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Authors: Anna Windsor

Tags: #Paranormal, #Fantasy, #Romance, #Fiction, #General

Captive Heart

BOOK: Captive Heart
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H
er damp hair stirred, blowing across her cheeks. Right about the time she reached up to brush it out of her eyes, she saw the purple streaks on the damp tips. Then she remembered she was wearing nothing but lacy, purple-stained underwear.

Oh …

Shit …

Heat splashed through her, and she knew her face had just gone the color of a bad sunburn. Her eyes darted to the waves, but her yellow robes were long gone. Every swear word she had ever known—in any language—cycled through her mind, but she refused, she absolutely refused, to cover herself up or make excuses or do anything at all to let this man know she felt humiliated.

Somehow, she stood there. Just sort of hung out like it was no big deal, being almost naked on a beach with the biggest jerk on earth.

Jack folded his sunglasses and slipped them into his suit pocket. His throat moved, but his mouth stayed closed and not a sound slipped out. Andy saw his eyes dip, then snap back to meet hers again.

He wants to look at me, but he’s trying not to. Good for him. He might live to get off the damned beach
.

“I—ah—hello. You—” He gave up again. Rubbed his hand across the back of his neck. “Saul and I tried to call ahead, but your phone’s not working.”

Andy held his gaze, amused and surprised by his reaction to her. “A Motherhouse full of Sibyls does that to technology. There’s not a stable digital signal or a functioning computer within five miles of this beach. You could have had yourself transported directly here instead of going to Motherhouse Greece and making Saul ferry you over to the island.”

Jack rubbed his neck again. “Didn’t think that would be … polite.”

Nervous
, Andy’s cop brain informed her, and her Sibyl instincts agreed. Well, that was an emotion she was familiar with, but what was getting to him? Was it her—or her underwear?

A
LSO BY
A
NNA
W
INDSOR

Captive Spirit
Captive Soul

Bound by Shadow
Bound by Flame
Bound by Light

Captive Heart
is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

A Ballantine Books Mass Market Original

Copyright © 2011 by Anna Windsor

All rights reserved.

Published in the United States by Ballantine Books, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.

B
ALLANTINE
and colophon are trademarks of Random House, Inc.

eISBN: 978-0-345-51680-0

www.ballantinebooks.com

Cover photo: © Jupiter Images

v3.1

For all of Andy’s fans who write me so frequently—
she’s finally getting her due

 

You can’t bargain with the truth.
—Y
USUF
I
SLAM

Sibyls.

Jack Blackmore stood on a rickety Greek dock staring across the sunlit waves of the Ionian Sea. He had come to paradise. He should be enjoying himself, but instead he was thinking about Sibyls.

Saul Brent, one of the few men who called Jack a friend, yanked at a rusty pull chain on the boat they were supposed to take to the island of Kérkira, but the battered skiff’s engine wouldn’t catch. “Son of a bitch,” Saul muttered, giving the chain another jerk.

Shirtless, tattooed, and with his brown hair barely crammed into a ponytail, Saul looked more like a biker on spring break than a decorated soldier and career police officer. His years undercover for vice and narcotics seemed to be etched into his essence. Saul’s swearing did nothing to ease Jack’s mind, and neither did the warm air or the scents of wet sand and salt.

Sibyls were still a puzzle to him.

He didn’t like puzzles.

Every time he dealt with Sibyls, he seemed to do something wrong. He didn’t like wrong.

Jack frowned at paradise.

He’d fought demons easier to get along with than the Sibyl warriors of the Dark Crescent Sisterhood—especially the one he had come to Greece to see. What the hell was he doing, trying to make nice with the most unreasonable woman he’d ever met? A woman with elemental powers so vast they defied his understanding. She’d already tried to kill him twice. Maybe the third time, she’d get the job done.

The engine caught, but Jack didn’t make a move to get into the boat.

“Second thoughts?” Saul asked as he struggled with the last rope lashing their skiff to the dock.

Jack wondered if his features mirrored his career like Saul’s did, if his years in the Army and gray ops, both internationally and stateside, showed like subtle scars on his face.

“No second thoughts,” he said in answer to Saul’s question before considering whether he was telling the truth. Jack considered himself an honest man, but he never said much about what was really on his mind. Training—and reflex.

Saul snickered as he worked the rope’s last knot. “The thought of seeing her, it’s got you nervous, doesn’t it?”

