Liam discarded the second shirt, tossing it on the bed with the others, before deciding on a dark blue polo shirt. He’d always cared about his appearance but today he wanted to look his best, it was his first official date with Danny and he wanted to make a good impression. With a groan of disgust he stomped out of his room and down the hall towards the kitchen, his heightened sense of smell detecting bacon and pancakes.
Liam stepped into the kitchen in time to see Keith stealing a strip of bacon from the frying pan, making Mrs. Jacobson their housekeeper scold him, then chase him away with a spatula.
“Sit down you big fool it’s almost ready.” Mrs. Jacobson said though she was smiling at the time.
Keith nodded giving her a wink then turned to smile at Liam. “There you are, I was wondering when you would be joining us. I know you didn’t have a late night so what is up? How did it go with the doc, I saw you leave early.”
“Well, she agreed to see me today, in fact I’m seeing her in about an hour and a half.” Liam took his seat at the large round breakfast table as Mrs. Jacobson set a plate full of pancakes and bacon before him.
“So I guess all the flowers did the trick then?” Keith asked, slathering his four inch high stack of pancakes with butter.
“What are you talking about?” Liam demanded as Mrs. Jacobson poured him a mug of coffee.
“I saw you making off with most of the flowers, I knew they weren’t for you.” Keith said dropping more bacon onto his already overflowing plate.
“Theo asked Danny to take them home so they wouldn’t go to waste.” Liam replied scowling at his brother.
“If you say so, what are you and the lady doing today?” Keith asked as Franky took a seat at the table.
“I’m taking her for a drive, I asked her to come with me to look at those properties out of town we are considering. Then on the way home we are going to stop for burgers and shakes.” Liam replied, smothering his own pancakes with butter and syrup.
“You are taking her for a drive and what a hike?” Keith demanded in surprise.
“Yes, she said she likes the outside, when we talked last night she told me about two digs she’d been on and how she liked to hike why?”
“Well Rita wouldn’t be caught dead out in the woods that’s all.” Keith replied.
“Doctor Danny isn’t Rita, I like her real classy lady.” Franky added.
“Tell me more about the lady.” Mrs. Jacobson asked taking one of the empty seats beside Franky.
“She’s a doctor of psychiatry, she also has a doctorate in ancient studies and a third one but I forgot what it is in.” Liam replied before stuffing a forkful of pancakes and bacon into his mouth.
“She sounds smart, what does she look like?” Mrs. Jacobson demanded leaning across the table to top off Keith’s coffee mug.
“She’s pretty, real pretty, natural pretty you know with hair somewhere between brunette and red and she’s got nice curves, but she’s toned too.” Franky said attacking her own pancakes. “If she wasn’t straight I’d go for her, smart, nice a and a real looker. But she’s kind of shy though.”
“Why do you say that?” Liam demanded.
“Cause she wouldn’t let you help her carry all her stuff up to her place, the lady isn’t use to male attention, in fact I don’t think she’s ever even had a boyfriend.” Franky replied.
“Why do you say that?” Keith asked around mouthfuls of bacon.
“Her place it wasn’t furnished like she was use to company especially male company.” Franky said.
“What do you mean by that?” Liam demanded, when he’d said good night to Danny last night she’d shaken his hand and been obviously nervous at him being at her place.
“Well when I helped her carry all her stuff up I got a good look at her place, it’s pretty plain and empty, and she is really crazy about plants.” Franky shrugged. “And the stuff she had about her place said she was used to being alone.”
“What wrong with plants, I like plants.” Keith protested.
“She has five huge windows that look out over the river and four of them are covered with shelves of plants, floor to ceiling, and they even had plant lights and a mister attached to each shelf. The lady is also crazy about lions, a mean she had them all over the place.” Franky caught Liam’s eyes.
“Why do you say that?” Liam demanded.
“She had all these lion figurines on the book shelves along the one wall and on her coffee table, she also had three lion pictures on the wall and four stuffed lion toys on her sofa, old ones that she’s obviously had for a long time.” Franky replied. “The lady also paints, she had an easel on top of a drop cloth by one of only windows not covered by plants.”
Liam turned to look at Keith who nodded. “Maybe you are right, maybe she is the one.” Keith pathed to him.
“Hopefully she is.” Liam pathed back before turning to Franky.
“You were very observant.” Liam said giving Franky a nod.
“Well I might not be a thief anymore but I still know how to case a joint, besides I figured you’d want all the dish on the lady.” Franky said before returning to her pancakes. “Oh and I think the lady has been hurt or frightened badly at some point.”
“Why do you say that?” Liam demanded.
