Dangerous Games
Chapter Six

 Keri Arthur

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He released my arm and jumped out of the way of my kick. I turned around. He was dressed in black from head to foot, a shadow that looked out of place in the brightness of the morning. Just seeing him again had my hormones stirring - though with a whole lot less vigor than normal. Weird. "What the hell are you doing here?"
"I was about to ask you the same thing." His warm voice was edged with displeasure.
I snorted softly. "I'm dressed in last night's party clothes, and I'm coming out of a house not my own. You do the math."
"Oh, I get the equation, I'm just wondering whether it's for your own pleasure or for the Directorate."
"If you're not going to answer my questions, why the hell should I answer yours?" Especially when my answer would only result in having grief flung my way. Quinn might have decided he had to be in the race to win the race, but that didn't mean he was at all happy about me taking other partners. Especially when those other partners were complete strangers.
I spun on my heel and walked away before he could answer. I didn't need this crap now. I just wanted to get home.
"Riley, wait." He touched my arm again, but his grip was gentler this time, less demanding.
I paused and looked at him. "What?"
He tugged me around to face him, then looked intently into my eyes. "Are you all right?"
I tried to shake free of his grip but it tightened imperceptibly. "Of course I'm all right. Let me go."
He didn't. "You look drained."
Something resembling fear slithered through me. "What?"
"I said you looked - "
"I know what you said, but what the hell did you mean?"
"It means someone has been feeding off you."
That feeling of fear intensified. "As in vampire type feeding?"
He nodded, and with his free hand, touch my chin and gently guided my head from one side to the other. "No bite marks evident there. What about elsewhere?"
Everywhere, babe. I pulled free from his grip and stepped back. "The man I was with was not a vampire."
He frowned. "You sure of that?"
"He was human."
The expression on his face suggested he wasn't believing. "You remember the time in the plane, when you all but forced yourself onto me?"
I crossed my arms. "You didn't put up much of a fight, believe me."
"No. But I took too much blood, remember?"
Like I could forget? "So?"
"So, do you remember the resulting feeling afterward?"
"Washed out, shaky." I paused, finally catching his drift. "He didn't take any blood from me, Quinn. Trust me on that."
"Blood vampires are not the only type of vampire out there."
I blinked. "They're not?"
"No." He lightly touched my cheek, his fingers warm against my cooler skin. "You need to eat then rest. Immediately."
"Well, I was planning to do both before some rude person stopped me in the street."
His sudden smile didn't erase the concern in his eyes, and part of the anger I'd been feeling over his desertion in the middle of a dark night and hot date evaporated. But only part.
"What if I offer to buy you breakfast then drive you home?"
I eyed him for a moment, the desire to be with him warring with the need to get back at him for dumping me so abruptly the other night. "So what about the person you followed here?"
He smiled. "Should have known you'd guess."
"Not hard to. I mean, unless you're out whoring around as well, the only other logical reason for being here is the fact that you were following someone."
"I do not whore around - "
"Ah, yeah," I interrupted. "You're a billionaire who doesn't have to pay for it. Which makes it okay for you to fuck all comers and not me."
His sigh was a sound of pure frustration. "Can we not do this here? You really do need to replenish your strength."
I stubbornly remained where I was. "And what about the man or woman you were following?"
"I think my target will sleep most of the day. She prefers night, anyway."
And how would he know that? Doing a little non-whoring of his own, perhaps? "And your target is currently in the house I came out of?" Meaning the snorer was a woman?
"Yes." He paused. "I take it your date was the man who left at dawn?"
"There was something odd about that one."
"Tell me about it," I muttered, then turned on my heel and began walking toward my car. Quinn kept close, as if he were afraid I would topple over at any minute. I was shaky, but not that shaky.
"He did read as a human, but there was also an otherworldliness that suggested something more." He cast me a sideways glance. "What was the sex like?"
I raised an eyebrow. "What was the sex like for you?"
"I haven't had sex for several days." A smile touched his lips. "Now, last week I was with this stunning redhead - "
"Who is still extremely upset about being dumped the other night, and who does not want to be fucked around anymore."
He met my gaze for several seconds, then looked away. His smile faded, and his vampire face came online. "Riley, I do what I think best to protect you."
"And yet the shit headed my way always seems deeper when you do. You have to learn to trust me, Quinn."
