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Priceless(Rylee Adamson #1)(17) by Shannon Mayer

“Who do you think you are, O’Shea? Schwarzenegger?”

I turned the TV off. He was on his own now; I’d offered him help and he’d turned it down, stupid man.

Leaving Alex in the room, I took the elevator down to the lobby to see if Kyle had faxed me the info yet. The clerk, the same flustered young woman who’d booked me in, went all wide-eyed when I said I had a fax coming in.

“Oh, I’m sorry, we can’t do that.”

“Too late, I’ve already given him the number and if you didn’t want people sending in faxes it shouldn’t be on the welcome card.” I flopped down said welcome pamphlet on the high counter that made me feel like a little kid even in heeled boots.

Tight blond curls bounced as she shook her head. “I’m so sorry, we can’t . . .” a beeping noise interrupted her. Bless Kyle and his timing. My body ached, my arm hurt, and all I wanted was to soak in a tub and sleep for a few hours before seeking out the mineshaft. Sleeping against my bedroom wall hadn’t been the best of ideas. Damn, I needed Milly to keep me on track.

The doors behind us slid open and a moment later, a large hand pressed into the small of my back. “Did you get us the room . . .honey?”

My eyes bugged out when I turned to stare at a more than rumpled O’Shea standing at my side. “How did you—”

“Oh, you know me, I can find you anywhere. Sweetheart.” His voice was all smooth and silky, but his eyes were wild. Not a good combo.

“Yes, and this lady here was just getting me my paperwork.” No need to make a scene in front of the hotel staff.

O’Shea buried his face into my hair as the woman lifted her eyes. “She can’t see my face,” he whispered into my ear.

“Oh, I understand that . . . Poopsey.”

He grunted as if I’d hit him. I snatched the papers out of her hand and threw a rumpled twenty over the desk. “That should cover any paper costs,” I said over my shoulder. “Poopsey” snuggled into my hair as if we were long lost lovers.

The elevator slid open and we hustled inside. What I didn’t expect was O’Shea almost pinning me up against the far wall, his face now against my neck.

“Cameras,” he said, his lips tickling against my collarbone.

“You beyond owe me,” I said. “I am going to own you after this.” I was trying not to feel the hardness of his body against my own. I knew how the man worked out; like it was his religion. He wasn’t the only one who knew how to tail a person. I placed my hands on his shoulders and tried very, very hard not to think about how this looked. When the door binged, O’Shea grabbed me around the waist and slung me over his shoulder.

Slapping me on the ass, he said, “If you’re going to own me, I might as well make this worth it.”

I squawked, but didn’t protest overly much. His words were playful, but I could feel the strain in them, the tremor in his hands against me.

We got to the room and he slipped me off his shoulder, pressing himself against my back.

“Hey,” I said, fumbling for the key card. “You might like all this touchy feely, ram-Rylee-against-the-wood-paneling business, but I can’t get the damn door open if you don’t give me some room.”

O’Shea eased off me, just enough that I could take a deep breath and slide the key card through the reader.

With the click of the door, the air whooshed around us, a distinct scent of wet dog swirling towards us. Crap, this might be a problem.

“Ryleeeeee!” Alex howled out, his black fur soaking wet, the sound of the shower still running. Bugger, I hadn’t thought to tell him to stay out of the water.

The door slammed and I spun, pinning O’Shea against it, tipping a short sword up into his groin. “Don’t pull your gun, big man.”

He stared over my shoulder, his eyes wide. “What the hell is that?”

“Did you hear me?” I didn’t ease up on the blade.

“Adamson.” Mild tremors went through him. Moving slowly, he lifted his hands up over his head. “Now, what the hell is that? It can talk?”

I stepped back, bumping into Alex who peered around my legs. “This is Alex. He’s a werewolf.”

Alex, being who he was, lifted one giant paw and flopped it at O’Shea in a loose wave.

“A werewolf?” He started to lower his hands and I poked him with my knife.

“No guns.”

“Does he bite?”

Alex shook his head. “No bites.”

O’Shea pushed himself back against the door, his eyes wide and so dilated I would have thought he was high if I didn’t know better. “A talking werewolf. . . before, I thought maybe I had been hearing things.” His voice was soft and his eyes lifted to mine. I’d only ever seen his nearly-black eyes angry, not this shell-shocked confusion. It actually made me feel bad for him.

I lowered the sword, propping it against the wall next to the bathroom. Just in case. “Alex is not like most werewolves. He’s submissive, and for all intents and purposes, I’m the boss. Right?” I dropped a hand on Alex’s damp head. He pushed into my fingers, forcing me to scratch behind his ears.

