The Reluctant Vampire

Chapter Seven

Drina nearly fell into the car when Harper opened the door. She quickly scrambled across the seat, her eyes flashing to the driver and then ski ering away as she wondered how long he'd been there and what he'd seen. Then Harper was inside, and they were pulling away. A glance out the rear window showed the waiter s ll standing frozen in the open restaurant door, staring a er them, and Drina shook her head and turned to face front, her hands automatically doing up the buttons of her coat. Once done, she felt a li le less sca ered and glanced nervously to Harper. Spo ng the frown on his face, she bit her lip, worried about what he was thinking. It seemed to her that giving him me to think too much was probably a bad thing at that point, and she opened her mouth to say something, anything, but he was quicker.

"I'm sorry."

Drina smiled. "Don't be. It's not your fault the waiter came out." He blinked at her words, and she quickly added, "Now it's your turn. You said you were a cook?"

Harper hesitated, but then relaxed back against the seat. "Yes."

"Was your father a cook too?"

"No. He was a baron with a large holding of his own, as well as one he gained on turning and marrying my mother. He wanted me to take over running Mother's holding, but I had other interests."

"Food," she suggested.

Harper nodded, and then chuckled, the last of the tension slipping from him. "I loved food. So much so, I think had I been mortal, I would have been four or five hundred pounds by the me I was twenty. I spent all my me in the kitchens, following our cook around and learning all I could. Not to men on sampling every little thing that went through it.

"By the me I was old enough to leave the nest, I had decided I wanted to be the greatest cook ever. Of course, to be the greatest cook, I had to have access to every possible ingredient there was, which meant I needed to work for someone wealthy enough to find and purchase those ingredients. I le home and went straight to the home of the wealthiest person I knew of. Emperor Elect Maximillian."

Drina's eyebrows rose, and a smile tugged at her lips. "Straight to the top, huh?"

Harper nodded wryly. "I presented myself in the kitchens, sure they would be glad to have me. Unfortunately, the head cook was less than impressed. He wanted nothing to do with me, but with a li le persuasion, I managed to convince him to give me a position."

"What kind of persuasion are we talking here?" Drina asked with amusement. "The mortal or immortal variety?"

"Immortal," he admi ed ruefully. "But, only enough to convince him to give me the lowest posi on in the kitchen. I wanted to prove myself and work my way up to chef."

"Ah," Drina said, and then asked, "and you did?"

"Yes." He smiled faintly. "It took me a lot of years though, and then I only got to be his head chef for a couple of years before I had to move on."

"The not aging can really be a pain," she said with sympathy.

"Hmm." He nodded, and then shrugged. "It turned out all right. He gave me the medieval version of an employer reference and wished me well. I spent the next fi y years or so cooking in royal palaces in various countries, extending my knowledge and honing my skills.

"Eventually, however, I grew red of working for someone else and wanted to open my own business. As much as I love cooking, it wasn't going to make me the money I needed to do that, though, so I had to hang up my spoon for a bit. I tried various things, but the most successful was working with a band of mercenaries. Much to my surprise, I turned out to be a natural on the battlefield."

"Why would you be surprised?" she asked with a smile. "Immortals are naturals in ba le. We're stronger, faster, and hard to kill."

"Yes, but you also need skill, or you're likely to lose your head, and I'd spent most of my life in the kitchens. Even as a youth, I shunned prac ce in the yard with the men to trail the cook around," he said solemnly. "However, I found that I was a natural in ba le. And I turned out to be a whiz at planning for successful attacks and defenses, which turned out to be not much different to planning a large feast."

"What?" she said with disbelief, and he nodded solemnly.

"It's all in the details," he assured her with a grin, and Drina burst out laughing. He watched her with a smile, and then said, "Actually, my knowledge of castle kitchens came in handy during sieges. I knew what they were likely to have on hand and how long it would last and so on." He shrugged. "I did well for myself. Well enough that I made the money I needed to start my own pub. And that did well enough that I was able to start a second and so on, and then I moved on to restaurants, and then hotels."

"How did you end up moving from restaurants to hotels?" she asked with surprise.

