Gianna had gotten her energy back, feeling it as soon as she awoke the next day to head to Voren’s dinner. She noticed that Rex didn’t sleep next to her, which she was kind of hoping for.
Having him around calmed her and filled her head with pleasurable and positive thoughts. He hadn’t exactly departed her presence the day before, looking exceedingly happy.
They took a jet to Voren’s private island nation and strapped in while the sun rose high in the sky. She could sense his uneasiness as he gazed out of the window. Normally, he was very handsy, but he had barely greeted her with a peck on the cheek that morning.
She was feeling something deep for him. Something she had never felt before. It was slightly scary, but it was also exhilarating.
It’s like when you meet that one person.
Gianna reached out a hand and touched his leg. He moved his gaze from the window, looked at her hand, and then back to her face. It was his turn to look exhausted.
“What?” he asked in a low tone.
“Are you okay?” she asked, hoping her eyes were as soft as she felt.
He let out a sigh, then gripped her hand.
“I’m not exactly thrilled that you are risking yourself again …” Rex began.
Gianna smiled and leaned over to stroke his face with her other hand. He looked up at her with big round eyes like a child.
“I meant about the plane,” she said.
Rex gave her a confused frown. She moved her thumbs in a circle and gazed at him adoringly.
“I know about the nightmares,” she whispered. “As well as the plane crash.”
Rex looked startled, and Gianna did her best to calm him. She rubbed his leg as well as his face until he softened again, easing into her touch.
He let out another sigh, then closed his eyes tightly.
“It’s a story that any reporter could make a lot of money from,” he said, voice straining. “You are my fated mate, so there is no way I can betray you. But you are human, and I can’t be sure that you will do the same.”
Gianna felt her heart drop in her chest, but she also understood him. She turned her body to face him, then placed both hands on his knees. She leaned forward and tried to give him her most serious look.
“Rex,” she whispered. “I don’t know what the future holds for us, but I promise I will never use anything you tell me right now as a part of any story I will write. I swear to you.”
Their eyes met like two magnets, and Gianna felt herself falling deeper into him. It was a pleasant plummet she wanted to take.
Over and over again for the rest of her life. He makes me feel all warm inside, comforted, and set on fire all at the same time.
Rex’s look softened again, and he placed his hand on hers. He looked away as he spoke, his body tensing against the seat.
“I switched seats with the young woman who died,” he said quickly. “There was an important man farther back who I wanted to make a deal with, so I convinced her to switch with me, and she died. I’ve never been able to forgive myself for that.”
Rex’s eyes went glassy, and Gianna could feel the strain in her heart for him. After all this time, he had been holding this secret inside, afraid someone was going to use it against him for their benefit.
She wanted to hold him in her arms and let him cry it out. Instead, she wrapped her arm around his torso and leaned into the soft rhythm of his heart.
“That’s awful, honey,” she murmured into his chest. “Life isn’t fair sometimes, but that doesn’t mean that you have to hold it in forever.”
Rex’s hand stroked her hair, and she leaned deeper into him. His heartbeat picked up the pace, and she wallowed in his lovely musk.
Right now, I wish Voren didn’t exist at all.
Despite wanting to get the scoop on the story she had been chasing for years, she felt like she could let it all go if it meant Rex would forever be safe in her arms.
Rex raised her by her shoulders and held her in front of him. For a moment, all Gianna could hear was the low rumble of the plane’s engine and the shaky tremble of her heart beating in her chest.
He brought his mouth to hers and planted a soft, delicate kiss. She closed her eyes and held him, taking in his taste with the expectation of a quiet moan.
“Landing in three minutes and counting,” the pilot said over the intercom.
Rex moved his mouth away from her quickly, so fast she nearly toppled over. She gathered herself by shaking her head and leaning back into her seat.
Rex gripped her hand tightly as they descended, then landed safely. He gave her a look of relief and gratitude, which made her feel glad that she had been strict about coming along with him.
They reachedtheir hotel and began to get ready for dinner. Gianna chose the sleekest, sexiest, blood-red dress she had brought with her from home. She hadn’t worn it in a long time, but it seemed appropriate for such an important evening.
It plunged into her cleavage neatly, just enough to offer a tasty peek, but not so exposed that she would lose herself when she bent over.
No one needs the girls to experience a wardrobe malfunction on accident. I just want them to look like they may spill out at any second.
The lower half of the dress had a tight grip on her waist, thighs, and shapely bum. It stopped at her knees but showed off a thin slit up the right side, curtaining a sliver of her strong leg.
She was in her room, getting dressed and finishing with some makeup. She applied the cherry-shaded lipstick last and was pursuing her lips when she heard a knock at her door.
“Come in,” she whispered.
Gianna felt nervous about Rex seeing her. A lot had come between them since they had last been physical, but her attraction to him had never been so strong.
A part of her wore the dazzling outfit for practical sleuth reasons … to keep Voren and Agrippa distracted by her exposed flesh. But the other wanted to look like a vixen for Rex, one he could possess with the simple crook of his finger.
She could see the top of his shoulder draped in a white tuxedo shirt as he entered the room. He was putting on some cufflinks as he lifted his head, and then he took a step back like he had been slapped by something hard and strong.
