I'm working on My Telija right now and will hopefully be pushing out the finale at the end of next week. :) Yay for finishing things! Okay, here it is. No eye daggers.
GHOST AND GABE EXCERPT
Ghost slammed his foot on the brake, bringing the vehicle to a screeching halt. Every breath was a task. His composure was tested. He wrenched his seatbelt off, slapping away Grant’s hand as it moved in to undo the belt for him.
“I was trying to help!” Grant cradled his hand for a second, even though it didn’t hurt.
Turning murderous eyes on his companion, Ghost snarled, “Get the fuck out, everyone except Isaac.”
Knox got out of the backseat, not in the mood to mediate their squabble. He planted his hands on the doorframe. “Stay here, baby.”
Isaac scooted closer, appalled at the request. “I am not staying here. What the hell did you give me this for?” He held up the Smith and Wesson 9mm Lasermax. “It’s basically foolproof, see?” He flicked the sight on, a red stream of light darting around the cab.
“Put that down!” Knox smacked his arm into his lap, scared shitless. He took solace in the fact the safety was still on. “Stay here. Hannah and Emma will be here in a minute. That piece is only for emergency. You see someone you don’t know, you shoot to kill. Got it?”
“I know how to use a gun,” Isaac grumbled, crossing his arms with the gun still in hand. Half-dressed and holding firepower, he looked like wet dream to Knox.
The blue-haired Royal shook his head, getting rid of the mental image. “And we have a vamp in there who can take down dozens of men with a flick of his blade. I’m sorry, brat, not gonna happen.” Knox leaned in for a kiss. “Love you too much to let you get sliced to pieces,” he whispered.
“Yeah?” Ghost whipped around. “Well, my mate is about to deli meat while you’re back there cooing over him! Fuck this.” He reached into the middle console, and pulled out a handgun sure to make all others go running home to mommy. A Smith and Wesson 500 magnum, stuffed full of .50 caliber rounds—enough to explode heads and rain blood when needed.
“Shit,” Grant hissed. “Where you been hiding that?”
“Up your ass, does it matter?” Ghost kicked his door wide open, planting his boots on the ground. He eyed the house from the end of the long driveway. A one-level, ranch style home, it looked like any other residence, nothing out of the norm and even had a rooster mail box. How comically adorable, the hit-man rolled his eyes. But unlike the subdivisions they’d passed before arriving here, this house was secluded. No neighbors to hear the chaos, nothing but open country for a few miles and a wall of trees gave the back of the property a dark backdrop. It was picture perfect, down to the barely moving American flag christening the top of a pole in the yard.
Too bad there were naughty vampires on the premises. Otherwise, he would have actually liked the place.
Too bad he was done being careful, a trait that had got this far in life. He was tired. He was done playing their little game. He was done chasing his little mouse. Tonight, Gabriel would be his, and he would take names to get him, which involved letting go of his oh-so-prepared routine. Tonight, he had to rely on the help of others. For once, he had to play nice and work together. Not that he had to like it. He just wanted Gabriel safe and sound. For that, he’d allow others to dance with him. For that, he’d do anything.
“Where’s Henri?” Grant got out of the SUV, slamming the door. He cringed at his mistake, waiting until the metal stopped vibrating before giving Ghost a sheepish smile. His toothy grin wasn’t returned.
“Grant!” A muffled response sounded from the back of the vehicle, the window cracked just a bit. “I kind of need to be unlocked over here.” Henri spit the last of his gag from his mouth. “Come on!”
“I got this.” Grant rounded the vehicle, going to the back to get a much needed reprieve from Ghost’s angry face. “Knox, you lead with Ghost. I’ll get Henri loaded up.”
“Giving me orders,” Knox mused. “That’ll be the day. And if you give him a gun, I’ll kill you myself.” Knox directed to Grant and shut the door on a pleading Isaac. “Stay,” he commanded with a point of his finger to the glass.
“Gun?” Henri laughed, rolling onto his stomach in the cargo hold as Grant undid his cuffs. “I don’t need a gun, unlike you all.”
“Yeah,” Ghost spat. “You just run away like a coward.” Laying his pack out on the hood of the vehicle, he fished around for his goggles. Not sure if he needed them, but they were a habit. You never knew when the lights were gonna go out, and the sky was already a shade of pitch that normally comforted him. Now the black reminded him of death. Not exactly a happy comparison for a mated reunion, but hey, he thought, might as well be honest.
Henri rubbed his wrists, shooting Grant a dirty look. He stretched, making a dramatic noise of relief. He passed Knox, going around to Ghost. “I’ll have you know, Kitten, Gabe is more resourceful than you think. He’s not some weakling in need of rescuing. He’s more than capable of holding his own.”
