“Will you help me get this off?”

Get what off? he wondered. “Oh, the wires. Sorry.”


“Just unclip these things from the pads.”

He eyed the sensors that provided the data feed to the heart monitor. “Are you sure we should?”

“I’m allowed to take them off when I shower. It’s fine. And Dr. Manello said this is out of an abundance of caution anyway. Come into the bed first.”

With a shaking he couldn’t hide, Peyton slid into the warm spot her body had created. And he did what he could to keep his hips back, even though there wasn’t a lot of room—it seemed rude to be rubbing all up on her while she was unclipping the—

Her nipples were small and pink and very perfect.

And though he meant to help her with the wires, instead, his fingertips sought out one of her breasts, drifting across her smooth skin. She gasped as he touched the tip.

“I have to taste you,” he said hoarsely.

In response, Novo arched, offering him exactly what he wanted and oh, God…he covered that tip with his mouth, sucking, licking. Her fingers dug into his hair and urged him on—and that scent. Her arousal made his head short out.

Yet he held back.

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Impatient and starved, he kept himself in check nonetheless.

And when his stroking hand got tangled in a wire, she pushed his shoulders back. “Let me—hold on, there’s one left.”

Novo did away with the final lead, and then she smiled in a lopsided way. “Try and ignore the pads.”

He stared into her eyes. “I only see you. Trust me.”

Dropping his head down again, he nuzzled his way across her sternum and paused to kiss where her heart was. After a silent prayer of thanks, he continued on to her other nipple, running his tongue around it before taking it into his mouth.

Beneath the covers, his hand caressed her hip and stroked her thigh. She was muscle and sinew, so strong, so powerful, and holy shit, that was fucking hot. And even though he wanted his cock in her, he took his time, petting her, getting her more and more hot, until she was sawing her legs across the mattress, her breath was coming in an urgent beat, and her spine was undulating as her pelvis rolled in frustration.

It was only then that he licked and nibbled his way up to her collarbone, her throat…her lips. Delving into her mouth, he swept his palm down the inside of her leg, heading for her heat.

“Yes,” she said into his kiss. “Oh, God…yes.”

Her slick sex, so open and ready, nearly made him orgasm. But this was about her. Holding himself back once again, he penetrated her and found a rhythm, helping her along with his thumb. When she found her release, he swallowed her moans.

“I want you in me,” she demanded.

As her hand found his erection, she did not have to ask twice. He rolled on top of her, finding a home as she split her thighs to make room for him. And then he retracted his hips, angled his arousal…

“Oh, fuck,” he groaned as his head entered her.

He slid deep, so fucking deep. And she was tight, like a fist. And she was hot, like raw fire. It was as he had known it to be from before, except so much better. Because she was with him now, hungry as he was.

He pulled back, all the way back, and slid in again. And back. And in.

His lower body wanted to pump like a piston, but he kept the penetrations slow and steady. Beneath him, she was a live wire of impatience, and she even sunk her nails into his ass to get him to go faster.

He refused.

And he was glad he did.

Because when she came again, he was able to be aware of every pulse, the contractions working his cock—

The orgasm tackled him from behind, hitting him and his will like a ton of bricks, taking him down a rabbit hole of pleasure from which he could not escape.

He’d wanted to last longer. But as he filled her up, and dropped his head into the fragrant nest of her throat, he couldn’t say he regretted a thing.

How could he.

He’d never had anything or anyone so good before.

When Ruhn got back to his guest room at the Brotherhood’s mansion, he closed himself in and looked around at the fine decor. Everything was so beautiful, from the wallpaper, which certainly looked like silk, to the antique dressers and desk, to the canopied bed that was draped in the same kind of heavy fabric that the walls seemed to be covered in.

He’d always thought it looked fit for the King.

He’d never felt comfortable under that canopy with all those fancy pillows and the monogrammed bedspread—and he had even contemplated sleeping on the rug with a blanket over him. He had been worried, though, that word would get back through the maids that tidied up every night and his hosts would take offense.

Crossing over to the walk-in closet, he had another jolt of I-don’t-belong as he opened the double doors and confronted the rows upon rows of barren hangers and shoe shelves. His two or three T-shirts, two pairs of jeans, and work boots took up no space at all on the right. The sweaters and slacks that Bitty, Rhage, and Mary had gotten him as the household had celebrated the human holiday, Christmas, had seemed like way too much when he’d been unwrapping them. In this vast wardrobe containment space, they made no dent at all.

He removed his clothes and put everything into the hamper.

He’d had to get used to his laundry being done for him. In the beginning, he had fought tooth and nail to have Fritz and the staff leave his things alone so he could take care of them, but in the end, he had caved.

That hangdog face the butler assumed when he was denied work was more than what Ruhn could withstand.

Walking naked into the bathroom, he was tempted to leave the lights off, but he needed to see the truth of how badly he’d been hurt—


Going over to the stretch of mirror above the two marble sinks, he shook his head. “Oh…dear.”

His face looked bad. Really bad. One whole side was puffy and distorted, and he leaned in closer to the glass and prodded the bruising gently with his finger. The answering pain suggested that Saxton might be right; that cheekbone might well be broken and maybe he did need a healer.

And then there was his split lip.

“Maybe a shower will help.”

He had no idea who he was speaking to.

Moving across to the glass enclosure, he opened the see-through door and turned on the water. The fact that there were six different showerheads had always seemed like a ridiculous luxury to him—but he never complained once he was in the spray.

He certainly did not tonight.

His body was aching in places, and he hissed as the open cuts on the backs of his knuckles came in contact with water. His left arm was sore, but he didn’t dwell on the why of it. That would have required him replaying the fight in his mind and he wanted to pretend nothing had happened.

After he had soaped and shampooed—he didn’t condition; he didn’t understand why people got their hair clean just to put crap right back in it—he stepped out, toweled off, and tried to win an argument with himself for not going to the clinic.

Bitty made up his mind for him, however.

If she saw him like this, all banged up? Or if things healed wrong and that side of his face ended up contorted permanently? She might think he was the monster he had been.

He couldn’t bear that.

Back in the closet, he pulled on fresh jeans, a clean Hanes undershirt, and that blue sweater Bitty had gotten for him.

He wore the sweater for good luck. For strength. For—

The knock on his door was soft and that was not good news. Maybe it was his niece, having seen his truck parked out in the courtyard with the other vehicles.

“Who is it?” he said.

There was a pause. “Me.”

As Saxton’s voice registered, Ruhn was so shocked he couldn’t move. But then he snapped into action and went for the door.

Opening it, he found himself gripping the knob so hard, his forearm hurt. “Hello.”

“May I please have a moment of your time? In private?”

As Novo felt Peyton go still on top of her, she froze herself. This wasn’t supposed to happen—not so much the sex, although she had surprised herself with wanting him even though she was train-wreck tired still. No, what she didn’t want was the kind of sex they’d had.

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