Surprise flitted briefly across his impassive face. "I do - "
"No, you don't. Not out of the sack, anyway."
"Riley, you should not take the risks that you do."
"And you should not keep secrets from me if you want to be a serious part of my life." I fished my keys out of my purse. "So, answer the question. Did you have sex with the woman you were following tonight?"
His smile held an edge of bitterness I didn't understand. "No. I did not."
"Why not?"
"Because that would be extremely wrong, and because her brand of sex is not something I have ever desired."
"Why would it be wrong? And have you had sex with her in the past? Or at least watched her have sex?"
"No, and no." He plucked the keys from my hand and guided me around to the passenger side of the car. "And it would be wrong because she is something I abhor."
"Then how do you know about her brand of sex?"
"I have a good imagination." He slammed the door shut, walked around to the driver's side, and climbed in.
Once he'd started the car, he added, "She owns a sex club."
"As in, werewolf type club?"
"No. A punishment center."
That raised my eyebrows. "Meaning she charges people for the privilege of being spanked?"
"It's not spanking. That's far too vanilla for this club. It's all about torment, humiliation, and suffering. About the despair of knowing there is nowhere to go and nothing you can do."
"And people get off on feeling something like that?"
"Some do."
"I guess it takes all kinds." And while it might not be my kind of fun, I wasn't about to look down on those who liked the darker stuff. Hell, I knew what that felt like. I crossed my arms and studied the road ahead. "So why were you following the whip wielder?"
He glanced at me. "Why were you fucking the human?"
"Quinn, just give with the information for a change."
A smile twitched his lips again. "I'm looking for the person who raised and controls the demons. Given such types are usually drawn to the darker emotions, my best bet is to follow the woman who runs one of three clubs catering to dark needs in Melbourne and see who she interacts with."
He was lying. Or rather, not telling the entire truth. I'm not sure why I was so positive - not sure if it was intuition or merely past experience - but whatever the reason, I was sure there was more behind his reasons for following this woman than what he was admitting.
"Might not your demon master be drawn to one of the other two, though?"
"Perhaps. But my target's club is the biggest, and therefore would have the stronger pull to those who relish such things."
I remembered the card I found in Jin's drawer "Don't suppose this club is called The Hellion Club?"
"Yes." He glanced at me again, expression concerned. "How do you know of it?"
"Found a business card in Jin's drawers."
"If you were going through his drawers, then he is a target rather than just a good time."
"Weil, he was originally a good time, until I saw he was wearing a ring similar to one found at a crime scene." I paused. "Have you been able to access the personnel files of the Hellion Club?"
"I have people working on it. Again, why?"
"Because the business card I found had Jin's name on it."
He looked at me briefly, expression unreadable. "Then this Jin likes his sex rough?"
"A little. Not to the extent that the club apparently caters to, though."
"Even so, I was under the impression you didn't like it rough."
"I don't. Jin controlled himself." I looked at him sideways. "And it's not as if anyone else is bothering to cater to my needs in any way at the moment."
"Sex isn't everything, Riley."
"It is to a werewolf when the moon is rising." I shook my head. "You're never going to get it, are you?"
"From your expression, I'm guessing probably not."
He had that right. I glanced around as he turned left into an unfamiliar street, and realized we were heading away from my apartment rather than toward it. "Where the hell is this restaurant you're taking me to? I need to eat, and I need to sleep." Not to mention report to Jack.
"You wanted breakfast. I thought I'd cook it for you."
"You cook?"
"Twelve hundred years does tend to give one a lot of time to practice the skill."
"So where is this palace of yours located?" In all the time we'd been going out, he'd never taken me to his Melbourne home. We'd either gone back to my place, or his plane, or whatever plush hotel he'd rented for the night. But never anywhere that was personal to him. "And why take this step now?"
He shrugged. "Because I owe it to you. Because you're right in saying that I need to share more of myself if we are to become anything more than fuck-buddies."
"Wow. This has to be a first - the vampire actually admitting I was right about something."
"I can still go somewhere else, you know."
I did the wise thing and shut up.
We ended up in Warrandyte, a small but extremely trendy "arty" community situated on the outskirts of the city, right next to the Yarra River and a state park. It had the reputation of being conservation-minded and neighborly, and was not the sort of place I figured a security-conscious, privacy-seeking billionaire would want to live.
