Authors: Kimberly Raye
Tags: #General, #Fantasy, #Contemporary, #Romance, #Fiction
“You sure?” Norm leaned out the window.
I willed silently.
And don’t forget to stop and pick up some flowers for Earline. And candy. And offer to give her a foot massage.
Hey, we’re talking five kids
pot roast. It was the least I could do.
“Well, okay then.” Norm didn’t look very convinced, but another long, lingering glance from me and he finally nodded, slid back across the seat, and gunned the engine.
I ignored the urge to turn and bolt after the cab as it rolled away.
So what if Ty wasn’t a retro sexual? There was still hope. Maybe he just looked cool because I didn’t really
him. Sure, I knew he smelled good and felt good (all hard lines and solid muscle) and kissed good and had a very tasty blood type, but what did I
Seeing him decked out in all his bounty hunter coolness was a lot different than seeing him in his natural element. What if the hot, sexy bounty hunter was just an illusion? A carefully constructed image to hide the fact that he was (please, please, please) a total slob?
What if there were empty bottles of blood sitting everywhere? What if he walked around burping all the time? Better yet, what if he answered the door wearing a wife beater, baggy boxers, and mismatched socks?
I pressed the intercom button next to the door, and Ty buzzed me inside. The warehouse was three stories, and Ty lived on the top floor. I followed a narrow hallway to a freight elevator at the rear of the building and headed for the third floor.
Ty answered the door wearing a pair of worn, faded jeans and nothing else.
The luggage slipped from my hands and landed at my feet. My mouth went dry.
He had broad shoulders, muscular arms, and a six-pack that would make Brad Pitt (à la Troy) envious. His dark, shoulder-length hair hung around his face in casual disarray, as if he’d been running his hands through it. A small scar bisected the edge of one eyebrow and my fingers still tingled from the feel of it. (Yesss, I’d felt it before, but, unfortunately, in a totally nonsexual situation.) Wait a second. Did I say
fortunately? Kill the prefix. He’d kept his distance and I’d kept mine.
His blue gaze was bright and electric as it met mine. My hands immediately trembled. My tummy flipped. Electricity fairly sizzled in the air between us and my nipples immediately perked up. Oh, and a few other areas snapped to attention, as well.
I blinked against a sudden rush of tears and his image swam in front of me.
“Hey,” his deep voice slid into my ears and one strong hand touched my shoulder, “it’s okay. This is all just a mistake. A bad mistake.”
“You’re telling me.” I sniffled and blinked his image back into focus. Bad move. As the details grew clearer, my panic mounted, along with my lust. How in the world was I going to do this? I was standing on his doorstep, about to waltz inside and share the same space with him—
mega hot, half-naked made vampire who’d inspired more than one erotic fantasy with his whole bad ass, alphalicious cowboy image—and I wasn’t going to bite him. Yeah. Right.
My eyes misted again.
“Take it easy.” Before I could so much as sniffle, he pulled me inside the apartment and led me over to a small living area. “There’s no reason to get upset.” He eased me down onto a leather sofa. “We can figure a way out of this.”
We could? Of course we could. We were mature adults. There were oodles of things we could do to deal with the situation. We could respect each other’s personal space. We could sleep in separate rooms. He could wear clothes. I could wear a blindfold.
“I put in a call to this guy I know in the department.” He walked back to the door to retrieve my luggage. “He’ll give us a hand.”
“Does he know how to braid a garlic necklace?” Wait a sec. Ty was a vamp, meaning he couldn’t wear the blasted thing. Talk about a no-win situation.
He set my bags inside the doorway and shut and locked the door. “What did you say?”
“Never mind.” I settled on the soft leather while Ty plopped down in a nearby chair. Far, far away, or so I was trying to convince myself. The scent of him—fresh air and freedom and a hint of danger—teased my nostrils.
Wait a second. No yum. This was not a yum situation and Ty was not going to sweep me off my feet and we were not going to have wild, monkey sex on the comfy-looking bed sitting across the room. And we certainly weren’t going to have a major drink fest to go with it.
This was the opposite of
Bad situation. Wrong man. Major trouble.
I forced myself not to take one more traitorous breath. I was going to deal with this and make the best of it. So what if Ty was alpha to the bone? I didn’t have to fall for him. In fact, I could so totally hook him up with Viola, who was practically salivating for a rough and tough macho male.
One down, twenty-six to go.
Then again, Viola
specifically requested a human, which put Ty completely out of the running and off limits.
I frowned at the sudden relief that swamped me and shifted my attention to the massive apartment. The ceiling dangled a good twenty feet above us. Floor to ceiling windows consumed one wall. We sat smack-dab in the middle of the room where a living area had been set up with a dark blue leather couch and two black leather chairs. A chrome and glass coffee table sat between them. A matching chrome and glass entertainment center stood sentry nearby covered with enough electronics to make the average human male orgasm on the spot. A big-screen television sat next to it.
To my left was the kitchen area, complete with stainless steel appliances and an island stove. To my right, the bedroom. A massive king-size bed dominated the corner. A deep, sapphire blue comforter covered the mattress. A half dozen black and blue–clad pillows had been stacked near the headboard. It looked comfy and infinitely masculine like the rest of the loft. My stomach hollowed out and my mouth went dry.
I forced myself to swallow and shifted my attention back to Ty. His gaze drilled into me and a knowing light gleamed in his neon blue gaze. “Nice place.”
“It serves a purpose.”
“Professional decorator or did you do it yourself?”
