“What are you thinking about?” Liam asked as he reached the bottom stair.
Yeah, like she was going to admit to him she was afraid she was on the verge of a minibreakdown. “Uh, nothing. Is the house free of bad guys?”
He nodded, his expression slightly concerned.
Her hand shook when she tucked her hair behind her ear. “I was thinking maybe getting a security system isn’t such a bad idea. Didn’t you say you had a friend who could help me out with that?”
“I already made the call. He’ll be by Monday. I tried to get him here earlier, but he couldn’t swing it.”
Even though she was grateful, she was still annoyed he’d made plans behind her back. She held on to that annoyance. Anything was better than the fear that had latched on to her insides and was threatening to suffocate her. “You already called?”
Liam shrugged, then took off his coat and hooked it on the rack. Looked like he planned to stay another night. Her heart rate increased at the thought.
She wanted to tell him to leave and that she’d be fine, but she knew having Liam under the same roof was the only way she’d get a decent night’s sleep. The thought of depending on anyone for peace of mind made her want to scream. She hated the feeling of powerlessness she’d experienced the past few weeks. Even though she’d defended herself against Mike—if that was even his real name—she’d nearly gotten the crap beaten out of her before by that other asshole who’d Tased her. The thought of being in her own home by herself shouldn’t make her scared.
“You’ve got to stop doing stuff like that.” She couldn’t even inject any anger into the comment as she stripped off her coat. Not this time. She wanted that security system in her home so when she closed her eyes at night, she wasn’t terrified and imagining masked men breaking into her bedroom.
Liam’s dark eyes flared to life as he looked her over from head to toe. For the hundredth time that night. “And you’ve got to stop dressing like this.” His voice was soft, sensual, hungry.
“Don’t change the subject.” Despite her desire to stay annoyed at him, a tingling warmth spread through her all the way to her toes as he looked at her. No one had ever made her feel that way. Treasured and desired as if she were perfect. When he looked at her like that, like she was the only thing in the world that existed, she melted.
He didn’t respond. Just continued staring. Her heartbeat quickened. It was as if he couldn’t tear his gaze away from her. As if he’d never leave her. It was hard to think straight.
His breathing turned uneven, mirroring her own. He took a step closer to her, crowding her in, mowing down all her much-needed personal space. She moved back until she was flat against the front door, but he didn’t stop his advance.
Caging her in with his hands on either side of her face, he bent his head toward her until they were mere inches apart. For a brief moment, his eyes flicked a shade darker and she knew it wasn’t the light playing tricks on her. Apparently they could change when he was turned on too.
Putting a hand up against his chest, she meant to push him back. She really did. Instead, she fisted his shirt and tugged him closer.
In the instant before their mouths fused, she saw something in his expression she didn’t recognize. Almost like triumph, but it was gone so fast, and then his mouth was on hers. Claiming her. Then she didn’t think at all.
Liam seemed to take over everything as he kissed her. His tongue flicked against hers in slow, sensuous strokes. She could feel the urgency humming through him, but he was gentle in his caresses. And he still hadn’t made a move to touch her with anything but his lips.
His hands were firmly planted on the door. She wanted those big hands on her body. More than she’d admit. The thought of him pushing up her dress and touching her most intimate area made her tremble.
As if they had a mind of their own, her hands wound their way around his neck and she pressed her body flush with his. Her breasts rubbed against his hard chest and she wished there were nothing separating them. No clothes, no bra, nothing. She wanted skin on skin.
When one of his hands cupped her head in a tight grip, she moaned into his mouth.
The sound seemed to affect him. His body jerked unsteadily—then lightning fast he fisted her hips and lifted her up. Her breath caught on the show of male power. She wound her legs around his waist as he pressed her against the door.
Her entire body felt on fire. The ache between her legs was too much. Yet not enough. She needed more. Feeling absolutely possessed, like an animal in heat, she moved against his hard-on. Even with his jeans and her underwear as a barrier it was obvious how turned on he was. His erection was rock hard and she wanted it inside her. Her inner walls clenched with the need.