“Not against this Kerobos fucker, he’s not.” Ghost held up his gun, securing his night vision goggles in place around his eyes.
“You may have a point there.” Henri cringed. “But under other circumstances he could—”
“Shut up.” Ghost pointed the gun at him, officially done listening to his bullshit. “Move it.” He guided the gun around, leading Henri into the woods surrounding the house. “I’ve chased him for years because of you. At first, it was fun, sexy and interesting, but in the last few years, something changed. If you knew he was being followed, you should have come to find me sooner. Every bit of this is your fault, Henri. I could have protected him. He would have been happy with me.”
“And his father would have come knocking on your door with Kerobos, and what then?” Henri stopped, turning so that the end of Ghost’s gun pressed to his forehead. “Yasha will do anything to reconnect with his son. A son he didn’t know existed until he lined up the dots, a son that belonged to the love his life, who he couldn’t save. Not even I could save her when I finally pulled my head out of my ass.” He paused, trying to show his lack of fear. “When I found out who Gabriel really was, I vowed to protect him like my own brother. All of his life he’d known nothing but death and crime. He just wanted to be free, to see the world, and not owe anyone a damn thing for just breathing. He didn’t want to spy anymore. He didn’t want to worry anymore. He wanted to make up for lost time, to be a child. I gave him that and more, and if that pisses you off, I don’t really give a fuck.”
“Then we want the same thing,” Ghost admitted. “I want to do whatever he wants, but first, I want to make sure he’s alive to do it.”
Henri sighed. “We’re not enemies, Ghost. I did make sure he left those notes, you know? I’m not a complete bastard, Kitten.”
Ghost’s lip curled up. “Not completely, but there’s still a bit of bastard in there.”
“Naturally.” Henri grinned and turned around, taking a few steps over the snow. “I’ll admit I was getting sick of him talking about you anyway. Ghost this and Ghost that, so boring.”
The trained hit-man raised a brow behind his goggles. “What did he say?”
A black on black truck peeled up the drive. Hannah hopped out of the driver’s seat, a gun in each hand as she kicked the door shut. Her eyes shot to the woods. She raised a gun in acknowledgement, flicked two fingers toward the end of the drive, signaling Emma was on Isaac detail, and blew her black bangs out her face. She was hopped up and ready for action.
“And who is that?” Henri purred, taking a step closer to the drive. He hummed with approval, perusing the length of Hannah’s long leather-enclosed legs, down the gripped soles of her knee length boots. “Divine.”
An arm blocked his way. Ghost looked down at him. “Off limits, that’s who.”
Henri’s eyes flared to life, swirling as he caught a whiff of something sultry in the air, something all female and ready to be devoured. “We’ll see about that.”
“Not on your life.” Ghost snorted. “That would involve Frank, and he may just be a bartender, but he’s a demon when it comes to his precious daughters. Good luck with that.” He clapped a firm hand to Henri’s shoulder.
Once Hannah was in place on the other side of the front door, elbows bent with her gun at the ready, she flicked her head, signaling Knox. The blue-haired vamp crept past Ghost and Henri, over the mixture of gravel and snow covering the drive, and to the front walk of the family home. The blinds were down, but a glow from the large, picture window cast shadows of movement on the other side. A shot rang out, followed by another. Muffled shouts and banging made Hannah nod her head. Knox nodded back, holding up his hand before directing Ghost to the back entrance. Hannah kicked open the door, letting out the sound of mayhem inside.
Flipping the night vision off, Ghost switched over his custom eyewear, created by Blaze, and his vision lit up with colors. With a hue for every temperature from cold to hot, the backyard now appeared to be a coloring book on acid.
“Here,” he grunted, pulling his spare firepower from the back of jeans. He shoved the cold steel into Henri’s chest. “Unlock the safety, and if you point it at me, no amount of pirate-training will stop me from putting a bullet between your eyes.”
Smirking, Henri slid his hand into the grip of the gun. “You two will be a perfect pair, always making fun of me. It should be a sport.”
“Fuck with me and I’ll make it a blood-sport.” Ghost extended his arm, gun in hand. The thick, silver barrel shined off the back porch light, polished and ready. The muzzle aimed center of the backdoor as they approached, Ghost slid his thumb over the Magnum’s hammer. A loud click pumped through his blood. He saw bodies moving behind the backdoor and whispered over the yard.
“Behind me,” he breathed to Henri. “Shoot to kill.”
