Authors: Melissa Shaw
Tags: #Suspense, #romantic suspense novel, #Two Hours or More (65-100 Pages), #Literature & Fiction, #Romantic Suspense, #Anthologies & Literature Collections, #Genre Fiction, #Mystery & Suspense, #Short Stories & Anthologies, #Anthologies, #Romance
The Color of Danger
A Serial Novel by
This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, places, organisations, businesses and events are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Copyright © 2014 by Melissa Shaw. All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be replicated, redistributed, or given away in any form without the prior written consent of the author.
Join My Mailing List!
Join my mailing list to get the most recent updates, exclusive teasers, excerpts and giveaways and links to free ebooks when I have promotions!
Sign up now at:
I greatly appreciate you taking the time to read my work. Please consider leaving a review wherever you bought the book, or telling your friends or blog readers about this book, to help me spread the word.
Table of Contents
Sign up for the author’s New Releases mailing list and get a free copy of a
Click here to get started:
To YOU, for reading and caring and connecting with Chloe and all the rest…
Thank you in advance for your support and for your review!
A brilliant flash of light woke her. The immediate boom of thunder followed, rattling the windows and shaking a glass vase on its shelf.
“Close call,” Chloe murmured drowsily. She’d been in a dream with him. It was gorgeous and hazy in the sunlight, on a red checkered blanket. “Did you hear that, Cam? Cam?” She shifted position under a sheet and lightweight blanket, and her body wrenched in pain. She snapped her eyes open and the memories flooded back.
She wasn’t in the apartment with Camille. No. She was in the apartment with Logan. Logan Farrow, that kindhearted, intriguing, protective man who had come to her rescue the night before.
Not only come to her rescue. He’d tended her injuries as tenderly as any medic, listened to her confession as sympathetically as any priest. And, at the end, during a moment of emotional intimacy, her soul had taken wing with his.
Logan had gathered up her bruised and battered body and carried her to his bedroom, settling her into the fresh sheets. He’d pulled the covers up to her shoulders, trailed the back of his hand delicately down her undamaged cheek and turned on the closet light, for security. She’d almost wished he’d stayed – just to hold her of course.
Chloe stirred and glanced around the room. A man’s room, filled with a man’s reassuring hodgepodge of items: books teetering on the bedside table, another pile mixed with some CD’s and DVD’s, a dark flannel robe tossed over the back of a chair, a pair of worn athletic shoes in the corner. Dark wood trim, cream-colored walls, smooth clean wooden floors. Nice.
Comforting. Solid as her guardian angel, himself.
She smiled and stretched, caught herself short at a stab of protest from the bandaged ribs, and curled back up like a shrimp.
She caught a glimpse of gray sky and falling rain through the open curtains. The patter against the window glass and the roof soothed her. What was it about a chilly, rainy day that made her feel snug and safe inside? It was as if nothing could get to her.
The numbers on the bedside clock flashed a luminous green 7:00. AM – hopefully not 7:00 PM. Beaten down and frazzled as she’d been, surely she hadn’t slept a solid twenty-four hours.
She hobbled into the bathroom, the fluorescent light and the medicine cabinet mirror reflected an alarming image: the tangle of dark hair, eyes swollen by tears – only a mother could love this, then again, hers didn’t. Pinkish-purple and gray-blue abrasions ran from her left temple to her chin and circled her mouth. Band-Aids covered the worst nicks but nothing except time would disguise the shiner.
“Ugh,” she muttered.
A careful swish with some of Logan’s minty mouthwash improved things a bit. She tied her hair up with a stray rubber band she found on the shelf and splashed her face with cool water. Logan’s green pin-striped pjs hung on her: fell past her fingertips, dragged over her insteps. She rolled back the cuffs quick. That was all she’d need—to trip and crack her fool head open.
The apartment was dead silent except for the soft patter of rain and heavy breathing, scissoring through the air. She tiptoed into the living room. Logan was sound asleep on the couch, rolled up in a blanket with only the top of his head poking out. Heavy breathing, indeed: more like snoring. She’d sure tired him out with all her drama. A pang of guilt wormed into her heart.
He was such a good guy.
She made her way into the kitchen and admired it with her hands on her hips. All the best stuff for Logan —what else would one expect of a Sous Chef? She set a pot of coffee brewing. Bread in the breadbox, butter and eggs in the fridge, covered pan and spatula in the cupboard. She was no slouch at kitchen gigs and she’d take pleasure in cooking for him, after what he’d done for her.
The scent of strong Columbian coffee perking away and the sizzle of hot grease drifted through the apartment.
The springs of the couch creaked, and he muttered something indistinct. She smiled and flipped a sausage. She spied at him through the doorway and he unrolled from his coverings, yawned and scrubbed at his face. He was in a loose tee and a pair of faded blue boxers. He stood and stretched like a mountain gorilla coming to life. She wouldn’t have been surprised if he did King Kong roar and thumped his chest.
