Authors: Charlotte Copper
Tags: #Demons-Gargoyles, #Paranormal, #Contemporary
But his eyes—so much like Bobby’s. Pale blue eyes surrounded by long dark lashes studied her. Eyes she suspected often reflected the ferocity of their owner, but also hid a depth of love and loss.
“I’m not a nurse,” she managed to say.
“No, you’re my angel,” he said and continued to approach, stopping just close enough to be on the edge of what she considered her private space.
“It’s Angela actually,” she replied, taking a small step backward.
“But you are my angel, too, right?” he asked. “The woman that brought me here? No easy feat, I’m sure, getting me up the hill and into your car.”
“Well, you walked most of the way on your own. With a little help.”
Now that he stood in front of her, she concluded her estimate of his height at six and a half feet had been pretty close. On a heavy chain around his neck hung an ornamental silver dagger. Was it meant to scare or intimidate? Had someone who cared given it to him?
“Really? I don’t remember anything except your face. Oh, and my name is Oz, not Buddy.”
“Pardon?” She wished he would put some clothes on so that she could concentrate on what he said.
“I also remember you calling me Buddy. My name is Oz.”
“Like the wizard?”
“Oscar actually, but everyone calls me Oz.”
“Well, it’s nice to see you up and around, Oz. How are you feeling?”
“Like a man that wiped out on a motorcycle doing eighty miles an hour.” He warily twisted his stiff body left and right.
“Eighty, eh? I told the police I thought you were going pretty fast.” Angela averted her eyes from Oz’s bandaged torso, and began to pick at an artificial nail.
“They were here, huh?”
“Yes. And they said they’d be back this morning to talk to you.”
“What did you tell them?”
“I couldn’t tell them much. I said you passed me and I thought you were going pretty fast. And then the SUV passed, and it was going even faster. I said that at first I thought maybe it was a race, but when I saw them swerve and force you off the road I figured they must have been chasing you. I told them it was a massive black SUV; I didn’t see who was in the vehicle and I didn’t get the license number. Other than that, there wasn’t anything else. Do you know who it was?”
“No,” Oz replied. Really though, he had a suspicion.
If she had asked ten days ago,
would have been true. Demons rarely hunted the hunter. Last week, however, one had managed to escape him. That had only happened to him one time before. This time he had been surprised and outnumbered five to one, and although none of his brothers blamed him, Oz blamed himself for the demon’s escape.
“So why do you think they were chasing you?”
“I don’t know,” he lied.
He scanned the lengthy scar on his forearm. A magic poultice had neutralized the poison while his accelerated healing had quickly mended the ragged gash. The demon that got away had managed to cut him with a long and jagged talon before fleeing, and therefore the fiend now had his scent. Who else would have dared last night’s chase? He needed to get home. Once he was there he would be safe, protected by spells and wards. Until the escaped demon was caught, Oz would have to be on his guard.
“So, what are you still doing here? Did the police make you stay?” Normally he would not have minded the company of this beautiful and sexy woman.
“I’m headed to Nevada. By the time the police finished asking me the same questions for the third or fourth time, it was late and dark. I came in here and I must have fallen asleep. The night nurse, Tracy, he must have come in and—”
“He? The night nurse is a
?” Oz let out a deep throaty laugh.
“You don’t remember Tracy?”
“I don’t remember anything.”
It was Angela’s turn to laugh. “Yes, the night nurse is a big guy named Tracy. Anyway, I came in the room to see if you were okay. I guess I fell asleep and Tracy must have covered me with the blanket.”
“Shit. You really are an angel, you know that?”
“Thank you, but I’m sure anyone would have done what I did.”
“Except the guys in the SUV.”
“Yes, except the guys in the SUV,” she agreed with a small laugh. “Look, I was going to go see if there was any coffee. Would you like some?”
“See, there you go doing that angel thing again,” he said with a wink. “I’d love some. Black. Thanks.”
Oz’s cock twitched as he admired Angela’s ass in her tight jeans.
Now was not the time for him to be thinking about a woman. The only thing that should be on his mind was catching and killing the demon.
