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Authors: Lily Harper Hart

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BOOK: Deadly Prospects
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Twenty-Three

“So, did you like it?”

Ally’s eyes were sparkling, and Jake could read the mischief on her face. They were cuddled together on the couch watching a movie. They’d spent the day at Ally’s house in various stages of undress. Right now, Jake was completely naked and Ally was wearing one of his oversized T-shirts, but Jake knew that they’d both be completely bare again relatively soon.

Ally was insatiable, and her enthusiasm gave him an energy he didn’t know he possessed. He couldn’t get enough of her.

“It was … interesting,” Jake said.

“You hated it,” Ally said, biting her lower lip and snuggling in closer. “Admit it.”

“I didn’t hate it.”

Ally ran her hand up Jake’s naked thigh, brushing the underside of his member. “Admit you hate it.”

Jake shivered. “I didn’t hate it,” he said. “I just don’t understand it.”

“What don’t you understand?” Ally asked, tightening her hand around him.

“Oh, if you keep doing that, I’m going to lose my train of thought,” Jake said.

Ally squeezed again. “What didn’t you understand? Don’t you dare pull away from me. I’m asking you a question.”

“You’re always asking me a question,” Jake said, smiling. Her hand was driving him crazy.

“Tell me what you didn’t understand,” Ally probed, teasing Jake’s growing length with her fingers.

“I didn’t understand why the vampires sparkled,” Jake admitted, gasping.

Ally had made him watch
Twilight
, despite his protests. He’d remained silent during the bulk of the movie – which wasn’t unusual for him – but Ally had seen him rolling his eyes and making faces during particular portions of the film.

“Yeah, the sparkling is distracting,” Ally admitted. “What else?”

“I don’t understand why an old guy, or vampire in this case, would like a teenage girl,” Jake said, his eyes rolling back in his head as Ally’s hand continued to massage him. “Oh, come here.”

Ally pulled back slightly, not moving her hand, but refusing to give him what he wanted. “It was true love.”

“But why?” Jake said, realizing that he wasn’t going to get his own happy ending until Ally was ready to give it. “She had a terrible personality. She was all pouty and boring. She’s a pretty girl, but she doesn’t have the best personality.”

“What was wrong with her personality?” Ally asked.

“I like my women feistier,” Jake admitted, his shoulders lifting off the couch as Ally continued to rub him.

“Like me?” Ally teased, brushing her lips against Jake’s ear.

“Exactly like you,” Jake said, groaning. “Ally … I … please come here.”

“Not quite yet,” Ally said. “Other than Bella being a boring heroine, what else didn’t you understand?”

Jake was at his limit. He jerked his hands out, grabbing her shoulders before she could pull away, and flipped her over so he could roll on top of her. He pinned her hands up by her head, grinding himself against her naked center as he regained control. “My turn.”

Ally smirked. “Your turn for what?”

“Why do you like that movie?” Jake asked, sucking Ally’s earlobe into his mouth.

“Oh … um … kiss me.”

Jake shook his head. “No.”

“I like the idea of true love,” Ally said. “I like that Edward can’t help himself from falling in love with Bella.”

Jake shifted his hips, eliciting a moan from Ally. “Why would Bella like Edward?”

“Because he’s brave and wants to take care of her,” Ally said. “Jake, make love to me.”

“Oh, no,” Jake said, mocking her. “I’m in charge now. You thought it was funny when it was you doing the teasing.”

“I didn’t think it was funny,” Ally said. “I thought it was sexy.”

“It was,” Jake said, his erection rubbing against her sensitive mound. “Now, tell me, do you really think Bella is a good heroine?”

“No,” Ally said, shaking her head as lust overtook her. “I hate Bella. Please … I can’t take much more of this.”

Jake smiled, lowering his mouth to Ally’s parted lips. “Kiss me.”

Ally obeyed, sucking Jake’s bottom lip into her mouth. Jake touched his tongue against hers, releasing her arms so she could grip his bare back. He nudged her thighs apart, immediately sliding inside of her.

