That woman and the acts he'd committed with her were so distant and foggy as to be rendered meaningless. From the moment he first slid inside Lyssa's mind, every woman in his past had faded to insignificance. He hadn't thought such a loss of memory was possible, had even considered the possibility that the journey from the Twilight had altered his brain in some way. But he remembered every other thing in his immortal life. It was only when it came to his sexual past that things got fuzzy. Only Lyssa shone with golden vibrancy in his thoughts, warming his blood, making his heart beat faster.


His hand closed into a fist and a growl rumbled up from deep in his chest. He was in bad shape. She had been gone nearly two hours now, and he was slowly going insane. Concentrating on the ancient text helped a tiny bit, but not a whole hell of a lot. Even when he managed to decipher a section, it didn't lead to comprehension. Stonehenge, petroglyphs, and astronomy would be fascinating if Lyssa were beside him, believing in him. Safe. But that wasn't the case. He feared he was losing her. He, a man who had never feared anything.

He forced his thoughts back to the book. He needed more information. Since a trip to England would leave Lyssa vulnerable, it was immediately ruled out. Somehow he needed to learn what was necessary from thousands of miles away.

The unmistakable sound of the heavy rear door opening brought his head up. He stood, his mouth dry, and waited for her to appear. When she did, he held the edge of the desk with damp palms and searched her features for some hint of her thoughts.

"Hi," she said wearily.

He came around the desk, but didn't go to her, afraid that if he kept pushing, he would push her completely away. "Hi."

"Everything go okay while I was gone?"

"I missed you." The understatement of his entire life. She made him feel alive, her proximity bringing a tangible wave of awareness across the space that separated them. How different this was, their physical bodies existing and touching on the same plane. Sex with her had been amazing in the Twilight. In real time it was phenomenal. Altering.

She heaved out her breath, dropped her purse to the floor, and walked into his embrace. His arms went around her; his eyes squeezed shut against the painful ache in his chest. He buried his nose in her hair and breathed her in. Her tiny hands stroked up and down his back, soothing him, once again offering him the comfort he hadn't known he needed until he met her.

"I missed you, too." She rubbed her face into his new white cotton T-shirt and clung to him. "You look great in jeans."

Recognizing an olive branch when it was presented to him, he managed a smile and kissed her forehead. "I'm glad you approve."

"Stacey wasn't too hard on you, was she?"

"Nah, she's all right. It's you I'm worried about. How are you holding up?" There was such sadness in her eyes, and she carried herself as if burdened by a great weight. The distance between them was painful, crushing.

Lyssa tilted her head back and stared up at him. "I'm okay. I'm glad there are only a few more hours left before we can leave."

"Me, too. Anything I can do to help speed things along?"

She gave a wry laugh. "Keep my office door closed. Every time I walk by and see you, I get flustered. Slows me down."

As warmth suffused his blood, Aidan's mouth curved. He half sat on the edge of the desk and pulled her between his legs. "Flustered? Or hot and horny?"

"All of the above." Her hands stroked across the soft cotton that covered his chest, then she caught the chain that peeped out above his neckline and pulled it into view. "What kind of stone is this?"

It looked like an opal but appeared to glow from inside. She turned it over, but found that the mounting was solid silver in the back, leaving no place for light to pass through.

"I have no idea. It was a gift."

"From a woman?"

He took the space of one breath to relish the jealousy evident in her tone, then shook his head. "No. A favorite teacher."

"Good." Lyssa dropped it back beneath his shirt and wrapped her arms around his neck. She pressed her lips to his, making him groan. "Back to work I go. Stay out of trouble."

His hands cupped her ass and held her to him when she tried to step back. "Not so fast."

Lyssa arched a brow at him.

"Did you eat?" When she wrinkled her nose, he had his answer, "You didn't have breakfast, either. You need to take better care of yourself."

Twisting at the waist, he caught up the bag that rested on the corner of the desk. He tucked his ankles behind her calves to keep her close, and reached inside for the Styrofoam container and spoon. He caught the handle of the plastic utensil between his teeth and used both hands to pry the lid open. Instantly the delicious scent of potato-cheese soup filled the air between them. He retrieved the spoon and grinned when her tummy growled in response to the mouthwatering smell.

"That's my favorite soup," she murmured, licking her lips in a way that goaded him to mimic her, his tongue following the lush lower curve of her mouth.

