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Midnight Awakening (Chapter Twenty-seven)

Elise drew out of the very unexpected kiss, her fingers pressed to her lips. It had been a pleasant, if brief, contact but she felt absolutely nothing for the handsome man who was now looking at her in awkward, yet understanding, silence.

I'm sorry, Andreas. I shouldn't have let you do that.

When she glanced down, embarrassed, he gently lifted her chin so that she was looking at him again. The fault is mine. I should have asked you first. No, he said, correcting himself. I should have recognized that your heart is already spoken for. I did, actually, but I suppose I wanted to be certain that I stood no chance. I don't…stand any chance, do I, Elise?

She smiled up at him apologetically and slowly shook her head.

Ah. I feared not. The lucky bastard. Reichen exhaled, stripping the thin leather thong from his queued hair and raking his hand into the loose, dark waves. I think I've finally run out of charity when it comes to that warrior. After this forfeit to him, Tegan will have no choice but to accept that my debt to him is paid in full.

Elise warmed to his praise, even though she wasn't sure it was valid. Tegan had made no claims on her, despite her feelings for him. In fact he seemed intent on keeping her at arm's length. He would probably be relieved if she were to suddenly develop an affection for another male.

But that wasn't going to happen. Reichen was right; her heart was no longer hers to give. Tegan had it, whether he wanted it or not.

She looked up into Reichen's striking dark eyes. You're a good man, Andreas. A very kind man.

He gasped dramatically. Stop, I beg you! You have thrashed my pride enough for one night. I'm a devil and a cad, and don't you forget it.

Elise laughed, and went up on her toes to kiss his cheek. Thank you for dinner. Thank you for everything, Andreas.

He nodded, then strode ahead to open the mansion door for her.

Good night, beauty, he said, then waited in the foyer as she made the climb upstairs to her guest room.

Tegan heard her light footsteps pause outside her room door. He waited silently, stealthily, as the crystal knob turned and the panel swung inward. Elise took only a step inside, then she paused, listening. Her blood link to him instantly gave him away; she could feel his presence. He knew it by the softly indrawn breath she took, her eyes searching the dark room.

Tegan?

She flipped the light switch. Walked farther into the room. He stayed still, watching her rub a chill from her arms as she crossed the thick rug and went to the open French doors. She looked out onto the balcony, her movements cautious, uncertain.

Tegan…are you out here?

The sweet scent of her drifted up to him as a chill night breeze swept in from outside. Reichen's scent was on her too–a dark, musky undertone that set Tegan's teeth on edge. Jealousy spiked in him, raw and feral.

Instinctively male.

As she drew back to close the doors, Tegan came down from the corner of the room where he'd been suspended spiderlike. He dropped soundlessly behind her, his body blocking her as she pivoted around and gasped.

Startled, her eyes went wide. Tegan! Where were y–

He pulled her to him in a hard, unyielding embrace and slanted his mouth over hers. His kiss was forceful, deliberate. An animal male putting his stamp on what he meant to be his, and his alone.

Elise didn't fight him. He felt her hands come up around his neck, her fingers linking together at his nape and holding him close. She kissed him back, sighing into his mouth as he pushed her lips apart and plunged his tongue between them, needing to taste her.

Needing to claim her.

Christ, she inflamed him. Every cell in his body was lit with heat, with hunger for her. He couldn't be gentle, not when everything primal in him was fully awake, fully aroused. All that was Breed in him responded as well, lust thinning his pupils and stretching his fangs. He ground his pelvis against the tender curves of Elise's body, letting her feel the hard ridge of his cock. She moaned as they pressed together, her heartbeat banging like a little drum in his ears.

Oh, God, Tegan, she said, her voice a breathless rush of warm air when he finally withdrew from the lush sweetness of her mouth. I'm so glad you're here. I was worried about you tonight. He grunted, low in his throat. Yeah, I noticed. I saw how concerned you were, down there in Reichen's arms.

You saw us…

He smirked, baring his fangs. I can still taste him on your lips.

Then you must also taste the fact that he isn't the one I want, she said, not flinching at all as he let his mouth travel along her soft cheek, down to the tender skin below her ear. It's you, Tegan. I want to be with you. In case you hadn't noticed, I've fallen in love with you.

He snarled, pulling back to hold her in a narrowed glare. They were the words he wanted to hear–the words he'd been prepared to force out of her after seeing her caught up in another man's arms. Still, it leveled him. His mouth went suddenly dry.

She was so beautiful, so courageously open.

All his aggression leaked out of him as he gazed into the deep amethyst pools of her eyes. He ran his fingers along the delicate line of her jaw, hardly able to draw breath as she tilted her head to the side for him, exposing the vulnerable column of her throat. He couldn't resist touching the place where her pulse beat the strongest. The ticking flutter beneath his fingertips was like a brand searing into his skin. He let his thumb trace over the soft skin, then gently bent to place his mouth atop the tender, beating artery that carried Elise's lifeblood.

