Too dangerous, Vasic thought, too unpredictable. Now, he saw where Aden was going. “The Forgotten are having the same problems,” he guessed. “How did you get Santos to trust you?”
“I think it was a combination of necessity and the fact he’s seen the work we’re doing to protect the Es.” Aden pushed a hand through his hair. “Whether they can adapt our training protocols for their own abilities is an open question, but it’s a starting point. And they may develop techniques we can use in turn.”
It also gave the squad another ally in the world, the reason why Aden had made time in his brutal schedule for this meeting. “Do you need a teleport?”
Aden shook his head. “I’ll walk.”
Rabbit stared mournfully after the other Arrow before dropping his new stick at Vasic’s feet. Picking it up, he threw it far enough that Rabbit had to race, but the dog caught it, came back with his tail wagging. They played a little more before Rabbit abandoned the game in favor of jumping in the snow again.
“Aden believes our relationship gives hope to other Arrows,” he told Ivy. “If he’s right, and Aden is always right about the squad, it’ll mean the others may be inquisitive about us.”
Ivy halted on the edge of the frozen expanse of the Reservoir as Rabbit explored the roots of a nearby tree. “I don’t mind—family members are often nosy.” Her smile in her eyes, she searched his face. “Does it bother you? I know how private you are.”
He put his arm around her, buried his hand in the warm silk of her hair. “I would bleed for the squad, lay down my life . . . but now he asks me to share the one thing that is mine.”
“You’ll do it though, won’t you?”
“Yes.” Because he understood what it was to be in the gray, in the nothingness. “You’re my hope, Ivy, my beacon home on the darkest night.”
“Vasic.” Eyes shining wet, she cradled his face in her gloved hands, her kiss heartbreakingly tender.
Vasic didn’t know if he’d ever become used to the way Ivy touched him—as if he wasn’t stained with blood, as if he had the right to her affection, her care. But one thing he did know was that he didn’t want to be out here any longer. He wanted to be alone with her, to strip himself to the skin and press himself to the giving softness of her.
Grueling as the past week had been, they’d found the energy to make love in stolen moments between outbreaks. His favorite part was Ivy’s laugh when they got something wrong, like when they’d clumsily bumped noses yesterday afternoon in the heat of passion. According to her, they were on training wheels.
He’d never had so much fun making mistakes.
“I read a manual when I couldn’t sleep last night,” she whispered now, not startled by the sudden ’port back to the apartment. “Are you too tired to let me experiment on you?”
“I told you not to read any manuals yet,” he chastised, but didn’t stop her when she pushed off his jacket and tugged up his T-shirt. Peeling it off to drop it to the floor as Rabbit gave a long-suffering huff and wandered out to the living area, he stood in place and let her explore.
It was deeply pleasurable torture.
“You are so beautiful.” Rubbing her cheek against his pectorals, she leaned back to run both hands down his chest, a sigh leaving her lungs. “I could do this for hours.” A glance up through her lashes. “Women called you a ‘hunk’ in the comments to the Signal article.”
Vasic might not have had much experience in certain areas of life, but instinct whispered this was treacherous ground. “You don’t like the description?”
“I don’t like other women salivating over you.” A light scratch over his ni**les.
Sensation arced through his nerve endings.
“You like that,” she murmured and did it again.
Hauling her to him, he kissed her until she was liquid in his arms. “I don’t care what any other woman thinks of me.” The only time he even noticed another woman was when she was near Ivy—and that was in the context of evaluating a threat. “Call me beautiful again.” No one else ever had, ever looked at him the way Ivy did. And she saw inside him, his empath, so if she said he was beautiful, he might even believe it a little.
“My beautiful man.” She shaped his torso, kissed the dip of his collarbone, drew in a breath that made her moan. “You smell so good.”
Nuzzling at her, he pushed off her coat, but when he went to unbutton the thick orange cardigan she wore underneath, she gripped his wrists. “No.”
Once he might have halted, uncertain. Now he could gauge her desire in the kick of the pulse at her throat, the flush of her skin. “Why?”
“Because you take over.” A scowl. “And I let you because when you touch me, my bones melt and my blood turns to honey.”
She may as well have stroked him all over. “I like melting your bones.” Breaking her hold without hurting her, he backed her to the nearest wall. “I read about a position I want to try.”
Eyebrows drawing together, she glared at him. “Vasic—”
He kissed her complaint into his mouth, her lips lush and sensual, her taste distinctly tart today. Vasic might not care about food, but he could explore the flavors of Ivy forever. “Undo the buttons,” he said against her lips, stroking one hand down to lie over her bu**ocks, the other braced palm-down beside her head.
Chest rising and falling in a shallow rhythm, she lifted her hands between them. “Next time,” she muttered, even as she slipped button after button free, “I’m ambushing you while you’re asleep and tying you up.”