The Naughty Angel Returns (Naughty Angels In Love) (2 page)

BOOK: The Naughty Angel Returns (Naughty Angels In Love)
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At least the other Haley was smart enough to see through him. It strengthened her resolve to get rid of him. She breathed a sigh of relief, realizing that it was just a friendship ring on her finger, something he'd given the old her to keep her satisfied. At least she wouldn't be breaking any hearts when she gave him his walking papers. There was no love toward her in his gray aura, only greed and ambition. A chill went through her at the realization. He was the kind of ambitious man who'd stop at nothing to get what he wanted. “Get me a mirror, stat.”

He smiled and picked up the vase, moving it to the dresser. Then he flipped open the mirror on her tray table. “See, you're as beautiful as ever.”

She gazed at her new reflection, so different from her former self, seeing lustrous, dark hair, blue eyes, full, pouting lips, and huge boobs stretching her ugly hospital gown. Haley Aims, well-known plus-sized model. It was true. They'd never met, but Haley Aims's reputation was that of a diva, some of which was probably trumped up by Chad for publicity purposes. Heck! Would she have to atone for the other woman's transgressions as well?

Probably. She owed it to her for a second chance at love. Thanks a lot, Max, she thought. At least they knew the serial killer was now fixated on models as well as hookers; she'd been both in her former life. She'd been set to shoot a
Playmate
centerfold when she'd been killed, although her family and former fiancé hadn't known what she'd been up to. God, as badly as she'd treated her family and Jaden, she desperately needed to improve her karma in this life. Max had pretty much warned her that, in order to leave purgatory, she had much to do in this incarnation. She glanced up at the aging surfer whom Haley had wrongly trusted, and cringed inside.

             
Then another man walked in the door, and she forgot all about Chad. Dirty blond hair, even-dirtier warm brown eyes behind horn-rimmed glasses, and he was wearing a tweed suit. Talon… Crispin T. St. Giles was the image of an intellectual author. Her heart beat faster as she gazed at him, and she licked her suddenly dry lips. Her soul mate, if only she could convince him of that fact and save his stubborn, sexy ass. The Scarlet A Killer was targeting him, and he didn't even know it.

“May I have a word, Ms. Aims?” His honey-coated voice belied his nerdy outward appearance. She knew how hot he was under those glasses, although she doubted that Crispin thought of himself as hot. Her heart was slamming against her chest as he continued. “The nurses said it would be all right, and timing is of the essence if we're to catch the copycat.” His warm, perfect smile made her feel completely human again, and it heated her to her bones. She melted like butter as they locked gazes, and she felt that he was attracted to her too, a great thing. A glance at his aura showed her that it was like a rainbow etched with gold.

Chad cleared his throat, interrupting, and she slanted an annoyed glance at him as he stalked over to Crispin. Talk about bad timing. She'd thought that she'd have to seek her soul mate out, not that he'd come to her. Maybe Max was throwing her a bone. She rolled her eyes as Chad tried to imitate a tough, almost-coplike stance, his thumbs in his belt loops as he stalked up to Crispin. “No press. Buddy, this is not the time. Can't you see she's not all there?”

Haley resented Chad's interference and his statement that she'd lost her marbles. “I am so all here,” she snapped at Chad and then took her focus off his furious face to look at Crispin. He was gazing at her with what she thought was approval. “I'm fine. Come in, Mr. St. Giles, and sit down.”

“You know my name?” he asked, surprised.

She knew everything about him from his sexy middle name, Talon, to the way he liked his eggs Benedict to his potential for hot, kinky sex, but she couldn't say that. She hoped he didn't notice her heating face as she thought of how hot he'd be between the sheets. “Of course I know who you are. Who doesn't?” She smiled at him, hoping she didn't sound as sappy as she felt. “I loved your story on the Randolph Pipeline scandal; it was first-rate investigative reporting. I'm a fan, Mr. St. Giles.”

“Since when?” Chad cut in. “All you ever read is the funny—”

“Why don't you run along,” she suggested while frowning at Chad. “As a matter of fact, just go, have a nice life.” She screwed off the ring and held it out to him. She didn't want him or it.

