Authors: Noelle Hart
Tags: #romantic suspense, #murder and romance, #romance adult contemporary, #suspense and romance, #suspense crime thriller, #murder and suspense, #suspense action romance, #love and suspense, #romantic suspense best seller, #stalker suspense
I intend to keep it that
way. Consider this: a few days sweating over the grill while taking
orders from me might have her jumping at the chance to work at the
So that's your strategy?
Make her want to put distance between the two of you? What if it
backfires, Lyle? What then?”
How can it? If it turns out
she's a good sous chef then we'll be ahead of the game.”
I meant, on a personal
Lyle grimaced. “Then I'll move to the
new location and Kim can come back here. Problem
The door to the office slammed in a
rare show of temper as Lyle made his way back to his kitchen. When
he got there, Jolene was waiting.
I just wanted to say
You can thank Kim. It was
his idea. He thinks very highly of you.”
That was bull and they both knew it.
Jolene moved closer, enjoying the play of nerves she detected.
“Nonetheless it was you who brought it to Will's attention and I
appreciate it. I won't let you down.”
He could smell her perfume and
something else. Womanly scents. Pheromones or whatever the
scientific term was, ones distinctly Jolene. Ones that tempted,
What the hell had he done?
Be here at 9:00 am sharp.”
He eyed her copper curls and despite himself fingered a soft tress,
feeling its silky texture. Absently, “You'll need to wear a hair
His words were all business
but Jolene caught a glimpse of what she called a healthy sexual
undertone, made even more so by the fact that he didn't seem aware
of it. At least she hoped she was interpreting that
Leaps and bounds
if she was
She allowed her heart to soar a little.
Kim sauntered in and broke it all
See you tomorrow.” Jolene
left, leaving a trail of perfume in her wake.
Kylie did not wear the red
Instead she chose a plain black knee
length sheath with a high neckline in front and a teasing, barely
there back, and paired it with summer strappy heels. Out came the
candy apple porn lipstick; after all, wasn't this night just for
him in the privacy of his apartment?
She called to say she would come to
him in her own car. Granted her five year old SUV wasn't exactly an
elegant ride for such attire, but who would see her and more
important, who would care?
Things didn't go according to plan. As
she neared the turn off onto the side road that led to Drew's
harbor side apartment building, her right front tire blew out and
she narrowly missed ramming into a light post.
Rattled, Kylie got out to assess the
Out of the darkness three burly guys
materialized and surrounded her in the pool of lamp light. Although
sensing no threat, she realized she should have stayed in her
vehicle and called for help instead. The night was eerily calm,
with no one else in sight.
One of them kicked the flat tire. “Got
Forgetting about her lipstick, Kylie
chewed on her lower lip. “I'm pretty sure it's flat too.” She
really must invest in new tires. The street sign advised that she
was in a no parking zone. “I need to move my truck. Will it damage
the rim if I drive it to say, over there?” She pointed to an
unoccupied spot in the street leading to Drew's
Another of the men was examining the
tire. “Got a nail in it right here. Shouldn't be a problem moving
it if you go really slow.”
Thanks. I'll just leave it
there.” She got back into the truck with three pairs of eyes
burning into her bare back as she slid behind the wheel. Firmly
closing the door she lowered the window. “Thanks again fellas. I'll
take it from here.”
Uh, Miss,” said one of the
trio, “do you have a cell phone? Want us to call you a
Kylie looked into his lined face and
saw genuine concern. He must have felt her nerves zinging so he
added, “I have a daughter about your age. I'd like to think that if
this happened to her she'd find herself in good Samaritan company.
About that cab?”
I have a phone, thanks. I'm
very close to my destination so I won't be needing
I beg your
How close is your
It's within walking
distance. Again, thanks...”
Then we'll walk you the
rest of the way. Do you have a jacket? The night's got a
Kylie read between the lines. He
didn't think it was wise for her to be out walking the streets in a
bare-backed dress. And not because the night was chilly.
I'm a retired policeman,
Miss. My name is Brad Humphrey and these are my sons Steven and
Jay. We were walking back to get our car, that big green monster
over there. You'll be safer with us if we walk you the rest of the
Looking closely at the three faces
Kylie saw the age differences and how the two younger ones wore
expressions of respect for the older one.
She held out her hand and they shook.
“Kylie Lambert. I don't want to trouble you.”
No trouble. I'm retired now
but in my years with the R.C.M.P. I saw things I wished could have
been prevented. Is there someone you'd rather call and have come
What's the harm, she thought, he was
probably right. It was dark and there were plenty of black niches
for a vagrant to hide in. Or a rapist.
She nodded her ascent and started the
engine, slowly moved the limping truck to the desired spot. The
three men were right there when she got out. Locking the truck, she
pulled a shawl around her and began walking. The trio fell into
At the entrance to the building Brad
Humphrey and sons waited until she had called up and gotten buzzed
in, then they veered away with a wave. She called out a thank you
and stepped inside the lobby, thinking that chivalry was not dead
Drew was fuming. He'd set the stage:
logs crackling in the fireplace, Nat King Cole crooning on the
stereo, a nice Piñot Grigio chilling in an ice bucket. Even a tray
of assorted olives, cheeses and crackers.
So where the hell was she?
He looked at his watch for the billionth time in less than fifteen
minutes and felt his stomach clench.
Patience. Get a grip.
He knew how essential it was that he
keep calm. Being a little late wasn't going to hurt anything, he
reasoned. Not literally. But it wasn't something he could tolerate
if it proved to be a habit.
