Deadly Desire
Page 24

 Keri Arthur

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Because in him I saw a reflection of myself-a reflection of the killer Jack wanted me to be.
He was everything I was trying not to become.
And for that reason alone, I'd fight this damn attraction as hard as I could. I didn't need a constant reminder of the future that might be mine.
If you kill her, I replied, wondering how much he actually knew-and whether I should risk doing a full read of his thoughts. We may never get that proof.
Which is the reason, he said softly, that I merely follow.
So no killing tonight?
He met my gaze again, and a slight smile teased one corner of his mouth. It didn't reach his eyes. Didn't warm the cold depths. No killing tonight.
Good. I paused. Does this mean you're going home?
I said it in a hopeful kind of way, and his smile widened. Despite the continuing chill in his gaze, the night suddenly didn't seem as cold anymore.
My wolf soul, it seemed, wasn't going to give up this attraction very easily.
No, Kye said, it means you're stuck with me until we discover just what this woman is up to.
Its so nice to feel wanted.
Oh, he was wanted all right. It was just lucky the moon heat was over and I had some measure of control over myself. Not that control did much good given he could probably smell my interest. It was hard for a wolf to hide that sort of thing.
Though he seemed to be doing a damned good job of it.
I should be arresting your ass, I muttered. You've been warned off this case several times already.
You could try if you want to, but it'll cause a bit of a ruckus, and our target just might realize she's being followed.
Which is why I'm not arresting your ass. That and the fact I was just too bone tired to muster the strength I'd probably need to haul his cute rear end into the Directorate.
He smiled again and didn't say anything. We walked another block and crossed over Bourke Street. Laughter and voices joined the bass-heavy beat, and the scent of alcohol and humanity rode the wet night air.
"I liked your performance in the club tonight," he said after a while. I guess he figured us actually having some conversation did look a little better than utter silence should our target happen to look over her shoulder. "Even for a werewolf, you moved extraordinarily well."
I raised an eyebrow. "You were there?"
I was.
"Disguised, obviously."
"Obviously. You didn't spot me."
"Hard to spot someone if they've erased their scent and donned a completely different look."
"True." He glanced at me. "It took me a moment to recognize you. Your look and smell was different enough that I glanced past you several times before I realized who you were. I like your regular look better, by the way."
"Then I'd better keep this one," I said dryly. "You planning to be there tomorrow night?"
"Of course." Telepathically, he added, Now that I know she has an accomplice, it is my duty to track her down and hill them both.
And if he did, I would arrest him. No matter how horrified my crazy hormones might be. "If I spot you tomorrow night, I'll treat you a lap dance."
"I wouldn't."
I raised an eyebrow again. "Why not? We both know you'd enjoy it."
"That is the problem." I am not here to enjoy myself.
Of course he wasn't. He was here to track down and kill. Just like me. A shiver rolled across my skin and I rubbed my arms. If he noted the movement, he didn't do the gentlemanly thing, like offer me his coat. Quinn would have.
As we neared Flinders Lane, Hanna suddenly swung in our direction, looking left and right before running across. She didn't even look our way as she ran past us, moving up the street with a quick glance at her watch.
"Must have an appointment," Kye murmured, his arms brushing mine as the pavement suddenly narrowed.
Up ahead, a figure waited. A slender woman who was all of sixteen or seventeen.
I stopped, and just as I did, Hanna looked around. Kye reacted before I could, his speed almost that of a vampire as he crushed me against the wall and began kissing me.
And oh, what a kiss.
It was urgent and hungry and filled with everything he hadn't been showing, and I reacted as fiercely as I would have had the full moon been nearing completion.
For several seconds, there was nothing else in my world but this kiss and the fierce heat of his body against mine. Then sanity returned, and along with it sound, and I became aware of voices talking.
I broke away, then said, Listen.
I am. He kissed my neck, my ear, then wrapped his arms around my waist and drew me into a hug that was as close as two people could get without being naked.
"But what does the job entail?" the younger woman asked.
"Nothing more than sleeping with a vampire for one night." Hanna's voice sounded a lot tinnier than it had before. Maybe she was wearing some sort of cheap modulator.
I shifted my head slightly on Kye's shoulder so I could get a better look at Hanna's target. Like the other women who'd been found dead, this one was slender in build. Unlike the others, she had large breasts and a wine-colored birthmark covering part of her cheek and running down her neck.
The younger woman raised an eyebrow. "Ten grand for sleeping with one bloodsucker for one night? That seems like an awfully good deal. What's the fucking catch?"
"The catch is you have to come to Meinhardt's to meet him."
"Isn't that a strip joint?"
"A men's club is the term we prefer," Hanna said, voice holding an edge, "and you won't be expected to strip for anyone except my client. He has a fetish for unusual body markings and I think you would be to his tastes."
"So I have to do him there?"
"No. You accept an invitation to go home with him."
"And then what?" There was still doubt evident in her tones, but even I could see the glint of anticipation in her eyes. Though not, I suspected, for the sex, but rather for the cash. "I just leave in the morning?"
"With ten grand in your hand, yes. And that's more than enough money to take that course you were talking to the employment office about."
I had no idea what course Hanna might have been talking about, but I knew for sure the young woman would never live to do it.
The slender woman made a clicking sound with her tongue, then said, "Make it twelve, and I'm yours."
"Twelve it is then." Even from where we stood, Hanna's satisfaction was evident. "Here's my business card in case you need to contact me. Be in the lane behind Meinhardt's at seven, and we'll hustle you into the club."
The woman took the card and shoved it in her pocket, then turned and walked back up Flinders Lane. Hanna watched her for a little while, then spun around and headed back in our direction.
Kye kissed me again.
