She sure felt like it, anyway.
Lisa flopped onto her back and stared at the ceiling in Shane’s extra bedroom. She’d slept all of about two hours last night. Partly because she’d still been anxious over the accident, partly because she’d spent way too much time fantasizing about the sexy Puerto Rican asleep on the couch on the other side of the door.
What the hell was she doing? She was in way over her head with this guy. She’d almost jumped him last night. Probably would have, if he hadn’t shuffled her off to bed like a recalcitrant two-year-old.
Thank God one of them had been thinking clearly, because it sure as hell hadn’t been her. As soon as he’d touched her she’d almost gone off like a firecracker, every muscle in her body enticed and overly aware. And when he’d stood there in Shane’s kitchen looking at her like she was the only thing in the world he wanted, she’d very nearly tackled him to the floor and taken complete advantage of him.
She ran a hand over her face, her cheeks burning at the memory. Too bad his look had had little to do with her and everything to do with the near-death experience they’d both lived through. Any woman would have had the same effect on him. Hell, any man would have had the same effect on her, right? Almost being torched would juice anybody.
What if I hadn’t left?
Groaning, Lisa tossed an arm over her eyes. Why did he have to ask that? It was the one question she’d intentionally been avoiding in her own idiotic thoughts, and now it was all she could think about. She didn’t want to wonder what would have happened if he hadn’t left her that night. She knew damn well where it would have gone, and she sure as hell didn’t want to ponder how amazing it would have been.
She dropped her arm, focused on a spot on the ceiling. Okay, so she could admit he heated her blood. She was a healthy, mature woman, right? And the guy was hot. She’d thought that even before he’d hustled her. She wouldn’t be a woman if she didn’t feel some sort of attraction toward him.
The difference here was she wasn’t going to do anything about it. Thinking about sex and having sex were two very different things.
Thief, liar, jerk. That’s all he was. She needed to remember those simple facts and get over it.
He was a thief…one who’d saved her ass last night when he could easily have turned the other way.
A liar…who’d nursed her wounds.
A jerk…who’d obviously been as aroused as she and hadn’t taken advantage of the situation when he clearly could have.
She blew out a calming breath, closed her eyes and tried to steady the odd thump in her chest. She wasn’t going to start thinking of him as heroic. The guy didn’t have a noble bone in his body. He’d only saved her skin because, with Doug’s research gone, she was still his best chance at finding Tisiphone. He sure as shit hadn’t saved her because he’d felt anything for her. That thought was just too stupid to entertain.
If she kept it all in perspective, she could beat him at his own game and stay safely out of his bed. He was the last person on earth she could afford to get tangled up with. The events of last night had confirmed that fact loud and clear.
Frustrated with herself, she sat up and raked fingers through her hair. Her gaze drifted across the room, landed on the backpack in the corner. She rose, pushed up the sleeves of Shane’s gray Northwestern sweatshirt and pulled Doug’s journal from her pack.
She’d slipped it from the boxes before leaving her parents’ house. She hadn’t wanted Rafe to see it. Not yet. Not ever, if she could help it. Security, she reminded herself. The journal just might be her get-out-of-jail-free card if things got sticky.
The leather cover was worn and scratched. She ran her fingers over the spine, remembering the hours Doug had spent holed up in his office writing in the damn thing.
Another good reason not to get involved with a colleague. Or a treasure hunter.
Their hearts were always focused on something else—the next big score, the next great discovery. She’d definitely learned her lesson with Dr. Douglas Stone. A woman had to be kicked in the teeth only once to get it.
She sat on the end of the bed, laid the journal on her lap and stared at the cover.
For the love of God, quit being such a wuss.
On a deep breath, she flipped it open. Even fifteen years later, Doug’s slanted handwriting made her chest tighten with emotions she thought she’d dealt with long ago. Forcing back the memories, she paged through the book with all the objectivity of a scorned wife.
Page after page of Greek lettering and symbols filled the journal. Long passages from Homer’s Iliad were hand copied, words and letters underlined in no apparent pattern. He’d spent his whole life working on this stupid diary, and now years later, it was all that was left of him.
