Cat's Lair(7)By: Christine Feehan
She was certain he was not. Oh, not like Rafe Cordeau. Not like that. But he was dangerous. She knew dangerous men, and this one sitting beside her was no domestic kitty cat. He was a tiger, all raw power and razor-sharp focus. But he wasn’t bad dangerous. He was just plain scary dangerous. And a heartbreaker.
She sighed, hating that she actually felt the loss of his fingers on her skin – hating that every single cell in her body was aware of him. He was a good ten years older in years and experience. There were scars. There were the tats. There was the cool confidence and the lines in his face that only seemed to add to his masculine beauty.
She knew what he saw when he looked at her. She’d always looked young and she was barely twenty-one. He would consider her someone he had to look after, just as Malcom did. That was safe. She needed safe, especially around this man.
“Maybe I am a little afraid of you,” she forced herself to admit. “I’ve seen you in the dojo and you’re rather terrifying.” That much was true, and if he really were as adept at reading lies then he’d have to hear the sincerity in her voice.
“That’s a place of practice. This is a coffee-house. Unless you’re going to stand up in front of that mic and read off some really bad poetry, I don’t think you have a thing to worry about,” he assured.
There was a drawling amusement in his voice, one that made her want to laugh with him, but it was as sexy as all get-out, and she couldn’t make a noise. Not a single sound for a few seconds. She cleared her throat. “I’m not good at talking to people.”
“You talk just fine to Malcom. In fact, you laugh when you’re with him. It’s the only time I’ve seen you actually laugh.”
Her heart jumped. She tensed and knew he felt it. Still, as hard as she tried she couldn’t relax. Had he been watching her? Why? What did that mean? She bit down on her lower lip, a little afraid that she was so paranoid even such a simple statement could make her want to run.
“Malcom isn’t people.”
“I know he’s your friend,” Ridley conceded. “He’s very closed-mouth about you and protective.”
She turned her eyes on him. Fixed. Focused. Alert. “Were you asking him questions about me?”
“Of course I was. You’re beautiful. Mysterious. A turn-on in the dojo. When you move, honestly, Kitten, I’ve never seen anything like it. You’re fast and fluid and hot as hell. You put James Marley down with one punch. One. You hit him exactly on his weak spot and dropped him like a ton of bricks. Your eyes are amazing, and so is your hair. You have the most beautiful face I’ve ever seen. Are you telling me Malcom doesn’t get asked about you regularly? Women like you don’t walk the streets alone at night. That’s just asking for trouble.”
Her breath slammed out of her lungs. “You followed me?” That couldn’t be. She would have known.
“Every night that you lock up and walk back to the warehouse. Did you really think I’d let a woman walk alone that time of night? Any woman? But especially a woman like you? No fuckin’ way.”
Something in his eyes made her shiver. Hot. Angry. A flash, no more, and then quickly suppressed. He really didn’t like her walking alone at night.
He had been at the coffee-house every night the past two weeks until three A.M. But she hadn’t seen him or heard him or even felt him following her. And that was bad. She couldn’t afford to miss a tail. She had a sixth sense about that kind of thing, and yet he had followed her every single night.
“I can take care of myself.”
“Cat, even Malcom will tell you that you aren’t being realistic. You’re good, there’s no question about it, but you’re small. A man gets his hands on you and you’re done. You’re smart enough to know that. You can defend from a distance, but if he knows what he’s doing he’s going to get past that guard and tie you up. Why don’t you drive your car? That would be much safer.”
She wasn’t about to tell him gas cost the earth. He didn’t need to know her personal finances, but she wasn’t wasting precious gas when she could walk to and from work. It just wasn’t that far.