A very drought intolerant rain slashed the
windows as the plane decelerated on the runway at San Jose International
“Are you kidding me?” Marisa Meadows muttered at
the splattered window. I may not be the wicked witch—or wicked psychic—of
the west, but I seriously melt in rain. It’s the reason I live in San Diego
and why I refuse to own an umbrella. Since when did wet stuff fall from
the sky in San Jose in October anyway?
Since when did coming home to San Jose irritate
her so much? And she used the term “home” loosely.
Marisa plucked the sleeve of her thin pullover
sweater and grimaced. Maybe the rain promised to erase the sense of evil
riding her back for the last few months, or the sense something had set up
residence in her body. An alien lifeform otherwise known as her alter
Rain, sunshine, or evil, San Jose promised a
respite from the senseless malevolence while she stepped in as assistant
counsel at depositions for her law firm’s top client and also caught up with
her best friend, Lily Falbrooke. Marisa had not spent nearly enough time
consoling Lily after her father’s recent death and the entire upheaval of
Lily’s life from San Diego to San Jose.
The sensation of eyes trailing her as she
disembarked the plane and walked into the terminal sent ants scampering up
her spine. What the what is wrong with me? As a telepath, she read
minds. She wasn’t an empath who sensed emotions and feelings. Was she
gaining a shift in her psychic makeup, or did she possess awakening
abilities? No. No way in a frozen hell.
Telepathy already topped the list of her
undesirable traits from the men she dated. Once she discovered he’d never
get past the fact that she was a self-dependent lawyer and made a crapton
more money than he did, she kicked him to the curb. No matter what men
said, they hated it when their wives or girlfriends surpassed them in
the dollar department. At least that particular trait encompassed the
bottom-feeding men still living in the 1950s she seemed to attract. Thank
the psychic gods for her ability to read minds, both a blessing and an epic
curse as a rare psychic with the ability to drill past blocked minds… when
her curiosity killed the cat. If she had to feel their emotions and
read them, she may as well join a convent and strap on a chastity belt.
Ignoring the external and internal cacophony
galloping through her head, Marisa stepped out of the way of the horde of
people pouring off the plane near a support beam. Careful not to touch
anything, she fished hand sanitizer from her purse and rubbed a hefty dollop
between her fingers and under her nails to kill the plane cooties. As she
finagled the sanitizer back into her purse, the strap slipped off her arm.
The overstuffed purse thunked onto the tile floor and a nudge from behind
jostled her funny bone against the beam. Oww.
“Watch it,” she growled out, hating airports and
reckless people who invaded her personal bubble. She wheeled around in time
to spy a midheight, slender man disappear into the crowd with her purse
under his arm. “Hey!” she screamed. “He stole my purse!” Frantic, she
grabbed her briefcase to give chase, and stumbled in her high heels,
slamming her shoulder into the beam. “Son of a cursed psychic.”
Evil vibes washed goose flesh across her arms,
and the fleeing man earned her darkest glare as she lurched forward. Strong
arms embraced her from behind, preventing her faceplant into a spiky palm
probably weeping at the near miss to suck the blood from her face.
“Miss, are you all right?”
Without facing the source of the velvety baritone
behind her, she said, “A man in a black windbreaker with thinning blond hair
just filched my purse.” She pointed in the direction the thief had taken
down the concourse, still able to spy his distinctive pale hair among the
throng of people.
The man propped her against the beam, dumped his
shoulder bag beside her carry-on, and weaved down the concourse after the
thief, leaving her admiring his tall, well-toned body encased in a navy
pinstripe suit and his flawlessly layered deep-brown hair.
Marisa’s mind refused to shut down and the random
thoughts of passing people filtered in, creating an incomprehensible jumble.
Telepathy had both pros and cons.
“Ma’am, do you need assistance?” An airport
police officer approached, his mind going all caveman. He assessed her long,
board-straight hair he wanted tickling his abdomen while her raspberry lips
encircled his dick and he pinched the nipples of her “melons” into bullets.
Can’t get a real job on the streets,
rent-a-mall-cop? Trolling the airport for a blow-up doll?
Marisa waggled her head, a catlike smile curving her lips. “Officer
Radisson.” She nodded at his name tag and covered her nose from the cheap
cologne he marinated in. “Some jackass assaulted me and ran off with my
purse.” She flicked her hand in the direction the thief and his pursuer
traveled. “Drag your mind out of the gutter and do your job,” she murmured
just loud enough for him to catch a word or two. Like I said, pros and
Red-faced, Officer Radisson unhooked his radio
off his shoulder, took her information, and radioed for backup. He licked
his lips, his attention riveted on her boobs, AKA melons. “Miss Meadows,
I’ll stay with you until we’ve apprehended the thief. Do you want me to
escort you to airport security?” Man, I’d love to get me a piece of her
ass. His internal monologue killed the clutter in her head.
And I’d love to shove a stick up your ass and
turn you into a lollipop. Marisa shrugged back her
shoulders, her intangible claws poking out of her fingertips. When she
opened her mouth to rip him a new one, she spied her savior jogging toward
them, her black purse clenched against his heavenly flat abs accentuated
under his designer dress shirt.
