Wicked ties, p.41
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       Wicked Ties, p.41

         Part #1 of Wicked Lovers series by Shayla Black
 
Page 41

 

  Meaning Deke didn’t. What was the problem with these two? Morgan watched their byplay with a frown. Alyssa and Deke disliked each other. Intensely.

  “I hate to interrupt,” Morgan blurted, lying through her teeth, “but can I get my purse, Alyssa?”

  The woman looked at her. “Morgan? Oh, shit. I’m sorry. I didn’t recognize you with red hair and… What the hell are you wearing?”

  “Jack’s sweatpants and He-Man’s sweatshirt. ”

  Alyssa’s expression turned ripe with X-rated questions.

  Morgan flushed with both embarrassment and anger. “It’s not what you’re thinking, but don’t ask. I just want to get my purse and get out of here. ”

  “Did Jack find your stalker and put him out of his misery?”

  “No, but we think he’s gone to California looking for me since he set fire to my house there yesterday. ”

  Alyssa grabbed her hand. “I’m not so sure, hon. Come with me. You, too, steroid boy. ”

  Morgan followed her into a narrow hallway that bloomed into an office. Deke trailed behind, grumbling that he’d never used steroids. She barely paid attention. Alyssa knew something about her stalker that she didn’t?

  The woman shut the door to the small, cubiclelike office. Ah, soundproofed. Very nice.

  Hustling behind her desk in a surprisingly long, confident stride, despite her staggeringly high stilettos, Alyssa produced a big envelope. A familiar manila-style envelope. One without postage marks.

  Morgan’s heart took a nosedive.

  “These arrived this morning. Apparently, some homeless woman said a man paid her to deliver it by hand. I would have called Jack to tell him, but I was in New Orleans today. I just got back and found them. ”

  With shaking hands, Morgan opened the envelope and extracted the pictures. There were only two, both taken near Sexy Siren’s main stage the day Jack had brought her here to transform and hide her. Had that been a mere three days ago? So much had happened since then, it felt like a lifetime.

  The first picture showed Jack in disguise, his fingers curled around her hip, his palm resting on the curve of her ass. His mouth hovered above her ear. Morgan shivered as she remembered his hypnotic voice and five o’clock shadow rasping against her senses.

  She swallowed down a tangle of grief and yearning as she flipped to the next picture. This one knocked the breath from her body.

  Jack seizing her, holding her still for the onslaught of his mouth. Eyes closed, he devoured her. The still picture captured aggression, possession in the clutch of his fingers on her neck, the thrust of his shoulders, as if he was determined to get as close as possible. His wide mouth utterly devoured hers. Morgan couldn’t avoid looking at the picture, her arms around Jack’s neck, her breasts pressed against him, her lips parted in eager readiness to taste every bit of his kiss. Not just accepting, but craving it. She tingled just looking at it.

  Deke whistled. “That’s one hell of a kiss. ”

  “Yep, I’ve never known Jack to be so intent on anything that didn’t involve handcuffs,” Alyssa commented baldly.

  Morgan cut a pained glance at her. Of course Alyssa had slept with Jack. Probably more than once. What red-blooded woman wouldn’t, given the opportunity? Still, looking at the exotic creature in black leather with a waterfall of platinum hair wrapped in easy sexuality, Morgan felt like the ugly duckling—all baggy clothes, freckles, and repression.

  God, she had to get far away from here. If she stayed long enough to watch Jack touch this woman or any other…the sight would crush her. No question. She’d trusted him, opened up to reveal herself to Jack in a way she never had with any man. She cared. More than cared. She didn’t even want to think about how much more.

  Twelve kinds of stupid, that’s what she’d been.

  “If handcuffs is all it takes to interest you, I’m sure I can scrounge up a pair or two. ” Deke baited Alyssa.

  The blonde scoffed. “You wish. ”

  This conversation was crawling on her last nerve. She had no idea why Deke was trying so hard to get a rise out of Alyssa’s temper and she didn’t care.

