Black On Black (Quentin Black Mystery #3) (2 page)

BOOK: Black On Black (Quentin Black Mystery #3)
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I JERKED AWAKE...
 
staring at the back of an airline seat with the tray up.

Long legs stretched out in the gap between the airplane deck and the chair-back in front of me. My head rested on someone’s lap. I watched the muscles of his thighs tense in a half-stretch, the black material expanding to the changed shape. His body arched as he stretched his back too, then his arms, moving his lap minimally, probably so he wouldn’t disturb me.

My heart beat loudly in my chest. Hard enough that I wondered if he heard it.

Then his fingers slid gently into my hair.

He stroked his fingers through the long strands, separating tangles carefully, pulling it out over my shoulder and back. I wondered if he knew I was awake when I felt the affection there. After a few more seconds, I decided he probably didn’t. It occurred to me maybe I was eavesdropping on him in a sense.

I felt pain on him too.

I glanced up.

“Hey,” he said, smiling as he met my gaze.

I smiled back and he wrapped his hand around the back of my neck, massaging the muscle there. I shifted to my back where I took up most of our paired first class seats, wincing when I banged my hurt foot lightly against something metal, probably the armrest by the window behind me.

“Hey,” I said, arching my back, stretching my arms.

That pain on him worsened when I stretched deeper into his lap.

I felt him thinking about sex.

A coil of wanting slid through me at the realization, briefly stopping my breath, making my heart pound for a different reason. Neither thing managed to distract me from the dream, from that crushing urgency around needing to warn him––but the intensity of my own reaction startled me. I’d felt that even in the one night we spent together at the hotel in Bangkok.

That night, I woke up wanting him, too––badly enough that I had to fight to keep my hands off him while he slept.

The explicitness of the images that came to my mind threw me.

He didn’t seem to notice.

He went back to stroking my hair, warming me in that way he had, pulsing that furnace-like heat at my chest. Whatever that heat was, wherever it came from, it felt like him. I felt his presence all around me and it made me feel safe.

It also lulled me back into a doze...

... and time phases, growing soft.

I lay on my back again, under his hands. Comfortable and warm and wanting him but unable to open my eyes. I finally manage it, after what feels like a long time.

I look up, meeting his gaze.

His gold eyes meet mine, shining strangely in the cabin lights. Most of the people around us are asleep. I see their dreams floating overhead, grey and cloud-like, a few brightly colored and some dark and frightening. A few people were awake, wearing headsets and watching movies on private monitors stuck in the backs of the seats in front of them.

I look back up at Black, at the sharp planes of his face.

“Something bad is coming,” I say, soft.

“Bad?” He smiles wanly. “That’s kind of vague, doc. Given our track record, you might need to be more specific.”

“They’re coming for you.”

He frowns and I reach up, caressing his jaw.

That pain I feel worsens, pulling at me.

I see him thinking, turning over my words. Then he looks down, his sculpted lips tipped into a faint frown. I close my eyes when he goes back to stroking my face and hair with his hands. Those hands are under my shirt next and he’s massaging me with strong fingers, melting my body against his. I let out a low gasp when one hand unfastens my jeans, then his hand slides under my clothes, his fingers glide inside me...

... I open my eyes.

A different face looks down at me.

Ian sits there, his bone-white irises glowing.

Paralyzed, I can only look up, frozen as terror explodes through my chest. I watch his lips crack in a wider grin. He pulls his fingers out of me and licks them while I watch. I fight to move, to scream, but I can’t.

I can’t move, and his hands wrap around my throat.

I choke, reaching for his fingers...

Behind him, Solonik leans over the seat. He grins at me, his handsome face softening with that delighted, affectionate smile. His violet-tinted irises glow even brighter than Ian’s. He eats raw chicken with his fingers and he watches Ian kill me. When Ian squeezes my throat harder, Solonik nudges him with one arm, still chewing the stringy meat.

“Leave some for me, brother,” he says, his Russian accent prominent. “Don’t kill her yet, brother. Don’t kill her too soon...” He winks at me. “I need my dessert first. I need to taste my chocolate...”

I choke out a scream...

... AND JERKED VIOLENTLY in the chair, half sitting up.

I banged my foot against the bulkhead by the view port and gasped, briefly blinded by pain. Before I could recover from that...

Strong arms wrapped around me.

I fought them––for the first few seconds at least.

Then warmth blew over me, reassurance...
 
enough affection to catch my breath.

“Black.” I said his name even as recognition found me. “Black...
 
you’re here.”

He gripped me tighter, pulling me all the way into his lap. That heat on him rose, nearly suffocating right before he kissed me, caressing long dark hair out of my face. I found myself looking at my hair where it fell like a curtain around us, dimming my vision, making him hard to see. It must have come out of the ponytail I’d put it in before I lay down.

