He hung upside-down, muscles burning with the need to move, eyes locked utterly on the slim woman crossing the room. She had a Glock .45 in one hand, metal-barrel torch in the other and a look of fierce purpose on her face.
She’d made it here sooner than he’d expected, almost catching him red-handed.
She’s getting better at reading you.
Yes, she was, and that made her dangerous.
He followed her steady progress across the gallery floor, an unexpected twinge of admiration twisting in his gut.
He scowled and tightened his grip on the harness suspending him from the vaulted ceiling. The faint stirring in his groin was a problem, even more so than her developing skill.
True. But what about her turns you on? The hot, firm little body made for sin, or the determined tenacity that’s made her the only cop to even come close to catching you?
His scowl deepened. He didn’t know. That was more dangerous than anything.
Letting his gaze travel slowly over her poised but wary form one last time, he pushed the entirely appealing image of her handcuffed naked to his bed from his mind. He had places to go, diamonds to steal. He couldn’t hang around here all night lusting after a woman who would—given half the chance—shoot him in point-oh-three seconds flat.
The buyer for the Australis Night had been very specific: be in Los Magia, USA with the rare black diamond by Sunday or the “transaction” was terminated.
He’d risked everything to steal the Australis Night. After this…
He let his gaze linger of the woman’s face, on the full line of her lower lip. Imagining it pressed to his.
With a shake of his head, chest, gut and groin tight, he reefed himself higher into the ceiling’s hidden depths. Some endings were never meant to be, no matter how much one desired them.
It was time to leave the country.
He raked his hands over her breasts. Caught her nipples between thumb and forefinger and pinched. Ribbons of wet heat shot straight to her sex, making her gasp and squirm beneath him. His tongue plunged deeper past the folds of her sex, lapping at the juices she knew slicked the inside of her thighs, the juices that turned the air musky. Oh, God. How did he do this to her?
His tongue flicked up over her clit, teased it, rolled over it again and again. She moaned and shoved her pussy harder to his face, fisting the sheets below her, ramming her head into the mattress. She’d said no when he’d first brought her into the room. No. It’s too soon. What had she been thinking?
He’d thrown her on the bed before she could step away from him, crashing down on her, pinning her to the mattress, his hands snatching her wrists and forcing them still beside her head. She’d glared up at him, stared into hazel eyes of the sharpest colour. Get off me.
Just one word. One word that had ignited her rage and turned her hungry pussy to liquid.
His mouth had crushed hers, tongue plundering past her lips to demand she return the kiss. She bucked and fought against him, the steely length of his erection a turgid reminded of his power over her. With each thrash of her limbs he’d forced the kiss deeper, ground his cock—trapped by tight, worn denim—against the dampening junction of her thighs until, eyes fluttering closed, she’d stopped fighting.
The moment her lips became receptive, he tore his mouth from hers, grabbed the front of her shirt and ripped it apart. Tell me you want this.
She couldn’t. The words wouldn’t leave her tongue. Heat flamed in her cheeks, heat almost as hot as the molten lust surging through her veins, pooling in her pussy.
Hazel eyes flared. Tell me.
I want this.
The admission tumbled from her lips and the fire in her face flared hotter. She squirmed beneath him, rubbing her sex over the solid ridge of his cock even as she turned her head to the side.
Look at me.
She refused to move, choking on the sinful ache invading her body.
Hands, strong and firm, closed over her breasts and a gasp burst from her as raw pleasure shot through her body. Look at me. Tell me you want me to fuck you.
She turned back to him, gazed up into his burning eyes and her sex clenched at the naked desire she saw there. She sucked in a shallow breath. I want you to fuck me.
A bitter smile pulled at his lips. Because I’m dangerous.
It was a statement, but a question as well. Dangerous. Yes. He was dangerous. Everything in her world had been about safety. Everything in her upper-class life had been about keeping safe. But not him. Yet that wasn’t the reason she was with him. Here. Now. She was here with him because…
His mouth closed over one nipple and he nipped on its puckered nub. Exquisite pain shot through her and she’d cried out. Oh, God.
She grabbed at the sheets, fisted them into crumpled balls, her pussy flooding with a need she’d never dreamed possible until this moment. She’d bucked her hips, pushing her sex harder to his cock, wordlessly demanding he do what he’d threatened to do the second they’d first met.
