Authors: Tatum Throne
“A little less power,” Trey said.
“Oh, shit. I’m sorry.”
He grinned. “It’s okay. I’m okay. Did you catch what I was thinking about?”
She had. “A yellow rubber duck.”
Trey stood. “That was it. Now turn the dial down on the power.”
She imagined her energy light as a feather and brushing against his mind. Rylie caught the sight of her naked riding him cowgirl on his bed. Her eyes flew open. He was watching her intently.
“What did you see?” he asked.
“Us together on your bed.”
“You got it. That’s what you need to do every time.”
He sat down on
leather sofa while she paced.
“You’re frowning,” he said.
Rylie wasn’t sure how she was going to tell him that she thought they should cool it with the sex. “I’m just trying to figure out where I stand in all of this.”
“You’re part of the group now. You’ll get an objective and help us solve the case.”
“You have doubts about the work?” he asked.
She nodded. “I’m sorry. I don’t want to have these lingering doubts, Trey. The pictures. The money for my trips.”
“You can trust me, Rylie.”
“I want to. I’m trying.”
“What do you need of me, babe?”
“I need time.”
He lifted his brows. “I’ll give you as much as you want. Just don’t push me away.”
“I don’t see how I can work for you and sleep with you at the same time.”
She could see that he was surprised by her words. Trey leaned forward clasping his hands. “It doesn’t have to be complicated, Rylie. I’ll make sure it’s not.”
“I think it’s better to cool things while we still like each other. If things go wrong, I lose you and the job.”
“So let me make sure I understand what you want. You’re picking the job over me?” he asked.
“It’s better this way.”
Trey stood, pacing away and running a hand through his hair in frustration. He turned around and glowered. “Better for who? You or me?”
“For both of us.”
She felt every tangible vibration of his anger. He had every right to be angry with her for putting the brakes on things this way.
“This is what you want?” he asked.
“Yes. I just need time. We both do before we ruin everything.”
“You’re running. You’ve seen the future for us. I know you have. You can’t run from fate.”
“We always have a choice.”
He snorted. “I’m free to have sex with any other woman I want?”
She felt her face flame and jealousy steal her breath away. “I don’t own your penis. You can do whatever you want with it.”
Understanding filtered through his gaze, putting every one of her female senses on high alert. Trey wasn’t about to let her go easily.
“This is what you want?” he asked again.
Her voice faltered and she had to clear her throat two times before she could speak. “Yes. It’s the only way things can be between us.”
It was over. Rylie knew she couldn’t be with a man that had so many secrets. It’d be better to break it off now anyway before things got too complicated. Trey didn’t look like a man that would take no for an answer, but he was going to have to.
Trey crossed the room to his leather jacket flung over the couch. He slipped his arms into it. He then crossed the room to stand before her. Pain and hurt filtered through his gaze before he locked it away and thr
the key into the garbage. Rylie knew he was shutting her out for a little while. She tried to tell herself that it was for the best and that it was what she ultimately wanted. It didn’t stop the hurt from slashing through her heart.
Trey leaned down to whisper into her ear. His lips skimmed the curve of her lobe, sending shivers down over her harden
“You’ll come back to my bed willingly. Begging me to take you hard, fast, and wet.”
Rylie swallowed hard, trying to regain the control she had over body. She was desperately losing the upper hand she had with Trey. He was manipulating the situation to his advantage.
“You’re not making this easy on either of us.”
“I’m not planning on making it easy for you to walk away from me, Rylie. I know you love me.”
She turned away, but he stopped her by backing her up against the bookshelf. She gasped as he brought his body in close.
“I know you’re frightened of what’s happening between us, that doesn’t mean it’s going to magically disappear.”
His words were bitterly cold and slapped at her heart. “Trey, don’t do this.”
“You can try to push me away, but I’m not going anywhere. You’ll work with me and you’ll want me.”
She was dizzy as he stepped away. He walked to the front door without looking back. He shut the door quietly. Rylie wanted to leave the country, but she knew it wouldn’t matter. Trey would follow her to another planet to get her back.