“Oh,” Ally moaned. “You feel so good.”

“You fit me,” Jake said, capturing her mouth again. “You just fit me so well.”

“No more talking,” Ally said. “Make love to me. I can’t get enough of you.”

“Me either,” Jake said. “Me either, angel.”

 

JAKE
woke with a start. It took him a second to get his bearings, but Ally’s weight on his chest told him they’d fallen asleep. After their vigorous round of lovemaking a few hours before, they’d tumbled into sleep on the couch.

Jake rubbed Ally’s back, relishing the feeling of her bare skin on his fingertips, relieved he hadn’t woken her when he jerked awake. Jake glanced down at her, smiling at how placid her face was in sleep.

She was a bundle of energy when awake, a never-ending source of questions and chatter. In sleep, though, she earned the moniker he’d given her. She looked absolutely angelic, like a halo should be perched on top of her head.

Jake closed his eyes, trying to slip back into sleep. The tingles going up his spine made that impossible. Something was wrong. He just couldn’t figure out what. Jake pressed a kiss to Ally’s forehead, carefully sliding out from underneath her. Once he was on his feet, he pulled the blanket up to cover her bare shoulders, and moved to the front window.

He pushed the curtains to the side, staring out into Ally’s vacant front yard. The television was off, so the house was completely dark. Unless someone was looking at the exact spot he was standing, they would never see him.

After a few minutes, Jake let the curtains fall back into place. No one was out there – at least not in the front yard. He moved to the kitchen, letting his gaze fall on the security monitor on the counter. When James had upgraded Ally’s security system, he’d spared no expense. There were alarms on all of the doors and windows, and there were security cameras by the lights at the front door, garage, and back door. The monitor showed the three different cameras on a thirty-second rotation.

The front yard was indeed empty, at least the cameras showed that. The garage was the same. When the camera flashed to the back door, though, Jake detected a hint of movement. He pressed the button to keep the third camera isolated and leaned forward, fixating on the monitor.

“What are you looking at?”

Jake jumped. He hadn’t heard Ally waken, or cross the room. The blanket was wrapped around her, her hair tousled from sleep and sex.

Jake didn’t want to scare her, but he had no intention of lying. “I think someone is out there.”

“What?”

Jake heard the fear in her voice. “Angel, go grab my pants and shoes, please.”

Ally did as she was told, returning a second later. “We should call the police.”

“I just want to make sure,” Jake said, pulling his jeans on, not bothering with underwear. He tugged his shoes on a second later, and grabbed his coat off the back of the chair.

“Jake, don’t,” Ally said. “Don’t go out there.”

“I just want to look,” Jake said, kissing her forehead and then letting his mouth travel down to her mouth. “I’ll be fine.”

Ally gripped his arm. “No.”

“Ally, I won’t let anyone hurt you,” Jake said. “I promise you that.”

“What about someone hurting you?”

“I’ll be fine,” Jake said, reaching for the gun he’d left on the counter earlier in the day. “I promise.”

“Jake,” Ally said, her eyes swimming with tears. “Stay here with me. Call the police.”

“If someone is out there, Ally, I need to know,” Jake said. “I need to catch them. I could end this right now.”

“Or you could die,” Ally said.

“I won’t die,” Jake said. “I won’t let anything happen to you, and I won’t die.”

“You can’t promise me that,” Ally said.

Jake sighed. “No, I can’t,” he said. “I can promise you that I’ll be really careful, though. I would never voluntarily leave you here if I didn’t think it was important.”

“Please, don’t … stay here with me.”

Jake was torn. She was scared, even if she wouldn’t admit it. He didn’t want to leave her, and yet everything inside of him was telling him he had to. “I’m not leaving you, Ally,” Jake said. “I’m just making sure.”

Ally took a step away from him, her eyes filled with recrimination.

Jake closed the distance, giving her another kiss. “I’ll be right back. You need to lock this door behind me.”

