Rule breaker, p.17
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       Rule Breaker, p.17
 

         Part #20 of Breeds series by Lora Leigh

  Jonas nodded slowly. “Probably for the best.” He surprised Rule with the comment. “She wasn’t cut out for it.”

  “And what makes you think that?” This time, his arms went over his chest powerfully, aggression surging through him.

  She was the best damned contact the Unknown had. The only one that no one had been able to identify.

  “She refuses to use her friends,” Jonas revealed with a shrug. “Both Rachel and I, as well as Ashley and Emma, have dropped several pieces of particularly useful information in an attempt to ascertain if she was indeed the contact. That information was never acted upon. Good spies understand the fact that friends are their best contacts.”

  Not Gypsy, Rule thought wearily as he dropped his arms. Her friends, the few she claimed, were sacred to her. After all, she hadn’t had family since the night she had stood in the dark: cold, hurt, aching to be held only to have her parents turn to the child they had lost instead.

  They’d never understood that they may have lost a son, but Gypsy had, at the very essence of her soul, lost her father.

  “Let her go, Jonas,” he repeated, though the demand lacked the anger of moments before. “You know her as well as I do. If she had what you needed, you would have had it long before now. Hell, you wouldn’t have had to come here to get it. She would have contacted you.”

  Silver mercury. Jonas’s eyes seemed to swirl, to storm within as he stared back at Rule.

  “We’ll see,” he finally murmured. “We’ll see.”

  ...

  The limo Gypsy rode in to the Breed ball with her parents was one of the most opulent she had ever seen. The leather was so fine, each stitch detailed, the scent of it luxurious.

  It was almost, just almost enough to make up for the fact that she’d had very little time to prepare for this ball. At least she had a gown, even if it was meant for another event.

  Layers of soft, delicate blue and green chiffon brought to mind emeralds and a sun-kissed sea as they shifted across each other. Each layer of the material was sewn together to blend and shift the colors as she moved, bringing attention to not just the delicacy of her figure, but also the dress itself.

  Strapless, the delicate, hand-embroidered chiffon and lace cupped her breasts perfectly within the V-shaped bodice and revealed a tantalizing amount of cleavage.

  Layers upon layers of chiffon fell from beneath the bodice like a waterfall of exquisite material as the slit that ran the length of her leg to her thigh teased with hints of soft flesh and emerald-threaded silk stockings, while a sixteen-inch train followed behind her. The front hem was the perfect length to cover the tips of her pale green heels, yet not long enough to trip her should she forget and let the toe of her shoe trap it.

  She wore her mother’s emerald, sapphire and diamond necklace, the tiny jewels gleaming against her sun-kissed skin like tiny brilliant stars. Sapphire and diamond posts glittered at her earlobes, while the emerald tennis bracelet emphasized and drew attention to the sapphire and diamond ring she wore on her right hand.

  The jewelry emphasized rather than overwhelmed the gown, while her lightly tanned skin glowed from the colors laid against it. Her green eyes appeared darker, the addition of shadowed, muted colors of her makeup about them giving her a sultry, mysterious look while the glossy light bronze lipstick drew the eye to the soft pout of her lips.

  Her long dark hair was pulled back from her face, the sides held at the top of her head with a diamond-studded comb while tiny individual sapphire, emerald and diamond clips, barely larger than half the size of the head of an eraser, were secured in the waves.

  Greta McQuade wore far different colors than her daughter. The bronze A-line chiffon and tulle gown had rich amber embroidered lace shoulders and bodice that covered her from her breasts to her still-trim hips. Bronze and amber chiffon fell to her matching bronze heels in the front while a short train trailed behind her. Amber teardrops dripped at her ears, while a matching amber gem fell to point just between the tops of her breasts and amber pins secured the shoulder-length waves of her hair into a neat twist atop her head.

  Her father’s black tuxedo was the perfect foil for both his wife and daughter, he’d proclaimed before leaving the house, still despairing over the fact that Gypsy hadn’t invited a guest to accompany her.

  She’d almost thought that perhaps Rule would invite her to attend with him. When she hadn’t heard from him after asking him to leave that night, a week before, she’d felt strangely disappointed and more than a little hurt.

