“Okay, you’re going to be pissed, but you need help.”
Piper Lane glanced up from her spot on the floor. She’d been meticulously cleaning the wreckage left in her home. The cops had finally given her the all clear to go back inside and actually touch things again, and she’d just wanted to get the place back in shape.
But at her best friend’s words, a cold knot formed in her stomach. “The cops are helping me, Ben. They searched for prints, they collected evidence, and they’re even going to send some patrols around the neighborhood to keep an eye on things.”
Ben’s handsome face tensed. “You need more help than that, and you know it. This is the second time you’ve been targeted. This isn’t just some break-in bullshit. And if you’d come to me the first time this happened—”
She rose to her feet. “I don’t come running to you every time something bad happens in my life.”
His blue eyes widened. “Why the hell not? That’s what best friends are for! I watch your sexy ass and you watch mine!”
Okay, granted, Ben did have a sexy ass. The scrawny kid she’d known as a child had turned into a drop-dead gorgeous guy. They’d been each other’s shadows ever since they’d met in Pre-K. He’d been trying to eat glue, and she’d shown him the error of his ways. Since that moment, they’d been inseparable all through school. Ben knew most of her secrets, he could tell when she was lying, and generally, he was her rock.
She hadn’t gone to him with this particular problem, though, because…
A knock sounded at her door.
Piper squeezed her eyes shut. “For the love of God and pugs, please tell me that isn’t who I think it is.”
Ben sighed, a long and not-sorry sound. “I had to call him. It’s his thing.”
Her eyes cracked open in time to see Ben turn away and stride toward the front door. Every muscle in her body locked down when he curled his fingers around the doorknob. The last forty-eight hours had been hell for Piper. She’d gotten back in town to find her home absolutely trashed. The cops had told her to stay out of the place while they conducted their investigation, so she’d been moved to a local motel with just the clothes on her back. Then she’d been told that the cops had pretty much turned up nothing.
And now…now this.
She rushed across the room. “Calling him was a mistake—”
Too late. She’d collided with Ben’s broad back, and he’d just opened the door. And her nemesis filled the doorway.
Eric freaking Wilde. All six-foot-three inches of trouble. Even taller than Ben, even wider in the shoulders, and, damn him…even sexier. Not that she would have ever told Eric that fact. The guy was smug enough as it was.
He wore tailored slacks, a white button-down, and a black tie that hung loosely around his neck. A stylish, black coat clung to his powerful shoulders. His eyes—not blue like Ben’s but a dark, dark brown—immediately found her as she stood there, gaping at him. No, correction, glaring. A faint smile curved his lips as he held her stare. A smile, that, if anything, looked like a smirk on his sensual mouth.
“What’s the big emergency?” Eric demanded. His eyes narrowed on her as she clutched Ben’s arm. “What was such a big deal that I had to rush right over with no explanation?”
Eric hadn’t seen the rest of her place. Actually, he probably hadn’t seen any of it. She and Ben were blocking the entrance. Maybe there was still time to get Eric out of her home before it was too late. “Uh…” Piper began as her hand dropped down and clutched tightly to Ben’s.
Eric’s gaze fell to their now joined hands. His jaw hardened. “You two finally making things official?” His already deep voice turned into a growl. “That what this is about? You wanted me to come over so you could tell me in person that you’re getting married?”
Getting what? Piper looked at Ben. Ben looked at Piper. And then her best friend in the entire world said—
Piper felt her cheeks burn. Way to be subtle.
Ben shook his head. “Piper has a problem, bro. One that is scaring the hell out of me.” Ben’s voice was dead serious. He used his hold on Piper’s hand to pull her from the doorway. “Take a look for yourself.”
Eric’s hard gaze slid around her den. “What the fuck?” He stepped into the house, moving out of the doorway, and he slammed the door shut behind him.
She winced at the loud bang.
