Rule breaker, p.16
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       Rule Breaker, p.16
 

         Part #20 of Breeds series by Lora Leigh

  CHAPTER 11

  Dog was waiting for Rule outside, leaning against the side of the building beneath the staircase that led up to the apartment.

  The scent of Gypsy’s pleasure still lingered in his senses, that explosive mix of hunger and newly experienced orgasm as it washed over his senses, nearly stealing his ability to realize the second when that pleasure had turned to fear.

  As the waves of sensations eased inside her, the stiffening of her body hadn’t registered at first. It had taken several long moments for Rule to gather his control around him and ease back from her.

  And now, nearly thirty minutes later, he wondered if perhaps he should have stayed after she ordered him to leave.

  As Dog straightened from his position, his eyes narrowed, flicking to the apartment upstairs thoughtfully, before he shook his head and led the way to the Dragoon. Rule slid into the passenger seat, propping his arm on the window frame as he stared pensively into the darkness while the Coyote pulled back onto the street and headed out of town.

  He ran his tongue over his teeth again, just to be certain. He had a hard-on raging in his jeans that pounded in lust, but no true signs of Mating Heat.

  “Cigar?” Dog extended the pack of thin cigars to him, his tone only mildly curious.

  Rule accepted the cigar, then the pack of old-fashioned matches the Coyote carried.

  Inhaling the sweet burn of the tobacco, Rule let the specially blended essence seep into his senses as the Coyote lit his own.

  The window beside him eased down marginally to allow the exhaled smoke to escape as the Dragoon made its way through the streets of Window Rock at a legal speed.

  Inhaling another draw of the cigar, Rule forced his senses to calm, his body to ease, but the hard-on straining his zipper refused to soften or relax in any way.

  Damn, it had been all he could do to pull back from her. The need to strip the clothes from her exquisite little body had been almost more than he could control. He wanted to bury his cock inside the slick, hot little channel that beckoned him so bad it was like a fever inside him.

  God help them both if it was Mating Heat, because he wouldn’t, he couldn’t allow it.

  “I don’t smell the Heat, just your arousal. And perhaps her release?” There was an edge of amusement to the Coyote’s tone at the last observation.

  “That would be none of your business, Dog,” Rule assured him before bringing the cigar to his lips once again and inhaling.

  “A mating, or her release? You may have to clarify which you would want my opinion on,” Dog informed him with his normal sarcastic humor.

  Rule turned his head and simply stared at him, knowing the other Breed and his propensity to create chaos wherever possible. Especially within the lives of those he claimed as friends.

  “Ah, the release part.” He nodded, though the smile that tugged at his lips assured Rule that didn’t mean he would keep his observations to himself. “Still, there’s no scent of Mating Heat.”

  Rule restrained a sigh of relief.

  “I’ve often wondered, though,” Dog continued just when Rule was beginning to hope the Breed wasn’t in a troublemaking frame of mind.

  “What exactly have you wondered, Dog?” he asked, enjoying the bite of the cigar again and preparing himself to hold back his temper. It was hard telling what would pop out of that Breed’s mouth.

  “Why you’re so damned skittish about Mating Heat? Most Breeds bitch about it, joke about it and secretly long for it. You, on the other hand, are more than serious about running in the opposite direction should you encounter it. Why?”

  Why?

  Rule knew why. Just as he knew he wasn’t in the mood to discuss it.

  “If you don’t smell the scent of Mating Heat, then don’t worry about it,” he warned the other Breed.

  “Should I worry about it if I sense Mating Heat?” Dog asked then, though the humor in his tone had scaled back immensely.

  Should another Breed worry about it?

  “Only if you want to die,” Rule warned him.

  A chuckle whispered through the vehicle as Dog turned it toward the hotel after pulling away from town.

  “You know, several Breed scientists theorize that if a mating isn’t complete, then should the Breed part of the equation remove themselves from the mate’s vicinity, it’s possible that another Breed could come in and complete the bond. Especially if the substitute Breed is a blood relation of the true mate.”

  Rule remained silent. He’d heard that; Jonas had explained it to him in great detail actually when they’d feared that Rule’s brother, Lawe, would deny the heat between him and his mate, Diane Broen.

  Lawe had always felt his mate shouldn’t be another Breed, or a warrior of any kind. He’d always felt a mate weaker than himself was what he needed. One who would be content to be protected within the confines of Sanctuary while Lawe stepped into a less dangerous role of security enforcement.

  Instead, Lawe’s mate should have been a Breed. She was a warrioress who commanded her own team of men and did so with exceptional ability.

  “It’s just a thought,” Dog said then.

  Rule turned back to the Coyote slowly, his gaze narrowing. “What’s just a thought? If there’s no scent of Mating Heat, then there’s nothing to worry about.”

  “True.” The Breed nodded.

  Besides, Lawe had already given Rule his opinion of trading mates when Rule first saw Gypsy, first feared that she would be his mate.

  He had his mate, and one he was well satisfied with. A mate strong enough to fight by his side rather than being content to hide behind the walls of Sanctuary, the feline Breed compound.

  “We are now at Condition Beta. I repeat, Condition Beta.” The radio crackled with the security protocols as the call came through from base over the vehicle’s speakers.

  Rule reached out and activated the two-way link.

  “Commander Breaker responding to Condition Beta,” Rule snapped into the link as Dog hit the gas, the Dragoon hitting top speed in seconds and racing through the night to the hotel.

  “Commander Breaker, Director Wyatt requests immediate Blue Protocols be enacted. I repeat, enact Blue Protocols immediately.”

  He pulled the communications earbud he carried at all times from the small holster on his belt and clipped it to his ear. Activating the link, he waited for the beep that indicated secure status before identifying himself and giving the day’s authorization code. “We have Condition Blue. I repeat, Condition Blue. Enact all security protocols. Director Wyatt has authorization until I’m on site.”

  Liza Johnson and Claire Martinez, were in danger again. The two women were too important to the Breeds to chance losing. They were too important to Jonas Wyatt to even consider allowing them to be in danger.

  Twelve years before, Liza Johnson and Claire Martinez had been Honor Roberts and Fawn Corrigan, two test studies of one of the most important research projects that Brandenmore Research, a very well-hidden part of the Genetics Council’s labs, had ever attempted. A project that created the drug now threatening Amber’s life.

  ...

  Spinning into the back lot of the hotel, Dog brought the Dragoon to a jerking stop before Rule threw open the door and raced out to the enforcer running toward him.

  “We had two six-man teams rush Liza and Claire’s security force just after leaving the hotel for transport to safe houses. Backup arrived in time to secure their safety, but these bastards were good, Commander. Too damned good,” Flint McCain reported as he met them at the back entrance, his expression savage. “Liza’s secure with Enforcer Black and Miss Martinez is currently secured in Director Wyatt’s suite. Blue Protocols are in force, but complete lockdown is impossible at this point.”

  There were simply too many guests in the hotel who weren’t Breeds.

  “Have we identified the teams?” Rule barked out. “Scent markers, any identifying DNA left?”

  “Nothing. They struck, made an attempt to
gain access to the Dragoons, then before we could get backup into place, they were gone. They didn’t breech the Dragoons, but if backup hadn’t been there . . .” Flint broke off, the message clear as they rushed into the hotel. “They left nothing to identify them, and we suspect scent markers were blocked.”

  “Get a crime scene unit at the site and on those Dragoons,” Rule barked out. “And get me someone up here with a deeper sense of smell. They had to have left something to identify them, and I want it found. Now.”

  There was no such thing as no evidence, or no proof of identity. There was simply the inability or unwillingness to detect it. “Director Wyatt is reporting that Miss Johnson may have remembered something.” Flint lowered his voice as they entered the elevator and headed for the top floor. “He wants you with him now.”

  Rule’s jaw clenched. If Liza was remembering something more, then hopefully Claire wouldn’t be long behind her. That meant the danger would only increase.

  It was time to suggest removing both women from the area and completely out of sight rather than securing them in town, before the Genetics Council or, worse yet, the two women’s former protector and now their would-be executioner, Gideon, managed to get to them.

  If either party caught up with them, their lives wouldn’t be worth shit and the Bureau would have no chance in hell of saving them, or Amber.

  And that, they definitely couldn’t allow to happen.

  ...

  Gypsy moved into the darkness, her hands pushed into the pockets of her denim jacket to ward off the chill of the desert as she stepped away from her Jeep and entered the abandoned garage on the edge of town.

  The call had come through before the vehicle that arrived to pick up Rule had managed to pull from the parking lot. The voice on the other end of the line had requested a meeting at the garage immediately.

  “I’m here,” she stated, coming to a stop in the middle of the garage bay she’d entered and staring around curiously.

  “You always come when we call, don’t you, Gypsy?” the voice reflected quietly. “You’ve never denied us, nor have you ever betrayed us.”

  She shrugged, a bit uncomfortable with this sudden reflection rather than the arrogance she was used to. “I came to you and offered my help, you didn’t ask me for it.

  “No, we didn’t,” the voice agreed, causing her to stare intently at the shadow as it shifted just slightly. “You didn’t have to give your life, though. Just as we never expected Mark to give his.”

  For a single, brutal moment she was fifteen again, watching in horror, in agony, as the razor-sharp edge of that knife sliced across her brother’s throat.

  “Gypsy?” The dark voice pulled her back as he spoke gently. “This isn’t what he would have wanted. He would never have asked this of you.”

  What the hell was the point of this meeting? Was she somehow being fired from a volunteer position?

  How had she managed to mess this up?

  “Do you not need my help any longer?” There was a curious sense of regret at the thought, at the loss she felt coming. Who would she be if she wasn’t Whisper? She was no one’s daughter, no one’s sister; she could be someone’s lover, but the risk would destroy her. What would that leave her?

  “Your help has always been invaluable,” he finally breathed out roughly. “But I would never want you to compromise your dreams, or your own life, for that help. I want you to understand that. Your brother was my friend, Gypsy. A good friend. And I know his dreams for you had nothing to do with the risks you take for us.”

  Gypsy shrugged again, telling herself she had to be wrong. “Is there something you need that you think will compromise that?”

  “It’s possible,” he stated as she restrained a sudden, relieved cry. “You left the bar with Breaker and took him to your apartment. You’ve never done that. Is there a bond between the two of you that I should know about?”

  “Are you asking if he was in my bed?” she frowned. “No, I haven’t had sex with him, nor have I forgotten the conditions of working with you.”

  “Should a bond with this Breed develop, know that should you need to pull back in your work with us, we’ll understand. But at no time would I ever be able to overlook it if you revealed your past work with us. Do you understand me?”

  “I understand.” Her fingers curled into fists at the remembered need to do just that. To end the lie she lived with just one person she could trust.

  “Just before Commander Breaker left your apartment earlier, Liza Johnson and Claire Martinez were attacked on their way back to the safe house they’ve been assigned. They’re fine, but already we’re receiving transmissions among the Breeds that indicate she and Claire may be moved to a more secure and secret location. If this happens, then we need to know that location.”

  Just like they needed to know the information the Breeds had on them? Something she still hadn’t managed to find, nor had she even managed to learn whether it actually existed.

  “Rule doesn’t seem like a man who tells his secrets to anyone, let alone potential lovers,” she stated, her fingers curling into fists in her jacket pocket as she felt the fine threads of the spiderweb she lived within slowly tightening on her.

  “Whatever you hear, see or perceive will be of the utmost importance to us,” he told her. “We need Liza and Claire safe, but the Breeds have enemies even within their own ranks. I don’t trust them to ensure Liza and Claire’s safety.”

  “Are you going to attempt to take them yourselves?” she asked. “Liza Johnson’s Breed fiancé would object to that, I’m certain.”

  “No doubt.” Regret shadowed the voice. “But time is becoming of the essence. Should we take that route, though, we’ll be certain to let you know the matter has been accomplished.”

  Gypsy nodded, though her stomach was twisting with the knowledge that she could be pulled straight into the middle of a battle between the Unknown and the Breeds. That wasn’t a position she wanted to be in and one where she was terribly afraid she would end up.

  CHAPTER 12

  The next days were a whirlwind of activity as Gypsy’s mother pulled her into the preparations for the upcoming Navajo “Welcome to the Breed Community” Ball.

  The dress was ready, but hair, nails and accessories had to be taken care of. There were meetings with the reporters they worked with, and long hours of discussions over what would appear in the Nation’s press releases as well as the articles that would go out nationally and internationally.

  Nothing the Breeds did remained local, in any way.

  It was a relief when the day of the ball actually arrived. A week and she hadn’t seen Rule, hadn’t even glimpsed him, though she’d been told many times how he watched the doors of the bars he and his enforcers moved in, as though looking for her.

  And how no matter the woman who attempted to gain his interest, none of them succeeded. They were gently rebuffed or distracted by Dane or one of the other enforcers.

  There was also the knowledge that she might well be addicted to his touch too. Because each night her skin actually seemed to ache, to chill, and she missed feeling his warmth against her. She ached for his kiss, and no matter how many of those damned chocolate and peppermint hard candies she ate, she couldn’t erase the need for his kiss.

  Or the need for so much more.

  As she dressed for the ball, a band seemed to tighten around her chest, a feeling of such loss overwhelming her as she realized she wouldn’t be able to stay out of his bed if he offered again. And she knew he would offer.

  The need riding her was too great, and Gypsy knew she wasn’t strong enough to hold out against another erotic onslaught from the Breed who was becoming far too important to her in too many ways.

  “I’m sorry, Mark,” she whispered as she stood in her bedroom, dressed, her hair perfectly arranged, knowing that once again she’d betrayed him. “I don’t know how to stay away from him.”

  Would her brother have been angry?

&nb
sp; She closed her eyes, remembering his smile, his laughter—

  “It’s not in you not to love, Gypsy. I raised you better than that.” The memory of the conversation that had come on the heels of yet another forgotten birthday by her parents surprised her.

  “I don’t need their stupid old presents or their happy birthdays.” She shrugged, her arms crossed tight over her aching chest. “They don’t matter to me. No one matters but you.” She looked into his somber eyes. “You never forget my birthdays, do you, Mark?”

  His smile was incredibly gentle. “And I’ll never forget one of them,” he promised. “How could I forget the day my favorite girl started screaming like someone was killing her when she heard my voice?”

  He’d told her that story so many times.

  “But I shut up when you held me.” She finished it for him with a smile.

  The hug he gave her had eased the hurt, as had the cake and the surprise pizza party in town with several of her friends from school.

  But her parents hadn’t been there. Her sister hadn’t been there. They’d been in California on another business trip. Mark had refused to go, but Gypsy hadn’t been invited.

  He wouldn’t have blamed her, she thought. But he wouldn’t have blamed her for his death either.

  “What do I do?” she whispered into the silence of the bedroom. “What do I do with my life now, Mark?”

  Because she knew, once she let Rule take her to his bed, Mark would really be gone in ways he hadn’t been in the past nine years. And despite the aching regret, the pain, she knew it was inevitable.

  Rule Breaker. The name said it all. Because he was making her break the rules she had lived by. Forcing her to realize she was more than just Mark’s sister.

  And that was something she had never wanted to do.

  ...

  Listening to the lost, pain-filled voice through the audio device Jonas had placed in her room, Rule lowered his head and rubbed at the bridge of his nose in frustration.

  Dammit, he should be there with her. Holding her.

  Behind him, Jonas was quiet as well, and Rule swore he could feel the emanations of the director’s regret.

  “We’ve had that fucking bug in her room for a week now, Jonas,” he growled, still furious that it had been placed there without his knowledge. “If she were meeting with anyone there, we would know it.”

  The director was becoming more calculating, he thought. The device had been in place for two days before he’d gotten around to telling Rule about it. Not that Jonas told him everything, but this he would have expected to know about.

  “I still remember that night,” Jonas sighed behind him. “She didn’t cry. I don’t think she’s ever cried, because each time she’s in my presence I swear I can feel those tears ripping her apart.”

  No, she hadn’t. And Rule felt it himself, just as he’d felt the pressure inside her increasing later.

  “Then stop this fucking investigation,” he snarled, pushing the desk chair back with heavy force as he came to his feet. “Leave her the fuck alone.”

  He faced the other Breed as he rounded on him, watching the silver mercury in Jonas’s eyes swirl like storm clouds boiling on the horizon.

  “I don’t smell Mating Heat,” Jonas stated casually.

  “What, one of your schemes not working so well this time, Mate Matcher?” he accused furiously.

  “My schemes always work, Rule, one way or the other. You should know that by now. The question here is, am I scheming?” Jonas pointed out without so much as a hint of arrogance. He was pure confidence instead. That was what pissed off his enforcers the most.

  “You’re always scheming,” he growled, pacing to the bar for a drink, all too aware of the silent presence of his brother Lawe and Lawe’s mate, Diane.

  “That’s enough, Jonas,” Lawe spoke up.

  Rule flicked his brother a look of false amusement as anger pounded at his temples. “Still trying to protect me, big brother?”

  “No more than you still try to protect me, little brother,” Lawe answered quietly.

  Rule tossed back the drink before setting the glass carefully on the bar and staring back at Jonas with narrowed eyes.

  The director stood in front of the windows again. He liked to dare the bastards if they got a chance to actually take a shot, he’d once claimed. That hadn’t changed with his mating, only his security protocols had changed.

  They’d heightened.

  Dressed in black slacks, a white long-sleeved shirt, sleeves rolled to his elbows, his feet encased in specially made black dress shoes that would probably outkick any combat boot, he was the epitome of sophisticated style.

  Hell, he’d come out of the labs he was created in with that same bearing, that same look in his eyes.

  “Have it removed,” Rule told him quietly. “Or I’ll remove it for you.”

  A black brow arched imperiously. “Really?”

  Rule didn’t change his stance. He didn’t tense; by God, he’d known what he was going to do the minute he’d heard the pain trembling in Gypsy’s voice.

  “I took the position of division director,” he reminded Jonas. “We signed the agreement and the bylaws, and you don’t have the power to continue anything that I decide has no merit.”

  Jonas’s gaze flickered. “You’d sacrifice Amber for a woman who’s not even your mate?”

  “Goddammit, Jonas, she doesn’t have what you want,” Rule snarled, enraged.

  It was the pain in her voice. That ragged self-loathing and bitter regret was killing him.

  “She’s the contact we’re looking for and you know it.” Still, the director’s tone was quiet, without heat, without anger. As though he were simply pointing out a particular piece of information.

  “Not anymore, she isn’t. If she ever was,” Rule growled.

  He’d taken her out of it when he’d left her apartment the week before. He’d called her fucking contact and made his wishes clear. Gypsy was out, starting now. Hell, he should never have agreed to allow her in it to begin with.
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