"Well, I had opened one of my restaurants on the main floor of a hotel in Paris. The restaurant earned a reputa on and did a booming business, but at the same me the hotel was beginning to flounder. I was considering moving the restaurant elsewhere before the hotel folded altogether, but I was becoming a bit bored. I had lost my interest in food a er a couple of centuries, and it took a lot of the joy from cooking. The moment I had no ced that happening, I'd hired the best chefs I could find to take over the actual cooking in my establishments, but it le me basically a pencil pusher. I needed a challenge, so rather than move the restaurant, I decided to buy the hotel and see if I couldn't make it a successful concern again.

"I renovated it floor by floor, and the restaurant handled the room service. We built a reputa on, and the hotel started to flourish as well. So I opened another, and then another.

"Everything rolled along nicely, but I soon grew bored again, and then in . . . I think it was the 1920s," he murmured, then shrugged it away as unimportant and con nued, "I read an ar cle about a brand-new technique for preserving food."

"Frozen food," Drina said with amusement.

Harper nodded. "I got in on the ground floor. We started with vegetables, and then branched out to entrees, and, as I said, we recently added wine to what we do." He smiled wryly. "See, I told you that my history wasn't nearly as exciting as yours."

Drina shook her head. "I don't know. It sounds exci ng enough. Truth be told, my life wasn't nearly as exci ng as it sounds in the recoun ng. I mean tles like gladiator, pirate, and madam sound exci ng I suppose, but in reality they were just another day in the life. Being a gladiator was hot, sweaty, bloody labor, hacking away at other gladiators. Being a pirate wasn't much different than being a sailor. It was night a er night of hauling rope, raising sails, and steering into a storm with the occasional ba le to get the blood going. And as a madam, I mostly greeted the men at the door like a Wal-Mart greeter, reading their minds as they entered the establishment to be sure they had no nefarious plans. Then I sat about, reading or playing cards un l the evening ended, and the men le . The only excitement that occurred there was when the occasional fellow got too rough, or tried to make one of the girls do something she didn't want to. And then that was a momentary adrenaline rush as I saw them off the premises."

She shrugged wryly. "If I've learned anything in all my years, it's that nothing is as exci ng or glamorous as it sounds. I suspect if you read the minds of movie stars and rock stars, you'd probably find their lives were a daily grind with the occasional fan frenzy to scare the crap out of them and get the blood going."

Harper smiled. "You're surprisingly sensible for one who has been so rebellious most of her life."

Drina shrugged. "We all live and learn."

Harper nodded, and glanced around as the car slowed. "We're here."

Drina leaned forward, stretching her upper body in front of his to peer curiously out the window at the very uninteresting building they were stopping in front of.

"Nondescript like our clubs in Europe," she commented, placing her hand on his shoulder as if to keep her balance.

"Yes," Harper agreed, sounding a tad husky.

She turned her head and smiled at him, close enough to kiss, as she said, "I suppose it's to avoid attracting mortals."

"Yes," he repeated, this me in barely more than a whisper. His head began to move forward, and Drina moved her own head closer, and then they both froze as the front door slammed shut. Harper glanced past her to the now-vacant driver's seat, then out the side window, and sighed. "Right, we're here."

Drina straightened as the driver opened the door on Harper's side. She then followed him out of the car and into the cold night. Harper paused long enough to give instructions to his driver before hustling her to the door of the Night Club.

A wave of heat and sound hit them as they entered and Drina peered around curiously, not at all surprised to find it looked like any club in any city. They were in a large room with shadowed booths around the edge of a lit dance floor. Loud music blared from all corners. Harper started to lead her to one of the few empty booths, but she caught his arm and leaned up to ask, "Is there a lounge area?

Somewhere quieter, where we can talk when not dancing?"

Nodding, he changed direc on at once and led her to a set of swinging doors. They pushed through into another room, this one wholly made up of tables and booths and much quieter once the doors swung shut behind them. They chose a booth along the wall.

Sliding into one side, Drina smiled as she shrugged out of her coat. "We can always go in there to dance as we like, but it will be easier to talk in here when we want a break."

"Smart thinking," Harper said, hanging his own coat from a hook at the end of the booth. He then took her coat to hang it beside his.