The limp cotton shirt tightened across his chest and around his biceps and pulled up to reveal a muscular middle; the underwear strained too. Chloe’s mouth watered – and it wasn’t thanks to the frying eggs and sausage either.
“Good morning,” she greeted, levelly. “I hope you don’t mind that I sort of made free of your facilities. Would you like some breakfast?” She jabbed the spatula at the cooking and steaming pots and pans.
“Mmmmm. Yeah, I sure would. Just gimme a bit.” He shoved the blanket aside, and padded barefoot across the floor to the bathroom.
Down, girl. You’ve already hit the skids with wrong choices in two men; want to try for a third?
A few minutes later he was back, face and golden-red hair still damp. He wore the robe from his bedroom and a pair of athletic socks; Another thick pair dangled from his hand. “Hey, it’s kinda chilly this mornin’. C’mon over here just a sec, will you?”
She obeyed, seating herself on the edge of the chair. He knelt down in front of her and lifted her cold foot onto his thigh and slipped a white tube over it. He grinned and did the other. He straightened and extended a hand to help her up. “Better?”
Her heart twanged and she fought back a few tears: in all her tormented past, no man had ever performed a simple yet meaningful act for her.
“Much, thank you.”
“Well, somethin’ sure smells good.” He gave her his usual unself-conscious grin, along with an appreciative glance. “Breakfast? I’d’a probably just eaten the rest of the pizza, cold from the box.”
“Ewww. That doesn’t sound appetizing. Here, sit down and I’ll serve you.”
“Serve me? Uh. Well—okay.” He plonked down at the table and took a ginger sip of the rich, black cream-laced brew. “Hey, this is great. Thanks, Chloe. This is kinda new to me.” He didn’t mean the brew.
She handed him a plate of two eggs over easy and some nicely browned and buttered toast. It was an awkward moment, dealing with the issue of a morning after the night before. Except there hadn’t been a night before. Certainly not in the usual sense, anyway.
“This is cozy, isn’t it?” She sat down, smiling in content. He waited until she joined him before picking up his fork. Add nice manners to the mix of positive qualities there. This was more than temptation, but she was so bruised – literally and figuratively.
Logan tucked into his breakfast and munched away. After a few minutes he asked how she was doing.
“Uh-huh. How much improved?” Skepticism came across in his question.
“Well, I don’t think I’m ready yet to—what did you tell me last night, turn cartwheels?”
“Hmmmph. Anything would be an improvement over the way you looked and sounded when we got back here. How about the ribs?”
She sampled her coffee, inhaling the aroma, enjoying the taste. “Mmmm, that’s exactly what I needed. I found some ibuprofen in your medicine chest,” she admitted.
“Chloe.” He wore a helpless look, as if he wasn’t quite sure what to do with her.
She had a few ideas.
“Logan.” She leaned forward, propped her elbow on the table, and gazed into his eyes. “You’ve given me a refuge, you’ve given me care, you’ve given me hope. All this,” the flip of her hand indicated her physical condition, “will heal. I’ve had worse.”
“Worse,” he repeated gloomily. “Hell.” Then he suggested she stay with him longer than the one day she’d planned for. “You’re still movin’ slow, even if,” he paused and flashed his trademark crooked grin at her, “you did make yourself useful in my kitchen this mornin’.”
“And a spectacular kitchen it is.”
“Yeah, gotta keep in trim, y’know. Now, listen, I’m serious about this.”
She searched his rugged face, the simple open friendliness that asked only to protect. What had formed this exceptional person? Her heart did flip-flops and her insides turned into mush, even though she was distracted by pain.
“I know you are, Logan. And I’ve thought about it, believe me. I’ve been fired, so I have no job to go to. And there’s nothing personal in my office at work that I need to pick up, anyway. Camille will certainly understand if I don’t come home for a while, things being what they are. It’s just…oh, God, I’ve brought enough trouble into your life as it is.”
Logan put down his fork and reached across the tabletop. He wrapped her fingers in his and squeezed. “I think I’d like to be the one decidin’ on how much trouble is enough,” he grunted.
“Don’t you realize the danger you’re in?” Just when she thought that desperation had been tamped down, it surged up taking off like wildfire. “You humiliated David last night when you stood up to him. You made him look small and insignificant in front of a whole room of people. And now you’re a marked man, Logan Farrow. Because David is insane. Insane, I tell you!”
“And that means what to me?”
“He may not have known your name, but he’ll find out who you are. He’ll find out where you work, and where you live. He won’t rest until he finds out my location, and he’ll take out his craziness on you. And then on me.”
“I realize how afraid you are. But you—”
“Afraid? You’re damned right I’m afraid!” She rose and transferred their empty plates to the sink, then returned with the brimming coffeepot. “More? Yeah, me, too. Logan, two years ago I picked up and ran because he tried to kill me. Now he’s tracked me down, and this time he’ll succeed. I know it. I just know it.”