Rule breaker, p.22
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       Rule Breaker, p.22

         Part #20 of Breeds series by Lora Leigh

  had left burning within her not only was still there, but it too was worse than it had been before she left her apartment.

  And she’d read of those symptoms in the past, in the tabloids and gossip rags that carried the outrageous stories of “Breed Mating Heat.”

  “What’s going on? Mating Heat is supposed to be a rumor, nothing more.” Could that really be what was going on inside her? She could feel a difference in her body that didn’t make sense, in the arousal and physical need for him. But it wasn’t supposed to be real . . .

  She might not have a lot of experience in arousal or sex, but even she knew she shouldn’t be growing painfully aroused without a reason. And she’d left her reason in the shower after he’d jumped from her as though she sickened him.

  “Are there other instances when the blocker doesn’t work? I searched his suite a few weeks ago; could he have somehow learned I was in his rooms?” she probed when he didn’t answer her. There wasn’t a chance Rule had learned she worked with the Unknown, but he could have somehow learned she was in his rooms.

  “I doubt he has a clue.” That gleam of curious amusement. “If he had, then he would certainly not have taken you to his bed. Instead, he would have charged you for crimes against Breed Law.” A quick glance at his watch. “I would guess you have perhaps forty-five minutes now.”

  He wasn’t helping her.

  “Then if we’re short on time, perhaps you should tell me, if I’m his perfect special mate,” she sneered, “why am I here instead? Why would he be searching for me at all when he was the one who rejected me?” Her breath hitched involuntarily as the pain ambushed her, thickening her voice, pushing tears closer to the surface. “How did I mess up, Cullen?”

  Surprise registered on his face as sympathy filled his gaze now. “You’re always so certain you’re the one who’s messed up,” he said gently. “You’ve done nothing wrong, Gypsy. Maybe you finally realized there was more to life than vengeance when you slept with your Breed.”

  If she had, then she’d found out quickly just how wrong she was, hadn’t she?

  She rubbed at her arms nervously, the sensitivity increasing as she felt wariness rising inside her. And perhaps even a hint of fear.

  “How do you know—?” She broke off when his expression immediately darkened.

  “That you’re his mate?” he broke in. “I know because you suddenly have two teams of Breed Enforcers that Jonas Wyatt can ill afford to put on surveillance for one unimportant party girl, and trust me, little girl, Commander Breaker won’t be far behind. And I know because several Breeds I’m in contact with notified me immediately upon catching the scent of it as you rushed by them when you left the hotel.”

  “Why?” she cried out, the pain-filled anger that burned inside her setting fire to her emotions, her denial. “Why the hell would he come after me? He didn’t want me, Cullen.”

  “You’re his mate.” He leaned forward intently. “He may be shocked, surprised. As I understand it, most male Breeds don’t handle the initial mating phase any better than their human mates, but it won’t have taken that territorial, possessive-as-fucking-hell animal inside him long to convince him that there’s not a chance he’s going to really let you go.”

  His mate. This couldn’t be possible. The stories were warped, many hinting at depravity, at sexual acts that Gypsy just couldn’t believe.

  The stories in the tabloids had supposedly been proven to have no basis. They still abounded. With each engagement or marriage between a Breed and their partner, the stories would flare up again for a day or so before dwindling away.

  She couldn’t believe it was true. It was so farfetched, surely it was impossible.

  “Stop shaking your head,” he ordered brusquely. “Didn’t think there could be a grain of truth to the rumors in the tabloids?”

  “Impossible.” Jumping from the bar stool, she faced him furiously now, fighting to deny what he was suggesting. “Trust me, if mating existed, then I wouldn’t be sitting here with you, Cullen, I’d still be in the bed with him.”

  There was no denying it had happened. He knew she had slept with Rule. Evidently he had a very reliable Breed contact after all, just, hopefully, a delusional one.

  Gypsy watched him warily now. “If you have a Breed contact, then why weren’t you asked to search those rooms?”

  Cullen grimaced. “Evidently whoever they are, they don’t trust me enough to contact me regarding it. I was to be your backup. Nothing more. And my contact within Jonas’s organization is a very clever ploy I suspect to enable him to gain his own contact within the law enforcement community.”

  “Why you?” She watched him carefully, wondering now how far she could truly trust him.

  “I’m commander of the Covert Law Enforcement Division, Gypsy. Who else would have the information they need when it comes to any secret activities in the area?”

  And she knew that, she really did.

  Lifting her hand to her forehead, she could feel the perspiration gathering there as her senses continued to riot while arousal tightened her sex and spilled the silky release of her juices.

  “Gypsy, whoever you spy for, it can be very dangerous. As I understand it, Jonas already suspects your involvement, though Rule has fought him over it,” he told her grimly. “Don’t allow either of them to become certain. It could be more dangerous than you realize.” The cold, hard edge to his voice had her watching him closely.

