Read Ember Burns (The Seeker) Online

Authors: Ditter Kellen

Tags: #Mystery & Suspense

Ember Burns (The Seeker) (2 page)

BOOK: Ember Burns (The Seeker)
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“I don’t know how you eat that nasty stuff. It’s raw and sticky. Not to mention it reeks. I’m surprised you ingest it with that bad-breath fetish you have.” Laura visibly shuddered.

Ember laughed. “It’s not a fetish. It’s an aversion. And sushi is an acquired taste much like oysters.”

“I’ll stick with the wings. You’re freak enough for the both of us.” Laura chuckled and picked up her coffee. “Are you driving or riding with me?”

“I’ll take my car. I have some things to do this evening, so I’ll just meet you there.”

“You really need to get laid, Miss Lead Photojournalist. Did you ever call that cop? He seemed pretty interested in you.”

“Clay? Not yet. And before you say anything, he’s been on annual leave for a few weeks. He was back at work last Wednesday from what I hear, so maybe I’ll give him a call this weekend.” She stood and tucked the envelope back under her arm. “Speaking of interests, I heard from Shon last night. He said to tell you hello, and he’s planning a visit soon.” Laura showed no reaction to the news other than a slight blush.

Ember smirked. “Go ahead and ask. I can smell your curiosity from here.”

A sigh came from the other side of the desk along with a raised middle finger. “Okay. I’ll bite. Wait. Let me guess. Your cousin broke another heart and is looking for someone to fill the bubblehead’s shoes?”

Ember wasn’t fooled by Laura’s display of sarcasm. Beneath the editor’s cool exterior lay a vulnerability visible only to those closest to her. “He’ll be in Daytona for bike week and was hoping you would ride with him.”

“He’s persistent, isn’t he? It must run in the family.” She winked. “I’ll think about it. Now go do whatever it is you do and let me finish this report before Kalli crawls up my ass.” She made a shooing motion with her hands. “And stay away from that janitor; he’s mine.”

They both laughed as Ember turned to go.

“Oh, wait. When is bike week?”

“Friday after next,” Ember responded while fighting a smile.
This is going to get interesting.

She strode off in the direction of her new office and made a mental note to text Clay.
Laura’s right. I do need to have some fun
. The last date she’d been on was with Alan the Octopus. He was a nice enough guy if you could get past the overpowering cologne, roaming hands, and dragon breath.
Yeah, not my cup of tea.

It didn’t take long to reach her destination, which was a blessing since both feet were cramping with every step from the new shoes she’d worn against her better judgment. She unlocked the door and hurried inside, tossing the envelope onto the desk before heading to the bathroom.

Ember poured the coffee down the sink and practically limped to the computer chair to remove the painful stilettos. Relief was instant.
Why the hell did I wear stilts to work? And new ones at that.

She opened the bottom drawer and fished out her cell, glaring at the offensive heels. It only took a moment to locate Clay’s name and type out a quick message. Her finger hovered over the Send key a second before pressing it.
That wasnt so hard
. She shook her head and set the phone aside. There was an article due in an hour, and it wasn’t going to write itself.

Ember fought a yawn and switched on her laptop, thankful she’d remembered to bring it. The report she worked on was far less daunting than her last assignment where a woman had been found strangled in her home across town. An autopsy was being performed to determine the cause of death while the police searched for the victim’s missing fiancé for questioning.

Something about the case didn’t sit right with Ember.
Maybe I’ll mention it to Detective Harper and get his take on it.

She pushed aside her scattered thoughts and opened the work-in-progress folder, forcing her brain to get in the game. There was much to be done before the night’s celebration and not a lot of time to do it.

Chapter Two

The hours passed at a snail’s pace, and Ember glanced at her watch for the tenth time. Thirty minutes, and she could leave for the day. Alan wasn’t happy about being on call, but she’d covered for him on last rotation so he could move to a new apartment.

Ember shut down the laptop and placed it in the leather case she carried everywhere. She removed her purse from the desk drawer and dropped her cell in a side pocket before attempting to organize the desk.

Her office phone rang just as she bent to put on the heels that were obviously designed by a man who’d never walked in a pair before. She snatched it up on the third ring. “Ember Wells.”

