Shrugging, Aidan said, "Aren't all myths and legends based on some grain of truth?"

"So…" She stared at his profile, melting inside at how beautiful he was. A large, graceful, and deadly predator sprawled across her bed. She'd watched him through the balusters while he fought with Chad, watched the play of muscles in his arms and chest, the way his PJ bottoms had stretched over his thighs when he lunged forward, and the tight roping of his abdomen as he'd leaped backward. The calculating way he'd studied his opponent had made her shiver, and not just with fear. Just as Stacey said, Aidan Cross was a dangerous bad boy and she wanted to tame him.

Before he could reply, she jumped him, throwing herself over his hard body. He grunted from the impact and stared up at her with wide eyes. She took his mouth so he couldn't protest, her tongue gliding along his lips and then slipping inside. Her fingertips found his nipples and rubbed them lightly. His answering groan was music to her ears.

"It's too late for caution," she whispered against his lips. They were glorious, firm and beautifully etched, but so soft, and the way they moved… the way they made love to her… "It's going to break me anyway. I think you should make it worth my while."

"I haven't already?" His accent was pronounced, betraying her effect on him.

"I want more." She sat up and yanked her camisole over her head, tossing it to the floor. She cupped her breasts, rolling the aching points between her fingertips.

"Oh, Lyssa," he murmured roughly, his hands rubbing up and down her thighs. "You drive me insane when you do that."

She opened her mouth to say she hadn't ever shown him her breasts and then remembered what he had said earlier. They'd been lovers in her dreams. "I've done this for you before?"

"Ummm," he replied, his thumbs slowly working their way higher, setting her skin on fire.

"Not fair, You have more memories than I do. I have to catch up."

His mouth curved, and her heart beat faster. Catching his hands, she pressed her breasts into them. "Please don't end this," she begged, throwing aside her pride. "I need you. Desperately."

Aidan rolled then, coming over her in a blanket of big, hot, sexy male. "I need you, too." He nuzzled against her throat and slipped a hand up the leg of her shorts. "Too much."

She sighed and wrapped around him again. If she took a moment to think, she would be terrified of the future, but here, now… It was heaven.

"Tell me you're with me," she moaned, arching into his fingers as he parted her and stroked across her clit with a feather-light touch of a callused finger.

He kissed her with heartbreaking tenderness. "I'm with you."

It was only for now. But for now, it was enough.

* * *

Chapter 13

"I've been looking for you, Captain."

Connor straightened and turned to face Philip Wager as he climbed the porch steps of Aidan's house. Tall and wiry, the lieutenant approached with a long-legged stride that ate up the distance between them. He set a cooler on the bench near the door and then used both hands to tie back his overly long hair with a small black band.

"You found me."

Now presentable to a commanding officer, Philip bowed low. Connor returned the salutation and then arched a brow in silent query.

"Permission requested to speak freely, sir."


The lieutenant took a deep breath and said, "I would have preferred for you to come to me with your questions personally, rather than sending Morgan."

"But then you would have been put in a position you could not retreat from gracefully—defy your commanding officer or betray the Elders. With Morgan, you could easily say no and avoid the discomfort."

Philip snorted. "I've defended your back and saved your life, but you can't approach me as a friend and ask me for help?"

"Every friendship has its limits," Connor said grimly, leaning his hip against the railing.

""fours with Captain Cross seems to have no bounds."

"He is like a brother to me."

"And I owe him my life, many times over."

Connor sighed and sank into the nearby chair. When Aidan was home, every door was opened wide to allow the breeze to enter. Now the sliding paper doors were closed, barring the interior from enjoying the simulated sunrise. The lack of Aidan's dynamic presence brought an unusual and uncomfortable silence to the place. "He's not the same man you knew, Wager. He's a fugitive who's stolen the Key, and abandoned his men and duty."

"You don't believe that any more than I do." Philip gestured to the bench and asked, "May I?"

"Of course."

Setting his elbows on his knees, Philip studied him with a narrowed glance. With his long queue and stormy gray eyes, he had a renegade appearance to go along with his loose-cannon reputation. Because of his volatile nature, he'd been a second lieutenant for centuries longer than he should have been. "The Elders seriously misjudged you. They'd hoped the promotion would win your favor away from Cross."

