Aidan took a half second to react, just enough time for me to take a deep breath. The monster picked itself off the ground, sharp teeth flashing in the moonlight, and headed back for us.
By the time the paramedics said it was okay for me to leave, the goblin’s gooey blood had crusted on my clothes, my hands, and my hair. I gave a quick summary to the lieutenant over the phone, and told him I’d file my official report after a shower and a good night’s sleep. He objected—but not strenuously—so I considered that close enough to agreement.
“Can I drive you home?” Aidan asked, as I walked away from the goblin house. He’d disappeared before backup arrived, saying he didn’t want to steal my thunder. I suspected it was more because he didn’t want to fill out the associated paperwork, but I respected his wish. He’d helped me, after all. I could still change my mind when I filed my official report. Probably.
“I can drive myself, thank you very much,” I said.
“Well I just thought you might not want your car to smell like goblin innards for the next few months.”
I looked down at my clothes and frowned. Getting goblin stench out of my car would be a challenge. I wished I’d remembered their tendency to explode when exposed to banshee screams, but it wasn’t like I ran into goblins every day.
Aidan shook his keys at me. “It’s a rental.” He grinned.
“Fine. Thanks.” Freaking goblins. I’d never run into one before, they were technically endangered. Hell, if a species as rare as a goblin could show up in a residential neighborhood so close to Chicago, wasn’t it possible for something like an incubus to still be around? Granted, goblins weren’t exactly extinct, but they were very rare. If someone had asked me a week before what the chances were of a goblin showing up where this one had, I would have said the chances were nil.
Trudging to Aidan’s Jeep, I struggled to find a point of conversation that didn’t make me sound like a pathetic little girl who’d been sad to wake up to find the guy she’d just had fan-freaking-tastic sex with gone, without a word. Nothing came to mind, so I settled for saying nothing at all.
“Look,” he began. “About this morning—”
“Don’t worry about it. I don’t need an explanation. I’m a big girl. I didn’t expect to wake up to roses and a wedding ring.” A note would have been nice though, jerk. “How did you even find me? What, are you following me again?”
Aidan started to speak, glanced at my face, and closed his mouth. Guess I didn’t look particularly open to conversation. “I heard the call come in over the radio,” he said, finally.
I glanced at the portable he had propped between the seats of the car. Just my luck he’d be the first on the scene. A couple of patrol cars responded not long after Aidan, but by then the goblin had been spread over every surface of the scene.
“So this morning—”
“I said don’t worry about it,” I muttered through gritted teeth.
He took a deep breath and turned his attention to the dark scenery flying by his window. Fine with me.
When we pulled into my driveway I muttered, “Thanks.” I opened the car door, intent on getting out of the uncomfortable situation as quickly as I could.
“Kiera,” he said. “Can I use your shower?”
“The OWEA too cheap to get their agents hotel rooms now?”
“I checked out this morning. My boss is convinced the incubus has moved on. He’s done it before. It’s too dangerous for him here now.”
“Fine.” That bastard better not have moved on. I wasn’t done with him yet, not even close. “But I don’t have any clothes that’ll fit you. You’re not putting goblin blood–covered stuff in my washing machine.”
He grimaced. “My suitcase is in the back. I’m thinking I’ll burn these.”
“Probably a good idea.”
I only had one full bathroom in my house, and guest or no, I got the first shower. Besides, he wasn’t exactly an invited guest, more of an unwanted refugee. While I got dressed, Aidan used the shower. I took both of our sets of clothes and sealed them in plastic bags, and then put those in a garbage bag before tossing them in my trash bin. Goblin blood could be corrosive given enough time to work at the material, and I didn’t want it damaging my garbage bin. Not to mention the smell. I didn’t have a place readily available to burn the material, so the trash people would have to deal with it.
“How are your ears?” I asked from my favorite spot on the couch, when he appeared from the shower, freshly dressed and once again drop-dead gorgeous.
“Still ringing a bit, but not bad.”
I didn’t want to talk about the fact that I was a banshee. I was too damn tired. It would bother him or not, his choice. Besides, he knew about my…heritage before he slept with me.
“About this morning—”
“I said don’t worry about it.” I couldn’t keep the pissy tone from my voice.
