Megan's Mark (Breeds #7)

Chapter 21

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Horror swept across his face as she felt the change. The swelling of the already thick crest, the extension reaching out, locking into the back of the pulsing muscles that gripped him, feathering inside her, pressing firmly into a spot that sent sensation crashing through her mind.

The new orgasm it triggered was too much to bear. She auld only convulse. She slammed back to the bed, her body jerking, her cries pleading whimpers of insensible words as she heard his roar, felt the hard, hot blasts of semen spewing inside her and the hot kiss of the flesh lock him to her.

Megan stared up at him, her eyes wide, her gaze locked with Braden's glittering, golden depths as she felt the odd pressure pressing into the too-sensitive flesh high in her pussy. Emotions whipped from him into her. Distant, scatttered thoughts that slipped into her now-open mind as she felt her strange connection with him become deeper.

Stronger.

Barb.

Bonded.

Locked together.

Possession. Raging, intense, soul-jarring possession.

He stared back at her in tortured disbelief.

Animal.

The thought was filled with pain and self-disgust. And it wasn't her thought. It came from him. From the deepest, darkest reaches of his soul.

She felt her lips curve, her smile weak, though tinted with the small shred of amusement that began to fill her.

"I like your animal" she whispered, her voice strained as another shudder of orgasmic pleasure tore through her body. "My animal"

Chapter Twelve

There was nothing like the morning after. Braden stood on the back porch watching the sun come up, a mug of coffee steaming in his hand as he stared at the mountains in the distance. He could feel the eyes watching the house.

Friendly and enemy alike. He knew there was at least one team of Felines watching over them, but he was certain there was a Coyote in the midst somewhere.

He closed his eyes for a moment, letting the fresh air of a new day wash over him, through him. The tint of malevolence wasn't strong. There was just a hint of the danger, of the evil stalking them. Not close enough to matter, but out there all the same.

As he sipped from the coffee mug and scanned the area searching for the most likely spot in the ridged hills surrounding them for the Coyotes to hide themselves. Jonas had sent the maps and aerial shots of the land through the secure satellite connection the laptop used. The most likely spots had been marked, though the team scouring the cliffs and hidden caverns had yet to find any sign of the Coyotes. There were just too many damned places to hide.

At the moment, he almost wished he were sitting in one of them.

He could hear Megan in the kitchen, muttering to herself as she went over the files. Again. The laptop sat on the kitchen table, the database of Felines and available information open to her. There would be no keeping her out of it now. As his mate, she would have to adapt, to learn how to live the often violent, rarely secure lives they led.

His mate. His body had certainly reinforced that sentiment. The memory

of the pleasure and the shock of the barb emerging from his cock the night before still had him grasping for understanding. For acceptance.

He pushed his fingers through his hair restlessly, fighting to ignore the throb of his erection behind the material of his jeans. It refused to ease. And he'd be damned if he would take her again without her asking. Without some sign that she wasn't sickened by what had happened the night before.

Not that she had appeared sickened by it. But a woman on the edge of unconsciousness couldn't very well be trusted to be truthful. She had given in to exhaustion moments later, her body relaxing in his arms even as her tight heat held him captive within her.

"Braden, what the hell is an A Force?" she called out in frustration. "You really need a directory here."

He winced at the question. He was a part of A Force.

"Assassin, Megan." He kept his voice tempered, hiding the irritability feeding him now.

Silence filled the air as his lips twisted in knowing mockery. He turned and stared through the open door before stepping back into the house and securely closing the panel. She was staring at the monitor, her

hands lying gracefully on the keypad while she went through the thumbnail pictures displayed and the stats given.

"Fourteen marks, three waste points," she recited the statistics. "What does that mean?"

"Fourteen kills, three of which were innocent marks I was unable to save." He no longer tormented himself over the three he had been unable to maneuver out of the line of fire.

"Three." Her voice was raspy, uncertain. And who the hell could blame her? This wasn't exactly a woman's dream of happily ever after.

"Three." He nodded as he moved back to the coffeepot. "The files are there, Megan. If you have questions, read them."

Maybe the fact of who he was would distract her from what he was.

He was careful to keep his senses open, to catch any hint of condemnation that could come from her. He felt none. He felt confusion, anger, but no accusation. Finally he turned to her, watching her curiously.

Her emotions were as easy to read on her face as they were in the air around her. She would be easy for the Coyotes to find if she were caught in a situation that required her to hide not just her physical self, but her mental self as well. The animal senses were rapier-sharp in all Breeds.

Picking up on emotions was nearly as easy as using scent to guide them. How she had managed to surprise them the day they attacked her home, he had no idea. She was confused, aroused, and hurting. Surprisingly enough, the hurt seemed to be for him, not because of him.

"You didn't write the reports." Her eyes were moving over the page as she clicked on the details.

He tilted his head, watching her intently. "How do you know?"

She shrugged. "I can tell. It's too graphic. Too focused on the fact that you didn't kill savagely enough." She lifted her eyes, the blue orbs dark with pain.

