Chapter 24

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Jade joined everyone for dinner, and tried not to seem aloof, but she couldn't help but feel that there was a new distance between herself and Dante. As if they were no longer on the same page, whatever page that had been. The last several days had been nice, and they had seemed to enjoy being around each other, but at the moment, it felt like they were both almost avoiding each other, but neither one could have expressed why.

Dante noticed her seeming indifference toward him at dinner. That, coupled with her leaving the training grounds unexpectedly earlier in the day, had him concerned. Why was his mate pulling away from him? Had she lost interest in him? He also felt a twinge of guilt about Jennifer. He had genuinely considered her as a chosen mate, but he had already told Jade about that, and it hadn't seemed to have been something standing in the way.

After dinner, he went back into his office with Jackson to continue what they had been working on, and to continue trying to find proof or evidence about Jade's uncle, and maybe identify who else may have been involved in the Silver Crescent massacre. They had founds minor things, that seemed to support their theory, but at this point, that's all it was. Still just a theory. He continued to think about Jade, though, and wasn't able to focus on anything, and decided to send Jackson home and call it a night. He went upstairs and saw that Jade's light was still on. He could see it shining under her door, and he decided that he wanted to see her, and maybe talk to her and figure out what was going on between them.

Jade was startled by the light knock at her door. She had been engrossed with a book she had found in the library, about fighting tactics and training techniques, and she hadn't even noticed Dante's scent as he approached. She quickly tucked the book under her pillow, because she didn't want him to know that she was studying about fighting, and she went to open the door.

"Hey, Jade" he said, as he ran his fingers through his hair. "Can I come in?"

She opened the door fully, and gestured for him to enter. He walked in and flopped down onto her bed. He was tired and didn't really know what to say, but he missed her and wanted to see her. And just being around her, he already felt better.

Jade just stood there and looked at him. She wasn't sure whether or not she should sit down on the bed next to him, or what to do with herself, so she just stood where she was and watched him.

Dante looked up, never taking his eyes off of her. He wondered why she never approached him. He wanted her to be near him, and he wanted her to want to be with him, but she always seemed as if she wanted to keep her distance. He really didn't know what to do. He had never felt so clueless. They both just kept watching each other, waiting for the other to make a move, or give some kind of indication as to what they wanted. It was like an awkward stale-mate.

Finally, Dante couldn't stand it any longer. She was just standing there, staring at him with her big brown eyes. Her hair was down, and loosely draped over one of her shoulders. She was wearing a form-fitting top, and leggings, that showed off the alluring curves that had become more obvious with the weight she had gained since her arrival, no longer looking like just skin and bones. Her lips were plump and maybe even quivering a little, as she stood there nervously looking back at him. He stood up and walked toward her with purpose, and put one hand on her face, the other around her back, and he pulled her in for a long overdue kiss.

Jade had not been expecting him to kiss her this time, especially without any warning, but as soon as their lips touched, sparks erupted though her body, and she kissed him back with fervor. She wrapped her arms around his neck, and he lifted her from the ground and pulled her legs around his waist. She gasped as he lifted her, and his tongue found its way into her mouth, gently teasing at her lips.

With Jade in his arms, Dante backed up and sat on the bed, now with Jade on his lap, a leg on either side of him. They were both lost in the passionate tangle, as their lips and tongues intertwined. Jade ran her fingers through Dante's hair, and his hands searched her body. One in long hair, the other gently massaging her back and finding its way lower as they continued to kiss.

Dante then moved his lips to Jade's jaw, and worked his way down her neck, gently nibbling the tender flesh. When his lips brushed the point on her neck that he would someday bite, to mark her as his mate, he stopped and gave a little suck, his lips feeling the blood pumping rapidly through her veins.

"Dante" Jade lightly whispered, the sound coming out almost like a moan. One arm around his neck, with the hand clutching him tightly the other still running her fingers through his dark tousled hair.

As soon as she spoke, Dante pulled away and looked at her, trying to confirm if he had heard what he thought he had, or if he had just imagined her saying his name. She was blushing, of course, and looking down. He moved his hand to her chin, and raised her head so she had to look at him, and her big brown eyes peeked at him from behind her dark lashes.

"Say it again?" he said, almost more of a request than a statement.

"Dante" she whispered, and then quickly dropped her eyes again.

He kissed her again, if possible even more passionately and deeper than he had before, wrapping both his arms around her, pulling her into him as if he would never let her go. Jade responded equally, holding him tightly, allowing his tongue to take charge inside of her mouth, until they both needed to pull away for air.

Dante then cupped her face in his hands, and looked into her eyes. He gave her another gentle kiss on the lips, followed by one on her forehead, and then pulled her again into his chest, her head resting in the crook of his neck.

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