Excerpt Rusti poured herself another Irish coffee and knelt on the white wool rug in front of the fire. Razor looked down. Their eyes met. “For what it’s worth,” she said, “I didn’t give Baxter this number.”
His eyebrow lifted, the arch dark and seductive. He joined her on the rug and teasingly forced her down to a prone position. “Then why let me believe—Oh, I get it. Lead me on like that again, teacher, and I’ll kiss you.”
She laughed up at him. “But you said only if I wanted it as much as you.”
“Kiss me,” she said, her voice throaty with longing.
“Careful. You’ll make me want you,” he murmured. “And after what you said on the porch, I promised myself I wouldn’t risk it again.”
She looked deep into his eyes. Instinct and old wounds had made her keep her distance earlier. Her refusal had hurt him, and she could see he was still wary. But some aching loneliness that she didn’t understand kept her from refusing now. He inched closer. His unrelenting gaze was melting her heart, warming her soul. Gently, he pulled her to him. Stormy waves of passion flooded over her. Nothing beyond the walls of this room was important; nothing mattered now but to feel his lips on hers.
“Maybe, just one more kiss will get you out of my system,” he said huskily.
“Please,” she begged, “get me out of your system.”
His lips touched hers so tenderly that tears came to her eyes. He smelled of cedar smoke, and Irish whiskey. She felt his strength, his sensitivity, his passion. He held nothing back. At that moment, she believed she knew him better than anyone she’d ever known.
Like it or not, she wanted him, all of him. It frightened her, but she couldn’t pull away. Razor’s lips and tongue owned her—it seemed she floated on air, lightheaded, desperately wanting to rise higher. He cradled her in his arms, lowering them both until she felt the softness of the rug beneath her head. His chest rested against her breasts, his body heat coursed through her. Their passion was like two streams feeding into a raging river, violently merging—then racing onward, toward disaster. There was only this moment, this man…
Suddenly, Razor released her and sat up, listening.
Dizzy from passion Rusti fought to comprehend and ground herself. “What is it?” she asked.
He sprang to his feet. “Douse the light.”
Rusti managed to do what he said. He ran to the gun cabinet, grabbed a rifle, and positioned himself at the window. Rusti looked over his shoulder. A car was approaching—without headlights. “Who is it?” she whispered.
“Can’t tell. It’s raining too hard. But there’s more than one of them. Slip out the back door. Now!”
“I won’t leave you.”
“I’ll be right behind you. Go.”
Rusti grabbed her purse and ran into the night. A gust of wind caught the door and slammed it shut. The noise echoed through the tall pines. Rain blew against her face and her feet slid crazily on wet pine needles.
She heard footsteps behind her. She looked back. It was Razor, carrying the rifle. His long strides quickly overtook hers. He grabbed her hand and pulled her with him.
Men’s shouts followed them, then the sound faded, and there was only their own hard breathing, their own footsteps.
Dense rain pounded the trees and shrubs. Zigzagging, Razor dragged her up the sharply-sloped hill, his every step controlled, calculated. They reached the top and started down the other side, slipping and sliding. Dripping hair fell into her face.
Abruptly, Razor stopped. He tilted his head, and put his finger to his lips, warning her not to speak. She heard nothing. Still, a shiver slid down her spine. He pushed her against the rough bark of a ponderosa and motioned for her to remain still. Razor stiffened, his every muscle tensed and ready for action. Her heart pounded as he lifted the rifle to his shoulder.
“Have they found us?”
Voices filtered through the trees—underbrush and dead branches snapped. Her mind conjured up the caped man, his long, black-booted strides crossing the carpet of pine needles, eating the distance between them. Razor’s eyes were hard, cold; obviously he’d killed before. Perhaps many times. He wasn’t only the tender lover she was beginning to know—he was a killer himself. And he could just as easily be killed. Trembling, she touched her lips, cherishing the memory of his kisses. If she lived through this nightmare, there could be no more. She should never have let him into her heart.
He thrust the car keys at her. “Circle back to the cabin and get out of here,” he whispered. “I’ll draw them off in the opposite direction.” His mouth was a determined thin line, his eyes hard as steel.
“I can’t leave you, Razor.”
“Go, dammit! Follow the path along the edge of the lake.”
Rusti hesitated a moment, but when he roughly motioned her away, she ran until she reached the lake. The shoreline path was slippery, and she grabbed onto a seedling cedar to keep from sliding into the black, bottomless water. She regained her footing and trudged up the steep trail.
A shot broke the silence. Razor! She turned and started back toward him, then stopped short. He might be dead. Her throat ached and she fought to hold back tears of frustration.