“Fuck.” He rammed his cock deep, sinking his teeth into my shoulder. I felt every hot splash as he exploded with a growl.
And I collapsed. Panting, mouth bone dry, I lay there shuddering with aftershocks; thinking it was very possible that I’d lapse into a temporary, pleasure-induced coma.
It could have been hours later when I felt him shift slightly. I opened my eyes to find him staring down at me. He softly ran the pad of his thumb over my mouth, and my lips parted on a sigh. He kissed me, tongue sweeping against mine.
“You know …” He let the sentence trail off.
“What?” I prompted.
“I don’t like how much I’m starting to need you.”
I wasn’t offended, because … “The feeling’s mutual.”
The corner of his mouth kicked up. “I guess we’ll both just have to get used to it.”
I returned the small smile. “I guess we will.”
He slid his hand under my back and pulled me forward as he straightened. With quick, adept movements, he righted my bra and dress. “Hold on.” He carried me into the attached bathroom, where he quickly cleaned me up. Once I’d then pulled on my thong and he’d tucked his cock back into his pants, he propped me back on the desk. “Thirsty?” he asked, grabbing a bottle of water from a mini fridge that I hadn’t noticed.
I took it gratefully and swallowed a long gulp, loving the feel of the cold liquid pouring down my dry throat. It was only then that I noticed a smug smirk had surfaced on his face. I frowned. “What?”
“You don’t realize you did it, do you?”
He placed a hand on the desk either side of me and leaned forward. “You screamed for me.”
I stiffened. “I did not.”
“Oh, you did, baby. I fucking loved it.”
“You were hearing things. I don’t scream.”
“I’m serious. You—” He frowned at the hard knock on the door. “Come in.”
Rossi strolled inside and gave us both a nod. As he looked at me, there was a hint of respect in his eyes.
“You find anyone?” Blake asked him, all business.
Rossi shook his head. “The cameras caught a glimpse of some guy, though. You might want to come take a look at the footage.”
I grabbed Blake’s arm. “I want to see.”
He twisted his mouth, looking put-out. “Thought you might,” he grumbled. Leaving his tie behind, he took possession of my hand and led me out of the office. Rossi preceded us as we descended the iron staircase.
I caught a glimpse of Tara standing at the bar. Apparently, she picked up on Blake’s tension, because her expression sobered and she made her way over like some kind of avenging angel. And, yeah, I tensed.
She managed to intercept us and put a hand on his upper arm. Did she want to get punched? Because I could get behind that idea.
“What’s wrong?” she asked Blake. “Tell me how I can help.”
“Your help isn’t needed, Tara,” he said, but not rudely. “Go enjoy your evening.”
She double-blinked. “You know where I am if you need me. I can keep Kensey company for you,” she offered.
Like hell. And I didn’t appreciate that she’d suggested it to him but not me, as if my input on the matter had no relevance.
“Kensey’s coming with me,” Blake told her.
Her face smoothed out into a blank mask. “I see.” Clearly, she didn’t like not being included.
Welcome to my world, Red.
I probably should have felt bad for her. Instead, I felt better knowing that she wasn’t some sort of confidant to him. Or, at least, he didn’t consider her to be one. She might believe differently.
I gave her a wan smile as we past, following Rossi to a room near the elevator that turned out to be the security office. Dozens and dozens of monitors hung on the wall, each showing different sections of the Vault. I noticed that none showed the basement. If any provided feed from B3, I couldn’t tell which they were.
Rossi lightly tapped a particular screen as he rewound the footage. “Here. Watch.” The recording began to play, and I saw a man dressed in black, hovering around the private garage. He seemed to be looking for a way in.
I leaned closer to the monitor to get a better look, and my heart started to pound in my chest. “That’s not Ricky Tate.”
Seconds of silence ticked by. “You’re sure?” asked Blake.
I turned to fully face him. “That’s Noah Linton. He’s a true crime author who wants to write a book on Michael. He’s been badgering me for an interview.”
Blake studied the figure on the screen. “I don’t recognize him. Could it have been him who called you earlier?”
“Maybe. He has my number.” I pinched my lower lip between my thumb and index finger. “It didn’t sound like him, but I got the feeling that the caller was trying to disguise their voice.”
“Then they don’t want you to know who they are.”
Rossi stepped forward. “Boss, what’s the deal with this asshole? And who’s Ricky Tate?”
Blake explained the situation to Rossi—only withholding that I was a writer—and then turned back to me. “What exactly did the caller say?”
After I quickly relayed the conversation, Rossi narrowed his eyes and said to Blake, “Think either Linton or Tate was the driver of the silver Sedan that was tailing us last week?”
Blake rubbed his jaw. “Probably. Have you seen a silver Sedan around, Kensey?”
I shook my head. “But he doesn’t seem to have been watching me lately. He’s been watching you.”
Blake’s gaze clouded for a few moments, turning inward. “How often has Linton contacted you, asking for interviews?”
“He’s left several voicemails on my phone. I’ve only seen him twice in person—once outside CCC, and another time outside the library where my mom works. I thought he’d been waiting there, hoping to waylay her when she left for lunch.”
“But it could have been that he followed you there.”
I nodded. “Michael said that for Linton, it’s the psychology of the situation that intrigues him. He wants to profile me, my mother, and Michael. Doesn’t really see us as people. Just subjects to be observed and studied.”
“So, maybe he sees this as some sort of experiment. Maybe he’s pushing and scaring you to see what you’ll do; to see how Michael will react to you being targeted this way.”
I took a moment to consider it. “It’s possible, I guess. But it seems a little farfetched to me. My money is on Ricky. Linton may have followed me here and possibly even to the library, but it doesn’t mean he’s done anything else.”
“Except that the person who called you was outside the garage just now. You honestly think it’s a coincidence that Linton was there?”
No, I didn’t. But it was Ricky. Had to be Ricky. Or I’d been watching out for the wrong person all this time.
Rossi spoke to Blake, “This person—Tate, Linton, whoever the fuck it is—wants you gone because he wants her vulnerable. He probably also doesn’t want to face you.”
“It’s more than that,” I told him. “If it’s Ricky, then this is personal to him. It’s a him vs. me thing. If it’s Linton and this is some kind of experiment to him—which I’m not at all convinced of—he won’t want other ‘factors’ affecting it. That’s what he’d see you as, Blake. An outside influence that’s messing with the situation he’s trying to create.” Neither scenario was at all good.