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Authors: Sylvia Day

Tags: #Romance, #Paranormal, #Fiction

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BOOK: A Touch of Crimson
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He slid a twenty-dollar bill across the counter. She smiled and let him.
It was too bad she was wearing her oldest pair of jeans, a loose T-shirt, and army-issue jungle boots. Great for ease of movement, but she would’ve preferred to look hot for this guy. He really was way out of her league, from the movie-star good looks to the Vacheron Constantin watch on his wrist.
Turning to face him, she held out her hand. “Thank you, Mr. . . . ?”
“Adrian Mitchell.” He accepted the handshake, with the addition of his thumb stroking across her knuckles.
Lindsay had a visceral response to his touch. Her breath caught and the tempo of her heartbeat accelerated. Up close, he was devastating. Both fiercely masculine and terrifyingly beautiful. Flawless. “Hi, Adrian Mitchell.”
He reached down and caught her luggage tag with long, elegant fingers. “Nice to meet you, Lindsay Gibson . . . from Raleigh? Or returning there?”
“I’m heading your direction. We’re sharing a plane.”
His eyes were the most unusual shade of blue. Like the vivid cerulean at the heart of a flame. Set within olive skin and framed by thick dark lashes, they were mesmerizing.
And they were focused on her as if he couldn’t get enough of looking at her.
He raked her from head to toe with a searing glance. She felt bare and flushed, left naked by the undressing he’d done in his mind. Her body responded to the provocation. Her breasts swelled; everything else softened.
A woman would have to soften for him, because there was nothing remotely yielding about his body. From the sculpted definition of his shoulders and biceps to the chiseled features of his face, every angle was sharp and precise.
He reached around her for his change, moving with a lithe and primal grace.
I bet he fucks like an animal.
Heated by the thought, Lindsay caught the extension handle of her suitcase. “So is Orange County home? Or are you traveling for business?”
“I’m going home. To Anaheim. And you?”
She moved to the pickup counter. He followed at a more sedate pace, but there was something inherently determined about the way he came after her. His pre-dacity sent a shiver of expectation through her. Her luck had definitely changed—her final destination was Anaheim, too.
“Orange County is going to be home. I’m relocating for a job.” She wasn’t going to get as detailed as naming a city. She knew how to protect herself if she had to, but she didn’t want to buy any more trouble than she already had.
“That’s a big move. One side of the country to the other.”
“It was time for a change.”
His mouth curved in a half smile. “Have dinner with me.”
The velvety resonance to his voice engaged her interest further. He was charismatic and magnetic, two qualities that made short-term relationships memorable.
She accepted the bag and soda the clerk passed to her. “You get right to the point. I like that.”
The calling of their flight number drew her attention back to the gate. A short delay was announced, causing the waiting passengers to shift restlessly. Adrian never took his eyes from her.
He gestured to the row of chairs near where he’d been pacing. “We have time to get to know each other.”
Lindsay walked with him over to the seating area. She canvassed the vicinity again, taking brief note of the numerous women following Adrian with their gazes. The sense of him being a leashed tempest was no longer so overwhelming, while outside the rain had abated to a heavy drizzle. The correlation was intriguing.
Her ferocious reaction to Adrian Mitchell and his unique ability to set off her inner weather radar cemented her decision to get closer to him. Anomalies in her life always bore greater investigation.
He waited until she was settled into a seat, then asked, “Do you have friends picking you up? Family?”
No one was meeting her. She had a shuttle reserved to take her to the hotel where she’d be staying until she found a suitable apartment. “It’s not wise to share that sort of information with a stranger.”
“So let me address the risk.” He shifted with sleek fluidity, reaching into his back pocket to grab his billfold. Withdrawing a business card, he held it out to her. “Call whoever is expecting you. Tell them who I am and how to reach me.”
“You’re determined.” Also used to giving commands. She didn’t mind. She had a strong personality and needed the same in return, or she took the lead. Docile men were fine in certain situations, but not in her personal life.
“I am,” he agreed, unabashed.
Lindsay reached for the card. His fingers touched hers and electricity raced up her arm.
His nostrils flared. He caught her hand; his fingertips teased her palm. He could have been stroking between her legs, given how aroused she became from that simple touch. He watched her with an almost tangible sexual heat, dark and intense. As if he knew what her hot buttons were . . . or was set on figuring them out.
“I can tell you’re going to be trouble,” she murmured, tightening her grip to still his questing fingers.
“Dinner. Conversation. I promise to behave.”
Holding him captive, she reached for his business card with her other hand. Her blood was thrumming through her veins, roused by the excitement of such an immediate, unruly attraction. “Mitchell Aeronautics,” she read. “But you’re flying commercial?”
“I had other plans.” His tone was wry. “But my pilot dropped out unexpectedly.”
His pilot. Her mouth curved. “Don’t you hate when that happens?”
“Usually . . . Then you came along.” He pulled his BlackBerry out of his pocket. “Use my phone so whoever you call will have that number, too.”
Lindsay reluctantly released him and accepted the phone, even though she had her own. Setting her soda on the worn carpet, she stood. Adrian rose with her. He was affluent, elegant, mannered, solicitous, and drop-dead gorgeous. Yet as polished as he was, there remained a dangerous edge to him that titillated a woman’s basest instincts. Maybe the crowded terminal was provoking her sharp senses. Or maybe they just had a combustible sexual compatibility. Regardless, she wasn’t complaining.
Leaving her pretzel bag on the chair, she moved a few feet away and dialed the number to her father’s auto shop. While she was occupied, Adrian walked to the gate counter.
“Linds. You’re there already?”
She was startled by the abrupt greeting. “How did you know it was me?”
“Caller ID. It shows a 714 area code.”
“I’m on my layover in Phoenix, using someone else’s cell phone.”
