“Hi, there, Megan, this is Coop.”
“Hi, Coop. What’s up?”
Long, awkward pause.
“Uh…I’m still standin’ outside your house.”
I walk to the windows, and there he is, out on the sidewalk near his truck.
“Are you having car problems?”
“No, I’m, uh, just waitin’ on Theo. He’s comin’ out to see you. I texted him what you said, and, uh…” Coop clears his throat. “Well, anyway, he’s on his way. I thought I’d give you a heads-up.”
The circus never stops with this guy. “That’s unfortunate, Coop, because I just got off the phone with Craig from Capstone. He’s going to handle the job.”
Coop scoffs. “Craig? That self-important S.O.B.? You like flushin’ your money down the toilet?”
“No, I don’t. Which is why I negotiated a discount.”
“Lemme guess. He probably quoted you…” He thinks for a moment, looking up at the house, then names a number which is only a few hundred dollars off from Craig’s quote, which is very irritating.
“You seem like a nice guy, Coop, but this conversation is pointless, considering your boss has no interest in working with me.”
“I never said that,” he says quickly. Our gazes meet through the window. I see how serious he is suddenly, his easy grin nowhere in sight.
“I wasn’t going to tell him you did,” I say, sensing this is somehow a matter of great importance.
When Coop blows out a breath, looking relieved, my hunch is proven right. Before I can say anything else, however, he straightens, looking down the street.
“He’s here.” He flashes me a look full of warning, then hangs up, steps out into the street, and holds up a hand.
Fascinated, I watch as a classic Mustang slowly rolls up the street, engine rumbling. It’s black, with windows tinted so dark I can’t see inside, and chrome wheels that gleam in the sun. The car stops in the middle of the street, then Coop walks over and bends down to the driver’s side window.
Several minutes pass and Coop is still standing there, talking to Theo. Or drawing pictures or whatever it is he does to communicate with Mr. Incommunicado.
“What the hell is it with this guy?” I mutter, growing more irritated by the moment.
Finally Coop straightens and the Mustang pulls up to the curb. The engine shuts off. I want to look away, but I’m rooted to the spot, staring out the front parlor window, waiting for what feels like an eternity until the driver’s door opens and Theo steps out.
It’s my first thought when his broad shoulders rise up over the roof of the car. I’ve only seen him in a raincoat, his head covered, but now I see he has a lot of thick, black hair, the length past the collar of his leather jacket. It’s messy. Windswept and untamed, like he only ever combs it with his fingers.
When he turns and looks toward the house, it’s like he knew exactly where I was standing. Our eyes meet with the sensation of a key fitting into a lock: a smooth, inevitable click.
A tremor runs through me, something close to fear but more primal, a pulse of restless energy that makes me want to break into a run.
I’ve never met anyone with more naked emotion in his eyes. His face is stony, but his eyes burn with a thousand unspoken things, all of which are dark.
I resist the urge to step back. We stare at each other until it becomes uncomfortable. I move first, turning to head to the front door, taking deep breaths to calm the sudden throbbing of my heart.
When I open the door, Coop and Theo are walking up the brick pathway toward the porch. Coop is in the lead, smiling nervously. “Hi, Megan!” he calls, as if he hasn’t seen me in forever.
“Hi, Coop. Long time no see.”
Coop ambles up the steps onto the porch that wraps around the front of the house, but Theo stops at the first step and looks at me, as if for permission.
“Sure, Dracula,” I say drily, unamused by this strange situation. “You’re welcome to come in. I’ll put away the garlic and crosses.”
A muscle in his jaw flexes. He doesn’t look amused, either. He steps slowly up, one big boot at a time, until he’s on the porch and I have to look up as he walks toward me with thunderclouds churning over his head. He stops a few feet away and stares down at me as Coop looks back and forth between us, visibly worried.
But I can’t pay attention to Coop anymore. Not with the boiling cauldron standing in front of me. The rumbling mountain of magma about to blow. The seething pool of silent emotions clad in a leather jacket and jeans. If I were a cop, I’d arrest this guy on the spot for disturbing the peace. All by himself, he’s a riot threatening to destroy the entire town.
On the left side of his neck, a snarl of scar tissue peeks over the collar of his shirt. His nose was broken once and not fixed well. There’s a ragged white scar above his left eyebrow that disappears into his hairline, and he walks with a barely perceptible limp, favoring his left side. And those dark, dark eyes. God, how they burn.
Whatever the accident was that he was involved in, it’s left its mark on this man, in more ways than one.
About the Author:
A former headhunter, J.T. Geissinger is the author of more than a dozen novels in contemporary romance, paranormal romance, and romantic suspense.
She is the recipient of the Prism Award for Best First Book, the Golden Quill Award for Best Paranormal/Urban Fantasy, and is a two-time finalist for the RITA® Award from the Romance Writers of America®. Her work has also finaled in the Booksellers’ Best, National Readers’ Choice, and Daphne du Maurier Awards.
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