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Authors: Killer Thoughts

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BOOK: Marie Harte - [PowerUp! 08]
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“That’s new.” Ian pointed to one particular piece in the corner,
Coyote Dreams.

“Yes. It’s a Dane Hanson original.” Dane’s work had recently taken the art world by storm. In a few years, the piece would easily be worth three times what Owen had paid for it. Yet Owen had bought it because he liked it.

Ian grinned. “Does Kitty know you have her new boy toy’s artwork in your house? Does Dane?” Just a few short months ago, Kitty and Dane had worked a case that involved a cursed statue and Owen’s ex-girlfriend. A woman who’d done her best to kill Owen while Ian had watched from the closet, yet she’d ended up dead instead.

“They will at the Christmas party this year. Heather convinced me to have it here.” Owen shrugged. For his sister, he’d do anything. To include keeping her safe and away from him. Thank God she had Jack. Owen didn’t worry so much with that hulking brute to watch over her.

“I still don’t understand what Heather sees in Jack. I mean, I get the muscle and the tough-guy thing he’s got going on. But she’s so nice.” Ian shook his head and gave Owen a sour look. “Not like you at all.”

“Ian, behave.” Owen saw Tim try to hide a grin before the big man walked past them to the kitchen.

“Lunch is waiting for you on the table, sir.”

Owen sighed. “You can call me Owen, you know.”

“Yes, sir.” Tim disappeared.

Ian smirked. “If you didn’t have that lord-of-the-manor attitude, I’m sure your staff would be friendlier.”

“I don’t see you calling me sir.”

Ian stopped moving, propped his hands on his hips, and glared. “I’m not part of your staff.”

Owen drew closer, invading Ian’s personal space. To his gratification, Ian swallowed audibly. A nice show of nerves. “You could be, Ian. I’d love to hire you to work me.”

“You mean work
for
you.” Ian’s gaze dropped to Owen’s mouth.

Owen had been waiting for months to make his move, and now that he had Ian at his beck and call, for however long it took to finish this Kerr business, he’d indulge. Hell, he’d more than earned it. Keeping his distance from the handsome con man had been difficult at best. When Owen found something he wanted, he didn’t stop until he got it. And he wanted Ian. Badly. Owen raised a hand and pushed Ian’s long bangs off his forehead so he could see into those beautiful blue eyes.

“Yes, you’d work me hard, wouldn’t you?” he murmured, pleased to see Ian lick his lips, his eyes glazed over with lust. Owen smiled, dropped his hand, and stepped back. “I mean, you’d work hard
for
me. Now let’s get some lunch, and I’ll fill you in on where we stand.”

He thought he heard Ian swear behind him. Good. Ian wasn’t unaffected. As it was, it took Owen a moment to calm his raging hormones. Being so close to Ian, inhaling the sexy cologne he wore, gave Owen the hard-on from hell.

To his relief, he entered the kitchen without an erection and found the large marble table laid out with a full lunch. Cold cuts, sandwich rolls, a pasta salad, fruit, and glasses filled with tea had been arranged to perfection. He loved Beverly. The older woman cooked like a dream. She’d been with the family since before his parents died, nearly seventeen years ago, and she kept getting better with age.

“Pays to have money,” Ian said and sat down without being asked. He filled his plate with food and commenced to eating, not waiting on Owen. “So what now, Your Highness?” he said between bites. “Damn. This is good ham.”

Owen sat and watched his future lover wolfing down lunch. “Good. You need to eat more.”

“Feed me like this, and we won’t have a problem.”

Ian grinned, and a face that could have made a fortune in magazines brightened up the room. Then that grin faded. “You know, this great lunch aside, we need to be real about what you need from me. It’s not that I don’t want to help you. But I’ve done all I can. If my sources can’t find it, it can’t be found.”

“But you did find it. Or rather, him.”

“Come again?”

I’d like to come between those full lips the first time. Then in your tight ass after
. Owen frowned, annoyed to let Ian distract him with thoughts of sex. But really, Owen had a right to fantasize. Ian had no lack of male attention. His looks saw to the initial attraction, while his charm kept them coming back for more.

“Uh, Owen? What? Do I have mustard on my face or something?”

The flush on Ian’s cheeks told Owen he knew what Owen wanted. But he wanted to pretend otherwise. Fine. Owen would let it stand for now, considering he’d wanted to talk about Kerr in the first place.