He searched the closet and drawer for his stuff. He found some of his clothes and headed into the small bathroom. He was just coming back out as Angela returned to the room.
“What do you think?” he asked.
He was still in his boxer briefs, but now he wore his motorcycle boots, a leather jacket, and a belt. No shirt, no jeans. Angela started to laugh.
“They had to cut off the shirt and pants,” said the nurse as he walked into the room behind Angela. “I’m sure they would have cut off the jacket too, if I hadn’t stopped them. Great jacket by the way. Here.” He handed a pair of green scrub pants to Oz. “I had an extra pair of pants in the car.”
“Thanks. You must be Tracy.”
“And you must be Oscar.”
“Okay, ‘Just Oz,’ how are you feeling this morning?”
“Well, I’d be lying if I didn’t say my ribs were a little stiff. And my shoulder hurts like shit.”
“Your ribs are bruised up pretty good. Your shoulder was dislocated, but the doctor managed to pop it back in. No broken bones. You’ll probably want to go see your doctor in a few days. By the way, nice collection of scars. Does your job involve acting as a human knife block?”
“That’s a new one.” He would remember that one to tell his brothers.
“Seriously, do you get that many scars winning or losing?”
“Winning mostly. You should see the other guys. I’m sorta what you would call a bounty hunter.” The answer wasn’t a complete lie. He and many of the other demon hunters acted as bounty hunters, not only for the money but to help explain injuries, and to account for their unusual and well-stocked collection of weapons.
“‘Sort of’, eh? It would appear that it’s a rather dangerous line of work. You must meet some really mean dudes.”
“The chicks are just as bad. I started shaving my head after a young lady of—shall we say—low moral standards got a good chunk of my scalp along with a handful of hair she pulled out.” Oz turned his head and showed them both a ragged scar above his ear. That situation had earned him a good deal of teasing from his brothers.
Angela didn’t see the humor in guys getting beaten and bloodied. She never understood the appeal of
; even Brad Pitt could not hold her attention for long in that movie.
The two men continued to banter back and forth. She studied Oz’s broad shoulders and tapered waist, and the promise that the tight boxer briefs hinted lay beneath. What deep and secret desires could this big scarred man awaken in her? A sudden heat spread through her body. Although the offers came regularly, she hadn’t had sex in almost a year. For some reason, the guys she dated thought, because she wore a skimpy costume, her morals were also small and sparse. Usually that was not the case. This man, however, was making her think otherwise. Once again, she forced her eyes back up to his face.
“I’m assuming there is no medical reason I need to stay?” Oz asked.
“No, but sorry, I’m not allowed to let you leave. Police should be here shortly. They want to talk to you about the accident,” Tracy said.
“Of course they do.” There was no mistaking the sarcasm in Oz’s voice. “Is there any place we can get some breakfast first?”
“We’ve got cereal and juice and milk. I’ll go bring you guys a tray.”
“Thanks,” said Oz.
“You should be prepared for the cops to ask you about the scars, too. The doctor had to make a note in your file about them, and Pettiworth was in the room.”
“Of course. Thanks for the warning.”
“No problem,” replied Tracy. “I’ll go find you some cereal.”
“Thanks, Tracy,” added Angela as the nurse left the room.
“No rest for the wicked,” Oz said.
“I think the expression is ‘no rest for the weary,’” she corrected.
“That’s because you don’t know me very well.”
Oz kicked off his boots and stepped into the pants that Tracy had left with him. They hung short, a couple of inches above his ankles. “I thought you said Tracy was big!” remarked Oz, and Angela laughed.
Almost an hour had passed, and Angela sat in the waiting room reading a magazine. The fashion rag, full of lots of ads and very few articles, was only two months old—much fresher than she would have given the medical center credit for. She reached for the cup of cold coffee and then changed her mind.
“Hey,” Oz said as he came around the corner with the sheriff. The officer continued on his way to the nurses’ desk.
The big biker was a comical sight—too-short medical pants, motorcycle boots, bandaged ribs, and a leather jacket.
She bit her lip to hide her laughter.
“Thanks for the sympathy,” he said as he looked down at himself. “It’s either these or back to my briefs. I don’t think the sheriff would like me to walk around in those. How about you?”