But he didn’t. He’d dragged his mouth from her breast, scored a wet, hot line down her stomach to flick his tongue into her navel. She’d bitten her bottom lip to stop her moan, a bottom lip he’d described as full and sinful, but when his strong fingers released the button-fly of her jeans, when his hands yanked them down her hips, when his lips took possession of her pussy the moan burst free. Filling the room with its raw sound.
You taste so good. I knew you would.
The words were muffled, his breath like hot mist on the sodden folds of her sex, his hands like warm velvet sliding up her stomach to capture her breasts.
And now, here she lay. In the throes of sexual eruption, the man between her thighs driving her wild with his tongue, his teeth, his knuckles and his fingers…and two words floated through her pleasure-clouded mind. Two words. Dangerous. Love.
The two fit too well together. She squeezed her eyes shut. God, she was in too deep.
She rolled her head to the side, the burring friction of his tongue on her clit making her tremble, making her want to forgot who he was, what he was.
Bright light glared against her closed eyelids, stark and confronting and she opened her eyes, looking at the overweight, sweaty bald man sitting beside her.
“We’re touching down soon,” he said, showering her in half-chewed peanut crumbs. “Isn’t it exciting?”
Australian Federal Police Officer, Katrina O’Lauchlan blinked, squinting at the man and the light beaming through the small window behind him. Hot mortification poured through her and she bit back a groan. She was in a luxurious private jet somewhere over the United States, for Chrissakes, not a dark and seedy hotel room in the Outer Sydney Suburbs. Bloody Hell, O’Lauchlan. You were dreaming.
Another wave of shame rolled through Katrina and she scrubbed at her eyes with her palms. No. Not a dream. A memory. A memory of a time and a person she thought she’d erased from her system.
Not just one person, O’Lauchlan. Two. Who you are now is nothing like who you were back then…right?
Katrina ground her teeth and clenched her fists. She wanted to scream. Or shoot something.
Turning away from the fat bald man with dubious personal hygiene beside her—one of Australia’s most powerful media tycoons, of all things—she stared blankly up the aisle. Shit. A memory. Thought you were over him?
Katrina suppressed a growl. She was over him, damn it. She’d spent the better part of the last seven years obliterating paper man-shaped targets at the firing range getting over him. She’d spent the three years before that, before she could legally fire a gun, beating the crap out of unsuspecting sparring partners at her taekwondo class getting over him. What the bloody hell was she doing reliving that moment again?
“Are you ready to party?”
Katrina swung her head around and frowned at her new-found multi-billionaire chum. “Excuse me?”
The balding man gave her a wide grin. “Los Magia.” He leant toward her a little and she got a whiff of expensive cologne, expensive B.O and even more expensive scotch. “Party.”
Katrina scowled. “I think you’ve done enough partying for us both.”
The man chuckled, his sizeable gut wobbling under a designer suit she knew cost more than her annual salary. “Babe, you have no idea what’s waiting for you.”
Katrina rolled her eyes and turned away again, wishing to God she had her gun.
Being a cop usually meant she was never without it, but this trip—going undercover to capture the country’s most notorious jewel thief—required leaving her glock at home. She felt naked. Well, not entirely naked. She did have her cuffs. For some reason, her stainless steel government-issue handcuffs didn’t seem to cause a problem for the Los Magia airport security team back in Sydney, a fact Katrina found both intriguing and disquieting. She’d been ready to deliver her elaborate excuse for carrying them aboard, but all the gentleman—the very sexy gentleman, she had to admit—checking her luggage had done when he’d seen them was give her a knowing grin.
Knowing what still bugged her. It wasn’t like she had “cop” tattooed to her forehead.
Her aisle buddy leant toward her, expensive false-teeth flashing. “Los Magia is like no other city you’ve ever dreamed of.”
“I can’t wait,” she muttered, trying to inch away surreptitiously and longing for her gun even more. She wasn’t going to party. She was going to catch a thief. All work. No play. As always.
“Los Magia will change your life.”
“It’ll change someone’s life,” she answered, thinking of her target, the man waiting—albeit, unknowingly—to be arrested somewhere in the exclusive destination. “But it sure as hell won’t change mine.”
