Anarchy (Hive Trilogy Book 2)
seeped into my soul.”
    Whoa. Maybe Ryder had missed his calling as a poet. That was pretty deep and so romantic. I couldn’t stop from throwing myself at him, and as his arms wrapped around me I felt comforted.
    “Molly and I would have been happy. I know that.” His muffled words were as painful as I expected them to be. “But happy is not the same as what I know I could have with you, Charlie. You’re more. You’re everything. This is not young, first love. Not for me. It’s the real deal and I’m ready to let go of the guilt and bitterness now. I’m ready to let go of Molly.”
    Holy shit. Could one, like, die of happiness? Because I was pretty sure I was having a heart attack. My chest actually ached, and my head was a tizzy of emotions. I knew Ryder had pulled out something emotional to try and even out all of the baggage I’d spilled on him. He was trying to share some of himself with me, and in doing so had given me the best gift I could have hoped for. I tilted my head back and gave him a quick soft kiss. Something had settled inside of me, the thing that girls have when they grow up without dads, that unsettled feeling around love interests. Mine was gone, replaced with something amazing.
    Before the mood could get any more serious, he gave me that crooked half grin, and standing, pulled me to my feet. “Come on, Charlie, it’s time for our shift now. I know Markus is waiting to whip your butt in the weights room.”
    The serious mood was broken but the euphoria remained inside. I was genuinely happy, more than I ever remembered being. I just wondered how long before something came along to destroy it.
    As we started to walk back toward the Hive, I yanked gently on his hand, pulling him to a stop. “I have hated being an ash from the second I started to turn. But right now, for the first time in my life, I think it’s the greatest blessing I could have received.”
    Standing on tiptoes, I brushed my lips against his, and before I could pull away, Ryder tightened his hold and deepened our kiss. My eyes closed at the pure orgasmic joy I was feeling as his tongue brushed against mine. The feel of his soft lips was addictive.
    I wondered then what the world record for kissing was. I was totally up for trying to break that one.
    An hour later I was in gym clothes, face-down on the stinky-ass workout mats.
    “Markus, you are an asshole. You know that, right?” My words were muffled, exhaustion too much for me to even lift my head. “You are now number six on my list of favorite enforcers. Maybe seven.”
    Markus’ deep laughter filled the gym and bounced around, giving the illusion that there was more than one big, mean enforcer trying to kill me in here. “I’m trying to show you the best way to take down an attacker who has both size and weight on you. Those self-defense classes gave you a good basic idea, but you’re dealing with ash and vamps now. We’re mean bastards, and we do not play nice or fair.”
    I rolled over. Seriously, it had to be every muscle, joint, bone, nerve, artery, and vein that was currently hurting. There was no other explanation for this much pain.
    “I swear to God you were a torturer before turning ash,” I grumbled as I pulled myself up, my body screaming at me to stay down— just stay the hell down .
    Markus laughed again. I was so glad I amused him so much. Ass. Hole.
    “I was actually an earl from a well-respected family back in Scotland. I was born in Edinburg, early 1950s. My life growing up was incredible, but apparently no one knew that my mother was hiding a big secret—one fun night away from her husband. Imagine everyone’s surprise when I went through the ash transition twenty-three years later.” Some of his laughter sobered up. “Guess you can say the family name was ruined. My father cast my ass straight out into the world. No title. No inheritance. No freaking clue how to survive.”
    I found myself crossing to his side to place a comforting

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