Mad About You, page 1
Mad About You
Faye lay on her side and watched Kent sleep.
To accomplish their mission, they had to become lovers. Now that Kent was here, she was anxious to get on with it. It was supposed to be a relatively painless experience.
Kent shifted. Faye touched her fingertips to her lips, remembering the way his mouth felt on hers. She wanted him. He, however, had made it clear he was not going to cooperate. What on earth could be wrong with him?
He looked physically all right, but then again, she hadn't seen all of him, had she? He'd made certain she turned away while he undressed earlier. If she just moved his blanket a bit, she could easily check out the situation.
There was a cold breeze on his leg. Kent grunted and rolled over, but the breeze persisted, dragging him away from the very suggestive dream he'd been enjoying about Faye. Kent opened one eye and saw Faye studying his body as if she were his personal physician, her expression one of confusion and relief.
He didn't know what the hell she was up to now and he didn't care. He rose and pulled her into his arms, smothering her exclamation under his lips. He was tired of being the good guy…
Alyssa Dean captivated the Temptation editorial staff with her charming, whimsical story about the fight between good and evil, the power of true love and the importance of family. The story was born in a doughnut shop when Alyssa and her brother concluded that they would know telepathically if either of them were in trouble—hence the relationship between Avril and Kent. To block out the action scenes, Alyssa's three children spent one evening walking around their house with signs representing different scenes. Finally, to bring her luck, her husband gave her two pewter wizards who sit on her computer and watch her write.
It all worked and we're delighted to welcome Alyssa to Temptation. Her second book will also be out from Temptation in early 1996.
To Larry, Cathy, Christopher and Steven, four very magical people
MAD ABOUT YOU
Copyright © 1995 by Patsy McNish.
All characters in this book have no existence outside the Imagination of the author and have no relation whatsoever to anyone bearing the same name or names. They are not even distantly inspired by any individual known or unknown to the author, and all incidents are pure Invention.
This edition published by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises B.V.
® and TM are trademarks of the publisher. Trademarks indicated with ® are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the Canadian Trade Marks Office and in other countries.
Printed in U.S.A.
"Won't let you in, eh?" asked an amused voice.
Faye whirled around to face a tall, loose-limbed man whose features were obscured by the darkness of the Denver evening. She took a step backward and he held up his hands, palms outward. "I saw you go in," he said, gesturing toward the sixteen-story building across the street. "The way you hot-footed it down the stairs, I figured the security guard had turned you away."
"H-he did," Faye stuttered. She clutched her purse to her chest and wrapped her arms around it. She wasn't used to the city. Its unfamiliarity frightened her. This stranger was no help, either. His brown leather jacket and worn blue jeans suggested he was a creature of the streets—something she'd heard about but had never actually seen before. She had no idea where he'd come from. When she'd stumbled, mortified, across the pavement, she'd been certain there was no one out here. At this time of night all the stores had drawn blinds and Closed signs on the doors, and the bus-stop bench was deserted. Even the neon Cafe sign was turned off.
"I was in the alley," the man announced, as if reading her thoughts. "Why do you want to go into the Rinholt building?"
"I—I want to see someone." Faye was more than terrified now. The stranger was at least six inches taller than her own five foot three, and there was something sinister about the way the shadows cut across his face, giving her only an impression of darkness. "What were you doing in the alley?"
"Shortcut." He sounded as if he found the situation amusing. "Did you call him?"
"The person you're supposed to meet. He—or she—can authorize your admittance."
"I know." Faye moistened her lips with the tip of her tongue. "The se-security guard explained that to me." She shivered, remembering the cold, uncaring voice of that particular gentleman.
"So why not call?" he persisted. "There's a pay phone right over there."
"I tried." Faye hugged her purse tighter. "He didn't answer."
"Had he signed in?"
"N-no. But the security guard said that if he'd been there since before five, they wouldn't have a record of it." She swallowed hard, blinking away the threat of tears. She hadn't anticipated an intercom system at the Rinholt building, preventing her from even getting close to the security guard. Now she'd have to try the back, go through the dark abyss of the alley. Her heart pounded frantically at the very idea, but she knew it was the only way. She took a step toward the street, forcing an over-the-shoulder smile. "Well… ran… thanks for your concern."
He slid back into the shadows of the closed buildings. "You shouldn't be out here this late, you know. It's past ten. This isn't the most dangerous city in the world, but it isn't that safe for someone like you."
"I know." She wrapped her arms tighter around herself. "It… can't be helped."
"You could come back tomorrow. The building's open during the day."
"During the day," she repeated thoughtfully. She desperately wanted to grasp onto that idea, for a moment even considered doing it, but it was out of the question. She instructed her trembling legs to take another step toward the street.
"Good Lord," said the stranger in a completely different voice. "You're going to try to break in there, aren't you?"
"D-don't be ridiculous," Faye stammered. "I… um… Well, it's really none of your business, is it?"
