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Authors: Sarah Cameron

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“I need you now,” he said, standing and pushing his pants off his hips. “If I don't get my cock inside you in the next minute, I'm going to die.” He palmed her mound before opening her with his thumb and pushing his hardness inside hot moisture, restraining the animal sounds that threatened to escape him with every move.

 

“Nnnn,” she moaned on an exhale, letting him feed himself deeper and deeper inside her, keeping her thighs apart for him to fit his hips between. She couldn't believe his animal magnetism, the electricity crackling around him. He was larger than life in her eyes, and she had seen many intimidating men. When he was inside her, Damian Hunter was unstoppable and unconquerable.

 

Leaning over her, he screwed deeper inside her, twisting his hips and pushing her across the desk. Her back ached, but she didn't care. She could taste his fragrance in the air and it made her wild. His pheromones had a way of driving her to him and she no longer questioned it. She was a confident woman, aware of her charm and value. She recognized him as being confused, so a plan started forming inside her mind.

 

“Fuck, you feel so hot. It's so wet and hot inside you. I'd do nothing else if possible,” he said, changing the angle so he could drive deeper inside her. Soon they were climbing towards the precipice, clawing at each other like animals, biting skin and touching fervently, limbs entangled, her hips wrapped around his waist as he rocked them to oblivion.

 

Afterward, he was still panting against her, his head buried in her shoulder, teeth clamped on her skin.

 

Jesus Christ, I nearly marked her.

 

The shock of the realization blitzed him to full awareness, making him withdraw from her abruptly. Patient, Zoe smiled, squeezed her calves around his buttocks, and touched his sweaty chest, wrapping her fingers in matted chest hairs.

 

“You're taking a head trip, Damian. Don't. This doesn't mean anything,” she told him, her voice calm and lulling, but it only succeeded in enraging him.

 

“Doesn't mean anything?” he repeated, his eyes darkening with sheer ire. Without warning, he flipped her around, palming her ass as it taunted him and pushing inside her once again, resting his body against her back. He took her unmercifully and savagely, drawing deep grunts and hazy pants from her as he brought them both to the brink, emptying himself in her unprotected womb.

 

He was making her bend to him, despite the powerful and confident woman she was – the only female CEO to ever grace the HUNTER business. In a proprietary way he was proud of her for having achieved this, despite his full-fledged lobby against her. From the beginning he had wanted her away from him, had feared her charm and poise, her strength of will and the way she captivated his senses. She was the missing piece of puzzle to his life, but he couldn't have her. He couldn't expose her to much more of himself, of his life, than he already had.

 

Newman knew they had been intimate. The only way Damian could prove to the man that it had meant nothing was fuck around again. The thought of being with another woman revolted him, but it had to be done.

 

He had to keep her away and protect her.

 

***

 

Zoe wasn't so sure
she
wasn't taking a head trip.

 

She'd only meant to soothe Damian, telling him what he wanted to hear, but it seemed she had misjudged what that would be exactly. He'd taken her so brutally, so unapologetically, and she had loved it. Somewhere in the back of her mind something had rebelled, screaming abuse, but she had smothered that voice, enjoying the rough possession of her body, letting herself go. She could still feel him inside her even now, as she rested against the desk, sensing him somewhere in the room, withdrawn from her but not prepared to leave her yet.

 

She understood his need. He wanted to be rid of her, but couldn't. There was something holding them together, something she had felt from the moment she had first touched his skin.

 

Like magnets.

 

Pushing herself off her desk, she didn't bother straightening her clothes before walking to her bag, opening it and pulling out the old picture of him. She meant to rattle him with her appearance, so recently fucked by him, but realized it was only making her horny again. He was making her insatiable.

 

She found him sitting in her swiveling chair – all rough male, naked from the waist down. The sight of him in a simple black sweater was making her cleft stickier than it already was and she realized she hadn't even taken the proper time to admire him.

 

His eyes were pure, smoldering heat as they rested on her body, caressing her shapes, making her feel like a siren. Like a prey.

 

“So are we going to discuss this?” she asked, allowing herself to be natural, to move comfortably as she raised the picture between two nimble fingers.

 

Lifting an eyebrow, he scoffed. “I prefer not to.”

 

“How old are you?” she asked, ignoring his answer and sitting on a comfortable, plush armchair across from him.

 

Shrugging, he looked away. “I'm nnot sure when I was born. Probably around 1750.”

 

Swallowing her gasp of shock, she tried to steel her nerves. He was a couple centuries older than her. She liked powerful and slightly older men, but this was a whole new level of crazy.

 

“So...” she tried. “Do you... I mean, where were you born?”

 

“America.”

 

“You're not very generous with information about yourself, are you?”

