“I can’t.” She came to him and took the cup from his hand. “My favorite tea. Thank you. Why don’t you make yourself comfortable in my office? I won’t be but a moment.”
He moved to do as she asked, his hand brushing affectionately and proprietarily over the curve of her hip.
Victoria’s office had walls of windows on two sides—one overlooking the bustling city below and the other facing the reception area. It was a feminine space that still conveyed power, and it was where she ran a hospitality empire. Her quick and clever mind kept her a few steps ahead of her competition, while her feline sensibilities assured comfort, luxury, and unobtrusive service for her clientele.
Unbuttoning the jacket of his Armani suit, Max shrugged out of it and tossed it over the back of a chair facing her desk.
Before he’d ever met her, he had admired her intelligence and ambition. In the time they’d been together, his respect and appreciation had only deepened. Being here, in her lair, reinforced his pride in her accomplishments. He knew damn well how fortunate he was to be the man who laid claim to her. It was a decision he’d make again if given the choice, even knowing what it would cost him and all he would risk to share his life with such a magnificent woman.
She entered the office in a rush, her eyes bright with love and pleasure at the sight of him. Her glossy raven hair was shorn close to her scalp, to better showcase her slender neck and sculpted cheekbones. That luxurious pelt remained unchanged in her feline form along with her eyes. In either incarnation—woman or Familiar—she took his breath away.
Love for her lengthened his c**k and goaded every primal instinct he possessed. She’d been close to feral when they first met. His assignment had been to either tame her for eventual pairing with another warlock or vanquish her. In the end, he could do nothing but keep her for himself. She’d become as necessary to him as the air he breathed. The shadows of wildness in her perfectly suited his tendency to skirt the edges of black magic.
Kicking the door shut behind her, Victoria crossed the expansive room with her lush feline grace. “I’ve missed you like crazy, Max.”
“No more than I’ve missed you.” He wrapped her throat with his hands, mimicking the collar that bound her to him. With a thought, he set a glamour on the wall of windows framing her office door, shielding their embrace from view of the reception area and creating a compulsion to avoid disturbing them.
He was home. She was his home.
Max took her mouth in lush hot kiss, his tongue thrusting deep and sure, sliding along hers. His grip tightened, not enough to cut off her air, but enough to increase the feeling of pressure that would urge her mind away from work and into the place where just the two of them existed. Victoria moaned and melted into him, instantly shedding the weight of command and surrendering to his insatiable need for her. A wild joy filled him.
I love you. Her ardent declaration slid through his mind like fragrant smoke, chasing away the shadows that had steadily encroached on him over the last two days. Black magic was seductive, and hunting two consummate practitioners had reawakened his craving for it. If not for Victoria’s love, he might be vulnerable to its lure. She kept him sane and straight, anchoring him as his power continued to grow with every day that passed.
His lips parted from hers and moved to her ear. “Were you good while I was gone?”
She clutched his waist. “Of course. But it was hard.”
Pulling back, he looked at her. He rubbed his thumb over her full bottom lip, knowing how needy she must be after obeying his command not to pleasure herself while he was gone. “Not as hard as my dick has been the last two days. I was going to wait until after lunch, but I’ll have your mouth now, kitten.”
She nipped the pad of his thumb with her teeth, her eyes submissively downcast. He tugged her backward, keeping her with him until he reached the front of her desk and half sat on the edge.
“Touch me,” he ordered, needing her hands on him.
She unbuttoned his vest with nimble fingers, parting the edges to run her hands down the length of his tie. “What did the High Council want?”
“What They always want.” He took a deep breath, hesitating to ruin her happy mood. “Sirius Powell escaped.”
Victoria stilled, her hand settling over his heart. Then she pulled a chair over and sat. “How is that possible?”
“He had help—Xander Barnes escaped with him.”
Her hand went to her throat, feeling for the collar that only those who practiced magic could see. His collar—the symbol of her submission and his possession. Victoria understood the gravity of the news. Both Powell and Barnes were vicious rogues so addicted to black magic that they killed those who practiced it to steal their power.
She didn’t ask him why They’d chosen him. She knew he was the Council’s first choice for hunting Others—those who’d crossed over too far into black magic and couldn’t be saved. Still, he elaborated, “I’m the one who captured them both to begin with.”
Her hand dropped to her lap and curled into a fist. “Of course. Were they separate then? Or together?”
“Separate. But my orders are different this time. Now I just need to put them down.”
“You said ‘I’ instead of ‘we.’ ” Her gaze hardened. “We’re a team, Max. You don’t work alone anymore.”
He cupped her face in his hands. As a Hunter of rogues, he shouldn’t have a Familiar. While Familiars augmented a warlock or witch’s power tremendously, they were also a terrible point of weakness in battle. He understood firsthand how true that was, because he’d very nearly lost Victoria in their fight against the Triumvirate. The sight of her bleeding and broken in the snow that night, her life slipping away even as he gripped her body close, had taken him to the brink of insanity. But he would never give her up; he couldn’t. He had forsaken everything he’d ever worked for, forfeiting a prized seat on the High Council and thereby inciting its members’ wrath, because his life wasn’t worth living without her in it.
“There’s a reason Hunters don’t have Familiars,” he reminded gently. “Besides, this is unfinished business from before I met you.”
“So was my fight against the Triumvirate,” she shot back, “but I let you fight it with me. Don’t you dare act like I’m a liability.”
His fingertips followed the curve of her eyebrows. “You’re my heart.”