“You need to rest,” he murmured.
“You, too,” she murmured back drowsily. “Big night. Almost dying and all.”
He had no idea what she was talking about. The cut on his back? It was no big deal. Annoying, yes. But life-threatening? No. The only threat some guy with a knife posed to them was catching him drunk enough not to defend them. The bastard had come close to that tonight. But it wouldn’t happen again, Tom vowed silently to himself. As long as Maddie was with him, he would not get so drunk that he blacked out or that he couldn’t fend off some asshole with a blade.
Tightening his arms around her, he leaned forward. She made a sound of protest as he stood up with her in his arms, but she settled quickly against his chest. He laid her down gently on the couch, tucking the blankets in around her chin.
“Sleep,” he murmured, smoothing her hair away from her creamy brow. There was something eminently satisfying about making love to a woman until she lost consciousness. He watched her eyelashes flutter down. She was out like a light in a matter of seconds.
His arms felt unaccountably empty and he frowned at the sensation. True to his word though, he sat down gingerly in the armchair opposite her. After their athletics, his back stung like hell. But it was worth it. And how.
He propped his feet up on the end table he’d carved last month in a failed attempt to climb out of the bottle. His sharp eyes picked out her profile against the larger blackness of the storm outside. The seas were worse than he’d ever seen them. Vague memory of a storm approaching tickled his consciousness.
He and Maddie had stirred up quite a storm of their own in here, tonight. Fascinating woman. A study in contrasts. Calculating the odds of turning their now two-night stand into a three-peat, he locked his fingers across his stomach and settled in to watch over her.
An uncomfortable sensation of déjà vu crept over him. He used to watch over Arielle like this wherever she happened to pass out after one of her wild escapades. She used to tell him to quit hovering over her like a nervous mother hen, to go get some sleep in a real bed. She actually thought she could out-stubborn him. It had never worked. But she’d never given up trying.
Right up till that last night. He’d been ready to strangle her for insisting on going out on an evening when he was not only off duty but had other plans. But he’d never broken the implacable calm that was part and parcel of his job. Bodyguards weren’t supposed to show emotion, and they certainly weren’t supposed to throttle their impulsive, immature, spoiled, self-destructive clients. Even if the client richly deserved it. Not even if the client snuck out when her chief of security was out and her other guards were sleeping, and the client went and got themselves carved up by a nutcase. But it didn’t stop him from wanting to wrap his hands around Arielle’s neck and squeeze some sense into her.
Nor were bodyguards supposed to seduce females in their living rooms and make love to them until they screamed, even if they richly deserved it, too. Particularly when the poor woman was clearly upset and exhausted. What Maddie had needed was a decent night’s sleep.
But in spite of what he should have done, he couldn’t stop relishing what had happened. Images of Maddie in the throes of screaming pleasure danced across his mind. As he sat there in the dark, listening to her quiet breathing, fantasies of her crawling all over his willing body again and again in as many different ways as his imagination could conjure stole his breath away. Who’d have guessed he had such a vivid imagination?
Desperate to distract himself, he listened to the storm gathering steam outside. Kato. The name popped into his head. A moment later, its meaning came back to him as well. That was the name of the cyclone spinning in toward Vanua Taru. He hated it how these random snippets of memory kept dropping into his mind like capricious gifts from a prankster deity.
The ocean sounded furious below. Like a woman whose lover, almost in her grasp, had been stolen out from under her nose. What an odd thought that was. But then, this had been an odd night all around.
If these rain bands got much worse, the island would be completely shut down by morning, cyclone or no. That could be a problem since he had food and drink in the house for one. He hadn’t expected to ride out the cyclone with company. He had some shopping to do, assuming he could convince her to stay with him until Kato passed. Three or four days marooned in his villa with nothing to do but listen to the storm and try out a couple dozen of his fantasies sounded like a little slice of paradise.
Looked like a trip to town was in order first thing tomorrow—or rather, later today. Given the searing pain in his back, he’d probably have to give in and get some stitches in his back, too. Which would also give him a chance to tell the sheriff about the attack on the beach.
He frowned, considering the chances of the attacker escaping the island before Kato hit. He bloody well wouldn’t fly in this weather, and neither would any of the other island-taxi pilots. People wishing to leave Vanua Taru would be down to ferry service or private boats. Joe the bartender, also the local ferry pilot, was extremely stingy about sailing his precious ferryboat in heavy seas. The Merry Widow was probably already tucked safely in her boathouse and not likely to emerge until after the storm. Unless the attacker had his own boat and a death wish, he wasn’t going anywhere until Kato passed. Nope, the Sex on the Beach Killer was stuck on Vanua Taru for at least the next several days. If that was, in fact, who’d attacked them.
Without any great heat, the thought that he could use a drink passed through his mind. But it was overridden by a much more pressing concern. He seriously didn’t need to be trapped on this tiny piece of real estate with some crazy bastard looking to slice folks into bits. Truth be told, the thought made his blood run cold. Six months ago, he’d have laughed at the prospect. Back then he was still invincible. Had still never lost a client. He’d still been the baddest badass bodyguard in the biz. Nothing had gotten past him. But all that had been before.
And besides, Maddie was with him now. He had her safety to think about.
A flash of Arielle’s bloody corpse flashed through his mind’s eye. By some trick of his imagination, or maybe his subconscious, the face in his memory morphed from Arielle’s into Maddie’s. And suddenly he felt sick to his stomach.