Read Marie Harte - [PowerUp! 08] Online

Authors: Killer Thoughts

Marie Harte - [PowerUp! 08] (5 page)

BOOK: Marie Harte - [PowerUp! 08]
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Ian flushed. “He was twenty-four, for God’s sake.”

“Yes, and way too young and easy to handle. Like all your other lovers have been. Casual. Young. Tossed aside.” Unlike Owen, who knew just how to handle
him.

“What the hell would you know about it?” Ian clenched a fist on Owen’s chest.

“I’ve had my eye on you for a while, Ian Ryder. Frank Hanover. Michael Wilder.”

Ian blinked. “How do you know those names?”

“Your aliases, you mean?” Owen shrugged and linked his hands behind his head. “I know about all my employees.”

“Now that was just mean.” Ian grinned. “Though I admit I’m impressed. I used Frank Hanover with Chloe and Noah, so that alias was easy to get. But I had Michael Wilder buried deep.” He paused, his eyes narrowed. “Or so I thought. You’re more than just a pretty face and a big wallet, aren’t you, Owen?”

“How flattering.” Owen sighed and closed his eyes. “Yes, Ian. I have a brain too. For instance, I know you’ve been snooping through my house. That against Jack’s and Kitty’s orders, you tried to sneak a look at
The Little Death
, a figurine—”

“Worth a cool quarter million,” Ian interrupted.

“—that is responsible for too many deaths to count over the years. Why do you think I’ve hidden it in my vault? I also know you’re involved in two open forgery cases currently ongoing in the states of Washington and California. You try, but you just can’t keep your nose clean.”

“You seem to have all the answers.” Ian’s soft voice warned he didn’t like what he was hearing.

“Not at all. I think I found where Kerr has been hiding, but I’m not sure what he plans to do to draw me near. I can’t tell you why Harry nearly killed me, when he’d been as close to me as my own family. And I don’t know if I can count on the man I’d like to bring in to help us end this.”


Us?
Now there’s an
us
?”

Curiously, Ian didn’t sound panicked. “Us, as in, you’re helping me, and I just fucked you. So yes,
us
.”

“So romantic, Owen.” Ian paused a moment. “Okay, we’ll get back to Kerr. But I have to know something. You’ve dated women, beautiful, rich, successful women. Were they beards or what?”

Trust Ian to be more concerned with Owen’s love life than the possible danger facing them. “No, they weren’t covering for me. I genuinely like women
and
men. I’m bisexual.”

“Ah. That answers a lot of questions.”

Ian looked down at him, his deep blue eyes so serious. So amazingly beautiful, framed by thick lashes and set in a face made to be worshipped. It always stopped Owen’s train of thought when he spied Ian, so that he had to work to appear unaffected when what he really wanted to do was lick his thief from tip to toe.

“But I sense you have more.” Questions.

Ian nodded. “Linda Cavendish. She tried to shoot you. She would have, except she coincidentally dropped dead of a heart attack before she could pull the trigger. I couldn’t see what happened, since I was inside the closet at the time.”

“Spying on me.”

Ian blinked. “Ah, kind of. But I know she wouldn’t have missed you from that close a distance. By all rights, you should be dead, Owen. We both know it. So what really happened with Linda? And don’t think for a second I’ll buy an ‘act of God’ excuse. If she had a heart attack all on her own, I’m Jack’s best friend.”

Owen had known this was coming. But he didn’t have an answer for his new lover, not yet, maybe not ever. His psychic ability remained a secret from everyone but a select few. His old spotter, Caleb Dalton, knew. Then there was Owen’s friend and a man whose projects he often funded, Admiral Geoffrey London. And Heather, of course. They’d discussed his talent years ago, right after he’d killed to avenge their father. He’d wanted her to know. They’d never spoken about it, but he’d understood she needed closure the same way he had. Which made him wonder if she’d told Jack about him. He didn’t think so. Even as close as Heather and Jack seemed to be, his sister would never reveal his gift without asking first.

Sad that he could only trust Heather with his closely kept secrets. But at least he’d never told Harry what he could really do. He’d learned his lesson all too well when it came to relying on others. Even Tim, who’d taken a bullet and saved Owen’s life, could someday turn if Owen wasn’t careful to keep an eye on him.