It was even more electrifying than before, and it took me several seconds to register the fact that Hanna had walked past us.
"Looks like we have a tough decision," he said, his breath fast and heated on my lips. "Follow the witch, or follow her target?"
"She's a sorcerer," I corrected, and ducked under his arms, forcing some air and distance between us. "And you know as well as I do that my next quarry is her target."
He reached out and touched a finger lightly to my cheek. "I enjoyed our little encounter tonight, but it's going to make the lap dance tomorrow night all that much harder to ignore."
He wouldn't be ignoring anything on my shift. Which was not entirely a sane thought given my resolve to have as little as possible to do with this man. But then, maybe I wasn't entirely sane. After all, I was a guardian. "Don't kill the blonde."
"I gave you my word not to kill her tonight, Riley. I am a man of my word, if nothing else."
"Good. See you tomorrow night."
"If you can find me," he said, a trace of amusement in his voice again.
It was a challenge, and we both knew it. I didn't answer, simply turned and ran after the young woman before she disappeared.
Chapter Eight
Fortunately for me, she didn't catch a cab, but rather the nightrider bus. I climbed on after them and made my way down to the back of the bus, my wet and clingy outfit catching several appreciative glances from the male passengers. The teenager had settled about halfway down. I sat two seats behind but across from her, and tried to ignore the reek of alcohol coming from the snoring woman in the seat behind me.
The driver had classical music playing softly and with the blue interior lighting of the bus, it was a peaceful trip. Even the drunk stopped smelling as bad-either that, or my nose had become accustomed to her.
The teenager climbed off at the Dimboola Road stop in Broadmeadows and began walking down the hill. I followed, keeping far enough back so that even if headlights tore the cover of shadows away from me, she wouldn't realize she was being tailed. Not that she appeared to be really aware of anything else but getting home. I couldn't blame her-it was a miserable night.
She turned left into a street then crossed the road and ran into a house. I waited on the corner, watching as the lights come on inside, then touched the com-link lightly. "You still there, boss?"
"I'm afraid so. What's happened?"
"Hanna Mein, the co-owner of Meinhardt's, has just made contact with another teenage girl, and has employed her to sleep with a vampire for one night. I suspect we really have found our killers."
"And it undoubtedly means she's about to do another robbery-murder. Any hints as to who?"
"Yep. A vamp with a taste for unusual body markings. This girl has a wine-colored stain on her face and neck."
"That narrows the field considerably. I'll get Sal onto it straight away," he said. "I'm guessing you tracked the girl?"
He said that like it was a bad thing. "Any reason why I shouldn't have?"
He hesitated. "No. I just want these bitches stopped, Riley, that's all."
"And I'm working on it. In the meantime, we take away her tools, and maybe frustrate them into making a mistake."
He grunted. "Did you see the other owner at the club tonight?"
"Certainly did." I paused to swipe at the drips of rain rolling down my cheeks. "Maybe I was reading her wrong, but she seemed awfully uptight to me, boss."
"Well, they'd have to know these murders would be attracting Directorate attention. Where does the teenager live?"
I gave him the address. "She's got one of those magic business cards, so you're going to have to make sure Marg provides her with protection before you move her."
"I do realize that, Riley. I'm not a novice at this job, you know."
I grinned at his dry tone. "Sorry, boss. It's late and I'm tired. If don't need me for anything else, I'm off home."
"Don't be late for your new job tomorrow night."
"Like I would."
He snorted his disbelief-a sound I cut off by flicking off the com-link. I turned and headed back down Dimboola Road, wondering if I had the energy to fly home, or if I should catch a cab.
In the end, flying won, simply because there were no cabs at the rail station and I couldn't be bothered waiting for one to turn up. So I was as close to exhaustion as I'd ever been when I finally fell face first into my bed.
When I woke many hours later, it was to the scent of roses, coffee, sandalwood, and man. One smell was definitely more alluring than the others, and I forced a bleary eye open. To discover a pale pink rose sitting on the pillow.
I reached out and carefully touched it. It was real, not a figment of my overtired brain. "Thank you," I mumbled.
"You're welcome," said Quinn. "Now sit up so I can feed you some breakfast. Although technically it could be lunch, considering its well after one in the afternoon."
I scooted up in the bed and gave him a grin. He looked totally divine in faded denims that emphasized the lean strength of his legs, and a white shirt that was roughly rolled up at the sleeves, showing off his arms and shoulders. His hair, usually so neat, had that mussed, just-out-of-bed look, and when combined with a sexy smile-which he did so well-it was just about deadly. Luckily for me, there were no other females around, because he looked so hot I'd definitely be fighting them off.
"So to what do I owe this honor?" I said, reaching for the coffee on the tray.
He pulled it out of the way. "Sorry, kisses first."
"Oh, if I must," I muttered crossly, then grinned and caught his face between my hands, kissing him gently. It might not have been as explosive as the kiss I'd shared with Kye last night, but in many ways, it was far, far better.
"Now you have earned the coffee," he said, dark eyes shining with bedevilment.
I took the cup from the tray and inhaled the scent. Hazelnut. I sighed contentedly and took a sip, then eyed the bacon and eggs still on the tray.
"And what am I going to have to do to get the food?"
"Nothing. For now, anyway." He grinned as he sat down beside me then put the tray over my lap. "So how was last night?"
"Well, if I ever gave up being a guardian, I could make a ton of money as a dancer at a men's club."
"That doesn't surprise me."
He shifted a little so that his legs were touching mine. It felt good in a way that wasn't merely sexual, but more a safe, "right" kind of sensation. Like he and I had been designed to fit together like this.
"I'm actually surprised there's not more wolves in the clubs earning money," he continued. "Wolves are innately sexy, and most have great bodies."