His lips twisted at her last words. His Trainer had written the reports, and in each, Braden knew the emphasis on his apparent mercy had been notated. Braden would have been canceled eventually, and he knew it, simply because he could not force an illusion of satisfaction in killing.

"I regret their deaths, not my actions," he assured her. "I did what I had to do to protect others. To protect myself. Those of us who survived realized early on that we would only do so by being smarter than those who created and attempted to train us."

"The three innocents?" He watched her swallow tightly, saw the

compassion in her gaze. It soothed him, even when he felt he deserved no ease for those deaths.

"A scientist who attempted to break away from the Council. He escaped with a newly born Breed babe and attempted to reach someone within the media. He was killed, though the child was never recovered. Also, an Interpol agent investigating one of the European scientists, as well as his contact, the young son of one of the Council members."

He kept his voice cool, his manner distant. He had done what he had to in his battle to survive. "If I hadn't killed them, if I hadn't performed as ordered, others would have died. If a Breed failed, then his closest littermates died as well. If he didn't return, then every Breed within his assigned Lab was murdered and the facility shut down."

He clenched his jaw as he remembered the bonds of loyalty and the fight to survive that had tethered them during those times.

"Loyalty," she whispered.

Braden inclined his head slowly. "Foolish perhaps, but the majority of us were born with a sense of bonding, of loyalty to those we considered littermates. There was no breaking it."

"Did you try?’ He saw the shimmer of tears in her eyes and felt his heart clench at the emotion reaching out to him. There was no pity, but there

was pain. For him. For those he had fought to protect.

"I tried." He nodded slowly. "Each mission. I had a plan in place; I could have escaped. I could have found safety for myself." He grimaced at the thought. "The others wouldn't have died easily, and I knew it. I couldn't be the reason for it. My own death would have been preferable. As long as we lived, there was always a chance of survival, of finding a way to save the others as well."

"I thought the Council frowned upon loyalty and friendship between the Breeds?’ He could feel her searching for clarification, for understanding.

"They punished us severely for it." He pushed his hands into the pockets of his jeans as he leaned against the wall, his lips tilting mockingly. "We were created to murder, to revel in any blood we could spill. We were their disposable soldiers, their robots if you will. Animals who could pose as humans and could strike with deadly force. We weren't created for loyalty, but the scientists and trainers knew it existed. There was no way for us to hide it entirely."

Tears shimmered in her eyes before she turned away from him, the compassion that filled them clenched his heart. She had forced herself to be so strong, enduring alone for so many years. But he could feel her now, reaching out to him, a warmth that eased into his soul and relieved

the bleak chill of his memories.

She moved from the table quickly, hitting the power button on the laptop to abruptly disconnect the pages she had pulled up. Her face was pale, her body tight with tension.

"It doesn't do any good to run from it, Megan. You knew our lives weren't exactly happy hour," he pointed out calmly when he wanted nothing more than to smash something, anything. Preferably the computer that held the incriminating information.

He ached for her. For himself. How horrifying it must be to be bound to a man you knew could kill you with one thrust into your body. To know he could stare into your eyes, whisper your greatest fantasy, and murder you a second later. But it was information she had to have. Secrets she had to know.

She was his mate. He refused to hide anything from her.

The air thickened with tension, fear and pain whipped around him. Not through him; his natural blocks were too strong for that. But he felt it, knew it for what it was.

She turned back to him slowly.

"Do you think I blame you for any of that? she snapped as she flicked

her fingers to the laptop. "That I would ever believe you had done anything other than you had to?" Bitterness twisted her lips. "You might be as arrogant as hell, Braden, but you're not a murderer."

He stared back at her silently, watching as her expression softened, the militant light of battle slowly fading from her eyes.

"I wish I could ease the memories, the pain." Her whispered admission surprised him. "I would take the nightmares if I could, Braden."

Shock tore through him as he read the truth in her eyes.

His little Empath, who had hid from the world and from other's nightmares, was willing to take his in order to ease his pain and accept it as her own.

"Then you're insane." He growled, feeling his erection swell in his jeans as he watched her, saw the emotion that filled her gaze and felt it swirling around him.

Her gaze flickered to it. The scent of her pussy drifted to him, her arousal growing as adrenaline began surging through her body.

"Yeah, that remark resembles me sometimes." She flashed him a cocky smile that had his heart aching.

"Don't romanticize me, Megan." He growled then. She had to know the truth of the man she was bound to now.

"I'm not a hero, and I'm sure as hell not Superman. I kill, and sometimes I even enjoy the blood I spill." Council Trainers, their soldiers_ And one day, he swore, when the main Council members were found, he would exact his own vengeance.

"No, you're not Superman." She rolled her eyes at him as she propped her hands on her hips and confronted him with a frown. "But neither are you a monster. If you want to put distance between us, find another way to do it."

"Wouldn't you like that," he snapped. "You've been trying to throw me out since the beginning."

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