He concentrated on business. “The pattern you thought you saw last week. Tell me again what struck you.”

Ian shrugged. “Something in those newspaper articles linked for me. I don’t know. They didn’t seem related, but those deaths connected. All five businessmen had their throats slit. They were each involved in illegal arms, small-time, but still. All of them in northern states. Not too far-fetched, but it struck a bell. The Canadian ties really clued me in. When you put that together with their financial backers buried under a lot of paperwork and false trails, all of which led them back to northwestern-based companies, I don’t know. It seemed like that’s what you were looking for. Made sense to me.”

“It did. Does.” Owen helped himself to a sandwich, hungrier than he’d thought. He glanced to his right and peered out the window. Overlooking the guesthouse where the Knox brothers, his personal security, lived, the majestic Cascade Mountains stood like sentries, clear against a crisp blue sky. He wanted to go running or maybe take a day hike. But duty called.

“How so?” Ian asked and started on a second sandwich.

Pleased to see the man eat more, Owen explained. “I don’t know if you’re familiar with my history.”

“You mean, besides you mysteriously killing Linda Cavendish?”

His ex-girlfriend and a woman sent to plague him by none other than Carl fucking Kerr. Owen ignored the reference to Linda’s death. “Years ago, my family had a loose tie with Jacob Kerr, founder of what used to be known as JHC Industries.”

Ian’s eyes narrowed. “Now known as Precision Tech. A Stallbridge concern.”

“Yes.” Ian had done his homework. He reminded himself not to underestimate the man again. “What you don’t know is we didn’t just buy out the company. My father threatened to go to the police and tell them exactly what Jacob had been up to if he didn’t sell to my father. Making guns for the military was one thing; selling them to unfriendly foreigners with a lot of money was another. Jacob sold the company back to us, then killed my parents.”

Ian stared, wide-eyed. “Really? So that business about an unfortunate plane mishap was made-up?”

Owen nodded. “I thought it best to keep quiet. My father had warned me there might be trouble. And there was.”

“You were what? Seventeen, eighteen at the time?”

“Yes. Just out of high school.” Owen smiled, but not with joy. Remembering how he’d handled the Kerrs gave him a savage sense of pleasure. His sister had always known she could heal. But none of them had known what Owen could do, not until he’d been pushed. “I refused to sell the company back to Jacob. Then he had an unfortunate aneurism and died. Jacob’s sons, Henry and Carl, naturally came after me.”

“The battles between your companies made headlines for years. Back when the Kerrs were legit, that is.”

Owen nodded, not surprised Ian would keep abreast of the company’s history. Since working with Owen, Ian would have found out everything he possibly could to stay ahead of his perceived adversary. Something Owen would do. “And then a few years ago, Henry made a mistake. He came after Heather, although Heather has no idea the attack was personal. She thought someone was after our money, a kidnapping we managed to forestall.”

Owen had known he’d given Henry and Carl too much leeway. He’d hoped they might turn out different than their father. Hating each other as business rivals was one thing. But when they’d gone after Heather, everything had changed.

“So it
was
the Kerrs.” Ian’s eyes narrowed. “And then Henry died of a heart attack. Another early death for a Kerr. Bad family history.”

Owen smiled through his teeth. “Bad, yes.” Back then he’d had help. A spotter to pinpoint his talent, a way to lock on to his target from a distance, then point and kill with a psychic blast no one could survive. “Henry died, leaving his younger brother Carl all alone.”

“And Carl blamed you.”

Owen nodded. “And Carl blamed me. There was no proof. No evidence to the contrary. Henry died when his heart stopped beating. They said it was a blocked coronary, a massive buildup of plaque that killed him. A natural death by all accounts. Yet Carl pointed the finger at me.”

“Go figure,” Ian drawled. “So Carl came after you. That’s why he stole that book of yours a few months ago. He’s been trying to bring you down for years. Financially he can’t touch you. But to destroy your reputation…”

“I don’t care. He can do and say what he wants. He knew I wanted the book back;
that’s
why he went after it and kept it. My warehouse getting broken into has caused me all sorts of problems.” Owen sighed. Over a year ago someone—he still didn’t know who—had broken into a family warehouse in France, a place he’d thought secret, and stolen a hoard of enchanted and cursed objects. Family heirlooms that had Stallbridge energy locked inside them. A powerful locket, a haunted painting, a clock that stopped time, and
Chronicles
—a book recounting his family’s odd history, as well as some sexually explicit material his grandfather had thought to put in for fun. But the book had been so much more. Fortunately, his sister had recovered it and fallen in love with Jack in the process.