“Who did this?” Eric demanded. She knew his burning stare had taken in everything. The slashed couch cushions. The shattered picture frames. The broken vases. The smashed TV.
“If we knew,” Ben fired right back, “then I wouldn’t have called you!”
Piper wrapped her arms around her stomach. “This is a breaking and entering case. The cops said things like this—unfortunately—happen too often in Atlanta.” Her voice came out nice and steady, a good sign. She needed to appear in control. “This isn’t the type of case that you handle, Eric. You’re into corporate security and celebrity protection bits.” The rich and famous. “Ben didn’t need to call you. It’s nothing.”
But Eric stalked toward her with his slow, lethal grace. He moved silently. He always did. She’d never quite figured out how a man so big could move without making a whisper of sound.
He stopped right in front of her. She tipped back her head so that she could meet his dark stare.
“Someone broke into your home. Someone destroyed your things.” A muscle jerked along his rock-hard jaw. A jaw that was covered with just the faintest of five o’clock shadows. “That isn’t nothing. It’s something very big to me.”
“And to me!” Ben piped up. “That’s why I had to call you. The cops did their routine, but they turned up nothing, and seeing as how this is the second time that—”
Eric held up one hand. “Second time?” His gaze never left Piper’s face.
“Uh, yeah.” Ben cleared his throat. “This is the second time someone has broken into her place. The first time was about a month ago, when she was out of town on another business trip. The place wasn’t destroyed, though, and the cops barely glanced anywhere then.” Now he shot Piper his disapproving frown. “Not that I knew about that incident at the time, since Piper has apparently decided to start keeping secrets from her best friend.”
Seriously? “It wasn’t a secret. You were busy back then.” A big case at his firm. “And I didn’t think it was a big deal. I handled it.”
“Handled it?” Eric’s voice was low and lethal.
He’d always done that. Gotten quiet when he was at his most dangerous. Other people yelled. Their faces turned red. Not Eric. Oh, sure, he was angry, she could see the fury hardening his gaze. And that quiet, gravelly voice…Crap, he’s pissed.
Piper squared her shoulders. “You didn’t need to come here,” she whispered.
“I should have been here a month ago,” he rasped right back. “What did the bastard do when he broke in then?”
She shivered. “It was…a few things were just re-arranged. Some photos. Some stuff in my bedroom.” And she was flushing again. Jeez. When she’d called the cops about that break-in, they’d looked at her as if she was crazy. The uniforms had suggested that maybe she’d been the one to rearrange things and that Piper had just forgotten that she’d moved the items.
They’d blown her off.
When they’d seen all the destruction left in her home this time, though, their response had been different.
“What stuff in your bedroom?” Eric’s gaze held her in place.
She swallowed and cast an anxious glance Ben’s way. Ben. The traitor. He knew she hadn’t wanted to involve Eric. Didn’t she go out of her way to avoid Ben’s too-fierce older brother? The guy made her nervous. Edgy. Always had.
The way Eric said her name sent a shiver over her. And she didn’t even know if it was the good or bad kind of shiver.
“Don’t look at Ben,” Eric told her, voice rumbling. “Look at me. Talk to me.”
Huffing out a breath, she brought her gaze back to him. “My underwear, okay? It was moved around. So was the stuff in my nightgown drawer. I swear, someone was in my bedroom, and it creeped me out. But the cops couldn’t find any evidence back then.”
“They didn’t find jack this time, either,” Ben muttered. “Said the place was wiped down.”
“This isn’t your kind of job,” she told Eric as her spine remained perfectly straight. “There was no need for Ben to bother you about this. I’m sorry you came here and wasted your time.”
Eric gave a slow shake of his dark head. His thick hair slid back from his forehead. “This is my job. And you are never a bother or a waste of time to me.”
What? “Since when?” The words just kind of blurted out of her, but her normal self-control was gone. It had been blasted away by the stress of the last forty-eight hours. To know that someone had come into her home again. That someone had destroyed all of her belongings. She felt violated and angry and scared, and she was trying hard to hold herself together. But…bam. Now Eric was here.
