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|Shadowed(Dark Protectors #6) by Rebecca Zanetti|
“So we can mate.” Albert was missing one of his front teeth.
She shook her head, the bizarreness of the situation fuzzing her brain as she turned to Albert. “Forgetting for a moment that there’s no way I’m mating you, you’re a witch. Even if I wanted to mate you, my illness would kill us both.”
Albert straightened. “Henry? You said mating would cure her.”
“It would,” Henry assured him. “Don’t worry. Brenna’s a sweet girl, but she’s not scientific. She doesn’t understand the illness.”
“Oh. Okay.” Genius Albert sat back again.
Brenna dug deep for patience. She had to get the men out of there before Jase found them. He couldn’t discover how ridiculous her life sometimes became. “If you blokes leave right now, I won’t press charges or let the enforcers know you harassed me.” God, she longed for the days when she could just burn people with plasma balls.
Henry sighed and dug out a glowing green gun. “You’re not thinking clearly, and that’s okay. But you’re coming with us.”
Heat filled Brenna’s lungs. “Henry? If you shoot me, then you can’t save me. Got it?”
His eyes drooped. “I’ll just shoot you in the leg. Then, after you mate Albert, you’ll get your healing abilities back.”
The first tendril of panic stilled Brenna’s movements. Maybe the dumbass would shoot her. “Let’s talk about this.”
“Nope. Done talking.” Albert stood, hulking and strong.
Brenna settled her stance. A groin shot would take him down, but then she’d have to worry about Henry’s gun.
A knock sounded on the door. “Brenna? What’s taking so long?” Jase asked.
Blast it. Figured he’d come looking for her. Vampires never knew when to stay the heck out of the way.
Henry turned and aimed for the door.
Brenna instantly kicked up as hard as she could into Albert’s groin. He shifted at the last moment, and she caught his thigh. Rage filled his eyes. He lunged for her.
“Help,” she yelled.
The door shattered with the force of a battering ram. The pieces plowed into Henry, and he went down.
Jase stepped over him, his gaze on Albert. “Problem?”
Albert nodded to Brenna. “Mine.”
Jase’s eyebrows rose. “I don’t think so.”
Albert’s smile widened to reveal another missing tooth. He clenched his hands into fists.
Real panic ripped through Brenna. “No, no, no. We’re not doing this. Everyone out of the restroom.”
Jase brushed her to the side, his gaze steady on Albert. Wood crumpled under his shoes. “Apparently, we are doing this. Anyone care to explain first?”
She gulped in air and grabbed his jacket, not sure where to look. “Albert is a Brenna’s Warrior who wants to mate. To save me.”
Jase pursed his lips in anticipation, his eyes lighting up. “I see. Why don’t you go find your sister? I’ll just be a moment here.”
Albert swung one beefy arm, and Jase shoved her out of the way, taking the hit. He staggered back, shaking his head. “Guy hits like a brick building.” Twisting, he jabbed Albert in the nose before following with an uppercut. Albert smashed into the wall, and shot back, arms swinging.
Brenna yelped and sidled out of the way. Conn had appeared to block spectators from the doorway.
The fight was brutal.
Albert had size and a bit of strength; Jase had speed, training, and pure fury. In the end, there was really no contest.
Jase shoved Albert back into the wall, stepping into his space. Albert’s eyes glazed, and he tried to bring up his left arm for a weak hit. Jase trapped it with his, took a second, and nailed Albert with his elbow. Albert dropped to the ground, out cold.
Jase turned toward her. Blood flowed from a cut in his forehead, danger etched in every line on his face.
She swallowed at the devastation in the bathroom and shook her head. “You’re always fighting.”
His eyes narrowed. “Every fight I’ve been in lately has been because of you.”
Her spine steeled. Well, hmmm. That was true. “Whatever.”
He stalked toward her and tilted her chin up with one knuckle. “There’s only one way to solve this. Tonight, we mate.”
Brenna ditched her heels and padded from the kitchen, two tumblers in her hands. She gave one to Jase before sitting next to him on the sofa. “Kilbeggan whiskey.”
