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Devils playground, p.9
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       Devil's Playground, p.9

           Gena D. Lutz
 
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  I shook my head and said, “No one.”

  He grabbed my arm and jerked me toward him.

  “That glare he’s giving you doesn’t look like he’s no one to me.”

  Smiling through the pain, I relaxed my body and then drew my arm out of his punishing grip.

  “He’s just an old friend. Nothing so important that it should keep us from continuing our conversation.”

  He harrumphed like a big bear.

  “Something smells really fishy about all this. First, you claim to be Sonny’s, and now, this guy is eyeballing his claim over you? And come to think of it, you’re just full of questions about things that ain’t none of your goddamn business.”

  The jig was up. And to make matters worse, my eyes flashed to Sonny, who had just pushed through the front entrance. He was smiling like the cat that ate the canary. Well, until he saw me standing at the bar, with one of his buddies screaming in my face. I saw no chance to talk my way out of that predicament. It was time for Plan B. I just had to figure out exactly what Plan B was.

  “Leave the lady alone, Carl,” Rush said.

  With fangs bared at Rush, Carl hissed, “This is none of the Center’s business, punk, so that means it’s none of yours.”

  Before I could fully take in the implications of what Carl said, Sonny decided to join the party.

  “I’ll make this real easy for you guys. She’s leaving with me. Feel me?”

  “You’re all a bit too caveman for my taste. I’m out of here,” I said with a bored expression.

  I stood, turned my back on all three of them, and began a slow walk away. My stomach tightened with nerves. I hadn’t heard any movement behind me… yet. Would it really be that easy to leave?

  “You get your ass back here, you stupid bitch, and finish what you started.”

  I stopped in my tracks. That was one of those times when I wanted to put my hands on a vampire and zap him out of existence. In the last several hours, I’d been set up by my sister, haunted by a ghost, almost finger-banged in the parking lot by a vampire biker dude, and then that same guy had the nerve to call me a stupid bitch? Sooner or later, I was going to snap, and I just hoped it was after I found Darcy’s murderer.

  I closed my eyes before turning back around. When I finally faced the trio, my features were covered by a mask of pleasantries, my eyes vacant of expression. I strolled back over to the men, who were standing by the wall. Rush was up in Sonny’s face, looking like he was about to throw down. And then I noticed the fluid movement of the crowd. Everyone in the bar was gravitating toward the commotion. Apparently, Rush wasn’t just up against Sonny and Carl, as he defended my honor; he was also up against the entire Harbinger of Death biker club.

  That turn of events wasn’t a big surprise, though. Biker gangs fought together like a pack of wild dogs, and Rush was starting to resemble a meaty bone about to be thrown right in the middle of them. The bad news—he’d be torn to shreds. There was no good news, unless we got out of that mess alive.

  “What’s all this?” one of the bikers asked.

  The crowd parted for the new arrival, like he was royalty.

  As he came into view, I saw a certain sharpness to the man’s dark eyes and a confident tilt to his chin. He wore a leather jacket, like everyone else in the bar, but it seemed to be more a part of him. He wore the clothes, they didn’t wear him. I looked down at his name tag and flexed my fingers. My knees wobbled a bit. The patch read, Solo.

  Rush was the first to answer Solofar, aka, Solo.

  “One of your boys insulted a friend of mine. I’m demanding an apology.”

  Solo walked over to Rush, Sonny, and Carl.

  “Is this true?” he asked Sonny, almost nose to nose.

  Solo was definitely the more dominant of the two. Sonny’s fists were balled up tight, his face scrunched into a mask of fury.

  “I didn’t know the chick was his. She was all over me, begging for a good time outside in the lot. She walked up alone and never mentioned having a friend waiting for her inside. I thought the bitch was fair game.”

  Anger rumbled out of Rush’s throat, as he said, “Call her that one more time, mother fucker, and I’ll make you my bitch.”

  My heart gave a thump, when Solo ignored the two men and attached his attention to me. His gaze roamed over my body. The inspection was rapid, not slow and all perverted like Sonny’s or Carl’s had been. No, that was not a lustful perusal of flesh; his scrutiny made me feel more like a mouse being sized up for better swallowing.