Money did strange things to people, which was one of the reasons Owen liked Ian so much. The mouthy thief didn’t seem to care how much money Owen had. Oh, Owen had no doubt Ian would steal him blind if he let him. Ian liked the finer things in life, and he scrapped to get them. But he made no bones about his profession, and he’d never pretended to be anything he wasn’t—not to Owen at least. He was one of the few people not afraid to tell Owen the truth about things. Several times he’d even told Owen to kiss off when Owen pushed too hard, and to hell with Owen’s feelings.

Owen stared up into Ian’s frown and smiled. Ian blinked at him, seeming confused. Owen pulled his face down for a kiss. He didn’t let Ian turn it into something carnal. Instead, Owen played, exploring the hard yet soft facets of Ian’s mouth. Kissing the man with an emotion he didn’t often give others, Owen let himself fall under Ian’s spell for a little while. Pretending Ian felt the same affection, at least, until Owen could seduce him into feeling it.

 

IAN KISSED OWEN back, stunned at the depth of his feelings. This was supposed to have been a casual fuck. Fast and hard, and then he’d know exactly what it felt like to bottom for Owen Stallbridge. Except Owen’s kiss melted his resolve to keep his emotional distance. And then after kissing Ian for what felt like forever, bringing his cock back to life, Owen ended it, rolled them both over, and cuddled next to him.

Ian lay there, baffled, in lust, and strangely
more
attracted to Owen because he couldn’t figure the man out.

Owen sighed and pulled back. He slapped Ian on the ass.

“Ow.” Ian glared over his shoulder at him.

“I’m going to shower. You can join me if you like. Then we’re getting back to work. I’ll explain about Kerr. Now that I have him in my sights, it’s time to take him down.”

Owen left the bed, uncaring of his nudity—and why should he care, with a body like that?—and ambled to the bathroom. He disappeared inside, and soon the shower could be heard.

Ian rolled to his back and stared at the ceiling.

What the hell?

For months he’d watched and studied the man he considered his new mark. One way or the other, Ian planned on capitalizing on Owen’s wealth. The man could clearly afford it, and Ian would consider it a bonus for work well done. Though he’d used illegal means to help Jack’s team get the information they needed to recover Owen’s property, no one seemed to mind. And hey, though Ian hadn’t been in on the actual recoveries, he’d played a vital role. Time to reap the reward, in his opinion. So he kept an eye on the best-looking man he’d ever seen—discounting every time Ian looked in the mirror, of course.

Owen was a player, a lot like Ian. Yet the man’s smooth polish and money cleared doors Ian could only dream about.

Stallbridge had a reputation as an excellent lover and often left his partners wanting more. A heartbreaker, which would have been a problem for Ian if he’d had a heart to break. Ian had been a thief for longer than he cared to remember. He didn’t need emotion clouding his business sense.

Though he’d been
ordered
to work closely with Owen the last month, he’d welcomed the chance to study his prey up close. Except he wasn’t sure he liked what he’d seen. Owen seemed to be a pretty damn nice guy. He treated the people who worked for him like family.

Ian found it easy and even rewarding to rob from abusive, self-involved socialites. Even better, he liked taking from the cruel and depraved wealthy. Call him a snob, but Ian despised rich people. Having spent most of his childhood in shelters or homeless while his father worked his ass off to provide for them had given him a sour taste about money.

Owen had been born a rich kid, yet he didn’t act stuck-up or entitled, and that made Ian more than curious. Heather, his sister, was the same way. They must have had kick-ass parents, was all he could think. Because when the elder Stallbridges died, leaving Owen a rich man at seventeen, he could have gone crazy with the money. Instead, he’d buckled down, been responsible, and increased the family fortune.

Ian sighed. What the hell was he doing, thinking so hard about Owen? He had a job to do, period. Help Owen catch Kerr. In the process, scam on getting back into that vault, where he’d seen a few paintings he knew he could copy and resell for a tidy nest egg. After he finally had enough to feel good about his future, Ian would reconsider his present. Stay in Bend? Go? Retire at age thirty-one?

Nah, he’d be bored to death. But did he want to keep forging and possibly getting caught, forever looking over his shoulder?

“Ian,” Owen barked from the bathroom.

Muttering under his breath about pushy millionaires, Ian walked into the bathroom. The glass shower door opened, and Owen peered out, looking annoyed.

“Come here.”

Ian couldn’t stop staring at his naked and wet lover.
Oh man, I did Owen Stallbridge
. And fuck of it all, he wanted to do him again.

Owen noticed the erection Ian couldn’t help, and the asshole grinned.

“What?” Ian snapped.