"It might be." He sounded thoughtful. "For all you know, I could own that building."
Faye eyed his tired-looking clothes. "Do you?"
"No." She heard a smile. "I could be an undercover cop."
Her heart took a huge leap. "Are you?"
He chuckled. "Not exactly."
"Well then, um…"
"My name's MacIntyre," he announced. He stepped out of the shadows, revealing a long, narrow face, punctuated by the deep vee of a widow's peak. His hair, under the unreal luminescence of the streetlamp, appeared so black it swallowed the beams of light. His narrowed eyes were a similar color, wolflike, black irises flecked with lines of amber. The entire impression would have been sinister if it wasn't for the amused teasing in his eyes, the smile that hovered around his full lips, and the dimple in his chin. "Call me Kent."
He was now only a couple of feet away, smiling down at her with assessing admiration. Faye found herself returning that smile, as well as the admiration. There was something sensual in his languid movements, and in the way he was standing, his hips thrust slightly forward, his hands hanging loosely by his sides. "Kent MacIntyre," she repeated. Her voice was followed by a faint echo of his name: "Kent MacIntyre… MacIntyre… MacIntyre."
"That's right." His smile widened, he took a step closer, then seemed to catch himself. "Maybe you should go home. I'm sure your friend will understand."
Home? To her own safe little world? She'd left it only yesterday, but it felt like a lifetime ago. "No." She shook her head. "I can't do that. Home is far away."
"You're not from around here, then?"
"And you need your friend inside the building to take care of you?"
"Something like that," she said, nodding.
"Which floor is he on?"
"Um… I'm not sure. I think it's seven."
His voice took on a tone of suspicion. "What's this friend's name?"
"N-name?" She glanced over at the building, trying to remember the directory at the front. "Andrew. Arthur Andrew."
She nodded. "That's right."
"Okay." He looked up and down the street, stroking his chin with one hand. "I'll tell you what. You tell me your name, show me some identification, and promise to stick close to me. I'll take you up to Arthur's office. How's that?"
Faye studied him hopefully. Could this be the help her mother's people had promised? "Are you a Wizard?" she whispered.
Kent chuckled and shook his head. "No, babe, I'm not a Wizard."
Faye wasn't convinced. Hadn't her mother told her that Wizards were pretty conniving? "How can you get inside that building, then?"
He took a step closer, his exotic scent surrounding them both. "Without the use of magic. Now, what's your name?"
She hesitated a brief moment, then sighed regretfully. She should have known a Wizard wouldn't be this good-looking. He was just a kind stranger, that's all; perhaps one who could help her. "Anna. Anna… Ross."
"Anna, is it? Do you have any identification?"
"Oh, yes," She found the driver's license in her purse and handed it over, not bothering to mention that it wasn't hers.
He squinted at it under the streetlamp. "You're from Rapid City?"
"You sound like you're from Britain."
"Oh?" She'd forgotten about the accent. "I… was."
He handed back the license. "I'm surprised your name isn't Tinker Bell."
"As in Peter Pan." His long-fingered hands gestured in a movement that encompassed her body. "If you remember, she was pretty tiny." His grin flashed again. "Although very well put-together, I understand."
Now Faye's heart was thudding for an entirely different reason. "I'm n-not that sh-short," she stuttered. "Can you really get into that building?"
"Sure." He put a hand around her elbow, his touch sliding through her thin green cotton blouse and up her arm, heating one half of her body. "Come along. Remember, stay with me, okay? I don't want to get into any trouble."
It's too late, Faye thought. She hesitated for a second, not sure she was capable of doing this. He raised an eyebrow, and she nodded. She had no choice.
Kent guided her across the street and spoke into the outside intercom with an air of authority. The security guard rose from behind his desk, strolled toward the wide glass doors and peered at the open wallet Kent pressed against the glass. The uniformed man pushed open the door, flicking a nod in their direction as they entered. "Sign in!"
Kent scribbled his name in a book on the desk, then offered the pen to Faye. Instead she pulled a pen from her purse and wrote "Anna Ross" in nice round letters. "Remember to sign out when you leave," the guard called as they started down the hall.
"You got it." Kent put his hand back on Faye's arm and led her to the elevators. "We're in," he whispered into her ear.
"How did you do that?" she whispered back. "What did you show him?"
"A security pass. I have one for this building." He motioned her to precede him onto the elevator. "Now, which floor did you say?"
She hesitated in front of the panel, then pressed a button. "Seven."
Kent rolled a shoulder against the wall, leaned his head back and studied her. His voice dropped to a suggestive drawl. "You really want to see Arthur?"
"I do," she replied. She stared at him, memorizing the dark angles of his face, the lean movements of his fingers against his rib cage.
"Isn't he rather old for you?"
Faye had no idea. "He's just a friend," she ventured.
"Good." Kent's lips drew up with wicked suggestiveness. "How long are you in town?"
"N-not that long."
"Well, if Arthur's too busy to show you around, I'll be delighted to fill in for him."
