Rule breaker, p.13
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       Rule Breaker, p.13
 

         Part #20 of Breeds series by Lora Leigh

  Her mother was silent, though Gypsy swore she could feel that “mother” look of curiosity and disapproval boring into her.

  The arrogance in Rule’s face as he closed the door behind him and stepped into the room had her teeth gritting furiously.

  “Commander, may I introduce Gypsy’s parents, Hansel and Greta McQuade.” Jonas moved ahead of her and drew her parents forward. “Owners of McQuade Image Consulting, who are being tasked with ensuring that your entrance into society and the division directorship happens seamlessly.”

  “Mr., Mrs. McQuade.” Shaking her parents’ hands, he then stepped back, his hands going behind his back, his legs spread, planted firmly beneath his height as he stared down at them with a grin. “That’s quite a task you’ve taken on there. I hope I don’t disappoint you.”

  Hansel McQuade could barely restrain his smile, and Gypsy watched in disgust as Rule turned on the charm. Of course, her father responded immediately. For all her appearances of warm graciousness, her mother’s gaze told another story though.

  “Greta and I will have the pleasure of working with your liaisons, actually. Gypsy has been given your account, but you can trust she’s well qualified and knows exactly what she’s doing.”

  “As I heard.” Satisfaction began to gleam in his eyes. “And I must say, I’m quite happy with the choice of consultant tasked with handling me.”

  It was all she could do to contain her flush as his gaze met her, reminding her far too clearly just who had been handling whom no more than a few short hours before.

  “Commander Breaker.” Her mother stepped slightly forward then, shooting Gypsy a firm, warning look. “I’m certain whatever—offenses Gypsy may have felt will not affect her professionalism. I’m confident you’re in excellent hands.”

  Wicked humor sparked in those electric blue eyes as they met her gaze. An immediate flush of heat began scalding her senses as that adrenaline just waiting to race through her now shot through her like rocket fuel.

  Immediately her breasts felt swollen, her nipples far too sensitive. Her clit was throbbing, dampness rushing from her vagina as the sensitive inner flesh began to ache for his touch again. The memory of lying beneath him in the backseat of the Dragoon, his hips cradled between her thighs, their clothing a hated barrier between his cock and the needy depths of her vagina, raced through her mind.

  “I agree with you, Ms. McQuade,” Rule assured her mother. “I’m certain I’m in very capable hands.”

  Heat flushed her face then as anger began to fuel arousal and arousal began to burn like wildfire through her senses.

  In capable hands, was he?

  She was going to strangle him.

  Neuter him.

  She’d make him wish he’d never touched her to begin with, let alone continue to contemplate it each time she managed to escape him.

  Her fingers curled into fists as she kept her arms crossed beneath her breasts, ignoring the look he flicked to the now too-sensitive curves.

  And he was well aware of her arousal too.

  She could see it in his eyes, see it in the sensual flames beginning to ignite there.

  Suddenly, she could feel his touch just as she had felt it earlier. His fingers moving beneath her shorts, rasping against her flesh and sending pleasure racing through her body.

  It was all she could do to hold back a shiver of response.

  A chill of dread.

  “Let’s take our seats, then.” Jonas broke into the erotic tension beginning to whip between them as he directed them back to the seating area.

  She wasn’t the least bit surprised that Commander Breaker took a seat on the other end of the short sofa she claimed. Her parents sat on the love seat next to her with Jonas, and Rachel took a similar sofa across from her.

  “Shall I begin?” Jonas suggested, his gaze turning to Gypsy. “I happened to have been nosy.” He grinned. “I went over the notes in the file you brought with you. Excellent, by the way, and many are similar to the list of concerns and suggestions that Dane and Seth were kind enough to text to me. We’ll go over them, then adjourn until the ball next week. We’ll make an announcement to the press the next morning, and hopefully we’ll be able to get together to discuss our game plan within a few days of that. Agreed?”

  Agreed?

  Well, everyone else agreed.

