Excerpt from THE MISSING

It had been twelve years and she was all but panting at the thought of seeing him again, of staring into those amazing eyes and standing close enough to smell him. How much had he changed? Taige wondered. Instinctively, she knew that Cullen would be as devastating at thirty-three as he’d been at twenty–one. The truck came to a stop close to the house. She couldn’t see anything beyond the back bumper and when the tail lights went off, she jerked as though somebody had used a Taser on her.

She took a deep breath and then groaned as her shirt dragged against her nipples. They were stiff and erect, throbbing under the thin layer of cotton. Embarrassed, she folded her arms over them and wished she could manage to get a damn bra on. Her hand hurt too much to manage it, though.

Facing Cullen braless and in her bare feet–how much more disconcerting could it get? She held herself stiff as the knock came, pounding on the door as though he wanted to tear the door from its hinges. It came a second time, and third. Finally, she made herself move, shuffling through the dark living room with her arms crossed over her breasts, the wrap on her cast abrading the bare skin of her left arm and rubbing against her nipples.

Nerves jangled in her belly. No butterflies–this felt more like she had giant gryphons taking flight inside her, gryphons with knife-edged wings. She reached out and closed her left hand around the door knob and slowly opened it, half hiding behind the door. She kept her gaze focused straight ahead so that all she saw was the way his white T-shirt stretched across her his wide, muscled chest.

Through her peripheral vision, she saw that he held something in his hand. Something clutched so tight, his knuckles had gone white. She hissed out a breath and forced herself to look upward, up, up, up until she was staring into his eyes. It took a little longer than it should have–he was taller than he had been. At least by an inch or two. She was five foot ten–she didn’t have to look up to many people and she decided then that she didn’t care for it at all.


She didn’t say anything. She couldn’t. Her throat felt frozen and forcing words past her frozen vocal chords seemed impossible. She just stepped aside to let him come in and when he did, his arm brushed against hers. She flinched and pulled away, backing away until a good two feet separated them. Once he was inside, she closed the door and leaned against it, resting her left hand on the door knob and holding her right hand against her belly and studying the floor.

He turned to stare at her. From under her lashes, she watched as his shoulders rose and fell, his chest moving as he blew out a harsh breath, almost like he’d been holding his breath the same way she had.

“God, Taige…”

His voice sounded almost exactly like it had in her dreams–no, exactly. In the dim light, she couldn’t see his face very well, but she had a bad, bad feeling that her dreams had been pretty damn accurate in that aspect, too. Shoving away from the door, she kept her head down as she moved around him and headed into the living room. He followed behind her slowly. She heard a click and light flooded the room. She shot him a look over her shoulder, just a quick glance, enough of one that told her just how dead on her dreams had been.

It was almost too spooky–even his hair looked right. It was shorter than it had been when he was younger, almost brutally short. His shoulders strained the seams of his shirt and she had a flashback to her last dream when he had crowded her up against the couch, demanding she tell him how she’d gotten hurt. She’d shoved him, pushing one hand against one wide, rock hard shoulder and she imagined if she reached out and touched him, he feel exactly like he had in her dreams.

“So are you going to look at me or just let me stare at the back of your head all night?” he asked softly.

She shot him another quick, almost nervous glance over her shoulder and Cullen blew out a breath.

When he spoke again, his voice was closer. “Aren’t you going to ask me why I’m here?”

Aren’t you going to speak to me at all? Cullen wanted to ask.

Instead, he waited until she finally turned around and faced him. She spoke and her voice sounded just as it had in all those dreams. “I already know why you’re here. You need my help.” A bitter smile curved her lips as she stared at him. “Why would else would you be here?”




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