“Got that part.” Henri rolled his eyes, pushing his coppery hair over his shoulder. “Lead the way, Captain.”
Ghost got a whiff of Gabriel, spicy oranges, orchids, and a tropical breeze—a smell that sent his intake of oxygen straight to his groin. “He’s in there.”
“No shit, Sherlock.”
Growling, ignoring Henri completely, Ghost put his hand on the doorknob. More gun fire lit the place up. Flickering shadows behind the curtains, over and over, until the movement of bodies danced like flames in a fireplace. He turned the knob, sensing a vamp a few feet away. The door flew open under his forceful push and he turned both ways with his gun steady. To the right, Knox’s eyes were wide as he kept his gun trained on the only other vampire in the kitchen. Long dark hair kept the stranger’s face hidden, but his scent gave him away.
Red stained curtains, previously a buttercup yellow with little ducks on them, lined the kitchen window. Shards of white dinner plates sprinkled the floor and lined the shattered fronts of the cabinets. Broken glass gleamed sharp and dangerous, lying in a puddle of blood. The backdoor mat under Ghost’s boot squished and oozed red as he stepped off it. Blood dripped from every corner, cabinet, and surface of the small kitchen. At least six bodies, that Ghost could see, littered the checkered tile, and the center of it all stood Gabriel, unmoving with his gun targeting Knox.“If you make a move, I’ll shoot him. I can tell he’s important, a pretty good fighter, but not as good a shot as me. He moves like he’s used to blades instead of lead. I’d trump him any day. So, it’s not a
good idea to fuck with me because if I have to take him out, you’re next.” The sexy surety in Gabriel’s voice made Ghost want to drop to his knees. There wasn’t one trace of arrogance in his greeting. Gabe was deadly serious.
“What’s the matter, little one, all out of vampires to play with?” Henri put his gun on the counter and stepped in front of Ghost. “It seems you had all the fun without me.”
“Henri?” Gabe didn’t turn around.
“It’s okay, little one. It’s just me. Okay, maybe a little backup as well, but it’s me.” Henri noticed the twitch in Gabe’s jaw as he tiptoed around the tangle of bodies on the floor. “Gabriel,” he whispered. “It’s alright to put the gun down. They’re here to help you.”
Gabe’s eyes continued to dart around. His chest was stiff as if he’d been holding his breath since he’d last spoke. “Did you find Kerobos?”
Henri paused. “We thought he was here.”
“No. That means you traced his phone, didn’t you?” Gabe gave him a sidelong glance.
“How did you…”
“It’s in my back pocket. He gave it to me before they showed up. He told me to run. He knew Ghost would trace it since the last phone call and find me. I couldn’t find Kerobos after the fight broke out, so I followed one of their vehicles and I ended up here. There’s a family in the basement, humans. One of them can’t be over six years old, a little girl.”
“Shit,” Hannah cursed, rubbing her eyes.
Henri swallowed. “We’ll take care of everything. But first, who’s they, Gabriel?”
Gabe’s eyes narrowed. “You know exactly who they are.”
Henri swallowed. He shook his head. “I don’t know what you’re…”
Gabe lunged at him, pushing him onto a dead body as his head smacked into a cabinet. “You fucking traitor!” He hauled his fist back and struck Henri so hard, he saw stars. “You killed her!” He hit Henri again, but his mentor did nothing to defend himself. “You took her away from us!” Blood covered his knuckles. “You took away my life and any happiness I might’ve had!”
“Gabriel!” Grant boomed, loud enough to make his nephew grow still.
“Grant?” Gabe sat back on his heels, breathing hard. His eyes never left his mentor’s face. Henri spit blood to the side, putting a hand to his face.
Grant came closer. “He didn’t kill your mother, Gabriel. He was trying to save her.”
“No, that’s not what Yasha said.” Gabriel shook his head, mad as hell.
Grant kneeled amongst the mess of bodies, capturing Gabe’s hands. “Yasha wasn’t there, Gabe, but I was.”
“What?” Gabe looked up, half of his face hidden by long, bloody tresses.
“I’d tried to convince her to leave Thomas right after the war. I’d tried to make her think about you, her son. I argued that Thomas wasn’t worth it, that you were more important, and there was a man out there who loved her and wanted to take care of her. I didn’t think she would actually do it. I’d almost given up.”
“You mean Yasha?”
Henri sat up, groaning. “Yes.”
Grant and Henri looked at each other after many years apart. Henri looked away, seeing what everyone saw when they looked at him apparent in Grant’s eyes. “No one knew about Ofira’s pregnancy. I didn’t even find out until those last few weeks, when I followed her. She got pregnant when she went to Russia on assignment with Grant. She stayed too long. She fell in love with Yasha. But, Thomas grew impatient and suspicious. So he sent me to fetch them.
