Rule breaker, p.35
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       Rule Breaker, p.35

         Part #20 of Breeds series by Lora Leigh

  swirls of color flickering there.

  Freaky as shit, Rule had always thought, but he was used to it.

  “I made sure of it,” he reminded the director. “It’s all in my report. Nine years’ worth of notes as well as everything Judd stole from those labs. He was never a threat or a link back to Gideon. He was a tool, nothing more. He drew Gideon here but you and I both know that Judd can’t force Gideon to show himself. If Gideon wanted him dead, then no doubt, he’d be dead.”

  Aristocratic nostrils flared as Jonas’s features seemed to tighten further. Rule couldn’t detect any emotion, tension or intent in the Breed. It was rare that Jonas let anything free with anyone except his mate and his child.

  “Do you know what Gideon was in those labs?” Jonas asked then.

  “A guinea pig?” Rule had a feeling he was not far from the actual answer, though.

  Jonas inclined his head in agreement. “Of sorts,” he revealed before stepping forward and moving to his desk.

  Not that the danger was past, Rule knew better than that. The animal Jonas was lurked far too close to the skin.

  Moving to the comfortable desk chair, Jonas took a seat and stared up at him for long moments before nodding to the chair across from him.

  Rule sat down slowly.

  “Gideon, like many Breeds actually, was simply exceptional in his creation. What made Gideon unique, though, was the fact that rather than living up to his killer genetics, his mind took a far different route.”

  Jonas paused, his lips pursing for long moments before he relaxed back in the chair and turned slowly to stare back at the windows. Rule glanced that way, wondering what drew the director’s attention.

  “Do you feel him watching?” Jonas asked quietly then.

  “Gideon?” Rule asked.

  The Breed nodded. “He watches, waits, and I suspect he listens as well.” Turning back, Jonas glared back at Rule. “He wants Judd bad, Rule. He thinks Judd took something that belongs to him. He would draw him out.”

  Rule shook his head. “Gideon’s been here for a while now, Jonas. If he wanted Judd, then he would have had him. Now what are you trying to decide to tell me where Gideon is concerned?”

  Jonas’s expression never changed. “Gideon’s genetics held a single ancestor known for his exceptional intelligence and driving curiosity in the world of science. It was Gideon who helped on each phase of the Brandenmore serum. He knows the code, the formulas, the encryption, and I suspect that if he wanted to, and likely he has, he could re-create it exactly from memory alone.”

  Rule sat back, surprised. “This isn’t in his file.”

  Disgust flickered in Jonas’s gaze. “Is that information I would allow free, Rule?”

  “No, it isn’t,” Rule agreed. “But information I should have known. With the game you’re playing with Gideon, sending me against him without that information was stupid.”

  Jonas’s brows lifted. “Do you think I wanted you to bring him in?”

  Rule nearly chuckled. “No, Jonas, whatever game you’re playing has nothing to do with capturing Gideon. So why not tell me what you are after?”

  “My daughter’s life.” Jonas straightened in his chair. “Nothing more, Rule, nothing less.”

  And that was such a lie Rule swore he could nearly catch the scent of it. But he merely nodded. He had a feeling he knew what Jonas was after and if he was right, then the game the director was playing would be far more reaching than anyone imagined.

  “I want Stygian to take two teams and head to the safe house we set up for his mate. I then want two teams to take Claire to the one we set up for her as well. I want it taken care of tonight.”

  “Very well.” Rule nodded. “But tell me, when Gideon makes the move you’re after, Jonas, how will you ensure he survives?”

  Jonas’s lips twitched. “Who says I mean for him to survive?”

  Jonas suspected Gideon had ears into this room, which meant honesty wasn’t something he wanted at the moment. Damned good thing, Rule thought, because he had a feeling the chance of this backfiring on Jonas was growing by the day.

  “I’ll take care of it,” Rule assured him.

  Jonas was silent for long moments then, staring back at Rule, assessing, narrow eyed.

