The Obsession Page 101

He crossed to her, yanked her up to her toes, and took her mouth like a man starving.

This. Her. His life would never be just what it had been as of that moment. And he would never be only what he’d been.

Love changed everything.

Thrown off balance, she gripped his shoulders. He made her head spin, her heart race, her knees weak. Overcome, she held on, rode the hot, fast wave with him.

When he eased back, she laid her hands on his cheeks, let out a long breath. “Wow, and good morning.”

He rested his forehead to hers a moment while tenderness twined with heat.

“Are you all right?” she asked him.

No, he thought. He might not come down to all right again for years.

“You should always wear sunlight,” he told her. “It looks good on you.”

“I think you should always sleep in.”

“No one in the actual world considers eight on a Sunday morning sleeping in.”

To give himself a moment to settle, Xander turned to the prints. “You’ve been busy.”

“I’ve got orders. The gallery, the Internet, Krista.”

“So you were right about the hands.”

“Oh yeah. Many hits on my website, and a nice bunch of orders for downloads and prints and posters on that and the book wall. I have to order more supplies.”

He looked around at boxes and stacks. “More.”

“More. I can’t set up in here as efficiently as I will when they have my studio done. I might break my own rule and nag Kevin on that. But for now I can make do. You got in late,” she added, and took the finished poster print out of the tray.

“Yeah, I got here around two, I guess. Woke the dog up.”

“I heard him—and you.”


“No, it’s reassuring that he barks and runs down like he’d rip an intruder to shreds. Though I suspect he’d run the other way if it was someone he didn’t know. You all sounded good last night.”

“Yeah, we had it down.”

She clipped the poster in place, moved over to her tray. “What do you think of these?”

He started to tell her he’d look after coffee, as the need for it reared up strong, but he saw the print of the band, one with the tools, the broken windshield. Taking the stack, he paged through.

“Jesus, Naomi, these are great. Really great. Dave keeps saying how he can’t decide what to use, which for what. On and on until you want to punch him.”

“That’s why I printed some out. You’ve all seen them on the computer, but sometimes prints help the choice.”

“I don’t think so. They’re all great. You did some black-and-white.”

“Moody, right?” As if checking for herself, she looked over his shoulder. “A little dangerous. You should all pick one for yourselves. I’ll frame them for you. And you should pick one to go in Loo’s.”

“Yeah, maybe. Yeah. This black-and-white for Loo’s, because it fits the atmosphere better.”

“I agree.”

“Dave’s going to develop a nervous tic trying to decide.” He set the prints back in the tray. “I need coffee.”

“Go ahead. I’ve got a couple things to finish up, then I’ll be down. You could let the dog out,” she added. “It’s too nice a day for him to be inside.”

“For anybody. We could take a drive along 101. GTO or bike, your choice.”

“If we did that, took the convertible, I could take some equipment. And the dog.”

“We’ll go by my place and pick it up.”

Even as Xander started out, Tag raced ahead of him.

He’d take the day off—from work, from shaving, from thinking about what to do, or not, about being in love.

He knew people who fell in and out of love more regularly than they came in for an oil change. But he wasn’t one of them.

He’d fallen into his share of lust, even into serious like, but this ground-just-shifted-under-my-feet feeling? A whole new experience.

He’d just let it all sit for a while, he decided. Make sure it wasn’t some sort of momentary aberration.

Halfway down the steps Tag let out a low growl and bulleted the rest of the way to the door. He snapped out two sharp barks, then looked back at Xander as if to say, Well? Let’s take care of this.

“Yeah, yeah, I’m coming. Why didn’t I go for coffee from the jump?”

Xander opened the door, saw the black Chevy Suburban pull beside Naomi’s car. And walked out as a tall man with light brown hair stepped out.

He wore sunglasses, a dark suit and tie—and a nebulous official air that said cop to Xander.

Not a local badge, but some sort of badge. And it pissed him off that Naomi would have her Sunday spoiled by more questions about Marla.

The man looked at the dog who stood by Xander’s side, then at Xander.

“Who the hell are you?”

“You’re the one who drove up here,” Xander countered just as abruptly, “so I get to ask who the hell you are.”

“Special Agent Mason Carson. FBI.”

Mason took out his credentials, held them up—and wasn’t subtle about the hand that flipped back the suit jacket to rest on the butt of his service weapon.

“Now, who the hell are you?”

“It’s all right.” Xander set his own hand on Tag’s head. “He’s okay. Xander Keaton.”

The sunglasses might have blocked Mason’s eyes, but Xander knew they narrowed and assessed.

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