He's a candy box of sex appeal wrapped with a golden bow. She's on a diet.
Blood, sex, violence. Blood, okay, but computer geek Liese Schmetterling had enough S&V when her cheating ex fired her. Now security expert--and lip-smacking gorgeous--Logan Steel saunters into her Blood Center, setting fire to her libido. And threatening her job.
Visions of pink slips dancing in her head, Liese tries to push Logan away without touching his jutting pecs...or ridged abs. Or petting the Vesuvius in his jeans. He's hiding something, but it doesn't seem to matter when his smiles stun her, his kisses crank her to broiling and his bites rocket her to heaven. Fangy bites which, if she weren't grounded in science, would make her think ampire-Vay.
Centuries old and tragedy-scarred, Logan's mission is to fortify the Blood Center's electronic defenses against his nemesis, the leader of a rogue vampire gang. He's ready for battle but not for Liese, who slips under his skin, laughs at his awful puns, charges beside him into dark, scary places--and tastes like his true love.
No matter how often Logan declares his love, Liese can't bring herself to trust him. But when his archenemy comes after her, not trusting him may cost her life...
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April 19, 2010
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Excerpt from Biting Me Softly by Mary Hughes
When I first clapped eyes on Logan, I thought, Hot damn. Look what the Sex Fairy brung me!
It was eight p.m. Sunday night, and I was at work. I do computers for the Meiers Corners Blood Center. The staff is me, the executive director and a part-time nurse named Battle. I was the only one who worked insane hours, but I was new and still trying to prove myself.
I don't know what made me look up. The cool March air, perhaps. Maybe the aroma wafting in, mystery and magic with overtones of raw sex.
Whatever it was, my eyes lifted and there he was, the most stunning male I'd ever seen. Smack-me-between-the-eyes gorgeous. Bright blond hair rippled to broad, muscular shoulders. Lean strength roped a long, lithe body. Laughter and intelligence sparked gold-flecked hazel eyes. Perfect lips curved in a smile so sensuous it made my innards go bang.
Then he opened his mouth and spoke. Talk about ruining perfection.
"Hello, gorgeous." His tone was deep and lazy. "I want to speak to the computer man in charge."
Right. Well that just spoiled everything, didn't it?
I crossed my arms under my breasts. "You're looking at him. I'm the head apple. Minus the stem, but those are overrated anyway."
My sarcasm didn't even faze the man. He tucked one spectacular ass cheek on my desk and leaned in, so close I could feel his warmth on my face. "You're L. Schmetterling? How...fruitful. And what, my Red Delicious, does the L stand for? Laurie? Lucy? Lovely?"
All that male beauty and a tight ass on top of it. I'd been burned once by a man with a flabby butt and no hair. This man would incinerate me.
I clutched the reminder of male perfidy on my ring finger and screwed up my most forbidding expression. "It stands for Leave. As in Me Alone."
"I live to do your bidding, princess," the man crooned, his lips inches from mine. He had perfect, chiseled lips--the kind designed by Michelangelo for kissing. "But if you're L. Schmetterling, I can't leave. I have business with you."
"Look, buddy." It came out all husky-voiced. I let go of the ring and tried to work back to reasonable. "Look, I don't know you, and it's late. Business hours are nine to five Monday through Friday. Come back tomorrow." I turned to my laptop and pretended I wasn't quivering to taste those chiseled lips. "You're just lucky I was here."
"Oh, I knew you'd be in." The man stood with lazy grace, the kind latent with power. I watched him from the corner of my eye. He was really quite big and though his body was lean, his shoulders were stunningly broad. He would be immensely strong. He leaned knuckles on my desk. "You work late every night. Most nights you're here until ten or eleven. Alone." His tone held a touch of censure.
Strangely enough, I hadn't been afraid of him until then. My eyes jerked to his. Hard steel underlay his friendly expression.
I swallowed rising panic--though I was a black belt in Taekwondo, short and kicky was shit against strong and prowly. "What did you say your name was?"
