Megan's Mark (Breeds #7)

Chapter 22

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Her eyes widened at the anger he displayed.

"What's with you? " She lifted her chin and narrowed her eyes in challenge. "You've been fighting to get into my bed and override my defenses against you since you first met me. Fine, you had me, you bit me, you mated me. And now dumb little Megan cares one way or the other if you die. Feeling a little trapped now, are we?"

Braden glowered back at her. He didn't feel trapped, he felt_ off balance.

Women feared him; even those who came to his bed were wary of tempting his anger. But Megan accepted him, defended him even when he couldn't defend his actions himself. She terrified him with her courage and her ability to accept not just the Mating, but him.

He finally sighed wearily. "I don't feel trapped, Megan."

He felt like snarling at his own helplessness to see her safe from the threat against her. "You have to know the truth about me. Dealing with this situation requires that you know who and what I am. Otherwise, you cannot make the choices you will have to rationally."

"I have a feeling few people deal with you in any kind of rational manner." She crossed her arms over her breast, the loose T-shirt she wore riding up the hem of her shorts to flash a tempting strip of flesh. He wanted to lick it.

"This is possible." He dragged his attention from the bare flesh to reply to her comment. "I was never considered one of the tamer specimens."

"Why did you pull that up for me to read?’ Her lips thinned in annoyance and suspicion.

"It's a part of me, Megan." He shrugged. "Part of who I am. If you don't learn it now, you may have to later. And controlled conditions are always

best."

"You think you're fooling me. You're not so cold, Braden."

"I'm not?' Actually, there had been times when he had been forced to be worse.

"You're trying to piss me off,'' she accused him heatedly. "Trying to make me think you're nothing but a coldblooded killer."

"That's exactly what I am, Megan." There was no sense in hiding the truth. "Accept that now. You read the reports; you saw the truth of me. I kill. I track down my prey, and I use whatever means necessary to kill them quickly and effectively. They have no worth in my eyes. Understand this now. It's a life you will have to share with me. One you will have to learn to live within. You are my mate. My fight has now become yours."

Surprise burned in her expression, just as excitement flowed from her.

"This Mating crap has rotted your brain, Braden." She deliberately provoked him. He noticed she attempted to do that a lot. One day, he would have to cure her of that habit. Maybe. "I don't have to do anything. I do as I please. What's between us won't change that."

She stared back at him defiantly. That defiance made him want to take

her down. To show her exactly who was the stronger, who controlled. She belonged to him and she damned well better get used to it.

"You will follow, Megan. I lead." That description was beginning to grate on his nerves and it was time to put a halt to it.

"Sorry Lion Man, but that's not exactly how it works." She snarled, her chin lifting defiantly as she stood before him like a spitting little tabby cat. "This Mating Heat stuff doesn't change that. And while we're on that subject, just how many different women can you do this to, anyway?"

Braden tensed. He hadn't expected this one, and evidently she had just thought of it herself. Her eyes widened then narrowed as her lips tightened in suspicion.

"As far as I know, Breeds mate only once. For life." At least that was the information he had received.

"Just as true lions are known to."

"Real lions have a freakin' harem," she spat out, her eyes glinting suspiciously. "One male, up to a dozen females."

"They mate only one," he assured her arrogantly. "And pray to Heaven I follow their example because if I had to deal with another woman even similar to you, I would go ahead and walk into a den of Coyotes for the relief. You, Megan, are threatening to destroy any control I have

managed to learn over the years."

"It better be a one-time deal," she muttered, frustration thick in her voice as she paced the room once again. "Because I don't share."

Seconds later she stopped, turned to him, and narrowed her eyes. "If you're such a big-shot assassin, why haven't you tracked down the people who murdered the Breeds here?"

"First, I need to know who I'm tracking." He grunted. "You keep killing the suspects, Megan. You can't question what isn't breathing. Out of four Coyotes sent after you, you've left only one alive. Give me something to work with here, baby."

She crossed her arms over her breasts. Nice, plump little breasts that fit his hands exactly. Hard nipples spiked beneath the cloth of her T-shirt and the scent of her need whipped through his senses like wildfire burning out of control.

"It's kind of hard to be nice when those assholes are trying to kill me." She finally shrugged. He had a feeling she had intended to say something far different.

"Once I learn who is behind it, then I'll go hunting." He kept his relaxed pose, leaning against the counter, ignoring the almost hidden glances she made toward the erection straining against his jeans. At this rate,

his cock would end up bursting the zipper before the day was out.

"Yeah, you do that," she finally muttered, turning away from him to pace back to the table.

She stood behind the chair, leaning against it as she stared down at the computer once again. The information there was not what was on her mind. He could feel her nervousness now, knew what had been coming. Her subtle glance at the erection straining beneath his jeans warned him that her attention had now shifted from his killing expertise to other matters. Those matters weighed heavily on his own mind, and were the very ones he had wanted to avoid.

"It's called a barb," he informed her coolly, knowing that putting it off wouldn't make it easier. "But I have a feeling you already knew that."

