“Not to hurt ye—at least, until she said so.”
At this cryptic statement, Mickey pocketed both guns and turned back to the sedan. Still whistling, he opened the back door and held out a hand to the passenger.
A long feminine leg exited the vehicle, followed by a second equally impressive leg. Bobby’s pulse began to pound. Maybe he wasn’t about to be robbed. Maybe he was about to get lucky. Why else would legs like that be here at a time like this?
A gloved hand settled in Mickey’s and a woman cloaked in black stood up. Even at a distance, Bobby could see the blunt black bangs and the severe bob that was three inches longer on one side than on the other. Bobby’s pulse went from pounding to a dead standstill in the space between heartbeats.
Only one woman in the world looked like that.
Bobby rubbed his eyes, but the vision stayed the same.
How was this possible?
She stood for a moment, her eyes taking in the construction site. Mickey offered her his elbow, and arm in arm, they walked up to the trailer.
Enchanting was all he could think as her hips swayed toward him. A long black fur coat almost swallowed her whole, except for the flash of leg that cut through the night with every other step. When she hit the circle of light that spilled out of his trailer, she looked up at him.
Her eyes, the palest of green, flashed at him. For all her edgy style, her eyes were something completely different—soft. Vulnerable, even.
A gust of wind blew between them like a warning. Bobby sensed immediately that, beyond the armed leprechaun, he was in danger. What had been cool and reserved in Stella the last time they’d met was nothing but arctic cold today. If she was happy to see him, she wasn’t letting on.
“Stella.” For a moment, he had no idea what else to say, which was something in and of itself. He always knew what to say, when to say it. It was his gift—the ability to read people and know exactly what they needed to hear. That gift had gotten him this far in life.
Apparently, it was going to fail him now. He didn’t want to say anything. He wanted to pull her into his arms and tell her he wasn’t going to let her out of his sight again.
But he knew that would probably get him shot. So the best he could come up with was, “Come in.” He stepped to the side as she brushed past him, the scent of lavender surrounding him.
Mickey didn’t follow her in. Instead, he leaned against the railing, oblivious to the winter temperature. “Keep yer cool,” he told Bobby with a small salute. “I’d hate to ʼave to bust in, all un-gentleman-like.”
What, did he think Bobby would do something to Stella? They’d already...well, they’d already spent time in each other’s company. He wasn’t the kind of man who’d hurt a woman. Bolton men took care of women.
For him, that usually meant that he made sure a woman was just as satisfied with their encounter as he was. He took care of her sexual needs, and she took care of his. Everyone went home happy.
But this? This wasn’t the same thing. Not even close.
With a final confused look at Mickey, Bobby shut the door and turned his attention back to the woman looking around his construction trailer with obvious disdain. Again, he knew he should say the right thing—New York was a hell of a long way from Sturgis, South Dakota, no matter how one went about it. But again, his mouth failed him.
“Can I...take your coat?”
Stella turned her back to him, but he saw her loosening the belt on her coat. He stepped forward and placed his hands on her shoulders.
The fur slipped off her and into his hands, revealing a sheer maroon lace that covered her arms and back but left nothing to the imagination. He stared at it for a moment before the pattern clicked into place—skulls. The lace formed tiny skulls. It was entirely ladylike and entirely out there—very Stella.
Below that, she’d sewn a leather corset. This continued down into a floor-length knit skirt that, from the back, seemed puritanical. Then she stepped free of him and he saw that the front of the skirt was divided by two long slits that went all the way up to her thighs.
Bobby’s pulse began to pound again. Only Stella Caine could pull off something that left her completely covered while still revealing so damn much. What was she doing here? And why did he still want her so badly?
He was taken with the sudden urge to kiss the back of her neck, right under the precise line of her hair. If he recalled correctly, he’d done the same thing once before, pinning her against a back door as they made their way out to the car.
He fought against that urge something fierce. The odds that Mickey would consider that “something funny” were too great. So Bobby hung her coat on the hook on the back of the door. “Would you like to have a seat?”
Her gaze cut a swath through the room before it landed on the couch at the other end of the trailer. He saw it now through her eyes. It was lumpy from where he’d slept on it and someone had spilled coffee on it at some point.
“Thanks, no,” she said in a crisp tone, her hands smoothing down her skirt.
Scrubbing a hand through his hair, Bobby glanced down at her feet. Black suede boots with more buckles, the heels had to be four inches if they were one. He had no idea how far she’d traveled today, but he couldn’t imagine that standing in those shoes were comfortable.
“Here. Let me get this for you.” His desk chair, at least, was relatively new leather.
He wheeled it over to her. With a nod of appreciation, she settled in—and crossed her legs. The slits of the dress did not contain her right leg. The boot went almost up to her knee, but there was something about the flash of skin, from knee to upper thigh, that was unbelievably erotic.
For lack of anything better to do, Bobby took up residence on the lumpy couch.
He needed to say something.
But as he sat across a cluttered construction trailer from the most enchanting woman he’d ever met, he had nothing. He didn’t know why she was here or what she wanted, which meant that he didn’t know what she needed to hear. All he knew was that his Glock was outside with an Irishman who probably wouldn’t hesitate to shoot Bobby with his own gun.
That, and he’d never been so glad to see a woman in his life. Which didn’t make sense, because she sure as hell didn’t seem all that glad to see him.
Finally, he couldn’t take the silence anymore. “Your dress is stunning.”
Her smile was stiff. “Thank you. I made it, of course.”
“Where did you find skull lace?”
When her eyes narrowed, he realized he’d said the wrong thing.
“I made it,” she repeated, her accent clipping the words.
“You made the lace?”
“It’s called tatting, if you must know. It’s my own design, my own creation.”
He stared at the fabric. From this distance, maybe ten feet, he couldn’t see the skulls. It fit her like a second skin. “Amazing.” He meant the lace, but he realized he was looking her in the eyes when he said it.
A pale blush graced her cheeks. “Thank you,” she said again, her voice softer. Then she dropped her gaze.
That, at least, had been the right thing to say. But he knew she hadn’t come all this way to fish for compliments. So he tried again.
“Mickey seems like an...interesting fellow. Have you known him long?”
“Since—a very long time.”