Read Zeno: #8 (Luna Lodge) Online
Authors: Madison Stevens
Tags: #Romance, #Military, #Paranormal, #Romantic Suspense, #Werewolves & Shifters, #Mystery & Suspense, #Suspense, #paranormal romance
Ava stared at her open-mouthed, not even sure how to respond.
Did they do that? Was biting a part of them having sex? She really couldn’t picture that flying with Paige. The very idea freaked her out. Not that she would hate it, but that she might actually like it.
Val stepped to the door, laughing at some joke she never shared. She opened the door and stepped through. A moment later, Zeno entered, his large body crowding the room.
He glanced at her briefly and cursed. She imagined he wasn’t too happy to have her as a roommate.
“I’ll take the couch,” he said gruffly.
Her gaze found the small love seat and then returned to his massive form.
“Maybe I should—”
He grunted as he grabbed a pillow off the bed and tossed it onto the couch.
For the first time since they had been back to the hotel, he looked at her. His eyes glowed slightly.
“I’m going to need my coat,” he said.
She swallowed, her throat suddenly dry.
Ava slipped the coat off and handed it to him.
His eyes dipped lower, and then he turned away.
“Goodnight,” he rumbled.
In two swift strides, he flicked off the lights.
Not really certain what she’d done wrong, Ava slipped into bed and settled under the covers. She listened to the sounds of the city outside and breathed in deeply. It had been such an exhausting day. Although she was glad to finally be free of Antonio, she knew there was a cost, and Piero’s life wouldn’t be the end of it for him. He’d never let her go.
Ava woke in a cold sweat. Her matted hair clung to her face, and it took a moment to shove it out of her eyes. She blinked a few times, trying to focus on the unfamiliar dark room. Where was she? Not Antonio’s. No. The hotel.
The room was cooler now. She shivered a little and hurried to the bathroom where she shut the door behind her.
She splashed a little water on her face and looked in the mirror.
She couldn’t escape the nightmare if it was real. Those red eyes from earlier had been chasing her, the horrible creatures just inches behind her, their long, bony fingers reaching out for her.
She gagged a little, thinking about how the flesh had looked, almost like it was rotting away, from a hungry corpse rather than a man.
Ava pushed the image from her mind and walked back into the chilly bedroom. Relief flooded her as she spied the thermostat. She knocked it up several degrees and then looked to the couch for Zeno. The couch lay empty.
She frowned. It wasn’t exactly as if the huge hybrid wasn’t hard to spot. A hint of a noise caught her attention, and she turned.
The patio door was cracked open slightly. Ava slipped on the sandals Val had given her and wrapped the blanket from the bed around her. Quietly she opened the door.
The city had grown quiet in her sleep. The stars twinkled above. What time was it?
“You should be sleeping.”
She jumped at the deep rumble from the corner. Despite knowing Zeno was out there, the presence of the mysterious man made her heart race.
“I had a nightmare,” Ava said, her body still in the doorway.
The patio was a decent-sized spot for not being all that impressive inside. In the space, they had been able to fit a small cushioned loveseat, a cushioned arm chair and an end table.
“I heard,” he said quietly. She stared at him for a moment before stepping out entirely and closing the door. She sat down on the love seat.
“That must be some hearing,” she said and gave a little laugh.
Zeno just stared at her. The laugh died in her mouth.
“Oh,” she mumbled. He wasn’t a normal man after all, but a genetically engineered hybrid.
They sat in silence for a moment. She wasn’t even sure where to start. There were so many questions floating around in her head.
“So, what are you doing out here?” she asked nervously.
Zeno shifted in his seat and closed the book he’d been holding.
“I have first watch,” he said and set the book down on the table next to him.
She leaned over to try and read the title but stopped when he stretched. His thick muscles strained against his white t-shirt.
He’d changed at some point. And it looked like he might have taken a shower as well.
A deep blush spread across her face as she thought about him being naked so close to her. Something tingled deep inside.
“Do, uh…” she said, trying to keep hold of the thoughts in her head. “Do you think Antonio will come?”
