Blue strode to his private bathroom, and dug through his hidden stash of emergency supplies. Hair dye made specifically for his race. Colored contacts. A voice modifier chip. Studs for facial piercings. A serrated blade that would cause temporary scarring in an Arcadian.
Why deal with makeup that could wash away? Blue preferred authenticity. Also, he thought he remembered Evie telling him that he needed a scar.
He’d never had one, and he’d never imagined a woman would desire one—or that he’d want to cater to her.
Tomorrow, he would test his new look on her—the only person he currently trusted. If she failed to recognize him, he’d know he was good to go.
This could actually be fun.
* * *
The next morning Evie made her rounds at the hospital as usual. Then she talked to the chief of staff about taking an open-ended vacation. As expected, there were no arguments. Her coworkers would think she was taking terrible advantage of her status, as Blue had said, and she would have to agree. She totally was. But this was life and death for the only man she had ever loved, and she wasn’t going to feel guilty about it.
At home, she strode straight into the kitchen, slammed her purse on the counter, and poured herself a much-needed glass of wine. When would Blue get here?
And he had better get here. If he’d tricked her just to get rid of her . . .
She drained the glass, barely tasting the hints of plum and fig, and poured another. The air was still charged with electric power, she realized, from when he’d been here before, the fine hairs on the back of her neck rising—liquid heat rushing through her.
When would it freaking end? She was tired, so very tired, of the rush of sensations he caused, whether he was there or not. The tension in her lower belly. The heat in her veins. The ache . . . oh, criminy, the ache.
“Do you always drink like a sidewalk bum when you get home from work?” The deep, gravelly voice caused every nerve in her body to come alive. The reaction was familiar, though the voice was not. Not really.
In a lightning-fast move, she whisked the pyre-gun from her purse, turned, and aimed. A second later the gun was ripped from her grip, only to hover in the air just out of her reach. But it was never aimed at her. Either the guy was a suckwad criminal, or he meant her no harm.
He’d bypassed her security. He wasn’t suckwad.
Mr. B and E stepped from the shadows, and she stiffened.
He was tall—Blue’s height. He was muscled—Blue’s build. He even smelled like Blue, champagne and fresh-plucked strawberries. Odd for a man, but no less addictive. And yet, he had short, spiked black hair, and eyes to match. Thick kohl rimmed his eyelids, altering the shape. A jagged scar ran from his hairline to his chin. Both of his eyebrows were pierced, and so was his lip. Could be him. But could also not be him.
“Let me see your hands,” she demanded.
For a moment he gave no reaction. He was too busy peering at her as if he actually saw her, rather than through her. Blue always peered through her. This man’s stare was intense. Steady. Almost . . . magnetic. She couldn’t even bring herself to blink.
Finally, he lifted his arms, palms out.
She knew those hands. She’d cleaned and bandaged one, then watched the other grow—and she’d enjoyed having both on her body, cupping her br**sts.
Had secretly prayed they would move lower.
Leaning against the counter, relaxing, she said, “So. You kept your word, bluebird. I’m impressed.”
He blinked in surprise. “You recognize me. How?” As he spoke, the pyre-gun floated back to her purse.
His affront amused her. “Hello. Trained agent. I notice details the average Joe misses.”
“No, it’s more than that.” He studied his hands in the light. “You didn’t know for sure until you looked at these. But why would—” His gaze jolted up, landing on her, heating with black fire. “Because you liked when they were on you. A woman never forgets pleasure.”
She straightened as though yanked by a cord. “Don’t be ridiculous. I forget all the time.” Gah! “I mean, I’ve never experienced pleasure from you.”
Where’s your brutal honesty now, girl?
Silent amendment: Except when he was grinding on me.
Trying again. “Maybe you have distinctive sunspots.”
That wasn’t a lie. She’d said “maybe.”
“I don’t.” He watched her for a long while, whatever thoughts danced through his head hidden from her. His expression gave nothing away. No, that wasn’t true. His features had softened, oh so slightly.
If he tried to prove his theory, she might not have the strength to resist.
“What do you think of my scar?” he asked, rubbing the raised tissue.
It gave him a savage edge, as if he couldn’t decide whether to hack you to pieces or give you the hardest sexual ride of your life—and only time would reveal the answer. He was the bad boy every woman yearned to taste, but only the bravest ever dared approach.
“Nothing to say? You disappoint me, princess.” He walked toward her, placed his hands—those big, strong hands—on the counter, caging her in, thrilling her. “Or, maybe your silence speaks for you.”
Red alert! “What the bloody hell do you think you’re doing, blue balls?” she demanded, hating how breathless she sounded.
His gaze dipped to her lips—and stayed. “What would you like me to do, princess?”
Kiss me. Hard.
“I’d like you to move. Now,” she said. Unfortunately, her voice was still raspy with longing.
“Someone’s forgotten her own rules, I think. Just like she claims to have forgotten her pleasure.” He nuzzled her nose, the contact innocent and yet somehow all the more erotic for it. “You sure that’s what you want?”
No, she wasn’t sure. He affected her in a way no one else ever had. He made all her naughty bits tingle, and she liked it. Her br**sts felt heavier, ready for his hands . . . his mouth. Her ni**les hardened and throbbed. Her legs trembled, and at the apex of her thighs she was warm and wet. Her knees threatened to buckle under her slight weight, a reaction guaranteed to land her in the strength of his arms. And probably on her back, on the receiving end of a good snogging. Or more . . .
She hadn’t had sex in three years, since she’d spiraled after Claire’s death. And before that, her last sexual encounter had happened at the ripe old age of seventeen. Back then, she’d given herself to too many, desperate for male approval and attention.