“She has to be stopped.”
Saint Black stared at the picture before him. A beautiful, smiling woman gazed back up at him. The smile on her full lips was taunting, sensual, and it never touched her eyes. Unusual eyes, a mix of topaz and brown—almost gold. Her gaze in the photo seemed oddly luminous as she peered back at him.
“I get that she doesn’t look like a killer,” the would-be client who paced in his office said, her breath catching. “That’s part of the problem. Or—or maybe it’s part of her appeal. I don’t know. Men fall at her feet. Always have. Men like my brother, Donovan. They fall for her, and then…”
Saint forced his gaze to lift. To lock on the lady who’d surged into his office five minutes ago, right before he’d been preparing to cut out for the night.
“Then she kills them,” she finished as she lifted her hand and swiped a tissue under her left eye.
Tracy Eldridge. That was her name. She’d been late for her appointment with him, and he’d been fairly certain she’d just be a no-show.
His fingers slid toward the picture she’d dropped on his desk moments before. “You haven’t told me who she is.”
“Alice Shephard.” The name came out like a curse. “I tried to warn Donovan that she was trouble. I knew it from the first moment I met her. But he wouldn’t listen. Now he’s gone, the others are gone, and she’s still out there. It’s only a matter of time until she strikes again.”
Curiosity trickled through him. Curiosity—always a dangerous thing. Because once he became curious about something…Saint’s gaze slid back to the photo. He frowned when he realized that his finger was sliding lightly over her smile.
What in the fuck?
He immediately stopped the odd movement.
“I want to hire you,” Tracy announced. “Money is no object for me. You have to catch her.”
Now they were getting down to business. “Did she jump bail? If there are warrants out for her—”
Tracy rushed toward his desk. She slapped her hands down on the surface. “No! No, there are no warrants, that’s the problem! They never arrest her! The cops fall under her spell just like everyone else, and they let her go.” Pain and rage shook the words even as tears glittered in her pale blue eyes. Her blond hair had been pulled back into a severe twist. “They let her go,” she repeated in a seething voice, “and no one will help me stop her.”
Tread carefully. “I’m a bounty hunter. If this Alice Shephard is not wanted for a crime, there really isn’t much I can do.”
Her lashes flickered. Her mascara had run, darkening the skin beneath her eyes. “I’m not trying to hire you in your bounty hunting capacity.”
Yes, he’d suspected as much. So he waited for her to continue.
“I’ve heard about your…your connections.”
Saint didn’t let his expression change. He never did. When it came to being stone-faced, he was a master. “What connections might those be?”
“You solve cold cases.”
Occasionally. “When I’m bored.” An easy, dismissive response.
Her chin lifted. “Are you bored right now?” Then, before he could answer, she shoved her hand into her purse and yanked out a checkbook. Diamond rings glittered on her fingers, weighing them down. She snatched a pen from his desk. Scribbled an amount on the check and shoved it toward him. “Or…how about now?”
One hundred thousand dollars. “If you’re referring to my involvement with the Ice Breakers…” Saint shrugged. “My involvement with that online group is purely minimal. And they don’t get paid for their jobs.”
“I know. I’ve tried reaching out to the others. They were no use to me. They—they told me they would try to help when they had time.” She tore up the first check. Wrote another. “We are running out of time. I know she’ll kill again. She always kills again. Men fall for her. She lures them in, and then she kills them. Three dead lovers. Soon, she’ll pick a fourth.” Tracy pushed another check toward him.
Two hundred thousand.
Saint straightened in his chair. “What is it—exactly—that you want me to do?” He knew people—quite a few of them actually, thanks to his bounty hunting work—who would literally kill for that much money.
He, however, wasn’t in the killing business.
But he did dabble in some crime solving. A man needed a hobby, didn’t he?
“I want you to find proof. That’s what you do, right? You find proof. You find the victims. She made them all vanish. That’s why the cops just—they won’t help me without bodies. Alice made my brother vanish. She made the other two men vanish.”
Once more, his gaze flickered back to the photo. Alice Shephard appeared to be a small woman, built along delicate lines. It was never easy for a woman to make a much larger individual vanish. At least, not without help.
“You always catch your bounties, and with the Ice Breakers, you don’t give up. I want that. I need that. Alice Shephard is a killer.” Her breath heaved in and out.
