Chase glanced slightly to the right as if telling her something. Only then did she hear the footsteps.

A guy—a big guy, about twenty-one, shaved head, tattooed up, with enough piercings that a refrigerator magnet could take him out—came to a stop at their table.

“I hear you’re asking questions about one of mine?” The guy posed his question to Della. From his words, she supposed he was the leader of the gang. She couldn’t help but wonder if the one with the most piercings got to be the leader. She counted eight pieces of metal just on his face.

“Yes,” Della said, trying not to stare at the ring that dangled off his nose. Man, wouldn’t that be a hazard when fighting? “I heard you had a fresh turn recently join. I’m looking for a guy with short dark hair.”

“And just why are you looking for him?” he asked, his tone abrupt.

Time to lie or skip around the truth. “Actually, I had a brief encounter with him.” That was true. He’d flown over her at a low range.

“But you don’t have a name? Isn’t that kind of strange?”

“Not really all that strange,” Chase, with his lying abilities, spoke up. “She met him right after he turned, and you know how overwrought a vamp can be during that first forty-eight hours. Anyway, she never got his name. Crazy, right?”

Mr. Piercing didn’t look convinced. “I thought she was your girl. I heard you nearly choked a guy to death for touching her.”

Chase shrugged. “Well, let’s just say I’m trying to convince her to be my girl. She thinks she might have something with this other guy. Chance meeting and all that—one night with someone doesn’t mean crap. I don’t care how good he was in the sack.”

Say what? Had Chase just basically called her a ho? He might as well have when he’d said she’d had a one-night stand and done the hump-and-bump with a crazed stranger. He couldn’t think of a better cover story than that?


“And,” Chase continued, still eyeing the vamp, “I think as soon as she sees him, she’ll realize I’m the better choice.”

The pierced gang leader stared at Chase. “Maybe you’re interested in joining up with us?”

“I’m not much of a joiner,” Della put her two cents in.

The gang leader looked at Della. “Actually, we’re more interested in your friend here. But if you’re willing to put out that easy, you might convince me.”

She growled.

“Hey,” Chase intervened; sounding a little perturbed, but how could he? He’d started this.

“She hasn’t given it up to me,” Chase said. “That’s why I’m sort of curious to meet this guy and see what he has that I don’t.”

The gang leader seemed to buy it. Della didn’t know whether to be happy or pissed off. “Well, I’m curious to see what kind of muscle you got. See if you’re as strong and quick as rumor has it.”

Chase leaned back in his chair. “Tell you what. You hook us up with a meeting with your new kid on the block, and you and I’ll go for a little innocent one-on-one in the ally.”

“How about we do that right now?” The pierced vamp extended his fangs, and Della sensed that his idea of a one-on-one sparring match wasn’t all that innocent.

Oh, double damn! This wasn’t going to end well.

Chapter Twenty-eight

Della cut her eyes to the table of agents. At least they wouldn’t be alone.

“Nah,” Chase said, keeping his cool, but his eyes grew brighter. “I like my idea better.”

“And I don’t.” The gang leader glared at Chase. “What does it take to get you in a fighting mood? Touching your little slut here?”

“No,” Della snapped, not fond of being called a slut or being used as bait, but more furious at being seen as someone who couldn’t fight her own battles. “That would put me in a fighting mood. Then you’d be embarrassed at having your ass whooped by a girl.” She let her fangs down and glared at the hand he held out.

“No trouble, Luis!” the bartender called out. “That’s our deal. You still haven’t paid for the last tussle your guys started in here.”

The jerk shot the bartender a third-finger salute, then focused back on Chase. “I see why you like this chick. Spunk and not a bad looker either.”

“Do we have a deal or not?” Chase seethed, no longer playing nice. “Bring the guy in for a chat and we’ll take it outside so the bartender won’t have an issue.”

“We’ll see,” he said. “I’ll make a few calls and see if my new member is interested in coming to see a lost love.” Luis, obviously that was his name, looked back at Della. “But you know, considering he was freshly turned, there’s a good chance he won’t even remember you. Now wouldn’t that just break your little heart?”

“I’m hoping that’s not the case.” Della tried to keep the venom from her voice.

Three minutes after he left, Chase went back to talking about traveling. He stopped when Della’s phone dinged with a new text. She looked at it, hoping it wasn’t from Steve again. It wasn’t.

Get out of the bar! Now! Burnett wrote.

She passed her phone to Chase.

He didn’t look happy, but when she got up, he followed. From the corner of her eye, she saw the agents watching. What the hell was going on?

“What about our plans?” called Luis from the bar.

“We’ll be right back,” Chase said. “Just going to drain the lizard.”

“Is she gonna hold it for you?” someone in the crowd asked. Laughter exploded.

Della sent the crowd her own third-finger salute.

They walked out into the dark night. Chase darted around the back of the building to the edge of the woods. He raised his nose in the air, checking for any nearby company.

He must have found it clear, because he asked, “What the hell is this all about?”

“Don’t know,” Della said. “But Burnett always has his reasons.”

“He can’t send us in to do a job and then pull us!”

“He just did,” she said. “And—”

Chase pressed two fingers over her lips and nodded to the woods, pulling her closer to the building, away from the moon’s glow.

Della tried to catch a scent, but couldn’t. But when she tuned her hearing, she heard voices. Close voices. And they were coming from two different directions. There was no place to hide. They could run, but it might be too late.

She saw a group of four guys walking from the line of trees on her left. Another two came from the right. They had their faces held up, as if they’d already picked up on their scents. Yup, it was too late. And if they were with the gang, it could mean trouble. Della’s only idea was to look inconspicuous. And the only way to make it appear believable was to …

She swung around, wrapped her arms around Chase, and kissed him. Hard and heavy. His lips felt cold, but soft and moist. He tasted like mint, as if he’d only recently brushed his teeth. And something about that taste had her almost forgetting why she started this.

