Excerpts from Lucas

Lucas invites Ginger on his mission

“Devon and I spoke this afternoon.”

I threw a few pellets to a duck who wasn’t getting his fair share. “Oh.” I tried to keep my voice light. I knew what was coming, though I’d hoped for more time before he left, but he was obsessed with tracking down the book.

“How long will you be gone?”

He glanced at me, then took a handful of pellets and tossed them one by one into the water. The ducks paddled furiously as they tried to gobble each one up before another duck got to it.

“You always seem to know everything happening in the Family. Did Cressa say something?”

“She didn’t have to. I know how important the book is.”

He slid an arm around my waist, and I leaned my head against his shoulder. “Devon and I spoke about the book this morning. We reviewed the locations of all the Renaud libraries and annexes in the States and came up with a short list of which ones should be visited. A handful are close to some of Philipe’s known contacts.”

“That makes sense he’d have friends near the libraries. Will you try to reach out to them?”

“I’d be foolish not to, assuming they’re willing to talk to me.”

I laughed, but it came out strangled. “Who wouldn’t want to talk to you? You’re kind of irresistible.”

He released the container from my tight grip and put the lid on. Then he turned me to him. Our eyes met, and I did my best not to tear up. It wasn’t just that he was leaving. He’d left on other assignments since we’d been seeing each other. But Lorenzo was out there. He had to know Devon would be sending someone to the libraries.

“You’re not going alone, are you? The partner requirement is in play when one of the Family is traveling, right?”

“It is.” He glanced over my shoulder, and I couldn’t begin to imagine what he was thinking—or not telling me. “I thought maybe you’d be my partner.”

I stared at him and tugged at my right ear. I couldn’t have possibly heard that correctly. “I don’t understand.”

He grinned, and a lock of blond hair fell over his forehead. “Now, I always thought you were smarter than that.”

I gave him a soft punch. “I’m smarter than you know.”

“Yes, you are. So, are you up to being my bodyguard?”

I shook my head, wishing it was that easy. “Devon wouldn’t allow it.”

“He’s fine with it. But he wants you in extended training sessions until we leave in two days.”

I studied him, waiting for the punchline. This had to be a joke. But I couldn’t read past that stoic vamp look that was better than any poker face.

“Why would he think I was the right person for this?”

“Because Sergi and Simone said you were ready.”

Ginger gets a massage

“You’re assuming the custodian is still with Philipe or that they haven’t moved again.” He set the phone down and took my glass.

“True. I suppose even with the size of New Orleans, it would be difficult to hide there for decades.”

“From Sergi’s message, she’s been moving every few years.” He pulled me onto his lap facing the windows and placed his hands on my shoulders, his fingers gently kneading.

I leaned into it. “That feels so good.”

“Your muscles are a knot. You need to relax. We still have a long way to go. You knew this wasn’t going to be easy.”

“I know. I’d feel better if someone had spoken to Philipe in the last decade.” I lowered my head as the massage deepened, the warmth of his hands spreading a light tingle through me.

“Our focus needs to be on his contacts now. If we’re close to a library, we’ll stop in just to confirm the pattern is consistent, but it’s no longer our top priority. The Renaud family will have heard of our visits.”

“But they haven’t stopped us. You said this last curator was friendly.”

“And appeared honestly perplexed with the discrepancy in the records. But it’s best we don’t take any chances.” He pulled down my dress zipper a few inches, slipping the straps down my arms, his massage now working its way across my entire back.

“Do you think there might be some members of the Renaud family breaking the rules?”

“I would rather think it’s more about keeping something potentially dangerous from reaching any of the Houses. The Renauds taking sides in Council politics would be almost as earth-shattering as telling the vampire world that dreamwalkers still exist.”

Featherlight kisses followed his hands that continued to work the knots. A couple of minutes later, the zipper was pulled all the way down and my bra was unhooked.

“Am I getting a full-body massage?”

“You need to relax before dinner.” He moved his hands farther down my back as the dress fell to my waist.

His fingers traced my spine, his thumbs releasing pressure points, and as good as it felt, it was the stirring between my legs that demanded my immediate attention. I wiggled, feeling the press of his cock against my ass.

“Dinner in New York. It’s pretty exciting.”

“I guarantee it will be memorable.” He reached around to cup my breast, his massage no longer focused on my muscles.

I leaned back, letting my head drop to his shoulder, and I closed my eyes. His fingers tweaked my nipples as he kissed the soft spot between neck and shoulder, dragging the tips of his fangs up my neck until they nipped at my ears. Then he moved a hand south, his knuckles brushing against my ribcage and over my belly, sending shivers of delight following his touch.

His fangs scraped along my back from shoulder to shoulder. A finger slipped under my lace panties. And I thought I’d come undone.

He teased me until I couldn’t think. But I could feel. I sensed his need as he lifted me onto him. His strong arms wrapped around me, and he hugged me tight, gently rolling us back and forth until he was fully sheathed.

But he didn’t stop. And I let the ripples of desire and my own hunger for him wash over me until I was nothing but raw emotion.