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Veil of Midnight (Chapter Twenty-one)

Nikolai braced himself on the edge of the bed, knotting his free hand in the sheet and holding onto it like a tether line as Renata continued to feed. She drank from him like she did everything else: with fearless strength and ferocious conviction. No hedging anxiety in her jade-green eyes, no uncertainty in her firm grasp on his arm. And each pull of her mouth on his open vein, every sure, coaxing sweep of her tongue across his skin, ratcheted him tighter than anything he'd ever felt before.

In all things she set her mind to, Renata was a force to be reckoned with. She was unlike any female Niko had ever known – in many ways, as much a warrior as any of the Breed males who'd served alongside him in the Order. She had a warrior's heart and a warrior's honor, and an unshakable resolve that demanded his total respect. Renata had saved his life, and for that he owed her. But holy hell…what was happening between them here had nothing to do with duty or obligation.

He was starting to care for her – more than he was comfortable admitting, even to himself.

He wanted her too. Christ, did he ever. His need was made all the worse for the erotic suction of her mouth as it worked on his vein, her lithe body undulating in heated reaction to his otherworldly blood feeding her uninitiated cells.

Renata moaned, a throaty purr of arousal as she moved closer to him on the mattress, each grinding movement of her body loosening the towel that covered her. She didn't seem to notice, or care at all that Nikolai's amber gaze was traveling the entire nearly naked length of her. Her shoulder wound was looking better already. The swelling and redness was receding, and the too- sallow color of the rest of her skin was looking more healthy by the minute. Renata was getting stronger, more vibrant and demanding, one fever being replaced by another.

He probably should have told her that aside from its nourishment and healing properties, Breed blood was also a potent aphrodisiac. He figured he could handle whatever might happen, but damn…nothing would have prepared him for Renata's molten response.

Crawling up against him now, still suckling at him, she reached over with one hand and freed his clenched fist from the tangled sheet. She guided his fingers under the folds of the bath towel to her breasts. He couldn't resist running the pad of his thumb over the tight nipple of one, then the other. Her breath sped up as he caressed her warm, tender skin, the hard flutter of her heart beating against his hand as she impatiently guided him lower…over the soft plane of her abdomen to the silky juncture of her thighs.

She was drenched and hot, the cleft of her sex like warm, wet satin as he slid one finger along her core. She clenched her thighs around him, holding him there as if he had any thought at all to leave. She took another draw from his wrist, the pull so thorough he felt it all the way to his balls. Squeezing his eyes shut, he dropped his head back and hissed a slow, wordless groan, the tendons in his neck going as taut as cables. His cock was rock-solid and standing at full attention between his legs. Another minute of this torment and he was going to lose it right there in his borrowed pair of warm-ups.

"Ah, fuck," he snarled, pulling his hand away from the sweet temptation of her aroused body. He slowly lowered his chin to look at her. When his eyelids lifted, the heat from his transformed irises bathed Renata in an ember-bright glow. She was gloriously naked, sitting there in front of him like a dark goddess, her lips fastened to his wrist, her pale eyes dusky as she stared up at him, unabashed.

"No more," he muttered, his voice rough, the words thickened by the presence of his fangs. He was gasping for breath, every nerve ending electrified. "We have to stop…Jesus Christ…we'd better stop now."

She moaned in protest but, very gently, Nikolai withdrew his wrist from Renata 's feeding grasp and brought the twin punctures to his lips. A sweep of his tongue over the wounds sealed them closed.

With hooded, hungry eyes, she watched him lick the place where her mouth had been, her own tongue darting out to wet her lips. "What's happening to me?" she asked, running her hands across her breasts, her spine stretching and arching with feline grace. "What did you…do to me? My God…I'm burning up."

"It's the blood bond," he said, hardly able to form a complete sentence for the way his senses were throbbing with awareness – and need – of this woman. "I should have warned you…I'm sorry."

He started to move away but she grabbed his hand and held it. Gave a nearly imperceptible shake of her head. Her chest rose and fell with each pump of her lungs, and the heavy-lidded gaze she fixed on him looked anything but offended. Knowing that he shouldn't take advantage of the situation, Nikolai reached up and stroked the pink blush that filled her cheek.

Renata moaned as his touch lingered, turning her face into his palm. "Is it…is it always like this when you let a woman drink from you?"

He shook his head. "I don't know. You're the first."

