“No, it’s what people do when somebody knocks on it.” She frowned and threw back the covers.

Now that he thought about it, his head wasn’t actually pounding, his eyes didn’t feel like someone was stabbing him in them, nor was his mouth all cottony. Actually he felt amazing. He tossed the pillow across the room.

Someone pounded on the door again.

He winced. “That’ll wake up Ivy, inconsiderate ass.”

“I hope not. I was up with her a couple of hours ago.” She waved her hand. “I put the baby monitor over there. So far, so good.”

Sasha tugged on her arm. “Get over here and warm me, woman.” The doorbell rang and he let go of her. “That had better be someone with a check for millions,” he grumbled.

“I’ll get it.” She rose from the bed, a goddess of the morning with black curls streaming down her back and pale skin revealed with movement. Her perfect br**sts bounced as she grabbed the quilt from the end of the bed and wrapped it around her.

“Not in that you’re not.” He jumped up from the bed and scooped Rose up, quilt and all.

“Put me down,” she laughingly protested.

She felt so right in his arms, so good and as she gazed up at him, her blue eyes radiated happiness. “Never. I quite like sweeping you off your feet,” he teased.

The pounding on the door started up again and he rolled his eyes. “I’ll get it.”

“I’m a grown woman.”

He gazed appreciatively at her. “I’m well aware of that.”

She blushed and wrapped her arms around his neck. The quilt dipped lower, exposing her cherry-red ni**les to the room and him. “I can also open doors without help.”

Lowering her to the bed, he nuzzled the valley between her br**sts. “Let’s ignore them, shall we?” He tongued the tip of one, then placed an open mouth over it and began to lightly tug.

“Sasha, please…” She grabbed his head, but he noticed that she didn’t stop him. The pounding started up again. “Sasha, it’ll wake up the baby.”

Kissing her breast one last time, he stood and strode to the window. He shoved it open and yelled, “Who goes there?”

“What are you doing?”

“Circumventing leaving this room while finding out who our would be invader is.” When no answer came, he smiled and gestured to the window. “Now aren’t you glad we didn’t leave?”

“I need to speak with Rose,” a voice called from below. “This is Sheriff Turner.”

The cross seemed to burn against his skin. Not this. Not now. They were supposed to wait until after he’d sent the samples to his uncle.

Rose bolted upright in bed. “Oh God, something must be wrong with Skye or Summer.” She shoved past him and out of the room.

“Fuck my life.” Sasha took off after her, then had to turn back around, because he was stark naked. He quickly located a pair of pants and ran down the hall, desperate to reach Rose.

He could barely make out what the sheriff was saying as he drew closer.

“Grace period’s run out, Rose…”

The wind picked up as Turner handed her a large manila envelope. “You’ve got the weekend to vacate the property.”

“Foreclosure? B-but Lorelei agreed to an installment plan. I’m supposed to sign the papers and make the first payment today. Aren’t there procedures for this? I thought we’d go to court or something.”

Son of a bitch. The urge to pick up a rock and hurl it at the Sheriff’s mouth to shut him up nearly overwhelmed him. Sasha jogged down the stairs, not missing the death glare from David Turner at his appearance.

“Sorry, honey.” Turner shifted his stance. “I volunteered to bring it out to you. Jason Everett tried to talk one of the new boys into letting him ride along, but I persuaded them otherwise.”

“What about my store?”

The sheriff’s face flushed and his eyes narrowed in on Sasha. “The Powers That Be haven’t gotten around to that piece of business, yet.”

Rose turned to look at Sasha, black curls whipping around her lovely face. She fisted the quilt tighter in her hand. “Did you know about this?”

“Know about it?” the sheriff said with a harsh laugh. “According to Everett, Romanov gave Harrison and him pointers on how to get you out faster.”

“You helped them?” Devastation filled her eyes, crippling him. “I can’t believe I fell—” Her mouth snapped shut.

There was nothing Sasha could say to defend himself. It was better this way. Last night had been a mistake of epic proportions. And this morning had almost been a repeat. A brief journey into insanity.

She squared her shoulders and turned back to the sheriff. “I’m glad you were the one to give me the news, David.”

“Rose, if you and the little one need a place to stay, Missy and I have an extra room. No charge and no time limit,” Turner said. The walkie-talkie secured at his shoulder went off. He leaned his head down and spoke to the dispatcher.

“Tell Missy thank you, but I’ve got a place.”

“Where’s that? I heard you’ve got the apartment over your store rented.”

“I’d rather not say.” Slowly, she turned and walked away from them. Her hair slid forward as she brushed past Sasha, hiding her face.

Sasha clenched his hands into fists, watching as she shuffled up the stairs.

Once Rose was out of earshot, he stepped in the doorway and scowled at the Sheriff. “Prepositions not your strong point? You weren’t supposed to serve Ms. Holland until after the samples were sent off. Not before.”

“I didn’t have a choice in the matter, you cold-hearted son of a bitch.” The sheriff crossed his arms and cocked his head to one side. “Ms. Holland, my ass. If I could arrest you for taking advantage of her, I would.”

Sasha looked down his nose and a raindrop hit him on the cheek. “Careful there, Sheriff. Would hate to see you out of a job.”

“One day men like you will get exactly what they deserve. And I hope to God I’m around to see it.” The sheriff jogged down the stairs and got back in his patrol car.

One day? The man just had a front row seat.

The car disappeared in the curve. It began to rain harder, the tops of pine trees lining the road swaying from side to side.

Sasha closed the door and ran up the stairs, nearly stumbling into Blackbeard.

The beast hissed at him.

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