lift a foot and press it on another plank as my heart hammers so hard dizziness
swarms me. The loud snap that follows is the last one to hit my ears as I
plummet to the icy depths below. My body breaks the sheeted barrier, plunging
me into the frigid water. Arms and legs flail, tangling themselves in my heavy
skirts. The broken boning in my corset jabs at my stomach once more, forcing a
gasp from my lips and I
in a gulp of frozen
fills the last of my thoughts. Heaviness weighs down my heart as I sink in the
water around me. I say a silent prayer that she runs far away.
Beyond the evil hand of
But the reality of it hits me as my body comes to rest
in the gritty sand of the riverbed; she's as dead as I am.
lashes flutter shut, forcing away the icy sting of the water flooding them.
Darkness takes me and my heart slows its rapid hum to a dull intermittent
thump. Then something clamps itself around me and my body arches upward. I
refuse to open my eyes, fearing it’s the reaper who's come for my soul. It
ascends fast and furious, carrying me like a doll.
breaks the surface. Ice splinters across my body and the chill of the air
against my soaked skin jolts my eyes open. My chest convulses, expelling the
water that still tries to drown it. I
in a gasp
of frigid air and it rips through my lungs like a razor. Strong arms pull my
body from the river and up the bank. Water spits out of my mouth in gobs
through another choking breath.
look for my rescuer, but blackness takes me before my eyes find him.
Flickers of light from the fire
dance in shadows across her pale face.
With hair that echoes the flames and plump lips to
match, her beauty surpasses any that my eyes have looked upon. Limp arms hang
off the edge of the bed I tucked her into as sleep takes its hold on her. I've
watched her for months now, luring men into the haunted woods only to gut them
like fish and dash away under the cover of darkness. Never knowing her motives,
I kept watch for fear of my own safety.
her words to this latest victim struck me to my core as I watched her from the
shadows. We had something in common—a linked enemy. Perhaps it is fool of me to
think we could be of assistance to one another. But if I'm ever going to rid
myself of the curse, I must try.
moans echo through the tiny one room cottage that's become my haven for months.
Rising from my chair, I cross the room to her as she stirs from her slumber. A
breast slips free of the blankets and its stunning nipple stares at me. My cock
hardens at the sight of it and a breath hitches in my throat.
eyes flutter open and we lock gazes. I expect her to scream, leap from the bed
or even throw something, but her sleepy stare entrances me in a welcome smile.
I inch closer.
won't hurt you,” I whisper. “Forgive
I had to get
you out of your wet clothes.”
glances down at her exposed breast and clutches the covers over herself,
slinking deep within their confines. “Where am I?” she chokes out as her gaze
darts across the tiny cottage.
I say, making my way to the edge of the bed.
you the one that saved me from the river?” she asks, wonder filling her
stunning green eyes.
I am.” I give her a nod.
a tilt of her head, she tosses me a soft smile. “That accent, is it Irish?”
“Very good, lass.
But I must say, you end up in a
strange man's cottage,
in his bed and you ask
me about my accent? What about my name?” A laugh rumbles in my throat. “Are you
afraid of nothing?”
eases to a seated position on the bed, covering her chest. “You rescued me from
the bottom of a frozen river, stripped me free of my wet clothing and tucked me
into a warm bed. My
haven't been touched.
Should I fear you?”
skin contrasts the blue and yellow plaid blankets around her. Long curls of red
fall across her shoulders, resting along the tops of her hidden breasts.
' for you to wake so I can take your
body for my own, did not
’ think of that?”
I quirk a brow.
said you wouldn't hurt me,” she replies and purses her lips.
I did. You're clever, miss....” I tilt my head, hoping she'll give me her name.
she says maintaining her lock on my eyes. “Rose Red.”
swells my cock the longer I look at her, and the towel around my waist
“Beautiful name for a beautiful woman.”
Easing onto the bed, I lean over and cup her hand, pulling it to my lips as I
it with a kiss. “I'm Marcus.”
you have a habit of going around saving damsels in distress, Marcus?” The coy
tone in her sexy voice hardens my cock even more, evidence that I've not been
in female company for quite some time, and it's taking its toll.
don't have many women that wander into the haunted woods in need of my
rescuing. Which leads to the question, what were you doing there?” I
my arms and stare down into her eyes.
don't think that's any of your business now, is it?” The icy
of her tone sting
my ears. “While I appreciate the rescue, I should get
home. My sister is waiting for me and will send out a search party if I don't
be a mighty cold walk with no clothes,” I say, holding back the smirk climbing
across my lips.
green in her eyes darkens. “Kindly give me back my clothing and affects, sir.”
Once they're dry.” I fan my arms
to the fire where I've laid out her soaking clothes. “It'll take hours for them
to be dry enough to wear. Besides, there's a nasty storm
A bit treacherous for you to be wandering out in,
alone and at night.