Angela felt her cheeks grow warm. She dropped the magazine back on the table and stood up. “You look fine. No one else will laugh. The bandages will make people feel sorry for you, even if the pants don’t.” She bit back another laugh.
“So, what are you still doing here?”
She had asked herself that same question half a dozen times in the last hour. She knew nothing of the giant man whose body suggested a rough and dangerous life, but she had always found it unfair that people misjudged her brother Bobby. She was not about to do the same. Yes, Oz might look dangerous, and his job might be dangerous, but that didn’t mean the man himself was a threat. And something about him intrigued her.
“I didn’t know if you needed a lift back to your motorcycle, or home, or whatever.”
“That’s…Thanks. The sheriff said my bike is in worse shape than me, and that it was towed to a local mechanic. Said I won’t be able to drive it ’til it’s fixed. Maybe you could take me over there?”
“Sure. Oh, and here are your keys,” she said digging into her pocket and handing the set of keys and chain to Oz. “Do you have someone—a wife or friend—who can pick you up, or will you need a lift to your home?”
“No wife. And I’m not sure how many friends are available right now. But you don’t even know where I live.”
“Well, I assumed it wouldn’t be too far. Is it?”
Oz gave a deep chuckle. “It’s about twenty minutes or so from here, and it’s toward Nevada where I believe you said you were headed. That okay?”
“Sure. No problem.” Angela picked up her purse. “So, do you know where we can find that mechanic?”
Oz went inside to talk to the mechanic while Angela sat in the car and waited.
Why hadn’t she left last night? There must be a hotel somewhere nearby. Her brother always teased her about taking in strays, cats and dogs as a kid, men as she got older. There was something different about Oz though, something about this man that called to her.
She chewed her bottom lip as she studied Oz. Even in his too-short hospital pants and leather jacket, he was a sexy and attractive man. A flashback of him in his boxers and the sudden heat returned to her core. She didn’t view his powerful build as a sign of danger; no, it suggested instead a haven of strength. He was a lot like her brother, and yet Bobby certainly never made her feel as sexy or as wanting as this giant man did. How would it feel to be held in the safety and strength of his arms?
She shook her head. What would be the point? A full day’s drive separated their lives, and except for the fact he was a bounty hunter and rode a motorcycle, what else did she know of this imposing man?
Despite the unseen fog of conflict that swirled around her, Angela took a peek in the rearview mirror, grabbed her eyeliner, and quickly touched up her makeup. She was just putting the stuff back in her purse when Oz leaned in the car window.
“Would you mind a bit of a detour?” he asked, arms resting on the open window. “My bag must have gotten thrown loose from the bike. Maybe we could go take a quick look for it.”
“You don’t think maybe the sheriff has it?”
“No. I think he would have said something if he did.”
I’m damn sure he would have said something if he had found it and looked inside.
Oz climbed in next to Angela.
Tiny, shitty Japanese car.
They drove about ten minutes before Angela pulled over to the side of the road. Although police cars and the tow truck had added to the crumpled grass, he could still see where the motorcycle had gone off the road and where it had come to rest in the long grass.
He walked behind, appreciating the way Angela’s ass moved as she maneuvered down the hill. When they reached the indentation of where the bike landed, he crouched down and surveyed around in all directions, trying to recall exactly what had occurred the previous night. He scratched his leg where the grass tickled the skin between pant and boot. The trees!
“Would you mind looking over there?” He pointed in the opposite direction. “I’ll search that way.” He nodded toward the trees, certain that was where he would find the bag.
Angela did as asked and headed toward the long grass while Oz went the other way. Last night, a car had stopped at the top of the hill. Not knowing if it was friend or foe and unable to fight in his condition, the cold sweat of discovery had prompted him to throw the bag toward the trees and away from the road.
Keeping an eye on Angela, he located the leather satchel. He opened the bag, checked the contents, and then did up the leather ties. The ancient blades were still safe. “Found it,” he called.
Oz sat in the passenger seat, and inhaled the floral smell of Angela’s perfume. She even smelled sexy. What did she taste like?
She shouldn’t even be here. He should have called Jared—or anyone else—to come pick him up.