First Chapter Fridays

Hello Readers and Fans:

It is with great excitement that I present to you the latest work of fellow author, Allie Quinn. Titled, ‘In The Dead of Cold’, here is a provocative excerpt for you to enjoy!

Peace,

Emily

Excerpt:In the Dead of Cold
By Allie Quinn
Prologue

Jane Smyth dashed out of the bookstore, stopped suddenly and took a deep breath as she looked around. Terror clutched her heart and froze her insides. Sucking in a lungful of cold, mountain, night air cleared her head, awakened her senses, and gave her the strength to keep from turning back. The false warmth called to her until she slapped her own cheek—hard. She had to get away. She had to warn…
She ran. Her SUV was around the corner in the alley, but she couldn’t move any faster, and the distance felt like miles. Despite the cold horror of what she’d witnessed, her legs burned from running by the time she reached her vehicle. Her fob didn’t unlock the door as she approached. She was left with no choice but to slide the key in the door lock.
In the same instant, a hand covered hers. She hadn’t even know she was followed or that he was so close behind her. Her racing heart moved up her throat and choked her. She wasn’t given the chance to scream.
“Not leaving so soon, are you? And it seems you’ve forgotten your coat.”
She was caught in his black, endless gaze. To her horror, he leaned closer, his breath, hot and putrid, touched her. Then his tongue was on her face.
She felt as if she drowned in the evilness that filled him. She couldn’t breathe.
His darkness pulled her, called her closer. She wanted nothing more than to lean against him, test his kiss. Then snowflakes landed on the spot where his tongue touched her. The coldness woke her from his spell.
He smiled the most evil smile she’d ever seen and showed his fangs. She knew she had to do something or she’d be feeling those sharp incisors. She concentrated on the idea of pushing him away. Her thought sent a surge of energy swirling through her. As she felt it build in her like a million thread-like tornadoes, she envisioned the threads clustering together, strengthening before she sent them out at him. Never before had she unleashed so much energy with a single thought. The power of it frightened her almost as much as he terrified her. Her energy hit him in the chest and sent him stumbling backwards. He might have fallen on his ass had he not collided with the bricks of the next building.
When Jane saw how fast he recovered and that her blast at him wasn’t enough to do more than surprise him, her heart clenched with horror. There was not enough room to knock him far away. Hell, he was still on his feet. Then his grin grew as he accepted her unspoken challenge.
He returned and slammed her against the bricks of the store so fast she didn’t see him move. But she felt him as his fist collided with her chin. The next thing Jane knew she was on her hands and knees in the snow, and her entire body burned with flashes of pain. He grabbed the collar of her blouse, ripping it in the process, in an effort to haul her back to eye level.
In another second, she’d feel something worse than his fist or his tongue.
Beyond him, she saw a cart, nothing more than trays held in place with metal rods.
She gathered her energy and sent it to the cart. Like a huge dart, the first rod slipped from its place and shot through the air. It impaled him and held him to the building. He stared at her. His grin disappeared, anger filled his gaze. Without looking away from her, he reached up and pulled the rod from his shoulder. The horrid, sucking sound his motion made filled the stillness. Blood oozed from his wound. Its heavy, coppery smell caused her stomach to roll. Then the gaping hole slowly closed, leaving nothing more than a tear in his shirt. He licked his lips. “I am so going to enjoy you.”
His words and his ability to heal his wounds so quickly froze her heart.
Without hesitation, she sent the remaining three rods at him. She didn’t wait around to see if he could free himself so easily. She raced to her SUV, jumped in and locked the doors. Then she sped off through the snow.
To the Moonlight Resort. Not only did she have to warn Graham Masterson, the owner. But the Moonlight was only place she would be safe…

Chapter One
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Shaking with cold and uncontrollable terror, Jane struggled with the door to enter the lobby of the Moonlight Resort. Until now, adrenaline had kept her warm despite the frigid temperature and snow outside. She stopped short inside the sudden heat of the large foyer where she discovered her clothes were soaked. Gooseflesh covered her like sharp nails, and she had to clench her teeth together to keep them from chattering.
The lobby was extravagant. Warmth touched her from flames that licked the logs filling the huge circular, stone fireplace in the center of the room. The sweet, alluring aroma of coffee and chocolate from the cafe on the other side of the curved registration desk penetrated her senses. It mingled with the smell of roasting marshmallows from the three kids who made S’Mores at the fireplace. Her stomach twisted and gurgled. The place was filled with noise and laughter and motion as people ate and enjoyed the evening.
Before anyone noticed her, she looked down and took a quick inventory. Fire burned through skinned areas on her too numerous to count. Her right shoulder blade felt as if it had a knife stuck in it. Her head throbbed as if tiny men beat away at her skull with sledge hammers and ice picks. Well, at least she’d thought to wear her snow boots. Her feet were the only thing dry and uninjured on her.
Her skirt was ripped up the right seam and revealed several inches of her scraped thigh. She was certain the back of her blouse was dirty from where she’d been shoved against the bricks. And then she remembered, it was ripped, too.
