Page 24

She pressed her own lips against his flesh, tasted and teased, shuddering against him. She felt caught in a whirlwind, riding her tremors to climax, exploding like shards of shattered crystal, then riding that exultant wave again. She slid her ragged touch downward, stroked and caressed as he had done, until he sat up and she felt herself lifted in the steel vise of his arms, then brought down until at last he was inside her.

He held her hands and lifted their arms over their heads, then wrapped her arms around him and held them there, and all the while the dark enigma of his eyes seemed to pin her in place. She thought that she couldn’t know a man better, and yet, for just a moment, she had to wonder if, even now, she knew him at all.

But then she was writhing, aware of nothing but the rise of desire and the feel of him within her, the kiss of coolness in the air, the surge of heat that seemed to rise like a ground fog around them. As he thrust and she arched against him, the friction of flesh upon flesh teased and tormented, awakening a desperate and almost unappeasable hunger, until, as mercurial and thunderous as a burst of diamonds in the air, she felt her climax sweep over and through her again, leaving her trembling against him, shaking and…


The air was cold.

Her flesh was warm where he touched her, so cold where he did not.

And the light…The room was so bright. She loved the light, but it meant there was no sweet darkness in which to hide. She didn’t know whether she should be blasé or embarrassed…whether she’d even done this right….

He shifted and drew her down against him on the bed, fingers smoothing her hair, touching her face so gently.

Oh, God, what should she say now?

Somehow he kept the moment from being awkward. “You do like it bright,” he said softly, with both bemusement and affection.

She tried to match his tone. “Too much?” she suggested, as if they were sharing tea and she had just poured the milk.

“Well, I guess I’d find it a bit difficult to sleep this way,” he told her.

Not if you were going mad, she thought. Not if you believed you had a ghost in your house. The ghost of a vicious murderer. Even then, a little voice inside asked, But had he ever been the murderer people said?

Suddenly she bolted up to a sitting position.

He was leaning back, one elbow crooked behind his head. He stared at her, puzzled.

“I forgot about Killer,” she said. “Where did he go?”

“I closed the bedroom door. He’s cute and all, but not…well, you know.”

She smiled for a moment, then swallowed uneasily. “I…uh…”


She decided to spit it out. “Jed, I was on my way out before because I was…because I didn’t want to be here.”

Because I thought I saw a ghost and I was terrified, she added silently.

He smiled, reaching out, touching her hair. “I understand that feeling,” he told her softly.

No. He didn’t. He understood how it had hurt to go on living where he had made his home with Margaritte. But she wasn’t hurting. She was scared.

His smile turned rueful, and he arched a brow. “That wasn’t all just because I, um, happened to be here and make a convenient distraction, was it?”

“Good Lord, no!” she said in horror.

He had dimples in both cheeks, she noticed. They looked really nice when he smiled, and suddenly she was scared again—in a whole different way.

“Jed, could you…would you stay tonight?”

“If you need me,” he said, his eyes on hers again. There was no smile in them.

She felt her own lips curve slightly. “What if I just wanted you to?” she asked.

“That would be fine, too,” he said. “But I get the feeling that you really do need me tonight. And that’s okay.”

She curled against him, not daring to speak. She didn’t trust anyone enough to tell them how deeply afraid she felt. Certainly not Jed, not tonight.

But fear didn’t matter right now. Not when his hand was strong and gentle when he touched her. Not when his arm around her offered security, a bastion behind which she could hide from the world.

She lay there in silence and shivered slightly, feeling the air around them grow colder. He pulled her more tightly against him and reached for the covers.

How strange…She knew that if he stayed, the feel of him against her would arouse her again. But for the moment she heard his words like a whisper, as if from far away.

“Poor thing. You’re just exhausted, aren’t you?” he murmured.

She nodded. It was true. Sleep had been so lacking in her life. Well, sex had been lacking, as well, but now she felt as if she had feasted and exhaustion was taking its toll. She settled herself in his arms and closed her eyes.

A moment later she felt his breath as he whispered, “Christie…the lights. Will you be all right if I turn just a few of them out?”

