Authors: Laura Kaye
The Wild Rose Press
First published in 2011
At first, he thought he imagined it: her
fingers, exerting pressure against the back of his neck. But she continued on with the steady stroking. He just wasn't sure. He concentrated all his focus on the movement of her hand and...
I didn't imagine it that time, did I?
There it was again—her fingertips pulling him toward her.
Please let me not be imagining that
He licked his lips and moved his head forward just an inch or two. God, he wanted to kiss her. His fingers itched to finally thread their way into all that red hair. His lips fell open in anticipation of claiming her mouth. He wanted to taste her. He wanted to feel her under him.
"Makenna,” he rasped.
"Yes, Caden, yes."
It was all the confirmation he needed.
He pushed himself across the carpet until his chest encountered her side. He slowly lowered his head so he didn't hurt her in his blind impatience. His mouth found a cheek first, and he pressed his lips against the soft apple of it. She moaned and wrapped her arms around his broad shoulders. His right hand landed in a pile of silky curls, and the satisfaction he felt at finally touching her hair made him swallow hard.
"So soft,” he murmured, meaning her hair and her skin and the mound of her breast pressing against his chest where he was atop her.
Caden let out his own moan when her lips pressed against the skin in front of his ear. She exhaled roughly. The rush of her breath over his skin brought goose bumps to his neck.
He trailed soft kisses across her cheek until he found her lips.
And then he couldn't go slow anymore.
And neither could she.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.
Hearts in Darkness
COPYRIGHT (C) 2011 by Laura Kaye
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author or The Wild Rose Press except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
Contact Information: [email protected]
Cover Art by
Rae Monet, Inc. Design
The Wild Rose Press
PO Box 708
Adams Basin, NY 14410-0708
Visit us at www.thewildrosepress.com
First Champagne Rose Edition, 2011
Published in the United States of America
Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind;
and therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.
"Wait! Can you please hold that?"
Makenna James huffed her frustration at her crappy day as she jogged toward the waiting elevator. Her cell phone rang in her suit jacket pocket. She shifted her bags over her right shoulder to pull it out. The bleating ring tone was as annoying as an alarm clock in the morning, but it was probably just that the damn thing hadn't stopped ringing all afternoon.
She glanced up just long enough to glimpse a big tattooed hand holding the elevator door open as she finally freed the small black phone. She spun it around in her hand to answer it and fumbled, sending it crashing and skidding along the dull marble floor.
"Shit!” she muttered, already fantasizing about the bottle of wine she was going to demolish once she got home to bring a quick and mellow end to her day. At least the phone skittered toward the still-waiting elevator. God bless the patience of the Good Samaritan holding it.
Makenna bent down to retrieve the phone, then stumbled into the elevator. Her long hair swung into her face, but she didn't have a free hand to push it back.
"Thanks,” she mumbled to the Good Samaritan as her laptop strap fell off her shoulder, bringing her purse with it to the floor. The elevator beeped its impatience even as the man removed his hand and the doors eased shut.
"No problem,” came a deep voice from behind her. “What floor?"
"Oh, um, lobby, please."
Distracted by her purse and the day in general, Makenna hiked her laptop strap higher on her shoulder, then reached down to grab her purse. She slung it over her arm once more and looked down at her phone to see whose call she'd missed. The LED screen was black.
"What the...?” She flipped the phone around and found a gaping rectangular hole where the battery should be. “That's just perfect."
There was no way Makenna could be without her phone. Not with her boss calling every five minutes to check on the progress of her work. That it was Friday night and the beginning of the weekend made little difference to him toward the end of a project. She'd be glad when this contract was up.
With a sigh, she reached a tired hand over to the panel and jabbed at the button to return to the sixth floor. From the corner of her eye, she glimpsed just how tall her Good Samaritan was.
Then the elevator jolted to a stop and everything went pitch black.
Caden Grayson tried not to chuckle at the frazzled redhead careening toward the elevator. Why did women carry so many bags anyway? If it didn't fit in the pockets of his worn-soft jeans, he didn't carry it.
As the woman reached down to scoop up her phone—another thing Caden refused to carry unless he was on call—he found himself mesmerized by the way her hair tumbled over her shoulder in a long waterfall of soft, wavy red.
When the woman finally made it into the elevator, she murmured distractedly that she was going to the lobby too. He stepped back against the rear wall and bowed his head as he always did. He didn't really care if people stared at his piercings and ink, but that didn't mean he went out of his way to see their looks of disapproval or, worse, fear.
Caden shook his head in amusement as the woman continued to juggle her belongings and spat out a string of expletives under her breath. His day had been a complete pisser, so he was almost ready to join in with her—though his particular coping mechanism usually had him looking for the humor in a situation. And he found Red damn funny. He was grateful for the distraction.
