When empath Kitty Nelson is forced to work with rude artist Dane Hanson on a mission to recover a stolen antique, the sparks fly. Kitty’s psychic skills don’t work on him. And Dane thinks she’s the hottest thing he’s ever seen. But when the op turns deadly, Dane realizes he wants to keep the feisty redhead for a lot longer than this mission. That’s if she’ll let herself surrender, the bad guys don’t shoot them, and the weird statue they’re sent to retrieve doesn’t curse them both to death.
a m/f romance
Kitty’s nemesis stood in the lobby with Ian, who practically drooled all over himself while talking to the angry giant—Mr. Tall, Sexy, and Mean.
If only Jack could have been her type. But no, for some insane reason she responded to Karen’s brother. She’d even entertained the thought of using Dane for a quick one-night stand, just for the physical release she desperately needed. But in the end, he annoyed her too much to lower her standards.
And if she was honest with herself, he scared her. Dane dominated his space, and he had that aura of someone in control of himself and everyone around him. Kitty had been fighting her fascination with the idea of submitting for years. She wasn’t weak or spineless, and the idea that she needed to sexually submit to gain satisfaction shamed her. Yet she sensed Dane would ease her humiliating cravings, which made him that much more tempting—and dangerous.
I’m in control. He’s nothing but a problem to solve. Been there, done that. Deal, Kitty.
She took a deep breath, then let it out and continued her approach.
As if he sensed her, Dane turned from Ian in midsentence and watched her with a narrowed gaze. Like a lion scenting a gazelle.
She shook the thought off and forced a smile. “Well, well. Dane Hanson. Finally come for that gym membership?”
Ian’s sly grin made her inwardly groan. “Hey, Kitty. We were just talking about you.”
“I’ll bet.” She came to stand next to him, aware she stood an inch taller than the slick forger. Next to Ian, she felt gawky and awkward. Too busty, too tall, too colorful. Not particularly meek or unassuming, but a woman who spoke her mind and had no problem with confrontation. Well, not when she could defuse any situation.
Unfortunately, she didn’t seem to be able to connect with Dane. Some people were like that, but the ones she’d been unable to manipulate had been psychic. Dane seemed normal enough. On the two occasions they’d spoken, or rather, he’d talked at her, she’d tried to calm him down. Yet he’d quietly raged all the same. He didn’t yell or threaten. He glared. And with his size, a glare would normally be all it took to scare a person. But not Kitty.
This time she planned to give him her all. She smiled at him. “Well then, Dane. What can we do for you?”
He planted his large hands on his hips and studied her while she studied him. He wore jeans and a sweatshirt that clung lovingly to his broad chest. His chestnut-brown hair had been cut since the last time she’d seen him, and it suited him. Crisp and clean, the man didn’t have an inch of excess on him anywhere…that she knew about. She had to force herself to keep from checking the fly of his jeans and stared into his dark brown eyes, searching for that pulse of anger he should be feeling. Except she sensed nothing at all.
Now not only was she unable to manipulate his emotions, she couldn’t feel them either, and that freaked her the hell out.
“Kitty? You okay?” Ian sounded concerned, but Kitty couldn’t take her gaze from an obviously furious Dane Hanson. She could see the vein pounding in his neck and the wrath glinting in his gaze. But she couldn’t feel a damn thing. Well, except for being so turned on she wanted to lick him from his head to his toes and everywhere in between.
Focus, damn it. How the hell can he block me like this?
“I need a moment with Ms. Nelson,” he uttered in a low, gravelly voice.
Ian shook his head. “I don’t think—”
Kitty interrupted, “Ian, it’s okay. Dane, follow me. We’ll talk in my office.”
Ian scowled at her and Dane but didn’t argue. “I’ll man the lobby. But Nathan and Chloe are out there. And the others are right down the hall,” he added in a louder voice, obviously as a warning to Dane.
She turned and walked into the main gym, past the weights section, and nodded to Chloe and Nathan with a smile. Behind her, Dane remained a solid presence that refused to go away. How could she be so aware of someone yet unable to sense his emotions?
Kitty led him down the hallway their nonpsychic employees used. They had a staff of eleven psychics on hand and a half-dozen civilians, none of whom had any inkling of the power they worked around on a daily basis. She entered her office and took a seat behind her desk. It remained clear and organized at all times, a lot like the way she kept her life. Compartmentalized.