Jack didn’t answer, but he got into the skiff. He wasn’t nervous. He didn’t do nervous. The reason his gut was tight—well. Just a lot riding on this little visit to Motherhouse Kérkira.

“She might finally drown you this time,” Saul said over the roar of the engine as he steered them into the deep blue waters of the channel.

The skiff lurched, and Jack had to catch himself on the splintery rail. Sea spray coated his face, cooling him enough to say, “She’ll hear me out. She thinks more like us than like the Dark Crescent Sisterhood.”

“Andy Myles stopped being a police officer the minute she snapped her pretty fingers and summoned her first tidal wave.” Saul gestured behind them, in the general direction of Mount Olympus and Motherhouse Greece, home base of the air Sibyls, where they had started this little late-afternoon odyssey. “She hasn’t been in training since birth like the rest of them, but she’s a Sibyl now, and you haven’t made many friends among the chicks in leather.”

Jack thought about the elementally protected bodysuits the Sibyls wore into battle, and about how the tight black leather hugged every enticing inch of Andy’s body. His fingers tightened on the skiff’s railing until his knuckles hurt.

Let it go
.

Yeah. Because he was good at letting things go. No distractions. Not on a mission.

Saul stayed quiet for a minute or two, then came back with, “You still haven’t told me what you want with her.”

“I want her back in New York City.” Jack made himself ease up on the boat’s railing before he broke the damned thing. “I want her mind on operations and planning. I’ve read her notes and reports—she’s one of the best analysts in the Occult Crimes Unit.”

“She’s a Sibyl now.” Saul cut to the left and pointed them toward the island they sought. “One of the few water Sibyls on the planet. Did it ever occur to you that Andy has other shit to do? That she might not be willing to come running just because the great Jack Blackmore gives her a summons?”

Jack considered various answers, but he kept coming back to one obvious fact and the thing he couldn’t stop believing about Andy Myles. “Once a cop, always a cop. If I ask her, she’ll come.”

Saul’s brown eyes narrowed. “When you took your little sabbatical at the Sibyl Motherhouses and came back all Zen, I thought you’d changed—but you’re still the same cold bastard. Everyone and everything exists just to get you what you want.”

“Not what I want.” Jack went back to strangling the boat’s railing. “What we need.”

“Who is
we
this week, Jack? The Army? The FBI? You and the little voices in your head?”

“The NYPD. The OCU.” Jack didn’t expect Saul to understand or even to believe him, which was a good thing, because Saul laughed his ass off as he whipped the skiff through the crystalline waters leading to the tip of Kérkira.

“You’re full of shit,” Saul called over the roar of the engine and the slap of the boat through the waves.

Meaning,
When you’re finished with whatever has your interest, you’ll leave New York City and the OCU in your rearview mirror just like you’ve left everywhere else
.

Probably true.

Thanks to some pretty bad shit in his childhood, Jack had no real ties, not to any person or any place. Once upon a time, the Army had saved his life. He’d become a soldier, a commander who knew who he was, where he was supposed to be, and what he was supposed to be doing. Then he watched a bunch of tiger-demons crawl out of the Valley of the Gods in Afghanistan, the blood of his unit dripping from their claws and fangs, and he lost track of life’s basics even though he always warned his men never to do that.

The tiger-demons, the Rakshasa, had been his reason for existing—or at least his reason for being a single-minded, single-purposed bastard—since the Gulf War, but they were dead now. The darkness he had tracked for years had been scrubbed from the planet.

But he could always find more darkness.

New York City was as good a place as any. For now.

As if he had heard Jack’s thoughts, Saul made a vicious cut with the rudder and the skiff scooted sideways. If Jack hadn’t had a good grip on the rail, he’d have busted his face on the rough floorboards.

“When Andy decides to kick your ass all over the island, don’t ask me for any help,” Saul said. “I’m gonna hoot until I piss myself. And I’m staying on the boat. You’re on your own with this one.”

Jack studied the sands of the fast-approaching island as he tried to clear his mind and get ready to engage the—what? Enemy? Friendly? Hydra monster in a gorgeous redhead suit?

Damn, but the skiff’s railing felt flimsy in his choke hold.

Even if Jack wasn’t too sure about his own character, he had no doubt that Saul was an honest man. If Andy decided to wash Jack back to New York City, he was on his own—and Saul might very well get his chance to keep laughing.

BOOK: Captive Heart
4.29Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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