It had been just after midnight when she’d collapsed facedown on the surprisingly comfortable bed, dead to the world. It was close to three a. m. when she heard the first noise outside her door.
At first, it was a light thump followed by a muffled curse. Her eyes flew open, but she wrote it off as some drunk from the bar trying to find his room. She’d almost gone back to sleep when she heard a faint scraping sound, followed by the distinct turning of the handle.
Raven was instantly on alert but not overly worried, as no one else but Micah had a key to her room. Her whole body tensed as she heard the door pop open.
Her back was to it, so she couldn’t see. Not her typical sleeping position—she never put her back to the door—but she’d crashed so quickly. She kept still, not wanting to let on that she was awake and lose the element of surprise.
She sent a low frequency energy wave rippling through the air. It would send back visual information as it bounced off the intruder, a lot like sonar. Not enough detail to discern identity, but enough to let her know what she was up against.
Extremely tall. Six-five, maybe six-six. Long, rangy build. Not a body builder type, but plenty of muscle to work with.
She watched the shimmering outline the energy wave sent to her neocortex. He didn’t seem in too big of a hurry, and her internal warning system was not yet sensing a threat—other than the fact the guy had just broken into her room.
Raven perceived no immediate mortal danger so she decided to play dumb, let the guy think he’d caught her. Who the hell was it, anyway? Had The Watcher finally decided to show himself? Maybe he’d finally tell her what the fuck he wanted.
Footsteps echoed on the hardwood floor as the stranger walked over to the small writing desk. He grabbed hold of the spindly ladder-back chair that went with it, dragged it back to the door, and, presumably, sat down in it.
Hell, she hoped this guy didn’t think he was being stealth. He did surprise her by suddenly flicking on the overhead lights. Her eyes had always adjusted quickly to changes in light, and tonight was no exception.
She sprang upright in the bed, clutched a hand to her chest, and blinked as if she’d been jolted awake. Playing the startled damsel in distress should buy her a little time to figure out what was up.
When she glanced toward the door, Raven saw that the tall guy had wedged the back of the chair up under the door knob and was sitting back with legs stretched out and arms crossed over his chest. The dirty leather cowboy hat was pulled down over his eyes and obscured most of his face.
She barely suppressed a snort when she realized he actually thought he had her trapped in there. Guy had no idea who he was dealing with. Putting just the right amount of shake in her voice, she spoke to him.
“Wh-who are you? What do you want?”
The man leaned forward to rest his elbows on his thighs, lowered his head, and pulled the hat off. After he raked a hand through messy ash-blonde hair, he looked at her and sneered. “Gotcha.”
Raven gave him a hard stare. He was dressed differently, in a khaki work shirt and camo cargo pants, stuffed into steel-toe boots. All of it, including his skin, was covered in a fine layer of dirt.
The face was different. Harder, more world-weary than a year ago. But she recognized him. The good Dr. Deveraux had finally found her, and she never even knew he’d been looking. Touché. Well played, Doctor.
Raven dropped the act, seeing no point in it since he clearly knew who she was. With a toss of the covers, she threw her legs over the side of the bed and spun around to face him. She knew the jersey barely covered her lady bits, and she got a small sense of satisfaction watching his eyes zero in on the hem for just a moment before flicking back to her face.
So blue, she thought. Those eyes. A rich, sky blue. And that was enough of that. She could moon over hot guys when they weren’t holding her hostage, however ineffectively.
She tilted her head and let a small smile play over her full lips, giving him what Ray had always called her curious bird look. “You got me. Now what are you going to do with me?”
As she watched his eyes dart around the room, it occurred to her that he hadn’t thought this through any further than getting in the room. She decided to play along. For now. If she could get him talking, she might be able to get more information about what was in that book.
“Contrary to how it may look, Cliffdweller’s isn’t that kind of inn.” That surprised a laugh out of him that had her fighting the urge to smile back.
Leaning back in the chair again, he crossed his legs, like he was settling in. “Why don’t we start with your name.”
With no reason to lie, she shrugged a deceptively delicate looking shoulder. “Raven.”
“Raven…,” he prompted, and urged her to continue with a wave of his hand.
“Just Raven. For now.”
