

"Yes, but what were they, specifically?"

"Conspiracy," he said evenly. "Treason. Kidnap and murder."

Her pulse skidded on the last one. "Murder. How many people have you killed, Kellan?"

"Too many to recall," he replied, no apology in his voice. "You know about all of them. You were there with me for far too many, when the streets were red with spilled lives."

"No," she said. "That was wartime, not murder. How many unsanctioned kills, Kellan? How many times since you became Bowman have you taken someone's life?"

He stared, considering. He stared for a very long time, then gave a resolute shake of his head. "There is no way of telling how far into the future the vision is destined to occur. We only know that it will, because your visions never fail, Mira. They haven't, in all this time." He paced away from her, raking a hand through his dark copper hair. "Besides, that doesn't negate any of the other charges that I am guilty of: kidnapping Ackmeyer, the relative of a high-ranking GNC government diplomat, and, in so doing, conspiring to disrupt a peace summit. By doing both of those things, I've knowingly led myself and my crew into an act of treason."

"But not murder," Mira stressed. Now that she had a shred of hope in her grasp, she wasn't about to let it slip through her fingers. "You aren't guilty of the last charge. That's something in your control now, from this moment forward. And if the vision is wrong about one of the charges, it can be wrong about any of them. Maybe we can change the course of this, Kellan. Together."

He came back to her, standing right in front of her but saying nothing. His eyes bore into hers, his face gone utterly still except for the sudden tick of a tendon in his jaw. She could sense the wheels turning in his mind. She could feel his pulse throbbing hotly, vibrating the air in the scant inch that separated their bodies.

He swore, vicious and raw, under his breath. Not a sound of anger but one of relief.

Of hope.

His hands shot out and he pulled her to him, kissed her hard on the mouth. Then he let go and spun away to grab for his comm unit on the bureau next to his bed. He checked the time, swung a fierce look on her. "It'll be sundown in thirty minutes." He grabbed a dry pair of boots from nearby and stomped into them. "I'm heading into Boston. I need to find Vince and bring Ackmeyer out of this alive."

"I'm going with you," Mira announced, already wearing one of his T-shirts and yanking on her black jeans. She reached for her combat boots, but Kellan stopped her with his hand coming down firmly on her wrist.

"You stay put," he said. "I'm not putting you in harm's way. Besides, I can cover more ground faster on foot."

She got right up in his face, just like when they were kids. "Either I go with you, or I go alone, Archer."

That tendon that had been ticking in his jaw before now started to pound. His eyes were blazing, searing her with their sharp flashes of amber. She didn't cower. She glared up into those dangerous eyes and held them steady. It was a look he had to recognize, one he had to understand meant she was not about to back down.


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