Excerpt Monday: Nancy Gideon
Max moved through the room not bothering to disguise his preternatural power, that quicksilver speed and sleekness of his species. Letting Babineau see him as those of his kind did: as a cruel force of nature, destructive, deadly, unstoppable. He growled low in his chest as he stalked up behind Cee Cee to slip his arm about her middle. As he rubbed his cheek against hers, his eyes glittered with hot gold and ruby flashes. As his tongue drew a long damp line up her neck, her hand lifted to cradle the side of his face. He smiled at Alain Babineau with teeth as sharp as the point he was making.
“I’d be very, very careful if I were you, Detective Babineau. You have no idea what you’re dealing with. I control more than Jimmy Legere’s interests in this city. If any hint of what you saw leaks out, I’d hate to think what that would unleash upon you and your friends.”
He stepped away from an unusually quiet Cee Cee to select a crisp white shirt from his closet. Louis Vuitton, for the up-yours attitude spoiling through him. He stripped off his sweatshirt, letting Babineau see the hard strength of his body and the scars on it. Deep tears in his upper arm. The pucker of bullet wounds, two to the chest with one exiting the back, and one to the stomach. Fatal shots no man could have survived.
But then, he was no man.
“Leave my house, Detective. You can wait for Charlotte in your car.”
As Babineau began to turn, Max continued. “We’ll be there tomorrow at noon. I wouldn’t want to disappoint your wife or your son—my brother.”
Babineau’s expression hardened at that reminder. He spun and was gone.
Then there was just Cee Cee and her fierce glare.
“Are you quite finished with all the Big Dog posturing or do you plan to piss on me, too, just to stake your claim a little more dramatically?”
He proceeded up his shirt buttons. “What do you want from me, Charlotte? He comes into my house, insults me, threatens those I care for, and I’m supposed to do nothing?” He grabbed a jacket with enough violence to send the coat hanger flying. “You know what I am, and now so do they. How am I supposed to be comfortable with that? They could crush everything I value with one careless word.”
“I’ll talk to them.”
He was far from comforted. “Fine. Handle it your way. Smooth it over like it was nothing more than a social blunder. Talk.” He flung the jacket onto the bed and peeled down his jeans.
For a moment she said nothing, just staring at him in his designer shirt and bare legs until the raging impulse to ride him down to the floor and bang his brains out subsided. It took another minute to move her thoughts off that back burner where her hormones constantly simmered, to try and see him as Alain Babineau saw him. As the others on her team saw him. But she couldn’t see past the man she loved.
Even knowing what he was, she continued to think of him as a man. He looked human. He sounded arrogantly, maddeningly, like an everyday, testosterone-fueled male of her species. If she got closer to him she’d smell man next to the pulse at his throat, she’d taste man all hot and salty when she took him in her mouth, she’d feel man as her palms moved over him in restless appreciation. When she parted her lips beneath his, she wouldn’t be thinking Lon Chaney Jr. of Creature Feature fame.
But that didn’t change the fact that he wasn’t an X-chromosome male. Something else flickered behind his unblinking stare. Something different, something other. Something more.
And it was that difference that drew her, not the sameness he tried to project.
She loved him and trusted him with all that she was precisely because he wasn’t a man. Men had failed her, harmed her, betrayed her. They didn’t possess the singular, all-consuming sense of loyalty intrinsic in Max Savoie. When they said forever they meant until next month, next week, next commercial, next orgasm.
When Max said it, he meant for eternity.
But it would be naïve to expect him to behave like a human being. He’d been raised to mimic one, but what prowled through him was wild and unpredictable. Max didn’t look at things the same way she did. He didn’t react to the same circumstances with acceptable actions. And it would be foolish and dangerous to smugly assume she knew what he was thinking at any given moment.
So she asked him.
“How would you handle it, Max? Would you kill them to keep them silent?”
His answer was a clarifying double barrel blast to her heart.
She took a step back before he gripped her elbows to hold her in place while he continued.
“That’s what everything I am tells me to do. To eliminate the threat quickly, completely, without thought or conscience. To come at them from the shadows and end their lives before they take mine and threaten the safety of all I’ve sworn to protect. It’s what I am, Charlotte.”
“But it’s not all you are, Max.” Her need to believe that glimmered in her eyes.
“Only because of you, sha. Otherwise they’d be dead right now, and I’d be safe.” His thumbs brushed across her cheeks. “I stop myself from doing what I should, because I love you and it would hurt you. It would make you look at me differently, and I won’t take that risk. Not ever.”
She made a soft sound.
“But you have to understand, Charlotte. This isn’t just about me. It involves all my kind, Oscar, and even you because you know and have said nothing. It’s a secret truth that will damage all of us should it become known. Are you willing to take that risk on these men?”
Her chin lifted. Her eyes cleared. “Yes.”
He said nothing for a long beat, then told her, “Finish up. I’ll walk you down.”
He went out onto the porch with her, wearing his exquisitely tailored suit and the sleek guise of a powerful businessman. His glance touched on Babineau in his car before he turned to Cee Cee. His hands brushed over the sleeves of the long raincoat she wore, the gesture intimate and sheltering. His lips touched to her brow as he said with a quiet intensity, “If the risk becomes unacceptable, you will tell me, won’t you, cher?”
“Yes.” Soft, firm. Enough for the moment.
“Be careful on the streets.”
“Be careful in your meetings.”
They shared faint smiles.
He wanted to grab her up for a passionate display, almost more than he wanted to tip that car with the pretty boy detective in it over onto its roof.
As his brows raised in question, she whipped her arms around his neck and planted her mouth on his. Hard. Then she whispered against his lips, “I plan to take that rough ride tonight. Be ready.”
He smiled. “Thanks for the warning. I’ll pace myself today at work.”
He watched her jog down the steps, then followed the swagger of her walk to the car, while the cold, fierce beast inside weighed the risks he’d spoken of.
And found them unacceptable.
BOUND BY MOONLIGHT
On the Shelves Tuesday: July 26, 2011
To celebrate the release of BOUND BY MOONLIGHT, I’m hosting a four-day scavenger hunt giveaway on my brand new blog at http://nancygideon.blogspot.com. The fun starts on 7-26 and goes through 7-29 with daily drawings and, for one lucky participant, the grand prize: a Kindle (or Amazon gift certificate). Stop by for details and get ready to play!