It would be in your best interest to stay here and
let it pass. You can venture home in the morning.” My eyes lock onto hers and I
pour sincerity into them in hopes she'll reconsider my offer. “I promise, come
sunrise I will leave you, and you are free to go.”
darts her gaze between me and the fireplace. I half expect her to make a mad
dash for her clothes. But she doesn't.
what am I to do the rest of this eve then?” Her arms fold across her chest,
pinching her breasts together.
force my eyes away from the glorious cleavage and swallow over the lump in my
throat. “Well, I assume you'll want to sleep. After all, I would imagine
killing a man would take a lot out of you physically and emotionally. Not to
mention the whole falling into the river and me rescuing you.”
eyes widen as big as saucers. “Were you stalking me?”
I came upon you once or twice before.” I give an aloof shrug.
blazes in her dark green eyes and it lights my cock on fire even more. Damn,
she's gorgeous when she's feisty. It takes everything in me not to devour her
plump lips with my own.
much do you know?” She leans in, forgetting she's naked as her protective
covering falls away from her breasts.
stare up at me from the corner of my eye, but I'm careful not to look at them
for fear she'll cover them back up. Stunning pink nipples harden at the chill
in the room. My fingers ache to rub them.
much should I know? I've never met you before, Rose. You've come into my woods
for the past month, and each time a man is with you. But you always leave
alone. And I'm left to dispose of bloodied bodies before morning. So, do I need
to worry that you'll add me to your collection?” Jutting my hands to the
blanket on either side of her body, I press in closer to her on the bed,
hovering just above her lips.
breaths puff from her lips as she processes my words. Her eyes stay glued to
mine in a glorious rage, and it stirs me inside to think of burying myself in
that fury between her legs.
unless you're in league with
. If you are, I
suggest you run.” Her body inches closer to mine, the blankets falling even
further down her body. The delicate soft skin of her stomach catches my eyes
and I'm unable to look away.
I repeat, as it's the only word
that sticks in my ears under the distraction of her curves.
you not familiar with the dwarf sorcerer?” she asks.
On the contrary, I'm quite familiar with
why do you seek him out?” My gaze turns
back to her.
what you see?” She tilts her head and swipes her lips with her tongue. “It's
yours if you lead me to him.”
shake my head. “You truly must think me a fool if you proposition me so, dear
Rose. I know that's what you offer the targets in your game. You tease them
with the reward of your body, yet you get them alone in the woods and take
their lives. You cannot seduce me in this way.”
I repulsive to you?” her voice notches up an octave.
Rose Red are the most beautiful woman I've ever had the pleasure to lay my eyes
upon. But I think you should know our interest in
may be of a similar nature and perhaps we could strike a deal.” I ease off her
and fold my arms.
do you want with him? His
are dark and bring
only evil.” Her blazing eyes darken, studying me with intent.
lean in, pressing my chest against hers as I hover above her face. “I have my
reasons, as I know you do yours. They are not of your concern. What we both
agree on is that he must be eliminated. No?”
towel seems to have come lose,” she whispers.
My brow quirks.
“How would you know?” I think
she's trying to distract me, but I won't fall for her games. “Your eyes haven't
“Because I'm the one who loosened
hand wraps around my cock, forcing a gasp from my lungs. My head yells at me to
jump back, but the sensation of her fingers gripping tight to my flesh wipe all
logical thought from my mind. I make the mistake of glancing down, aching to
watch her hand stroke my length. It's the last thing I see before she knocks me
lunge from the bed and my toes curl up as the cold wooden floor shocks them.
Scrambling about the room, I gather my soaking wet clothes into my arms. A
shiver attacks my spine as the icy remnants of the frozen river still drip from
my skirts onto my legs. Snow falls out the window in heavy flakes, wind
swirling them like a white tornado.
He's right. I'll never make it home.
arms clamp around me, and I struggle to break free. His hard shaft pins itself
against my ass, sending a twinge of heat to my belly. A part of me longs to
know the sensation of his thickness inside me. Just the girth of it in my hand
sent a flood of arousal between my legs. He is magnificent. And he's pressed
shoulders swallow me from behind, and taut muscles ripple down his long arms as
he pulls me backward.
don't make me tie you to the bed,” he growls in my ear. Strands of his loose
brown hair tickle my cheek. “I'll make you pay for clubbing me with that book.”
promises,” I whisper and shirk away from his hold. His shaft pierces my cheeks,
forcing a moan from my throat.
like that?” He presses it a bit further, burying only the tip.
always rape women on the first date?” I say, choking the words over the air
hitched in my throat.
jerks back, releasing his grasp on my arms and his cock falls away from me. My
heart plunges straight through my chest, splashing bile into my throat as it
hits my stomach. The words gut me as they leave my lips. His gentle blue eyes
hold both softness and concern. I know he won't hurt me. But I must not let him
think I believe so.
told you, that is not my intent. You're the one who ripped me of my covering.”
Stern eyes scold me for my actions, yet desire burns as they deepen their hue.
ripped me of mine.” I fan my arm to the fireplace, my clothes dumped to a heap.
his handsome lips, he bends and picks up the remnants of my torn clothing and
re-drapes them over the fireplace grate to dry. “Would you prefer I left you in
frozen, soaking wet clothes
on the side of the
riverbank? Because I can take you back there if you wish.” His heated fingers
curl around my upper arm as he leads me to the door.