His wrapped an arm around my waist and gave me a comforting, brotherly squeeze. “Of course.”

I walked out of the building without a backward glance. I felt Michael’s gaze boring into my back.

Dawn would arrive soon. At last the air was cool, but it smelled of loneliness and despair. Or perhaps that was me. I was shutting down. This was all too much. My legs felt tied down, my shoulders too heavy. My neck protested the weight of my head. I had to force one foot in front of the other until I reached Devyn’s Jag. I plopped inside ungracefully as he settled into the driver’s seat.

“Do not worry about the nights you owe me,” he said. “I will come back when you are better rested.”

I leaned back and closed my eyes. “I’ll give you your nights, Devyn. You more than earned them. But you know what? I don’t think you’ll claim them. You’re a man of honor, and you know I love another man.”


Silence that lasted a long, long time.

“Damn you,” he finally muttered.

I was close to breaking completely, and I didn’t want it to be here, with this man. I wanted Lucius.

Devyn drove me to my apartment building. Finally. Home. When he reached the building, I trudged out of the car, and the door shut with a snap. The air was cooler than it had been all week—more fragrant, less dry.

The window eased down with a quiet whoosh. “Eden,” Devyn called.

I don’t know what he planned to say, but I spun around and reentered his car. I owed Devyn everything, yet he was getting nothing in return. He truly did possess too much honor to hold on to me. Without a word, I leaned into him and brushed my lips against his. Softly at first, then I increased the pressure. When his mouth parted, I swept my tongue inside. Again I tasted his warmth, his masculinity.

It didn’t last long, only a few seconds before I pulled away. I watched Devyn lick his lips, savoring my taste. “Thank you for everything.”

“I hope we meet again,” he said, his amber eyes glowing. “And I hope your human is worthy of you.”

“He is,” I said. I knew this one thing for sure. “He is.”

Chapter 30

Bandaged and medicated, Lucius was sleeping soundly in my bed. I showered, the dry spray washing away the horrors of the night. Clean at last, I curled into bed beside him. His warmth seeped into me. A tear rolled down my cheek, followed quickly by another. Down, down the golden droplets fell until I was sobbing, shaking, convulsing. I sobbed until my eyes swelled shut, sobbed for the family I had lost, both my parents and Michael, sobbed for the things I had done.

While I had probably destroyed families, I had also rid the world of evil. People slept peacefully because of the kills I had made. I had to be content with that knowledge. And know that Michael had done the same.

Finally, I drifted off to sleep.

When I awoke, the surroundings were unfamiliar to me at first. It seemed like an eternity since I had gazed at this room, and it took me a minute to recall that I was inside my new apartment. The canopied bed, the coffee-colored walls. Lucius was still asleep, was still beside me.

I lumbered off the mattress and stumbled into the kitchen, where I fixed myself a glass of sugar water. I drank deeply. I was just refilling my glass, with every intention of dumping the contents in Lucius’s face to wake him up, when he raced into the kitchen, a wild glaze in his ice-blue eyes. He stilled when he spied me.

“I now own you,” were the first words out of my mouth. “You’re bought and paid for.”

“My God, Eden. I nearly killed myself with worry about you.”

“I know the feeling.”

He stalked toward me, and his hard expression was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. Something I couldn’t read glowed in those electric eyes of his. My heart thumped in my chest as he jerked me into his embrace.

“I thought I’d lost you,” he said roughly. Rawly. He pushed me to arm’s length. “Where the hell have you been? What happened?”


His gaze went to my mouth. “Explain later. I’ve missed you too much.” Then he was kissing me.

We didn’t make it to the bed. We just pulled off each other’s clothes and went at it on the self-warming kitchen tile. I couldn’t touch him enough. My hands were all over him, and his were all over me.

We strained and moved together, and when he entered me, I screamed with the force of my climax. His soon followed mine. And this time, we let the walls reverberate with the sounds of our pleasure.

In the aftermath, we lay together, panting. I explained what had happened to me after the sale. I even told him about Michael killing my parents.

