Why did he have this affect on her? It wasn’t right. It sure as hell wasn’t normal. No man had ever made her feel like this, like she’d die if she had to go another minute without touching him. She liked men, loved sex, and enjoyed spending time with men and the excitement that led to jumping into bed with them, but this was different.

She loved the way Christofer looked at her, the way he touched her without any hesitation like it was the most natural thing in the world. She loved the way she felt when she was near him, like she was safe and nothing bad could touch her as long as she was with him. She even loved how he could set her body on fire with one simple look even while she hated the fact that he had that much power over her.

“It would only prove just how badly you wanted to stay,” Christofer said, voicing her fears.

“I need to go, Christofer,” she said, pointedly ignoring him as she moved to climb off him and search the room one more time before she tried to come up with a plan B.

“No, you need to stay, Cloe,” he said, giving her hands a gentle tug that had her ass landing back on his thighs.

She sighed, long and heavy, as she shot another glance around the room, hoping that her purse would suddenly appear. When her gaze landed on the small alarm clock by the bed she felt her stomach drop. It was after five o’clock, which meant that even if she managed to find her keys tonight, she’d be forced to drive well into the morning to put any real distance between herself and another bad memory.

Maybe she should-

“Shit!” Christofer snapped as her cellphone rang loud and clear right above her head.

Smiling in triumph, Cloe stood up, making sure to put one foot on his stomach and one on his thigh in the process, loving the little pained grunt he made as she put all of her weight on the leg currently getting its support from his stomach. “Looks like someone forgot to shut the ringer off,” she pointed out with a relieved sigh as she reached up and pushed the aged ceiling tile aside. She spotted her purse hanging just over the edge and grabbed it before the bastard seething beneath her could knock her on her ass and take it away from her.

Making sure to earn another one of those pained grunts that she was beginning to love, she ground her foot in his stomach one last time as she stepped off him and jumped off the bed. As she pulled her phone out of her purse, she ignored the glare that he was sending her way. She didn’t know him well, but she knew by the expression on his face that he was already thinking up another bullshit plan to keep her here. Knowing that it was probably best to leave before he had a chance to stop her, she headed for the door as she looked down at her phone and nearly sagged with relief.

It was Marta calling, most likely looking for a ride home. Perfect timing. This phone call provided her with the opportunity that she needed to say goodbye and put this nightmare, and the overbearing bastard coming after her, behind her once and for all. Then she could-

Let out an embarrassingly high squeal as the bastard that she was going to kill with her bare hands took her by surprise and swept her off her feet.

Chapter 16

Williams Mansion

“Please tell me that you’re f**king kidding me,” Kale said, sounding frustrated as he rubbed his hands down his face.

If she’d been anyone else delivering the bad news to the shifter, she knew that he would have probably sent her screaming from the room. Instead, he was forcing himself to stand where he was and take a deep breath. It was something that she definitely appreciated about their close friendship, she mused as she opened the bag of peanut butter cups she kept hidden in her desk where her overbearing mate couldn’t find them.

She wasn’t too surprised when the bag was suddenly snatched away from her or when she looked up to find Kale tearing into the bag, sending her a look that dared her to bitch. Normally she would have snatched the bag back from him, but she just didn’t have the energy today.

For the last week she’d been working day and night on Tattletale, teaching it how to decipher the Sentinel blood supply system. It had broken into the system and grabbed all the information that she’d requested, quickly fitting it into categories within the first hour, which was what she’d expected it to do. What she hadn’t expected, and she really should have, was that all the information was fake.

Well, the drop off locations, the amount of blood ordered and delivered, and the deposits made to cover the blood delivery orders were real, but that wasn’t really helpful when the rest of the information was fake. Not only that, but it seemed that once a customer moved out of an area they apparently would set up a new account with a new fake name and contact information.

Was the Council surprised when she’d informed them of the problem? Not at all. They’d set it up like this. They wanted to make sure that vampires, demons and all the lovely creatures that relied on human blood had easy access to bagged blood to keep them from attacking humans. It was something that she understood and normally would have fully supported, but not now, not when she was depending on their information to weed out the Pytes.

“Are there any descriptions? Notes? Anything to clue us in on the identity of the customers?” Kale demanded as he unwrapped a peanut butter cup and shoved it in his mouth.

Izzy shook her head, biting back a wince when the movement sent sharp pain shooting through her throbbing hip. Ignoring it, because it was either that or break down and cry, she focused on the large monitor in front of her. “No, there aren’t any notes. No clue into their species, nothing.”

Kale growled out something unintelligible as he shoved another peanut butter cup in his mouth. He’d been on edge all week, eager to start this job only to discover that it wasn’t going to be that easy. Every attempt they’d made to hunt down Pytes had been met with roadblocks. First, he’d been denied access to the files that the Vatican held on suspected Pytes, because the Council refused to agree on just how much information Kale should have access to.

Then they’d discovered that all those files that the Council were protecting were hand written, kept in an underground tomb where they were protected by a security system. Tattletale could have shut it down, but that wouldn’t have helped since there was no record of the location of the tombs in the files. Until the Council could come to an agreement over the files, they had to use what they had, which wasn’t a hell of a lot.

“Vampires can’t smell Pytes,” Kale suddenly announced, sounding thoughtful.

“True, but they also can’t smell most demons,” she felt the need to point out, wondering where he was going with this.

“We need the delivery personnel to start identifying the species of every customer,” Kale said, dropping the now-empty bag of peanut butter cups on the desk. He grabbed a chair and pulled it up to her workstation and settled in.

“What are you thinking?” she asked, even as she hacked into the Sentinel blood supply system and added a new column in the database and labeled it, “Species.”

“If we can start eliminating vampires off our list, we can narrow it down,” Kale said, opening the mini-fridge that she kept beneath her workstation.

“Vampires can’t distinguish between most demons and Pytes,” she pointed out, again.

“It doesn’t matter,” Kale said, pulling out two bottles of orange juice and handed her one. “If we can manage to shorten the list, we’ll have something that we can work with.”