Saliva surged into his mouth, swamping him with the need to taste her now and seal their bond completely.

But Tegan only kissed her.

With reverent hands, he lifted the hem of her sweater and carefully peeled it off her. Tenderly, he caressed her soft skin. She sighed as he stroked her breasts, the nipples peaking like dusky rosebuds beneath the thin satin of her bra. He unfastened the front clasp and bared her to his appreciative gaze.

So beautiful, he said thickly, letting his fingers skate along the soft underside of the creamy swells.

He knelt down before her and took one dark pink nipple into his mouth. His fangs were huge now, and it took great care not to graze the sharp edge of them against her tender skin as he suckled the pebbled flesh with his tongue. But he was careful. He held her as though she were made of glass, every inch of her precious and breakable. A treasure he was unworthy of, yet determined to cherish.

Elise's arms came down around his shoulders. She held fast, arching into him as he lavished the same attention on the other breast. He let his mouth travel down her belly while his hands worked to free her of her slacks and panties. The skin of her hips was like velvet against his palm. He kissed the lean curve of her pelvis, then trailed lower, into the trim thatch of blond curls between her thighs.

He spread her legs and put his mouth to her sex, cleaving his tongue into the wet heat of her core. She quivered as he feasted on her, her body feeling limp and boneless in his arms as he picked her up and carried her to the bed. She lay back and watched him under heavy lids as he undressed for her, the hunger in her gaze like a physical heat on his skin.

Naked and painfully aroused, Tegan stood at the edge of the mattress and let her take her fill of him with her eyes. He held his breath as she sat up then came toward him on her hands and knees. Her hands were curious and questing, soft but firm, as she took his engorged shaft and stroked it from tip to balls and back again. She licked her lips, eyes flicking up to his in question.

His low exhalation must have been permission enough. Tegan watched her descend on him, those moist lips parting as she took the head of his cock into her mouth. He moaned, reaching down to bury his fingers in her short blond hair as she sucked him deep, torturing him with the slow, steady slide of her tongue against his sensitive flesh.

She increased her rhythm and he spun quickly toward the edge of his control. With a pleasured snarl, he pulled away from her devastatingly sweet mouth and pushed her down onto the mattress. He climbed over her and kissed her deeply, feeling the ferocity of her desire in every place their bodies touched.

Do you want me inside you, Elise?

Yes, she gasped, arching up to meet his body. I need you inside me, Tegan. Now.

He was only too willing to oblige. Thrusting in one long stroke, he filled her tight channel, swallowing her soft cry. Her body milked him, the walls of her sex gripping him like a moist, hot fist. Tegan pumped his hips, watching emotion play over Elise's beautiful face.

You feel so good, he told her, wanting only to please her.

His woman.

His mate.

His love.

He could feel her orgasm building along with his own. She was panting now, writhing to meet every hard flex of his hips and moaning in protest with every slight withdrawal. She turned her head to the side, where his arm was bracing him up. With a deliciously animal sound, she nipped at his wrist, closing her pretty white teeth down onto his skin. The pinch of her blunt little bite was an erotic pain that went through him like an arrow.

Yeah? he said, looking down into her hungry gaze. You want to drink from me as I make you come?

She nodded weakly and gave him another small bite in reply.

You got it, sweetheart. But not the wrist this time. Holding her against him, he rolled onto his back and brought her up astride him. I want to feel you at my neck, Elise. I want to hold you while you drink from me. I want to feel you bite into me.

Touching her, he felt her uncertainty. I've never done it that way before.

Good, he said, entirely too pleased to hear it. I've never asked anyone to do it that way before. So, will you, Elise?

She frowned, but her eyes were rooted on his throat. I don't want to hurt you…

He chuckled, adoring her all the more for her concern. Come here, he said, wrapping his hand around her nape and guiding her down to the exposed column of his neck. Sink your teeth into me, Elise. Take your fill.

She bent over him, their bodies still intimately joined, eyes locked together. Her breath skated hotly across his cheek as she descended. Warm lips pressed below his ear and parted. He felt her wet tongue, then the hard line of her teeth as she positioned her mouth over his vein.

The instant she bit down, Tegan nearly exploded inside her. She broke his skin in a sharp, delicious flare of pain that sent his hips bucking up off the mattress. He gripped her ass and drove into her as she suckled from the wound she'd made. She began to ride him, plunging hard, then rising up slowly on the length of his shaft. The wet sounds of her drinking so close to his ear was erotic in the extreme, her pleasured moans and wet lapping the sexiest thing he'd ever heard.

When she threw her head back and screamed with her breaking orgasm, Tegan lost all hope of control. He sat up with her, hooking her legs around him as he continued to rock into her. She clung to him as her body shuddered around his sex, wave after wave of release rippling against him. Tegan ran his palm over her glistening skin, bending down to taste the enticing curve of flesh where her neck and shoulder met.

He should have known better.

Ah, hell. Maybe he did know better and had to do it anyway.