“Hey, it’s me.” Laura sounded as tired as she felt. “The editor in chief wants to see us before we leave.”

Ember checked the time and almost groaned. “It can’t wait until tomorrow?”

“Obviously not. I’m heading up now. She said it would only take a minute. See you there. And, Em?”

“Yeah?”

“Congratulations again on the promotion.” The line went dead before Ember could respond.

She returned the phone to the cradle and shouldered her purse just as a text message sounded from its depths. She fished out her cell and slid a thumb across the screen. It was from Clay.
Hi. Working until eight tonight. Can you stop by?

Nerves made her stomach tighten. She ran a hand through her long dark hair and sent back a response.
Have plans, but will stop for a short visit on my way home.

Ember had thought about the detective many times in the last couple of months. He was about six feet tall with pale blue eyes, and dark blond hair that rested on his collar. He obviously spent time at the gym to stay in shape and filled out a pair of jeans in all the right places.

Nice
. She rolled her eyes at her lustful thoughts, slipped the phone back into its resting place, and grabbed the black leather computer bag.

The forgotten manila envelope caught her eye. She stuffed it into her purse before turning off the lights and locking up.

Ember took the stairs up one floor to Kalli’s office. She tapped lightly on the door, and stepped inside.

Laura was already there, seated in front of the editor in chief’s desk. Both women smiled in greeting.

She took a seat and set the computer bag next to her chair. “You wanted to see me?”

Kalli got to the point. “There’s been a complaint.” She held up a hand when Ember would have interrupted. “I know it’s bullshit, but it has to be addressed. I don’t have time for petty games, and I believe that’s exactly what this is. You made lead photojournalist, and that’s going to come with a certain amount of problems. I’m telling you this so you know to be careful.”

Ember cleared her throat. “May I ask what the complaint was?”

Kalli rubbed her eyes, causing the light to reflect off the three small rings of her eyebrow piercing. “You’re accused of landing the lead position by sleeping with Barry Freeman.”

“What?” Laura practically shouted. “That’s the biggest crock of shit I’ve ever heard.”

Ember was too stunned to respond. Freeman was the president of the Lakeland Hedger, an older man in his late fifties or early sixties. She just stared at the editor in chief as if she’d grown an extra head.

She finally found her voice. “Who is my accuser?”

“I’m afraid I can’t answer that. It’s against company policy. But I will say this.
He
is obviously upset you were promoted.” Kalli gave Ember a knowing look before turning her attention back to the pissed-off blonde stick of dynamite. “Calm down, Laura. I’ve addressed it and closed it all in the same breath. Believe it or not, I can smell shit long before it enters that door.” Her chin jerked in the direction of the entrance.

Laura gaped at her. It was obvious she was attempting to choose the right words. “What an ass.” Or maybe not.

Kalli’s lips twitched before she turned her attention back to Ember. “Congratulations on a job well done. Have a great time tonight. You deserve it. And don’t give this another thought. Just watch your back; I’ve seen it happen before.”

“Thank you. I will.” She stood to go, still stunned by what she’d just heard.

Laura got to her feet and extended a hand to the editor in chief. “Come with us. It’ll be fun. Think of the complaints that would pour in. We’d all be accused of doing Barry.”

Kalli accepted her palm and winked. “Tempting, but I have a date this evening.”

“Oh?” The petite blonde’s brows shot up.

Kalli retrieved a book from the desk and winked at her. “My fantasy date for the evening.”

Laura’s gaze zeroed in on the gorgeous cover model on the front. “Damn, he’s hot.”

The other woman laughed. “You have no idea. I’ll drop it by your office when I’m done with it.” She glanced at her watch. “I have to run. You two be careful tonight.”

They said their good-byes, and Ember practically limped to the elevators. She exited the building and made her way to the new vehicle she’d just purchased. She loved the black SUV, had always wanted one. The pay increase with her recent promotion had made it a reality.

She unlocked the driver’s-side door, deposited her bags onto the passenger seat, and climbed behind the wheel.
Holy shit it’s hot in here.

The engine purred to life with a turn of the key, and she switched on the air conditioner.

