Feeney made a sound like a man who'd been pinched. "Christ Jesus, Dallas, you're in St. Pat's."
"If God's going to make little weasels like him, she's going to have to listen to complaints.”
“I love you, Eve.” She looked away from the sun, the ocean, and into his eyes. And it was wonderful, and for the moment, it was simple.
“I missed you.” She pressed her cheek to his and held him tightly. “I really missed you. I wore one of your shirts.” She could laugh at herself now because he was here. She could smell him, touch him. “I actually went into your closet and stole one of your shirts—one of the black silk ones you have dozens of. I put it on, then snuck out of the house like a thief so Summerset wouldn’t catch me.”
Absurdly touched, he nuzzled her neck. “At night, I’d play your transmissions over, just so I could look at you, hear your voice.”
“Really?” She giggled, a rare sound from her. “God, Roarke, we’ve gotten so sappy.”
“We’ll keep it our little secret.”
“Deal.” She leaned back to look at his face.”
“Now he felt temper snapping at the nerves. “If you can’t be comfortable in the house while I’m not here, you can barricade yourself in this apartment. You can damn well barricade yourself in it while I am here. It’s up to you.”
“Yes, it is.” She took a deep breath and turned to him. “You did this for me.”
Annoyed, he inclined his head. “There doesn’t seem to be much I wouldn’t do for you.”
“I think that’s starting to sink in.” No one had ever given her anything quite so perfect. No one, she realized, understood her quite so well. “That makes me a lucky woman, doesn’t it?”
He opened his mouth, bit back something particularly nasty. “The hell with it,” he decided. “I have to go.”
“Roarke, one thing.” She walked to him, well aware he was all but snarling with temper. “I haven’t kissed you good-bye,” she murmured and did so with a thoroughness that rocked him back on his heels. “Thank you.” Before he could speak, she kissed him again. “For always knowing what matters to me.”
“You’re welcome.” Possessively, he ran a hand over her tousled hair.
“I already am.”
“Don’t take any unnecessary chances.” His hands gripped in her hair hard, briefly. “There’s no use asking you not to take the necessary ones.”
“Then don’t.” Her heart stuttered when he kissed her hand. “Safe trip,” she told him when he stepped into the elevator. She was new at it, so waited until the doors were almost shut. “I love you.” The last thing she saw was the flash of his grin.”
“Why?” He tilted his head. “That’s a tricky one. Could it be your serenity, your quiet manner, your flawless fashion sense?” It did his heart good to see her quick, amused grin. “No, I must be thinking of someone else. It must be your courage, your absolute dedication to balancing scales, that restless mind, and that sweet corner of your heart that pushes you to care so much about so many.”
“That’s not me.”
“Oh, but it is you, darling Eve.”
“I’m not going anywhere.” Gently, he stroked her back, cradled her head. Was there anything more astounding or more frightening to a man, he wondered, than a strong woman in tears?
“I’ve been right here all along. I love you, Eve, almost more than I can stand.”
“I need you. I can’t help it. I don’t want to.”
“I know.” He eased back, tucking a hand under her chin to lift her face to his.
“We’re going to have to deal with it.” He kissed one wet cheek, then the other. “I really can’t do without you.”
“She chuckled, leaned on him as they headed out of the park. “All in all, it was a hell of a party.”
“Hmm. We’ll have others. But there’s one thing.”
“Hmm?” She flexed her fingers, relieved that they seemed to be back in full working order. The MTs knew their stuff.
“I want you to marry me.”
“Uh-huh. Well, we’ll—” She stopped, nearly stumbled, then gaped at him with her good eye. “You want what?”
“I want you to marry me.” He had a bruise on his jaw, blood on his coat, and a gleam in his eye. She wondered if he’d lost his mind.
“We’re standing here, beat to shit, walking away from a crime scene where either or both of us could have bought it, and you’re asking me to marry you?”
He tucked his arm around her waist again, nudged her forward. “Perfect timing.”
“You need a medic, Lieutenant.”
“In a minute. Let me ask you something.”
“Ask away.” Having nothing else, he tore part of his ripped sleeve to dab at the blood on her shoulder.
“Do I come charging into one of your board rooms when you're having trouble with a business deal?”
His eyes flicked to hers. Some of the fierceness died out of them into what was almost a smile. “No, Eve, you don’t. I don’t know what got into me.”
"It's okay. This once.”
“My late unlamented father taught me one valuable lesson. 'Boy', he would say to me in the thick brogue of a champion drunk, 'the only way to fight is to fight dirty. The only place to hit is below the belt.”
“She drew in a shuddering breath. “I love you.” And let it out. “God.” The emotion that swept through him was like a summer storm, quick, violent, then clean. Swamped with it, he rested his brow on hers. “You didn’t choke on it.”
“Tell him I took the cat”
“At least this time, with this murder, she knew he had an alibi. At the time Cicely Towers was having her throat slashed, Roarke had been fucking the hell out of the investigating officer.”
“She started to pull at the chain, but he closed his hands over hers. “It doesn’t go with my suit. Eve, a gift is not supposed to make the blood drain out of your cheeks.”
Suddenly exasperated, he gave her a quick shake. “It caught my eye, and I was thinking of you. Damn you, I always am. I bought it because I love you. Christ Jesus, when are you going to swallow that?”
“Roarke, I'm working on it."
"On accepting what you seem to feel for me."
He lifted a brow. "Work harder," he suggested.”
“No, it had never been like this for him before, with anyone. Of all the women he’d known, she was the only one he was compelled to be with, driven to touch. Beyond the physical, the basic and apparently unsatiable lust she inspired in him, was a constant fascination. Her mind, her heart, her secrets, her scars. He had told her once they were two lost souls. He thought now he’d spoken no more than the truth. But with each other, they’d found something that rooted them. For a man who had been wary of cops all of his life, it was staggering to know his happiness now depended on one.”