“By the time I arrived, there was no trace of you anywhere, not that I was looking at the time. But even though I knew Ofira was Yasha’s mate in an instant, they would have killed her if I’d revealed that kind of information. I admit I’d grown fond of her, like a little sister. That’s why I had no choice, but to bring her back. The others were with me. She didn’t want Yasha to die. I couldn’t bear to upset her any further. I forced her to come back for her own safety.”
Grant put an arm around Gabe’s back. “I urged the others to go back ahead of me from Russia, and took a separate trip home to France to secure you with an old friend in secret. Ofira wanted you near and so did I. It was selfish, but we loved you so much. The night Ofira was killed, she’d just come back from seeing you. I can’t be certain what happened, but when I met her at the door, she looked devastated.
“She immediately went to her rooms and started packing her things. She wouldn’t tell me what was wrong. She merely grabbed her bag and pulled me out the door. She told me she had to leave, but not why, and told our driver to take her to Thomas.” Grant’s hand slipped from Gabe’s shoulder. “I waited and waited outside for her. I had no idea what was taking so long, but in my gut, I knew it wasn’t good. Finally, after an hour, I went inside. I had to see she was okay. She’d been so upset.”
Henri put a hand up, the bruises on his face melting away. “Ofira stormed into the house, screaming at Thomas, practically out of her mind. She said she couldn’t take it anymore, that she wasn’t a slave, and that her mate needed her. She never said anything about a child, but I knew by then. Like I said, I’d followed her to the house where they kept you. You were so little. I couldn’t tell Thomas. No baby deserved that end.” He looked down. “But unfortunately for Ofira, Thomas believed once you were in his fold, you would always be in it, and the only way to leave was death. I knew what would happen. I saw it in his face and my heart hurt. I’d cared for her when Grant was away. I was her friend. When Thomas demanded to know who her mate was, who the man that would make her betray him was, I couldn’t take it. I tried to create a distraction, and told her to run, but it was too late. He stabbed her through the heart and called me a traitor. When everyone finally came running, he made it look as if I had killed her. He wanted to fuel their hatred of me. He wanted to make an example, to have them eat me alive. I tried to make them see. I tried to make you see, Grenier. But no one believed me and that’s why I jumped out the window. I ran because there was no other option for me. I refused to die that way, everyone believing I was the real evil. In truth, I’d never wanted to be Thomas’ slave. But I’d been born into it with no other choice.”
“I know now.” Grant nodded. “I know what you did now and I’m sorry, Henri. It’s a miracle that you’re still here.”
“I’ve been running ever since. I’ve kind of become an expert. And I didn’t know he was Ofira’s child, Grenier. I had no idea.”
“I hate to break up this little party, but can someone tell us why the hell we’re here if that barbarian isn’t?” Hannah threw her hands up. She locked eyes with Henri and frowned. Henri went still, focused on Hannah as if she were the only thing in the world. “Oh hell no,” she breathed.
Ghost looked around, trying to understand what was happening, but nothing seemed to matter apart from Gabe. He didn’t care about the how or the why right now. He only wanted his mate. Stepping around the three ring circus on the floor, he bent, threaded his hands under Gabe’s shoulders and hauled him to standing. He didn’t want to make a big scene. He didn’t want to make Gabe struggle. But he had to have him, if only for a minute. His arms went around his mate. A sigh of relief parted his lips.
“Don’t try to fight me, mouse,” he whispered. “I win.”
Gabe sank back into Ghost’s arms, hiding his emotions with his hair. He held the gun out to Hannah, who snatched it up without looking away from Henri. “I give up,” Gabe murmured. “I don’t understand anything anymore.”
“That makes two of us. I just want you home.” Ghost turned him around, giving him a once over with a guarded expression. “You cool to walk?” Not exactly what he’d wanted to say in the moment, but it would have to do.
Gabe nodded and surprised the Guardian by wrapping him in a hug. Even more shocking was how equally matched they were. No longer a boy, and very much a vampire, Gabe was just as big as he was. But even as much as he’d grown, Gabe fit perfectly against him. His smell, his body heat, and the beat of his heart made Ghost emotional. He didn’t get emotional, not for anyone… except Gabriel, his mate.
