Dragon's Fire:A Reverse Harem Romance(8)

By: Lili Zander & Rory Reynolds

I go extremely still. Very few people know about my thieving, and even fewer people know about Silas’ illness. Each word hits me like a dagger, but I stay expressionless. I can’t let him see that I’m rattled. “Do you want a cookie for doing your research?”

His lips twitch, but he catches himself. Score one for me knocking him off his game. “Come with me.”

Bad idea, Aria. Really bad idea.

I slide off my barstool, drink in hand, and follow him down a dim corridor. At the end of the hallway is the men’s washroom. A guy comes out as we get there, his fly unzipped and his footsteps unsteady. Tall, Dark, and Deadly waits until he’s out of sight before turning to me. “My boss wants a word,” he says. “He’s got a job for you.”

Should have guessed.

“I’m not interested,” I reply. “Your boss is just going to have to keep on wanting.” I turn back to head to the bar, and he places his hand on my shoulder.

“I think you’ll want to hear what he has to say—”

I cut him off before he can tell me more. I promised Silas. “Look, I don’t know what your deal is or who your boss thinks he is, but I’m out of the game. You’ll have to find someone else.”

“Even if he is willing to pay for those pricey treatments Archer needs?”

I tense at his words. Damn it. It’s the ethical dilemma I’ve been grappling with. Save Silas by breaking my promise to him, or keep my word and watch him waste away? The last six months have been painful. Brutal. The bills are piling up faster than my shitty job can pay for… Should I take the bait?

I turn narrowed eyes on him, assessing him more closely. Cruel dark eyes, hard jaw. A predator, one my instincts are warning me to stay away from.

He still hasn’t let go of me. His fingers continue to dig into my flesh, but I refuse to give him the satisfaction of squirming away. Can I take him? I doubt it. He’s two-hundred-and-fifty pounds of shifter, and I’m Norm.

“I see that’s got your attention.” He reaches into the inner pocket of his jacket and pulls out a business card from his wallet. “When you’re ready to talk, call the number.”

Hang on. What the hell am I doing? If I’m going to break my promise to Silas, there are plenty of Norms I can steal from. This time last year, a panther almost took a chunk out of me at MagLab. I still have the scar he gave me. Shifters are trouble. “Sorry.” I twist away from his grasp. “Like I said, I’m really not interested.”

His hands clench into fists, and I brace myself for trouble. Then two men turn the corner and see Tall, Dark, and Deadly looming over me. “Hey,” one of them calls out. “What the hell are you doing? Leave the girl alone.”

My would-be attacker takes a look at the two tall men and seems to decide against picking a fight. He tucks the card into my jeans pocket and saunters away. “She’s a bit tipsy, that’s all,” he says to the men as he passes them. “I was just steadying her.”

Sure, buddy. Sure you were.

My knees feel a little weak as my rescuers draw closer. “Are you okay, love?” one of them asks.

His accent is British, maybe Welsh? His long dark hair is pulled back in a man-bun. It’s not a look I’m typically drawn to, but he totally pulls it off. Or maybe that’s the effect of the chocolate brown eyes, the sexy-as-sin stubble, and the panty-melting accent.

I don’t like most people, but I’m happy to make an exception here. I don’t know why, but I find British accents impossibly sexy.

His friend is just as hot. He’s tall and more muscled, and his eyes are a piercing shade of blue. “Do you need a drink of water?” he asks.

Aria, you’re gaping. Say something. Anything. They’re going to think you’re a gibbering idiot.

“I’m fine,” I mutter, my cheeks heating under their scrutiny. “Just a little shaken.”

Their faces darken. “He was bothering you,” Blue-Eyes says grimly. “I’ll make him regret it.”

The business card pokes into my hip. I can’t let them chase my assailant. Partly because they’ll get the snot kicked out of them—Tall, Dark, and Deadly is a shifter, and these two guys, while very nicely muscled, are Norm—and partly because if I can’t find another way to make money fast, I might need to call that number.

“I’m fine,” I repeat, with more conviction in my voice. “Really.” I smile up at my two rescuers. So gorgeous, and so out of my league. “Thank you for your help.”

I wait until I’m back at the bar before I fish the business card out of my pocket. It’s matte black with nothing except a number on it, embossed in silver.