He made no move to take the check. His gaze lingered on Alice’s image.
Beauty can hide a monster.
“I know she did it!” A sharp crack in Tracy’s voice. “And if you won’t help me to prove it then—then I will just stop her myself!” Rage and stark desperation twisted in her words.
He took the photograph. Put it in his desk drawer. Slid the check into the drawer, too. “I’ll see what I can do.”
Tracy’s jaw dropped. “You—you—” Her eyes lit with what appeared to be feverish hope. “You’ll take my case?”
His mind had already started to assess the possibilities. “You’re describing a black widow.”
“A black widow. She chooses her mates, then she kills them.” He’d never had a black widow case. Should be interesting.
Again, curiosity stirred. Stronger this time. Curiosity had always been his weakness. Maybe because he spent so much time just feeling bored—or feeling fucking nothing—that when curiosity came along, he tended to get hooked.
“Thank you.” Tracy’s thin shoulders slumped. “Thank you.”
“I haven’t done anything yet.” And he would make no promises. “I’m just going to dig around a little bit. See what I discover.” About the beautiful and potentially deadly Alice.
“I want her locked away.”
Too bad. We don’t always get what we want.
“I want her to lose everything that she cares about in this world,” Tracy continued passionately. “I want her to hurt just like I hurt. She thinks she’s gotten away with murder, but we’ll show her that she hasn’t.”
If Alice was guilty, then, yes, he would see her locked away. Jail was a real bitch. He should know. He’d spent too much time there himself.
“You’ll be careful?” Tracy asked quickly. “You won’t let her trick you?”
Saint couldn’t help it. He laughed. “Don’t worry. I’m not about to fall into her web.” It took one hell of a lot more than a pretty face to fool him.
“What’s the password?”
Are you shitting me? Saint glared at the guy who’d just opened the small, metal grill in the wooden door before him. The door itself looked like something straight out of the 1920s, but then, that was probably the point. He was standing in front of a speakeasy in Savannah, Georgia, and the jerk squinting at him from behind the small viewing area in the door wasn’t going to let him in, not unless Saint had the magic word.
“Password,” the man repeated impatiently.
Fucking annoying. Saint grabbed a fifty from his wallet and shoved it toward the man’s eyes. The eyes were all he could see beyond that grill. “I’m pretty sure it’s Grant.” The president on the bill.
The cash disappeared through a small slat. “Nope. Tonight, the password is misdirection. Remember that in case anyone else asks.” Then the big door swung open as he allowed Saint to step inside.
“Welcome to Abracadabra,” he told Saint. “Get ready for some magic.”
Saint barely contained an eye roll as he strode past the bouncer—a tall guy wearing all black—and down the dark corridor that waited for him. Gas lanterns flickered on the walls, and he realized that heavy stone rested beneath his feet. He had to give the place points for atmosphere, if one had been going for a grim and cold atmosphere. Then he rounded the corner, saw the dark, red drapes, and Saint pushed them aside…
Well, well, well.
It was truly like walking back in time. Because Saint could have sworn that he was staring straight at an old-school speakeasy. Exposed brick showed on all the walls, a long, twisting bar ran down the right side of the room, and high-back chairs and round tables were scattered along the perimeter.
A stage—with black curtains and a black floor—waited to the left. On that stage, a woman stood in a circle of light, holding tight to a microphone, and crooning for all she was worth. And the place was packed. Men and women filled the joint, but they were dressed like they were at a fancy ball. The men were in tuxes, while the women were in designer gowns. And the drinks were definitely flowing.
Okay, so Alice Shephard knows how to make a killing.
Because this was her place. He’d spent the last six days researching her. Learning every possible detail that he could about the mysterious Alice. The details had certainly made her look dangerous.
It seemed to be common knowledge that Alice was a killer. That she’d gotten away not with just one murder, but potentially three. And as he passed the packed crowd and made his way to the bar, he even caught a few excited whispers about her…
“Do you think she’ll be here tonight?”
“God, could you imagine? Sharing a drink with a real killer!”
“I want my picture taken with her.”
His brows pulled low at the comments. In his experience, people weren’t excited about the prospect of hanging out with a killer. Or, at least, they shouldn’t be excited.