He slid in across from her, murmuring an apology as his feet nudged hers, then glanced around as a waitress appeared. He smiled at her, but then glanced to Drina, and asked, "Do you know what you want?

Or would you like to check the menu?"

For answer, she picked up a narrow menu in a holder at the end of the table and opened it, saying, "It's probably be er to see what they have in case the selec on isn't the same as in Spain or the names are different."

Harper nodded and turned to the waitress, but she was already slipping away, saying, "I'll give you a minute."

Drina laid the menu on the table and turned it sideways so they could both see it. They each leaned forward, head to head to look it over, but then a beeping came from Harper's coat. Frowning, he straightened and reached in the pocket to retrieve his phone.

Drina politely pretended she couldn't hear what he was saying, not that there was much to hear. He said,

"Hello," listened briefly, and then sighed, and said, "I did wonder about that. All right. Well, there's nothing we can do about it." Another silence followed, and then he said, "I'm not sure. I'll have to call you back on that."

Drina glanced at him in question as he hung up, and Harper grimaced.

"It seems it's officially a blizzard out there," he announced apologe cally. "That was my pilot saying they've shut down the airport and are advising people to stay off the highways. He thinks they'll be closing those soon too, but whatever the case, it isn't safe to take the helicopter back to Port Henry tonight."

Drina stared at him blankly for a minute, and then reached for her own phone.

"We can try driving back tonight, but we'd have to leave right away if you want to give it a go," Harper said, as she began to punch in the number for Casey Co age. "Otherwise, we aren't leaving un l tomorrow sometime, and then only if the storm lets up."

Drina bit her lip and nodded to acknowledge his words, then s lled as the phone picked up on the other end.

"Drina?" Mirabeau said by way of greeting.

"Yes, I - "

"Listen, a big storm hit here an hour or so a er you guys le . They just shut down the 401 from London to Woodstock, and I suspect the rest of the highway will soon follow. I'm thinking it probably isn't safe for you guys to fly. You two better not try to come back tonight."

"What about Stephanie?" Drina asked with a frown. "I'm supposed to sleep - "

"She's sound asleep on the sofa with the TV on. We'll leave her there for now. If she wakes up and wants to go to bed, I'll go up with her. It's not a problem. Although, that probably isn't even necessary tonight. Leonius isn't in the area, and she isn't likely to try running away in a blizzard, especially with them shu ng down the highways. Even if she managed to slip away, there aren't any buses running to take her anywhere."

"Right," Drina murmured. "I guess it's best we not try coming back then."

"Definitely," Mirabeau assured her. "Don't worry. Everything is good. You and Harper just get a hotel room or something and stay in the city until this clears."

"I have an apartment here in the city. We can stay there," Harper announced, apparently having caught the gist of the conversa on. He punched a stream of numbers into his phone and turned it toward her so she could read from the small screen. "This is the number, give it to her and tell her to call if there are any problems."

Drina read off the numbers to Mirabeau, passed along the message, and then echoed her good night and hung up.

"Well," she murmured.

"Yes," Harper said.

They stared at each other for a moment, and then Drina caught movement behind his head, and glanced past Harper to see the waitress slowly making her way along the row of booths, taking orders as she moved in their general direction.

"Well," she said again, turning her gaze to the menu, "let's see what we have here."

She ran her eyes slowly down the list of available blood blends, murmuring each aloud as she went, and then paused as she reached - "Sweet Ecstasy."

"It's a dose of blood from someone who's taken the drug ecstasy," Harper murmured. "The impact on immortals is supposed to be pretty powerful. They say it's like immortal Spanish fly."

Drina smiled. "I know. Beth swears by it. She says it's reawakened her flagging interest in sex and that she has the best sex ever on it."

Harper's eyebrows rose. "Does she?"

"Yeah." Drina chuckled, her gaze dropping back to the menu as she admi ed, "She's always pestering me to try it, and I've always kind of wanted to, but I've never been with anyone I liked and trusted enough to try it with." She glanced up and met his gaze, and added, "Until now."

