Home > Beautifully Cruel(9)

Beautifully Cruel(9)
Author: J.T. Geissinger

We? Home? This is getting interesting.

“Tylenol should be enough to manage the—”

“Opioids,” cuts in Liam, staring hard at him.

The doctor blanches. “I’ll make sure you have everything you need.”

“Thank you.”

Realizing he’s been dismissed, the doctor turns and leaves, shoulders slumped in relief.

When Liam turns his attention back to me, I say, “Is your last name really Black, or is that just a nod to your favorite color? Inquiring minds and all.”

For the first time since I’ve known him, something resembling a real smile curves his lips. It softens the severity of his face, giving me a glimpse of a different person, one who knows how to laugh and be happy and knows nothing at all about the various ways to maim a man.

The exact amount of torque it takes to snap a neck.

He murmurs, “I can’t believe I thought you were shy. I’m usually such a good judge of character.”

I like it that his voice changes when he speaks to me. It lowers. Softens. Becomes warmer and more intimate, as if we’re lying in bed together side by side and he’s trailing his fingers over my naked skin.

“I am shy. I told you that. I’m very awkward with strangers.”

“I’m a stranger.”

“Not anymore.”

Something about that response dissatisfies him. His smile vanishes. He leans over me, planting his hands on the mattress on either side of my pillow.

He looks dangerous now. Dangerous and beautiful, all clenched jaw and burning eyes, his nose inches from mine. His voice stays soft, though, so I know he isn’t angry.

“Don’t mistake me for something I’m not, Tru.”

“Like what?”

“A good man.”

I get the feeling he wants to scare me, but he doesn’t. Even if I wanted to be afraid of him, I’m not. I stare up into his burning eyes and say softly, “You saved my life.”

“That doesn’t make me good.” His gaze drops to my mouth, and his voice grows rough. “I did it for selfish reasons.”

When he looks into my eyes again, he lets me see everything. All the need, all the want, all the dark desire.

It sends a thrill straight through me, like nothing I’ve ever known.

I whisper, “So you’re not an assassin, then. They’re supposed to be incognito, right? But the cops know you. My doctor did, too. You nearly scared the shit out of the poor guy. Maybe you really are The Batman.”

Liam does another of his slow, aggravated exhales, staring at me without blinking.

He smells good, like soap and cigars and testosterone, like a midnight walk in the woods. Without thinking, I reach up and touch his face. His beard is rough and springy under my fingertips.

“You’re beautiful, wolfie. Has anyone ever told you that?”

In a husky whisper, he says, “You should stop talking now.”

“I’ve recently had a brush with death, and I’m high on pain meds. I get a pass.”

When I trail my fingers across his jaw and brush his lips, he stiffens. He goes so still, I don’t think he’s even breathing. He looks as if he’s about to bolt out of the room.

“Wait,” I say, gazing at him in wonder. “This is backward. I should be afraid of you, but instead…”

“I’m not afraid of you,” he says, his dark eyes turning coal black. “I’m afraid for you. For all the ways I should scare you but don’t.” His voice drops. “For everything I want from you that I think you just might give me if I asked, though you’d dearly regret if you did.”

We stare into each other’s eyes as the heartbeat monitor next to the bed goes crazy.

His phone rings, breaking the spell.

With a low oath, he reaches up and switches off the squealing monitor. Then he straightens, turns away from me, walks to the window, and pulls his cell from his suit pocket.

“Declan.” He listens for a moment. “Can’t be helped.” Another pause. “Priorities have changed. He can wait.”

He hangs up, slips the phone back into his suit pocket, folds his arms over his chest, and stares silently out the window, his shoulders tense.

“I’m making you late for something.”

He turns his head at the sound of my voice. After a moment, he says, “Aye.”

“You should go. I don’t want to get you in trouble.”

For some reason, that amuses him. He looks at me over his shoulder, dark eyes sparkling with mirth. “Get me in trouble,” he murmurs. He chuckles, like I’ve said something really funny.

I’m distracted by how much I like the sound of that deep, amused chuckle, until I think of the two policemen who came into my room. Then a little chill goes through me.

“Those guys, last night…I’ll have to give a police report. The cops will want to know what—”

“It’s taken care of,” he interrupts, turning around.

I squint at him. The sunlight streaming through the window behind him creates a halo of glimmering gold around his head. My medicated brain suggests this is what people see right before they die, when the angel of death comes to collect them.

“Taken care of?”

He steps closer, reaching out to caress my face, but quickly withdraws his hand, frowning as if irritated with himself for doing it.

“You don’t have to talk to the police.” He pauses. “Unless you want to.”

I examine his face. “I take it they already know what happened.”

He tilts his head, a motion both affirmative and dismissive. I can’t concentrate enough at the moment to parse all the particulars of his relationship with local law enforcement, so I try to focus on my own problems.

Which, at the moment, are many.

“I’ve got to call my boss, let him know I’m going to miss my shift.”

“He knows you’re going to need some time off. It’s not a problem.”

I blink rapidly several times, as if it might help me understand what’s happening. “You talked to Buddy?”

The head tilt again. Casual, like he’s got everyone in the city on speed dial and whatever he wants of them, the answer is always yes.

“Who are you?”

His eyes soften. He wrestles with himself in silence for a long time, until finally he says, “Apparently, your wolf.”

My wolf. My deadly protector, dark knight in Armani armor ripping to shreds those who dare to harm me.

I wonder what the Grimm brothers would have to say about him. He’s way more interesting than that grandma-gobbler they created for Little Red.

A wave of fatigue passes through me, settling like a ten-pound weight on my chest. I close my eyes and yawn, fighting it. I don’t want to fall asleep yet. I want him to talk to me, to answer all my questions and look at me with those searching dark eyes and smile at me again, even though he doesn’t want to.

Don’t leave, wolfie. Watch over me while I sleep.

I didn’t realize I’d said that aloud until he murmurs, “I’m not leaving.”

Feather light, his lips brush my forehead. Or is that my imagination?

I don’t have time to decide before sleep pulls me close into its arms and I surrender.


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