Authors: Rebecca York
He gave her an assessing look before putting her hand back in her own lap. Sighing, he took her purse, dug through the contents, and found a letter from her brother. The return address was near Chartres University. Looking over at the woman beside him in the car, he saw that her breathing was a bit more regular and her color was less bright. It was probably safe to take her home.
It wasn’t a long drive. When he pulled up in front, he could see that it was a two-story house that had been converted to apartments.
“Upstairs or down?” he prompted.
Even though she was light, it was an effort to get her boneless body up to the second floor. The way her arms were now clutching him desperately around the neck didn’t help.
It was as if she were trying to provoke him by pressing her breasts against his chest, he thought. And despite the circumstances, he wasn’t immune to having a desirable woman come on to him.
With a key he’d also found in her bag, he opened the door and stood looking around. It was a pleasant room with old but durable furniture. Everything was extremely clean and tidy, as if it had been set to rights very recently.
Striding down the hall, he found the bedroom and set her gently down on the double bed. After slipping off her shoes, he turned to leave so she could sleep off the drug’s effects and he could call the stationhouse back. But her fingers grasped his arm.
“Don’t leave me.” Her voice was a whispery plea.
He let her pull him to a sitting position on the bed. “Do you need anything?”
“What is it?”
“I feel as though I’m out of control.” Her voice was edged with fear now. “I don’t like it.”
Since Michael Rome had put her in the car, she’d felt powerful needs beginning to coalesce inside her. Now they were stronger than her ability to contain them. She shifted restlessly and felt his fingers smooth the damp hair back from her brow. In her oversensitized state, she could feel strength flowing from his calloused hands.
“Is it bad?” His voice was husky. He could see awakening desire in her eyes mixed with panic.
The question focused her attention more tightly on him. She had always shied away from any sort of casual intimacy. The man beside her on the bed was a virtual stranger. Yet under the potent influence of the drug she felt herself opening to him. She could sense his perplexity and his concern. But more than that, everything about him drew her toward him. She felt her senses extend beyond their normal bounds and merge into each other. Through half-closed eyes she studied him. It was as if her body
the impact of the appealingly hard planes of his face, his broad shoulders and lean hips. She inhaled his masculine scent and
deep forest on her tongue.
At the same time a magnetic tide of arousal swept through her body. She tried to resist it, but the intense pleasure-need bordered on pain. If this man didn’t save her, she would drown in it.
“Michael, I can’t—”
“It’s all right.”
Simple reassurance or invitation? She was beyond caring. Turning, she moved against his jeans-clad thigh. Immediately a frisson of pure delight traveled along her nerve endings.
Michael tensed. There was no way to misinterpret what the drug had done to her. Dove was rumored to be a powerful aphrodisiac. Apparently the rumors were correct.
She moaned, and he realized she’d reached the point of desperation. Pushing up her shirt, she seized his hand and cupped it against her breast. Through the stretchy fabric of her bra he could feel that her nipple was already hard. As she pressed his hand against herself, it beaded to an even tighter point.
He heard her gasp and her hips began to rock urgently against his. Her skirt had ridden up her thighs. Without thinking about what he was doing, he wrapped his free arm around her. Bending his leg, he wedged it high up between hers, giving her something solid to press against. She moaned and rocked more urgently, her whole body trembling now. In the next second he felt her tense and then shudder.
“Jessica?” he questioned.
“That was so nice. Thank you.”
“I didn’t do much.”
Realizing that his hand was still against her breast, he drew it out from under her shirt. With a gentle finger under her chin, he tipped her face up so that he could look down into her hazel eyes. They were dilated—and very beautiful.
“You’re a very sexy man.” The words came out unfiltered through the brain’s usual censoring mechanism.
Would she remember this conversation? he wondered. And how would she feel about it and her uninhibited behavior?
“Jessica, perhaps it’s that Dove is a very sexy drug,” he tried.
“Mmmm...maybe...” She snuggled against him and pressed her hands to his hard chest. He suspected her arousal was beginning to build again.