Fear lanced through her. Her former lover was actually the least of her concerns. She leaned forward. “Will those things come?” she whispered.
“Glycons,” Zeno said and shook his head. “Likely not. It’s one thing to have them running around on his estate, another to have them running around in town, but we can’t be too careful.”
Ava leaned back, glad for at least the small reassurance.
She looked over to Zeno, who was scanning the street.
“What are they?” she asked.
He turned his head toward her and pinned her with his honey eyes. She saw the flash of light she’d witnessed before when they were escaping. Her heart thumped as a mixture of awe and excitement swept through her.
“A mistake,” he ground out.
“Did you know about them?” she asked. “I’ve never seen them mentioned in news reports. I mean, there’s people who don’t like normal hybrids. You’d think they’d be yelling about Glycons all the time.”
Zeno shook his head and looked back out to the street. She could tell that he didn’t really like talking about his people.
“They’ve been kept from the public fairly well,” he said quietly. “Hell, they were kept from us for a long time. We really don’t know how they are made, but we do know it’s the same people who engineered us. The Horatius Group. They are an old organization that’s somehow managed to last throughout the years making hybrids, as part of some sort of plan. World domination? Who the hell knows? They aren’t just some jerks in suits trying to make a buck. That’s for sure.” He scrubbed a hand over his face. “The sick thing is the Glycons were once men. They were forced to give up their humanity to be the nearly dead pawns in this cluster fuck of a game by a bunch of sick Horatius Group assholes.”
Ava shivered and pulled the blanket a little closer. The idea that a person could create such monsters made her ill. She winced a little as she slipped her feet under the blanket. The night air nipped at her wounded foot.
She opened her mouth to ask more questions but was surprised when Zeno stood and walked into the hotel room without a word. Was the conversation over? She sighed and leaned her head back. Getting information from him was going to be like pulling teeth.
The door slid back open, and she was surprised to see he was carrying a bag. He stooped to the ground in front of her. A blush crept over her as he looked her in the eye.
“Your foot,” he said.
Ava knitted her brows together in confusion. “My what?”
He lifted up the gauze and nodded to the blanket. “I should change the dressing.”
Ava nodded and slipped her injured foot out. It throbbed slightly from the pressure. Or maybe she was just nervous.
His large, warm hands caressed her skin this, the rough padding from his fingers so different from her own.
Zeno rummaged in the bag and pulled out something in a colorful wrapper. He shoved it in her hands, still not meeting her eyes.
“Val said you’d want this,” he said.
She looked down at the milk chocolate bar and grinned. It was amazing just what a bit of chocolate could do to set everything right. Or at least not make it suck as much.
Zeno set to work on her foot, slowly unwrapping the battered foot. He marveled at how small her foot was in his hand. He could nearly cover up the length of her foot.
He heard the wrapped as she got into the chocolate Val had thought to grab. He could instantly smell the rich cocoa.
“Do you want some?” she asked.
Zeno looked up to where she was holding out a piece. He shook his head. It was clear she needed it more than him.
She popped the piece into her mouth and sucked. Her eyes closed, and she let out a low satisfied moan.
He gritted his teeth at the sound. It was already bad enough his hybrid genes were calling out for him to bond with her. The added sounds weren’t helping matters, especially given the fit of the front of his pants.
He shifted a little and went back to the work at hand. He unwrapped the bandage and checked the wound.
It seemed to be fine, but he had concerns. Given what they’d run into, who knew what the hell was on that floor? Cleaning the wound again was the best idea.
With a bit of cotton, he applied the alcohol over the swab.
His thumb stroked her ankle as he lifted it. Ava stilled and looked down at him.
“This is going to hurt,” he said.
Her face scrunched up in pain as he pressed the swab to the cut. He carefully wiped along it, making sure to be thorough.
“Shit,” she hissed.
Zeno stroked her soft skin with this thumb, trying to ease the pain.
He set the cotton on top of the used gauze and applied a little antibiotic ointment.
Ava took a big bite of her chocolate and shivered a little.
