As a woman whose only master was her gypsy wanderlust, and
her love for her sister, Jewel had been around. She knew
the one thing ninety percent of the people in the world had
in common - they loved to talk. If you knew the right
questions to ask, information was ripe for the picking.
Hooper Radisson, the owner of the big white house set on
the side of the mountain just out side the city, was
someone the residents loved to speculate about. Heâ€™d moved
to Pearson less than year ago, and set up shop as a
financial consultant. Only he never actually opened up an
office, and he had no local clients.
He was seen about town often, spending money and
entertaining visiting clients, but that was it. And lucky
for Jewel, it drove the locals crazy with curiosity. One
mention of Hooperâ€™s name at the pub and she knew where he
lived, what kind of car he drove and, among other things,
that he was a vegetarian.
Forty â€“ eight hours after Nadya was taken, Jewel was
smirking at the simple security system surrounding the big
white house on the hill. Getting past the guard at the
front gate had been as simple as climbing over the seven-
foot cement wall surrounding the grounds.
Almost too easy, really. She knew that Hooper was no
ordinary man, not if he could grab Nadya so easily.
She slowly made her way through the trees and up to the
house, surprised at the lack of guards patrolling the
grounds. She inched her way along the side of the house,
and to the back, checking out each window as she went. A
kid could crack the system wiring all the windows and
doors, and her instincts were screaming caution.
She reached into her pocket and pulled out one of the small
pouches Kaz had given her before the clan had left
town. â€śLetâ€™s see what weâ€™ve got here,â€ť she muttered to
herself and spilled some of the fine powder into the palm
of her hand. With a soft blow, the powder flew off her hand
and into to air â€¦ where it hit a shimmering wall of energy
and sparkled florescent orange for a split second. â€śOhhh,
The lovely orange color showed that the house was indeed
protected by a spell. It didnâ€™t matter that the technical
security sucked, the magical security was top notch. Before
Jewel could reach for her crystals, a muffled cry of pain
came from nearby and the house and surrounding grounds were
flooded with light.
â€śShit!â€ť She didnâ€™t hesitate a second. Adrenaline kicked
into overdrive and she spun around on her heel and took off
for the dense trees nearby. A mad dash through them wasnâ€™t
the quietest way to get to the wall that separated the
grounds from the winding public road where sheâ€™d parked her
truck, but it was the fastest, and it offered protection
from the floodlights.
Five feet from the cement security wall a shadowy form
jumped from behind a tree and tackled her. Heart in her
throat, she reacted instinctively, her hands going for her
attackerâ€™s throat, her knees bending and feet kicking as
she tried to nail him in the balls.
The body turtled over her, heavy legs tangling with hers,
pinning them, full weight on her torso as one hand covered
her mouth and the other grabbed two of her fingers and
yanked them back until pain made her let go of his
throat. â€śShut up for Christ sakes! Theyâ€™re almost here.â€ť
His whispered words registered in her mind at the same time
a beam of light played over the compound wall just above
them. They both froze, and Jewel finally realized that this
guy wasnâ€™t hauling her to her feet or dragging her back
toward the big white house.
She closed her eyes, concentrated on calming her heart
rate, then listened closely to the sounds around them. The
musky scent of raw man reached her nose and butterflies
unfurled in her stomach. Sensual awareness threatened to
overcome her fear as they lay there.
Neither spoke, she didnâ€™t even think they breathed, but in
the distance she could hear voices raised as guards
searched the grounds. A single bark split the night air and
they both tensed. Jewels eyes popped open and she stared at
the shadowed face above hers. Eyes black as night met hers
and his hand left her lips.
â€śA dog!â€ť she whispered furiously.
â€śOver the wall,â€ť he replied. â€śNow.â€ť
He sprang to his feet and she was right behind him.
As if theyâ€™d done it a million times before he bent his
knees and Jewel stepped smoothly into his cupped hands and
he boosted her to the top of the wall with ease. The
stranger was over six feet tall, and with a small jump he
was halfway up the wall. Jewel gripped the foot wide cement
between her thighs and grabbed the back of his belt as he
scrabbled up the wall with ease. As she swung her leg over
and sat atop the wall, the dog came through the thicket of
trees, barking madly and pulling a small man behind. A
chunk of cement flew into the air as a gunshot bounced off
the wall a foot to the left of Jewel and she jumped to the
She hit the ground running and was at her truck in seconds,
the helpful stranger right behind her. Shoving the key in
the ignition and pulling her door closed at the same time
she was surprised when the passenger door opened. She heard
him say he was leaving with the girl and watched with wide
eyes as he joined her.
