The lean muscles of Iain’s bruised body cut through the fading marks, slowly returning to his perfectly sun-kissed skin color. The bedroom’s curtain hung wide open as she watched him dress in his casual clothes. Even the soft fabric of his black cashmere sweater and jeans couldn’t hide the sinful contours of his frame.
Drea sank back on her hunches as she waited patiently for him to finish his routine. Cautiously she moved in closer. It had been nearly two weeks since the Sisterhood had rescued him from the dirt pit hell-hole Roland’s minions had tossed him in. She had dedicated every night since the rescue op to protecting him. Running security perimeters around his estate and installing surveillance cameras in and around the residence. So why was she sitting outside hiding among the pristinely cut hedges in her black-panther form? Because she could and didn’t that just make her feel like a stalker.
Dawn had broken free of darkness’s loving embrace, and she could only assume, Councilman Tresva was gathering his needed possessions before he left for the Magistrates Manor. After everything he still continued on with his day to day tasks like nothing had happened.
Her heart broke as she watched him search for something that was obviously hidden from him. His eyes had started to heal thanks to Reese’s gift, but it wasn’t an overnight type of fix. It could be months before he had full use of those warm chocolate brown eyes. He started to unwind the bandages that clung meticulously cross them, carefully revealing the dark circles and slight swelling. Wincing against the intrusion of light he covered them with his dark sunglasses.
She tried to keep her distance, but longed to be in there, next to him. Helping him dress, running her fingers over the taut muscles of his abdomen as she slowly slid the hem of his sweater down. But it was distance that kept her safe.
Cautiously she crept up to the window beneath the terrace listening to his faint footfalls as he descended the winding staircase. Changing back to her normal form, she stepped up on the moss covered stones to gain a better view. Drea knew she should walk away but no male had ever captivated her before. It was wrong on so many levels and still she couldn’t force herself to shimmin back to the compound.
Peeking over the ledge, she begged the golden rays of sunlight to dance across his face. Carefully he moved around the room, grazing tables and chairs as he shifted from room to room.
Stepping another stone higher, Drea knew it was risky, but what the hell, every move she made was risky. Even now she scolded herself for staying so long, for even coming to his residence night after night like a half-crazed lust-fueled teenager. What the hell was she doing? It would be just as easy to watch him from Alix’s security room on any one of the monitors. Still she just needed to know he was alright. That sense of security was like a warm blanket. Just to know that no one dared to tread on the estate comforted her, keeping him safe was her self-inflicted priority.
She couldn’t explain it, she tried to but couldn’t. There were no logical reasons why she was compelled to watch after him night after lonely night. What did she stand to gain? Let alone think could happen. No. She knew better. Men like Iain Tresva given his estate and his meticulous man grooming routine, she knew he sought out perfection. That was the one thing she wasn’t or ever could be.
Her mind shuttered at the memories of the past. Squeezing her eyes tight to shut out the images Drea refused to let the past dictate the present. Slipping from the wet stone, her body hit the ground with a heavy thud, knocking the breath from her lungs and bouncing her head off the cobblestone with a hard crack.
The rattling of glass doors and noticeable sound of metal tapping the panes startled her back into reality. “Shit” she cursed. But it was too late. Before she could unhook her twisted ankle and shimmin away he appeared before her, Sig Sauer bared and ready for use. “Who’s there!” he growled and didn’t the delicious sound of his voice just send shock waves through her body. Drea made quick work of her ankle, slinking back in grass as he stumbled forward. Fear creased hard lines in his face as he leveled the muzzle of his gun in her direction. “I know you’re there. Answer me! Who the hell are you? What do you want?”
She couldn’t answer. A lump the size of a Yugo caught was in her throat. Stiffening as she watched him sniff the air. Her heart raced, pounding in her ears. “I know you. You were there when the Sisters found me. I remember you. What are you doing here?” He hands shook as he waited for an answer. None would come. She couldn’t wait any longer, shimmin back to the compound was the only sure way Iain Tresva wouldn’t find out who she was. It was bad enough he caught her stalking around his home. No she had to go. Disappearing into the vast elements, his voice carried like a soft breeze caressing her cheeks. “Thank you.”
The sinful way his words twisted her seared concern in her internal warning system, landing just outside the compound, Drea needed to clear her head before joining her Sisters once again.
She barely knew him, but he consumed her every thought. Her body begged to touch him, until she caught sight of her reflection in the pools of water. “Who the hell am I kidding?” she cursed herself, hiding behind layers of clothes. Hiding the marks left behind by other’s perception of love. Clutching her leather band wrapped wrists, the wounds still felt fresh. “I’m a monster. What the hell am I doing?” chiding herself, Drea walked aimlessly into the forest surrounding the compound. Facing her Sisters was the last thing she could handle. Self-loathing was overwhelming, settling deep in its comfy spot right at the center of her core.
