Love's Prisoner (Page 6)

"Don't," she managed, and when her mouth opened his tongue slipped past her teeth.

He pulled back before she could gather the sense to bite him again. He was breathing hard. Almost as hard as she was. His effect on her was infuriating and she practically gnashed her teeth in rage.

"So," he said coolly, but his eyes gleamed, "now that you know there are consequences, feel free to punch away. Because, afterward, I can put my hands on you without feeling a bit guilty, under those conditions."

"You should die of guilt," she choked out. "I hate you."

He was staring at her mouth, his own a line of sadness. "I know."

He left, slamming the flimsy bedroom door behind him. Jeannie sat down before her knees betrayed her.

Chapter Five

"This," Tall, Dark, and Disgusting said to the fifteen or so assembled people, "is my wife-to-be, Jeannette Lawrence."

"Ma'am," the small crowd said in respectful unison.

Jeannie opened her mouth to tell them exactly what she thought of what's-his-name, but the black-hearted bastard beat her to the punch.

"She's here entirely against her will," he went on, "and isn't happy about it. She's also pregnant by me—"

A happy gasp from the crowd.

"—and not happy about it. It happened, as some of you probably guessed, during the last full moon."

Nods. Sympathetic glances. She bit her tongue, hard, so as not to shriek with embarrassed rage.

"Thus, she will be rude, throw things, and do her best to escape," he went on casually, as if she wasn't standing at his elbow and hearing every word. "She doesn't understand her vulnerability and can't appreciate her delicate position. And she won't thank any of you for pointing it out." He paused. "Be patient with her."

Jeannie rolled her eyes. At the edge of the crowd, a petite, elfin blonde woman saw it and winked at her.

"Moira, if you'll show Jeannie to her rooms?"

The small blonde nodded and stepped forward at once. Psycho Boy turned to her and asked with ridiculous politeness, "Did you have any questions, Jeannie?"

"Just one." She paused. He waited, the crowd waited, expectantly. "What the hell is your name?"

Score! He flushed a little, and there were a few outright laughs in the crowd. Moira giggled, and quickly choked off the sound as he glanced at her with a frown. "Ah—that's right, we never got around to that, did we? It's Michael. Michael Wyndham."

"Great," she said, unsurprised. After the month she'd had, nothing could surprise her. The Wyndhams controlled a vast shipping empire and were reputed to be slightly more wealthy than God. The father of her child owned the tower she'd taken the ill-fated elevator in, probably owned the magazine she worked for. It figured. "Psychotic and rich."

"I'm afraid so," he said with an irritatingly sexy smile. She looked away, disgusted.

Moira led her out of the yard, into the astonishing mansion she'd glimpsed from the RV. After her last confrontation with Tall, Dark, and Wyndham, she'd cried herself to sleep. And when she woke, they had been pulling up to the most beautiful manor home she had ever seen. She was so stunned at the home's size and majesty, she hadn't said a word when Michael gently led her out of the RV and introduced her to the household staff who, the redhead (whose name was Jon; the blonde had introduced himself as Derik) had assured her, all shared Michael's "delusion."

She was so impressed with the ocean-side mansion, she could hardly fret about being kept prisoner by fifteen people who were all as nutty as Wyndham. True unease would come, she had no doubt, in time. Like as soon as her shock and surprise wore off. Then there'd be hell to pay. Then there'd—

"I hope you'll come to like it here," Moira was saying, leading her through a home that made Gone With The Wind's Twelve Oaks look like a claim shanty. "We've been waiting for you for a long time."

"Waiting for me?"

"For our leader to take a mate," Moira explained. She was a lovely, delicate blonde with eyes the color of the sky, and skin so pale it was almost translucent. She was tiny; almost a head shorter than Jeannie, and Jeannie herself was five-ten. "He needs an heir. It's just unfortunate that . . ." She trailed off, seemingly embarrassed.

"You don't know how unfortunate," Jeannie said dryly. "Look, Moira, I don't suppose there's any chance you'd help me—"

"Don't even ask, ma'am," she said firmly. "I'd die for Michael. Any of us would."

"In other words, don't waste your breath asking anyone else to crack out of this pokey," she finished.

