Marked by Midnight (Midnight Breed #11.5) - Page 11

She didn’t know how, didn’t care why.

She only knew that she needed him.

And right now, all she wanted to do was walk out into the night air and scream Mathias’s name.

Quietly, she left the basement shelter and walked up the stairs to the door leading to the cathedral grounds. She found a wooden bench and sank down onto it. It was a place she’d sat many times before, her private meditation nook in the middle of the bustling city.

Tipping her head back, she looked up, beyond the cathedral towers at the stars and the waning crescent moon. She closed her eyes and remembered the terrified, brutalized little girl who’d come here the first time.

She was back again, scared and hurting, but she was different now. She had a new strength, thanks to Ozzy and the home he had opened to her. Now he was gone, but she was still standing. And he would want her to stand. He wouldn’t want her to run.

She didn’t want to run, not anymore.

Not from anyone, ever again.

Not even from Mathias, and the feelings he had awakened in her.

“Is this seat taken?”

She dropped her chin, her eyes flying open. “You found me.”

“I found you,” Mathias said. He sat down next to her on the bench. “Ozzy’s killer is dead. You’re safe now. I wanted you to know that.”

“You...?” she asked, unsure what she needed to know in that moment. The fact that he was there with her was the only thing that really mattered.

“We got him, Nova. And from what we’ve gathered, it doesn’t appear that anyone else knows you’re in London. Doyle and the others weren’t looking for you. You and Eddie aren’t in any danger now.”

“Thank you,” she murmured. “You came here just to tell me that?”

He nodded. “Are you...all right?”

“I miss Oz,” she admitted. “I’ll always miss Oz.”

“I know. I’m sorry.” He frowned, gave a mild shake of his head. “If there’s anything I can do...”

“I’ll be fine,” she assured him. “Eddie and I will be fine. We’ll figure things out.”

Mathias smiled at that, a smile that seemed heavy with regret. “Have you thought about what you’ll do...whether you’ll go back to Ozzy’s place...?”

“I don’t want to take Eddie back there,” she said, realizing it only now. She hadn’t really thought about alternatives, but she knew she’d land on her feet somewhere. “We’ll figure things out.”

“You already said that,” he murmured. He reached out to her, stroked her cheek with a light caress. “Why don’t you figure it out while you’re staying with me.”

Nova frowned. “Staying with you, where?”

“At my place in the city.”

“You mean, the Order’s headquarters?”

He shrugged. “I’m the commander of the London office. So, technically, the headquarters is my place. You and Eddie would stay with me, in my private quarters in the mansion.”

“Mansion,” she said. She pictured gleaming marble and elegant furniture. Things she’d known as a child and learned to despise. “I don’t know...”

“What don’t you know?” The fingers stroking her cheek now wandered into her hair, his warm, strong palm cupping her nape. “Come back with me. There’s no point in you and Eddie living here, when I have all the room either of you could ever need.”

She shook her head, even as tempted as she was by his offer of comfort and a luxurious place to stay. “It wouldn’t be right. I can’t trade one temporary shelter for another.”

He stared at her, a scowl forming. “No, that wouldn’t be right.”

She exhaled a heavy, pent-up breath. Letting it out seemed to deflate some of her soul along with it. “I’d rather stop this now, Mathias. I’m not afraid to be on my own, but I don’t want to fool myself that accepting your offer won’t make it harder for me to leave later.”

He nodded soberly. “I agree, that would pose a problem. For both of us. That’s why my offer isn’t a temporary one.”

She gaped at him. “What?”

“I want to take you home with me, Nova. You and Eddie both.” He took her face in both hands now, holding her as tenderly as an eggshell. “I want to take you back with me, right now. Where I plan to romance you properly...and thoroughly. You, at any rate. Not the boy.”

Nova laughed. “You can’t be serious. We hardly know each other.”

“We have time. All the time in the world.”

“You don’t even know my real name.”

He smiled, his eyes sparking with challenge and determination. “So, tell me.”

“Catriona,” she said softly. “Catriona Riordan.”

He grunted, as if testing the feel of the name in his mind. “I like it. And I like you. I love you, Nova.”

He loved her. Her heart leapt in her breast, a giddy, girly jolt of elation. She’d been so leaden with grief, the joy she felt now was like a sudden burst of sunlight after a heavy storm. “Are you trying to sweep me off my feet or something, Mathias?”

His grin widened. “Like some kind of knight in shining armor, Nova. Yes, that’s exactly what I’m trying to do.”

She touched his face, his handsome, earnest face. “Well, in that case, I don’t mind telling you that I love you too.”

“Good answer.” He stared into her eyes, his own irises glittering with bright amber sparks. “Now about the rest of my question...”

“The part about spending the rest of my life with you?”

“As my mate,” he clarified. “I won’t settle for anything less.”

“I’m not an easy woman to live with,” she warned him. “I’m moody. I’m stubborn. Sometimes I don’t play well with others.”

“Fortunately for both of us, I enjoy a challenge.”

She laughed, then sighed as he pulled her into his arms and across his lap.

When his mouth found hers and he kissed her, slow and sweet and sensual, she felt all of her fears melt away.

She felt hope, and the promise of a future--and a happiness--she’d long imagined was out of reach.

But nothing was out of her reach now.

Not when her heart was overflowing with love and Mathias was holding her close in his strong arms.

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