The media tycoon smirked. “I’ve heard that before. A pretty little thing like you doesn’t go to a place like Los Magia to sleep.”
Katrina faced him squarely, giving him a level look. “Ever been investigated by the Federal Police for unlawful practices?”
The man’s eyebrows shot up. “No.”
“Want to be?”
He stared at her for a second before mumbling something under his breath about frigid cows and turning back to his window, stuffing another handful of peanuts into his mouth.
Katrina suppressed a dark grin, shoving aside the unsettled fluttering in the pit of her stomach left over from the unexpected dream of a moment she’d left behind. She had a job to do. Somewhere 30,000 ft below was The Mouse. Australia’s most wanted jewel thief and all-round bane of her existence.
She’d been trying to catch the illusive bastard for two years now. He was an annoying blot on her otherwise spotless record. Every time she thought she had him, every time she thought she knew his next move, he proved her wrong. But this time…
She thought of the clues leading her to the mysterious desert city in the United States of America—over seven thousand miles from home.
This time he hadn’t been as clever at covering his tracks. This time she knew exactly where he was headed. He was off-loading the Australis Night to someone in Los Magia. If she didn’t know for a fact he worked solo, she’d have thought his clumsy exit trail from Australia the work of a disgruntled, double-crossing partner. She did know better however.
Except for who he was, she knew almost everything about him. His height, his weight, his preferred jewel—diamonds, the hard-to-get-because-they-belong-to-someone-else-and-are-priceless variety, his style… everything she could know without actually meeting him.
Almost like an obsession, really.
Katrina curled her lip. No. Not an obsession. More like a…a…
She rolled her eyes again.
The Mouse had taunted her too many times. Too many times he’d played her—leaving false clues which led to a slap-in-the-face: an empty hotel room in which waited a vase of deep purple irises and an unsigned card addressed to her; a paper-trail leading to another empty room, this time with a black velvet cat collar, complete with tiny bell, sitting in the middle of the folded-down bed; a digitally printed image of Katrina herself left on the empty remains of a display case, the photo captured just as she climbed from her car—gun drawn—outside the crime scene mere minutes earlier.
All taunting her. All twisting her gut tighter. She didn’t know what she loathed more. The man’s brazen criminal acts, or the way he humiliated her at almost every turn. There was no way she’d let him escape her this time. No matter what she had to do, this time she was getting her man.
Los Magia may change people’s lives, but it wasn’t going to change hers. Or The Mouse’s.
She was going to change his life. And that was all.
She’d changed her life once already, and one lifetime life change was one enough.
Los Magia would just have to work its magic on someone else, thank you very much.
Oppressive heat wrapped Katrina the second she exited the airport. Dry. Baking. Sucking the moisture from her flesh before it could bead as perspiration. It turned the light cotton tank-top and worn denim jeans she wore to a prickling overcoat. She fidgeted, hitching her tote bag higher up on her shoulder. Australia was hot in summer, but not like this. This felt like she’d stepped into Hell.
She cast a look around herself. On second thoughts, Hell probably didn’t have as many beautiful people, looking divine and smouldering sensuality. She scowled, feeling dowdy and jet-lagged. Damn, she should have packed some make-up along with her cuffs.
She pictured locking them around The Mouse’s wrists and a squirming sensation unfurled in the pit of her stomach. Okay, in the junction of her thighs actually. She huffed at her bangs. Getting turned on about arresting a jewel thief? She needed a holiday.
The irony of the thought made Katrina snort. Here she was in a city that, as far as she could tell, rivalled Las Vegas for glitz, glamour and escapism, and she was thinking about having a holiday when she left it?
You have a sad life, O’Lauchlan. A sad life.
Shaking her head, she started striding along the footpath, threading her way in and out of the people around her, studying them, the buildings and everything else her gaze fell on. It was unlikely she’d bump into The Mouse on the street during her first ten minutes in the city, but she wasn’t going to play tourist just yet. The first thing she needed was a map of the city. After she’d familiarised herself with the layout, where the key resorts and casinos were, where the resort she herself was staying in, she’d formulate a plan.
Tracking The Mouse down wasn’t going to be easy, but it sure as hell was going to be easier when she knew—kinda—where to look.
Get a feel for the place and the people. Know your surroundings.
