Marked by Midnight (Midnight Breed #11.5) - Page 8

His fangs pressed against his tongue, razor-sharp tips fully extended, and he knew that Nova was seeing him at his most inhuman--in his savage, predator’s form.

She didn’t flinch.

She didn’t tremble.

She reached for him. “Mathias...”

There was nothing more she needed to do or say.

He kissed her, unhurried, and positioned himself between her parted thighs. Her cleft was slick and hot against his shaft as guided himself to her. He couldn’t stop now. His desire for her swamped all of his senses.

He pulled his hips back until he was seated at the core of her ready body.

Then he drove home, inch by delicious inch, into the sweetest, hottest pleasure he’d ever known.

He filled her more deeply than she thought possible, cleaving her core with so much heat and strength and passion that she could hardly draw her breath. The sensation overwhelmed her, stunned her.

Obliterated every thought she’d ever had for what it meant to be at the mercy of a man’s carnal needs.

Nova clung to Mathias as he rocked into her with unbridled force.

Her body was still pliant from its release, nerve endings still thrumming from the pleasure he’d given her with his lips and tongue and touch.

She felt that release winding up again as he crashed against her, the friction of his cock moving inside her swiftly becoming more than she could bear.

On a cry, she shattered. Felt herself splintering apart into tiny pieces.

Without warning, sudden tears filled her eyes. Burned the back of her throat.

Mathias went stock-still above her, halting in mid-thrust. His breath sawed out of him, and the curse he swore was abrupt, dread-filled. “You’re crying.”

She gave a feeble shake of her head, struggling to find her voice. “I just...I thought it would be different,” she choked out. “I thought I could handle it...”

“Ah, shit. God damn it.” Every muscle in his body had ceased moving now. His scowl deepened. He started to withdraw from her. “Nova, I’m sorry--”

“No.” She clutched his shoulders and swallowed back the raw lump that was blocking her voice. When he continued to shift his weight off her, she wrapped her legs around the backs of his thighs to hold him in place. “No, Mathias. That’s not what I mean. I’m not crying because you did anything wrong. It’s because this feels so incredible. You feel incredible inside me. I wasn’t prepared for this--for how we’d feel together. I didn’t expect it.”

In his silence, he stared at her, unmoving. His fiery gaze warmed her face with its heat. “You feel all right, then?”

“More than all right,” she assured him. “I feel...alive. With you inside me like this, I feel whole. For the first time, Mathias, I feel like the rest is really behind me. You’ve given me that.”

He swore again, something low and reverent. Then he kissed her with more tenderness, more aching pleasure, than her heart seemed able to contain.

When he finally broke the contact, he was grinning, fangs glinting.

She frowned up at him. “What’s so funny?”

“Nothing,” he murmured, giving his hips a meaningful grind against hers. “I just think it could be amusing, doing other things you’ll enjoy but might not expect. Finding ways to keep you guessing, for a change.”

He was still moving within her, still hard. Getting harder, in fact.

Nova caressed his face, his handsome, otherworldly face. She wondered how long it would take for her to tire of looking at him.

Longer than she dared imagine.

A lifetime and then some.

She held on as he found his tempo once more. Sighed with pleasure as his rising rhythm steered her toward the edges of another crest of sensation. Closing her eyes, she let him take her there, rode with him as his large body began to go rigid and tense, his hips pumping harder now, furious and deep.

She cried out his name. Heard him mutter hers on a coarse shout beside her ear in that next instant, as heat exploded within her and he shook with the force of his orgasm.

Nova’s heart was pounding like thunder in her ears.

Then she heard the rumble again--a rapid drumming, urgent and unsteady. Coming from the other room.

Mathias heard it too, no doubt before she had. He reared back abruptly.

“Nova.” Eddie’s voice sounded oddly thin outside the apartment door.

“Something’s wrong.” Mathias said it before she could voice her concern. His face was grim, nostrils flaring. “There is blood.”

“Oh, God.” Alarm jolted her off the bed. She hurried back into her tank and sweat pants and was racing out to the living area in the next instant. She yanked open the door and shock hit her like a punch to the gut. “Eddie...oh, my God!”