She swallowed hard. It was impossible to calm her hammering heart. She told herself she was safer.
What if she wasn’t safer?
It couldn’t be helped. There was nowhere else she could go. And she needed to warn Ella Masterson.
She took in another heavy breath and tensed to keep her shivers at bay. Without further hesitation, she rushed to the front desk, dragging in snow with each step. The clerk behind the counter looked up. The automatic smile she wore disappeared the moment she took in Jane’s appearance.
“How can I help you?” the young girl asked, her blonde ponytail swinging behind her.
“I need to see Mr. Masterson immediately.” Jane leaned against the counter and fought the urge to rest her weary head in the palm of her hand or ask for a drink of water. She couldn’t waste the time.
“Perhaps I should call the hotel doctor or an ambulance for you instead. Did you fall on the slopes or something?”
Oh, right she always wore a skirt and blouse to go skiing. And did this cute little clerk wearing a bit too much eye liner see her wearing any ski gear? Jane let out a huff and gripped the polished marble counter in an effort not to grab the girl by the polo shirt she wore. No, wait, Jane couldn’t do that without touching her. And the last thing Jane needed was to feel anyone’s emotions. Blood felt like it pulsed through her veins at a hundred miles an hour from her last encounter.
Jane took in the girl in less than a heartbeat. The girl’s name pin read Mandy.
“Mandy, I don’t need an ambulance or the hotel doctor.” Oh, yes, she probably did. “I need to speak with Mr. Masterson. It’s urgent.”
“Do you have an appointment?”
Hell, she did not have time for this. “No, I don’t. I’m sorry to say that when emergencies come up, you can’t always plan for them with a two or three days’ notice.”
“Would you like me to make one?”
Mandy’s high voice was salt rubbed into every one of Jane’s wounds. Jane had to force in another deep breath before she could speak. “Yes, please do.” She glanced at her watch and hoped to hell Mandy caught the sweet sarcasm in Jane’s words. “I need to see Mr. Masterson in the next thirty seconds.”
Another man approached. “Excuse me, I’m Jim, the concierge. May I help you?”
Didn’t concierges generally work on getting people better accommodations or tickets to the ballet?
Jane didn’t care as long as this one got her to Mr. Masterson. Mandy smiled at being able to hand Jane to someone else. “I hope so. I need to see Mr. Masterson right away.”
“And you don’t have a scheduled appointment?”
Jane cleared her throat. “No.”
“It’s after six. Mr. Masterson may no longer be in his office. Would you mind stepping over here, please?”
Jane thought it was another waste of valuable time but in order to keep from wasting any more, she followed Jim to his nearby desk. She licked her lips and ignored the heat of all the stares she felt touch her back from the many patrons that moved through the lobby.
“Please, sit down,” he offered. He did, plopping his butt onto a chair.
“No, I don’t have the time.” She also didn’t have the patience or the strength to get back up. “Please, I need to see Mr. Masterson. It’s urgent.”
“And whom shall I tell him needs to see him?”
She felt something warm on her right knee. She didn’t look down, but wondered if she might be bleeding on the plush carpet as parts of her thawed in the warm. “Jane Smyth, not that my name will mean anything to him. Please this really is important—a matter of life and death—that I speak to him, in person.”
“In regards to what?”
A horrific vampire wants to kill him and claim his wife. “Nothing I can relay to you, I’m sorry. I can say that I believe his wife is in danger.”
His gaze moved down her body from her face to the rip in her skirt, and Jane gritted her teeth together so hard her jaw hurt more than it already did. She considered telling him the wet T-shirt—or in her case, blouse—contest would cost him fifty dollars. His slow study left her feeling foolish and naked and somehow that this was her fault.
It wasn’t.
“Mr. Masterson is the owner of this resort as well as many others—”
Jane reached the limit to her patience. “I’m well aware of that.” Fatigue clawed at her insides, and she had no choice but to reach out and grasp the chair she had refused. “I need to see him. Please.”
Jane wanted to applaud when he picked up his cell phone and touched the screen. She was getting somewhere. She took the moment to look around. Most of the people in the lobby were too caught up in their own lives to watch her.
The vacation town of Royal Peak, located in the heart of the Rockies, was busy every season—boaters and skiers on the lake in the summer, foliage observers in the fall, skiers from the first snowfall to spring, and those searching for an escape in the many hot mineral springs had made this new resort the hot spot west of the Mississippi.
She pursed her lips, then stopped when the action hurt her chin. The pain reminded her of the collision her chin had with a fist. Jim grabbed her attention as he ended the call.
Absently, he reached out and touched her hand.
Jane was too tired to react, too slow to step away.
Jim’s worry hit her like a snowball in the face. His wife and young daughter were sick with the flu. And all he wanted was to get rid of Jane and finish his shift without any problems so he go home to them. She heard his thoughts as if he spoke. Geez, what the hell has this woman been doing? Roller Derby? I need to get finished with her and get out of here.
“There will be someone with you in a moment,” Jim said.