Panting, he halted in front of her, a wide smile
stretching his full, sensuous lips into the broad-shouldered, slender model
territory of high cheekbones and honey-tan skin, sporting a light dusting of
beard and mustache. A tiny network of crow’s feet fanned the corners of his
piercing pale-green eyes. Strong and meticulous fingers gave testament to
white-collar work, which seemed apt for his expensive suit fitting him to a
Marisa slurped up the metaphysical drool of
desire cruising down her chin. His bare ring finger booted him squarely into
her playpen. Kittens and puppies could rain down upon San Jose if it
produced specimens of the male species like her knight in shining Armani
armor. Although he appeared ten years older than her twenty-nine, much older
than the twits she dated, she’d do him in a nanosecond. Time to dump the
boys and date up in the real-man pool. To top off his growing list of
attributes, his mind was so blank, permanent ink refused to stick, his walls
so thick her mental crowbar was powerless to penetrate them. Unable to
remember the last time she’d met a man with impenetrable walls, Marisa
almost dripped into a puddle of bliss. Having her purse stolen was so
worth it. Maybe he carried an umbrella too.
“You’re my savior. My purse carries my entire
life.” The moment she touched her leather bag, more evil vibes jumped ship
and skulked up her arm. Voices elevated, joining a dim melody playing in her
mind, both trying to deafen her. Dizzy, her knees weakened and stars flirted
with her vision. Her fingers lost their hold on her purse and she listed
forward into her handsome savior’s outstretched arms. The voices faded into
the strange melody and darkness ate the flickering stars.
Awakening, Marisa found herself lying
on a row of plastic airport seats, her head and shoulders nestled on the
strong thighs of a stranger in navy pinstriped pants. Her bleary eyes
cleared on the handsome stranger’s face from her dreams. Dream?
No. Freaking reality.
“Oh. My. God.” Blocking the weird elevator music
repeating in her ears, she struggled to sit up. “Did I pass out?” The
snatch-and-run theft hit her memory. The security guard rushed over with an
airport medic. “How long was I out?” She avoided the whispers and stares,
focused on the blood-red flowers fluttering in a breeze, the cascading
waterfall, and lush rainforest hills surrounding the field of flowers in her
“Few moments,” Mr. Handsome said in a silky,
suave voice. “Are you okay?”
“I… yes. The peanuts on the plane didn’t do much
for my blood sugar.” What else caused her to conk out? She didn’t pass out…
ever. What the hell?
He helped her sit up, and the medic handed her a
bottle of water and chalky sugar tablets. Once assured she wasn’t going to
die, the medic left and airport security took a report from the stranger.
Feeling her blood sugar fluctuate, she wolfed down the tablets and a protein
bar from her purse.
“The thief gave up, dropped the handbag, and took
off. I lost him in the terminal.” Mr. Handsome waved the security man off.
“I can’t thank you enough.” Marisa gripped his
arm, stared at her purse plunked on the floor near her foot. She feared
touching it. “I owe you big time.”
His wide smile lit up gold flecks in his eyes.
“It was my pleasure to help a beautiful damsel in distress.”
The heebie-jeebies began a slow creep over her
skin, stemming from the “damsel in distress” bit. Jeez, she hated men who
treated women beneath them, and the idiotic damsel line sat at the top of
her shit list. Well, you were a stupid damsel in distress. That’ll
teach you to wear high heels when traveling. “Well, I appreciate it, and
for catching me when I fell. I should’ve just stayed in bed this morning.”
Avoiding his strange allure, she straightened her sweater. With his hand on
her elbow, he stood with her.
“I feel fine now, really.” She eased out of his
He retrieved her bag. Hesitantly, she looped the
strap over her shoulder. Nothing happened and she swallowed a prickle of
Without another word, he snagged her briefcase
and his own carry-on and said, “I’d like to escort you to your transport. By
the way, my name’s Kenneth. My friends call me Kenny.”
“Am I a friend?” Marisa laughed, fighting an
unnatural blush. She never blushed! Stupid blood sugar levels. She
waited for a clearing in the crowd and stepped into the foot traffic.
“I’d like you to be.” He grinned, his magnetism
sucking her in again. “Only if you want, of course.”
“Let’s cut to the chase. What kind of friend?”
Shyness wasn’t a natural word in her personal dictionary.
He leaned toward her. “Whatever kind of friend
you’d like.” He swept his hand forward. “I have a driver waiting who’ll take
you wherever your heart desires. I know a great place if you’re available to
get better acquainted.” He held up his hand and chuckled. “Totally public.
Shaken six ways to Sunday, Marisa practically
trotted toward the escalator. Glad to relinquish the task, she let Kenny
carry her briefcase. Heck, he already believed her damsel in distress act.
“Thank you, but I have a car waiting. I’m here on business and visiting a
friend. I really must get going. Raincheck?” Lily had no clue Marisa planned
to surprise her. Lily was way more important than dallying with potential
husband material, even if he seriously sported a rare empty mind, which
remained to be seen and tested. Otherwise, she could only offer a causal
fling while in town.
“By all means, Marisa Mae Meadows. We will
Marisa skipped a step. She hadn’t told him her
name. Wait, she gave her name to the security guard. No. Not her middle
name. Disorder set up a table at her emotional fair. Warily, she scrutinized
his chiseled face and touchable, silky hair. Genuine affection and warmth
darkened his eyes, offering something she hadn’t felt from a man in too many
blue moons. Without a second thought, she whipped out her business card with
her cell number scrawled on the back.