Shadow keeper, p.32
Part #3 of Shadow series by Christine Feehan
"I didn't mean to scare you, Sasha. You have enough to worry about. Giovanni is going to be fine, and we'll figure out who is doing this and why."
His cool assurance made her feel more confident. She nodded her head just as a shot rang out. Instantly a volley of shots answered, the sound coming from all directions. Instinctively she ducked. Vittorio moved away from her, coming up in a crouch, peering over the wide concrete barrier.
A bright light lit the sky. The helicopter that had been flying back and forth in a grid pattern suddenly dipped low and raced toward a rooftop across from the pizzeria and down three buildings. The light beamed along the roof of that building, illuminating a man with a rifle running across the roof toward a door. He dropped the rifle and disappeared inside just as more shots rang out.
"Taviano and Stefano are not with Nicoletta, are they?" she asked.
"That was three rifles. Emme's a crack shot as well. No one was able to get a good angle on him. Giovanni hung out there, but he didn't take the bait."
"Do you think he was waiting to get a bead on me?" Again, she looked straight at him, needing an answer.
Vittorio wasn't looking back at her. His attention was centered on the drama playing out as his brothers and sister tried to race the assailant down to the street. Giovanni kept the helicopter in play, using the powerful light to illuminate the streets and alleyways below to see where he would come out so the others could trap him. The problem was, there were so many routes he could take. He could move from building to building without being seen.
"I don't know, Sasha. It's impossible to know what this man is looking to do."
For the first time, she wasn't certain whether someone was telling the truth or not. Usually there was a note of discord, but Vittorio was too smooth to give her one. Still, there was something ... "You think he was looking to shoot me, don't you?" A much better question.
"Yes. That's exactly what I think. Giovanni thinks so as well. That's why he went up in the helicopter. He wanted to distract him. The shooter wouldn't think in terms of us using a helicopter. He was up on that roof waiting for Giovanni to join the fray so he could shoot you in front of him."
Her heart clenched hard. "That's why he didn't shoot me when I came out of my house. He wanted to do it in front of Giovanni."
"I believe that."
"So, my stalker isn't stalking me because I'm important to him. I'm so confused. I don't understand any of this."She turned around and rose up onto her knees so she could look down at the streets. "Just so you know, it's far easier living and working on a cattle ranch in Wyoming than living in Chicago. If anyone tries to tell you differently, point them my way and I'll straighten them out."
"Come on, let's get out of here. The cops are going to want to talk to you. It's going to be a while before we can get you home and in bed."
She looked toward the deli where her little apartment had been. Now, there were only smoking ruins. "I don't have a thing. No clothes. No anything."
"You're going to be fine, honey. We'll take care of you. You're doing great. I know it's been a crappy day, but hang in there. Giovanni will be here soon, and we'll have our lawyer present as well when they ask you questions."
"I don't know what I can and can't say."
"Just tell them about being in your apartment and all hell breaking loose."
"If they ask me why I was there instead of with Giovanni?" Because it seemed ridiculous to her that she hadn't been with Giovanni. She should have been. Her apartment would still be intact, and Pietro wouldn't have lost his deli.
"Don't." Vittorio's voice was low. He took her arm and indicated she make her way back to the trapdoor. "There's no point in wondering what would have happened had you been with Giovanni."
"How could you know I was thinking that?"
"Your face is an open book. I can read every expression."
Strange, when her brother had always told her she was difficult to read and would make a good poker player. Vittorio was definitely an enigma.
A bath had never felt so wonderful. Sasha had spent a long time in the shower, hoping to get rid of the smoke smell. The water pouring over her had felt like heaven on her tired, sore muscles, but nothing felt like luxuriating in the bath. The water came up high and was just the perfect temperature. Steam rose and with it the perfumed scent of candy apple with a dash of cinnamon. How Giovanni knew that was her favorite scent, she didn't know--or care--she just breathed it in and let it transport her far away from the reality of the night.