And her self-control had never been at its best when he was around.
No one could make her angrier than Eric.
No one could make her feel more vulnerable.
And…deep, dark secret…no one had ever made her want more than him.
But the desire did not go both ways. He barely tolerated her most days, and on the other days, Eric just stayed the hell away from her. It was how their relationship worked. Or, didn’t work.
“I’ll find him. I’ll figure out who did this. You don’t have to worry.” Eric gave a determined nod.
Her jaw pretty much hit the floor. “I can’t afford you!” A hard truth. “I just started my business a few months ago. The gallery is up and barely running, and I’ve put all of my money into it. I-I know how much you charge your clients, and I just can’t pay—”
“Fuck the payment. I’m doing this for you.” His eyes glittered.
Once more, her gaze shot to Ben.
“Why do you do that?” Eric’s voice had dropped even more. Turned into a low whisper that she didn’t think Ben could hear. Eric had closed in on her, moving so silently. “Why always look to him even when I’m standing right in front of you?”
Her heart seemed to jerk in her chest. Just that fast—her stare whipped back to him. This time, she didn’t look away. She couldn’t. And the way he was staring at her…
So much intensity. So much heat.
Eric’s hand lifted and touched her cheek. “You’re coming home with me.”
Ben made a choking sound. “Whoa! Hold up.” And, in a flash, he was there, grabbing Eric’s arm and pulling him away from Piper. “Look, we all know how you can shift into overprotective mode. Especially where Piper is concerned.”
Especially where Piper is concerned. Um, since when? And she certainly didn’t know that interesting little tidbit about Eric. She generally thought he just shifted into annoyed mode.
“But slow your roll.” Ben flashed his killer smile. The one what showcased his matching dimples. Eric didn’t have dimples. He had a hard slash in his right cheek. One that came out on the very rare occasions when he gave a full, mouth-stretching smile. “We all need to take a breath, okay?”’
Piper sucked in about four breaths.
“Eric, I called you because I wanted your expertise. Piper obviously needs a new security system installed at this place. I thought you could help. Thought you could point us in the right direction.” Ben shrugged. “I didn’t call you here so that you could carry Piper away!” He gave a laugh.
Eric was still staring at her, and he wasn’t laughing. “That’s exactly what I’m going to do. Time’s up, bro.”
“I think I’m lost,” Piper muttered. Her temples were throbbing. She lifted a hand and rubbed at her right temple. “Look, it’s been a long day. Long week. Long month. I appreciate you coming over, Eric, and, yes, I do need some advice on a new security system.” Advice would be great. Fabulous.
“I’ll get a member of my team to install an upgraded system immediately. Until then, grab a bag because you’re coming with me.”
That was the thing with Eric. The guy could be so incredibly bossy. Yes, he ran a huge company. And, yes, he was the boss man there. But right then…Piper just sighed. “I know the word please has to be in your vocabulary, somewhere. I mean, I’ve met your parents. They’re great people, and I know they taught you manners.” She pointed to Ben. “He says please. And thank you. And he acts courteous and gentlemanly, and—”
A low growl came from Eric. “Ben’s the charmer. We all know that shit.” Eric took a step toward her. A ripple of muscle. A glide of sensual movement. Why did she always notice that stuff about him? Voice rumbling, he continued grimly, “But you don’t need charm right now. You need someone who can kick ass. That’s what I do. I eliminate threats. I make problems go away. You have a problem, so I will make it vanish.”
“Out of the goodness of your heart?” Her head tilted. No, she wasn’t buying that bit. Any goodness Eric had inside had never been directed at her.
“I’ll do it because you’re in danger, and you know it.”
Her body iced. She did know it.