Chad shook his head, his jaw hanging open. Finally he lifted his chin. “That's just the shock talking, babe. In the morning, after you finish the shoot, you'll be fine. I know how much you love me. One bad scare can't change our love.”

“And I know about April…and your finagling of my investments,” she said, seeing his genial mask drop as he pulled himself together to glare at her. “So, no, I'm not going to change my mind.” She placed the ring on the table.

“I never…” he said with a gasp, then scowled. “You can't prove any of this.”

She sighed, knowing she had to do this for the real Haley. “Don't worry; I've no intention of suing you for robbing me. I'll just chalk it up as another step in my personal enlightenment. It took almost dying to make me admit to myself that you just want my potential for money, and it's not going to happen or make either of us happy.” Seeing him calculate a response, she cut him off before he could argue or try to charm her. “Just go. This is a final decision. In the morning I'll move out.”

“Why, you fat bitch…”

Crispin growled and made a move toward Chad, who paled. “I don't think you should talk to the lady like that.”

“Fine, I'll go for now,” Chad said grudgingly. “I'll be back in the morning, babe, after you've had time to simmer down. Fat chick like you is lucky to have a looker like me. All you'll get without me is a plus-sized male model with a little dick. I'll be back after you've thought it over.” He held up the ring. “And this is”—he cleared his throat—“a true diamond. Don't belittle my sacrifice.” Giving her a hostile look, he turned.

She watched him stalk away.

“You okay?” Crispin asked.

She sighed, wincing when her bruised throat throbbed. Letting go of the past, even if it was someone else's, was painful. “I will be.”

“You and he were lovers?”

“He was a mistake from another life. Surviving the attack feels like a whole new life for me, and I intend to make the most of it.” She motioned toward a chair. “Have a seat, Talon.”

He sank into the bedside chair and got out a mini-tape recorder. “How'd you know my middle name, Ms. Aims?”

She groaned inside knowing she'd almost blown it. It was just that she thought his middle name was so sexy and unusual that it tripped off her tongue. “Call me Haley. I told you, I'm a fan. I know lots of things about you. And in contrast to what he implied, I'm not crazy.”

He nodded, looking deep into her eyes. “I never thought you were. Tell me about the man who attacked you. The Scarlet A copycat.”

So that's how skunk breath had gotten away with it; pretending to be a copycat. Shit, Trevor was smarter than she'd given him credit for. She couldn't make the mistake of underestimating him. Oh how she wanted to spill it all, give his name, but she had to follow the rules. Still, a brief description couldn't hurt. “It was such a shock, I'm afraid that I blocked most of it out, but he's got sandy brown hair, gray eyes, and he's probably walking with a limp since I racked him good.”

He smiled. “You racked him?”

“Hard,” she said with a satisfied nod. “I wouldn't be surprised if he seeks medical treatment for his injury.” When Crispin leaned forward, hanging on her every word, she felt as if he was pulling the story out of her. “Oh, and he's a heavy smoker; reeked of it, in fact. And he's not a copycat. It's the same man.” She wanted to call back the words as Crispin's eyes darkened with interest, but it was too late.

“What makes you think he's the same man?” He tilted his head to look at her.

She felt his piqued interest right down to her toes and bit her lip, knowing she'd almost given the game away. Max hadn't told her exactly what the penalty was for cheating, but she knew it would cost her Crispin. She couldn't risk it. She could all but feel Max frowning down at her from above and sighed. “Just a feeling, I guess,” she said, sensing that Crispin didn't believe her. He thought she was holding back—if only he knew. “He said he'd come back for me. You've got to take me to a place of safety if you want me alive to help you with your story.”

“I think the police would do a better job of protecting you than me,” he said, but he was staring at her hard.

“I don't want that sort of protection. I feel they never caught the real Scarlet A Killer, and for all they screwed up, I don't trust their protection now.”

“You don't believe that the man who confessed and killed himself was the Scarlet A Killer? Even though his trailer was filled with articles about the murders? Even though nobody has been killed that way since?”

She knew he shared her doubts—she could feel it—but he wouldn't tap into the psychic part of himself. “No, I don't believe it.” She froze waiting for a bolt of lightning to strike her dead for almost spilling the beans, and when nothing happened, she relaxed back against the pillows.

