Big, Bad Red
For the fiftieth time, Red told herself that her wrist was not a sexual pleasure point but her skin wouldn’t stop tingling where Liam had kissed her earlier. She snuck a look at him while he talked on the phone. Everything from his dirty blond hair to the Celtic tattoos to the leather pants that should look ridiculous, but didn’t, had her heart doing the rumba in her chest. The whole situation made her queasy. If this was love, she didn’t want it. She’d stick to her battery-operated boyfriend, thank you very much.
Liam hung up his phone. “We’re stuck here until dawn.”
Everything below her neck became wildly happy while everything above it hunkered down for a fight. “What happens at dawn?”
“The bubble pops.” He shoved his fingers through his hair. The tousled hair only accentuated his bad-boy appeal. “Unless there’s someone you can call tonight for a dried lizard tail that’s been kissed by three fairies?”
If they’d needed a pick-pocket, a smuggler or some muscle, she could have gotten someone in a second—for a steep price. But a friend doing a favor? Not likely. “Nope.”
“Really?” The pity in his blue eyes hit harder than his broad shoulder against the magical dome around them.
She bristled and crushed a peanut shell fragment to smithereens against the tabletop. “Granny’s doing a show in Atlanta and my most trusted employee is the reason why we’re stuck here, so yeah, there’s no one I can call.”
“I might be the werewolf, but you,” he raised an empty pint glass in cheers, “are the lone wolf.”
She laughed despite herself, but the truth of it stung all the same. “It’s hard to miss what you’ve never had.”
Liam settled in and propped his size-fourteen biker boots up on the bench seat on the other side of the table. “How so?”
“Is now where we share our sad tales and get weepy?” She poured on the fake innocent act. There was no way she was going tell Mr. Richy-Rich about her Dumpster-diving past. He was out of her life as soon as she broke the love spell and she didn’t share secrets with soon-to-be strangers. She lost every bit of coquette and let the true street urchin she was pour out. “But I already know your story. Your people turn into actual wolves. My people? Well, my people don’t exist. So there you go. Stories told. We can move on now.”
That bitchy little speech would have shut most people up. Liam wasn’t most people. He just winked one of those Caribbean-blue eyes at her, maKing her insides go fizzy.
Reaching out, he twisted one of her brown curls around his finger. “Are you this big of a pain in the ass all the time?”
“Yes.” Even though she sat beside him, she shouldn’t be able to feel that slight touch all the way down to her toes but she did. It zipped along every nerve ending in her body until she felt supercharged. “Now aren’t you glad you’re going to be stuck with me for life?”
“Actually…” He lifted the curl’s red tip to his nose and inhaled. “I am.”
A warm wave of desire crashed through her, turning her this way and that as she tried to make sense of it all. Lust, she knew. The sensations threatening to drown her right now? That was something different. In an effort to anchor herself, she grabbed ahold of the one thing that had always been her constant: stone-cold bitchiness. “Did you try to break the force field with your head in addition to your shoulder?”
“No.” He let go of her hair, flexing his fingers as if he felt whatever was swirling in the air around them. “Despite your best efforts, I still like you. I’d like you even if you hadn’t touched the Caladbolg sword.”
Rolling her eyes, she gave him plenty of attitude. “Why’s that?”
“Because you’re tough, you’re smart and you don’t give up. I didn’t walk into this place without doing my research. I know how much it took to become the black market fence in Dublin. You succeeded where many before you had failed and you’ve managed to stay on top. If you ever used that brain for legal activities, there’s nothing in the world that could stop you.”
There was nothing she could say to that. No one besides Granny had ever talked to her like that—not that there’d been anyone around before Granny to say that.
Maybe the love spell really was legit and it worked both ways. That would explain the extra something in the way Liam was looking at her that made her heart hiccup and her thighs quiver. It wasn’t just him using a little sweet talk to get into her pants. Enough assholes had tried that for her to be able to spot them from miles away. This was more.
Before her brain could catch up with her body, she took his square jaw between her palms and kissed him like a woman in love.
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