Home > Wicked Intentions (Wicked Games #3)(6)

Wicked Intentions (Wicked Games #3)(6)
Author: J.T. Geissinger

“I dig the little noises you make,” he whispers, gently biting my lower lip as he cradles my head.

“Noises?” I repeat, too blissed out to be horrified I might be making some kind of unattractive animal sounds into his mouth.

When was the last time I was kissed like this?

Never.

“Little growly kitten noises.” He kisses one corner of my mouth, then the other. He says hotly into my ear, “I wonder what kind of noises you’ll make when I have my face between your legs.”

I summon a vivid picture of myself naked on my back in a bed, Ryan’s golden head between my thighs, writhing and screaming my way through a thermonuclear orgasm. I try not to pant.

He allows me to pull away, but the expression on his face is dark and intense. I think he might grab me at any moment and haul me off into the bushes, caveman style.

Over the roar of my pulse, I say coolly, “Don’t get ahead of yourself, cowboy. You’re still in the friend zone. Any more assumptions about where this is headed and the friend zone is where you’ll stay.”

I amuse him, evidenced by his gruff chuckle and jaunty salute. “Yes, ma’am.”

I toss my hair and rise from the barstool. Instantly, he’s on his feet, too.

“See you at eight,” I say.

He looks crestfallen, like a little boy left alone at the playground. “You’re leavin’ already? It’s not even four!”

Mierde. Why does he have to be so adorable? The contrast between his sweet, boyish side and his macho, mouthy side is maddeningly disarming. “I have some work to finish up this afternoon. My article’s due to my editor today, and I haven’t wrapped it up yet.”

He looks at me for a beat. His expression changes into something unreadable. Gone is the little boy. In his place is a man who is watchful and speculative, his eyes the chilly blue of an iceberg. It’s the wolf I saw earlier, the one lurking behind the swagger and smiles.

“Of course,” he says, without a shred of emotion in his voice. “I understand. Duty calls.”

This time when he smiles, it sends a shiver down my spine.

I dig some cash from the clutch I brought with me to the pool and leave it on the bar for the conch croquettes. Ryan looks skyward and sighs. He picks up the money and waves it in my face. Confused, I take it.

Ryan says, “Don’t insult me, Angel. And before you get any other dumb ideas, I’m buyin’ dinner, too, compris?”

My heart skips a beat. “You speak French?”

His shrug is the picture of nonchalance. “A little,” he says. “Used to date a French girl.”

Sure you did. I narrow my eyes. His cool smile grows suspiciously wider. Suddenly, I feel like we’re in the middle of a film noir standoff, two spies on opposite sides of a bridge waiting to see who’ll draw their gun first.

“See you at eight, Angel.” Ryan kisses me on the cheek, slaps me on the ass, and saunters off, whistling, toward the pool.

I watch him go, convinced I’ve made a miscalculation.

I’m dealing with something far more dangerous than a wolf.

 

Back in my room, I unlock the safe and remove the burner phone I bought at the airport. I dial a number I know by heart. There’s a distant hiss, then a click as the line is answered.

“Reynard,” says a cultured British voice.

“It’s Dragonfly,” I say, relieved. Reynard always answers the line, he’s as reliable as Big Ben, but there are so few reliable things in this world, I still can’t take him for granted.

“My darling!” he says, pleased. “Have you completed your article already?”

“I need to check a source.”

A short pause follows. “I see. One moment.” Fingers tap a keyboard thousands of miles away. “Proceed.”

“Ryan McLean. Unsure if it’s M-C or M-A-C. Male, thirty-four, American, from Perry, Georgia. Served in the Marines. Unsure of the service dates. Blond hair, blue eyes, approximately six foot two, two hundred twenty pounds. Multiple tattoos. Perfect teeth.”

More typing. I know it won’t be long, but I’m impatient anyway, tapping my foot on the plush carpet as I wait.

Finally, a low chuckle comes through the phone. “Oh my. That’s quite a smile. I’ve seen sharks less deadly. Careful, my darling, this one’s got a serious bite.”

“Tell me.”

“Ryan Tiberius McLean—”

“Tiberius?” I’m incredulous. “He was named after a Roman emperor? Who does that to their child?”

“May I continue, or would you like to amuse yourself by repeating everything I say and asking rhetorical questions?”

I smile but don’t laugh. Under no circumstances does one laugh at Reynard. “My apologies. Please continue.”

“As I was saying. Ryan Tiberius McLean, born August tenth, nineteen eighty-three, to Betty Anne Rasmussen, a homemaker, and Thomas Robert McLean, a peach farmer.” Reynard’s pause drips with condescension. “Humble beginnings, indeed.”

I don’t point out that my father was a farmer too. Avocadoes. To this day, I still can’t bear to look at them. They’ll forever be paired in my memory with gunfire, bodies, and blood.

“August tenth,” I muse. “So he’s a Leo. That fits.”

Reynard sighs. I can almost hear the eye roll. “My darling. Astrology isn’t an actual science.”

“I know, but there could be something to it. If you met him, you’d agree he’s very lionlike.”

Though Reynard doesn’t reply, I know exactly what he’s doing at this moment. He’s shaking his head in silent disappointment. I miss him with a sudden, violent ache.

He’s the closest thing to family I’ve got.

Reynard continues, sounding bored. “Two older siblings, Missy and Cleo—you’re right, these names are dreadful—graduated Perry High School top of his class, football scholarship to Georgia State…” Reynard pauses. “Both parents killed in a drive-by shooting on a vacation to Los Angeles to celebrate their twentieth wedding anniversary.”

The breath leaves my chest in an audible rush. The room starts to spin. The words get stuck in my head, replaying over and over until I want to press my hands over my ears and scream.

Parents killed. Shooting. Parents killed. Shooting. Killed.

Killed.

Killed.

I sit heavily on the edge of the bed and swallow back the hot, acid sting of bile.

If Reynard guesses the effect those words have had on me, he doesn’t mention it. He continues in the same monotone as before.

“Graduated Georgia State and entered the United States Marines. Seems your Mr. McLean excelled there. Commendations galore, rose rapidly through the ranks, selected for Special Ops, etcetera, etcetera… Oh, this is interesting. Areas of specialty include reconnaissance, close-quarter battle tactics, and edged weapons.”

“He’s a knife-fighting expert,” I say dully. “Why does God hate me, Reynard?”

“Again with the rhetorical questions. I wasn’t quite finished, my darling.”

I groan. “Don’t tell me there’s more.”

“You’ll love this. After aging out of Special Ops and leaving the corps, he was recruited to a private security firm—”

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