"I didn't." He pulled a small leather case from his jeans pocket and tossed a business card on my desk with a careless snap of the wrist. The card should have skipped like a stone and sailed into my wastepaper basket. It landed right under my nose.
Gorgeous and talented. This guy would bear watching. Aw, shucks, my libido said. I ignored it. Eyes locked on him, I picked up the card. Dared a glance. Logan Steel, CEO Steel Security.
Smack me in the face with a Toshiba. Steel Security was the firm that installed a multimillion-dollar security system at Andersly-Dogget Distribution, my first job--one week before I was fired.
"Water under the bridge, Liese," my mother would say. "Put it behind you." Moms are always right, especially mine. But right doesn't equal easy.
I threw the card back. It hit the desk and rebounded into the trash, making my cheeks heat. "You can't be serious! Steel Security is the Ferrari of security firms. They do the biggest names in the world. Why would they be in little Meiers Corners?"
"We are here to install a system." Steel perched gracefully on my desk again. In his tight black T-shirt and open leather jacket he looked more like a well-muscled fashion model than a CEO.
"No way. Our Blood Center isn't Red Cross. Most people have never heard of the Hemoglobin Society. On the galactic scale of Steel Security, we're not even a comet."
Steel grinned at that, a smile so sharp and white that I was momentarily blinded. "Nice pun."
Wow. Mr. Fortune 500 (and Body 300) thought I was amusing?
Then reality kicked me in the teeth. I was a geek. When I talked, eyes glazed over. Amusing? Sure, and the Sex Fairy was real. "Why are you actually here?"
"Here's the work order, if you don't believe me." Mr. Logan Great-Ass pulled a paper out of his back pocket. Since his jeans were so tight they must have been painted on his incredible tush, I wondered how there could possibly have been room. He unfolded the paper and tossed it onto my desk with as much flair as the card. "You're wrong, Ms. Schmetterling. Gorgeous, but wrong."
Gorgeous? I shot to my feet. "Now I know you're lying. Fun time's over. There's the door."
Sleek eyebrows arched. "I assure you, everything's in order."
"You've forged those papers. Or...or maybe they're real, but the company's been typed over. I don't know what your game is, Mr. Steel, but this woman's not playing."
"No games, Ms. Schmetterling." Leaning across the desk, he hooked my chin with one long finger. "Though if you want games, I could be persuaded."
And he pressed his sculpted mouth to mine.
Steel's lips were smooth and warm and he knew how to use them. His kiss was the magical brush of angel wings. Heavenly golden heat spread through me, stunned me. My eyelids fluttered closed. Excitement hit me low in the belly, hot, shocking excitement that bubbled up as a soft moan of pleasure.
At the sound, Logan licked my lips open. Angel wings became angel fire. "You taste wonderful. All hot and wet. Mmm, can't get enough." His kiss deepened, his tongue started to plunge.
Heat flamed through me, spiraling quickly past my temperate zone. I was kissing a virtual stranger but it was so good, better than seven-layer chocolate sin cake. Logan nibbled at my lips, his teeth extraordinarily sharp. Instinctively I knew I was about two seconds from clamping my ankles around his superb ass, and damn the consequences.
So I jerked back and slapped him. "D-don't you...ever...do that again!"
He blinked, hazel eyes shading golden with surprise. His fingers hovered over his reddening cheek. I guessed with a face and body like his, Logan Steel wasn't refused very often. Of reaction A), B) or C), my slap had probably been D) none of the above.
I tensed against the inevitable anger or cold disdain.
"Hmm," he said. "Do you always overreact like that, princess?"
I gaped at him. "Overreact? That was sexual harassment, buddy. You're lucky I didn't pepper-spray you!"
"I'm here on legitimate business--"
"After hours, without an appointment. In jeans and a T-shirt better suited to a gigolo than a CEO."
His eyes turned hard. The gold shaded eerily toward red. "Please don't interrupt. Even if I was somewhat out of line--"
"You kissed me!"
"You liked it," he shot back.
