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Midnight Awakening (Chapter Fifteen)

Elise dozed most of the nine hours in flight to Berlin. Tegan, however, remained awake. He'd never particularly enjoyed the modern modes of transportation, and while he could appreciate the efficiency of jet travel, propelling himself more than thirty thousand feet above ground at five hundred miles an hour while trapped inside several tons of metal ranked about dead last on his list of favorite things to do.

He was relieved to feel the private jet begin its gradual descent once they reached Berlin's Tegel Airport. A few minutes later, the sleek aircraft's wheels touched down on terra firma.

We're here, he told Elise when the soft bump of the landing roused her awake.

She stretched demurely, hiding a yawn behind her hand. Was I asleep all this time?

Tegan shrugged. You needed the rest. Your body is still adjusting to the blood you consumed. It can take a day or two to level out.

She blushed a shade much deeper than the pink color that had come back into her cheeks from her feeding the night before. Turning her face as if to hide her reaction from him, she lifted the shade on the small oval window beside her and looked out over the predawn cityscape below. It's beautiful, she said, her voice pleasingly rough from sleep. I've never been to Berlin. Have you?

Once. It was a long time ago.

She shot him a half-smile of acknowledgment from across the minimalist elegance of the fuselage, then glanced away again. They hadn't spoken of what happened between them, and Tegan had zero interest in cracking open the topic himself. Bad enough he'd been unable to get the sight of her–the incredibly silken feel of her–out of his head in the time he'd been gone from the compound. He'd been hoping like hell she'd back out of the Berlin trip, and he'd even considered a change of plans that would leave her behind.

He didn't want to think about why he'd been compelled to go looking for her, and then intervene when he found Chase and her together in the corridor. The jolt of protectiveness he'd felt seeing the other male's hands on her had come up on him fast. He'd like to blame it on the power of the blood bond, but the problem there was that the connection was only half-complete. He hadn't taken any of Elise's blood, so he shouldn't be feeling possessive of her at all.

For several long centuries, he'd been perfecting his general state of apathy like armor that had long since meshed into his own skin, so unless he willed it, he shouldn't feel a goddamn thing.

But he did.

Just looking at Elise triggered off a storm of unwanted feelings, not the least of which being a lust that tightened every inch of his skin and made his cock stir to aching life. He could hardly reconcile his want of the woman. Seeing her come undone while she suckled at his wrist had only amplified the desire that was already there. Now he craved her with a need that was bound to prove disastrous.

Because if he ever had her naked beneath him, there would be no stopping him from taking her tender Breedmate vein at the same time.

She caught him staring as she suddenly turned away from the window. A long black Rolls-Royce just pulled up next to us on the tarmac.

That'll be Reichen.

Who?

Andreas Reichen. Tegan stood up as the aircraft eased to a stop. He oversees the largest of the area Darkhavens here. We'll be staying with him at his estate outside the city.

The door to the plane's cockpit opened and the two uniformed pilots came out to give Tegan a nod of greeting as they prepared to disembark. They were both human, both topclass, and available 24/7 by private retainment of the Order. So far as the pilots knew, they worked for a very private, very wealthy corporation that demanded anonymity and absolute loyalty in exchange for a healthy paycheck.

For most humans, that was enough. For the few who proved less than trustworthy, they were rewarded with a thorough mind scrub and a swift kick to the curb.

Enjoy your stay in Berlin, Mr. Smith, said the captain as he opened the door of the jet onto the waiting flight of stairs that had been placed beside the aircraft. He gave Elise a courteous smile as she stepped past him to exit the plane. Miss Smith, he said politely. A pleasure to serve you. Have a pleasant day.

On the tarmac below, a suited driver got out of the black Rolls limousine and opened the door for his passenger in the back of the vehicle. Andreas Reichen climbed out as Tegan and Elise came off the last stair and walked toward the car.

He looked more the wealthy executive than the libertine Tegan knew him to be, his gray shirt and black trousers sporting barely a wrinkle beneath the fall of his tailored overcoat. Only his dark hair gave his hedonist side away: he wore it long and loose, the thick chestnut waves lifting in the wintry breeze that came in off the pavement.

Welcome, friends, he said, his accented baritone voice just as rich and cultured as Tegan remembered it. The vampire hadn't changed much at all in the many decades since Tegan had last seen him–not only in his movie star looks, which were an unapologetic source of pride for him, but also in his blatant appreciation for feminine beauty.

Andreas Reichen, he purred, offering Elise his hand.

I am Elise Chase, she replied. It's nice to meet you.

When she reached out to accept his greeting, Reichen smoothly captured her fingers and brought them to his lips for a chaste kiss, bowing his dark head over her hand. Enchanted. And I am honored to welcome you to my domain.