Holding her up with the weight of his body, he reached between them and cupped her mound through her panties. His hand covering her made her moan even louder. Gently, he rubbed the base of his palm over her. The rhythmic motion was the perfect amount of pressure. Moving against his hand, she encouraged him with her body to do more, to touch her deeper. As he started to peel the thin scrap of material away, a loud bang interrupted them.
Her eyes flew open. Breathing hard, she stared at him. He still didn’t remove his hand.
Before she could think to say anything, the knock came again. She felt the vibration go through her entire body. That’s when she realized someone was banging on the front door. The door she was propped up against.
“December? It’s me. I forgot my key.” Parker’s voice was slightly muffled through the solid wood door.
“Shit,” Liam muttered. He paused but finally he let her go and stepped back.
Disentangling herself from him, she felt despondent when her boots hit the hardwood floor. Her nipples strained painfully against her bra and the ache between her legs wasn’t going away anytime soon. Not unless Liam did something about it. She quickly straightened her dress and smoothed a hand down her hair, though she doubted it would do much good. Her face had to be bright red and her lips likely swollen, but there wasn’t a lot she could do about that.
She tugged the door open to find her brother wearing his uniform under a thick coat, and carrying a stack of folders.
Parker’s eyes narrowed as he glanced past her at Liam. “Didn’t know you’d still be here.” His voice wasn’t exactly unfriendly, but it wasn’t warm either.
“My truck is outside,” Liam said flatly, stating the obvious.
The two men stared at each other in annoyance.
Trying to forget what she’d just been doing with Liam, December stepped back and let her brother in. “Why are you here so late? Is everything okay?”
“We managed to get a few partial prints from that BMW. Got a name too. I want you to look at his file and see if it’s the same guy. If it is, I’ve also got a couple files with his known associates. I want to know if you’ve seen them around.” For a moment he looked at Liam, and December knew her brother wanted to tell him to leave, but in the end Parker just shook his head tightly, as if he knew it would be a fruitless endeavor.
“Okay.” She nodded toward the living room and both men followed.
Parker dropped the files onto her coffee table and spread out some pictures. The first photograph she recognized instantly. Tiny dull knives jabbed against her insides. The pain was instantaneous and unstoppable. Simply the sight of that monster’s face made her jerk back and fight to breathe.
“I take it that’s him?” Parker asked, watching her carefully.
She nodded because she was afraid her vocal cords wouldn’t work. All she could do was stare. He looked harmless enough. Nice even. He had defined, angular features, making him handsome in an almost feminine sort of way. Blond hair and dark eyes. Yep, it was him. Mr. Perfectly Harmless. How could she have been so wrong about him?
“Are you okay?” Liam’s concerned voice caused her head to snap up. He reached out and put a comforting hand on her back. The action was subtle and in no way inappropriate, but he was staking a claim.
She could feel it in the way his fingers slightly tightened against her.
When she focused on him, she could feel herself being sucked out of her trance. Liam alone had the power to ground her. To make her feel safe. She nodded again but this time found her voice. “I’m fine.”
“His name is Mike Taylor according to his arrest record,” Parker said.
“Taylor? He told me his last name was…I can’t remember, but that wasn’t it.” Why was the memory so fuzzy? It was on the tip of her tongue. She supposed it didn’t really matter anyway. Her brother had found out his real name. That’s what was important.
“Well, we know who he is now. He did a short stint in prison for fraud, but while inside he apparently got involved with a group called the Antiparanormal League. They’re not as big as the Aryan Brotherhood but they’re growing in numbers in the prison system. Do you recognize any of these guys?” Parker slid a few more pictures in front of her.
She concentrated and racked her brain, trying to remember if she’d ever seen the men in her store or loitering outside it. None of them looked remotely familiar. “No, I’m sorry.”
Parker sighed and put them back in a folder. “I’m actually relieved you don’t recognize them.”
“Did you find out anything else about this guy? Where he lives?” The edge in Liam’s last question was unmistakable.
Parker’s eyes narrowed and December knew it was because he didn’t like Liam’s presence. No matter what Liam did, Parker was going to be annoyed. “We found an old address, but he doesn’t live there anymore and you know I can’t tell you what it is anyway. This is our investigation, Liam. I don’t want you or any of your pack getting involved in this. We’re going to find this guy and prosecute him.”
Parker shook his head. “I’m serious. This all has to be done legally.”