in SECRETS VOLUME 11
© Copyright KIMBERLY DEAN, 2004.
He abruptly turned her loose, but she hugged the wall for support. Uneasily, she waited as he paced the tiny room like a caged tiger.
Her brain finally kicked into gear as she studied him. He was wet, disheveled, and dirty. A day’s growth of stubble covered his chin, and dark circles underlined his eyes. A too-small trench coat strained to span the breadth of his shoulders, but the dull gray material managed to cover most of the bright orange jumpsuit he wore. She didn’t know where he’d gotten the coat, but it had obviously managed to hide him from detection. Her gaze dropped to his feet. His boots were wet. He’d shoved the pant legs of the jumpsuit into them to try to hide more of the jail uniform, but they, too, were wet and muddy.
His lips twitched. “You always were quick.”
Taryn desperately tried to make sense of her predicament. The county lock-up was on the other side of the city. How had he managed to get all the way here, and why had he made this his destination? What did he have in mind? Revenge?
She hadn’t really known him at all, had she?
Her gaze flew to the bathroom door. If she ran, could he catch her?
Tears burned in her eyes, but she fought to stay calm. He was bigger, stronger, and faster than she was. The only area where she matched him was brainpower. She couldn’t allow herself to fall apart, couldn’t let her emotions cripple her. She might not be in control of the situation, but she could keep control of herself.
She focused. Information was power. She needed to approach this situation like she approached a case. Logically. Straightforward. And observant for any loopholes.
She desperately needed to find a loophole.
“Why are you here?” she asked.
“To talk to you. Alone. Just the two of us.”
She watched as he raked a hand through his thick, dark hair, rumpling it even further. He looked around the room, and she got the vague impression that he didn’t know what his next move should be. He was acting on instinct now – a hunted animal trying to avoid its pursuers.
It made him all the more dangerous.
“What are you doing?” she squeaked when he suddenly moved.
He looked up from his crouched position. “I’m grungy, stinky, and cold to the bone. I’m going to take a shower and see if I can get my head on straight.”
A shower? He’d come all this way for a shower? Her focused mind started sliding down the slippery path towards panic.
Calm down, she told herself. If he got into the shower, she might have a chance to escape. A slim chance, but a chance none-the-less.
A rare smile crossed his lips. He pulled off a boot and dropped it onto the floor with a thud. “Here’s some advice, Swanny. Never play poker. That angel face of yours gives away every single thought that runs through your mind.”
He tugged off the other boot and began to peel off wet socks. “You’re not going to bolt for the door when my back is turned. Know why? Because you’re going to be in that shower with me. I’m not letting your sweet tush out of my sight.”
Frozen, Taryn watched as the trench coat hit the floor. He reached for the zipper of the jumpsuit and any thought she might have had fled her mind as it slid downward. The bright orange material parted. With unwilling fascination, she watched as he shrugged it off his shoulders.
His chest was enough to make her mouth water. Muscles and sinew wove their way under smooth skin. She remembered his strength when he’d grabbed her, and her knees went a little weak. “Please, don’t do this,” she said softly. “If you leave now, I swear I won’t tell anybody you were here.”
“The moment I hit that door, you’d be on the phone.”
She shook her head. “No, I wouldn’t do that.”
He stopped in the act of pushing the jumpsuit over his hips. The expression on his face was cold as he looked at her. “And why am I supposed to believe you’d be that generous? Because you like me?”
Her throat tightened. She’d like to think they’d been friends, but they both knew their relationship was more complicated than that. The stolen glances, the brushes of skin, the pounding heartbeats… She’d tried to keep things strictly professional between them, but something hot and wild had always lurked just below the surface. It had boiled over once… She pushed the heated memory from her mind. “I used to,” she said quietly.
“Yeah? Well, I used to like you, too.”