Loss in Bliss -- Out now from BookStrand
[Siren Ménage Everlasting: Erotic Cowboy Ménage a Trois Romance, M/F/M]
Laura Niles left her past behind. She fled Washington, DC, with her career in ruins and her love life decimated. In her desperate flight, she found a home in Bliss, Colorado.
For five years, Rafe Kincaid and Cameron Briggs have searched for the only woman they’ve ever loved. The FBI agents couldn’t share her before, and it tore them apart. Now they have tracked her down, and they want answers. Why did she run? Why did she hide? Why are there so many naked people in Bliss?
Laura is shocked when her former loves show up in her new home. And when they bring the full force of the FBI with them, Laura knows Bliss is in for a rough ride, because a killer has been watching and waiting for a second chance. And so have Rafe and Cam.
A Siren Erotic Romance
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(The following excerpt is for adults only!)
Cameron Briggs felt like he was storming the castle. His heart was beating, adrenaline coursing through his body as he charged through the double doors that separated the FBI offices from the lobby. It had been years since he’d walked through those doors, but he wasn’t allowing anyone to keep him out today.
Luckily, the guard on duty was a small, gray-haired woman who smiled brightly at him as he strode through the double doors.
“Agent Briggs!” Helen Angelo exclaimed, getting to her feet. “It’s been so very long.”
Cam shook his head. “I’m not an agent anymore, Helen. Is Rafe in?”
If Rafe wasn’t in, then Cam would find his ass. The bastard hadn’t answered his phone, and Cam had left three messages. The printout in his hand nearly burned his skin. Five years. He’d looked for her for five years.
Helen frowned, and Cam felt the weight of her disapproval. “Yes, I did hear that you had left the Bureau. I do not think it was a good career move for you.”
He hadn’t given dick about his career when he’d left the Bureau. There had been nothing for him here after what had happened to Laura. A vision of Laura Rosen leapt into his mind. Blonde, gorgeous, with a soft body and a softer heart. The vision didn’t really have to leap all that far. It was always there. Every time he closed his eyes he saw her, smiling and looking down at him, her blonde hair around her shoulders as she rode his cock.
And every time he went to sleep he saw her another way—battered, beaten, and stabbed, being shoved into an ambulance.
“Where’s Rafe?” Cam didn’t have time to argue. This was the best lead he’d had in five fucking years. He wanted to follow it now.
He would already be on a plane if he hadn’t made that damn promise to Rafe Kincaid.
“He’s in a meeting. A very important meeting with the chief and a task force. He and his partner are giving a briefing.”
Yeah, yeah. They were all important. Everything was important to the goddamn FBI except the agents who didn’t perfectly toe the line. They could go to hell.
Or they could go to Bliss. What a fucking name. How on earth had his cosmopolitan Laura ended up in some podunk Colorado town? Cam doubted she’d ever been out of the city.
Cam gave Helen a little wave. “Thanks. I’ll take it from here.”
Cam took off. He heard Helen yelling behind him, but he wasn’t about to sit in the waiting room for the briefing to be over. He wasn’t Rafe’s lapdog, as so many had claimed. Sure, he’d taken money from Rafe over the years, but only because they had a single goal in mind. A goal Cam had accomplished.
Cam opened the door to the briefing room, but was startled to find absolutely no one there. It was empty and silent, though Cam remembered a time when he’d stood in the room and listened for quiet words.
You don’t believe me. How could you stand there and tell them all I’m wrong? How could you advise the chief to take me off the biggest case of my career?
Cam shut the door. There were only ghosts in there. There were ghosts everywhere in this building. If they weren’t in the briefing room, then they were in the auditorium.
Maybe Helen was right. Maybe this meeting was important.
Cam slipped into the small auditorium where large-scale briefings were held. The lights were dimmed, and the only illumination came from the projector. No fun movies for the FBI. Only horror shows, and this was no different. Cam was immediately assaulted by the picture projected on the wall. A woman, young, but no longer vital. Her glassy eyes stared out of the picture, utterly unseeing. Her flesh was a pale white, the only bit of color a shiny mauve-colored lipstick painted on her lips.
