Burning Skies Page 43

“Break it now,” Marcus growled, adding resonance, which forced her to turn and face him.

“It’s no big deal,” she tried to reassure him. “And if memory serves, that link saved your ass.”

Those were so the wrong words to say to a Warrior of the Blood, on so many levels. That she would suggest Marcus wasn’t fully capable of defending himself or her or Parisa was unforgivable. So was challenging him about the right of another man to have possession of her mind, even in this small, superficial way. She might as well have trumpeted a call to arms.

The release of a torpedo of fennel caused her to gasp. She took a step back and weaved on her feet. She saw stars, she really did. Holy shit.

She glanced at Parisa and Alison. She met Alison’s gaze and sent, Would you see to Parisa? I seem to have a situation.

Alison glanced her direction, lifted her brow when her gaze shifted to Marcus, then guided Parisa into the executive dining room. She closed the door with a quick snap.

Before Marcus gave vent to the rage so evident in the way his light brown eyes were almost glowing, Havily jerked her head in the direction of her office. She moved with preternatural speed, pulled the door open and went inside. She knew he’d followed with the same blast of speed because his thighs were up against her, shoving at her, each step of the way.

Oh, boy was she in for it now.

Before she could open her mouth to either protest or explain, he had her pinned against the wall. Though the front part of her office had glass windows, the south wall was solid and separated her from the entire administrative pool. Only if someone happened to walk by could they be seen. The plate-glass window on the east wall was open to nothing but miles of desert.

His body was pressed the full length of hers, and the release of all this aggression had tainted his fennel scent with such a heavy dose of pheromones that her knees no longer existed. “Break it,” he whispered deep into her ear.

His breath, his fennel, the erotic feeling of being pinned by this warrior, caused Havily to breathe in light little gasps. Dammit, she was panting. How quickly the man could sex her up. Not only that, she couldn’t form a single rational thought. Instead, she wondered if she ought to just fold off her slacks and her thong and let him take care of business. That he was a hard length grinding between her legs wasn’t a surprise.

What was it she had meant to say to him?

“No one takes your blood,” he said, measuring each word, his breath still driving into her ear, “and no one gets inside your head.” He drew his hips back slightly, and his hand went low as he caught her between her thighs. He cupped her … hard … and it felt so good. “And no one gets in here.” All of this, he sent, your mind, your body, your blood … these belong to me. Do … you … understand?

Havily opened her mouth to speak, knowing she should argue, maybe set some boundaries, but his lips were on hers and his tongue took possession of her mouth in hard thrusts. After a moment, his cock once more formed a powerful ridge against her. He drew back but just enough to meet her gaze. “Break the connection.” He ground his teeth. “Now. I need this.”

“I can’t,” she responded breathless. “I would, but I don’t know how. I think Medichi has to do it. Besides, I’m still not certain if it’s a good idea.”

He growled and pressed his hips against hers. “Not an option,” he said. “Let’s go back to the villa. I’ll wake him up and we’ll get this thing taken care of.”

“Marcus,” she whispered, turning her head. “I have a meeting. It’s important, especially after the warning Leto gave you about the Ambassadors Festival. Besides, Medichi should sleep. You of all people know how important that is.”

He was breathing against her neck and licked her throat.

She groaned, her eyes rolling back in her head. She would love to just throw away all her responsibilities, even her sense of what was right in this situation, but there was a little more at stake than the breh-hedden’s absurd call on them both.

She wedged her hands against his chest and pushed. Reluctantly, he gave way and stepped back, if not very far.

“Come to the meeting with me,” she said. “And as soon as I can I’ll sever the link, but I must conduct this meeting now.”

He closed his eyes and she watched the struggle. The hands clenched on her arms gripped too hard. His jaw ground back and forth and he forced several deep breaths.

“Fine,” he muttered, at long last, but his face had a ruddy color. “But I’m not happy about this.”

“No shit,” she whispered. That made his expression soften a little, since she rarely used profanity.

The meeting, however, did not flow quite as smoothly as she had hoped, but that was to be expected with one pissed-off-looking warrior vampire leaning against the door as though he barred all the other vampires from leaving.

