Unexpected, page 1
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© 2014 Nevea Lane
Editor: Katriena Knights
Cover Art: Marteeka Karland
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Chapter One. 4
Chapter Two. 19
Chapter Three. 29
Arnold Edinborough wrote, “Curiosity is the very basis of education and if you tell me that curiosity killed the cat, I say only that the cat died nobly.”
Well, Dinah Jacobs was thinking she was about to be one dead cat. The footsteps were coming closer. Hiding under a desk in her neighbor’s home, she knew she’d ventured into the wrong house. She didn’t even know what had possessed her to scale his seven-foot wooden fence into the man’s yard, let alone slip through the open patio door, through his kitchen, and into his home. She should have stopped at the yard because even his plush Kentucky bluegrass lawn had felt incredibly eerie, the way she sank into it like it was quicksand.
She kept telling herself she was merely a boring freelance travel writer with a cat that seemed to like the neighbor’s backyard, and that there was nothing strange about the way the mist of the night coiled and hung on the grass. Mentally, she blamed the stray Siamese she’d named Doll for everything that was going on at this moment. The cat showed up on her doorstep about the time Mr. Mysterious moved in. She had fed the cat, but it always seemed to go to his yard at night. During the day, it was at her house. So it was the cat that killed the cat, perhaps?
The footsteps had stopped. She tried to get her story straight in her head. I came home from shopping and Doll was on my patio. I’d bought a flea collar and was trying to put it on her when she took off running. I got to the fence and she wiggled her way through. I followed in pursuit. Yeah, that sounded like a good alibi in her head. She just hoped the owner would buy it.
“You can come out from under the desk now.” Light flooded the room. The voice seemed to vibrate off the walls and seep into her skin. It wasn’t husky, and it wasn’t deep—deep was too mundane a word. It was subterranean, and should have been illegal. She gulped and put her hand to her throat. Had her voice left? “I know you’re there, so you might as well come out. I can smell your fear.” She jumped and banged her head on the heavy oak desk.
“Son of a bitch,” she hissed, sliding out from under the desk and rubbing the back of her head.
“I didn’t realize you were acquainted with my mother.” The steel-edged voice didn’t seem amused.
As she crawled from under the desk on her hands and knees, she barely remembered how she even got this far into his house. He wasn’t going to buy her excuse—she looked like a damn thief. She was wearing black slacks, and they showed the grass stains on her bottom from falling off the fence. Luckily her turtleneck was also black and was hiding the scrape she’d gotten shouldering open the heavy wooden door to the den. She hadn’t yet gotten off her hands and knees before she started rambling into her alibi.
“Look, I am so sorry. I don’t know why I hid under your desk. I was trying to put this flea collar on Doll and she ran in here and I thought…” She finally got herself turned around and faced the source of the voice. She stopped mid-rant.
What she was staring at was the most surreal-looking human being she’d ever laid eyes on. She’d seen the sculptures at the Louvre in Paris, and this man was nothing near comparable. His skin was pale like the marble of those statues, but the statues didn’t glow like his skin did. She shook her head. That was impossible. People didn’t glow. She looked at his square, firm jaw-line, back to his face and swallowed. No, his flesh was glowing. It reminded her of staring at the moon after a fall rain. His inky black hair shone like wet tar, striking a sinister yet appealing contrast to his porcelain-like skin. It looked soft, and she felt immediately drawn to it, her hands itched to touch it. Yet, it was his eyes that made her lose her knack for babbling. They were a strange shade of blue, a hue stuck somewhere between midnight and dawn. Dinah had a master’s degree in English, and made a living off having a way with her words, and just his presence had robbed her of speech and thought. She only stared at him, wide eyed, because all her language skills had left.
His dark brows knitted together, and she swore she could feel his anger. This man had an aura of authority and anger. She started to inch around the desk, glancing at the door and judging the distance she’d have to make up. I’m going to make a run for it. Ten feet to the door and damn the cat.
“Don’t even think about running until you tell me why you’re here. Then I might let you leave.”
Let me leave? If her skin weren’t mocha colored, she probably would have looked as pale as he was. Fear hit first, quickly followed by anger. Did he think he could keep her here? Not without a fight, Mr. Dark and Morose. I’m a six-foot Amazon and proud of it. I haven’t met a man yet I couldn’t challenge and beat. She quirked an eyebrow, assessing if he was armed by letting her gaze wander over his body. No, the only weapon he had was those eyes, which were assessing her as she was assessing him.
She put her hands up, palms up and open, as if calling a truce. He just quirked his eyebrow and folded his arms across his broad chest.
“Hey, look, like I was saying. I followed Doll, the cat, from my backyard to yours. She snuck in the house through the patio door. I thought I would just get her out of here.”
Was he smiling? He’d just threatened her life, and he was smiling. He was a sick bastard. Gorgeous man but a sick bastard.