“Okay, Just Raven, why don’t we start with why you’re not the least bit scared of me, even though I broke into your room.”
She flashed him a smile designed to distract, to seduce. “Come on, Doc, you’re you’re about as stealth as a bull in a china shop. I think the whole inn knew what you were up to.”
One corner of his mouth tipped up in a half smile. “That bad, huh?” he said.
Raven noticed his voice slurred a little when he spoke. She narrowed her eyes at him. Bloody hell, was he drunk?
Blood in the Valley — Excerpt **Adult Content**
Drew lost track of time until his ears picked up a slight shuffling sound as Raven entered the living room and padded over to where he was working.
“Hey.” She stood next to him and poked him in the shoulder with a finger. The childlike action made his lips twitch with the need to smile.
Humoring her, he dropped his hands from the keyboard and scooted his chair back from the desk just a bit. “Yeah? Did you need something?” Drew could tell his nonchalant attitude was confusing her. Based on the way her full lips turned down in a pout and her brows drew together, he thought it probably pissed her off a little, too.
His cell phone beeped to signal an incoming text. He turned from her to check it, and he saw that it was a quick answer to his email from Jeremiah. OMW, it said. Good. Jeremiah would know how he should handle…this. Looking back at Raven, Drew bit back the urge to smile.
She looked a little uncertain as to what to do now that she was no longer so artfully posed for seduction. She huffed in frustration, and Drew’s hands itched to pull her into his lap.
Turned out he didn’t have to fight that urge because she straddled him. He closed his eyes briefly as he searched for control. He found his body had none as his arousal swelled to meet her. Those bottomless eyes of hers held him transfixed as a small smile played at her mouth.
She bit her plump lower lip and swiveled her hips a little to put just the slightest pressure on his erection. His head fell back against the chair and his hips involuntarily bucked against her. The expression that flickered across her face was that of a hunter who had her prey in her sights.
His brain struggled to process this as all the blood drained to the lower half of his body. When her mouth closed over his, he gave up the fight. The instant their lips touched, a shock of electricity rippled through him. It sizzled under his skin and raised the hair on his arms. Her sharp gasp told him she’d felt it too.
He fell into the kiss, opening for her. Her tongue plunged into the depths of his mouth, each stroke causing his pulse to jump.
Unable to stop himself, he wrapped his arms around her to keep her right where she was. His hands followed the path of her spine and over the rough fabric of her shorts to grasp her softly rounded backside.
He used his grip to jerk her more firmly against him and swallowed her surprised moan. They wrestled for control of the kiss, each with their own motive in mind, until she began to rock against him. Her elegant fingers plunged into his hair. She tugged sharply on his curls, angling his head to deepen the kiss.
He nearly went off like a rocket, going wild beneath her. He rolled his hips to push back against her, broke the kiss to burn a trail of nips and bites down her jaw and throat. He pulled a strangled moan from her as he sucked up a mark on the sensitive skin behind her ear.
The long fall of sable hair fell across his arms where he held her, its silky decadence causing him to shudder. Her hand left his hair to slide down his chest where his shirt lay already unbuttoned. Every molecule of his being focused on the path of that hand as it grazed the quivering muscles of his belly, and lower.
He saw stars shoot behind his closed lids as her hand closed around him in a firm grip, stroking him through his pants. She kept up a driving rhythm that mirrored what her tongue was doing in his mouth. She broke off to graze his pulse point with her teeth as she gave him a squeeze.
A tingling at the base of his spine set off alarm bells, warning him that he was close. He bit his lip hard enough to draw blood. The pain focused him enough to keep from embarrassing himself, but also enough to realize her other hand had left his hair and he could no longer feel it on him.
He felt a slight tickle at his hipbone that caused the blood in his veins to turn to ice. His hand snapped out to catch her wrist as it pulled away from his pants pocket. A tiny key dangled from her grip.
Her eyes went wide as his face hardened, and he glared at her. She’d made him forget. She’d made him want her enough to ignore his instincts and let his guard down. Stupid, but it wouldn’t happen again.
Nudging her off his lap, he stood with his hands fisted and jaw clenched. “Get out,” he said in a voice devoid of all emotion. He would give away nothing. Not anymore.