Despite his brooding presence and the way his gaze followed her no matter which direction she moved, Havily listened to reports from each of her heads and had a good sense that both the reception, to be held on the following night, and the Festival in two days’ time were well in hand. She would have expected nothing less. She had chosen her people with great care.

Finally, she broached the matter of security. Endelle wanted Leto’s warning known, without revealing the source. She kept the message succinct, then added, “Given the attack on Warrior Luken, there is strong reason to suspect we’re talking about an incendiary threat, probably in the air.”

The head of security, the Militia colonel by the name of Seriffe—and one powerful warrior—sat forward in his chair. He had short black hair, dark eyes, and a deep olive complexion. He was almost as big as Marcus. “So what are we talking about?” he asked. “Are we talking about during the barge parade or the following spectacle? Maybe the fireworks? The route is fifteen miles long and even though we’ll have ten thousand Militia Warriors on the ground and another five hundred in the skies patrolling, how the hell are we to watch every movement, especially along the fireworks battery lines? Did this source indicate if there were concerns about the reception?”

Havily glanced at Marcus. She lifted a brow. Marcus had heard Leto. He would know that answer.

Marcus leaned away from the door and stood upright. He took a deep breath and some of his broody demeanor fell away. He shook off the effects of the breh-hedden and assumed his most professional manner, very in control, very much the man who had met her in the lobby of his building and escorted her upstairs to his office. Had that only been a couple of days ago? “The source referred specifically to the fireworks display. Nothing was said of the reception.”

“Well, that’s something then,” the colonel stated. “So we’ll focus our efforts on the fireworks batteries in the White Tanks. Beyond that, we’ll have to rely on the vigilance of our Militia Warriors to report any undue activity.”

Havily glanced at Marcus, at the slash of brows over light brown eyes, and a strong sensation of admiration rose in her chest. She hadn’t wanted to feel this way about him, that on top of the breh-hedden’s call for communion, she could actually admire the man, but so she did. He had tremendous presence, the kind a man emitted when he’d been used to governing, in this case, a large number of corporations. His gaze shifted to hers abruptly. His eyes narrowed; then a faint smile and a nod of his chin gave evidence that her sudden emotion had communicated in no doubt a release of what he kept calling honeysuckle.

Naturally, naturally, he sent his own little fennel message, which brought on the familiar shortness-of-breath-and-watery-knees syndrome. She looked away from him and forced her attention back to Seriffe. She encouraged the colonel to lead the discussion, which drew Marcus well into the mix because his empire made extensive use of security. Corporate spies were busy everywhere. With Marcus thus engaged, she could breathe … a little.

By four o’clock, the meeting drew to a close. “I want to thank all of you for doing such an amazing job. With your outstanding teams in place, I’m sure this will be one of the finest events the administration has hosted.” Smiles followed, and quirks of lips, since the administration hadn’t hosted an event in decades.

She stood by the door as everyone left. She clasped hands, spoke more words of gratitude, and even exchanged a joke or two.

As best she could, however, she tried to ignore the vampire at her elbow, who sent a whisper through her mind, Break the link, Havily, as soon as we get back to the villa.

* * *

Once the last chairperson left the conference room, Marcus would have folded Havily straight back to the villa to take care of business, but Havily reminded him that they had a mortal-with-wings to tend to. He made short work of rounding up Parisa and getting both women back to the house.

But his attention was all for Havily. Damn, he hated being such a bastard about this, but he needed the link gone … now.

Parisa, fortunately, said she needed some alone time and intended to prepare a cup of tea and enjoy a piece of solitude. She pointed behind her. “I’ll be in that small room at the top of the stairs, you know, just beyond the kitchen.”

“The turret bedroom,” Havily said. It was the only second-story room in the villa.

“If it’s all right with you both,” Parisa said, glancing from him to Havily, “I … I really would like to be alone for a while.”

“Of course,” Havily said.

Marcus had never been more grateful in his life, because right now he needed to get Havily alone and have a little talk with her.

When their winged ascendiate took off in the direction of the kitchen, his previous drive and instincts, with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer, pounded him again. He crossed to her and took her hand. “You,” he said quietly. “Come with me. We’re going to wake Medichi up then we’re going to have … a discussion.”

Havily opened her mouth to protest then clamped her lips shut. “Very well.”

He started to pull her hard in the direction of Medichi’s suite.

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