Friday, December 28, 2012

Free Fiction Friday - Bait Part IV

Oops, I'm off to a late start today. I'm well into holiday mode, I think. I hope everyone had a nice Christmas.

Just a quick reminder that I'll be drawing for a signed copy of Blood and Bone on Monday. All you have to do is leave a comment to enter.

In the meantime, enjoy.

Copyright © 2012 Dawn Brown
Part IV
            Ella watched the detective’s eyes narrow, but he didn’t say anything for a long moment. Probably trying to decide if she was lying or not. Let him wonder. She didn’t care what he thought of her so long as he didn’t get in her way.
            “Let me get this straight.” Andy leaned forward and rested his elbows on his knees. “You plan to get the man to admit to foul play by having dinner with him?”
            The mix incredulous humor and disgust in his tone made the hair at the back of her neck bristle. “Dinner is just the beginning. You’ve heard the expression keep your friends close and your enemies closer? Well, I intend to do just that.”
            The mirth vanished from his expression. His golden eyes bored into her, as if seeing the secrets she kept hidden. She struggled not to look away.  “If having dinner is just the beginning,” his voice was quiet, but with an edge like sheered metal, “just how far are you willing to go? Would you sleep with the man?”
            Her stomach gave a sharp twist. The skin on her cheek still crawled with the memory of his lips on her cheek. God, she hoped not. For her plan to truly succeed, she needed Luke to trust her enough to get him alone. And she would do whatever it took for that to happen.
            “I won’t come to that,” she told him with more confidence than she felt.
             “So you think that if you get close to him, he’ll just tell you what you want to know?”
            That mild disgust had returned to his voice, as if he were speaking to a complete idiot. For the past year he’d barely spoken ten words to her. Too bad he couldn’t have kept it that way. Sullen and silent had to be better than mocking and hostile. Though in fairness, she hadn’t told him her plan in its entirety, and without the final stages it did sound kind of dumb.
            “If I can get close to him, I might find something that will tell me what happened to Phoebe. I can’t stand by and do nothing anymore, Detective.”
            “Andy. My name is Andy. You have to let us do our job.” He took a step toward her, something dangerously close to sympathy softening his features.
She’d rather deal with his sneer than his pity.
            “Then do it,” she snapped.
            His face hardened, and some of her tension eased.  “I understand your frustration—”
            Anger flashed through her. He understood? Not likely. How could he? Did he lie in bed at night, staring at the ceiling, wondering what hells the person he loved most in the world had suffered? Might still be suffering? Did the images cloud his imagination, turning his stomach and driving him into the bathroom to retch and dry heave? Did he live with ever present fear that the only person who meant a damn thing to him was dead and he was completely alone in the world?
            “You don’t have clue,” she said, hating the emotion clogging her throat and turning her voice thick. “My sister vanished. Every moment of every day I’m left wondering where she is, what happened to her. Not knowing is eating me alive. You want to know how far I’ll go with Luke to get the truth?”
            He didn’t answer, just watched her stonily.
            “I’ll go as far as I have to. I’ll do whatever it takes. If I have to strip naked and crawl on broken glass, begging him for the truth I will.” But it wouldn’t come to that. By the time she was done with Luke, he’d be the one begging. “Can you understand that, Andy?
            He didn’t answer, but started toward her, closing the distance in two strides. She barely had a time to react as his hands, big and warm, cupped her cheeks and his mouth closed over hers.
            His lips were firm and strong as his mouth drew on hers. She acted on instinct, responding to his touch. She opened her mouth, accepting his invading tongue, letting hers slide along his. He smelled of the cold and snow, tasted faintly of mint. Her fingers curled into the fabric of his rumpled shirt.
            Somewhere deep in subconscious she knew this was wrong, but she couldn’t seem to help herself. She needed human contact. After pushing through the past year alone, she craved it like a junkie craving a fix.
            The shrill electronic pulse from her phone cut through the quiet.
            She jerked back from Andy, and those rich, golden eyes held hers. The frantic thud of her heart echoed inside her ears. The phone continued to ring, but she didn’t move. She couldn’t. She stood staring as if caught in a thrall.
What had she done? Her lips still tingled where he’d kissed her. Need still ached low inside her.
            She turned away and snatched up the cordless phone from the side table.
            “Hello,” she said.
            “Ella?” Luke asked, his tone unsure. And why not? Her voice sounded oddly husky even to her.
            She cleared her throat. “Yes, Luke, it’s me.”
            “Oh, you sounded strange when you picked up.”
            Sorry about that. You caught me at a bad time. I was just making out with the detective investigating Pheobe’s disappearance who I don’t particularly like. Her face turned hot and she kept her back to the man in question so he wouldn’t see. “I’m fine. Is there something you wanted?”
            “Yes,” he said. “I have a question for you, and I hope I don’t sound too forward.”
            Her heart accelerated, this time having nothing to do with Andy. “What’s that?”
            “I’m planning to spend Christmas at the chalet this year, and wondered, since I’m on my own and you’re on your own, maybe you’d like to join me.”
            Her mouth had gone dry and she had to swallow hard before she could speak. “I would like that very much.”
            “Great. I’m sure Phoebe would be happy to know that we’ve become friends.”
            Yeah, right. “I think so too.”
            “Why don’t you drive up on the twenty-fourth and spend the night.”
            “That sounds wonderful. I’ll see you then.”
            They said good-bye and she hung up, a darkness falling over her like a shroud. This Christmas she would finally get what she wanted, and Luke would be the one to give it to her.
            “Who was that?” Andy’s voice broke into her thoughts. She’d nearly forgotten he was there.
            “I was just finalizing my plans for Christmas.” She turned and faced him, meeting his narrowed gaze. “I trust I’ve answered all your questions to your satisfaction.”
            He nodded slowly, those eyes never leaving her face. When he looked at her like that, she could easily believe that he could see inside her, read her thoughts, know her every dark secret.            “Then you should probably be on your way. Would you like to call for a taxi?”
            After a short phone call, he scooped his coat from the couch and pulled it on. She walked him to the door, but before he stepped out into the hall he stopped.
Don’t do anything stupid, Ella.”

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