“Maybe your manager was right. You're not up to this.”

She winced, knowing that Crispin had taken her reaction for fatigue. “I'm fine, and we need to discuss this. I think that the DA just wanted to calm everyone's nerves. He was up for reelection. It wasn't a thorough investigation, and I think the guy who confessed was just a crazy person. The real Scarlet A Killer almost killed me, and the police weren't even all that interested since I'm all right. What's more, I know he'll be back. I want you to protect me.”

Chapter Two

 

Crispin gazed down at the killer's latest victim, stunned both by her request and the intense way she looked at him, like she wanted more than just his protection. It was as if she couldn't wait to have him touch her, and his hands itched to do just that despite the circumstances. She was pale, hooked up to IVs, and the bruises around her neck were brutal, but he still wanted her. She was dangerous to his sanity.

His gaze swept over her luscious curves anyway, and he couldn't stop his stupid body from responding as his cock swelled. She was perfect, a generous handful of woman, and feisty to boot. But she was definitely not all there. Little wonder, after what she'd been through. He took in the sincere look in her beautiful blue cat's eyes that told him she believed what she was saying. “You've nothing to fear, Ms. Aims. You're safe in the hospital now.” He reached out to take her hand and felt a burning deep inside. Damn. His cock twitched. “The police guarding the door will keep you safe while you recuperate.”

She lay back with a snort. “A lot you know. They protect him…”

“I thought you said you didn't know him,” he said, watching her telltale blush as he exposed her lie. She was hiding something important, and from her suddenly shuttered expression, he could tell that she wasn't very skilled at deception.

“I don't…that is.” She sucked in a breath and met his gaze. “Call it a hunch, women's intuition.”

He felt poleaxed as their gazes met once again and locked, and he felt his gut tighten along with his loins. “A hunch, huh?” She was trouble, but oh what trouble.

“Sure. I'm positive as a journalist and true-crime writer you play hunches all the time.”

Shit, he'd just signed the contract for his debut true-crime book. How did she have that inside information? He hadn't told anyone yet. “How'd you know I was a true-crime writer?”

She shrugged and bit her lip. “I'm psychic.”

Maybe her smarmy ex-manager ex-fiancé was right—she wasn't all there. He tried not to roll his eyes and stood to go. “I'm sure you're tired.” He gazed once more at the purpling bruise around her throat and wanted to kill the fiend who had tried to murder her. “I'll be back to see you in the morning.”

“I'm not tired, I'm terrified. If you don't take me with you, I'll die.”

Her words got to him, even though he knew they were crazy. “Look, lady.” Her narrowed eyes made him sigh. “Haley, you're just suffering from post-traumatic stress. After a few days you'll be fine.”

“No, I won't,” she said, pushing back the covers and swinging her feet off the edge of the bed. “If you want your story, you'll take me with you.”

“Just settle back in bed,” he said, pushing her back against the pillows. She went with a sigh, showing him how shaken she really was. “I'll go speak with the nurses and see when you can be safely released.” Letting her go was hard, but he told himself it was for her own good as he left the hospital room, firmly shutting the door behind him. He stalked down to the nurses' station and found the token police guard chatting up a pretty nurse. Shit, maybe Haley was right, they weren't looking after her properly. He walked up to the cop, saying, “Hey!”

The cop turned to frown at him. “Ya wanna keep it down, buddy? This is a hospital.”

“Yeah, and you're supposed to be guarding the lady down the hall. Do your job, or I'll report you.”

“And just who might you be?” the cop snapped.

“I'm a reporter, and you just let me waltz in there.”

Haley lay there limply against her pillows, waiting for Crispin to come back and spring her. And waited…and waited. As time ticked by, she realized he'd ditched her, damn it. Didn't he know she was his soul mate and protector? She rolled her eyes at her inner thought. Of course he didn't. She sighed. Maybe he'd just been detained. Yeah, right. Still, she had to check. She sat up on the side of the bed, wobbling when her head spun. Damn, whatever they were pumping into her IV was potent.

BOOK: The Naughty Angel Returns (Naughty Angels In Love)
6.96Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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