Murder Game Page 4

He took another deep, calming breath and stayed in the pool of sanity while insane emotions swirled and clamored and finally abated, leaving him whole again. He opened his eyes and smiled. The smile of a predator. He came to his feet, unexpectedly fluid for such a large man. His eyes found her once again. The shadows were just beginning to reach for the soft curves of her body.

He moved with sudden decision, finding the easiest way down the mountainside. It was steep and rocky and, as always in the mountains, deceptively longer than it seemed from a distance. It took some hunting to find the steep, narrow staircase that actually led to the secluded basin. He made his way down as quietly as he was able. He wanted to study her while she slept, just take his time and let the image of her burn into his memory for all eternity. He wouldn’t mind throwing one hell of a scare into her either.

Chapter 2

Kadan was careful not to allow his shadow to fall across Tansy Meadows’s body. The granite was smooth under his boots and made no sound to give him away. He stayed out of the wind just in case she possessed an enhanced sense of smell, and made certain he didn’t interrupt, even briefly, the flow of air moving around her body. GhostWalkers were all sensitive to the smallest change in the energy flowing around them. Meadows may not have been trained as a GhostWalker, but if she was enhanced, as he suspected, she would be a force to be reckoned with.

He scanned the surrounding area, searching for any weapon, anything she might use to defend herself. He frowned when he realized her clothes were neatly stacked some distance from where she was stretched out sleeping. A small dart gun was beside her clothes, up against a rock. Kadan eased his way, placing each foot carefully so as not to disturb loose rock, his body moving slow to keep the air still, and reached for the dart gun. For both of their safety, he slid the weapon into his belt. She should have held the gun under her palm where she could easily defend herself against a wild animal or a hunter. If she was a GhostWalker, her self-preservation instincts weren’t as good as they should be.

After satisfying himself there was nothing she could grab to cause either of them harm, he crouched down beside her. More than anything, he wanted to see her face. Up close she was breathtaking. Her skin looked so soft and warm, it took every ounce of his self-control to keep from touching her. Her hair was a mixture of true platinum and skeins of gold that spilled down her back and across the rock. Long lashes lay like crescents, feathery and thick. Her face was a small oval, her mouth full and inviting. He stifled the urge to bend down and wake her with a kiss. She was much smaller than he’d expected, but her legs were long, her bottom curved, and his body told him she would fit him like a glove.

His face was a few inches from hers when she opened her eyes to stare directly into his. Fear leapt, turned the deep blue of her eyes nearly violet with alarm. Her eyes glittered with a kind of reflective shine, and then she squinted, as if the light hurt them. She blinked once and her eyes were clear, cool, and assessing. She reached for her sunglasses and slid them onto the bridge of her nose with a casual haughtiness that told him she was a princess and he was a mere peasant.

Tansy opened her eyes from a peaceful dream and found herself staring into perfect cat’s eyes. Cold, unblinking, so dark blue they were almost black. Focused. She was looking into the eyes of a man who had killed often. Shaggy dark hair spilled across his forehead, touching a thin white scar that ran the length of a rough face that was all angles and planes. He looked weathered and all too dangerous. There was a shadow along his jaw as if he couldn’t be bothered to be civilized enough to shave. He wore no expression on his face at all, just that sweeping fixed stare, cool as a cat’s.

She lifted her chin a few inches, her lashes sweeping down to veil her expression before she put on her dark glasses. She made no attempt to cover her nudity because there was nothing she could do about it and she didn’t want to give him any more of an advantage by letting him see she felt vulnerable.

Rising with as much grace and dignity as she could manage, Tansy crossed to her neatly folded clothing. She had to brush past him, and he didn’t budge, his frame solid and muscular, his skin rubbing against hers and causing a brief frisson of awareness. Electricity zinged along her nerve endings and tiny wings took flight along her stomach. She could feel those blue-black eyes tracking her every step of the way. Tansy was eternally grateful she’d never cut her hair. The long length of it covered her bare bottom, giving her a false sense of security. She had no idea that the silky platinum and gold mass against her dark skin was provocative, and only served to give her an erotic, seductive appearance, emphasizing her curves.

Keeping her back to him, she pulled on her shirt and stepped into her jeans, taking several deep breaths to maintain control. Out of habit, Tansy wrapped the length of her hair several times and secured it at the back of her head with a large barrette. Surreptitiously, she looked around for her tranquilizer gun. It was not in the usual place by the jutting rock, which meant he probably had it. Squaring her shoulders, she turned to face the stranger.

He was a large, heavily muscled man. The sheer brute strength of him set her heart pounding. If she had to be caught naked, alone, in the middle of nowhere, why couldn’t that person have been some ninety-pound weakling? She feared more than the actual size of him. He exuded power from every pore. He looked dangerous in some way she couldn’t define. She might dismiss the impression of power by saying it was his looks, but she knew better. His features looked as if they could have been carved from stone, every bit as rugged as the granite surroundings. He wasn’t handsome—he was far too rough-cut for that. But he was striking in a scary way.

“I’m sorry I startled you.”

His voice was smooth black velvet, the devil’s tool and sarcastic as hell. Intense anger simmered below that smooth exterior. She touched her tongue to her lips, her only concession to nerves.