Jase nodded and sniffed the glass. “One of many Irish treats.” He swallowed, his throat moving. “Fifteen years old?”
“Yes.” Brenna sipped, allowing the smooth heat to slide down to her stomach. “I’m sorry I got you into another fight.”
He lifted a shoulder. “I like fighting.” The vampire had built a crackling fire while she’d been in the kitchen. He’d also removed his coat and tie, leaving his white dress shirt unbuttoned at the top. Very nice muscles filled out the sleeves and chest. “Though I’ve never brawled in a women’s restroom.”
He kept his gaze on the fire. The soft sounds of Celtic music enhanced the night. “Did taking my blood earlier today give you any extra strength?”
“No.” In fact, she’d already forgotten about taking his blood.
“I see.” He reached in his pocket and handed her a small box. “Take the pills.”
She flipped open the lid. Three pink pills sat on cotton. Flutters washed through her abdomen. “Three, huh? You must be a dynamo in bed.”
He didn’t smile. “I don’t want to hurt you.”
“Then stop treating me like fragile glass.”
“You’re more fragile than glass.”
Irritation snapped her chin up. “Perhaps. But I won’t shatter.”
He finally focused on her. “No. You’ll bruise and break.”
She frowned. “Vampires have mated with humans for centuries, and the pills aren’t used all the time.”
He rubbed his chin. “I know. But those matings are destined, and those vampires are in control. I’m not.”
She sat back and crossed her legs, the sparkly fabric stretching. “You need to get over yourself.”
Humor rode his exhale. “You’re not the first to say that.”
She eyed the door. “I’m surprised Moira isn’t here trying to interfere.”
“Conn won’t let her. We had a discussion earlier.” Jase downed the rest of his glass. “If this wasn’t necessary to save your life, I’m sure your family would stop it.”
“They’d try to stop it.” She shook her head. “I make my own decisions. Don’t ever forget that.”
“All right.” His voice lowered to a timbre that licked along her skin. “If you won’t take the pills, drink your whiskey, Brenna.”
The way he said her name. As if she was the only person in existence, and as if he owned each letter. She took a deep breath to relax. There was no helping the thrumming through her veins or the softening of her thighs. Her mind was made up, and she wanted this to happen. So she tilted back her head and swallowed the potent malt.
A blast of heat flared in her stomach as the drink landed. Her body melted.
Jase’s powerful shoulders shifted, and he grasped her around the waist. Another smooth movement, and she sat on his lap, straddling him. Her dress rode up her legs, and an impressive erection rubbed against her.
He reached up and removed the pins holding her hair. The mass fell down around her shoulders, and he brushed it away from her face.
“Are you sure?” he asked, his voice a low rumble.
Her lids dropped to half-mast. “I’m sure.”
His eyes flared. Gently, he removed her glasses, folded them, and set them on an end table. With a finger, he drew down one side of her dress before doing the same with the other side. Her breasts sprang free. The material stopped at her elbows, effectively pinning her. Intrigue caught on her breath.
He made a low noise in his gut and smoothed both hands over her breasts.
Electricity ripped down to her clit. She bit her lip to keep from groaning.
“You’re gorgeous, baby,” he whispered, brushing his thumbs across her nipples.
She breathed out, her mind spinning. Shrugging her shoulders, she lifted her arms free of the material, and the dress dropped to her waist.
Her hands trembled as she reached for his shirt buttons, and it took a minute to finish releasing the last one. She pushed the sides apart. Hard, defined muscle enhanced his broad chest—along with several scars. Deep, vicious, shattering, the knife and whip wounds showed his time of captivity.
It was too easy to say the wrong thing about his pain, so she kept silent. Unable to help herself, she leaned forward and kissed a long gash above his heart.
His breath hitched, and his hands tightened on her breasts. Then he tangled one hand in her hair and tugged. She lifted, her gaze meeting his.
Strength, anger, and vulnerability commingled in the vampire’s eyes. A dangerous cauldron of emotion. One she wasn’t powerful enough to protect against. So she did the only thing she could—she opened herself completely to him.
