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"How did you know we were cops?" she asked him as he came to stand with her in front of his wide, spotless chrome-and-slate desk.
"You're not wearing black lipstick." He sipped his wine before returning her inspection. "Judging by your suits, you were either bill collectors or police officers. How may I be of service, Detective?"
"We're investigating an incident that happened nearby." She showed him Lena's photo. "Do you recognize this woman?"
Lucan studied the image. "Yes, but I don't know her name."
"How do you know her?"
"I had sex with her several weeks ago." He sat back on the edge of the desk.
"You were lovers?"
He smiled. "We were strangers."
Sam tried not to jump on that, but it was irresistible. "Do you often have one-night stands with strange, nameless women, Mr. Lucan?"
"Three nights." He drained his wineglass and straightened, moving a step closer.
Sam smelled night-blooming jasmine, but couldn't identify the source. "What was that?"
"It was a three-night stand. I kept her in my bed for three nights." He bent closer, and his voice dropped to a bedroom murmur. "How many nights would you last, Detective?"
Was he hitting on her? "None." Sam felt strange, rooted to the floor. "I don't have sex with strangers."
One velvet-covered finger touched her dry lips. "Then let's get better acquainted, shall we?"
Her entire body flushed. How could he heat her up so fast, just by stroking her mouth with a velvet fingertip? And why did she feel as if she were going to puke flowers?
I'm sick. Summer flu or something. She took a step back, and then another. "I'm only interested in your relationship with Ms. Caprell."
"Only?" Lucan watched her face with all the concentration of a cat at a mouse hole. "I don't interest you? Not even a little, Detective?"
"I'll come back tomorrow." Her feet didn't want to leave the floor now, so she shuffled, sliding them like a skater going backward.
"I think you'd rather stay." He extended a hand. "It's what you want, isn't it, Detective? To come to me now. No one is here. No one will see."
He was hypnotizing her. Sam reached out blindly, and her hand connected with the wineglass he had left on the desk. The cold crystal against her hot skin helped her, but not enough to get her legs moving. "My partner is waiting for me."
"Let him wait," Lucan murmured, lowering his hand and moving toward her. "I'll tell you when you can leave."
The hell he would.
It took every ounce of strength Sam had to turn away from him. "Good-bye." She couldn't get more than that out of her mouth, not with the sunlight flowing through her, not with the jasmine growing inside her mind. She couldn't even put down the wineglass. Some part of her underneath of it was furious and shrieking, No, I don't want this.
Sam felt him coming up behind her and her legs stopped working.
"You don't want to go." Large, strong hands touched her shoulders before stroking down over the front of her jacket. Hands pressed her back, and she felt the bulge of his erection against the curve of her spine. "You want to stay, don't you? Stay and please me."
Sam wanted to punch him. "No."
Delicate crystal shattered.
She looked down at her bleeding hand, covered with gleaming shards. It didn't seem to belong to her, but there it was, attached to her wrist. "That should hurt."
As he jerked her around, she looked up at him, bewildered. "Why doesn't it hurt?"
Lucan curled his fingers around her wrist and began plucking the slivers of crystal from her lacerated palm and fingers. "Because you've got a damned will of iron, you stupid bitch, that's why." Furious gray eyes bored into hers. "Who the devil are you?"
At that moment, she wasn't sure of anything but her name. "Samantha." Nothing seemed to matter but breathing in the waves of jasmine rolling over her, which silenced the angry voice deep within. "I didn't mean to break your pretty glass."
He sighed, as if relieved. "At long last." Black velvet touched her chin, lifting it so that she couldn't do anything but look into his eyes. "You didn't break it; I did. Now, tell me why you came here tonight, Samantha."
Sam knew she should be the one asking the questions—she was the cop; he was the suspect—but Lucan was such a kind man, and so gentle. He wouldn't ask unless it was really important, so of course she'd tell him whatever he wanted to know.
"Your name," she heard herself say. "The word Lucan was engraved on the back of an old cross we found on the victim's body." Something funny was happening. His pupils shrank down to splinters of black, while the ghostly irises had turned to chrome. "Something's wrong with your eyes."
"It's the smell of your blood. I haven't…" He looked away from her. "Give me a moment."
His voice sounded as tight as his hand on her wrist. He needed something, something she could give him. She'd give him anything he wanted—immediately—all he had to do was ask. She began to tell him that and then noticed that something else was wrong. "You have fangs."