What the hell?
â€śYou canâ€™t-â€ś a shot hit the windshield and she clamped her
mouth shut on the instinctive cry of surprise.
â€śGo damn it!â€ť he shouted.
And she did.
Without another thought she slammed the truck into gear and
floored it, speeding off down the twisted mountain road.
Neither of them spoke as Jewel drove into town. She
concentrated on the road ahead of them and he watched the
road behind them. They must not have been followed though
because he never urged her to speed up or take off on one
of the side roads.
Jewelâ€™s thoughts whipped through her head at a mile a
minute while she tried to figure things out. Every now and
then sheâ€™d glance sideways at her passenger only to catch
him staring straight at her.
Their gazes collided more than once, yet still, neither of
By the time they hit the Pearson city limits it was clear
no men with guns had followed them, and reaction had
started to set in. Jewel wasnâ€™t an innocent to the ways of
the world, sheâ€™d dealt with a lot of scary things. Shit,
she was a gypsy who made the bulk of her money hustling
dart games in pubs around the country - sheâ€™d been in a
tough spot or two before.
Sheâ€™d seen things, natural and supernatural things that
were both good and evil, but sheâ€™d never been shot at
Her heartbeat started to slow and the trembling inside her
had settled down enough so she could breathe normally. She
loosened her death grip on the steering wheel, and when her
knuckles were no longer glaringly white, she glanced at her
passenger. Her gut tightened. What now?
As if he could read her mind, he gestured to a parking
stall in front of the coffee shop across from the
lake. â€śPull in here,â€ť he directed. â€śWe need to talk.â€ť
The only reason Jewel did what he told her to was because
it was true. They did need to talk. She put the truck in
park, but left it running, and turned to get her first real
good look at her passenger.
The light from the streetlamp illuminated the inside of the
trucks cab enough for her to see that he was extremely good
looking. Short dark hair, olive skin stretched over high
cheekbones, and almost bottomless eyes had her pulse
picking up for a very different reason than fear. His firm
jaw line was shadowed with a layer of stubble that only
enhanced the shape of his very seductive mouth.
A quiver of excitement rippled through her. A man with a
mouth like that had to know how to use it.
Jewel squashed the sensual awareness growing inside her and
gave him a hard look. â€śWho the hell are you?â€ť
The mouth in question twisted. â€śYou can call me Devil.â€ť
She grabbed for the dagger tucked into the side of her
right boot, but before the blade cleared leather his hand
gripped her wrist, hard. â€śI said you can call me Devil, not
that I was the devil. Iâ€™m one of the good guys in this
She met his gaze head on, no fear. â€śIâ€™m supposed to believe
you just because you say so?â€ť
â€śIf I was one of them Iâ€™d have let you run right into the
spotlight instead of tackling you, and I certainly wouldnâ€™t
have helped you over the fence.â€ť He spoke matter-of-factly,
his expression blank. â€śNow why donâ€™t you tell me your name?â€ť
When people lied they tended to overplay their hand. If
anything convinced her to believe him â€“ and she wasnâ€™t sure
she did â€“ but if anything was going to convince her, it was
his lack of emotion.
â€śOkay, say I believe you. What were you doing there?â€ť She
let go of the onyx-handled dagger, but kept her hand by the
side of her leg. His hold on her wrist loosened in
response, but he didnâ€™t release her completely.
His head dipped in acknowledgment. â€śOkay, Jewel, it doesnâ€™t
matter what I was doing there. What matters is itâ€™s a
dangerous place, and you are not to go back there.â€ť
Fuck that, she thought to herself.
Tension thickened the air between them. Who did he think he
was? He didnâ€™t even ask what she had been doing there, just
issued orders like he was the king or something. â€śYou think
you can stop me?â€ť
The one word was said with such complete arrogance that
Jewel reacted instinctively.
Slapping her right hand on top of the one that held her
left wrist, she pinned it there at the same time twisting
her left hand up and over his. She put her weight behind
it, shifting toward him and pressing down on the wristlock.
He countered by moving back and pulling her on top of him,
his other hand going on top of hers and yanking two fingers
back â€“ the same two fingers heâ€™d used to get her to release
her choke hold earlier. Pain ripped up her forearm and she
let go, landing in his lap with their hands trapped between
their bodies and their faces only millimeters apart.
She sucked in air and tried not to notice the hardness of
the body beneath her â€¦ until he kissed her.