Read Deep Within The Shadows (The Superstition Series Book 1) Online

Authors: Teresa Reasor

Tags: #Romance, #Urban, #Fantasy

Deep Within The Shadows (The Superstition Series Book 1) (3 page)

BOOK: Deep Within The Shadows (The Superstition Series Book 1)
10.21Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

“Are you going to write us up?” Robert asked, and while he hid his agitation very well, it was still there.

Miranda raised a brow and gave him her best Librarian Stare until he looked away. “It is college procedure that I do just that, Mr. Hoag.”

The situation was finally beginning to sink in with him, and more than a hint of worry crimped his blonde brows. “I do care about Nora, Ms. Templeton. I don’t want to see her get into trouble or be embarrassed. It was just a spur of the moment thing. And we didn’t—there was just kissing going on.”

Sly devil. He’d keyed in on her protectiveness toward Nora and was using it to try and get off the hook.

Just kissing.
With their clothes down around their ankles?
She narrowed her eyes at him, then turned her attention to Nora. “Was that all that was happening, Nora?”

The girl barely lifted her eyes. “Yes, Ms. Templeton.”

“If anything like this happens again—”

“It won’t, Ms. Templeton,” Nora said with a sideways look in Robert’s direction.

“Good. I’d hate to have to suspend use of the library for both of you for four or five weeks. It might be detrimental to your grades. The midnight tone has already gone, and I suggest you leave. Be sure to walk Nora to her dorm, Mr. Hoag. It’s late.”

“Yes, Ms. Templeton.”

The two walked sedately across the commons area of the floor, then walked faster when they reached the stairs.

Miranda waited for the tense aftereffect of disappointment and anger at the two brilliant students to dissipate. He should have more respect for her, and she should have more respect for herself. But maybe some of what she had said would stick with them.

They’d both have brilliant careers if they could control their hormones. And if Robert lost some of his arrogant, entitled attitude.

With a sigh, she walked across the hall, pushed open the women’s bathroom door, and took two steps into the room. She paused by the sink and looked in the mirror. She didn’t look much older than those two students, but she felt ancient in experience.

A tingling sensation brushed along the back of her neck, like icy fingertips. She shivered and, breath catching, jerked around to look behind her. The room was empty. She could see every stall easily from where she stood. She was just feeling uneasy because of Aubrey’s warning. The thought did nothing to calm the panicked beat of her heart or ease the anxious tightness from her muscles. Rushing out, she escaped the room and the sensation.

Once outside and in the commons area of the floor, she paused a moment to listen. The only sound was the distant beep of the bar code reader downstairs as books were checked in or out of the system.

She was tempted to reach out and see what she sensed. It had been a long time since she’d used the skill. But, no. She’d left that part of her life behind. Did she really want to open herself again? Or was she afraid of what she might discover?

She was allowing a few vague words of warning to spook her. Straightening her shoulders, she strode decisively to the switch for the overhead lights and flipped it off. The large security lights held the dark at bay in the central part of the floor, but cast deep shadows between the stacks.

She caught another glimpse of Caleb from over the second floor safety glass railing; he seemed to be waiting patiently for her to finish. The eagerness to see him, be with him, tugged at her. If only her mother hadn’t brought Clay Maddox into their lives, she and Caleb might have had a chance. Regret twisted inside her, and she turned away from the railing to continue closing down the library for the night.

A strange rustling sound caught her attention. She turned the switch back on and walked toward the end of one of the shelves. The halogen streetlights cast illumination through the eight tall windows equally spaced across the west exterior wall. Air ruffled the hair at her temples. Her tension dissipated. She sauntered forward and stopped when she found one of the windows opened six inches at the bottom. Someone must have opened it to sneak a smoke. But why hadn’t she noticed it before?

Tiptoeing, she pulled the pane down and fastened the window. She heard the rustle again, this time from two rows to the right. Uneasiness crept across her nerve endings, leaving behind goose bumps.