“She had not only two key locks, but two chains and three dead bolts on her door, and her door was metal, solid metal and her place is inside a secure building that you need a key and a pass code to get in.”
Liam paused to consider Franky’s words then nodded. “Thanks Franky, take the day off I will be out all day, and don’t worry about making dinner for me either Mrs. Jacobson.” Liam polished off his breakfast then wiped his mouth clean with a linen napkin.
“And you mister Keith, will you be out with Rita?” Mrs. Jacobson demanded rising to take Liam’s plate.
“Nah, we had a fight. I’m going to the dock to work on my boat, get it ready to take out tomorrow.” Keith replied around another mouthful of pancakes.
“What did you fight about this time?” Liam demanded as he rose from the table.
“I told her I thought she was drinking too much and that I didn’t like the way she was flirting with all my friends, she called me a bastard then screamed at me for asking Danny to dance. When I told her I would of danced with her too she said that the kind of dancing we were doing was boring and for old farts.” Keith shrugged. “ I put cab fare in her hand and told her to go home and went with Bowman and some of the guys to go play pool at the hotel bar.”
“And how did she take that?” Liam demanded grabbing the key for his truck off a hook by the door to the laundry room.
“She rage texted me till one in the morning, I turned my phone off and when I turned it on a little while ago had sent me about a hundred texts, the last few said she’d forgive me if I took her shopping.” Keith shrugged.
“So you plan to ignore her and go work on your boat?” Liam demanded. “I thought you liked her?”
Keith rose taking his plate to the sink. “Don’t get me wrong I’m crazy about her but I’m also old enough to know when I’m being manipulated. Last time she started a fight I ended up buying her a diamond necklace and a new car, if she wants to make up it will be my terms this time.”
“Ah good luck with that, wish me luck.” Liam said stepping into the mud room and reaching for the door to the multicar garage.
“Good luck, look if things go well ask the doc if she wants to go fishing tomorrow.”
“Fishing?” Liam demanded in surprise.
“Yeah, she said she liked the outdoors and she said she spent all that time camping on that dig, if she says yes it will be a way for us both to get to know her better, just in case.” Keith replied.
Liam nodded then stepped into the garage heading towards his pickup as he fought off an unaccustomed wave of nerves, it had been too long since he’d been on a date and longer since he’d cared what a woman thought about him. But Danny wasn’t just any woman she was his and Keith’s potential heart mate, the woman who could possible give them children and as well as the one thing they’d both never had complete sexual satisfaction. No pressure right, Liam thought as he backed out of the garage barely waiting for the door to open, just get Danny to like him and then kiss her.
Galen had said he’d known Theo had been his mate as soon as he’d seen her, but what had clinched it had been when he’d kissed her for the first time. The problem was Danny seemed immune to his charms and hadn’t come across as the kind of woman who kissed on her first date, he would have to find a way to charm her on his own and steal a kiss without thinking he was a creep.
Liam checked his appearance in the rear view mirror, satisfied with his hair he mumbled a curse of disgust and gunned his truck down the long drive of his country home.
Danny checked her hair one last time as she fought down her nerves, she was going on an official date for the first time in her life. Because of her so called gifts and what happened to her as a girl and as a student in London she trusted no one, especially men. But Liam seemed different, not only had she felt no threat or evil in him the few times they’d touched but he’d been not only kind but a gentleman. His kindness was evident in the six bouquets of flowers covering her kitchen counters and the food filling her refrigerator and freezer.
With a final adjustment on her pony tail Danny slipped from her bedroom and hurried to her door, she slipped on her favorite pair of sneakers as she undid the locks on her door. She rode the elevator down to the lobby alternating fretting over her appearance and reinforcing her mental shields. Only inside her apartment could she let down her shields, when she’d bought a spot in the old warehouse that was to be refurbished into luxury condos she’d spent every penny of her savings and court settlement to have lead sheathing put in all the walls, floor and ceiling, even the windows were leaded glass. It was her fortress, where no thoughts could enter but her own, and she had it warded so no spirits could enter, only inside with the door closed was she able to relax.
Danny stepped out the front door of the apartment building and saw a huge dark blue pickup truck with L & K contracting painted on the side, as she stepped up to the truck Liam stepped about the front of the pickup and gave her a huge smile.
“Morning, how is your ankle?” Liam demanded opening the truck door for her.
“Much better thank you.” Danny replied with a shy smile. Liam looked even handsomer in a polo shirt and tight jeans than he’d looked in a suit.
“That’s good, if it starts to bother you let me know, I want you to enjoy today.” Liam said turning to open the passenger door of his truck. He held his hand out to Danny, she hesitated a moment before slipping her right hand into his and letting him help her up into the high seat of his huge truck.
