He fell back onto the mattress. The hem of his shirt folded back, revealing the flat, muscled planes of his stomach and those twin hip indentations that just begged to be nipped with my fangs.

I ripped his shirt open with a flick of my wrists. His eyes widened but heat sizzled from the depths. It had been so long since I’d pressed my skin to his, felt his hardness against my soft parts. Part of me wanted to relent my plan to punish and just curl up on him like a cat for some heavy petting. But I steeled my spine and slowly began unbuttoning my shirt inch by agonizing inch.

I was going to make him beg for it before the night was over. When I pulled my shirt open, he whimpered at the sight. I stuck a finger between my lips and got it nice and wet before dragging a trail from my collarbone down to the waistband of my low-slung jeans. “Want to see more?”

He swallowed hard. “Oh yes.”

“Too bad.”


His lips pressed together. “I see how it is.”

“Do you?” I flung off his boots and socks. Then I ran my hands slowly up the legs of his jeans. Under the thick denim I could feel the corded muscles of his shins and thighs. I’d felt those muscles flex over me more times than I could count. I’d opened my thighs over and over so he could thrust into me. Had he done that with her, too?

“Ow.”

I pulled back, belatedly realizing my caress of his balls had gotten a little…pinchy. “Sorry,” I lied.

He shifted uneasily. I patted him gently. “Sorry.”

He visibly unclenched and settled back into the mattress. “I’d feel a lot better if you didn’t have any pants on.”

I smiled. “You first.” With a couple of flicks, I had his fly unbuttoned and the zipper down. Soon, the denim slid down his legs to reveal the muscles I’d touched earlier. The deep V of his hips, the hard ridges of his quads, the crisp golden hair on his shins—hell, even his feet were sexy. No doubt about it, even after all these years, he still did it for me. No other man had ever held my attention long enough or so thoroughly. And I certainly never could have imagined that a man as solid and well adjusted as Adam Lazarus would choose me as his life partner.

“Tell me you love me.” I hated the neediness in my tone. I hated that I still craved reassurance after all this time. I was a freaking demigoddess, but this man had the power to bring me to my knees. He could strip me totally bare and destroy me with a single word.

He sat upright and reached for my stiff fingers. “Look at me.” I swallowed and complied, even though part of me couldn’t handle the intimacy because I knew he’d see the insecurity. “Sabina Kane, you are the love of my life. No one else matters. No one else even came close to what I feel for you.”

I looked away. The words were nice and I believed him, but I still felt like crap.

He pulled me down to sit next to him. “Listen, why don’t you just let me handle this situation? I’ll help Brooks and you don’t even need to be around Cadence if we find her.”

I shook my head immediately. “Absolutely not. I’m not a wimp.”

“I know that more than anyone else on this planet.” He smiled ruefully, no doubt recalling all of our adventures and battles. “So what’s the problem?”

I fought saying the truth because I knew it made me sound like an idiot. But he knew me too well to get away with a white lie. Time to come clean. “What if you see her and suddenly all those feelings come back?”

“Ah,” he said.

“Ah what?”

He turned toward me. It was kind of hard to focus on his face with that gorgeous display of masculinity so close I could touch it and taste it. “You know what we have isn’t normal, right?”

I frowned. “What do you mean?”

“I know you never had a long-term relationship before you met me, so maybe you think this thing between us—this intensity—is normal. That all people in love feel it.”

I nodded. “Don’t they?”

He laughed. “Some people who love each other can’t even stand to be in the same room for too long, much less sit within two feet of each other without wishing they could rip each other’s clothes off.”

My brows rose, realizing the need I felt was also shining in his eyes. “So you didn’t feel that way with Cadence?”

He shook his head. “I loved her, but it was different. I didn’t realize at the time that it wasn’t an all-consuming love. More of a tenderness.”

The idea of Adam being tender with anyone but me made me want to put my fist through a wall—or my fangs through a jugular.

He held up his hands. “I can’t believe you’re acting so jealous. After all we’ve been through?” His fingers found the ring on the middle finger of my right hand. The one he’d given me the night he’d asked me to be his soul mate. Not a proposal in the traditional sense, but a vow to spend our lives together nonetheless. My shoulders softened as I remembered that night in Tuscany when we’d whispered promises to each other, neither sure we’d survive the next day, much less the rest of eternity, together.

Who was I kidding? What Adam and I had was real. Real real. I may not have loved a lot of people in my life, but I knew us. Nothing under heaven or earth would rip me away from this man, not even death—I’d for damned sure find a way to haunt him. And I had every reason to believe he felt the same for me. “I’m sorry,” I said finally.

He frowned. “For what?”

“Not giving you enough credit. It’s just the thought of you with someone else makes me feel a little insane.”

His hands cupped my cheeks. “Trust me—I know exactly how that feels.” I cringed a little, remembering him having to deal with this—and worse—when the Slade issue had come up.

“All right,” I said, “so we’re both fools where the other is concerned.”

“Exactly.” That crooked smile that always drove me crazy appeared on his full lips. “Now where were we?”

I stepped between his legs and placed my hands on his shoulders. “Somewhere around here.”

He leaned forward and kissed my stomach. His hands came up to circle my wrists with a firm grip. He whispered against my skin, “Lose the pants.”

And for the next several hours I complied to that and many other requests with relish.

* * *

OCTOBER 28

The next evening I stumbled downstairs to grab some coffee before setting out on the Cadence hunt. But when I got to the kitchen, I walked through the door and almost turned to walk right back out.

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