“You’re trying to bluff and act like you’re tough, but you’re scared. Ben knows it, he can see past your lie. That’s why he called me. I can see past the lie, too. You look at what this SOB did to your place, you look at the rage, and you’re afraid.”
Yes, she was. And she was trying to act tough, but so what? A woman had to keep her shit together in this world.
“The fact that someone was here before, that someone fucking messed with your underwear…” Eric’s hands clenched and unclenched at his sides. “I’ve seen situations like this get bad, fast.”
She cleared her throat. “The cops said there was no way to know if it was the same intruder—”
Eric just gave a hard shake of his head. “If you’ve got a stalker, if you’ve got some jerk who’s obsessed with you, he’s accelerating. Accelerating leads to bolder acts. And it can lead to physical attacks.”
Something she already feared. Was this the time to tell him that there had been a few instances when she could have sworn someone was following her? She’d told the cops, right after the first break-in, and they’d just nodded. Nodded and said that without any evidence, they couldn’t do a thing. They’d advised her to start taking a different route home from work. Told her to vary her walking routines. She had and the feeling of being watched, followed, had just persisted.
“Piper.” Eric’s eyes assessed her. “What is it?”
Ben edged closer. “Tell him or I will.”
Back off, Ben. She’d confided this detail to him earlier, and he’d gone all nuclear on her. “I…thought that maybe someone was following me home from the gallery. Once or twice.” More than that. “Actually, a few times. But whenever I look back, no one is ever there.” Piper forced a shrug. “I’m probably just being jumpy.”
Very slowly, Eric turned his head toward Ben. “You should have called me right away.”
“Look, I only found out all the details after the second break-in! And she didn’t want me to contact you, okay? I had to do it behind her back. You know how Piper gets about you! Shit, you make her nervous. Always have.”
She backed up a step. “She is here. And like I said before, this case isn’t what you usually handle, Eric. I got a new security system after the first break-in. I started making sure I left the gallery before dark. I took precautions.”
Eric glanced around her place. “But he just got past the new system.” He glowered. “You should have called me. My team could have installed it.”
Right, yes, she got that he thought she’d made a mistake. “Would’ve, could’ve, should’ve, all right? But, look, dammit, the problem was that the alarm didn’t even go off,” she muttered. So much for the grand she’d paid having the system installed.
“You can’t stay here until an updated system is in place. My system.” Eric rolled back his shoulders. “So pack a bag. It’s getting late, and you look dead on your feet.”
Piper winced. “You always say the nicest things.” She tugged at the edge of her shirt.
He blinked and cocked his head to the side. “Sorry. Should I have said…You look fucking gorgeous, but you’re too pale, and I just saw you tremble so I want to get you the hell out of here? Would that work better for you?”
Her lips parted. She started to look at Ben—
Eric moved to the side, blocking her gaze. Forcing her to stare straight at him instead. “We’re going to break that habit.”
He’d lost her. “What are you even talking about?”
Eric smiled. A slow, lip-stretching smile that let her see the slash in his cheek.
A secret about his lip-stretching smile…it usually made her toes curl. And despite everything, her toes curled in her sneakers.
“Will you please get a bag ready, Piper?” Eric asked her.
Holy shit, he’d just said please.
“I’ll do it,” Ben announced helpfully. “And you can come home with me, Piper. I told you that already. Not like you haven’t slept over at my place plenty of times. I don’t know why you wouldn’t stay last night.” His feet padded over the floor as he headed toward her bedroom.
Eric seemed to have turned to stone. He stared at her. Just stared.
“Uh, Eric?” She almost waved her hand in front of his face.
He swallowed. His nostrils flared. Then he gave a nod. “You can stay with me. I’ve got plenty of room.”
“I-I stayed in a motel last night.”
“A no-tell-motel,” Ben called out cheerfully—probably from her bedroom. “That place was creepy as hell. No way are you staying there again! I told you that already.”
At Ben’s shout, Eric turned on his heel and stalked down the hallway. Piper scrambled to keep up with him. As soon as they entered her bedroom, he stopped cold.
