Authors: Tatum Throne
He started to cut through the alley to his car when the rain started to hammer from the sky. An emergency door was propped open with a painter’s bucket next to a Dumpster. So, he ducked into the building beside the jewelry store to wait it out. A radio echoed from somewhere in the building.
Construction debris littered the hallway. He moved further into the building, searching for a place to sit down. Off to the side, there was a bench. Trey sat down and held her close. Rylie Sawyer was smaller than he imagined. She curled easily into his arms, fitting perfectly against his body.
I’ve got you. You’re going to be okay.
She jerked within his arms as though she were living the vision. Helplessness shot through his body, causing him to lock his back teeth down tight. He was a man that needed control in the field. This was so out of his comfort zone it pissed him off. Goosebumps spread across her exposed skin. She was losing body heat fast. Was it a side effect of the vision? Probably.
A few minutes in the rain wouldn’t cause this type of reaction. There was a high risk of hypothermia when the body lost heat faster than it could produce it. If he didn’t do something fast, her vital organs would start to shut down. Her cheeks were chilled. Her lips were turning bluish.
Time was slipping through both of their fingers faster than either one could hold onto it. He looked around the foyer of the office building. Across the entrance, there was a restroom.
Hold on, Rylie.
He held her close as he rushed to the private room. He laid her across the sinks and counter. Trey had to keep her warm. He removed her wet jacket and found that her shirt beneath was dry. The pale, creamy skin of her arms was icy cold. He brushed the back of his fingers beneath the tail of her shirt and found her skin beneath chilled. He needed to bring her core temperature back up or he was going to lose her.
Trey worked fast, taking her shirt off. He lost his jacket, took off his shoulder holster with his Glock, and worked quick to unbutton his shirt. He reached over his back and yanked his T-shirt from his body.
Stay with me, Rylie. I need you.
There wasn’t enough room for him to hold her on the sinks, so he sat down on the floor. A rush of forbidden desire crashed through his system as they touched skin to skin. Trey pulled his wool suit coat around her shoulders, pulling her in tight.
Come back to me, Rylie. You’re safe now. I need you to wake up.
Trey tucked her in close, exhaling his heat across her skin. Over the last few months, Trey had gotten to know Rylie Sawyer’s habits well. She went to work at the Art Museum and spent most of her nights alone. The death of her family had caused her to withdraw from life. It was all a normal human response. Still, he hurt for her, knowing she was all alone now.
His gaze dropped to her gray silk bra with little red roses arching over the top of the cups. Its simple everyday design was as erotic as black lace. He had to get control of his thoughts before they led him down a dark and dangerous path. That had him looking away and closing his eyes. Wrong move. The feel of skin on skin was becoming too much for him. Trey snapped open his eyes and looked down at Rylie.
He could feel her skin starting to warm. The blue tint to her lips was starting to turn a rosy pink again. Trey’s gaze dropped to the swell of her breasts and blood rushed south to his cock. His dick punched against his boxers like a prize fighter testing the waters with a competitor.
Come back to me, Rylie. It’s okay. You’re safe. The pendant won’t hurt you ever again. I won’t let anything hurt you again.
Trey let his lips skim her temple. He kissed her gently, brushing her short blonde hair away from her temples. He inhaled her sweet scent, loving it more than he should. Trey brushed his thumb over her parted lips. God help him, he wanted to kiss her.
Rylie’s heart raced forward making up for the near-death rate. Slowly, her senses awakened. She blinked her eyes several times. Fear rippled through her body when she realized she was no longer on the cold ground, but in the arms of a stranger.
She awakened with a start.
“Easy now. I’ve got you. You’re safe.”
The stranger held her closely on his lap, cradling her head to his shoulder. Their shirts were off. Dark chest hair, trimmed short to his chest, brushed seductively against her skin. The vision had obviously taken her closer to death than she realized. They were sitting on a bathroom floor. How did he know that she needed the heat of his body to live? How much time had she lost with this vision? Ten minutes? Twenty? The last thing she remembered was her head hitting the wet pavement.
