Home > Taming Cross(11)

Taming Cross(11)
Author: Ella James

I spy a discreet speaker on the wall to my right; it’s maybe the size of a wallet, painted to blend in with one of the slabs of stone. Facing it, I say, “This is Cross Carlson.”

“I can see that.” I glance up, then left, and there’s the camera. Shit. Of course there would be. I tilt my head back at it and shove my right hand into my pocket. “Look—I just want to talk to you.”

“Not interested.”

There’s a noise, like the connection was cut, and I say, “Wait! Are you there?”

No answer.

I ring the doorbell eleven times before I hear the speaker come on. “This is harassment.” She sounds annoyed. “I could have you arrested.”

I snort. Yeah, right. I direct my gaze back to the camera. “I’ll stop if you let me in.”

“You’ll stop when I send my bodyguards down.” She sounds intent, but something in her voice makes me think she’s lying. Probably the knowledge, also provided by Hunter West, that she’s almost broke. I bet she doesn’t have even one guard here.

Regardless, I try another angle. “Your trial’s coming up, right? Sometime in July?”

There’s a pause. When she speaks, she sounds bitter. “What do you want, Cross Carlson?” She drags my last name out, like it’s a curse word, and I wonder if my father has really severed ties with her this time.

“I said I want to talk.” I roll my eyes at her through the camera. “There’s something in it for you. After you hear me, if you don’t want to help me, you can tell me to go fuck myself. I’m not interested in spending more time with you than I have to.”

Another pause, during which I can practically see her face pinch into a frown. “Come inside. Third floor, second bedroom on the right. If you see the bunnies, don’t be loud or stomp. It frightens them.”

The intercom goes dead and the front door clicks open. The foyer is gaudy emerald marble, but obviously expensive and well-appointed, so I guess she’s not completely out of money.

I’m about halfway up the highway-wide sparkling stone staircase when I notice something dart past me. It’s small and dark, and the shock of it zipping between my legs almost makes me lose my footing. I climb a little faster, and that’s when I see its ears wiggle.

Bunnies…

I see a second set of ears, and a third.

Holy shit, does this lunatic have a McMansion full of rabbits?

 

 

8

 

 

Cross

 

 

A large, brown rabbit greets me as I step onto the third-floor landing. He’s sort of up on his hind rabbit legs, and he looks so damn big, I kind of wonder if he’s a hare. Aren’t those the big ones? I frown as he sniffs my boots, long ears giving a twitch. Then he hops away, as if he has no interest in me. As my eyes follow him, I see the other rabbits.

Unbelievable.

There’s bunches of them. I count six right away, roaming around, moving in small hops past vases, tables, under floor-to-ceiling curtains. They come in all colors, from white to black. I’m so shocked by them, I almost don’t notice that I’m heading left instead of right. I turn around, almost squishing a tiny gray bunny with my boot, and I hear a squeal echo through the sound system.

“BE CAREFUL!”

I turn a quick circle, looking from my feet to the ceiling, where I see more cameras. Damn. I’ve gotta get better at this shit.

I roll my eyes again and make my way to her bedroom door, hyper-focused on how big and dirty my boots are on the thick, red carpet. Or at least I am until I see three more of the little critters huddled together farther down the hall. Black and brown and white. I shake my head at them and knock on Priscilla’s door.

It clicks open with the same magic as the front door, and I step inside what can only be described as a shrine to Priscilla Heat…and rabbits. I don’t even spot Priscilla herself at first, because I’m lost on the custom, heart-shaped bed (topped by a framed portrait of Priscilla in nothing but thigh-highs); the sunken tub a few steps from the bed; the wall of Priscilla Heat posters (oddly, signed by Priscilla); the red, pink, and white décor; and all the rabbits. Jesus H. Christ, there are a lot of rabbits in this room. I sniff the air and am stunned to find it smells like over-strong perfume and not rabbit shit.

Then Priscilla steps in front of me, wearing a plush pink robe with her hair piled on her head, and I realize I didn’t see her sooner because she blends in with the room.

“Holy shit,” I breathe. I look around the bedroom again, trying to get a number on the rabbits.

Priscilla smiles, revealing her freakishly bleached teeth. “There are twenty here with me in my suite. Twenty-nine more are in the house, roaming about freely.” She frowns, looking troubled. “We lost one yesterday. Prince Albert got electrocuted when he chewed through a lamp cord.”

I blink. Then I focus on her eyes, checking for pupil size. If she’s high, they’ll be big, the way mine always were at rehab.

She looks lucid enough, though. Perfect tanned skin, flawless red lips, shiny blonde hair. Her breasts force the too-small robe to part, so I can see almost everything but her nipples. My traitor of a dick twitches once before it realizes who she is.

Priscilla spreads her arms wide. “Take a seat, Cross Carlson. Anywhere is fine.” She says it like a sigh, but there’s some theatrics there. She’s pleased that I came here. I’m sure she is.

I wave at a nearby fluffy white love seat, which, ironically, looks like it’s made of rabbit fur. “Why don’t you? I’m okay standing.”

She arches a brow, giving me an exaggerated expression that falls somewhere between a pout and feigned concern. “I see you’re looking better. Less like death.”

She sinks into a wing-backed chair and I curl my lip. “Disappointing I’m sure.”

She looks down at her blood red nails, rubbing one with the fingers of the opposite hand. I feel a crest of anger that she can use both of her hands.

When she looks up again, she’s all business. “What do you want, Cross Carlson? I’m not interested in buying wrapping paper.”

She extends her legs out in front of her, and I catch the glint of her state-issue ankle monitor.

“I’m looking for Missy King. I know you know where she is. If you tell me, I’ll help you.”

Priscilla snorts. It’s the girliest snort I’ve ever heard. Her nostrils flare a little, and she makes a high-pitched noise somewhere in the back of her throat. “And send myself up shit creek even further? No can do, señor.”

I fumble for the plan I should have polished back on my Mach. Nothing comes to mind, so I have to settle for, “I can help you if you help me.”

Another snort. “You can’t even help yourself.”

I roll my eyes again. It’s not something I do a lot, but Priscilla brings it out of me. “Who’s walking around and who’s stuck at home with a police tracker? You need as much help as you can get. Being tied to Jim Gunn is poison.”

She puckers her lips, saying nothing because she knows I’m right. I don’t speak, wanting to make her ask me what I can offer her. I need to hear her ask.

She spreads her arms theatrically. “What can you do for me, Cross Carlson?”

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