Everyone shied away from the couple. Even Hannah broke her stare from Henri, clearing her throat before walking away. Knox felt her anxiety and backed up. Nothing rattled Hannah, this death goddess with a power trip the size of the Grand Canyon. Things were up in the air. Nothing made sense to anyone. Why they were here, what the hell was up with Hannah, the strange reunion between Henri, Grant, and Gabe? Every bit of it was still a mystery to Knox. He shook his head, going after Hannah who started to walk the house to check for leftovers. But they all knew there weren’t any left. Gabriel, Ghost’s mate, had killed every last one of them… by himself.
“Yo. Hannah?” Knox caught up to her in the master bedroom.
She whipped her gun around, rolled her eyes, and dropped it to her side. “What the fuck, Knox?”
“Like you didn’t know it was me.” He snorted then frowned. “You did know it was me, right?”
“Whatever.” She turned away. “Guess I got hyped for nothing. The rush fucks me up a little.”
“A little? What was that back there, with you and Goldilocks?”
“What are you yappin about?” She eyed him quizzically.
“Yeah, you know what I’m talking about just fine. That whole ‘stare into each other’s eyes’ bullshit. I’ve done it. I know what it looks like.” He crossed his arms, wriggling his nose at the smell of dried blood coming from the bathroom.
“That kid really messed some shit up in here, yeah?” She kicked open the bathroom door, nodding at another vamp body in the bathtub.
“Don’t change the subject.”
“What do you want from me, Knox? I don’t know what to tell you.”
“You felt something.” He backed her into the corner.
“And who are you, my dad? You gonna start interrogating me for shit that don’t mean nothin?”
“No. I’m trying to educate you when I see shit that you don’t. Had that happened while there were breathing bad guys to deal with, you’d be toast, and we both know it,” he argued.
“As it happens there weren’t, but if there were, I’d annihilate the fuck out of them. Don’t get your panties in a bunch and don’t you dare question my skills.”
That’s big talk for someone who just made goo-goo eyes.” He blew his bangs out of his face to show the humor in his eyes.
She pushed him away, planting her palms over his massive chest. “Screw you. Just because you’re mated don’t mean you know shit about everyone else’s love lives.”
“And there it is.” He grinned. “I never said anything about love.”
Her eyes went cold. Her body went rigid. The scent filling her nose reminded her of the beach at the Wharf—fresh and salty. What the fuck! “Shut up.” Her voice was dark, low, and very serious. Her heart raced. She needed to get out of here.
Knox stopped teasing immediately. “Hannah?”
“I said shut the fuck up.” She pushed him so hard, he landed on his ass. “I’m out of here. Don’t bother me again with this childish shit.”
“Hannah!” Knox pushed to his feet, actually worried for the badass vixen. There were three ways Hannah expressed herself—violence, teasing, and silence. But never this, whatever it was. No. Not whatever, Knox knew exactly what was doing. Brace yourselves, he thought. Hell hath no fury like a twin provoked.
The hotel was one of Oliver’s, not that Gabriel knew that. He didn’t know much about any of the Royals, their race, or the structure of things, apart from Henri. Even then, he hadn’t known Henri was a Royal until last night. Ghost climbed out of the shower, his head bogged down with puzzling connections that had led up to this moment. He was always the one ahead of everyone else. He had all the info, the evidence, and the what-comes-next. But now he was grasping at straws. No amount of high-tech gear would help him out in this department. No amount of fantasizing could have prepared him to finally have Gabriel under the same roof.
He’d dreamed of this moment. A heated kiss, falling into each other’s arms after he whispered heated sweet-nothings. However, now that the moment had arrived, it was anything but romantic. Years of chasing Gabriel, the notes they’d left one another, and the glimpses from far away, were ingrained in his mind. He’d wanted passion. He’d wanted security—something he’d never had before. He wanted a family, him and Gabe together to start something new. But just like the rest of his life, Ghost couldn’t count on anything. Starting with his mother taking a bullet between the eyes and hitting the floor when he was six, he began a life of independence, of revenge.
He didn’t trust easily. Hell, it’d taken years to open up to J.J. and they’d still been children. Now the opportunity awaited him. The freedom to trust in the sacred mated bond and have someone at his back for life was something he’d secretly yearned for since… forever. But he could feel Gabriel shut down when they’d made the drive to the hotel. He felt the walls go up. Ghost knew what that was like. It was the same mask he’d worn his entire life. Gabriel, despite the hug earlier, wasn’t going to trust him anytime soon. That fact still didn’t stop him from trying.
Ghost toweled his hair until the strands ceased to drip and tugged on a pair of drawstring sweats he kept in his bag. He would’ve covered up more, but frankly, he wanted Gabriel to see his body without seeming too forward. At least he’d put on pants.