Her fingers paused when she came across a Polaroid tucked between two pages. A startled laugh slipped from her lips. She covered her mouth with her hand and stared at the photo of herself.
She’d been about twenty-three then. Her hair was long, down past her shoulders, red and unruly, as it had been throughout her youth. In the picture she was covered in dirt, black smudges across her white tank top, dust smeared on her cheeks. But her lips were smiling, her eyes gleaming.
The first dig she’d been on with Doug. The first time he’d looked at her as anything other than one of his grunts.
Man, she’d been blinded by lust, enamored of a man who’d been more emotionally closed off even than she was now. She could see it on the face of the naïve upstart staring back at her. Oh, yeah, she’d played hard to get back then. She shook her head and frowned at the memory. She’d fallen into bed with him the second he’d crooked his little finger at her, not caring one iota about the repercussions or consequences or how it would change her life.
Schmuck. What the hell were you thinking?
She wanted to scream it at the photo, pretend the words could make a difference, that somehow the girl she used to be would wise up and listen.
How many people had told her she was making a monumental mistake? Too many to count. And had she listened?
As Shane was known to point out anytime the opportunity arose, she was bullheaded to the extreme. Well, that had come back to bite her in the ass several times over, hadn’t it?
A thousand what ifs and I should haves ran through Lisa’s mind as she stared at a woman she barely remembered. None made up for her genuine stupidity. None changed the past.
Resigned, she tucked the photo back inside, closed the journal and replaced it in the pack.
Later. She’d read it in depth later. Right now she needed coffee.
She found sports shorts in a drawer, pulled them on and rolled her eyes. Why couldn’t she have had a twin sister? One with a gentle disposition, some sort of fashion sense and clothes she could actually borrow?
Dreading seeing Shane that morning because she knew exactly what he would say, she managed to find a way to keep the shorts from slipping to her knees by rolling the waistband down a few times. She brushed her teeth with a new toothbrush she found in the bathroom drawer, thanked the stars above for Shane’s practicality, fingercombed her hair and checked her reflection.
She looked like she hadn’t slept in a week. A good-sized bruise had formed near her temple. Her eyes were red and bloodshot, and her arm hurt like a bitch.
Screw it. She didn’t care what she looked like. She wasn’t out to impress anyone anyway. She had more urgent issues, like what the hell they were going to do, now that Doug’s research had gone up in flames. His journal would only be helpful once they determined the right island. And at this point, it could be anywhere.
She headed for the kitchen. Her brain was fuzz without her morning shot of espresso. If it hadn’t been for the damn caffeine withdrawal, she’d have gone back to bed and slept for the next twelve hours.
Voices echoed from the front of the apartment, Shane’s distrusting tone followed by Rafe’s deep one. Fabulous. Male posturing. Just what she needed. There was so much freakin’ testosterone in the apartment, she could feel it clogging the air.
She rolled her shoulder as she moved down the hall. If they’d drained the coffee already, heads were gonna roll.
The both looked up when she stepped into the kitchen. Shane sat at the table, his eyes scrutinizing her face. Rafe stood quietly near the counter.
“Good morning,” she mumbled, avoiding Shane’s probing eyes as she skirted the table toward the coffee pot.
Her brother lifted his mug to his lips. “Hook up an IV, Lis. ’Cause we’re gonna have words.”
Suddenly, that burning vehicle didn’t look so bad right about now. She opened the cupboard, avoiding Rafe as much as she could while she searched for a cup. Too many thoughts from last night were racing through her mind, too many other what-ifs.
Holy cow, did the guy just pump out heat or something? It felt like it was nine thousand degrees in the kitchen, and he wasn’t even close to her.
A full mug of steaming coffee slid down the counter toward her. Startled, she glanced up, her fingers pausing on the cupboard door.
And her breath nearly stopped when she looked into Rafe’s smoldering, I-still-want-you eyes. A shadow of beard covered his jaw. His dark hair was tousled from sleep, his lips full and tempting. And that lazy half smile screamed of the thousand different ways he could make her beg for more.
Spread some butter on her and call her done. She was still toast.
Burnt toast, from the looks of it.
Want to read more excerpts from some amazing authors? Follow the links below: