Staring down past the hard tips of her breasts, she watched him work her out, his tongue licking free as he looked at her looking at him. His eyes were on fire, the sexual worship in his blood transmitting into his expression.

She came once. Twice.


Then she was on the soft rug on the floor and he was mounting her, his hard cock sticking straight out of his hips as he lowered himself onto her.

She closed her eyes so she couldn’t see him, so she could pretend it was some other male, any other male. The distance and insulation that lie offered seemed crucial.

Except her body knew it was him.

And oh, God…

…so did her soul.

As Saxton sat beside Ruhn in the truck several nights later, he was unsure whether in fact hours had passed since Minnie had interrupted their liaison under the sink…or whether years, decades, or centuries had transpired. Indeed, time had become a rubber band stretching and releasing between extremes, moments and eons seeming to be one and the same.

“It’s up here,” he said. “On the right. Number two-one-oh-five.”

“This one?”

“Yes…this one. The Victorian.”

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Saxton was very aware of a churn in his stomach as he braced himself to turn his head and look up at his former home. And in truth, he became absolutely nauseous as his eyes shifted over to measure the dark green, gray, and black paint job, and the cupolas, porches, and shuttered, long-paned windows. In the snow-covered landscape of winter, it was like something off a New England Christmas postcard, picturesque, perfect, and pretty as any painting.

“It’s beautiful,” Ruhn said as he put the engine in park and shut things off. “Who lives here?”

“Myself. I mean, I used to.” He opened his door. “Come with me.”

Together, they got out and walked up the unshoveled path to the front porch. Taking out a copper key, Saxton unlocked the deadbolt and then he was pushing the big door wide, a subtle creaking releasing from the hinges.

Ruhn was careful to stomp the snow off the cleats of his boots and Saxton followed the example, clapping his Merrells before stepping over the threshold. Inside, it was warmer than the great outdoors, but not balmy by any means. He had left the thermostats on at sixty-two back on Columbus Day weekend in October when he’d come to make sure the furnace was working. But other than that, no one had been in.

It still smelled the same. Sweet old house. But it was no longer home.

He shut them in and looked around.

Like something out of a Vincent Price movie, all of the furniture, which was period, was covered with sheets and he went randomly into the front parlor and lifted up the corner of a king-sized draping. Underneath, the fainting sofa was classic Victorian, all heavy carved and veneered mahogany, the fabric a deep wine color.

Ruhn came in behind him. “How long did you live here?”

“Quite a while actually. I loved this house.”

“What changed your mind?”

Saxton let the sheet fall back into place. “This is where…well, Blay and I would come here sometimes.”


“After we broke up, I couldn’t bear to be in these rooms.” He walked farther on, proceeding into the library. “Too many memories.”

Behind him, Ruhn followed, and when he turned about, the male’s expression was remote.

“Which is why I wanted to bring you here tonight—” At the sound of the door knocker, Saxton focused over the male’s shoulder. “Wait here, I’ll be right back.”

Saxton strode out to the front foyer, and it took him a moment of collection before he could open the door. But then he inhaled slow and deep and did the duty.

On the other side, a tidy female vampire with a briefcase and hair that had been bowl-cut into an unfurled umbrella on top of her head was standing at attention.

“Saxton, I’m so glad you called me, darling.”

Kiss, kiss on both cheeks. Pat, pat on his forearm.

“I was surprised, but so very pleased to hear from you,” she said as she came in. “I am glad that—oh, who’s this?”

Saxton closed them all in. “This is my…this is Ruhn.”

“Well.” She marched right up and put her hand out. “It’s a pleasure, Ruhn. Saxton has impeccable taste, and I can tell he’s exercised it to his benefit once again. I’m Carmichael.”

Ruhn blinked and looked over in a panic, rather as if an exotic bird who was not house-trained had landed on his shoulder.

“You mentioned you have a buyer for this place?” Saxton smoothed over.

The distraction worked perfectly. Carmichael was instantly refocused.

“I told you months ago that I did. When you bought that penthouse without me. Tsk, tsk. That was rather rude of you, but you are forgiven if you give me this listing.”

“You’re selling?” Ruhn asked softly.

“Yes.” Saxton locked eyes with the male. “I find that I’m ready to let it go.”

“Well.” Carmichael all but tap-danced it out. “This is splendid news. I have a listing form for you to sign right here.”

With admirable efficiency, she somehow managed to whip out a sheet and a pen from the briefcase without having to put the thing down: balance on a knee, pop the locks, out with the paper and a Bic.

“Here. Let’s get this done and I’ll bring them through in an hour.”

With a pounding heart, Saxton took the listing form and the cheap pen.

“While you sign that, I just need to confirm some dimensions.” For that, she put the briefcase down, got out a tape measure and her iPhone, and headed off. “You’re a lawyer. You know where to put your John Hancock.”

As her caffeinated footfalls clipped down in the direction of the kitchen, Saxton glanced at Ruhn.

The male was standing close by, his hands loosely linked, his eyes calm, but worried. “You don’t look like you’re comfortable doing this.”

And that was when it happened. A feeling of total peace came over him, as unexpected as a blessing that had been prayed for by an agnostic. And it was grounded in the pale brown of Ruhn’s eyes.

“I love you,” Saxton said abruptly.

That beautiful stare flared so wide, the whites around those pupils flashed like moonlight.

Saxton waved the paper around. “This house, this…shrine? I was keeping it as a testament to something I thought I’d never find again. And I realize, I don’t need to keep this anymore. I’m letting it go just as I’ve let Blay go, and that’s all because of you.” He held up his free hand. “Which is not to say you have to reciprocate. I brought you here because I just—”

Ruhn silenced the rush of words: “I love you, too.”

Saxton started to smile.

And he didn’t stop. Even as he used Ruhn’s broad back to put his signature on the line.

In order to move forward, you had to let the past go—and sometimes that meant mental shifts that happened on the inside…whereas with others, it was about things in the physical world.

Often, the two were interrelated.

With Ruhn in his life, he was now infinitely more interested in the future than he was the past.

Which was as it should be, he thought as he put the cap back on the Bic. Life, after all, was so much more than nostalgia and regrets.

Thank God.

Standing in the training center’s gym, Novo pointed at Peyton. “Him. I want him.”

The Brother Rhage clapped his hands together. “Fair enough. So it’ll be the two of you—then Craeg and Boone together—and Paradise will fight Payne. I’ll take Axe. Let’s square off, people.”

Novo mostly kept her grin to herself as she assumed her attack stance, her legs bent, her hands up, her shoulders tensing as she got ready to punch. Peyton, on the other hand, didn’t bother being discreet. He was smiling like a motherfucker as he fell into the same pose.

“On my count of three,” Rhage barked out. “One…two…three.”

As the whistle blew, Novo went down to the mats, swung both of her legs in a fat circle, and caught Peyton right at the ankles. The male went over like a tree in the forest, all that weight going into a free fall that left him bouncing on his face. No time, no time—after that hard landing, she gave him not even a second to gather his wits.

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