“Is this Doll a Siamese cat as big as a small dog?” Again, his voice seemed to be coming from around the room, not just from his mouth. It had to be the heavy, wood-paneled walls. She noticed, looking around the room, that everything was heavy wood. The door, the bookshelves, the coffee table. Everything except for the huge burgundy leather chair. It looked like it was fresh from the seventeenth century.
“Yes, that’s Doll. Have you seen her?” she said even as her feet slowly took her toward the door. Keep him talking and just back out the door.
“She is a he, and his name is Phantom. He is my cat.”
She gasped and stopped. All this time, it wasn’t a stray cat! She never felt so duped. And by a damn cat. At least it wasn’t a boyfriend this time. She shook her head, damn her rambling, even mentally she couldn’t stop. She started to move toward the door again.
“Look, uh, sorry, it was just that she…uh, it…he, uh, Phantom has been coming to the house in the morning and staying until night. I came to think of him as a stray and, well, mine. Sorry again. I don’t mind feeding him. It isn’t cat food, just leftover tuna and beef sometimes…” She was back to babbling. She managed to slide to the door and took a backward step over the threshold. Somehow, he was in front of her and staring into her eyes before she even knew he’d moved.
“If you ever darken my doorstep again…”
She didn’t give him a chance to finish. She turned and fled down the hall. The patio door was still cracked the way she’d left it, and she slid out of it sideways. She didn’t look back. Vaulting over the fence by leaping on his outdoor table, Dinah had run into her house before she da
Walking around her kitchen and rubbing her arms, she couldn’t shake the feeling of dread she’d experienced. Seven damn words, but the way he said it made her blood run cold. She poured herself a large glass of red wine and took a fortifying swallow. She wasn’t a drinker, but something about that encounter had left her shaken to the point of almost being afraid. She felt like she needed something stiffer, like a whisky sour, but wine would have to do. She tried to rationalize the last four minutes of her life.
“Sure, I committed a small crime of breaking and entering. I’ve been busted for trespassing before, amongst a few other petty misdemeanors…” She realized she was talking to herself. She’d never done that, but there was something frightening about her next-door neighbor that left her feeling nothing like herself.
“I have that affect on people.”
She whirled around, her eyes bulging as she looked at the face of the man in question. How did he get in? How did I not hear him? And why am I paying for an alarm system that obviously doesn’t work? She took one step back and, feeling behind her, grabbed a large carving knife from the butcher’s block on her center island. I’m not going to run in my own domain. I have a right to protect myself in my own home.
“So you mean I could have killed you in my home and everything would be fair?”
She looked up at him, meeting his steady gaze. She was positive hadn’t said that out loud. Then again, I was talking to myself just a moment ago, she thought, as she continued to stare at him. She thought her nerves were fried, but standing here, listening to a man who she didn’t know about death and killing. Shit. I’m going crazy. This is a dream. A nightmare.
“I’ve been called worse than a nightmare cherie. The look on your face is obvious. You haven’t spoken a word yet.” He kept still, his hands in the pockets of his black slacks. Dinah knew they looked like a formidable picture. They were both dressed in all black, both of them with jet-black hair, except she had bangs and looked more like a beatnik as opposed to his assassin look.
Clutching the knife, she willed herself to breathe.
“Look, I explained to you why I was in your place. Why are you here?” She risked taking her eyes off him to look at the patio door behind him. It was still closed and locked. He took a step closer, although it seemed more like he glided. She looked down at his feet and realized her wore a pair of dress shoes most men would only wear at funerals or christenings. And yet he hadn’t made a sound on her hardwood floor. She started to clutch the knife so tightly, she felt her nails begin to break through the skin of her palm.
“I believe you left this.” He tossed the forgotten flea collar onto the center island. She barely glanced at it as it skidded to a halt on the black, granite-top counter. She kept her eyes focused on him. She saw a hint of a smile playing at his lips, which seemed to be rather pink against his pale skin.
“Keep it—it’s your cat.” Looking at him with narrowed eyes, she wondered if he liked to scare people.
He rolled his eyes as if he could hear her thoughts. In her mind, she was trying to be fair, while maintaining her calm. She thought he could have found her frustrating as all hell. She did break into his house, hijacked his cat and left a flea collar behind. She’d been told she was stubborn and troublesome. Maybe he thought the same thing.
He looked down at the hand that was still clutching the knife. His eyes refocused on hers, his gaze locking on to her. She didn’t know why, but she felt compelled to put the knife down. Placing the knife on the counter, and fearing for her life the second she did, she folded her arms under her breasts and stared at him. She didn’t know his name, but the fact she had no idea who he was seemed to kick her libido into overdrive. She obviously needed to date more since the idea of making passionate love to this stranger seemed to be the only thing she could think about.
“Galien,” he said, although it seemed like his lips barely moved. “Galien Le’Coure.” Even his name put her on edge, the sound of his French accent making her shiver. Since he didn’t hold his hand out to shake, she kept hers folded and her fists balled.