  I nervously brushed a stray hair back, saying, “I’m sorry about the misunderstanding, folks. It’s getting late. I’ll be leaving now. Rush, you coming?”

  “Not so fast, sugar. We’re just getting acquainted.”

  Solo had a sickly sweet voice. His vacant eyes threatened to suck me in. I looked down at his hand, and inside his fist, he held a small brown apothecary bottle. He thumbed the cork stopper out, and it bounced to the floor, quickly lost between the leather steel-toe boots that occupied the space. I detected a floral scent and began to feel dizzy. I’d only felt that way one other time before, down in the Shadowscape, in the chamber where the Lothario roses grew. He must have had some form of that rose inside of the bottle.

  Rush didn’t seem very happy with Solo’s fixation on me. But fixated he was, which was probably why he was trying to use the aphrodisiac against me.

  Rush forgot all about his argument with Sonny and walked through the growing crowd to stand by my side.

  “I already told you, she’s with me.”

  Rush wrapped his hand over mine, his touch sending shivers down my body.

  “The protection allotted to you because of your status at the Center only goes so far, necromancer,” Solo warned.

  That time, he showed fang, which strangely, and more than a bit awkwardly, had my lower regions tightening in a lust-filled response.

  “Don’t push me, Solo; I’ll have this place closed down quicker than you can say asshole.”

  Damn, Rush wasn’t playing, and he didn’t seem scared at all. Looking around at the mass of fang and muscle in the crowd, I must admit, I was even close to peeing in my panties. Or tearing my clothes off, whichever came first. My nipples tingled, and sweat prickled at my hairline.

  Damn Lothario.

  Solo walked over, stopping a few inches in front of us.

  “Take your little bitch and get the fuck out of here. Got it?”

  He stuffed the bottle back inside his pocket, cutting off the floral aroma. My body began to cool with its absence.

  Still clutching my hand, Rush started forward, but I pulled him back. I wasn’t one to look a gift horse in the mouth, and the fates were feeling pretty generous with me that night. Besides, I planned on seeing Solo and his vampire posse again very soon, and at a time where I didn’t feel like jumping their bones.

  “All righty, then. See you guys never,” I said.

  Then, with swift steps, I got the hell out of there, dragging my reluctant boyfriend with me.

  Chapter Twelve

  Like any couple, Rush and I had our disagreements. He thought he had to protect me at all times. He sometimes made me feel like I was a porcelain doll, enclosed in a glass case by a loving collector, kept pristine, where nothing could dare chip or crack my delicate body. And my opinion about that was this: I was a grown-ass woman who could take care of herself and did as she damn well pleased—dangerous antics, collecting cracks, and all.

  Obviously, that difference in our opinions wasn’t a deal-breaker between us, but it did create friction at times. And Rush taking it upon himself to once again show up right in the middle of my investigation was problematic. I was steaming mad, and one of Rush’s yummy kisses wasn’t going to pull his ass out of the fire that time.

  I stormed across the parking lot, and with a voice thick with anger, yelled, “I can’t believe you followed me here!”

  “I was only trying to keep you safe,” he said, closing his share of
the distance between us.

  I spun around, stopping a few feet away from my motorcycle. With my fists clenched, I looked over Rush’s shoulder, scanning the front of the bar. No one had followed us outside, but that didn’t mean they weren’t listening. Razorbacks was full of supernatural beings, each one equipped with hyper-acute senses.

  “You don’t trust me. Why can’t you lose the leash for a while?” I hissed between my teeth.

  His eyes went wide, as he said, “That’s not true. I trust you with everything I have.”

  “No, you don’t!”

  He threw up his hands in defeat.

  “I don’t understand you.”

  “I think I’ve made myself pretty clear. Some things, I need to handle on my own.”

  “Why is it okay for Rafe to help you but not me?”

  I scraped an agitated hand through my hair and asked, “Is that what this is really about? You’re jealous of the relationship I have with Rafe?”

