Secrets of the
Dark – Excerpt
"What's your name?"
He straightened suddenly, coming to his feet and
towering much taller than she'd expected. His jacket and shirt, both unbuttoned, flapped open with the movement, revealing
a far more toned and massive chest than his previous stance suggested. The shape of him sparked interest low in Tia's belly
and made breathing difficult. In looks, he should have been a model but he carried himself like a cat, all smooth and fluid
movements designed for efficiency but graceful none the less. He purred, "Do you need to know?"
Tia froze, recognizing the domination in his baring.
Determined not to show fear, she tilted up her chin. "I need to know."
"Simon. And yours?"
Watching him closely, she replied, "Tia."
"Nice name." Simon strode a few paces away, glancing
at the impenetrable rainfall. "And what beckoned you to adventure out on a hellish night like tonight, Tia?"
She shifted from foot to foot, not sure she wanted
to share any more personal information with this strange man. Then again, she didn't want him to get the wrong impression
of why she walked the streets alone this late at night. "I own a bar downtown. I just finished closing up and I'm heading
home." Living in the city, she'd learned never to display weakness to a stranger. With challenge in her voice she demanded,
He chuckled to himself as if finding the question
amusing and he eased back toward her. "Just out looking for a bite to eat."
"Uh-huh," Tia said, watching him size her up wolfishly
as if she were on the menu. A tremble, composed of equal parts fear and excitement, coursed through her. Tia found him far
too sexy to trust her judgment. She wanted to stay, wanted to get closer, maybe even touch him but she heard the warning sirens
in her head blaring. Best to listen to the warning, she decided and circled a wide path around him toward home.
She was just a step away from reentering the pelting
rain when a sudden explosion of thunder overheard jolted her back. Her heels slipped on the slick pavement and before she
could fall or catch herself, Simon gathered her in his arms. He'd crossed the distance between them extraordinarily fast.
"Whoa, fella. Hands off." Tia pushed against his
chest, missing the opened shirt so her palms pressed on his unyielding bare pecs. The skin glistened with a golden tan and
felt as supple as fine suede.
His hands slid down Tia's arms, leaving hot trails
in their wake. Simon lowered his hands to his side but didn't step back. Standing so close to her, the rustle of the storm
winds blew his open jacket so it fluttered against her torso. The heat pulsing from his body drove away the chills and pulled
her magnetically toward him. He asked, "You'd prefer I allow you fall?"
"I guess not," she mumbled, no longer focused on
the minor offense but instead staring with fascination into his eyes. A starburst of white ringed his pupils and flamed into
burning yellow only to cool into a red crown circling the edge of his irises. The color seemed to modulate, as if capturing
the flicker of a flame in slow motion. "You have fire in your eyes," she said, only half aware of how stupid the comment sounded.
"Not just in my eyes," Simon smiled.
A gust of dry heat puffed over Tia and she stumbled
back a step in surprise. "What was that?" She touched her newly dried hair and smoothed her perfectly pressed clothes. "How
did you do that?"
"That was nothing," he dismissed it with a wave
of his hand.
"Sure impressed the hell out of me."
He cocked his head, sizing her up. A grin quirked
up the corners of his perfect lips, which were just full enough to imply a melting tenderness to his kisses. The expression
softened the perfect planes of his face. With amused surprise in his voice, he stated, "You're not afraid, are you?"
Tia thought about the question. The adrenaline pickling
in her blood rushed not to her muscles, as if to prepare to fight or flee but to her skin, heart and lower regions, making
her body ache with a longing only physical contact of a romantic nature could soothe. Breathlessly, she asked, "Should I fear
He considered the question. "Should you? What an
interesting dilemma. What should one do in your predicament? What should one feel? I have never pondered that."
Tia stepped back out of arms' reach, not able to
reconcile the attraction and mistrust mingling inside her. "My predicament? What predicament am I in?"
"That I cannot express in words you would understand."
Simon held out his hand, palm up. "I can only show you."