“Well, your warehouse thief has done PowerUp! a favor. You’ve paid through the nose for our services, but hey, we’ve gotten a ton of your crap back for you.”

“True.” Owen smiled. Ian wore
smug
well. “And now Carl is on the run because your team did its job. Aidan and Gavin were exceptional in finding
Chronicles
. And Heather, well…” He still couldn’t believe his gentle sister had taken on murderers in a foreign country to preserve the book. Had he known about the danger, he never would have allowed it. But she’d come back and brought both herself and the book home in one piece, and that was all that mattered.

“Heather is getting married to Jack.” Ian made a face. “I’m still waiting for her to soften him up. Hell, we all are.”

Owen chuckled. “Jack is Jack. Gruff, mean, but loyal.” His grin faded. “Loyalty is something you should never take for granted.”

“I’ll bet.” Ian looked a bit too understanding for comfort. Too
knowing.

“Damn it. Who told you?”

Ian shrugged. “Not sure what you’re talking about.” Yet the cautious expression in his eyes said otherwise.

Scooting back from the table, Owen stood and grabbed Ian by the back of his shirt. He dragged the man to his feet, then manhandled him over his shoulder and carried him from the room. He nodded at Tim, who didn’t so much as twitch at the sight of Owen hauling Ian from the kitchen and down the hall toward the back stairs.


What the fuck
?”

Ian struggled to get free, and Owen slapped him on the ass.

“You did
not
just spank me.”

“Oh yes, I did.” Owen was tired of having people turn on him. He wanted to know who had tipped Ian off about Harry. And since the little thief wouldn’t answer without being forced, Owen figured the time had come to see just what Ian was made of.

 

IAN DANGLED BEHIND Owen, getting a fine view of the man’s tight ass. Especially in those mouthwatering shorts. Yet being carted around like a sack of potatoes didn’t sit right. It was sexy as hell but so out of character for the stern yet laid-back Owen.

Ian knew Harry’s defection had hurt, but he wasn’t supposed to know anything about it. So he pretended to be clueless. He hadn’t meant to let it slip that he knew anything. Stupid. Getting caught up in Owen’s deep voice and that beautiful mouth had thrown him.

He struggled to get free, but Owen’s arms were like a steel trap. When the hell had the bazillionaire become so inhumanly strong? Granted, the guy was probably a good fifty to seventy pounds heavier and had more height and muscle, but jeez, he made Ian feel like a friggin’
girl.

“Get off. This is sexual harassment,” Ian tried, feeling dizzy when they went upstairs. Did nothing slow this guy down?

“Not yet. But it’s going to be.”

Registering what Owen said, Ian’s dick went from semihard to full-out erect. Being so close to Owen had its typical effect, arousing him. But the thought that Owen might want Ian back,
sexually
, was like a fantasy come to life.

Ian had been whacking off to carnal thoughts of Owen for months. He’d never imagined the sexy guy might want him back. Not that Ian wasn’t pretty enough, because he had to-die-for blue eyes and a sexy bod. He knew that. But Owen had never seemed particularly gay to him. A sad state of affairs, but one Ian had accepted.

Was he wrong.

Owen walked into his master suite and shut and locked the door behind him. The short
snick
echoed in Ian’s muddled brain. He recognized the bedroom from having snooped in Owen’s house previously. He liked the muted blues and browns, the king-size bed, and the tasteful, modern, dark chocolate furniture. Unfortunately he hadn’t had the time to snoop through Owen’s boudoir, but he’d bet the hottie had a kinky streak.
I mean, he’s carrying me like a caveman and acting all dominant. He’s got to be a freak in the sack.

He squirmed against Owen’s shoulder. “Let go, damn it.”

“Not yet, thief.”

Ian did his best not to shudder with pleasure. He loved when Owen called him that. Like an endearment, but more personal than
baby
or
sweetie
. And it fit, because Owen had caught him red-handed right before Linda Cavendish tried to kill him four months ago.

Owen tossed him onto the bed, and Ian scrambled to leave. Before he could move, he found himself cuffed and strung up like a sacrificial virgin. “What the hell?” Ian tugged at the cuffs affixed to chains bolted into the headboard. How had he missed
those
the last time he’d been by?

BOOK: Marie Harte - [PowerUp! 08]
11.69Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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