That meant she’d have to go through someone else before she met Graham Masterson face to face. Hell. She let out a huff pointed up that blew her bangs. Well, if anything happened to his pretty wife, she knew she’d done everything she could. There were too many roadblocks. Besides, now that she’d had time to slow down and not feel like she was running for her life, she wasn’t so sure this was the safest place. But until she thought of something better, she had no choice but to stay.
“Are you sure you won’t have a seat while you wait?” Jim suggested.
Jane didn’t return his smile. “I’m sure.”
“At least let me get you a towel or a blanket?”
A blanket sounded wonderful but bulky. “A towel would be fine, thank you.”
It took him a moment to move to the desk and get her a large, plush, white towel. She often wondered how hotels kept their linens so white. Perhaps that was a question for Mr. Masterson—when she ever got to talk to him. She was careful not to touch Jim again as she took the towel from him and used it to dry off as best she could.
“Whom am I waiting for?”
“There he is now.” Jim nodded at the elevators.
When Jane saw the man who exited the elevator and now strode toward them, her heart picked up pace. It was impossible to look away.
Hell, it was impossible to breathe.
It was he. Oh…Oh…Oh…She couldn’t even think enough to utter an oath. She’d always known he existed—she had, after all, bumped into him, had touched him and had seen so much in that slight brush of skin against skin. She had never expected to see him again except while she slept. He was the man who filled her dreams, the man who made her panties wet with warmth right now. He might fill her nights with passion, but by day, he was little more than a monster in her nightmare. Despite the passion he shared with her in her sleep, she had planned to avoid him.
Too late for that.
He paused for a moment when he saw her. It was a quick hesitation. Jim probably didn’t notice, but Jane did. For a long moment, she didn’t breathe. She’d spent every night for the past two years with him, and she didn’t know his name. Yet, his sandy hair and laughing gray eyes, as well as his slightly crooked nose, and the rest of his body beneath his clothes, were as familiar to her as his lips would feel on her skin.
He made her scream, cry, giggle, laugh. In her dreams, he held her, kissed her, touched her, explored her, talked to her, and made passionate love to her—among other things while they visited exotic places. And perhaps he dreamed of her, as well, for Jane couldn’t mistake the recognition she saw in his gaze.
With each step he took closer, her insides tightened. Her nipples hardened. Her pussy quivered with anticipation. Damn, her body recognized him and reacted with need for his touch.
His eyes now were somber, serious. “Thank you, Jim, I’ll handle this from here.”
She would have recognized his voice in complete darkness.
“Of course, Mr. Drummond.”
Mr. Drummond. Soft, light, perfect, leaving the tiny hairs on her arms standing at attention, his name flowed over her like a feather on her flesh. Now she had a last name to go with his face, his body, his strong, experienced hands.
Hold on a minute, time to back pedal. She had always known he was real, not a figment of her erotic dreams. She did, after all, remember touching him in the elevator so long ago. It was all the other visions that came with that simple brush of skin she could never believe—until now. She sucked in a deep breath and tried to bring some moisture to her cracked lips with her tongue, but it was too dry, too. She might be wet and freezing, but she fought the urge to take off her clothes.
Mr. Drummond directed his deep, gray gaze to her, and Jane thought she might drown in it. “Miss Smyth, is it?”
He sounded as if he needed to test out her name.
But Jane couldn’t answer for a long moment. She was too caught up in the look of his eyes. Although his eyes were gray, not blue as the creature she’d tangoed in the alley with, they still held the same I’d-love-to-devour-you look. She shuddered. But it wasn’t from fear, it was with need.
Despite her snow-soaked wet clothes, her breasts were hot and pressed against the tight lace of her bra. It was hard to breathe. And while her panties were wet from snow and freezing rain, her crouch was warm. Very. “I think I’ve made a mistake,” she said, almost more to herself. She turned from him. Why was this so hard? She should be able to talk to Graham Masterson for thirty seconds, tell him of the danger she saw and be finished by now.
“Wait, please, Miss Smyth.” He reached out before she could distance herself from him and grasped her arm to stop her.
“Don’t…” she let out. She couldn’t let him touch her. She was too exhausted, too vulnerable and too wounded to experience even the slightest of visions that often came with touch. But then she stopped.
His warmth and more moved through her with his touch. Inviting, alluring, beckoning, his familiar feel she recognized from the dreams she’d shared with him flowed through her. She thought she could melt and be nothing more than a puddle on the floor by his Italian shoes. She’d expected coldness. He was, after all, a vampire. Weren’t vampires supposed to be cold as death, or so the myths stated?
Well, this one wasn’t.
Mr. Drummond’s touch made her skin sizzle.
And the rest of her…
She should pinch herself to make sure she was still awake and not sharing another dream with him. With his touch and his heat, her body responded as it did every night. Her pussy sparked to life like a bear who awoke from hibernating—starving, needing and searching for instant satisfaction.
Her lower belly tightened and her nipples itched for freedom from her bra. He let go of her suddenly as if her arm burned his hand, making her wonder what he felt. The absence of his touch sent a shiver through her. It left her confused. She stared at his mouth for a moment—too long, since he noticed. But she couldn’t help it. She was certain any moment, his fangs would grow—like the one she’d left in the alley—and he’d bite her. She forced down a swallow. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have come here.”
