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Authors: J. C. Daniels

Tags: #Romance, #Fantasy, #Vampires, #Tagline… A knife in the dark

Night Blade (25 page)

BOOK: Night Blade
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“Whatever you’re protecting, if it’s worth that much…it will work out,” Chang said gently.

I stared at him for a long, aching moment. “I hope so.”

Then I headed for the door.

Before I could reach it, Chang said softly, “Kit…if I may? You’ve spent an extended amount of time in very close proximity to another male.”

“I’ve been working with a witch,” I said sourly. “One who doesn’t know his personal space, but it was necessary.”

Chang dipped his head. “I don’t doubt that…” he said. Then he looked up at me. “If I had, we wouldn’t have spent the past forty minutes chatting. You’re everything to Damon. I owe him my loyalty. I won’t see him betrayed.”

“Somebody would have to have a blade in my gut and a curse on me before they could even try to force me to betray him.”

A faint smile tugged at Chang’s lips. “I think you’d die first.”

I will
.

“However, be that as it may…you smell of another man. And he’s had a trying day. He won’t think clearly if he scents it. Perhaps you should shower before you leave.” Then he flicked a look over me and added, “And burn the clothes.”

I’d shower back at my damn office, thank you very much.

I still had calls to make.

Calls to avoid.

As I let myself out, I heard Chang sigh.

 

 

Chapter Fourteen

 

 

I should have taken Chang up on his offer.

My gut was a knot of nasty little tangles as I turned into my parking lot.

The light shone down on Damon’s Charger and I looked down at my phone, tried to figure out just
why
his home number was still showing up—

He’d programmed it. Set a trap for me, like the cagey cat he was.

Fear knocked hard against my ribs as I glanced around. No sign of Banner. Would they make a move
here
? If they did, I could stop it. I had the letter from Es. But what was the deal with Justin? He
knew
how important this was, so why hadn’t he called me back?

This was messed up. Had they discovered the death of Marlowe? Immediately, I wanted to kick myself. Of course they had. And that would explain why Justin hadn’t returned my calls.

He was busy investigating my boyfriend—Banner was trying to find a way to slip a noose around Damon’s neck and Justin was trying to work the case so that didn’t happen.

Fuck
this mess. Sideways and to hell and back.

Had somebody seen him out there? Well, other than corpses and Xavier. Marlowe and his men had seen him, but they were dead. Somebody must have reported
something
.

Other than Xavier, I hadn’t seen
anybody
and the witch wasn’t going to be doing any talking.

Not until Colleen released him from that binding oath.

Fear danced a wild song in my head but I shoved it down. If I faced Damon like this, it was over. He’d know something was wrong and it would only be worse since I couldn’t tell him.

Although this wasn’t going to be good anyway since he’d smell Xavier on me.

Damn that son of a bitch.

Parking the car, I snagged the bag and caught my blade. Everything else, I left. Hooking the strap of my bag across my torso, I started across the pavement to Damon. I hadn’t even taken two steps before he was there, closing the rest of the distance with eerie, feline speed that left my head spinning.

“Damon, I—”

His mouth crushed mine.

And for the second time that day, all the oxygen was sucked out of the world.

But this time, it wasn’t a battle that caused it, unless you counted the way his tongue tangled with mine, the way his hands streaked across my back, jerking my shirt up and splaying across bare skin.

Thirty, wonderful seconds and then it ended as he jerked away and glared down at me. “What in the fuck, Kit? I smell—”

“My case,” I said. I cut him off. If I said something before he asked, then maybe he wouldn’t ask me questions I couldn’t answer. “I got stuck with a witch who does cloaking and we had to do some messy work, but it only works if we were close.”

“Close?” He pressed his hand to my collarbone, splaying it across my skin so that I felt the very heat of it rushing through me. “He had to fucking be
touching
you?”

“Close quarter detail sadly means just that—cloaking doesn’t work otherwise.” I plucked at the hem of my shirt. I really should have had that shower—and burned the damn clothes. “Once the job was over, I kicked the asshole in the head. It wasn’t enough.”