 

“I don't like to be, no.”

 

“You know everything about me, so why can't I know a couple of basic things about you?”

 

“Sweetheart, you've had me inside you. How much more
basic
do you want to get?”

 

Smiling instead of being offended, Zoe decided to take a leap. Spreading her legs slowly, she let him glimpse between her legs just slightly, his seed still clinging to her naked cleft in a way she was sure spoke to his animal instinct.

 

She was starting to get him, his animal sensibilities much more pronounced than reason. He relied on instinct quite a lot, perhaps much more than he relied on intellect. Although the latter could not be contested, the degree to which it was useful to him was debatable.

 

“So how are you all maintaining the appearance of being normal? I mean, I suppose you must've faked your death quite a few times. And don't people take pictures of you? Aren't there old photos of all of you catalogued somewhere? Has no one ever recognized any of you? Like those rumors that Travolta, Cage and Jay Z are immortals based on some men that looked like them a century ago.” A thought occurred to her. “
Are
they? Immortal, I mean.”

 

Smiling mysteriously, Damian shrugged and she sighed.

 

“Well. Tell me if you had a wife.”

 

Nodding, he pursed his lips. “I did.”

 

“Children?”

 

“No, I –
we
can't reproduce unless... Never mind.”

 

“Unless what?”

 

He swiveled his chair away from her, tempting her to come over to him and shake the information out of him.

 

“Did you serve in any wars?”

 

There was a long ensuing silence, which she took as a positive answer, but she needed to be sure. There were so many layers to peel off this man's protective barriers, and since he was so compliant at the moment, she wanted to take advantage. It wasn't often that Damian Hunter was anything else but cranky. At least, that was the common view.

 

“Where did you serve? America?”

 

Staring at the picture when silence was her only answer, she took a wild guess.

 

“The Revolutionary War? When was that? 1775 or something?”

 

She heard his quick inhalation and realized she'd touched a wound. Slowly, he turned toward her with his chair, facing her fully.

 

“You're good,” he said.

 

“I know.”

 

“Observant. But you pry too much. That's a flaw.”

 

“Maybe,” she nodded. “Or maybe a strength.”

 

“If you think you are going to know me by learning things about my past, you're mistaken. I'm not that man. That man died on the fields of that war, along with thousands of other men.”

 

Tilting her head to the side, her voice softened. “Were you a captain or something?”

 

“Admiral,” he corrected.

 

“Did you become a shifter afterwards?”

 

“I was born one.”

 

“Oh?” That was a shock. “People are
born
shifters?”

 

“It's in the genetic code. It activates at a certain age, whenever our body feels it's at its strongest. Some shifters, though – they were turned by curses.”

 

Cocking an impertinent eyebrow, she teased, “Really? Curses? Are you going to tell me about witches next?”

 

“Leon was turned by a curse. He's the oldest living shifter I know of,” Damian commented pensively, as though he hadn't really meant to disclose that.

 

“Really? How old is he?”

 

Shrugging, the not-quite-human man smirked. “Roughly a millennium.”

 

“What?!”

 

Feeling dizzy all of a sudden she thanked him when he pushed a tumbler of something in her hand, downing it in one gulp. The stinging hot feeling it left in her throat soothed her as much as irritated her air pathways, but she wasn't complaining.

 

“This is nice,” she commented, thanking him when he poured some more bourbon into her tumbler, then tilling his own.

 

“What is?”

 

“You and I. Talking. I mean, you, telling me shocking things and I, trying to cope with them. It's... oddly stimulating.”

 

“I respect that you can hold your drinks,” he said, nodding to her now empty tumbler. “Let me drive you home,” he said, more than asked.

 

“I brought my own car.”

 

“You can take your Chrysler to work tomorrow, I'm driving you home tonight.”

 

Trying to disguise her giddiness at how he'd been paying attention to her – having betrayed an intimate knowledge of her personal possessions – she nodded, watching him start getting dressed as she did so herself. Just this time, she allowed him to protect her while still letting him think he could put a barrier between them.

 

They were too entangled for barriers.

 

 

Chapter 4

 


Your nine o'clock is here.”

 

“Thank you, Marissa. Let him in.”

 

Taking a deep breath, Zoe tried to work out Newman's new angle. He had sent his Acquisitions Manager to see her. The reason was yet unknown, but she had a hunch she would not be kept in the dark for long. Gerard Cruise was known for being a ruthless individual – a true beast with charming qualities. He was incredibly good at his job and delivered great results for his boss. He disliked hearing No, which was probably why he was so good at what he did. Turning No's into Yes's was his standard modus operandi. She'd done her research on him, but she had a hunch what she had read would pale into insignificance compared to the real deal.

