"Ah, fuck," he growled, drawing in a sharp hiss as she nipped playfully at the tender skin below his jaw. He didn't know how much more he could take. When she reached down and stroked the length of his shaft, he couldn't bite back his animal snarl. She palmed the blunt head of his sex, her touch both curious and demanding as she slicked his moisture over the sensitive skin.

"Lie down with me," he said, his voice ragged, his breath sawing in and out of him. He took her by the arms and sank with her to the blanket-covered floor of the cabin, kissing her as he gently pressed her beneath him. She was so soft and warm against his body, her arms wrapped around his shoulders, her thighs parted where his hips wedged between them. His cock nestled into the wet cleft of her sex, rampant with the need to drive deep, but Kade only played at entering her, sliding between the plush petals of her body as he teased his mouth along the flickering heartbeat at the side of her neck. He reached down to grasp himself, rubbing his hard flesh against her softness, using the broad tip of his penis to stroke the tight little bud of her clit. She moaned, arching to meet his tempo, spreading her legs to invite him deeper. He resisted the temptation, but only barely.

She'd asked him to make her warm, and so she was, but he wanted to make her hotter than she'd ever been. The sudden, unfathomable need to brand himself upon her body--to bring her pleasure unlike anyone had before him--beat in his blood like a drum. Stunned by the feeling, he drew back slightly. But Alex looked too good, felt too good, and before he could remind himself that she deserved better, he was kissing his way down the front of her body. He savored every sweet inch of her from the small mounds of her breasts to the firm muscle of her belly and the damning little birthmark at her hip that made all of this pleasure and selfish need of his so wrong.

But wrong or not, as selfish as it was for him to give in to his desire for Alex, he was well beyond resisting now. The feel of her beneath him kicked the flame in his blood to full boil. The scent of her pulled him like a magnet toward the downy patch of curls between her legs. He kissed her there, using his lips and tongue and teeth until she was writhing against his mouth. And still he didn't stop. He suckled her and stroked her, pleasuring her until she arched up beneath him and cried out with a shattering, shuddering climax.

And still he didn't stop.

He kept kissing and suckling and stroking her, bringing her to the crest of another wild release, and then, only then, did he rise up to cover her with his body, thrusting deep and roaring as the hot, wet walls of her sheath contracted around his pumping shaft. He drove into her, realizing that he too had needed this warmth, this sense--even if temporary--that he wasn't alone. He'd needed Alex like this, in this moment, as much as she only thought she needed him.

Kade's release coiled hard in the base of his cock, intensifying with every fevered thrust. Hotter and hotter, tighter and tighter, until he couldn't hold back a second more. He went taut with the force of it and plunged as far as she could take him, burying his face in her shoulder and giving a hoarse shout of release as his seed exploded from him in a heated, liquid rush.

He couldn't have held back if he'd tried, although there was no threat of pregnancy so long as there was no exchange of blood. But even that proved more tempting than it should be. Kade's fangs punched long from his gums as he lost himself inside Alex's molten heat. He heard her pulse racing, felt it in the frenzied echo of his own heartbeat. And where his mouth rested in a tight grimace against her skin, he felt the rush of her blood pounding just beneath the surface of her delicate skin.

"Ah, Christ ... Alex," he hissed, tormented by the flood of sensations she aroused in him. Everything Breed in him demanded that he make this female his own, that he lay claim to her blood as he'd just laid claim to her body.

Kade clamped down hard on that further need, but damn, it wasn't easy. He rolled her against him, spooning her from behind to help conceal the changes that had come over him in their passion.

"Are you all right?" she asked him as he struggled to get ahold of his impulses and some scrap of rational thought.

"Yeah," he managed after a moment. "Better than I have a right to be."

"Me, too," she said, her smile evident in the drowsy contentment of her voice as it fanned warm and light over the top of his forearm. "In case you're wondering, my pilot services usually don't include getting naked with my clients."

"Good," Kade said, little better than a growl as he gathered her closer to the front of his still-heated body. He didn't want her getting naked with anyone, he realized with a jolt. He wouldn't have liked the idea before what just happened between them today, and he sure as hell wouldn't take it well now.

"What about you?" she asked as he covered them both with the blankets to shield his glyphs from her view.

"What about me?"

"Do you ... do this often?"

"Get naked with sexy Alaskan bush pilots in the middle of the frozen wilderness?" He paused for a minute, letting her think he was giving the question serious consideration. "Nope. This was a first for me." And so was the fierce sense of possession that still drummed in his blood when he thought of Alex being with any other male. He wondered idly if it was the fact that she was a Breedmate that had drawn him to her from the first. But even as he thought it, he knew that the birthmark that connected her to the shadowy world he inhabited as one of the Breed was the least of the qualities that attracted him to Alexandra Maguire. The last thing he needed right now was an emotional entanglement, least of all with a female bearing the teardrop-and-crescent-moon mark.

But he was entangled. In fact, he had just tied a few more knots in an already impossible situation. Cursing himself for the first-class fool he clearly was, Kade kissed the top of her head and gathered her close as he waited for his eyes to resume a normal appearance and his fangs to have a chance to retreat. It took some time, and even after his body settled into a comfortable peace, his hunger for the woman in his arms remained.

Chapter Fifteen

Daylight broke thin and overcast outside the wide mouth of the woodland cave. The predator had sought shelter there a short while ago, when the sun's first weak rays had begun to claw their way through the winter darkness. Few things existed that were stronger than he, particularly in this primitive world that was so different from the distant one he'd been born into many millennia ago, but as advanced a life-form as his kind was, his hairless, dermaglyph- covered skin could not process ultraviolet light, and just a few minutes' exposure would kill him.

From deep within the safety of the dark cave, he rested from the previous night of hunting and wandering, impatient for the thready light of daybreak to exhaust itself and retreat once more. He needed to feed again soon. He still hungered, his cells and organs and muscles requiring extensive rejuvenation after the long period of deprivation and abuse he had suffered while in captivity. The instinct to survive warred with the knowledge he had that he was, wholly and utterly, alone on this inhospitable chunk of orbiting debris.

There were none like him left here now, not for a long time. He was the last of the eight explorers who had crashed on this planet, a lone castaway with no chance of escape.

They had been born to conquer, born to be kings. Instead, one by one, his stranded brethren had all perished, whether by the harshness of their new surroundings or in war with their own half-human progeny centuries later. Through treachery and a secret bargain with his offspring, he alone had survived. But it had been that same treachery and covert dealing that had enslaved him to the son of his son, Dragos. Now that he was free, the only thing more attractive than ending his time on this forsaken planet was the idea that he might be able to take his duplicitous heir with him in death. He howled with remembered fury for the long decades of pain and experimentation that had been inflicted on him. His voice shook the walls of the cave, an unearthly roar that ripped from his lungs like a battle cry.

A gunshot answered from somewhere not too distant, somewhere in the woods beyond. There was a sudden crash in the frozen bracken outside. Then a steady, fleeting beat of animal footsteps--several sets--racing near the mouth of the cave.


The pack split up, half running to the right of the cave's entrance, half darting to the left of it. And behind them by only a few seconds, the sounds of human voices, armed men in dogged pursuit.

"This way," one of them shouted. "Whole goddamn pack ran up this ridge, Dave!"

"You men take the westerly path," a thunderous voice commanded in reply. "Lanny and I'll take the ridge on foot. There's a cave up this way--good chance one or more of the mangy bastards are hiding inside."

The buzz of revving engines and the stench of burning gasoline filled the air as some of the men sped off. A few moments later, outside the cave's mouth, in the daylight that barred the only route of escape, the silhouettes of two people holding long rifles took shape. The man in front was large, with a barrel chest and broad shoulders and a belly that might have been muscular in younger years but had since turned to flab. The man with him was a full foot shorter and about a hundred pounds lighter, a timid creature with a The man with him was a full foot shorter and about a hundred pounds lighter, a timid creature with a thready voice.

"I don't think there's anything in here, Dave. And I'm really not sure it's a good idea for us to split off from the others ..."

Confined to the shadows, the cave's sole occupant shrank back behind a wall of jagged rock--but not soon enough.

