Authors: Ursula Sinclair
Tags: #Book Three of The Guardian Agency Series
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Wine & Roses
Copyright © 2012 by Ursula Sinclair
Cover art by LFD Designs
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Also By Ursula Sinclair
Wine and Roses
Book Three of The Guardian Agency Series
This one’s for Keagan and Aidan and their little guy Gunner. Thank you for everything. Love you both. And for Donna G. Thank you for letting me borrow your version of Battleship and for always making me laugh
“I need you.”
Words, Simon Blackcat wanted to hear again from Ms. Eboni Stiles with the pale brown eyes for months. The edginess in her tone suggested urgency. But somehow he didn’t think she meant it the way he needed her to.
He headed outside with the phone to his ear. The music from the live band made it difficult to have a conversation in the room. “What’s wrong?”
Eboni sneezed in reply. She’d left her sister and Ross’s wedding reception over an hour ago because she felt sick. Simon asked to take her home, but she wouldn’t let him. He’d offer to do a lot more but refused to chase her. Once should have been enough. Despite what happened between them, she was the staying around kind—he wasn’t. Yet for months, he’d thought of little else except the one time they’d slept together. It irritated him she seemed to be the one who made it clear it would only be the one time, by walking out on him in the middle of the night. Hell, that’s what he’d required.
? Perhaps that’s why he couldn’t let it go. He still desired her. Once was not enough for him to have his fill.
The day after he’d first met Eboni, his best friend and business partner, Ross, asked him to drop a few things off for Ross’s fiancée at the salon she and her sister co-owned. But he’d already planned on seeing the brown-skinned beauty again; he even knew where she lived. His friend thought Simon had done him a favor, but in truth, Simon wanted to get closer to Shanna’s younger sister, to show her all the things he sought to do to her. He’d delivered the things but stayed until the shop closed, and she’d offered to follow him back to his apartment. Hell, it wasn’t like it was his decision to have a one-night stand. After all, she left him. He never asked her to leave, or indicated he didn’t want to see her again.
Movement on the mattress had Simon opening one eye in time to see Eboni sliding off the bed. At first he thought she headed for the bathroom but instead stopped to pick all her clothes up off the floor before continuing on to the bath.
“Damn it,” he said when she closed the door behind her. She was leaving him. Any other time, any other woman, he would have rolled over and gone back to sleep. From the first time, he’d laid eyes on her that day in the salon, something about Eboni called to him. In her flats, she only reached his shoulders, not as curvy as her sister but enough shape for him. Skin like heated caramel and just as smooth. A perfect oval face with wide, warm brown eyes seemingly taking in everything around her, and a lower lip fuller than the upper he wanted on his. After making love to her, he’d be damned if he didn’t at least try to figure out why she made him feel like no one else ever had. His attraction to her caused physical pain in his gut. He ached to have her; this should have been the end of it but, not even close. The knowledge tightened his chest.
Simon watched Eboni come out of the bathroom and glance quickly toward the bed. According to the time on the lighted clock over his dresser, dawn had just broken. The thick curtains on either side of the bed were drawn shut ensuring darkness lingered around the headboard. She would not be able to tell if he lay there already awake. On the other hand, the nightlight she’d left on in the bathroom illuminated the area where she stood well enough for him to see her. She held her shoes in her hand while she moved silently to the door. He let her reach for it. Her hand rested on the knob before he spoke up.
“Going somewhere, babe?”
She swung back to face him, her eyes opened wide and mouth parted into an “oh” and air rushed out. Her reaction would have been funny, but he didn’t feel like laughing. What was it about the Stiles women always running out on their men? Ross previously mentioned to him how Shanna, Eboni’s sister, ran from him, too. He shook his head at the thought of belonging to anyone. Commitment to only one woman was a totally foreign concept to him.
“Oh sorry,” she said, flashing him a nervous smile. “I didn’t mean to wake you. Thank…thank you for a great evening.”
“Come back to bed; let me thank you properly.”
“Ah, no really. I’ve got to go. This was nice…very…but, I’ve just got to go now.”
Frowning, he sat up. “Let me walk you to your car.”
“That’s okay. This is a nice neighborhood, and the car’s in sight of the entrance.”
“Okay. I’ll call you later.” What the hell? He never ever offered to call a woman who tried to brush him off. But damn, only a couple of hours ago, he lay buried up to his balls inside her. Her sex muscles had clenched around his shaft while she screamed his name and more. He still sported a hard-on under the covers since he’d woken up and seen her naked ass moving toward the bathroom. It gave him ideas of taking her and slamming up against those perfect butt cheeks.
The movement of her head shaking in the negative as she opened the door shocked him out of his fantasy. “Thanks, but no, Simon. That won’t be necessary. It was fun, but well, good night.” She crossed the threshold and had the door shut before he comprehended she’d just blown him off.
“Well, shit!” A first for everything.
Yeah, he’d made a mistake. A miscalculation. He should have spent more time seducing her, but he’d taken one look at her in the hair salon and wanted her, and she him. Not the only time it happened that way for him with women. He’d known the minute he took her to his place it was for her. It would have been better to just go out with her then take her to her house and leave. But instead, he’d gone home with her and fucked her straight up. No games. Never should have taken her to bed at all the second night they met. He could not resist. Not his nature. At first it
supposed to have been a one night-stand. But of his choosing, not hers.