Restless, he paced the floor sipping
his scotch. It blazed a trail down his throat, churning the
cauldron in his gut. He went out the open patio doors onto the
balcony to stare out across the Inner Harbor to where the
Parliament Building lights winked in the far distance. The view is
what had sold him on this place. And the status it
The entrance to his building was
directly below ten floors. Looking down he spotted a woman and
three men approaching the covered entryway. Their figures were
small but the light pouring out from the lobby illuminated the
It was Kylie.
His heart stumbled in his chest as the
buzzer sounded. Briefly moving inside to retrieve the phone he
pressed the button to release the lock and then dashed back
outside. He was just in time to see the men wave at her and she at
them before coming inside.
When she tapped on his door he swung
it open with a flourish and couldn't mask his annoyance. Her red
lipstick was smeared and he gritted his teeth but said
Kylie instantly went from excited
anticipation to abject tension. Something was wrong. Surely he
wasn't irked because she was a few minutes late? Squaring her
shoulders she stepped over the threshold. “Sorry for the delay. I
had an incident but I'm here now.” Hoping to dispel his obvious
surliness she did a little twirl, lowering her shawl. “You like?
It's all for you.”
Her fingers touched her lips. “Oh,
shoot. I have a bad habit of chewing on my lip when confronted with
a dilemma. And boy did I...”
Do you have many? Bad
He went down the short hallway and
into the open concept living area, so she followed, watching the
muscles of his back bunch under his shirt.
None that matter. If you're
wondering whether or not I make a habit of being late, the answer's
no, I don't. I had a flat tire, that's all.”
He turned, eyes narrowed. “How did you
deal with it?”
My spare's flat too so I
left the truck parked down the street. I'll call a service in the
He tried to be magnanimous. “I'll take
care of it.” Then it just spilled out, lame and jealous even to his
own ears. “But then a woman like you just has to bat her lashes and
as many as three men will come running to her rescue. Isn't that
His face was becoming alarmingly
flushed. That he'd seen the three men who had come to her rescue
from his balcony was obvious, and she didn't want to play this
She sauntered to the couch and sat,
the firelight glowing against her skin. “A woman like me?” came her
While she tried not to feel
intimidated he stood over her and knocked back the rest of his
scotch. “I mean a woman who uses her looks to get what she wants.”
Recognizing his own peevishness he wished he'd held his tongue, but
the words had just spilled out.
Kylie stared hotly. “Really? Maybe you
should have some of these crackers to sop up that scotch. It's
drowning your ability to reason, Drew. Those men were being
gentlemen. They were there when my tire blew and didn't want me to
walk the rest of the way by myself.” She kept her tone light and
ended on a Cheshire smile, wondering why she had to defend
Drew's puffed up anger deflated.
Slowly he lowered himself to sit next to her, his own smile
Drew. You're not that kind
of guy are you? You're acting like I'm some kind of hussy trying to
use my feminine wiles. Maybe this is a mistake.”
He took her hand with a touch of
desperation. “That dress has no back. Christ, I can pretty much see
the crack of your ass. And now undoubtedly so have those men. You
see where I'm coming from?”
She frowned at the exaggeration. “I
used my shawl.” If he got this jumpy over a bare back then what
would he do at the beach? She yanked her hand out from under his.
“You're overreacting. I'll just go home and we'll...”
No!” He reined it in.
“Please, Kylie. Look, I'm sorry. I'm just nervous.”
He looked wounded and a little lost,
the metamorphosis from offended to injured sudden and surprising.
He was like those transformer toys, one thing one minute, another
She decided to cut him some slack.
“This isn't going so well, is it? How about we rewind? I'd love a
glass of that wine.”
He served them both a glass and forced
himself to remain light and easy as the conversation moved on to
other more mundane things.
Drew knew how to be charming. He
poured it on and by their second glass of wine he'd dispelled any
traces of his earlier show of temper. The conversation became
flirty, the wine relaxing Kylie as he stroked her ego with silken
words and then her bare back with equally soft fingertips.
Magnetized, Kylie's body drifted closer to his on the couch with
its conveniently wide seat cushions. She shivered deliciously, her
bones starting to melt as she absorbed his compliments. So much
better than the track he'd been on earlier. She chalked it up to
nerves and cooed when he planted feathery kisses along her
Let's go to your bedroom,”
she murmured when he took her glass out of her fingers and placed
it on the table. And then forgot what she'd said as he issued an
all out assault upon her senses, his warm mouth diving into hers,
tongues clashing, teeth nipping.
He peeled away his shirt. “I want to
feel you naked against me.” His body looked solid and strong as he
hovered above her. The black dress joined his pants on the floor
and he gazed down at the flimsy wisp of black lace she'd donned for
the occasion. “Just for you,” she told him, her eyes glimmering,
reflecting his own aroused image in their violet depths.
His roving hands skimmed her warm
flesh as a thin sheen of sweat broke out, her breath quickening.
Kylie's senses flickered and burned red hot beneath Drew's steady
onslaught, and when his fingers probed and delved she rose up and
urged him to continue.
Without warning he thrust himself deep
inside her. “Wait!” She wasn't ready. They needed protection! His
eyes rolled back as he went from low to high gear in an instant, in
his own zone and oblivious of her attempt to dislodge him. “Stop!”
But he seemed lost in his own pleasure and only gripped her
tighter, completely obliterating caution, his body quaking with