“No.”

“Ally,” Jake growled. “I’ll be right back.”

Ally’s face crumpled, her tears finally overflowing. “If you don’t come back, I’ll never forgive you.”

“Noted.” Jake gave her one more kiss, a promise and a reassurance wrapped together. “Lock this door.”

Jake opened the door quietly, slipping out into the darkness without a backward glance. He didn’t know if Ally followed his instructions, but he had faith she would do what he asked.

His eyes adjusted to the complete darkness of the night quickly, his muscles tensed, and then he listened. The military had taught Jake about spatial recognition. Ally’s backyard was small. If someone moved in his general vicinity, Jake would feel it. He would know.

Jake remained rooted to his spot, willing the shadow he’d seen on the monitor to reveal itself.

It didn’t take Jake long to isolate where the furtive figure from the video was hiding. There was a lone tree in the yard, a tall oak with budding leaves and broad limbs. Whoever was here was hiding behind the tree, Jake realized. He knew he wasn’t alone, that’s why he was hiding. Jake couldn’t surprise him.

Jake had a choice, he could try to wait him out – which might take until dawn – or he could end this now. Jake opted to end it now. Ally’s nerves wouldn’t allow him the time he needed to wait someone out. She’d eventually find her way into the yard – and ultimately into danger. He couldn’t tolerate that.

He moved quickly, striding across the lawn with a purpose, his hand gripping his gun tightly. Trying to hide his approach was a waste of time. Whoever was out here already knew that Jake was in the yard. There was no way they could have missed his exit from the house. Discovering who was in the yard was Jake’s only concern right now. He was going to find out who was stalking his angel. The thought of anyone threatening her was more than he could bear. Jake was counting on the fact that a hidden assailant was also a coward.

When he rounded the tree, the gun leveled at his chest and the cold glinting eyes focusing on him from behind the trigger told him he’d read the situation wrong.

Very wrong.

Twenty-Four

The sound of a gun going off froze Ally in place. Her heart was hammering, her hands were shaking, and she was completely unsure of what to do. In the time since she’d watched Jake disappear into the night, she’d pulled his boxer shorts and T-shirt on, and now she was perched by the back door.

It was too dark to make anything out, and despite Jake’s admonishment to the contrary, Ally couldn’t stop herself from doing the one thing he’d told her not to do.

Ally grabbed the butcher knife out of the block on the counter and threw open the door, taking a step outside. She thought about calling out to Jake, but if someone else was in the yard, the act would draw further attention to her. Ally felt the overwhelming need to find Jake, but she didn’t want to make herself a target in the process.

The darkness was thick, and when coupled with the terror coursing through her, Ally’s plight felt oppressive. She was barefoot, each step causing wet grass and errant rocks to press against the soles of her feet.

Ally approached the only spot anyone could be hiding, the knife gripped in her hand, and swung around the tree trunk ready to swipe at anyone that jumped out at her.

“Ally,” Jake gasped, taking an inadvertent step back, his hand clamped to his shoulder and his eyes wide with surprise.

“Jake?” Ally’s voice filled with relief, and yet still echoed with fear.

“Don’t stab me, Ally,” Jake said, scowling.

“Jake.” Ally threw herself at him. He grunted, catching her with his left arm and pressing his face into her neck.

“I’m okay,” he said. “I’m going to kill you, but I’m okay.”

Ally pulled away. “I heard a gunshot.”

“So you came outside? That sounds like a great idea,” Jake said.

“I had to make sure … I thought … I … .”

Jake’s brown eyes softened, and he brought her in for another brief hug. “I know. I’m okay. Now get your ass in that house.”

Ally gripped Jake’s arm, causing him to flinch. “What’s wrong,” she said, peering closer in the dark. The dark splash of color across his shoulder told her something she’d missed at first glance. “Oh, you were shot.”

“Ally,” Jake warned.

“You’re shot.” Her voice was hollow.

“It’s just a graze.”

