If you just started reading my blog, you should probably know my muse abandoned me when I went through some personal medical issues. I began writing this story weekly to give myself the kick in the butt I needed to keep it moving forward. The story (originally intended to be a short story) grew, became more intricate, and expanded into a full length novel, then another and another... Warning: This is the first book in the Hearts in Darkness Trilogy, which, believe it or not, is now completed. Other books are now in the formulation process.
This story is about to heat up. You go ahead and read this chapter. After the pain, will come the pleasure.
When Shelby opened her eyes, the room was dark and the bed was comfortable. She glanced around and realized she could see details as if every light in the room were ablaze. She was hot, but there was no fire in the fireplace—no windows to let light in. A comfortable, genuine looking Queen Anne’s chair stood beside the bed. The rest of the furniture, an armoire, dresser, and night table, seemed to match the period. There appeared to be nothing else in the room except the modern day, king-sized bed where she lay.
Where was she and how did she get here?
The last thing she remembered was talking to Kyle before she suddenly began to shiver and sweat. Nausea and excruciating pain soon followed. Finally, it eased, and then she passed out.
The hair falling over her forehead bothered her. She tried to brush it away, but her arms felt too heavy to lift.
Drowsy and confused, she was able to hear Kyle’s voice and it registered he was speaking with someone in the next room. The other man’s voice wasn’t familiar. His dialect was American, but when she listened more attentively, she caught a slight Scottish burr in a word or two.
Suddenly, as if he sensed her listening, he stopped speaking, and as soon as she struggled to sit up, she heard him say, “Ack, Kyle. Yer Shelby’s awake.”
What the heck? From her prone position on the bed, she checked the room for cameras. Seeing none, she was still busy wondering how the Scot knew she was awake when Kyle called her name.
“Shelby?” he said, “I’ll be right there.”
More male mumbling followed. Max’s and another familiar voice with a soft Spanish accent she knew to be Victor Salazar’s. Max argued with another man. The deep, gruff voice made all the fine hair on her back stand on end. She felt the urge to stand and fight or claw her way from the house.
Panic she’d never experienced filled her with dread even though her rational mind dismissed it.
The Scotsman said, “Hurry. She’s reacting to Garr.”
Me? No, I’m just freaking out for no apparent reason.
Kyle appeared at the side of the bed as if out of nowhere and gripped her shoulders to still her. With a strength she didn’t remember him having, he lifted her off the bed. Cradling her in his arms like a baby, he sat back down and calmed her with a gentle, soothing voice.
“Shh, relax. Everything will be all right.” He reached for a glass from the nightstand beside the bed. “Here, drink this.”
She took a sip and choked. “Yuck. This is terrible.”
Kyle stood his ground. “Drink it. All of it. Victor says it will help ease your symptoms.”
“What symptoms?” When she woke up without any memories of how she got here, she figured that was what Kyle meant. “Do you mean what happened in the car?”
“Yeah that and other symptoms you’re about to experience. Drink up. Victor made the concoction just for you.”
“The stuff tastes like old, dirty socks and cut grass.”
Kyle slanted his head and asked, “And you know that because…?”
He at least made her smile on the inside. “Okay, never mind. I stand corrected.” She was too tired to argue. “It’s what I would expect that combination to taste like.”
Scrunching her nose, she held her breath and quickly downed the rest like a shot of Sex-On-The-Beach. Swallowing the potion did soothe her parched throat and immediately eased her stomach cramps.
When she handed him the empty glass, Kyle still looked tense as he placed it on the night table.
“What will I begin to experience?” she asked, watching him for a reaction.
“Let’s go into the den so we can talk,” he said.
That didn’t sound like it was going to be good news, but his blank face gave nothing away. Usually she was good at reading Kyle’s moods, but no more.
He helped her stand, allowing her a moment to get her balance. His touch triggered every sense in her body to a fevered pitch. The immediate sensation was like touching an open circuit. She had to shake his hands off to regain her composure.
His expression looked pained when he moved away from her, giving her space. He edged closer to the door. “Victor is here already.”
“What about Max?
“Yeah. He took some blood samples to the lab Victor set up in the cottage. He should be here any minute. Come on. I want you to meet our host. We’ll stay here while you recuperate and hope the authorities track down Amyra soon.”
“Is our host the one with the Scottish brogue?”
“Brogue? Yeah, come to think of it, the old accent does pop out when he’s excited.” Kyle surprised her by laughing. “I think he’s been in this country for a long time, though.”
“Tell me how you and Dylan met,” she requested, as she tested her balance.