"That's beside the point. You came in here, knowing I was alone, like a stalker--"
"I'm no stalker." He snatched his card out of the wastebasket and thumped it onto the desk in front of me. "I'm here to protect you from stalkers. I'm one of the good guys, Ms. Schmetterling."
"Is that how good guys behave? Forcing themselves on lone women?"
"Oh, for the love of..." Logan blew an exasperated breath. "I'm sorry, okay? I couldn't help myself. You're a beautiful woman and--"
"I am not beautiful!" I shouted at the top of my lungs.
My words fell into an astonished silence. Logan stared at me, a small frown creasing his brow. His eyes softened to a thoughtful hazel.
I started trembling. My heart was pounding, and I was breathing like a freight train. I wondered what the hell had just happened. I felt like I'd just fought for my life. Was Logan Steel right?
Was I overreacting?
Thankfully the phone rang, derailing my distressing thoughts. Taking a deep breath, I connected my Bluetooth headset. "Blood Center."
"Hey, sugar," a smooth alto greeted me. "It's Dolly Barton. I had a cancellation tomorrow. Want to move your appointment to six thirty?"
I winced. My appointment at the Curl Up and Dye was not for a haircut. "Sure. Yeah."
A pause. "You sound upset, sugar. Anything going on?"
"No." I sank into my chair. A gorgeous tush settled onto the desk next to me. Shizzle.
"It's not your ex-fianc?, is it?"
The last man to tell me I was beautiful. I glared at the mammoth stone on my right hand. "No."
"That Botcher. What a scumbag." Gum snapped. "Of course, office romances are thin ice anyway. You need to find someone new, sugar."
"No, I don't." Certainly not Edible Tush.
"Sure you do. A woman's got needs, if you know what I mean. It's been, what--a year?"
I flushed. "Sixteen months." Sixteen months since I had needs. Now all I had were issues.
Another crack of gum. "Well, not all men are like that, sugar. Some day you'll find the right one."
"And I'll know that, how?"
"Easy. He'll take you on a cruise to heaven."
As I hung up, I rolled my eyes. The only cruise my ex had taken me on was to the Isle of Itsucks.
A hand cupped my face. Warm lips pressed to mine, lips that circled gently, spreading heat and light. Before I could protest, they were gone.
"What the heck did you do that for?" I glowered into oh-so-innocent hazel eyes.
"You looked like you could use it." Logan picked up his work order, refolded it. "You are beautiful, you know. Hasn't anyone told you that?"
I had recovered sufficiently to snort. "Are we back to that nonsense? I may be small-town, but I'm not ignorant. I've seen world-class beauty, and I ain't it."
"Oh?" Eyes zeroed in on my mouth, Logan leaned toward me. I jerked just out of reach. He shrugged and smiled.
Sweet Stephen Hawking on a trampoline, that gorgeous flex of lips made me want to nibble him like tender cake. "Chicago has real beauties." My voice rasped, breath and every internal system I had going berserk at lips. "Long women with flowing hair and bodies so firm they could be eleven-inch dolls."
"Plastic? Ah, and manufactured. You're clever." Logan grinned like he was genuinely amused.
Pleasure warmed me, confused me. Distracted me long enough for him to palm my cheek. His big, hot hand could have melted plastic--it scorched my mere flesh. I jerked back again. The man was seriously dangerous. "They still look gorgeous."
"You are gorgeous, princess."
"Meiers Corners pretty, maybe." Blonde hair, blue eyes and generous curves from a diet of bratwurst and beer. The St. Pauli Girl-next-door. Compared to Chicago gorgeous, as exciting as a dumb terminal.
As if he read my mind, Logan said, "Beauty isn't simply physical, Ms. Schmetterling."
I made a rude noise. "Even pudgy, balding men go for butt and boobs."
"Perhaps I have different tastes." He leaned in until his tempting lips were a breath from mine.
I jerked back so hard my chair shot bang into the wall.
Logan grinned. "You're cute when you're flustered."
Cheeks flaming, other parts hot with a different fire, I scooted back into place. "It doesn't matter. If you have legitimate business, as you say, come back tomorrow during business hours."
"Sorry, can't. I have appointments all day. What does the L stand for?"