"Would you?" Faye lowered her lashes, resisting the urge to giggle. In this situation it was rather absurd to be flirting with a handsome stranger who, tomorrow morning, would be furious with her. "That's… very kind of you."
His grin widened. "Kind probably isn't the right word."
Faye struggled against his charm and gave him a huge, grateful smile. "I really appreciate your help. How did you get a security pass for this building?"
"I work here, sometimes."
"Oh? Who for?"
"Stuart Investigations," he said.
Faye curled her fingers into fists, hoping her face wasn't revealing the horror she felt. "Investigations? Y-you don't look like a detective."
"Don't I?" He sighed dramatically. "And I try so hard. What does a detective look like?"
Faye could hardly breathe. "I'm not sure. I thought you were a street person or something."
"I know." He grinned. "That's what a detective is supposed to do. Blend in." The elevator jarred to a stop on the seventh floor. "Here we are."
Faye stepped out, with Kent a breath behind her. The doors whispered closed. Faye turned her head slowly, checking. The elevator was located in the middle of the building; to her right was a set of glass doors labeled Barkers Insurance, and to the left, matching doors marked Arthur Andrew, Accountant. There was nothing in the hallway, and apparently no one on the floor.
"There's no one here," Kent said into her ear. He crossed his arms over his chest, his eyes clouding into wariness. "How about telling me what you're really after?"
"I just want to… to…" Her heart slammed so hard against her chest that she thought she'd pass out. She put her right hand in her purse. When she pulled it out it was filled with fine, white powder. She glanced down at it, forcing herself to breathe. She had to do this. There was no other way. "I'm really sorry about this, Kent MacIntyre. You have no idea how sorry I am." She took one final look at his beautiful dark eyes, held out her palm and, ever so gently, blew into it. The white dust floated into the air. Kent stepped back, swiping it away with his hand, but it was too late. As the powder settled around him, he gave a shuddering moan, then crumpled to the floor.
Faye backed up, shaking with horror at what she'd just done. She scampered down the hall, searching until she found the ladies' room. When she located it she raced back, grabbed Kent's arms, and, although it took most of her strength, dragged him down the corridor and into the washroom. Then she knelt beside his unconscious body and struggled to turn him, which allowed her to retrieve his wallet out of his hip pocket. "I'm so sorry, Kent," she whispered into his ear. "Please forgive me." She pressed a finger against the faint stubble of his jaw, inhaling his scent, fighting the feeling that she'd done something she shouldn't have. Maybe she should have tried to explain, asked for his help. She picked up one of his hands, then dropped it, shivering. No, that wouldn't have been wise. She hugged herself, then pulled Kent's security badge out of his wallet. It was too late now to back out. Her self-imposed mission had begun.
"For Pete's sake, can't you talk quieter?" Kent asked through his tensely bunched jaw. "That charming policeman treated me to the same lecture. Now my head really hurts."
Dan Stuart paced across his small, square office, stopping long enough to grace Kent with a look of furious annoyance. "Your head should hurt, damn it!"
"It's swell to see you, too," Kent muttered. He watched Dan's usually placid features tighten ominously and winced. There were few people whose opinion of him mattered to Kent, but this sixty-six-year-old man was at the top of the lis
Dan took two huge strides to his desk, yanked open a drawer and pulled out a package of macadamia nuts. "What in hell did you think you were doing?" he snarled as he tossed the package into Kent's lap.
Kent unwrapped the package with slow, painful movements. "Helping a damsel in distress?"
"Maybe you should be a bit more choosy about your lady friends'."
"She's no friend of mine," Kent said bitterly. He nibbled on one nut, and then another. The pain in his head abated a millimeter. "Come on, Dan. It isn't as stupid as you and the police make out. She said she wanted to see someone in the building. I took her up to see him. I'm sure you've done the same sort of thing yourself."
"I may have," Dan allowed. "However, I make sure they follow regular security procedures, such as signing in!"
"She did sign in," Kent insisted. "I saw her do it. So did the guard!"
Dan's voice rose again. "The guard can't remember you coming in, let alone her! As a matter of fact, he doesn't appear to have much recollection of the night at all."
"The police told me that," Kent said glumly. "I get the impression they aren't taking my story very seriously."
"That's not surprising," Dan said, sighing. "Did you have to tell them you were attacked by Tinker Bell?"
"That's what she looked like!" Kent conjured up her image and resisted the urge to smile. "She's short, just over five feet, with silver blond hair, blue-gray eyes. A real cute little thing. She spoke with a slight accent—British, I think."
"You're right," Dan grunted. "You were attacked by Tinker Bell. She won, too." He tossed a laminated square across his desk. "She left this behind."
Kent picked up the square and stared at his own picture. "My security badge?"
"That's right. She used it to break into my offices. I've checked it for fingerprints, but it's been wiped clean."
"Wonderful," Kent said with a groan. "Just wonderful!"