Harper stared back silently, their gazes locked un l a shi in air drew their a en on to the fact that someone was standing at the end of the table. He didn't even glance over to ensure it was the waitress, but simply growled, "Two Sweet Ecstasies."

"Okie dokie," the waitress said cheerfully, and slipped away.

The silence drew out for a minute, and then Drina said abruptly, "Let's dance."

She didn't wait for a response, but promptly slid out of the booth and started back toward the door to the dance sec on of the club. She didn't have to glance around to see if Harper was following. Drina could feel the heat coming off his body and pouring along her back. The man was prac cally on her heels and stayed there all the way into the next room and onto the crowded dance floor. The music was a dance mix, fast and pulsing, the rapid heartbeat of a lover. Drina let it flow through her, allowing her body to move as it would to the sound. She knew Harper was right there with her but didn't even look at him. Instead, she closed her eyes and moved. When the music slowed three songs later, and he caught her hand to pull her into his arms, she went willingly. The instant electricity between them told her they wouldn't need any Sweet Ecstasy, but she hadn't expected they would. S ll, when she spo ed their waitress moving through the room toward them with a tray holding two drinks, she waved at the woman and smiled as she approached.

"They were going warm," the waitress explained, pausing beside them.

"You're a gem. I was ge ng thirsty," Drina said with a grin. She then grabbed her drink and downed it in one go as Harper reached for his own drink.

"Another?" their waitress asked with a wicked grin as Drina lowered the now-empty glass.

"Oh definitely," she said on a laugh as she set the empty glass back on the tray.

"Make it two," Harper suggested, and then quickly downed his own and replaced it on the tray.

"You got it," the woman said cheerfully, and swung away.

Smiling, Drina slid her hands around Harper's neck as he drew her back into his arms.

"Stephanie was wrong about you not dancing since 'Gone-With-the-Wind-dresses' were in fashion,"

Harper said with amusement as she shi ed against his body to the slower beat. "You know how to move to modern music."

"Beth and I o en hit the clubs with some of the other hunters a er work. It's good for blowing off steam," she admi ed, and then said, "You don't do so bad yourself. You're disproving that old saying about white men not being able to dance."

Harper chuckled. "I don't know about that."

"I do," she assured him, and then deliberately moved close enough that their hips met, and added, "Beth says that's a sure sign that a man is good in bed. Are you good in bed, Harper?"

Harper's laughter caught in his throat, and his eyes flared silver-green. Then he caught her by the back of her head and kissed her. It was no slow, gentle melding of mouths, but as if their earlier embrace had never been interrupted, and they were just con nuing that. His mouth was hungry, hot, and hard, devouring rather than exploring, demanding with no sign of tenta veness. He wanted her, bad, and didn't care who knew.

It wasn't the Sweet Ecstasy. That couldn't possibly have kicked in yet, Drina knew. She tightened her arms around his neck, mee ng his need with her own, and moaned into his mouth when his hands slid up her sides to the level of her breasts. He didn't grab them as he had outside the restaurant, but kept them at her sides, allowing just his thumbs to feather along the sides of her breasts and then under them in a tantalizing caress that had her nipples hardening with hope that they could feel that touch. They didn't. Instead, his thumbs slid back up again in another mostly innocent caress to join his fingers at her sides. Harper wasn't so far gone down the road of need that he'd forgo en where they were, she realized, halfrelieved and half-disappointed. Her disappointment was mi gated a great deal when his leg slid between both of hers, and he dropped one hand down to press her bo om forward so that his thigh rubbed against her with every step. He didn't remove his hand at once but let it dip lower, curving it briefly under her bo om and le ng his fingers brush lightly between her legs in a caress that had her breath hitching in her throat. It was the swi est of touches, and then his hand slid back up to her waist, but it was effec ve. The blood now roared in her ears, the strobing lights suddenly seemed blinding, and she was abruptly weak in the knees and sagging against him, flat out riding his thigh, which only intensified everything. Drina didn't realize the music had changed again un l Harper broke their kiss and spun her away from him. Sound came crashing back, and she blinked her eyes open to see the others moving to the more frene c beat. Harper drew her back then, not turning her to face him but pulling her up against his chest so that her bo om now pressed into his groin. He slid his arms around her waist, one atop the other directly below her breasts, and bent his head to her ear to whisper, "You're trembling. Are you cold?"

