Beneath These Lies (Page 26)

“Of course.” But my brain added silently, Not that it stops everyone.

“Do you want me to go inside and take a look around?” His offer was that of a man concerned for his daughter’s safety. His daughter who was going to lie and pretend she wasn’t freaking out more than a little about who might be waiting inside.

“It’s fine, Dad. My alarm would have every cop in a five-mile radius here if someone were to try to get inside.”

Lies. All lies. And it hurt to tell them to the one man I trusted implicitly.

“You sure?”

“Yes. Positive.”

“Okay. I’ll be getting back to your mother then.” He leaned in and pressed a kiss to my forehead, like he had so many times. “Love you, baby girl.”

“Love you too. Be safe walking home,” I told him.

“Always. And you make sure you use that revolver I know you’re carrying if you even hear a single noise in that house that you question. We believe strongly in self-defense in the state of Louisiana.”

“Okay. I will.”

My dad strode back toward the street with Chaney leading the way, and I pulled my keys from my purse. My hand shook, and I missed the lock twice before the key slid home.

It was Rix inside. It had to be.

I twisted the handle and pushed the portico door open. One more door to go before I knew the truth.

Except I didn’t have time to open it before it swung inward, and a figure stood in the shadow-darkened doorway.

“You didn’t tell him I was inside. Why’s that, duchess?”

I ignored Rix’s question. “Stop breaking into my house.”

He didn’t move from the shadows. “I guess you don’t want an update on your girl, then.”

Trinity. She was the only reason I should even be speaking to Rix. She was all that mattered.

“What? Tell me.” I hated the thought of her spending another night in some place with those drug-dealing gangbangers.

Rix finally stepped out of the shadows. “I think you’re forgetting who you’re dealing with. You don’t make demands here.”

The menace was back in his tone, and tendrils of fear curled up my spine. I think I’d just made the mistake of treating a tiger like a house cat. But I didn’t care. I forged ahead, secure in my certainty that Rix wouldn’t hurt me.

“What are you gonna do about it? Not help her?”

“Nah, but I just upped my price.”

I crossed my arms over my chest, my narrowed gaze colliding with his. “Your price? What price?”

“I don’t do anything for nothing.”

“You never said you wanted to get paid to get her back. How much?” It truly didn’t matter, because I would pay it. I wasn’t broke.

A predatory smile slid across Rix’s face. “Ah, duchess. So fuckin’ innocent.”

I knew then what he wanted as his price. My cheeks heated, and it wasn’t anger causing the flush.

Rix’s eyes never left my face. “Maybe not so innocent then.”

“That’s extortion,” I whispered.

He lowered his head and spoke low in my ear, his breath sending shivers skating across my skin. “Is it really extortion when you’re hot to pay the price?”

Was I? I couldn’t deny that he fascinated me too, and last night when he’d kissed me I hadn’t been ready to stop. But more? Images of him tossing me over his shoulder, carrying me upstairs, and throwing me down on my bed before he stripped me naked played through my head. All alpha. And good grief, that was hot.

Swallowing against the mouthwatering thoughts, I searched for something to say.

“I’m not hearing a protest,” he taunted.

“If I agree to your price, then what? You’ll get her back quicker?”

Rix lifted his head, but his lips were still achingly close to mine when he spoke. “I’m going to do exactly what I’m doing now.”

“Then why—”

He gripped my hips with both hands, thumbs coasting up and down my belly over the material of my dress.

“Because you need a reason, and I’m giving you one.”

I didn’t follow. “A reason for what?” I whispered.

“For me to be in your bed.”

He lowered his mouth, and his teeth closed over my bottom lip and tugged. I sucked in a shallow breath. When he released it, his tongue slid out and lashed the spot he’d nipped.

“So fucking sweet. And I want it all. That’s my payment, and I can’t wait to collect.” He pulled back a few inches, want and need burned into his features.

I’d done that?

“When?” I asked quietly.

“Whenever I decide.”

He wasn’t waiting for a yes or no answer from me. He’d simply decreed it was happening. Heat licked at my insides, and if he’d told me he’d decided right now, on the rug in my foyer, I might not have protested.

Time for a change in subject. I had to stop thinking this way or I’d be throwing myself at him as shamelessly as those girls the night of the party.

I slipped sideways, stepping out of his hold. I wasn’t kidding myself that he could have kept me where he wanted me, but he let me go.

I glanced down. Oh, great, my overactive nipples had decided to join the party—and the dip in Rix’s gaze told me he hadn’t missed that fact. I crossed my arms over my chest and lifted my chin.

“Update, then?”

Rix crossed his arms, mimicking my posture. “She’s fine.”

The heat running through my body morphed into frustration. “Then why haven’t you gotten her back? This is ridiculous. You act like you’re the king of the damn jungle, but you’re dragging this out for no reason.” I dropped my arms and stalked toward him. “You can break in here and get around my alarm and scare the hell out of me, but you can’t break into some gang house and grab one girl?” Somehow, by the end of my speech I was jabbing my finger into his chest for emphasis.