Published by: eXtasy Books
Author : Evelyn Starr
Word Count :76000
Publication Date :2010-08-24
Series : #
Heat Level :
Category : Erotic Romance
- Product Code: 978-1-55410-206-8
Illya finds more than what he came to steal…
Illya Perepechenko had no idea anyone was in the house. All he wanted was valuables. The kind of small stuff a smart thief could sell for quick cash. But this time he’s made a mistake. Because the only valuable in this particular house is Kay Karen, an ex Vegas showgirl who's got a few ideas of her own about what he’s going to steal and what he’s going to give in return. And that’s everything Illya’s got.
The beam shone sickly yellow. Veering toward fatal orange. It wouldn't last long. Maybe only long enough for her to investigate and make sure the thundering crash and the surely-only-imaginary moving of the floorboards beneath her feet hadn't involved the house.
Then the flashlight failed, too. Just as she reached the top of the left-hand wing of the grand staircase and started down. And in the instant that it failed, Kay thought...imagined, felt almost sure...she saw some flicker of movement from the opposite wing of the staircase. She thought she glimpsed, though she hadn't really been focused on those stairs as much as she'd been peering skeptically into the marble-floored hall below, a dark and gliding form hugged close to the wall. Flattened against the wall, as if it hoped to evade notice.
Kay bit back a gasp. Wishing she could flatten herself against her side of the wall too, knowing she'd been seen and oddly, ominously, unable to pick up any thoughts from the closed and controlled mind that inhabited the dark form, she knew the intruder was aware of her. Intuiting rather than reading for certain, she knew he waited for her to turn around and go back from where she'd come. So that he could move silently again. So that he could escape.
And she devoutly wished she could do that. Devoutly wished she could do anything, whether it was to move away from the carved stair railing where she hovered motionless and unbreathing, her hand clenched around some object that stood in the lower hall just beyond the railing or to turn and run, hell bent on self-preservation, back toward her bedroom. Where she could slam the heavy door shut and turn the old but sturdy lock.
Where she could use the extension phone to...
But the phone was no doubt as dead as the power, knocked out by the same thundering cataclysm. And her cell phone was useless, out of range of any tower...
The figure on the opposite staircase moved.
Barely seen, it freed itself from the wall and slipped downward. It reached the wide landing and moving as silently as a shadow without substance, seemed to hesitate there for a moment.
Go, Kay prayed silently. There's nothing here to steal. I know...I think I know...you know that, too. Just go. Now. Leave me alone, leave me...
She had no reason to believe her psychic ability to read thoughts might be reversible. Desperate only to shut out the unwanted thoughts with which she'd been bombarded almost non-stop since the age of about thirteen, she'd never tried to send hers to someone else. She'd never wanted to inflict that kind of insurmountable pain and suffering and unrest on anyone else.
But she tried now. God, how she tried. Her mind almost hurt with the effort of screaming silently at the intruder to leave!
For the barest fraction of a second, it seemed to work.
The barely-seen form took a step downward from the landing. But then it changed direction. Abruptly. It swung around in a swift and fluid, still silent motion and rushed toward her. Rushed across the ten-foot width of the stair landing toward the place where she hovered, unable to overcome her paralysis of fear.
It rushed at her, and she could move only one thing.
She could close it, she discovered in a single moment of clarity in which time ceased to have real meaning and the movement of the man below her on the stairs seemed to slow drastically, as if he'd stepped into some sort of thick and impermeable liquid that almost, though not quite, solidified around him.
Her hand closed automatically, with no conscious thought or direct input, around something broad and flat. Something smooth and yet not smooth, something carved and furrowed with long and angled striations.
The feather, she realized with a part of her mind that remained startlingly aware despite her fear. On the Indian.
She hadn't touched the Indian before. It was a massive, skulking carved thing that stood in the hallway just below the stairs, looking as out of place in its elegantly formal surroundings as would a disco ball suspended above the landing in front of the massive painting of Mystic Falls...the waterfall Mystic Falls...in the wintertime. Kay hadn't touched the hideous thing. Hadn't even wanted to look at it or acknowledge its presence. Because it gave her the creeps. Had given her the creeps from first sight. So she'd taken every pain to avoid it, scuttling past it even in broad daylight without making eye contact.
But the feather in her hand felt solid. It felt heavy enough and sturdy enough to...
Be a weapon.
The idea flashed at lightning speed through her mind even as she realized the object she clutched...the carved feather at the very top of the Indian's massively ugly head...had come loose at her touch. And now the idea flashed again as she realized she was lifting the make-believe weapon. Regaining the use of her arm just in the nick of time, just as the dark figure on the stairs reached for her.
She lifted the feather and brought it down again quickly, surprised by the mass and the weight of it. She lifted it, and brought it down. And heard as well as felt the dull, cracking, painful sound of a solid object striking flesh and bone. Heard too, with her ears this time, a hoarse cry in a voice she knew all too well even if she'd never really heard it before.
"Bozhe moy!" the man's voice...the one she'd heard screaming in anguish inside her head...shouted. And the clatter of the carved feather slipping from her fingers, of it striking the carved mahogany banister and bouncing off into the marble-floored cavern of darkness just beyond, was lost in the immediate, terrible sound of a human body dropping away as if it had been seized from behind by unseen hands and yanked off its feet.
Kay heard the unmistakable sound of the man she'd struck slamming to the stairs then tumbling backward and downward. Downward and downward he fell, in a long series of terrible crashes until finally he reached the landing. Until silence returned.
Absolute silence that was more horrific and more final than any internal or external silence she had ever heard.
She didn't know what that meant either. Didn't have the slightest clue how to guess what it meant. But she thought she knew anyway. She thought the words...or maybe the terrified, surprised, shaken and startled way they'd been shouted as the man went down...made perfect sense.
They were still echoing inside her head as her paralysis broke at last, allowing her to plunge down the stairs. All thought of escape or concealment were long since lost as one single, overwhelming and inarguable truth broke over her.
She'd killed a man.
She'd wanted only to stop him. Wanted to maybe knock him out long enough to figure out how to tie him up or move him to some closet or windowless space where she could lock him away until she could figure out how to summon help.
But she'd killed him instead. And it hadn't even been self-defense. Not one hundred percent without a doubt self-defense, anyway.
Creeping down, reaching the landing, she knelt on the thick carpeting and groped sightlessly. Seeking him and finding him. Finding his throat and pressing two shaking, quivering fingers to the place where she thought she was supposed to feel a pulse.
Pressing them hard against that place, and finding nothing.
Dear God. She, Kay Karen, sometime Las Vegas showgirl who'd been unable to do so much as crush a spider in her own dressing room, had killed a man.
Killed him cold, and...
She knew the idea was stupid. Knew that if she was so medically ignorant and unprepared that she was clueless even to locate a pulse, she had to be woefully inadequate in anything else related to human physiology. But she was panicked now...was verging on full-fledged, mindless, cowering-in-the-corner-whimpering panic. And she'd seen TV. Lots and lots of TV. Lots and lots of medical shows, where they...
Without thinking, certain only that she was doing what had to be done and doing it as well as it could possibly be done under the circumstances, she leaned forward and pinched the unseen man's nose with her fingers. She pinched it tight shut and bent over him to press her mouth to his.