The words were so and teasing, and he nipped at her ear as he said them. Then he let one hand dri down over her stomach to her pelvis, where he pressed gently, and murmured, "Shall I warm you?"

Drina couldn't have responded had she wanted. He was s ll moving them to the music, which was good because if he'd stopped, she would have simply stood there like an idiot. But while she was sure anyone looking would simply see two people dancing, it didn't feel like dancing. It felt like foreplay.

"Our waitress is coming with our drinks. Shall we go sit down?" he asked by her ear, and Drina nodded at once, hoping she would regain some equilibrium if he wasn't holding her.

Harper shi ed his hold, not releasing her but moving her into his side so that his arm was around her back, and he could usher her off the dance floor.

Drina spo ed their waitress almost at once. She'd come to a halt halfway between the doors to the lounge and the dance floor, but now turned and moved back to the doors, leaving them to follow. By the me they pressed through the swinging doors, she was se ng their drinks on their table and mel ng away.

Harper ushered her to the table, and Drina slid in, then moved farther over to make room for him when he started to slide onto the bench seat beside her rather than claim the opposite bench as he had earlier. The moment they were both se led, he caught her chin in his hand and turned her face up to his for a kiss. This me it was a quick, hard one, almost a brand of possession, and then he released her and reached for his Sweet Ecstasy.

He took a healthy swallow, and then set it back and rested his arm on the edge of the table in front of her. Following his lead, Drina reached for her own glass and took a drink. It was as she was se ng it back on the table that she felt something feather across her right nipple. Glancing down, she saw that he'd extended his fingers, the ps feathering over her hardened nipple visible through the thin material of her bra and dress.

As she watched, he did it again, just extending his fingers and le ng the ps brush across the excited nub. Drina bit her lip and glanced around, but the way he'd posi oned himself blocked anyone from seeing what he was doing. When she met his gaze, he asked, "Do you enjoy being a hunter?"

Drina blinked, her brain slow to absorb the idle question. Finally, she nodded.

"Yes." The word came out in a husky whisper, and she cleared her throat before adding, "Some mes it gets disheartening, but mostly I feel like I'm helping people, if only by stopping rogues from hur ng anyone else."

"They're lucky to have you," he said quietly, and then raised his hand to run one finger along the edge of her neckline, following the V-neck over the curve of her breast and down to where the material met between her breasts. "What do you do for fun besides dancing?"

Drina licked her lips and forced her a en on from what he was doing to try to answer the ques on. "I find reading relaxing, and - " She paused and bit her lip, her body going s ll as he leaned forward and nuzzled her ear.

"And?" he prompted, his breath tickling across flesh suddenly alive with nerve endings.

"And what?" she breathed, turning her face to find his lips.

Harper kissed her, a long, lazy kiss this me, his tongue sweeping in and then withdrawing before he drew back. His hand drifted away from her neckline, and he reached for his glass again. Drina shivered at the loss of his touch and reached for her own drink.

"The way you move on the dance floor is incredibly sexy. I found myself watching you and wondering if you were wearing one of the new bra and panty sets Stephanie helped you pick out today."

She'd just raised the glass to her lips and her eyes shot to his over the rim. His expression was casual, as if they were discussing the weather, but his eyes were fierce. She took a gulp of her Sweet Ecstasy and merely nodded as she swallowed.

He smiled and set his glass down, then returned his fingers to her neckline, running the ps lightly along the edge again. "Which one?"

Drina hesitated. She then smiled slowly, and said, "I think I'll leave you to find that out for yourself."

Harper met her gaze and held it, but she felt a tugging at her top, and then he looked down. She did as well to see that he'd caught the neckline with one finger and eased it the slightest bit to the side, revealing the edge of the red lace bra with its black trim. When she looked back to his eyes, she found them burning silver.

"My favorite," he breathed, his eyes glowing and Drina almost released a nervous laugh. That was what Stephanie had said when she'd insisted she wear them tonight. "Harper really liked these. You should wear them."