As Danny struggled to climb into the high seat Liam’s hands slipped about her waist and lifted her up into the wide leather seat. Danny gasped in surprise as Liam’s huge hands closed about her and she set her left hand on his huge bicep for support.
“Sorry you looked like you needed some help.” Liam said trying to make an excuse for touching Danny, he saw her eyes widen in surprise saw her cheeks pink.
“Thanks.” Danny stammered as her eyes focused on Liam’s face and she felt a strange current run between them as well as the overwhelming desire to kiss him. “And thanks again for last night I had fun, and for taking all the flowers by place looks like a hot house.”
“It was my pleasure .” Liam replied.
Danny nodded and then leaned forward to kiss him on the cheek, it was just a quick peck on the cheek but Liam felt a warm tingle from where her lips had touched him.
“I’m sorry, I’m not usually so forward.” Danny stammered mortified at her action, she wasn’t sure why she’d kissed Liam she’d never spontaneously kissed a man in her life but something about Liam caused her to lose all her senses and throw caution to the wind.
“Don’t apologize I can’t remember the last time a pretty girl kissed me just to say thanks, I liked it.” Liam gave Danny a grin that made her heart skip a beat. “ Maybe I can find more ways to earn more kisses.” Liam gave Danny a wink before closing the door gently and walking around the truck to climb into the driver seat.
Still blushing Danny fought for composure. “So where are we going first?”
“I have it programed into the truck’s GPS but I though since your kind of old school like me you might also like a map.” Liam handed Danny a map carefully folded open and with three areas highlighted in red. “ Oak view road first, then the peaks road place, after that lunch and then the place on Bleaker street.”
Danny took the map with a nod and a smile. “Thanks that’s very thoughtful of you.”
“No problem, I also have drinks and snacks in here.” Liam pulled open the huge padded armrest between them to reveal a built in cooler filled with four water bottles, two bottles of orange juice and a bunch of candy bars and health bars. “I didn’t know what you liked, but you liked chocolate last night so I grabbed a bunch of stuff.”
“Wow, thanks, you have a cooler in your arm rest?” Danny asked in fascination as Liam shut the arm rest and started the truck.
“Yup, it was an option on this model, there is another build in cooler in the back in the one work box. I go to lots of work sites and I’m always hungry so it seemed like a good idea.” Liam replied as he pulled out of the condo drive and onto the road.
“That was smart of you and thanks, you will spoil me, I’m not use to so much attention.” Danny replied closing the lid and fighting a wave of nerves.
“My pleasure, and I’m not just saying that, I think we hit it off last night and I like you.” Liam said glancing over at Danny who looked cute as anything. “I haven’t dated anyone in years, it would be nice to have someone to spoil, hell just a woman to hang out with and talk to, now buckle up and get comfy it will take about thirty minutes to get there.”
“Okay, and Liam I like you too.” Danny said and saw Liam smiled broadly.
“That earns you a chocolate milk shake and onion rings latter, you like onion rings right?” Liam asked giving Danny a grin.
“Yes I love both.” Danny replied feeling her nerves ease up.
“Great now what do you want to talk about?”
“You, I’d like to learn about you.” Danny said, she hated talking about herself as her past was nothing but darkness and pain.
“Sure, but then it’s my turn.” Liam gave Danny a wink. “Now ask away.”
Liam parked the truck beside an ancient looking oak tree and killed the engine before pointing past Danny to a tree ringed field beyond.
“Last one, up for more walking?” Liam asked and saw Danny nod.
They had already walked several miles tramping around the first two properties before stopping for lunch, it was now two in the afternoon and they had about another hour of walking to do.
“Of course, besides I need to work off that shake an onion rings.” Danny replied, she was pleasantly tired and a bit windblown and sun burned from her morning hikes but she’d enjoyed herself immensely. It had felt wonderful to get out of the city and into the sunshine and close to nature, she’d also enjoyed Liam’s company. He was easy to talk to, had a good sense of humor and new more about ancient history than any of her professors.
“Nah you don’t need to worry about a few calories.” Liam said giving Danny an appraising look before opening his door.
Danny blushed at the offhanded complement as she reached for the door handle and a wave of dread washed over her causing her to pause. She had let her mental shields down after leaving the dinner as Liam’s thoughts were so well shielded that she didn’t need to keep them up.
As she quickly put up her shields Liam pulled open her door and held out his hand to help her down. Danny forced a smile as she undid her seat belt, then slipped her hand in his letting him help her down.
Liam pulled a large piece of paper out of his back pocket and held it down for Danny to see. “So this is the map I printed off the realtor’s site, the property goes about a quarter of a mile that way and then from that line of trees on the right to a stream off that way.”