  “Did you call Jack already?” Morgan demanded.

  Alyssa frowned at the sharp tone. “No. I was getting ready to. ”

  Morgan shook her head. “Wait until I leave. I want to be good and gone before he shows up. ”

  “Doll, you can’t leave with this guy running around. He could be near. ”

  She tried not to wince at that possibility. “I have to go. I’m exhausted and I want space, some sleep. Tomorrow—”

  “Tomorrow could be too late. You have to wait for Jack, tell him about these pictures. Let him protect you. ”

  “I’ll be fine for one night. I’ll call around and hire someone to protect me bright and early in the morning. ” She turned to Alyssa. “Can I just have my purse, please? I need my driver’s license, my keys, my money…”

  “What about the note?” the blonde asked.

  “Note?”

  Alyssa grabbed the envelope from Morgan’s hands and dug to the bottom until she retrieved a folded piece of paper. “Note. ”

  Trepidation battered Morgan’s nerves as she took the white paper in hand and unfolded it.

  You belong to me. Only me. I will kill you before another man touches you again.

  The brevity and resolution in those words chilled her. Reggie meant it. Morgan covered her hand with her mouth and felt her knees weakening under her.

  Deke caught her in his strong grasp before her legs gave out. Alyssa moved into her line of vision, concern and confusion written all over her face.

  “Let me call Jack. He’s going to want to hear about this. ” “No, he’s not. ” Morgan looked away, fighting the sting of tears that were suddenly like an ice pick in the back of her eyes. Alyssa closed the space between them and lifted her chin in a surprisingly strong grip, despite her long French-tipped claws. “Okay, now I’m really going to call him and ream him out. How the hell did he break your heart in three damn days?”

  “I don’t think it’s one-sided,” Deke offered.

  He was delusional, Morgan decided. And she’d heard enough from both of them.

  Tearing herself away from both Deke and Alyssa, Morgan made for the door. She was exhausted and sore. She wanted a shower, wanted the solace of deep sleep. Until she got out of here, she wasn’t getting any of it.

  If Reggie had arranged for the delivery of this envelope to Alyssa, it meant he was still determined and unhinged. He was probably back in the area. He knew who she’d left the club with and when. All the more reason not to stay with Jack, to find a new bodyguard.

  For every reason she could think of, she had to get out of here. Now.

  “Give me my damn purse!” she shouted. “I’m leaving. ”

  Alyssa tossed up her hands in a gesture of surrender and walked back behind her desk. She lifted her super-short black skirt and revealed a set of black garters holding up her thigh-high stockings. A small ribbon tied a little desk key to that garter. Alyssa plucked on the red satin ribbon, and the key fell into her hand.

  With a taunting glance at Deke’s riveted gaze, Alyssa palmed the key, then straightened her skirt and unlocked her desk. An open drawer later, she handed Morgan her purse.

  “Let me call Jack before you go. ”

  “I’ll be fine. Deke can walk me to my car to help me retrieve my things and make sure I do it safely. I’ll figure out what to do from there. ”

  Morgan didn’t wait around for either of them to answer. She whirled away and headed for the alley exit. It was dark. She could stay in the alley’s shadows.

  A few moments later, she heard Deke’s footsteps behind her.

  “I’ll stay with you tonight, until you can find a new bodyguard. ”

  And let him call Jack to come and get her and probably spank her ass for running off in the first place? “Just drop me off at my car. I’ll grab my
stuff and call a cab, just to be on the safe side. Your responsibility ends there. ”

  “If I do, Jack is going to kill me,” he muttered.

  “If you don’t, I’m going to kill you first, slowly, and string you up by the balls. ”

  Though Morgan was painfully aware that she couldn’t make good on that threat, she was relieved when Deke just shook his head and sighed.

  He drove her straight to Brandon’s car, stopping beside it. He leaned over the steering wheel.

  “What Jack did was shitty, Morgan. I won’t deny it. He knows it. But this asshole stalking you is dangerous. And it’s possible he hopped a plane back here. Let me call Jack. He can keep you safe until—”

  “Damn it. What part of no don’t you understand?”

