“Did you—”

He seemed to read her mind as he shook his head. “Got a basic build and guesstimate on his height, but I didn’t get a good look at him. He wore a mask, gloves and all black. Like a fucking ninja,” Grant muttered, disgust lacing each word.

“Okay.” She nodded, hating the numbness that welled up inside her. Belle had been so excited to move out on her own. She loved her family but they were overbearing and rarely listened to what she wanted. This place was supposed to be her safe haven. A place where all the other bullshit in her life just faded into the background.

She vaguely listened as Grant made a phone call. He spoke in monosyllabic grunts, but apparently whoever was on the other end understood perfectly because when Grant hung up, he seemed relieved. “My friend is on his way. You won’t have to leave your house tonight.”

Relief welled up inside her, but it was short lived. Once his detective friend left, she’d be all alone. Sleep was out of the question. The thought of closing her eyes when some masked intruder had wanted into her house for God only knew what sort of purposes was terrifying.

“You can stay at my place or I’ll sleep on your couch.” Grant’s voice was deep, intoxicating and it took a moment for his words to completely register.

It really was like the powerfully built man could read her mind. Part of her wanted to be annoyed at his high-handedness. But the other part—that was scared shitless—was thankful he’d be close by. Despite the fact that someone had almost invaded her haven, she didn’t want to go next door. She wanted to stay put and in a way, stand her ground. “Stay here. Please…and thank you.”

Grant grunted a non-response and looked down at his phone, as if he couldn’t face her. Though she couldn’t imagine why. Hating the feeling that she’d somehow made him uncomfortable, she reached out and cupped his non-scarred cheek. The action was almost instinctual, which made no sense, considering they hadn’t known each other very long.

To her surprise, he didn’t pull away. Those mercurial eyes of his landed on hers and pinned her with a laser-like focus. Belle knew she shouldn’t be feeling anything right now other than fear, but her entire body heated up.

Pleasurable tingles skittered through her, hitting all her nerve endings with the subtlety of a mallet striking a gong. She tried to order her hand to move, to let go, but instead she slid off her chair so that she was standing in between his massive legs.

His eyes widened slightly and when she moved her hand so that she was practically holding the back of his neck in a death grip, she didn’t see surprise, but raw lust flare in those indigo depths.

Oh yeah, he wanted her. Which was good considering she was pretty much throwing herself at him. She’d never really taken charge before. Of course she’d never actually been in a real relationship before. Right now she wanted to straddle Grant and take charge in all sorts of wicked ways. From the dark, mesmerizing look he was raking over her face she had a funny feeling he’d let her do whatever she wanted. And then he’d do the same to her in turn. God, imagining the feel of his hands and mouth tracking over her naked body sent a delicious shiver rolling through her.

This one was so unlike the way she’d been shaking earlier. It had nothing to do with fear and everything to do with pleasure. Her eyelids became heavy as she narrowed in on Grant’s lips. Lips that looked so soft, inviting and completely kissable.

Grant leaned forward, covering the short distance between them so that their lips were a fraction apart. His warm breath tickled her face, making heat pool between her legs.

“I don’t want to take advantage of you,” he said so softly it took a moment for her to register his words.

She wanted to laugh but knew the timing was inappropriate. She’d practically jumped on him. Still wanted to, and he was worried about taking advantage. Considering they were neighbors and this had disaster written all over it, she was tempted to stop and pull back. But God help her, she didn’t want to. For once in her life she wanted to be reckless. Her lips tugged into a smile—and the doorbell rang.

Grant jerked back as if he’d been punched and let out a graphic curse. She let her hand drop but didn’t move from the haven of his spread legs. Every instinct told her she could trust him and that was sexy in itself.

“That’ll be Carlito.” He pushed his chair back and stood.

Grant gave her one long, almost appraising look before something akin to disappointment covered his features. Then that damn mask fell back into place and she couldn’t figure out what he was thinking at all.

Belle wanted to tell herself that the interruption was for the best. But Grant had this strange, intoxicating impact on her. When she was around him she didn’t want to think about consequences. She just wanted that hot body of his on hers. Sighing, she raked a hand through her hair and followed after Grant. Time to deal with reality.

Chapter 3

Grant transferred the bacon he’d cooked to a paper-towel covered plate. Though he’d hated to leave Belle for even a second, he’d gone home and grabbed some food from his refrigerator—since she had nothing in hers—so he could cook her breakfast. She’d still been sound asleep once he’d returned and he knew she probably needed it.