It was even more of a nightmare in there. Her mattress had been cut over and over, slashed. Her underwear was on the floor. Her jewelry box had been broken. Her clothes taken out of the closet. Some had been sliced, some thrown across the room.
“Sonofabitch.” Eric’s voice was a hard snarl of fury.
“The cops just left it this way.” Ben shook his head as he bent to grab a pair of yoga pants from the floor. “Can you believe that?”
“They don’t do clean-up.” Each word from Eric seemed gritted out. “Just leave that stuff. We’ll get her new things.” He glanced toward Piper. “Those clothes are ruined.”
Some of them could be saved, she was sure of it.
“I will take care of it,” Eric promised her. “Consider it done already. You don’t need to worry.”
Weariness pulled at her. “It’s so weird when you’re nice. It creeps me out.”
His lips twitched.
But then he looked around at her bedroom, and the faint amusement vanished instantly. “We’re going home.” He took her hand in his.
She tried not to jerk or flinch or give any sign that an electric current of heat had just shot through her fingers. That usually happened when he touched her. She got a bolt of sensual awareness. A bolt that made her heart quicken and her breath pant and her whole body tingle.
“Hey, wait! She can stay with me!” Ben bounded toward them, frowning. “I called you for your security expertise, but you don’t need to take Piper home with you. I’ve got her.”
“Not this time.”
A furrow appeared between Ben’s brows.
“Piper.” Eric nodded toward her. “Can I speak with my brother for a moment? Alone?”
Seriously? “You want me to walk out of my bedroom so that you two can talk?” He wanted to kick her out of her own room?
“That would be great. Thank you,” Eric added, as if he were trying to remember his manners.
She gaped for a moment. Unbelievable. Piper spun on her heel. Marched out.
The door clicked shut behind her.
The scent of lavender lingered in the air even after Piper left. Eric stood there a moment, every muscle in his body rock hard with tension. Rage surged inside of him, struggling to get out. When he thought about what had happened to Piper, to what the bastard had done to her things, about what the bastard could have done to Piper if she’d been there when he’d broken into her house—
Ben’s hand clamped around his shoulder. “She isn’t going home with you. Thanks for the help, I know you can get her the best security system, but I’ll take her back with me. I’ll—ow!”
Eric had grabbed his brother’s hand. Grabbed his brother. And shoved Ben back against the door.
A sharp knock sounded. “Hey!” Piper’s voice. “Everything okay in there?”
Ben stared at him with wide eyes.
“Fine!” Eric called back. “Just straightening a few things out.” Some shit that should have been straightened out long ago.
“Are you crazy?” Ben whispered. “Like, I swear, I feared this day would come. All that work and no playtime routine that you have is not the way a human should live. Knew you were burning out your fuse.”
“I thought you were fucking going to marry her.”
Ben’s eyes widened even more, nearly doubling in size. “Who?”
Don’t kill your little brother. Don’t kill him. “Piper.” Eric’s voice was low, meant only for Ben.
Shock flashed on Ben’s face. “Why the hell would you think that?”
“Because you two have been inseparable for years. Because she sleeps over at your house ‘all the time.’ Because you know practically every secret that she has, and she knows yours.” He was clenching his back teeth. “I kept waiting for the day when you broke the news. Then you gave me the mystery call today. Told me I had to get to Piper’s, ASAP. That you had something you needed to tell me.” He’d heard all of that, and he’d nearly gone insane.
Because I want Piper. He always had, dammit. Only he hadn’t realized how completely, totally lost he was…until the moment came when he thought his brother was claiming her, forever.
“Uh, yeah, we’re not getting married.” Ben looked down at the hand Eric had slammed into his chest. “And you can get your hand off me, too.”
“You just going to keep screwing around with her?” Hell, no. Eric shook his head. With his free hand, he flipped the lock on the door. “Fuck, no. The rules are changing.”
