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Killer Affair
Cindy Dees


“Whore,” the voice gritted out. “Sinners.”

Blank incomprehension was all Tom’s mind could muster to the unexpected words. But as he regained his senses bit by bit, he became aware of evil radiating from the stranger. Malice rolled off the man in waves as every bit as powerful as the ocean’s fury beside them.

The guy leaped.

In sheer reflex, Tom exploded into motion, rolling away from the pouncing attack, carrying the girl with him, covering her protectively with his body, presenting his back to the attacker. Something slashed past him, burying itself in the sand where they’d been lying, not a second before. Agonizing pain sliced across his back. His skin melted like butter before a hot knife. A knife. The bastard had just cut him!

Tom surged up onto his hands and knees, driven by the pain, some primitive part of his brain taking over completely. On pure instinct, he leaped to his feet and whirled, dropping low into a fighting crouch, his hands outstretched before him. Killing rage roared through his brain. This wasn’t fight or flight. This was kill or be killed. Fury erupted from his throat in a feral snarl.

The attacker was already running, a dark shadow fleeing up the beach and melting into the jungle beyond. Tom lunged forward, intent on catching his prey and crushing him, when a mewl of distress from behind drew him up short.

The woman.

Reluctantly, he turned away from the trees and dropped to his knees beside her. Had the bastard hurt her with that deflected knife slash?

Quick concern sent his hands skimming over her baby-soft skin. No dark welling of blood marred her body anywhere. He squatted on his heels and pushed her wet, stringy hair away from her face.

His mind stumbled. Arielle? No, not Arielle. Not even asleep had she ever looked this sweet. This angelic. Who was this woman he’d apparently picked up and made love to on the beach, if her mostly unclothed state was any indication?

He plucked at the scrap of cloth clinging to her slender shoulder. The edge of it was black. Almost charred-looking. No accounting for fashion among the jet-set party girls who came to the South Pacific to play, far from the prying eyes of the paparazzi.

A remembered flash of something black blinked past his mind’s eye. Sprinkled with round shapes. He frowned. Reached for the vision again. Dials of some kind.

An airplane instrument panel. What did that have to do with anything?

The woman at his feet groaned. He ran his fingers across her forehead and down her cheek to the graceful, elegant line of her neck. She reminded him of an expensive Persian kitten. Even soaking wet and passed out cold, she was stylish. How in the hell had he landed a classy act like her? She was way out of his league these days. He had to give himself credit; he’d sure picked himself a looker. Man, the two of them must have painted the town red. He wished he remembered it.

He shrugged, and the movement sent glass-sharp daggers streaking across his back. The pain accomplished more to clear the cobwebs from his mind than anything else, so far. Tom glanced up at the jungle and then back down at the unconscious woman at his feet. They had to get out of here before that sicko came back to finish them off.

Who was that bastard, anyway? And why in the hell had he tried to stab this woman? Or maybe the guy’d been after him. Lord knew, he had plenty of enemies of his own who could account for the attack.

He reached down and scooped her up in his arms, startled at how light she was. What were the odds he could stretch their one-night stand into two? And this time he would stay stone-cold sober. He’d give his right arm to remember making love to a woman like this.

Chapter 2

A blinding flash of light, followed in a moment by a giant crack of thunder, finally roused Maddie to full consciousness. Groggily, she reminded herself that she was no longer Maddie Crummby, farm kid from central Illinois. She was Madeline C., world traveler and hotel connoisseur. At the moment, it didn’t seem to really matter, though. She felt…floppy. And the universe was moving rather oddly around her.

She blinked her gritty eyes open and was startled to see a solid wall of darkly tanned skin. And muscle. Acres of it. What the—She jerked upright, or at least tried to. Strong arms gripped her tightly, preventing her from actually moving more than her pinkie fingers.

“Easy, kitten. I’ve got you.”

She looked up at the deep, raspy voice. The hunky pilot who’d been flying her to Vanua Taru, who yelled at her to bail out of the airplane just before it blew up, whose life she’d saved in that interminable swim, on whose chest she’d collapsed when they finally reached shore. His name came back to her. Tom.

What a chest. Muscles rippled beautifully over it, not so thick as to be ungainly, but manly in no uncertain terms. She snuggled closer until it dawned on her what she was doing. She stiffened abruptly.

“You can put me down. I’m fine,” she said quickly.

