meant shut up, as in, look at the Women’s League float. Pretty snazzy, huh? That kind of shut up. We-worked- pretty-hard-for-this-parade-and-it-shows kind of shut up.” Great, now she sounded like an imbecile.

Maggie smiled. “It is quite nice, isn’t it? I told you all those hours you helped would pay off, and I was right.” She sat taller in her chair. “Look, there’s your father. Doesn’t he look handsome?”

Ria breathed a sigh of relief, glad she’d averted a possible disaster. Her mom had questioned Ria about what she’d seen in the woods, then asked if Ria was feeling okay. She could just imagine what people had been saying, and what her mother was thinking.

She drew in a deep breath. It was all behind them now. Well, almost. There were still people like Ben Dansworth, who liked nothing more than to make a big deal out of anything that happened to her. May he rot in hell.

No, Ria would make sure her mother didn’t have any more worries. At least, not where her daughter was concerned. An army of naked men could run through town, and Ria wouldn’t say a word.

If I see any sexy naked men running through town you can bet I won’t stay quiet.

And Ria would ignore the voice.

Snort. You haven’t been able to ignore me before. Why do you think you can now?

Nope, she wasn’t going to even think about Shintara. Instead, she’d concentrate on the parade.

Her father was driving the fire truck, since he was the chief. He beamed, waving at the crowd. Pride threaded its way through her. She had the best-ever parents.

She put two fingers in her mouth and whistled. If she’d had a bullhorn, she couldn’t have gotten his attention any better. She had a great whistle. Her father spotted them and waved. It wasn’t very ladylike to whistle that loud, but she didn’t care. He’d taught her to whistle like a guy, and she was quite proud she could.

Her gaze moved farther down the truck, past the firemen squeezed on top and all of them waving at the crowd. Sometimes she wondered if men ever grew up.

Her eyes grew round and she almost swallowed her tongue. Not that anyone really could, but it certainly felt like it as she began to cough and sputter.

“Are you okay?” Her mother patted her on the back.

She couldn’t look away. It was him—the naked guy who’d stepped in front of her on the trail. He sat at the very back of the fire truck, on top, arms crossed in front of him, as if he owned the damned thing or something. At least he had on clothes today.

“That man…”

Her mother’s gaze followed where Ria pointed. She smiled as she relaxed in her chair again. “You must mean Kristor Valkyir. We call him Kris. Isn’t he handsome? He’s from another country.”

“You know him?” Her mother knew the serial killer?

“Yes, dear. He’s very nice. We rented him your old room.”

“You rented him my…” she stumbled over the words. It took a moment for her brain to connect the dots, but when she did, she thought her head would explode. “You rented him my room!”

Her mother’s expression quickly changed to concern. Several people turned and stared. Ria lowered her voice. “You rented him my room?” Maybe she’d misunderstood.

“We really didn’t think you’d mind. He’s agreed to pay us five hundred dollars a week. That’s a fortune! Of course, we told him it was too much, but he wouldn’t hear of paying less. Your father and I are not getting any younger and, what with the economy, we just thought…” She shook her head, then patted Ria’s hand. “It doesn’t matter. We’ll tell him he has to leave at the end of the week. We just didn’t think it would upset you so much.”

“But he’s the alien,” she blurted.

Her mother looked around, as if someone might rescue her daughter from her delusions. “Ria, I promise you that Kris is not an alien.”

She rolled her eyes. “I know he’s not an alien.”

Her mother breathed a sigh of relief. “Good. I’m so glad that’s settled.”

“Nothing is settled. I know he’s not an alien, but that’s what he told me. This is the guy who stepped out in front of me the day I went running. He said he was from another planet.”

“Oh, you must have been mistaken.” She laughed lightly. “I’m sure he only meant he was from another country.”

Could things get any more frustrating? She inhaled a slow deep breath, then exhaled. “Okay, I can buy that he might have meant he was from another country, but where were his clothes?”

“Well, you know how they are in some countries. Nudity means nothing to them. At least, not what it does to us, and I have to say that he hasn’t walked around the house without clothes since he’s been staying with us.”

Oh, yeah, that made things a lot better. Not!

“He’s a little rough around the edges,” her mother continued. “But he only needs a bit of polishing. I think he’s spent far too much time around other men. I believe he told us he was in the military.” She eyed Ria with more than a trace of speculation. “He’s quite handsome, don’t you think?”

What? Did her mother want them to hook up or something? Ria bit back a laugh. This wasn’t happening. It couldn’t be. Maybe it was all a bad dream.

“Don’t worry so, dear. They say it causes wrinkles, and the good face cream costs a fortune.”

“But, Mom—”

“Why, just yesterday,” her mother interrupted, “Alesha Campbell said Kris got her white kitten down from a tree. She said Kris was very gentle, and little Fluffy fell in love with him.” She patted Ria’s hand. “Everything will be fine, and once you get to know Kris, I’m sure you’ll love him as much as we do.”

Love him? How could they love him? They’d just freakin’ met him!

But he is hot, Shintara broke into Ria’s thoughts. I certainly wouldn’t mind getting a piece of that action.

Cry. That’s what she wanted to do. Go home, curl up on her bed, and let the tears flow. She sucked it up though. No way was she going to let the crazy serial killer murder her parents while they slept.

“Anyway, you’ll get a chance to meet and talk to him tonight.”

Her ears perked up. “What do you mean? What’s happening tonight?”

“We’re having a small get-together at the house. Your father wants to thank some of the volunteers who helped put together the Fourth of July activities. He is the president of the revitalization committee, after all.”

And why they had a gazillion parades every year, but she kept her lips clamped together.

“Now that we have the money Kris is paying us to rent your room, well, it was fate. It’s only right that your father thank everyone properly. I’ve been meaning to ask you to join us but kept forgetting. You will come, won’t you?”

“I wouldn’t miss it.” She knew what she’d seen, and what she’d heard. Her eyes narrowed as the fire truck slowly passed. Her gaze suddenly locked with Kristor’s. Something fluttered to awareness inside her as her gaze drifted over his broad shoulders, solid chest, massive arms.

And we already know what he looks like naked.

“Shut up.”

He mother glanced her way.

Ria pointed toward the high school band that sounded like a rusty train going down even rustier tracks. “Shut up, they’re really improving.”

Her mother’s forehead creased. “You really think so?”

Ria nodded. “Oh, yeah, much better than the last parade.”

While her mother’s attention was on the band, Ria glanced once more at Kristor. So maybe he was downright sexy. The only thing she cared about was her parents’ safety. By tomorrow, Kristor would be locked away in jail. She’d make sure of it.

Kristor suddenly looked her way, capturing her gaze. Her mouth went dry and it was hard to breathe. Very slowly, he let his gaze travel over her. Heat flashed through her body, making her itch in places that hadn’t itched in a while. Not that he would ever get the chance to scratch them. She raised her chin and pursed her lips, but he

Вы читаете The Falcon Prince
Добавить отзыв


Вы можете отметить интересные вам фрагменты текста, которые будут доступны по уникальной ссылке в адресной строке браузера.

Отметить Добавить цитату