Damon’s eyes flashed. Light reflected back at me.
Cat’s eyes

I held his gaze. “This wasn’t a job I picked. I had to take it—lives are at stake—and once it’s done, I’m going to bloody somebody over it. But for now, I have to finish it.”

“And this?” he asked, fisting his hand in the front of my shirt, tugging me close. “Does this have to happen again? You stand there smelling of another man again? Kit…I—shit, Kit, this is gutting me.”

I curled my hand around his wrist. “If I could tell you what it was doing to me, I would.”

His eyes searched mine. “Why can’t you?”

“If I tell anybody, Banner is going to know. And people die. I can’t do that, Damon. I can’t.”
I can’t let you die—

He groaned and pressed his forehead to mine. “Inside now, baby girl. Inside, okay?”

His presence was a burning ache at my back and my breath came in hot, harsh little bursts as I made my way to the door. “Don’t forget the wards,” I whispered as I dealt with the locks.

He stood there waiting, his eyes on my bowed head as I went through the process of disarming the protections wrapped around my office. “Put them back up,” he said as he shut the door behind him and locked it.

I put the bag on the desk, carefully touched my hand to it, too aware of the precious burden it carried.

I licked my lips and then went to the door. It was a simple design to arm the wards. My touch alone, on the locks in a certain way, did it. As I flipped the deadbolt, magic skittered around the room. One ward in place. Damon’s fingers brushed across the back of my neck. I put the chain in place. Second ward. He laid his hands on my waist. I unlocked the lock he’d turned and then locked it back up and the wards burst into life with a whispering sigh.

Damon shredded my shirt.

Turning around, I reached for him and all those nasty, jagged places inside me faded away. This felt real to me. Felt whole. Felt right. And I was going to make sure I kept this.

“Baby girl,” he muttered as his mouth pressed to the mark on my neck. It was sensitive, still sore, but that light caress felt so good.

He boosted me up and I groaned, wiggling against him and reaching for the waistband of the BDUs I wore. “Be still,” he rasped against my mouth. He shifted and reached down. Seconds later, the sound of cloth ripping filled the air once more. “I don’t want you ever wearing these clothes again.”

The scraps of my pants still clung to my legs, but neither of us cared.

The rasp of his zipper was terribly loud and then he was there, pressed against me…
in
me, driving so deep and so hard.

“Tell me again,” he muttered. “Tell me, damn it. Without hiding away this time.”

“I love you.”

“I love you, too. And stop
running
from me, Kit. Stop running…aw, hell…”

His breath hitched in his chest and I felt it against my own, felt the massive pressure of need swelling in us both. As it exploded and swelled and built again, I clung to him.

He was the only real and solid thing in my world.

I couldn’t lose him.

 

* * * * *

 

It wasn’t as easy to get out of a pair of torn BDUs as one might think. Especially since my belt had ended up in a tangled snarl around my waist. In the end, I just used a knife to cut the ruined pants off and dumped them in the trash. As I sat down to deal with my boots, I looked up as saw Damon sprawled in the desk behind my chair.

The dark, brooding look in his eyes made my heart skip a beat. Even the sly smile curling his lips didn’t help much.

“You know,” he murmured, staring at me hard. “That right there is a picture. Maybe I should get one like that for my birthday.”

“Pervert.” I made a face at him and finished stripping away from my boots, leaving them by the couch. I opened the small closet and grabbed the first thing that came to hand—a plain black T-shirt. Jerking it on over my head, I made a concerted effort to ignore the trembling of my hands. I’d just noticed the time. It was getting late. Sooner or later, Justin would have to call and my gut said it would be soon.

I had to talk to him—

“What were you out doing today, Kit?”

Closing my eyes, I scooped my hair out the neckline of the shirt and shut the door. “I already told you I was working a case.” One that was breaking my heart. Breaking
me

No. I wasn’t broken.

I was pissed, I was furious and I was
hurt
, probably going to be hurt more when this was done and I had to explain what was going on. But that didn’t make me broken.

He loved me.

He’d understand that I was trying to protect him. He was doing the same for me.

He’d understand.

“I had to take care of something outside of the city,” Damon said and his voice was a low, rumbling growl.

I heard that tone often enough. It was anger. Not that icy edge I’d seen earlier, but there were a lot of varieties of anger. And I’d faced this one of his before.