This time she didn’t turn away. Instead, she backed away from him. Even though she had no idea where she planned to go.
“Don’t go.”
His soft words flowed over her like a warm breeze. With the sound of his voice, Jane’s legs grew heavy and she couldn’t take another step.
“Please…I should go.” But oh, she wanted to stay. She knew from her dreams how perfect his arms would feel holding her close. She needed to feel them now. She told herself she owed it to Graham Masterson’s wife to face her fear long enough to give a warning. Mr. Drummond could tell him. He was, after all Mr. Masterson’s top security man, as Jane had learned from his touch.
“But the snow’s coming down like crazy. If you go, you won’t get a mile. Besides, you look like you need help.”
His words confused her more. He would help her? She knew if they were together in a dream, he would help her. It was as if he mentally called to her, compelled her to stay. He no longer touched her. It didn’t matter. Jane was positive he somehow held her fast and refused to let her move. “I need…” With him close, she forming a coherent sentence was impossible. She had known about Graham Masterson. She had known about this man. She had hoped whoever came after being called by Jim, he wouldn’t be a bloodsucker. Mr. Drummond was. Still he wanted to help her.
“Ella Masterson’s in danger. Can you warn her husband?”
“Let me help you, Ms. Smyth.”
His voice sounded so much like the voice he used in their dreams. With the way he focused on her and not what she’d told him, it was so easy to imagine him saying more. “Let me help you remove your clothes. Let me touch you. Let me taste you. You’re so beautiful. You’re so tight…”
Jane blinked and her mind cleared, a little. But enough for her to know this was no dream. Her heart raced, and she drew in a deep breath. She was hot all over, despite her uncontrollable shivering. “Call me Jane.” She felt as if she knew him well enough to be on a first-name basis. After all, last night, he had put his fingers inside her and touched her soul.
“Jane Smyth? Seriously?”
Jane bit down on an impatient reply. “Yes. It’s my name, but spelled with a Y.”
“Oh. Come with me, please.”
She thought of all the nights of wild passion, all the walks through woods, lake excursions in a canoe, picnics beside streams, sleep-outs and making love under the stars she shared with this man. In all her dreams, he was nothing more than a compassionate lover no matter how hard or fast or slow he fucked her, no matter how much he made her scream and cry while he tickled her clit with his tongue or how often he explored any or all of her orifices with his probing fingers.
No, he’d proven in two years of night moves together, she didn’t need reality to come. In fact, she hadn’t been able to even go out to dinner with another man since the dreams began, much less fuck or even kiss another guy.
And yet, she knew there was more than perfect soul-searing sex when it came to Mr. Drummond. Even now, she couldn’t help thinking about the vision she got, so clear, when he brushed against her two years ago. In less than a heartbeat, she’d been given a nightmare and more than seven hundred nights of wild dreams. Her knees started to shake. She told herself it was from the adrenaline rush. That mental picture couldn’t be real. Besides, a few seconds ago when he touched her, she had seen nothing dangerous. It didn’t matter that she’d felt something close to the warmth of her own blood pulsing through her veins. She sucked in a breath in an effort to ignore her sudden need to unbutton her blouse and press her naked skin against the hard chest she knew he possessed.
She stared at him for a moment and tried to forget the vision she’d seen so long showing her he was a monster. Think of the dreams you share with him. Think of how his hands play over you like you’re the finest instrument ever made. The man before her, the man of her dreams, couldn’t hurt her.
But the monster in him could hurt her, kill her.
That was what she’d seen in her vision and what she worked to ignore.
“I’ll take you to see Mr. Masterson.”
Jane never felt so torn in her life. She needed to see Mr. Masterson. She needed to keep her distance between herself and the man in front of her. Her heart raced again, and she worked to swallow the lump in her throat. Fear or no fear, she followed, as if he again controlled her steps. Another shiver moved through her with the memory of the way he’d touched her the night before.
Cold fear touched the back of her neck at being alone with him. And awake…
He led her to a quiet area in the hall a short distance away. “I’m in charge of security for Mr. Masterson.”
“I know.”
“Would you care to tell me why you need to see him, and what warning he needs? While you’re at it, you can tell me who did this to you.”
There was unmistakable authority in his voice, and Jane thought she detected anger in his last sentence.
She was done. She held up her hands in mock surrender. “Someone is after his wife and wants to kill him.” And wants to kill me, too. “But everyone would rather waste time instead of take me to see him. I thought he should know.” She turned to toward the doors.
He reached out to touch her arm again. Perhaps one touch hadn’t been enough for him, either. Perhaps he needed to convince himself she was real.
Jane stepped back and almost stumbled in an effort to get out of reach. “Don’t touch me.”
“You know I won’t hurt you,” he whispered.
Did she really know? Her dreams told her one thing, her vision of two years ago told her something different. “Please keep your hands off me. Don’t ask me why. And if you aren’t going to take me to see Mr. Masterson, I’m leaving.” A few minutes with Mr. Masterson would be all she needed—and all she could endure. Then as soon as she was finished with her warning, she was getting the hell out of the resort, snow or no snow. She was not able to think beyond that. Would she have to sleep in her locked car?