  The limo drew up to the crowded hotel entrance, waiting as the chauffeur opened the door and several couples exited. She recognized the tall, darkly handsome Dash Sinclair and his wife, Elizabeth, Cassie’s parents. Reaching in after helping his wife from the limo, Dash then drew his ethereally beautiful daughter from the car.

  Cameras flashed with an explosion of light as the Sinclairs moved to the hotel entrance and journalists called out for pictures.

  There was a brief pause as the small family allowed a few shots before moving inside the hotel. Behind them, the Wolf Breed alpha, Wolfe Gunnar, and his wife, Hope, exited the same limo. The couple paused several times for pictures; the tall, muscular Wolf Breed held his petite wife to his side, unsmiling but not unfriendly.

  Mingling along the entrance, Breed Enforcers in their dress uniforms stood alongside many of the more popular faces from the Breed society.

  Tanner Reynolds and his wife, Scheme. They were the PR team that had used their charm and natural ability to draw support to pressure several nations into paying handsomely for the fact that many of their government leaders were found to be participating further with the Genetics Council.

  Pulling the car to a stop, their chauffeur moved quickly from the front of the car and within seconds was opening the door for her father.

  Hansel McQuade reached in and helped his wife from the car, and Gypsy was incredibly pleased to see Jonas Wyatt stepping to them, shaking hands with her father as cameras flashed in a kaleidoscope of light.

  Then a hand reached inside to help her exit onto the red carpet.

  It wasn’t her father.

  She knew that hand.

  Intimately.

  Gripping it, Gypsy met Rule’s burning gaze as she stepped from the limo, not even caring if a single flash caught the shift of color she’d designed her gown to have if such a thing happened.

  Her heart was suddenly racing, her breathing tight and restricted as her flesh tingled at the nearness of his hard, heated flesh.

  “Miss McQuade,” he murmured as he drew her to his side. “I trust you’ve been well since I saw you last?”

  “Quite well,” she assured him, staring up at him from beneath her lashes as he drew her along the walk. “And you?”

  His head lowered, his lips touching her ear. “Hard.”

  Gypsy, who never blushed, felt a flush of heat warming her face as pleasure tightened her womb and her pussy wept, aching for his touch again.

  Light exploded around them at that moment, as it seemed every cameraman there wanted a shot of the tall, imposing Breed whispering into the ear of the unknown female on his arm.

  Ignoring the questions hurled at them, Rule drew her to the hotel’s entrance and into the lobby behind her parents. Three sets of wide double doors were thrown open to the main ballroom at the top of the wide curving staircase.

  They didn’t leave the journalists outside, though. Gypsy felt a glow of satisfaction at the sight of several cameramen taking notice of her parents with Jonas Wyatt and his fiancée, Rachel, as they stopped outside the ballroom to chat.

  This was what her parents needed. As much as they loved the candy and gift shop they’d given their younger daughter to run, it was the image consulting business they dreamed of making a success.

  “Isn’t your sister attending?” Rule asked as he drew her to a stop several feet from the small group.

  “She’s arriving with a date,” she told him quietly. “There’s
a Breed who’s been hanging around the store who invited her several weeks ago. She hadn’t even told us.”

  Kandy was keeping her relationship with the Breed quiet until she’d learned her parents were attending the same ball she had been invited to attend. Funny, but Greta hadn’t displayed the same disapproval toward her younger daughter as she had Gypsy.

  “They’re still seeing each other?” he asked her curiously.

  “Loki?” Her lips twitched at the name. “Considering Navajo history, I would have thought she would know better.”

  Thankfully, her sister wasn’t so easy to fool. Just because her father had named her Kandy Sweet didn’t mean she tried in any way whatsoever to live up to that name.

  “Miss McQuade.” Jonas surprised her when he turned to her. “If you’d join us, I’d like to introduce you to one of the Breeds’ greatest assets, Cassa, and her husband, Cabal St. Laurents.”

  “I’ve followed many of your stories, Mrs. St. Laurents.” Gypsy shook her hand, pleased by the firmness of her grip.