Her head rested on a very comfortable pillow and her hair was wound up in a tight spa wrap. She opened her mouth and Giovanni obligingly put a forkful of beef Stroganoff in. The sauce seemed to explode in a myriad of flavors on her taste buds. How he'd managed to get such a five-star meal delivered to his home at such a crazy hour, she had no idea, but she was okay with indulging.
He put another bite to her lips, and she sighed with happiness. She didn't know how she could go from being terrified for her brother, losing everything she owned, finding out her stalker really wanted her dead, to complete bliss.
"I think I could live here," she stated.
Giovanni grinned at her. "That's the idea, baby. If I knew it would take beef Stroganoff to convince you, I would have had the chef fix it for you the day I met you."
"I'm talking about the bathtub. Living in the bathtub."
His eyebrow shot up and he removed the fork just before her lips could close and ate it himself.
"Wait. The Stroganoff is going a long way to showing me the error of my ways," she hastily amended. "I should have moved in, no questions asked, and accepted every little thing you offered me."
He smirked. "It is that good, isn't it?" He fed her another bite. "Stefano found the chef in New York and had to offer him a fortune to relocate. The man makes more money than our bank does, but he's worth every penny."
"I'm sorry," Sasha said, because she had to apologize. It had been weighing on her since they'd entered his home and he'd been waiting on her hand and foot as if she was the most precious thing in his world. "I should have come here with you. I don't know what got into me. It was never you, Giovanni. I was scared for you, for Sandlin and for myself. I was also very angry and wanted to strike out at someone. Not just anyone, whoever is doing this--manipulating all of us. But I made you my convenient target and I'm really sorry."
He leaned down and brushed a kiss over her forehead. "Sasha, I'm angry. Who wouldn't be? Of course, you needed time to sort things out. You haven't been with me that long. Seeing me with Meredith ..."
"Please don't," she said softly, ashamed. "I knew Meredith was the one doing all the kissing, and I don't much care what the tabloids say. I never believed them anyway. Long before I ever met you, I didn't read them because I knew mostly they were filled with bullshit. I took everything out on you, and that was wrong of me. I put you in danger. I put myself in danger. It was silly and I'm not a silly woman. I'm intelligent and I usually think things through. I was being emotional instead of logical."
He fed her another bite of Stroganoff. "Are you back to being logical?"
Her eyebrows shot up. "Sitting in a perfumed bath, being fed the most wonderful meal I've ever eaten by a very handsome man? No, babe, I'm pretty sure this falls under the category of fantasy, but I'll take it."
"Do you plan to sleep in there?"
His laughter teased every one of her senses, bringing her own joy to life. She loved his smile, the way it lit up his eyes. "Is there a way to keep the water hot all day?"
"Not happening. You're sleeping with me," he decreed and fed himself two bites of the Stroganoff in a row.
She narrowed her eyes. "Stop eating all the food. Share." Which wasn't quite fair since he'd given her the lion's portion already. "And if I'm in the bed with you, I doubt there will be much sleeping, and I'm exhausted."
"If you're exhausted, baby, I'll do all the work. I don't mind." He fed her another bite.
The food was so delicious she closed her eyes to savor it. "If you're 'working' on me, I won't be able to just lie there quietly."
"I can tie you up. Make sure you don't move an inch. I know you worked on a cattle ranch so you'll recognize my skills when you see them. My brother Ricco is a rigger. A good one. He's been teaching me, and I have to admit, I'm pretty damn good with knots. I won't mind showing off my skills."
She looked at him from under her lashes, giving him her best scowl. "Um. I'm not familiar with that term. Rigger. What the heck is a rigger?"
"In some circles, Ricco might be known as a rope master. He has certain skills with knots. He creates art with rope on the human body. His particular skills can be transferred to tying prisoners in remarkable and sometimes painful ways or to the other end of the spectrum, which would be erotic bondage."
She sat up straighter, one hand going to her throat. "Are you telling me, Ricco practices bondage with Mariko?"
"She's his rope model for Shibari so I would assume they would also practice erotic bondage together, but I've never been in their bedroom and don't plan to be."