“Please. As you can see, I pose no threat to him. I have no weapons, but you’re welcome to check my bag if you wish.” She almost bit her tongue since she told him one of the biggest lies of her life. She did have a weapon—an unseen weapon, not that she planned to use it on Graham Masterson.
“All right, I’ll take you up to him.” Into his cell phone, he told someone they were coming up. He led her to the nearest elevator, and they climbed in alone. Once the door closed, he grabbed her arm and turned her toward him. “If this is all some plan to get to him, if you’ve lied to me at all, I won’t be very happy.”
He misunderstood her gasp as surprise at his sudden grip on her arm.
She didn’t tell him what she felt, what she saw when he touched her. The feelings, thoughts, visions were all mixed up and jumbled together coming to her in blinding flashes and in complete contrast to feeling only warmth a few moments ago. His anger was an uncontrollable animal chewing through his gut. His tension stretched tight through him. His worry for her was a cloud of fog that swallowed him. And was it her imagination, or did his teeth change? Did he sprout instant fangs that turned normal again in a flash? Jane couldn’t be certain. He might say he’d never hurt her, but could she believe him? She shivered and tried to pull away. He was hesitant to let her go.
Then her confusion doubled as she saw his goodness. She also saw the conflict in him. His want—his very need—to hold her close and offer the safety of his arms was overwhelming like an assault that took more of her energy. He was angry who whoever had hurt her. He wanted to lash out, punch the wall.
The idea of pressing the emergency stop button flashed through him like lightning. And he wanted her back against the wall while she wrapped her legs around his waist and he fucked her hard and fast before they reached the top floor. His want touched her with the sudden intensity of a burning ember. It left her head swimming. He released her arm as if he knew if he didn’t, he wouldn’t be able to fight the need to pull her into his embrace and make the thought reality. His touch left her skin tingling, and Jane felt weaker than she had after using so much energy in the alley when she was attacked less than an hour before.
She fought the urge to step closer to him again, as if her body, her skin craved his closeness and her soul longed to melt with his. Being close to him is the only safe place…
Hell, what was wrong with her? She’d never before been so conflicted. He was like a fire, warm and inviting. But she knew if she got too close, she’d burn to ashes. She closed her eyes and leaned against the wall as the elevator rose to the top floor uninterrupted. She locked her knees to keep them from shaking. Exhaustion gripped her. She hoped she had enough strength left to tell Graham Masterson what he needed to know. What if he didn’t believe her?
His wife would be in trouble, that’s what.
When she looked up again and was caught in Mr. Drummond’s gaze, she found his expression had softened, but his eyes were still hard. “And after you’ve told Mr. M your dire news, you will tell me who did this to you.”
Another shiver moved up her back at the coldness in his voice. She had never heard icy, killing hatred come from him. When he spoke to her in the dreams they shared, he was nothing but warm and loving or light and laughing even when filled with passion and desire. The sound of his voice could make her hot and wet. His whispers in her ear could make her come.
The door opened into something that looked like a foyer. There were two solid oak doors, small tables on either side of them, each holding a plant. Mr. Drummond started to take her arm and lead her out of the elevator. She stepped out ahead of him before he could touch her. Her legs tingled as if thousands of bugs crawled in them. Her wet clothes clung to her. She clenched her teeth to keep them from chattering. She held the towel as if it were her lifeline. A tornado clashed through her—a mixture of hot from the man beside her and cold from her wet clothes and the fear she now stepped into a pit of vipers.
He stepped in front of her and opened one of the doors, leading her into a grand office. Deep, sea green carpet, a large desk with intricate carving, comfortable plush chairs and a sofa, and a well-stocked bar took up one end. There was also a huge fireplace with a beautiful oak mantel. Flames poured from the gas log, filling the room with warmth. Jane fought the urge to move closer, to hold out her hands and let the fire send its heat through her. Above the mantel were two swords set in criss-cross position, their intricate handles pointing at the ceiling, their edges appearing sharp. At the other end of the huge room was a round conference table that reminded Jane of King Arthur. All in all, the office was larger than some apartments Jane had lived in.
With his picture gracing the front cover of three separate magazines this month, she knew what Graham Masterson looked like. With his dark hair and black eyes, he was a looker. But she was too tired, cold, and uncomfortable to notice or care. Not that she would anyway since her dream lover stood beside her. She forced a swallow and stepped into the office. There were four other men in the room, each sitting at various points. She recognized defense tactics when she saw them.
Graham Masterson stood up. “Thank you for bringing her up, Milo.”
Now she had a first name to go with her midnight lover.
Milo. Milo Drummond.
She glanced over at him and found he watched her.
“Ms. Smyth?” Graham Masterson extended his hand to her.
Jane stepped closer to him, but didn’t reach out. “You can call me Jane.”
He got the message and put his hand back on his desk. “Of course.” His words were polite. “Please sit down.”
“No, thank you.”
He nodded, another polite gesture. “Can I offer you a drink?”