On a less-professional level she found herself wishing she was here on holiday, forgetting everything for a few days, just relaxing and take it all in. The lights, buildings, the people. She threaded through them, aware of their body-heat caressing her skin. The people were everywhere; laughing, holding hands, taking in the sites, flapping their wings…
Katrina blinked. A winged person, male and more gorgeous than legally allowed strutted past her, his sculpted bronzed body gleaming with a fine sheen of sweat. God, was Los Magia that kind of city? One where the non-humans of the world came to party?
The whispered word fell from Katrina’s lips before she could stop it. Crikey? Crikey? She hadn’t used the term ‘Crikey’ since she was a teenager. Thank God no one had heard her. She wasn’t doing much for the cultured Australian image.
The silky male voice in her ear made Katrina start and, scowling, she spun about. Damn it, why was she so edgy?
A towering man stood beside her, liquid-blue eyes sparkling with an ambiguous light that made Katrina’s nerves tingle. He seemed to radiate energy, a thrumming power that reached out and threaded around her like warm fingers of low voltage. Her nipples pinched tight, as if an unseen caress brushed one and then the other, and she gasped. The urge to take a step back rolled through her, almost as powerful as the urge to take a step toward him. To close the distance between them, slide her arms up his back and bury her fingers in the thick blackness of his hair and offer herself to him. Her mouth, her neck, her sex, her soul. To let him invade her completely and—
Katrina blinked again, the strange compulsion fading from her being. She stared at the man, mouth dry, scowl deepening. “I’m sorry, but you are?”
The man smiled, and an unexpected wave of wet warmth pooled in her pussy. “I am Abaddon.” He tilted forward slightly at the hip, an archaic action of respectful greeting, intense blue eyes holding hers through the artful tumble of midnight-ink hair. “I must apologise for missing you at the airport. Unfortunately I was detained elsewhere when your jet touched down.”
She frowned, incapable of missing how gorgeous the man—Abaddon—was, despite how little sense he was making. “Missing me?” She shook her head, hitching her tote a little higher on her shoulder. “I think you must be—”
He cut her off with a soft chuckle, and again, wild flutters of heat pulsed through her sex. “I am with The Wicked Lynx.”
Katrina rose her eyebrows. The Wicked Lynx was the casino the agent from Hidden Destinations in Sydney had booked her into. A sinfully exquisite place to stay, with a unique theme unlike any you will experience elsewhere in the world. Very suited to your needs, I must say, his email had stated. Katrina remembered wondering how he knew what the bloody hell her needs were. Maybe she should have called before taking off.
Gee. Ya think?
She bit back a curse, glaring at the mysterious man before her. “I wasn’t aware my travel agent had organised shuttle transfer.”
A grin played on his lips. “I am not shuttle transfer, Ms. O’Lauchlan. I—how shall I put it?—take care of The Lynx’s more special guests.”
Katrina’s eyebrows shot up. Again. “Special? I think you have me mixed up with someone else. I’m just-”
Abaddon shook his head, those blue eyes of his glinting with, what? Mirth? “I assure you, I have not, as you say, mixed you up with anyone. I am here for you, Ms. O’Lauchlan. No one else.”
She narrowed her eyes, her cop’s instincts itching. Something felt wrong here. Or maybe it was jet-lag. Letting out a short sigh, she dragged her fingers through her hair and gave Abaddon a smile. “I’m sorry, Mr. Abaddon. I didn’t mean to be rude. I’m bugg—” She stopped, remembering the word ‘buggered’ had entirely different connotations in the States. “I’m exhausted.”
“Please.” He returned her smile, whiter-than-white teeth gleaming in the blazing sun. “There is no need to apologise.” His eyes flicked over her, and once more her nipples felt brushed by hidden fingers. “Your suite is waiting for you, a warm bath is already prepared—scented with irises, your favourite, yes?—a chilled bottle of Fosters sits on ice, and a current copy of the Sydney Morning Herald is laid out on the bed.” He turned and extended his hand toward a long, black limo hovering by the kerb, its back door open, cool air wafting from within, beckoning her inside.
Katrina looked into the shadowy interior, feeling its pull. A bath sounded good. Very good. But why the hell did a man who knew what her favourite flower was, as well as her preferred Australian newspaper not know Australians didn’t drink Fosters.