If someone was playing a prank and trying to scare her, she’d suspend them from using the library for a month. Anger pushed aside some of her fear, and she marched forward. A movement, dark gray and quick, streaked across the end row of books, lit by the streetlights. Was that someone’s shadow as they rushed away? She spun around the corner intent on cutting them off and collided with a tall, muscular body. With a startled yelp, she staggered back.

Strong hands caught her before she could fall. “Jesus, I’m sorry, Mandy,” Caleb said. “I just got worried about you being in the dark by yourself. You’ve been up here for quite a while.”

Miranda placed her hand over her chest, where her heart still tried to beat its way free. She leaned against him in relief, relishing the warmth and safety she found in his embrace. Realizing what she was doing, she straightened, though the momentary fright lingered, and so did her shakiness. “Thanks. There was an issue with a couple of students, and then I had to close a window.”

Caleb frowned and ran a soothing hand down her back. “Are you all right?”

She fought to get her breathing under control. “I’m fine. You just startled me.”

She led the way back down the aisle to the stairs and flipped off the lights again.

Caleb’s hand rested against her waist. “I don’t like you being here until midnight every night with just a couple of other people.”

“The security guard’s in the building. He checks the offices at the back of the building, and then patrols the library commons after we’re gone. I have to be sure no students are left behind. What if one was still here and startled him? He might shoot them by accident.”

“I understand why you do it. I just don’t like that you’re doing it alone.”

The doing it alone part had started out as a means to face her fears. Now she clung to it as a reminder of how far she’d come. “I’ve done this for seven years now, Caleb.” They descended the stairs to the main floor of the library.

“And just because nothing’s happened in the past, doesn’t mean it can’t.”

She understood his concerns. And after her scare upstairs… Maybe it was time she let go of that particular demon, or rather her attempt to conquer it. “Okay. From now on, I’ll take one of the others with me while I check each floor.”

If his grin held just a touch of relief, she ignored it.

“Got your car fixed.” Caleb leaned against the checkout desk, his lean, lanky frame at ease, yet—not. Since returning from Afghanistan, he seemed poised for action even while lounging against something. He focused on her with eyes blue as a slice of sky, his sun-bleached hair curling along the back of his neck and over his ears, casually flipping her key ring around his finger.

Miranda swallowed, though her mouth had gone dry. “What was the problem?”

“I had to replace the fuel and air filters. It’s good you get your oil changed at regular intervals, but you have to have the filters and hoses looked at now and then, too.”

“I’ll try to be better about getting things checked. How much do I owe you?” She opened the cabinet beneath the desk and retrieved her purse.

“We can settle up tomorrow. Walk down to The Dish and eat a piece of pie with me. They don’t close until one.”

Was it fear or excitement that had her heart drumming at her wrists and throat? She bit her lip. “It’s awfully late.”

Caleb rested his fingertips atop her clenched hand on the counter. A sensation of warmth spread from the point of contact to her wrist. She glanced up into those blue, blue eyes.

“It’s just pie, Mandy.”

This was Caleb. The boy who’d looked out for her all the way through high school. He was no longer the sweet young boy from down the street—he was a man. A good man, who had done and seen too much. She wasn’t very good at saying no to him. But she needed to be. To get closer meant he might find out all the things she needed desperately to hide.

“All right,” she said before she had a chance to think herself out of it. As Caleb smiled, panic spread like wings beneath her rib cage. “It’s just pie,” she repeated. Was she reminding him or reassuring herself?

“All done,” Vivian said as she returned. “Hello.” The smile she offered Caleb seemed overly bright and flirtatious. Her golden brown hair swung forward around her face and curved beneath her chin becomingly. With her lush figure, she was very attractive to the opposite sex. Miranda had noticed some of the male students’ interest focused on her.

She studied Caleb’s dismissive attitude as he nodded at Vivian and offered her a brief smile.

