Thump thump thump.
Another loud thud followed the distinctive sound of breaking glass.
When the whole building seemed to shake with the next crash-bang-thump combo, Domini Katzinski panicked.
Call the police, dummy.
She scrambled for her cell phone on the nightstand. She dialed and hunkered underneath the covers, counting the rings.
Pick up. Please pick up.
“Domini?” Cam McKay said with a surprised tone. “What’s goin’ on?”
The deep timbre of his voice allowed her to focus on something besides her fear. “I think someone is breaking into the restaurant. There’s loud noises and breaking glass—”
“Are you locked in your apartment?”
“Yes. Should I—”
“No. Don’t move. Stay right there, do you hear me?”
Domini started to answer but he beat her to the punch.
“I mean it,” Cam said sharply. “Stay put and stay quiet until you hear from me. Keep your phone close to you and on vibrate. Promise me.”
“Good. I’m on my way.” Click.
For the next thirty minutes, Domini cowered in her bed, hating that the incident had transported her back to the sleepless nights of her childhood. Hearing the violence in the streets below. Sirens in the distance.
As terror beat in her chest like a living thing, trying to claw its way out, she realized she hadn’t exorcised that scared little girl at all. No place on earth was far enough away from those horrid memories because she carried them inside her.
Domini’s phone buzzed in her hand and she nearly screamed. The caller ID read: Cam. Thank God. “Hello?”
“I’m outside your apartment. Let me in.”
She tossed back the quilt and raced to the living room. After releasing the deadbolts, she opened the door. The gigantic silhouette slunk into the room and she instinctively backed up, because the guy took up a serious amount of space.
Cam McKay was imposing, even in near darkness. The dominant male animal. The ultimate guardian. A pillar of strength. A bona fide warrior.
His deep frown and shrewd gaze read all business. “You okay?”
I am now. “I guess.”
He kept looking at her as if he expected her to get hysterical. “Domini—”
“I’m fine. Really. Just shaky. I’ll umm…make tea.”
Tea? How lame. But she was so flustered from being scared, and from Cam being right there, she wasn’t thinking straight.
“Maybe you need a shot of whiskey,” he muttered as he followed her into the kitchen.
Maybe I need a shot of you to settle me down.
Domini filled the kettle and fired up the stove. Her hand shook like crazy when she put a jasmine teabag in each mug before she faced him, knowing she looked calmer than she felt. “I didn’t hear sirens. Does that mean there wasn’t a break in?”
Cam watched her carefully and shook his head.
Her relief warred with frustration. “I didn’t imagine those noises. I’m not the type of woman who just—” she gestured distractedly, searching for the right phrase, “—who just calls the law on a whim.”
But Domini hadn’t called 911…she’d called Deputy McKay. At home. Did Cam think she’d tricked him to get him to show up alone at her apartment at midnight? On a night she knew he hadn’t been on duty? Her chin fell to her chest.
“Hey.” Cam shuffled closer. His warm fingers tipped her face up. “Don’t you think I know you’d never cry wolf? Don’t you think I know what type of woman you are, Domini?”
No. I don’t think you have a clue.
“You didn’t imagine anything. You heard somebody throwing stuff in the Dumpster. Inside the container were a bunch of broken glass and rotten wood from old window frames. Either the Dumpster rolled away as they were loading the bigger stuff into it, or they used it as bumper car, because it’s crossways in the alley.”
“Yep. There are a couple of big chunks out of the sandstone where the Dumpster smacked into it.”
She blinked at him. “But that was it?”
“For the most part.”
“You probably think I’m just another paranoid woman who overreacted.”
“Not even close. I heard the fear in your voice when you called me. That’s what got me over here so damn fast.”
And despite her resolve not to act wimpy, Domini launched herself at him. She circled her arms around his neck, pressing her face into his sturdy chest as she shuddered with relief.
It took a minute for Cam to respond. Then one hand stroked her hair with gentleness that belied his size, and his other hand gripped her hip.
At five foot ten, Domini had always been considered tall. But sheltered within Cam’s height and breadth, she felt positively petite. Surrounded by his warmth and his scent she felt completely…safe.
Neither one said a word. But their body language spoke volumes. Cam’s heart thumped wildly beneath her ear. Her breathing was as choppy as his.