“Perhaps after we’ve talked.” She grasped the back of the chair to stay on her feet. Milo took the towel she still held.
“I understand you’ve refused the assistance of the hotel doctor. May I suggest you change your mind?”
“I don’t need a doctor.”
“I beg to differ.”
“I came to help you.”
At her words, he raised a brow. “And how is that?”
Jane licked her lips before she spoke again, but it didn’t help ease her fear. “I was at the bookstore earlier. There was a man there. I don’t know if you know him. But he knows you.” She felt trapped in his endless gaze.
Graham tilted his head in question. “Does he have a name?”
“All I know is a first name—Bart.”
At the sound of that name, the men behind her shifted and stood, on alert. Jane turned and glanced at them. Her gaze swept past Milo. He had dropped the wet towel on the nearby chair. His hand was now tucked under his other arm. Obviously, he had a gun holstered there and had his hand on it ready. Yes, these men knew Bart. Well, Jane had to confess that after her encounter with him, she’d react the same way. So much for Milo saying he wouldn’t hurt her, she thought.
Graham was the only man in the room who appeared calm, at least everywhere but in his dark eyes, which glistened with anger and hate. Had she been wrong to bring this to him?
“What can you tell me about Bart?” Graham’s question was subtle, but Jane heard how he forced himself to remain calm.
“He plans to kill you.”
“And he was in Silvia’s Book Store on Maple Street in Royal Peak?”
“Yes.”
“How do you know his plans?”
“It’s not important.” She didn’t need to waste time explaining her ability. “What’s important is stopping him from using your wife as bait to kill you so he can keep her for himself.” She knew it sounded blunt, but there was no other way to convince him. And considering the horrific experience she’d had with Bart, her words were rather sugar coated. Jane clenched her jaws again, this time to fight off a yawn.
Should she continue, or should she leave? Had she told enough?
She remembered the way Bart had looked at her, and she decided to take the leap. “And I don’t need a doctor, but I would ask for your assistance.”
“What kind of assistance?”
“Well, Bart’s not too happy with me right now. I’m not lying about his wanting to kill you. I think you top his list, and my name’s right below yours. I’m asking for your protection.”
“Perhaps you should talk to the police?”
Jane couldn’t hold back the next yawn. “Excuse me.” She met Graham’s gaze again. “I know what you are and what you’re capable of.” Just as she knew about Milo Drummond before she knew his name. “I also know what Bart is. I know you—and others around you—are the only ones who can protect me from him.” But who would protect her from them?
His eyes hardened. “What do you know?”
She had so hoped she wouldn’t have to explain things. There was so little time before fatigue overcame her and she was nose level with the carpet. “I know you’re a vampire, with greater strength and speed and endurance than any human.”
He chuckled as if he thought that was a silly idea.
Jane didn’t smile.
He stopped laughing abruptly. “How do you know?”
“I learned it from one of your men.” She gripped the chair harder. Her knuckles turned white. She stared at Graham to keep from glancing at Milo and giving away the identity of her informant.
Graham sat up straighter and his eyes narrowed. It was his first sign of emotion—anger. “One of my men betrayed me?”
Jane shook her head. “No, this man would never betray you. He would give his life without hesitation to protect you. He has nothing but respect and loyalty and admiration for you.” She had to pause and take a deep breath to avoid another yawn.
“Then how is it you came to know about me and when?”
She didn’t want to tell. And for a moment, she considered lying—we were drunk, having wild sex, and he spilled his guts and told everything about you. In the end, she spoke the truth. Besides, she felt Graham would recognize any lie. “Sometimes when I touch someone, I feel things or I know things. Two years ago, I bumped up against this man in an elevator, and I knew about him. I knew about his job for you.” She didn’t add since that simple, innocent touch, she’d been sharing her bed with Milo every night in the wildest dreams possible. She kept her gaze glued on Graham, but her nipples hardened with the thought of Milo.
“You’re telepathic.” Graham relaxed.
“Yes.” Right then, she was also exhausted, and gosh that was such an easy word for such a complex ability. “And at first, I couldn’t believe it. It all seemed so… Impossible.” As did the dreams she shared with Milo. “Until tonight. It was through the same kind of touch that I learned of Bart’s evilness. In the bookstore, he asked me to have a cup of coffee, and he touched my hand.” She looked down at the chair in front of her, no longer able to look at him.
“There’s more to it than that.”
Given her torn clothes, he didn’t have to be very perceptive to know there was more.
She couldn’t tell. The thought of what he planned to do to her—to rape her and feed on her before he killed her caused her stomach to roll. He’d leaned closed and smelled her. He’d known her blood had a negative factor. She looked up to find Graham’s steepled fingers resting against his chin as he watched her. “He’s like you, a vampire, only evil, unimaginably evil.”
He held her gaze, and Jane couldn’t look away. “That is true.”
“So who attacked you?” Milo’s question drew her attention, and somehow made pulling her gaze from Graham’s easier than she thought.
“He did. I left as soon as I could get away. I was parked in the alley behind the bookstore. He caught me there.”