He gave me an odd look. “Most of it was already here. I brought in the bedroom furniture and the sound equipment a few weeks ago.”
“You can’t have too much sound equipment.” Did I mention that my capacity for intelligent conversation is severely limited when surrounded by so much testosterone? I’m not sure if that’s a born vamp weakness (like sunlight and stakes) or my own personal glitch. “So, um, who is he? This guy with the department? Friend? Relative?”
He gave me another odd look. I didn’t blame him. Come on.
Ty was, like, over one hundred years old and a made vampire on top of that. Meaning, his relatives were more than likely six feet under. And made vamps weren’t known for forging deep, meaningful relationships. They plundered the earth and fed. End of story. At least according to my folks.
His dark eyebrows drew together. “You didn’t hit your head during the arrest, did you?” Something strangely close to concern glimmered in his gaze and warmth curled in my tummy. Before I could reply (with so much warmth, I was a little tongue-tied), he shook his head. “What am I saying?”
That maybe, just maybe he
if I hit my head? That the thought made him positively crazy because he had intense feelings for me?
Holy crap. This was it. The moment of reckoning. We’d kissed and flirted and I’d known all along that there was more to it. Sure, the situation was hopeless, but it was still a situation. We were Romeo and Juliet (with fangs, of course) all over again. I’d felt it. But he’d never said anything to confirm my feelings and prove that it wasn’t just my overactive imagination and desperately deprived hormones.
But now, in the face of such danger, he couldn’t contain his true feelings a moment longer. Like, I know most vampires felt only hunger, greed, lust, inflated self-worth, and did I say hunger? But I wasn’t thinking about that right now. I was lost in a moment of happy and I wasn’t going to kill the mood with reality.
My ears perked and my heart paused, and Ty opened his mouth.
“I need you.”
“I can’t exist without you.”
The possibilities echoed through my mind and I smiled.
“I keep forgetting you’re a vampire.” His voice was deep and incredulous and not at all passionate.
My smile widened. Okay, so it wasn’t exactly what I’d had in mind, but it sent a rush of happy through me anyway.
“You are,” he said. “I mean, you
have fangs.” He stared. “I think. So no concussion, right?”
I nodded. Just a nasty, life-threatening incision that I wasn’t about to mention. Because if I actually told him, he would probably want to see it and I wasn’t subjecting myself to
. It was one thing to see concern glimmering in his eyes and quite another to have him inspecting my chest.
Romeo and Juliet, I reminded myself. Aka doomed.
“So what about the guy?” I asked again.
“He’s a high-ranking official in the homicide unit. I’ve helped him close a few unsolved cases and he owes me a favor. He’s going to give me the details on this situation so we’ll know exactly what we’re dealing with.” He stopped looking at me, thankfully, and reached for a laptop sitting on the coffee table amid a clutter of magazines—everything from
Guns & Ammo.
“Does he know I’m here?”
“He owes me, but not that big. He just thinks I’m looking into it on my own. The
is offering a reward for the arrest and conviction of the murderer, so it figures that I would be interested.”
“Fifty thousand dollars.”
Fifty thousand dollars? That’s all I was worth? “I would think they could afford at least a hundred thousand.”
He glanced up, a grin crooking his sensuous mouth. “It doesn’t sound like much, but in my line of work it’s sure to bring everyone crawling out of the woodwork, which is the point. The more people they have looking for you, the less likely you’ll be able to elude the authorities.”
“I thought the justice system was all about being innocent until proven guilty?”
“You’re just a suspect at this point. The prime suspect. From what I’ve been told, the evidence is pretty incriminating, but since I don’t know specifics yet, I can’t say exactly how bad things look. Obviously bad enough for the judge to issue an arrest warrant. Until they figure out their mistake—which I’m sure they will—they’re on a manhunt and you’re it.”
I sat up straight and gathered my control. “Okay, so what do we do?”
don’t do anything. You’re going to lay low while I gather information.” When I started to open my mouth, he pinned me with a hard stare. “I mean it, Lil. The minute you walk out of that door, the cops will be all over you. You have to stay here.”
“But I have things to do—”
“Inside,” he cut in.
“I have a business to run—”
“Otherwise, you can find someplace else to stay.”
I swallowed my argument and nodded. “Okay, I’ll lay low and…What do people do when they lay low?”
“They relax. Take it easy.” His gaze softened as it raked over me. “You look really tired.”
“I haven’t gotten much sleep what with being on the run and almost being autopsied.” When he arched an eyebrow, I shook my head. “You don’t want to know.”
“Actually, I do, sugar.” The admission seemed to surprise him as much as it surprised me. Before I could respond (not that I could, mind you; I was too busy trying to process the fact that he’d called me
), he shook his head and pushed to his feet. “The sofa folds out.”
“That’ll be just fine.”
“I wasn’t suggesting it for you. I’ll take the sofa. You take the bed.”
“What about all of these windows?”
He walked over to the entertainment center and punched a button. Black curtains slid from the corners and shrouded the massive room in total darkness. He walked over and fastened the part where the material met. After tugging to make sure the edges wouldn’t come apart, he turned toward me. “It was either this or spray paint the windows and I couldn’t deal with that.”
It was my turn to arch an eyebrow. “Claustrophobic?”
“Something like that.”
“Vampires aren’t claustrophobic.”
“I wasn’t always a vampire.”
My gaze went to the scar that puckered the small area near his eyebrow. My fingertips itched as I remembered the feel of the rough skin.
I turned toward the sofa and started to move the leather cushions. “I’ll just get settled—” The words stalled in my throat when I felt him come up behind me.