Willow: Branch 3 of the Tree of Life
“Two rooms,” she blurted.
The clerk hesitated. Dane bent down and murmured in Willow’s ear, “One room. I need to protect you.”
She turned wide eyes up at him and shivered and wondered who would protect her from him. Oh, no, she did not believe for a moment that he’d hurt her—at least not beat her up, stab her, or attempt to kill her. (Attempt? Hah.) No, what she feared was a different kind of assault that would dissolve her resistance and bind her to him irrevocably.
At that point, the evening shift manager rushed through an office door and said, “Are you victims of the hotel collapse?”
“We are,” Dane confirmed.
He turned to the clerk, who looked confused, and explained, “The Palm Springs Palazzo Hotel has collapsed! Police are sending those victims who are ambulatory to other facilities. Make sure they get a room. We can’t be seen turning away customers who need us in this time of difficulty unless every single room is full.”
Willow suppressed a snort. Of course the hotel wouldn’t be turning away the rush of customers. The problem would be in collecting payment for the room nights and food, since she was sure many people wouldn’t have their money or belongings with them.
“One room,” Dane said. “Others are coming in even as we speak.”
And it was true, Willow realized. People whose bank accounts could withstand The Palms’ room rates were filling the lobby.
The clerk swiped two key cards and handed them to Dane. Efficiently, she gave him the room information and directed him to the elevator bank.
“Come, Willow,” he commanded softly and started walking. Once again, Willow was nearly jerked off her feet and she scrambled to keep up. The elevator doors opened almost immediately and in moments they were in their hotel room, a spacious junior suite. Only when the door had closed behind them did Dane release Willow’s hand. She determinedly stepped beyond his immediate reach and glared at him.
“What the hell is going on?” Willow demanded hotly.
Dane bolted the deadbolt and latched the safety to prevent unwanted entry, then unwrapped a glass from its protective paper and filled it at the bathroom tap for a drink. He drained the glass and set it down carefully before answering her.
“I’ll stand, thank you.”
“Sit,” he repeated, eyes glittering dangerously.