Bitten by Cupid (Argeneau #13)

Chapter 8

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Tiny shut off the water and stepped out of the shower with a pleased sigh. It was extremely nice to feel clean again. While he hadn't taken a tumble in the sewer as Mirabeau had, his clothes and even his skin had carried the stink of those tunnels by the time they'd gotten out of them. It had been a relief to strip off the clothes and even more of a relief to be able to wash away whatever stench had clung to him. He was looking forward to pulling on clean clothes, even if they were tourist wear. Clean tourist wear beat a smelly Armani suit any day, though he'd enjoyed the designer suit before his stint in the sewers and regretted the loss of the expensive item.

The thought of those clean clothes on his mind, Tiny quickly toweled off, wrapped the wet towel around his waist, and headed out of the bathroom. He stepped into the bedroom on a cloud of steam, but stopped abruptly when he spotted Mirabeau pacing its length. She whirled midpace at his arrival, relief covering her face.

"Oh, thank goodness," she muttered, hurrying forward and pushing past him to get inside the room he'd just exited.

Eyebrows rising, Tiny turned to watch her snatch up her discarded gown and lacy underthings to rifle through them quickly.

"What is it?" he asked, when she cursed and dropped the destroyed clothes with disgust.

Sighing, she glanced over, and admitted, "I was going to go get some blood from the SUV for Stephanie. The keys were tucked into my bra when we started out through the sewers, but they aren't here." She scowled unhappily. "They must have fallen out when I took that tumble in the sewers."

"Hmm," Tiny murmured, his eyes sliding over her in the new clothes. The black joggers had NYC down the side seams, they were a bit large and riding low on her hips, while the black tank with NYC across the breasts was hugging her curves lovingly. I did good, Tiny decided. She looked sexier in the outfit than he'd thought possible…and the keys had been lucky to be nestled between her breasts for even a few minutes.

A disgusted cluck from Mirabeau made him force his eyes away from her body to her face as she sighed unhappily, and said, "I guess I'll have to call Lucian and tell him. He'll have to send out someone with keys or send a new SUV altogether." She gave an exasperated huff. "God, he's going to be so pissed. It completely defeats our having snuck out of the church the way we did and sloshing through the sewers. Leonius or one of his men could follow whoever delivers the keys and-"

"We don't have to call Lucian," Tiny said quietly, and Mirabeau turned startled eyes his way.

"We don't?" she asked hopefully.

He shook his head. "I can get us into the SUV and get it started without keys."

"You can?"

She was peering at him now as if he were a god. It made him smile wryly. While he liked that she was looking at him like that, it would have been nice if it were for a different reason than that he could help her avoid calling Lucian, he thought, then admitted, "It's one of many more dubious skills I possess. I had something of a shady past before Jackie's father took me under his wing and taught me to be a PI. If not for him, I think I probably would have become a criminal. Fortunately, he caught me while I was still young."

Much to his surprise, the words made Mirabeau's mouth widen into a full-fledged smile. Moving toward him across the bathroom, she chuckled, and admitted, "That touch of shadiness just makes you even more attractive."

Tiny felt his eyebrows rise and smiled. He was certainly attracted to her and had hoped it was returned, but while Marguerite was hoping they were life mates, and Stephanie had made a comment or two about their lusting after each other, he hadn't really seen any evidence of it from Mirabeau before then. He couldn't seem to take his eyes off her, but she had been all business up until that moment, so he said, "More attractive? You do find me attractive then?"

"Oh, yeah," she assured him huskily, glancing down and running one finger lightly along the bare skin just above the towel around his waist.

Tiny sucked in a breath, his stomach jumping and his body along with it. He wasn't at all surprised to see his towel tenting outward as little Tiny came to roaring life. Neither was he surprised that Mirabeau's smile had widened even farther and now had a satisfied edge.

Her eyes were beginning to glow with what he knew was evidence of her own desire when she lifted her face to his again, and her voice was a soft growl as she said, "After this assignment is done, we'll have to do something about that."

