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Back in the Bedroom ; Kiss and Makeup, Page 2

Jill Shalvis


  “I took two of them out and was working on the third when the last one knocked me on the head from behind.” He gritted his teeth, his jaw tight. “I’d have gotten him, too, but they caught me distracted.”

  Tessa’s mouth had fallen open. There’d been four of them. And he’d taken out three.

  By himself.

  She eyed his bare chest only inches from her nose and tried not to ogle. “So you’re the martial arts expert the guy was grumbling about.”

  He nodded.

  “What happened to your clothes?”

  He looked away. “When I hit the floor, they found my gun.”


  “And then they strip-searched me for more weapons.”

  She could only stare at him. She’d imagined him dangerous. Edgy. But…armed? “Wow.”

  He ground his teeth but didn’t say anything else.

  “Four,” she repeated softly.

  “And now two of them are armed,” he said. “Courtesy of moi. So even if we could distract them and bring them back this way, it’s not the wisest move. Unless you’re wearing a bulletproof vest…? No?” he asked when she shook her head. “See, bad move.” Gingerly, as if he had a headache, which he no doubt did, he sank back to the cot.

  “Who would do this?”

  He lifted a shoulder. “Your guess is as good as mine. Eddie certainly has plenty of enemies.”

  How was that possible? The Eddie she knew wouldn’t harm a fly. “So we’re just going to stand here and wait for them to decide we’re not exactly an asset?”

  “I’m not going to stand.” He lay back, put his feet up, and closed his eyes.

  She stared at him. “You’re not serious.”

  He drew in a deep breath, and, as if they were attached to his body by strings, her eyes followed the motion of his broad chest rising and falling, followed the way his six-pack belly caved in, and how his knit boxers lovingly cupped his…package.

  And, oh my, what a package.

  A little shocked at herself, she turned her back on him. “I can’t believe this.” She took a good look around the small, spartan room. There was nothing in it but the cot, and yet the rest of the house was so absolutely beautifully done. It was strange. “Where are we anyway?”

  “The servants’ quarters.”

  She turned around to look at him, but he hadn’t budged nor opened his eyes. “Did you grow up here?”


  “Did you—”

  “How many more questions do you figure you have, because I’d like to sleep off this headache.”

  She’d been manhandled, terrified and trapped, and she could deal with that. But it would have been nice if it’d happened with a warmer, more compassionate man, a man who put others’ needs and fears ahead of his own need for a nap.

  Certainly someone more in touch with his own emotions.

  In other words, this man’s polar opposite. “You shouldn’t go to sleep,” she said, unable to just ignore him. She had a feeling he could be fully dressed and she still wouldn’t be able to ignore him. “You could be concussed.”

  He didn’t answer. His body took up the entire cot and more, a good portion of his long legs were hanging off the cot. His wide shoulders barely fit onto the thin mattress.

  But what if she’d wanted to lie down? What then? She’d have to be snuggled right up against all that bare sinewy flesh.

  Not that he’d even care, as he appeared to not have given her a second thought. Wasn’t that ever so flattering? “Are you really going to sleep?”


  Unbelievable. She watched him breathe slowly and evenly for another moment before letting out a frustrated sigh. “Fine. Sleep.” Without a care to her own possible fears and pain. Wasn’t that just like an alpha?

  She eyed the room again. The window was still too small, with no fire escape or way to climb down. Interestingly enough though, there appeared to be an attic access in the ceiling, a decent-sized one, too. Not that she could reach it alone, but they had to get out. Maybe if he helped—“Reilly?”

  He let out a long-suffering sigh. “What?”

  “I have another option than sleep.”

  He opened his eyes, the look in them blatantly sexual. “Oh, yeah?”

  Oh boy, definitely alpha. Extremely alpha. So why his low, husky tone and those suggestive words made her body tingle, she hadn’t a clue.

  “What did you have in mind?” His voice dripped an earthy sensuality.