The door connecting their rooms seemed more like the gate to a mighty fortress. Once he passed through, he’d be at war with Gabe and he knew it. He turned the knob anyway, thankful it wasn’t locked. Otherwise he’d have to pick it open. A smug smile turned one side of his mouth up before he opened the door and let his face smooth away any emotion at all. Gabriel’s intoxicating aroma hit him like a ton of bricks, and still, he kept moving.
On the bed, with his head in his hands, was Gabe. Broad shoulders that rolled back at the first hint of movement, lightly tanned skin wrapped around hard muscle, and a narrow waist that twisted to turn in Ghost’s direction. Dark eyes, comparable to wet onyx, darted up to meet his stare. Long hair, damp and glossy, slapped against Gabe’s back with the sudden move.
“Hi,” Ghost barked, scaring himself at how nervous he suddenly was.
Gabe shook his head, turning away. He stood, crossing the room to grab a bottle from the wet bar. “What?”
“What do you mean what?” Ghost looked around, taking in the weak points of the room’s security. Open window with a fire escape and double doors without a mandatory, three-deadbolt, New York City style lockdown. The vent in the ceiling was too big for his liking. Any fit person could shimmy right through it.
“As in what the fuck do you want? And what are you looking at?” Gabe followed Ghost’s stare. He rolled his eyes. “There’s a trip set up in the window. Anyone comes through and they get a bullet in their face. I’ve got a motion detector above the double doors and the vent is wired shut. If someone wants to cut a finger off, they can try to undo it.” He shrugged, and tipped his head back. Tequila filled his mouth.
Ghost kept the surprise from his face, but couldn’t help but stare at Gabriel. “I see.”
“Is that your shocked face?” Gabe raised a brow.
“You’ll know when I’m shocked and you can have fun trying to get me there. I’ve seen it all.” The Guardian casually went to the bathroom, putting a hand on the doorframe to give the space a quick one-over.
Gabriel moved to stand right behind him. “No windows, one vent, and I’ve got a camera set up in there. Have fun trying to find it.”
“I guess I should hand it to Henri. He knows more than I gave him credit for.” Ghost inhaled, not moving a muscle.
“Henri didn’t teach me shit, except for how to get from one terminal to another in under ten minutes.” Gabriel closed his eyes, unconsciously taking a step closer to Ghost.
“I’d heard you were good as a child, but this is impressive,” Ghost murmured.
Gabe gripped the doorframe, aligning his body with the Guardian’s. “I’ve never been a child, no matter how young I was.”
Ghost leaned back. His ass greeted hard flesh, a stiff erection snuggling against the small of his back. “Me either, never got the chance.”“Orphan?” Gabe’s hands slid around his waist, roughly moving up the front of Ghost’s chest.
“Never had a father and they killed my mother, right in front of me.” Ghost closed his eyes, trying not to mix his painful memories with the heat of this moment. This was now a war of a different flavor, a war between bodies and words. And there would be blood before the night was up. Fuck yes, he shivered with the thought. Gabriel’s blood…
“How old were you?” Gabriel breathed across his skin.
“Too young to deal,” Gabe growled, angry for a man he barely knew.
Ghost ground hard against the thick rod nuzzling between his cheeks. “No matter what age, losing your mother is something you can never truly deal with.”
“But J.J. helped you deal, didn’t he?” Gabe’s arms tightened around him. “I’m sure he helped you deal just fine.”
Ghost’s eyes flashed open. “What are you getting at?”
“You with him still?” Gabe scratched his nails across golden skin. All the things he’d had years to brew on came to the surface. He was mad with it. He couldn’t control the things he wanted to do to the Guardian in his hold. He was mourning a woman he didn’t know. He was mourning the loss of his childhood and his family. He was mourning all the years he’d spent apart from this man. He was angry another man had touched what was his.
“I was never with him.” Ghost forced Gabriel back, turning with a vicious snarl. “But I bet you and Henri got pretty cozy.”
“Henri never touched me like that, unlike you and J.J.” Gabriel pushed back, getting up in Ghost’s face. Nose to nose, eye level with one another, they shared a second of rage.
“I’m so sure you’ve never had a moment.”
“Not with him.” Gabe was there one second and gone the next. He reappeared, quick as lightning, behind Ghost again. “I’ve never been in bed with a man I loved. In fact, I’ve never done it in a bed.”
“You’re lying to me.” Ghost twirled, pushing Gabe as hard as he could. He watched his mate’s strong body slide against the gleaming hardwood floor. “You’ve never known a man’s body!”