She smiled and managed a nod, though she didn’t open her eyes. She wasn’t afraid of the dark. She wasn’t afraid of ghosts. She simply wasn’t afraid.

Not with him there.


W hen Christina woke up, Jed was gone.

There was a flower—a hibiscus she was sure had been plucked from a bush in the front yard—next to her pillow, along with a note. You were sound asleep, so I set the coffee for eight. Nothing strange—it was me.

She bit her lower lip, hugging the covers close. No Had a wonderful time or See you later or even a Thanks for the memories.

But there was a flower on her pillow. And he had stayed until morning.

A short woof drew her attention. Apparently when Jed had left, he’d opted to leave the bedroom door open. Killer was at the foot of the bed, sitting and watching her, his head cocked at an angle she was beginning to recognize and that always seemed to suggest that the terrier knew something she didn’t.

“Did he feed you, buddy?” she wondered aloud. “Anyway, I’ll just hop in the shower, then get some coffee, and…well, if I’m ever going to get paid, I’d better start working on some ideas.”

She hurried into the shower, where she hugged her arms around herself, dismayed at the occasional bouts of trembling that came on as she stood beneath the water. Sex happened all the time, she was certain. Well, for some people, anyway. She couldn’t let herself read too much into it.

Despite that electric attraction she’d felt to him forever…

Was he still in love with his wife?

Some people, even some men, believed there was only one perfectly matched person out there. Only one love to last a lifetime. One that was like a knife embedded in the heart, one soul to match another soul for all time. Interesting theory. What if Jed was that one for her but Margaritte had been that one for him?

She emerged from the shower and dressed quickly, noticing that Killer was no longer waiting for her. As she pulled on a pair of jeans, she heard him barking downstairs. Not a harsh, defensive barking, just one of his excited “woof-woof” things, as if a friend were there.

She felt a strange chill and a sudden desperate need to hurry downstairs.

As she reached the landing, she heard her piano being played. Okay, she thought, apparently Jed hadn’t left after all. He was downstairs, playing her piano.

Did Jed even play the piano?

She rushed into the parlor and came to a dead stop.

Killer was actually sitting on the piano bench, next to the man who was playing.

Beau Kidd.

He turned to face her, and she felt the familiar rush of fear—no, terror—sweep over her, like a dark blanket blacking out the world.

No! something inside her pleaded.

She leaned against the wall to keep from falling. “Who are you really?” she demanded harshly.

Killer wagged his tail. Great. She might have fallen in love with the little terrier, but he was proving to be no guard dog.

“You know who I am,” the man at the piano said. “Please…”

He started to rise, and she lifted a hand to stop him. “No, stay right where you are.”

He did, and though she couldn’t stop leaning against the wall for support, she managed not to pass out.

“What are you doing here?” she asked.

“You let me in,” he said softly.

She shook her head. “Oh, no. No, no.”

“But you did.”

“The Ouija board?”

He smiled. “More than the Ouija board, I think.”

“I don’t see dead people,” she said.

He smiled, lowering his head. He’d been a nice-looking man, she thought, with an easy smile. “I’ve never forgotten the kindness of that flower on my grave,” he told her.

“You’re here because of that?”

“Who knows exactly why I’m here?” he murmured, and ran his fingers over the piano keys.

Killer gave a happy bark.

She shook her head again, hoping to clear her vision and find him gone. “You’re not here. You can’t be here,” she said desperately.

He stood up. “I need your help.”

She inhaled deeply, staring at him. “Because of the murders.”

“I’m obviously not the killer.”

“And what does that have to do with you being here, in my house?”


“Yeah? Well, I don’t want to be unique.”

“You have a gift,” he said.

“I don’t want any gifts,” she assured him.

“Too bad. It’s yours whether you want it or not,” he told her.

“What do you want me to do?” she asked him.

He lifted his hands. “I’m innocent.”

She felt a chill overtake her. “So who is the Interstate Killer?” she asked.

He stared at her in frustration. “I don’t know. But I swear to you, that’s no copycat out there now. The killer who struck twelve years ago is at it again.”

She swallowed. “I am going crazy. That’s the only explanation.”