Graveyard Shifts: A Pat Wyatt Novel (2 page)

BOOK: Graveyard Shifts: A Pat Wyatt Novel
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“Excuse me,” a deep voice said behind me, and I almost did a back flip out of my skin.

“Dang it all!” I turned, placing my hand over my heart. That’s when I saw it was
him
. “You scared the bejeezus out of me!” I narrowed my eyes at him. This man was now on my list. And trust me when I say no one wants to be on that list. “Do
not
sneak up on someone like that! You could give a girl a heart attack!”

He stared intently at me again before saying, “I am sorry about that.”

“What do you want?” I asked, folding my arms. He was acting as if I could read his mind.

“You did not have your dinner, so I took the liberty of getting it for you.” He took his hand from behind his back, holding out a plastic bag to me.

“Thanks,” I said flatly, disregarding his offer, and turned around to find a taxi.

“Listen,” he made me jump when he whispered in my left ear. He was so close I could smell the sweet odor of his cologne. He smelled like candied apples, which was odd considering he was male. “How would you feel about sleeping with me?”

He could not be serious. I laughed without humor. “No,” I answered him sternly.

“All right,” he considered. “I’m guessing you are not that type of girl.”

I rolled my eyes, grinding my teeth together, which is something I do when I’m aggravated. “You got that right.” Another taxi passed, and I yelled for it, but it just sped by.

“All right, all right,” he said in my right ear. “How about you move in with me?”

I paused for a second. “Taxi!” I shouted, but it passed. This was beginning to frustrate me. That and the fact this creepier would not leave me alone.

“Fine.” He moved back to my left side. “Then you are just going to have to marry me.”

I gazed over my shoulder at him, mouth agape, eyes wide and feeling that my eyebrows were all the way up to my hairline. “You’re joking of course?” I asked, scoffing at his forwardness.

“Not at all.” He took to a knee. “Will you marry me?” he asked, and I shook my head. Was this man for real? “Please?” he added, his eyebrow lifting slightly.

“Let me think about that.” I pursed my lips and narrowed my eyes, as if I was in deep thought. Then this little voice in my head said,
Come on, Patricia! Do something crazy and spontaneous for once in your life.
“Why not?” I shrugged, not believing that those words had come out of my mouth. But when I looked into his eyes, there was just something so lonely about them that I figured it wouldn’t kill me.

He smirked up at me. “Is that a yes?”

“Yes,” I said after another moment’s thought.

“Well then,” he said, getting up off the ground and gesturing to his right (I guessed over to his car). “Shall we?”

We’d walked only a few feet when I stopped dead in my tracks. “Is this your car?” I asked, stunned, because he’d led me over to a 1965 Mustang convertible. She was cherry red with a white pinstripe down the length of her, and she had white upholstery. She was in pristine condition, and my mouth dropped at how gorgeous she was. Holy phallic symbol, Batman!

I shook my head. “All right, I have to know: is it original or custom made interior?”

His brows lifted. “Excuse me?”

“Okay,” I sighed, “I’ll simplify this for you. Is it leather or vinyl?”

“Leather,” he scoffed, as if it was all too obvious from a distance.

“So they’re custom,” I surmised from his expression.

“Yes. You know cars?” he asked, not sounding too intrigued.

I ran my fingers over her smooth metal body. “Only the ones I like. How was she when you first got her?” I asked, noticing that he had put whitewall tires on her. Then I opened the passenger door and sat in the bucket seat, smelling and feeling the smooth leather upholstery.

He got in and turned her on. “She was a wreck,” he said at last. “The engine was shot beyond recognition. But I rebuilt it. No problem.”

Ah, boys and their toys. “Does she have Mustang parts, or is she a Frankenstein?” I asked, not using the correct term, but I had a feeling he understood what I meant. This whole thing was insane anyway, and this was the only thing I could think of to keep the conversation going. After all, I didn’t want the situation to get awkward on top of the lunacy. Not my best logic, but it would do.

“Mustang, of course.” His voice had a faraway sound to it as he looked at me sideways. “How can you rebuild a car using different parts?” We had closed our doors at this point, and he backed out of the parking lot onto the darkened street.