Danny nodded and looked about a large open field and the tumbled down ruins of an old stable and the burned remains of a large house.
“What was this place?” Danny asked as Liam folded the piece of paper and stuffed it back in his back pocket.
“Not sure the relator just said it was an old stable and house.” Liam took several steps forward looking at the property not noticing that Danny was hanging behind him.
“I like the trees they would make a good wind break, the property is wide but not too deep.” Liam walked forward imagining several townhouses or condos in the empty place. He turned around to see Danny hadn’t moved and was still hanging by the truck. “Something wrong?”
Danny forced a smile and shook her head. “No, not at all lead on.” The truth was she could see dark shapes hanging in the shadow of the trees, lots of shapes, some had been human and others not. She repressed a shiver and strengthened her shields as she followed Liam into the field, and then the horror of the place truly hit her, the site was a killing field. The ground was soaked with blood, lots of blood, even with her shields up she could feel the fear, anger and sadness of those that had died and evil so much evil it was hitting her in waves.
Liam frowned the area was attractive, lots of land but something seemed off. He turned around to see Danny had gone pale and was hanging back, the oddest expression on her face.
“You sure you are okay, you don’t look well.” Liam sad turning to walk back to Danny.
“Umm this place it is creeping me out, I don’t think you should buy it, in fact I don’t think we should stay here. Can we go back to the truck.” Danny said not caring if she sounded like a weirdo, she needed to leave and leave now. There were at least fifty dead people hanging in the shadows as well as what looked like thirty shadow people and other dark creatures that she didn’t even want to think about.
“Yeah, sure I have seen enough.” Liam replied. He caught Danny’s hand and lead her back to the truck then pulled then opened the door for her and helped her inside, as he did he had the oddest feeling something or someone was watching him. Liam closed the truck door and hurried around to the driver’s side and climbed inside, as soon as his seat belt was on he turned on the truck and gunned it down the road away from the property.
“Thank you, I guess you think I’m weird now.” Danny murmured.
“Nah, not at all, something was off there.” Liam replied. “So I know this farmer’s market on the way back, how about we stop and look around and I buy you some flowers as a thanks.”
“You don’t have to do that I’ve had a great time.” Danny protested.
“Nah, besides Mrs. Jacobson my cook and house keeper to pick up some fresh veggies, and Keith is always looking for new flower markets.” Liam replied.
“Keith likes flowers?” Danny asked in surprise thinking of hulking rough, slightly rude Keith.
“Yeah he has degrees in botany, horticulture and landscaping design, don’t let his manners put you off he has a think for flowers. Maybe I can bring you home sometime and show you his greenhouses.” Liam said as he eased the truck onto the highway.
“You have greenhouses at your home?” Danny asked with envy.
“Yup we have four, well Keith has four, I rarely go in them.” Liam replied. “So after the farmer market how about dinner, I know another good burger place.”
Danny wanted to say no, that she should go home but she didn’t want to. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d been in a man’s company for so long and had such a good time. “Sure but I have to be home by seven.”
You got it.” Liam gave her a grin. “ Keith wanted me to ask if you’d like to come out on his boat tomorrow, he and Bowden are taking it out on the river tomorrow to do some fishing, after wards we were going to this great sea food place in the marina that cooks your catch, they make the best lobster bisque.” Liam saw Danny smiling. “Is that a yes?”
“Okay, but I don’t know how to fish.” Danny knew she was mad now, agreeing to go on another date with Liam. “ And Rita isn’t going to be there is she?”
“Nope, she wouldn’t be caught dead on Keith’s boat, another plus. If the water is warm enough we can even go swimming off the back.” Liam said thinking he’d like to see Danny in a swim suit.
“Okay, if you promise not too late I have work on Monday morning.” Danny replied feeling the fear and tension ease from her body as they put the field far behind them.
“You got it, and don’t worry I can teach you how to fish.” Liam replied happily. It had been a long time since he felt so comfortable with a woman a very long time, over two hundred years in fact and to find a woman that he and his lion liked and that liked and knew about everything he loved was a boon from heaven. Even if Danny wasn’t his chosen one he would keep her, as, hmm as what? She was fun, intelligent and smart, wicked smart he also hadn’t been this attracted to a woman in a long time, Danny definitely had potential wife written all over her. But don’t rush things, farmers market then dinner and tomorrow fishing and then he’d see what was what.
“Okay I’ll hold you to that.” Danny gave Liam a smile before turning to enjoy the passing scenery and squash the nervous butterflies in her stomach. She had another date with the hottest guy she’d ever seen, he was either crazy or she was, but it didn’t matter she would enjoy it while it lasted even if he broke her heart when he learned the truth about her.