She was safe. He’d gotten to her in time. Her body shaking so badly he’d have been terrified if he hadn’t seen the exact thing before. Mckenna exhibited the same symptoms. He’d seen it a number of times over the years. Still, seeing the tiny woman in his arms shaking so violently, her face ashen, her lips blue, her skin icy to the touch had him wishing he could kill every one of the bastards again, much more slowly and a great deal more painfully.
He carried her all the way into the bath pausing only long enough to give Roger instructions about keeping the deck clear until he could have the bodies removed.
“No problem, I’ve already quarantined it.” Roger said, “Seems somebody in the laundry room mixed ammonia and bleach. The fumes are poisonous you know.”
“Yes, I believe I’ve heard that.” Andre felt his lips twitch. It wasn’t often people surprised him. Roger had been one surprise after another.
“Happens sometimes with new folks.” Roger shrugged, then his concerned gaze rested on the Angel in his arms. “Miss Allie I’m gonna get you some of that crème de chocolate you like so much. That should warm you right up.”
His angel tried to say thank-you but her teeth were chattering too hard. If he didn’t get her warm he was in serious danger of losing his sanity.
Reaching into the shower, he turned it on, adjusting the temperature. He then walked right into it. the Angel gasped and stuttered something about his tuxedo.
“Shush.” He sat her on the built in marble bench, rubbing her arms roughly to get her blood flowing, “You need to warm up. Can you sit here on your own?”
She nodded. He stepped out of the shower and started the water running in the bath. The shower would warm her up enough so that the hot bath wouldn’t feel scalding.
While the water ran he called Grey who answered with a terse, “Well?”
“I’ve got her. She’s unharmed. The men are dead.”
“Good. This was Thresher?
“I’m contacting Welch. I’ll follow up tomorrow. This needs to end.” And the line disconnected. The man didn’t waste words.
His second call was to Mckenna.
“Andre, what is it? Is she safe? I got a crazy message from Jose…”
“Thresher tried to take her.”
“Goddess be damned! I’m going to destroy that fucker one fucking piece at a time!” A fond smile lifted the corner of his mouth. Mckenna did have an affinity for slicing things up, a surprisingly endearing quality. “Is she alright? Shit, I knew I shouldn’t have left. I had a bad feeling.”
“What is it?” He heard the hellion in the background, “Dammit Mac you told me the Senator was no big deal…”
“It’s not about the Senator. Thresher tried to take her.” This set off a string of violent cursing, dire threats and demands to know what the fuck happened, “She’s fine.” Mckenna shouted oer the girl’s graphic description of just how she would snap the man’s dick off and make him fucking eat it, “Andre’s got her.”
“WHAT?” The hellion stopped her cursing mid-fucking fuck, only to spout out more, “What the fuck is that kinky fucker doing to her?”
The hellion was not his biggest fan.
“Hell’s Nine Bells, Lena, get off me.” He heard grunt and the hellion’s distant sulky, “Snarky bitch.”
“Alliana’s safe.” He jumped into what he knew would be only a temporary lull, “The men who tried to take her are dead. I’ll have her call you when she’s feeling better.”
“Get her into a hot bath.” Mckenna instructed, “And get them to bring up that hot chocolate she likes.”
“Good, yes. Okay. We’re kind of busy here…” He heard indistinct grumbling, then, “Oh for fuck’s sake, no he didn’t leave any of them alive for you. Just how many bodies do you want to have to dump in one night? Stop sulking and get your damn end. Sheesh, why is it the assholes who take a break from wailing on women to run into the bullet that just happens to be leaving the gun you’re holding are never, never short and scrawny.”
Ah yes, the girls would be occupied all night.
“You’ll stay with her?” Mckenna was back to him.
“Of course.” He hung up and turned to see his Angel standing just outside the still running shower – shivering.
“What are you doing?” He grabbed one of the fluffy towels from the rack and wrapped it around her delectable quaking body.”
“I wanted to talk to Mac.” The words came out stuttering, barely comprehensible.
“You can talk to her tomorrow. Right now, you will get in the tub and warm up.” The sight of her miserable and freezing, knowing it was his own negligence that brought her to this state was ripping away at his sanity. He wanted her in the tub surrounded by bubbles, drinking cocoa, and sighing in bliss. Pampered and indulged. And somehow he would stay on the other side of the door.
“You need to get these off.” He left the towel hanging on her shoulders, his hands going to the tie holding the top closed. The Angel stuttered a protest and grabbed the knot. He merely reached in his coat pocket, pulled out a short silver blade. One quick slice on either side of the knot and the sash fell away in pieces. He went to push the top from her shoulders.