The drum of her heartbeat pulsated against his mouth. Tegan followed it, moving up Elise's throat until his mouth hovered at the tender patch of skin beneath her ear. She whimpered as he hesitated there, his tongue licking along the line of her artery.

His fangs throbbed in time with her pulse, every Breed instinct in him rising to the temptation that lay just a breath away from completion.

Elise's hands came up around his head. Tegan…Oh, God…do it.

He nipped at her, just a small test of her mettle. In answer, she impaled herself deeper on his cock, grinding against him as another orgasm shuddered through her.

It was too much for him to bear.

Tegan held her head to the side in one hand and lowered his mouth to her neck. His fangs sank in easily, sharp points penetrating her tender skin like a warm knife through butter. She cried out as he took the first long pull from her vein. Her body arched catlike in his arms, then eased into a languid calm as he began to drink.

And oh, God, she was sweet. His mouth filled with a sudden rush of her blood, the heather- and-roses scent of it saturating his senses. He was greedy for it, could not recall ever knowing anything as exquisite as the taste of Elise on his tongue, the vibrant essence of her blood coursing into his body, lighting him from within.

With each quenching, binding swallow from her vein, Tegan's hunger for her rose. The lust he'd known for Elise before was just a pale hint of the desire he knew now.

Possession rolled over him like a storm. He roared with need for this woman–his woman now, irreversibly.

Irrevocably.

He pushed her down beneath him and let the awakened beast in him have its head.

Elise could only hold on to Tegan as he covered her with his body and drove her toward another shattering orgasm. She reveled in the feel of his long fangs penetrating deeply into her neck, in the hard suction of his mouth as he drew her blood down his throat and completed their bond.

There was nothing gentle about him now. His unbreakable self-control had snapped, and she had never known anything quite so arousing as Tegan gripped in the wildness that had overcome him the moment he took his first taste of her blood.

He spun her out on an endless wave of pleasure, making love to her until they were both sated and panting, lying boneless in each other's arms. When it was over, he ran his tongue over the punctures he'd given her, sealing the wound with a tender lover's kiss. Are you all right? he asked her, smoothing his fingers through her hair.

Mm-hmm. Elise nodded, groggy but enlivened at the same time. I'm very all right.

She'd never been better, in fact. Although it hadn't escaped her notice that when she told Tegan she loved him, he hadn't returned the sentiment. A little late to be worrying about that, perhaps, but now that the worst of her hungers had been dealt with, reality was edging in again to spoil things.

I haven't said those words in a very long time, Elise. I didn't think I ever would again.

Don't do that. She sat up and drew out of his reach, embarrassed that he'd invaded her emotions with his touch. And don't feel that you have to say anything kind because of what just happened here.

I don't feel that I have to say anything.

Good. Please don't. I don't think I could stand your charity right now.

He reached out and took her hand in his. If I tell you that it pissed me off to see you kissing Reichen, and that I never want to see you kissing any other male ever again, it's not because I feel I have to tell you that.

Elise stared at him, hardly daring to breathe. His amber-tinged eyes were intense as he held her gaze, his pupils still thinned from desire. When he spoke, his voice was rough, the tips of his fangs gleaming.

I don't feel I have to be kind because of what we just did here, so that's not why I'm telling you that you are unlike any woman I've ever met before. I wasn't prepared for you, Elise. Holy hell…not even close.

She glanced down to where their hands were linked together, his strong fingers firm and protective, always so gentle with her even though they were trained for war and combat.

It wouldn't be charitable of me at all to tell you that I hope you never want another male as much as you want me. He exhaled a wry laugh. Do I love you? Yeah, God help you, but I do.

Tegan, she whispered, bringing her hand up to rest against his cheek. The bite she'd given him was already healing over, his skin knitting together. She touched the red mark tenderly, then looked up into his eyes. Kiss me again.

His mouth quirked at the corner as he pulled her into his arms. They had barely gotten started before a low buzzing sound drew Tegan's head up with a groan.

What is it? she asked as he vaulted out of the bed and grabbed his cell phone from his discarded pants.

It's our ride back to Boston. I've arranged a flight out tonight.

He answered the call, his tone clipped and serious–back to warrior mode in an instant. Yeah. Right. Tegel Airport. Corporate terminal. Departure in one hour.

Elise slid off the mattress and padded over to where Tegan stood, naked and gorgeous. She wrapped her arms around him, pressing the front of her body against the hard muscles of his backside. She nipped his shoulder blade, smiling as goose bumps rose along the beautiful dermaglyphs on his arms. She heard his low growl of interest and couldn't help but smile as he cast a heated look at her.

You'd better make it two hours from now, he instructed the person on the other end of the line. Something's just come up.

Elise glanced down as he turned to face her. Something had indeed come up–quite impressively, in fact. She backed away, her lip caught in her teeth as Tegan disconnected the call, his hooded eyes rooted on her.

He tossed the phone aside.

Then he pounced.

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