After Grant’s former partner, Carlito Duarte, had left last night Belle had crashed. He’d seen the events of the night caving in on her as she’d been questioned and the second he’d locked up after Carlito, she’d made a beeline for her bedroom.

The fact that she’d come on to him last night and had been very intent on kissing him still stunned him. When he was with her, he forgot about his scars and limp. She didn’t seem to notice so he didn’t focus on them either. It was strange and freeing and…fucking scary. He’d never been in a long term or even short term relationship. It wasn’t that he had issues with women. Hell, he loved them. They were soft, sexy and smelled great. His job had just never been conducive to anything long term. He worked nights, long hours and almost all holidays. Now he was jobless, had a fucked up face and body, and a gorgeous woman wanted him? Yeah, that was scary.

Of course he’d been very aware of his flaws when Carlito had shown up. His former partner was a pretty boy and never wanting for female companionship. Grant was straight but even he could appreciate the GQ thing Carlito had going on. While Grant had never had a problem getting laid before his accident, women just threw themselves at his friend. The guy didn’t even have to try.

Which was why Belle’s reaction to him last night had stunned Grant—and even though his friend would never admit it, her complete lack of awareness of Carlito, had taken the good detective off guard too.

She’d been practically sitting in Grant’s lap last night as she’d answered question after question and even when his friend turned that trademark smile on her, Belle hadn’t batted an eye or blushed or…anything. She’d just continued to look at Grant for support. Damn if that hadn’t made him feel ten feet tall. All she had to do was turn those clear green eyes on him and he’d do anything for her.

“Something smells good.” Belle’s soft voice pulled him out of his thoughts. “Where’d you find bacon?”

Turning around, he found her standing in the entryway thankfully wearing a soft looking robe that fell to her ankles. Last night she’d been wearing body-hugging pajama shorts and a skin tight tank top that left little to the imagination. It was hard to focus on anything but her body when she was like that. Hell, even when she was covered like this it was hard to focus but at least all that gorgeous toned, tanned skin wasn’t slapping him in the face.

“I grabbed some food from my house,” he said quietly, not looking directly at her. Doing so was damn hard sometimes. She was just so pretty and even though he was able to forget about the way he looked sometimes, seeing her reminded him of his flaws. “The lack of food in your refrigerator is pathetic.”

She chuckled lightly as she stumbled for the nearly full coffee pot. “I know. I just moved in though so cut me some slack.” After pouring herself a mug, she came closer, closer yet, until she leaned against the counter right next to him.

She smelled so good it made him pause. The subtle scent of raspberries and vanilla tickled his nose. Probably the lotion she used. At least she wasn’t on his scarred side. Still, with her sleepy eyes and hair tousled around her face like she’d just had sex, he wanted to drag his fingers through her long dark tresses and tug her close to him and make that just-had-sex-look a reality. No one had a right to look so hot in the morning, but even without makeup she looked fresh and damn if he didn’t want to bury his face in the crook of her neck while he buried his cock in her wet heat. Fuck. What was wrong with him? She’d said something, he was sure of it. Clearing his throat, he said, “What?”

Her eyebrows drew slightly together. “I asked how you slept. Was my couch too uncomfortable? I still haven’t bought furniture for my guest room but it’s on my list.”

The truth was he hadn’t slept much at all, but she didn’t need to know that. “It was perfect, but I think I should be asking you how you slept.”

Her knuckles turned white as she grasped her mug and she shrugged in what he guessed she thought would come off as casual. In reality it was jerky, unsteady and made him want to tug her into a comforting embrace. “I slept okay. Not great, but…okay.”

“Well you look great,” he murmured, then wanted to kick himself. He hadn’t meant to say that out loud.

Her cheeks flushed a beautiful shade of red, but she didn’t avert her gaze. Just stared at him with big green eyes that he could drown in. And she didn’t hide anything in her expression. That’s what killed him. She wore her feelings and emotions right out in the open. He could actually see her lust and he didn’t understand why she was attracted to him. He wasn’t used to dealing with anyone so unguarded. Definitely not in his former profession and none of his brothers or his father were like that. He’d lost his mother at a young age and his dad had never remarried. Throw in all his years in the Marines and he wasn’t exactly swimming in emotional awareness. He just couldn’t wrap his mind around why she stared so openly.