  “What if this sick freak finds you? He’s tried to kill you once. He’ll try again. You saw that note. ”

  “I’m a grown woman with a brain. I can manage to hide myself for one night. Then tomorrow, I’ll make other arrangements. Jack is not the only person who can keep me safe. ”

  “He’s the man who cares about you most. He would do anything to keep you safe, give his life for yours. ”

  “All bodyguards take that risk. ”

  Deke nodded. “The difference is, on the job, we risk our lives because we’re paid to do it. I have no doubt Jack would simply lay his down to save yours. ”

  “No, that’s…” Morgan shook her head, disturbed by the soaring joy and terror inside her. “He’d have to love me to—”

  “He does. ”

  Morgan swallowed. It wasn’t possible. Logically, she’d known Jack three days. He wasn’t the kind of man to give his heart easily, if at all.

  Was it possible? a voice in her head whispered. An agreement to an interview had led to an agreement to protect her, which had led to…so much more. Visions of Jack bombarded her: Shielding her from bullets, impaling her against his front door, teasing his grandfather, encouraging her to accept his domination, cursing at her fantasy.

  Leaving her.

  Jack didn’t love her. Deke must think saying otherwise would persuade her to wait for him. Well, Deke thought wrong.

  She stripped off Deke’s sweatshirt, handed it back to him, and gathered up her purse. “I’ll be fine. ”

  “I don’t think that taking this car is safe. Who knows what the weird-ass did to it. Why don’t you let me drop you somewhere until we can get the car checked out. ”

  So he could tell Jack where she’d gone the minute his Hummer door shut behind her? “Thanks for the offer, but I’ll call a cab. ”

  With a long sigh of defeat, Deke put his Hummer into park. “At least let me help you down and make sure this bastard hasn’t tampered with your car. ”

  As much as she wanted to, Morgan couldn’t argue with that request. She nodded.

  Deke hopped down and walked around to open her door. He grabbed her around the waist and lifted her out of the vehicle. His hands lingered. “Are you sure?”

  “Yes. ” She still had a stalker to contend with but she could hire someone big and mean and ugly to watch over her, return home, start filming the new episodes of Turn Me On.

  A new batch of ice picks seemed to stab at the back of her eyes. “I can’t stay. ”

  Morgan fished the keys from her overstuffed little purse, cursing as Deke bumped her and half the contents spilled out onto the dark street. God, couldn’t anything go right?

  “Sorry. I tripped. ” Deke bent and gathered her brush, her wallet, her hand lotion, then put it all back in her purse. “Be safe. ”

  She opened Brandon’s trunk after Deke checked the vehicle inside and out, then gave her an all-clear signal. With a soft curse, he called her a cab as she grabbed her belongings from the trunk.

  “Thanks. ” She couldn’t seem to make her voice any bigger than a whisper.

  “I hope I see you again. ”

  Sincere. His words weren’t cute. Weren’t a come-on. A fresh wave of dejection swarmed her.

  Morgan nodded and watched him drive away with hot tears scalding her cheeks as the truth hit her: She’d never see Deke again. Worse, she’d never see Jack again. She’d known him mere days and leaving him felt like she was leaving behind a part of herself, like she’d dismembered her heart from her body.

  Perfect. How like her. The minute she had to leave Jack was the moment she realized she loved him.

  The taxi blessedly arrived moments later and whisked her away.

  Nearly groaning with every step, Morgan checked into a quaint European-style bed and breakfast on the edge of town with a small overnight bag in one hand and her laptop in the other. She took the renovated carriage house out back, which wasn’t visible from the road and came complete with a Jacuzzi tub and a back door for a quick exit. The whole place sat alone, the yard surrounded by guard fences. The owner swore they’d never had so much as a flower disturbed in the twenty years he’d been running the place. And that sounded like heaven to Morgan. She wanted to lay down and sleep for a week, and after tonight, she just might.

 
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