  “Thank you.” Cassa smiled back at her as she looped her arm over her husband’s elbow. “It’s nice to see Rule looking like the arm candy he should be rather than glowering at the other mates for enjoying the position.”

  The Bengal at her side muttered something as Gypsy held back the frown that would have pulled at her brows. She sure as hell didn’t want one of those popping cameras to catch a frown on her face.

  “Oh.” Cassa’s eyes widened. “Sorry, dear, the mate reference just slipped out.” She smiled at Gypsy again, a friendly, warm smile. “Rather like referring to one as a date.”

  Gypsy’s lips twitched. Even she knew better than that, but she allowed the reference to slide.

  “I hear your parents have accepted the contract Jonas offered for their services,” Cassa remarked then. “I’ve been telling him for a while now that image consulting begins at the individual level, but he never seemed overly fond of the idea.”

  “You have good ideas sometimes, Cassa,” Jonas drawled mockingly. “It’s just so very rare that they’re compatible with Breed Law.”

  Now Breed Law, she definitely knew about—the laws that governed every legal or contractual, criminal or enterprise endeavor involving any Breed, or Breed affiliate, including but not limited to wives, children, siblings, parents, lovers or intended spouses, and how the government had to deal with them. More than a century of detailed horrific experiments backed up by recordings of some of the most vile acts humanity could commit had ensured that nearly every government that had been sued by the Breeds at the onset of their discovery had been willing to pay up rather than face the combined individual lawsuits that would have been brought against them in international court.

  Cassa rolled her eyes at Jonas’s remark as they stepped into the ballroom entrance and began moving down the wide staircase.

  The alphas of each community stood at the bottom of the stairs along with the president of the Navajo Nation, Raymond Martinez.

  Gypsy had never personally cared for Ray Martinez, though along with everyone else, she adored his father, Orrin, and brother, Terran.

  Accepting the elbow Rule held out to her, she descended the stairs along with him, aware of the flashing bulbs and the knowledge that by offering his arm to her, Rule Breaker, considered one of the most eligible Breed bachelors, had ensured that her picture, as well as that of her parents and their reason for being there, was splashed across every society page known to man.

  This was more than she could have hoped for where her parents were concerned. But she also acknowledged that it would begin making it much more difficult for her to collect the information the Unknown depended on her to collect. She was the neutral party, so certain individuals hadn’t cared to brag about strikes being planned against the Breeds by the groups determined to destroy them. Just as she had been told of Breeds in hiding, trying to escape or to find a place to rest before traveling farther. Usually, the information she received was of Breeds traveling through the area looking for work that wouldn’t require an ID. Many wanted to stay under the radar of humans and Breeds alike. Those Breeds, the Unknown were well equipped to help.

  As they grew closer to the line of the alphas and their wives and the president and Mrs. Martinez, the president’s chief of staff moved to him, whispering something in his ear.

  Gypsy watched as he listened attentively before making his excuses and moving away.

  “Is everything okay?” she asked Rule, knowing that the almost invisible little earbud communicator he wore would ensure that he knew every little detail of every little thing going on.

  He nodded easily enough, but she could see the look on his face as Ray and Maria moved from the ballroom.

  “Is Claire here tonight? Or Liza?” She hadn’t seen either girl for weeks and realized she’d missed their steady, friendly presence as she met up with them a few nights a week.

  “Jonas and Stygian didn’t want to risk their safety for a party.” He shook his head. “They’re secure for now.”

  “Are they allowed visitors?” She needed to see them, to reassure the Unknown they were indeed fine and content with their security.

  He glanced down at her. “The three of you are good friends, aren’t you?” he said softly.

  “I like to think we are,” she replied. “I’ve missed them.”

  “I’ll discuss it with Jonas later,” he promised, and then the formal introductions to the alphas were made.

  Callan Lyons and his wife, Merinus, seemed more relaxed and at ease than Wolfe and Hope Gunnar, while Dash, Elizabeth, and Cassie Sinclair gave the appearance of indulged amusement at the pomp and ceremony the Navajo Council had insisted on.

  Well, not the Council, she’d heard. One of the president’s aides had informed her the night before that it was Ray Martinez who insisted on pretending he had the same bearing and presence of any foreign dignitary. But then, Ray had always thought himself far better than others in the same social class as himself.