Ben’s mouth opened. Closed. Opened. The guy looked like a fish who’d been yanked out of the water. Then he finally mumbled, “I…haven’t.”
The words were so low that Eric almost missed them. “Come again?”
“I…I don’t know where you got the idea, but Piper and I…we’ve never screwed around. She’s my best friend.”
The thunder of Eric’s heartbeat seemed very, very loud. Too loud. “She was your first.”
“What in the fuck?” Ben’s voice wasn’t low now. It was a yell.
Piper’s footsteps rushed toward the closed door. “What is happening in there?”
“My brother is being crazy! And delusional!” Ben shouted. “That’s what’s happening.”
No, he wasn’t crazy. But Eric was tired of sitting back and not taking what he wanted. He’d had a serious wake-up call. If he didn’t act, he would lose Piper.
“She’s in danger,” Eric snapped. “You know it or you wouldn’t have called me. I can protect her in ways you never can. If some asshole is following her, if she’s got a stalker, I will eliminate the threat. She needs me now.” Me, not you.
It was Eric’s turn. And he wasn’t going to screw this up. Ben couldn’t fix this problem for Piper, but Eric could. He would.
Ben’s face showed his frustration. “She doesn’t even like you.”
An unfortunate situation he’d fix, hopefully. “I can keep her safe. My place is freaking Fort Knox, and you know it. Until we see exactly what we’re dealing with, I need her with me.”
Ben searched his gaze.
The door rattled behind him. “Did you lock the door?” Piper demanded. “Did you lock me out of my own bedroom?”
“Don’t you hurt her,” Ben rasped.
“I never would.”
Ben held his gaze a moment longer, then, finally, nodded.
Eric dropped his hand and stepped back. Ben began to move forward, but at the same instant, the door flew open. He stumbled when the door hit him in the back.
“I unlocked it from the outside!” Piper announced triumphantly. “Now what in the hell is going on?”
Ben raked a hand through his hair. “I want you to stay at Eric’s tonight.”
She bit her lower lip. “I have a motel room, and it’s not really about what you want.”
No, it wasn’t. This was all about Piper. Hell, it had always been about Piper. “I don’t want to scare you anymore than you already are,” Eric began carefully.
Her long lashes flickered. She glanced at him, hitting him with the direct impact of her amazing eyes. Gold and gorgeous. Golden eyes, golden skin, and silky, golden hair that fell just below her chin.
“The cops are overworked and understaffed.” A sad truth. “And if there wasn’t evidence left behind, if this guy covered his tracks and didn’t leave prints, but still left a wake of destruction, you know that’s bad news.”
She tugged on her left ear. Ever since she’d been a kid, she’d done that exact move whenever she was afraid. The first time he’d seen her do it, she’d been nine. Some asshole punk had been standing over her, yelling at Piper that he wanted her lunch money.
So Eric had tackled the kid.
Piper had gone skipping away with Ben. But later, she’d used her lunch money to buy Eric a thank you ice cream. Chocolate, his favorite. Because Piper always seemed to know what he liked.
Except when it came to one area in particular…
“I have four freaking guest rooms,” he growled when she tugged on her ear again. “Not like I’m asking you to share my bed.”
She gave him a look of such utter horror…
Eric’s back teeth clenched.
“It’s a good idea, Piper,” Ben said, voice grudging.
Her full lips parted.
“Not the sharing his bed part,” Ben rushed to add. “Dear God, never that. Hell, no.”
He should punch the bastard. Blood relation or not.
“But he does have plenty of room and the best security.” Ben raked a hand through his hair. “And I’m worried or I never would have called him in the first place. You’re worried, too. If some freak is out there, watching you, do you really want to be alone in some cheap motel with a flimsy lock?”
Piper shook her head. “No, no, I don’t.” She squared her delicate shoulders as her gaze lingered on Eric. “But how long are we talking here? I don’t want to inconvenience you.”