She ran her hand along the side of his face, her heart breaking when he turned into her palm. As if a gentle touch was too much for him to resist. Tears pricked the back of her eyes. “I won’t hurt you,” she whispered from somewhere deeper than the moment.
“Don’t let me hurt you.” The gentle plea matched his devastated tone.
Grasping his chin, she leaned in and wandered her lips over his. Memorizing the firmness. The strength. The very maleness of his mouth. She’d worry about her heart later. It was much too late now.
His fingers spread through her hair, cupping her head, subtly taking over the kiss as if he couldn’t help it. Gentle and seeking, he explored her, conveying more than a kiss. The need for touch, the need for connection lived in every stroke of his tongue, every slant of his lips.
She lost herself in the maelstrom, her mouth opening, accepting all he could give.
Whether he liked it or not, he was giving. To her. The Dunnes’ youngest, freakiest, almost plain daughter. In this moment and in this vampire’s arms, she was invincible. Stronger even than he.
The truth of that sparked shards of demanding need through every nerve. Sighing deep in her throat, she rubbed against his erection. Hard and full, he pulsed beneath his slacks. Through her flimsy thong, his heat all but demanded entrance.
He broke the kiss, and they both breathed heavily.
She yanked his shirt down his arms. More scars and more muscle. Her hands caressed him, and she marveled at his strength. Vampires were naturally cut and hard. This one had worked beyond a gifted biology to create a body of pure steel. Her sex quivered with the knowledge, while her heart ached. This was a body ready for battle.
“Jase,” she whispered.
“Shhh.” He stood and waited until she’d wrapped her legs around his hips before carrying her to the bedroom. He laid her on the bed and removed her dangling dress. His eyelids dropping, he reached down and slid her panties free. “You’re beautiful, Brenna.” His gaze ran over her, softness lighting his eyes.
For the first time, she felt beautiful. She’d carry the look on his face into forever, no matter what happened. She forced a smile. “You’re still dressed.”
His nostrils flared. Sure fingers unbuckled his belt, unbuttoned his slacks, and shoved them to the ground. He stepped out of them and out of his shoes, resting one knee on the bed.
God, he was huge. Huge-huge. Not just kinda huge. She licked her suddenly dry lips, and he groaned low.
Feminine panic swept through her. Okay. They were meant to fit. Somehow, they’d fit.
His half smirk proved he’d seen the panic. Flattening his hand on her abdomen, he watched his hand trace up between her breasts. She reached for him.
“No. Let me play.” He leaned down and flicked a nipple with his tongue.
“I want to play, too,” she gasped, her fingers curling over his shoulders.
“Wait your turn,” he rumbled as he stretched over her, settled between her legs, and drew a nipple into his mouth.
Lava surrounded her. Good God, his mouth was on fire. She shifted restlessly against him, her mind swirling, her body aching. He paid attention to both breasts, nipping, licking, and sucking. Finally, he lifted his head. “I thought you’d taste like candy. You don’t. Sweet raspberries—all the way.” He reached down and slid a finger inside her.
She gasped and arched her back. Mini explosions ripped through her sex.
Pleasure curved his smile. “You’re wet.”
“Of course.” She flashed him a challenging smile.
His eyebrow lifted, and he scraped his thumbnail along her clit.
She stopped breathing and her eyes slammed shut.
Warm lips wandered across her stomach, his breath heating her skin. Her abdominal muscles shifted, and her internal walls clenched. His broad hands curled around her thighs, and he dipped lower.
Instinct pushed her to struggle, but his hold was absolute. She couldn’t get away.
His tongue licked into her, and she forgot all about getting away. But still, this was an arranged mating. He didn’t need to—
“Ahh,” she moaned when his mouth found her clitoris. His tongue took over, moving and teasing with tiny flicks, so that her breath stopped.
The need to arch into him made her back tremble, but he kept her immobile. Open to him—open to whatever he wanted to do to her. The thought sent a rush of fire beneath her skin.
She swallowed and sucked in air. “Jase, this isn’t really necessary.” The words came out in pants.