His house was another surprise. A white picket fence lined the front yard, and the small, weatherboard home looked in serious need of not only a good lick of paint, but the services of a gardener. To say the plants had overrun the garden was the understatement of the year.
"Where's the mansion?" I said, as he helped me out of the car. The luscious scent of lavender and eucalyptus spun on the air and I breathed deep. Some of the tiredness clawing at my body eased under the freshness of the air.
"The mansion is in Brighton. That's my house. This is my home." He wove his fingers through mine and led me down the steep steps. The deck's wooden flooring creaked as we walked across it and I warily looked down as he stopped to open the door. "Is this thing going to support the weight of two people?"
"It's old, not rotten." He pushed open the door. "Welcome to my world."
His world was warm and comfortable, and totally the opposite to anything I'd ever imagined him living in. The house itself was tiny, consisting of little more than two bedrooms, a kitchen, bathroom, and living room. And yet there was nothing claustrophobic about the place. Between the Baltic pine floorboards, stonework and rich paintwork, the whole house exuded a warm airiness and peace that just felt... right. And this feeling was aided and abetted by furniture that was well-worn and yet comfortable.
"Lovely," I said, wandering over to the back windows. His yard sloped down to the banks of the Yarra itself, and the view beyond was incredible. If not for the occasional glimpse of a roofline, it would have been easy to believe we were alone in the wilds.
"What would you like for breakfast?" he said from the kitchen. "Pancakes? Bacon and eggs?"
I looked over at him and smiled. "Would both be greedy?"
"Both it is." He grabbed a frying pan from under the bench and started messing about. I watched for the sheer pleasure of watching a gorgeous man cooking, then shook myself into action and said, "I've got to ring Jack. What's the phone reception like out here?"
"There's no phone in the house. If you're using your cell, you'd better go outside."
He threw me a key. I dumped my handbag onto the nearby chair, grabbed my phone, then unlocked the door. Outside, the sunlight dappled through the trees and the air was quite cool. Somehow, the tranquility of the setting more than made up for any chill.
I walked down to the far end of the balcony, then leaned on the banister and called Jack.
"Well, good to see you're back to bad habits," he said, by way of greeting.
"Boss, don't expect miracles. Especially when I've been working my ass off on behalf of the Directorate." Which was no less than the truth. My ass still smarted. I gave him a brief rundown of events, then asked, "You found out anything more about Karen Herbert yet?"
"There's been no sign of her, and she's been missing from work for several days. But given our workload, she's currently listed as low priority."
Meaning he'll only start to worry if she turns up dead somewhere. Bastard. "What about Gautier?"
"What about him?"
"Do you think he's behind the sudden rise in baby vamps and would he be doing it just to piss us off?"
"So have you figured out how did he manage to walk out of that flat when it was past sunrise?"
"All he needed to move around in was a van with blacked-out windows."
"If there was a van around, the old biddy next door would have seen and reported it. She didn't, so there wasn't." I paused. "Dunleavy and his girlfriend must have known something pretty vital to be killed the way they were. Did a full background check reveal any clues?"
"No. But the security tapes from the Cattle Club show Trudi and Jin working together on several occasions. Maybe she overhead something she wasn't supposed to."
Maybe. But that was something we'd never know now. I scratched at an itch on my leg irritably. "Here's another odd one for you, boss. How can Jin, who's listed as human and feels human, defeat a vampire?"
"I don't know." He paused, and I could almost hear his brain ticking over. It wasn't hard to guess in what direction. Eventually, he said, "But I think you need to hang around him and find out."
"Like that's a surprise."
He snorted softly. "Hey, you admitted you enjoyed yourself."
"That's beside the point. There's something more going on with his brand of sex, Jack. There's an odd energy in the air - something I've never felt before."
"Does it feel dangerous?"
"No. But - " I hesitated, not sure I could fully explain the odd mix of unease and desire Jin's energy inflicted. "I'm a werewolf, Jack. There is no way known sex with a human should leave me as shaky as I was feeling this morning."
"Unless he's some kind of emotive vampire."
"Meaning he feeds off emotion?" Which is what Quinn was probably getting at when he said blood vamps weren't the only kind out there.
"Yes. Some feed off pleasure, some feed off pain. Some like a mix. fin sounds like the latter type."
