Craved (Gwen Sparks #1)(5) by Stephanie Nelson

“I’ve gone on dates but nothing serious yet, not really looking for a relationship right now,” I said, keeping my expression blank. He didn’t need to know that he was the reason for the issues I had with men. There was an awkward silence that settled between us and I wondered if we’d ever get over our past and act normal around each other. We had ended on a bad note, but Micah wasn’t a bad guy and if the FPD wanted to hire me as a consultant, we needed to learn how to function around each other.

“You said that you had a dream?” Micah finally asked, “I didn’t think you had psychic dreams?”

“I don’t. This dream was a replay of what I’d seen in Amy’s memories at the morgue. Except, somehow I was able to get new information from it. She mentioned an Anthony and it seemed like she knew her attacker. I don’t know if that will help but at least we’ve got a name of someone who might know something,” I said.

Micah looked quizzically at me, “How do we even know there is an Anthony, maybe it was just a dream.”

“This is where your handy-dandy detective skills would come into play,” I said sarcastically, sending him a wry grin.

“Thanks smartass, I’ll check into it when we visit Hemlock tomorrow,” he said with amusement. My phone beeped to tell me I had a text message so I flipped it open and saw that it was from Aiden.

BE OVER IN AN HOUR, HAVE INFO

I flipped the phone shut and noticed Micah watching me curiously.

“Well thanks for meeting with me today, I really appreciate it. I’ve gotta get going, but please let me know how your visit to Hemlock goes,” I said, as I got up to leave.

“Bad news?” Micah asked, nodding towards the phone I held in my hand.

“No, Aiden is stopping by in an hour and I need to talk to him,” I said. I couldn’t tell him that Aiden might have information on the brew rumors; that’d get me kicked off the case in a heartbeat.

“So Aiden finally wore you down, huh?” He asked with a less than enthusiastic tone. Micah and Aiden hadn’t ever gotten along. It might have had something to do with Aiden trying to steal me away from Micah while we were together. Seeing how Micah and I didn’t work out, maybe I should have let Aiden steal me away.

“No, but he’s still trying,” I smiled at the thought. I turned to leave but Micah stopped me.

“When I said we’re going to Hemlock tomorrow, I meant you and me, partner.” My eyebrows arched up in surprise. Wyatt had made us partners? He was going to hear an earful next time I saw him.

“I can’t,” I protested. “Tomorrow night Fiona and I are going to that new club, Rush. It’s in Hemlock so I’ll just investigate myself.” Hemlock was almost an hour away. I didn’t want to spend all day there with Micah, only to come home and head back down there with Fiona all night.

“That’s the club I planned to investigate. I have a source that says they serve brew there. And Anthony most likely lives there. See you tomorrow night,” he said, winking as he left.

5

October meant nightfall arrived earlier. It was only half past five when I got back to my apartment to meet Aiden. Being as old as he was, Aiden actually woke up a couple hours before the sun set but he couldn’t set foot outside until twilight.

When I pulled my Jeep into my parking spot, he was already waiting for me on the front steps. His dark hair lay in a tousled mess, as the wind played with it. His welcoming smile sent the butterflies in my stomach spinning into a whirlwind of fluttering wings. When he smiled, I couldn’t help but smile also. I was grinning from ear to ear by the time I stood in front of him. It didn’t matter that he knew how to touch every last one of my nerves, to the point of being maddening.

“Good evening, Gwen,” he said, with his oh-so-sexy voice.

“Hello, Aiden,” I said back, not entirely sure why I was still smiling like an idiot. It couldn’t have been my time with Micah, I was definitely over him. Our conversation though helped a lot. It’s amazing what an apology can do for someone. That had to be why I was in such a good mood. Having Aiden visit wasn’t a bummer either.

I started up the concrete stairs that led to my second floor apartment, with Aiden following in my wake. I hoped that our place was halfway decent, since I hadn’t been home long enough to really clean and Fiona only did the minimum, but I doubted Aiden would care.

I fished my keys out of my sweater pocket but was frozen in place when Aiden’s energy pushed against my back, sending rivulets of power cascading all around me. I shivered against the feel of it as he pushed my long dark hair to the side and touched his lips to the nape of my neck. It was amazing, that he could turn me on with barely a touch. How I had resisted him for two years was beyond me.

Suddenly the warmth of his lusty power withdrew, leaving me shivering for a completely different reason. I looked over my shoulder just to make sure he was still there.

“What’s wrong?” I asked, afraid of what he might say. He was leaning against the far wall with his arms crossed and looking at me with annoyance.

“I thought you said this case wasn’t about Micah?” he said accusingly. In true Aiden fashion, he had turned me on, only to dump a bucket of ice-cold bullshit onto my head. Otherworldly men were incorrigible. Of course, he’d be able to smell traces of Micah on me, even though we hadn’t touched.

“Aiden, you can either stay and discuss the information you said you had, or you can leave. I don’t have to explain myself to you,” I forced out, with the sudden urge to smack the stupid out of him. Without waiting for his answer, I turned the key in the lock and strode into my apartment. I tried to fling my sweater off, but during my little rant, it got tangled around my arms and I was stuck with what looked like a cashmere straightjacket.

Aiden was in front of me, untangling my limbs by the time I had uttered my third cuss word. I looked up at him and tried to portray the anger I felt, but all I could do was laugh.

“Hold still,” Aiden chuckled as he unbuttoned the rest of my sweater. Finally free of my stupidity, I smacked him on the arm.

“What was that for?”