  “Yeah, I’m just going to take out an ad for that one.” She glared back at him.

  He snorted at that. “Breeds have a way of convincing their mates to trust everything about them. To trust their ability to hold their secrets. But you trust me, Jonas has a way of figuring it all out and using everyone to his own ends. Whoever’s behind the protection of the Breeds here in the nation, I wouldn’t want to fuck with them. They have a way of becoming brutal.”

  They had cut out the tongue of the informant who had helped the Coyotes identify her brother. Her parents had received the letter that had been left tucked in the pocket of the dead man.

  We, those not spoken of, have taken retribution for the death of your son, the pain that fills your daughter, and the loss your family now suffers. Know that Mark’s work, his dedication and commitment to our people will never be forgotten, nor will his family. Sleep easy when darkness falls, and know that we are the ones who will now stand guard over those you love to ensure that evil never again takes from you those you love most.

  But nothing could bring Mark back, nothing could erase her part in it and nothing could erase the fact that she’d betrayed her family again when she threw it all away for a Breed she sickened to the point that he had to jump from her and run to the shower.

  “I swore I wouldn’t tell anyone anything when I began working with them. Not that I know anything to tell anyone,” she bit out furiously. “But, even if I did, I definitely wouldn’t tell Rule Breaker.”

  She had no intentions of speaking to that bastard again, let alone giving him so much as a single one of her suspicions.

  He glanced at his watch again and looked up at her. “He’ll track you here, Gypsy. Soon. Breeds never let their mates remain unprotected.”

  “What do I do?” Her heart began racing in dread.

  She couldn’t face him again. Not this soon.

  “Here’s what I suggest you do.” He leaned forward intently. “Slip back out of here and go back to your apartment. If he sees that slick little night suit you’re wearing, or realizes you’ve taken a scent blocker, then you’re fried, baby. He’s going to know you’re the spy he’s searching for. Here.” Reaching into the front pocket of his shirt, he pulled free a small pill, similar in shape to the scent blocker. “Within fifteen minutes this will reverse the blocker and leave your system clean. Take it now.”

  He laid it in front of her, watching her with sudden amusement once again. “Unless you’re of a mind not to trust me.”

  She took the pill warily, placed it on h
er tongue and let it begin to dissolve. When it had properly broken down, she washed it down with the remainder of the coffee before taking a deep breath.

  “You’re throwing me to the wolves, aren’t you?” She asked him then.

  He wasn’t going to help her escape Rule.

  If Rule was even coming for her.

  “The lions actually,” he corrected her, a quirk of a smile edging at his lips as he watched her curiously. “I’m confident it’s in your best interests, though.”

  “Oh, I’m sure you are.” Setting the coffee cup back on the counter carefully, she stared back at him. The anger burning inside her was far stronger than it should have been. Far stronger than it would have been normally. Because normally, she would have felt she had a choice. In this instance, Cullen had reminded her that she might not have a choice. And that infuriated her.

  Even more infuriating was the feeling that in some way, he was attempting to maneuver her exactly where Rule wanted her to be.

  “What you’ve done for the group you’ve worked for has been commendable, Gypsy,” he said then, his voice gentle, soft. “Let yourself live now. You deserve it.”

  Yeah. Right.

  As she stared back at him, anger pulled her lips tight, suspicion edging at thoughts that weren’t becoming overwhelmed with a sexual need nearing critical.

  “Do I? Whether I do or not, it seems I’m not working with them any longer anyway.” Despite the gentleness of his expression, there was no mercy in the somber intent of his gaze.

  Oh yes, she definitely had her suspicions. She wouldn’t reveal them, not now. Far better to hold on to them for the moment.

  “Go home,” he urged her. “And in a month, if you still want to run, I’ll help you myself.”

  “A month? Why a month?” What did that length of time have to do with anything? What game was he playing with Jonas Wyatt and with her?

  “You tell me, in a month.” Rising to his feet, he watched her with that quiet gaze, that hint of calculation. “Rest, Gypsy. Consider it a bit of a vacation, despite the aggravation of your Breed. You’ve earned it.”

  Had she? Why didn’t she feel as though she had earned it?

  “Go home, Gypsy.”

  Go home?

  She didn’t think so.

  There were far too many Breeds there. One too many, no doubt. And that one, she couldn’t bear to see again.

  But she did leave Cullen’s house. She even let him watch her disappear into the storm drain and let him think she was moving through the tunnels and returning to her apartment.

  But if that was where Rule intended to be, then Gypsy intended to be just as far away from there as possible.

  Once inside the tunnel, she turned down another shadowed path. There, stuffed inside a crevice and resting on a narrow ledge, was a pack she checked and changed often. Several changes of clothing, a weapon, sat phone, cash and the keys to the powerful black motorcycle she kept stashed in case of emergency.

