It was curiosity that killed the cat. Well, I say bah hum bug to them.
I leered around the corner, my eyes focusing on the shadows of two very large men standing in a dark, deserted alley. My vision had finally adjusted to the very little light, morphing their once solid mass into two separate entities.
You might ask yourself why I, a five-foot-five-inch woman with no real fighting ability and even less of an ability for spying, would find myself here, watching and waiting for two men whom I knew nothing about.
Well, I don’t know myself.
However, here I was, my hands numb with the cold and itching to find warmth within the shallow depths of my jean pockets as I acted every part of the innocent bystander and not the eavesdropping idiot. I had been here for about ten minutes since the two men had left our small-town bar, and goddamn it was cold!
Both men were equally eye-catching. One appeared almost angelic, his hair was the color of pale morning light and eyes a clear blue like the Hawaiian ocean. The other man faded into the shadows, with sun-kissed flesh that was smooth and bare the length of his arms, black shoulder-length hair, and eyes that glinted in the low illumination as if reflecting the light itself.
The lighter one—I dubbed him Blondie—was slightly shorter, maybe just over six-foot in height with a long, fitted overcoat and dark faux leather pants. The darker one—dubbed similarly by myself as Tall, Dark, and Handsome—was towering my five-foot-five-inch with his six-foot-four-inch. He’d fashioned himself with a short-sleeved, guava colored shirt and denim jeans that hugged incredibly delicious looking thighs. Not that I was looking or anything.
Although, he had to be some kind of crazy to be wearing next to nothing in this weather. It was a prickling forty degrees outside with a cold blast of wind to help that feel like twenty below. I was once more racked to the bone with shivers.
Damn it was cold!
My eyes darted over my shoulder, as if I might catch the peeping tom watching this rather inept version of one.
Hey, I didn’t know how to spy, but I understood enough to be observant of my overall surroundings—which at the moment included one very dimly lit street light harboring nothing but an eerie glow and a partially paved street that melted into darkness. I immediately comprehended just how idiotic this situation I now found myself was. I could easily be murdered and no one would be the wiser to my disappearance.
Shaking away my thoughts, I returned my focus instead to Blondie and Tall, Dark, and Handsome. I captured their soft voices floating down the quiet of the alley like they were on speaker phone.
Speaking of phone, my hand dove into my pocket, pulling out my phone and quickly silencing it before it could be my undoing. Nattie was especially capable of drunk dialing and I wasn’t going to get murdered because she was prone to call me well into the evening, some may even say morning.
“What of the disappearances?” Blondie inquired of his counterpart.
His voice was—simply put—panty-wetting. Not that mine were. I mean, my panties were very much dry, but I suspected that after a good hour of his deep Russian accent, I’d need a new pair.
Tall, Dark, and Handsome regarded Blondie with an eyebrow, I think. It was hard to discern facial expressions from my vantage point.
“There have been twelve, none of which could be easily connected.”
It was, to say the least, a very odd conversation to be having at eleven in the evening behind a bar called ‘The Bar.’ And yes, I thought the name ridiculously obvious, but it was the only one in our little town. Besides, ‘The Bar’ had the best bartender in the entire region. He was easy on the eyes and even easier on my bank account, with a mean whiskey sour.
My dark hair fell into my face as I shifted my weight to the other leg, my right leg having become uncomfortably stiff. The abrupt wind lifted my hair around the stone wall and into the alleyway, and suddenly, both men stiffened. I blinked with intrigue before the two disappeared from the alley like they had never really been there.
Where the fu—
“Who are you?” a deep English baritone questioned.
My body immediately hit the brick wall I had been using for cover, and the stone was like pressing my body into a block of ice. I groaned as my head pounded and the soft trickle of what I could only surmise as blood trailed from a wound probably inflicted by the rough stone.
“What…” I bit out against the overwhelming need to scream.
I wasn’t about to further injure myself by attempting to fight back. I was clearly outmatched. Besides, I wasn’t exactly sure I hadn’t just hallucinated this entire night.
Did they just disappear? That wasn’t even possible. Unless…
Before I could stop them, the giggles burst from me. I felt the hand driving my head into the wall tense before I was turned with a force that nearly stole the breath from me, and then promptly slammed back into my good old friend, wall.
I gasped sharply, teeth chattering against both injury and cold. My vision swayed precariously as I was instantly face-to-face with Tall, Dark, and Handsome. He was beautiful and would have been mouth-watering, if not for the fact that he was probably going to kill me. I wasn’t picky, I mean not really, but killing me usually meant you were probably not my type.
“Who do you work for?” he demanded.
I was doing my best to focus, even though there were two of him. My stomach was clenching impossibly, threatening to evict all its contents should I receive another blow. His question confused me, and if I were being honest, scared me shitless.
“I do not know what you are,” he continued in a voice that triggered pure terror to well up inside of me, all the while glaring at me with his deliciously dark eyes and pinning me to the wall with their intensity, “but be assured, I will kill you if you do not give me the name of your employer.”
