Daughter Of The Dragon Princess(9)

By: Nina Croft



“I see you’re prepared for all eventualities,” Cole said. “Just how often do you have to change your blood-stained clothing, Mal?”

“Often enough.”

“Obviously. And now that major surgery has been performed, let’s get back to the station, and see if we can’t find these fuckers.”

“Okay, but the girl goes with me.”

Cole studied him through narrowed eyes. “How about you and the girl come with me? Jack can drive your car back to the station. He’ll be thrilled. I doubt he’s ever driven a Lamborghini.”

Mal nodded slowly. He’d go with Cole rather than dispose of a dozen cops. Yeah, perhaps Vortigen was right—he had gone soft.

***

Lily hugged her arms around her middle as the two men disappeared from sight behind one of the vehicles parked on the road above her.

That bastard had not only invaded her dreams, which was bad enough, he’d also broken into her apartment. So what the hell was he doing all buddy-buddy with the police?

The rising sun was just lighting the sky to the east, the morning already warm, but she couldn’t stop shivering. Jack handed her a jacket and she wrapped it around herself. He also produced a thermos of hot coffee from somewhere, and she sipped it while she waited. The detective had said he had two dead cops. The men who had taken her had killed them. Had they planned to kill her as well? Obviously, not immediately. So what had they wanted with her?

And where were they now? Another shiver ran through her. She wanted away from here.

“What’s happening?” she asked Jack.

“We’re just waiting for Detective Inspector Cole.” He glanced up the embankment. “Here they are. I’m sure we can go now.”

The two men strode toward them and her pulse rate quickened. The man from her apartment was naked from the waist up, his black pants hanging low on his hips. The broad expanse of his chest was bared, revealing the smooth swell of muscles, the lean flatness of his belly. His shoulders were wide, his skin golden, flawless but for…

Her breath caught in her throat. She stood up quickly and swayed, almost falling. Jack caught her, and she clung to him briefly, then took a deep breath.

“Sorry. My leg cramped, but I’m okay. You can let me go.”

He loosened his grip, and Lily straightened.

The man had pulled on a shirt now and was regarding her, his face impassive. Cole spoke, but she didn’t hear the words, her attention focused on the man.

“That mark,” she said, “on your arm, let me see.”

He shook his head. “Later.”

Lily gritted her teeth. She didn’t understand what was going on. But this man did. It all centered around the mark on her arm. The mark of the Dragon Princess, Stark had called it. Now, she was sure he had one similar, and she wasn’t going anywhere until she saw it.

Nearby, a small bush burst into flames.

“Control yourself,” he said in a low voice.

She didn’t want to fucking control herself. “Show me the goddamn mark.”

His lips pursed as he studied her, then he shrugged. Unbuttoning his shirt, he slipped his left arm out of the sleeve.

Lily reached out with unsteady fingers and touched the smooth swell of muscle. He flinched but didn’t move as she traced the beautiful lines of the red dragon. Prickles of sensation ran along her fingertips, and she snatched her hand away. She took a step back as he slipped the shirt on.

“Why,” Cole said from beside them, “do I get the impression that everyone here knows more than I do? Ms. Palmer, are you going to tell me what that was all about?”

“No,” Lily said.

“Mal?”

“No.”

Cole sighed. “Let’s go to the station.”





Chapter 4





Mal stood on the other side of the glass and studied her.

When she’d touched his mark, he’d sensed a connection flare to life, flow through his veins, sizzle along his nerves, and settle in the very core of his being. The reaction had knocked him off balance, sent him reeling.

There could be no connection between the likes of him and the likes of Lily Palmer.

Not now. Not ever.

It was merely a combination of hope and euphoria. They’d been waiting, searching, for so long and now she was here. They were going home at last. That was all. She was nothing to him. And that was the way things had to stay.

Even so, he couldn’t help but admire her. After everything she’d been through tonight, she had stood her ground and faced up to him. Not many did that—even his own people backed down from the King’s Enforcer.

“She’s one hell of a beautiful woman,” Cole said from beside him. “You know, if I somehow found myself in her bedroom—just by chance you understand—I might be tempted to hold a gun on her and maybe get her to take her clothes off…very tempted.”

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