Alice seemed to be eliciting an unusual response from these individuals. People he realized were packing the speakeasy just because it was her place.
When he got to the bar, he took the only open stool he saw. He reached into his wallet and pulled out another fifty. A woman with dark hair had her back to him. She was mixing a drink, humming slightly, and he cleared his throat to get her attention.
“Don’t worry, handsome,” she said without looking back, “I’ll be with you next. But I’m already guessing you’re an old-school whiskey guy. An old-fashioned? That what you’re after? Because you hardly seem the pretty-drink type to me.”
He’d been looking at the crowd, but at that low, husky voice—a voice that seemed to sink into his skin—he jerked his head back toward the bartender. He realized she was wearing a shimmering, silver dress. Very much flapper-like. It dipped low at her back, plunging in a daring V that stopped right over her perfectly rounded hips. When he leaned forward a bit, he could see beyond the bar’s edge, and he got a glimpse of her toned legs and the high heels that—
“Like what you see?”
She was still not looking at him, but she seemed absolutely certain he was looking at her. His gaze immediately whipped up, thinking there must be a mirror on the wall there so that she could peer at him, but—
No. No mirror. Just bottles and bottles of alcohol.
“I’ll take that as a yes.” A throaty, seductive laugh. “But, sorry, my dark and dangerous new friend, I am not on the menu.” Then she turned toward him.
And it was as he’d suspected.
Fucking Alice Shephard.
The heels had given her extra height. At least two inches extra. Maybe three. And her hair was different. In the picture he’d viewed of her, Alice’s hair had trailed down her back and been shot with blond highlights. Now, her hair skimmed just below her shoulders. It was much darker, but when she stepped forward and a shaft of illumination hit her, he realized there were still golden highlights in her hair.
Golden highlights. Blood-red lipstick on her full, sensual lips. Luminous eyes that had been carefully shadowed to make them appear even deeper. Even bolder. Cheekbones sharp enough to cut.
Her head tilted to the right, and her hair slid over her shoulder. “You’re not wearing the appropriate clothing for tonight’s affair.”
He was wearing jeans. A black shirt. His old jacket.
“You bribed your way inside.” A nod. “Typical. Well, I’ll let you stay, but just because I am an incredibly nice person. Next time, download our app so that you know what the theme is for the evening. The theme and the password.”
So there was a theme? That was why everyone was so fancy? Whatever. He didn’t give a shit about being fancy. He cared about her. “Are you nice?”
Someone at the end of the bar called out to her.
She ignored the person. Saint could have sworn a spark of interest lit her eyes as Alice sharpened her gaze on him. Then she was leaning toward him, sliding her upper body over the edge of the bar, and Saint found himself leaning toward her, as well. He caught her scent—light, floral, kinda reminded him of freshly cut roses he’d scented once or twice—and he drank it in.
“No,” Alice replied, her voice going low and even huskier. “I’m not nice.”
He smiled at her. “Good. Because I’m not, either.” Fair warning.
Her gaze, even more luminous in real life than it had been in the photo, dropped to his mouth. “You have one of those gorgeous, disarming smiles,” she noted, not even seeming to miss a beat. “Very dangerous. I’m sure you flash that smile and women drop their panties at your feet.”
He peered down at the ground. “Don’t see any around me at the moment.”
When he looked back up, she was pushing an old-fashioned toward him. He noted the curving shell of the orange peel in the amber liquid.
“You don’t see them because I’m not the type to drop my panties just for a grin. It takes more. A lot more than that for me.”
Saint wrapped his fingers around the drink. As he did, he brushed her fingers because she was pulling back. A hot, hard surge of lust drove through him at the contact. Yeah, I was afraid of that. He ignored the lust and the aching dick he had and tried the drink.
It was perfect. Actually, the best he’d ever—
“Best you ever had?” she murmured. “I get that a lot.” She sent him a smile. One that, like in the photo, never reached her eyes. “Enjoy the drink.” Alice turned away.
“What does it take?” He savored the drink. You didn’t down an old-fashioned of this caliber. When something was special, you took your time with it.
Alice paused. Glanced over her shoulder at him. “Trust me when I say that you can’t handle me.”
“You’d be surprised at what I can handle.”