  “May I have my notes back, Jonas?” she asked sweetly, not at all happy that he had gone through them, but it had been no more than she had expected.

  The grin that edged at his lips was still warm and affectionate as he stared back at her.

  “I would . . .” He winced, then glanced at Rachel.

  Rachel bit the side of her lip before staring back at Gypsy with amused discomfort. “I’m sure you’ll want to see it to be certain, but I swear.” She lifted her hand with a light laugh. “Amber managed to get hold of the papers and massacred them. I could have sworn she was jabbering ‘moo-cake.’”

  Gypsy felt her heart melt.

  There was no way the toddler could have known she had eaten the last slice of Kandy’s chocolate mousse cake that she’d slipped from the store before leaving for Connie’s.

  “We’re going to have to get that kid a moo-cake,” she decided. “Are you busy tomorrow?”

  Rachel’s smile was one of pleased surprise. “I have time tomorrow.”

  “Then Amber has to have moo-cake tomorrow. Tell her Auntie Gypsy will be around sometime tomorrow afternoon with goodies,” she declared.

  That baby would have moo-cake if Gypsy had to make it herself.

  At least Jonas had notes of a sort, Gypsy thought as the conversation turned back to the contract the Breeds were offering McQuade Image Consulting.

  By time the meeting was over, she was satisfied that the offer was legitimate, but more concerned than ever in regard to her own duties. Because the longer she sat there, the more she ached, and the more she craved that hint of chocolate and peppermint Rule’s kiss held.

  And she hated needing him. Hated it more than she could say because it threatened everything she was, everything she had believed about herself.

  He was far too dangerous, and she was far too weak.

  And she had no idea whatsoever how to combat either.

  ...

  “Did you replace the device?” Lawe entered the suite behind his mate and faced Jonas as Rule stood with his back to the room, staring out of the huge windows after Gypsy and her parents had left.

  Tension filled Rule’s shoulders as his anger seemed to shimmer in the air around him.

  There had been a listening device in Greta McQuade’s purse. It was very cleverly sewn into the lining and programmed to only record. Recording devices held a very different electronic signal than an audio device programmed to transmit.

  Thankfully, Jonas scanned for any and all signatures. Then he scanned for anomalies if he found no signatures. If there was a scanner for it, then Jonas scanned for it. Still, it was more luck than anything that it had been found.

  “It was returned.” Jonas nodded as he moved behind the bar and poured himself a drink.

  Lawe shook his head as the director lifted the decanter of whiskey in his direction.

  “I actually expected Gypsy to have the device rather than her mother.” Lawe shook his head in surprise. “Greta McQuade is no spy. Especially for the Unknown.”

  “And Gypsy is no traitor to her friends,” Jonas sighed. “Especially those who saved her life. Her mother, though, was nervous as hell, according to Thor, when she was asked to turn over her purse.”

  Rule growled, turning to face him. “She knew what was in that damned bag. Just as she knew it would backlash on Gypsy.”

  The hard, chiseled lines and angles of his features appeared more savage than normal, his anger tightening them and causing his blue eyes to brighten marginally. In times of fury, his eyes practically glowed.

  Lawe turned to Jonas. “Are you rescinding the contract?”

  Surprisingly,
Jonas shook his head thoughtfully. “Seth was inclined to, but Dane seemed hesitant. He wants to wait and see what happens from here.”

  “They’re image consultants,” Lawe retorted. “They could destroy Rule’s chances of successfully settling into the enforcement bureau if they’re of a mind to do so.”

  “Gypsy wouldn’t allow it,” Rule snapped, his jaw tightening as he glared back at his brother.

  “What makes you think she wouldn’t allow it?” Lawe moved to the back of the couch that faced him, his hands gripping it, fingers digging in as he stared at his brother in disbelief. “For God’s sake, Rule, we already know she’s involved with the Unknown up to her pretty little neck and doing everything she can to hide it, despite her knowledge that we have to find Judd and Gideon to help Amber. What’s that if not a betrayal?” Lawe glanced at Jonas as well as he made the statement.