“And you’re avoiding any talk of J.J., because you fucked him, and you loved it!” Gabe threw his thighs back before bringing his feet forward, planting them on the ground before pushing to stand. “I heard it! I was there!”
“No. You only heard the beginning, before you ran from me!” Ghost lunged forward, taking Gabe down around the middle. “I almost died. He comforted me. It was bound to happen, but I don’t love him like that,” Ghost roared, pinning Gabe to the floor. “I wanted you from the first minute I tasted your blood! If he hadn’t been watching with jealousy, I would have never let you leave that room. I would have never taken my fingers from your hair. I would have never let you touch another man for the rest of your life. I would have never let you run from me.”
“It still happened. I was there for a job, but I know you felt it. I fucking felt it and I didn’t even know what to call it.” Gabe brought his knee to Ghost’s stomach, throwing the Guardian off of him. He was so hard in his jeans, he was going to die. He had to…
“Enough!” Ghost rolled on top of him, battling his hands to pin them again. “It doesn’t matter anymore! Yes, I fucked him so hard he saw stars, but he means nothing to my heart. He’s like a brother. I’m done talking about the past. I’m done worrying about what I could have done, what you could have done. The fact of the matter is, you’re not a scared little boy anymore, and I’m done chasing you. I want you and I’ve been waiting years to be this close. Tonight, I’ll have you.” Their breathing was so loud, it sounded as if the heater had kicked on.
“That’s where you’re wrong.” Gabriel roared. His fangs sharp and ready, they throbbed in his mouth with Ghost’s scent. He rolled them over until Ghost was on his back. Leaning down, creating a curtain around them with his hair, Gabriel narrowed his eyes. They swirled with blue, something Ghost had never seen before in eyes so dark. “I said I’d never been with a man I loved. I said I’d never been with a man in my bed. I never said I’d been with a man before, or a woman for that matter. I’ve had years to think about how this would go down, and I’ll be damned if you think for one second that you own me. Because Markos… I own you.”
“What?” Ghost couldn’t hide his shock this time. He allowed himself to be pushed onto his stomach. “I thought you…”
“You thought wrong. I thought about it. I really, really thought about it, but the truth was I couldn’t go through with sex. I wanted to wait for you. And now that you’re here, you’re going to satisfy twenty-three years of pent-up sexual need,” Gabriel husked.
“You want me to…” Ghost closed his eyes, wincing as his face was pushed hard into the floor.
“Shut up, Guardian and give me what I want.” Gabriel held his hand to the side of Ghost’s head. He leaned down and licked the Guardian’s cheek slowly, tasting a hint of sweat, feeling the texture of Ghost’s prickly stubble.
“Fuck,” Ghost breathed.
“Exactly.” Gabriel straightened, now straddling Ghost’s ass. He ground into the Guardian, gently at first then harder as he felt Ghost push back. “And you want it, don’t you? You don’t want some sweet, romantic, hero versus maiden roll in the bed. You want me to take this ass and let go. You don’t want to think about the mind games. You don’t want to sit and talk things out, because there is nothing to talk out. You and I are exactly the same. We don’t trust anyone to let in.” He leaned down again. “But you and I are too alike not to let in each other. Let me inside of you, Ghost. Let me in this…” He squeezed Ghost’s ass.
“And what do I get in return, Gabriel?” The roll of his name from Ghost’s lips, made Gabe moan. “Will you let me in, too?” Knowing Gabe would understand his meaning, Ghost relaxed.
“Only if you behave.” Gabe covered Ghost’s body with his, sucking his mate’s earlobe into his mouth. “Give it up, Kitten. I win this round.”
“You’re different now,” Ghost commented quietly.
“Like I said, I’m not a child anymore. And like you, I know what I want, and would travel around the world to get it. Right now, I want you.”
“Right now?” Ghost growled. “I’m not your whore, Gabriel. I’m your mate!”
“You know what I meant, Papi,” Gabe purred, knowing the title would go straight to his mate’s cock.
Willing his beast quiet, Ghost closed his eyes, and focused on the way Gabe’s heart raced. He wanted to say things to his mate, to let him feel what giving up sounded like in words, but he couldn’t. Gabe wanted one thing, closure. That’s what it felt like, giving in to sex, with no future in sight. Gabe was a wild card now. Too much like himself to put down roots, to give into his heart instead of his cock. Although the idea of sex was something Ghost had thought about more than once. Hell, he’d thought about it a lot. But he’d had years to romanticize this coupling, his first time giving over to the one he was supposed to love forever. This was lust, not passion, and it dulled him inside. No matter how much he craved Gabe. This didn’t feel right. Yet, he was willing to give his mate whatever he desired, because he desired Gabe in any way he could have him.
