I wake with a start, gasping as I sit up at the sound of LeFou barking his little face off from his crate in the living room. What the heck? He’s pretty quiet at night, aside from his compulsive licking—hence why he doesn’t sleep in bed with me. So what in the world is the little guy freaking out about?
There’s a short lull in the high-pitched yapping as the Chihuahua catches his breath, in which I hear movement and a muffled thud—my window shutting?—before his barking continues, more frantic this time.
I shake off my grogginess. I had just gone to sleep after peeling myself out of one of the sweet black catsuits July—my business partner-slash-BFF—and I wore on our stakeout. With all the excitement of the night, I’d fallen asleep before my head hit the pillow. Reaching into the middle drawer of my nightstand, I pull out my .38 revolver, silently standing in my bare feet as my heart thuds inside my ribcage. I pull the hammer back slowly, as quietly as I can, the weapon feeling comfortable in my capable hands. A membership at the local shooting range, which I visit three times a week to blow off steam using paper targets, insures I’m a damn good shot and not squeamish around my handgun, one I’ve owned for several years but have luckily never had to use in a real life situation.
Between LeFou’s incessant yapping, I hear the floorboards in my living room creek, and I press my back to the wall beside my bedroom door. Carefully, I look around the doorjamb, peeking down the hall of my apartment to see if I can spot whatever is causing my dog to bark.
There, beside my couch dimly lit only by the moonlight shining in through the windows, is a hulking figure. I hold back a gasp, my heart picking up its pace as I take in the sheer size of whoever is in my apartment uninvited.
Is this one of the guys Wes was warning July and me about? Is this why he got so pissed we went on our stakeout and followed the guy to Momma’s Country bar? I mean, what did he expect us to do? We finally caught whoever it was leaving those fighting dogs at our vet clinic. Surely he didn’t think we wouldn’t follow him? We had questions. We wanted to know who it was fighting the poor creatures so we could stop them. We also wanted to know why he kept bringing them to us when it was already too late for most of them.
“Shut the fuck up,” comes the deep voice I barely make out over my pulse in my ears, and to my surprise, LeFou stops barking.
I frown. Nobody talks to my freaking dog like that. Poor fella had been through enough in his hard little life before I adopted him from our clinic. No stupid intruder is going to hurt his feelings, my protective, noble, little steed.
I step out into my hallway, raise my gun to aim at his head, but at the last minute, I aim lower and to the right, squeezing the trigger. With my adrenaline pumping and my heart beating so loudly, the gun going off barely makes me flinch. Neither does the grunt that leaves the giant man’s throat as he stumbles backward at the shot to his shoulder.
“Kitten.” The intruder sounds… hurt? Betrayed? And why the hell did he say—
Oh no no no no no.
I slap my arm against the wall of the hallway and swish my hand around until my finger catches the light switch, and I flip it upward. When light fills the small room, my jaw drops as I take in Z’s tall body taking up most of the space in my living room. He immediately looks down at his shoulder, then turns to glance behind him. My eyes follow the direction in which he’s looking, and I see the bullet must’ve gone straight through and imbedded in my wall. Thank goodness no one lives in the other half of my duplex and I don’t have neighbors for miles. I won’t have to worry about someone calling the cops about a gunshot— Oh shit.
“Oh shit!” I start to panic, rushing toward Z. “Oh my God, I shot you! Now I’m gonna go to jail. I won’t survive jail! Look at me!” I gesture to my small yet curvy body with my revolver, forgetting it was in my hand.
When his eyes roam over me, heat instantly filling them as he pulls his full bottom lip between his teeth, I glance down at myself.
Of course I’m naked. Those catsuits left nothing to the imagination and you could see every nook, cranny, and bump. Not even Spanx would’ve worked underneath, because you could’ve seen where the spandex stopped around your ribs and thighs. So I went au naturel, and only took the time to strip before collapsing in bed.