  “Trust,” Rule snarled. “She’s worked with them for nine years. They protect the nation and its people. She knows that. If they told her they couldn’t help Amber, then she would believe them until she’s shown otherwise.”

  “I actually agree with him for a change.” Diane, not exactly the gentlest of women when it came to traitors, moved next to Lawe, laying her hand against his arm comfortingly as Lawe watched his brother in disbelief. “Gypsy’s a wild card, but she’s damned loyal to friends, Lawe. Even I know that. Besides, she wouldn’t allow her parents to destroy their own reputations in such a way. I think she should be told about the device, though.”

  All eyes turned to her. Jonas hadn’t lost that grave, thoughtful look in his eyes, nor had Rule lost his temper. Yet.

  “Why?” Rule questioned, his tone harsh. “What good would it do to cause her to question her loyalty to her parents? Especially if we can find a way to neutralize the threat Mrs. McQuade could represent.”

  Lawe stared down at the seat of the couch to hide his shock. Rule was concerned about the woman rather than Jonas’s security, or any threat the McQuades could pose to the Breeds in general? Who had kidnapped his brother and left this lunatic standing before him instead?

  “Rule, I highly advise against hiding this from Gypsy,” Diane stated. “If she learns of it the wrong way, it could destroy the foundations of her life. She hasn’t had a lot to hold on to since her brother’s death.”

  Lawe stared at his mate and his brother now. They were discussing this as though Gypsy McQuade shouldn’t be brought up on charges of breaking half a dozen statutes of Breed Law? She was a spy for an unknown sect of warriors that no one could identify.

  Since when did that garner trust?

  “Exactly. So why tear down her belief in all she has left?” Rule snarled.

  Diane was shaking her head.

  “Rule.” Rachel moved into the living area from the bedroom, clearly aware of the discussion. “Her parents aren’t the foundation of Gypsy’s life. They haven’t been since she was fifteen and stood alone in that desert while her parents stood apart from her. You forget, it was Jonas who gave her the acceptance she needed to survive when her parents were unable, or perhaps even unwilling, to do so. Gypsy’s foundation is the code she lives by. It’s her job, her friends and her determination to further her brother’s work that ensure that she pulls herself out of her bed each morning. By withholding this information from her, you’re taking away her ability to protect her parents and to learn more than we can as to why her mother attempted such a thing.”

  ...

  Rule stared back at the group in disbelief before shaking his head in amazement, anger churning in his gut at the very thought of the pain that information would cause Gypsy. “Those are her parents. If she learns that they were attempting to betray the Breeds, then you’ll strip them from her and that will destroy her.”

  “Keeping her in the dark is what will destroy her, Rule,” Rachel assured him as she moved to Jonas, allowing his arm to wrap around her and pull her close to his side. “Yes, she loves her family, very much. But even I, a mere human, could sense the wall between them. A wall she placed there, I’m afraid. One that has ensured her parents have never really had a chance to get to know her. They had no idea she socializes with any of us. Her knowledge of individual Breeds shocked them. Our respect and liking for her simply amazed them, and even caused a bit of resentment perhaps. They have no idea of the woman their daughter has become in the past nine years, yet they could see that we do. That’s why I say she has to know about that recording device. She has to know so she can feel she had the chance to protect them. If something happens to one of them. If one of them makes a mistake or God forbid does something so horrible that they’re brought before Breed Law, then our knowledge of that device will be revealed. If that happens and her friends didn’t give her a chance to save her family, then she’ll see it as her failure to protect them, just as she believes she’s guilty of her brother’s death. And we’ll all be just as guilty in her eyes, as she will believe she herself is.”

  Rule could feel his senses, hell, the fucking animal he was inside, pacing within the confines of his flesh and ready to roar out in rage.

  He’d be damned if he’d allow her to take that guilt onto her already burdened shoulders. If she took much more upon herself, then he feared she might well collapse beneath the grief.

  “Something happened since I saw her last,” he stated, remembering the pain he had felt throbbing just beneath her serene exterior. “Something that’s hurt her.”

