"Come. They'll be back soon." Basilio was already heading back the way she'd come as he issued that sharp order. Tara stared after him as shock and anger churned in her. Okay, so she'd spoiled the moment; she'd never been so freaking scared in her life, for fuck's sake! What he'd made her feel... Tara sucked in a breath and shivered with the heat that sluiced through her. That was the very reaction that had scared the hell out of her while she'd been in his arms. She'd reacted to it the same way she always did to fear -- with wry bravado, to convince herself she had nothing to fear. She was in control.

 

When she didn't follow him, Basilio stopped, scowling over his shoulder at her. "I said come."

 

She crossed her arms over her chest. "You must have me confused with a pet."

 

He sighed in exasperation as he swung around to face her. "They'll be back. We don't have time for theatrics, Antara--"

 

"That's Tara," she seethed as she stalked up to him, jabbing her finger repeatedly against his chest as she grated out, "T-A-R-A. Tara. Got it?"

 

He didn't answer. His hand closed around her wrist as his expression hardened, and he yanked her along, heading for the front door. Tara fought his grasp, even as she stumbled along behind his long-legged stride.

 

"Damn it, let go."                 

 

"Would you do as I tell you, if I did?" His words came out clipped and terse.

 

"Hell, no."

 

"Then I'm not letting go."

 

His grip shifted, tightening, and Tara swore sharply as pain pinched in her wrist. "Ow! Ease up, would you? What are you trying to do?"

 

He shot her a cold glare. "I'm protecting my investment."

 

Those words slapped Tara in the face, the sting of them leaving her stunned speechless. His investment? A chill shivered through her as her brain put two and two together, and sickening recognition dawned. "Jesus Christ."

 

He shot her a warning glare. "Don't blaspheme."

 

She blinked, wanting to laugh in his face. However, something about his expression warned her that would be a very bad idea. Instead, she stopped dead in the street, causing him to halt as well. "You're EyesUp?"

 

His expression didn't alter even a fraction, and yet, watching him, she felt that tingle of awareness that had nothing to do with sex crawl up her spine, again.

 

"You have been following me! Why?"

 

He sighed. "This is neither the time nor the place..."

 

"No fucking joke," she shot back, and watched his frown deepen. "I want to know why you were trying to blackmail me into stealing from my own auction."

 

He froze, mid-turn, and his olive-brown gaze flashed back to her. "Your auction?"

 

"Yeah."

 

"You are T-Bird?"

 

A grin tugged at her lips in response to the shocked disbelief on his face as his hand fell away. "In the flesh."

Contact Esther Mitchell at:

esthermitchell@esthermitchell.com

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