Cat's Lair(10)

By: Christine Feehan

He stopped abruptly, his fingers settling around her wrist, dragging her to a halt. “What the hell did you just say?” he demanded.

She blinked up at him. Major mistake revealing that piece of information. She should have kept that to herself. She licked her suddenly dry lips. Her heart pounded. She didn’t know how to defuse his anger. In his quiet, cool way he was angry, and that was more terrifying than if he’d yelled. It wasn’t his business, but she wasn’t going to tell him that.

“Something you need to know about me, Kitten. I don’t have a lot of patience. When I ask you something, I need you to answer. It isn’t that damned difficult. Just tell me what happened and how you handled it.”

His gold eyes burned like a flame, boring through her body. She licked her lips again. His hand tightened.

“And stop that. That’s going to get your ass in trouble. Just talk, Cat, say what I need to hear.”

She leveled a glare at him. “You are not in the least bit Zen, Ridley. Not even a little bit, and you have crushed one of my fantasies. I have to tell you, that’s just plain sad because I could work with that for a very long time.”

He blinked. He never blinked. Never broke his stare. That was one of the first observations she’d made about him, and he definitely blinked. Amusement crept right through all the sparkling anger.

“You thought I was Zen?” He began walking again, taking her with him, walking so close she could feel the heat of his body. He hadn’t relinquished her wrist, rather his hand slid down her arm to take possession of her fingers.

“The Zen master,” she said, “Which, by the way, was really cool, and now you’ve blown that all to hell.”

“So you were having fantasies about me?” The amusement definitely deepened.

She sent him a look of sheer reprimand from under her long lashes. “Newsflash for you, Ridley, every woman has fantasies about you. That’s your gift. But the fact that you just blew one of the biggest parts of my daydreams about you took your hotness down a notch or two. Zen was very ‘it’ for me. You rocked that cool vibe.”

“You have fantasies and daydreams about me?”

“Don’t pretend you don’t know you’re freakin’ hot. The way you look at women, there’s not a doubt in my mind they’re all over you, and you’ve got that hound dog disdain.”

His eyebrow shot up. “Woman. You cannot tell me I’m the thing of fantasies in one breath and say I’m a hound dog in the next.”

She gave him a serious look. “They aren’t mutually exclusive. You are, right? A player? A hound dog? The kind of man who kicks a woman out of his bed right after sex and then loses her phone number?”

His eyes laughed at her. “I don’t take women to my bed, I’m usually in their beds, and I get up and leave. They know the score or I wouldn’t be in their beds in the first place.”

She nodded. “Yep. A player and a hound dog. And just so you know, telling you about my now completely blown fantasy does not mean I’m giving you the go-ahead to make a move on me. Fantasy and reality are two very different things.”

“I see.”

Catarina secretly hugged herself. She had forgotten it was fun talking to another person. She didn’t allow herself that luxury, not ever anymore. Well, sometimes with Malcom, but not like this. Not just saying anything that came into her head. Watching Ridley’s face lose the stone-carved effect and replacing it with laughter was fun. Just fun. She’d forgotten what that was like. Or truthfully, she hadn’t known about having fun in the first place.

They rounded the corner of the second block and started down the third before she remembered he was holding her hand. Before she realized she hadn’t taken a careful look around her to make certain no one was following. The smile inside slipped away. Vigilance was far more important than fun. She actually liked Ridley, even though she was certain he was too beautiful for any woman to ever keep. She didn’t want to be responsible for anything happening to him.

Catarina tried to slip her hand out of his, a subtle retreat, nothing overt that he would notice. He noticed. His hand tightened around hers and he looked down at her immediately. He had eyes that saw everything. He didn’t fail to see her gaze scanning the rooftops and the fire escapes as they passed the buildings.

“What is it?”

His voice was low. Velvet. So soft and perfect she nearly closed her eyes against the mesmerizing sound. She was fairly certain he could growl, she’d heard him do it once. Now, she thought he could probably purr as well. For some reason, the moment it came into her mind, her body reacted, going feminine on her. She decided it was him. Ridley just had a way with women and he was casting a spell.