The cool air felt good on her skin. Summer had never been her thing. Too many trips to the doctor with sun poisoning growing up had broken her of any hopes of a tan line.

Ember donned her sunglasses and grabbed her purse to search for some gum. The manila envelope was sticking out, and she decided to check it while waiting on the temperature in the car to drop to bearable conditions.
Now I know what hell feels like.

She ran her thumbnail under the tab and squeezed the sides to peer inside. Her breath caught.
Oh my God.

Ember shook out the contents to stare in shock at two photographs. One of the house where the most recent woman was strangled barely two days earlier and one of herself.

Her hands shook as evidence of the Watcher mocked her.
It can’t be
. She scanned around the parking lot, expecting to find him watching her. There was no one there.
He’s behind bars. Who would do this?
Alan was the first person that came to mind.
Surely he wouldn’t do something so sick. Unless…

She replaced the photos, threw the car in gear, and sped out of the parking lot to head home.
Life has just returned to normal, and I’ll be damned if some nut job copycat wannabe is going to waltz in and screw it up. If Barry gets wind of this, he’ll pull me from the field. Not going to happen.

Her phone buzzed with a text message, but she ignored it, guessing Detective Harper was probably checking on her arrival time.

Ten minutes later Ember pulled into the designated space in front of her condo and shut down the engine. She’d gone over every scenario she could come up with as to why someone would want to toy with her. The new janitor sprang to mind several times before her thoughts turned back to Alan.

She grabbed her things and locked the car before taking the stairs two at a time to the second floor.

By the time she reached the door her feet were screaming to get out of the stilettos.
You are so going in the trash as soon as I get inside.

The heavy bags suddenly slipped from her shoulder while she attempted to slide her key into the lock.
Shit. My laptop.

Ember was scrambling to prevent the impending disaster when a hand suddenly locked on to the straps. She could only stare at the fingers in shock before her gaze traveled up a thickly muscled bicep, across a massive chest encased in a black T-shirt, and finally to one of the most beautiful faces she’d ever seen on a man in her lifetime.

Dark silky hair hung loose around his shoulders, and a wide mouth was turned up at the corner. Moss-green eyes seemed to burn a hole through her. He was so tall she had to tilt her head back to take in all of him.

Ember realized she was gaping and quickly backed up a step, embarrassed she’d been caught ogling the guy. “Thank you. I’m Ember Wells, and I live here.”
I live here? Jesus. Could I sound more idiotic?

His answering grin was adorable. He took possession of the bags and stepped closer. “Angelo Dimitrov, and I live here also.”

Yeah, he’s definitely fighting a laugh.

Heat crept up her neck and not just from embarrassment. His scent surrounded her, causing butterfly sensations to erupt inside her stomach. No overpowering cologne or body spray permeated the air. The smell was all him, and man, he was intoxicating.

Ember extended her hand. “It’s nice to meet you, Angelo.”

“My friends call me Angel.”

All thought fled the moment his palm touched hers.

She pulled her hand from his grip to regain some composure and forced herself to stop staring at his full lips. “What kind of name is Dimitrov?”
Shit. I may as well take off these damn stilettos and insert them in my mouth
. “I’m sorry; I usually don’t have bad manners. It’s just been a strange day.”
Now I’m babbling.

She cringed and turned back toward the door, but he leaned over and opened it before she could lift a hand. That wonderful smell unique to Angel drifted up her nose and traveled straight to her pussy. Her inner walls clenched, and moisture flooded her panties.
Oh my God, I’m a total slut. I just met the guy, and I’m ready to do him on the porch.

The door swung in, and she quickly stepped inside, leaving it open for him to follow. Ember stopped at the kitchen, and pointed to the bar separating the living room. “You can just put them there.”

She zeroed in on his ass as he stepped past her to deposit the bags. His low-slung jeans fit him perfectly, right down to the black shitkickers that housed what looked to be huge feet.

He had to be the sexiest man she’d ever seen. She wanted to run her hands down his back and over what could only be described as an ass created by the gods.

“Is there anything else I can do for you while I’m here?”

Ember blushed and glanced up. She’d been checking him out again, and damned if he didn’t know it, if that sexy grin was any indication.

BOOK: Ember Burns (The Seeker)
7.15Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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