  “Her parents,” Jonas stated softly. “I would imagine, knowing human nature as I do, that in their resentment they feel they lost their daughter that night as well; they likely remind her often of the son. Her pain was edged with an incredible amount of guilt today. Just as her mother’s disapproval even before they walked into the suite could be detected by every Breed they passed.”

  And the misty, barely-there image of her brother as he stood sadly behind her had touched Jonas’s heart.

  The brother, whose dedication and loyalty to Breeds and the Unknown alike could never be questioned, had turned to Jonas, staring at him demandingly before reaching out as though to touch his sister’s hair.

  A vision none could see but him.

  A vision that convinced him of her innocence as nothing else could.

  ...

  Rule barely stopped the growl that would have vibrated in his chest.

  Damn, his senses were far too agitated since coming to Window Rock.

  Turning to Jonas, he met those eerie eyes for long moments. He might not trust Jonas when it came to his promise not to pair him up with his mate, should Jonas ever find her, but he did trust the other man’s opinion.

  With his free hand, the director rubbed at the back of his neck as the tension tightening through his body caused the rest of them to watch him expectantly.

  He had the last word. Whatever decision he made, Seth Lawrence of Lawrence Industries, and Dane Vanderale, heir to the Vanderale dynasty, would accept without argument.

  “Jonas, you said yourself she’s riding a very thin line,” Rachel said softly, obviously reminding him of an earlier conversation.

  He gave his head a hard shake.

  “Yes, I did,” he finally admitted as his gaze connected with Rule’s, then Lawe’s. Finally, he nodded slowly, turning back to Rule. “I agree with Rachel and Diane, Rule. She needs to know about this. The debt we owe her brother can never be repaid, and turning against the sister at this point would only betray his sacrifices as well. But I understand your concerns. How do you want to proceed?”

  “Me?” Rule snapped, restraining himself from hitting something as he forced himself to keep his arms crossed over his chest. “My suggestion was to not tell her at all.”

  “And now the—forget it.” Lifting the whiskey to his lips, Jonas finished his drink before setting the glass on the bar. “She’ll be here tomorrow with Amber’s cake, I believe. I’ll discuss it with her before she leaves.”

  “I’ll take care of it myself,” Rule snarled.
r />   Like hell.

  Where did that come from?

  Rule almost blinked in surprise.

  The words had jumped out of his mouth before he’d even realized what he was actually saying.

  But Jonas didn’t seem to realize how out of character his commander was behaving. Perhaps it was just him, Rule thought, watching the others closely for any sign that they noticed anything different about him.

  They didn’t appear to be.

  Perhaps it was just him.

  The irritation, the feeling that the animal inside him was somehow caged and pacing in fury, must be really whacking his mind.

  “Rule, watch yourself with this,” Jonas warned him. “This could be a ruse by the Unknown to use her parents to throw our suspicions off Gypsy, or an attempt to deflect our interest by pulling her parents into a potentially threatening situation. I want to know why Greta McQuade had that device in her purse and who put it there. And why she agreed to help them. We don’t have unlimited time here. Gypsy can find out why it happened, or I will.” His voice hardened. “Which do you believe she would prefer?”

  Rule’s eyes narrowed. “Don’t give me ultimatums, Jonas,” he growled. “You know that won’t work with me.”

  “I’m not ordering you,” Jonas stated firmly. “I’m telling you. I won’t take any further risks with my daughter. Gypsy’s a friend, not just yours, but mine and Rachel’s, and even Amber’s as well, and because of that, you have until after the ball next week to find out what the hell is going on. Then I’ll find out myself.”

  Turning, Jonas moved from the room and entered the private rooms he shared with his mate. Even Rule caught the scent of Amber’s pain and felt his chest tightening at the decisions Jonas was being forced to make to save her life. Decisions he knew kept the other Breed awake at night staring into the darkness as he searched for an answer.

  “Rule.” Lawe sighed wearily, and Rule could feel his brother’s intent to try to dissuade him from the trust he felt for a woman he should have never trusted to begin with.