"So why does he read as human?"
"I don't know. He shouldn't."
"If he was an emotive vamp, could he beat a regular blood vamp? One who wasn't a baby?"
"As a genera! rule, no. Emotive vamps are more energy beings than physical beings."
Well, Jin was definitely physical. "So how can I protect myself against his feeding?"
"You can't. You just have to ensure you take a break between sessions and get some food into you. The richer the better, because it refuels your energy faster."
Which was why Jin had been feeding me gooey chocolate cake last night, obviously. "So, even though he's sucking down emotions, I have to eat to keep my physical energy up, same as with regular vamps?"
"Afraid so. Though emotive vamps do tend to leave you a little more strung out emotionally for a few hours afterward."
I must have slept through that period of recovery, because I was feeling okay by the time I'd left Jin's. "And if I don't eat and refuel? Can it become dangerous?"
"Well, he could drain you to the point that you're physical unable to defend yourself, but he can't kill you with his feeding as a blood vamp can." He paused. "See if you can grab some hair samples. We'll run some tests and see exactly what we're dealing with."
"He said he'd ring tonight, so I'll see what happens." I paused. "Have you decoded whatever was written on the inside of the ring?"
"Not yet. It appears to be some form of glyphs. We're trying to find a match."
"Anything else of interest in Cole's report, then?"
"Yeah, you were being a pain in the ass at the scene. Not that that's a surprise."
"Hey, I was just asking questions. He needs an attitude adjustment." And a good dose of werewolf sex. "How did Dunleavy actually die?"
"Heart attack."
I raised my eyebrows. "Really?"
"The initial attack happened during the skinning, the fatal one after eleven."
Which was about when I'd been entering his flat. The poor man probably thought I was Gautier coming back to finish him off. "What about the time of death of the woman?"
"About eight. Which means Gautier had to have some means of getting out of there without facing sunlight, even if the old girl next door didn't see it."
"Logically, speaking, I'd agree. But I've just got a feeling something more is going on."
"You tried to clarify that feeling?"
"I can't clarify something that's as tenuous as a feeling."
"Yes, you can. You just need more training."
"What I need is more sleep. Especially if you want me out with Jin tonight."
"Take the day off, but keep your phone on in case I need to contact you."
"Done deal."
I hung up and headed back inside. The smell of hazelnut coffee swam through the air and I just about drooled. "You've been preparing for my visit."
He nodded as he dished up several pancakes. "It's the only reason I have food in the house. Normally, I don't."
I propped on a stool and leaned my arms against the bench. "So it's been a while since you invited another woman here?"
He added bacon and eggs to the plate, slid the lot across the bench, then looked me in the eye. "I've never invited a woman here before."
I raised my eyebrows, even as a warmth I couldn't even begin to explain spread throughout my body. "Never, ever?"
"Never, ever."
"Wow." I picked up my knife and fork. "Thank you for the honor."
His sudden smile was filled with warm amusement, and once again my hormones stirred to sluggish life. Jin had better be a short-term job, because I sure as hell wasn't liking the impact he was having on my sex life. I mean, normally I'd be jumping over the bench after a smile like that.
"At least you can no longer say I don't share anything of myself."
I wanted to point out that this was just a house, even if was his sanctuary, and that what I'd been talking about was him. His past, his hopes, his dreams - everything that had made him the vampire he was today. But I didn't. It was a step forward, and for now, that was enough.
"So, are you just planning to tease me with that delicious coffee smell?"
His smile stretched, then he turned to grab a cup and pour the coffee. I admired the view, wished I had more energy, and began consuming the meal he gave me.
After breakfast, coffee, and gentle small talk, he took my hand and led me down the small hall to his bedroom. "You need to sleep." He pulled down the handmade patchwork quilt that covered the big old wooden bed, then gave me a stern look. "Alone."
"Well, that's never any fun."
He touched a hand to my cheek, his fingers warm and tender against my skin. "Perhaps not. But you need to rest."
Despite myself, despite stirring desire, I yawned. Hugely. He chuckled, and leaned forward to drop a sweet kiss on my lips. "If you feel like fun, I'm sure we'll have time later."
"I'll hold you to that." I stripped off my dress and climbed into his bed. The cotton sheets were cool and soft against my skin, the pillow cradling my head as gently as a lover. I was asleep before I could even say good night.