"Liese." I blinked, then swore. On top of gorgeous and talented, the man was sneaky. "Ms. Schmetterling to you."
Of course he ignored that. "Liese. Mmm." Even the prosaic Liese, purred in his luxurious voice, became incredibly sexy.
My insides clenched, parts that had lain dormant for nearly two years. Jingling jump drives, I did not want to be attracted to any male, certainly not one so casually, devastatingly sensual. "I prefer Ms. Schmett--"
"I prefer Liese. Liese." Logan repeated my name slowly, as if he were tasting it. "So melodic. I'd say beautiful, but I don't want to get slapped again. Who hurt you so badly?"
I was already off-balance. That question, coming totally out of the blue, zapped me dumb. I stared at him, trying to reboot my brain into some semblance of an answer. Finally I spat, "Right. It can't be you making me angry. It has to be me. Some deep personal trauma from my past."
Logan cupped my chin with gentle fingers. "Anger often covers hurt--"
"What are you, a fricking psychoanalyst?" Shizzle. Logan Steel thought I was a kicked puppy. He thought I needed stroking and tenderness and care.
And damn me for an idiot, I wanted that. Wanted any man but especially this gorgeous, potent male to stroke me tenderly, to care. The wanting was so strong I actually leaned into his fingers...tilted my face toward his...closed my eyes...
The phone rang again. I jumped. Twisting out of Steel's fingers, I hit connect. "Blood Center."
A guy with a really bad Transylvanian accent said, "I vant to order carry-out, bleh."
Carry-out from a blood center, right. Must be a Meiers Corners crazy. "Look, buddy. We aren't Der BurgerHimmel. Call them for your Mount Ararat o' Onions fix."
"I do not vant onions, I vant blood. And I am not Buddy. I am Dracula. Bleh."
"Yeah, well, bleh this, Drac. We don't do carryout. If you want blood, come in and sign up like the rest of the world."
"I cannot. I am in prison, bleh."
Why was I not surprised? "Tough break. Tell you what--I'll send you the forms. Dracula, care of Castle Dracula, Transylvania?"
"Care of Meiers Corners Verk Camp."
I knew the place. Daycare for people who weren't quite in the same time zone as the rest of the Earth. "Fine." I tapped a few keys. "Papers are on their way." I hung up.
"That was nice of you," Logan said.
Another surge of warmth hit me. Immediately I quashed it. "Since when is rude and sarcastic nice?"
"You listened to him." He shrugged. "Not many people would take the time to talk with a psychotic."
"Yeah, I get the Nobel Nice Prize. What does that work order say, anyway?" I held out my hand. Business, the only solid ground in Swamp du Logan.
Logan's smile became slightly mocking, as if he knew I was running scared. But his long fingers dipped into the pocket over his superb butt (and why, oh why was I still noticing his ass?) and he pulled out the folded paper.
"It's for a full system." He passed it to me. "That's why I wanted to talk to you."
"Now I know you're lying. When you came in, you didn't even know who I was." I scanned the paper, several columns of densely packed numbers and technical terms. It was hard to read, except for the bottom line. That said five hundred thousand dollars.
"I knew I wanted L. Schmetterling." Logan's lazy shrug somehow emphasized the power in his shoulders. "I knew you worked nights. Since my appointments keep me busy all day, I was hoping you could pass a message to Schmetterling. How fortunate he turned out to be you."
"How fortunate," I echoed caustically, staring at the work order. It was hard to understand a half-million-dollar system at our Center. Not that upgrading our ancient alarm was a bad idea. Meiers Corners was as safe as Mayberry R.F.D., but occasionally I had noticed blood missing. Not a lot, but enough to start me wondering--and worrying. One of my jobs was to keep track of it. Would I get fired (again) over a few lost pints?
I needed this job, and not just for the income. "All this for a few thousand units a month? Are you sure you have the right place?"
"Call your executive director if you don't believe me."
"You think I won't?" My chin kicked up.
Logan's bright blond hair swayed as he shook his head, not in denial, but in gentle disbelief. "You really have some trust issues, don't you, princess?"