She glanced up at him, a small frown creasing her brow. He could see the surprise register behind the blood-induced lust that filled her gaze. A quiet cry slipped past her lips and then she was moving toward him without any hesitation, her hands coming up to frame his face.

She kissed him, long and hard and deep.

"Touch me, Nikolai," she murmured against his mouth.

It was as much a demand as the urgent press of her lips on his, her tongue pushing past his teeth. Niko ran his hands all over her naked skin, meeting her kiss thrust for thrust, his body as hungry as hers was, and he couldn't blame his ferocious need on the natural response of a blood bond. His hunger for Renata was something else completely, although just as consuming.

Greedily, he reached back down to the haven of her sex. This time, he couldn't play at touching her, not when her scent was intoxicating him as much as the heated silk of her core was driving him mad. He stroked her wet folds, cleaving them with his fingers and spreading her open to him like a flower. She arched up to meet him as he penetrated her with first one finger, then another. He filled her, reveling in the tight clench of her body, the subtle ripples of her tight inner muscles as he stroked and teased her toward climax.

He was so engrossed in her pleasure that he hardly noticed her hands were moving until he felt her tugging at the drawstring of his pants. He hissed when she slipped underneath the waistband and found his stiff cock. She palmed the head of him, slicking her fingers with the drop of fluid that beaded there, then torturing him with a slow, steady stroke of her hand down the length of his shaft.

"You want me too," she said, not quite a question when the answer was overflowing her hand.

"Oh, yes," Niko answered anyway. "Hell yes…I want you, Renata."

She smiled hungrily and pushed him down onto his back on the bed. She inched his pants down off his hips, but they only made it as far as his knees. With his thick erection jutting up like a proud soldier, Nikolai watched enthralled as Renata climbed over and straddled him. He knew better than to expect any bit of coyness or hesitation. She was bold and unstoppable, and he'd never been more glad of anything in his life. Her eyes locked unflinchingly on his, Renata sank down onto his cock in a long, slow slide.

Good Christ, she felt incredible on him. So hot and tight, so damn wet.

He told himself it was only the aftershock of the blood bond making her this wanton, that she would be reacting this way to any Breed male who fed her. It was just a physical reaction, like tinder igniting when held too close to a flame. Her awareness of him right now was probably subconscious at best – she had an itch and he was the scratch she needed, plain and simple. Fine by him. It didn't need to be anything more complicated, and he wasn't idiot enough to want it to be. This sex between them right now wasn't personal, and Niko told himself he was good with that.

He told himself a lot of bullshit things as he laid his head back with a groan and let Renata take all that she needed from him.

Renata had never felt more alive. Nikolai's blood was a fire in her senses, every nuance of the moment buffeting her with vivid awareness. The wound in her shoulder gave her no pain now; her need for Nikolai was all she knew.

He held her hips as she impaled herself on his sex, her mind lost to all but the heat of him filling her, the masculine beauty of his big body moving in a shared rhythm beneath her. Through the swamping haze of her desire, she admired the corded muscles of his arms and chest, a symphony of strength, flexing and contracting, power made all the more stunning by the artful colors and patterns of his changeable dermaglyphs.

Even his fangs, which by rights should have terrified her, took on a lethal beauty now. The sharp tips of them gleamed with every sawing breath he dragged through his teeth. The blood she'd taken from him must have made her a little bit crazy, because some dim part of her wanted those lethal canines pressed up close against her neck, piercing her flesh as she rode him.

She could still taste his blood on her tongue, sweet and wild and dark, an electric tingle that spread all through her and lit her up from within.

She craved more of that power, more of him…

All of him.

Renata dug her fingers into his thick biceps and drove deeper, harder, chasing that dangerous need his blood had unleashed in her. He took every desperate thrust of her hips, holding her steady as a shattering orgasm slammed into her. She cried out as the pleasure washed over her, a scream of release that she couldn't have contained even if her life depended on it. The intensity was far too much to bear. She trembled from it, awed by the force of her passion for him – a passion she had been afraid to feel for so long.

She didn't fear Nikolai.

She wanted him.

Trusted him.

"Are you okay?" he asked her, little more than a growl as he continued to rock with her. "Are you in any pain now?" She shook her head, unable to speak when every nerve ending in her body was still taut with need and vibrating with sensation.

"Good," he murmured, and slipped his hand around the back of her neck to draw her down for a kiss. His mouth was hot on hers, his fangs grazing her lips and tongue. He felt so good…tasted so good.

The fire that had banked somewhat with her release kindled back to furious life. She moaned as the need rose up again, moving her hips in time with the hunger that pulsed in her core. Nikolai didn't let her want for long. He pistoned along with her, increasing their tempo until she was breaking apart again, drifting on wave after wave of pleasure. Then he took over completely, filling her and withdrawing, every stroke seeming to touch someplace deeper within her, then deeper still. He came on a hoarse shout, his spine arching beneath her, his pelvis bucking her with the force of his release. Renata's climax joined his a moment later, a prolonged disintegration that left her shaking and liquid in his arms.

And still she wanted more.

She wanted more, even after the next orgasm and the next. Even after she and Nikolai both were sweating and spent, she hungered for still more.

Edgar Fabien felt six pairs of shrewd, measuring eyes root on him as his secretary whispered an urgent message into his ear. An interruption at this hour – in the midst of such important company as these specially invited Breed dignitaries who'd come into Montreal from the United States and abroad – practically screamed bad news. And it was, though Fabien allowed no such outward indication.

The assembled males had been privately assessing one another as they'd arrived one by one this evening, all of them summoned to Edgar Fabien's Darkhaven residence to await transport to an exclusive gathering to take place elsewhere. To preserve their anonymity, the group had been instructed to don black hooded masks at all times. They had been forbidden to ask personal questions of one another, or to discuss their individual dealings with the Breed male who had called this meeting and laid down the terms of its covert attendance. Dragos had made it clear that now more than ever he would be watching for weakness, or for the slightest reason to deem Fabien or his other lieutenants standing in this very room unworthy of the glorious future he was planning to unveil at the formal gathering.

As the secretary whispered the rest of his message, Fabien was glad for the dark hood that concealed his reaction from the others. He kept his stance relaxed, every muscle loose and at ease, as he was informed that one of his Minions from the city was waiting outside with unanticipated, but critical, news that could not be delayed. News about a Breed male and an injured woman in his company, who, from the description, could be none other than the pair who'd escaped the containment facility.

"Will you all excuse me?" Fabien said, his smile tight beneath his disguise. "I've a small matter to attend to outside. I won't be a moment."

A few dark heads inclined as Fabien pivoted to stroll out of the room.

Once the reception room door was closed and he and his secretary had walked several yards down the long hallway, Fabien tore off his hood. "Where is he?"

"Awaiting you in the front vestibule, sir."

Fabien stormed off in that direction, wringing the black hood in his hands. As he reached the door, his secretary rushed up ahead to hold it open for him. The Minion was leaning against the wall, engrossed in chewing his fingernails down the quick, his unkempt, overlong bangs hanging into his eyes. When he looked up and saw his Master enter, the human's disgusting sloth was replaced with a hound's eagerness to please.

"I have brought you some news, Master."

Fabien grunted. "So I've heard. Speak, Curtis. Tell me what you saw."

The Minion explained how earlier in the day he'd gone to ask a question of his human employer – a homeless shelter operator who'd hired Curtis to work on his computers – and unexpectedly discovered that the vampire warrior was hiding in the shelter's garage apartment. Curtis hadn't been able to get a close look, but had gotten near enough to tell that the huge male was Breed. It wasn't until just a short while ago that he confirmed his suspicions. Apparently the warrior and the female who was with him had become rather friendly. The pair were too busy in bed to notice when Curtis later sneaked back up to the garage and spied them together through the window.

The Minion had gotten an eyeful, and was able to provide a very detailed physical description of both the warrior Nikolai and the Breedmate Renata.

"You're certain neither of them is aware that you were there?" Fabien asked.

The Minion chuckled. "No, Master. Trust me, they weren't paying attention to anything but each other."

Fabien nodded and glanced at his watch. It would be dusk within the hour. He'd already assigned a team of Enforcement Agents to head out on another cleanup task for him tonight. Perhaps he should send a second unit into the city with Curtis. Bad enough that the warrior had managed to escape him at the containment facility. The news hadn't gone over well when Fabien had informed Dragos of the problem, but the bungle would be cushioned somewhat if he could assure him that the warrior had been dealt with – swiftly and permanently.

Yes, Fabien thought, as he reached into his suit coat pocket for his cell phone and dialed the Enforcement Agency detail who reported to him.

Tonight he would clean the slate of a couple recent mistakes, and when he presented himself to Dragos at the gathering, he would do so bearing fortuitous news and a charming little gift that his new commander was certain to enjoy.

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