Authors: Morgan Kelly
Dammit, she missed Greer. Hated having to shut him out. Now, things were odd between them. He looked at her differently, heat in his eyes, and hurt, too, because he didn't understand why she'd pushed him away. Like he'd said, it was an accident that he'd walked in on her.
“Do you want to stay for dinner?” she asked, not sure whether having them both there would be better than being alone with Darius.
Greer glanced at his watch. “Wish I could. My shift starts in an hour.”
Darius wheeled up. “Yeah, the big bad firefighter, off to save lives.” He made a superhero arm motion, pumping one fist in the air.
Greer's mouth twisted in a snarl. “I'd rather do that than tinker with computer parts all day.”
“Boys,” she said, sounding like a teacher.
Another knock on the door. Hopefully it was Tucker. He was good at stepping in. But it wasn't Tucker. Two men stood there, their badges at the ready. “Cheyenne Baker?” one of them asked.
She nodded, feeling Greer step up behind her.
“Detective Dan Marshall, and Detective Paul Marron. May we come in?”
“What's this about?” Greer asked before she could say anything.
“We have some questions about a recent incident.” The man, in his forties, waited patiently for someone to invite them inside.
Greer inspected the badge, nodded to her. It was legit.
Shea checked it, too, then stepped back, bumping into Greer. “These are friends of mine,” she said, waving to Greer and Darius.
Marshall closed the door behind them, taking in both men as though noting their appearance. He focused on her. “You've heard about the man who was mauled two nights ago?”
Her mouth went dry. How had they connected that to her? Bad enough that it triggered two men from the other dimension to hunt down their offspring. “Yes, it sounded horrible.” She shuddered, and didn't have to fake it. “Wild animals attacking people in their own home.”
“We don't think it was a wild animal. Do you know Fred Callahan, the victim?”
“No, Iâ” Her words jammed in her throat when she saw the picture he held up, a driver's license photo probably. All the blood drained from her face. “I knew him as Frankie C.” She cleared the fuzz from her voice. “I haven't seen him for six years.” She wanted the cops to go, or for Greer and Darius to leave. “I'm sorry, I can't help you.”
Marshall's eyes flicked to Greer and Darius before returning to her. “We found pictures and notes about you on his computer. There was a letter in his desk drawer addressed to you, indicating he'd written to you before. It wasn't a very nice letter.”
Her knees went weak. Greer somehow sensed it and clamped his hands on her shoulders. “What are you insinuating?” His hands started warming her, one of his psychic abilities.
Darius wheeled closer. “You can't possibly think this slip of a girl could tear a man apart.”
“I've been getting letters, creepy gifts,” she said. “But I didn't know who they were from.” Frankie. She had wondered, yes, but how had he found her? And why after all these years?
“May I see them?” Marshall asked.
She'd wanted to throw them away, but thought they might be evidence if things escalated. She went to the file cabinet in her office and returned with the letters, and the box.
Marshall frowned when he opened it and saw the dildo, the flavored lube creams. “Can I take these?”
And go. Say no more.
He looked at Greer and Darius. “Did either of you know who was harassing her?”
Darius snorted. “No, but I'm glad the sick fuâthe guy is dead. It's wrong to harass a woman like that.”
Greer shook his head, but his gaze was on her.
Marshall turned to her again. “Callahan worked at the phone company. That's probably how he found you. You haven't heard from him at all in the six years since you filed charges against him and the other two men?”
“No, nothing,” she said quickly. “I'd rather notâ”
“I'm sure the detective you spoke to talked you out of going forward with the charges. I read the file and agree that it was a long shot to prosecute the case successfully. Still, I wish we had. One of those other men raped a teenaged girl a couple of years back. He's in prison now. The other's been jailed a few times on battery charges.”
She felt Greer's questioning stare on her. “I'm sorry to hear that.” Her words sounded shaky.
Marshall glanced in the box, then her. “But Callahan hasn't had another brush with the law. We did find some rather disturbing items in his home, including sex toys I presume he intended to send to you. One was a pair of handcuffs, and they weren't the fuzzy kind. It's the sort of thing that makes me uncomfortable about where he was going with this. So if you”âhe looked at her friendsâ“or anyone had something to do with his death, it may have saved your life. But still, we have to investigate. It's a crime to tear a man apart, no matter how much of a scumbag he is.”
“Son of a bitch,” Greer said. His hands tightened on her as she slumped against the couch, and then he pulled her against his body, his arms like a shield over her collarbone.
Oh, God. Had Frankie been planning to rape her again? That overshadowed anything else in her mind at the moment.
Marshall seemed to be giving them time to fess up.
“We didn't know who the guy sending that stuff was,” Shea said. “You can see from the letters that he never signed them.” They'd been crude letters, detailing what he wanted to do to her body, and she'd forced herself to read them because she needed to know how much he knew about her. Or if they contained an explicit threat.
“Was it because of your earlier experience that you didn't report the stalking?” Marshall asked.
She shrugged, though it felt as though she wore an armored suit that smelled of a citrus cologne. “I didn't see it as threatening. Only gross and annoying.”
Wrapped in Greer's embrace, she felt safe in a sea of chaos.