“It was time to wake up anyway.” She made herself shrug. “This is a private preserve and you aren’t allowed here.” He was military, not a hunter. His eyes were flat and hard and watchful—too watchful, as if he expected her to make a run for freedom. She shifted to the balls of her feet and turned slightly to angle her body toward his, presenting fewer targets should he attack.

“I came looking for you.”

Because she’d been so startled to wake up to him, she hadn’t registered until now that being in close proximity to him didn’t cause the headaches she’d suffered around other human beings—including her parents. The ravenous psychic energy that normally surrounded her when she was close to people wasn’t present. She felt the slight breeze, heard the continual call of birds, the buzzing of bees, but no whispers in her mind.

“You came looking for me?” she echoed, feeling a little lost. Her gaze flicked over him, taking everything in the way she did, her mind cataloguing the picture, referencing the scars along with his gear—especially the knife at his side.

He smiled as if to ease her fear. He looked like a mountain lion right before mealtime. “Let’s start again. I’m Kadan Montague.” Deliberately, his smile almost wolfish now, he held out his hand.

Automatic reflex was nearly her undoing. Right before his hand could envelop hers, Tansy stepped backward, both hands behind her back. She didn’t dare chance physical contact with him. Nor did she wish to get close enough if his intentions were to assault her.

His smile widened at her reaction, warmed the strange black eyes until they glittered like a cat’s at night. “You aren’t afraid of me.” He made it a statement.

Anyone with a brain would be afraid of him, especially a woman. This was a man’s man. There was nothing boyishly handsome in that rugged face. Nothing soft and gentle in those glittering eyes, but something else. What was it that both intrigued and repelled her?

“You caught me in a compromising position. You must admit it isn’t exactly a situation that would make a woman feel safe.”

Kadan studied her face—the flawless complexion, the full mouth, and the long, lush lashes—but it was her eyes that intrigued him most. There was no question that she was enhanced—he could feel the powerful psychic energy she gave off—but there was something more as well, something he’d not seen in other GhostWalkers before, and whatever the talent, it showed in her eyes. He had to resist reaching out to touch her soft expanse of skin. Twice now, her small white teeth had tugged thoughtfully at her lower lip, a habit he found sexy as hell. She wasn’t reading him, and that so rarely happened to her, he could tell she that she found the experience unsettling.

She had a little too much confidence in herself, which meant she had to have some defense training. Deliberately he allowed his gaze to drift over her body and then back up to her face. She controlled the blush, and that meant she had amazing discipline and command of her body. He sent up a silent prayer that he had the same discipline and command of his body. He needed to get his mind off all that skin, her sweet curves and that damned pouty lower lip.

“What is it you want, Mr. . . .”

“Kadan,” he interrupted. He kept his voice soft, but he poured steel into it. She was looking at him with those enormous blue-violet eyes, and the strange little shimmer unsettled his belly and tightened his groin. He damn well wasn’t going to be the one out of control.

“I don’t know you well enough to call you by your first name.” She said it primly as she moved to her left, toward the natural rock staircase that led away from the basin.

Kadan kept pace, matching her shorter strides perfectly, as if they were slow dancing together. He crowded her personal space just a little, testing to see how she would react.

She stopped abruptly, but didn’t move out of his strike range. “Are you purposely trying to intimidate me?”

He let a brief smile curve his mouth, giving her a short glimpse of bare teeth. “You should be intimidated. What the hell were you thinking, going to sleep out in the open without a stitch on and no weapon close to you?” He kept his voice controlled, but there was a whip in his tone, and she flinched under it.

“I’m well aware it wasn’t smart. I’ve been out here for some time and got careless.”

There was something in her tone that irritated him—no remorse, not an apology, just an acceptance of stupidity. Stupidity got a person killed. One moment of inattention could kill an entire team. He crowded her a little more, wanting her scared, because in spite of that flinch, there was no fear in her eyes.

Tansy let him come near her, not once looking at the knife in the scabbard on his belt. There was no safety thong tying down the hilt, she’d already ascertained that, and the moment he got close enough, she struck, spinning, hand going for the weapon in a blur of speed and moving away just as fast. Except . . . she didn’t go anywhere. His hand clamped down on hers, capturing her fist around the hilt, his strength enormous, refusing to allow her to draw the weapon and pinning her in place. He held her rigid against his body, one arm locked around her throat, the other keeping her fist tight around the knife.

“What do we do now?” he asked, his voice low. Her scent filled his mind and body. Cinnamon. She smelled all woman and cinnamon—a lure that refused to let him go—and his body responded. Hell, he was past caring that she knew, not the way her soft body was molded against his.

She swallowed. He felt the movement against his forearm, but there was no panic, no struggle. She even relaxed into him, her free hand coming up to hook into the crook of his elbow, one finger pressed lightly against his pressure point, and that told him a lot about her.

“Now you let go of me.”

Tansy should have been concentrating on getting free. Her mind and body should have been waiting for a moment when she could break loose, but her hand was wrapped around the hilt of a knife—one that was not new, but had gone into combat with this man and surely had been used. She didn’t feel anything—nothing at all. There were no whispers to taunt and torment her, no tunnel sucking her in, no black oily void to drag her under and suffocate her. She’d never been this close to anyone—not even her parents—without having something rippling in her mind. She was so astonished she could barely remember she was standing in the grip of an enormously strong stranger with no one around to help if she couldn’t control the situation.

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