He didn’t move.
She pushed harder, letting some of her enhanced strength flex. “Let me go.”
His head rose and he stared down at her with eyes shining brightly. So blue it almost hurt to look into them.
“Shifter.” He said this again, but it wasn’t so much a question. Too certain. “I can see it in your eyes.”
No, no that couldn’t be possible. She always controlled her body. No claws. No glowing eyes. No too-sharp teeth. The guy was guessing, trying to trip her up.
“Sweet little shifter. You can’t hide your beast from me.”
There was no beast. “Let. Me. Go.” Her voice was huskier than she would have liked, but she meant the words. Being near him right then, not really an option.
Running, yeah, that was the best option. Not because she was afraid, but—
Shit, okay, she was afraid.
So there were a few things that scared her.
Jude dropped his hold.
Erin spun around and fumbled with the door. Her purse, all but forgotten, banged against her hip. Then she was outside, stumbling onto the porch and putting some much needed space between them.
Now if her heart would just slow its frantic beat.
“This isn’t over.” His voice followed her down the steps.
“Damn right.” She tossed him a glare over her shoulder. “You’ve got to find my killer—”
“Not that.” His steps were slow and heavy on the porch. “Us. We’re not over. We’re just getting started.” He licked his lips. “I can still taste you.”
She could taste him. And her panties were wet. Just from a kiss.
What would happen when they were both naked?
She would not find out.
“We’re gonna happen, sweetheart. Deal with it.”
“No, we’re not.” Some temptations had to be denied. “You deal with that. ” She opened her car door and climbed inside.
“Why do you hide your animal side?” He raised a hand to his shoulder and ran his fingertips over the small wounds that she could see even in the dim light from the porch.
Because some of her senses were enhanced, too.
She’d marked him. The way of the beast.
“I have no animal side,” she said quietly.
“Bullshit. There’s an animal in you, just growling to get out.” He motioned to the wild land around them. “Wanna shift and run with me?”
Ice froze her blood. “You’re mistaken about me, Donovan.” Flawed. Broken. “There’s no animal inside for you to play with—sorry.” Then she slammed her door. Seconds later, she shoved the gear shift into reverse and spun out of his drive.
Some temptations had to be denied.
No matter how much pleasure they promised.
He was dreaming about her when the phone rang. A hot, sexy dream that had him aching. Erin wore two thin strips of black lace. Her eyes were shining. Her lips moist.
She wanted him.
His hands couldn’t touch her enough. Couldn’t enjoy the feel of that satiny skin enough and—
And then the phone rang.
Jude reached for the receiver near his bed, ready to give someone a serious ass-chewing. “What the hell do you—”
“Jude.” Erin’s voice.
Not breathy with desire like in his fading dream. Sharper, tinged with fear.
The lady had said she didn’t fear much.
Jude sat up in an instant and his fingers tightened around the phone. “What’s wrong?” A call in the middle of the night was never a good thing.
“I need you.”
Okay, she’d said that in his dream, but not quite the same way.
“408 St. Charles Avenue. Come as fast as you can, okay?”
For one second, two, he stared down at the phone.
Then he ran for the door.
Because Erin was afraid.
There weren’t any police cars in front of the old house on St. Charles. No swirling blue lights.
Jude had expected to see them, or at least some sign of trouble.
The antebellum house sat quietly, time having ravaged the once beautiful frame. Azaleas did their part to hide the house, nestling it in perfumed security from curious eyes. But the beauty of the place had faded and only a whisper of glory remained.
A fixer-upper. There were plenty of old houses like it in the city.
But only one that had his Erin inside.
Jude’s gaze scanned the yard. His nostrils twitched. There was another scent in the air. Heavy. Drifting just under the azaleas and their sweet fragrance.
He bounded up the steps and shoved open the door.
And slammed into Erin.
They fell to the floor in a tangle of limbs and a cloud of curses. He tried to spin to protect her from the fall—and his weight—but it was too late.
They hit hard.
She didn’t even flinch.
Her golden eyes met his and Jude tried not to notice just how incredibly good she felt beneath him. Tried, failed.
Her breasts were crushed beneath his chest. Her thighs were spread, cradling his hips in just the, oh yeah, right way.
If the scent of blood weren’t clogging up his nostrils, he sure as all hell would’ve enjoyed the moment.
He levered up onto his forearms. “What the fuck is going on, Erin?”
She licked her lips. “Get up.”
No. Dammit. He wanted to stay exactly where he was.
And he wanted to find out why there were shadows in her eyes.
He got up.
Erin exhaled. “I—this has to stay between us, okay?”
Jude blinked. “What has to stay between us?” He had a real bad feeling about this situation, and much as he liked the sexy ADA and wanted to get her naked, he wasn’t about to break the law for her.
Well, he wouldn’t break it much for her. A little bending, he’d do that.
His nostrils twitched again.
That was human blood.
Shit. Wary now, he kept a close watch on Erin as she rose to her feet. She still wore the sexy blouse from earlier. Her makeup was gone. Faint brown smudges were under her eyes.
He could all but smell the fear dripping off her.
“I thought you didn’t scare.”
She gave a rough laugh at that, kind of a desperate sound. Her fingers raked through her black hair. “No, hunter, I said there wasn’t much that scares me. He does.”
Jude tensed. “Someone else is here?” He didn’t smell him. Just that thick blood, coating every breath he took.
The animal inside loved the scent of blood. It was a response Jude couldn’t control. Primal.
Like the response he felt for Erin.
But the man knew the coppery scent was bad. Trouble.