Elise gave him a shy smile. Thank you, Herr Reichen.

The German frowned as if wounded by her formality. You must call me Andreas, please.

Very well. If you will call me Elise.

With honor, Elise. It took him a moment before he finally broke away to acknowledge Tegan. Very good to see you again, my friend, and so much the better that it is under more pleasant circumstances than before.

That remains to be seen, Tegan said, not particularly caring that his grim attitude might put a damper on the pleasantries. Is everything still a go for the containment facility visit?

Yes, all is in order. Reichen indicated the idling vehicle. Shall we be on our way? Klaus will see to your bags.

This is it, Tegan said, holding up a black leather duffel that contained his combat gear and a few extra weapons. We won't be here more than a couple of days. It can't take that long to get what we need out of the Odolf Rogue.

Reichen's chiseled cheeks showed twin dimples with his answering smile. I'm not surprised that you are all business, Tegan, but what about the lady?

Elise shook her head. This trip came up so abruptly, I didn't have much chance to prepare–

No matter, Reichen said. I will take care of it. I have accounts at several designer houses on the Ku'damm. I'll call from the car and have them bring some selections to the estate today for both of you.

He flipped out his cell phone and began talking even before they were all seated in the limousine. Tegan understood a bit of German from the Old Times, when all of the Breed existed primarily in Europe–enough to know that Reichen was ordering up pricey gowns and shoes in a range of what he guessed to be Elise's petite sizes.

When he dialed another store and requested a men's tailor to come out for a custom fitting within the hour, Tegan shot him a threatening look. What the hell's going on, Reichen?

A reception, of course. I'll be hosting it at the estate this evening. It's not often the Berlin Darkhavens get to receive such esteemed company. There are people within the Enforcement Agency in particular who insisted they be allowed to greet you properly. I'll bet. Tegan scoffed. I have no interest in being paraded around like a tuxedoed monkey in front of a bunch of Darkhaven bureaucrats. So, no offense to you, Reichen, but the rest of your stuffed-shirt pals can kiss my–

The German pointedly cleared his throat as if to remind Tegan that a lady was present and to mind his tongue. Frigging Darkhaven sophisticate and his flawless manners. A rusty old part of Tegan acknowledged that Elise probably didn't need to hear him go off on the society that had raised her. It wasn't that long ago that she was very much a part of that world–still would be, if not for the deaths of her mate and her only son.

Reichen smiled, arching a dark brow as Tegan bit back the rest of his ripe thoughts.

But there was some spark of satisfaction gleaming in Reichen's dark eyes that had little to do with his silver spoon upbringing. It was humor, wry amusement.

Actually, Tegan, the reception has been arranged in honor of your lovely companion. Perhaps you were not aware that Quentin Chase was one of the most respected figures in the Enforcement Agency, in the States and abroad. Reichen gallantly inclined his head in Elise's direction. It is a great honor for us to receive the late Director Chase's widow for however long she chooses to stay with us.

Tegan scowled in the dimly lit vehicle, stealing a glance at Elise. She seemed less surprised than resigned at the announcement, like she was used to the sort of attention Reichen described. Like she lived that kind of rarefied society fuss all the time.

Shit.

She hadn't been kidding when she said she could bring the entire Enforcement Agency down on the Order with a single phone call. He knew her mate had been well connected, but he'd had no idea how high up the Darkhaven food chain Elise was herself.

Your hospitality overwhelms me, Herr Reichen…Andreas, she corrected demurely. Thank you for welcoming us so graciously.

Tegan stared hard at her now, seeing how easily she fell into the role of diplomat with Reichen. She hadn't been so gratingly proper with him last night at the compound. No, with him she'd been wanton and demanding, perfectly willing to use him to get what she needed.

And why the hell not?

He knew how the Darkhavens viewed the Order. With the exception of a few current generation males who'd been impressed by the warriors' destruction of the Boston-area Rogue lair the summer before, most of vampire society regarded the Order on a par with feral pit bulls. Those within the Enforcement Agency, the group whose policies of capture and rehabilitation operated in direct opposition to the Order's bag- and-tag methods of dealing with deadly Rogues, were the most vocal in their contempt.

Little wonder that Elise, as the Breedmate of one of their highest ranking officials, would think of Tegan as nothing more than a means to an end.

That he'd let her drink from him burned Tegan like a lick of midday sunlight on his skin. The fact that he craved the woman–even a little bit–made him want to leap out of the moving car and run until he hit the dawn.

Yeah, it was a damn good thing he was seeing her clearly now. Before he allowed himself to do anything even more stupid with the female.

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