He let her feet slide slowly to the ground, which had the startling effect of pressing her body against his from her neck to her toes for an unforgettable instant. Heat built between them like chain lightning, flashing back and forth, faster and faster until it painted a dizzying chaos of light and heat in her eyes.

She clung to his strength, steadying herself as his hot skin scalded her palms. His dark eyes glowed down at her, the only steady reference point in her spinning world.

“Maybe I should carry you,” he murmured. His arm tightened around her preparatory to picking her up once more, pulling her close against that magnificently naked chest of his again. She couldn’t help it. She melted into him like warm butter soaking into fresh bread. An urge to lick his chest, to see if it was as rich and delicious as she imagined, overcame her.

She drew her tongue delicately across his skin. Salty. Warm. Smooth. Mmm. She liked that. He jolted away from her mouth, swearing.

She’d just licked a total stranger. What was wrong with her?

But then he was back, one arm around her shoulders, the other hand splayed against her lower back, pulling her against him, sending her whirling thoughts tumbling once more. Up and down, left and right, they tangled together, the same way her limbs did with his. Where he stopped and she began, she had no idea.

His mouth closed on hers, sucking the life out of her and breathing his back into her all in one devouring, devastating kiss. Ho. Lee. Cow. Never, ever, had she been kissed like that. She hadn’t even known a kiss like that was possible. Stars exploded behind her eyes and unadulterated lust tore through her. She gasped at the sudden throbbing in places she’d never throbbed before. It wasn’t that she didn’t enjoy sex. It was just that she was…focused…when it came to sex. It was something she studied, even when she participated in it. She wanted to be good at it so when she landed the perfect husband she’d be able to please him. But this…this tore anything but wanting more clean out of her mind. She stretched up on her tiptoes hungrily.

“Do that again,” she breathed joyfully.

He lifted her clear off her feet this time, his mouth hot and wet, moving across hers as if he was devouring a feast. “What have you done to me?” he muttered, an almost desperate note in his voice.

“I was about to ask you the same.” She plunged her hands into his thick, dark hair and tugged. “Kiss me again. Please.”

His hand slid down to her buttocks, lifting her tighter against his unmistakable reaction to her. She groaned, crawling even closer to him if it was possible, all but purring her pleasure. Her hands crept around his ribs to his back, kneading his ridged muscles…and encountered something wet.

He hissed into her mouth and lurched upright, arching his back away from her touch.

“What did I do?” she asked quickly in distress.

“My back. I got cut,” he gritted out between clenched teeth.

“How?”

To her dismay, he released her and stepped back, frowning down at her. She felt terribly cold and alone without his arms around her.

He answered reluctantly, “Some nutcase tried to stab you a few minutes ago and sliced me instead.”

“Stab—me?” And then the rest of it hit her. “You’ve been stabbed?” she cried. Fear ran cold in her blood, chilling her all the way through. “Let me see.”

He turned to face her when she would’ve darted around behind him to see how badly he was hurt.

“It’s just a scratch,” he bit out, his gaze skimming down her body and back up again. A flash of something hot and forbidden glinted in his gaze. “Damn, you’re beautiful,” he murmured. “As much as I’d like to tear off the rest of your clothes and make love to you right here, we’ve got to get off this beach.”

She glanced down at the remnants of her clothes and gasped. Scraps of sodden cloth clung to her chest enough to provide a minimum of modesty, but not much more than that. Her silk Chanel blouse, no less. It had cost her a week’s pay and the neckline draped exactly perfectly. Drat. She’d loved that blouse.

The man in front of her shifted impatiently, peering suspiciously over her shoulder as if he expected the attacker to come back any second. Abruptly, the pieces fell together in her head. They’d been lying on a beach…it was nighttime… and he said that out of nowhere a stranger had tried to attack them…

She exclaimed, “I bet that was the Sex on the Beach Killer!”

“The who?” Tom responded blankly.

This guy hadn’t heard about the psychopath roaming the South Pacific killing pairs of lovers on beaches? He’d have to be a complete hermit to have missed that news flash. The killer had last struck on Fiji’s big island a couple of weeks back. He was due to strike again, according to Agent Griffin Malone, the FBI profiler who’d saved Alicia’s life.

“The Sex on the Beach Killer,” Maddie repeated. Cold chills that had nothing to do with being wet and nearly naked snaked down her spine. A psychopath had tried to kill them? A fine trembling erupted throughout her entire body.
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