One whole year had passed since Hugh had been put into the ground, and during that time, Alice had stayed faithful. No other men. No lovers at all.
Until the one-year anniversary.
Until he’d gone to her cabin, ready to see her. Ready to touch her. Finally, ready to take what should have always been his.
He’d watched her. She’d had that fool in her cabin earlier that night, but she’d sent him away. The agent who lied to her. The agent who’d pretended to be someone else.
She’d sent him away.
“Me, asshole. She was with me.” Special Agent Zander Todd’s voice rang in his head again.
Alice had gone to Zander Todd. She’d rushed to him in the storm. She’d spent the night with him.
She’d been so perfect. He’d thought she was different. That she could be trusted. That she was going to be his.
He glanced down at the knife in his hand. The blade gleamed, sharp and long.
Alice, you should have been perfect.
The old floor groaned beneath his feet as he made his way to the bedroom. His right hand clenched tightly around the knife, and his left rose to close around the handle of the bedroom door. The door slid open with a squeak, and there she was.
Younger than Alice. Smaller.
But he could imagine…as he’d done with the others…he could see his Alice in her… “Why the fuck did you go to him?”
Her eyes widened.
“You were meant for me.” He rushed toward the bed.
“He’s obsessed.” Zander stared down at her with his dark, stormy eyes. “Don’t you see that? Come on, Alice. They all look like you. The Secret Admirer killings started when Hugh met you. Those women died—”
“Because they looked like me.” Her breath came too fast. Her heart raced in her chest. “Yes, I know that.” And it tore her apart. “That’s why I’m going to make the trade. I’m sick of people dying in my place. It has to stop.” Her voice rose with each word. Her control—the careful control that she’d kept so tightly for the last year—was shredding around her. “No one else is going to die for me. When he calls, I’ll get a location. I’ll go to him. And maybe it will all just end.” The way it should have ended when Hugh’s casket was lowered into the ground. But it hadn’t. The nightmare was still going on.
Either because the Feds were right—and Hugh’s partner was still hunting. He had a partner all along…
Or because some sicko had started a copycat routine.
Either way…It has to end.
She spun on her heel and headed for the stairs once more. But she’d only taken two steps before Zander caught her. He turned her toward him, pulled her close, and she stumbled, her body pressing against his.
“You think I’m going to let you risk your life?” he growled.
“You think I’m giving you a choice?” Alice threw right back. “I tried it your way. We sent that agent to my cabin, and she died.” No more. No one else could die in her place.
“So you’re ready to die instead?” Anger was there, biting in each word that Zander spoke. “Not on my fucking watch.” The storm in his eyes raged harder. “You do not die. You do not.”
She opened her mouth to reply, but his lips were on hers. The kiss was wild and angry and rough. And she should have shoved against his chest. Should have told him to back the hell away.
But instead, it was as if something ignited inside of her. Her emotions were an utter wreck. She was still furious at Zander for his lies, for his betrayal. She was scared because of the bastard hunting her. She was sad and guilty because of the agent who’d been shot…
Alice was…God, she hurt.
And when he kissed her, when she felt the surge of passion and desire rise within her, Alice just—
She let go of all the fear and the pain, and she grabbed tightly to Zander. Her hands curled around his shoulders. Her nails dug into the soft, cotton fabric of his t-shirt. Her mouth opened wider, and their tongues met. Need exploded. She didn’t think about what had been or what would be. The moment mattered.
There was nothing past this moment.
They tore off each other’s clothes. He stripped away her bra, tossed it aside. Then he was lifting her up, holding her with a surprising strength that was incredibly sexy as his mouth closed around her breast. He took two steps, and she felt the wood of the wall against her back. He was licking her nipple. Sucking. Stroking. And her moans came fast and hard.
Her legs wrapped around him. She just wore a scrap of cotton underwear. His shirt was gone, but he was still clad in his jeans. She wanted to be skin to skin. Wanted him in her, right then. No time for thinking. No time for hesitating. No time for anything but pleasure.