Bloody hell, O’Lauchlan. Does it matter? Get in the car, get out of the heat and get on the job.
She climbed into the backseat, sinking into the luxurious leather. She had no idea where The Mouse was, but a bath would at least clear her head. And wash away the bizarre and disturbing feeling of sultry heat tingling her flesh since meeting the man from The Wicked Lynx.
Don’t you mean, since your dream on the jet?
Katrina rolled her eyes and huffed at the strands of hair hanging over her forehead. She did not need this now.
Damn, she wished she had her gun.
* * * *
The suite was beautiful. Not just beautiful. Divine. Thick, pure-white shag carpet from wall to wall, mahogany furniture polished so lovingly it almost looked like a deep, cherry-red pool of liquid, gilded mirrors that devoured the richly papered walls. Through one marble archway, she could see the corner of a bed so wide an entire cricket team could stretch out and still have room for the tea-lady.
Images and statues of wild cats were everywhere—tigers, panthers, leopards, lionesses and cheetahs. Above the bed, like a royal portrait, hung a massive oil-painting of the casino’s titular feline—a lynx, its beautiful structure captured so realistically Katrina felt sure if she touched the painting her fingers would sink into the cat’s glossy fur.
“It is the perfect suite for you, is it not. A beautiful homage to felines for a beautiful feline.”
She turned to Abaddon, ready to ask him to drop the corny charm and found him looking at her. Blue eyes seemed to glow in the muted lighting of the room, a liquid cerulean that threaded into her body and made her pussy clench. God, she never wanted to fuck so badly.
“I must leave you now, Ms. O’Lauchlan. But before I do, I direct your attention to the bed. You will find something very important, very…inviting awaits you there. Something that will change everything.” A weighted pause followed, and once more Katrina was overwhelmed with that urge to wrap her body around his. There, and then gone in an instant. Blue blue eyes held hers before, with a speed that should have made her reach for her gun—the one back in her safe in Australia—he lifted his arm, cupped her jaw in his hand and placed a kiss on her lips.
The feather-light contact was like a scalding brand. Rapacious wet heat flooded her pussy and suddenly her head filled with…
…the wall. He threw her against the wall, his hands tearing at her shirt before she could push him away, his mouth closing over her right nipple as his hands mauled her breasts. She cried out, jerking into him and away from him, molten heat surging through her. Her cunt constricted, clamping down on a cock that wasn’t there. Wet heat flooded through her, a surging wave that stole her breath. She cried out again, ramming her hips to his, the solid length of his erection grinding to her mons, a rod of demanding lust and forceful hunger. His teeth sank into her nipple, his claws into her flesh. She bucked against him, wanting to push him away, wanting to wrap her legs around his hips and impale herself on his colossal cock. Oh, God, what was she doing, what was she…
Katrina gasped and jerked away, pressing her fingers to her mouth.
Abaddon’s smile stretched wider. “Until next time, Ms. O’Lauchlan.” And then he was gone. From the suite in a silent stride, leaving nothing but a heady cloud of musky cologne and a wet pair of knickers in his wake.
Katrina stared at the spot he’d just been. What the hell had just happened?
Disgust and apprehension wormed into her gut. Did she really experience that? Did her mind just explode with a vivid image of being fucked by the man against the very wall behind her? Jesus, did she imagine him with claws?
Hitching her tote higher up her shoulder, more than a little unsettled, she crossed the luxurious suite, heading for the bedroom. The bath—and the beer, no matter the brand—beckoned. She would scour away the uncharacteristic and unnerving jitters and begin—
She saw the bed.
Or more to the point, what lay on the bed. Spread out so she couldn’t miss it.
The black latex corset seemed to shine with a slick gloss. Black metal eyehooks travelled down the front from the plunging v-neckline, emphasising the cinching lines of its bone structure and outrageously skimpy breast cups. Katrina swallowed. Her boobs would practically overspill in those things.
A wet heat pooled between her thighs at the thought, followed by an eager pulse when she realised anyone seeing her in a such a garment would most likely get to see the faint dusky hint of the top of her nipples as well.
She dropped her gaze from the way-too-erotic corset, taking in everything else on the bed. A black latex g-string was positioned in the appropriate place, a long length of what appeared to be suede attached to its back crossbar. A tail? A cat’s tail?
