King shoved his hands in his pockets and
hunched his shoulders, wishing for his jacket and dry hair. It wasn’t
that he’d been in too much of a hurry to grab his coat before leaving
the room, but a case of not thinking straight.
If he had been, he wouldn’t be here now, freezing his balls off,
instead of huddled in toasty sheepskin.
It had taken him forever to finish up in the bathroom because he couldn’t
get the hungry look in Cady’s eyes out of his head. Since she’d
climbed into his passenger seat in the garage this morning, he hadn’t
once thought of her that way. At least not seriously. She’d been
someone in trouble, someone needing help.
Even when she’d rubbed against him during that ridiculous Ferrer
photo shoot, he hadn’t considered messing with her any more seriously
than he would’ve a Hooters’ waitress leaning over him to
serve up his order of hot wings and beer. Enjoying an eyeful of tits
didn’t mean a thing.
Except best he could tell, Cady’s tits really weren’t enough
for an eyeful, and she’d never worn anything that exposed her cleavage
to prove him wrong. Head to toe, she’d always been completely covered
up when around him. Until standing there in the bathroom looking at him
with bare, naked eyes.
What he’d seen of her then had scrambled everything he’d
been thinking, as well as the plans he’d been making behind her
back to ditch her and get on the road. Best he could do now was talk
her out of wanting to come along, let her think it was in her best interest
to get rid of him.
If anyone had been messing with his brand new wheels and delayed him
any longer, he was going to have their hide. But a quick look around
the exterior of the SUV, made while he ran his hands up and down his
goose fleshed arms, didn’t reveal slashed tires or smashed windows
or siphoned fuel.
The electronics in his key fob has disengaged the locks, so he popped
the hood, started her up, and listened to his horses whir. He knew engines – V6,
V8, V10, V12, didn’t matter – and this one was singing sweet.
But he was cold and Cady was waiting, so he headed back to the room.
He didn’t purposefully sneak in, but once inside was glad he
hadn’t made a lot of noise because Cady was fast asleep. And she
was fast asleep in the bed that was supposed to be his for the night.
He sat on the foot of the one where she should’ve been sleeping – the
one that was now covered with everything they’d brought inside,
including his dirty clothes, and was missing the bedspread to boot.
It was as if she’d made sure he had no choice but to bunk on
the floor – if not with her – or else wake her and ask, “What
He didn’t want to wake her. Not after the day she’d had.
Her body needed recovery time and nothing beat sleep for healing.
But even though he’d said otherwise, there was no way on God’s
green earth he was going to spend the night on the floor knowing he’d
be sitting behind the wheel most of tomorrow, and most likely the day
Spending the night propped up in one of the room’s two wing chairs
wasn’t any more of an acceptable option . . . though hitting the
front desk for another room was. He’d just leave Cady a note first –
She interrupted him by clearing her throat. “You’re trying
to get out of sleeping with me, aren’t you?”
He tossed the pen he’d found back to the desk. He hadn’t
even made it as far as finding something to write on. “Actually,
I was trying to remember the last time I bailed on a woman who invited
me to bed.”
“It must be hard to be King.”
He liked this girl. He liked her a lot. “In a manner of speaking.”
She raised up on one elbow, tossed back the bedspread she was wearing
like a cocoon. “I’m fully dressed. I’m under my own
covers. There’s no chance here for accidental physical contact.
So come to bed. We both need sleep.”
It had to be the shadows from the room’s dim light making her
face look so ghostly. Yeah, her hair was dark, as were the bruises marring
her skin, plumping one side of her mouth into a fleshy pillow and sinking
her eyes into her skull. But still. She looked like the waking dead.
He returned to the foot of the bed to tug off his boots, wondering
if he’d ever slept with a zombie before. “You get your banking
She burrowed deeper into the covers. “I couldn’t get onto
the hotel’s network. I’ll try again in the morning, if there’s
time before we leave.”
“How much you think it’s going to take to finance this
escape of yours?” he asked, weighing the pros and cons of sleeping
in all of his clothes or just some of them.