She motioned toward the crowd behind him. “Go try that smile out there. I’m sure your luck will be outstanding. Lots of women go for that dark-and-dangerous vibe.”
“But not you.” Another taste of his drink. His eyes remained on her.
She turned to fully face him. “I’m not interested in wannabe danger.”
Oh, this was intriguing. No, she was. “You only go for the real deal?”
Once more, she leaned over the bar. Her scent teased him. But she didn’t speak. Instead, she searched his gaze. He wondered just what it was that Alice was looking for as she stared at him so hard with those topaz eyes of hers.
“You want real danger?” he rasped as the tension seemed to stretch between them. “How do you know I can’t give you that?”
Her lips parted. She was going to—
“That’s her.” A woman’s voice, coming from right behind Saint. One of the excited voices he’d caught before as he made his way through the crowd. He was pretty sure that was the woman who’d wanted—
“May I please get a picture with you?” The woman leapt toward the bar. “Please? It would be so great. I mean, I have these friends who would not believe that I was actually brave enough to stand right beside—”
Alice’s gaze turned to the woman. Hardened. No smile curved Alice’s lips.
The woman stopped talking. Her voice just broke off in that unnatural, nervous way that always showed clear embarrassment.
“Beside what—exactly?” Alice asked with a faintly quizzical air.
Saint glanced at the woman who’d nudged her way so close to Alice. The woman’s hair was jet-black, and her skin had flushed dark red. He could smell the alcohol drifting off her, and he realized a lot of her boldness came from the booze.
One of her friends tried to grab her arm and haul her back. “Genna!” A low, warning hiss.
“Ah…she meant right beside the owner of the speakeasy!” Another friend hurried to exclaim. “That’s all Genna meant. Just because the place is so popular.” She grabbed the flushing woman’s other shoulder. “Genna, come on.”
Genna stumbled back. She clutched her phone in one hand, and she still seemed to be trying to take a photo—
The phone was plucked out of her hand. “Alice doesn’t take pictures with guests.” The man who’d taken the phone shook his head, and the light glinted off his blond hair. “How about I call you ladies a cab?”
Which Saint realized was polite speak for…Your asses are getting tossed out.
“Thanks, Logan,” Alice murmured. “I think a cab is exactly what they need.”
Logan led the women away. Saint quickly assessed him. Big, muscled, and with an attitude that pretty much screamed bouncer or bodyguard. The guy had slid silently toward the bar to reach Alice. My money is on bodyguard. But in order to have a bodyguard, Alice would need enemies.
He turned back to ask her about those enemies—
But Alice was gone. He blinked. Looked again. Even leaned over the bar to make sure she hadn’t just bent down to get something but…no, gone.
Saint slowly lowered back onto his stool. He lifted his glass once more, and as he did, he noticed the little napkin that Alice had slid under the drink. Black, with white letters emblazoned across the top.
Fuck. He was even more curious about her now.
Two a.m. meant closing time. A few stragglers always remained, but Logan knew how to handle them. He was good at getting people to do what he wanted. Mostly because her manager could be intimidating as hell.
“You just like to play with fire, don’t you?” Logan asked as he walked her to the back door. The private exit.
“I have no idea what you mean.” Yes, she knew exactly what he meant.
“You know crazed Alice fans will want to get close to you. You’re supposed to stay out of sight when the place gets too packed.”
She reached up and patted his cheek. “But if I’m out of sight, then how are they going to rush back and tell their friends that they saw me?” She let her eyes widen. “Infamous little old me.” Infamous in certain circles. The crime-obsessed circles. “You know I always come out for a bit.” Working the bar let her take stock of everyone in her place, and, sometimes, people didn’t even realize who she was. At least, not until after they’d spilled their secrets to her.
Bartenders learn all the best secrets. Something she’d discovered years ago.
“The crime tour is starting to come this way,” he grumbled. “I saw a group out front, staring up at the building on my way in tonight as some guide rumbled on and on.”
She had to laugh. “You act like that’s a bad thing.” Alice pushed open the door. “Tourists just mean more money. Something you used to love.” Behind the building, her precious cherry-red convertible waited about twenty feet away.
“I still love money,” Logan assured her. “Money is my favorite thing in the entire world.”
