She took a deep breath, savoring her solitude. There were times, like during the party that evening, when the constant bombardment of everyone’s emotions became hard to bear. It would feel like she was drowning, her own emotions submerged under the flood of those around her to the point that she feared losing herself entirely. She’d learned over the years to handle it, but still, every now and then she had to escape the maddening crowd.

Being an empath had certainly helped with her job. Unfortunately, her unique abilities had also caused the monster to become obsessed with her. Don’t think about him. You’re safe here.

A movement far to the left caught her eye. She turned toward a grove of tamarisk trees, but only saw them swaying with a breeze. Nothing strange there.

Then she saw him. A lone figure emerging from the dark shadow of the trees. He was jogging along the beach. At this time of night? He reached a clear, sandy expanse where the moon shone brightly, and Olivia forgot to breathe.

His body was beautiful, and she suspected his face was, too, but it was hard to tell at this distance. Dressed in dark jogging shorts and a plain white T-shirt, he moved quickly and easily along the beach. His skin seemed pale, but that could be caused by the moonlight.

She sucked in a deep breath as he came closer. He was a big man. His T-shirt was stretched across wonderfully broad shoulders, the short sleeves tight around his biceps.

If only she could see his face better. Her gaze drifted over to the telescope. Why not? She rushed over, pointed it in the man’s direction, and peered through the eyepiece.

Oh, yeah, he did not disappoint. His eyes looked sharp and intelligent. Pale, though she couldn’t tell the color. Green, she hoped, since that was her favorite. He had a straight, strong nose, a wide mouth, and a strong jaw with a sexy hint of dark whiskers. There was a grim expression on his face, but it didn’t make him unattractive. Quite the opposite. It added to his aura of masculine power.

He passed by the house, and she admired his sharp profile for a few seconds, then lowered the scope to his body. His chest expanded with each deep breath, and she found herself matching her breaths to his. Even lower, she noted his muscular thighs and calves. His white running shoes pounded on the sand, leaving a steady trail.

He continued down the beach toward the rock known as Petra, giving her a glorious view of his backside.

“Opa,” she muttered as she continued to spy on him through the telescope. She’d seen plenty of fit men during her training days for the Bureau, but this guy put them to shame. While their muscles had seemed forced and clumpy, this guy looked completely natural, moving with an easy, graceful control.

She was still focused on his rump when she noticed the attached legs were no longer moving. Did he run out of steam? He hadn’t seemed tired. His jogging shorts slowly turned, affording her a long look at his groin. She gulped.

She raised the scope to his chest. Oh dear. That huge expanse of chest was now facing her direction. Surely, he wasn’t…She lifted the scope to his face and gasped.

He was looking straight at her!

She jumped back, pulling her blanket tight around her. How could he see her? The courtyard was dark and the walls reached to her waist. But then the walls were whitewashed and she was cocooned in a white blanket, and the moon and stars were bright. Maybe he could see this far. Surely he hadn’t been able to hear her? She’d barely spoken over a whisper.

He stepped toward her, gazing at her with intense eyes. Oh God, he’d caught her ogling him with a telescope! She pressed a hand against her mouth to keep from groaning out loud. Apparently, the smallest of sounds was carrying across the beach.

He took another step toward her, and the moon glinted off his hair. Red? She hadn’t met any redheaded men at the party. Who was this man?

“Olivia,” Eleni called through the open door. “Your tea is steeping.”

She strode into the kitchen and waited impatiently for her mug of tea. “There’s a man on the beach.”

“Are you sure? It’s almost two in the morning.”

“Come and see. Maybe you know him.” Olivia wandered back to the courtyard and peered over the wall.

He was gone.

“He—He was there.” Olivia pointed south toward Petra. There was no sign of him anywhere.

Eleni gave her a sympathetic look. “You’re exhausted and seeing shadows. Drink your tea, child, and go to bed.”

“He was real,” she whispered. And the most beautiful man she’d ever seen. Dear God, please let him be real.

Bloody hell, she’d better be real. Robby sprinted up the stone steps to Roman’s villa. He’d hate to think that three months of forced boredom was causing him to see things. Lovely things like an angel dressed in white, gazing down at him from an ivory tower.

He strode around the pool and Jacuzzi to enter the whitewashed house. It was an old house, but thoroughly renovated with all the modern amenities. Carlos was in the family room, lounging on a sofa, watching a DVD and munching popcorn.

Robby waved at him as he passed into the kitchen. He retrieved a bottle of synthetic blood from the fridge and silently cursed his great-great-grandfather.

Angus must have guessed he intended to escape this forced vacation, ’cause by strange coincidence, this house had suddenly become everyone’s favorite vacation spot.

Roman Draganesti and his family had visited the last week of August and the first half of September, accompanied by their bodyguards, Connor and Howard. Since Connor and Howard both worked for MacKay Security & Investigation, they reported straight to Angus. And Robby had been unable to slip away.

Then Jean-Luc Echarpe and his family had stayed for the last half of September, accompanied by their bodyguards, who also worked for Angus. Then Jack and Lara dropped by for a few weeks. Then Ian and Toni, and now Carlos. And of course, they all worked for MacKay S&I.