The boy was white as a ghost, his eyes dilated with shock. Blood stained the front of his T-shirt and jeans. A lot of blood.

Nova grabbed him and hugged him close. She felt for injuries, but he seemed unharmed. Her hands came away sticky and red. “What happened to you? Where’s Ozzy?”

“In the shop,” he murmured, his voice thready. “I couldn’t do anything, Nova. He told me to hide. I wanted to help him, but he wouldn’t let me.”

Panic seized her. “Ozzy?” she shouted into the silence of the building.

Mathias stood behind her now, bare-chested, dressed only in his black pants. Nova swung her gaze up at him, a raw sob hitching in her throat.

“Oh, God. What the hell is going on? Oz!”

She lunged past Eddie, only to be halted when Mathias took hold of her arm. “Nova, stay here. Let me--”

She wrenched loose on a miserable cry and bolted for the stairs leading down to the studio.

CHAPTER 8

“Ozzy...oh, no. No!”

Nova found him in the empty tattoo shop, lying in a pool of blood near his station. Dropped in a ragdoll sprawl on his back, his body was motionless, his eyes frozen wide. His throat was gashed open, hideously savaged.

“Oz!” she cried, standing barefoot at the edge of the blood pool, her hands covering her mouth as a howl of anguish tore out of her. “No, Ozzy. No...”

“I was sweeping the back room after Ozzy finished with a client, when I heard a man come into the shop,” Eddie murmured from behind her at the bottom of the stairs. “He was looking for someone. Looking for you, Nova.”

Confusion jabbed through her grief as she stared down at the savagery done to her beloved mentor. “Looking for me? Are you sure?”

“He didn’t seem to know your name,” Eddie went on, “but the man knew what you looked like. He told Ozzy, asked if he knew you. The man said it was important that he find you. He said you were in trouble.”

She frowned, trying to make sense of the horror in front of her. Even in her state of numb shock, she could scent the lie in what the attacker told Ozzy. “Did you see who it was, Eddie?”

“No. He was wearing dark clothes, had a hooded jacket on. I only saw him from the side, as he walked over to Ozzy’s station.” Eddie released a shuddering breath. “He was big, Nova. He sounded mean, angry. I could tell Ozzy was scared of him too.”

She closed her eyes, fear pouring into her veins. “Was he human?”

“I don’t know,” Eddie said. “I tried to look, but I couldn’t see his face. The man didn’t see me standing in the back room. I wanted to tell him to leave Ozzy alone, but Oz motioned for me to stay put. He mouthed for me not to say anything, to hide...” The boy choked on a sob. “So, I did. I crawled into a cabinet and I hid, Nova. And then I heard the man hurting Oz...”

She glanced behind her at Eddie, and saw Mathias, now arrived at the bottom of the stairs.

“You did the right thing,” he told the kid, who had dissolved into wracking tears. “If you hadn’t done what Ozzy told you, both of you would be dead now, Eddie.”

The boy looked up at him. “You were here last night. Were you upstairs with Nova just now?”

Mathias gave a slight nod. His gaze was solemn, grave. And in the pools of pale green that met Nova’s eyes now, she saw the crackle of amber sparks. She saw the tips of his fangs too, and the flush of color that was slowly seeping into the dermaglyphs on his bare chest.

The sight of so much spilled, fresh blood could not have been easy for him. His Breed nature must have been clawing at him, yet Mathias held his vampire side at bay with remarkable control. For Eddie’s sake, no doubt. Maybe for her sake too.

Nova’s own jagged sob scraped in her throat as she looked down at Ozzy again.

She didn’t hear Mathias move up behind her.

She didn’t know he was close enough to touch her, until his warm palm settled lightly, tenderly, on her shoulder. “Nova--”

“Don’t.” She shrank away from his comfort. The idea that she had been mindless with passion, crying out in pleasure with Mathias while Ozzy was being attacked and murdered right under them was a pain she could hardly bear. She stared at Mathias in abject misery, guilt and grief shredding her from the inside. Her voice came out flat, forbidding. “Don’t touch me.”

He frowned, letting his hand fall to his side. “Eddie, did the man say anything else to Ozzy?”