“What are you doing? Stop it…” Her shaking hands held the fabric when he tried to push the top from her shoulders.
“I’m getting you in that tub. You’re freezing.” He almost promised not to look, but that would not only be a lie, but an insult to the Angel’s intelligence.
“Andre Torrill you get out of this bath.” Her words became much clearer as her temper flared, “I can take my own clothes off, thank you very much.”
“Can you?” He asked absently, reaching around to the back of her neck he pushed the towel off her shoulders, gripped the top at the collar and pulled it away from her body
“Yes…” She tried to jerk away from him.
His hands were occupied so he indulged himself by nipping the lobe of her ear, “Hold still…” Her split second of shock was all he needed. He flicked the blade around in his hand, touching it to the collar and tugged. The knife sliced through the thin fabric in less than a second. It hung off her shoulders in two pieces.
A small feminine squeal of outrage had a swelling effect on his already rising erection. Grimly ignoring the growing discomfort in his pants, he pulled the damp fabric off her back, but ran into resistance in the form of two dainty hands holding the fabric to her breasts, “How dare you? Get out of here, now.”
Affording himself only the briefest glance down, seeing a pebbled nipple and a plump of sweet flesh pressing through her spread fingers covered only by that thin film of blue. He was so close, it would be nothing to lean down and bite and suck right through that fabric.
He forced his eyes back up to her flushed, outraged, beautiful face, “Not until you are in that tub, Angel.”
“Fine.” With an enraged toss of her head, she spun around. He was treated to the mouth-watering view of her perfect ass covered in thin wet satin, clinging to her like a second skin. So mesmerized by the sight, he failed to see what sailed through the air at him until it slapped him across his face and stuck, and his view was obstructed by the wet blue veil. He peeled it away to see his Angel glaring at him, eyes flashing, cheeks gone vivid red in anger. Holding the mate to the piece of her top she’d slung at him over her luscious breasts, her arm outstretched, her dainty hand pointing at the door, “OUT!”
Holy God, the sight would send a man to his knees. His nearly buckled, “Very well, Angel.” The words were rough, but he was impressed he could form words at all, “Enjoy your bath.” He left the room before he jumped in the water and devoured her. Tuxedo be damned.
“How is she?” The gruff voice on the phone demanded. As much as he hated making the call. The oaf would be storming the gates if he wasn’t informed.
“She is well, but chilled. She’s in a hot bath.
“Where the fuck are you?”
“I’m in her room. It was when I left that they took her.” He reminded the man They had formed an uneasy alliance over the years. Each understanding the other was too useful when it came to protecting what they both cared about to kill.
“I’ll be there in the morning. Keep your hands off her.”
“My hands are none of your concern. Your concern are the five bodies that need immediate disposal.”
He disconnected. McIntyre had many contacts in this city. Disposing of five bodies would be no problem. Neanderthals had their uses.
Once off the phone, his eyes strayed to that closed door, his feet followed. If he were very still and quiet he could hear the sensual sounds of a woman in her bath. The trickles of water, the contented sighs, the gentle slosh of a slick body moving. He could picture her raising a leg… soaping an arm…
He was tugging his coat off his suddenly heated skin, when the knock on the door came.
Three raps, “It’s Roger Miss Allie,” followed by two more taps. Roger took instructions well.
Andre opened the door and stepped back, his eyes wide at what waited in the hallway behind Roger. It seemed everyone at the Hotel Jefferson was on board with pampering the Angel. Roger pushed the first linen covered cart. Three more followed.
The first cart held a pot of cocoa and some of what Roger called “Miss Allie’s favorites.” A variety of tiny sandwiches and cakes. The second cart was loaded with tall crystal vases of white roses. As the man placed them around the room, Andre saw each of the vases was subtly different. In one the white roses were tinted with delicate pink that became deep pink on the edges, in another the white was slightly green. Still another held roses of delicate ivory that reminded Andre of the Angel’s skin. And the final vase, set in the place of honor atop the grand piano held roses of purest white edged with vivid blood red. “Fire and Ice” The man told him proudly. “Very rare. Miss Allie’s favorite.”
The remaining two carts were laden with white terry cloth pajamas, slippers, and another robe. And a delicate blue and white cloth covered box filled with bath products and candles. The candles got set around the room and lit. The single female in the room had tapped on the door and delivered the pajamas slippers and robe. Softly scented steam had drifted through the cracked door and he imagined he heard the sound of a woman rising from the bath. He pulled his tie loose and tore open the buttons at his throat, then yanked out his cufflinks set about rolling up the sleeves.