Tiny was already reaching for her, and her words didn't stop him from drawing her forward to press against his chest and other less flat parts.

"Why wait?" he growled, then covered her mouth with his. He kissed her with all the desire he'd been experiencing since joining her in the tunnels. His mouth was demanding, and even though he was getting a response, he knew she was holding back, that her sense of duty was struggling with her own desire, and she wasn't giving him all of herself.

Breaking the kiss, he began to nibble his way across her cheek to her ear, and whispered, "We're on a break right now. Stephanie's safe and probably sleeping, and we have a couple hours before dawn…consider this a dinner break."

Mirabeau pushed him away so swiftly, he thought at first he'd somehow offended her, but then she kept pushing, urging him away from the bathroom door and backward across the bedroom to the king-sized bed. Tiny felt it bump up against the back of his legs, then Mirabeau was pushing him back onto it and climbing on top of him to straddle his toweled hips.

"Dessert, not dinner," she whispered, and bent forward to kiss him. This time she unleashed all the passion he'd suspected she was holding back…and more. She was like molten fire, pouring over him, her mouth melting into his, and her body plastering itself to him like warm wax. Her hands caught and pinned his to the bed, and she slid her tongue into his mouth and did things that had him groaning and thrusting his hips upward against her.

Mirabeau's own hips were not still. She was shifting and rotating on his groin, her breasts pressing against and rubbing across his chest as she did, the combination sending his excitement through the roof, so that it seemed to vibrate through him in waves, growing stronger with each reverberation. Growling low in his throat, Tiny tugged at his hands, managing to catch Mirabeau by surprise and pull free of her hold. They were immediately everywhere, trying to touch all of her at the same time, first sliding up her sides, then covering her breasts through the cloth of the thin cotton tank top she wore then shifting to slide beneath it to touch her bare skin.

Christ, I've never experienced this kind of passion before, Tiny thought faintly, as his fingers slid over the hot skin of her stomach. It felt like they were both burning up; she was almost feverishly warm to the touch, and he was burning up from the inside out. He wanted to feel all of her against him. He wanted her naked flesh pressing down on his everywhere, and he wanted to thrust his body into hers and bury himself in her moist heat. But that would bring an end to it, and he wanted this never to end.

Mirabeau moaned when Tiny's hands found her breasts under her tank top. She was immediately hit by wave after wave of almost unbearable pleasure. Wanting more of it, she broke their kiss to rise up on him and cover his hands through the cloth and squeezed his hands encouragingly. She then opened her eyes and met his gaze as she let her hands drop to the hem of the top he'd bought her. Tiny licked his lips and watched as she slowly tugged it up and off over her head, revealing a perfect, porcelain torso. His own darker, suntanned skin stood out where he covered and caressed her breasts, and Tiny didn't think he'd ever seen anything quite so lovely.

"You're beautiful," he whispered, letting his hands drift away from her breasts to clasp her by the sides and enjoy the full view of her from the waist up.

The words brought a smile to her lips, and she let the scrap of black cloth drop to the bed beside them, then reached down to run one finger down his chest toward the top of the towel. She shifted her hips over him then, closing her eyes and groaning as a shaft of pleasure shivered back and forth between them.

Tiny couldn't resist anymore and returned his hands to cover her breasts. When he did, Mirabeau opened her eyes to peer at him. Her smile becoming a grin, she bent forward, pressing into his caress until her mouth was just above his. Her tongue slid out and she licked his lower lip, then caught and sucked it between her own lips. She tugged and sucked at it gently, letting it slip from her mouth, and murmured, "Mmm, delicious. I'll have to thank Lucian for assigning you to be my backup when I next see him."

"Marguerite," he corrected automatically and tried to claim her lips again, but she pulled back slightly, her expression frozen.

"What?" she asked carefully.