“Dinah Jacobs, Galien Le’Coure. Boy, they don’t name ’em like that anymore.”
“I’m very—how would you put it? Ah, ‘old school’ is the term, I think.” She quirked an eyebrow at him. He didn’t seem like he belonged in her modern kitchen, and his slight French accent didn’t make him appear old school as much as old century.
Her writer’s mind took over as she began to analyze his look. He overtook her six-foot frame by at least eight inches. His narrow waist wasn’t hidden by the form-fitting sweater, but the sweater seemed to tighten around his broad shoulders and his deep, barrel chest. Despite the long sleeves of the sweater, she could see he had powerful arms. He could probably snap a neck with one hand.
She realized she was staring as soon as her eyes met his again. The pureness of the cerulean hue in his eyes made her breath catch. She stumbled backwards, beginning to cough. His hands were on her back, patting her soundly, before she realized he’d even moved.
Jumping away from his hands, she realized his touch was cold. It was almost sixty degrees out, which was warm for this time of year, but he was freezing. Maybe that was why he looked pale—his blood was cold.
“It can be. Right now, my blood is hot.” His voice boomed in her kitchen. How did he do that? One minute he was in her head and the next, his voice took over the whole space.
“What?” she said and inched away from him, her eyes darting back to the discarded knife.
“You don’t want that.” His gaze shifted to the knife. “What you want is me.”
Dinah gasped. It wasn’t that he had the audacity to say she wanted him. It was the fact that it was true. She did want him. She was afraid and still wanted him.
“I think you should go.” She finally found her voice, but the words were halfhearted and came out breathless.
“I don’t think I will.” His self-assured manner did nothing but make her want him more. Dinah was trying to get her mind around the fact that this man could be a psychopath, but neither her hormones nor her libido seemed to give a fuck.
“Why are you here?”
“To give your collar back,” he said as his eyes zeroed in on her throat. Her hands flew to her neck.
“Dude, you could have trashed it. Why are you really here?”
“You didn’t let me finish what I was saying.”
“Finish what? You said all you needed to say.” She honestly didn’t want to hear anymore. His presence was enough to turn her knees into jelly, and her heartbeat was racing. She was sure he could hear it thudding in her chest.
“I could hear your heartbeat as soon as I moved in next door,” he said as his lips parted into a smile. His look reminded her of the old saying—the smile of the cat who ate the canary. It was satisfied yet sinister. She shuddered, but then her mind snapped out of the fog it had been in since she’d encountered the man. Everything she thought, he responded to without her voicing it. It didn’t help that it was close to Halloween and she’d been jumping at shadows all month.
“Are you a mind reader? I know I didn’t say that out loud,” she finally said after her thoughts finally screeched to a halt.
“I’m much more than a mind reader. I’m what scares little children at night.”
“I’m not a little child.” She murmured, although his presence made her feel very much like one.
“No, you aren’t a little child. You’re very much a woman. A smart, chocolate woman I want to taste.” He came closer to her and bared a smile. As she watched, transfixed by his stunning white teeth, his incisors began to descend. His teeth are growing! The pointed ends seemed to shine in the dimly lit kitchen. He leaned in closer, his breath cold on her ear. “Can you imagine the ways I want to taste you? I want to bite you, then suck you, then bite you some more.” She shivered. H
He was standing dangerously close to her, his breath cool on her neck. He pressed his body into hers and smiled, his fangs fully descended and fully visible. Her voice was breathy when she finally responded.
“Wha-what… What were you going to say?” she stuttered.
“I was going to say, if you ever darken my doorstep again, I will show you what you do to a man, even a dead one.”
“No,” she whispered although it wasn’t in protest. The images of Galien—a vampire—and her entwined in sheets, her face contorted in pleasure sped through her brain. Her whispered plea was one of denial. Vampires didn’t exist, they certainly didn’t, and there wasn’t one standing in her kitchen. Any minute now she was going to wake up.
“You aren’t dreaming.” His voice was gruff, and he finally had her pinned, his strong arms on either side of her, trapping her against the countertop. “You are very much awake. Let me show you how awake you are.”
His head dropped to her neck, and she felt his tongue caress her skin. It sent a shiver through her, and her whole body tensed. He licked from her earlobe to under her chin, his fingers pulling the turtleneck sweater down from her neck. She gasped. Was he going to bite her? He chuckled.
“Not yet, but I will.” His promise made her shudder in anticipation. He grabbed the sides of her face with his calloused hands. It felt so different than anything she’d ever experienced. His head angled toward hers and she felt his mouth on hers, his fangs nipping at her bottom lip as his mouth moved over hers. His kiss was expert, moving over her top lip then her bottom, nipping until her mouth opened. His tongue slipped inside her mouth, and it felt like electricity ran down her spine.
She tried to push at his chest. The realization of what he was danced at the edge of her logic, defied everything she knew, and he was kissing her and she liked it. Finally, she tore her mouth from his, gasping for breath.
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