Drina took another drink and managed not to squirm on the seat as he slid his finger under the edge of the bra and ran it lightly downward, brushing tantalizing close to a nipple that posi vely ached now. She didn't breathe again until he withdrew the finger and let the top of her dress slip back into place. Harper turned to pick up his drink again. Another swallow left half the drink remaining. He set it back, and then turned to face her again. Her glass was now half-empty as well. Another half to go for each of them, and surely they could leave? If he didn't suggest it, she would, Drina decided. This was driving her crazy.

"You're wearing the matching panties too, of course."

Drina blinked at the abrupt comment and glanced down as his hand landed warm and heavy on the top of her thigh. She had the mad urge to repeat the words "I think I'll leave you to see for yourself," and imagined him sliding under the booth and between her legs to do just that, but then gave herself a shake. They were in a public club. Well, not really public. More private, for immortals only, though they got the occasional mortal straggling in. At least they did in Spain.

"Are you?" he asked, leaning forward to nip at her ear, his hand slipping a li le farther up her thigh with the movement.

"Yes," she breathed.

"I'm glad," he whispered. "I can't wait to see them on you."

She couldn't wait to show him, Drina thought faintly, her fingers clenching around her glass as his fingers began drawing lazy circles on the top of her thigh through her skirt.

"I can't wait to take them off you," he whispered, whirling his tongue inside the delicate shell of her ear as the lazy circles he was making on her thigh moved down the side of her leg now to her inner thigh. Drina closed her eyes, aware that her breathing had grown shallow and rapid. His fingers had somehow slipped under her skirt, and his bare skin was on hers, sending ngles along her thigh in both direc ons. Forcing her eyes open, she glanced down to see that the handy-dandy slit in the skirt had given him access. As she watched, his hand slid farther up her inner leg, pushing the material ahead of it. Harper nipped lightly at her ear, sucked the lobe into his mouth, and drew on it slowly, then released it, and asked, "Do you want to dance anymore?"

Drina gave the faintest shake of her head.

"Then maybe we should drink up and go to my place," he suggested, his fingers reaching and brushing, light as a feather, against the material of her panties.

Drina gasped in a breath. Her eyes started to close, but she forced them open and li ed the glass to her lips, drinking a good por on of it as she wondered when this had all slipped from her control to his . . . or if she'd ever really been in control. She'd thought she was seducing him earlier, but the tables had turned. Had it been her challenge on the dance floor? Asking if he was good in bed?

Se ng her glass back, she turned her head, caught him by surprise, and took his lower lip in her mouth, sucking it as he'd done to her ear. When his fingers then brushed against her again, more firmly, she released his lip on another gasp, her mouth opening slightly on the sound. Harper immediately thrust his tongue inside as his fingers quickly shi ed the lace of her pan es aside so that he could run his thumb across her core.

It was too much, and Drina had to fight not to cry out or straddle his lap right there in the booth. She could have wept, though, when he suddenly withdrew his fingers, allowing her pan es to slip back into place.

Harper broke their kiss just as abruptly and turned to pick up his drink. He downed it in one go, set the glass back and slid from the booth, removing his wallet as he went.

"Finish up, and I'll pay the bill." His words were gruff, his jaw set, but she knew it wasn't anger making his expression tight.

Breathing out slowly, Drina tried to calm herself as she watched him slip through the tables toward the bar. He pulled out his phone as he went. Calling for the car, she realized as she watched him press it to his ear. The car that would take them to his apartment where they would . . . Cripes, what was she doing? she wondered with sudden panic. It had been centuries since she'd -

Raising her glass to her lips, she gulped down the last swallow, wishing it was Wino Reds or something with some punch to it rather than a drink full of pheromones. She didn't need to be any more horny; she needed some bloody Dutch courage. Literally.

Shaking her head, she slid out of the booth, and then had to grab the table to stay on her feet as her legs quaked beneath her. Cripes, she was a mess. Over two thousand years old and quivering like an untried virgin. This was pathe c, she decided, reaching for her coat. She slid it on, and then nearly jumped out of it and her skin both when a hand landed on her shoulder.

Harper had returned, she realized, glancing around and managing a smile.