“You are the most complicated person I’ve ever met! One minute you’re trying to seduce me and the next, you’re pushing every single one of my ‘piss-me-off’ buttons. How I’ve dealt with you for the past two years is beyond me. If…”

My words were suddenly cut off when Aiden smashed his lips on mine. I resisted at first, my anger still burning. I pushed against his chest but he only held me tighter, wrapping an arm around my waist while his other hand tangled in my hair. His tongue darted out, teasingly and my anger was extinguished.

I opened my mouth and accepted what he offered, massaging my tongue with his. Tingles radiated up my thighs and settled between my legs as I felt his hardness press against me. Man could he kiss!

I snuck my hand under his shirt to feel the sinews of muscle that waited underneath. I had wanted to get my hands on his sculpted chest ever since I first met him and I was surely taking the opportunity now that I had it. He answered with a moan that I mimicked and suddenly, there were too many clothes between us for my liking. I made his shirt disappear so that my hands wouldn’t run into any obstacles as I explored his beautiful landscape. He pressed soft kisses all the way down my neck, rendering my body into a boneless mass.

“Um, hello?” Fiona called from the front door. I quickly untangled myself from Aiden to see Fiona wasn’t alone. Her father stood next to her with his steely gaze aimed at me. My mouth hung open in humiliation at what Fiona and her father had just witnessed. Aiden didn’t seem to mind, though, as he held out his hand to Mr. Bennett who looked at it as if it held a deadly virus. Unfazed by the rudeness that was Fiona’s father, Aiden wrapped an arm around my waist. I nudged him with my elbow and stepped out of his embrace.

“I’m so sorry you had to see that,” I grimaced. Fiona answered with an amused grin while her father remained silent. Luckily, I was still wearing my white tank top, but Aiden’s shirt had been banished to God knows where.

“Daddy and I are just coming back from one of his banquets and he wanted to see our apartment,” Fiona explained. I’d have to question her later about why her father suddenly wanted to be in her life. After what he saw tonight, he’d probably demand that Fiona never speak to me again.

I nodded my head, unable to speak without offending Mr. Bennett in some way.

“We’ll just get out of your hair,” Aiden said, pulling me towards my bedroom. In normal circumstances, I would have stopped him but I really wanted to flee the judgment in the old man’s eyes.

I grumbled and fell back onto my bed, ashamed of getting caught. Not that I really had any reason to be ashamed, I was an adult, after all, but Fiona’s father could made me feel as big as a Tic-Tac.

Aiden lay on his side next to me and pushed a stray strand of hair out of my face, manifesting a sexy grin on his lips.

“It‘s been entirely too long since I‘ve gotten to feel your lips!” I smiled up at him, my bedroom instantly seeming perfect with a bare-chested Aiden in it. We had kissed a few months after Micah broke up with me but I was still in the process of licking my wounds. I couldn’t offer Aiden what he wanted. I’d been keeping my distance ever since that night but, like everything else, Aiden hadn’t made avoiding him easy.

“If I knew what you were hiding under your shirt, I would’ve caved a long time ago. My imagination failed you.” I said, eyeing his perfect chest.

“I feel cheated, your shirt is still on. Come on, off with it, it’s only fair,” he teased as he pulled at the bottom of my tank top. We were in a sort of tug-of-war, with my shirt acting as the rope.

“Stop,” I managed to get out between laughs, “We should talk.” Aiden immediately stopped, a somber look taking over his happy one.

“If you tell me that this can’t happen again and that we’re better off friends, then stake me now; end my misery,” he said, with amused sarcasm.

I sat up and straightened my hair that got messed up during our war over my shirt. “I was going to say that we should take this slow, maybe go on a few dates to see if there’s anything between us besides sexual lust. I’m not looking to get my heart stomped on again or interested in just being a booty call,” I admitted honestly. Aiden started laughing silently so I slapped his arm lightly, “I’m serious.”

“And I’m serious when I say, that I have wanted you for two years, body and soul,” He cupped my face in his hands and pressed a kiss on my forehead, “But I have no problem wining and dining you. Prepare to be wooed, my Gwen,” a smile of accomplishment stretched across his lips to reveal perfectly white teeth. I smiled at him through a strand of my dark hair that acted as an ebony curtain. I eyed his chest and reluctantly, conjured a gray t-shirt to cover the masterpiece. Gray fabric crawled along his ribs and up towards his shoulders, stretching and connecting to form a shirt. He looked down in awe at his new garment,

“That’s amazing.”

“So, what’s this information you just had to see me about?” I asked.

“I called a friend of mine that lives in Chicago and I pretended to be interested in finding something I could serve in my club that would attract younger vamps…”

“Aiden! I told you not to mention anything,” I interrupted.

“…I didn’t mention your name or anything to do with this case, I’m not an idiot. Anyway, my friend told me about a new blood that I could sell that would keep a steady flow of young vamps coming. Guess what the blood was, Gwen?” he asked with sarcastic pleasure.

“Brew?” I answered knowingly.

“Bingo! He said that it had come through Chicago a couple months ago and the vampires up there love it.”

“Does he know what kind of blood it is?”

“He didn’t say and I didn’t ask. There have been a handful of bloods that have been altered to expand our palate, so I wanted him to think I assumed it was one of those so I wouldn’t raise suspicion,” he said proudly.

“Good job, Nancy Drew,” I laughed, “I can’t share this information with the FPD though because you’re not supposed to know,” I grinned at him.

“Don’t you think I thought about that? He’s shipping me a sample and then if I like it, he’ll have the dealer contact me,” he said, giving me a smug grin, “Nancy Drew has nothing on my detective skills.”

Could it really be as easy as Aiden getting the culprit’s information just handed to him? I had to stay optimistic about the possibilities.

A knock sounded at my door and both Aiden and I turned our attention toward it.

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