 

“Miss Jameson,” he greeted, a boyish smile lighting up his masculine features. He was extremely handsome, but she had known that. He did nothing to her libido, though, but to her nerves?

 

“Mr. Cruise, please, have a seat.”

 

That was a sheer courtesy, of course, because he had already sat down before she'd had the chance to finish her sentence, setting the pace of the meeting.

 

“I had a talk to Mr. Newman, which you met the other day.”

 

“Exquisite individual,” she nodded.

 

“And he told me about you,” he went on, ignoring her comment. “I decided I had to meet you myself. A woman of your accomplishment can only have reached this level of success in one way.”

 

“Is that a compliment or an allusion to something else?”

 

“Compliment, of course. How else would you have become CEO of MedFuture Enterprises if not by the merits of your own effort?”

 

“Thank you, then.”

 

“If it had been an insult, how would you have taken it?” His smirk was taunting, so she mirrored it.

 

“Throw me a sincere insult, and you'll see.”

 

Laughing briskly, he leaned back against the armchair, making himself comfortable on enemy territory in a way only extremely confident men could. Exhaling subtly, Zoe felt momentarily daunted by the fact that she was surrounded by virile and powerful men, and yet only Damian affected her on a cellular level, making her twist with lust.

 

“Tell me, Miss Jameson, what are your hobbies?”

 

Eyebrows cocked in surprise, she smiled. “My, you are direct. And inquisitive.”

 

“I've found people's hobbies tell much about their personality.”

 

“I enjoy reading. Everything that makes my vision expand and my perspective grow. And I love ballet. When I was younger I used to participate in competitions.”

 

“Interesting,” he said, the creases around his eyes moving slightly with his enigmatic smile. She felt raw somehow, open to him emotionally. For a moment she wondered if this was the magic that Gerard Cruise was known for – the way he got under people's skin, with his attentive gaze and well-thought questions.

 

“And who trained you?”

 

All warmth fled her gaze and voice. “My father.”

 

“Ah. It must have been a joy, then. A young girl pursuing her passion with her closest male icon at her side, supporting her lovingly.”

 

Disliking the path of the conversation and realizing she could not feign any ounce of cheerfulness, Zoe changed the subject.

 

“And what about you?”

 

“I like gliding. I've been gliding for a long time now. Whitewater canoeing, too. Snowboarding, surfing, windsurfing. Anything that has to do with balance.”

 

“Balance?”

 

“I love fighting to maintain balance. It's the game of my life.”

 

“Is that part of the strategy you use in the M&A world?”

 

“It's not part of the strategy, beautiful. It is the very core of my philosophy.”

 

“Hmm,” she murmured, relaxing visibly. “A philosophy based on balance. I think I like the sound of that.”

 

“You should. You know, I like an analogy made by a genius of our age, Sadhguru Jigga Vasudev, businessman, philantropist, and yogi. In describing life, he described it to riding a bicycle. If all you're doing is fighting to keep your balance, you'll be missing the beauty surrounding you. But if you learn balance from the beginning, you'll be able to ride that bike with your head held high, enjoying life's pleasure.”

 

Wondering how many similar analogies he had in his sleeves, Zoe stored away this memory about their conversation for subsequent perusal.

 

“Nice one.”

 

“Having a wide perspective – it's indescribable. When you feel like you're seeing things from above, from a

 

“Let me guess,” she said. “Bird's eye view?”

 

With a rich laugh, he nodded. “You surprise me, Miss Jameson. Luke told me you were bright, but you are taking things surprisingly well for a woman in your situation.”

 

A thin thread of hostility enveloped her, as it always happened when she felt threatened. Both Gerard and his boss had managed to feel her comfortable, yet threatened.

 

“My situation?”

 

“Well. You are in possession of quite powerful knowledge. Knowledge that has the power to destroy, as well as to create. In the hands of the wrong individuals – trust me, Miss Jameson, it would be disastrous.” Serious all of a sudden, Gerard leaned over the desk. “You are not yet aware of the life you are going to live from now on. To say you are going to be under the magnifying glass from all angles would be a gross understatement. Your private life is no longer private, Miss Jameson.”

 

“Is that a warning?” She narrowed her eyes, brows furrowing in displeasure.

 

“A fact.” Shrugging, he gestured to her windows. “There is no way to know the number of paparazzi waiting for you outside. Though the Hunters have a tight leash on them, they can't smother everything. Trust me when I say that being a COO and a CEO of one of the HUNTER Holdings companies is not the same.”

 

“Oh, and you are an expert on it,” she teased, hoping to make her point, but he merely smiled.

 

“I am a former CEO of a HUNTER Holdings subsidiary, Miss Jameson.”

