Reese is feisty, beautiful and confident, and she might even be Adrian’s mate, except…she doesn’t know about the dragon. Now he has to decide whether to reveal himself or risk losing both her and his corporation. However, he just might lose himself if he lets the dragon consume him...
~ EXCERPT ~
In the week since their dating disaster, Esme had managed to avoid Luke without even a brief sighting. She’d half expected to run into him Monday between classes or at lunch, but he hadn’t popped up once to bother her, nor had he appeared the next day during her usual study session between classes.
Was it possible she’d overreacted, or had he lost interest because she didn’t plan to bone him in his car?
Snow crunched behind her, and a familiar tingle raced up her spine, raising the hairs on her nape. Her pulse thundered behind her ribs at a staccato beat, ferocious as a galloping herd.
She glanced back over her shoulder but saw no one. Several shops remained open, but everyone was wisely inside where it was warm. Waving it off as snow falling from a roof, she continued on her way, until another crunch drew her attention. This time, she swore she caught sight of a shadow further back down the way. As the panic attack subsided, she looked back again after several more feet, and this time she made out a hulking figure in a dark coat.
Esme tugged her purse around to her front and slipped her cell phone out. She thumbed the recent call log and phoned her friend. “Marie,” she hissed when the line picked up. “I think there’s some strange dude following me.”
“What? Why are you calling me? Call the police.”
“But what if I’m wrong? I’ll look like an idiot.”
“Better to look like an idiot than end up in some bad man’s sex dungeon.”
“What the fuck? Sex dungeon? How does your mind jump to—you know what? Nevermind.”
“Where are you?”
“Edge of Spruce and Main by the university library.”
“Come to the cafe. Do you want me to tell Frank some guy was harassing you and send him out?”
Esme sagged in relief. Officer Frank would do anything for Marie, especially if it scored him a shot at getting into her panties. “Yes, please.”
“All right, I’ll—shit. He’s already in his cruiser and driving away.”
At this hour, few tourists wandered the streets and most of the souvenir shops had long ago closed for the day. Nothing stirred on her corner of the street save a stray cat merrily prancing across a dirty mountain of snow created by the plows. The shadowed figure was gone.
“I am losing my damned mind. I’m freaking out over nothing. It’s well lit, and if I can’t bumble my way a couple blocks to the cafe in the safest, most open part of town, maybe I deserve to be snatched.”
“Okay. Love you, girl. I’ll have a bowl of chili waiting when you get here.”
“Make it a bread bowl. With extra cheese. I want more than a damn pinch this time.”
“Extra cheese,” Marie agreed.
Esme ended the call and continued down the road, shivering inside her coat. The wind cut through her gloves and numbed her fingers to the bone.
The growl of a rumbling engine echoed up the street. Esme peered over her shoulder and caught sight of a motorcycle coming around the corner a few blocks down. In this weather, she couldn't imagine how anyone could enjoy driving without a heater or walls to block out the wind.
Speaking of which, she was ready to be out of the cold herself. With hands tucked in her pockets, she continued up the sidewalk at a quick pace.
“Hey there,” a deep, husky voice called out.
She darted her gaze to the left. The biker coasted at her speed, a big man in a leather jacket and black-visored headgear designed to resemble an old Grecian helmet, complete with a scarlet brush comb on top. Despite the temptation to ask him about it, she picked up the pace and pushed on through the bitter cold.
“Oh, come on, can’t you at least say hello?”
“Great, so she does speak. Pretty girl like you shouldn’t be walking alone at this hour.”
She grunted. He sounded like her dad, his tone oddly paternal… No, not paternal, warm and protective but not paternal. Marie was always telling her about street harassment and creepy old guys hitting on her when she visited her family in Sacramento, but Esme had never experienced it herself.
He paused the bike at the street corner while she waited for a long car to pass through the intersection. “I hear the recent influx of tourists have brought all kinds of shit to town. There’s perverts out,” he persisted.
“Are you one of them?” The words flew from her lips before she could reel them in.
The stranger chuckled and pulled off his helmet. Dark hair tumbled out around his shoulders, framing a face equal parts rugged and handsome, not as pretty and flawless as Luke, but breathtaking in its own kind of way, his bright blue eyes above a crooked nose that looked like it had once been broken and hadn’t set right.
Esme stared, as petrified by his resemblance to the warrior of her dream as she was aroused by it. It had to be coincidence.