"Come here," he said, and smoothly brought her down around in front of him on the bed, spooning her with his body.


He didn't enter her right away, just nestled his hard erection between her thighs and held her in the warm shelter of his arms. He kissed the back of her shoulder, the very spot he'd taken under his fangs last night. Right now, his mouth was gentle, his breath skating warmly over her skin.


Jenna sighed deeply, so content to simply relax with him. "How long do you think we can stay in bed together before anyone notices we're gone?"


He groaned quietly, then pressed a kiss to her shoulder. "I'm sure it's been noticed. Alex knows I'm here, which means Kade knows I'm here."


"And your roommate," she reminded him.


"Yeah." He exhaled a chuckle. "Hunter doesn't miss a damned thing. I like the guy, but I swear he's a flesh-and-bone machine most of the time."


"I can't imagine what it must have been like for him, the way he was raised," Jenna murmured, unsure how anyone could come out of that kind of environment without some very deep-seated scars. Chilled to think about it, she snuggled deeper into the circle of Brock's warm arms. His body was hot and firm against her backside, some parts significantly more firm than others. She smiled, imagining she could get used to this quite easily.


"Speaking of roommates ..."


He grunted in question, his fingers playing in her hair. "What about them?"


"I was just thinking that it seems kind of silly for you to give up your quarters, especially now that we're ..." She let the words drift off, unsure how to categorize their relationship, which was supposed to have been so uncomplicated and casual but had somehow become something so much more.


He dragged his mouth slowly along the curve of her shoulder, then up along the side of her neck. "Are you asking me to move in with you, Jenna?"


She shivered under the moist warmth of his lips and the erotic abrasion of his fangs against her tender skin. "Yeah, I guess I am. I mean, this is your bed, after all. Everything in here is yours."


"What about you?" He gathered her hair and swept it aside, pressing his mouth to her bare nape. "Are you mine, too?"


She closed her eyes, awash in pleasure from his kiss, and pierced with a bright, terrifying joy. "If you want to know the truth, I think a part of me has belonged to you since Alaska."


His answering groan didn't sound the least bit unhappy. He gathered her closer, his tongue playing along the sensitive flesh behind her ear. But then he suddenly went very still.


She hadn't expected the rough curse that followed.


"Jenna," he muttered, alarm edging his words. "Ah, fuck ..."


A new fear spiked through her, sharp and cold. "What is it?"


It took him a second to answer.


When he did, his voice was low with disbelief. "It's a glyph. Holy hell, Jenna ... you have a dermaglyph forming on the back of your neck."


--------


An hour later, Jenna was seated on an examination table in the infirmary, having submitted to a fresh round of blood tests and tissue samples at Gideon's request. She had been shocked to see the small dermaglyph that covered the incision location of the Ancient's implant, though perhaps no more shocked than the rest of the compound's residents.


Everyone had come to look at the silver dollar-size skin marking hidden underneath the fall of her hair. Though no one had voiced their speculation out loud, Jenna could tell that each of them was concerned for her, if uncertain what this new development might mean to her in the long term.


Now they had all gone from the room except Brock, who stood at her side, grim faced and quiet in his black shirt and dark jeans. Jenna didn't have much to say, either, glancing up anxiously as the Order's resident genius drew one final vial of blood from her arm.


"You're still feeling good, you say?" Gideon prompted, looking at her over the tops of his rimless sky blue shades. "You haven't noticed any other markings on your body? No physical or systemic changes since we last spoke?"


Jenna shook her head. "Nothing."


Gideon slid a glance at Brock before looking back at her. "What about other body functions? Have you noticed any changes in your digestive system? Any changes in your appetite, or lack of interest in food?"


She shrugged. "Nope. I eat like a horse, and always have."


That seemed to relieve him somewhat. "So, no strange cravings when it comes to hunger or thirst?"


A flash of heat washed through her when she lifted her gaze to Brock.