  “You knew who Cullen was all along,” he said.

  “So did you, Jonas,” Rule sighed. “And we both know you did.”

  Jonas’s lips quirked. “Dane believes he’s hiding it from me, and Dog is so amused by the whole venture he nearly cackles whenever we’re all together. If the situation weren’t so fucking imperative where Amber’s life is concerned, I’d just tell them exactly how little they’re hiding.”

  But it was imperative. For all the game playing and maneuverings, Rule knew Jonas took it more seriously than anything else he’d ever faced.

  “The team you sent out for Jason Harte,” Rule asked. “Have they returned?”

  Storms flickered in Jonas’s eyes. “Not yet. We’re still searching for him. When Gypsy returns, bring her to me and we’ll see if we can figure out where he’s gone.”

  He would have known Gypsy’s mother would be caught, and he would have expected Gypsy or Kandy to come to him, Rule realized. When neither had, no doubt he had run. Now, he would have to be found.

  And no doubt Jonas was somehow using that bastard too. He wondered if Jonas ever became confused concerning who was involved in which of his little games.

  As he started to straighten, a blaring, shrieking alarm pierced the room; it was the hotel.

  Swinging his gaze to Jonas, he watched the second the Breed realized where it was coming from and swore Jonas paled.

  “Amber.” The growl was an animal’s roar of fury.

  They moved at once.

  Rule’s weapon cleared his holster as he slammed his body into the door, taking it to the floor, knowing Jonas would cover him as his weapon swept the room.

  Amber’s room.

  Rule didn’t dare fire his weapon as he found the target, no more than Jonas could.

  “Da, ba’ ki’y,” Amber chortled as Gideon held her close to his chest, her tiny body appearing more delicate than normal against the broad chest.

  Primal stripes darkened the Breed’s face like fire-scorched scars. Dark blond hair fell across his brow, the unusual dark strands of golden brown threading through it like a tiger’s stripes.

  “Gideon.” The tension in Jonas’s voice was unmistakable now. “Where is my mate?”

  Gideon’s gaze flickered to the corner of the room, where Rachel was slumped against the wall, her wealth of dark red hair lying over her face.

  “She’s alive, and unharmed,” Gideon drawled as Jonas rushed to her, never taking his eyes from the Bengal as Rule became aware of more than a dozen Breed Enforcers suddenly filling the area behind him. They were breathing down his neck, all eyes on Gideon as the Bengal flicked them an amused glance over Rule’s shoulder.

  “Let the baby go, Gideon,” Rule ordered softly as Amber played with the long strands of the Breed’s hair as her delightful baby talk seemed directed at Gideon.

  “Amber and I are excellent buddies, aren’t we, sprite?” Gideon spoke with an icy chill as Amber giggled back at him.

  “Ba’ ki’y,” she seemed to accuse him as Rule tried to make sense of what she was actually saying and why she seemed so amused.

  If he didn’t know better he would swear she was calling Gideon “bad kitty” each time he spoke in that merciless tone.

  Rule eased to his knee, all too aware of Gideon moving slowly closer to the open balcony door, Amber held securely before him, protecting him as nothing or no one else could have.

  “Let her go, Gideon.” The animal’s snarl was in the director’s voice now, animalistic fury pounding in waves of tension through the room.

  “Da?” Amber swung around quickly in concern, her bright eyes going between her father and Gideon. “Gi gi, ba’ ki’y.” There was a slight suggestion of an explanation
in her tone.

  Rule searched for the link to his brother, found it immediately and drew on it. Instantly, Lawe was there, not in spirit, but in strength, animal senses and intuition.

  Gideon’s gaze swung to him instantly as he stepped to the opened door, his gaze narrowing as though he could sense that bond.

  “Interesting,” he murmured as though he too could sense what Rule was doing and how he was doing it.