Yes, she knew it was. Logan had grown up with nothing, just as she had, so when it came to acquiring wealth—and all the glorious trappings that came with that wealth—he was quite passionate. “Then why are you complaining?”
“Don’t you get tired of them all whispering about you?” The words seemed to explode from him. “I sure do!”
She shook her head. “I don’t care what they say. As long as they are coming in my place, giving me their money, they can whisper all they want.”
“Alice…” His phone beeped and vibrated. He yanked it out. Swore when he saw the screen. “Got to head back in. Marcel needs me at the front door.” But he lingered.
She sighed. “You’ve walked me to my car. Done your due diligence. I’m safe and sound. Go.” She motioned with her hands. “I’m fine.”
And he finally went. Grudgingly. Alice held her keys in one hand, and she waited until he’d disappeared inside, waited until the door had closed behind him and… “Is there a reason you’re hiding in the shadows?” she asked, pitching her voice to carry, but making sure she still sounded calm and relaxed. “Or do you just enjoy stalking women you’ve just met?” Her head turned to the right. Toward the darkness on the edge of her building.
Toward the man that she knew waited in the darkness.
There was a faint rustle of sound, and then she heard the soft pad of footsteps. Alice found herself holding her breath as he slowly emerged.
Big, bad, and wannabe dangerous. The man from the bar. Her old-fashioned customer. He walked from the shadows as if they were a part of him, and Alice had to admit that he could certainly create a dramatic scene.
She held her ground as he approached. Mostly because these days, Alice made it a point not to retreat from anyone or anything. After all, when you were the monster in the dark, what did you have to fear?
Only other monsters.
He smiled at her. She’d had lights installed over the back door, and those lights let her see his grin. Still as amazing as before. How wonderful for him. She truly did think that grin had opened all sorts of doors for him in life.
Meanwhile, doors had been slammed on her again and again. But not any longer. “Just so you know, in case this is one of those situations in which you think you will rob me or do something else…nefarious…” What a fun word that was. “You should know that you are on video right now. And if I want help to come running, all I have to do is press a little button on my keychain.” A security alert that would go straight to Logan.
But, obviously, she didn’t want Logan running to the scene right then. Otherwise, why would she have waited for this little talk? She’d known all along that her stranger was in the shadows. She’d heard the faint rustle of his step and saw the outline of his body the moment she’d exited the building.
His body was rather unforgettable.
He stepped even closer to her. So close that she could practically feel the heat emanating from him. He was big—even bigger than Logan by at least an inch or two—and his shoulders were wide and strong. Even in her heels, she had to tip her head back to stare up at him.
“Nefarious.” A shake of his head. “Why do you think I’m the bad guy?”
“Because you’re lurking in shadows. Because you stared at me with recognition in your eyes when we first met.” She easily clicked off the items on her list. “Because you didn’t come into Abracadabra by chance, and you’re not a crime groupie.”
“A crime groupie?”
“Um.” Annoyance flashed through her. “Don’t pretend. It’s a waste of my time. You know who I am.”
“You know what I am,” she added deliberately.
“The woman suspected of killing three men. A serial killer.”
That response gave her pause. “I’m not a serial killer.”
“Well, the definition of a serial killer is someone who has murdered multiple people in a rather predictable manner—”
Laughter spilled from her. Real laughter, despite the heaviness that so often pulled at her.
He jerked at the sound, as if he’d been caught off-guard.
She let the laughter linger because it felt good, and she enjoyed feeling good. Then she said, “There is nothing predictable about me.”
A nod. “I’m coming to see that.”
“I don’t think there is much that is predictable about you, either.” A point in his favor. “Because most men who want to fuck me don’t straight-up accuse me of being a serial killer. Sort of ruins the mood, if you know what I mean. Sure, they may think it, but to actually just say those words outright…” A shake of her head and she absolutely could not resist saying, “Mood killer.”
His lips twitched. Not a full smile, but definite amusement. For just a fleeting moment. “What makes you think I want to fuck you?”
She almost laughed again. Alice realized she hadn’t enjoyed this much fun in…hmm, she couldn’t remember when. Ages. “Seriously? I know lust when I see it in a man’s eyes. When you looked at me inside Abracadabra, let’s just say your gaze was blazing.”
His jaw hardened.
Well, well. Someone didn’t like being called out on his desire. Too bad.