Jailors. That damned Angus was using his employees as jailors to keep him on his island prison. He stuffed the bottle into the microwave and punched a button.

“What’s up?” Carlos wandered into the kitchen with an empty popcorn bowl.

“Nothing.” Robby leaned against the counter and folded his arms across his chest.

“Something’s up. I’ve been here two weeks, and every single night, you go out for a run. Then you come back, give me a dirty look, and growl that I should call Angus and tell him you’re in great shape and not crazy.”

“Did ye call Angus?”

“No. They don’t have a clue where Casimir’s hiding. You might as well stay here and enjoy yourself.”

Robby sighed. Angus could make better progress locating Casimir if he wasn’t sending some of his best employees here to babysit.

“Something’s different,” Carlos continued. “Tonight you came in with no scowling or growling. Why the change?”

Robby shrugged one shoulder. “I’m trying to convince you I’m no’ crazy. If I kept doing the same thing when it wasna working, would that no’ be crazy?”

“Good point.” Carlos rinsed the bowl and placed it in the dishwasher. “So you’re trying a new strategy tonight.”

Robby removed the bottled blood from the microwave and filled a glass. “Tonight I saw an angel.”

Carlos’s eyes widened. “And you’re still trying to convince me you’re not crazy?”

Robby snorted. “No’ a real angel. No’ unless they’ve taken to watching the mortal plane with telescopes.”

“Ah.” Carlos grinned. “You caught a babe, scoping you out. Was she hot?”

She was a goddess, a beautiful Greek goddess, but Robby didn’t feel like sharing that news with the Brazilian shape-shifter who could meet people during the day, while he was dead to the world. “She was all right.”

“Just all right? I thought she was an angel.”

Robby ignored the comment and took a long drink from his glass of synthetic blood.

“Did you talk to her?” Carlos asked. “Get her number?”

Robby frowned at his half-empty glass. “No.” He’d heard her whisper in Greek, so he wasn’t sure she understood English. “There’s no point in pursuing her. My prison term will be over in three weeks.”

Carlos rolled his eyes. “You’re not in prison, muchacho. Besides, a lot can happen in three weeks.”

Robby finished his glass. He wasn’t the sort of man who could indulge in a casual fling. When he was attracted to a woman, there was nothing casual about it. And he was definitely attracted to this woman.

The minute he’d laid eyes upon her, the world had screeched to a halt around him. He’d forgotten he was on vacation and due to leave soon. He’d forgotten it was the wee hours of the morning and not a proper time to approach a lone woman. He’d forgotten he was a stranger dressed in sweaty gym clothes and likely to frighten her. Hell, he’d even forgotten he was a vampire and had no business getting involved with a mortal. He’d simply been drawn to her.

And then, suddenly, she’d disappeared. He’d sprinted all the way home, wondering if he’d just imagined her. After all, he’d jogged down that beach every night for the past three months. If she lived in that house, why hadn’t he seen her before?

“If you see her again, you should talk to her,” Carlos said as he strode from the kitchen. “A beautiful woman might be just the therapy you need.”

“I doona need therapy,” Robby grumbled. He just needed revenge. Three months of exercise had whipped him back into shape, and he was ready to go. Ready to leave this wretched island and hunt Casimir down.

The angel’s lovely face floated back into his mind, erasing the image of his enemy. She had to be real. A mere dream couldn’t have affected him this strongly. He had to see her again. Even when there were a dozen reasons why he should avoid her, he’d still try to see her again.

Maybe he did need therapy after all.

It was past three in the morning when Olivia finally fell asleep. Unfortunately, it was Sunday morning, and her grandmother woke her at dawn so they could go to church. Apparently if she didn’t go, everyone in Grikos would say bad things about her.

Afterward, Olivia was put to work in the kitchen, helping her grandmother cook an enormous amount of food, and then, surprise! Two of Yia Yia’s best friends showed up for dinner with their eligible sons. Olivia was cordial, but disappointed that neither of them had red hair. Luckily, their English was as limited as her Greek, so she didn’t have to talk much. Her mind kept wandering back to the man on the beach. Who was he? Would he be back tonight?

By nine o’clock in the evening, jet lag and sleep deprivation caught up with her, and she stumbled off to bed. As she pulled the blanket up to her chin, she told herself she’d only take a short nap. She’d be in the courtyard at 1:00 A.M., waiting for the mysterious jogger to pass by.

She blinked awake when sunlight poured into her window. “Oh no!”

She sat up and looked at her bedside clock. Eight-thirty in the morning? Damn. She slipped the red booties onto her feet and shuffled into the kitchen.

“There you are, sleepyhead.” Her grandmother was stirring something on the stove. “I’ve already been to the bakery. There’s fresh bread on the table next to the honey jar. I’ll bring you a cup of tea.”

“Thank you.” Olivia sat down and cut off a thick slice of bread. As she reached for the honey jar, she noticed the narrow vase in the center of the table with a single red rosebud. “I didn’t know you grew roses.”

Вы читаете The Vampire and the Virgin
Добавить отзыв


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

Отметить Добавить цитату