“No. He wanted to know where to find Nova. Ozzy wouldn’t tell him, and then the man got really mad.” Eddie sniffled. “Is the man going to hurt Nova next?”

“No,” Mathias answered sternly, swiftly. “I’ll never allow that to happen. I won’t let anything bad happen to you either, Eddie. But the two of you can’t stay here now. I’m going to call in some people who can help me look after Ozzy, then I’m going to bring you both someplace safe with me.”

He reached for Nova as he said it. She couldn’t curb her knee-jerk reaction, the jolt of denial and grief that sliced into her at the thought of going anywhere without Oz.

“I’m not leaving him.” She pulled out of Mathias’s reach. Cold, thickening blood was slippery under the bare soles of her feet as she moved closer to Ozzy’s body. “I need to know what happened. I need to know who did this.”

She dropped down on her knees beside him.

Mathias saw what she was about to do. He scowled, started to shake his head. “Nova, don’t--”

His caution was a distant echo in her ears as she reached out and took hold of Ozzy’s lifeless hand.

The final moments of his life played out behind her closed eyelids, just as Eddie had described them. The immense man in dark clothing, his face all but obscured by the hood of his black jacket. The demands he made of Ozzy, his low voice deadly with menace.

Then Ozzy’s courageous, foolish, effort to protect her. To lie for her, even when he knew it would likely cost him his life.

Nova saw the sharp blade coming up from behind Oz as the man overpowered him. Sliced deep into his throat. Let him drop to the floor in a convulsing, sputtering heap, Ozzy’s last conscious memory the swift, retreating form of his killer as the assailant vanished from the shop with inhuman speed and agility.

Because he hadn’t been human.

“He was Breed,” Nova murmured, as the connection to Ozzy’s death faded from her grasp. “The man who killed him...he was Breed.”

Twenty minutes later, fully dressed and grim with scarcely contained menace, Mathias waited for his backup to arrive. He’d called his squad of warriors in from chasing their tails looking for Rogues down in Lambeth to assist him with a real problem. An immediate one that he meant to deal with using all of the manpower and resources in his reach. That included his friend Sloane, who’d offered to put a full taskforce on the case when Mathias spoke with the JUSTIS officer a short while ago.

Hell, if Mathias had to call in favors from every Order commander in the United States and abroad to shake out his quarry, he damned well would.

The man who killed Ozzy, and was very likely still on the hunt for Nova, was going to pay.

With his lifeblood, if Mathias got to him first.

Seeing Nova’s pain--Eddie’s too--there was nothing that would satisfy Mathias more than to be the one to personally slay the son of a bitch.

That the killer could be Breed only made it more crucial that they find him. Bad enough to know there were human thugs like Doyle and his scarab-marked colleagues skulking around London with the potential to do harm to Nova. To think she could be in the crosshairs of a predator with the Breed’s deadly appetites and skills?

Mathias snarled through his fangs, prowling the studio like a caged animal as he waited for Thane and Deacon to arrive. The third member of the patrol, Callahan, would be hoofing it across town to meet them at the shop. Thane informed Mathias that the impulsive young warrior had gone off to find a blood Host and feed, after the team’s Rogue hunt had proven a bust.

As for JUSTIS, Sloane had been tied up on another investigation, but expected he could be there with his unit within the hour.

In the meantime, the waiting was making Mathias crazy.

The sense of helplessness wasn’t something he was accustomed to, but that feeling had less to do with the anticipated reconnoiter with his team and JUSTIS than it did with Nova.

After using her ability on Ozzy, she’d come away viciously nauseated, barely making it to the restroom in the back of the shop before she lost her stomach.

She’d been in the back room with Eddie ever since, a closed door standing as a barrier between them and Mathias in the studio.

That door wasn’t the only obstacle between Nova and him now.

She didn’t want to be near him.

She didn’t want his comfort or his concern.

She didn’t want anything from him.

And not that he could blame her. He’d been sick with himself too, cursing himself for the recklessness that had not only cost Ozzy’s life tonight, but had left Nova in the crosshairs of a killer. One who might be closing in on her even now.

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