Gianna was glad that she had already finished up her face because the smile that grew on her lips was out of her control. She looked at his reflection in the mirror while she adjusted her bra.
“Can I help you?” she asked, feigning ignorance.
Rex took a few steps closer. He looked dashing in his flawlessly fitted black slacks and white dress shirt. If he strained his neck anymore, the tie was sure to fly off in a flutter.
“Wow” was all he could muster.
Gianna laughed and got up from the table. She looked at her full body in the mirror again, checking her hemline and running her hands all over her body.
I wish that it was Rex’s mouth, instead.
“Do you like it?” she asked, looking away.
Rex took her by the waist and spun her around. His grip was strong and powerful, making Gianna feel wet instantly. She took in his cologne and his rapid heartbeat, aching for him to touch her firmly everywhere.
He gave her a stern look, then suddenly let his hands fall. Gianna couldn’t help but feel a bit disappointed.
“Later,” he said.
Rex left the room and picked up his dinner jacket. He put it on and held the door open for Gianna. She walked through it without another word, trying to shake the heat that had been building in her loins.
They arrived at Voren’s villa just as the crisp edge of the evening hit. Gianna was guided out of the limo by Rex, who looked like he was merely doing his duties. He wouldn’t make eye contact with her for very long, which concerned her, the thought wriggling in the back of her head.
The villa was strikingly beautiful, and it was painted a seashell white with pastel accents. The villa stood as high as a Scottish castle but with modern enhancements. They walked along a path lit with glowing bulbs in the shape of Buddha’s head.
Gianna could not hold in her gasp as they entered the lobby. She marveled at the height of the stone ceilings and various paintings adorning the walls.
“Holy shit,” she whispered.
This elicited a smile from Rex. He held out his arm to her, and she took it happily.
The entire party was being thrown in Rex’s honor, so it wasn’t easy for Gianna to find a time to scurry away for more information. She watched as politicians, billionaires, and important influencers interacted with each other, including Rex, from time to time. Gianna merely nodded and maintained her observational skills by saying very little.
Voren spotted them from across the room and came sprinting over.
“Hello, my friend!” he bellowed.
Voren stopped in his tracks when he spotted Gianna. She smiled at him as his eyes moved over her body like a snail, the smile all women were accustomed to giving creepy men.
“My goodness,” he said. “I didn’t know we were going to have a goddess in our presence. It is my pleasure to see you again.”
Gianna repressed a shudder. She turned her poorly suppressed eye roll into an opportunity to flick her eyes away from him, feigning modesty. It wasn’t her first rodeo in coping with men who were razor-focused on her beauty. She had learned to use it to her advantage just as she did at that moment.
Gianna parted from Rex’s arm and held out her hand to Voren. He looked down at it like she was holding a dead animal.
“Good to see you again, also,” she said in a high-pitched voice.
Voren took her hand as Rex tried to take her other one, and she swatted it away. Voren pulled her in his direction toward the bar and began speaking too close to her face.
“I didn’t know my boy Rex had it in him!” he exclaimed. “I should have a few drinks and get to know you, you spectacular creature.”
Rex showed up directly at her side, pulling her closer to him by her waist. He was protective of her, which made her panties a little wet.
Gianna giggled animatedly and stepped out from between the two men. She touched their shoulders and took a step back.
“Well, how about I let my darling and you talk business, and I’ll be back in a shake of a lamb's tail!” Gianna said, feeling like she had sucked a bit too hard on some helium.
Rex gave her an approving grin, amused by her theatrics.
Voren looked her up and down again, and when she turned, she could feel his eyes firmly planted on her behind.
“Disgusting,” Gianna whispered to herself.
She wanted to take the opportunity to find Agrippa, who she hadn’t seen yet that night. She stealthily snuck up the stairs that were cut off from the guests and leaned up against the walls like a spy.
As she moved around the corner into what looked like another living room, she saw the rush of a familiar shadow.
A memory sprang forward as she spotted the shifter who had attacked her in Agrippa’s office a few days before. She could feel her heart slamming into her ribs. The anxiety was beginning to make her hands shake. She tried to ignore it, confidently stepping forward and tiptoeing to where the shadow man had disappeared.
The curtains of the living space had been closed, and she could only make out the dark silhouettes of the furniture. She took off her heels and placed them gently aside, then began stepping lightly across the wooden floor.
The man had slipped through a door in front of her, and she opened it slowly.
I wish I’d brought some kind of weapon. Hell, even some of the pepper spray I usually keep in my purse.
The room was darker than the previous one, so she left the door slightly ajar for some ambient light. Before she had a chance to move forward anymore, a light flashed overhead in a fluorescent wash of scarlet red.
“YOU!” a voice bellowed.
Gianna turned to see the snarling face of the shifter, his eyes still red as sirens in the night. She tried to lunge forward with her fists, but he caught his arm around her neck and began squeezing relentlessly.
She struggled, feeling her feet swish on the sloppy floor, trying to reach upward to gouge the man’s eyes out. But he was not giving in, not even a little bit.
Gianna fell into the darkness rapidly, thinking of Rex as her only remaining guiding light.