“Not anymore,” she whispered. “He’s…gone.”
Jude’s hands fisted. His gaze swept the room. Caught sight of the old staircase, twisting up to the next level. To the left, he saw the gleaming wooden floors and the oversized doors that led out of the parlor. Doors that were firmly shut.
“I-I went back to the police station after I left your place. I needed to talk to Antonio and find out what the ME had to say about Burrows.” The words came out fast. “I was tired when I got back and didn’t even notice the smell until—” Her gaze darted to the left, to the white doors.
He crossed the room, body alert. His fingers curled over the old door knobs—two doors, French style. He wrenched them open, ready for any threat.
The lights were on in the other room. Bright and stark. Shining perfectly on the bloody message that had been left on the far wall.
The blood had trickled down, blurring some of the letters a bit, but the message was clear.
What the fuck? His growl filled the room.
This shit was twisted. “You searched the house?” Sprawling places like this one had too many rooms and far too many places for someone to hide.
With his nose…no one would hide from him.
He spun around, ready to stalk from top to bottom and—
She caught his arm. “I told you, no one else is here.” Plump lips tightened. “The bastard delivered his message and ran.”
“Some message.” Not every day a woman got a love letter in blood.
Her fingers tightened around him. “I need your help.”
“You need the cops. What the hell? You’ve got some psycho ex-lover stalking you—” With freaking blood.
“Not my lover.” She shook her head. “Never that.”
“Call. The. Cops.”
“Some jobs aren’t meant for the cops.”
“And some are, sweetheart. You’re an ADA—you know this shit.” She should. But he’d worked with victims before, and he knew that even the professionals would forget the rules when the deadly games became personal. “Erin, when someone breaks into your house and leaves—”
“He’s Other. ”
He’d figured that. Well, either Other or seriously fucked up human.
Seriously fucked up Other.
“The cops can still track him.”
“No one can track him. The bastard’s too good at hiding.” She exhaled, and, for a moment, he thought he saw…calculation in her gaze.
Be careful with the ladies, Jude. You can’t always trust a pretty face.
His grandfather’s warning. Given right before his senior prom, the night Susie Jo Hill had left him on the dance floor to make out with the quarterback.
He’d pounded the quarterback and come away with the scar on his lip, courtesy of a big-ass class ring and a lucky punch.
Then he’d left a furious Susie Jo shouting on her doorstep.
Erin was no Susie Jo. She was something much, much more dangerous.
Her hand fell away from him and damn if he didn’t miss her touch.
“I’ve got a stalker, Jude. A guy who has been trailing me and making my life hell for the last year.” Her eyes held his.
A stab of pain in his palms made him realize that his claws were out. He unfisted his hands and the claws sprang to their full length.
Erin didn’t so much as blink.
“I came here to get away from him,” she said. Her shoulders were straight, her chin up, but she still looked vulnerable.
And that made him want to roar with fury.
“He scares me. I’ve caught his scent before. This isn’t the first time he’s come inside my home. He’s a shifter, I know that much.”
A shifter. Like me.
No wonder the lady hadn’t been so wild about gettin’ down and dirty with him.
“I-I don’t know where he got the blood.” She glanced over her shoulder at the painted wall and shuddered. “What if he hurt someone? What if…”
Oh, the odds were good that he had. “We’ve got to bring Antonio in on this.” That much blood, yeah, someone had been hurt. “It’s human blood.”
Her gaze darted back to his. “I know.” Whispered. And she looked like she was going to be sick right then. Her hand rose to her mouth and she paled.
She shook her head, sending silky locks tossing back and forth. After a moment, her hand dropped. “He thinks he’s giving me a present, don’t you see? A gift. But I’m—I’m not like him.” You. Her eyes said it, even if her mouth didn’t. “The blood sickens me.”
A human reaction.
But he could have sworn she was a shifter.
No, no, dammit, he knew she was a shifter. The beast inside recognized her.
But shifters loved blood.
“I can’t stand the smell,” she whispered and stormed back into the parlor. “I hate it.”
Pretty unusual shifter reaction.
He followed her, closing the doors with a quiet squeak. He needed to get a blood analyst in there, right away. Because he was getting a really dark, sick suspicion.
Who’d bled out so nicely less than twelve hours before?
Antonio had taken Jude back to the crime scene at the station, after Erin had hightailed it to the DA’s office.
He’d seen Burrows. Seen the pooled blood on the floor.
But maybe, just maybe, some of that dark blood had left the holding area.
Judging by the way the letters had dripped on the wall, the killer would have needed to come straight to Erin’s house after the murder. The blood must have been used when it was fresh.
The Slasher’s blood?
Not likely, of course. Could be from some other poor bastard. Then they’d have two sick shifters on the loose.
But he couldn’t discount the connection. This whole mess was too screwed up. And it set his teeth on edge.
The stalker bastard had frightened Erin, had been frightening her. Not an acceptable situation.
The guy had broken into her house. He could have so easily gotten to her— hurt her.
Jude’s teeth began to burn and lengthen. The claws were already out, time for the fangs.
And time to rip a shifter asshole apart.
At least the police had come quietly. No screaming sirens. No flashing lights. Just two silent black vans. One patrol car. And Antonio, in a red sports car.
Erin paced the length of her porch as she watched the crime scene team file into her house. The night was hot, humid as all hell, but goosebumps covered her arms.
Dammit. She’d flushed her old life down the toilet for some freedom, but he’d found her.
Now he was back to playing his sickass games with her.
“What the hell were you thinking?” A hard bark of fury.