He’d figured it out—thought past the mask of Xavier’s cloaking.

“Kit.”

I turned around and I saw it in his eyes.

He knew.

As he came up off the chair, he shook his head. “I’ve been trying to place it all fucking day and it wasn’t until just now that it clicked. You said you had to work with somebody who…what, cloaked? What the fuck is that?”

“It’s what it sounds like, Damon,” I said levelly. The hell if I’d lied. Lies had never come easily to me anyway and if I even tried, he’d know. “I’m working a
job
. I’m doing the best I can and I can’t
talk
about it. Let me work it, let me finish it and I’ll explain.”

The roar echoed around the room. Echoed…echoed…until I thought my ears would burst from it.

“Kit. Were you
following
me?” he demanded.

“I’m working a fucking job.”

A muscle jumped in his jaw. “Is that the only thing you’re going to say, damn it?”

“It’s the only thing I
can
say.” Tears were threatening to burn me now.
No crying, Kit…don’t you do it
.

“I don’t believe this.” He spun away and braced his hands on my desk, the muscles in his back bunching and moving under his shirt. “Fuck—everything I’ve…shit. No.”

The disjointed ramble of words bothered me as much as the pain I saw in his eyes as he turned back around to glare at me. “A job, right? Fine,” he bit off, his voice a ragged, uneven snarl. “Day’s done. Come home. With me now.”

I opened my mouth to answer.
Yes. Please. Just yes…

And my fucking phone rang.

Justin…I could hear the muffled ringtone of the Imperial March coming from the garbage can where I’d dumped the shreds of my pants. I wanted to scream. “I have to talk to him right now,” I said, the words come in an awful, stilted mess. “I have the information I need to close this case and then I’m done. I just need—”

“I need
you
,” he roared. “Now. Come with me now.”

The phone rang again and anxiety rose to a wail in my mind as my office phone started to echo it as well. Calling both lines—not good.

And clear as crystal, I could see Damon speeding away from Assemblyman Marlowe’s house.

I opened my mouth…
I have to tell them you were doing it for me—

That was all I had to say. That was
all
.

But the binding spell kept the words locked inside me and even when I tried to force the words out, it was like my throat was swelling shut on me while pain swelled like supernova behind my eyes, all but blinding me.
Justin, you son of a bitch…damn you
.

“Damon. It’s two hours.”

“No.” He shook his head. “It’s more than that. It’s over, baby girl. Good-bye, Kit.”

My heart cracked down the middle as I stared at him. I’d taking beatings that hadn’t hurt like that. He…shit. He hadn’t just said that, had he?
“What?”

He backed away from me. “You don’t trust me. Right now, you’re half sick with fear and I can’t get you to come with me when I need you like I need air. If we…if this is how it’s going to be between us, then maybe it’s better off if there
isn’t
an us. It’s done.”

Tears blinded me as he turned his back on me.

It was probably for the best.

I didn’t see him leaving me.

Something snapped, hissed. I flinched as I realized what it was—the wards. “Damon—” I swiped the tears away, made myself look at him.

He powered through it without sparing me a glance. They weren’t designed to holding something
in
. They must have hurt like hell when he broke them. But as he stumbled down the sidewalk, he didn’t much look like he cared.

He just wanted to be away from me.

And still, the damn phones wouldn’t shut the hell up.

 

* * * * *

 

“Timetable has been moved
up
,” Justin barked once I was finally able to answer. “He’s slated for execution once the warrant is signed at the meet tomorrow and if they can get enough people together tonight, they may even try to get it going before then. Damn it, Kit—”

“I have the proof you need to stop it.” I stood at the window, staring at the spot where his Challenger had been. He’d walked away. Just like that. “It was all about me. Charter decrees a were can’t be executed for acting in defense of a mate, loved one or clan if he feels a threat is imminent. Alpha Damon Lee heard rumors that my grandmother was looking for me and those he killed were the ones who had shown interest in exchanging information about me for future favors from her.”

There was silence.

“Your fucking bitch of a grandmother,” Justin muttered. Then, his voice fell back into formal tones. “You said you had proof of this.”

BOOK: Night Blade
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