"Yeah, and they failed. So they undermine me, assigning patrols to the Dreamer without my consultation." Connor shrugged. "You got beer in that cooler?"

Smiling, Philip reached inside and withdrew an icy canister. He tossed it over and then grabbed his own. "The captain has kept his woman far from the Twilight, but her own defenses are formidable. The Elders requested a contingent from the Corps of Engineers, and they said the only way to get past that door is if she lets us in."


"Did you expect Cross to choose a woman who wasn't?"

"Her unusual ability is unnerving, isn't it?" Connor's gaze drifted beyond the porch to the green grass and rolling hills beyond. This was his world, and he would continue to defend it with his life. "Doesn't it create doubt in you? Have you thought perhaps Cross is wrong about her?"

"Of course I've considered it. But he's never been wrong before."

Connor tossed his head back and emptied his beverage in three large swallows. Like Philip, he was withholding judgment on the Dreamer until he met her himself, but it didn't look good so far. "So now what?"

"My team waits."


"Care to share your plan?" Philip held out a second beer, but snatched it back quickly when Connor reached for it. "Sharing works both ways."

"Cheeky bastard." Connor laughed for the first time in weeks. Aidan had been absent only days, but the mess he'd made of his life since meeting the Dreamer had pretty much killed the humor Connor relied on to make it through eternity. "The less you know, the better for you."

"Oh yeah, and I'm known for doing what's best for me." Philip finished his beer in much the same way Connor had. "You'll need help. You can't go it alone, and I can't think of any other Elite besides you, me, and Cross with balls enough to take on the Elders."

Connor's grin widened. "All right. I need to get into the control room at the rear of the Temple."

"What control room?"

"The one Cross saw before he left." The one Connor had seen briefly in Aidan's thoughts the first night his friend had been gone. They'd met for a moment through Aidan's dream, but the captain had been vulnerable with fever, and the connection hadn't held. The dream had been like nothing Connor had ever seen before. Misty, a bit distorted, like a television channel with poor reception. Whether that was due to the unusual illness or to some genetic differences from humans that altered penetration into the Twilight, he didn't know. And Aidan hadn't returned in a dream state since then to help him find out.

"What's the control room for?" Philip asked.

Grabbing the beer from the other man's unsuspecting hand, Connor chuckled at the scowl he got in return. "Hell if I know, but we need to figure out what exactly the Key is supposed to do, if we want any hope of preventing it from happening. That knowledge should also give us a pretty good indication of whether or not Cross's Dreamer is the Key, or if the Elders have made their first mistake on record."

"Breaking into the Temple sounds dangerous."

"I think so."

"Shit, I hope so. Wouldn't be any fun otherwise." Connor tossed back another beer, and then belched. "So here's what we'll do…"

"Call and check on him, Stace. Please."

"No way."

Lyssa dropped her head back onto the pillow and ran her hand through her tangled hair. She was surrounded by Aidan's scent, even though he was no longer in bed. From the lack of heat on his side, she guessed he had been up for a while. She'd slept in due to sheer physical exhaustion. The man had stamina in spades, his body a well-honed machine. "I just want to make sure he's okay."

"Chad's fine. You said so yourself yesterday."

That was before Aidan kicked his ass. He was an innocent pawn in the battle between her and "the Elders," and she hated that she had inadvertently caused him pain. "Just a quick hi. Maybe you can call about Lady?"

"On a Saturday?" Stacey scoffed. "I might as well start off the conversation with 'Hiya! Lyssa wants to know how you're doing since she dumped you and feels guilty' Too high school, Doc, trust me. He's a big boy, he'll be fine."

Lyssa closed her eyes, blocking out the view of the vaulted ceiling above her. "I'll give you a raise."

"Right." Stacey blew out an exasperated breath right into the receiver. "That bribe always works. I'm such a money whore."

"You're a single mom. I admire you."

"Flattery will get you nowhere with me. It's all about the money. Though if you can arrange a hunk delivery for me, I'd call it even. How's that working out, by the way?"

"He's dreamy." For real.