  Shay Anderson, Raymond Martinez’s presidential aide, and a close friend of Gypsy’s, had stopped by the apartment before Gypsy had left for the evening, furious at some of the president’s comments where the Breeds and tribal chiefs were concerned. Those comments nagged at Gypsy. Bothered her for some reason she couldn’t put her finger on.

  “So, have I made up for Jonas forcing you to wear your special dress?” he leaned closer as he asked the question, a hint of laughter in the rough voice.

  Gypsy flushed at the reminder of her comments regarding the ball and how it interfered with her plans for the one she’d had her dress designed for. “I owe you an apology for that.” She sighed as he took flutes of champagne from a passing waiter. “I didn’t mean anything offensive. Rightfully so, whenever the Breeds are present, attention focuses on them. It’s just that my parents have worked so hard to draw attention to their image consulting firm—”

  “Enough, sweetheart.” The grin that curled his lips was far too sexy. “According to Callan’s sister, Dawn Lawrence, it was indeed a sacrifice you were making.”

  Her eyes widened in horror. “You told her what happened?”

  She had actually met Dawn Lawrence several times when she’d traveled to Window Rock with her husband, Seth. Dawn was quiet and amazingly astute and possessed such a dry wit that she and Gypsy had gotten along wonderfully during the two hours the other woman had spent in the candy shop.

  “Not hardly, she would have hit me with something,” he snorted. “I merely proposed a hypothetical situation and she looked at me as though I were to be pitied while informing me of what a colossal ass a man would be to allow such a thing to happen.”

  Yeah, she could see Dawn telling him exactly that.

  “I was angry with you,” she informed him. “You can be amazingly arrogant, Mr. Breaker.”

  And so very wickedly sexy.

  She hadn’t been able to forget his touch, or the pleasure she’d found in it. That didn’t mea
n she wasn’t very well aware of the decision she would be making by becoming his lover.

  She was twenty-four years old, and in the years since she’d caused her brother’s death and made her bargain with the Unknown, she’d never desired a man more than she desired atoning for the life she’d helped those Coyotes to take.

  Each time she’d considered taking a lover, guilt had swept over her. If the Unknown learned of it, she would be forced out of the small circle her brother had been a part of. She would no longer be able to continue his dream to help ensure the Breeds’ survival.

  And if she wasn’t there, picking up the information it seemed others missed, then there was every chance it would result in a death somewhere, somehow, because she had once again cared more for herself than for those at risk.

  If she ignored the need burning inside her any further, though, then it might well destroy her anyway. It was like a flame she couldn’t extinguish. A hunger she couldn’t ease. And she knew—to the depths of her soul, she knew—that she wouldn’t be able to deny him tonight.

  For the past week her need for him had taken on a life of its own. A craving she couldn’t seem to shake for the taste of his kiss, the touch of his hands. At times, she could actually feel her womb tightening, tensing with the need to find release from his touch again. And no matter how often she’d tried to masturbate, suddenly the touch of her own fingers was completely ineffective.

  Rule turned her on to the point that her body hadn’t stopped burning since the second she had laid eyes on him two months before.

  Finishing the champagne, Gypsy set her empty glass on a nearby tray, watching as Rule talked to his brother and Diane.

  Diane stared back at her with a twinkle of amusement in her gaze as they waited.

  “One of these days, I’m going to buy one of those nifty little hearing aids that amplify conversations around me,” Gypsy remarked, her voice low, though she knew Rule would still hear every word. “I’m simply too nosy.”

  Diane gave a low, light laugh. “You learn how to wait patiently while they’re together.”

  Gypsy’s brow lifted dubiously. Wait patiently?

  “Oh, I rather doubt I’d learn that fine art,” she commented. “Unless I knew my curiosity would be appeased later, that is.”

  “There’s always the chance,” Diane assured her as her fiancé winked back at her, then turned back to Gypsy, her expression filled with warm amusement. “So, are you looking forward to actually pushing that particularly growling Lion into society? I think I’d be intimidated.”