She was naked, her hands tied over her head. The victim’s wrists had been bound so tightly that her hands were almost blue. She would have lost feeling in them long before she died. Her pale flesh was a map of cuts, some shallow, some terrifyingly deep. The killer liked to start with small stabbing wounds to the lower abdomen, painful, but not fatal. Long strips of flesh had been lashed from the victim’s breasts and thighs. This woman’s death hadn’t been quick. It had been a long, slow opera of torture ending in her throat being slit like a lamb led to slaughter. He had seen it before. Cam let his eyes drift down as his stomach did a flip.
The Marquis de Sade.
Yeah, this was an important meeting.
“The victim was discovered just outside the warehouse district on Tuesday morning. Her name is Christine Parker. She was a prostitute working the area.”
Cam shrank back, all thoughts of breaking up this meeting gone in a tidal wave of fear and self-loathing. De Sade had been gone for five years. He’d been utterly silent, like a shark who feasted in the shallows of the beach before sinking back into the deep. He was surfacing again. Cam had always known he would. De Sade loved his work too much to stop. Cam knew Rafe had been watching for him, too. They had theorized that he was in prison, or he’d moved to another city after his close call with the law. Five years had sped by with not a hint of the serial killer.
How was this happening again? How the hell was this happening just when he’d found Laura, the only victim of the infamous serial killer to have ever gotten away?
A tall, broad figure stood by the projector, his solid body almost ghostly in the shadowy light. Cam’s former partner had been a little like a ghost these last few years. Cam had seen him rarely and only to update Rafe on the progress he’d made in finding Laura. Rafe had become a bank account Cam tapped into when he needed money to follow a lead. There was a man standing beside Rafe. Cam couldn’t see his face, but he knew the name. Brad Conrad. Ex-college football star and all-around asshole in Cam’s book. It was kind of hard to believe, but in another year’s time, Brad would be Rafe’s partner for longer than Cam had been.
Rafe Kincaid’s deep voice continued. It was far steadier than Cam’s heart rate, and, for a moment, jealousy and rage curled in Cam’s belly. Rafe had never loved Laura the way Cam did. How could he, if he could stand there and talk about the man who had almost killed her the same way a college professor talked about a Shakespearean sonnet?
“As with all previous victims, this one was found with lipstick on her. Forensics has already verified that it’s the same as the others. Purple Passion. Also, according to forensics, the victim had been killed at least twelve hours before. Blood spatter indicates she was killed where her body was found.”
That was the pattern. The lipstick. The victim was a prostitute. She’d been tortured before she was killed. Everything fit the pattern. Cam just didn’t want to believe it. “He’s been quiet for years. Why has he started working again?”
At least twenty-five heads turned.
Rafe put a hand over his eyes as though trying to see across the distance. “Cam?”
Even in the low light of the auditorium, Cam could see Brad puffing up. “Briggs, this is a closed session. We don’t need low-level PIs here. If you need information on something, please go and ask the secretary.”
Rafe turned briefly and exchanged words Cam couldn’t hear. Before Rafe could turn back, the lights came on. There was an almost relieved sigh that swept through the room. The picture on screen seemed to recede a little, no longer the main focus of the world.
“Cameron Briggs, you son of a bitch!”
Cam turned and couldn’t help a little smile. Joseph Stone, his former Bureau chief, took the stairs two at a time, his familiar face lit with a smile. He’d aged very little since the last time Cam had seen him. Joseph was a big, athletic guy. As long as Cam had known him, he’d been bald, but even that made him seem a bit powerful. Joseph was the type of man other men followed.
“Special Agent Stone.” Cam took his hand and shook it. Joe had always been a good boss. He was Harvard educated and highly connected, but he’d always known how to make Cam feel welcome.
Joe pumped his hand twice and slapped Cam gently on the back. “No need for formalities any more, Cam. Did Rafe call you? I have all the paperwork set up to bring you in as a contractor. We need everyone we can on this. It’s going to take everything we have to catch this one. I don’t have anyone on the team with your computer skills.”
Cam looked to his former partner who had his head down, one foot tapping against the floor. Guilty as sin.
“No, he didn’t call me.” Betrayal burned through Cam. Apparently, despite their oaths to one another, his former partner didn’t think it was important enough to call and tell him that the man they had hunted for years had resurfaced. “I was here on another matter, but I can see plainly that Special Agent Kincaid is very, very busy. I won’t interrupt him. Call me sometime, Joe. We can have a beer.”