“What’s the matter with yours? And why are you still in Phoenix?” A single parent for twenty years, Eddie Gibson had always been overprotective, which wasn’t surprising considering the horrific manner of Regina Gibson’s death.
“My phone’s fine and I missed my connection. I’ve also met someone.” Lindsay explained the situation with Adrian and relayed the information from the business card. “I’m not worried. He just seems like the kind of guy who could use a little resistance. I don’t think he hears the word ‘no’ very often.”
“Probably not. Mitchell is like Howard Hughes.”
Her brows rose. “How so? Money, movies, starlets? All of the above?”
She assessed Adrian from the back, taking advantage of the opportunity to check him out while his attention was diverted. The rear view was as impressive as the front, revealing a powerful back and a luscious ass.
“If you sat still for more than five minutes, you might know this,” her father said.
God, she couldn’t remember the last time she’d read a magazine, and she had stopped paying for cable television years ago. She rented movies and shows by the season, because even commercials were a luxury she couldn’t make room for. “I can barely keep my own life straight, Dad. Where am I supposed to find time to pay attention to someone else’s?”
“You’re always poking into mine,” he teased.
“I know you. I love you. Celebrities? Not so much.”
“He’s not a celebrity. He actually guards his privacy pretty fiercely. He lives on some kind of compound in Orange County. I saw it on a television special once. It’s some sort of architectural wonder. Mitchell is similar to Hughes in that he’s a reclusive gazillionaire who likes planes. The media keeps tabs on him because the public has a fascination with aviators. They always have. And he’s supposedly attractive, but I can’t judge that sort of thing.”
And to think she’d picked him out of a crowd. “Thanks for the heads-up. I’ll call you when I get settled.”
“I know you can take care of yourself, but be careful.”
“Always. Don’t eat fast food for dinner. Cook something healthy. Better yet, meet a hot chick and have her cook for you.”
“Linds . . .” he began in a mock warning tone.
Laughing, she ended the call, then went into the phone’s history and deleted the number.
Adrian approached with a ghost of a smile. He moved so fluidly, exuding power and confidence, which she found even more attractive than his looks. “Everything okay?”
“Absolutely.”
He held out a boarding pass. Lindsay saw her name and frowned.
“I took the liberty,” he explained, “of arranging adjacent seats.”
She took the ticket. First class. Seat number two, which was more than twenty rows closer to the front of the plane than she’d had originally. “I can’t pay for this.”
“I wouldn’t expect you to foot the bill for a change you didn’t ask for.”
“You need photo ID to mess with someone’s ticket.”
“Yes, but I pulled a few strings.” He retrieved the phone she handed to him. “Are you okay with that?”
She nodded, but her inner warning light lit up. With TSA security being what it was, it should’ve taken an act of God to change her ticket without her permission. Perhaps the gate attendant had simply succumbed to Adrian’s allure or maybe he’d seriously greased her palm, but Lindsay never ignored alarm bells. She was going to have to dig deeper where he was concerned, and she would really have to think twice about what she’d hoped would be a short and sweet, hot and raunchy, no strings attached affair.
Frankly, there was no need for a guy like Adrian to go to any trouble to get into her pants. Every woman in the terminal was eyeing him, some with the sort of searching glance that said,
Give me the slightest encouragement and I’m yours.
Shit, even some of the men were looking at him like that. And he handled the prurient interest so deftly that Lindsay knew it was par for the course for him. He kept his gaze moving, never lingering, while wearing an air of indifference that acted like a shield. She’d arrowed right through it with her direct come-and-get-it eye contact, but it truly made no sense that he’d taken her bait. She was rain damp and scruffily dressed. Yes, self-assurance was a lure for powerful men, and she had it, but that didn’t explain why she felt as if she was the one who’d been snared.
“Just so we’re clear,” she began, “I was raised to expect men to open doors, pull out chairs, and pick up the tab. In return, I dress nice and try to be charming. That’s as far as it goes. You can’t buy sex from me. Work for you?”
His mouth curved in that now familiar almost-smile. “Perfectly. We’ll have an hour to talk on the plane. If you aren’t completely comfortable with me by the time we land, I’ll settle for an exchange of phone numbers. Otherwise, I have a car picking me up and we can leave the airport together.”
“Deal.”
His gaze held a hint of self-satisfaction. Lindsay kept her similar response in check. Whatever else he may be and whatever his motives were, Adrian Mitchell was a challenge she relished.
CHAPTER 3
 
I have her.
Adrian savored a ferocious surge of triumph.
If Lindsay Gibson knew how predatory and rapaciously sexual his sense of conquest was, she might have thought twice about having dinner with him. His first urge upon seeing her had been to press her against the most convenient flat surface and take her swift and hard. To her, they were meeting for the first time. In truth, they were reuniting after two hundred years apart. Two hellish centuries of waiting and craving.
Today, of all days. Life had a way of grabbing him by the balls at the most in-fucking-convenient times. But he couldn’t bitch about this—would never bitch about it.
Shadoe, my love.
They had never been apart this length of time before. Their reunions were always random and unpredictable, yet inexorable. Their souls were drawn to each other despite the disparate roads their lives were traveling.
The endless cycle of her deaths and her inability to remember what they meant to each other was his punishment for having broken the law he’d been created to enforce. It was an excruciatingly effective reprisal. He was dying in slow degrees; his soul—the core of his angelic existence—was ravaged by grief, rage, and a thirst for vengeance. Each time he lost Shadoe, and every day he was forced to live without her, further compromised his ability to carry out his mission. Her absence impaired the commitment to duty that was the cornerstone of who he was—a soldier, a leader, and the gaoler of beings as powerful as he was.
BOOK: A Touch of Crimson
8.52Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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