Home > Secret Life of a Vampire (Love at Stake #6)(13)

Secret Life of a Vampire (Love at Stake #6)(13)
Author: Kerrelyn Sparks

"Yes. She was looking for you. And Officer Lafayette was with her." Carlos smiled at Phineas. "She's a lovely black woman."

"Hot damn!" Phineas's face lit up, then crumbled. "Why would a pretty young thing join the po-po?"

"They're clever, too," Carlos continued. "Somehow they figured out where Jack's living."

"That's the po-po for you, man. They'll track your ass down!" Phineas took his empty glass and blood bottle to the sink and rinsed them out.

Jack sat at the table as he thought back. He'd been careful not to tell Lara where he lived or worked. The car! That's why Lara's roommate had been waiting on the street. "They must have run the plates on Roman's car."

Carlos nodded. "They're smart."

"Relentless." Phineas jammed his empty glass and bottle in the dishwasher. "You'd better not talk to them, man. They'll drag you down to the precinct, where they have those interrogation rooms with one-way glass, and when you don't show up in the mirror, your ass will be cooked."

"I'll be careful." Jack glanced at the clock above the sink. They would be here in eight minutes. "Phineas, go on to work without me. Tell Connor I'll be there shortly."

"Okay, but I can tell you he's not going to like this." Phineas frowned as his body wavered and disappeared.

Jack sighed. Connor had strongly suggested he avoid seeing Lara again. Jack had tried to forget her, but it was impossible. Someone at Romatech would walk by wearing a blue shirt that reminded him of the color of her eyes. Or he would hear someone laugh and find himself longing to hear the sound of Lara's laughter. Whenever he showered, he recalled the feel of her hands on his skin.

And when he lay down to fall into his death-sleep, he imagined the sun rising, a fiery ball of gold and red. He could never see it again, but he could see Lara's hair, the way it gleamed red and gold, the way soft strands curled close to her brow. It felt like silken fire in his hands.

He wanted to see her again. Santo cielo, he wanted her.

"I hope you don't mind that I invited them back," Carlos said. "I thought it would be best to appease their curiosity. We don't want them coming here with a search warrant during the day."

Jack winced. "That would be a disaster." They would find dead bodies.

"You're awake now, so everything should appear normal."

"Are there any coffins in the basement?" Jack asked.

"No. Dougal took his with him when he was reassigned. Ian gave his coffin away to charity. He'd outgrown it."

Jack smiled. "And I doubt his new wife wanted to share one with him."

Carlos laughed. "No, Toni wouldn't go for that."

Jack glanced at the clock. Five minutes to go. "I'd better get ready." He teleported to his bedroom on the fourth floor. With vampire speed, he showered, brushed his teeth, and pulled on a clean pair of jeans and a maroon T-shirt. He was dragging a comb through his damp hair when he heard the doorbell chime below. Lara,

He glanced at the blank wall above the bathroom vanity. Even if a mirror were there, he wouldn't reflect in it. He rubbed the stubble on his jaw. He hadn't had time to shave. Hopefully, he would look all right to Lara.

He was gorgeous. A blur of motion had caught Lara's attention, and then Jack was suddenly there on the second floor landing of the grand staircase. She blinked. Had he been moving at super speed? He was standing still now and looking at her.

He smiled, and her heart squeezed in her chest. No way could this man be a kidnapper. All he'd have to do is crook his finger, and a woman would come running.

"Officer Boucher?"

A tap on her shoulder made Lara jump. "Yes?"

Carlos grinned. "I asked if you and your partner would like a tour of the premises."

"Oh." Lara winced inwardly. She hadn't heard Carlos the first time. She'd been too busy ogling Jack. When she and LaToya had arrived a minute ago, Carlos had ushered them into the spacious foyer. She'd noted the gleaming marble floor and grand curved staircase, and then Jack had appeared. Now he was slowly descending the stairs, his gaze still focused on her.

"I'll take the tour," LaToya announced. "Lara can talk to Jack."

Lara sidled close to her roommate. "Are you sure you want to... separate?"

"Don't worry, Officer Boucher," Carlos said. "Your friend will be safe with me."

LaToya snorted and crossed her arms. "You should be worried if you're safe with me."

Carlos's eyes gleamed. "So how do you want to do this? Shall we start at the top and work our way down?"

LaToya arched a brow. "Sounds good to me."

"Officer Lafayette." Jack bowed slightly as he reached the bottom of the stairs. "A pleasure to see you again. I hope your ex is no longer causing you trouble. I believe his name was Bob?"

"He's fine," LaToya grumbled. "But your ass could be in trouble." She stomped up the stairs with Carlos.

Jack turned to Lara, his eyebrows raised. "I'm in trouble?"

No, she was in trouble. Her skin was tingling, and he hadn't even touched her. "Is there someplace we can talk?"

"This way." He motioned to a room on the left.

She strolled into a living room. Three maroon couches surrounded three sides of a large square coffee table. The fourth side faced a widescreen television.

"Would you like something to drink?" Jack asked.

"Some water would be nice." The pizza she'd eaten earlier was making her very thirsty. She sat at one end of the middle couch. She placed her handbag beside her so there would be something between her and Jack.

She noted a desk against the far wall, topped with a computer. To her left, maroon curtains flanked a large bay window that overlooked the street. Metal shutters were closed tight, as if they were worried someone might get a peek inside. But as Lara scanned the room, she couldn't see anything out of the ordinary. Maybe someone was extremely opposed to sunlight.

"Here you go."

Jack's voice caught her off guard. That was fast.

He handed her a glass of ice water, then placed a wooden coaster on the coffee table in front of her. "Shanna will have my head if we leave water marks on the table."

"Shanna? Who's she?"

"Roman's wife. They own this townhouse." Jack settled on the couch beside her.