“All set?” he asked, looking back at Miranda. He slid the car keys across the countertop.

How could she stand around watching for a reason to be jealous and refuse to seal the deal herself? “Yes, I’m ready.” She really wanted to be. She grasped the keys and swung her purse strap over her shoulder. “Before we leave, we’ll make sure you get to your car safely, Vivian.”

“Thanks, but I’ll be fine. My car’s just outside the back door. It isn’t like the big city of Superstition, Kentucky is a hotbed of crime or anything.”

“You can’t ever be too careful,” Miranda said. A brief flash of memory made her flinch. To hide her reaction, she bent to gather the two books she’d reserved for herself from beneath the counter.

She moved around the checkout desk and went to the front door to flip the lock. The three of them ambled toward the back entrance. Along the way, she hit the wall switches, turning off the lights. Dim nightlights flared on, and shadows settled between the rows of shelves. A florescent bulb hummed overhead as they ambled past the back conference and rest rooms.

“Darn, the streetlight’s out again,” Miranda said as they walked out the back door. “I’ll have to call the city utility company tomorrow and get them to repair it.”

“We’re safe with Caleb here,” Vivian said. “I’ll see you tomorrow. Good night.” She strolled away from the awning-covered back stoop and across the dark parking lot to her car.

“Good night,” Miranda called, and Caleb’s voice blended with hers on the word night. She turned to lock the door, conscious of his warm, waiting presence beside her.

Vivian’s headlights flashed on, leaving blue-white spots dancing in Miranda’s vision before the car pulled away.

Her small Honda, parked beneath the dead streetlight, sat alone in the lot. “I’ll put these in the trunk,” she said, shifting her books.

As Miranda approached the car, she paused at the leap of anxiety jangling her nerves. Every night it was the same. And every night she forced herself to face it.

Caleb was waiting for her, protective, strong. He wouldn’t allow anything to leap out of the night to hurt her. She hit the keypad, and the locking mechanism released. The back panel rose an inch. She caught the rough edge of the trunk with her fingertips and flipped it up. Light spilled out.

A gray mass rose from the opening, its maw wide open, hurtling at her face.

Chapter 3

etective Chase Robinson
paused by the back door of the police station and watched as two patrolmen, Williams and Carmichael, wrestled a handcuffed Gerald Abbott from the back seat of their unmarked police car. Once outside the vehicle the man’s struggles increased, panic edging his features with white. Chase hit the button to automatically open the door just as the officers staggered through the back entrance with Abbott. The creative line of expletives that spewed from Abbott’s mouth questioned the two officers’ heritage and sexual orientation, and offered explicit instructions on how they could pleasure themselves.

“Thanks for the advice, but I’m a happily married man,” Williams said through gritted teeth while dragging the guy forward.

Chase grinned and stood back to let them pass.

Why wouldn’t Abbott give it a rest? He’d been caught.

“Where do you want this?” Carmichael panted.

“Interview room two,” Chase said.

The men manhandled Abbott down the hall and through a narrow doorway to the right. Chase paused at his desk in the open-floored squad room and secured his gun in his desk drawer, then collected a file.

When he entered the interrogation room, Carmichael was holding Abbott’s head pressed to the top of the metal table bolted to the floor, and his arms pinned behind him.

Chase tossed the folder on the table. He unlocked one of Abbott’s handcuffs and quickly fed it through a ring in the center of the tabletop and snapped it closed around his wrist again. Bright red burn scars discolored the man’s hands and wrists.

The moment Carmichael and Williams released him, Abbott lunged forward.

Chase jerked back, and missed being head-butted by inches.

Secured and unable to fight without harming himself, Abbott shouted, “Fucking assholes.”

Williams grabbed him by the back of the shirt and jerked his ass down onto a steel-legged chair.

“Thanks for bringing him in,” Chase said as the patrol officers shuffled out.

BOOK: Deep Within The Shadows (The Superstition Series Book 1)
10.21Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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