"Mariko looks so sweet and demure."
"She's a tigress. You should see her in action when she's working. No nonsense with that woman. She gets the job done fast and efficiently. She was trained as a rider as well, but in Japan. Her life wasn't easy. Ricco adores her. They're pretty much inseparable."
She took her time with the next bite, chewing it thoroughly. He tipped his head to one side. "What are you doing?"
"Contemplating the merits of being tied up so I can't move while you indulge your every whim. And you would. I know you. You'd have a field day with my body."
He skimmed his finger down her throat and traced over the swell of both breasts before trailing down to her nipple. "If I had you tied up where you couldn't move, I'd make you admit that your body belongs to me whenever we go to bed."
She rolled her eyes. "There it is right there. The reason I'm reluctant to let you have your way. You think I'm your plaything."
He frowned. "Aren't you? You have that hot little body, and no one else gets to touch it but me. I'm pretty sure we've established you were made for me. Put on this earth just for my sole pleasure."
She laughed. "You are so crazy. That's not true at all. It's the other way around."
He managed to look genuinely puzzled. "It is? How so?" He put the plate to one side and circled the impressive girth of his cock. "This belongs to you?"
She nodded. "I'm afraid so, Giovanni. All mine. In fact, now that I've had my meal, I may just demand dessert."
"I don't know. I think you're a little mixed up."
She couldn't take her eyes off the sight of him, sitting on the wide edge of the bathtub, his hand sliding over his shaft with a lazy fist. She loved the way he looked. She loved the fact that he was so easy about sex. She'd been raised to believe sex was natural, a part of life that was fun with your partner and there were no limits as long as both consented. She liked that Giovanni enjoyed it and was willing to have fun and be adventurous.
"Come here," she enticed.
"Get out of there and lie on the bed." He turned the knob to allow the water to drain out of the tub.
The sinful gleam in his eyes excited her. Her sex clenched and her breasts suddenly ached. She was so tired, and yet just that look, just the sight of him sitting there naked, his cock gloriously erect, could wipe out the exhaustion. "I don't know how I could have been so silly," she murmured aloud. Thinking she could leave him. Thinking she wanted to leave him.
She stood up slowly, letting the water run off her. She'd shaved in the shower, feeling deliciously wicked, baring her mound so she could feel every stroke of his tongue. She felt sexy and wanton as she stepped out of the tub to be enveloped by the thick, soft towel he put around her shoulders.
"Braid your hair."
"It will be wet when I wake up."
"That's all right. Braid it."
She dropped the towel on the floor and undid the spa towel. She liked that he watched her every movement. That made her aware of her body. The lift of her breasts as she raised her arms to separate her hair into three sections. She had thick, curly hair and it wasn't easy, especially when he crouched down next to her thighs and licked at the perfumed drops running down her legs. Fingers of desire danced up and down her thighs. Her sex reacted, clenching hotly. Still, she managed to braid her hair quickly and secure it with the tie he handed her.
She tried not to hurry into the bedroom, but she wanted him suddenly with such a deep need she could barely keep from flinging herself at him. She saw the heavy drapes were pulled over the privacy screens. One small light, a dim spray of gold, came from the ceiling light directly over the middle of the bed. She stretched out under it, watching his face the entire time.
There was no way to put into words the way she felt lying there under that golden spotlight, the rays beaming out over her body, displaying every naked curve to him. His expression showed his appreciation, the way his gaze moved hotly over her, the way the sensual lines of lust carved deeper into his face so that he looked as if he was the very definition of sin.
Her heart accelerated and she suddenly couldn't lie still, her hips rocking gently in anticipation. She wanted to look at his body. It was so beautiful. So masculine. But all she could do was watch his face as his gaze traveled over her. In that moment, she felt truly his, as if she really had been born for him. As if he was so hungry for her, no one else could possibly do for him. Only her. Only Sasha Provis. He looked at her as if he was the Big Bad Wolf about to devour her ravenously.