"I certainly do not." It came out too fast. I suppressed a grimace. "I just don't understand most of this order."
"Then let me explain." Logan took the paper from me, smoothed it on my desk and perched next to me. His body felt like a radiator, so hot that if I wore glasses, they'd have steamed up. As it was, Liese-Down-Under was starting to heat. He slid a bit closer, his gorgeous butt wiggling like delectable bait. My heart kicked from drive into race. That tight ass of his was begging to be grabbed. He shifted, muscles playing smoothly, and my hands clenched. Heat? Try steam. Poach. Shake and bake.
Logan's finger skimming the first couple lines of text thankfully distracted me from said butt cheek. Until I imagined me as that text. Pictured his finger skimming down my throat, around my breasts, over my belly...down to my...whoo-ha. Goosebumps woke from my neck down to my Xeon processor.
"This is the hardware we'll be installing," Logan said.
I blinked, forced myself to pay attention. He went on, finger still skimming paper. Lightly, like his angel-wing kisses. Kisses that would warm my neck, excite my nipples, my belly... Oh, bend me over and spank me with a netbook.
"Cameras, multi-sensors, the works. The equipment for a complete lock-down." Then he pointed to a few words that I did understand. "Here are the system requirements."
"An MMS?" I gasped. Taken from the gamer acronym MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online), MMS was a term coined by Steel Security for a blade-style supercomputer with a minimum of six multi-core CPUs, super-fast virtual switch and nanotube memory. I'd read about it in Hot Processors Monthly (a magazine I swear I did not buy for the centerfold). This system had twenty CPUs. "What the hell do you need all that power for? Can you even harness twenty processors at once?"
"With our proprietary software, yes. That's itemized on lines thirty-seven through forty-two."
I reread those lines. Integrated intruder sensor, alarm program and safety lock-down routines. And--an automated warehousing program and distribution database.
I got cold. Was Black Saturday happening again? Was I about to lose my job? Second time in less than two years would not look good on the old resume. "We already have software to run the Blood Center," I croaked around the ice in my throat.
Logan caught my shift in tone. His eyes narrowed until they were twin scalpels that could cut the reason from my brain. The sensation of him digging in my head was so strong I mentally rattled off "Mary Had a Little Lamb" just in case.
"You'll need to convert your data to the new programs." He spoke slowly, stare drilling. "Standard formats, and I'll be available to answer questions."
Though I didn't say a word, something must have communicated itself because his gaze softened. "We're not here to put you out of a job, Liese."
Fershizzle. Sexy, smart and slightly scary. "Ms. Schmetterling," I corrected automatically. I didn't believe him. Who paid a half million dollars for an installation, only to turn it over to a small-town gal geek? "Ms. is more professional."
"I like Liese." His voice caressed my name.
No man should be better than chocolate. "Too bad. Ms."
Logan's bright head tilted and he gave my hair a quick tousle. "How 'bout Ms. Liese?"
"Stop that. I'm not a puppy."
"No, you're a woman. A beautiful but very prickly woman." He nudged me playfully. "Are you always so uptight?"
"Uptight?" Issues, maybe. But-- "I'm not--"
"Ever party? Play naked on the beach?" Logan leaned his elbows on the desk, putting his face just inches from mine. He flashed me his wicked smile, all sharp white teeth. "Ever just fool around?"
My nipples tightened traitorously--and belly, thighs and pudendum. "No," I said, more to my libido than him. And to my sex, which was licking its lips and slurping a bit.
Logan's nostrils flared. He leaned closer, lips less than a breath from mine. His eyes shaded toward rose-gold. "I love how you smell. All musky and tempting."
I jumped to my feet. "I'm a geek. It's WD-40."
"It's you." He slid both glorious butt cheeks onto my desk and threw his legs gracefully over the other side. I backed up as he came to his feet, stalking lazily toward me. I backed until I hit wall. In the small office, it was all of three steps.
He kept coming until he pressed into me.