In less time than it took for her to blink, Milo grabbed her and shoved her back against the opposite wall of the room just as Bart had against the building. The impact knocked the wind out of her and sent pain down her back all the way to her toes. She would have screamed, but she didn’t have the energy or the air.
“You bitch, everything you said is a lie so you could get close to Mr. M. Bart sent you, didn’t he?”
“No!” she choked out. She felt his anger and his pain—both were like thousands of tiny knives stabbing her. He thought she’d betrayed him. He wanted to kill her, right here, right now, snap her neck. And this time, there was no mistake, his teeth did change. His fangs were so close.
This was her vision, she realized. This was the image she’d seen flash through her mind like a short movie when she’d bumped into him in the elevator two years ago. Mesmerized by fear, she stared at him. Even though her vision only went as far as Milo lunging toward her, she knew in the next second he would sink his strong, unforgiving teeth into her throat, and it would be the end. His breath was hot, yet froze her heart in an instant. She stared at him.
At the same time, she felt his hesitation, too. He held back. She felt his heart racing.
“Milo.”
She heard Graham’s voice.
His hold loosened, but Milo didn’t release her. “So how in hell did you get away, because if he wanted you, he’d have had you? No mortal woman can escape him.”
His words broke the spell he cast on her. In a huff, she let out her breath. He still held her pinned to the wall, but at least she could think coherently. The man who held his elbow pressed against her throat was not the Milo who made her come with his tongue every night. Then the hesitation she felt in him grew, and she no longer thought he’d bite her. Yet, her terror was worse than what she’d felt with Bart.
Through dreams of the past two years, she’d learned to trust this man.
Now, she couldn’t trust him.
Her heart twisted at the idea. She wanted to trust him. Did he hesitate to sink his teeth into her throat because of what he felt her for in the dreams they shared? Or because Graham had stopped him?
As her fear eased, her aches and pains again made themselves known. Every bruise and scrape was suddenly alive and competing for attention. A hot, fresh wave of anger swept in despite the pain. How dare he not trust her when she had never given him any reason not to? How dare he put his hands on her in any other way than the loving way he put them on her while she dreamed?
She summoned what little energy she possessed and channeled it toward him. It hit him in the chest and knocked him away from her. He stumbled back a few feet, far enough to stun him and leave him off balance. Everything he felt she felt. Like a tornado, he felt pain thinking she betrayed him. It mixed with need to protect her and find who’d hurt her. She felt his desire to hold her and kiss her. In its shadow as an uncontrollable yearning to slip his dick into her right there as he pressed her against the wall. That need was topped off by excitement at discovering she was more than a dream and he’d found her at last. All of it stopped slamming into her the instant she shoved him away and got his hands off her. Her nipples, however, still responded to the idea of being fucked hard and fast. Jane tried not to breathe, not to move them in any way to keep them from being noticed as they attempted to push their way out of her blouse.
He glanced down, aware of her nipples.
She didn’t need to touch him to feel his unasked questions.
What the hell was that?
How did you do that?
Milo must have thought she’d punched him in the gut. For two seconds, she didn’t see his chest rise or fall with a breath. His silent questions mixed with confusion in his expression. His nose twitched.
Bart had told her he liked the way she smelled.
Could Milo smell her terror? Her anger? Or something more familiar? The woman of his dreams?
He stared at her. “What the fuck?”
Despite the distance between them, Jane felt his need. She nearly responded with a step closer to close the gap between them.
She shivered, and again she wanted in his arms where he could warm her using any and all means possible. She shook her head to avoid his distraction.
“Like that,” she let out, having enough energy to whisper, before dark spots danced before her eyes. How she stayed on her feet, she had no idea. She reached out and grasped the edge of the chair again and locked her elbows, doing everything possible to keep herself standing.
The room spun for a moment, then there was utter silence.
Just breathe. Her single breath felt like a knife slicing into her chest. She had exerted more energy in the past few hours than she would have had she run a marathon.
Do not think about how he makes you scream and groan and beg for more before he makes you come every time you sleep! Do not! Do not think about how much his deep, animalistic, gruff voice turns your legs to jelly and makes your insides search for his cock. And no matter what, do not fall at his feet!
“Milo, call Dr. Burns.”
She recognized Graham’s firm authority and looked up to meet his gaze.
“No. I—need…” She had to force each word. She wanted nothing more than to move, reach the door and leave. But if she let go of the chair, she knew she’d reach the door crawling. And she didn’t think her knees could handle it, they’d already been abused enough. Gentle hands gripped her arms. She recognized Milo’s touch, but she didn’t want it on her arms, not where Bart had assaulted her. She turned to look at him. “Let go of me. And no doctor.” Her words were whispered through her painful throat. “Please.”
Milo ignored her. His wonderful touch remained on her arms.
Graham drew closer. “It’s obvious you’re in need of medical assistance.”
She forced her hand up and grasped Milo’s shirt. “Please. It—“ Her breaths sounded loud. “Takes all…” Hell, she couldn’t even get out a complete sentence without pausing to breathe. “My energy. Just. Need. Rest.”
“You’re telekinetic, too.” That was Graham again.
Jane forced a nod, and the movement left a headache in its wake. Another easy word for a very complicated ability, Jane thought.