“I guess you’re used to men wanting you,” he said, his voice a deep and dark, utterly delicious rumble that slid over her. “So you just assume we’re all the same.”
She would never make that fatal assumption.
“But I’m not here to fuck you, Alice.”
“No? Then what are you here to do?”
His hand lifted. She tensed, automatically, then wanted to curse herself. His fingers reached out and stroked her cheek. The caress was as gentle as a breath of wind on her skin. She could feel the calluses on the edges of his fingertips, but his touch was ever so careful. She even wanted to turn into his touch, as crazy as that—
“I’m here to take you down.” His voice was serious and a bit sad. And utterly, utterly certain.
So she did turn into his touch. She nuzzled a little against his hand and heard the swift inhalation of his breath. But Alice didn’t smile at his reaction. Now wasn’t the time for a smile. However, it was time for a little bit of truth with her mysterious stranger. Testing, she let her lips skim over his hand.
She saw him tense. Felt it.
His hand jerked back from her.
Alice lifted her chin. “You said that wrong.”
His hands were at his sides. The one she’d touched with her mouth? That hand had curled into a fist. So very telling. For a moment, she admired the dark swirls on his fist. His tats were interesting. Something she’d noticed while he’d drank his old-fashioned inside. The tats covered the back of his hands. Slid up his wrists. Did they go all the way up his arms? Hard to say since he was wearing that ancient-looking jacket.
Focus. Right. Because she needed to set this poor man straight. Alice let a little sigh slip from her. “What you meant was that you’re here to fall in love with me.”
“That’s damn well not what I meant.”
Alice stepped toward him. She put her hand on his chest.
“Lady, you are playing with fire,” he warned.
“I’m not playing.” His heart raced beneath her touch. “I don’t play. That’s probably the first thing you should learn about me.”
“I already learned plenty.”
Alice filed that revealing bit away for later. “You bust into my life and say that you’re here to take me down.”
“There is the little matter of three murders tied to you.”
She pressed up on her toes. She liked his mouth. Firm but sculpted lips. She liked his jaw, too. Hard and strong. There was a little cleft in his chin that she found delightful. It didn’t soften his fierce, handsome face, though. If anything, the faint cleft somehow made him seem sexier. His dark, thick hair had been shoved back from his forehead, and faint stubble covered his jaw. “You’re not a cop.”
“No. You don’t look like a cop, and you certainly don’t act like one.”
“You don’t know me. Don’t make assumptions.”
“Ah. I could say the same thing to you.” She was staring at his mouth. Definitely considering kissing him simply for the hell of it. “Damn.” Regretful. She began to ease off her toes and back down. “I know what you are.”
“And what am I?”
Obviously… “The bad guy.” Another sigh. More forlorn this time. “That’s the only kind of guy I’m attracted to.” She was most certainly attracted to him. “Sort of a talent I have. Some women go for men who bring them flowers and treat them to candlelight dinners. Me? I tend to get drawn to the men who are trouble.”
“Are you sure that you aren’t trouble?”
Oh, she was. “The worst kind of trouble,” Alice affirmed without hesitation. “Remember that about me and stay away, would you?”
“Why? If I don’t stay away, will I end up like your last three lovers?”
She didn’t flinch. Didn’t gasp. Didn’t put her hand to her heart dramatically as if those cutting words had just, well, cut her. Even though they had.
Deal with it. “End up like them?” She pondered that. Pretended to ponder it. “You mean enormously satisfied and ruined sexually for everyone else?”
A beat of silence. He cleared his throat. “No.” A rasp. “I meant dead.”
Oh, she just had to do this. The man was entirely too tempting. Once more, Alice shot up onto her toes. This time, she also curled her hands around his shoulders so that she could tug him down to meet her. He was a big one, after all. She had to pull him close. When she had him in position, her mouth moved toward his left ear. “What makes you think those men were my last three lovers?”
Ah, had he felt the brief lick of her tongue over the shell of his ear?
“You’re so wrong,” she told him huskily. About many things. Not that he’d discover her secrets.
No one ever did.
He’d tensed against her. She could feel the tightness in his shoulders and because she was wicked and being wicked could be fun, Alice lightly licked the edge of his ear once more.
