Feeling a transient flash of the terror from her earlier dream, Lyssa nodded and went to the cabinet in the kitchen where she kept all her meds and did as he asked. He held her hand as she turned off the lights, leaving the mess from dinner in the sink when he told her he would take care of it in the morning.
They took the stairs side by side, his longer stride shortened to match hers. He pulled back the crisp white sheets and then slid into them, his back upright against the padded headboard of her contemporary bed. She curled into his open arms, settling into his side as if it were custom-made for her.
You're almost hard enough to be uncomfortable.
"Hmm?" He buried his nose in her hair and breathed deeply.
Are you an angel?
With her eyes closed, she frowned, confused by the bits and pieces of memories that surfaced randomly. Too randomly to make any sense. "Does it bother you that I don't remember our time together?"
Lyssa felt the press of his lips against the top of her head.
"I wish you did," he admitted, hugging her closer. "But we'll make new memories."
Burying her face in his chest, Lyssa felt the unnaturally intense pull of sleep brought on by the powerful drug.
Just before she lost consciousness, she remembered what she had forgotten and felt a brief flash of panic. She'd promised this weekend to Chad.
Then she felt nothing at all.
Rising up from the depths of drug-induced sleep was always a bitch, but today wasn't as bad as usual. At least that's what Lyssa told herself as JB's persistent grumbling woke her. Eyes closed, she snuggled further into the warmth of the blanket and realized she was cuddling chenille. Which could only mean one thing—she had slept on the couch again. The only place she kept a chenille throw.
To wake up on the sofa meant… It had all been a dream.
She heaved out a breath that was both relieved and sad. She finally remembered a dream in vivid detail, which was great, but so was Aidan. At least he seemed as if he was. And he wasn't real.
JB continued his impatient kneading of her thigh. She took the hint and opened her eyes. The ceiling was lit with mid-morning sunlight. She sighed again, and her nostrils filled with the smell of fresh coffee. Turning her head, Lyssa looked for her mother, then froze in place, her breath seizing in her lungs.
Just a few feet away was a sight that filled her with awe. In the center of her living room, Aidan stood with legs spread wide, his powerful back glistening with a fine sheen of sweat as he arched his body sinuously through a series of movements that looked like Tai Chi. With one major difference—Aidan was holding a massive sword that looked something like Excalibur. Her coffee table had been pushed aside to make room for his lunges and his wielding of the glinting blade.
She watched him with mouth agape, amazed at the beauty of his rippling muscles and the easy strength with which he held that impossibly heavy-looking sword. He tossed it easily to his other hand, working that side, displaying the same proficiency with that arm as he had shown with his dominant one. He moved silently, making no sound. Not even the rapid swing of the blade disturbed the peaceful morning silence.
As she admired him with ever heightening arousal, Lyssa wondered why the sight of a stranger with a wicked sword didn't scare the shit out of her. Instead she was getting turned on. Seriously turned on.
Aidan turned at that moment, his blue eyes meeting hers, the intense concentration on his features melting into a devastatingly wicked smile. He winked, burning out every brain cell she had, and continued his routine.
"Morning, Hot Stuff," he murmured, his voice not even breathless.
"Hi," she whispered back, enthralled by the beauty of his honed warrior's body and the feeling of contentment she felt at his endearment. He was pure, sexually charged male, and his blatant sensuality reminded her that she was female, with needs that had long been suppressed by exhaustion. Her nipples peaked hard and tight, aching. Her skin flushed, making her hot, reminding her of his fever. "How are you feeling this morning?"
He arched a brow. "Great. And if you keep looking at me like that, I'll show you just how great."
A tremor shifted through her. "Promises, promises," she teased, her voice husky.
"Don't tempt me more than you already are. After spending the night with you wrapped around me, I'm more than willing to make you late for work."
Wrapped around him. Damn, that's why she hated taking drugs. She wished she could remember that.
"How did I end up on the couch?"
"I carried you. I wanted to be the first thing you saw when you woke up. We have to talk."
Pushing up from the sofa, she ran a hand over her mussed hair and wrinkled her nose. She didn't look tempting in the morning. She looked like shit. A quick glance at the clock revealed that it was nine in the morning. "I have to take a shower. I have work in an hour."
"Go get ready," he said, his words tossed over his shoulder as he turned away from her again. "I'll have coffee waiting for you when you come down."
