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|Shadowed(Dark Protectors #6) by Rebecca Zanetti|
The words caught her off guard, as no doubt they were meant to. She inhaled quickly, forcing herself to meet her brother’s furious gaze. “Not exactly.”
“Don’t be getting all bossy with me.” Damn it. She hadn’t wanted anybody to know.
“Fine. No, I didn’t let Kalin drink me. But, in a dreamworld, one time he did bite me. So yes, he has my blood, and I can’t keep him out of the dreamworlds any longer.” Her face heated.
Garrett’s eyes narrowed. “How did he get close enough to bite?”
She smoothed her face into surprise and shrugged. “I don’t know.”
“If you lie to me again, I’m telling Dad.”
Damn it. She cleared her throat. “I bit him first.”
Shock widened Garrett’s eyes. “You what?”
“I needed to be able to yank him into the dreamworlds whether he liked it or not, and taking his blood gave me that power.” Why didn’t everybody understand she had a job to do? A fate to fulfill?
“You’re fucking kidding me.” Garrett launched himself from the table to tower over her, even though she was sitting on the tall bar. “You bit him. You took a Kurjan’s blood. You’re crazy.”
“Stop swearing.” God, if he told their father, Talen would have a heart attack. “I took Zane’s, too.”
Garrett stepped back, his face paling. “Tell me he didn’t take yours.”
Janie bit her lip.
“God damn it all to fucking hell.” Garrett scraped both hands down his face. “I should’ve killed him. Shit. I should’ve killed them both.”
Janie frowned. “Huh?”
“Zane rescued me from Kalin and the demons trying to take me.” Garrett’s shoulders settled.
Warmth flushed through Janie so quickly she swayed. Zane had put himself in danger to save her little brother? She hadn’t heard the full story yet. “Did Zane say anything about me?”
Garrett growled. “Yeah. He said to keep you the fuck out of the war.”
That sounded like Zane. “What did he smell like?”
Incredulousness flashed across Garrett’s face. “Like a guy who’d climbed in from the ocean. What else?”
She shrugged. “I don’t know. Any idea what he is besides vampire?”
“My guess is some sort of shifter. A graceful, dangerous type.” Garrett turned for the doorway.
“You can’t tell about the blood,” Janie said softly.
“I have to.” Garrett kept his broad back to her. When had he gotten so big?
“Why?” she whispered. “Knowing will only keep Dad up at night, and there’s nothing he can do about it.”
Garrett glanced over his shoulder, suddenly looking years older. “Fine. But you tell me every time you meet with either one of them, and what happens.”
She nodded, jumping down from the bar. “It’s a deal.”
Brenna waved at her sister as she hustled into the main room of the lodge. “Garrett!” She scrambled around the sofa to grab the kid and hug him. “Thank God.”
He returned the hug with one hand, awkwardly patting her back. His other hand held a sandwich. “I’m fine, Aunt Brenna.”
“Good.” For the first time in days, she could finally breathe. She leaned back to study him. He’d been home for almost twenty-four hours and had been checked out head to toe by the doctors. His eyes were clear, and his body relaxed. He really was fine. She hugged him again.
Then she released him and wiped away a quick tear. Cara stood to her right, so she grabbed her in a hug.
Cara hugged back. “He’s really okay.”
“I know.” Brenna studied her friend. “Though you look fried.”
“It’s been a tough one.” Cara smiled over at her mate. “Talen can finally relax.”
Brenna grinned and spotted Jase over in the corner. A purple bruise lined his jaw, and dark circles cut under his eyes. She maneuvered around family to reach him. “Are you all right?”
“Yes.” He ran a hand down her arm, a small smile playing on his face as he watched Garrett. “Twenty-four hours of hypnotism with Kane is like getting hit with bricks for three days.”
“You let Kane hypnotize you for that length of time?”
“Yeah. That was the only way to reach the trigger implanted by the demons—they thought I’d kill family on command.” Jase lost the smile.
“You wouldn’t.” She slipped her fingers through his, even though she knew she shouldn’t. “Did Kane find the trigger?”
“We think so. It’s a simple matter of deprograming, and since he understood the Latin commands, he thinks he got them. Of course, he wants to double-check several times over the next week.” Jase shrugged and glanced down. “I’ve missed you. How are things?”
“Good.” She cleared her throat. “I, ah, actually need to talk to you.”
“Okay.” Giving a nod to his brother, Jase led her outside and into the darkening night. They walked along the ocean cliffs toward his house.
Deep shadows played across the sea, and Brenna took a moment to appreciate the tones. She hadn’t painted in much too long. “I’m going home tomorrow morning.”
He stopped. “No, you aren’t.”
“Yes.” She lifted her head and wandered her fingertips along his bruise.
He closed his eyes and held still, as if the gentle touch could somehow heal him. “We already discussed this.”
“No. I tried to discuss, and you just ordered.”
“I need you to stay.” He opened his eyes and slid his hand under her chin. Lowering his head, he brushed her mouth with his.
His lips were firm and so warm. Her heart breaking, she opened her mouth. He swept in, gentle and demanding. Need spiraled inside her, encompassing every nerve ending. She sighed deep in her throat.
He released her to place soft kisses along her jaw to nip her ear lobe. “We can work this out, Bren.”
“I need to be with the Coven Nine during the solstice tomorrow night.” She tilted her head back to allow for better access.
“You don’t need to harness the power because you’re going to block it,” he murmured, tracing the shell of her ear.
Desire slammed through her to pound in her sex. As a witch, she could block any power from entering her body by creating imaginary but absolute shields. Shielding was the easy part. Allowing fire inside and then controlling it? That was the hard part. “I want to harness the power.” Who wouldn’t?
He leaned back. “That’s too dangerous and you know it.”