"I know." He scooped up a spoonful. "Open wide."

He alternated between feeding her and kissing her. It was as intimate as sex and just as moving. She laughed, her dark eyes bright with pleasure, and he wanted her. Wanted her this way, open and warm. He couldn't wait to go home with her, to take her again. And again. And again. Indulging his every desire, every sexual whim, listening to the little whimpers she made when she was desperate for orgasm, wallowing in the lust that grew from the inside and worked its way out, not the other way around. Not for physical release, but for physical closeness, a connection as real as the one he felt inside him.

Then, when she was exhausted, her mind plunging straight through the Twilight into deep unconsciousness, he would be able to study the Stonehenge clue without distractions.

"No more," she protested, when the contents were two-thirds gone. "I'm going to burst."

"Just a little more," he coaxed, encouraged by the healthy pink flush that had replaced her previous paleness. He winked. "^xfou'U need your strength later."

She shivered in that delightful way that made his cock twitch, then opened her mouth, finishing every drop.

When she went back to work, she closed the door, and

Aidan returned his attention to the books he'd stolen from the Elders. The jeweled volume read as if it was part of a collection, referencing information he suspected was located elsewhere. The text he'd stolen from the Temple of the Elders was even more difficult, filled with words that no longer existed and were not the roots of the language they used today. But it was all he had, and he would make the best of it.

He pushed back from the desk and stood, rolling his shoulders to alleviate the stiffness brought on by too many hours of unaccustomed inactivity. Then he opened the door and took the hallway to the front desk.

Stacey arched her brows at him, the silent toughness belying the cute image her cartoon tropical fish scrubs portrayed. "What's up?"

"Where's the nearest library?"

"Hell if I know." She opened a drawer, pulled out the phone book, and slapped it onto the counter. "Here ya go. Knock yourself out."

Shit. Aidan caught up the book and turned, almost knocking over the elderly woman who had come up behind him.

"Excuse me, young man." Stooped at the shoulders and wearing hot pink sweats with a matching headband in her gray curls, she gifted him with a bright smile.

He grinned at her use of the appellation "young man," considering he was easily several centuries older than she was. "Entirely my fault," he said, steadying her with a hand at her elbow.

"Well, aren't you a looker?" she murmured with a wink. "Would you help me carry out my Mathilda? She's been sick lately and when I move her carrier, I jostle her too much."

Aidan bent and slipped his hand though the handle of the cat cage at their feet. "It would be my pleasure."

"You should keep this one around," the woman said to Stacey.

"Yeah? Tell him that," Stacey retorted. Then she smiled warmly. "I'll be calling you Monday morning, Mrs. Laughin, to see how you and Mathilda are doing."

"Talk to you then, honey."

Aidan held the glass front door to the clinic open and gestured for Mrs. Laughin to precede him out, but once they stepped outside, she urged him ahead of her.

"Don't wait for me," she said. "I'm so slow it'll cramp those long legs of yours. That's my car over there, the yellow Hummer." The horn sounded once and the taillights flashed as she disengaged the alarm. "You can just set her on the floor."

Following instructions, he had Mathilda settled securely on the passenger floorboard in no time, then he returned to Mrs. Laughin and offered his arm.

"Dr. Bates is a pretty thing, isn't she?" she asked, shooting him a not-so-innocent sidelong glance.

"Yes, she is."

"I think she's single. Hardworking. Smart. Got great taste in decorating, too. Best-looking vet clinic in town. And Mathilda loves her."

Aidan's grin widened. "Mathilda has great taste."

"Yes, she does. I can always tell when a solicitor is at the door, because she piddles on the entryway tile."

Choking back a laugh, he opened the driver's side door and watched as a custom step lowered from the undercarriage, enabling her to get up into the vehicle without his help. She surprised him by holding out a hundred-dollar bill.

"I don't want that," he said.

"Take it. I got plenty My dear Charles, bless his heart, made us rich."

"I still don't want it."

"I ogled your ass." She shook the bill at him. "Take the damn money or I'll feel guilty for doing it. You don't want to make an old woman feel guilty, do you?"

Laughing, Aidan took the money, determined to give it to Stacey as a credit to Mrs. Laughin's account.

"Dr. Bates has a nice heinie, too," she said.