Oct. 20 – 6:00pm
The crackling fire cast dancing shadows across the Library and the two men who occupied it. Both were sipping a glass of brandy and discussing their next move. Erik had finally gotten some responses from his earlier inquiries and was now waiting for the telephone traces.
“There have been no missing person’s reports at the station nor Jane Does at the morgue,” Da’ud had been making calls of his own. “If the girl is dead, why hasn’t anyone missed her and what did they do with the body?”
“Her background says she was in foster care for several years before becoming of age and falling out of the system. With no known relatives, perhaps there was no one to miss her?” Erik pulled a couple of sheets from the stack he was going through and passed them to the detective. “What do you make of this?” Da’ud read over both pages quickly before returning them.
“Are you certain this was the company that tried to recruit the parents?” In reply, Erik handed over a third sheet, a photocopy of David Roberts’ appointment book of the day he and his wife died. “Hmm…and no one made the connection during young Sam’s investigation and trial?”
“Either the judge or the court-ordered attorney were bought. Or both. They knew the outcome of that trial before it ever started. It’s too much of a coincidence and you know I don’t believe in coincidences. Samuel was snooping in their records even before his parents’ deaths so someone was already suspicious. If it wasn’t the parents, then who?”
The chime of a cell phone halted their conversation and Erik returned to studying the file while Da’ud answered. He read the addendum to Alexandra’s file he had requested concerning her shooting competitions as well as her art. He was quite impressed. Not only did she know how to prep a weapon but she also had deadly accuracy with it. Firing at a living target was exponentially harder, though, and he hoped she’d never have to discover that firsthand. Beyond that piece of information, however, there was nothing really helpful in the additional files he’d requested and he tossed them on the desk with soft growl of frustration. He hated inactivity and especially hated waiting for others to make the first move.
“We either have a break or a problem, I’m not sure which.” Da’ud broke through Erik’s dark thoughts. “The boy, Raoul, who seemed so infatuated with our Alex doesn’t exist. I even sent a fingerprint sample with the request and there no known matches. It’s like he just appeared from no where.”
“Or he’s been deleted.” Erik spun the glass in his hand, his eyes nearly the same color amber as the liquid within it. He scowled suddenly and set the glass down with an abrupt thud. “Dammit, the only way we’re going to get answers is to get our hands on that boy. The only way we’re going to do that…is to use Alexandra. Since she is unable to leave the Estate, he will have to come to her.” He rose and paced restlessly, running one long fingered hand through his ebony hair sending it into attractive disarray. “Do you see any other way, Daroga?”
“Not at this time, old friend.” He watched Erik’s pacing with a speculative gleam in his eye. “She will not mind, you know. She wants to help.”
“But I mind!”
The detective didn’t reply, merely lifted and inquisitive brow which Erik studiously ignored. Da’ud’s cell chirped with an incoming text message and, reading it, he chuckled softly. “Your guest states that she is going stir crazy and if she’s not removed from her room for a few moments at least, she’s going to come in here on her own.”
“The hell she is!” Erik stalked towards the guest room and Da’ud chuckled again.
Alex had stared at the same four walls for nearly an hour since she’d awakened from her nap. She really hadn’t planned to sleep after Erik left but exhaustion from her short walk as well as sparring with her sexy, handsome host had left her more tired than she’d thought. Now, however, she was awake, alert, and bored to sobs. Glancing at the sketch book, she decided not to risk trying to draw. Lately, everything she sketched centered on a certain man with a pair of amber eyes. She couldn’t risk that if he was going to rifle through her sketch pad. When the door opened so abruptly that it struck the wall with a loud bang, she nearly jumped out of her skin.
“Erik! Good God, what’s the matter?” Alex placed a hand on her rapidly beating heart to make sure it stayed put.
“If you wish to leave the room,” he ground out through gritted teeth, “you have but to ask. You are not to try walking again until you have been told it is safe to do so. Is that clear?”
“Yes, Papa,” Alex smiled at him innocently, all the sweetness of a child in her eyes.
As Erik walked into the room, however, she felt her smile falter. His eyes were glowing in the dim light and the color of molten amber. There was danger writ in every elegant, silent step, every searing look and now, more than ever, she was reminded of a panther stalking its prey. And like prey, she was frozen in place and could do nothing but watch with wide eyes as he came closer.
“If I have to tie you to this bed to get you to stop trying to further injure yourself, I will do so,” Erik’s growl sent shivers down Alex’s spine. Then she thought of beds and tying and her sexy masked host and blushed to the point it was painful. The wicked smile he gave revealed he was all too aware of the path her thoughts had meandered. “Just so. Ready?”
She could only nod as she made a valiant attempt to get her wayward thoughts under control. This wasn’t at all like her. She’d had boyfriends in the past but none had inspired such sinfully delicious thoughts as this man she knew she couldn’t have. When he saw that she’d changed from her nightgown into a pair of sweats and a loose t-shirt, he growled and fixed her with a stare so intense she knew he’d have plenty to say later. He scooped her into his arms and started for the Library while Alex concentrated on not oozing from his grasp to puddle at his feet.
Thankfully, Da’ud provided plenty of distraction as he asked about her health and if she was in any pain. Erik placed her on the sofa so she could lie down and she could see the warning in his eyes. She knew better than to attempt to do much more than breathe if she wanted to escape his full wrath. However, if she really thought on it, the last time she’d faced his wrath he’d kissed her and they’d ended up on the chaise in the immensely pleasurable task of removing the other’s clothing. When both gentlemen noticed the far-away look that crossed her face and commented on it, Alex gave a squeak of embarrassment and blushed so bright her hair looked dull in comparison. Seeing that look in Erik’s eyes, she deflected any questions that were hovering on his lips by inquiring after the file on the desk while making it look as if she was going to rise to grab it. Erik’s glare secured her to the sofa more securely than any material restraints.
“If you move from that sofa, so help me God, Alexandra, I will not be responsible for my actions.” Having accomplished what she set out to do, she settled back and gently steered the conversation towards the current situation. Da’ud found it all highly amusing and nearly choked on his brandy trying to hide a grin.