Wicked ties, p.9
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       Wicked Ties, p.9

         Part #1 of Wicked Lovers series by Shayla Black
 
Page 9

 

  She couldn’t afford that, couldn’t afford him. Morgan looked away, breaking their visual connection.

  How he felt, how she felt—none of it mattered. She had to focus on staying safe and doing research for her show. Drooling over the heavy slabs of muscles covering Jack’s shoulders and chest that screamed virile and contemplating all the ways he could use that power to pleasure her wasn’t going to improve her show— or her chances of staying alive.

  “How are you? Okay?” he asked.

  “I’m fine,” she said finally. “What time is it?”

  He shrugged and glanced out the window. “About five in the morning. You can go back to sleep. I’ll be here to watch over you. ”

  Morgan stared back. The knowledge that Jack’s eyes were on her was really going to induce her to roll over and sink into dreamland. As if. She could hardly breathe with Jack’s gaze all over her. Sleep would be impossible.

  What was it about this man? Sure, he was yummy, but she’d dated good-looking guys before. Something about the way he stared?

  The truth finally hit her like a slap. No, it was his intensity, his self-possession, his air of controlled power. She’d always been a sucker for men of power. And unlike the other men in her past, Morgan knew Jack was the real deal.

  He wielded one of the ultimate powers, a sexual one. He wouldn’t just tie a woman down; he would dictate her response and his, be in complete control of her body, her orgasms, and in that moment, her very soul.

  The thought appealed to Morgan far more than was wise.

  Easing toward the edge of the bed to put distance between them, she said, “No, I’m awake. Do you want the bed to catch some sleep? I can get up. ”

  “Stay. ”

  The single syllable ricocheted through her body. It was a command, pure and simple. Every place it bounced around inside her, the heat intensified, confusing her. She didn’t like being bossed around—by anyone. But Jack barking orders at her made her uncomfortably achy in all the wrong places.

  Hell, maybe she was just horny in general, and it had nothing to do with Jack. After all, it had been nearly a year since she’d split up with Andrew.

  “I’ve been sleeping in the chair,” he clarified.

  “That can’t be comfortable. ”

  He laughed. “Cher, go spend a few months in Afghanistan with the army. This chair will seem like the Ritz. ”

  Morgan nodded, conceding the point.

  “If you’re awake, I want to ask you some questions. You need coffee first?”

  She shuddered. “I don’t drink the vile brew. Too bitter. ”

  A flash of white teeth told Morgan that he smiled. “I wouldn’t say that too loud around here. We’re known for our thick chicory coffee. Not drinking that is sacrilege. ”

  “I’m likely to burn in hell for some other things in my life, starting with painting my cousin’s G. I. Joe’s fingernails pink when I was five. I’ll just add that to the list. ”

  Jack laughed, a scratchy sandpaper sound. “Wow, that is vile. Satan’s got a special place reserved just for you. ”

  Morgan nodded. Then the room turned quiet. The momentary banter drifted away, leaving a tense silence in its place. Still, she felt Jack’s gaze on her, lingering on her hair.

  Self-consciously, she pushed the strands off her shoulders, behind her back. “You took off the wig. I—it’s red,” she stammered. “My hair, I mean. ”

  He hesitated. “I didn’t expect that. ”

  His stare changed then, turned pensive. Morgan frowned. What had he expected? Why did the color matter? Maybe he only liked blondes. Maybe…but his stare said otherwise.

  “And I see you took off the boots. ”

  “They looked uncomfortable. ”

  The idea of Jack touching her as she slept unaware raised the heat coiling in her body another notch. Had he touched anything more intimate than her head or feet, while she slept?

  That question ratcheted up her body heat again, now laser focused between her legs. Morgan squirmed, seeking relief. She didn’t find it.

  “What do you want to ask me?” she said. Conversation, yes. Much safer than staring.

  Jack’s slouched posture instantly gave way to a taut awareness. He leaned forward, balancing his elbows on his knees. “How about we start with anyone you can think of who might want to stalk and kill you?”

  Boom. Direct. Morgan wasn’t really surprised. That really was the heart of the matter, after all, and she suspected Jack would be a pretty bottom-line man.

  “Honestly, I can’t think of anyone. I’ve had weird fan mail, but not this weird. ”

  “It seems as if this guy knows you pretty well, where you live, where your friends and family live, where you might run to. ” Jack’s eyes narrowed. “Tell me about your relationships. ”

  “What do you mean?”

  “Previous lovers,” Jack’s raspy voice demanded as intriguing shadows played across the hard angles of his face and torso. She could stare at the man for hours and never be bored. Hot and bothered, yes. But never bored.

  Damn it, she needed to keep her mind on her safety, her show, not her protector himself.

  She shook her head. “The last one left me, not the other way around, so I doubt he’d suddenly demand that I belonged only to him. ”

  “Before him?” he barked.

  Morgan felt a flush creep up her neck. “I was involved with a pro football player a while ago, but when this started happening, he would have been on the road, so he couldn’t be taking pictures and leaving them for me. I dated an ambassador briefly. He’s currently abroad. So it’s not him, either. I hooked up with a guy in college who’s married with a daughter now. ”

  “Who else?”

  “Who else what?”

  The line of his jaw hardened. “Who else have you let fuck you?”

  The intensity of his voice—and the words—suggested that he asked for reasons that weren’t strictly professional.

  “You’re getting awfully personal, not to mention crude. ”

  “Just getting a full list of suspects and cutting to the chase, cher. Answer me. ”

  His no-nonsense tone had returned, and she found it oddly difficult to argue. “No one else. Actually, I didn’t even sleep with Ambassador Sweeny. ”

  “Three past lovers?” Jack asked, curiosity ripe in his voice. “No more?”