A deep flush filled her face then, and he swore her nipples tightened further. They poked against the shirt with the same insistence of his cock pressed against his jeans.

"Did I ask?’ she snapped, jerking back as she straightened fully and glared at him.

His shoulders lifted negligently. "I could see it on your face, Megan. You're so nervous you're about to jump out of your own skin. There's no

sense beating around the bush or ignoring what happened."

"I could be a little put out that I seem to be stuck with an arrogant know it-all assassin intent on pissing me off this morning," she pointed out, managing to project cool disdain despite her embarrassment.

"That would throw any girl off track, don't you think?"

"Some, perhaps." He tilted his head in acknowledgment as a smile tugged at his lips. "I think it excites you more than anything else. Your nipples are hard. Would they get harder if I told you about all the cool weapons you could play with?"

She breathed in deeply, her expression becoming mutinous as she stared back at him.

"Oh yeah, blood and guts really just turn me on." She snorted sarcastically. "I bet yours would do wonders for me."

"It's not my blood you want right now, Megan." He tensed as her gaze dropped once again, her breathing becoming heavier as her eyes flickered over his crotch before jerking up once again. "It's a little late for pretense, baby. That barb might have you nervous as hell, but you want it. I can smell it."

"I'm going to cut your nose off." She rubbed at her arms before a light shiver shook her slender frame. It was building in her, just as Jonas had

said it would. The need to mate, to conceive. For three days to a week the overwhelming need would be near impossible to deny. After that, the arousal would be easy to tempt, though the reactions closer to normal.

Nothing would make the barbing disappear. Thank God.

It was the most pleasure he had ever known with a woman.

More pleasure than he had ever given one, even under the influence of the scientist's drugs.

"I thought your little pill was supposed to fix this." Her voice was huskier, filled with her heat as it began to climb within her.

"It only eases the harsher effects of the Mating Heat. There will be no pain if you don't deny the arousal." She might not be in pain, but it was killing him.

She swallowed tightly as she stared back at him, her gaze mischievous, hungry. Her high cheekbones blazed with heat as she dampened her pouty lips with the flick of her pink tongue once again. He wanted to feel that tongue.

Licking him, stroking him.

This was his woman; his scent covered her, his seed filled her. His teeth clenched with his need to mark her. He had denied himself the growing desire to give her that sensual bite to her neck the night before. Had fought the impulse with every straining inch of control he possessed. Today, he would not deny himself.

She licked her lips again, slowly, weighing her options, he thought in amusement. The woman was definitely attempting to side with caution this morning. He wondered which would win out, the need for caution or the need to fuck. He knew which one he hoped would win.

As he watched, he felt a frisson of unease skirt down his back as her expression suddenly cleared of nervousness and indecision. It was replaced with pure feminine sensuality. It was enough to make a grown man wary.

A second later her eyes darkened to near black and the flush on her face deepened. Hunger filled her. He could smell it on the air around her, taste it in the spicy hormone that suddenly flirted on his taste buds as the glands beneath his tongue began to throb in demand.

He tensed as she moved, walking slowly around the table with her eyes narrowed on him. He almost smiled. It was more than obvious that the little minx was out to prove something. He just wasn't certain what.

"You are starting to irk me, Braden," she told him as she rounded the

table, gliding forward as the scent of her arousal began to cloud his mind, and his judgment. Damn, he wanted nothing more than to throw her to the table and fuck her until she screamed for mercy. Or for more.

"I do seem to be rather good at that." He contained his laughter. Hell, he was fighting for breath as her hand flattened against the tight muscles of his abdomen, the silken warmth sinking into his flesh as her nails pressed into the skin.

He uncrossed his arms, one hand reaching out to thread through her long hair as her lashes fluttered.

"Be certain, Megan," he growled out. "I'm riding a very thin edge of control right now. I cannot promise you gentleness."

She opened her eyes, the dark depths reflecting so many emotions they took his breath. He could feel her fears swirling around him, the fear of the bond between them, her wariness of it. She had been alone so long. Too damned long. Forced to forget she was a woman with needs. Forced to hide herself and her gifts in her quest to protect those she loved. Her dedication to her family, her obvious love and sacrifice for them touched him. How much more loyal would she be to a lover, or to one who held her heart?

His patience was a fragile thing right now. Despite his best efforts, he

could feel his normal calm eroding further as the animal impatient to mate surged to the surface. He grimaced as her nails scraped his abdomen, scratching

along his flesh until they stopped at the waistband of his jeans. She smoothed her hand over the waistband, her fingers pausing at the snap, delicate, graceful fingers that trembled.

Braden trailed his hands down her arms, curiously watching the small shivers that raced over her flesh. He was certain her responsiveness was due to the Mating Heat. But she was his mate. What did it matter why?

"You are as soft as the finest silk." He sighed, losing himself in her passion.

"I need you." Her voice trembled with emotion. "I'm not used to needing someone else like this Braden. It terrifies me."

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