"The car is on the way," he said, grabbing his own coat and tugging it on. Drina mumbled what might have been a "Good" or could just have easily been an "Oh God," and then he had his coat on, had caught her hand, and was leading her through the tables toward the exit.

"Have fun, kids," someone sang out.

Drina glanced around to see their waitress standing aside and smiling as they passed, and then Harper was tugging her through the door.

Snow and wind hit her in the face as they stepped into the darkness. Drina squinted against it and followed half-blind as Harper led her around the building to a narrow alley leading toward the back. The wind died abruptly once he pulled her into the cover it offered, and Drina sighed with relief. She wasn't used to this northern climate.

She turned to say as much to Harper, but never got the words out. His mouth was suddenly on hers, his hands and body pushing her back against the cold, hard bricks of the building as his body plastered itself to her front. What followed was an explosion of passion like she'd never experienced in all her life. It washed over her like the fallout from an atom bomb, only to turn and roll through her again, and Drina merely grabbed at his arms and held on as he drove his tongue into her and urged the sides of her coat apart so that he could run his hands over her body.

His hands molded her breasts, her waist, slid down the front of her thighs and then around to their backs before rising to clasp her behind the upper legs and li her against the wall un l their faces were level. Once he had her where he wanted her, he used his hold to spread and raise her legs around his hips. Drina ins nc vely hooked her booted ankles behind his waist, helping to take her weight as he pinned her against the wall with his hips. It freed his hands, and he immediately reached one hand to her breasts, using it to tug her neckline and bra aside, baring one to the night air. Drina gasped as cold curled around her nipple, but then he broke their kiss to lower his head and latch onto it, his hot moist breath bringing on a heat that had her moaning and squirming against the wall. When his teeth grazed the tender nub, she cried out and raised her face to the night sky. Cold flakes flurried around them, landing on her eyelids, cheeks, and lips, and her breath came in small gasps, forming mini clouds that floated heavenward.

When she felt his hand brush against her thigh, moving upward, Drina closed her eyes and held a breath that shot out on a cry when he found her core. Digging her nails into his shoulders, she thrust her hips away from the wall, into the caress, and twisted her head to the side, suddenly gasping for breath, as he slid her panties aside to touch her again.

"Christ," Harper growled against her breast, and then raised his head to growl almost helplessly, "You're so hot and wet."

Drina opened her eyes and lowered her head to meet his gaze, and then moaned as his fingers moved across her tender flesh again.

"I want you," she gasped, writhing under his touch.

The silver in Harper's eyes spiked, and he claimed her mouth again.

His fingers retreated then, but she felt his hand moving between them and knew he was undoing his pants. She kissed him more fran cally with the an cipa on of what was coming, and then a car horn honked.

They both froze for a heartbeat, and then Harper broke the kiss and they both turned to stare blankly at the back end of the car just visible at the curb. Harper dropped his head to her chest with a groan. He gave it a slight shake and straightened again. His hand moved briefly between them again, presumably doing up what he'd undone, and then he caught her at the waist and eased back. Silently cursing the driver for being so damned prompt, Drina unhooked her ankles and allowed her legs to drop back down to support her. Harper held on for a moment as she found her balance in the thighhigh boots, and then he released her to quickly tug her dress back into place before catching her hand and leading her out of the alley to the car.

Harper had grabbed her right hand with his le , and didn't let go as he ushered her into the car but followed and closed the door, all while gripping her fingers. He con nued to clasp them firmly as he leaned forward to speak to the driver and as he sat back.

Drina peered at their entwined fingers, and then glanced up to his face, worry flu ering through her as she noted that he was staring out the window, his expression grim. She fre ed over what was going on in his head for the dura on of the ride, but couldn't think of anything to say to distract him. Her body was s ll humming from what had nearly taken place in the alley, which, now that she was able to think a bit, would have been a catastrophe, she thought with a grimace. Harper may be pu ng the reawakening of his "appe tes" down to residuals from Jenny, but the truth was they were life mates, and it was said life mates o en fainted a er sex during the first year or so. They could have been lying there unconscious in the snow for who knew how long had the car not arrived. Okay, so maybe she didn't mind that the driver was prompt after all, she thought wryly.

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