She stood and stretched. "Thanks. There's vanilla creamer in the fridge."
"Got it. And you like two sweetener packets, too."
"Uh, yeah…" She frowned at how much he remembered about her, then took the stairs.
It felt a little strange, the settled domesticity they were sharing, especially when the man she was being domestic with was half naked and waving a sword in her living room. But it was only slightly strange. Mostly it fit, soothed her, gave her a spring to her step and a higher lift to her chin.
She took her time in the shower, even though she knew she was going to be late. Stacey wouldn't admit it, but she had been scheduling the first appointment a bit later than she let on, giving Lyssa time to get it together in the morning. Today Lyssa made the most of it, shaving her legs with extra care and then rubbing her favorite country-apple-scented body oil into her wet skin. As the pelting spray washed away the last of her grogginess, Lyssa started thinking about Aidan.
Aidan, the mystery man, who acted as if they had been dating forever and said next to nothing about himself.
He was right. They needed to talk, because she needed answers.
Dried and dressed, her mouth watering at the thought of hot fresh coffee, Lyssa found her living room restored to its former furniture arrangement and Aidan leaning like a sex god against the counter, laughing into the phone.
She paused, arrested by the sound, one that was both deep and light, and endlessly seductive. It was the kind of rumbling laughter that made a woman think of passionate play in bed, rolling and laughing amid warm tumbled sheets, lost in the moment.
His mouth curved on one side as he stared at her, his gaze dipping to cruise the length of her body, heating her blood. "Here she is, Cathy," he murmured, straightening. "All in one piece, and looking amazing."
Lyssa's eyes widened. She'd thought he was talking to a friend. Maybe letting someone know he had arrived without trouble. She never would have guessed her mother.
She stepped closer, and he covered the receiver with his hand. "Sorry," he whispered. "I was going to ignore it. Then she threatened to call the police if you didn't pick up."
Shaking her head, Lyssa collected the phone, trying to ignore the thrill she felt when their fingers touched. She turned away from him to hide her reaction. "Hi, Mom."
"What the hell is going on?"
"Nothing." She jumped as strong hands clasped her waist. Then firm, warm lips pressed against the side of her neck. She leaned backward, soaking up his attention.
"I'm sweaty," he whispered, stepping back. But his touch didn't leave her. "We really need to talk, Lyssa."
She nodded her understanding.
"Don't tell me 'nothing,'" her mother chastised with unmistakable eagerness. "Who is Aidan?"
Lyssa thought about that a moment, and then, feeling impish, she thrust her hips back and brushed against Aidan's cock. His breath hissed out between his teeth, and he released her.
"Cold shower for me," he muttered, heading for the stairs. "You're paying for that later."
Laughing, Lyssa said into the phone, "He's an old friend."
"From where? He sounds Irish."
"Delicious, isn't it? I've always loved men with accents."
"Why haven't I met him before?" Cathy asked in an accusatory tone.
"Long-distance. Besides, I'm old enough to have friends you don't vet first."
"I want to meet him."
"I'm sure you do." Lyssa glanced at the clock. "Oh crap! It's ten. I'm due at the clinic. I gotta go."
"Lyssa Ann Bates! ^Kfou can't—"
Dropping the receiver in the cradle, Lyssa turned too quickly and knocked her purse to floor. She retrieved it and was about to toss it onto the counter when a twinkle of colored light drew her eye. It was then she noted the slim, jewel-encrusted volume on the counter below the bar. For a moment, Lyssa could only stare at it in awe. Then she gripped her purse tighter with one hand, while reach-ing out tentatively for the book with the other. Lifting it, she revealed another beneath that one, though the second volume lacked ornamentation and had only a worn, leatherlike cover.
She wasn't a jeweler, didn't even own that many pieces of jewelry, but she knew, just knew, that she was staring at something priceless. Guessing the age of the odd, almost-material-feeling paper and seeing the foreign text, Lyssa couldn't help but wonder what these books were doing outside a museum. She examined every page of the jeweled volume, ran her fingertips over every illustration, and understood nothing. But the worth of both books was firmly established in her mind, which left a troubling question—what was Aidan doing with them?
Suddenly the oddness of his unannounced appearance at her door, feverish and without luggage, wearing clothes far too big and telling her far too little, struck home with enough force to make her gasp and lean against the breakfast bar.