He hissed out a breath. His hands flew out and curled around her waist. Fast. Tight. Strong. He—
“There a problem out here?” Logan’s hard voice.
She almost jolted in surprise. Almost. Such a near thing.
When had Logan come outside? She didn’t remember hearing the back door open, yet she could now clearly discern the rush of his steps toward them.
“Alice?” Logan called.
She eased back, but the man before her didn’t release his grip on her waist. “No problem,” she said without looking away from his deep, dark eyes.
Logan rushed closer. “Get your hands off her, asshole!”
But the grip on her didn’t ease.
So her stranger wasn’t intimidated by Logan. Something else to remember. She tilted her head toward Mr. Dangerously Sexy. “Take your hands off me.”
Immediately, his hands dropped. “For the record,” he murmured. “You put yours on me first.”
Had she? She distinctly remembered him touching her cheek. But, then, yes, she might have been a bit touchy after that.
“You can touch me anytime, Alice. As long as, you know, you aren’t touching me with the intent to kill.”
Her lips pressed together.
“Is that shit supposed to be funny?” Logan locked a hand on the stranger’s shoulder and heaved him back. “Bastard, get the hell out of—”
“Name,” Alice said, voice flat. Because she wanted a name. Needed it.
His eyes were still on her, and he didn’t seem to notice Logan at all. “Call me Saint.”
He had to be joking. “Sinner,” she called instead. Because she was well acquainted with sin, and, staring at him, she knew this man was, too.
Like called to like. Darkness to darkness. Alice knew she carried a strong darkness inside of herself. There was no use denying that stark truth. Or denying the fact that she was drawn to this man.
Like to like.
Together, they might be incredible. Her attraction to him was off-the-charts electric. They could burn down a bed.
Or burn up the world. Because…he was dangerous. Not a wannabe as she’d first charged. But the very real deal. She knew it, deep inside.
Yes, they might be incredible together. Or they could just be another nightmare.
She already had enough nightmares and wasn’t particularly in the mood to have more. “I would like to say that meeting you has been a pleasure.” A careful exhale. “It hasn’t. I hope our paths do not cross again.” Brisk now, she turned on her heel and headed for the waiting car.
“They will.” A drawl from…Saint.
She glanced over her shoulder.
“Our paths are definitely going to cross again. Count on it.” A pause. “And as far as I’m concerned, it was a definite pleasure. I’ll be seeing you soon.” With that, he sauntered away. Whistling. The man actually whistled as he strode into the darkness, as if he didn’t have a care in the world.
How wonderful for him.
She stood beside her car, gripping her keys too tightly, until she could no longer hear the pad of his footsteps or the sound of that too cheery whistling.
Logan edged closer to her. “Want me to give orders that he isn’t ever to be allowed in your place again?” Low, barely a breath.
Alice considered that option, and, for the moment, discarded it. “Dig into his life. I want to know everything possible about Saint.”
“Good, bad, and all the stuff in between?” Mocking.
“Something tells me there will be plenty of bad.” Stuff that she could potentially use against Saint, should he become a problem.
He already is a problem.
Still, she’d always believed in the old adage to…know thy enemy. Know him but try not to fuck him. No matter how incredibly tempting he may just be.
She stood on the edge of the ravine, with her heart racing so hard that it shook her chest. Her breath heaved in and out, and her whole body shuddered. She forced herself to look over that edge, to inch just a bit closer.
Her tennis shoes hit a few loose rocks and sent them crashing down below. She peeked over the edge, looking for him. He had to be down there, and he—
A hand flew up and locked around her ankle. He grabbed her and she fell forward, tumbling down, down—
Alice fell out of the damn bed. She hit the floor hard and cursed. Sweat covered her body. The stupid dream. It would never stop haunting her.
The covers had fallen with her and twisted around her body. Alice shoved them aside and climbed to her feet. Faint rays of light trickled through her curtains, and she knew there was no point in trying to sleep more.
She’d get dressed. Go for a run.
There are some things you can’t run from. But you could sure as hell try.
In moments, Alice had on her jogging shorts, her sports bra, and her sneakers. She slipped from her house, made it down to the street, then immediately took a right.
Five minutes later, Alice realized she was being followed.
No, not followed. Stalked.
The day had not gotten off to the best start…