And yet, she was still blaming him. She breathed in roughly, fighting the tears that hovered just behind her eyes, that tightened her chest as the realization crystallized within her. She still blamed him, not just for leaving her, or the loss of their child, but for her own inability to get past the pain. The sob that tore from her chest caught her unawares. The pain that ambushed her soul filled her heart, tearing at the promises she had made to herself over the years. All she remembered, all she felt were the needs. Not the sexual needs, the emotional. The desperation when darkness fell to be held, to know the warmth of his body, to feel his fingers stroking along her cheek…
He had done that once. She was only distantly aware of the soft sobs falling from her lips as she remembered the one time he had caressed her in such a way. Just before he had taken her that first time, knowing the cameras watched them, he had to have known, even if she didn’t. His fingertips had
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smoothed over her cheek as he stared into her eyes.
“We play the game when we must.”His voice had been so soft, so whisper-thin she had barely heard him. “And we love however we can. I love you, Sherra…”
She wrapped her arms over her br**sts, the cries that filled her soul escaping as harsh whimpers as tears dampened her cheeks now. She hadn’t flinched from him then, she remembered. That touch had echoed in her soul even before he spoke the words. And now, she denied them both the fulfillment that she knew could be found in only one manner. In the acceptance not just of the physical, but the emotional as well. Denying him was doing her no good. She could excuse it until hell froze over, but if something happened to him, she would dieanyway. Perhaps not physically, but just as she had until she saw him again, she would die inside.
Wiping furiously at her tears, she drew in a hard, desperate breath as she blinked back her tears. Kane was withdrawing, and if Merinus was right, then it was because he was losing hope, just as she had lost hope so many years before. They had been apart long enough. She had been alone so f**king long that she had forgotten why she hurt so deeply inside her soul. She hurt because Kane hadn’t been there. Because he wasn’t holding her, touching her, filling not just her body, but her heart. But he was here now. This was the chance she had dreamed of in the darkest nights when she refused to acknowledge why she awoke crying. This was the chance she had prayed for in those dark days after the loss of the baby, when life hadn’t seemed worth living.
She had lost enough. It was time to take what was hers, and Kane was hers.
* * * * *
“Keep the sensors outside the caves. We’ll wire them for sound and visual and hopefully have more of a warning if another of the missile-toting bastards decides to come calling.” Kane was hunched over satellite images of the land the Breeds owned as his unit stood around the briefing table in his room.
“The images aren’t showing the caves we’re finding, but if you look damned close, you’ll see a shadowing instead.” He pointed out two of the areas where the almost imperceptible blurring occurred on the thick pages. “These images were very carefully ‘fixed’. So far, I’ve found six areas that need to be checked. Get three more units together in the morning and get started finding the others. I’ll brief Callan and Taber first thing in the morning.”
“What about new images?” Jackal asked him softly, his smooth voice breaking in on Kane’s thoughts.
“The Army satellite that took these should have been able to give us an idea of where the caves exited on both sides, as well as an idea of their tunnel systems. What if we commission more images?”
Jackal was as calm and cold as the deepest winter night. He had been one of the first soldiers Kane had chosen for his team of rescue experts. He never became upset or irritated. Never raised his voice. If you pissed him off bad enough, you were dead. It was that simple and that quick.
“Same problem.” Kane breathed out roughly as he fought to keep his thoughts straight. He should have been comfortable right now, he thought furiously. Instead of chilling out with a beer and dressing in the soft gray sweatpants he preferred for evening, he was suffering in heavy jeans and the hard-on from hell.
“Not really,” his technical expert, Ice, spoke up then. “Lawrence Industries has their own satellite orbiting Earth. Why not put the bastard to work after all the trouble he’s caused breaking our gate like he did? If he’s really serious about wanting to be a part of his sister’s life, he’d get you what you need.”
“How can we be sure it’s reliable, though?” Jackal tapped the images they had impatiently. “Look how the government screwed these over.”
“Because one of us would be there when the images download.” Ice smiled coldly. “I know how to operate and program the satellites. If Lawrence would clear me for it, I could get everything we need.”
Kane narrowed his eyes on the tall soldier. Ice had trained on some pretty advanced government systems before joining his team.
“Have Dawn approach him on it.” Kane nodded, his eyes narrowing at the thought. Dawn was running from Lawrence, it was as plain as the fear on her face. “That could solve a lot of our problems right there. If he agrees, he’ll move up on the personal scale of trust. If he tries to get out of it, he moves higher on the list of suspects. Personally, I think he’ll be eager to help.”
Seth Lawrence seemed sincere in his offers to help where he could and to make protecting his sister and future niece or nephew easier. So far, he had accepted his restrictions on the compound as well as the heavily guarded meetings he was being allowed with his sister. It grated on him, Kane could tell. Having his motives questioned so intently wasn’t something he liked, but he understood the motives behind it. Kane felt like he was sending Dawn to a ravening wolf though. Seth Lawrence’s interest in her wasn’t hidden, nor was Dawn’s intention of avoiding it. The damned women of this Pride were going to drive him to an early grave. Him and every other man in the compound if they weren’t careful. Kane rubbed the back of his neck, wishing he could relieve the tension in his body as easily.