All Rights Reserved.
Editing by Jen Hendricks
Cover by Sarah Hansen at Okay Creations
Formatter: Elle Chardou at Midnight Engel Press, LLC
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.
I’ve been waiting for this moment since Dad first gave me this assignment. Waiting for the moment when he would tell me it was time to bring Sylas in.
Sylas. The name suits him so much better than Quinn ever did. It was difficult to remember to call him by his alias, especially in bed. When our bodies merged, something took over and made me forget what I was supposed to be doing. What I was supposed to be saying.
The first time he took off his clothes and showed me his skin, covered in ink, I didn’t know what to say. Of course I knew he had tattoos, but I didn’t know how much it would affect me to see them. To touch them.
He wore his past on his skin and I wanted to spend hours just trying to decipher the story behind each one. But that wasn’t my job. My job was to get him to do exactly what he had done, and to get him here, in this room.
I swallow my emotions and make my face impassive.
“Nothing to say?” I ask, my voice slippery and satisfied in my ears. I’ve trained my whole life to be someone I’m not. It’s as easy as putting on a layer of lipstick.
“What’s going on?” His voice is wary. Careful. Even though the shock is written in his eyes, he won’t give himself completely over to it. We’re both trained, which is why we made such good adversaries.
I give him a satisfied smile and take a few steps toward him, enjoying that he can’t help but watch my body as I move. It makes me feel better because I can’t take my eyes off him either.
“You think you’re so clever, Sylas,” I say, using his name out loud, to his face, for the first time. It tastes both sharp and sweet on my tongue. His name tastes of burning touches in the dark and secrets and smoke.
“I have to give you credit, you did a pretty good job up until now. Until you decided to mess with the wrong man,” I continue, walking closer. My black boots click on the floor. Sylas flexes his muscles, just enough that he thinks I won’t notice, but I do. He’s trying to keep me talking so he can try to escape and gain the upper hand.
As much as I’m conflicted about my feelings for him, I do enjoy seeing him like this, just a little bit. He’s always so cocky, it’s nice to see him knocked off his axis for once.
“What do you want from me?” he says, his voice raspy. He must have more questions than just the one. I know I would, in his position.
I finish crossing the distance between us and lean down, putting my hands on his thighs. I’ve done this before, but under very different circumstances. I hope he doesn’t notice that my fingers twitch just a little.
He wants an answer, but I have a question I need to ask him. Have needed to ask him ever since…
“Did you really love me?” I ask, trying to make my voice steady, and sound like I don’t care. Like his answer doesn’t matter one way or the other.
It does. It really does.
But before he can answer, my dad opens the door. I knew I was only going to get a few minutes with him and my time is up. It’s time to fill Sylas in on what he’s doing here and what we need from him. Who we need from him.
“Saige, that’s enough,” Dad says, giving me a glare. I stand up and try to look bored. Dad doesn’t know everything. I feel guilty for lying to him, but I didn’t have a choice. I just couldn’t tell him everything about my time with Sylas. And not just the parts about sex.
I sigh as if I’m irritated and leave, because I know that’s what he wants me to do. But I wait just outside the door and press my ear to the crack between it and the wall.
I’ve never been opposed to eavesdropping. I learned how to do it well at an early age. Some of my earliest memories are of me and my dad, and him teaching me how to lie. I could beat a lie detector in my sleep, if I had to. Dad has one and he likes to periodically test all of us with it.
Now Dad’s laughing, but I don’t know at what. I do hear the sound of Sylas getting to his feet and two sets of footsteps making their way to the door. It’s time for me to head to the car, so I walk as fast and as quietly as I can down the tunnel and back out into the sunshine. It’s afternoon now, and I wish I had my sunglasses. The black SUV is parked and waiting for us.
Soon we’ll find out what Sylas thinks of our proposition. I bite my lip. I wish I could pretend I don’t care about what he says, but I do. It matters.
I lean against the car and wait for the door to open and it finally does. Dad comes out with Sylas. Even though he’s tired and a little bedraggled, he still looks… powerful. In control. Arresting.
Staring at him makes my skin shiver and remember how those hands felt, holding me tight. Gripping my hips. How his voice felt in my ear, his lips and tongue tasting me everywhere.
I really can’t think about that right now. What is it about him that makes those thoughts nearly impossible to set aside? I’m a professional. This is my job. It’s more than that.
I hold the back door open for him. I’ll be riding up front and Dad is driving.
“Get in,” Dad says to Sylas. His jaw twitches, once. He cares, too, but he’s much better at hiding it than I am. Then again, he’s had more years of lying than I have.
Sylas’ eyes tighten and he glares at me. There it is. Hatred.
“If you’re going to kill me, why don’t you just get it over with?” Of course he thinks we’re going to kill him. That’s far more logical than the reality. The reality is hard for me to believe, even though I’ve lived with it for weeks now.
Dad gives me a look over Sylas’ shoulder.
“Oh, handsome, that’s not what we have in mind. Just get in the damn car,” I say with a sweet smile. Sylas’ eyes narrow even further, until they’re just slits.