“You need help?” he asked.
“No. I want to try.” She wasn’t ready for any kind of physical reaction to him, yet. “Go on with your story.”
“An old friend of Victor’s put us in touch. When I returned, they arranged for me to finish recuperating from the jungle ordeal here at his place. Dylan freelances for local and state police as a consultant and, when necessary, also for the FBI.”
“That’s handy under the circumstances.” She took one tentative step, then another.
Kyle opened the door wider.
She halted mid step when she caught a strange scent in the air. “Who else is out there? I thought I heard someone else. Maybe Cajun?”
“Deep, gravelly voice?”
The sense of panic set in again. She couldn’t control the trembling in her hands or the vibrations rising from somewhere deeper inside her. She nodded at him but had to stop when the room spun. He rushed to her side and supported her before she fell. This time, the physical reaction to his touch as he caught her was a low, pleasant hum.
Heady. Warm. Nice.
Gripping her shoulders to keep her from hitting the floor, he wrapped her in his embrace. “That’s Dylan’s friend, Garr.” Kyle murmured against her ear. “He’s here to help train Dylan’s ward, Jackson. You okay?”
“Yeah. Just a little dizzy.” Shelby winced and slowly shifted her attention to the doorway. She pinched her nose. “What’s that smell? Wet dog?”
“No. But I understand why you might think that.” Kyle looked like he was holding back a grin. “You’re trembling. There’s nothing to be frightened of here. You’re safe with any one of us, including Garr. Do you understand that?”
“Yes,” she breathed. “I do. But something inside me doesn’t trust…I think I don’t trust Garr.”
Smothered by Kyle’s enticing scent, an overwhelming need for him sparked within every cell in her body. Relaxing into his familiar embrace, she was inexplicably drawn to the power of his presence. Suddenly, an exotic fragrance, emanating from both her body and his, permeated the surrounding air and blocked the other repulsive dog scent. Leaning into him, she gripped his t-shirt and buried her nose in his chest.
“God, you smell…amazing!”
She fanned her fingers over his broad chest, testing the feel of him as he nuzzled her ear.
Kyle tilted her chin up with a knuckle and stared at her mouth. He brushed a finger over her bottom lip then bent his head to take her lips with his. The kiss started out as if he was moving in slow motion, but the longer his lips lingered, the stronger the pull between them grew. He opened his mouth enough to slip his tongue across the seam of her lips and tested the entrance.
Opening to him, their tongues tangled in that old familiar dance. A sigh escaped from her as he pulled her closer, and she didn’t miss the moan of arousal Kyle released against her lips when he pressed her hips against his obvious erection.
His muscles bunched and bulged beneath her touch, and his scent caused something beneath her skin to ripple. She shivered when she felt the same ripple answer beneath his. He was holding back some kind of unleashed power in the muscles beneath her fingers.
Lost in the frenzy of her desire, she didn’t notice when Kyle took back control—not until he moved her away and held her at arm’s length.
“We shouldn’t…keep them waiting,” he said with obvious effort. He wasn’t as unaffected as he wanted her to believe.
That didn’t prevent her from being mortified by her own lack of self-control. Who was she? Back in the car, she’d played the role of damsel in distress. Here she was dropping at his feet the first time he glanced in her direction again, and she’d practically climbed his body. Her behavior was out of character. Especially when the image of him with that woman replayed repeatedly in her head.
The urge to hide her face in shame and run was so overwhelming she shuttered her expression against him, refusing to allow him to see the emotions clearly expressed there.
She wanted him, she needed him, and darn it…she loved him.
The fact that she was behaving like a cat in heat was even more mortifying under the circumstances.
What could be more humiliating?
She could still wrap herself around his body and rub all over him. That impulse almost surpassed the sudden desire she had to throw herself down on the bed and beg him to mount her. The urges were just so overwhelmingly irresistible.
The idea that it all sounded so darned appealing pissed her off even more.
…and that other scent? What is it? Trying to identify the scent plagued her like a dream she couldn’t recall—remaining a whisper beyond memory’s reach. Although, not unpleasant, they weren’t foreign or entirely unfamiliar to her, either.
And this feeling I’m experiencing…? I know what it is, but…
No, her mind was not quite ready to reveal the identity of the scent or the need to her, yet. The closest state she could compare it with was hunger.
Hunger for Kyle?
Yes. But hunger for something else, too.
“It’s blood and…”
...All rights reserved. No part of this may be copied or reproduced without the written permission of the author. Copyright 2012, Eliza March