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Suddenly, he felt the magic aura shift and switched his attention to the front door. She breezed in, hair like spun gold flowing to her waist, with a seductive yet regal body and a sway to her hips that should be illegal even in DC. She wore a snug rose and cream colored sweater, cut low enough he could see the swells of her rounded breasts, tailored black slacks that fit her cute ass like a glove and four-inch spike heels. She paused in the center of the salon, wet from the sudden spring storm, and lowered the briefcase she’d used as an umbrella. Her sparkling violet eyes glanced up to the mezzanine where Bruce stood watching. Blatantly her gaze wandered over his well-muscled body, undressing him piece by piece, until he felt naked. He shook his head slightly and smoothed his shirt and slacks with his hand, just to make sure he was still wearing them.
Inside the house, a shadow passed by the huge bay window. She held her breath. Am I really going to go through with this?
Walking up the steps to the house, she paused. Why would he leave such an expensive car sitting out when he had a four-car garage? She was stalling. Straightening her shoulder's she used the brass doorknocker. There was no answer. She knocked again.
The heavy oak door creaked open. Tristian stood shirtless, his abs rippled as he raised one muscular arm to lean on the doorframe. The skintight blue jeans hung low on his hips and his hair tousled as if he'd not been awake long.
When he stared at her, with those huge blue-gray eyes, tingles careened up her spine. She covered her mouth in case drool pooled in the corners her mouth. He was one sexy male. She sucked in a breath and opened her mouth to speak but nothing came out. A brow arched, he peered questioningly at her then twisted to glance backward into the house. The sunlight streaming through the doorway accentuated several scars across his chest, rib area and a healed slash across his back. Who gets those kinds of battle scars and lives to tell the tale? Not going to ask. Maybe this wasn't such a good idea after all.
The corner of his mouth curved up in an inviting sexy-as-hell grin. "Good morning, Hannah. What a surprise.”
It was nearly midnight when he cut across the Sun Road to another trailhead, so intent on his goal that he nearly collided with an attractive young woman. He skidded to a stop, spraying gravel, rocks, and small twigs down the road in front of him. A pinecone dislodged and bounced along the road past her. Tall and slender, she had miles of fiery-red hair that hung down her back in a cascade of curls. Intense emerald eyes stared back at him as he attempted to regain his composure, not to mention balance. What the hell was she doing here at this time of night?
“Whoa.” She stepped lightly to the side to avoid the flying debris. “You really should watch where you’re going, especially at that speed.” Her voice scolded, but the smile on her lips teased. “Someone could get hurt.”
Pretending to pant, he shrugged, holding his palms up in surrender. “Just trying to get my run in before work. Stefan Talltree, at your service.” He stepped closer, leaned over in an exaggerated bow, and caught her hand, brushing his lips over the palm and wrist, inhaling her sweet scent. AB negative with a pulse of adrenaline. Perfect. Her pulse beat a tattoo against his lips. He backed away.
Her heart thundered as she drew her hand from his grasp. “The name’s Brandy. Pleased to meet you, Stefan.” Her smile reached up into her bright eyes as they swept over him with an appreciative glance, an experience he enjoyed.
Her voice had a hint of Irish lilt to it. He liked that too.
“Where do you work that requires you to report in at—” She glanced at her watch. “—midnight?”
Nostrils flaring, he paused. Blood? Not hers. The sound of Brandy’s voice brought his attention back to her and the situation at hand. “Oh, shit, I’ve gotta go!” He sprinted off, leaving her standing alone.
As he started down the trail, the tree branches swayed in the silvery moonlight, casting eerie shadows across the trail’s edge. The breeze brought with it the coppery scent of fresh blood mixed with sulfur. He turned for one last look at her as she wrinkled her nose before silently creeping into the wind, tracking the source of the stench.
Sunrise brought an orange glow spreading over the top of Independence Pass, bathing the valley in warm golden shards of sunlight. Caden stood on the ridge with wings spread, brushing the breeze and absorbing the sun’s warmth. Feels better than yesterday. Finally, I’m gaining some strength back. It was time to move on to Maroon Bells and the lake to enjoy summer in the Rocky Mountains. Carefully, he tucked his wings in and picked his way down the trail. Dislodged rocks and sticks bounced down the path ahead of him as he stopped to admire the view and noticed something in the brush.
She lay naked, battered, and beaten several yards off the trail. Her long, straight black hair fanned around her head, tangled with twigs and bits of grass. Caden moved silently toward her, stopped, and picked up a Bureau of Indian Affairs ID a few feet from where she lay. He stuffed it in his pocket while watching the surrounding area for signs of her attackers. Kneeling down at her side, he saw scratches and bruises on her high-sculpted cheekbones and her full lips had a shading of blue around them. He placed his hand lightly on her chest, felt a weak heartbeat and sensed a brave soul unwilling to give up. God, this is the last thing I need.
Time seemed to go on forever as she slowed and walked backward for a while, her foot steps in the sand filling with water as she traveled along the shoreline, as if nature erased her intrusion. She turned around and continued her trek. Unaware of how long or how far she'd walked, the sudden outline of a figure, cloaked in the fog, jogging toward her caused panic to set in. Her heart pounded rapidly in her chest, she swallowed hard, adrenalin pumping through her veins as flight or fight response kicked in. Digging her good foot into the sand she prepared to attempt a sprint…to where. Where the hell am I? A quick glance around, she spied a light from a familiar building far off on the bluffs as the figure burst from the fog. A tall, wide-shouldered male with long muscular legs came closer. She froze.
Once lithe, strong and agile in her former life, a boss’s retaliation had taken a toll on her body. Now tired her gait was uneven and unsteady, even a slow sprint would likely end with her face planted in the sand.