  She supposed that having only three lovers by the ripe age of twenty-five made her an anomaly. But she wasn’t going to give him all the details about her sex life just to appease his curiosity. The point of this exchange might be to build a list of suspects, but the low-voiced probing in his tone had a sexual edge that shouted warning.

  And he wouldn’t stop staring. With every clinging gaze, he lashed Morgan with memories of his kiss, his touch, the way he took control. Her body kept warming like an oven on pre-heat.

  “Why does it matter?” Morgan shot back, aware she was dodging the question. “Aren’t the most important facts that this monster knows my habits, my friends, family, and the places I’m likely to go?”

  He shrugged. “Cher, there isn’t a man alive who isn’t willing to kill to get a woman he’s truly desperate for. But if she’s running from him, thwarting both him and his lust…that man can get a hell of lot more ruthless. ”

  With a shiver, Morgan wondered if Jack somehow meant to imply that description could apply to more than just her stalker. Did he include himself in that group? Somehow, she didn’t picture Jack needing a lot of excuses to get ruthless, but she also didn’t picture a lot of women turning him down.

  “He’s especially dangerous if he’s already had a taste of what he’s missing. I need to know all the possibilities so I can check them out, run them down. Then we’ll get to your other questions. Now, you’ve had just those three lovers?”

  “Yes. ”

  “I need names, vital statistics, age, and last known addresses to start digging. ”<
br />
  “This is embarrassing. ”

  “This is critical. Start talking. ”

  Morgan sighed, squirmed in her place, and looked down at her hands folded in her lap. “Sean Gardner is…about five-ten, maybe. Sandy hair, brown eyes. I think he’s twenty-eight by now. Last I heard he’s living with his wife and kid in San Diego. ”

  “And he was the first?”

  She nodded. “When I was a sophomore in college, yes. ”

  “When did you see him last?”

  “About four years ago, just after he graduated. We only dated six months or so. It wasn’t that serious. ”

  “But you gave him your virginity?”

  “I already said that. ”

  “Why?”

  “I’m not answering that. That goes beyond name and vital statistics. ”

  “I need to establish motivation, cher. Maybe he still thinks of you as his little virgin and doesn’t like the thought that you’ve shared the pretty pussy he considers his with other men. ”

  Morgan held in a gasp. She wasn’t used to those words, not with a born-again mother. She’d never dated a man like Jack who used them so unapologetically. Her mother would have fainted dead away…even more than she had after seeing the first installment of Turn Me On.

  “Not likely. When we split up, he encouraged me to date his roommate, who was a major horn dog. Trust me, he was as over me as I was over him. ”

  Jack shrugged, some of the tension leaving his shoulders. “Number two?”

  “Brent Pherson. ”

  “The Brent Pherson drafted by the Raiders a few years ago?”

  “The same. If you want his vital stats, look them up on ESPN. com. ”

  Jaw tight, he asked, “How’d you meet?”

  “At a press party. He was doing a reality show about athletes during the off season for the same parent company that airs Turn Me On. I doubt he’s stalking me. We… It was just one night. ”

  Jack scowled, looking decidedly unhappy about that. “Why did you let him fuck you?”

  “Do you have to put it like that?”

  “That’s what happened, right? Why did you let him? Did you have feelings for him?”

  Brent had been built like the side of a mountain and the supposed leader of his football team. He’d been quiet and seemingly in control. That illusion had drawn her in, along with his good looks. A night had been all she needed to see how insecure and out of control he’d been.

  “That’s really none of your business. ”

  Jack stood, approached the bed, towered over her. Morgan looked up, past the ridged abs and rippling shoulders that screamed power. Having him this near…it wasn’t good for her mental health. He was part aphrodisiac, part beast. And she responded way more than she wanted to.

  “If you want my help, I need to know your past. It’s not uncommon for previous lovers to turn stalker, since they know where you live, who you’re close to, and may even know some of your friends and can get his information through them. You being modest and treating me like an auditory voyeur is only giving him more time to hunt you down. Do you have a death wish?”

  “If I did, I would have just sat there in Lafayette and let him use me as target practice,” Morgan grated out. “Do you think he followed us here? Did you see anyone follow us on the road?”

  “No, I don’t think he followed us. We’re dead in the middle of a swamp, so he’ll be hard-pressed to find us. But it’s not impossible. You can’t afford to underestimate someone like this. ”

  Jack was right. Morgan’s stomach quivered with that truth. “I know. ”

  “Good, then cooperate. You holding back is tempting me to put you over my knee and spank your ass. ”

  Morgan gaped. “You’re not touching my ass!”

  “Don’t challenge me, cher. I’ll make those pretty cheeks fire-hot in about three minutes. ”

  A flame of desire burst to life between Morgan’s legs. Bad, bad, bad. Stop now! She closed her eyes, blocking out the sensation, the longing. The rampant curiosity and the ache.

  “You’re a pushy bastard, you know that?”

  “I’m a dominant man who’s reached the end of my patience with your little-girl games. Now, have you spoken to Pherson since that night?”

  Her temper fired up a notch. “A few times. He sent me flowers the week after I spent the night with him. He called every few weeks, whenever he was back in town. I just wasn’t interested anymore. He finally got the picture and stopped calling. ”

  “Nothing since?”

  She shook her head. He let the subject of Brent drop.

  “I’m still not ruling him out. And bachelor number three?”

  “Andrew Cummings. He’s about your height. Salt-andpepper hair, gray eyes. He just turned thirty-nine. He was the producer for Turn Me On last year. We started dating shortly after the…incident with Brent. Within a month, he asked me to marry him. ”

 
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