“Get her a drink of water, James.”
One of the men left.
Graham continued. “And Drew, find my wife. I feel she’s still here at the resort and hasn’t headed into town yet because of the snow, but make sure. Then get the names of everyone who knew her itinerary for today so we can figure out how Bart got the information.”
“Yes, sir.” Another man headed to the door.
And a moment later, Milo held a glass of cool water to her lips. “Swallow.”
She did. It was heaven on her tight throat. Her fatigue was overwhelming, but for now, feeling Milo’s warmth was wonderful. It helped her forget how dangerous he was, even though moments ago, his fangs had been inches from her throat. Besides, she was too tired to stand without his help.
“What did you do to Bart?” Milo asked.
With her words still slow and divided by the panting breaths while she shifted her weight from one cramping leg to the other, she said, “He grabbed me as I unlocked my car door. I slammed him pretty hard against the building. It stunned him, but not for long.”
“Yet you managed to escape him.” The man who spoke was the one Graham called James. “How?”
“There was a cart, held together by metal rods. After I shoved him to the bricks, I skewered him to the building. I didn’t kill him, though.”
“Then what?” Milo’s expression held a combination of concern, disbelief, awe and fear.
And even if she hadn’t seen those emotions on his face or his eyes, they were undeniable in his touch. And with all the emotions in him, there was something deeper, something more terrifying than all the others. He was possessed by a wild, uncontrolled urge to kill. But it wasn’t directed at her. Which was good. She didn’t have the strength or the desire to move away from him.
Over and above all of his emotions, she felt some kind of pull. It compelled her closer to him.
“Then…” Jane couldn’t finish. She closed her eyes for a moment and forced away the terror in the memory. “Then, I managed to get into my SUV and lock the doors. I didn’t stop until I got here to warn you. The drive took forever with the snow. And I was so afraid. I kept looking in my rearview mirror, certain I’d see him behind me.” Jane remembered thinking the danger of Bart was worse than the danger of the vampires at the Moonlight Resort. Her gaze went from Milo to Graham. Milo left her uncertain, but there was no doubt with the way Graham’s dark eyes hardened and his brows knit closer together that he knew she either lied or she left something unsaid. Besides, her ripped clothes and evident abrasions told a different story.
Yet, Graham said nothing to accuse her. “James, take a team to the bookstore. See what you can find. And be on the alert, no one is to be anywhere alone. If what she says is true, then it’s possible Bart’s injured. He’ll be desperate and more dangerous than ever as he needs nourishment to heal.”
“Yes, sir.”
A moment later, James was gone.
“And August, hunt for any activity,” came the next order.
“Yes, sir.” A mountain of a man left the room.
Jane didn’t want to question what activity there might be. She’d seen enough activity for one day.
Graham met her gaze again.
Jane looked away, her eyelids heavy. “I think I’m feeling better.” Another lie. She still couldn’t meet Graham’s intense gaze, nor Milo’s. They weren’t stupid. They had to know she wasn’t telling the complete truth. She leaned away from Milo, but didn’t have the strength to move far. She wished for strength to let go of the chair, but her legs wouldn’t hold her up without help. “Is it possible for me to get a room here?”
Graham’s hard expression never changed. “No, I’m afraid it’s not, Jane.”
“What?” She’d come there to warn them, to save Graham Masterson’s life and his wife, and she was being turned out where Bart could get to her?
Jane now had no trouble looking at Graham. Her gaze shifted from his to Milo’s. For a long moment, she was stunned speechless. At least Milo’s teeth now appeared normal. Except for the hard look of worry that filled his expression, he was back to the man who had licked her clit relentlessly in her dreams the night before. That should make her feel better. It didn’t.
She wished she had more energy. She’d slam them against the wall and show them how it felt.
It was Milo who answered her question. “There aren’t any available rooms.”
“You’re kidding,” she let out.
“We don’t kid when it involves monsters like Bart.” Graham turned away for the first time and moved back toward his desk.
“So I should head to my sister’s cabin as I planned?”
“No. It’s obvious Bart touched you. He may have been able to read your thoughts as easily as you read his. And even if he didn’t, he no doubt saw what you drove. He can track you by your scent alone, even with the snow. ” Graham paused and studied her, letting her know he knew there was more to her confrontation with Bart than she told them. “Milo, see that she’s made comfortable and has everything she needs.”
Milo didn’t hesitate. “Yes, sir.”
“But—”
“No buts about it, Jane,” Graham interrupted. “If Bart wants you, you wouldn’t last the night outside my gates. Besides with the snow, you wouldn’t get far.”
“But you said there weren’t any rooms.”
“There aren’t. You’ll go with Milo.”
“With Milo?” Her heart pounded at the idea of being close enough to feel more of his body heat.
“Yes, with Milo.”
And stay with him in his room?
It wasn’t a good idea. Even if her body cried out for that very thing and the thought of it made her heart pound. She was caught in Milo’s gaze.
“But,” she started again.
Graham turned away from her, picked up his cell, touched the screen and put it to his ear. The dismissal couldn’t be any clearer.

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