“Let me finish,” he said, clenching his fists to his sides. “It’s been…a really long time since I’ve done anything close to a relationship. I usually keep things…simple.”
“What does that even mean? Simple as in no sex life or simple as in sex with random strangers you never have to see again?”
The expression on his face told me all I needed to know. I turned away from him, crossing my arms. I was such a freaking idiot. He touched my shoulder and I stood up and stepped away. I didn’t want him touching me. It screwed up my ability to think rationally.
“It’s not simple with you, Kiera,” he whispered.
“Well, sorry I screwed up your normal plan. Don’t worry. I get it. I wouldn’t want to complicate your life.” I heard my voice catch. Mortified, I felt tears burn behind my eyes and a lump build in my throat. What the hell was wrong with me?
He moved behind me. Then he wrapped his arms tightly around me, pressing my back to his chest. His face was next to my ear. He took a deep breath, smelling my hair. It took every ounce of will I possessed not to relax and lean into him.
“I’m not a free man at the moment, Kiera, not until I catch this bastard. It keeps me from making promises—promises I want to keep.” His voice was low, just above a whisper.
Then, his warmth moved from my back. The sound of cabinets opening and shutting came from the kitchen. I hugged myself, not sure how to feel.
He peeked around the doorway, coffee tin in hand. “I think we should hit up that bar, Sylvester’s, tonight. If he’s still in town, he might be hunting there.”
“That doesn’t make sense. Why wouldn’t he move on to a new place? He’s been seen there.”
“This killer likes to hunt in familiar territory. If he’s still in town, I think he’ll be there. If not tonight, soon.” He disappeared back into the kitchen.
“I don’t remember you mentioning that tidbit when we covered what little info you have on this guy.”
Aidan reappeared from the kitchen and shrugged. “Thought I did.”
“And I thought you were headed out of town.”
“Think I’ll stick around for a day or two. I’m not convinced this guy has moved on.”
“You’re not staying here,” I snapped.
“I didn’t plan on it.” Irritation laced his tone. “But we can at least check out the bar together.”
I sighed and pushed myself up from the couch. Who needed sleep?
Sylvester’s at night confirmed my opinion that the dive was a bar masquerading as a club. While the dance floor overflowed with half-dressed college-aged kids, the majority of their customers was older, and nursed their drinks at the bar. A few people stuck to the pool tables, and guarded them from interlopers seeking to interrupt their stream of games. The music was loud, but not so loud the folks at the tables couldn’t have conversations. The place had a skeezy vibe, one that would have remained even without the 1970s decor.
Aidan followed me to one of the tables, taking the chair next to mine, and set his facing the entrance. I sat so I could keep an eye on the door, which was no doubt the same reason he chose the far side of the table as well. Not because he actually wanted to sit next to me. I pushed down a wave of irritation.
The car ride over had been uncomfortable, but at least the music covered up our lack of conversation. I spotted Kimmy and waved. She frowned, grabbed a couple of drinks off the bar, and disappeared, heading toward the tables on the other side of the dance floor.
A waitress stopped by our table and took our order. Her gaze lingered on Aidan, annoying me enough to give her a dirty look. When I glanced back at Aidan, he grinned at me.
“So the blonde is the owner’s daughter?” he asked.
“She’s the one who saw Amanda and Claire Simons here with the incubus.”
He did a quick check over his shoulder. “Doesn’t seem like she wants to talk to you.”
As our waitress approached with our beers, I touched her arm and motioned for her to come closer. When she leaned in, I said, “Tell Kimmy if she doesn’t get her ass over here, I’m coming to get her.”
The girl’s eyes widened and she nodded. She pulled away from me and trucked back to where Kimmy stood, apparently forgetting to deliver the other drinks on her platter. As soon as she got to the bar, she grabbed Kimmy and said something in her ear, pointing at me. Kimmy looked over and I waved, giving her what Amanda used to call my scary grin.
Kimmy frowned and stomped over to our table. When she saw Aidan, she took a quick step back, her eyes wide. Then, shaking her head, she turned her attention to me, shooting the occasional glance at Aidan.
“What?” she said, not even attempting civility.
“Wow, aren’t we in a mood today,” I said, looking from her to Aidan. She’d recovered nicely, but his body was still tense, and he stared at her as if expecting her to pull a gun. “You guys know each other?” I asked