Domini angled her head back gradually, not wanting to scare him away from touching her. When he sensed her looking at him, those sinfully long eyelashes lifted and he studied her from beneath the half-lidded gaze.
Here’s your chance. Take it.
She stood on the tips of her bare toes until their mouths were a breath apart. “Thank you for coming, Cam.” Without breaking eye contact, Domini brushed her lips over his. Slowly the first time. Even more leisurely on the second pass. The third time she’d intended to leave her mouth pressed to his, just to see if he’d kiss her back.
But Cam stole that third kiss from her. His velvety tongue snaked out and traced the seam of her lips. She gasped and that wicked tongue dove straight into her open mouth.
For so long she’d wondered what Cam tasted like. Now she knew—delicious. All hot musky male. The kiss wasn’t aggressive, but a curious dance of tangling tongues and sliding lips. When Cam playfully suckled her tongue, her curiosity vanished and spiraled into hunger.
Cam’s fingers tightened in her hair. He tilted her head,, devouring her mouth with wet sucking kisses. The hand on her hip slid around to caress her lower back. The heat of his rough palm on her bare skin was as potent as an electric charge as his hand glided beneath her pajama bottoms. His middle finger used the crack of her butt as a sensual guide until just the tip of his finger rested on her tailbone. Then he urged her pelvis closer to his by pressing on that bone.
The odd pressure on that erogenous spot, coupled with Cam’s greedy kisses set her blood on fire. The man could inflame her entire body with just one finger.
He briefly lifted his lips. “More,” he growled against her mouth. “Give me all of you.” Cam kissed her harder. Deeper. Plastering her body to his. Grinding their hips together in a show of raw sexual power. He cranked her need higher, tighter, hotter with each consuming kiss.
Yes yes yes. This is what she’d been dying for.
Domini dug her fingernails into his scalp, returning his passion. Then she let her eager hands drift down the angular lines of his skull to cup his face between her palms. She traced the outer shell of his ears. When her thumb brushed the raised ridge of the scar on his left cheek, he quickly turned his head away.
The teakettle whistled and Cam abruptly released her.
She understood without looking at him the foray into testing the water as lovers was over.
Don’t apologize. Don’t you dare apologize.
“Look. I didn’t mean for that to happen.”
“But it did.”
“Sorry. It shouldn’t have,” Cam said tightly.
Great. He’d reset his persona back to Cam, the helpful deputy, a far cry from Cam, the demanding man who’d just turned her inside out with a simple kiss. Now he’d run. Was he running from her? Or from himself? And would she just let him go?
After removing the kettle from the burner, Domini mustered the courage to meet his eyes. “I assume you’re not staying for tea?”
Cam shook his head.
“Well, thank you for showing up at this crazy hour. I appreciate it.”
“No need to thank me, princess. That’s my job.”
“Forgive me for saying so, but your job sucks.”
“You have no idea how true that statement is right now.”
Cam’s gaze scanned her from bedhead to bare toes. He rubbed his mouth with his knuckle, almost as if he was wiping her kiss from his lips and his memory.
Domini kept her emotions in check as she walked to the living room. She stood pointedly beside the open door.
Cam said, “Look. Don’t—”
“I know what you’re about to say, Deputy McKay. I won’t forget to lock the door behind you.”
“That’s not what…” He sighed. “Fine. Good night.”
Immediately after Cam cleared the doorjamb, she slammed the door, flipped the locks and stomped back to her bedroom.
Idiotic man. He wanted her. She wanted him. So what was his problem?
What’s your problem? Why can’t you just tell him you want him?
I did! I kissed him first.
And it hadn’t changed anything—unless she counted how fast he ran out on her. Evidently actions didn’t speak louder than words.
Maybe she should just be patient. Maybe now that she’d made the first move, Cam would jump on board and take their flirtation to the next level. Or jump on her.
Domini just hoped it wouldn’t take another two years.
Eight months later…
At times like these, Deputy Cameron McKay suspected his life would’ve been easier if he’d stayed a simple cowboy.
He managed to stop the woman’s wild right hook from connecting with the man’s jaw. Grabbing her fist, he jerked her arms behind her back. “Assault in front of an officer will get you tossed in jail tonight, Opal, guaranteed, so knock it off.”