Tiny hesitated, suspecting he maybe should have kept his mouth shut. Wishing he had, he reluctantly admitted, "Marguerite is the one who suggested we work together on this assignment."

As he'd feared, that announcement definitely ruined the mood. A pail of cold water couldn't have had more of a shocking effect on Mirabeau. Horror immediately covered her face, and she jerked upright, all signs of passion gone as she asked sharply, "Marguerite suggested you be my backup?"

He nodded slowly.

"But Marguerite only interferes when she thinks-" Her words died, and she stared at him, the horror on her expression growing exponentially. It seemed she wasn't pleased at what it meant, that Marguerite thought they might be life mates.

He met her gaze for a moment, then asked huskily, "Can you read me?"

Mirabeau sat back slightly on his hips, rocking back a bit as if he'd hit her, but after a moment her shoulders straightened, and her gaze shifted from his eyes to his forehead and concentrated there. He knew without a doubt that she was trying to read him and simply lay still, waiting. When he spotted the flash of fear shoot across her expression, Tiny knew instinctively that she couldn't read him, and that, rather than being pleased, the knowledge terrified her.

Even having seen her expression, Tiny wasn't prepared when she suddenly slid off him and climbed off the bed. She was at the door before he could even think to speak.

"What about the SUV?" he asked desperately as she started out of the room. The minute the words were out of his mouth, he felt shame claim him that he'd allowed himself to forget her intention to get blood for the girl. Judging by the way Mirabeau halted and her shoulders bowed, she felt much the same way as she was reminded of the reason she'd been pacing his room in the first place.

She stood silent and still in the doorway for a moment, but then released a long sigh. Mirabeau didn't even glance back when she finally said, "It won't hurt Stephanie to wait a couple of hours this one time. She's probably asleep anyway. We can leave at dawn and feed her when we get to the SUV as planned. I'll wake you."

Tiny sighed as she left the room and closed the door. While he'd been reluctant at the idea of being a life mate when he'd realized what Marguerite was up to in suggesting he accompany Mirabeau for this assignment, he'd gotten over that in a hurry once he'd met her. But it seemed Mirabeau would need more time to adjust to the idea. While she wanted him, it seemed it wasn't enough to get past whatever fears she had regarding finding a life mate.

Marguerite was right, Tiny realized as he peered down at the aching tent pole his erection had become. He was definitely going to have to be patient with Mirabeau if he wanted her. On that thought, he lay back on the bed with a sigh to wait for his towel tent to fold.

Stephanie seemed to be asleep when Mirabeau returned to the room they shared, so it startled her when the girl suddenly whispered, "I know you're afraid of letting people in again because it hurts to lose them as we have, but surely it's worth it? You don't wish you'd never known or loved your family, do you?"

Mirabeau stilled, shocked by her words, and to hear them from a girl who was so young. Such insight and wisdom from a kid was rather unusual, but then Stephanie was proving to be an unusual kid.

"Dani said that to me a while ago," Stephanie admitted quietly. "And she's right. I have to not be afraid to care for people again. I would miss out on a lot of good stuff. We both would."

Mirabeau heard Stephanie moving and glanced over in time to see her finish turning onto her side away from her. It seemed it was all the girl had to say, which should have left Mirabeau to crawl into bed and go to sleep for the few hours she had until dawn. However, while she crawled into bed, she didn't sleep. She lay there thinking about the fact that Marguerite had set her up, that she couldn't read Tiny but wanted him with a desperation she hadn't experienced for anyone else in all her more than four hundred and fifty some years, and that meant he was probably her life mate. She also thought about what Stephanie had said. While the idea of caring for anyone again was terrifying, did she really want to miss out on what they could share just to avoid hurting later?

All those thoughts ran around and around inside her head as the night crept past. It was all so scary and confusing that Mirabeau was actually relieved when she saw predawn light through the crack in the curtains. She still didn't know what she was going to do about Tiny, but it was a relief to get moving and have something to do besides lie there fretting over things.

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