Joe’s brows came together in a V. “What are you saying? You do understand what we’re talking about here? This is the Marquis de Sade’s work. There’s no denying it.”
Oh, Cam understood. He understood perfectly fine. He also understood that he had played his part, and he was an idiot for thinking Rafe would play his. Rafe’s head came up, and those dark eyes of his narrowed for a moment. Ruthlessly intelligent, it wouldn’t take long for Rafael Kincaid to figure out why he was here interrupting this briefing. It wasn’t like Cam would come for lunch.
“I understand. De Sade is back.” It was time for Cam to make a strategic retreat. His fist closed around the paper in his hand. He was gentle with it. He didn’t want to crush it. It was the first glimpse he’d gotten of her in years. It was strangely precious to him. “Rafe’s your man. He and Special Agent Conrad can handle this. You don’t need me.”
Cam turned and walked out of the door. If Rafe wanted to renege on their deal, he sure as hell wasn’t about to give the man the keys to the kingdom. He would go after her himself.
Yes. It was better this way. Rafe could go after the killer and further his career. Cam could get what he wanted. He wanted Laura. Without Rafe around, maybe she would fall for him again. Yeah. He had a better shot without pretty, rich, smooth-as-silk Rafe around. It had been a flat-out miracle Laura had even noticed him.
“I need you, Cam.” Laura had turned to him, her plump lips red and swollen from Rafe’s kisses. Cam had kissed her and tasted the Scotch on her lips. Rafe’s drink. He’d plunged his tongue inside, not giving a damn that Rafe was behind her, his hands playing with her breasts. Somehow, in that moment, it had felt right to be there with Rafe. It had been perfect.
Cam stopped, pulled roughly from his memory. His feet had known which way to go. He was standing in front of the doors that led to the lobby. Rafe put a hand on his shoulder and spun him around.
“I’ve been yelling like an idiot for two minutes. Why didn’t you stop?”
Cam shrugged, unwilling to betray his emotional state. He let his face go blank. He’d perfected it long ago so his father wouldn’t gain any satisfaction from knowing how deeply his insults cut. He just never really thought he would have to go there with Rafe. “I didn’t have anything to say.”
Rafe scrubbed a hand through his perfectly cut pitch-black hair. “That’s bullshit, Cam. You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t have something to say.” He glanced down at his watch. “I know you’re pissed at me. I would be pissed at me, too, but I have my reasons.”
“Were you going to tell me?” Cam asked the question as if the answer didn’t have the ability to rip his insides out. He also asked it as though he would actually believe any answer that came out of Rafe’s mouth.
Well, at least the asshole was honest. “Then we’re done here. I’ll see you in the next lifetime, my brother.”
“Stop. Come on, Cam. You know we need to talk. Just let me explain, and then if you don’t want to talk to me, we can be done. I just need five minutes, but I have to finish that briefing. I can meet you at McKay’s at four, okay?” Rafe was already backing up, his five hundred dollar shoes squeaking against the marbled floor.
McKay’s Pub. They had spent a lot of nights unwinding at McKay’s. For a while it had been their favorite hangout. Cam had spent every night there after work. They had joked that there was a booth with their names on it. He and Rafe had taken turns sitting beside Laura while they discussed the work day. “Sure. Four o’clock.”
Rafe smiled. “Four o’clock. I’ll be there.”
But Cam wouldn’t. He waved at Rafe and then walked out the door, hopped on his bike, and motored right past the bar where he was supposed to give his ex-partner five minutes of his time. He wouldn’t waste another second.
When he pulled into his rathole of an apartment complex, he carefully unfolded the newspaper clipping he’d printed from the Internet. Billionaire Artist’s Bride-to-Be. It was an article featuring someone named Jennifer Waters and her spectacular wedding plans. The picture was of the bride-to-be and her bridesmaids. There were five other women in the picture, but Cam’s eyes focused on one. She stood toward the back as though she didn’t really want to be in the photo, but a smiling red-haired woman held her hand, dragging her in. Her lips quirked up in a secretive smile. She looked so different with her hair down and very little makeup on her face. She looked vibrant and happy and so sweet he could eat her alive.
