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Authors: Debra Mullins

Tags: #Fiction, #Paranormal romance

Prodigal Son (33 page)

BOOK: Prodigal Son
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She stiffened and whirled to face him. “I was trying to keep us alive. I made the best decision I could at the time.”

“But our lives were in danger. Every minute, someone out there wanted to kill us. And we didn’t know. Do you realize how dangerous that was? We could have done something—”

“Don’t you mean
you
could have done something? Even after all that’s happened, you still want to be the hero, Rafe.”

“No,” he said. “I don’t. But I can handle this thing, so why not let me try?”

“Because you have no control.” She slammed the cabinet doors closed and turned back to him. “When the Hunter comes, Rafael Montana goes away. You have no knowledge of what happens during that time, and that is dangerous. Can we trust your other side to make the right decisions?”

“I don’t have to go full throttle. I can use my powers without losing myself. So you can trust me—the side that is Rafe Montana—to make the right decisions.”

“How can you say that?” She marched out of the vault, implying with one hard look that he should follow. “You had not transformed yet when you decided to interfere in the Quintana matter, so it was truly you who made the decision to charge in there like some superhero. Darius had the situation under control.” She waited for him to exit the vault, then pushed the heavy door closed, and turned to face him. “A man died, and your brother almost did as well. All because you wanted to be a hero.”

“I wanted to work on the Team. I was trying to show Dad—and Mendez—what I could do.”

“And so you did. But at what price?”

Her judgmental tone grated. “Maybe if I’d known there were other Atlanteans out there, I could have found someone with a similar power to train me over the years. Then maybe no one would have died.”

She gave him the aristocrat look again. “So you are saying it is my fault?”

“I’m saying you judged me and excommunicated me unfairly.”

“We did not send you away, Rafael. You did that to yourself.” She let out a slow breath. “This has been a very long day. Perhaps we all need to sleep on what we have learned.”

He hesitated. Fueled by righteous anger, the Hunter chafed to continue the fight, but his other self recognized the wisdom in a strategic retreat. He gave a nod. “Agreed. I’m beat.”

“Then we will talk about this tomorrow.” She led the way through the temple.

He followed, a million questions in his mind, scraping his churned-up emotions like sand in a windstorm. But she was right. Enough secrets had been dragged into the light today. Better to go back to his room and think about the next step.

“By the way,” his mother said, pausing in the doorway leading to the hall. “I like Cara very much. It’s about time you took a mate.”

“What? A mate?” Her words literally stopped him in his tracks. “I mean, we have a thing going, but—”

His mother shook her head, an amused smile playing around her lips. “Have you forgotten my power, Rafael?
Ezkonta
. Matchmaking. I knew as soon as I looked into Cara’s eyes that she was your mate. And it’s a good thing, too. My father told me that Hunters need mates to balance them and keep them grounded in the here and now. She can be a great help to you.”

“She’s not my mate. She can’t be.”

“Are you sure?”

The question echoed back to him off the temple walls as she disappeared into the hall, leaving him alone to wrestle with the answer.

CHAPTER TWENTY

Rafe entered the silent bedroom. He didn’t turn on a light; he felt at home in the dark.

He could make out Cara curled under the covers of the bed, her blond hair flowing across the pillow and gilded by the soft glow of the moonlight. Unable to look away from her, he slipped his T-shirt over his head, barely aware of what he was doing. He’d walked into this room with his emotions scraped raw from interacting with his family, but for some reason seeing Cara in
his
room, in
his
bed, soothed the sting with a salve of pure male satisfaction.

It made him think about what his mother had said. Made him want it to be true.

His mate.

What would it mean, to have a mate? He sat on the edge of the bed and bent down to untie his sneakers. He’d been alone so long he could hardly wrap his head around the idea of a woman just for him, a woman who would wait for him and sleep with him and hold him. A woman who would stay with him and not fear him. He’d never dared dream of such a thing before.

Still couldn’t dream it now. Not when he was still a danger to the people close to him.

He set his sneakers aside and stripped off his socks, dropping them on top of the shoes. Maybe he was reading too much into it. He knew there was something special about Cara, but hell, anyone would know that within thirty seconds of meeting her. She was so warm, so loving, so damned loyal. If his life were different, if
he
were different, he’d give serious thought to a long-term relationship with her. As things stood now, he was lucky she was still talking to him.

