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Wicked Ties, Page 2

Shayla Black

Page 2


  He held out the package to her, and Morgan took it with dread boiling in her stomach. She knew that handwriting.

  Dear God, how had he found her here? And so quickly?


  Hands shaking, breath short, she opened the envelope and extracted the contents. As she did, red rose petals with moist centers and dead edges fluttered downward, skittering across the blond hardwood floor. They looked faintly like fat drops of blood splattered all around her.

  Morgan gasped. He knew she was here. How had he found her?

  Then her gaze fell to the photos. Pictures of her, one arriving at LAX the day she’d fled to Houston. The next of her in Brandon’s backyard wearing thin sweatpants and a tank top with nipples teased hard by a cool morning breeze. The last a photo of her in her sage silk-and-lace shift with matching robe, kissing Brandon’s cheek as they stood in the driveway before he left for work. Just this morning.

  Fear biting at her belly, Morgan didn’t protest when Brandon grabbed the photos from her numb fingers. He flipped through them with a snarled curse.

  “These are from your stalker, aren’t they? He’s been here. Son of a bitch!” He raked a hand through his brown hair, ruffling the banker’s cut. “I’m calling the police. ”

  God, she wished it was that simple. “They can’t do anything. The police in L. A. told me he was going to have to do something illegal before they could spend any energy finding him. Taking pictures isn’t against the law. ”

  “He’s been on my property. ” Brandon held up the photo of her in the backyard of his rambling Houston home, his big fingers wrinkling the photo. “My backyard is private. The only way he could take this picture is by trespassing. There’s a law broken. ”

  He grabbed the nearest cordless phone and dialed 911. Morgan just shook her head.

  While Brandon was right, she doubted the Houston police were going to be any more motivated to do something than the cops in L. A. Whoever this was hadn’t stolen anything, vandalized anything. He hadn’t hurt anyone—yet. Morgan could feel his anger building in the frequency of his contact, the fact he’d followed her to Texas. And the police wouldn’t care what her gut told her.

  Brandon hung up the phone. “They’ll be here soon. ”

  Morgan just shrugged. . . and tried to calm the panic bubbling inside her.

  With nothing to do but wait, she started to shove the pictures back in the envelope. When she encountered an obstruction, she realized something else lay inside. She stuck her hand between the layers of paper, perplexed. Usually the disturbed bastard only sent pictures—disconcerting, disturbingly private pictures, but nothing more.

  Not today.

  Out of the benign brownish envelope she yanked a scrap of paper with a scrawl of ugly black writing.

  You belong to me. Only to me.

  Morgan swallowed a huge lump of fear. Now he was communicating with her. To her. Conveying his possessiveness, his fury that she might have another man in her life. This lunatic didn’t know that Brandon was her half-brother. He’d bought the cover story Brandon concocted, as much to explain her presence at his house to others, as to warn off her overzealous psycho.

  While the thought of being alone little scared Morgan, part of her was glad Brandon had to leave tomorrow. If something happened to him, it wouldn’t be because her stalker had decided to get the “competition” out of the way. In the three weeks Brandon would be gone, she’d figure something out, find somewhere else to go, so that when he returned, she didn’t endanger the only one of Senator Ross’s sons to give a rip about her.

  Maybe, like Reggie suggested before she left L. A. , she needed a bodyguard…

  “You really have no idea who this creep is?” Brandon growled, staring at the note over her shoulder.

  “None. ” She shook her head. “I wish I did. I have no disgruntled co-workers that I’m aware of. My ex-fiancé left me, not the other way around. ”

  “Someone who’s watched your show? A fan who doesn’t know where to draw the line?”

  Morgan shrugged. “Maybe. I’ve received odd fan mail before, but nothing this threatening or privacy-invading. ”

  “I’m going to find someone to get to the bottom of this, kiddo. I’m not going to let anything happen to you,” he vowed.

  At times like this, Morgan wondered how she and Brandon were descended from the same loins as Senator Ross’s other sons. They were nothing like the man and his other greedy, powerhungry offspring.

  “Damn it,” he cursed suddenly into the silence. “I wish like hell I didn’t have to go tomorrow. The car is picking me up at ofive hundred, and the timing couldn’t be worse. Shit! Uncle Sam can be a demanding mistress. ”

  Morgan didn’t know exactly what Brandon did; he wasn’t allowed to tell anyone. From things he’d said in the three years since he’d found the skeleton in their father’s closet and tracked her down, she’d guessed he was in Intelligence. She had no idea who for.

  “If you hate the job so much, and you want to run for office as badly as I know you do, why don’t you just do it?”

  For the first time she could remember, Brandon wouldn’t meet her gaze. He turned away, fists clenching.

  He unclenched them with obvious effort, then said, “I can’t. ”

  The following day, Morgan dropped down into a wroughtiron chair at a little sidewalk café in a quaint cluster of unique shops. The February afternoon hung thick, lazy, and surprisingly sultry all around. Fighting off exhaustion after a nearly sleepless night, she glanced at her watch. Three o’clock. She’d made good time on her drive from Houston. Master J should be here very soon.

  Her stomach tightened at the thought.

  That wasn’t the only reason, though. She also felt eyes on her, watching, assessing, probing. The hairs on the back of her neck stood up. She looked around, scanned the crowd. Nothing.

  Morgan took a deep breath, trying to quell her uneasiness. It wasn’t hard to imagine that if a psycho would follow her from Los Angeles to Houston, he’d go the extra mile to trail her to Lafayette. She was probably safe sitting here in the middle of a sunny public square, but if he recognized her, he’d see her with Master J and make assumptions that would make him even angrier than the appearance that she was marrying Brandon. Then when night fell, and she was alone in Brandon’s house…

  No, she couldn’t think that now. She would have to keep this all business, so that if her stalker identified her and watched this meeting, he wouldn’t assume anything sexual between her and Master J.

  She adjusted the scarf and hat to make sure they completely covered her hair, and pushed the sunglasses up on her face. Maybe she was being paranoid. No one should be able to recognize her like this. Maybe after this interview, she would slip away to that cozy European-looking bed and breakfast she’d seen on her way into town and catch up on sleep so she could figure out how to shake this stalker.

  A waiter came by with a wide smile, white teeth stark against his ebony skin. Morgan did her best to smile back as she ordered iced tea.

  Once he’d gone, she tugged the boxy, lightweight coat she’d dragged out of Brandon’s closet down over her hips and flipped up the collar. The waiter arrived with her tea. She checked her watch again. Five after three. She’d give Master J another few minutes. Sitting here in the open, vulnerable to the sick man who’d been following her…suddenly it struck her as very unwise.

  “You must be Morgan. ”

  The deep whisper came from behind her, delivered right in her ear. His warm breath cascaded down the side of her neck, and she gave an involuntary shiver.

  She started, turned, stunned anyone had been able to sneak up on her, as jumpy as she was. But he’d been utterly silent.

  And he was breathtakingly gorgeous.

  Thick, dark hair teased his broad forehead. An angular jaw and cleft chin dusted with a five o’clock shadow shouted his masculinity with all the subtlety of a sonic boom. His wid
e mouth curled up with an expression that looked half smile, half challenge. But, oh, his eyes. They captured her. Accented by a sweep of black brows, those knowing eyes of his watched her, as if he could see deep inside her. As if he knew all her secrets.

  Allowing her gaze to wander south didn’t help tame her pulse, either. Master J stood about six feet tall, with broad shoulders and a body of well-honed muscle evident under a tight black T-shirt that made her think of a mountain with its solid, quiet permanence. No one could move a mountain. No one was going to move this man either, unless he wanted to be moved.

  Just staring at him jolted her with attraction and a healthy dose of lust.