  That intuition, the animal senses that were strong to begin with, were suddenly off the scale, and what Rule sensed was far more than he bet Gideon understood.

  This wasn’t the insane creature the Breeds had faced before. There was no insanity here. Cunning, intelligence, determination and . . .

  Son of a bitch, that striped bastard held such affection for Amber that Rule nearly reeled from the knowledge of it.

  Gideon shook his head and sighed before turning back to Jonas. “She’ll be ill for a few more months,” he told the director matter-of-factly. “She hasn’t been slipping away from you, Director, merely slipping away from the human moorings she once held. Once Brandenmore injected her, he began changing things within her. To ensure her future health, to ensure her life, I took it upon myself to complete what he started.”

  The backs of his fingers brushed against the little girl’s face.

  “You did what?” That was fear in Jonas’s voice, Rule thought.

  Gideon’s lips quirked. “You see such secrets, such forms as to make a man believe he’s lost his mind. What you didn’t see, couldn’t yet see, was the fact that this sweet child was dying before Brandenmore touched her.”

  “He’s lying,” Rachel gasped weakly. “It’s a trick, Jonas.”

  Gideon glanced at her sympathetically before turning back to the director. “The file is in her crib. Brandenmore’s codes, encryptions and formulas for this particular serum. The same serum both Honor and the other were given.” Demonic fury flickered momentarily in his gaze as Amber laid her small head against his chest and jabbered something softly.

  “Yes, sprite, Gi-gi is fine,” he promised gently, almost smiling back at Jonas. “A treasure you have here, Jonas,” he stated then. “A very unique one. Get the files to Ely. The serum that will complete her recovery is contained there as well. As we both know, she’s not fully recovered from her ordeal. You’ll learn why in the papers I left.”

  “You’re not leaving,” Jonas snarled.

  Gideon chuckled. “It was a great game we’ve been playing, my friend, and perhaps one day soon, we can sit down and discuss it, but that day is not today.”

  “The hell it isn’t,” Jonas retorted furiously.

  Rule knew the instant the Bengal decided the discussion was at an end. And exactly how he intended to end it.


  Amber flew from his arms as Gideon jumped through the open balcony doors to the two-man stealth copter that suddenly flew past.

  Just that fast he was gone.

  Just that fast, both Jonas and Rule missed the tiny child flying through the room as she giggled gleefully.

  She wasn’t flung into the wall. She didn’t fall to the floor.

  Rule watched in amazement as she was suddenly suspended from the ceiling, the nearly invisible lines holding her aloft a familiar sensation for the child, if he wasn’t mistaken.

  “How?” Jonas whispered as both he and Rachel watched as their child bounced happily in the air. “How the hell did he pull this off?”

  Rule looked from the baby, to Jonas, then back again.

  He cleared his throat.

  “Do you think he’s related to Dane?” he asked then, knowing Jonas wouldn’t miss the backhanded insult.

  Was the director related to Gideon?

  Hell, Rule was beginning think Jonas and Gideon didn’t share just genetics, but parents if it weren’t for the fact that he was a Bengal rather than a Lion.

  The growl that left Jonas’s throat had him wincing.

  “Maybe not,” Rule lied, though he was now convinced it was highly likely.


  Gypsy knew the second the Dragoon had increased speed and begun racing for the hotel that something was wrong. No more than a heartbeat later she felt something shift inside her own senses. A door opening so swiftly inside her that she had no idea how to close it or what to do with it.

  “Go with it, Gypsy,” Lawe suddenly ordered as the Dragoon roared along the highway. “Rule’s in trouble.”

  Rule was in trouble?

  In danger?

  She focused on that link, ignoring the doorway that had opened into Lawe’s senses and concentrating totally on Rule’s instead.

  What was she supposed to do? How was she supposed to do it?

  Centering her attention on him, she remembered how he said he could borrow from Lawe’s strength, but was he trying to borrow from her?

  It sure as hell wasn’t her patience because she was going to kick his ass for making her wait to find out what was going on.