He was lucky anyone was still talking to him.

The covers behind him rustled, and her small hands slid around his waist. She snuggled closer, her hair brushing his arm. “Penny for your thoughts.”

“They’re not worth that much.” He turned his head just enough to inhale the lemony scent of her shampoo. “I thought you were asleep.”

“I tried. My brain wouldn’t stop.”

“Make it. You need to rest.” He covered one of her hands with his. “It’s been a long day.”

“I can’t. I can’t stop thinking about Danny.” She buried her face in his back. “Those jerks took my cell phone. I haven’t been able to call him.”

“You can use mine.”

“You don’t understand. I don’t know the number. It’s in my contacts.”

“It’ll be okay.”

“Usually I just memorize phone numbers, but Danny’s been through so many phones over the past couple of years that I couldn’t keep them straight anymore.”

“Cara, not knowing his phone number doesn’t make you a bad sister.”

“Feels like it.” Her voice sounded muffled against his skin.

“Hey, cut that out.” He twisted around to face her. “I’m a worse family member than you are, and I
know
my family’s phone number.”


You
cut it out.” She shifted back a little, giving him more room on the bed. In the sleep shorts Tessa had lent her, her legs seemed to go on forever. “Your family is still here. There are issues to be worked out, sure, but they’re all still in your life.”

“Just like that, huh?”

“Not quite.” She touched his hand. “How did it go with your mom?”

“Okay. Or maybe not okay. I don’t know. It’s confusing.”

“That comes with the family package.”

“What I need is an instruction manual.”

“It’s not that hard. You’re both angry, both feel betrayed, and both love each other.”

“Betrayed!” He scowled. “I didn’t betray them.”

“You went away.”

“To
protect
them!”

“And your mother kept her secret to protect you.” She raised her gaze to his, her eyes luminous in the moonlight.

“That’s different.” Even he could hear how halfhearted that sounded. “My ‘betrayal,’ as you put it, saved their lives. My parents not telling us of a threat this dangerous did the opposite. It put our lives in danger.”

“Oh, yeah, I can see that.” She glanced around the bedroom. “Living in a castle in the middle of the desert with enough security to put Fort Knox to shame. I can see how that would paint a target on your back.”

He tugged a lock of her hair. “Quit with the sass.” Instead of releasing her, he let his fingers linger on the silky strands. She didn’t push him away.

“Just saying it like it is.” She closed her eyes as he slid his fingers deeper into her hair and stroked. “Might have helped if you hadn’t left this amazing fortress to run off into the big, bad world. Probably gave your mom some bad moments.”

“I’m not going to win this argument, am I?”

“We’re not arguing. We’re discussing your perspective.”

“Oh, yeah?” Winding her hair around his hand, he tilted her head back and leaned in until his mouth hovered above hers. “My perspective says you’re in my bed.”

“Yeah.” He dipped his head to nibble her neck, and a slow, shuddering sigh slipped past her lips. “I am.”

“So what does that mean?” He nipped her jaw and raised his head to look at her, caressing away the sting with his thumb.

“Does it have to mean anything?”

“With you, yeah. You’re not the type for one night stands, no matter what you try to tell yourself.”

“Well.” She tilted her head, her hair falling away from her shoulder and giving him more access to her neck. “Technically, this is a second night stand. Already I’m breaking the rules.”

“Yeah, you’re a real rebel.” He took advantage of the unspoken invitation, gliding his tongue along the sweet flesh of her throat. He couldn’t get enough of the taste of her, and her tremor of reaction shot straight to his groin.

She stroked her palm along his arm. “I’m on your side, Rafe. You can talk to me.”

“Enough talking for tonight.” He took her hand and tugged it lower so her fingers brushed the cotton of his sweatpants and the stirring hardness beneath it. “Show me how rebellious you are.”

Her lips curved. Instead of yanking her hand back, she traced the stiffening contours. “You don’t scare me, Mr. Bounty Hunter, even if you are mad at just about everyone in this house.”