They flashed when he spoke, and made him lisp a little. As perfect as he was, she liked that tiny flaw. It made him seem more human.
But he's not human, not with those vampire teeth. "Are you going to bite me?"
"You've saved me the trouble by piercing a vein." He lifted her injured hand to his open mouth.
Sam didn't feel fangs sinking into her palm. She felt his lips and his tongue, and a gentle suction that made her thighs ache. He wasn't simply cleaning the blood from her hand with his mouth; he was taking more—drinking it from one very deep cut.
He lifted his mouth from her hand, turned it over, and touched the bullet scar. "What did you do to yourself?"
"A contract killer shot me." She didn't want to think about Marqueta. Not with this drowsiness stealing over her, and the full heat pulsing between her thighs. "Is that all you want from me, Lucan?"
"No." His gloved hand moved into her hair and cradled the back of her head as he brought her face close to his.
He was kissing her, his open mouth on hers, his tongue gliding between her lips. He tasted of blood and tears and wine, and his hand tightened, pulling her hair. The sharp tug brought a moan from her throat.
What felt like an iron bar slammed into Sam's back, and her feet left the floor. Dimly she heard things falling to the floor, and then she was on her back, hard flat wood against her shoulders and buttocks, and he was looming over her, his shaking hands pushing her legs apart. She felt his erection through her trousers, and the answering rush of liquid heat that instantly soaked her crotch.
Lucan lifted his head and breathed in. "Christ Jesus, you smell like a jungle in the rain. What I could do to you, Samantha." Velvet stroked over her cheek. "What I will do."
Some of the delicious heat seeped out of her limbs, replaced by knots of tension. She needed more than his sexy promises and soft gloves, but she didn't want more. Part of her was still screaming for her to fight and get away from him. "Let me up."
His hand palmed her, and his thumb pressed in, making the dampness seep through. "You're wet for me. Let me have you."
"No." Sam got a hand on his chest and gave him a weak push. "I don't want this."
Lucan's mouth tightened, and he lifted her from the desk back to her feet. Before he released her, he ran his hand slowly down the length of her body.
"Why did you have to be a member of the police? Why could you not have been a waitress or a teacher or a stripper? No." He rested velvet fingertips against her mouth before she could answer. "Don't tempt me further; I am ready to drag you down and have you on the floor whether you wish it or not. Look into my eyes."
"I have answered all of your questions," he commanded. "That is what you will remember of our encounter. Nothing more. Say it."
"Your answers. That is what I'll remember. Nothing more." A fierce ache twisted inside her. "Why?"
"Because you—" He broke off and cursed in a language that sounded old and blunt. "You will suppress that annoying will of yours and do precisely as I have told you. Rejoin your companion now, and continue your search for the one who killed this woman. When I ask you, you will tell me everything you have learned about the murder." His gloves pressed against her cheeks. "Obey me, Samantha."
She didn't want to, but… "I will."
She watched him do something to his wrist and hold a handkerchief to it, and then take the damp, warm cloth and wind it around her hand. When he had made a makeshift bandage, Lucan moved away from her to open a window behind the desk. The night air was thick and hot, but it blew some of the cobwebs out of her head.
The scent of jasmine faded. She had to… Harry was…
Sam glanced down at her left hand, which was throbbing, and frowned. It was covered with a bloodstained cloth, but she couldn't remember how she injured it.
"Did I answer all of your questions to your satisfaction, Detective?"
"Yeah." She'd blanked out for a minute, but everything he'd said about Lena Caprell came back with a vengeance. Her eyes went to the only inexplicable thing in the room, the remains of a shattered wineglass. "Sorry, did I break that?"
"Just now." His mouth curled. "It was an accident. Come. I believe my assistant has the largest first-aid and medical kit known to man."
Gard Paviere's driver remained silent as he navigated through the empty streets to the Garden District, which gave Michael Cyprien a much-needed respite. Hours of trying to provide some solace to Gard and his devastated family had taxed him. He sympathized with the Pavieres, but Faryl had brought this upon himself. Now he wanted nothing more than to find his sygkenis, take her into a dark room, and lock out the many growing problems in their world. She would want to know about Faryl, however, and he would have to tell her something to explain away the fleshrot.