If there was any hesitation on his part, it lasted a fraction of a second. His arms wrapped around her, the palm of his hands landing at the curves of her waist, then slipping to her back. In his embrace, and somehow entranced, he turned her so his back would be facing the oncoming vamps.

Della heard laughter and one of the guys said, “Those whores are always busy.”

Fury filled her heart but quickly faded as sweet hot desire spread to her belly. She realized her hands were on his chest; the feel of his hard body had her heart picking up pace. Chase’s hands glided up and down her ribs, softly caressing the sides of her breasts. Then his thumb brushed across her taut nipple. She almost moaned. And she was certain she heard a soft murmur from deep in his chest.

It was all an act, she told herself, but her body responded to his touch and to every delicious inch of his firmness so close to hers.

Stop it. Stop it! she told herself, and tried to fight the passion swelling inside her.

With what little brain cells she owned that weren’t drunk the kiss, she listened to the footfalls as the group of vamps walked away. They were just past the building when Chase ended the kiss. His gaze met hers, and she saw the heat in his bright eyes. Bright from danger, or from their kiss, she didn’t know. Then, breathless, he uttered, “Wow.”

Okay, so it was probably the kiss.

Another voice sounded in the distance, and without a word he gripped her hand and lit out in a dead run. Pulling her beside him. She had no warning when his feet rose and he went into full flight, taking her with him.

Not that soles of her boots missed the ground; she felt as if she’d been floating since his mouth had found hers. Finally the sense of danger built and the passion, as great as it had been, got swept away with the wind. And her first thought was how bad an idea that kiss had been.

They weren’t past the first line of trees when she heard someone call out, “Where the hell did they go?” She recognized the gang leader’s voice.

And he was too close.

Chase moved faster, still holding her hand. She tried to keep up, tried to pull her own weight, but she simply wasn’t that fast. She heard the distinct sound of the vampires behind them.

Chase darted in and out of the trees as if to lose their scents. She still heard voices in the distance. The next thing she knew, Chase swung her around in his arms, holding her against him, and flew like the wind. The trees became a blur. She was no longer sure what was sky or terrain. Up, down, over this, under that, he moved faster than she’d known possible.

Her skin stung as they cut through the air. She had to bury her face in his chest to keep her eyes from burning.

She might not be able to pick up any traces, but this close, held against him, she could smell him again. The same spicy scent of male soap and the natural aroma of male skin that had surrounded her when they kissed was again filling her senses and messing with her head. Fresh. Clean. Wonderful. He had to have showered shortly before coming here.

She felt his face press down to her head. Was that his lips against her temple?

His words came against her ear. “I’m going to fly around to make sure they can’t follow our scents back to Shadow Falls.”

She didn’t answer. Didn’t think he expected her to.

A minute later, maybe two, or hell, maybe five minutes—she lost track of time—he landed. Her heart thumped in her chest, or was that his heart she felt? He held her off the ground and close. She opened her eyes and saw they were by a lake. No, not just any lake, but the lake at Shadow Falls.

He lifted his face in the air as if to see if they’d been followed. Only then did he look at her. His bright green eyes smiled. He looked happy with himself. He should be. Where the hell did he learn to fly like that?

“You okay?” he asked.

She nodded, having to swallow before she could speak. “Put me down.”

He slowly lowered her, but before his hand left the curves of her waist, he drew her against him. His mouth met hers. Soft. Moist.

This time, he tasted different. Even better.

He tasted like danger. He tasted like something she’d never tasted before.

He tasted … forbidden.

Oh, hell! He was forbidden. Giving herself a swift and firm mental kick in the ass, she yanked away from him. Slapped both her palms on his chest and shoved him down. He landed on his ass.

“Stop that.”

“You started it,” he said, and smiled.

Smiled. How dare he smile when…? She growled. “I only did it so they would think…”

“That we were about to get na**d.”

“So they wouldn’t think…”

Plant one on that Chase guy. She heard Miranda’s voice.

“I only did it because…” Maybe because that freaking witch put it in my mind. Had she put a curse on her? No, she wouldn’t have done that, but it didn’t matter, just planting the idea had caused havoc. Bad havoc. She didn’t want to like Chase’s kisses. Didn’t want to want … That was it, she was killing Miranda.

She swung around and took off. Chase followed her. His footsteps filled the night.

“Hey, we need to talk.”

“No,” she snapped, and followed the lake. But she was so confused she wasn’t even sure which way it was to her cabin.

“Don’t run away,” he accused.

“I’m not running,” she seethed. “I’m walking.”

“Della?” Chase called out.

Walking away from you. She looked down at her feet to confirm it was true, and before she looked back up, she’d walked right into a solid chest. Damn him and his speed! Without thinking, blind with fury, she put her hands on his chest. She gave one big shove and knocked him on his ass again.

Then she heard it. Heard Chase’s footsteps behind her. But if he was behind her … Whose ass was it she’d just bruised?

“Why the hell did you do that?” Burnett asked, getting to his feet, scowling at her with bright angry eyes.

Unable to talk, she just stared.

Then she swore the camp leader lifted his face to sniff the air. Friggin’ frack! He probably smelled pheromones. And yes, she was probably putting out a few.

Damn it to hell and back, but she wanted to deny that she enjoyed the kiss. Wanted to claim it was just … the danger, the situation.

She couldn’t deny it.

She’d enjoyed it.

“What the hell is wrong?” Burnett asked again.

“Nothing.… I didn’t realize it was you.”

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