The bite marks she'd left on him were gone now, but she vividly recalled the need that had lived inside her when she'd set her teeth into his flesh during their lovemaking. She had craved him with a thirst she could hardly fathom, let alone explain.


And now she wondered ...


"I, um, if you're talking about blood," she murmured, embarrassed by the way her face flamed when Brock's dark eyes stayed rooted on her. "I have had certain ... cravings."


Gideon's blond brows rose in surprise an instant before his attention drifted to Brock. "You mean, the two of you--"


"I bit him," Jenna blurted. "Last night, and a few nights ago, too. I couldn't help it."


"Well, fuck me," Gideon said, not even trying to hide his amusement over realizing she and Brock were intimately involved. "And what about you, my man? Have you drunk from her, too?"


"A few hours ago," Brock replied, giving a grim nod but looking anything but repentant when his gaze latched back on to hers. "It was incredible, but I know where you're heading with this, Gideon, and I can tell you that her blood is pure Homo sapiens red cells."


"No bloodscent?"


Brock shook his head. "Just coppery hemoglobin. She's human."


"Except in addition to the DNA replications we found in her last sample results and the other things she's mentioned, Jenna now also has a glyph. " The warrior ran his fingers through the short, disheveled spikes of his golden hair. "There's something else, too."


When he looked at Jenna, there was an anxiety in his expression that she'd never seen before. He appeared unsure of what he intended to say, and for a man who seemed to have answers for every problem imaginable, his uncertainty right now was downright alarming.


"Tell me, Gideon."


Brock came closer and took her hand in his. "Shit, Gideon. What else have you found?"


The other warrior was frowning, mouth pursed in thought. "There is some kind of energy reading that seems to be associated with the implant ...


an emission of some sort."


"What the hell does that mean?" Brock asked, his fingers tightening around hers.


Gideon shrugged. "It's nothing I've been able to capture with any of my equipment, so I can't tell you what it might actually be. It's advanced technology, far more advanced than anything I have here. Probably more advanced than anything we have on this planet. My guess is, this energy emission is integral to the implant itself."


Jenna brought her free hand up to the back of her neck, feeling the slightly raised outline of the glyph's arcs and curves. "Do you think the energy is just an indicator that the implant is active inside me?"


"It could be as simple as that, yes."


She watched him speak, noting that he still wore the same look of caution and gravity. "It could be that simple, but you don't think so, right?"


He reached out and lightly touched her shoulder. "We're going to keep looking for the answers, I give you my word."


Brock nodded soberly at his comrade before wrapping his arm protectively around Jenna. "Thanks, my man."


Gideon's smile was brief as he glanced at the both of them. "I'll go run these samples and bring you the results as soon as I have them."


He pivoted to head for the door, at the same time the heavy clip of boot heels approached from the corridor outside. Kade appeared there, his keen silver eyes flashing with urgency.


"Harvard just got a call from Mathias Rowan," he announced abruptly. "The Enforcement Agency has a possible lead on Kellan Archer's location."


"What have we got?" Brock asked, his arm still draped around Jenna's shoulders but his demeanor switching instantly to warrior mode.


"There's another witness, apparently. A human living on the streets out in Quincy claims he saw three big SWAT-looking guys hustle a kid into a construction zone down there late last night."


Brock grunted. "This tip came in from a human? Since when is the Agency using homeless Homo sapiens as informants?"


"Don't ask me, man," Kade said, lifting his hands. "Agent by the name of Freyne reported the tip. Harvard says the guy keeps a string of humans on the line who are willing to keep their eyes and ears open around the city in exchange for cash and narcotics."


"For fuck's sake," Brock ground out. "Freyne and a human drug addict are our sources for this lead on the kid?"


Kade shook his head. "Right now, it's all we've got. Lazaro and Christophe Archer have already made arrangements with Mathias Rowan to head down to Quincy tonight with a team of Enforcement Agents to check the location out."