Logan's huge chest muscles, thrust seductively against his cotton tee, were level with my drooling mouth. I tore my gaze from those gorgeous pecs only to have it land on his face. His eyes were heated and intense--and, embarrassingly, on my slobbering trap.
"I want to kiss you," he rasped, his voice totally unlike the smooth insouciant tones I'd come to expect. "Are you going to slap me again?"
"Probably." I forced the word through suddenly tight vocal cords.
"Okay, then. It'll be worth it." His fingers threaded through my hair, and his head bent. But this time wasn't a soft brushing or gentle rubbing.
No. This time his mouth fastened hungrily on mine.
I gasped. He was quick to take advantage of my parted lips, stabbing into me with heat and deft skill. He tasted sweet and hot, like rich red cinnamon.
Logan kissed with amazing thoroughness. Not an inch went unplundered, his teeth, tongue and lips stroking, licking, biting, his fierce mouth demanding response.
My legs went limp, a rush of desire liquefying my very bones. I would have fallen if Logan hadn't yanked me tight against his hard body. Something grew between us. Something impressively long and thick.
My heart beat harder. Moisture dewed my skin. My breasts swelled, clamoring and throbbing for his touch, nipples distressingly stiff.
As if Logan heard my traitorous breasts, he palmed one, pinching the nipple slightly. Shockwaves ricocheted through me. The other breast tightened, shouting for equal attention. Logan heard again, took both my breasts in his big hands, his pinches becoming possessive.
His kiss became possessive too. His mouth slanted and he thrust his tongue down my throat.
Feminine systems long dormant came online with a bang. If I had an On button, Logan had punched it. My legs scissored around his muscular thigh. He pushed forward, grinding into my crotch. My eyes popped wide at the heavy flood of desire that hit me.
"Stop," I panted. "This is insane."
"I love insane." Logan's tongue ran down my jaw to my neck. "My favorite setting is insane." He nipped my throat, his teeth razor-sharp.
A hot, edgy need skated over my skin. "I don't even know you. How can I be reacting like this?" So fast, almost unnaturally so.
The word caught in my head. Unnatural--
"Do you want to slap me?" Logan's tongue soothed where his teeth had scored. His muscular leg started to beat a rhythm against my mons. My jeans were heavy denim and I shouldn't have been able to feel it. But somehow he rode the thick inseam so it yanked directly on my clit.
My thoughts disintegrated. I arched into him. "I'd slap you...if I could make my arms work."
Logan chuckled, pure male arrogance. "You smell so good. Mmm. So hot and ready."
"Like Liese." He pushed emphatically between my legs. "Like sweet, musky Liese. I've got to taste you." His tongue flicked the perspiration dotting my skin.
I wondered how that hot tongue would feel flicking something else wet. Oooh. My vulva clenched hard. My hips began moving in counterpoint to Logan's thigh.
"I want you, princess." Logan's eyes turned molten gold, almost red. "I want to make love to you." His cock expanded even bigger against my belly. Impressive became OMG. A thrill tore through me, ardor or terror. Movie-star gorgeous Logan Steel wanted to make love to me, to geeky Liese Schmetterling.
Probably terror. I was in way over my head. My total sexual experience was my ex-fianc? and my mini egg vibrator. Sex with Logan would be like playing baseball with the Cubs straight out of kindergarten. He'd easily slide into home, scary enough. As fast as I was reacting, he'd score off a single base hit.
But the baseball bat in his jeans? Terror. Definitely terror.
It reminded me forcefully that I didn't know Logan Steel at all. Seducing me, threatening my job--that was all too familiar. Old tapes whirred to angry, panicked life.
I slapped him.
"Kinky. Do you like handcuffs too?" Logan stepped back just enough to give me room to breathe. "Or do you prefer scarves?"
I pushed past him to my desk, tossed off my headset and grabbed purse and coat. I was leaving now, fleeing past or present, I didn't know and didn't care. I practically ran to the door.
A firm hand stopped me.
I hadn't heard a thing. I spun, eyes wide. "What the hell...?"
"You should turn off your laptop," Logan said. "Security, you know."