“He sipped again, more deeply. “Is this an interrogation, Lieutenant?” It was the smile in his voice that rubbed her wrong.
“It can be,” she said shortly.
“As you like.” He rose, set his glass aside, and began to unbutton his shirt.
“What are you doing?”
“Getting into the swim, so to speak.” He tossed the shirt aside, unhooked his trousers.
“If I’m going to be questioned by a naked cop, in my own tub, the least I can do is join her.”
“Damn it, Roarke, this is murder.” He winced as the hot water all but scalded him.
“You’re telling me.” He faced her across the sea of froth.
“What is it in me that is so perverse it thrives on ruffling you? And,” he continued before she could give him her short, pithy opinion, “what is it about you that pulls at me, even when you’re sitting there with an invisible badge pinned to your lovely breast?”
“I'm not trying to box you in. I'm just trying to live with you.”
“So he found her. Most people would have said she was relaxed. But then, Roarke thought, most people didn’t really know and certainly didn’t understand Eve Dallas. He was more intimate with her, closer to her mind and heart than he had ever been with another. Yet there were still pockets of her he had yet to plumb. She was, always, a fascinating learning experience. She was naked, dipped to her chin in steamy water and perfumed bubbles. Her face was flushed from the heat, her eyes closed, but she wasn’t relaxed. He could see the tension in the hand that was fisted on the wide ledge of the tub, in the faint frown between her eyes. No, Eve was thinking, he mused.”
“Was it ever . . .” She winced, wished she could muffle the need to ask. “Before, with anyone else—”
“No.” He touched his lips to her brow, her nose, the dip in her chin. “It was never, with no one else.”
Not for me, either.” She simply breathed him in. “Put your hands on me. I want your hands on me.”
“I can do that.” He did, tumbling with her to a spread of floor cushions while the sun died brilliantly in the ocean.”
“As always, just the sight of him gave her a quick inner jolt. His face was like a painting, a depiction in perfect oils of some fallen angel. The sheer beauty of it, framed by all that rich black hair, was forever a surprise to her.”
“Eve woke, violently aroused. It was Roarke’s hands on her. She knew their texture, their rhythm. Her heart tripped against her ribs, then bounded into her throat as his mouth covered hers. His was greedy, hot, giving her no choice, really no choice at all but to respond in kind. Even as she fumbled for him, those long, clever fingers pierced her, diving into her so that she bowed up into the frenzy of orgasm. His mouth on her breast, sucking, teeth scraping. His elegant hands relentless so that her cries came out in whimpers of shock and gratitude. Another staggering climax to layer thick over the first. Her hands sought purchase in the tangled sheets, but nothing could anchor her. As she flew up again, she gripped him, nails scraping down his back, up to grab handfuls of his hair.
“God!” It was the single coherent word she managed as he plunged into her, so hard, so deep she was amazed she didn’t die from the pleasure of it. Her body bucked helplessly, frantically, continued to shudder even after he’d collapsed on her. He let out a long, satisfied sigh and lazily nuzzled her ear. “Sorry to wake you.”
“He came back, sat on the ledge again, and handed her a glass. “You haven’t slept; you haven’t eaten.”
“It goes with the territory.” The wine tasted like liquid gold. “Nonetheless, you worry me, Lieutenant.”
“You worry too easily.”
“I love you.” It flustered her to hear him say it in that lovely voice that hinted of Irish mists, to know that somehow, incredibly, it was true. Since she had no answer to give him, she frowned into her wine.”
“Water lapped as she sat forward. “Don’t play games with me, Roarke.”
“Eve, it’s my fondest wish to do just that.”
“For now, for one night, the pressures of the job were light-years away. He could do that to her, and for her, she realized. He could open little pockets of peace.”
“In their eyes, Eve saw the wolf gleam. The story was the prey, ratings the trophy.”
“Business crises energize me. Personal crises devastate me. The doctors call it an avoidance tendency. (Mirena to Eve)”
“By five A.M., her eyes were gritty and her head ached. The single hour’s sleep she had managed to tuck in between sex and murder was beginning to wear on her.”
“Roarke, one thing." She walked to him, well aware he was all but snarling with temper. "I haven't kissed you good-bye," she murmured and did so with a thoroughness that rocked him
back on his heels. "Thank you." Before he could speak, she kissed him again. "For always knowing what matters to me."
"You're welcome." Possessively, he ran a hand over her tousled hair. "Miss me." "I already am." "Don't take any unnecessary chances." His hands gripped in her hair hard, briefly. "There's
no use asking you not to take the necessary ones."
"Then don't." Her heart stuttered when he kissed her hand. "Safe trip, " she told him when he stepped into the elevator. She was new at it, so waited until the doors were almost shut. "I
love you." The last thing she saw was the flash of his grin.”
“She didn't want the medi-techs. She wanted a fucking a candy bar.”
“It's always a pleasure watching you wake up," he commented. "But sometimes I wonder if you want me only for my coffee."
"Well..." She grinned at him and sipped again. "I really like the food, too. And the sex isn't bad.”
“Dishonesty was part of the price of being a social animal, and of marriage in particular.”
“It is always brave to be kind, but in those days, such kindnesses could cost you your life.”
“I know that look. What are you up to, Gwen?"
"What makes you think I'm up to something?"
The Valkyrie snorted. "You're breathing, aren't you?”
“I need to know why I’m so broken, so I can fix myself. One way or another. Maybe this place can help me do that, and then I can finally look forward to my future. Because I’m starting to realize there’s something worse than stepping up and facing your fears – and that’s living as if you’re already dead.”
“When you look into the darkness, the darkness looks into you.”
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