“Not you.” He swept his hand under her loose T-shirt, up along her ribs, and cupped her bare breast in his hand. “Does this feel mad to you?”

No, it feels like you’re hurting
. He wouldn’t admit it, but she could sense how deeply his feelings for his family went. Had she really believed he’d simply walked away from them without a second thought? He cared
too
much, and for a man more comfortable with action over words, that had to bug him.

He stroked his thumb over her hardening nipple. “Stop thinking so loud.”

“I’m not.” The words slipped out on a sigh as he pulled the shirt over her head and tossed it aside, leaving her clad only in her shorts.

“I can practically hear your thoughts in my head.” He pulled her down on the bed and rolled onto his back, arranging her limbs until she straddled him, his hard cock nudging her butt through the thin layers of clothing. With his hands around her waist, he leaned up and took a nipple in his mouth.

She whimpered, arching her back as her eyes slid closed. Heat shot through her body, pooling between her thighs. She fell forward, catching herself with her hands on his chest. Her thumb nudged the crystal.

White light streaked through her mind, followed by a wave of arousal so primitive that she nearly came right there. She shook with the hunger rippling through her body, the tightening of her nipples, the moisture between her thighs. She rocked against him, imagining riding him, imagined that hard cock sliding inside her. She was already so wet, so ready.

He released her nipple on a groan, arching his hips. “You want to play, baby? I’m game.” He tugged at her shorts, and she wiggled to help him get rid of them. He threw them aside and slid his fingers between her legs, stroked the damp flesh. She shuddered.

“You’re so ready for me.” He shoved at his sweatpants. She helped, jerking the pants down his legs with hands that trembled. He kicked his legs free, and she tossed the garment away, returning quickly to stroke his newly freed erection.

He groaned, arching his back. “You’re killing me.”

“I hope not.” She brushed a teasing kiss on the smooth head of his cock.

He grabbed the back of her head. “I have an idea.”

“So do I.” She flicked her tongue against him, his groan vibrating straight to her core. “Betcha they’re the same.”

“I think I like your idea better.”

“Let’s see.” She took him in her mouth, savoring the strength of him against her tongue. She teased him with mouth and fingers until his hands fisted in the sheets, her name a plea on his lips as he begged for release. She pulled back seconds before he got one. “Was that your idea?”

“It’s a damn good one, whose ever it was.” He blew out a hard breath. “You drive me crazy, woman.”

“Good.”

“Come here.” He dragged her up and over him. “If I’m right, this should blow both our minds.” When she straddled him, he took her hand in his, wrapped it around his crystal, and slid inside her in one swift thrust.

Her brain exploded, colors and light nearly blinding her mind’s eye. Passion rushed through her like liquid fire, surging into him and bouncing back at her. Heat seared her where their bodies touched, and his every move stoked it higher. Waves of hot and cold rippled along her skin, the flesh prickling with exquisite sensitivity. She didn’t think she could handle it all; she couldn’t breathe. Surely she would burn alive from it. Surely she would die.

The orgasm flared up out of nowhere, melting rational thought and turning her inside out, stretching her across eons, shaking her free of the fetters of humanity. She went up in flames like a phoenix reborn. She screamed, but he swallowed the sound with his kiss; controlled the flames before they devoured her.

And she let herself fall.

*   *   *

Rafe stirred before Cara. He turned his head slowly, not wanting to disturb her where she dozed on top of him, and checked the bedside clock. Only an hour had passed. His mind argued that it was impossible so little time had gone by. His body insisted he had just run twenty miles across the desert at high noon. The symptoms fit: drenched with sweat, trembling muscles, hard to draw a breath. And tired. Bone tired.

But satisfied. Hell, yes, utterly, completely satisfied. He’d surely never come so hard in his life.

He glanced down at Cara and saw she’d released his focus stone. The crystal glowed in the darkness, clearly fully charged from the energy of their mutual, mind-blowing climax. He lifted the stone, enjoyed the vibration against his fingers. Oh, yeah, he was loaded for bear. Probably a good thing with this enemy out there who wanted to kill him.

Cara stirred against his chest. “Mmm. What time is it?”

BOOK: Prodigal Son
13.5Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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