  “Don’t even bother, Lawe,” Rule growled, determination hardening his jaw, tightening his body. “Everything inside me is screaming her innocence. I won’t turn on her without cause.”

  With that, he left the suite, stalking down the hall and heading for his rooms. And, he hoped, a chance to figure out exactly what the hell was going on with the woman he hadn’t mated, yet the only woman he’d been unable to turn away from in his entire life.

  CHAPTER 9

  He was waiting on her that night.

  Leaning against the bar, watching the doorway with a smug, self-satisfied smile—and didn’t he just look like the cat that ate the canary.

  The man was positively sex served up with a side of luscious male muscles and sinful wicked looks. Something she preferred to admire from afar, if only her damned body and her Unknown boss would get with the program there.

  Dane Vanderale stood with his back to her, and whatever he said to Rule had the Breed flashing him an irate look before his gaze turned back to her.

  Was she supposed to be swooning? she wondered. Tearing her clothes off and spreading herself before him in thankfulness that he had persuaded the director of the Bureau of Breed Affairs to allow her parents to have that contract?

  She didn’t think so.

  The very fact that she was even there that evening had more to do with a call from friends asking her to show up than either her contact or Rule.

  Kandy had left the shop before Gypsy could ask her to make the mousse cake for Amber. Gypsy had found herself in the Gingerbread House kitchen whipping up chocolate mousse as she watched the clock, certain she would be up most of the night with it.

  Thankfully, Kandy had shown up as Gypsy set the mousse into the fridge to chill, and with an irate glare at the mess in the kitchen, her sister had urged her to go “do whatever it is you do every weekend and get the hell out of my kitchen.”

  And Gypsy had done just that without argument.

  She could bake, and she could bake well, but Gypsy was not all about the cleanup.

  From the corner of her eye she watched as Rule narrowed his eyes on her where she lingered just inside the entrance. Her gaze moved over the crowd as though she weren’t debating stepping up to the bar and shooting him. She sure as hell wasn’t going to go panting after him like some bitch in heat.

  The sight of a slender hand lifting into the air, waving enthusiastically, had her gaze turning to the owner, and a smile tugged at her lips. Hell, it had been too damned long since she had seen the Coyote Breed Ashley Truing and her sister, Emma, out having fun.

  Two months before, Ashley had taken a bullet to her chest that the doctors had been certain she wouldn’t recover from. She was recovering, just as Emma had promised before the meeting with Jonas, but others had mentioned over the past weeks that Ashley was different in some way. That there was a part of Ashley that may not have returned when she’d died on the operating table after being shot.

  Breed genetics ensured that Ashley had healed quickly, though. In less than six weeks the Breed female had been strong enough that she was moving around easily and training to regain the strength she had lost.

  Moving across the bar, Gypsy ignored the feel of Rule’s eyes following her and the amusement she glimpsed curling on his lips as she made her way to the girls’ table.

  They weren’t alone. The blonde with them, older by only a few years, was leaning back in a chair, watching the occupants of the bar broodingly as she nursed a bottle of beer that had been barely sipped from.

  Sharone had been raised with Ashley and Emma, created first in the Russian labs, and often acted like the protective sibling she could very well be.

  “Are the three of you having fun?” she grinned, her voice rising until she could be heard over the energetic tunes the band was pouring out to the crowd.

  “Four,” Emma informed her, leaning close as Gypsy took a seat next to her. “We finally talked Jonas into letting Cassie come out and play with us.”

  Gypsy looked around. “Where is she?”

  Emma’s lips twisted in perplexed amusement. “She’s out there dancing with some guy. See all the Breeds congregated?” She pointed to what was indeed a mass congregation of Breeds next to the dance floor. “I bet her partner is pissing his pants.”

  Oh hell.

  Poor Cassie. She was surrounded by glowering Breed Enforcers whose unrelenting stares were trained on the hapless cowboy Cassie was dancing with.

  Gypsy could
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