Rylie felt trapped in her simple black dress. It wasn’t often that she was required to attend private openings for work. She sipped her wine as she tried to hide among the many important guests and donors in the Cincinnati Art Museum. A chill raced over her arms as though she were being watched. Rylie turned and froze. She caught sight of Trey coming through the side door. What was he doing here?
She turned away before he caught sight of her.
She had to get out of there.
It’d been four days since he left her alone in his house. Pain slashed through her heart at the thought of him moving on with someone else. She just couldn’t go there.
Rylie needed air. She ducked down the Renaissance wing as the DJ changed the music.
The need to have Trey was a tribal beat within her chest. The beat of the music was as powerful as the thrum of want humming through her blood. She heard footsteps and whirled around. He had followed her.
“Rylie. We need to talk.”
“I don’t want to talk to you,” she said.
“Please. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t important.”
Something was very wrong. Something was going on. She didn’t want to care, but she secretly did. There was a controlled desperation in his voice that she couldn’t ignore. There was fear in his eyes. “What’s going on?”
“It’s Poppy. You need to come with me. She’s in trouble.”
He took her hand and rushed her outside. His Escalade was parked out front, engine running. “I’ll tell you along the way.”
Trey explained the desperate phone call he received from Wolf as he drove them across town. “Where is she?”
“At her house. We’re going there now.”
Trey told her how Wolf alerted him of Poppy’s phone call an hour ago. “He was supposed to call me when he got there. He never called. She has Wolf, and she’s not giving him back.”
Rylie didn’t understand how she could help. “The pendant?”
“Wolf thinks she’s wearing it.”
Rylie moaned and closed her eyes. When she opened them, tears were shimmering in her field of vision. Nighttime had fallen hard in the city. Rylie knew the pendant wasn’t going to let Poppy go without a fight. Wolf didn’t stand a chance at getting out of this alive. “What can I do?”
“You’re going to help me get it from her.”
“I don’t know about this,” Rylie said.
Trey cut the lights to his Escalade as he pulled up to the curb. He turned off the SUV and looked at her. Rylie could see the tension in his face.
“Yes you do. You’re the only one that’s been close enough to stop it. You have the power to.”
The lights were blazing in Poppy’s house. Ivy clung to the stone facade of the old Victorian. Rylie licked her lips nervously when she saw a shadow pass across a window upstairs. She could feel the evil undulating off the house.
Trey got out and Rylie followed. The front door opened by an invisible force as they started up the stone walkway.
“Do you feel it?” Trey asked.
They looked toward the stairs as muffled groaning came from a room on the second floor. Trey took the lead as they rushed up the landing.
Rylie wasn’t prepared for what she saw. She gasped. Tice was stripped naked with his arms tied with thick twine to Poppy’s wooden headboard. His ankles were tied to the lower corners of the bed. A gag was twisted into his mouth. His wrists were crossed above his head. Poppy straddled him with a knife locked down into her left hand. Her mane of dark hair was a mess around her shoulders.
Poppy wore a see-through off-the-shoulder shift dress that rode high on her hips. Her bare legs were locked down tight onto Wolf’s thighs. Light glinted off the ruby around her neck. Rylie’s eyes were drawn down to Poppy’s chest. The pendant was nestled between her breasts. She looked hypnotically pained and completely aroused. Her eyes were dilated.
“You came to get your wolf back. You can’t have him. He’s mine,” Poppy said.
She rocked her hips and slid the sharpened point of the knife down over Wolf’s abdomen. Fear made his eyes go wide.
Rylie could feel the pendant’s power surging from the piece. It was a seduction that always made her instantly want. She gave her head a little shake.
“I’ll take Poppy. You get Wolf.”
Trey whispered the thought through her mind.
“It’s too dangerous.”
“Trust me, babe. We can save both of them.”
“You can’t get it off of me. I won’t let you,” Poppy taunted.
“We don’t want the pendant. We want Tice,” Rylie said.
“I will trade you the wolf for him,” Poppy said.