When next I woke, it was once again to the sound of silence. I yawned and stretched out the kinks, noting with relief there was little in the way of remaining twinges, then opened my eyes and looked about. Quinn wasn't in the room, but his warm, sexy scent still teased the air. Weak sunlight peeked round the corners of the thick curtains covering the windows to my right, suggesting the better part of the day had slipped by. I shifted to get a better view of the clock on the bedside table, and saw it was just after four.
My voice seemed to echo through the small house. I frowned, flipped off the covers, and got up. Quinn wasn't in the living room, nor the kitchen, nor the bathroom. In fact, he wasn't in the house at all.
An odd mix of worry and anger ran through me. I spun on a heel and walked back into the bedroom. My clothes weren't on the Moor where I'd left them. Anger began to overrun the worry as I walked back to the living room. My purse, shoes, and phone were also absent.
The bastard.
He hadn't brought me here to give me a glimpse of his life. He'd brought me here to keep me away from a case he considered too dangerous.
I should have known.
Should have guessed it was too good to trust.
I picked up the small nude figurine sitting on the kitchen table and threw it against the far wall with all the force I could muster. It shattered against the stone, sending shards of fine white porcelain spearing through the room. I hoped it was expensive. Fucking expensive.
I took a deep breath in an effort to control the rage. Running around breaking things might make me feel better, but in the long run, it wasn't going to help me much. First things first - check whether I still had a car, look for replacement clothes, then get the hell out of here.
A peek through the front curtains provided the unstartling information that my car had also gone. I resisted the urge to rip the curtains from their tracks, and let them fall back into place.
Next up, clothes. As it turned out, not only had my clothes gone, but all his. Not that running around naked particularly worried me, but the night was promising to be a cold one. The chill was already in the air.
The third item in my list proved to be just as elusive - the front door had been key-locked. So were all the windows as well as the sliding door out onto the patio. The key he'd used earlier was gone. Which, while not considered a fire code violation by the law, was a very stupid thing to do.
"Bastard, bastard, bastard."
I'd have to break out. There was nothing else I could do. Without even thinking any more about it, I picked up a chair and threw it through the window. It smashed through the glass, hit the patio, then bounced up to crash through the railing and disappear over the side.
I shifted shape and leapt through the hole. Part of me was hoping like hell someone noticed the window and used it to steal all his fine - and undoubtedly expensive - bits and pieces.
He deserved that, and more.
I followed the riverbank, enjoying the feel of the damp earth under my paws, the freshness of the breeze against my coat, even if they did little to ease my foul mood.
As I got closer to central Warrandyte, I left the river-bank and moved into the streets, padding quietly along the sidewalk. Few people took notice of me. Most were in a hurry to get home, and in the dusky light, I looked like just another stray dog anyway. Under normal circumstances, the magic that helped me change would also have taken care of any clothes I might be wearing - just don't ask me how, because it was a magic I didn't question, just accepted. Of course, once we were back in human form, the clothes were usually a shredded mess, so while the magic might conceal the clothes when we were in wolf form, it certainly didn't look after them. Lucky for me, that wasn't going to be a problem on this occasion.
Was he ever going to get a piece of my mind when I caught up with him.
When I found a main road and was free of the trees, I shifted shape and pressed the com-link button in my ear. "Riley to base - anyone listening in?"
Silence was my only response - not that I'd really expected anything else. The trackers were long range, but the communicator part of the units were far more limited. With the hills and the trees, I pretty much figured it would be a miracle if I got through.
I tried a couple more times, just for the hell of it, but eventually conceded I'd have to contact them the old-fashioned way. I walked down the street until I found a phone booth. Thankfully there weren't that many people out, meaning I didn't have any immediate worries about someone reporting my nakedness to the police. I picked up the handset, rang the Directorate's emergency number, and got put through to Jack.
Wouldn't you know it, the caramel cow answered instead. "Guardian division. Jack Parnell's phone."
"Sal, it's Riley. Where's Jack?"
"In a meeting with the Director. What do you want?"
For you to get back into whatever annoying coffin you crawled out of. I cleared my throat, and said, "I need a car and clothes at my current location."
"You lost your clothes?" Amusement crawled through her cool tones. "Though I suppose it wouldn't be the first time. You wolves do tend to get careless about such things."