“Of course I’m here,” he murmured.

He kissed me again, wrapping his arms around me tighter. It was more than just his arms. That heat blasted into my chest, softening the tension that tightened every muscle in my body, making me ready for a fight. I felt his concern through that warmth, and more than that.

I felt a lot more than just concern.

“You okay, doc?” he murmured, kissing me again. He started massaging my back, his fingers precise, practically forcing me to relax. “Bad dream?” His voice was soft, coaxing, a little humorous. He brought me tighter against his chest, massaging the base of my spine and neck. “Tell me where to kiss it and make it better...”

I let out an involuntary laugh, taking a shaky breath as I combed my hair out of my eyes.

“Just a dream, doc,” he said, softer. “Just a dream.”

I shook my head.

“Something bad is coming,” I said.

Pausing where he’d been massaging my back and shoulders, he looked up at my face. His gold eyes reflected that concern, even as he stroked the hair out of my eyes, holding it away from my neck.

“What, doc?” he said, kissing me again. “What’s coming?” He gave me a faint smile. “Didn’t we leave enough bad back there, where we just left?”

I shook my head again, biting my lip.

“You’re there. I can see you there.” I met his gaze, studying his expression, maybe looking for a reaction in his gold eyes. “You’re going to leave. You can’t leave, Black. You can’t.”

“I’m not going anywhere, Miri––”

But I could feel him dismissing me, and I pushed his hands away when he started to touch my face. I met his gaze, looking for the truth. “They’re going to call in that debt, Black. They’re going to call it in soon...
 
a lot sooner than you think.”

I watched his face. That time, I saw a different expression forming there.

A veneer had come over his eyes.

It was subtle, but I could see it.

“I’m right,” I said. It wasn’t really a question.

He exhaled, leaning back in the chair. “You might be.”

“Black.” I shook my head. “You can’t do it. Whatever it is they want from you...
 
you have to say no. We’ll find some other way.”

Closing his eyes, maybe to avoid mine, he sank deeper in his seat.

“Miri. I made a promise.”

“Fuck your promise!” I kept my voice low given the quietness of the cabin, but he opened his eyes, flinching at something in my tone anyway. Frowning as I glanced around us, I ignored the question in his eyes when I returned his gaze. “This isn’t the time to go all noble about keeping your word. You can’t trust them, Black. They’re playing you...
 
and me. Don’t let them. I don’t know what Lucky wants, but it’s not what he’s telling you.”

Black’s jaw hardened.

He didn’t look angry, but I saw a more shrewd expression forming there.

Surprise still lived there too, a near wariness as he studied my face, and probably other parts of me I couldn’t see. He’d been noticing changes in me, I knew. I could feel him wanting to talk to me about those changes. Maybe not yet, not so soon after everything in Bangkok, but he felt strongly we needed to talk. I was changing, in his view...
 
more quickly than he’d really been prepared to deal with, or explain.

Maybe he was changing too. Maybe that was happening more quickly than he was prepared to deal with or explain, too.

Both possibilities made him nervous.

I strongly got the sense they also turned him on.

Mostly, though, they worsened his fear around Lucky and whatever it was he didn’t want to tell me. I felt him thinking about what happened in Bangkok, about people knowing what I was. I felt him thinking about Solonik, about Anders and his vague threats...
 
about Ian Stone, my serial killer ex-fiancé. Black felt all those things like a noose tightening around both of our necks.

He still thought I didn’t understand the seriousness of all of this, that I didn’t really get what we were dealing with.

“Or maybe I do get it,” I said. “Maybe I get it better than you think.”

Again, I saw a faint startle in his expression.

His lips tightened. That mouth I liked so much, that I wanted to kiss even now, when I was worried about him, curled into a frown.

“I have no choice, Miri,” he said. “Believe me, I wish I did.”

“You always have a choice, Black...” I trailed when I felt a sharper pulse of reaction off him, what felt a lot more like real anger.

His gold eyes turned a shade colder as he stared up at me.

“That might be true for you,” he said. “But it hasn’t always been true for me, doc.”

Remembering what I’d seen of his childhood, even just now, while I’d been asleep, I didn’t answer. I watched him silently instead, feeling the walls come down between us, even more than I could see. I couldn’t think of words to say, not then––mostly because I knew exactly what he was talking about. I could feel it on him, although he’d never admitted much about his past to me, not back then. I only knew the bare bones, and that was from Solonik.

Solonik told me Black was born a slave in that other world.

Given that, Black was right of course.

I didn’t know what the hell I was talking about.

Further, I could see how my New-Agey, California, everything-happens-for-a-reason platitudes might rub him the wrong way. The fact that I couldn’t fathom the kinds of things he must have endured in that other place––or imagine what it must have been like for him to end up here––effectively silenced me.

BOOK: Black On Black (Quentin Black Mystery #3)
3Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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