The relentless battle of why’s and what if’s warred with reality. The best she could hope for was the love she envisioned in her mind as she lay awake thinking of him. There she was beautiful and unscathed. There the hauntings of her past dissolve away and removed every single scar that riddled her mind and body. There he loved her too with pureness.
She couldn’t understand why he affected her so. Sure he was gorgeous, and seemed genuinely sweet the few times they had met. She had seen his courage even when he had been beaten within an inch of his life. He still fought. But driven to the point of stalking him in the name of protection was even a bit much to her. Realizing that it was doing neither of them ay good Drea swore to herself not to return to Iain Tresva’s estate. She would silently protect him from the security room of the compound, even if he was a fever in her veins that needed to be cooled. Saving her from self-torment and disappointment. Nope, he was an addiction she needed to break. And today was the day she would quit cold turkey. Goddess save her.
Iain stumbled around the room in search of clothes. Losing his eye sight had proven more difficult to manage then he thought. Though the bruises and marks were healing on his body, his eyes hadn’t changed much. Light barely entered them when he removed his bandages.
His nightmares were a different story all together. Every night since his rescue had been the same. Remembering with vivid clarity every detail of his capture and torture, it sent escalating shivers down his spine until his body shook like an earthquake. Sleep was becoming a luxury and coffee his best friend. The only saving grace he had was the hazy memory of amethyst eyes before his sight dissolved into utter blackness. The smell of magnolias assailed him while her warm embrace encircled him, his cheek brushed across her leather wrapped bosom. Her sweet breath with every word she spoke sparked a desire he couldn’t refuse. She was kind and gentle as she held him in the warmth of her arms. Reassuring him that he was safe and he could rest.
His mind shut down as his body forced itself into recovery. Briefly waking to feel the same warmth of soft hands and that sweet smell of magnolias surrounding him, the comfort was more than genuine. The devotion in her touch and in kindness in her words assailed him. Yet he had no idea who she was. She hadn’t spoken her name, but her voice so beautifully lithe resonated deep in his mind. She was a ghost haunting him from the past.
Reaching for his Ray-Bans, Iain stepped past his dresser and searched out the doorway. Something felt different. That feeling of being watched should’ve set off his internal warning system, but it comforted him instead. He had felt those eyes on him for days and couldn’t understand the why’s of it.
The soft thuds of his Aldo’s smacking against the cherry wood steps echoed throughout the house as he descended the stairs. He really wasn’t in a hurry to return back to the Magistrate’s Manor. Work had been almost unbearable since his return with constant questions and speculations. Secretly he begged for a distraction from the mundane details of his life.
Everyday before and since his capture had been much the same. Empty and hollow. Work had become his wife and family. Something he regretted dearly. And then the image of those stunning eyes hit him again. Hard. If only he could remember where he had seen them before, like an itch in his brain he knew he had seen them. But where? Scolding himself for forgetting, how could he have forgotten those eyes?
The sound of a hard thud startled him outside. Reflexively he pulled his Sig Sauer from his back holster and slid the lock free. Carefully he edged around the room, cautiously slipping the lock free from the French door, opening it. The cool autumn air rushed him with that scent. Magnolias. “Who’s there!” He ground out. Swiveling the gun side to side, he wouldn’t go down without a fight if the Sellerphase had returned to finish the job. He knew he had a huge bulls-eye plastered on his back.
Fear rankled. But the fear of not seeing who was there scared him to his core. Then the smell and hushed startled breath caught him. Leveling his gun in the direction of the pounding heartbeat, his own tripping in time he growled, demanding an answer. “I know you’re there. Answer me! Who the hell are you? What do you want?” Alarm grew with each passing silent second.
He was impatient, he needed to know. If it were the Sellerphase he preferred to start unloading his 9mm now, on the off chance that is was her, he wanted to pull her close and thank her profusely for all she had done. The latter being his choice. Sniffing the air that sweet smell filled the surrounding space, settling deep in his memory, but why wasn’t she responding? “I know you. You were there when the Sisters found me. I remember you. What are you doing here?”
Her startled gasp spoke volumes as he listened to her struggle to move, lowering his gun he stepped closer to the edge in hopes she would say just one word. The subtle sound of her shimmin away bothered him. “Thank you” he called after her hoping she had heard it. ‘Please come back.’ Iain silently pled.
“Damn!” kicking the lock back into place, he slid his trusty sidekick back into his holster and went inside to lock up. He had business to attend to, and research to do on his silent Tprofre. Desire to pursue her, to hold her and roll her beneath him lick up his veins, she had done more than just rescue him from the hellhole pits of his confinement. She had triggered something deep inside him. Something primal. Something he thought was lost or worse never existed. “I have to know” he murmured to himself.