"Maybe, but not this time. It was done to prevent me working a case."
Sal sniffed. It was a superior sound if ever I'd heard one. "I've located your call position. We have a car in the area and I've sent an order for them to pick you up. They'll take you home to retrieve some clothes."
Better than nothing. Though if the increasing edge of amusement in Sal's voice was anything to go by, she wasn't being as helpful as it seemed. "Can you transfer me to the following cell number?" I reeled off Jin's number. "I need to call my target and explain why I'm late."
"Consider it done, wolf girl. I shall tell Jack of your predicament."
And enjoy every moment, undoubtedly. "Tell him it was Quinn, and that I'll report once I make contact with my target."
She didn't answer, just transferred the call. As I waited, a teenager walked by and almost broke his neck doing a quick double take. I gave him a wave and he grinned, his feet seemingly glued to the spot as he got out his cell phone and began dialing. Given the grin, I very much suspected it wasn't the cops he was dialing, but his mates. I suppose it wasn't every day a teenage boy found a naked woman standing in a phone booth. What were the odds I'd soon have an audience?
I smiled and, as he pointed the phone at me, gave him a thumbs-up. The answering wows and ahs were audible even from where I stood.
"Hello?" fin's easygoing tones came online, and I snapped my attention back to my job. "Jin, it's Riley."
There was a brief pause, the squeak of a chair, then footsteps and a door opening. Then he said, "Hello, dear Riley."
His voice had dropped several levels, and slid across my skin as smoothly as silk. A warmth that was part desire, part trepidation flooded my senses, as if just by speaking he could call to the wildness within me.
"When you didn't answer your phone," he continued, "I began to fear I'd scared you off."
"I'm not that fragile." Despite the fact that accurately described my state when I first woke up. "I misplaced my phone, that's all."
"Ah. I'm glad you rang, then." He paused, and I heard voices in the background. One male, one female. Accompanying them was a slapping sound that sounded an awful lot like a leather belt against skin.
And given the business cards I'd found, it probably was.
"I'm afraid when I couldn't get you earlier," Jin continued, "I agreed to work. But we could go out afterward, it you like."
"I'd like," I said absently, trying to tune in on the soft noises behind him. The slapping sound was now accompanied by soft sounds of distress rather than enjoyment, and there was something about it that just snagged at my instincts. "Where would you like to meet?"
"I'm not entirely sure what time I'll finish here, as we've a bit of work to do yet."
Yeah, and I was betting it wasn't serving customers alcohol.
"I could just wander into the club and wait for you to finish."
Though if he was at the Hellion Club, I was backing out. Slapping and biting and even being restrained I could handle, but torture and humiliation just didn't rock my sexual boat.
"I'm not at the Cattle Club."
I swore internally. What was I going to do to get out of the date tonight? There was no way on this green earth I was going to go anywhere near the Hellion Club. I wasn't that damn dedicated to the job.
"I'm at the Hunter's Club," he added.
Curiosity stirred. The Hunter's Club was a fitness club, so what sort of exercise had people making choking noises? "Well, I can come along and watch all the pretty men exercise while I'm waiting for you."
"Or you could come along for a massage and spa treatment. On the house."
"So you don't want me watching all the pretty men?"
He laughed. "To be perfectly honest, no. Besides, watching men sweat will probably get boring after a while."
Not for a werewolf. I grinned. "What time do you want me there?"
"If you're coming for a treatment, how about in an hour? It takes a few hours to go through both."
"Are you going to be my masseuse?"
"You can bet on it, babe."
Anticipation thrummed through me, and suddenly it was all I could do to remember that this boy was bad, that he could be dangerous, and therefore had to be treated with caution. And that caution should be applied equally to the club, especially if those odd noises were anything to go by.
"I've gotta go home and change first, so I might be longer than an hour."
"I'll be here waiting," he said simply, and hung up.
I replaced the receiver and turned around to discover my teenage ogler had gained a couple of mates - all armed with phones. A wise werewolf would have been discreet and shifted shape but I couldn't see the harm in giving a few boys a cheap thrill.
A blue Ford pulled to a halt beside the phone booth and for a moment I thought my Hashing days were about to be cut to a sudden halt by the long arms of the law. Then the passenger door was Bung open and a rough voice said, "Get in."
