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Taken by Midnight (Chapter Twenty-four)

Jenna woke up in Brock's big bed, wrapped within his strong arms.

They'd made love for endless hours: under the water of the shower; against the bedroom wall; on the sofa in the living room … she'd lost track of all the places, and all the creative ways they'd found to pleasure each other's bodies.

Now she dragged her eyelids open in a state of blissful contentment as she snuggled further into his embrace, her cheek pressed to his chest, one leg bent and slung over the tops of his thighs. Her shifting stirred a low groan out of him, the deep rumble vibrating through her.

"I didn't mean to wake you," she whispered.

Another groan, something dark and wicked. "I wasn't sleeping."

His biceps flexed as he pulled her closer, then he covered her hand with his and guided her touch down to the part of him that was, without question, very much alert. Jenna's laugh rasped sleepily in her throat. "You know, for an old man, you have amazing stamina."

He gave a faint thrust as she palmed him, his thick shaft growing more rigid, impossibly larger, in her grasp. "You got something against centenarians?"

"A hundred years?" she asked, coming up onto her elbow to look at him. There was so much she didn't know about him. So many things she wanted to learn. "Are you really that old?"

"Somewhere around there. Older, probably, but I stopped counting the years a long time ago." He smiled, just a slight curving of his sensual lips, as he reached out and smoothed some of her hair behind her ear. "Afraid I won't be able to keep up with you?"

She lifted a brow. "Not after last night."

As he chuckled, she leaned down and kissed him. She rose up and straddled him, sighing with pleasure for the way they fit so perfectly together. As she moved lazily atop him, simply relishing the sensation of him filling her once again, she noted the tiny, but healing, bite marks she'd left on his neck during their last bout of lovemaking.

She hadn't been able to resist nipping at him, particularly after he'd drunk from her in the shower. Just the thought of it made her wild with arousal. It made her want to devour him, even now. Instead she bent over him and licked her tongue along the throbbing pulse point at the base of his throat. "Mmm," she moaned against his skin. "You are incredible."

"And you're insatiable," he replied, though it didn't exactly sound like criticism.

"Well, then, consider yourself warned. I seem to have energy to burn, especially where you're involved." She intended it as a joke, but as she said it, she realized just now how much truth there was in that statement. She drew back and stared down at him, astonished by everything she was feeling. "I can't recall how long it's been since I've felt this good. I've never felt more, I don't know … more alive, I guess."

His dark brown eyes held her tenderly. "You seem better every day."

"I am." She swallowed, reflecting on all of the changes that had come over her since she'd arrived in the Order's care. She'd never felt more attuned to the world around her, nor more curious and engaged about life. Physically she was still healing, still waiting to see how the ordeal she'd been through in Alaska might impact her moving forward. But inside she felt buoyant and strong.

For the first time in a very long time, inside she felt at peace, hopeful.

She felt like it might be possible to fall in love again.

Perhaps she already had.

The realization took her breath away. She stared down at Brock, wondering how she'd let it happen. How could she have opened her heart to him so quickly, so thoroughly? So recklessly …

She loved him, and the idea terrified her.

"Hey," he said, reaching up to her. "Are you all right?"

"I'm fine," she whispered. "I've never been better."

His deepening frown seemed to say he didn't quite believe her.

"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."

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