His fingers moved along the line of her jaw and tangled in her curly hair. It felt bouncy and alive and very appealing—like the woman herself. He had no right to be sharing this kind of intimacy with her. To be
this kind of intimacy, he corrected himself. Because, despite any noble intentions he might have, he was enjoying it, very much. It was impossible not to respond to her and her unleashed sensuality. Even if she were held enthralled by a powerful drug, he recognized that he was reacting to something much deeper than its influence.
“Baby, you’re so damn vulnerable right now,” he muttered.
She gazed up at him trustingly, and he had the odd feeling that she read him very accurately. “On the outside you’re tough. Inside you’re”—she searched for the right word—”good.”
Sure. Saint Michael, he thought. “You hardly know me.”
“I know you. Those men who gave me the injection wanted to hurt me. You never would.”
He stared down at her. My God, he’d almost forgotten how she’d gotten this way in the first place. The thought of what those bastards had been going to do to her made his stomach suddenly churn.
She pressed her cheek against his, enjoying the bristly scrape of his beard. His fingers stroked her arm, and she
the touch as the sound of sea grass whipping in the wind. With a little whimper, she fumbled for his hand. He knew the drug-induced passion was overwhelming her.
“Please—” She was burning up with need, and there was no way to hold back the fire.
“Easy, baby. I’m here.”
Sitting up, she unbuttoned her yellow shirt and slipped it from her shoulders. Then she unfastened the skirt and drew it up over her head. In her wisp of a bra and lacy panties she looked like an erotic fantasy.
When she unhooked her bra and tossed it to the end of the bed with her other clothing, his breath caught in his throat. Her breasts were high and firm and very tantalizing. He was unable to suppress a groan as she pulled him back into her arms.
Saint Michael, he thought again as she began to writhe against him. No man should have to endure a night like this. Heaven and hell mixed together. Yet if he let himself make love to her, he would be no better than the men who had drugged her.
One hand caressed her breasts, the other slipped inside the waistband of her panties and slid downward. When he began to stroke her, she cried out in pleasure and arched into his caress. She was so close to the edge that she slipped over with very little help from him.
His own breathing was ragged, his body taut as he lowered her gently back to the bed.
For a few minutes she nestled comfortably against him. Then she reached up, her fingers stroking his perspiration-damp brow. “This is driving you crazy.”
He laughed. “Yeah.”
“Michael, why don’t you want to...to make love to me?”
“I’m afraid you won’t respect me in the morning.”
“What?” His voice was hoarse.
“Saint Michael slew the dragon—with his sword.”
“You meant Saint George.”
She giggled. “Oh, yeah.” Then she sobered. “You don’t want to take advantage of me.” But her breath was already accelerating again, her body tensing.
“Jessica, can’t you understand? It’s the drug that’s making you this way.”
“Not just the drug, Michael Rome.”
“You’re not thinking straight.”
“It’s coming back. I need to feel you inside me.”
“Don’t say that!”
“Maybe it’s the only way to slay the dragon.”
She pressed her face against his chest. When she spoke, her voice was barely above a whisper. “Michael, I’m not usually like this.”
“I know, baby, I know.”
“I—I can’t help it. My body aches.”
So did his.
She looked up again. “Michael, I promise you—it’s more than just Dove.” Then with shaky hands she reached up and captured his head, dragging his mouth down to hers. Suddenly he realized that in all the intimacy they had just shared, they hadn’t yet kissed.
Her mouth was sweet and warm. He brushed his lips back and forth, then settled with a steady pressure. He felt her tongue test the serrated edges of his teeth and then dart beyond. He accepted the invitation, meeting her thrust with one of his own. She had pushed him almost beyond the limits of endurance, and now his control was just about shredded.
When he lifted his head, it was to gently kiss her cheek, her forehead, the line of her jaw. His lips slid downward to the throbbing pulse at the base of her neck.