  “Uh…” Oddly enough, the only thing she had in mind right now was X-rated. “I forgot.”

  His gaze ran over her from head to toe, flared with heat, shocking her, before he closed his eyes. “Okay, then.”

  Okay, then.


  REILLY DRIFTED off pleasantly, to a place where his head didn’t hurt and he was wearing clothes—

  “Reilly.” This extremely loud whisper was accompanied by a shove at his shoulder.

  She was ba-a-ack. His father’s latest fling, the petite pixie with the shoulder-length brown hair and mossy-green eyes that flashed her every thought for the world to see.

  Was she even of legal age?


  He had no idea why she bothered to whisper, when she was doing it so loudly she could have woken the dead.

  “I think you should wake up now,” she said, and added another teeth-rattling shake. “Come on. Get up and count to ten or something.”

  Honest to God, the woman talked more than any woman he’d ever met.

  “Just to make sure you don’t go into a coma.” Another shake. “It’s only been five minutes but I can’t remember how long you’re supposed to let someone with a bleeding head injury sleep.”

  “I’m not in a coma,” he said with his eyes still closed. It wasn’t really sleep he was interested in, but a way to pass the time other than looking at the oddly sweet and sexy Tessa. “And my head is no longer bleeding.”

  “I still don’t think you should sleep.”

  All those years in the army and then the CIA, one thing had stuck with him—how to catch quality Zs in five short little minutes. He’d rather have had longer than five minutes. Say the whole night, so the time would have passed painlessly, but slowly he opened his eyes, staring into her wide green ones. “I’m fine.”

  “How many fingers am I holding up?” She wriggled three in front of his nose.

  He grabbed them. “I’m fine,” he repeated.

  “Fine enough to go up the attic access in the ceiling? I think it has good escape potential.”

  In the meager but adequate light he took in her slight little form bending over him, her hand on his chest. Not that he minded a woman’s fingers on him, but his head felt like it was going to roll right off his shoulders. And if she shoved him one more time, yet again jarring his head, he was going to roll her pretty little body beneath his to hold her still. “Escape potential,” he repeated, and she smiled at him and nodded.

  “All you have to do is climb up. Then shimmy your way through whatever is up there, and drop down through another access in another room. Voilà, escape. I know you said you didn’t grow up here, but you could probably find a phone, right?”

  He’d had his cell on him, before he’d made the mistake of actually coming here to see Eddie. Before he’d knocked out three of the four idiots, then realized too late there was one more idiot behind him. Suddenly, he’d seen stars from the hit with a vase probably worth enough to feed a small country.

  Which made him the idiot.

  And to think, all he’d wanted was to tell his father to knock it off, to stop sending sexy little temps to his office and to stop sending him messages to come visit.

  Instead, he’d ended up on the wrong end of a strip search, being held hostage by his own gun no less. He, a guy who knew how to kill a man in more ways than he could count, had been taken down by a few punks with a vendetta against his father.

  If that didn’t
bite, watching them mess with his gun while he sat in his shorts sure did. And if that didn’t also say how much he’d lost his edge, how dead-on-target his decision had been to get out of the CIA, he didn’t know what did.

  He supposed it could have been worse.

  They could have killed him.

  “Can you? Find a phone?”

  The cute young thing was still talking. He let out a long breath and opened his eyes. “Probably.”

  “So…will you?”


  She blinked. “What?”

  “No,” he repeated clearly.

  “But…why not?”

  “Because it’s dark.”

  She eyed him from head to toe, making him glad he’d been allowed to keep his shorts because for some reason, even though she drove him crazy, his body didn’t seem to want to agree with his brain on that assessment.

  “The dark shouldn’t bother a guy like you,” she finally said.

  Think again, sweetheart. “I’ll go at daylight.”


  “Daylight. Now…was there something you wanted to do to pass the time?”

  “No,” she squeaked.