  Thank goodness their time alone would be limited to this one meeting in public. Otherwise, Morgan didn’t think she could be responsible for her behavior.

  She swallowed, trying to find her voice. “Yes, I’m Morgan. ”

  When she stuck out her hand, he didn’t just shake it. Too simple. Tangling his gaze with hers, he bent and brought her hand to his mouth, placing a kiss on her fingers.

  Oh, dear God. . .

  Fire raced up her arm, turning her heartbeat into a staccato chug. He lingered, a hot breath caressing the back of her hand, his fingertips teasing the sensitive center of her palm. Tingles burst across her skin, up her arm.

  His effect on her didn’t end there. Instead, the impact of his presence, his touch, dove deep inside her, where an ache began to pulse gently between her legs. As if her clit needed to announce the fact her libido wanted to get naked with this man.

  Business, business! The demand chased itself in her head.

  With a discreet tug, Morgan pulled her hand free. Master J smiled as he sat beside her—rather than across—and scooted his chair a few inches closer. She tried to ignore her awareness his thigh brushing hers, the tingling under her skin.

  “Thank you for meeting me here, Mr… What would you like me to call you, since I don’t know your name?”

  That grin seemed to taunt her with her own uncertainty and his wicked knowledge of their forthcoming sexual discussion. “For now, just call me sir. ”

  “Okay. Yes, sir. ”

  The moment the words were out of her mouth, Morgan realized how sexual they sounded. How sexual he’d intended they sound. Not just deferential, though they were that, too. But around Master J, she just couldn’t seem to muster enough air to power her voice beyond a husky murmur.

  What would it be like to call him sir in private?

  Despite the dark sunglasses shielding her, his dark eyes seemed to dance with the knowledge of her every thought, every sinful feeling, as he held her gaze, as if he could read the desire all over her face.

  Morgan used the untouched tea in front of her as an excuse to look away and scoured her brain for a safe, neutral topic.

  Hard to do that when she’d invited him here to talk about sex.

  “So, according to the bio I received about you, you’re in the personal security business. A bodyguard?”

  “Exactly. ” He shrugged those deliciously massive shoulders. “I guard a lot of politicians and their families, diplomats, an occasional athlete. ”

  “You meet a lot of interesting people, I’m sure. Do you work with celebrities?” she asked.

  A hint of humor curved his wide mouth to something nearing a smile. “Too flaky. Politicians are liars, but at least you know what to expect. You Hollywood types are either paranoid, self-absorbed, or as psycho as the people stalking you. No thanks. ”

  Morgan couldn’t decide if she was annoyed or amused. “I’m none of the above. ”

  “Give it time. ” He winked.

  Incorrigible described him perfectly. A hint of arrogance laced with a healthy dose of sex appeal and teasing humor. The mixture went down real smooth, thanks to his flirtation skills and a hint of Southern charm. No doubt, he was lethal to a woman’s common sense. Morgan swallowed.

  The waiter came by, and Master J ordered a cup of thick Louisiana chicory coffee. She shuddered when the waiter brought it to their table moments later.

  “Tell me more about your show. ” His words should have been an invitation, but Morgan heard the subtle command in them. Not harsh, not driving. But his voice held a note of steel—one that made her stomach tighten…and her womb clench.

  “Turn Me On combines interviews and facts to explore various facets of sexual life for both established couples and the newly dating, from the vanilla to the way out there. Last season, I did a show one week about sex etiquette on a first date, another about ‘friends with benefits,’ then followed it up with couples who had tattoo fantasies. This will be my second season, and I was thrilled to be renewed. Since the network provides cable programming geared toward women and couples, I think it’s a perfect fit. ”

  “Hmm. Tell me about this season’s shows. ”

  Again, another subtle command. “Well, we’re still at the ideas stage, but we’re definitely pursuing shows about boudoir photography, couples massage, erotic finger painting and—“