He had wanted to taste her breasts too. Now he could no longer resist. Taking one hardened nipple in his mouth, he sucked, feeling her quicken with pleasure in response.
Her body was on fire, but not just from the drug pumping through her veins. In her heightened state of sensitivity, Michael’s fingertips were like fine tracery on silver, scoring her body. His mouth was a moist balm, polishing her skin to a high sheen. She wanted this man, wanted all of him, and very urgently. Her fingers slid down his body, finding him through the fabric of his pants.
He groaned in response. “Jessica, don’t.”
But she didn’t listen. The provocation had the desired effect. With a curse he stripped off his clothes and then her panties. No woman had ever driven him to the brink of insanity like this. He was beyond thought, beyond reason, beyond even gentleness.
She felt him pierce her most sensitive flesh. But she welcomed the invasion, arching her hips to meet it. Her movements were frantic as she twisted against him. It was impossible to slow down, to savor the experience. Her body drove for release and found it in a quick, shattering climax. A few moments later she felt his body shudder.
Then he started to ease away from her, and her arms tightened around his shoulders. “Don’t.”
He buried his face against her hair. “Are you all right?”
Her fingers stroked across the broad expanse of his back, feeling the tense muscles relax. “I think this time I really may be all right,” she whispered.
“You won’t leave me?”
“Tomorrow we have to talk.”
ieutenant Hugh Devine had been going off duty as the call came into the precinct. But when he glanced at the dispatcher’s sheet and saw the address and the informer’s name, he promptly forgot all thoughts of the midweek ball game and six-pack of beer he’d planned for the evening’s entertainment.
“I want to be in on this one,” he told Pendowski at the desk.
“Up your alley, huh?”
“I’ll tell car twenty-three to expect you.”
He was out the door in a hurry, thinking it was a lucky day when Michael Rome had gone through the rap sheets looking for unusual drug activity. He’d liked the tough DEA agent, and he’d suspected he could learn a thing or two from the man.
When he arrived at the address Rome had given, he was surprised to see an ambulance as well as Patrol Car 23.
With only a brief glance at the crowd of curious neighbors, he hurried up the cracked front walk.
Inside, attendants were just lifting a sheet-covered body onto a stretcher. A white chalk outline on the floor indicated where the body had been found.
“We’re not sure yet,” the patrolman answered. “The guy was handcuffed to the water pipe. But he wasn’t going anywhere. He was dead when we arrived.”
“There was some evidence of a fight. But unless he died from internal injuries, I don’t think that’s what killed him. There was a fresh needle mark on his arm. Maybe it was a drug overdose, but with both his hands cuffed, I don’t think he gave it to himself. We’re going to have to wait for an autopsy report.”
Devine looked around the scene of the homicide. Michael Rome had been sure this guy would have some information. He was going to be disappointed when he called in.
* * *
ESSICA COULD FEEL
the warmth of the sun caressing her face, and for a few seconds she simply enjoyed the drowsy lethargy between sleep and alertness. She didn’t want to wake up. As consciousness seeped back into her mind, she knew why.
Turning her head, she looked at the white pillow beside her own. It still bore the indentation of a head. So last night hadn’t been a wild dream as she’d been hoping.
Images and sensations came rushing back to her, bringing a red tint to her cheeks. God, what a fool she’d made of herself.
Sitting up, she covered her face with her hands as if that would block out the graphic pictures in her mind. Her body ached from the night’s activities.
After she’d begged Michael Rome to make love to her, she’d thought she was going to be all right. But she’d awakened one more time before dawn, caught by the demon that was possessing her body. Michael had been there again for her. Though she’d felt his arousal, he’d done no more than given her release with his hands and lips. Afterward, when she’d finally broken down and cried, he’d rocked her and whispered reassurances until she’d fallen back to sleep.
Now she could hear water running in the bathroom and could smell the aroma of strong New Orleans chicory-laced coffee. So he was still here—apparently waiting for her to reappear. How was she going to face him? she wondered, pressing her palms against her eyelids.