The only woman he ever loved.
“I’m coming for you, baby.” He hopped off his bike and jogged to his apartment, eager to get the hell out of Dodge.
* * * *
Rafael Kincaid pulled his Benz into the small parking lot of the Hampton Manor Homes and felt a bit of his rage morph into guilt. He’d been furious when he realized Cam had stood him up. Rafe had rushed through the meeting, anxious to talk to Cam, to clear the air between them, and that asshole had just gone home. He’d gone home to a dilapidated fourplex that Rafe wouldn’t have let a dog live in.
Cam lived here?
Damn it, he should have known. Cam had sent him an e-mail with his new address, but Rafe had been far too busy to do what he should have done. He should have helped him move. He should have checked this place out. He slid out of his car, which might be worth more than the entire small building. There were four units, and at least three of them had to be housing meth labs. What the hell was Cam doing here?
Spending every dime he has looking for your woman.
It was obvious to Rafe that Cam had spent all of his money on the computer equipment he needed to perfect his facial recognition software. Cam had given up comfort and safety.
Rafe scrubbed a hand across his face and felt years older than thirty-four. He could swear he’d aged twenty years since the night Laura Rosen had been captured by the Marquis de Sade. The minute he’d realized she was gone, his soul had become something older, heavier, than it had been before. Guilt weighed on him. Now he felt its press as he walked up the steps that led to Cam’s “home.”
Damn it. Why hadn’t Cam told him he needed money? Rafe would have happily written him a check.
He rapped his knuckles across the peeling paint on the door. “Cam? Cam, let me in. I’m not going away, and I can see that your bike is parked outside. I know you’re in there.”
“And I should care about that, why?” Cam shouted it through the door.
“Because I’ll tell you what you want to know. I brought the files and everything.” Rafe felt infinitely weary. He’d wanted to avoid talking to Cam about this because he didn’t need anything else tugging at his conscience.
“I don’t want to know anything. I’m good. You could get in some serious trouble for sharing that file with me. I hope you catch the bastard.”
Rafe was about to protest, to start to coax Cam out of his shell. He’d known Cam for years. When Cam felt slighted, he could hold on to it like a baby clutching a prized toy. But he was also tenacious as a pit bull. Cam should be drooling over new information about the man they had been hunting for years.
Four years before, they had made a deal. It had been almost a year after Laura had walked out of her hospital room leaving behind nothing but a note that told them a simple goodbye. They had killed themselves, splitting their time between trying to catch the Marquis de Sade and trying to track their wayward lover. Neither one of them had had a decent night’s sleep. It had been time to make a deal. Rafe stayed on at the FBI to keep on top of the case, and Cam had devoted himself to finding Laura. Cam had started a private investigations business, but it was almost entirely funded by Rafe. Cam had also started writing a software program that scanned the Internet not only searching for any mention of her name, but more importantly, looking for her face. Cameron Briggs was not a man who gave up. Unless he’d found a much bigger prize.
“You motherfucker, you found her.” Rafe pounded on the door. Just like that, his guilt raged into red-hot jealousy. Rafe was not about to let Cam waltz away with information on Laura. Laura was his, damn it. His.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Rafe heard the unspoken “sucker” in Cam’s shouted words. He lifted his leg and gave the piece-of-shit door separating him from his ex-partner a well-placed kick. The door itself held, but it cracked up the middle. Cam stared at him through his now ruined door.
“You’re an asshole, and you’re replacing that door.” Cam reached out, and after two loud clicks, the door swung open.
Rafe wasn’t about to feel bad about the door. “Where is she?”
Cam’s mouth became a flat, stubborn line. A long huff of breath came out of his chest, and he pointed to a table in the tiny kitchen. “Colorado.”
There was a printout of a newspaper article on the table. It was a copy of an article from the Lifestyle section of a Denver newspaper. He couldn’t miss her even though she was surrounded by other women. Laura Rosen. He could still remember the day she’d walked into the Bureau. He’d known the moment he’d laid eyes on her that she was the one.
Unfortunately, Cam had felt the same way.