“I couldn’t get to you in time. I’m sorry. I should’ve known you’d be so affected. I won’t let it happen again.”
He held her with an intimacy only known to lovers. The heat of his breath caressed her cheek, warming her deeply. His lips skimmed her temples, the curve of her ear as he spoke. He tilted up her chin and their eyes met.
“Talk to me.”
He was like a mountain lion pinning down a kill to play with it for a while. When nerves got the best of her, she returned his open gaze with baffled confusion.
“I tripped,” she said.
“Are you okay?”
The deep rumble of his voice vibrated through his chest. “I think so.”
His blue-gray eyes seemed to glow and challenge her version of what happened. She couldn’t admit to him that she’d heard his thoughts whispering through the vision, calming and reassuring her that she’d be okay. She didn’t want to think about what that meant too closely. She was still adjusting to the fact that her mind wasn’t like everyone else’s. That she was intuitive and that
was okay. She just interpreted the world in a different way.
The light scent of his cologne lingered within his suit coat. He drew it tightly over her shoulders. A shiver ran through her body when his hands caressed her shoulders. His warmth seeped into her chilled skin. The man tucked her closer to his neck. It was then that she saw the shoulder holster that held a Glock sitting on the floor. She wanted him to be a security guard or a cop, but deep down she knew he wasn’t.
He followed her hand that brushed her short, golden hair aside. Rylie was still learning about how her empathic abilities worked. She was a latecomer to the game. She always had the ability to read the emotional pathways and auras of others, but her empathic abilities didn’t start until after she stopped taking some medication by mistake six months ago. She didn’t consider herself gifted. She considered herself cursed.
Auras were something she innately understood, like art or a foreign language. Her breathing suddenly slowed. Rylie inexplicably found her body’s energy changing. It then locked and aligned with his.
What she felt was alarming and overpowering. She felt the steady intake of his breath, the sharp excited tempo of his heartbeat
and the seductive desire to claim her burning within his body.
This man was dangerous. He wanted something more than her body. He was willing to do anything to achieve his goal. Whatever that thing was, it drove him here to her.
“Don’t try to stand,” he said. “Not until you’re ready.”
His warm hand stroked her hair away from her face.
A five-o’clock shadow gave him a rakish appearance. There was nothing vicious about the hard corners of his jaw, but Rylie knew he’d been tortured recently. The scars were burning beneath his aura and weighing heavily on his emotional path.
Energy and pain lingered on those hidden scars. Rylie’s fingers itched to touch, to heal the residual pain with the comfort of her ability and her body. His face was fascinating. It held so much hard bitten experience. Upon closer inspection, Rylie discovered that his blue eyes were actually more gray. Had it been a trick of light to catch her attention?
As far as she should’ve been concerned, he was just another tall, dark-haired, handsome man that was helping a woman out of a hard spot. Deep down she knew he wasn’t. This wasn’t any ordinary man.
She didn’t trust him or the way her body was responding to him sexually. He held her in a tempting and possessive way that sent shivers down her skin. Her nipples were taut peeks pressing hard against the thin fabric of her bra. She sat up quickly, and he tightened his hands on her arms.
“Whoa. Easy now. I’m not going to hurt you.”
No, he wouldn’t hurt her without good reason. He didn’t let go. Strong, unyielding arms held her on his lap. She pressed her hands against his muscled chest and felt the searing heat all the way down to her toes.
She’d landed hard on the pavement, but luckily hadn’t hit anything when she went down. She could feel a bruise starting on her hip. He didn’t resist her when she stood onto her shaky legs, using the stranger as balance. Chills raced over Rylie’s arms as his coat slipped from her shoulders.
She edged away to pick up her shirt, hoping he wouldn’t follow. She turned, buttoning it quickly.
A flash of light caught her eye as he slipped on his own shirts, and she saw a shiny silver badge clipped to his leather belt. She recognized it instantly as FBI. She casually slipped back on her coat and headed for the door when he was distracted with his gun. “I’m fine, really. Thank you for helping me.”
