Inaugural test spin of a (hopefully weekly) new blog feature! For those of you who are keeping up with me on Facebook, most of these small snippets, cookies, excerpts etc are probably familiar to you. Even there however some of these bits were added in comments and may have been overlooked, so here they all are, in one place for easy reference!
(Funny fact: this was supposed to be Snippet Sunday but, hah, I couldn’t wait until tomorrow. 😉 )
I cringed back as he reached for me, prepared to fight tooth and nail, but Lucas stepped forward between us. He moved so quickly I didn’t even see him pull the gun until it was already under Niall’s chin. The big Australian jerked to a stop, rage and sudden fear bursting from his face as he glared at Lucas.
“Ms. Delacourt stays with me.” There was nothing jovial about Lucas’ voice now as he leaned in close to the other man’s face. “My ship, my rules. Do I make myself clear, Mr. Jackson?”
Niall looked like he was sucking on a lemon. Behind him, his men had their guns trained on Lucas and I, and I prayed the gunrunner knew what he was doing.
“They’ll kill you and the girl,” Niall hissed, then grunted as Lucas pushed the gun harder against the tender flesh of his chin.
“Perhaps.” Lucas smiled, a hint of amusement in his tone. “But you’ll still be dead.”
“I’m curious,” Lucas said as if I hadn’t spoken, “what my brother saw in you.”
My smile vanished, as did any patience for dealing with the man in front of me. “You can leave now,” I said, marching across the room and opening the door. “I’d like…”
I broke off in surprise as I turned to see him standing only inches behind me; I hadn’t even heard him move. Startled, I moved back a step and came up flush against the wall between the bathroom and bedroom doors. Lucas stepped forward, far too close for my comfort, and I put a hand against his chest to keep him back.
It was a curious thing, having a man this beautiful standing so close. The smell of alcohol coming from his direction was more like a faint cologne, not at all the cloying odor I would have expected. Beneath my hand, I felt the play of muscles beneath warm skin and silk, and I swallowed.
Fingers pushed a strand of hair out of my face, running along my brow, and I shivered. I pressed back against the wall and he followed, my hand the only thing keeping him at bay. “You’re beautiful,” he murmured, dipping his face down near my temple. Warm breath flowed against my cheek. “And smart. And fearless. Is that what my brother saw?”
A high pitch shrieking woke me from a fitful slumber.
Jolted awake, I scrabbled at my sheets, groping for the edge of the bed. The ground was further away than I thought and I almost tripped as I leaped to my feet, but managed to stay upright as I stumbled to the doorway. Ripping it open, I immediately smelled smoke, and raced toward the stairs, not knowing what to expect.
Lucas looked up at me from the kitchen. Sunglasses covered his eyes, but he gave me a bright smile. “Good morning, sunshine. I’m making some breakfast, care to join?” He had a fork in one hand and an unplugged toaster, the reason for the fire alarm, under his other arm. He set the chrome appliance back onto the counter at my incredulous stare. “How about eggs?” he said, moving over to the refrigerator.
It amazed me how different the two men were. Jeremiah had the broody, tortured thing going for him, while Lucas… I wasn’t sure. He held a different type of mask in place, one that I found hard to pierce. There wasn’t much brooding here, at least not on the surface; his lips seemed locked in a Joker-like smile, as if sarcasm and pleasantries could keep people away.
As much as I enjoyed puzzles, the Hamilton men were a bit out of my league.
“Did you love her?” I asked bluntly, aware of the awkward direction our conversation was taking.
He started to say something, then paused. “Maybe once,” he murmured, not appearing to think this was an odd discussion topic given our current situation. “When I first met her, she was young and naïve. I was angry and selfish; stealing her away from my brother was a way to get back at him for taking over my life.” He sighed, staring blankly beside me. “Times change. People change. I didn’t do enough to keep Anya sheltered from this lifestyle, and now she’s dead.” He met my eyes again. “What about Jeremiah? Do you love him?”
“I…” My heart clenched painfully. “I thought I did.” Right now, my opinions about Jeremiah were all jumbled, due in no small part to the man lying atop me. “He saved my life.”
“I saved your life too. Twice.”
I winced at the reminder, hand going to the bandage at my throat. “Yeah.” A lump formed in my throat and I screwed my face up against tears. “That was the first time I’d said those words to anyone since my parents died,” I mumbled, “and he called them “platitudes”.” The memory was powerful enough to pierce my heart again.
“My brother is an idiot.” Lucas said it in a matter of fact way, like he was talking about the weather. Then he sighed. “Love is a fickle and cruel mistress. Confusing as hell too.”
Jeremiah grunted, and when he shifted I became aware of his proximity. As much as I wanted desperately to touch him, there might as well have been a wall between us. He was less than five feet away from me, but neither one of us would take that first step. Finally, Jeremiah spoke. “When I heard they’d found one of my drivers tied up in the bunkhouse, I knew something had happened. When I was told you weren’t in the house, then Jared was found unconscious, I couldn’t…”
Jeremiah cut himself off, and I saw a myriad of emotions race across his face. The stoic mask was gone, and he seemed to struggle with his next words. “By the time we started tracking the car, it had already stopped moving, and when we got there everyone inside was gone. You were gone.”
“So what did you do?” I whispered, scarcely able to breathe.
He stared down at me, green eyes bright in the dim light. “Moved heaven and earth.”
Stay tuned for more next week!! 😀