“I’m sorry to bother you,” Eboni said. Her voice redirecting his thoughts, sorta.
She could bother him anytime. Since she didn’t show up at the wedding with anyone and he’d be in town for a while, perhaps he could convince her to spend some time with him. He’d take it slow with her this time, create a sensual need. They’d need a few days bathed in each other’s essence. She resided on his mind for months. And women didn’t stay on his mind for more than a few weeks. His longest relationship lasted, at the most, nine and half weeks.
“I…I just saw something I don’t think I was supposed to.”
That got his attention, drawing him back to her call.
Her voice came out stuffy. “God, I don’t need this.” She sneezed again.
“Okay, baby, okay. What did you see exactly?”
“A man shoot another man.”
That got the erotic thoughts about him and her out of his brain. He stood at the edge of the parking lot but at her words, he moved fast toward his car. “Call the police, lock your doors, and I’ll be there in ten.”
“No…don’t hang up,” Eboni said, pulling his attention back to the moment.
“Right here, babe. But you have to call the cops. You can put me on hold.”
“I’ve already called them. And I’m not home. I’m hiding in my neighbor’s house. They’re out of town, and I’ve been watering the plants and feeding their fish for them.”
“Good, stay put. Is it the same unit you’re in?”
“What’s the condo number?”
“They’re on the first floor, directly beneath mine, unit 104. And Simon, the man who did the shooting…I think he saw me. I sneezed, and he glanced up in my direction…and I froze for a minute and it was dark, so I’m not sure if he got a good look at me. But I got a good look at him.”
“Do you think anyone else heard the gun shots?”
“No, no, I didn’t even hear it. If I wasn’t staring down at the time, I wouldn’t have known. I saw the gun, and his hand jerked a little when he fired it, and then I saw the other man fall to the ground.”
“Okay. I can hear sirens in the background.”
“Yes, I think it’s the cops. They’re pulling down the street. I can see the flashing lights.”
“I’m almost there. I’ll stay on the phone with you until you let them in.”
“Simon, thank you. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t call Shanna or Ross on their wedding night to tell them this.”
“I’m glad you called me.” Simon heard banging on a door through the phone.
“That’s the cops.”
“I’m hanging up now. I’ll be there in three.”
Simon stepped on the gas and whipped around a slower moving car. His one thought was to reach Eboni. She needed him. He didn’t want to scare her, but my God, if she’d witnessed a murder and the killer had seen her, she could be in danger. Well, he’d walk through fire before he let anyone harm her. And even then, they’d have to get through him to do it, after his body lay cold in the ground. This Blackcat didn’t die easily.
He pulled down her street and saw two police cruisers and an ambulance. Swinging into the first parking spot he found, he ran toward Eboni’s building but the cop at the door stopped him from entering. “I’m Eboni Stiles’s bodyguard,” he said flashing his Guardian Agency credentials, showing he was a certified bodyguard. The cop wasn’t impressed.
“Sorry sir, but you still can’t go in and will have to wait here.”
“Well, can you at least radio whoever is in charge to tell Eboni I’m here? Let him decide if I can come up or not?”
The cop raised one eyebrow and folded his arms across his massive chest. Simon hated assholes, especially those ruining a good uniform, but thank God they weren’t all like this one.
“Okay,” Simon said stepping a little aside and pulling out his phone. He had connections in this town and no trouble using it on this power slob. Before he finished dialing the number of a detective friend, he heard his name called. Glancing up, spotted the very person he was about to call coming around the corner of the building.
“Simon. What the hell are you doing here?”
“Jackson.” Simon moved toward the detective, taking the man’s outstretched hand and shaking it. They’d worked together on Shanna’s stalker case and another one since then. Jackson hadn’t really been helpful with Shanna, but on the second case, Simon helped Jackson catch a thief so he owed him. “Trying to get in,” Simon said. “Eboni Stiles is a client. She witnessed a murder and called me to come over but….” He gestured toward the officer by the door. “He wouldn’t let me in.”
Jackson grinned. “He’s just doing his job. But I’m here now come on.” Jackson turned back to the entrance nodding to the police officer, and Simon followed behind him, not even bothering to glance in the other’s direction. He’d gotten what he wanted, an in to see Eboni.
“What is it with these Stiles women?” the detective said. “They always seem to be in the middle of…something.”
Simon frowned at the detective, not like the insinuation one bit. “Eboni didn’t ask to see someone murdered, Jackson.”
Jackson held up his hand in surrender. “I know, I know. This has nothing to do with her. Just wrong place at the wrong time, at least she didn’t get hurt.” They stopped in front of an open door but there stood another cop stationed in the doorway. Simon turned to Jackson. “What about the victim? Did he make it?”
“No,” Jackson said. “My partner’s with the Crime Scene Technicians where the body is around the corner, and I have cops blocking off the area. Come on, let’s talk to Ms. Stiles.” Jackson nodded to the uniformed policeman at the door, and he moved aside to let them in.