Rebel Dragon (Pearls of Desire Book 1)(4)

By: Anna Lowe

Then he jolted a little and swung his jaw from side to side as if holding a private conversation with himself. When he turned back to her a moment later, she half expected a probing, insightful question or some deep truth. His mouth opened and closed a few times before he finally spoke.

“First time to Maui?”

She blinked and shook her head a little. So much for deep truths.

“Second time. My sister lives there.”

Her sister, who’d gone to Maui, met the man of her dreams, and settled down, talking about love and destiny and forever. Jenna’s chest rose and fell with a sigh.

Of course, her new neighbor wouldn’t have much interest in that. Guys like him knew about sweat and clocking in on the job — and possibly killing people with his bare hands — but not about mushy things like love.

“How about you? First time to Maui?” she asked.

“Yeah. First time.”

She looked him over, searching for a clue of some kind. He didn’t seem like the type to lie around on the beach or to hit the waves. Was he visiting a relative? Embarking on a top secret underwater salvage operation?

“Work or pleasure?” she asked. And damn it, her voice went up on pleasure, implying all kinds of intimate things.

The right side of his chin twitched — a chin covered with the kind of light stubble a girl could drag her cheek across a few times — and his eyes shone with a suppressed smile. “Work.”

Which was a good thing, because hearing that deep, gravelly voice utter a word like pleasure would probably make every woman in a ten-row radius orgasm.

“New job,” he added.

Just enough of her old, unfettered self snuck back in to make her hazard a guess. “Fireman? Lifeguard? Construction?”

He smiled, and she checked his teeth as he weighed up his answer. No pointy fangs, which was a plus. Her eyes wandered to the swirling edge of a tattoo barely poking out from under his short sleeve.

Nice tattoo, she burned to say. Is it a dragon?

She imagined him flashing a huge, perfect smile and pulling the sleeve up to show it off. Then she would turn to show him the leaping dolphin tattooed on the small of her back, and before long, they’d be chatting like old friends. Maybe even trading phone numbers, arranging to meet up someplace.

But then she remembered her stalker and went stiff all over. She wasn’t giving her number to anyone. Not even this man.

The plane lurched away from the gate, getting ready to taxi down the runway. The man’s eyes flicked to the window, and a ripple of foreboding traveled through him, as if he, too, had just remembered the importance of protecting some deep, dark secret he could never reveal.

“Security,” he said in a clipped, no-bullshit tone that made it clear he wasn’t going to volunteer much more.

“Security, huh?”

He nodded curtly then rolled his neck absently as if limbering up for a fight.

“Nice,” she murmured.

And damn — it was nice just having him there, shrinking her world down to a protected, manageable space.

Within minutes, the engines were straining, the plane rattling, and gravity pressing Jenna into her seat. The plane took off, rose sharply, and banked in a big curve over the Pacific. A totally normal takeoff, but somehow, Good Guy didn’t seem impressed.

“Do you know much about flying?” she asked.

His nostrils flared as if he were the one watching out for a vampire. But then he cracked into a grin, amused. “Yeah. I do.”

His tone had a note of finality to it, and he looked away. Okay, so he didn’t want to talk. So she gave up on conversation and looked down at the lights of LA. Somewhere down there was her stalker. And, ha — she was getting away! But the elation was followed by a riptide of exhaustion, and she blinked as the stress of the past weeks slowly steamrolled over her eyelids. She rested her head against the wall. Maybe her neighbor wasn’t going to provide sparkling conversation for the next six hours. But as long as he was there, protecting her like a castle boxing in the king on a chessboard, she might as well get some sleep.

Just as she was bundling her sweatshirt into a makeshift pillow, though, a hand appeared beside her head, and she nearly jumped out of her skin.

“Sorry,” the man in the seat behind her murmured, releasing her seat once he turned on his overhead light.

Jenna tried to slow her speeding pulse by taking a couple of deep breaths and closing her eyes. When she opened them again, Good Guy was studying her.

“Did you say something was bothering you — or someone?” His voice was a low rumble, his eyes fierce.

She froze, not sure what to say. Could she even come out with it? Yes. I’m afraid I have a stalker, and he might be a vampire.