Owen’s smile faded. “Come. Here.”

That mean tone had Ian suppressing a shiver. He tried to appear reluctant as he neared, but when Owen snagged him by the arm and dragged him into the massive stall for more pleasure, Ian didn’t have the heart to protest. Not when he couldn’t stop moaning Owen’s name.

* * * *

The next morning, after having Tim escort him home to fetch a change of clothes and some shower gear, Ian had returned to the Stallbridge mansion and used Owen’s impressive shower. He cleaned up, then ate an amazing breakfast prepared by the delightful Bev. Two hours later, he stood in Owen’s vast study and glared at him from across the room. The place had a modern aesthetic that appealed to Ian, mostly because it suited the man currently annoying him. Owen had dressed in jeans and a short-sleeved T-shirt, showcasing those impressive biceps, while Ian had thrown on a pair of denim shorts and a borrowed T-shirt from Owen that probably cost a hundred bucks, it was so soft. He felt like a kid playing dress up in the overlarge thing, while at the same time he mentally refused to give it back. It belonged to Owen, and Ian wanted it. Not to remember the big dude when this ended. Just because.

Owen scowled at him. “So you’re telling me the information you gave me last week was false? Do you remember what you told me about Kerr and where we should look?”

“Owen, I retain everything. I know exactly what I told you.”

“Remind me.”

Ian bit back a curse, aware of the others watching. Owen had called in Tim and one of his security men, Joe Knox. The other Knox brother, Reuben, remained in the heart of the mansion, overseeing security. They made great protectors from a physical perspective—because they looked like human guard dogs.

“Arms shipments have been moving around the Oregon and Washington coasts,” Ian reiterated. “A few deaths and some small-time deals, which could be attributed to anyone, stuck out. The manner in which a few of the men were killed has Kerr’s MO.”

Joe frowned. A big guy with a buzz cut, like his older brother. Both men put Ian in mind of broad-shouldered robots who would rip your arms off as soon as look at you. Way too brutish for Ian’s taste. They made Tim seem friendly, and Ian hadn’t thought that possible.

“Explain to me what Kerr’s MO is, exactly. From everything I’ve seen on the guy, he’s a sadist who’s into abusing young men. But he’s a businessman first and foremost. He kills with a bullet to the brain or knife to the throat. Competition squashed. Period.”

“True. But he has a signature on his more personal kills.” Ian glanced at Owen, who nodded at him to go on. He swallowed the disgust balled inside him and continued, pretending it didn’t bother him that innocent young men had been killed so some perverted shithead could get off. “He’s gone off the deep end since the Feds nearly caught him back in February. Back then, his dead bodies were somewhat normal. Vics raped, stabbed repeatedly, dumped in alleys. Always good-looking young men.”

“And now?” Joe asked.

“I’ve been studying his victims. He’s…well, he’s a lot crazier. He’s carving his initials into their skin. And rape is a kind word for what these men suffer.” Ian couldn’t contain a shiver.

“How are the cops not after him, then? A serial killer is big news.”

Owen shook his head. “Kerr doesn’t leave his mark where people notice it. It’s a pattern only Ian noticed, right?”

“Yeah.” Ian swallowed hard. “At first I thought you wanted me to find the weapon doing the killing. Like, maybe it was cursed or something. But the pattern of cuts… It’s a
K
, for sure. You have to look hard, and sometimes he makes the cuts under the skin into muscle, but with the blown-up autopsies, I’m sure it’s him.”

Tim frowned.

Joe blew out a breath. “Sick fuck. Okay, boss, so you’re sure you don’t want us to take him out for you?”

Owen answered firmly, “No. Trust me. He knows I’m here, and he’s waiting for me to make a move. I took Ian’s info to a friend of mine in DC. Kerr is holed up on an island off the Washington coast. A private island, belonging to a friend of his family’s.”

“Great. So bomb the motherfucker, and we’re done.”

Joe’s simple answer sounded good to Ian.

Tim nodded. “I like that. A targeted hit and he’s out.”

“I would, but knowing Kerr, he’s got leverage. Probably innocent people trapped with him. I know he’s protected with more firepower than we have, I’m afraid.” A beep signaled an incoming call.

Owen pressed a button on the intercom on his desk. “Yes?”

“Sir, you have company,” Reuben reported. “A Mr. Caleb Dalton says he’s expected. He checks out, and he’s on the list.”

BOOK: Marie Harte - [PowerUp! 08]
9.64Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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