"Your 'pokey', ma'am," Moira said with a grin, throwing open a set of mahogany doors. Jeannie stepped into the most beautiful room she had ever seen—all gleaming blonde wood floors, lush throw rugs, a fireplace large enough to roast two pigs, and several doors. And the bed! A king-sized monstrosity, large enough to comfortably sleep a family of six.

"Bathroom, closet, closet, balcony," Moira was saying, opening all the doors.

"Whoa!" Jeannie said, staring, goggle-eyed. Moira giggled again. "Okay, so, this place ranks high on my Top Ten List Of Places To Be Held Prisoner. But it still sucks, you know."

"Hmmmm?" Moira said, turning down the bed.

"Being held here against my will," Jeannie reminded her impatiently. She waited for Moira to blush, to acknowledge guilt, to do something . . . something besides shrug and look unconcerned, dammitall. Then a thought struck her, and she asked sharply, "Where does Wyndham sleep?"

"His is the adjoining room," she said simply.

"Over my dead body!"

"You'll have to discuss that with him, ma'am."

"And stop calling me ma'am! I'm not ninety!"

"As you wish, my lady."

"Out!" she hissed, and to her relief and surprise, Moira obeyed at once. Jeannie threw herself on the bed, which enveloped her at once in an eiderdown embrace. She was too mad to cry again, which was a relief—she'd done entirely too much crying lately. Now was the time for action!

"Would you like to have something to eat before you try to escape?"

It was Wyndham, poking his head through the doorway that doubtless adjoined his rooms to hers. She'd like to slam that door shut, watch his eyes pop out as his neck broke.

She glared up at him from her bed. "I want to go home."

"Yes, I know."



She reared up in the bed, tottering to stay balanced on her knees amid all the fluff of the quilts. His mouth twitched as she struggled to right herself. "Wyndham, I'm telling you this for the last time: I won't stay here with you. I won't have anything to do with you. You're a criminal and a jerk, a miserable combo."

"You're not afraid," he said with a satisfied sigh. "I knew you wouldn't be."

"Don't flatter yourself. I'm too pissed to be afraid. Listen, dickhead: there are going to be some horrific consequences if you try to keep me here. We're talking broken bones and FBI raids. I'm out of here the second the opportunity presents itself."

He actually looked alarmed—at the chance of losing his sex toy? Or a deeper reason? Then his expression cleared. "There will be consequences if you try to escape," he said simply, stepping into her room and softly closing the adjoining door. He had changed from his suit to khaki shorts and a white t-shirt, and if possible, looked yummier in casual clothes that showed off his finely muscled legs and upper body. He was ridiculously tan, ridiculously handsome. "Are you going to try to escape soon?" he asked, as if inquiring about the temperature in her room.

"You—you—" She sputtered wordlessly at his absurd question. "You're not supposed to want me to get away."

"You won't get away. We'll catch you. I don't want you to leave—it's dangerous. So, as I warned you earlier, there will be consequences if you try and escape."

"What consequences?" she asked, but had a sinking feeling she knew.

His gaze was level. "Elevator consequences."

Her mouth went dry, even as her heart sped up. "Seek help, Wyndham. As quickly as possible."

"Do you think I'm pleased with this scenario?"

"Yes! I think you're very pleased," she said bitterly.

The bum actually looked hurt. She couldn't believe his nerve. "It's the only way I can think of to keep you from trying to leave," he sighed, "since you don't believe me about the danger."

He walked to the bed and stared down at her. A blind woman could have seen the hunger in his gaze. "I won't lie—part of me wants you to try and escape," he husked. "Don't misunderstand—I'm sorry about the circumstances that brought you here. And I'm sorry you don't like my home."

"I never said I didn't like your home," she interjected sharply.

"But if you try to escape, just as if you try to hurt me again, I can take you without guilt."


"I can hardly stand to be this close to you without touching you," he said, and for a moment she saw such pain and longing in his gaze, she had to glance away. "Having you sleeping just a few feet away is going to drive me mad. But I won't take you again by force, Jeannie—except as a deterrent. Because," he added sadly, "as much as I long for your touch, I know you can't stand to be near me, that you despise me. So lovemaking relieves my hunger while punishing you." He turned away. "I wish it could be different between us," he said without turning around. "I'd give anything for things to be different."

"You know what I'd give anything for?" she asked sweetly, groping behind her for something to throw at him, and finding nothing more deadly than a pillow.