And suddenly I understood Sal's earlier amusement. The voice belonged to Cole. Obviously, she didn't realize she was actually doing me a favor. Grin widening, I blew the boys a kiss then climbed into the car.
He took off before I was even buckled in. "Those boys are going to have wet dreams for the next fortnight."
"If it's only for a fortnight, I'll be most disappointed."
He chuckled softly, and I raised my eyebrows. "The shifter is amused, not annoyed?"
He glanced at me. Despite his amusement, wariness still held sway in his pale blue eyes. "Oh, I'm pissed off about having to rescue a damn wolf careless enough to lose her car and her clothes, but at least I'll get overtime."
"So I'm not going to get a lecture about wantonly flaunting myself in front of a couple of young males?"
"I was a teenage boy once myself, you know. Those kids are going to be heroes to their peers." He gaze swept down my body, lingering long enough on my breasts to send a warm flush through my system, then he looked back at the road. "There's a coat in the back if you're getting cold."
"I'm aroused, not cold."
"I know." He glanced at me. "I'm just being polite."
"Are all wolf-shifters as uptight as you?" I twisted around to grab the coat, making sure my breast brushed his arm as I did so.
His eyes narrowed slightly, but all he said was, "You want to punch your address into the nav-computer?"
"Before or after I cover up?"
"Before." He looked at me, amusement twitching lips that suddenly looked lush and kissablc. "I never said I wasn't enjoying the view."
"So there's hope for you yet?" I leaned forward and punched my address into the computer, aware all the while of his gaze lingering on my breasts. The shifter was a boob man, obviously. Just as well I wasn't built in the stick thin mode of most weres.
"There's always hope for me. But for you? Not a chance."
I grinned and leaned back, curving my back a little to show off my assets to full advantage. "Never challenge a werewolf, Cole. You'll always lose."
"In this, I think not."
"Game on, then."
He looked at me, clearly amused. "It takes more than a good set of breasts to get into my bed."
"So the challenge is to discover what else it takes? I think I'll enjoy that."
He shook his head and didn't reply. The rest of the trip was spent in silence. I didn't bother putting on the coat, just draped it over my lap and legs to keep them warm. The atmosphere in the car was pleasant, and yet filled with an underlying tension that was all arousal and desire. The shifter might not want to want me, but he did. While I took great delight in knowing that, I didn't push things. Cole obviously was going to be a long-term project - but one I had no doubt I could win over.
He pulled to a halt in front of my place, leaving the car running as he glanced up at the old warehouse building. "Looks as though you have plenty of room up there."
"We do. And big windows." And a great big bed you'd look good lounging naked on.
He met my gaze, the scent of his lust spiking sharply. "In which you undoubtedly flaunt yourself."
"And why not? The neighbors don't complain."
"No surprise there." He looked away. "I'll see you at work sometime."
"You will, shifter. I'll make sure of it."
He looked at me again, but didn't reply. I climbed out of the car and walked up to the steps, aware of his gaze following my naked butt and this time working it for all I was worth.
He roared off as I opened the door. I grinned to myself, anticipating the challenge he presented, and ran up the stairs to my apartment. The door was locked, but a hard punch in just the right spot soon fixed that. Neither Rhoan nor I could see the point of good quality locks when the door itself was thinner than cardboard and the old lady who owned the building refused to ante up for better ones.
Of course, locks didn't keep out vampires, either - a point made obvious when I spotted my handbag, cell phone, keys, and clothes sitting neatly on the coffee table. I had no doubt my car would be parked up the street somewhere. How nice of Quinn to return them all.
I had a quick shower to freshen up, then pulled on my gym gear and filled a bag with a couple of dresses, some toiletries and some makeup. I had no idea where Jin intended to go after my treatments, so it was better to cater to all eventualities.
I grabbed my purse and cell phone, then called a cab. Ten minutes, they said. Knowing from past experience that it was more likely to be twenty than ten, I headed for the kitchen to make a coffee. The doorbell rang before I could take two steps. I opened the door to find Cole standing on the other side, his hands in his pockets and looking more than a little put out.
"Don't tell me," I said, raising my eyebrows, "that you've decided to taste a little werewolf action after all?"
"Hell will freeze over first," he muttered. He thrust a hand through his thick silvery hair. "Jack just called. There's been another body discovered and he wants us both there."