She would never be an inconvenience.
“And what would your girlfriend think about me staying at your place?”
“What girlfriend?” Ben burst out with a laugh before Eric could respond. “You know he’s a flavor-of-the-week kind of guy. He has sex with them, then he moves on.”
Eric was going to kill his brother. Murder him and hide the body so well that no one would ever find the remains. “That’s not what I fucking do.” Was that what Piper thought he was like? Well, shit, what kind of trash had his kid brother told her over the years?
“I-I don’t want to know about your sex life.” Piper’s cheeks turned a soft pink. “No need to overshare.”
She did need to know about it. Just as he sure as hell wanted to know about hers. “Is there a lover who is going to come looking for you?”
If she looked at Ben…
But Piper kept her gaze on Eric. “I’m not involved with anyone right now.”
Hell, yes. “Perfect.” He didn’t need to kick anyone’s ass. Because a lover should sure as shit be there keeping her safe.
But Piper frowned at his response.
Oh, wait, had he spoken with too much satisfaction? He’d have to be more careful. Eric sauntered forward and took her hand. “I’ll have a crew over here first thing in the morning. For now, come with me and get some rest. You’re dead on your feet.”
And, wonder of wonders, Piper gave a nod. “Okay. Thank you.”
He realized just how terrified she must be. Because Piper never gave in on anything.
Ben’s hand clamped around his shoulder. “I’ll lock up here.”
Eric glanced at his brother.
Ben’s bright gaze was suspicious. “And you will take care of her? You’ll be on your best behavior?”
What was he? Six? Best behavior, his ass. “I’ve got her.” A brisk nod. Eric tightened his hold on Piper and led her out of the house. Darkness reigned outside. No stars glittered overhead because heavy clouds had moved in. A dank cold settled around them, and when Piper shivered, he immediately shouldered off his coat and put it around her shoulders.
She started to head for her car.
“Let me take you.”
Frowning, she peered at him. “I need my own wheels.”
He was being far too cautious, he knew it, but…this was Piper. “I want a member of my team to go over your ride.” He cast a quick glance at the red convertible. “Do a sweep on it, make sure everything is okay.” He was trying not to scare her, but he also didn’t want to take any chances.
“What is it that you think is wrong with my car?” She bit her lower lip as she waited for his response.
Such a delectable lip.
“If you feel like you’ve been followed, maybe someone is keeping tabs on you. Wouldn’t be hard to hide a device on your vehicle, one that would transmit GPS coordinates back to the SOB who put it there. Everywhere you went, he’d know about it.” A pause. “You said you were out of town when both break-ins occurred.”
“Did you drive out of town? Or fly?”
“Drove. Both times.”
“So maybe he knew you were out of town because he’d been watching your house.” His gaze darted down the dark street. “Or because he was tracking your car. Either way, I’d feel better leaving it here. No sense taking chances.”
“Dammit, I hate this.”
His body brushed against hers. “I will protect you. I swear it.” God, he wanted to kiss her. To drop his mouth to hers and taste her. But he was trying to show her that she needed him. He had to play this right. Step back.
His car waited in front of her driveway, and he opened the passenger side door for her. Her body slid against his, the scent of lavender teased him, and Eric pulled in a deep breath.
When she was settled into the seat, Piper glanced up at him. The interior light from the vehicle shone down on her, giving him a perfect view of her. High cheekbones. Slightly pointed chin—the stubborn chin that always notched up when she got angry with him. Her full, red lips. Her incredible eyes. Eyes that appeared…worried.
“Eric, you don’t think someone is watching me right now, do you?”
He stiffened. Then he forced a smile. “You’re safe with me, Piper. Just remember that.” He shut her door and walked around the car, and as he did, his gaze cut toward the darkness.
Was someone watching Piper?
Was someone planning to hurt her?
If so…Eric would fucking destroy the bastard.