Red reached in front of him to press a button. Caden almost laughed when she punched it at least five times. But the laughter died in his throat when he caught the scent of her shampoo. One of the things he loved about women: their hair
smelled like flowers. And that scent, combined with the redness and the softness and the waviness...Caden shoved his hands in his jeans pockets to keep from running his fingers through the thick mass of her hair. But, Christ, how he wanted to, just once.
And then Red disappeared, along with everything else, as the elevator jerked to a stop and the lights went out.
Caden gasped and stumbled back into the corner of the elevator. Clenching his eyes, he lowered his head into his hands and counted backward from ten, trying to remember his breathing techniques, trying to keep from flipping the fuck out.
The confined space of the elevator was one thing—years of therapy had gotten him past that. Mostly. But confined spaces with no lights? No way. The pounding of his heart and tightness in his chest told him that was a complete fucking deal breaker.
He was on five when he realized Red was making a noise. He managed to push through his fear enough to hear she was laughing. Hysterically.
Caden opened his eyes, though they were useless. But he could tell from Red's laughter she was still near the bank of call buttons. And, amazingly, the more he focused on her, the faster his panic receded—or, at least, it didn't worsen.
God, he wished he could see her. He could almost imagine her shoulders shaking and her eyes tearing and her clutching her stomach from the force of her now breath-stealing laughter. When she snorted, Caden had to quirk a lopsided grin, as her less-than-graceful noises set her off to laughing once more.
But he didn't mind, because he found himself standing upright again, breathing more normally. He'd beaten back the panic. Thanks to her.
Makenna would've shouted if she could've, but she was laughing so hard she could barely breathe.
Perfect! This is just freaking perfect!
Nobody would believe the big steaming pile of crap her day had been. It started when she broke the heel on her favorite pair of strappy sandals walking up the stairs out of the metro. She'd had to turn around and make the twenty-minute trip back to her apartment to change shoes, simultaneously making herself late for work and earning herself blisters on both pinky toes from choosing the only other shoes—a pair of new heels—that matched her suit. It had all gone downhill after that. And now this. It was like...some stupid sitcom. With canned laughter and all. She snorted at the thought. The ridiculousness of the sound and the situation and her whole blasted day had her laughing again until her right side cramped and her cheeks burned from how wide she was smiling.
Finally, she dropped her bags somewhere on the floor next to her and reached out a hand until she felt a cold metal wall. Bracing herself as she tried to calm down, she used her free hand to wipe away tears and fan the heat crawling up her face as she remembered Good Sam was in there with her.
Oh God. He probably thinks I'm a complete lunatic.
"Sorry, sorry,” she finally choked out as the laughs turned into occasional chuckles. Now she was laughing at herself.
Good Sam didn't reply.
"Um, hello? You still with me?"
"Yeah, I'm here. You okay?” His voice resonated in the confined space, surrounded her.
"Um, yeah. I have no idea.” She brushed her hair back off her face and shook her head.
The low sound of his chuckle made her feel a little less ridiculous. “That bad, huh?"
"The worst,” Makenna said and sighed. “How long do you think we'll be in here?"
"Who knows. Hopefully not long.” His voice had an edge to it Makenna didn't understand.
"Yeah. Don't these things usually have emergency lights?” She ran her fingers over the bank of call buttons and randomly pushed some looking for the alarm button, but none of them seemed to do anything. And she knew from working in this building for the past two years that the receiver was missing from the emergency phone cord. The hazards of working in a 1960s-era office building, apparently.
"The newer ones do."
Makenna finally gave up on the buttons. She turned toward the door and rapped her knuckles against the metal three times. “Hey! Anybody there? Can anyone hear me? We're stuck in the elevator.” She pressed her ear against the cool surface of the doors, but after several minutes it was clear no one heard her. Makenna bet the elevator stopped somewhere between the third and fourth floors, which housed satellite offices of the Social Security Administration. The agency closed at five and was a ghost town by quarter after. It would certainly explain the lack of response.
Sighing, she held her hand up, but couldn't see it, even when her palm got close enough to touch her nose. “Damn, this is the very definition of pitch black. I can't even see my hand in front of my face."
Good Sam groaned.
Makenna dropped her hand. “What?"
"Nothing.” His voice was clipped, tight.
He huffed out a breath and moved around. Makenna yelped in surprise when something hard crashed into her ankle.
"Damn, I'm sorry. Are you okay?"
Makenna reached down and rubbed where his shoe, apparently, had kicked her. “Yeah. Did you sit down?"
"Yeah. Might as well get comfortable. I really didn't mean to kick you, though. I didn't realize..."
"What? You couldn't see me standing here?” She laughed, trying to make light of their situation and break the ice a little, but his lack of reply rang loudly in the small space.
Makenna sighed and used her hand to guide her way back over to “her side” of the elevator. She tripped when her left foot got caught in the strap of one of her bags. Her heel slipped off. She kicked the other one off in defeat. It tumbled...somewhere into the darkness.