"There! I just saw a pair of eyes glowing inside here. What'd I tell ya, Lanny? We got one of those goddamn bastards right fucking here!" The big man's voice was eager with aggression as he raised his weapon. "Shine that flashlight and let me see what I'm shooting at, will ya?"

"Uh, okay, Dave." His nervous companion fumbled the task, clicking on the beam and sending it in a shaky bounce around the floor and walls of the cave. "Do you see it anywhere? I don't see nothing in here at all."

Of course he didn't, because the glowing gaze the larger man had seen just a moment ago was no longer low to the ground but looking down on the pair of humans from where the hunter now clung to the rock ceiling above their heads, poised over them in the dark like a spider.

The big man lowered his weapon. "What the hell? Where the fuck could it have gone?"

"We shouldn't be here, Dave. I think we should go find the others ..." The big man took a few more steps into the cave. "Don't be such a pussy. Give me that light." As the smaller man reached out to hand it over, his boot caught on a loose rock. He stumbled, went down on his knees with a yelp of pain and surprise. "Oh, shit! I think I cut myself!" The coppery proof of it rose up in a sudden olfactory blast. The scent of fresh blood drilled into the predator's nostrils. He breathed it in and hissed it back out of his lungs through his bared teeth and fangs. Below him on the floor of the cave, the nervous little man's head jerked upward. His stricken face went slack with horror under the alien, amber glow of now-thirsting eyes.

He screamed, his voice as high and curdled as a human girl's.

At the same time, the big man wheeled around with his rifle.

The cave exploded with a sharp crack of gunfire and a blinding flash of light as the predator leapt from his hold on the rocks overhead and launched himself at the pair of humans. Alex couldn't remember the last time she'd slept so deeply or so uninterruptedly. Nor could she recall ever feeling quite so spent and sated as she did after making love with Kade. She stretched beneath the fluffy pile of blankets and sleeping bags on the floor, then rose up on her elbow to watch him as he added more wood to the fire in the cabin's little pipe stove.

He crouched on his haunches, the thick muscles of his back and arms bunching and flexing as he pivoted to place another log in the stove, his smooth skin bathed in the warm amber glow of the firelight. His short black hair was a bed-rumpled mess of glossy spikes that gave him a wilder air than normal, all the more so when he turned his head to glance her way and she was hit with the chiseled angles of his killer cheekbones and jaw, and the piercing silver of his dark-fringed eyes.

He was gorgeous, a hundred times more breathtaking when he was sitting there naked in front of her, his gaze intense and intimate, locked onto hers. Alex's body still hummed with the memory of their passion, the pleasant ache between her legs pulsing a bit warmer for the way he looked at her now, as if he wanted to devour her all over again.

"Did we sleep through daylight?" she asked, suddenly needing to fill the heated silence. He gave a brief nod. "The sun's been gone for a couple of hours."

"You've been outside, I see," she said, noting the fresh supply of split logs stacked up beside him.

"Yeah," he said. "Just came in a minute ago." She smiled, arching her brows. "I hope you didn't go out there like that. It can't be more than zero degrees in the dark."

He grunted, his sensual mouth curving with wry humor. "I don't have any shrinkage issues." No, this was definitely not a man who'd have the slightest insecurities about his masculinity. Every inch of him was lean, hard, sculpted muscle. At nearly six and a half feet, he had the brutal form of a mythical warrior, from the thick, ropey bulk of his shoulders and biceps, to the carved planes of his chest and the washboard abs that tapered to narrow, perfectly cut hips. The rest of him was impressively perfect, as well, and she could testify that he certainly knew what to do with it.

Good lord, he was a living work of art, which was only enhanced by the intricate yet subtly rendered pattern of ink--what kind of ink was that, anyway?--that tracked over the golden skin of his torso and limbs like the path of an appreciative lover's tongue. Alex followed the swirling, intriguingly strange designs with like the path of an appreciative lover's tongue. Alex followed the swirling, intriguingly strange designs with her eyes, wondering if it was only a trick of the firelight that made the henna color of his tattoos seem to flush a deeper shade as she stared at him in open appreciation.


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