  Eyes closed, she felt a glimmer of amusement touch her mind as Rule became so firmly entrenched inside her soul that she swore she could feel steel bolts anchoring him to her.

  Mental strength, she realized. If he wanted stubbornness, she had that in spades.

  Was that a chuckle echoing through her head without sound? Oh God, she was so going to kill him for this.

  “Interesting.” She heard the voice, felt Gideon’s name whisper through her mind. A second later she knew what was going on and felt her heart nearly stop in dread at the knowledge that the insanity Rule had described as Gideon held Rachel’s baby in his arms.

  She couldn’t “see” what was happening. It was impressions, a sense of Breeds filling the suite, Gideon’s amusement and Jonas’s fury. And a second of complete terror at the knowledge that Gideon had tossed the child free of him as he jumped from the opened balcony door, over the railing to a two-person jet-copter obviously there to retrieve him.

  Lobo Reever had a jet-copter. It was the only one in the area, she thought. At least, the only one she knew of. Except for the one the Navajo Covert Law Enforcement Agency owned.

  The link between them immediately shut down as Gypsy blinked in surprise.

  “Son of a bitch,” Lawe hissed through his teeth, his gaze meeting hers in the rearview mirror for the briefest second. “Tell me, Gypsy, just how many fucking secrets is my brother hiding from me?”

  Uh-oh. She had a feeling Lawe just might be one up on the fact that Rule had been hiding Judd for the past nine years or so.

  Bad Rule.

  “He’s your brother,” she scoffed, glaring back at him. “Take that up with him.”

  His gaze shot to hers through the mirror once again, the suspicious disbelief glittering brilliantly in the lighter blue hue.

  “You know, Gypsy,” he pointed out, his tone rougher, frustrated as he turned his attention back to the road, “I’d be careful. Even as his mate, you’ll learn you’re not exempt from Rule’s manipulations.”

  “I could have sworn I heard the same thing said to Rachel at some point concerning Jonas, just in the past weeks,” she mused, turning her attention out the window of the Dragoon once again.

  For a moment, her thoughts had been distracted from her parents, their crime, and the decision she faced concerning her brother’s betrayer.

  Eight years before, she’d shot a Council informer that the Unknown had been certain had betrayed her brother. He’d deserved to die for other crimes against both Breeds and the Navajo, but knowing he had been the wrong one cut at her.

  The man who betrayed Mark deserved to hurt. He deserved to feel the same hell Mark had felt, knowing that his sister would be raped and killed and even the chance to help her was denied him. The fact that she had been rescued at the last moment hadn’t helped Mark. It didn’t salve her fury now.

  Years of distrust made sense now. She’d been so angry as she’d watched her parents allow him to take Mark’s place. He tried to be a brother
to Mark’s sisters, he’d married Mark’s fiancée, he’d taken over Mark’s company.

  He’d thought he could live Mark’s life.

  Her nails bit into her palms as she realized they’d curled into fists, prepared to inflict whatever damage possible.

  Damn him.

  She wanted to slip away now. She wanted to find him, wanted to tear his throat out herself.

  The only thing stopping her was the knowledge that he had disappeared, just as she’d known he would. The Breed team sent to find him that morning had reported that he couldn’t be found either at his home or at his office.

  Where would he go? she wondered. Where would Jason hide?

  Eyes narrowed, she scanned the desert as it rushed by, going over old haunts Mark had once shown her, remembering bits and pieces of her childhood that she’d refused to allow herself to remember before.

  As she did, she could “feel” Rule. As though the very fact that she was considering where he could be, where to find him, how to make him pay, had alerted Rule to her not-so-hidden desire to kill him herself.

  She almost smiled as she felt him. Geez, it was the strangest damned feeling. He would just be there, like the caress of a breeze, but in her mind. She really wasn’t certain if she liked it or not.