Marshall gave her his business card. “If there's anything else you know or remember, please give me a call.” He took a step toward the door but turned back to her. “Ms. Baker, if anyone ever hurts you like that again, call me.”
As soon as he left, Darius wheeled in front of her. “The guy's dead, Shea. You don't have to worry about him anymore. Isn't that great?”
Thank God Darius hadn't asked for more information. If only Greer would let it go.
He turned her to face him. “What happened? What was he talking about, if you're hurt âagain'?” His concern turned her to mush, and then his expression changed. He cradled her face, and as much as she wanted to push away, she couldn't. “Oh, Shea.”
She heard it all in his voiceâthat he'd figured it out from the detective's words. Raped “another” woman. She felt her expression crumple even though she tried to hold strong.
He pulled her against him, stroking her back. Her cap's brim bumped against him and it fell to the floor.
No, she had to push away. She would fall apart right here, and he would continue to hold her and soothe her, and it felt so good because no one had done that afterward. Not even her mother, who had the same opinion the cops did: that she deserved it.
She managed to move out of his embrace by reaching for her cap. She shoved it onto her head, pulling down the brim. “I'm fine. It was a long time ago.”
“What are you two talking about?” Darius asked. At least he hadn't gotten it.
That was the difference between them, one of many. She wondered if Darius just had no emotions, nothing to squash or tuck away.
“You'd better go,” she said to Greer, her voice thick. “You don't want to be late for your shift.”
He was looking at her, probably giving her the same look he'd been giving her since the bathroom incident. The
Why are you shutting me out?
one. She couldn't tell, thankfully, because the brim of her cap blocked his eyes from view. At least he'd also pushed back after the bathroom incident and gone on, continued dating. He'd been cool to her afterward. That's what she wanted. Even if it stuck a knife in her chest.
“I do have to go. Walk me out.” He took her hand, giving her no choice but to be dragged along with him.
The air was even more chilling now that the sun was setting. He paused by his Jeep, turning her to face him. “Shea, that's why you hide yourself, isn't it? Why you freaked when I accidentally saw you naked.” He pulled off her cap. “
of them?” His agony at the thought wracked his face.
“I don't want to discuss this. I freaked because I don't want people to see me naked.”
“Because you've got curvesâ”
She pressed her hand over his mouth, feeling the full softness of it. “I am not interested in discussing my curves or my past.”
“You're hurting, Shea. It's why you shut down on me. I lost a friend once, because he was hurting, too. Holding in a painful secret. I left for a while, doing construction out of town, and when I came back, he'd taken his life. He couldn't take the pain anymore.”
“I'm not going to take my life. I've survived, gotten over itâ”
“You haven't gotten over it.” He tugged at her oversized shirt. “You hide your body. All those years you lived with us, you hid yourself. Did you think we'd hurt you? Attack you?”
He had no idea. “Of course not.”
“That's why you were so pissed about me seeing you. Your secret was out.”
he had right. “That's ridiculous.” She took the opportunity to look down at her attire, to escape those assessing eyes. “This is just how I like to dress.”
He took his finger and lifted her chin. “I suddenly saw you as a woman and not just the girl who's lived with us for the past few years. Seeing you as a woman changed everything.”
She smacked his arm, which probably hurt her more than him. “Then change it back. I don't want you like that.”
He slowly blinked at her statement. “Is it because of what happened to you? We can work through that.”
“Is he bothering you?” Darius called from the front step.
Greer muttered something very impolite under his breath, and then said, louder, “Go back in the house. We're talking.”
Darius started to wheel down the ramp. “Whatever concerns Shea concerns me, too.”
“I'm going in now,” she said, dashing off before Darius could get close. As she suspected, he turned around and followed her back to the front step. Greer stayed by his vehicle, giving Darius a pissed look. She was glad Darius had stopped that conversation. Way too close for comfort on many levels.
“I'm fine, Greer,” she called to him. “Thanks for caring. Get to work.”
“Did I interrupt a tense moment?” Darius asked once he'd caught up to her, watching Greer's yellow Jeep back out. “Looked like he was harassing you. It had to do with whatever he did to you, didn't it? Tell me, and I'll make sureâ”
“It's none of your business.” She stalked into the house to find something for dinner, anything to get her mind off what just transpired.
It was hard to think about spaghetti or leftover steak when one question dominated her mind: how could it be a coincidence that the man who had been mauled was her rapist?
The Forbidden Lady
copyright © 2002, 2012 Kerrelyn Sparks.
Turn to Darkness
copyright © 2012 Tina Wainscott.
MIDNIGHT IN YOUR ARMS
. Copyright © 2012 by McKinley Hellenes. All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the nonexclusive, nontransferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, decompiled, reverse-engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of HarperCollins e-books.
EPub Edition NOVEMBER 2012 ISBN: 9780062242600
Print Edition ISBN: 9780062242617
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
HarperCollins Publishers (Australia) Pty. Ltd.
Level 13, 201 Elizabeth Street
Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia
2 Bloor Street East - 20th Floor
Toronto, ON, M4W, 1A8, Canada
HarperCollins Publishers (New Zealand) Limited
P.O. Box 1
Auckland, New Zealand
HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.
77-85 Fulham Palace Road
London, W6 8JB, UK
HarperCollins Publishers Inc.
10 East 53rd Street
New York, NY 10022