 

Shocked beyond words, Zoe could only gape shamelessly.

 

“I've surprised you. Here,” he said, handing her the glass of water he had received upon arrival. She refused.

 

“I'm just... I haven't read about it anywhere. There's no information on it.”

 

“It wasn't in the papers. It's not common knowledge at all. It didn't happen very recently, actually.”

 

By that she took to mean that it had probably not happened in the past few decades.

 

“Well, I'm surprised you're working for Mr. Newman.”

 

“Yes, well. I've never betrayed HUNTER Club's trust in me.”

 

“Oh, my God.” Her eyes were like onions. “You're a spy for HUNTER Holdings.”

 

“I would never call myself that, Miss Jameson.” But his smile indicated agreement.

 

“I'm sure you know I'll have to verify your implied claim, Mr. Cruise.”

 

“Please do so, Miss Jameson.”

 

Texting a quick message to Damian, she was surprised to received a prompt, though surly answer within the next minute.

 

“He's our man. What's it to you? And where did you get my number?”

 

Without replying, she smiled to the man in front of her, liking their conversation much more than a minute before. Immediately, a plan started crafting in her mind.

 

***

 

Damian couldn't stand being ignored. That she'd met Gerard Cruise made him sick with jealously, for some reason. The man was known for getting virtually anyone to say yes, and he wondered if that would prove true. If Damian staked a claim on her, though, no one would dare move a muscle in her direction.

 

Distracting his thought processes, he let his work draw the entirety of his attention, throwing Zoe in a far corner of his mind.

 

Darkly, he fell into the shadows of his past, relieving the horrors of war, of losing men and being the reason for so much pain. Being a war hero could not be accomplished without the perils of hundreds, but he hadn't let it affect him for more than a century. Eventually, though, the nightmares had started coming. What bothered him was that there had been no real cause for his motivation. Now the War seemed worthless to him – needless. They could have accomplished the same thing through other means, without expending so many lives. He couldn't dwell on it, though – it had all passed.

 

He remembered himself then: young, ambitious, unstoppable and unreasonable. No one had stood in his way and he'd won victory after victory, and not only in war. He'd been a local champion, the proverbial knight, and so proud that the now legendary Leon Hunter had taken an interest in him. With time he had witnessed and contributed to a much larger movement that had enabled him to save lives, not take them. MedFuture Enterprises was his baby, his creation. He'd developed it out of an intrinsic necessity – it hadn't been a whim.

 

Growling at the scent of the approaching man, he didn't bother to turn around as the lab doors glided open.

 

“What do you want? I thought I told you to leave me alone today.”

 

“I'm just informing you we're having a club meeting in five weeks – just us, Hunters. Leon will be there, too,” Dominic said, occupying the only comfortable-looking chair in the room.

 

“You could have texted me. It's five weeks away, it's not even urgent.”

 

“You need to confirm. Leon doesn't like to waste time – you know that.”

 

Grunting in acknowledgement, he scribbled something on a notebook before briefly looking Dominic in the eyes. “I confirm. I'll be there. Now
leave
.”

 

“Honestly, Damian, you're clueless.”

 

Ticked off, the older brother turned around slowly, trying to stave off his anger. It wasn't easy, the day had already been shitty enough for him. He relied on his anger to feed him with energy, to keep the guilt at bay, and yet now he wondered if it wouldn't make him snap.

 

“I'm telling you, Dominic. You picked a wrong day for a brawl.”

 

“You had her at the estate. She's your mate. How much longer do you think you can stay away from her?”

 

So he'd addressed the real subject he had come to discuss.

 

“That's none of your business. And I would appreciate if you left me alone to work and think about it, since it is
my
business.”

 

“You're such a hurt puppy, aren't you?” Dominic teased. “You don't need to pretend with her, Damian. She's strong. The strongest woman your sorry hide will ever find. The only one for you. You know that, right?”

 

“Why are you telling me all this?”

 

The younger Hunter's gaze clouded, emotions cleared from his face.

 

“Because I'm envious. I envy you that you've found your mate. For the rest of us, every connection we have is weak, meaningless. You have the chance to have something deep and real and you're
fucking it up.
Grow a fucking pair.”

 

“I am, which is why I can't have her.”

 

“Oh, give me a break. Don't tell me I'm talking to Unselfish Dr. Hunter here.”

 

“Shut up,” Damian growled, disliking when anyone addressed him by his title.

 

“Give it up, Mother Theresa. Your selflessness is unwarranted in this case.”

 

He couldn't help but snap. “Newman is already sniffing at her heels, don't tell me it's unwarranted.”

 

“You have her on level six, don't you? Are you telling me you're worried any of us could get killed?”

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