Okay, this was getting weirder by the minute.
There was no denying that he could easily kill me, and apparently would if I didn’t answer correctly. However, this entire situation seemed utterly surreal, making me idly wonder if it was actually happening.
Did I fall asleep reading one of my paranormal romances and somehow dream this? I’d have to say, I had a very creative imagination. I stared at my captor for a moment before the movement behind him captured my attention.
Red glowing eyes flashed, startling a gasp from my throat. But before I could let the scream loose, Tall, Dark, and Handsome was parrying an attack and blocking my view with his incredible size. With my next breath, he became a blur in my vision.
“Lucas!” I heard Blondie’s voice call out.
A flash of light exploded, causing me to become momentarily blinded. I shut my eyes tightly, touching the palms of my hands to the cold stone to keep me rooted. I felt faint, and not in the good way. I think the head blow was finally settling in. I fought to stay conscious, gripping the wall desperately as I moved in an effort to get away.
I could hear shouts and sounds that were similar to animal growls, but much deeper and resonant. It was as if I was the main actress in some B-rated horror film, because I’m sure I looked every bit the overacting heroine.
“Pavel,” a deep English accent echoed into the night, “Get the girl!”
My blood ran cold. I searched the darkness around me. I could see large, blurred shadows colliding. There were flashes of red glow trailing the air as if someone had taken a glow stick and ran through the dark with it. I was caught momentarily stunned by the sight before a hard grasp to my shoulder startled me out of my gaze. I turned to find Pavel—formerly Blondie—holding me with a cold stare and an even colder grip.
“Come,” was all he said before he was dragging me towards god-knows-where.
I fought his grip, fingers clawing at his unyielding hand on my shoulder as I was led into the darkness, probably to the place he intended to kill me.
Jesus! Why was I so nosy?! Why couldn’t I ignore the hotties and just go home to my usual crowd, Ben and Jerry. I was stupid is why. I was stupid and it was going to get me killed.
We came to a clearing that was bathed in moonlight. The grass was glistening with liquid drops of late evening mist, and the beautiful landscape would have otherwise enraptured me with awe if not for my impending doom.
Pavel looked like a fallen angel with his pale blonde hair contrasting the dark around him and his body standing large and imposing in the midst of a vast field of grass. His stature spoke volumes of his confidence that we would not be discovered here by prying eyes.
And he was right. Fields of grass in this part of town were only visited by the local wildlife, especially at this hour. And I doubt that some passing deer would fancy saving me from this beast.
Even Bambi wasn’t that brave.
Nope, I had to take down this brute my own damn self.
I was prepared to fight to the end, despite knowing it wouldn’t do me any good. I was clearly outmatched in strength and skill, but I was a woman capable of limitless, hopeless optimism, so I wouldn’t go down without a fight. I might do little more than roughen up his brand-name clothing, but goddammit, I would do it in earnest!
I fought the tilt in my vision; it had become blurry and my voice was probably slurring as a result of the head trauma. “Bring it on, Blondie. I won’t die without scratching off that smug look on your face, you angelic bastard.”
I was about to bring it!
His eyebrow rose a fraction before a side of his gorgeous lip upturned to my defiance. “And then you will lose.”
“Sure,” I concurred easily. Jesus that sounded lame. “But I’ll make sure to leave a mark before I go,” I added, hoping to recover some of the dignity I was losing purely with my weak fighting stance and harsh, labored breathing.
Not to mention all these lame ass responses I was contriving in the face of this beautiful man. His gorgeousness was evidently making me go brainless.
So instead, I took advantage of his obvious amusement at the puppy barking at his heels to pull out the mace from my back pocket, where I stored it for emergencies. With practiced grace, or what I thought seemed graceful for a person harboring a head injury, I sprayed a generous amount in his smirking mug.
Delight turned to rage as his eyes caught the spray dead on. I coughed when the wind blew some of the spray my direction, immediately burning my eyes and throat.
Wheezing and stumbling sideways, I took the only opportunity thus far to escape. I ran like I had never ran in my life, which wasn’t saying much since I abhorred exercise, especially running. I was smirking—sure—but only because I felt like I had gained a small upper hand.
Mace was a popular weapon for a woman in her defense, but not many carried it these days. I had it as more of a joke than anything. Nattie thought it was an entirely underrated prank gift and got it for my twenty-first birthday. Six years later, I was thanking my best friend and her need for a good joke; it had served me well.
My breathing grew labored and my vision teetered.
Holy hell, I needed to jog more! If not for my overall physique, which was lacking at the moment due to too many trips to the local bakery, then at least for my survival of crazy hot killers that I had the misfortune of drooling over and partially eavesdropping on.
The ground beneath me disappeared and a sense of lightness overtook my body before I was colliding with cold, wet ground. For the second time that evening, the wind was knocked right out of me. My body hit the ground so hard that it jolted with the impact, pain fraying throughout me and reminding me that the ground was not my friend. My vision swam with swirls of pale blonde hair and smirking dark angels fading in and out of view.
I lost consciousness.