She didn’t answer, and he left it alone, suddenly more tired
than he had reason to be. Along with his boots, he pulled off his belt,
then left the first bed for the second and slid beneath his sheet and
Cady’s bulk was nothing at his side. There was no dip in the
mattress from her weight causing him to roll towards her. He could’ve
been sleeping next to a pile of clean laundry for all he noticed her
It took several minutes for him to relax, for his breathing to steady,
his heartbeat to settle and his goose flesh to disappear, before he realized
he was feeling her body heat and not just that of the bedding.
Things got kinda weird then, what with the two of them being in bed
there together, and her warming him so nicely the way she was, and him
remembering the way she’d stared when confronted with his wash
cloth and his body. He hadn’t come up against that expression in
a very long time. In fact, he wasn’t sure he’d run into it
It was a wanting kind of look, a hurting for something kind of look,
a look that tore at something inside of him that even he didn’t
like knowing was there to be torn. He sure didn’t like thinking
that he’d disappointed her, left her unfulfilled – but that
was exactly the sense that was eating at him now, and making it hard
to get to sleep.
It had been awhile since he’d slept all night with a woman, since
he’d gone to bed wrapped in one’s arms and woke up with her
wrapped in his, his dick at the ready, her pussy hot to trot. Because
those were the only women he’d slept with. The same ones he’d
He’d never had a woman he had no plans to touch warming him the
way Cady was now – with the heat of her skin seeping into the blankets,
and her soft breathy snores, and the tiny sounds she made when she stretched
and turned and rolled.
And this woman, who had no one in her corner and nowhere to go, was
the woman who tomorrow he was going to have to find someplace to dump
so he could hit the road for home. Yeah, that made him feel like a first
place winner. More like a first class mother fu –
A window shattering explosion of fiery light and booming thunder cut
off everything King had been thinking and sent him into survival mode.
He knew Cady had bolted upright, and he dived toward her, taking the
both of them and all the covers to the floor between the two beds.
She screamed, but she didn’t fight. She ducked as completely
beneath his body as she could, leaving him to the brunt of the raining
glass and debris. He felt the scatter shot of detritus like bullets pummel
the blanket where it draped him, felt shards strike his uncovered shoulders
In seconds it was over, smoke billowing into the room through the frame
where the window’s panes had blown out. He tossed off the blankets
and urged Cady to her feet, finding her shoes on the extra bed and his
boots on the floor then sprinting for the room’s exit.
Coughing against the smoke, Cady grabbed her backpack and laptop and
sweatshirt, following him into the hallway and the chaos of half-dressed
people, strobing lights, and the hotel’s blaring fire alarm.
“What happened?” she called over the panicked voices and
crush of bodies.
Fearing their separation, he took her by the upper arm and pushed their
way through the crowd. “Your guess is as good as mine.”
Fuck orderly fashion. He wanted out of here and now, because there
was something telling him he wasn’t going to like what he was going
to find outside, and the sooner he found it, the better.
They reached the end of the hallway in time to see the first fire engine
blow into the parking lot. King shoved his way through the knot of hotel
guests congregated there and pulled Cady behind him through the door
and outside into his worst nightmare.
“Son of a fucking bitch!”
His Hummer was a burning shell. Orange fire licked through what was
left of the vehicle. Black smoke rose in foul-smelling columns. The rest
of it – including his supplies and all of Cady’s possessions – was
strewn around the parking lot in pieces, the result of the blast that
had turned their room’s window into similar shrapnel.
“King, you’re bleeding.”
“You’re bleeding. You’ve got a piece of glass sticking
out of the back of your head.”
Too bad it wasn’t sticking out of his eyeballs so he wouldn’t
have to see this. He reached back, nudged the embedded shard. “Ouch.
“Come on. Sit down.” She led him to the sidewalk and forced
him to sit, dropping her bag and computer in his lap before shrugging
into her hoodie. “Hold my stuff. I’ll see if there’s
an ambulance on the way, or if any of these guys are medics or whatever.
Don’t move until I get back.”
He watched her go, knowing he wasn’t going anywhere. Not anytime
soon, and not under his own steam or in any vehicle he owned, goddamn
Hummer garbage shit blown everywhere.
Soon enough he’d need a ride to the hospital for stitches. And
then to the police station to find out who the fucking hell had blown
up his truck. But for now, he’d do as she’d told him and
Cady was right. It was hard being King.