Of Blood and Bone (Page 29)

Of Blood and Bone (The Minaldi Legacy #1)(29)
Author: Courtney Cole

His chest is rock hard and his biceps are wiry bands of muscle wrapped around my back.  The air hangs heavy around us, charged with sexual energy.  It threads over and under, weaving between us, pulling us closer.  We are enmeshed now and I don’t know where I end and he begins; that is how closely we are tangled.

Luca’s breathing is ragged and his smell is intoxicating.  I inhale as deeply as I can with his tongue wrapped around mine.

It is everything that I thought kissing him would be.

And then he stops. 

The air around us is charged and hot and magnetic, but Luca is motionless as he stares down at me, his beautiful eyes fixed upon mine.

My heart is racing as I stare back at him.

“I can’t, Evangeline,” he tells me regretfully.  “You’re distraught, not yourself. This isn’t right.”

I take a second to catch my breath, to bring myself under control.  I know my cheeks are flushed.  I can feel the heat staining them, evidence of the rejection that I feel.

But he’s right and I know it, so I nod.

“Okay,” I whisper.  “But I thought you weren’t a gentleman.”

Luca smiles in the dark and starts to get up, to return to the living room couch, but that thought makes anxiety shoot through me and I tug on his arm.

“Please stay,” I tell him.  “I can’t get the nightmares out of my head and I know they’re going to come back.  I keep seeing her face. And Christopher’s.”

My voice breaks off in the dark and Luca looks down at me gently.  And then, without even complaining or commenting on the size of the bed, he sits back down and curls behind me, wrapping his strong arms around my waist.  His scent curls around me like a blanket and I inhale, feeling calm for the first time all evening.

“Sleep,” he tells me. “I’m right here.”

He stays with me all night.

Chapter Sixteen


When I wake, I am hard.

While it is not uncommon for a man to wake with an erection in the morning, I know it is not a by-product of Mother Nature, but because I am pressed against Evangeline’s very lovely backside.  I mentally groan.  Why did I do this to myself?

The memory of her frightened and sad face from last night flits through my mind in answer.

That’s why.

I disentangle myself from the covers as gently as I can so that I don’t wake her. Her hair is spread over her pillow like a cloud of deep red silk. In sleep, she is vulnerable and soft. I bend down, without thinking, and kiss her forehead.   She doesn’t stir and I don’t know why I did that.

I make my way out to the living room and pull my shirt on, then hunt for coffee in her kitchen.  After I find it, I put some on to brew, then check on Grendel.  He’s still lying right where I left him.

“Good boy,” I tell him through the door.  He looks at me and his tail thumps twice on the ground, but he won’t get up until I tell him that he can.

“You’re up,” a soft voice says from behind me.

I turn to find Evangeline standing in the doorway of her bedroom. Her hair is still sleep-tousled and she’s still in her pajamas.  She’s as sexy as anything I’ve ever seen and I swallow hard.  Her pajama shorts are very, very short.  I suck in my breath.

I cannot allow myself to be affected by this woman.

I nod.

“Yes.  And there’s coffee on.”

Gratitude shimmers in her eyes and I can see that she is like me.  Coffee is the first thing she thinks about.  She patters out to the kitchen and pours a cup before it is even finished brewing.  She blows on it, then sips at it.  She looks at me.

“You don’t have any yet. Here, take mine.”  She shoves it into my hands and I can’t resist but to sip from where her lips had just been.  The idea of it makes me hard again, as well as the memory of her kiss from the night before.

I hand her the cup back. “I can wait,” I tell her.  “You go ahead.”

She stares at me for a moment, her grayish eyes pensive.

“I’m sorry I kissed you last night,” she says apologetically.  I stare at her and can’t help but smile. She does look sorry.

“I’m not,” I assure her.

She smiles a soft, sleepy smile and I find it endearing.

“Evangeline,” I begin.  “I think you should come stay at Chessarae.  You’re out here all alone and you’re not going to rest easy that way.  I’ve got dozens of guest rooms.  You can have your pick.  It would make me feel better.”

She looks doubtful and starts to shake her head, but I can see the temptation on her face.  She does want to, which means that she is really afraid here.  She’s a very independent person so I know that she must be incredibly nervous to even consider it.

“It’s not an imposition at all,” I tell her.  “Truly.”

She’s quiet for a moment and then she nods.

“Thank you.  Maybe I will take you up on that, for just a little while, until they find whoever is doing this.  This whole thing has shaken me more than I thought.”

“It would shake up anyone,” I tell her again and she nods.

“Thank you.”

She leaves to get dressed and I assume to pack a bag and I am left with doubts and trepidation of my own. Why did I do that?  It’s going to make my life so much more difficult as I worry about her safety in my home.

I’ll have to be even more careful, more so than I’ve ever been.

But it seems to be time for that, anyway.

Chapter Seventeen


I wasn’t going to accept.

But just as I was ready to say the words, No, thank you, visions of my nightmares came back to me, the horrible snakes coming from Annica’s rotting mouth and then Christopher’s and I was saying yes instead.

It was as much of a surprise to me as it was to Luca, but it was a relief to me as well. That was surprising too. I hadn’t realized how scared I had been.  The idea of being at Chessarae, behind the stone walls that look so impenetrable and strong, is comforting.

I pack a bag and emerge back out into the living room.

Luca is casually waiting for me, sipping a cup of coffee and browsing on his phone.

“Adrian will be here momentarily with the car,” he tells me.  “Chessarae is within jogging distance, but I thought it would be easier to drive with your bag.”

He smiles now, a gracious host and I smile back.