Unfortunately? Was it really so bad? At the time, it had felt that way. At the time, all he could think about was how enjoying a three-way with his partner and his soul mate would affect his career. There wasn’t a single sitting Bureau chief openly involved in a polyamorous relationship. At the time, he’d been willing to fight his best friend over her. At the time, he’d been willing to throw her under a bus to get ahead. Oh, he’d told himself he was helping her, but he was really only thinking of himself.
Yep. The guilt was back.
“She’s calling herself Laura Niles. Why does Niles sound familiar?” Rafe asked, his finger tracing over the picture. He wanted to touch her, to assure himself that she was real and alive and whole.
“Her grandfather’s name was Niles. Niles Rosen. She loved that old man.” Cam stood at his side, his arms crossed over his chest.
Rafe looked at the man he’d once been closer to than his own brother. Cam looked tired. There was a set to his shoulders that Rafe recognized as defensiveness. Cam stood there in the tiny piece-of-crap kitchen, a big, unmoving block of wood.
Cam had come to the office to tell Rafe he’d found Laura. He’d run through the building with this printout in his hand, and when he’d found Rafe, he’d walked in on what Cam had to assume was a betrayal of the worst kind. No wonder Cam hadn’t met him at the pub.
He had to play this carefully if he didn’t want to get his ass kicked.
“Stefan Talbot.” Rafe whistled as he glanced over the article.
“Who the fuck is Stefan Talbot?”
Rafe felt a grin come and go. That was Cam. Despite the fact that he was built like a linebacker, Cam was a nerd. He was far more into his computers and watching bad sci-fi movies than art. And Cam couldn’t care less about society and powerful people. “He’s an artist. My mother has one of his works. He’s very reclusive. Supposedly he lives in a weird little town in Colorado. And, according to this, Laura is in his wedding party.”
“What the hell is she doing in some backwater small town?” Cam asked. His shoulders had relaxed slightly as he stared at the photo.
“Hiding. From the Marquis de Sade. From the Bureau. From us.” Laura had a lot to run from. “But if he’s back, then he could have seen this, too.”
“Yeah, nice to fill me in on that.” Cam’s eyes had sunken back into his face as though retreating. “I must have missed the message you left. You know how it is when your social life is as active as mine is. Oh, wait. That’s you. So, you too busy kissing the brass’s ass to give an old friend a call?”
Cam was firmly pushing a whole bunch of Rafe’s buttons. “Cam, please hear me out.”
“I don’t know what the fuck you think you can say that would make me care.”
How did he put this? Rafe had been thinking about this every minute since last Tuesday when he’d gotten word of the new victim. “I’m going to be flat honest with you. We found the body a couple of days ago. We’ve kept it very quiet. I was worried about you. I remember what happened the last time you were on this case. I remember the drinking and the fights. I remember you nearly died on that damn bike. When we found that girl, do you know what I saw when I looked down at her? I saw you. I saw you falling into bad habits and getting your ass killed.”
“And that would matter to you?”
What the hell was he supposed to say to that? The asshole wouldn’t give him an inch. “I give a shit if you die, Cam. You couldn’t handle it the first time. I wasn’t about to send you down that path again.”
“I couldn’t handle it?” The words came out clipped, each bitten off through clenched teeth.
Rafe had tried to give him an easy way out. Cam was too damn stupid to take it. “You know you couldn’t. You punched another special agent in the middle of a briefing. You wrecked your bike twice. You got arrested for public intoxication. I’m not bailing your ass out again.”
“I wasn’t asking you to.”
“Oh, is that what this is about?” Rafe gestured around the room that seemed to serve as Cam’s kitchen, office, and bedroom. The whole place was covered in computer equipment. Wires and cords ran along the floor like thick vines. There was no rhyme or reason or organization to the place. Rafe wouldn’t be surprised if Cam just opened a window to pee. “You don’t want to have to ask me for money?”
“No, I don’t. I’m sick of living off you.” Cam’s booted feet widened to a predatory stance.
Rafe was so sick of Cam’s insecurities. He’d put up with them for years. Rafe had never been able to convince Cam that he didn’t give a shit that he’d grown up in a trailer park. It was Cam’s problem. Not Rafe’s. “You weren’t living off me, you stupid, overly proud prick. It wasn’t charity. You were working to find her. We agreed to this deal.”