“Trust me, I’ve seen it. It’s not pretty, but it can be done.” There was no need to mention that my father was a mechanic. I folded my arms again. “So where are we going?”

“The justice of the peace, of course,” he said matter-of-factly, which made me wonder if he’d done this before.

“Are they open this late?” What time was it anyway? I looked at my watch, lighting up the face for a better view. It read twelve-fifteen in the morning. Fifteen minutes? The voice in my head screamed in surprise. Boy, this man sure did work fast.

He chuckled to himself, as if he was laughing at a private joke. “I know of one that is.”

“How many does this make?” I asked, starting to get nervous about why he had intrigued me so. This had been the first time in a long time that I was interested in another human being, and it frightened me. I mean, I had just met the man.

He chuckled again, not smiling. “I beg your pardon?”

“Wives,” I clarified, which made me curious as to what he thought I had meant. “How many wives?”

“None,” he said simply.

“None?” I repeated, adding a question mark for more clarification. Somehow I didn’t believe that. This gorgeous man had no previous wives. It had to be some sort of trick he was playing on me.

“Zero, zilch, nada, none,” he made it clear. Something was wrong because even though he denied it, I still had a feeling that it wasn’t true. But by then I was distracted by the fact that he’d turned the car up the mouth of a brightly lit street.

I shook my head in order to focus. “A man as handsome and as dashing as you are with no wives? You would think that women would be falling all over you.”

He shrugged, a smirk playing around his lips. “Oh, I have
had
women, just no wives.” Something in me still didn’t believe him, but I let it go. “What about you?” he asked. The question had a double meaning. First he was asking if I was experienced, and then he was asking about husbands.

“Oh, I’ve
had
men,” I said indignantly, hoping to stay on that point. This guy was a definite trip, but at least I was enjoying the ride in a nice car.

“Any husbands?” he asked, and I felt his ice blue eyes burn a hole in the side of my face.

“I had a fiancé,” I answered, looking out the window. Just the thought of that jerk made me want to hit something. “He dumped me a day before the wedding. For my sister. If you can believe that.”

“I cannot believe it.” He sounded perplexed. “May I ask why?”

“He said I was…” I paused, shaking my head. “Boring.” That wasn’t the only thing he’d said, but it was the only thing I was saying on the subject.

I turned my head to look at him, but he just stared at the road for a minute as though he was contemplating something profound. “I cannot believe someone would say that,” he said, glancing at me. “Boring? You?” He shook his head. “I do not believe that at all. Already you have yelled at me, agreed to marry me, and astonished me with your knowledge of cars. You? Boring? Never in a million years could that happen.”

I rolled my eyes. “That’s not what he meant. But thanks for trying.” It was kind of him, but it still didn’t make me feel better.

He turned up another street and parked in front of a large brick building. As I looked out the passenger-side window, I saw an old world street lamp, and I wondered if we were anywhere near New York City at this point.

“Here we are,” he said from outside my door as he opened it. One thing was for sure: he was fast.

I looked him up and down, thinking that chivalry wasn’t truly dead after all. “Thanks.”

“Any time.” He grabbed my hand, pressing it to his lips. “Shall we?” he asked, helping me out of the car. Then he held his arm out to me as if he was a nineteenth-century gentleman, and I took it without question.

It was odd, but there was something about him I liked. Maybe it was his no-nonsense personality, or maybe it was just the fact that this beautiful statue of a man had a yen for me. I couldn’t put my finger on it. But whatever it was, I respected it.

Who knew when I woke up this morning that I, Patricia Anne Wyatt, would get married? Not me, that’s for sure. The weird thing about it was that this man looked like everything and anything a woman could want or dream of having. Little did I know he would be much more than I expected.

.

chapter

TWO

I must have had a brain glitch because the next thing I knew we were driving up this long, dark, winding road. My vision was blurred, and my head felt as if someone had stuffed it with sawdust. “Where are we?” I asked without thinking.