Dane didn’t wait to be asked to sit. He shut the door behind him and practically threw himself into a chair facing hers across the desk. But he gave the appearance of being at ease as he sat back and crossed an ankle over his knee. “You’re responsible for this.”
“O-kay. Want to tell me what ‘this’ is?”
“My sister and that jackass are talking about getting engaged.”
She didn’t know what to say. Congratulations seemed way, way off. “Ah, and this is bad because…?”
“Because the self-serving bastard is going to use her and dump her after he takes our land. We’ve talked about this, remember?”
“You mentioned something about that the last time you talked at me. But I had a hard time listening to your dictation. Explain it again, because I’m still not following.”
Dane dropped his leg, sat up straight in the chair, and leaned forward, planting his tanned hands on the desk. “My sister is a naive, trusting sort.” He gave her a look, indicating he didn’t see her as such. “She knew to look out for Douglas McKay. His family has been trying to buy our property for years. But it’s ours—mine and my sister’s. And we won’t sell.”
“Good for you. But honestly, I don’t care about your land.”
“You sure about that? McKay speaks highly of you.” He gave her a leering once-over she didn’t appreciate. She again tried to delve into his emotional well and tap into his psyche and sensed nothing. She didn’t feel a shield keeping her out either. So bizarre.
Annoyed and a little desperate to get a handle on him, Kitty reached out and rested her hand on top of his, needing to see into the big bastard.
Dane glanced down at her smaller hand and raised a brow. “Is this some kind of plea where you throw yourself on my mercy?” He smiled through his teeth. “Because I don’t have any.”
She hurriedly removed her hand, annoyed that she focused more on his warmth and maleness instead of his emotional void. “I’m trying to calm you down. It’s not my fault your sister is in love with Doug. No more than it’s my fault he’s in love with her.”
He rose halfway out of his seat to lean across her desk. “Is that so? Because my sister sings your praises like you two are best friends. And she credits you for giving her the courage to stand up to me. To me.” He stood to his full height and loomed over her like a thundercloud. “I’m her brother, for God’s sake. Not a monster.”
“You could have fooled me,” she muttered.
His face darkened. “I won’t lose the land my family has kept for generations. I won’t give it up to that bastard, McKay. And I won’t let my sister get used by some loser with a woman on the side. Though I gotta admit, McKay has good taste.”
She didn’t understand until Dane’s gaze traveled down her T-shirt and stayed on her breasts. “Wait a minute. What did you just say?”
He met her gaze and crossed his arms over his chest. “You heard me. I can see why McKay is interested. You’re hot, and you’re aggressive. Probably pushed him into making his move, because ever since I’ve known that kid, he’s been a p*ssy afraid of his own shadow. But yeah, I can see where he’d make a move for you.” His dark eyes glittered with anger, but with lust? She couldn’t quite tell.
Outraged, Kitty jumped out of her chair and circled her desk to face the oversize creep. She poked him in the chest. “Look, you idiot. Your sister is a nice girl who fell in love with a nice guy. Doug McKay is not my lover, and he’s not a p*ssy.” She poked him again, harder this time. “And if you don’t clean up your language, I’ll shove my foot so far up your *ss that when I kick you out of the gym, you’ll be sh*tting my shoes.”
He blinked at her, no doubt stunned she’d stood up to him.
She poked him again. “Are we clear?”
She hadn’t expected his smile. It brightened his entire face. “Sh*tting your shoes. Oh yeah, I’ll watch my language. Clear as glass.”
The irony of her demand wasn’t lost on her. She blushed and retreated behind her desk. But she didn’t sit, keyed up and irritated because she wanted to poke him again to prolong the contact. “You have a problem with your sister and Doug. I get it. But it’s not my problem. Your sister is sweet, and Doug’s a decent guy. Maybe if you took the chance to get to know him, you’d see that.”
He didn’t say anything for a moment, seeming to weigh her words. “You can trust I’ll look into McKay. And I’ll look into you too. Don’t doubt for a second I’ll be back, sweetheart.”
When he skirted the desk and cornered her, she braced herself to retaliate. She didn’t need to yell for help. She’d knee him so hard he’d—
He reached out and stroked her cheek with a blunt finger. She froze, not daring to breathe.