Blue-Eyed Devil Page 58


"I got a foothold on the handrail, did a pull-up on the top frame, and swung a leg up. I almost slipped back down again, but Manuel and Juan grabbed me."

"El mono," Manuel said as if to explain, and I heard a rumble of laughter in Hardy's chest.

"What does that mean?" I asked.

"He called me a monkey." Reaching into his back pocket, Hardy extracted a wallet and fished out some dripping cash, apologizing for the condition it was in. They chuckled and assured him the money was still good, and they all shook hands.

I stood with my arms clutched around Hardy as he spoke with the elevator technician and security office supervisor for a couple of minutes. Even though I was safe, I couldn't make myself let go of him. And he didn't seem to mind that I had attached myself to him, only ran his hand over my back now and then. A fire truck pulled up outside the building, lights flashing.

"Listen," Hardy said to the security supervisor, handing him a soggy business card. "We're done talking for now — she's been through enough. I've got to take care of her and get us both cleaned up. If anyone wants to know something, they can reach me tomorrow."

"Right," the supervisor said. "I understand. You let me know if I can help you in any way. Take care, y'all."

"He was nice," I said as Hardy guided me out of the building, right past the fire truck and a van with a camera crew emerging.

"He's hoping you don't sue his ass," Hardy replied, leading me to his car, which had been double-parked. It was a gleaming silver Mercedes sedan, and the inside beige upholstery was buttery and perfect.

"No," I said helplessly. "I can't get into that car when I'm all disgusting and dirty."

Hardy opened the door and manhandled me inside. "Get in, darlin'. We're not walking home."

I cringed every second of the short drive to 1800 Main, knowing we were ruining the interior of his car.

And there was worse to come. After Hardy parked in the garage beneath our building, we approached the elevator that went to the lobby. I stopped like I'd been shot, and looked from the elevator to the stairs. Hardy stopped with me.

The absolute last thing I wanted to do was in get back on another elevator. It was too much. I felt every muscle tense in rejection of the idea.

Hardy was silent, letting me struggle through it. "Shit," I choked out. "I can't avoid elevators for the rest of my life, can I?"

"Not in Houston." Hardy's expression was kind. Soon, I thought, the kindness would turn to pity. That was enough to spur me forward.

"Cowboy up, Haven," I muttered to myself, and pushed the up button. My hand was shaking. While the elevator cab descended to the garage, I waited as if I were at the gates of hell.

"I'm not sure I actually thanked you for what you did," I said gruffly. "So . . . thank you. And I want you to know, I'm not usually . . . troublesome. I mean, I'm not one of those women who needs to be rescued all the time."

"You can rescue me next time."

That actually pulled a smile from me despite my anxiety. It was exactly the right thing to say.

The doors opened, and I just did it, made myself walk into the metal box, and I hunched into the corner as Hardy followed. Before the doors had closed, Hardy had pulled me into a tight-bodied clinch, length to length, and our mouths came together, and it seemed as if everything I had felt that day, anguish, anger, desperation, and relief, all surged to a flash point of pure white heat.

I responded with frantic kisses, pulling his tongue into my mouth, wanting the taste and feel of him all over me. Hardy gave a short, sharp pant, as if taken unawares by my response. He gripped my head in his hand and his mouth worked over mine, hungry and sweet.

In a matter of seconds we were at the lobby. The doors opened with an annoying beep. Hardy pulled away and tugged me out of the elevator, into the shining black marble lobby. I was sure we looked like a pair of swamp creatures as we went past the concierge desk to the main residential elevator.

David, the concierge, gaped as he saw us. "Miss Travis? My Lord, what happened?"

"I had a little . . . sort of, well . . . accident at Buffalo Tower," I said sheepishly. "Mr. Cates helped me out."

"Is there anything I can do?"

"No, we're both fine." I gave David a meaningful look. "And there is really no need to tell anyone in my family about this."

"Yes, Miss Travis," he said, a little too quickly. And as we went to the residential elevator, I saw him pick up his phone and start to dial.

"He's calling my brother Jack," I said, trudging into the open elevator. "I don't feel like talking to anyone, especially not my nosy, interfering — "

But Hardy was kissing me again, this time bracing his hands on the wall on either side of me as if I were too dangerous to be touched. The hot openmouthed kiss went on and on, and the pleasure of it was overpowering. I reached up and let my hands follow the thick slope of his shoulders, the muscles bunched and rigid.

I was dimly amazed by the effect of my hands on him, the way his mouth locked on mine as if he were desperately feasting on something that might be taken away. He was aroused, and I actually wanted to touch him there, put my hand on that heavy bulge. My trembling fingers slid over the flat reach of his stomach, crossing the warm metal buckle of his belt. But the elevator stopped, and Hardy gripped my wrist, tugging it back.

His eyes were a hot, soft blue, his color high as if with fever. He gave a shake of his head to clear it, and pulled me from the elevator. We were at the eighteenth floor. His apartment. I went with him willingly, waiting at the door as he entered the combination. He misdialed, causing it to beep indignantly. I bit back a grin as he swore. He gave me a wry glance and tried again, and the door opened.

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