  His gaze shifted to the side, as he said, “What if it is? Maybe I don’t like my girlfriend connected at the hip to another guy all the time. And maybe I’d be able to handle it better if you let me help out on occasion, without convincing yourself that I’m there because I think you’re somehow incompetent.” Looking back at me, he continued his explanation. “It scares me sometimes, just how well you can handle yourself. And it makes me wonder if you need me around at all.”

  I thought about what he was saying and how he was saying it. He was right; I was convinced that he saw me as incompetent. But in reality, I was pushing the man I loved away, simply because he wanted to be loved in return, to feel like he was a pivotal part of my life… not just my fuck buddy.

  It seemed that I could handle myself in physical confrontations just fine. But when it came to matters of the heart, I was a novice. Not a surprise, considering I’d never been in love before, let alone kept a steady guy around. My job was to take care of my sister and kill evil vampires. End of story. Apparently, I had a lot to learn about being in a real relationship.

  I met Rush’s confused stare and said, “I’m sorry I make you feel that way. I do need you. But more than that, I want you.”

  “If that’s true, then let me help you, Kris,” he whispered.

  I looked down at the ground. I’d been scuffing the toe of my boot in the dirt, the tiny kicks, making a grooved hole. When I looked back up, Rush had moved closer.

  “Okay, you can come with me tomorrow night.”

  After it was said, I felt good about the decision.

  Rush leaned forward and reached behind me. I could smell his cologne, a rich, masculine scent that made me yearn to take a bite out of him—in the best possible way. When he straightened back up, he had my helmet in his hands.

  His voice came out barely above a whisper, “Come home with me tonight.” It wasn’t a question.

  I looked up at him, and without hesitation, I said, “I’ll meet you there.”

  He pressed into me, his warm breath blanketing my face. I wanted him. And if including him in my suicide missions made him feel more a part of us, then I was all for it.

  His soft lips skipped across the bridge of my nose. Before I could open my eyes and give him a kiss back, he placed the helmet over my head.

  “See you soon, beautiful.”

  He then turned and walked away.

  Rafe’s voice streamed from the shadows behind me, saying, “He really loves you, Kris.”

  I straddled my bike and revved the engine.

  “God, help him. But yeah, he does.”

  ***

  Rush’s home consisted of the entire top floor of one of Atlantic City’s tallest and most prominent apartment buildings, and I was in its elevator, going up. I leaned against the back of the mirrored wall and ran my fingers through my sweaty hair. I was sorely in need of food and a shower. Fatigue had settled deep within my muscles, making me shake a bit. I took a deep breath, and it came out jagged. I felt as if I couldn’t reach the penthouse fast enough. The elevator came to a stop, and the doors parted.

  Music greeted me, as I walked across the marbled foyer. It was a soft slow jazz number that reminded me of one of the only guilty pleasures I’d allowed myself over the years: secret getaways to the French Quarter in New Orleans. I was in love with the city, with its rich and romantic culture that called to my starving senses. It was as if the packed blocks and narrow corridors morphed into welcoming arms that wrapped around me in a warm embrace each time I visited. I also enjoyed the abundance of paranormal activity that came with the city’s long history. Thousands of apparitions floated in and out of the shops and hovered in the gardens, most of them happy to be there, some not. To sum it up, it felt like a place I could call home.

  I followed the sweet sound of the saxophone and double bass thrums, as I walked down the hall, past the large gourmet kitchen, and then finally through a door that led me into Rush’s suite of rooms.

  Rush lay on his side, naked. Eyes that pierced settled over me, a sensual invitation. His head was pressed against a pillow. His expression was one of wanting, a picture of sexual appetites, waiting to be dined upon. I grabbed the rumpled hem of my Devil’s Playground shirt and stripped it from my body. But before I could pounce, Rush pointed to the wash room.

  “I drew you a bath.”

  My God, I didn’t know if I was about to lose it because of the tantalizing view of Rush’s hard naked body splayed out before me, or if the sound of a bath was what was making my limbs tremble. It had to be both. Either way, I couldn’t think straight.