I noticed that the man (now my husband) smirked at me as I stretched in the constraints of the car. “The Hamptons,” he said, still with that same hurting smile on his face. “So we are right outside of my home.”

I glanced out of the window, but it was too dark to see anything. Given the extreme amount of darkness, I wondered what time it was.

Lighting up the face of my watch, I saw that it read one-thirty-five in the morning. We had actually made good time. “Where is it?” I asked, rubbing my eyes. My eyelids felt as if they were sandpaper scraping over glass, and as I blinked, I couldn’t remember for the life of me what had happened after the justice married us, which was strange.

He smirked at me again, stopping the car along what looked like a dark driveway. “You will see.”

Once the car was off, I opened my door before Speedy could do it. I mean, I was his wife (I couldn’t believe that), not an invalid. “How did we get here so fast?” I managed to ask, even though my head felt as if it might explode.

“I drive like a maniac,” he admitted with
that
chuckle. “May I help you get out?”

“No,” I snapped, getting up stiffly. Rigor mortis had unquestionably set in. “Oh, my back. I’m going to have to remember that cool cars aren’t good for long trips.” He chuckled at that, getting out of the car to meet me. Then he held out his hand, pulling me away from the car and shutting the passenger-side door with his foot. I cringed.

As we walked up the stone path a little ways up the drive, he let go of my hand and placed his arm around my shoulders. When he did that, I noticed that there was no noise around us, and the night air had become chilled. I was leery about being alone with him ever since the justice said, “I now pronounce you husband and wife.” The funny thing was we didn’t have rings to give each other, so the justice had to use baggy ties in order to get us through the ceremony.

This was slowly becoming a disaster. That is, until I saw his “home.”

“This is your house?” I asked, looking up, and up, and up at the brick wall. “This place is
enormous!
” This wasn’t a house. This was a castle.

We stopped in front of the most beautifully large wooden door, which was right out of the pages of a fairy tale. It had great intricate detail carved into the wood. There were flowers of all kinds, dragons, lions…every kind of mythical and natural creature you could imagine was carved into that wood.

He pushed the door open without a key before saying, “Thank you.”

“How did you…?” That confused me.

He shook his head at my expression. “If people want something they can just simply take it.” Something in his voice told me the unspoken words were, “If they dare.” I wish I could be that matter-of-fact about thievery. “I never lock my door. May I pick you up?” That question came out of nowhere.

“What?” I asked distracted by the glow of the chandelier inside, which had to be made of Waterford crystal. His home was a palace, and it reminded me of somewhere I had visited before.

He shrugged. “You are my wife, so traditionally I should pick you up and take you across the threshold.”

“Oh,” I hadn’t thought of that. “Okay.” As soon as I said it, I instantly regretted it. He picked me up as if I weighed nothing and set me gently down on the other side of the door. “Thanks.” I grimaced, which was my attempt at a smile.

“Shall we go upstairs?” he asked, gesturing over to his right.

I saw a slightly curved staircase that led up to a balcony, and my eyes widened at the thought of those stairs. So I glanced to my left, noticing a well-lit sitting room, and figured it was my way out. “I’m kind of hungry,” I deflected, a little too loudly. “Do you have anything to eat?” I asked at a better volume. I didn’t want him to think the woman he had married was a lunatic, even if I thought it myself.

He nodded a quick tilt of his head. “Certainly,” he said, shutting the door, and I was relieved when he walked away from the stairs. He gestured for me with his finger, saying, “Follow me.” And I followed out of sheer curiosity.

While I walked behind him, I looked up at the endlessly tall ceiling, trying to figure out why this place was so familiar to me. It was gothic in architecture, yet everything in it was modern in style.

I snapped my fingers when I realized what it had reminded me of. “Dracula!” I blurted.

“Excuse me?” he asked, turning on his heels and looking menacingly down his nose at me. His eyes were like ice when he looked into mine.

I glared up at him. There was no possible way that I going to be bullied by a man I hardly knew. “Your house reminds me of Dracula’s castle.” Let me say this if looks could kill, in that moment we would both be dead.