His arms tightened around me. “I didn’t know,” he said. “I’m so sorry, baby.”

“That’s cookie to you.” I brushed aside the pain inside me and smiled playfully. “And I’ll get over it. I need time, that’s all. Michael’s a good man, and he loves me.”

“He loves you a hell of a lot. Maybe not as much I do, but he loves you all the same.”

I jolted up and spun to face him. He’d offered the words so casually, I was afraid I’d misunderstood. “What did you say?”

His gaze bored deeply into mine. He didn’t pretend to misunderstand. “I love you. I have for a while.”

A weight lifted off my shoulders, and I suddenly felt lighter than air. I felt my mouth curl into a wide grin. “Well, I love you, too.”

“Maybe now you can stop trying to prove yourself all the time.” He cupped my face in his hands. “I know how great you are. There’s no one better.”

His words touched me,freed me somehow. I had his love. I’d closed this case and killed my target. Ihad proved myself. Iwas a success. “You’re pretty amazing yourself, you know that?”

With a gentle tug, he urged me on top of him. “What did the Targon mean, that you’d made a bargain with him to free me?”

“I kissed him,” I said. “Twice. And I’m not sorry. I would have given him everything to save you.”

“Hell, I would kiss him too if it meant saving your life. Just make sure it doesn’t happen again. You’re mine.”

I loved hearing those words.You’re mine. “I’d believe you,” I said, biting my lower lip and forcing an expression of desolation. “Except…”

“What?” he asked, frowning. “Except what?”

“I don’t know your real name.” I stroked his abdomen…then his cock. “Tell me, and I’ll let you come.” I squeezed him. Tight.

“Phineas Gaylord Hargrove,” he said on a moan. “Now what the hell does theF stand for?”

“Wait.” My hold on him loosened. “Did you say Phineas? Phineas Gaylord? You’re kidding me, right? Trying to get me to tell you my deepest secret?”

“It’s the truth,” he growled. “That’s my name, so put your hand back where it was.”

I laughed until my side hurt. Now I knew why he’d guarded his name so zealously.

He sat up and tapped his fingers against the tile. “I believe you have something to tell me, and I’m tired of waiting.”

“Fine. I’ll tell you. I bedeviled Michael so relentlessly, he added a middle name when he adopted me, making my name Eden Fucking Black.”

Lucius gave a husky bark of laughter. “You’re shitting me.”

“I wish I were,Phineas. ”

He tried to level me with a glare, but his eyes were sparkling too much. We both burst into another round of laughter. But once the amusement subsided, we sank into a heavy silence. There was still something nagging and dragging between us, but I was loath to bring it up.

“Where’s Agent Luc?” I finally asked, staying on safe ground by avoiding what we really needed to discuss.

“Safe. We can go get her, later. First, I have a confession to make.” Lucius did what I’d been unable to do; he brought our troubles out into the open. “Michael paid me to guard you. He—”

“I know,” I said, relieved that he’d finally told me.

“Don’t be mad,” he rushed on. “I realized early in the case that you could take care of yourself.”

“I’m not mad.” I intertwined our fingers and squeezed. “I’m grateful.”

He stared at me for a long while. “Okay. Where’s the Eden Black I know and love? I expected another knife at my throat.”

I snorted.

“Maybe I should be mad atyou. I wanted a piece of EenLi myself.”

“Maybe I’ll give you the next one. No, wait.” I nestled my head into the hollow of his neck. My hair spread over his chest like a golden curtain. “I left the agency. As of now, I’m unemployed.”

His fingers caressed the length of my spine, making me shiver. “Maybe we should start our own company.”


“Definitely. Tell me again about the Targon. I didn’t like the way he looked at you during your auction, and I still don’t like that he actually had his lips on you. I’m thinking he’ll be our first target.”

I laughed. I just couldn’t help myself. I might be jobless, but right now, in Lucius’s arms, life had never seemed more ripe with promise.