I jerked out of his grip, jabbed my computer off. I should have shut it down properly, but the way my body betrayed me scared me.
No. I wasn't scared, I was angry. A man I didn't know had touched me as intimately as my fianc?--who'd screwed me, screwed me over, and dumped me. Catching the glint of my two-carat "engagement" ring, which I still wore to remind myself never to trust any man, I wondered if being thrown away by a stranger was any less painful.
Not painful, aggravating. More angry than ever, and definitely not scared or hurt, I slammed out of the Blood Center.
Well, slammed isn't quite right. I had to arm the old model alarm, using the super-secret pass code one-one-one. That disarmed it too. Not very sophisticated, but Executive Director Dirkson wanted everything kept simple.
I punched in the numbers, threw open the door and dashed out, knowing it would shut and lock automatically. I should have waited for Logan, or at least told him about the alarm, which could shriek like a candy-deprived toddler. As I ran away...er, moved briskly down the street, I considered that maybe I had subconsciously tried to cage him, like a deadly lion. He certainly unnerved me enough.
"Where do you live?" a deep voice drawled pleasantly.
"Shizzle!" I spun.
The street lamp etched Logan's features into raw perfection, made his hair shimmer like silver silk. He glided closer, seductive, exquisitely male, sliding through the shadows like a big cat. My own pussycat started purring.
Just dropkick me. "Don't do that."
"Don't do what? This?" He bent and stole a quick openmouthed kiss.
I stared at him, flabbergasted. "Don't sneak up on me."
"Ah. Then I can do this." He gave me a longer, deeper kiss.
"No! Don't do that either." I scrubbed my mouth, trying to wipe away the hot, powerful taste of him. "For a businessman, you're not very businesslike." I walked away. Fast. Almost running.
Logan, damn him, kept pace easily. "So where do you live? No, wait. Eighth and Eisenhower, right?"
I spun again. "How did you know that?"
"Security research. L. Schmetterling, Eighth and Eisenhower." Logan tapped my nose gently. "That's half a mile from here. Where's your car?"
"Car?" I walked on, slower now. What was the point of running? With his long, strong legs, he'd just catch up. "For seven blocks? Even if it were seven miles, I'd walk. You get shot here for driving anything less."
"Ah, the joy of small towns. Wait. L. Schmetterling. I've heard that name before... Yes, at Andersly-Dogget Distribution. We did work there. Programmer, systems design and finally project lead. A brilliant computer specialist with an unheard-of ninety-eight percent solution completion rate. Always on time and under budget. Liese, that's you?" His eyes glowed gold.
"Maybe." I'd never been called brilliant. Somehow, I believed it more easily than beautiful.
"You were about to get a well-deserved promotion to head of IT. Hell, Liese, you could have run the whole company, according to the records. Maybe you should have. I heard they're not doing so well. Why did you leave?"
My happy hit a wall of reality and went splat. "Personal reasons."
Logan's smile faded. Perceptive as he was, he probably figured out he'd stumbled onto a Touchy Subject. Hopefully he would drop my issue and turn to something less dangerous--like religion or politics. Hopefully--
"Is this connected with not believing you're beautiful?"
Logan Steel was incredibly perceptive, and, if he kept this up, incredibly dead. "You're still here, why?"
Unruffled, Logan said, "I'm walking you home. It's late, and I'd hate for anything to happen." As he glided along he passed through alternate bands of street light and moonlight. Both loved him, gently caressing his sculpted features. My fingers itched to do the same.
I jammed them deep in my coat pockets. "At the risk of sounding like an infinite loop, this is Meiers Corners. The worst crimes we have are part-time hookers and kids trying to steal bikes. Bicycles, not motorcycles."
"That was before Chicago gangs took an interest. You need to be more careful now." Logan's long fingers curled over my shoulder, stopping me with restrained strength.
I turned to him in surprise. He stared into the night, his nostrils flared, his eyes that heated gold. His expression was so far from his usual nonchalance that I almost didn't recognize him. He no longer looked like an urban playboy.
He looked like--a hunter.