She shrugged. “I want to take the risk.”
He slid his hands down to grip her ass and tug her against him. His cock pulsed through his jeans, and her thighs softened. “Then Moira, Conn, and I will help you to harness it.”
The fact that he hadn’t just ordered her to shield herself warmed her heart. “You think I should give it a try?”
“I would. We can try training later. But it’ll be difficult to duplicate the kind of power that’s likely to come from the comet.” He grinned, and the charming Jase she used to know finally showed up.
She returned the smile. “I used to have such a crush on you.”
He licked his lips. “Really, now?”
“Yes.” Her cheeks heated.
“What did you fantasize about?” Teasing, the man was downright dangerous.
She laughed. “You name it.”
“I will.” He swept her up and strode along the cliffs toward his home. “Have you noticed we haven’t properly christened the bed?”
She snuggled closer into his chest, her hand over his heart. Was it possible their mating could actually work out? “I have noticed that. But, well, we’ve slept in the bed.”
“Ah, baby. Our bed won’t be properly christened until you scream my name in it at least three times.” He leaned down and captured her mouth, his tongue sweeping inside.
She broke away. “Three times? Not sure you have that in you, vampire.”
He laughed, the sound freer than it had sounded since they’d mated. “That sounds like a challenge.”
“ ’Twas definitely a challenge.” She leaned up and bit his earlobe—not so gently.
He growled and made short work of the hallway to the bedroom. “You owe me a new living room.”
She shrugged. “For better or for worse—” Then she stopped. Blast it. They weren’t married. They were just mated. Of course, for vampires mating meant more than marriage. So much for silly dreams of walking down an aisle. She swallowed. “Get your own living room back into shape.”
“Our living room.” He set her on her feet, both hands threading through her hair. “You taste like hope and sunshine.” His mouth took hers again.
She pressed her palms against his hard abs, marveling at his strength. When he kissed her, she couldn’t think. Hell, she didn’t want to think. But sometimes reality needed to exist. She pushed away. “Jase, I’m not sure—”
He frowned and challenge lightened his eyes. “Not sure about what?”
“This.” Her knees were flush against the bed. How could she explain that he’d break her heart if she let him?
“I know.” Even though her brain was telling her to run, her body moved closer into his heat.
“You don’t want me?” His eyebrow rose.
“Of course I want you.” She rolled her eyes. The man could probably scent her arousal. “But, well, I want more.” There. She’d said it.
“So do I,” he said softly, gripping her chin with his thumb and forefinger.
Her heart slammed against her ribs. Her childhood crush was actually coming true. “You do?”
“Sure.” He kissed her again. “Give me a chance. I could make you happy.”
“I want love.” Sometimes a girl just had to spell things out for a vampire.
He nodded. “I know. So do I. All I can promise is that I’m open to anything and everything we could make. I have strong feelings for you, Brenna, trust me.”
She did trust him. Could strong feelings become love? They’d only been mated less than a week. But she loved him—regardless of the time line. “I need to think.”
“Hell no. No thinking.” He dove in again, all passion, all determined male. Somehow her shirt hit the floor. “Let me show you.” His talented mouth wandered down her neck to lick her collarbone. “Your skin is like marble. So smooth, but the right friction warms it right up.”
One of her fantasies had been Jase seducing her. As if he knew, his thumbs brushed across her nipples through the bra. Electricity zipped to her sex. She bit back a whimper. “So responsive.” He unsnapped the bra and slid the straps off her arms. “With the prettiest pink nipples.”
Dipping his mouth, his abrasive tongue scraped across one nipple.
She gasped, clutching his head. “Jase—”
“The way you say my name—it’s so sexy.” He slipped his hand inside her jeans to run along her hip. Her skin bunched, and her abdominal muscles contracted.
He released her and stepped back.
Cold air made her clench.
The heat in his eyes made her shiver.
“Take off your jeans, Brenna.”
Her hands trembled on the top snap. “I thought you were seducing me.”
“Seduction is about control.” His chin lifted. “Now lose the jeans.”
She unbuttoned the pants and shoved them down her legs. “Take off yours.”
“No. You take them off.”
Intrigue leapt through her on the heels of lust. Seduction was about control? He was turning it over to her. The thought blasted her. Feeling powerful, feeling feminine, she unsnapped his jeans.
His jaw twitched.
Aye. His cock pressed hard against his zipper, straining the teeth. She smiled and slowly released him.
He blew breath through his tight lips.
Sliding gracefully to her knees, she tugged his jeans and briefs to his ankles. He groaned low in his chest as his cock sprang free. A deep purple bruise marred his right thigh.
She leaned in and kissed the wound.
His thigh muscle clenched beneath her mouth. She smiled and licked her way up. His hand dropped to her head.
She shook it off. “Don’t bug me.”
“Yes, ma’am,” he said, widening his stance.
Just how long could he maintain control? She gripped the base of his cock, once again marveling that they fit together somehow. The vampire gods had been very generous with the youngest Kayrs brother.
Taking her time, she licked from the base to the tip.
His hand dropped to her head again. “Brenna—” A warning. Without question, a warning.
Feminine power flushed through her. Humming softly, she took the tip in her mouth. Her jaw protested, so she breathed deep and tried to relax. He was so damn big.
The fingers in her hair clenched, sending erotic tingles down her spine.
She took him deeper, gripping him tighter.
He made a sound between a growl and a moan. Sexy and male.
So she did it again.
The room tilted as he drew back and yanked her up. His mouth found hers the same time he tossed her on the bed. Stretching out on top of her, he held her face still, kissing her hard.
She kissed him back, wrapping her legs around his hips.
He broke away. “No.” Reaching back, he unhooked her legs. One hand slid beneath her, and he flipped her over onto her stomach.