Cam’s lips curled up in a smirking approximation of a smile. “Yeah, we agreed that you would share information with me, but you don’t have to uphold your end of the bargain, do you? You don’t have to share with a guy you consider your goddamn employee. That’s why I didn’t want your money. I didn’t want to be your butt monkey anymore. Tell me something, Rafe, you been fucking any admins with Brad there? Brad working out as your wingman? I’ll be sure to tell Laura when I see her that you’re fine, because you finally found a partner you could truly love.”
Without another thought, Rafe pulled back his fist and plowed into Cam with everything he had. Cam’s head snapped back with a crack, but his body stayed in place. Too late, Rafe remembered why Cam had gotten into that fight with another agent.
Cam liked it.
A feral smile crossed Cam’s face just before he reared back and let his fist fly.
A lance of shock speared through Rafe’s gut. His breath shot out of his body, and Rafe staggered back, hitting the wall with a thud. Cam pressed his advantage. He landed another blow, this one an uppercut to Rafe’s jaw. The pain exploded in Rafe’s skull, and he fought back.
He shoved against Cam’s bulk. Did the country boy expect the city boy to play fair? Rafe was done playing fair. It bought him nothing with Cam. He shoved out with both hands, and Cam fell back, stumbling over his sadly worn duffel bag.
“What were thinking, Cam? Did you already have your bags packed when you came to see me? Do you honestly believe you can waltz back into her life? What do you have to offer her? You going to bring her back here?”
Cam’s leg came out, sweeping across Rafe’s ankles and knocking him down. Cam kicked himself up, years and years of martial arts practice turning the move into a graceful dance. Cam moved well for a man of any size, much less for a man who weighed in at two hundred and fifty pounds of pure muscle.
“And what are you going to give her? Are you going to bring her back to your condo and turn her into some trophy for your goddamn wall? She never meant anything to you. She was just a prize. You only wanted her to fuck with me.” Cam stopped, his face going dumb for a minute. “Damn it, Rafe. What the fuck are we doing? I’m…”
Whatever Cam was going to say was utterly lost on Rafe. All he knew was they had had this fight before. He was so fucking sick of having his money shoved back at him like it was something to be ashamed of. Cam wielded his impoverished childhood like a sword, and Rafe was so done with it. City boy was done taking country boy’s shit. With ruthless precision, he brought his foot up and kicked out. His heel met with Cam’s cock, and Cam went down with a long, animal-like moan of pure agony.
Rafe rolled over and shoved himself to a standing position. He wiped the blood off his face. It was time to have a long talk with his ex-partner. They used to be best friends, and damn, but Rafe missed the dumbass country boy.
“You got any beer in this hellhole?”
Cam’s face was mottled up in a mask of pain. He cupped his crotch, but he nodded toward the fridge. “It tastes like piss, but it’s cold.”
Rafe grabbed two beers and helped Cam to the couch.
“You’re a fucking bastard.” Cam groaned as he gingerly lowered himself to the cushions.
“Yeah, because you’re so damn upstanding.” Rafe’s jaw was still throbbing as he propped his feet on Cam’s wobbly coffee table. He took a long drink of the beer. Cam was right. It tasted like piss.
“I don’t try to come off as Captain America.”
Rafe rolled his eyes. “Well, at least I don’t try to be the tough guy every minute of the day. Look, I really was concerned about you. I don’t want you going off the deep end again.”
Cam was too obsessive. Now that Rafe was looking around the tiny apartment, he was even more concerned. There were printouts stacked to precarious heights. The only books in the place seemed to be about coding, and all over were handwritten lines of code. They seemed to be written in a weird foreign language. Cam had always been the guy who sank into a case. He needed someone to pull him out, and Rafe hadn’t been there.
“That was the best year of my life,” Cam said quietly.
Rafe knew exactly what he meant. That year before Laura had left had meant the world to him, too. It had started as a joke. They had dared the gorgeous blonde profiler to date both of them. She had told them she didn’t have the time. They would have to date her together.
They had gone to a movie and then a bar. The three of them had sat and talked until they were kicked out. It had only gotten awkward when they dropped her off. No one had gotten a kiss that night. And then they had settled into a friendship.