He kissed his way to her other breast. Her hips surged against him, rocking in a desperate, needy rhythm. Desire fueled her blood. She wanted him. Wanted to see if the pleasure would still be as good this time. Maybe it had been a fluke before. Maybe—
He lifted his head. Lowered her so that her toes touched the floor. “Do you want this?” His voice was gravel-rough. His eyes seemed to devour her. “Do you want me?”
“Yes.” She couldn’t imagine wanting anyone more.
His eye blazed. “I won’t mess up again with you. You can count on me.”
“I’ll prove myself to you.” His right hand slid between their bodies. His knuckles stroked the crotch of her panties. The panties were wet, she knew it. She was wet. Wet, ready, and so eager. Alice wanted him. Needed him.
He yanked at the panties. When they tore from her, she thought it was sexy as hell. Wild. That was how he made her feel. She fumbled, reaching between them, and she jerked open the button of his jeans. The zipper slid down with a low hiss. Then his cock was shoving into her hands. No underwear for her special agent. His heavy length surged toward her, and she stroked him, pumping his cock, and he let out a low hiss.
“Baby, I’m going fucking insane.”
That made two of them.
He lifted her again, positioning himself at the entrance to her body. The head of his erection pushed against her. Her breath panted out—
Oh, jeez, she’d almost forgotten. She’d stopped taking birth control over the last year, and she needed—
“Hold on tight, baby.”
She locked her arms around his shoulders. And he carried her up the stairs. With her legs still wrapped around his hips, with his cock right there, sliding over her sensitive core, making her moan and ache, he rushed up the stairs.
Then they were in his bedroom. He lowered her onto the bed. “Don’t move.”
Like she had to be told that. Alice was going crazy. Her legs parted for him. “Hurry!”
He grabbed a condom from the nightstand drawer
. Put the thing on in a flash, then surged toward her. “Can’t go slow,” Zander gasped. “Need…you.”
He thrust into her. She almost came. Right there. That fast. He filled her completely, and her nails raked down his back. So good. Dammit, even better than before. Even better.
He withdrew. Thrust deep. Their rhythm was fast and hard, and they rolled over the bed. She was on top now, and her knees pushed into the mattress. Her hands flattened on his chest as she rose up and down, taking him in deep, and his fingers pressed to her clit. Caressing her. Driving her toward her orgasm—
The climax shook her whole body. She didn’t even have the breath to cry out when it hit her. Alice stiffened, then shuddered, as pleasure pounded through her on wave after wave of release.
“You are the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.” His words were guttural. Then he was surging up. She tumbled back, and he drove even deeper into her. He lifted her legs, putting them over his shoulders, and he came, plunging hard into her. Calling out her name. Holding her so tight.
In the aftermath, Alice struggled to catch her breath. He was on top of her, the bedding was bunched beneath her, and he was still in her. Her control was gone. All of the careful barriers that she’d put up to protect herself from pain and betrayal were gone.
It was just her.
Zander lifted his head. He stared at her a moment, not saying a word.
She wasn’t looking for any kind of forever. Didn’t expect some magical words from him that said—
“I will never lie to you again, Alice May.”
Her heart had just slowed down, but at his words, her heart rate doubled.
“I will not betray you. I will be someone you can trust.”
She had to blink because suddenly, he’d gone a little blurry on her.
“I am sorry I hurt you. I would sooner cut off my own arm than hurt you.”
Her lips pressed together.
“I will never hurt you again.” He stared at her. “And one day…one day, you will believe in me.” His lips twisted. “And if I’m really fucking lucky, maybe you’ll even love me.”
“Not today. I know.” His smile stretched just a little, and her chest felt funny. Probably because her heart was thundering so fast. “But we’re going to have all the time in the world. You’ll see that. I’m going to protect you. I’m going to stop this bastard. And then, Alice May, will you do me the honor of dating me?”