She pushed open the restroom door and was on the other side when he cleared his throat. “We need to talk, Rylie.”
She froze. Panic erupted through her soul. How did he know who she was? He followed her through the hallway. “Sorry, but you’ve got the wrong girl.”
Rylie Sawyer. I’ve been following your story for a very long time. Every time I get close, you and the pendant disappear.”
“I’m not going to let you go until we talk.”
She stepped away. His hand snaked out, grabbing her wrist firmly to keep her there. Rylie’s eyes widened when a fiery, electrical pulse stimulated her skin. It caught a nerve and zinged up her arm. This man was aroused. She licked her lips nervously. He wanted something more than sex. A pang of disappointment slid through her mind when she realized it had nothing to do with her. What would it be like having an alpha male like him all hot and bothered for her and not his objective?
“We need to talk.”
“Who are you?” she asked.
“Special Agent Trey Masters.”
Something tightened seductively between them at the sound of his name. The sensation rippled over her belly. “What do you want?”
“The same thing you do. I want to stop the pendant. I’m here to protect you.”
They stared at each other.
She smiled and would’ve laughed if she thought she’d get away with it. She touched his hand with her free one. “Well, Trey, like I said, you have the wrong girl. I’m not Rylie Sawyer. She your ex or something?”
His hand tightened and so did the lines in his face. He was so done playing games. “Do I need to make a scene?”
“You already are.” She yanked her arm free, and his eyes flared with golden embers.
“You had another vision, didn’t you? What did you see?”
How did he know? “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m not who you think I am. You’re confused.”
“I’m not.” He backed her further into a wing under construction. “I know how personal this is. The pendant killed your sister. Your family. It continues to seek you. I can help you. I can free you, Rylie.”
She shivered at the possibility of being free. How did he know so much? Who was this man? She had to get away from him. She backed away, but he merely advanced. He grabbed her by the shoulders, holding her against unfinished drywall.
She felt trapped.
“You can’t do this alone anymore,” Trey said.
“I know everything. I know how you found the piece on a independent dig. How you gave it to your sister to wear her wedding day and made her promise to give it back, but she didn’t. She murdered her husband and committed suicide two days later.”
She felt sick inside. “Who are you? What do you want?”
He seemed genuinely sorry for pushing her so hard. He touched her face with his hands. “Rylie, this is what I do. I find people and protect them. I free them. I’m going to help you move on.”
“I don’t need your protection.”
“Yes. You do.”
Could she trust him? She wanted to but she knew she shouldn’t. She couldn’t trust anyone. “You don’t know me or what I need.”
“I know you well enough to know that you’re planning on hunting down that couple and snatching the pendant to keep them alive.”
She was shaking. No one knew her as well as this man did. It frightened her greatly.
“I know it calls to you. It calls to me, too,” he whispered. “You’re not crazy.”
Tears rolled down her cheeks. It wasn’t a sign of weakness, but a joining of lives. Finally, she had someone who knew everything. His fingers laced through her hair. His thumbs skimmed her lips. He leaned in closer.
“Trust me, Rylie. I want you to trust me.”
She couldn’t. She had to get away from him. She struggled, and her lips brushed accidentally against his. Heat seared through her body as his firm lips brushed away. He groaned as her body swayed against his. His eyes widened.
“You taste so forbidden. It’s so wrong to want you.”
His mouth crushed over hers in a sensuous and passionate kiss. He instantly took the kiss deep by sliding his tongue past the barrier of her lips. Rylie moaned as her tongue flicked with his. He probed hard, dominating as though he were sexing her pussy. Rylie’s nipples tightened as Trey’s chest rubbed against hers.
It’d been so long since she let any man touch her. She pushed him away hard, but he didn’t go far. He merely broke his lips away from hers. She hated him for kissing her.
Trey was close. So near that she could smell the scent of his body and taste him upon her lips. Rainwater had seeped into the fibers of his coat. Earth and winter clung to his skin. It reminded her of a time when she wasn’t always on the hunt for the pendant.