"Roman Draganesti?" Lara sipped some water.

"Yes." Jack shifted sideways to face her and propped an elbow on the back of the couch. "You did your homework. I'm guessing you ran the plates on Roman's car."

"Yes." Lara drank some more water. "LaToya doesn't actually have an ex-boyfriend named Bob."

The corner of Jack's mouth lifted. "What a surprise."

Damn, he was cute. Lara set her glass on the coaster. "You're not thirsty?"

"No, I'm fine, thank you."

It seemed odd that he never joined her for a drink.

She glanced at the window. "I've never seen such heavy-duty shutters in a residence before. They look industrial strength."

"They cut out the noise from the city."

"That's for sure. It's as quiet as a tomb in here."

He rubbed his whiskered jaw. "You could say that." His gaze shifted to Lara with an intense look. "I missed you."

Her throat tightened. "You could have called."

"I've been trying to resist you."

"Trying? I would say you were entirely successful." Lara slapped herself mentally. She was sounding too needy. She waved a hand in a dismissive gesture. "Not that it matters. I was avoiding you, too."

He regarded her sadly. "That was wise of you."

"Why? Are you involved with someone else?"

"No." He touched her hair. "After meeting you, how could I want anyone else?"

She gulped. Did he really mean that, or was he just a smooth talker? She shoved her hair behind her shoulders and out of his reach. "This is a professional call."

"I see. How can I help you?"

"Where were you last night?"

His eyebrows rose. "Are you working a case?"

"Yes." She lowered her gaze to her clenched hands in her lap. Now she felt like a heel. "A college girl disappeared last night. She may have been kidnapped. And it looks like someone altered her friends' memories."

"And you suspect me?" he asked quietly.

"I don't-" She swallowed hard at the lump constricting her throat. "I don't want to, but you're the only one I know who can manipulate minds like that." She cast a nervous glance his way. "Are there others who can do it?"

"Merda," he muttered, his brow creasing with a scowl.

"Tell me there are others. Tell me you have an alibi."

"Do you really believe I would kidnap a young woman?" He tossed her purse on the coffee table, then scooted closer to her.

She stiffened. "What are you doing?"

"If you think I'm a criminal, you obviously don't know me well enough." He scooped her onto his lap.

"Stop it." She tried to wiggle off his lap, but he held her tight. "You could get in big trouble for hindering an investigation-"

"Lara," he interrupted her, gazing fiercely into her eyes. "I was at work last night."

"At Romatech Industries?"

"Yes. We celebrate Mass there on Saturday night. There was a reception afterward." He gritted his teeth. "About thirty people were there, if you wish to question them."

"I-I'll do that." She couldn't find a place to set her hands other than his chest or shoulders. "You had a church service at work?"

"Yes. Father Andrew comes every Saturday night. Our... enemies know about it. They've attacked before, so I had to be there to provide security."

Enemies? That sounded over the top. But on the other hand, if Jack was at church, he couldn't be involved with Vanessa's disappearance. It looked like her prayers had been answered. "What about the mind manipulation??

His frown deepened. "There are others with the ability."


"Yes." His eyes hardened, the gold glinting with anger. "And enemies."

Gooseflesh skittered down Lara's arms. Friends and enemies with mind-control power? She shivered, suddenly feeling like she was teetering on a precipice, about to fall.

He touched her cheek. "This is shocking to me."

"Tell me about it." What on earth was she getting into? She tried to make sense of everything, but it was hard to think with him touching her and looking at her so fiercely.

He skimmed his fingers along her jaw. "I'm... stunned by how much it hurts for you to think ill of me."

She swallowed hard. "I didn't want to. It was making me sick. I-I didn't want to believe it."

"Then don't." He raked his hands into her hair.

"I want to trust you, Jack." But it was damned hard when his eyes were taking on a reddish glow.

"You can." He pulled her into his arms and kissed her.


He must have turned masochistic in his old age. How else could he rage with desire for a woman who suspected him of being a criminal? Jack molded his mouth against Lara's, easing her lips apart so he could invade her with his tongue.

He rubbed his hands down her back. Mine. Santo cielo, he was becoming possessive. Possessive to the point that common sense no longer made sense. So what if they were wrong for each other? So what if every affair he'd had in the past had come to a terrible end? He no longer cared. She was Lara, and he had to have her.

He stroked her tongue with his own, and a surge of joy shot through him as she grabbed his shoulders and kissed him back. Yes! She wanted him, too.

"Lara." He dusted her face with kisses. Her cheeks, her brow, the little freckles on her nose. "Cara mia."

"Jack." She delved her hands into his hair. "I-I shouldn't let you."

"Don't be afraid," he whispered against her temple.

"But... you have strange powers."

"The better to love you with." He drew her earlobe into his mouth and suckled.

He knew from experience that a Vamp's saliva tended to make a woman more sensitive and titillated, but it usually required some mind control to work, and Lara was immune to that. He tickled her neck with his tongue.

She moaned.

He grew hard. She was so glorious, so responsive. Even without a mental connection, her body reacted to him as if... as if they belonged together.

He ran his hand down her hip to her thigh and squeezed.

"Mmm." She wiggled closer to him.

He winced as her hip rubbed against his erection. He'd reached the limit of how much torture he could bear.

"Time out." He shifted her lovely rump onto the couch beside him, so she was lounging sideways with her head resting against the side cushion and her legs draped across his thighs. Her pink tint warned him that his eyes were still red. He turned his face away from her and circled a hand around her ankle.

"I saw your eyes, Jack," she whispered. "They're glowing and red."

"I know." He massaged her delicate ankle bone. "It's a sign of how much I want you."

She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "I want to know your secret. Who are you?"

He closed his eyes briefly "Nine circles of hell. I'd tell you if I could."

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