Ally’s lower lip was quivering. “You’re hurt.”

“I’m fine, angel,” Jake said. “Just … get in the house. Please.”

“You got shot because of me. This is my fault.” Ally spun, moving back toward the house. She ignored Jake as he yelled behind her, his words failing to sink in. Jake was hurt because of her, plain and simple.

 

JAMES
was a bundle of nerves when he got to Ally’s house. Mandy’s fingers were linked with his despite his vehement argument that she remain back at the apartment. In the end, in lieu of arguing with her, he’d given in and brought her.

James talked his way into the house, his gaze landing on a shirtless Jake sitting at the kitchen table as emergency personnel worked on his shoulder. James stalked over. “What happened?”

Jake glanced up, nonplussed. “I woke up in the middle of the night and thought I saw something on the security monitor. Someone was in the backyard.”

“Are you okay?”

“It’s just a graze.”

“Where is Ally?”

Jake inclined his chin, gesturing to the armchair on the far side of the living room. Mandy and James snapped their heads in her direction, taking in her wan demeanor, and immediately started moving toward her.

Mandy pulled up short, jerking James’ hand back and shaking her head.

“What?”

“Stay with Jake,” she said, keeping her voice low. “Let me talk to her first.”

“She’s clearly upset,” James said.

“So are you,” Mandy replied. “Let me talk to her.”

James didn’t look convinced. He’d never seen his sister look so pale – or still. He didn’t like it.

Mandy tried again. “Just give me a few minutes.”

James sighed, reluctantly letting her hand go and moving back to Jake’s side. He looked the man over, this time really taking in his grim countenance. “What happened?”

“He had a gun,” Jake said. “I saw him on the monitor and went outside. He took me by surprise. He fired wildly. The fact that he even hit me was a miracle. He was gone before I could get back up.”

James inspected the wound. “It doesn’t look too bad.”

“It’s fine.” Jake’s worried eyes never left Ally.

“How long has she been like that?” James asked.

“Since she found out I was shot,” Jake said. “She said some nonsense about blaming herself, and she hasn’t spoken since. It’s been almost an hour. The cops have tried to question her twice. She won’t answer them. She just sits there and stares.”

James scowled. “Why didn’t you call me right away?”

“The neighbors called the police,” Jake replied dully. “I didn’t have time. What is she doing?”

James turned back to watch the scene unfolding in the other room. Mandy physically pushed Ally over, making room on the chair so she could wedge herself in next to her friend. James couldn’t hear what they were saying, but Mandy’s lips were moving and her mouth was close to Ally’s face.

After a few seconds, Ally dropped her head on Mandy’s shoulder. The blonde kept talking, gripping Ally’s hand. James didn’t have a clue what she was saying, but whatever it was, Ally was starting to respond to her. Finally, his sister opened her mouth and said something.

Jake leaned forward. “What did she say?”

James shook his head, unsure. “I don’t know. Just give them a few more minutes.”

“I’ve been trying to get her to react to me for an hour,” Jake said. “She just stares right through me. Mandy is here for five minutes and she’s already snapping her out of it.”

“Don’t take it personally,” James said. “There’s a lot of history between the two of them. Mandy knows exactly what Ally needs. She’ll fix her.”

“She doesn’t need to be fixed,” Jake grumbled.

“I know,” James said, sinking into the open chair next to Jake. “That came out wrong. Mandy will make her feel better.”

Jake’s face was a mask of uncertainty.

James softened his tone. “I know you want to be the one to make her feel better. Just … let Mandy soften her up. Ally is going to want you once Mandy gets through to her. Don’t get all … pouty or anything. I’m not climbing on that chair with you and letting you put your head on my shoulder.”

Jake barked out a laugh, the tension leaving his shoulders. “You’re sick.”

“I do my best,” James said, keeping his eyes on Mandy and Ally. “She’s going to be fine.”

“She ran out there with a butcher knife when she heard the gunshot,” Jake said. “She was going to protect me.”