The last item to be placed in the room was a plush ivory throw. Roger fluffed it out laying on the sofa.
“It’s cashmere. Miss Allie gets chilled.” He explained.
“Yes, she does.” And he was about to burn alive. After seeing the four out of the room he crossed to the balcony, slid the door open and stepped into the night breathing deep of the chill air in an effort to cool the rush of blood going to every part of his body, and most notably south.
Having done anything and everything anyone could possibly do in a bath room. Allie covered herself in an abundance of terrycloth and bravely opened the door. It would be fine. She was an adult. Yes, he was tempting as the devil, but she could resist. And though he wanted her she knew he’d never attempt to seduce her after what she’d endured tonight. Why that thought made her feel weepy, she wouldn’t allow herself to ponder.
She bravely opened the door and walked out…and… “Oh, how…wonderful.”
The room was beautiful already, but now it was an overabundance of luxury. Gratitude and affection for Roger and the staff clogged her throat. They were always kind and treated her well, but this was over the top. She wandered over to the coffee table, where a vase of roses had been placed and touched her finger to a single ivory bloom, “It’s like I’ve been visited by the fairies.”
“From what I’ve heard, fairies are vicious spiteful creatures. If they visited they would no doubt kill you in a jealous rage.”
She spun around and choked on her tongue, “Oh…dear…”
Oh, the man was just evil. His hair was tossed, his tuxedo jacket gone sleeves rolled up, tie gone, and at least three buttons open. That was just too much succulent golden….male…
She wanted to nuzzle the shirt aside and take a bite out of him, right where his shoulder became his chest.
“Something wrong, Angel.”
Her eyes popped up. Wicked humor danced in his eyes, though his face was perfectly blank. The menace, “No,” She choked out, giving him her back, “Nothing at all.”
She concentrated very hard on the pot of chocolate in front of her. Picking up the pot and carefully pouring out the rich steaming cocoa, lifting the cup and saucer, inhaling the chocolate.
“It’s only fair, Angel.” The dark whisper came from right behind her. She’d have dropped the cup had he not reached out to steady her hand. And those layers of terry cloth might as well have been gossamer wings left behind by the fairies.
Warm breath tickled her ear, “That you suffer a little of the torture you cause me to endure every waking moment.”
The ridiculousness of that statement gave her the strength to pull away. She crossed to the sofa plopped down and cupped her chocolate in both hands, “You didn’t even know I existed until October.”
“You don’t think so?” He tilted his head, smiling.
And it occurred to her she might sound a little bit petulant. Oh that wouldn’t do, she shrugged and sipped her cocoa.
“Why is that I wonder?” She felt him approach and tugged the throw over her. More armor. He sat down beside her and reached into a box filled with bath products, “You, my sweet Angel are very difficult to overlook. I overlook nothing. So why is it I overlooked you?”
The question in that thoughtful tone had her glancing his way. He was serious, “You were focused on Mckenna.”
“True.” He rummaged through the box and came back with a silver brush.
“Do you love her still?”
She did not just ask the question she swore she never would. Oh Dear Goddess, she should never open her mouth after midnight. She lost any semblance of a filter when she was tired.
“I’m sorry.” A shaking hand, settled the cocoa cup on its saucer, “Please forget I asked that….”
She whispered, staring at the chocolate in her cup, knowing she’d never forget. Never. Nor would she be able to forget his answer….
Oh don’t answer. Don’t…
“I will always love your sister…..”
Allie sat still. So very still. She breathed in and then out. She sipped her cocoa, placed the cup back on the saucer. While inside, her heart broke, cracked into pieces. Pain radiated out to every cell in her body, filling her up, till she was choking on it. Dear Goddess, how could something that was not physical cause such agony? And how could she be sitting here still and silent, not dying. Not wailing like the wounded animals she’d seen in her sister’s shelter, curled in on herself in abject misery.
“Though not in the way a man loves a woman, not in that way, no.” The quiet words came to her from far away. Seeping into her consciousness, gently lifting her to the surface of her raging sea of heartbreak. She became aware of a hand tugging the towel from her head, spilling her damp hair on her shoulders. “Do you know what your sister said to me that October morning?”
Allie blinked at the silver brush in his hand as he motioned for her to turn. Numb from pain that had turned to shock, she did as he asked.
“That brilliant girl told me I loved her because I knew she could never love me back. She was safe.”
Allie’s oh of understanding turned to a moan of pleasure at the slide of the brush through her hair. “Now you, my Angel, are not safe at all.” Andre’s lips brushed her ear, the sensual slide of the brush pulling her head back, “You are most definitely dangerous.”