Straddling Ghost, Gabe straightened. This was not the reaction he’d hoped for. His fangs itched for his mate’s blood, yes. His cock was so hard it could penetrate steel, yes. But Ghost had stopped pushing back. Was this submission or something else? Going with his instincts, as he’d done all his life, Gabe frowned.
“Take what’s yours, Mouse,” Ghost murmured. “I offer myself to you freely.”
“I can’t smell it anymore.” Gabe looked away, even though Ghost couldn’t see his face. He felt cold, like a jerk.
“You’re not into this anymore,” Gabe concluded.
“Do I? I bet you a hundred dollars if I rolled you over right now, you’d be soft, wouldn’t you?”
“It’s not because of you, mi amor,” Ghost whispered.
Gabe snorted and climbed off his mate. “My love? How romantic…”
Ghost got to his knees. “It was supposed to be. That’s how this was all supposed to be. I guess you never gave a shit about my letters. Your replies were written by Henri, weren’t they? You probably laughed over what I told you, and who could blame you? I didn’t understand why I wrote them in the first place. But now I do.”
“Why do you say now?”
“Because you’re the man I’m supposed to love. Above all others, you were made for me, and that deserves something, no? No matter how hard we fight, or how much of ourselves we shove down and hide, you and I deserve something that no one else will ever know about. What we do, what we say in private, that’s us. I don’t want to keep the way I feel hidden when I’m with you. I want you to feel my words and take them to heart, because I’ve always wanted to be a romantic. I am a romantic. But no one has ever made me feel it until you. Ever since I stood in that back alley, scenting you, missing you when you were nothing but a stranger, I guess I fell in love and didn’t know it.”
Gabe, scared shitless of feelings, walked to the window. He crossed his arms and shook his head. “I wrote those letters to you, not Henri. But sometimes I think it’s not really about love, only infatuation. We have to love each other because the universe says so. We have to protect each other because life sucks. You feel that you have to save me from something that doesn’t exist. You feel that you have to heal my wounds and I yours. But what if I just want sex? What if I’ve waited all these years for a good fuck to finally get off? What if that’s what it’s about?”
“If that’s what this was about, you wouldn’t have thought twice about talking. You’d have already taken me. But you haven’t. Instead, you were jealous about a night that happened years ago. Instead, you look pained that I thought Henri wrote me those letters. Instead, you’re upset that you did something wrong when you didn’t. You and I know each other better than anyone. We’ve just never actually had time face-to-face. I’ve told you things in those letters that I would never tell a soul. I’ve followed you around the world, learned your tricks, your preferences, your dislikes, and in turn, you’ve learned mine. This wasn’t a game, Gabriel. This was merely preparation.” Ghost didn’t go to his mate. Instead, he moved to the bed, lying out with his legs spread. “I want you Gabriel, just not like that. You say you’ve waited all these years? Well, so have I.”
Gabe turned around, inhaling Ghost’s arousal once again. His teeth clamped together, he shivered at the sight of the Guardian sprawled, waiting for him. “I’m not a romantic.”
“Yes you are.” Ghost slowly slid the soft pants over his hips. “Come to me, Gabriel.” He kicked off the pants leaving him completely exposed. He took his cock in hand, stroking it until it swelled a little in his hand. “Come here.”
Gabriel’s eyes dilated with lust. Seeing Ghost in this way struck a chord inside of him. Ghost was right. This wasn’t just sex. It was way more than that, and he found himself eager to explore this new feeling inside of him. He took the distance between them in a few long strides. His hands found Ghost’s knees, sliding over his tan skin. Darker brown hair curled under his palms as he traveled closer to the Guardian’s groin.
“Take those off, Gabriel. I want to feel you.” Ghost swallowed. He looked up into Gabe’s magnificent eyes, feeling the power in them.
Slowly, Gabe pushed the pants over his hips and let them all to the floor. He stepped out of them, his erection bobbing against his stomach for Ghost to see. “Better?”
“Fuck yes,” Ghost whispered. He groaned as Gabe slid into place between his open knees. His mate laid out on top of him, grinding their lengths together. “I missed you, mi amor.”
Gabe fought not to close his eyes and savor the words, but the emotion on his face was obvious. “I missed you too,” he croaked. Inches from Ghost’s lips, he growled. “I really fucking missed you.”
Their hands reached for once another at the same time, fighting to find the perfect spot, but nothing seemed good enough until Ghost lifted his head and connected his lips with Gabe’s, a kiss that spoke of longing, passion, and most of all… love.