He reached out one hand, his eyes never leaving the rise and fall of her breasts as he stroked caresses over the curves. Every brush of his fingers sent heat curling through her body. She found she liked the fact that she was tired and felt lazy and yet sensuous as she lay there in the soft glow of the light. "I want to be yours, Giovanni," she admitted.
His mouth curved. Just a little, as if her admission meant something to him.
"I like that you want to be mine, Sasha. You're so damn beautiful, sometimes I can't believe you're real. The fact that you're in my bedroom, in my bed, is still shocking to me."
She liked that, too. Giovanni had every reason to be arrogant, and to others, she knew he seemed that way, but with her, he was different and that meant something to her. Lying on the bed with a few drops of water still clinging to her skin, his gaze hot as hell as it moved over her, brought her nipples to a peak and sent hot liquid gathering at the vee of her legs.
She swiped a finger through the liquid and lifted it up toward his mouth. At once he bent his head and drew her finger into his mouth. He was sexy, the way he looked at her, carnal sin his very expression. She dug her heels into the bed and shifted her body around so she could hang her head slightly off the bed.
"Come here, honey. I need to feel you in my mouth."
Giovanni stared down at the perfection of the woman enticing him--seducing him. He didn't understand how it all had come about, how he'd managed to find her--his woman. Perfect for him. She never shied away from anything in the bedroom. She made her demands and expected him to do so as well. She reveled in his demands of her. He moved around the bed and brought both hands to frame her face.
"I love watching my cock disappear down your throat. It's the sexiest thing imaginable."
She gave an adorable pout. "Why are you just standing there out of my reach?"
Her gaze moved over his hand, the one he circled his cock with. He did it deliberately, staying just out of her reach. He waited, knowing her, knowing what she would try next. She reached for him and he caught her hand, whipped the soft cotton rope out from under the bed and lashed it around her wrist, flipped her over, caught her other hand and tugged it behind her back so he could knot the two together. Putting one knee gently in the middle of her back, he caught her ankle and drew it up so he could tie one leg to her hands. He flipped her back over and reach
"What are you doing? I'm not a calf." But she was laughing.
"No, you're not," he agreed. He pulled her to the edge of the bed again so her head could tilt over the side. "Now, you're my woman, ready and willing to do anything I want."
"I'm always ready and willing to do anything you want."
"I've got interesting ideas, some might shock you." He leaned over her, his chest sliding over her breasts, his cock filling her mouth as he reached with both hands to hold her little flower open for the exploration of his tongue.
Her cry was muffled around his cock. He hadn't given her much time to catch a breath before he'd stuffed her mouth. He was big and her lips had to stretch to accommodate him. Still, he pushed deep to feel the amazing suction of her mouth and the lash of her tongue. He held himself there, letting her suck hard, feeling the heat of her mouth wrapped around him like a silken fist. He pulled back, not all the way out, and then pushed deep again. When he pushed into her, he stabbed deep with his tongue, his finger flicking her clit.
She cried out around his cock, her hips bucking, but she couldn't go anywhere, not tied, and not with the weight of his body holding hers down. He lifted his head as he eased back to give her a chance to breathe. As he waited for her to draw in air, he pinched her clit gently. Most of the nerve endings were there on the sides and the breath exploded out of her.
"I want to buy you jewelry for here, too," he whispered and kissed her clit. "You're so sensitive and you'll like the stimulation." He pushed his cock back into her mouth before she could answer him. "Suck hard, baby." He proceeded to do the same.
He began to move his hips, a slow indulgence, pushing deeper, drawing back and pushing deeper again. She caught his rhythm and worked with him, until he thought the top of his head might come off. He worked her hot little channel, drawing honey and spice, playing with her clit, getting all sorts of ideas on how he could enhance her pleasure as he did so. Knowing he wouldn't last if he kept it up, he reluctantly withdrew from her mouth and stood up.
"Wait." Sasha glared at him. "That was mine. I wanted it all."
Shadow Keeper by Christine Feehan / Romance & Love / Fantasy / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes