Eloise stifled her groan as Marcus released her, she wanted him to keep kissing her and ignore the knock on the door.
“That is probably the deputies Cody sent over,” he told her, his eyes telling her he didn’t want to stop kissing her either. She could feel his desire for her, pushing against her belly. Reaching up she cupped his face and kissed him gently one more time.
“I hope you don’t think you’ve gotten out of finishing what we started,” she flirted and walked over to the door. What had gotten into her? When was the last time she openly flirted? Marcus was the one she wanted, she could feel their connection and she hoped he felt it too. Maybe she should call Josie and talk to her about everything she had been feeling. She needed a girls’ night, Evelyn, Josie, Roxie and Elizabeth always had the best advice. Especially Evvy, she always knew just what to say to get the other girls to agree. That was how they ended up going to Nashville for Roxie’s bachelorette party.
She opened the door and two men, taller than her but not taller than Marcus were standing in officer uniforms.
“Hello Ma’am, are you Eloise Rucker?” The one with blond hair and green eyes asked, she nodded.
“That’s me.” She opened the door wider and allowed the men to come inside. Marcus walked over to greet them, she saw he had a bright smile for the men.
“Richie and Denny, it is good to see you again, did all of our old unit end up out here?” he asked, trading a handshake and hardy slaps on the back with each of them.
“No, just us, I think. I got out last year and connected with Richie, he told me White Valley was a wonderful place to settle down. We should have drinks and catch up, but right now we were sent here to investigate a stalker. Can you show us where the notes were left, here and by your car?” Denny asked, he had black hair and the warmest brown eyes she’d ever seen. They looked almost the color of caramel, there was an intelligence behind them she bet not many saw.
“Sure, the notes usually end up taped to my door or shoved into my mailbox.” She pointed to the spot on the still open door and Richie walked over to take a deep breath.
“Was this where the most recent note was found?” Richie asked, she nodded again.
“I don’t smell anything distinct. I can tell Marcus and your scents are fresh. There are a couple other shifter scents around the area, nothing I can pinpoint,” he explained and she deflated, she’d hoped they would find something.
“Can you show us the mailbox or the number at least, it is rather cold outside,” Denny asked.
“I am mailbox twelve, there are four apartments on each floor,” she explained.
“Great, I’ll go check it out and Officer Green will check your car.”
“That is the dying Toyota next to Marcus’ truck,” she supplied, the officers nodded and left. She shut the door and turned to look at Marcus.
“That was a let down,” she grumbled, he smiled and opened his arms for her to snuggle into. She went willingly, his arms gave her a comfort she’d been without since August. His strong arms wrapped around her and she closed her eyes, nuzzling her nose against his chest.
“It has been over twelve hours since the note was probably left. The scent fades and if we don’t know exactly who we are looking for, it is harder to nail down the smell. I do think you are right and your stalker is a shifter. Do you have access to the files on your first stalker? Did you turn him into the police once you figured out who was… what was his name again?” He smelled so good, like the woods on a bright spring day with a masculine undertone.
“No, I just told William there wouldn’t be anything between us, I thought he was a nice person but not my type. He was scrawny and I’ve never been a thin woman. I’ve always been attracted to a man with a little meat on him, I didn’t want to feel like if I sat on his lap, I’d break his legs,” she explained, with a little laugh.
“You won’t break me that is for sure and I think you are perfect. I had the idea of asking you out on a date after we were done at the station. I am sorry I forgot, I was distracted by making sure we got you out of here. Speaking of that, we need to pack you up. Can I help with anything?” he asked, pulling back just enough to look her in the eye. She had to stifle the gasp she felt in her chest, when their eyes connected. His eyes had darkened and widened, as if his bear was pushing toward the surface.
“Um, can you help me stack my grading back together? It all fits into the purple bag on the floor. I am going to go and pack myself enough clothes for two weeks. If I need anything else I’ll just grab it on my way home from work. I have to work a shift at Club Cerulean tonight, it starts at six and goes until one,” she explained, reluctantly she released him, and started to walk down the hallway to her bedroom.
“I’ll be at the club tonight too, Josie asked me to continue to be a bouncer until your stalker is caught,” he replied and she smiled brightly at him. She was unhappy about being away from him even for the seven hours of her shift, praise be to Josie for thinking ahead. She practically skipped into her bedroom and carefully selected her outfits. She needed a week’s worth of work clothes, and two weeks of casual clothing. She tossed in two easy to wear dresses just in case. She would be spending Christmas with him after all. Going into her bathroom she gathered her toiletries quickly. She didn’t want to make him wait. Packing everything carefully, she made sure to place her shoes in the bottom of her bag, clothing folded neatly and then her toiletries.
Walking back out into the living room she stifled a giggle, as Marcus sat on the couch with her piles of grading neatly sorted. He was trying to place everything in her bag and was unsuccessful.
“Maybe I should have done it,” she announced, walking over and placing her bag on the floor. He eyed her one bag and lifted an eyebrow and said,
“That is all you are bringing? When my sister-in-laws descend on the house for Christmas they bring two bags just for themselves.”
“I am an efficient packer,” she offered with a shrug, and went over to help finish packing her school bag.
“I can see that, I am impressed with your abilities. I tried to pack this bag three times and I couldn’t get everything to fit,” he replied with a rueful smile. She laughed and went to pick it up, he stopped her with a hand on her wrist and picked it up slinging it over his shoulder. He bent and picked up her other bag and brought them both to the door.
“Are you going to your family home for Christmas this year?” she asked, thinking to keep the conversation going.
“I was planning on it, but I’ll have to call them and let them know I’ll mail their Christmas gifts instead.”
“I am so sorry. I can stay with Josie and Rhett again if you want to go down to Texas and see everyone. I know family is important for some families,” she offered, and he shook his head.
“I don’t want you to be without me,” he replied, and bent down to give her a kiss, she was surprised by how natural it felt letting him kiss her. They’d known each other for less than twenty-four hours. The kiss spread a feeling of belonging through her chest and she melted into his arms once again.
“Well, we are done for now,” Denny announced, walking through the door, Eloise jumped back from Marcus and felt her face flame from the blush spreading down to her chest.
“Good for you two,” Denny said, clapping Marcus on the shoulder.
“We are done for now, there wasn’t a scent that stuck out. I want you to contact us the second another note shows up. Here is my card, call me immediately,” Denny explained, and Eloise took the card, putting it in her pocket.
“She is going to be staying with me until the stalker is found,” Marcus announced. A slew of butterflies settled in her stomach at the thought of staying with him. She knew he enjoyed the kisses, but did he want more? Or was he just offering her a place to stay until the stalker was found? She didn’t want to assume anything between the two of them, but she hoped it was headed in the direction of being mates.
“Thank you for everything Officer…” she looked at the card.
“Officer Munch, I appreciate your help and yours too Officer Green,” Eloise said, looking at Officer Green standing in her doorway.
“Just doing our job,” he replied, and turned away from the doorway. Denny nodded and bid farewell. When the door shut, she looked up at Marcus, her stomach rumbled just as she was about to speak.
“That tells me we should head out and get something to eat. I have a dinner I love to eat at, would it be okay to go there?” he asked, putting on his coat. She put her coat, scarf and hat on while replying,
“Sounds wonderful, I don’t eat out very often.”
“Perfect, come on.” He bent and shouldered both her bags.
“I can carry one,” she argued, putting on her gloves.
“Nope, you just make sure you have everything you need for work this week and your keys,” he replied, bending down to give her a sweet kiss. She did her best not to fall apart in the entryway of her apartment. Last minute she remembered her work laptop, she grabbed the bag slinging it over her shoulder. It took her a minute to find her keys and her purse. Marcus watched it all with his sharp eyes and when she was ready, she smiled at him.
“I am ready.” He held out a hand and she took it, leaving her apartment she locked the door behind them. Her heart didn’t race like it normally did when she left looking around for any suspicious persons. She knew with Marcus she was safe and she could finally relax and depend on someone. Marcus opened the passenger side door and pressed the ignition key on his ring. The car sprung to life and she had to use a little muscle to pull herself up into the cab of the truck. Once she was inside, Marcus closed the door and placed all her bags in the back seat. She realized her bottom was getting warm and looked to see there were seat warmers. Her body felt wonderfully warm, when was the last time her car had working heat? Probably last winter when her car needed the fan blower replaced.
“Let’s go.” Marcus climbed into the truck and drove them away from her apartment. The further away she got, the better she felt, until a smile tugged at her lips. Marcus reached over and squeezed her hand.
“Much, I have a feeling of peace settling over me knowing I won’t be going back to that place tonight. I won’t have to be alone with a stalker on the loose. There is something about you that makes me feel safe, content and confident you will keep me from harm,” she shared, lacing their fingers together.
“I am glad you feel safe, my bear and I want to protect you from all harm. Last night it was hard for me to watch other shifters hit on you,” he admitted, and she did her best to hide a smile.
“I am flattered, so where is this diner? I am starving.” She looked out the window and noticed snow beginning to fall.
“Just down the street, I love going to Lou’s.” He pointed to the small diner at the end of the street. She smiled at the sight, it looked cozy and just the place Marcus would find comfortable to eat at regularly.
“Do you cook?” she asked, as they parked by the entrance.
“Not as much as I should. I am serviceable at cooking nothing spectacular. I can cook breakfast foods and grill, I know how to make grilled cheese sandwiches,” he shared, as they walked into the warm dinner. Eloise took a look around, it was your classic fifties style diner, but the waitresses were in pants and not dresses. She could tell the diner had updated with the times, but kept the nostalgic feel.
“Marcus!” An older gentleman called from behind the grill.
“Lou!” Marcus called back with a wave, and Eloise suspicions were confirmed, Marcus ate here regularly. He took her hand and brought her to a booth by a window so they could watch the snow fall.
“Do you think Rhett will close tonight if the snow picks up?” he asked, and she shrugged, Rhett hated closing the club, it meant he was losing money.
“Not sure, I hope he is reasonable about it, though with Josie to care for he just might,” she answered, and pulled open the menu to look it over.