“She’s an idiot sometimes,” James said. “Mandy would have done the same thing. Don’t beat yourself up about that.”

“We were having a good night,” Jake said, talking just to fill the silence. “She made me watch some movie with sparkling vampires. Has Mandy ever made you watch that?”

“Mandy would never watch that,” James said. “It’s too girly. She likes blood and guts, and big rampaging sharks. I’d actually kill for a chick flick sometimes.”

Jake smirked. “If they’re so different, how do they become so close?”

“There are all different kinds of soul mates,” James mused. “They’re just a different kind.”

“I’m glad you came,” Jake said.

“She’s my sister,” James said. “I’ll always be there for her, even if she has you.”

Jake nodded, relief washing over him when he saw Ally shoot Mandy an odd smile and then smack her friend on the leg.

“See,” James said. “My blonde is a miracle worker.”

“I’m going to buy her a big, fat present for this,” Jake said.

“I’ll take care of her reward,” James replied.

“Yeah, that will be between the two of you,” Jake said.

James was quiet for a moment. “She can’t stay here.”

“I know.”

“She won’t like being forced out of her own home, but she’s not safe here,” James said. “I can take her back to our place.”

“No,” Jake said. “I’m taking her home with me.”

James opened his mouth to argue, snapping it shut after a second’s consideration. “Okay.”

Jake arched an eyebrow. “You’re not going to argue with me?”

“No. I trust you to keep my sister safe, and the idea of trying to wrestle her into my truck while Mandy beats me over the head with her purse isn’t something I want to grapple with tonight.”

“I won’t let anyone hurt her,” Jake vowed.

“I know,” James said. “Just … take her to your place. Stay there. I’ll call you tomorrow and we’ll form a new plan of attack. Just make sure she gets some sleep.”

“You got it.”

 

“ARE
you sure you’re okay?”

Ally had regained her composure thanks to Mandy, and it hadn’t slipped while the police questioned her. Now, as Jake led her into his house, she seemed more melancholy than anything else.

“I’m more worried about you,” Ally said, running her fingers down the side of Jake’s face. “I can’t believe you were shot.”

“Ally, I was grazed,” Jake corrected. “It’s like a small cut. Please, don’t dwell on it.”

“I’m not dwelling,” Ally replied.

“Well, don’t go catatonic again,” Jake said.

“I thought you liked it when I was quiet,” Ally said, trying for levity.

“Well, I was wrong,” Jake said, pulling her to him and wrapping his arms around her waist. “I can’t stand it when you’re quiet. I love the sound of your voice.”

Ally pressed her face into Jake’s neck, inhaling his scent and relishing his warmth. “I’m tired,” she said finally.

“Me, too,” Jake said, leading her up the stairs. He’d given her a tour of his house when they’d been there earlier in the week, and she knew her way around, but she was comfortable following him.

Jake pushed his bedroom door open, stripping out of his coat and shirt and dropping his jeans on the floor. He’d never bothered reclaiming his boxers from Ally, and putting a new pair on now wasn’t an option.

He helped Ally strip and climb into the bed. He flicked the light switch and slipped under the sheets next to her, tugging her over so she could rest her head on his chest.

In the dark, the only thing Jake could focus on was Ally’s beating heart and shallow breathing. “Go to sleep, angel,” Jake whispered, smoothing her hair. “Get some sleep. I’ll be right here in the morning.”

“Okay,” Ally murmured, pressing her lips to his chin and closing her eyes. “Just … be right here.”

“I’m not going anywhere, Ally,” Jake promised. “I’ll be right here sleeping with you. You’re safe.”

“You make me feel safe.”

“Not tonight, I didn’t,” Jake said. “I’ll do better tomorrow. I promise. Now, sleep.”

Ally dropped off quickly, and Jake followed suit a few minutes later. He kept her tight in his arms, his jaw pressed against her forehead. Never again, he promised himself. Never again would danger get that close to her. He’d die first.

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