“Oh.” He seemed pleased by something as he turned around. When he started to walk again, I stayed back a few feet. I was reluctant to follow but too intrigued not to. That’s how crazy this whole thing was.

As I walked with him through the sitting room and into a long dimly lit hallway, chills went up my spine, and I tried to figure out a way to run. However, not before I noticed that the walls were strewn with old paintings, and realized that the lighting was necessary. Unnerving, but necessary.

“What else do you think?” he asked after a moment of bone-chilling silence.

“Hm?” I asked, distracted by the brass light fixtures that hung above the paintings.

He smirked over his shoulder. “About my home,” he clarified.

“It’s…” my voice faded as I stopped in my tracks, letting the thought go into oblivion as I stared at an amazingly beautiful painted woman dressed in white. The style of the painting itself was dark and mysterious, which matched the hall perfectly. Nevertheless, there was something about the woman’s soulful brown eyes. They seemed to follow you everywhere.

“It’s…?” he asked from behind me; his cold breath caressed my neck, which was very unsettling.

“Nice.” I answered as I looked over my shoulder at him.

“Yes.” His eyes seemed troubled. “It is
nice
.” The way he said the word “nice” sounded almost dirty.

“Who painted this?” I asked, changing the subject before I got myself into more trouble and wound up buried under a bridge somewhere.

“I did.” He waved me off, gently grabbing my arm, pulling me down the hall.

“Really?” I asked, still curious. I never learn.

“Yes, really.” He was starting to sound annoyed, but I dismissed it. He pulled me through the archway and into the kitchen. Every appliance was stainless steel: the refrigerator, the two stoves, and even the toaster. In the middle of all this metal was a white marble countertop that had cutting boards, knives, and all the other food prep utensils on it.

I gasped at this beautiful display of kitchen wear. “It’s gorgeous,” I managed to say. I couldn’t believe it. Who wouldn’t want to live here?

“Thank you.” He gave out gratitude as if it was a tissue—just something that could be disposed of at will.

I twirled around, looking up at the ceiling. “This house is amazing. It’s so modern and yet so gothic. It’s really something else.” I stopped talking and twirling long enough to look into his startled face. “I’m going to keep quiet now.”

“Do not stop,” he said as he stepped closer to me, picking up a strand of my hair and smelling it. In any other situation that might have been considered weird or creepy. But when he did it, it was sexy. “I like it when you speak.”

My eyes were fixed on his very large hand. A man hadn’t been that close to me in a while. “I also see you like my hair.”

“It smells of lavender and vanilla.” He placed the strand behind my ear, brushing his fingers along my jaw. “Is it naturally curly and brown?” he asked, sounding interested. A little too interested, if you ask me.

I shifted uncomfortably, overheated by his touch. “Yes, it is,” I said. “Both.”

He leered at me. “So what do you wish to eat?” he asked. Somehow I think he knew I had forgotten that I was hungry.

“Bread,” I breathed. The only thing I could think of that would fill me and
not
give me bad breath.

He slithered away from me, going behind the marble counter. Then he jarred a pantry door open, taking out a bag of rolls. “Potato, right?” he asked as he walked back to me.

“That’s my favorite. How did you know?” I asked, confused. No man had ever known what I had wanted. All around, they did not understand me, and I can’t say that I understood them either.

He handed me a roll, his hands cold and strong as they touched mine. “I pride myself on being able to read women,” he winked, which made me twinge a little somewhere south.

“Oh,” I said, taking the roll and chewing it slowly. I had to think about what I needed to say before I just blurted it out as always. “So,” I paused, swallowing, “how many have you known intimately?”

“Thirty.” He smirked, and I choked. “Give or take,” he amended. “What about you?”

I looked down at my feet, my mind still reeling over the fact that he had said thirty. “Three,” I managed to mumble, feeling my face grow hot with embarrassment.

He cleared his throat. “You are joking?” I shook my head, taking another bite of my roll. “You’re not joking.” It wasn’t a question, but I shook my head anyway. He rubbed my arms comfortingly. “That is all right, my love.” He sounded amused.

“Your love?” I looked up, raising an eyebrow.

He shrugged. “You are my wife.”

I narrowed my eyes at him. “And yet I don’t know your name.” He had cleverly eluded the name exchange. Even when we had to sign the marriage certificate, he covered the signature line with his hand.

“I apologize for that.” He didn’t sound apologetic. Then he bowed his head, straightening himself up to his full height. “I am Samuel Satané,” he bellowed.

My mouth became a tight line. “Satan?” I asked, not believing that I had married a man named after the devil himself.

“Satané.” He winked, and I swallowed. Somehow when he looked at me with those passion-filled eyes, he made me feel exposed.

“Mine’s Patricia Anne Wyatt,” I said, holding my hand out for him to shake. “But please, call me Pat.”

“You may call me Samuel, if you please,” he said, bowing with a flourish, which made me drop my hand and curtsy in response. That made him chuckle, and as he stood he said, “And I know who you are.”

I straightened up. “You do not.” I was indignant and skeptical about that. In all my years of being a writer, no one had ever recognized me, even when I had gotten my picture above my columns.

He smirked, looking down at me from his full height. “I have everything you have ever written from every magazine you have ever been published in.”

“That’s…” I paused, telling myself to be cautious. “Disturbing.”

That was not as cautious as I would have liked.

He leaned against the counter provocatively. “Not at all,” he said matter-of-factly, “considering you are now my wife.”

I grimaced. “That’s what is so disturbing about it.” And I had to admit it was, in a very sexy sort of way. But sexy was too dull a word for this man. A better word would have been erotic.

He chuckled again, adding that painful smirk. Then he came closer to me, cupping my face in his hands as he gently brushed his lips against mine. The rest of the roll dropped to the floor as I moved closer to him, and then our lips met. I closed my eyes, wrapping my arms around his neck. The faint sweet smell of earth entered my nose when I inhaled. He smelled faintly musty, but I ignored it as he swept me off my feet, lifting me into his arms.

His lips seemed so familiar to me, but I did not remember ever kissing him, even when the justice told us too. In fact, I remembered he had kissed my hand and then led me to the car.

After a while, he walked through the hallway and up the curved staircase. I felt him open the master bedroom door, placing me down inside. His lips left mine as quickly as they had attached themselves, and as I looked into his face, the tips of his fingers grazed along my jaw. Then he turned me around, holding my back to him.

I gulped as his lips found my neck, and as I looked around, I saw that we had entered a large room. The whole thing was painted white and had tall glass windows, with no curtains, as a wall. It was sparsely furnished, which made it feel open and light. But the furnishings that it did have included a scarlet reading chair, a couple of lamps, dark wooden bedside tables, and large king-sized bed with white satin sheets, topped with a scarlet comforter that had the initials S.S. embroidered on it in gold, held up with a wrought-iron frame and head board.

My eyebrows lifted in shock at the size of that bed. “That’s a
very
large bed,” I breathed.

“If you haven’t noticed,” he whispered in my ear, “I am a very large man.” He kissed my cheek, his breath cold when it caressed my flesh. “No pun intended.”

I laughed. That was actually kind of funny. When he moved in front of me, taking my hand in his, my heart skipped a beat.

He sat down on the comforter, pulling me down with him. “Wait.” He held up his hand, gliding off the bed. He left me sitting there for a minute, which gave me a chance to look out the window. I craned my neck, seeing a beautiful garden with a fountain right in the middle. But before I could get up and investigate, he was back with his hands sneakily behind his back.

He smirked, biting his lower lip. “Close your eyes,” he commanded softly.

“Why?” I asked skeptically. I didn’t trust this man enough to close my eyes in front of him. Something I should have thought of before I agreed to marry him.

“Please,” he said, his voice floating in the air around me. When I looked in his eyes, they were so mesmerizing that my own eyes closed as if he’d willed them.

I felt him sit next to me on the bed. “Hold out your left hand for me,” he commanded again, but I hesitated.

“Why?” I asked again, peeking at him through my right eye. This was insane!

BOOK: Graveyard Shifts: A Pat Wyatt Novel
3.45Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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