“Deal,” Trey replied.
This was so not happening if Rylie could prevent it. Rylie and Trey moved slowly into the room. Poppy drew her hand with the knife down the long length of her leg as she dismounted Tice. Relief poured through Rylie when she saw that he wasn’t injured.
Poppy scooted in close to Trey, brushing her breasts against his chest. Trey kept Poppy busy by moving backward toward the hallway and drawing her away from Rylie. Poppy slid her hands into Trey’s coat to pull up his shirt. Her bare leg was sliding up between Trey’s legs. Jealousy skipped up Rylie’s shoulders.
“Free Wolf! I can handle her.”
He sure didn’t look like he would be able to keep her under control. Trey lifted Poppy by her waist, and she latched her legs around his hips. Her arms locked around his neck. Poppy flipped her long hair over her shoulder, giving Rylie a wicked look.
Rylie was halfway across the room when she heard glass crash to the floor in the hallway. She cringed when she heard Trey arguing with Poppy and something else that sounded like smashing against the wall. Rylie’s heels slipped on the hardwood floor as she rushed to the bed. She went to work on the gag in Tice’s mouth first. She pulled it down under his chin.
“She played me. I didn’t think she was wearing the pendant. She hid it from me.”
“Did she hurt you? Did you guys
“Not yet. You guys got here in time.”
The knot holding Tice’s hands to the headboard gave, and he yanked them free. He scooted to the end of the bed and went to work on one ankle while Rylie freed his other. A shout erupted from Trey, and something else crashed. Tice was reaching for his clothes as she rushed back through the doorway. She raced down the stairs to see Trey pinning Poppy to the floor by sitting on her hips. He struggled to get her wrists contained.
“The pendant!” Trey shouted.
Rylie was on it. She tried to yank the piece off, but the clasp wouldn’t give.
Poppy’s wild eyes were trained on Rylie as though she’d lost her mind. Rylie didn’t want to touch the pendant, but she knew she had no choice. The clasp folded over and clipped together. Light glinted off the connection as though it taunted or wanted her to caress it. Rylie’s hands began to sweat.
“You got this,” Trey said.
Rylie’s fingers shook as she placed them on the chain to lift the clasp. Heat moved up her arms and zinged downward to make her pussy flutter. She felt dirty from the sexual rush the pendant gave her. Rylie worked her nail under the clasp, but it wouldn’t release. She tried again, but nothing happened. Frustration had her letting the chain fall back down to Poppy’s neck.
Power radiated from the pendant, drawing her closer. It was hypnotically seductive. She closed her eyes, trying to regain control of the burning desire snaking through her body. Rylie tried to resist the temptation to caress the chains.
Pain ricocheted through Rylie’s temple. Fate wanted in again. Rylie did not want to deal with a vision now. She tried her deep breathing, but it wasn’t working. She winced as a shot of pain stabbed through her head. Rylie centered her energy on her mind to block the power of the vision. She couldn’t collapse now, not when Poppy needed her.
A thunderclap of pain laced desire exploded through her body as the vision took over. Rylie saw the heavy weight of the pendant resting within her palm. The image shifted to Trey standing over her as she lay upon the floor. A gun was in his hand, still smoking. Rylie looked down at her chest and saw blood. Hardwood floors cut across Rylie’s vision. Her eyes were half open as she was lifted from the ground.
Rylie gasped, surfacing as though she’d been caught in a riptide.
“What’s wrong?” Trey asked. “You blanked out.”
Trey looked as though he didn’t believe her one bit.
“The pendant whispers what it most desires,” Rylie said. “It plays upon our fears. It manipulates those around it. None of us are safe as long as it’s free.”
“I hear it, too,” Poppy said.
Rylie closed her eyes and tried to steady her nerves. She couldn’t steady the nervous beat of her heart knowing that the man she loved was going to hurt her because of the pendant.
Loved? Could she honestly say she loved Trey? Rylie frowned. She didn’t know a thing about him. Not to mention she didn’t know what love tasted like. She knew lust. What woman didn’t?