He’d hardly even noticed the cold but knew she was feeling it more than he was. After this he’d insist she go back inside.
“One of those Glycons scratched you,” she said and leaned forward.
He paused as she ran her hand lightly over his jacket.
“Do you want me to clean it?” she asked.
His heart hammered in his chest. At that moment, he would have liked nothing more than to have her hands brushing against his skin.
Zeno grunted. “It’s fine,” he said gruffly.
His hand went for the gauze.
“How do you become a Vestal?” she asked.
He nearly fell over at the question. “What?”
“I mean, it’s like a wife right?”
He kept his eyes on her foot, trying to hurry as he wrapped it. He shrugged, hoping that might be enough.
“Is there some special ritual?” she said.
He looked up to her and placed her shoe back on her foot.
“Does it have something to do with…biting?”
He frowned. Was that even a real question? How was he supposed to talk to someone who didn’t even take things seriously?
He stepped toward the door but stopped when her small hand held on to his arm. He looked down at her. Her soft light brown hair hung around her face with her eyes like two emerald jewels peering up at him.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “Val made me think—”
She stopped and shook her head.
“I just want to know more,” she said quietly. “Know more about the people who have been protecting my sister.”
He sighed. How was he supposed to fight that? She did have a right to know.
She moved over on the couch and patted the seat next to her.
“We can keep each other warm,” she said innocently.
His lower half responded in a not-so-innocent manner.
This was a bad fucking idea. Still he moved until he was sitting next to her. His large body took up far more room than the half the seat was designed for. Her slight frame pushed against him, creating a pleasant warmth. He placed an arm on the back of the couch and was surprised when she moved in a little closer.
“See,” she whispered. “Nice and warm.”
He groaned as his dick pressed painfully against his pants and shifted slightly away from her. Ava moved into the pocket of warmth he’d created for her. They sat quietly for a bit, the cool night air blowing against them.
He relaxed and checked the streets below. He didn’t think Antonio would bother sending anyone after them tonight. With the death of the old man, he’d be dealing with getting rid of the body. Rushing out into the city would play to his weaknesses and not his strengths. And Antonio struck Zeno as a man who liked to plan his vengeance.
“I really do want to know more about your people,” Ava said quietly.
He turned to look at her. She was mostly buried under the blanket, with just her head peeking out. She looked up to him, and the fire from before reignited. He cleared his throat, not really sure what he should tell her.
“Well,” he said and ran a hand over his face. The stubble scraped against his fingers. “Most have a somewhat normal life at the compound. They have houses, and some men have bonded and are even building families.”
“Is bonded like getting married?” she asked. “Val explained a few things, but I just didn’t really understand it all.”
He shook his head and looked down at her again. “It’s more than just words,” he said. “It’s an attraction. One that goes deeper. A feeling.” He stopped and stared at her. His face had been inching closer to her. Never had he wanted someone as he did her.
“Like love?” she whispered. Her eyes half-closed she leaned in a bit.
Zeno took in a shuddered breath. “No. That’s not even enough. More like fate,” he whispered.
His mouth rested just an inch from her own. All he had to do was move a fraction, and they would meet. He’d get to taste her sweet mouth.
She ran her pink tongue across her lips.
He could see the reflection of his eyes as they blazed their bright amber light.
“Oh,” she whispered.
They jumped when the sliding door from the balcony next to them slid open, and Apollo stepped out.
He glanced over to Zeno and gave him a knowing smile.
“You’re off,” he said and stared at them both. “Get some rest.”
Zeno rose without even looking at her. How was he supposed to after he’d what had almost happened?
He slipped off his coat and sat hard on the couch. Ava slid the door closed and stepped past him on her way to the bed. She stopped between him and the bed.
“This is stupid,” she said.
His head snapped up, not quite sure what she was going to say next.
“I’m sorry—” he said.
“Just sleep in the bed,” she huffed.
He looked at the bed and then back at her.
“There is no way you’re going to fit on that tiny couch,” she said and waved a hand where he was sitting. “Besides, it’s a big bed. There’s plenty of room.”