  “Fine.” He tried to forget he was stuck with one of his father’s babes. She looked like heaven, he’d give her that, but she talked too much. At the ripe old age of thirty-one, Reilly had come to realize he liked women, he liked them a lot, but he liked them quiet, reserved and controlled…much like himself, actually.

  But this one couldn’t be quiet to save her life, much less be restrained and controlled. She was pacing the floor right this very second. “We’re not going to get out of here for a few hours, so you might as well stop wearing a hole in that tile.”

  She stopped and looked at him as if he’d lost his mind.

  And in truth, maybe he had. Certainly the old Reilly would have gotten up and rescued the damsel in distress.

  The new Reilly, no longer of CIA, no longer of anything or anyone else except Reilly Ledger of Accountant-4-Hire, his small accounting firm with clients as reclusive as he was. He pushed papers around when and how he felt like it, didn’t take orders from anyone but himself, and never, ever rescued damsels in distress.

  Unless it was accounting-related, and, in that case, he charged by the hour.

  She put her hands on her hips, a gesture it appeared she used a lot to compensate for being so short, but it did draw his attention to her mid-thigh sundress. It was pale-green with flowers on it and was actually quite demure, except that every time she moved it danced around her tanned, toned legs.

  Very distracting, those legs.

  “There’s no good reason why we have to stay in here,” she said.

  “Other than we’re trapped?”

  “Honestly, all you have to do is crawl through—”

  “I said no.”

  She crossed her arms, plumping up the breasts he imagined could use a little plumping. “Give me one good reason other than you won’t be able to see.”

  He stretched, and winced at the ache at the base of his skull. “That’s the reason.”

  She stared at him, then tilted her head up and eyed the access, which was indeed wide enough for his body, and indeed a most excellent escape route. “You can’t be afraid of the dark.” She shook her head. “No. I don’t buy it. That would make you a sensitive man, and frankly, I’m not getting a lot of sensitivity here.”

  “You’re not getting out tonight.”

  “Fine, if you don’t want to do it. I will.” She dropped her arms and straightened, visibly swallowing while she mustered up all her courage. If he hadn’t been pissed and hurting, he might have admired her.

  “Boost me up,” she said.

  From flat on his back, he laughed, his first all night. “Let me get this straight. You’ll go crawling through the attic in the pitch dark, drop into a room you don’t know, possibly into the waiting arms of the guy I didn’t knock out, and then what? Let them have another stab at you?”

  Her determined expression faltered, and the terror came through. “You’re right,” she whispered. “This is really serious, and I think it’s just hitting me. I’m sorry.” Then she blinked those wide, expressive eyes and hugged herself. He felt like a jerk.

  He closed his eyes. “You’re just going to have to wait. Eddie will figure out you’re missing and come looking for you.”

  “He’s in Cabo with his girlfriend for two days.”

  That had his eyes opening again. “I thought you, Statutory Rape Lawsuit Walking, were the girlfriend.”

  “You—I—” She sputtered, then laughed. She laughed hard and so genuinely, he actually felt the knot loosen in his belly because she was being honest, which meant his father hadn’t seduced this woman who was too cute and too young for him.

  “I’m twenty-six years old,” she finally informed him. “Quite legal. And not that this is any of your business, but I am not your father’s girlfriend. I work in his temp agency.”

  “Ah.” He didn’t want to think about why that made him feel a lot better, so he closed his eyes again.

  A thunk sounded and with a sigh, he cracked open an eye. Looking small and defenseless, she’d sat on the floor against the far wall, beside the locked door, still hugging herself. Her knees were up, her head down on her arms.

  Fine. That was a good place for her, far away from him, with her mouth thankfully shut for once.

  He might have been able to pretend he was somewhere else other than lying on a damn cot with no clothes and a bump on the back of his head…if she hadn’t shivered.

  He closed his eyes against it but he could have sworn he could hear her teeth rattling together. “Damn it. Get over here.”

  She lifted her head, and in the glow from the light outside the window, he saw her expression. Gone was the temporary bravado. Gone were all signs that she was holding up under what even he could admit had been a fairly traumatizing experience. Wet now, her eyes were the color of rain-soaked leaves, and her mouth trembled. The bruises on her throat had blossomed.

  Hell. “You all right?”

  “Give me a minute.” She scrubbed her hands over her face. “I know I’m talking, talking, talking, but that’s nerves and fear. I’ll try to stop, I promise.”

  Slowly he sat up. No dizziness, which he figured was a good thing, so he risked standing. Barefoot, bare everything except the essentials, he took the few steps that brought him close. “You take the cot.”

  She stared at his knees and shook her head.


  She ignored him. Since he’d been trying to ignore her for half an hour now, he understood and appreciated the sentiment. But it was possible she was going into delayed shock, and that even he couldn’t ignore, as his training was too ingrained. He hunkered down beside her and, wanting to check her pulse, reached for her wrist.

  Startled, she jerked back and into the wall, crying out at the contact and wincing away from him at the same time.

  “Go away,” she whispered, mortified to find her eyes spilling over. But he’d scared her, and she really hated that. Before tonight, nothing had scared her.

  “Hey.” Lifting his hands, watching her from those light, light eyes, he spoke softly. “It’s just me.”

  “I know.” And she did, but it was just that for one bad moment, she’d been transported back into Eddie’s living room, back to that guy in the dirty long underwear shirt, and he’d been reaching for her—

  Reilly took her hand. “Just me,” he repeated very quietly.

  “I know that.”

  “I want you to lie down and try to relax.”

  “Relax.” She bit back her hysterical laughter. “Sure. I’ll relax.”

  “Great, because you’re wound up tighter than a clock.”

  “Yes, well, this hasn’t been exactly a good day.”

  “I know.” He contemplated her in silence for a while. “Are you cold?”

  Yes. She was cold. And hungry. And tired. And, app
arently, letting this whole situation really get to her.

  “Come on,” he said. Still on his knees before her, he wriggled his fingers, clearly indicating she could take his hand.

  Tessa closed her eyes. She didn’t want to take his hand. She wanted to crawl in a hole and have a meltdown. She wanted to be alone while doing it, thank you very much. “Go to sleep,” she said.

  “I can’t do that now,” said the contrary man.

  Of course not. Because heaven forbid one thing go her way tonight.


  “TESSA, COME ON. Lie down.”

  Only a moment ago she’d been holding it together just fine, and then Reilly had to come close with that long, sleekly muscled body glowing in the faint light and go all sweet and sensitive on her.

  Ha! As if he could ever even pretend to be sweet and sensitive.

  “Come on,” he said gently. Gently.

  Didn’t he know that was how to break a woman down—show a tender insight and perception, along with near nudity so magnificent it made her mouth water?


  And the way he said her name in that low, husky voice… It brought to mind hot summer nights and satin sheets and wild but sweet lovemaking.

  Not that she knew much about hot summer nights combined with satin sheets and wild but sweet lovemaking, but a girl had her fantasies.

  And he was a walking fantasy.

  Taking her hand in his, he rose. “Up you go.” He led her to the cot with a hand at the small of her back. As if he was kind and compassionate. “Lie down right here.”

  No questions at the end of his sentences, not for Reilly. Nope, he never said, “Okay?” or “Would you like?” He was a guy, through and through, and an extremely confident one at that. Not to mention demanding, because really, why ask when clearly he knew everything?

  “Tess. Lie down.”

  He shortened her name. No one else had ever done that, and it seemed…extremely intimate, and on his lips, almost unbearably sexy.

  Suddenly the room felt so small, too small. She needed wide open space and she needed it now. Forget adventure, had she ever said she wanted adventure like this? No! She wanted her cozy little apartment, her sister’s nightly visit bearing ice cream and a good movie. Maybe a call from her brother just to say hi.