  This was definitely an emergency, she decided.

  Of the worst sort.


  “What do you mean, she’s not in the apartment?” Even the animal that had been pacing erratically inside him came to an immediate stop to stare at the Breed unlucky enough to have to give him that information.

  “We’ve used heat sensors and infrared, Commander. The sister is in the lower apartment, sleeping. The upper apartment is empty.” The Wolf, Cole Dagger, stood relaxed but on guard as his dark gaze remained steady despite the growl Rule was unable to contain.

  “You’re certain it’s Kandy in the lower apartment, not Gypsy?” Rule had to be certain. He was holding on to his rage by the thinnest thread.

  And his fear.

  The fear that she had been taken.

  That she could be taken.

  That a scalpel could slice into her delicate flesh as she screamed until her voice broke, until her scent was a red haze of agony in the air around him. That because of him, despite his wariness, his constant vigilance against coming in contact with his mate. Despite all his precautions, he had failed her.

  “Commander?” Dagger questioned him, his tone holding the faintest sound of wariness. Not fear, but definitely a sense of high alert.

  “Rule, ease it back.” Lawe stepped next to him, calling Rule’s attention to the fact that he was glaring at the Wolf as he reached out to the added strength his brother offered no matter where he might be in the world.

  At that moment, Lawe’s hand landed on his shoulder despite the discomfort he knew Rule might feel at this point.

  There was no discomfort, though. His entire body, every sense was alive with the agonizing knowledge that his mate could be in danger. There was no pain greater than that.

  His gaze bored into the Wolf’s. “Find her.” His voice felt rough, jagged. “Find her before anyone else does.”

  He didn’t bother to make a threat. The flicker of Dagger’s dark gaze and the scent of concern, of immediate intent to do what was required, was all that mattered to him.

  The Wolf nodded, turned and immediately loped into the night as Rule fought against the primal rage building inside him.

  “We have men at the bars?” he asked his brother.

  “Heading there now,” Lawe assured him. “You need to pull back. If she sees you like this, Rule, you’ll terrify her.”

  What she would see was the animal in his eyes, eyes that gleamed in shades of blue so brilliant they were nearly neon.

  “She ran.” The snarl was impossible to hold back.

  Swinging his head around to meet his brother’s darker gaze, Rule glared back at him, his hands clenching the weapons holstered on both thighs.

  “Did she have a reason to run?” Lawe asked softly. “Think about that, Rule. What reason did you give her to run?”

  “I didn’t harm her.” He knew what Lawe was thinking. That somehow he must have hurt the woman that the animal inside him had claimed. The woman the man had already fallen in love with.

  “Physically,” Lawe agreed. “I would never have imagined you had hurt her physically, Rule. But what happened otherwise?”

  What happened otherwise.

  What the hell had happened?

  Explaining it was a bitch, but he knew hiding it wouldn’t work, as Lawe would just keep probing until he figured it out.

  “I pulled away as I felt the barb emerging.” Releasing the hilt of the blade holstered at his thigh, he pushed his fingers through his hair restlessly, his senses continually testing the air around him for Gypsy’s scent.

  “You did what?” Lawe stepped back, staring at him in shock, as though the information was far too much to take in.

  “What?” Rule growled, furious, humiliated with his own weakness. “I could feel it emerging. Fuck.” He turned away from his brother as the other man blinked back at him, the disbelief growing. “What the fuck is your problem?” he snarled as he immediately rounded on Lawe once again.

  “You pulled free of her before releasing?” Lawe cleared his throat as though suddenly uncomfortable with the conversation.

  Rule shifted, suddenly even more unwilling to discuss this subject than ever before. “Maybe, just as it began.” His teeth clenched at the admission.

  “And umm, exactly at what stage was your mate in?” Lawe asked, wincing as he rubbed at one side of his face uncomfortably.

  His mate had been locked in her release, holding to him, her delicate little nails digging into his shoulders as the fist-tight sheath surrounding his cock rippled around him with a fiery pleasure that had shocked him.

  “Fuck, Rule! No damned wonder she ran out on you.” Lawe’s eyes widened, filling with shocked amusement as the memory surged into Rule’s conscious thoughts and echoed into Lawe’s.

  That damned link.

  Rule pulled back immediately, breaking that awareness they had of each other that enabled them to draw on the other’s strength or knowledge.

  “That’s not even the worst
of it,” Rule muttered, unable to meet his brother’s gaze now. “I told her I would take her home after I showered.”

  Why had he done something so insane?

  “Shower?” Lawe sounded confused.

  “Cold shower,” Rule muttered.

  “A cold shower?”

  “Are you a fucking parrot all of a sudden?” he snapped out, his anger surging at Lawe’s response.

  “Parrot? No.” Lawe shook his head, one hand bracing on the butt of his automatic laser weapon where it rested against his own thigh. “But Rule, I have to say, tonight I’m beginning to wonder if we’re truly brothers.”

  Rule snorted at the comment. “I’ve been questioning it from the day we were told. Never made sense to me either.”

  Though for far different reasons than his brother’s, he was sure.

  “She’s going to kick your ass,” Lawe chuckled then, turning from him to stare around the darkness and the Breed shadows hidden within it as they awaited their orders.

  Two-man teams had been sent to all the bars the Breeds knew of. Those that were public, private and underground. Still, two hours after she had stepped into her apartment, she hadn’t been seen.

  “She’s welcome to kick my ass,” Rule breathed out roughly, turning and staring into the darkness, desperate to see her walking through it. “As long as she’s safe.”

  As long as the soldiers and Breeds still operating on orders from the Genetics Council didn’t get their hands on her. As long as the scientists still living, intent on deciphering the secrets of the animals they had created, didn’t cut into her.

  “Stop, Rule. Let those memories be. No good can come of remembering them.”

  Swinging around, he released an animalistic snarl from his chest as he bared his teeth at the Breed who had stood by him, behind him or in front of him for as long as he could remember.

  “She’s alone. Any Breed in the vicinity will scent the Heat. They could take her.” The thought of it had his teeth snapping together as he fought to bite off the growl of renewed rage.

  “And losing control of yourself will do nothing but endanger her further,” Lawe rebuked him firmly.

  He hadn’t lost control of himself since the labs. Since his mother’s youngest cubs had been sent away and he’d been informed they were too weak to be allowed to live.

  Rage burned inside him when he’d learned the little Cougar Breed female had been lost. It was one of the reasons he’d been so secretively protective of the main Pride’s Cougar sister, Dawn Daniels, until her mating.

  Now, fighting back that demonic fury was harder than it had ever been. The animal inside him was demanding freedom. Demanding that it be allowed to protect its mate no matter the consequences or the blood that flowed. It demanded that the man step back, and Rule couldn’t allow himself to step back. He knew the rampage of fury the animal could create.

  Still, his guts tightened as another growl tore from his chest, that inner fury he kept locked so deep inside himself rising closer to the fore as each second passed and Gypsy wasn’t found.


  There was too much energy.

  It surged inside her. It laid waste to any concept of controlling the need to move, to undulate in sensual abandon. Her body was a mass of electrical stimulation with no place to discharge.

  And it was driving her insane.

  The underground club, Caine’s, was a country-pop-rock free-for-all where dirty dancing was almost required and the things that happened in the corners of the rooms weren’t dared to be mentioned in polite society. It was a club she rarely came to. But tonight, a Coyote group was headed there. A group that promised to hold the key to some much-needed information.

  A year before she’d overheard a Coyote soldier discussing a lab in the western United States and hinted that it was still in operation, carefully hidden, fully funded and still experimenting on both Breeds and humans. The soldiers heading to the club now were rumored to be coming off duty rotation there before heading to another assignment.

  This was the information her contact had been trying to get to her the week before when he’d been forced to abort the exchange of information. She could have had advance notice. She could have eliminated the mistake she’d made by going to Rule’s bed, and already had plans in place and questions prepared that would draw out the information she needed.

  Now, she was working without plans, without backup and without the careful control she’d always depended upon to ensure that the suspicious, scent-sensitive Coyotes never picked up on the fact that each question, each smile, each flirtatious comment was no more than a careful deception.

  Until her much-sought-after Coyote team arrived, though, she was going to dance.

  Her lashes lowered over her eyes as Ashley, Emma, and Sharone danced with her, Gypsy sipped at the beer she’d carried onto the dance floor with her and fought back tears. She’d been fighting back tears since she’d left that damned hotel the night before.

  “Hey.” She turned quickly to Ashley rather than allow a lone teardrop to fall. “Cassie couldn’t come with you?”

  Her gaze lacking the sparkling excitement it once held, Ashley still managed to give her a slight smile. “Jonas has her on lockdown for some reason,” she called back over the music, the hint of Russian in her voice giving it a mocking undertone.

  “Let’s go rescue her,” Gypsy suggested, ignoring the amused, mocking horror that flashed in the Coyote female’s gaze while her sister stared back in pure fear.

  “We don’t fuck with Wyatt, Gypsy.” Emma shook her head, shoulder-length dark hair flowing around her face as the Russian accent crept into her voice as well. “He’s damned scary.”

  Gypsy snorted at the description. “He can’t kill us.”

  “He can make us wish we were dead once he gets finished telling the alpha all our dirty little secrets,” Ashley informed her, leaning close, her gaze intent. “We do not let the alpha know all our dirty little secrets.”

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