Months had passed, and she had somehow become the center of their worlds. Rafe had been unwilling to push her to choose because she seemed to care about Cam so much. Cam had come alive. His thick, protective shell had cracked. Rafe had felt like a better person for knowing her.
And they had fucked up everything in a twenty-four-hour period.
“I have to see her again.” Rafe had to stand in front of her, if only to beg her forgiveness.
“Do you still want her?”
“More than I want my next breath.”
A long sigh came from Cam. “I want her, too. I’ve tried dating. I’ve been so mad at Laura that I’ve tried to fuck her out of my heart. I just feel…god, this is stupid. I feel dirty after I sleep with someone else.”
“It’s not stupid, man. I feel the same way.” His dick had languished in limbo for the last eight months. He belonged to Laura. It was wrong to sleep with someone else.
“What the hell are we going to do? She walked away from us. Even if, by some miracle, we can make her want us again, she didn’t want to choose.”
“Okay, so we don’t make her choose.”
Cam sat up. “Are you saying what I think you’re saying?”
“If we want to have a chance with her, if we want to get her to forgive us, we’re going to have to give her everything she wants.”
“Everything? I thought what we did that night was perverted. That’s what you said to me the next morning.”
“Well, we fucked the same girl at the same time. I think that’s a little perverted by anyone’s standards.” Rafe let that sit for a minute. “But it was also hot. I liked watching. I think we can make it work. We can share her. People do it. Somewhere.” Rafe let his head fall back. Damn, he’d missed Cam. “I think I have a plan on how to get her to accept us, well, force her to accept us. Though it will probably make her really mad. We’ll have to hang out in that little town of hers for a while. And it totally takes us off the case.”
“I’m okay with that. Laura’s the important thing here.”
Cam was right. They had put the case above her feelings before. It was time the case took a backseat.
“So we’re going to Bliss. What a name.” Rafe tipped back his beer. “You know, we’re going to have to be aggressive. We’re going to have to go after her hard and fast and together.”
Cam settled back. “That might not go over so well in a small town.”
“So what? You aren’t a guy who minds a little scandal.”
“Nope. But I didn’t mind being the bad boy of the Bureau, either. It might bother you.”
“She’s worth it.” Rafe wasn’t going to let some societal taboo keep him from Laura. Never again. Five years without her had taught him what he really wanted. He’d spent years feeling incomplete. He couldn’t go the rest of his life without knowing where she was, and he was pretty sure that once he found her, he would do whatever it took to stay in her life. If he had to share her with his best friend, then that was what he would do.
An hour later everything was in place, including his airline ticket and a rental car. Within twenty-four hours, they would be in Bliss.
Rafe just hoped Bliss was ready for a little scandal.
* * * *
Deep in the night, he watched. It was easy to blend into this particular part of the city. All he had to do was look hungry.
That wasn’t hard. He was always hungry.
That little meal he’d had the week before hadn’t even begun to take the edge off what he needed. The whore had gone down far too easily. A few taps and she’d knelt at his feet. The fight she’d put up had been halfhearted, as though she hadn’t really minded dying.
Oh, she’d minded the pain. She’d howled, but even that had been sad compared to…
When he closed his eyes, he saw her blonde beauty stretched out on his rack. He saw her eyes filled with rage. She wouldn’t have gone down easy. He could have played his game with her for days and never gotten bored.
Oh, the plans he’d had for her until the clever little bitch had managed to escape.
She’d won that session. She wouldn’t win again.
He’d known all he had to do was follow the idiot men. They would do the work for him. The rabbit had run, but she couldn’t hide forever.
Now all his plans were coming together. It was fate. He hadn’t actually meant for the feds to find his latest kill, but he wasn’t upset about it either. It would throw them off.
He adjusted the device in his ear as he took another long drink of the green tea he’d placed in a forty-ounce beer container. There he was. Just another bum looking to get drunk on a Thursday night. He pulled the hood over his head despite the heat.
He’d listened in on Cameron Briggs’s completely worthless life for years. Now he finally had something to show for it.
He got up, and by the time he reached his car three blocks away, he’d shed his bum persona. No one would know him now.
He’d found his little rabbit. It was time to go hunting again.