Brock's curse was echoed by Gideon's equally vivid profanity.


"I know," Kade said. "Lucan wants everyone in the tech lab pronto to discuss our options. Sounds like we're gonna be riding shotgun with the Enforcement Agency tonight."


Chapter Twenty-five


There hadn't been a lot of time to prepare for the rendezvous with Mathias Rowan and his team of Enforcement Agents that night. Then again, the entire operation consisted of a tip provided by less than reliable sources and the determination--the desperate hope--of Lazaro Archer and his son that Kellan Archer had, in fact, been brought to the city construction site on the far edge of Quincy.


Neither Brock nor the rest of the Order held out the same hope that the lead would prove fruitful. If Dragos was the instigator of the abduction, and it seemed reasonable to assume as much, then the odds of finding the boy alive, let alone so quickly and neatly after he'd been taken, seemed slim at best.


But none of the warriors said so as they rolled up behind the Enforcement Agency vehicles parked off the street adjacent to the site.


Mathias Rowan was the first to step over and meet them. He cut away from the other six Agents accompanying him and strode toward the Rover as Brock killed the engine and the warriors who'd come along with him climbed out to the frozen pavement. Chase made the introductions, starting with Tegan and Kade, then Brock, who was already familiar with Agent Rowan.


Hunter was part of the Order's operation tonight, as well, but he'd jumped out of the Rover a block before their rendezvous point in order to move in stealth and run a perimeter check of the building and the surrounding area.


The building in question was a ten-story condominium, or would have been, according to the real estate sign out front, if the financing bank hadn't gone belly-up with the recent nosepe of the humans' economy. Half completed for months and showing its neglect, the brick tower was little more than a skeleton of a shelter--empty, unfinished floors and gaping windows. The place looked quiet, desolate enough to be useful as a possible holding location.


"Lazaro Archer and the boy's father are here, as well," Rowan informed the warriors. "They both insisted on coming along, although I have advised them it would be best for everyone involved if they remained in one of the Agency vehicles while we conduct the search."


Tegan inclined his head in agreement. "Your men have not gone near the building?"


"No. We arrived just a moment before you did."


"And you've seen no movement in or out of the building?" Brock asked, glancing over at the dark structure as a flurry of fine snow swirled around them.


"We haven't seen or heard anything," Rowan said. "As far as tips go, I've known a lot better than this."


"Let's go have a look," Tegan said, leading the way.


As they neared the Enforcement Agency vehicles, Brock recognized Freyne among the team of Agents with Rowan. He and two other men leaned against one of the sedans, semiauto pistols holstered and visible under their open winter coats. Brock stared the belligerent Agent down, daring any one of the bunch to make a stupid comment as they approached.


Chase was less subtle. He grinned at his adversary from a couple of nights ago. "Glad to see you back on your feet after I wiped the pavement with your ass the other night. Anytime you want to go again, you let me know."


"Go fuck yourself," Freyne sneered, looking just as ready to escalate things with his former comrade.


The exchange of venom was brief, cut short by the opening of the back door of the Agency vehicle. Lazaro Archer stepped out to the street, his harsh face hard with concern. He nodded to the warriors in solemn greeting.


"Christophe and I want to be there for the search of the building," he said, directing his request to Tegan. "You cannot expect us to stand by and wait--"


"That's exactly what I expect." Tegan's voice was firm but not without respect. "We don't know what we might find in there tonight, Lazaro. It could be nothing. But if it's not, then you need to let us handle this."


"My son and I want to help," he argued.


Tegan's jaw was set now. "Then help by letting us do our job. Stay here. We'll all know soon enough if this lead proves out. Chase, stand guard with Rowan's men until we return. Don't let them out of your sight."


Brock didn't miss the look of irritation on Harvard's face, but the former Agent fell in as he was instructed. With Freyne and the other two sentries standing by, he assisted Lazaro Archer back into the vehicle and closed the door.

***

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