  “I can help you bathe if you’d like. I stocked the bathroom with Tibetan oils and sea salts, which I had imported from the Dead Sea. I ordered only the best ingredients to soak the skin and perfume the body of my beautiful goddess.”

  “I’m going to kiss you so hard for that… after my bath.”

  He narrowed a hungered gaze, as he stood from the bed. He paced toward me slowly, teasing, as his muscles bulged from the minor strain of casual movement. My mouth went dry, when I saw his manhood, long and hard, ready for me. He was always ready to please me. If it weren’t for all the damn evil that was attacking my town, you wouldn’t catch me out of Rush’s bed.

  Then I was lifted into his arms and carried to an enormous soaking tub full of bubbles. Once there, he stripped me of my remaining clothes and gently lowered me in.

  “Is it warm enough for you?” he asked, reaching for the knob to make it hotter.

  A moan escaped my throat, as heat from the scented water penetrated my aching muscles. I luxuriated in the bubbles, overwhelming my entire body, and dipped my head to wet my hair. It was heavenly.

  “It’s perfect, thank you.”

  He stepped into the bath and sat in the water behind me, heavily muscled thighs pressing in from both sides, to cradle my hips. I could hear the sound of a bottle popping open, and then firm hands came down over my head, massaging in shampoo that smelled of lavender and tea.

  Before long, his skillful hands traveled to my neck, kneading the muscles there. He took his time rubbing out the knots from the tender tissue. After rinsing the lather from my hair, his fingers moved even lower.

  In a blink, I turned and stood on my knees, face to face with him, and gave him a playful smile. With his hands empty and in search of flesh to touch, he gripped both sides of my hips and pulled me down. It was a slow grind against his impossibly hard length.

  With a sultry whisper, I said, “I need you now. I can’t wait any longer.”

  “I can serve your needs, beautiful,” he said, standing, lifting me with him, as he climbed from the tub. His arm flashed out toward the wall, snatching a towel from the bar, as we sped from the bathroom and into the bedroom. The music was still playing, something slower that time. I liked the soft cadence and smooth melody of the song. My eyes shifted to the place I wanted—no, needed—to be, which was Rush’s king-size bed.

  The skin on my arms began to prickle from the air-conditioning in the room,
drying out the bubbles.

  “You’re shivering,” he said, with a worried tone, before laying my naked body on the bed, against a soft sheet. And then seconds later, instead of a blanket, his body came down to settle in over mine. “Let me warm you up.”

  In silent answer, I lifted my legs and locked them around his hips.

  His forehead fell against mine, and he let out a soft moan.

  “I wish I could keep you here like this, with me always.”

  I traced the line of his jaw with my fingertips and then leaned up to brush a kiss across his lips.

  “Me, too, love. Me, too.”

  He buried his face in my neck and began kissing me there. My instincts to avenge my ghostly friends seemed to always be at war with my need to love and be loved by that man. That was true in most cases but not in that moment.

  I closed my eyes to better enjoy the sensation of his lips caressing my flesh, while he prowled up my body. My head flew back, when his tongue sought and found the rosy peak of my breast, the exquisite tug and pull, stoking my desires. His hand snaked beneath my buttocks, tilting my hips up for better penetration. His erection was huge between my legs. The massive length pressed forward, easing my passage open, stretching me wide.

  “Oh, my God, yes! Faster!” I cried, when he began to rock inside of me.

  And then he turned up the volume, making each one of his strokes deeper, quicker. I rolled my hips, matching his thrusts. God, he felt so good, his erection somehow growing even more rigid. My nipples hardened to a painful peak, my core heating up to nuclear levels. Exquisite pleasure, the likes of which I’d only experienced with Rush, began to build. I swallowed a scream, accelerating the undulating of my hips.

  “Keep doing that, and I’m sure to lose it,” he gasped, between heavy breaths.

  Rush’s words inspired me to rub my hips into him with more friction. His was a loaded gun I was eager to set off. Not only did I ignite his lust even further, but I sparked an intense pleasure of my own. My entire body exploded with release. I fought to breathe, his body still moving inside of mine. And then his powerful strokes slowed, and he gave one more final thrust to root himself deep into me.

 
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