  “Intimidated, no. Certain it will work?” Gypsy laughed. “I have a feeling he’ll actually own the Navajo Nation once he’s finished. Though, trust me, my parents are looking forward to it as well,” Gypsy assured her. “Dad’s been attempting to gain the notice of the Ruling Cabinet for years with his alternative methods of image and social marketing.”

  “It’s something that certainly won’t hurt. And I must say”—Diane stared around the brightly lit extravagance of the ballroom—“being spoiled in such a manner once in a while is rather nice.”

  “Then I’m sure you’ll enjoy the social side of the process that Mom and Dad have planned,” Gypsy assured her. “The plan Dad’s putting together for you and your fiancé is one of his best. I think you’ll approve.”

  Diane’s brows lifted. “Shouldn’t Lawe be the one to approve it?”

  Gypsy tilted her head and regarded the other woman seriously. “In most cases, men leave social organization to either their secretaries, their lovers or their wives. I’ve never seen and rarely heard of a man who enjoyed making certain his own social schedule worked with the image he needed to present. In most cases, they’re neither aware nor do they care which party they attend, as long it’s a business opportunity. It’s their wives who know to cultivate friends among business associates, and to ensure those that are cultivated are a general match to the lifestyle and interests they share as well.”

  Diane watched her closely then. “And for Rule, how will you cultivate his image with no wife or lover to help him choose the friends and business associates that match the life he leads outside the office? Or the life he wants to lead?”

  “There’s a process,” Gypsy assured her before briefly explaining the observation and evaluation process before a detailed social agenda was proposed.

  “Very interesting.” Diane nodded before turning back to her fiancé, as he now stood at her side.

  He and Rule had abandoned whatever they were discussing once she and Diane had begun discussing social agendas, interests and some males’ unwillingness to pay close enough attention to the friends they were developing from among their social set. Those were the clients McQuade Image Consulting wanted.

  The businessman who had built himself from his toes up and did so with exacting precision and instinctive force would be wasting his money unless he was looking to suddenly change his entire business model.

  “It sounds like a wife,” Lawe drawled, his blue eyes twinkling as he looked between her and Rule. “Have you actually worked with many men who needed such help?”

  “Normally, the client has a wife or girlfriend with some knowledge of the business associates whose goals match his,” she told him. “It’s a rare opportunity to be able to work with men as successful in your fields as you are, who haven’t yet begun acquiring the footholds you want socially. I believe you and Diane especially will enjoy the program my parents have come up with.”

  “And what about Rule?” Lawe nodded to his silent brother. “Matching him with like-minded family men won’t be easy.”

  “Matching Rule with men who share his interests as well his vocation will be far easier than you think,” she assured him.

  “And women?” Diane asked, her brows lifting. “I know socially, an advantageous marriage is usually important.”

  Why did she suddenly ache? She shouldn’t care if he would consider a marriage that would suit his position and the life he wanted to build.

  “As I’ve seen, Breeds are generally pretty adept at choosing women who suit them and their lives exactly,” she finally answered, hoping she had managed to hide the hurt that filled her. “I trust Rule can do the same.”

  “Finally, someone with at least a little confidence in my ability to choose something,” Rule snorted as his arm went around her waist to draw her to his side. “Now, the band’s starting to play. I want a dance. You can tell me if my dance moves are adequate or if they need some work too.”

  She doubted very seriously that anything about Rule Breaker needed any work. But she let him draw her to the dance floor and assured herself that the continued ache in her chest had nothing to do with the earlier conversation or the implications of it.

  ...

  “Well?” Diane demanded as the couple moved far enough away from them that there wasn’t a chance Rule could hear their conversation.

  Lawe liked that about her. She understood he wasn’t just hers, that he was Rule’s brother, Jonas’s friend. That he was an enforcer as well as a role model to the newly freed Breeds. There was never any jealousy in her as he’d often scented from the wives of the human males he’d met over the years.

  She encouraged his friendships, pushed him to have hobbies and often chided him for not resting enough.

  And he was delaying answering her and he knew it.

  “I’ll be damned if it makes sense.” He shook his head, careful to keep his voice low as he spoke.

  “What doesn’t make sense?” she asked, frowning back at Rule and Gypsy. “At first thought, there’s not a chance they would suit each other. A good-time party
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