“Go dry off, Alex.” I pointed to the bathroom. With a grunt and a wag of his tail, he did as I said, leaving O’Shea and me alone.

“First of all, how did you find me?” I slipped out of my jacket.

O’Shea’s eyes narrowed. “I thought you didn’t carry guns.”

I fingered the shoulder holster I wore, then turned so he could see the back, how it criss-crossed and held the sheaths for my blades. “Swords, not guns.”

“Why?”

Big breath in. Realize he has no idea about your world. “As you may have noticed, guns and bullets do weird things when placed up against the supernatural. Like take corners and kill people they shouldn’t. Swords don’t. And if they are edged and spelled right . . .” His eyes continued to widen and I thought about what I’d said, and how he’d not answered my first question.

“I’ll explain everything, if you tell me how you found me. Otherwise, I’ll pick up that phone over there and dial 9-1-1,” I said, doing my best not to be too bitchy.

“I’ve been profiling you for years. You have a pattern. Every fourth time you need a room, it’s either this hotel or the one across the street when you are on a . . . case.” He leaned forward, placing his elbows on his knees.

Hmm. That was interesting and not in a good way. If he could find me that easy, we were going to have to move, sooner rather than later.

Hands clenched into his dark slacks. “This can’t be happening.”

I barked out a laugh and kicked off my boots. “Really? This is my life, man. And it looks like you’re about to get a serious dose of the true reality of this world. Want to tell me what really happened when I was locked up in the cellar with the ones who you were shooting at?” I was betting there was more to the story than he’d told me already.

“Besides my partner being shot with my gun even though I wasn’t pointing it at him?” His dry tone told me he was coming out of the funk.

“Yes.” Best to keep things short and sweet at this point.

“They hit me with—” O’Shea flipped his hands in the air and then jumped as the blow dryer came on in the bathroom. “How can he manage that with those claws?”

“It’s one of the things that takes him a while, but he can manage,” I said, going right back to my original question. “What did they nail you with?”

Pushing off the door, he started to pace the small space between the far window and the door. “It was, I don’t know, a spell?” He lifted his eyes to mine for confirmation, and it hit me how fast our relationship had changed. All of a sudden he was looking to me for help.

“Most likely. Can you tell me what it looked like? Colours, density, sound?” I leaned back on the bed, letting out a sigh. This hotel had good mattresses. I flipped an arm over my eyes. “All those things can help me figure out what they might have spelled you with.”

The bed squeaked and I looked out from under my arm to see O’Shea crawling toward me, his eyes dilated, a smile on the edge of his mouth as he took in a deep breath. Oh crap. “Never mind,” I said, rolling away from him. “I know what they hit you with.”

“You do? How?” Those dark eyes roved my body as if I were na**d. Yup, though that was not the worst spell he could have been hit with, and at least I knew how to counter it.

I was already slipping on my jacket. “I’m going to go and get something to break it. You stay here.” Already my boots were back on.

O’Shea stood and his eyes clouded over. “You aren’t going to tell me what it is?” Now that was a defiant thread of anger I heard.

“It’ll only freak you out.” I took a breath. “Alex, stay in the bathroom until I get back.”

He barked out. “Yuppy doody.”

A dark eyebrow lifted in my direction. I shrugged. “He’s got a weird lingo. You’ll get used to it.”

The former FBI agent snorted. “This is not a permanent arrangement.”

It was my turn to snort. “Really? And who else is going to believe that your bullet went f**king about on its own trajectory to kill your partner? Who else is going to believe that you have a spell on you that has messed with your emotions, ability to think clearly, not to mention your ability to control yourself?”

He blanched and sat down on the edge of his bed.

I shook my head. “I won’t be long. Don’t move and don’t kill Alex, because that would seriously piss me off, and right now I am your only friend in this whole messed up world.”

Slamming the door behind me, I trotted to the stairs. Damn, this was getting complicated.

17

With Adamson gone, O’Shea finally let himself relax, or at least take a breath. His mind was full of things he should not be thinking about. The feel of her skin, the flush in her cheeks, the curve of her ass under his hand. What was wrong with him? Ever since the . . . incident at the farmhouse, he couldn’t get her out of his head, couldn’t stop the thoughts of her na**d and writhing below him—maybe didn’t want to. He’d been crawling across the bed toward her. Was this what that blue and green stuff they’d shot at him was doing? That spell? He scoffed at the idea and then his thoughts swung back to Adamson.