She watched, not really paying attention, until a soft knock at the door accompanied the call of “Room service!” Cautious, she glanced through the peephole and then admitted the white-uniformed server. He uncovered the dishes, presented the check, and accepted her signature to add the meal to the room charge. Cassia secured the deadlock after the server departed and settled down to eat her dinner. She’d chosen a bland dinner of grilled fish and steamed vegetables, something unlikely to upset her stomach.
Good, you’re eating.
Caught by surprise by the mind-to-mind communication, Cassia choked on her food. She coughed and managed to swallow, then took a sip of wine. Her palm tingled.
Get out of my head.
I will see you soon.
And the mental connection was cut off, but a sensual tingling spread from her palm through her body as though her skin were being stroked from the inside. It was definitely weird and distinctly arousing.
Quit that! she thought at him.
The sense of satisfied masculine chuckling flickered in her mind and disappeared, as did the tingling. She stared at her palm and her upper lip lifted in a silent snarl at the white scar visibly branding her as his.
“I speak English,” he replied after a moment in an intriguing accent, his cool eyes alight with interest.
“Oh, God, not again,” she muttered beneath her breath. She took another breath to compose herself, smiled her most professional smile, and asked if someone was available to escort her clients into the hotel so they could return to their conference.
“You don’t know what happened, do you?” he inquired with a faint grin that concealed the sudden surge of rage wanting to be unleashed at whoever had been foolish enough to insult this woman. His woman.
“No, I’m sorry, I don’t. My clients were touring the city. We’ve not heard the news.”
“Someone attempted to assassinate a visiting government official in the hotel lobby,” he explained. “We’re not supposed to let anyone in or out the building.”
Cassia extracted her hotel room card from her pocket and held it up. “I am a hotel guest, as is each of my group. We have no interest in interfering with the investigation. We just want to return to our meeting.”
“It will cost you,” he said with a grin that no woman could misunderstand.
Cassia’s face went white with rage. “I will not whore myself. We’ll go elsewhere.”
She turned on her heel, but the man’s hand shot out and grasped her arm and swung her back around. His grip was gentle, but unbreakable. Cassia recognized the enormous strength that he could wield and wisely quelled the urge to struggle. Besides being undignified, it would do no good and only amuse the boor. She brought flashing eyes to his glittering ones and could not have answered as to whether the emotion in his sky blue eyes was amusement or offense.
“Those two will go blind for cash bribes,” he explained with a subtle nod of his head to the two armed men standing at the door. “I’ll settle for dinner with you.”
Her wary glance held him at a small distance. She paused, then simply asked, “How much is the bribe?”
He named a figure that would have had her laughing if she were watching the situation on television. Surely, she thought, the execs carried sufficient cash to cover the bribes. Or maybe not; they seemed to believe in the ultimate efficacy of credit cards. Even prostitutes accepted credit cards. In any case, she didn’t have the money.
“Dinner? You’ll require nothing more?”
“I demand nothing more.”
“But you’ll ask,” she shot back with disgust.
He grinned at her and said, “A man cannot help himself. I give you my word that I shall do nothing you do not want.”
She harrumphed and thought it over, then asked, “When?”
Join Holly Bargo at the Imadjinn Book Fair & Expo
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Ramada Plaza Hotel & Conference Center, Louisville, KY
Branch 2 in the Tree of Life Series
Stuck in steamy Bangkok managing a client’s convention, sidhe Cassia Firbolg meets mercenary soldier Vladislav Ruzcik. Vlad’s heart recognizes her as his mate and he immediately sets out to claim her as such, bonding their souls together. Cassia doesn’t realize that he’s a werewolf and that he’s claimed her until it’s too damned late.
But there are others who want Cassia, too. A crime lord wants to add a lovely blonde to his collection of captives. Demons hunger and hunt for sidhe flesh and side magic. Even Ares, the Greek god of war, is smitten with her.
Vlad does his utmost to protect his wife and raise a family. But even a mighty werewolf must succumb to time. Cassia must find the strength to survive the dissolution of one matebond to accept the saving force of another.
They walked another six blocks, turned two corners, and found a carnival of blinking lights and armed men blocking off the entrance to their hotel. Cassia cursed under her breath. Not all of those men looked like law enforcement. Some looked like military. Others just looked like thugs with automatic weapons. Someone saw their group and shouted. Then another person shouted. Then several someones starting shouting and waving their guns. Cassia wanted to groan.
“What’s going on, Cassia?” one of the group demanded. “Why won’t they allow us through?”
“They’re not speaking English, Spanish, French, or German,” she replied evenly. “I don’t speak Thai.”
“Then why in the hell did you arrange for our meeting and the convention here?” he demanded.
“Because this is where the board decided to have the meeting and the convention,” she answered in a saccharine tone. “If you’ll wait just a moment, I’ll ask what’s going on and see if we can gain entry back into the hotel.”
Cassia scanned the shouting men and picked one who looked like someone who might be official. She coughed lightly to get his attention and spoke slowly, “Do you speak English?” He stared at her. She rather thought that his gaze held a strong measure of contempt. He spat, the dark colored spittum landing just inches from her shoes.
“English?” she repeated loudly.
Another armed man shoved forward and raked his eyes down her body. Cassia felt anger finally ignite and clenched her jaws. Through gritted teeth she asked again, “Does anyone here speak English?”
“I speak very good English,” the thug with the rude eyes answered with a leer. “What you want, pretty lady? Maybe we make a deal?”
“My clients,” she gestured toward the group of supercilious looking men, “are attempting to return to their rooms at the hotel. We would appreciate being permitted to pass through.”
“I be your client,” the man said with guffaw and he elbowed one of his comrades saying something in rapid-fire Thai. The other men laughed heartily.
Cassia gave up. She wasn’t going to argue with armed thugs and she certainly wasn’t going to barter her body so that a group of narcissistic men could avoid a few more hours on the steamy streets of Bangkok. She turned around and returned to the group.
“Well?” several demanded impatiently.
Hard boiled, scrambled, over easy, and sunny side up: eggs are the musings of Holly Bargo, the pseudonym for the author.
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