Ignoring the increasing beat of her heart, Katrina moved her inspection to the elbow-length, handless black latex gloves, the thigh-high black latex stiletto boots and the black suede pussy-cat ears attached to a wide black Alice band.
She narrowed her eyes. The pointed ears confirmed it. A cat. A sex-kitten.
Mouth dry, palms prickling, she moved closer to the massive bed. Beside the corset sat a golden box, roughly the size of a shoebox. Something about it made her heart quicken. She stared at it, bath, beer and pussy-cat ears forgotten.
With hands that wanted to tremble, she reached for the lid. Removed it.
Inside, cradled in gold silk was a glossy black eye mask, and folded beside that was a sheet of black card with the word “invitation” embossed in elaborate gold leaf.
Without touching the mask, Katrina pulled the card from the box, unfolded it and skimmed over what was printed in gold on its black surface.
A lump filled her throat. A big lump. About the size of Ayres Rock. “You’ve got to be kidding.”
She read the invitation again, and it took all of her training not to give in to the weakness suddenly attacking her knees.
You Are Cordially and Personally Invited To The Big Man’s Summer-Fling Masquerade Ball Sunday Night In The Wicked Lynx’s Dominate Play Room.
Please Find Your Personally Selected Costume and Mask With This Invitation.
And below that, in an arrogant scrawl Katrina knew all-too well:
I look forward to seeing you there, Kat.
XXX, The Mouse.
PS. Bring your cuffs.
The lump in Katrina’s throat grew. The Mouse.
The bastard knew she was there. Knew and gloated over that knowledge.
The eager fluttering that had made itself at home between her thighs since Abaddon’s appearance roared into a wild, constricting beat. Katrina ground her teeth, anger twisting into the traitorous excitement wanting to consume her. She glared at the cat costume on the bed, her skin on fire and her heart going mad.
She squeezed her eyes shut, wanting to scream in frustration. As always, The Mouse seemed to know her every move. Her every single bloody move.
She turned and plonked down on the edge of the bed, wanting her gun more than ever.
Then show him moves he’s never seen before.
The thought sent a dark stab of vice into Katrina’s already turbulent core, and her gaze slid—as if of their own accord—to the erotically sinful costume beside her. She lifted her hand, tracing the cool, slick surface of the corset with the tips of her fingers. The deliciously immoral response of her body to the garment made her mouth dry and she pulled in a ragged breath.
You have the moves. You know you do. Deep inside where you’ve locked them away. Let them out to play. Show the arrogant, smug bastard what a Kat can do to a Mouse.
Katrina sucked in a sharp breath, and her pussy clenched tight.
She’d promised herself before leaving Australia she would do whatever it took to bring The Mouse down. She looked at the costume again. Felt its sensual intent threading through her veins, pooling in her pussy.
She closed her eyes, throat tight, heart rapid. With dread. With eager anticipation.
Whatever it takes, O’Lauchlan.
Whatever it takes.
She just hoped to God she already had the arrogant bastard in cuffs and back in Australia before she needed to do “whatever” it took.
Katrina scowled. Yes. Really.
* * * *
Standing on the busy sidewalk, ignoring the crowds of people walking past, some wearing Hawaiian-print shirts, some wearing Prada, some collared and chained, he stared at The Wicked Lynx. Inside was his client. The man who’d brought him halfway around the world. The man willing to pay him over six million credits for the Australis Night.
Pushing his hands deeper into the pockets of his jeans, he studied the casino’s exterior. It looked like a crystal fortress yet it seemed to have no security devices whatsoever. His gut twisted. No security made no sense. Not at a city like this.
And what type of city is this? A city of paranormal beings, that’s what. A city where cell phones, cameras or recording devices aren’t allowed. A city where everything your grandparents thought fiction is reality. So why would that type of city require any type of security you’re familiar with? Try and break into a vault or safe here and you’d probably end up burnt to a crisp thanks to some demon’s bad-breath.
His gut twisted again and he narrowed his gaze on The Wicked Lynx.
At precisely 11:05 pm tomorrow night he was meeting Abaddon in the Dominate Play Room. At precisely 11:06 pm he would be six million dollars richer. And about to start his life all over again.
Everything would change once he stepped foot inside the casino’s ballroom, regardless of how sensuously surreal Los Magia was. Everything.
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