  One thing was for damned sure, though, she thought on a sudden sigh; there would be no going after Jason by herself, and there wasn’t a chance in hell Rule would allow her to kill him herself as Cullen had. And she wondered if anything else would exorcise the ghosts of her past?


  Did she love him?

  Had she just accepted the mating, nothing more?

  Standing in the lobby of the hotel as he leaned against one of the stately pillars that supported the atrium, Rule crossed his arms over his chest and glared at the doors as he waited for Lawe to roll into the courtyard with his mate. Allowing her to make that trip without him had been hell.

  He’d been a part of her in one form or the other since her final surrender to him the night before. Exploding like the fourth of July and crying out his name, she had opened every part of herself to the link he had forged within her soul. And still, he was damned if he could sense whether that love was there.

  “Damn creatures,” Dane murmured as he sidled up beside him. “I can tell by your glare, fixated into space, that the lovely Gypsy McQuade is no doubt driving you to distraction.”

  “You got back fast enough,” Rule grumbled. “How?”

  Dane chuckled. “Father ensures that I have the fastest, most technologically advanced vehicles possible whenever I’m out of his sight. He’s somehow convinced himself it lessens the danger I may find myself in.”

  “Or just gets you there faster?” Rule grunted. “Tell me, Dane, was that your technologically advanced personal jet-copter that Gideon caught a ride on earlier?”

  “I was wondering if there was a way I could take credit for that one,” the Breed sighed morosely. “Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be. And the black-hearted bastard is refusing to answer my calls.”

  “Well, go figure.” What the hell did the fucking hybrid expect? He was dealing with a psycho, not just another manipulating, calculating Breed as he usually did.

  “Gideon was nearly dead when I found him.” Dane’s voice lowered as he too leaned a shoulder against the pillar. “Nearly emaciated to the point of death, so savage Father feared he would have to have him caged. And the Leo does not keep cages on any of his estates, you know.”

  Rule flicked him a look.

  His dark blond brows were lowered, his green gaze distant as though his look into the past wasn’t a pleasant one.

  “The secrets he knows,” Dane whispered. “So much intelligence, Rule. Insights into Breed physiology unlike anything you could even guess. The few months he was healing in South America after we found him, Mother was in scientific heaven just from his ramblings.”

  “And once he healed?” Rule asked.

  Dane inhaled heavily. “One night he was fevered and rambling about a transfusion and why it had driven him insane, speaking of the creature pacing, lurking and breaking free. Mother left the audio recorder on and went to check on another of the unfortunate Breeds we were attempting to coax back to health. When she returned, the recorder had been turned off, part of it obviously erased, and Gideon had simply vanished through a steel door or concrete walls. We’re really not certain how, because strangely, the recording from the camera trained on him was destroyed for nearly an hour up to the moment Mother returned.” Dane chuckled. “Smart-ass fucker had taken a moment to get into the camera and hack the programming from within the device itself. Though how he fuzzed the equipment before doing so eludes me.”

  “What are you up to here, Dane?” Rule asked when the explanation finished. “Why not just go to Jonas, tell him you could acquire what he needed and allow Ely to continue the injections?”

  “Jonas would have never allowed it,” Dane told him, his tone suddenly weary. “At the most, he would have injected them himself to take the responsibility from Ely’s steadily weakening shoulders, and only Gideon truly understood what he was doing. It was far better to maneuver my baby brother rather than watching that sweet child, or Jonas and Rachel, being destroyed from the inside out should something go wrong.”

  Rule stared outside the main doors for long moments once again, his eyes narrowed against the glare of the sun as it spread across the glistening lobby floors.

  “Callan so resembles Father that there are times I find an edge of jealousy rising inside me,” Dane said, his voice filled with amused self-disgust. “And such pride the Leo has in him, despite their differences. But if one knew the Leo as only Mother and I do, then they would see the pain he suffers each time Jonas is about. The guilt and self-recrimination, the unspeakable nightmares that have haunted him for
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