Desire beyond imagination…danger that’s all too real.
A sequel to In His Wildest Dreams
World-weary, burned-out undercover cop Aidan Grieve’s latest assignment has brought him home to the Highland village he couldn’t wait to leave, but something’s definitely wrong in Ardknocken.
When did his parents get so frail? What is his sister thinking, befriending the chief suspects in his investigation—the ex-cons of Ardknocken House? And why can he barely control his instant attraction to the house’s beautiful manager?
Her mind and body still mending from a vicious attack, ex-parole officer Chrissy Lennox isn’t ready for a complication like the charming, empathetic, gorgeous Aidan, a restless adrenaline junkie for whom this sleepy village has never been big enough.
Yet as easily as the meddling selkies shed their skins, desire strips away their hesitation, and not even the cold Scottish sea can cool the fire. But as Aidan’s investigation progresses, so does the danger—revealing secrets that could leave their hearts in pieces.
Warning: When our hero is good, he’s very good…but when he’s bad, he’s delicious! Also contains lusty, mischievous selkies who’ll steal your heart with one flipper while stealing your underwear with the other.
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Copyright © 2015 Marie Treanor
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication
Aidan exhaled briskly and strode up the path to the road. Someone—Hugh—called an enthusiastic greeting from an upper window next door, and Aidan grinned and waved back. But he didn’t stop. If there had been less frost on the road, he’d have run, just to ease his muscles.
Settling for a fast walk, he avoided the High Street and cut down past the church towards the harbour. The salty smell of the sea, the calling of the gulls and the clean chill of the air invaded his senses, dragging a mountain of memories from childhood. A simpler life, one he couldn’t wait to escape. The enclosed, isolated life of the village had never been enough for him. He’d known he’d miss his family and friends when he left, but he’d never imagined he’d miss anything else. He must be a bigger wreck than he’d imagined.
What the hell were his bosses thinking of, sending him home for his final mission? Had they worked out before he did that he needed to come home?
Hardly. Like so much of his work, this was driven by drug abuse. There was an all mighty stink about so many recent, scattered deaths from the same batch of contaminated heroin. Especially during the festive season, although Aidan couldn’t see why the time of year should make any difference. Whatever, the suppliers couldn’t be traced beyond the little guys, and the police in Glasgow and Dundee had come up with only one tenuous connection, a known villain by the name of Gowan, who seemed to be living now in the peaceful west Highland town of Oban, where there was no real concentration of criminals—except, a couple of hours down the road, the ex-cons now living at Ardknocken House.
No, as far as the police force was concerned, Aidan was here because he had a natural cover, not because they were doing him any favours.
Laughing at himself, he walked round to the deserted harbour. A couple of cars were parked there, but there was no one around. When he was a kid, several fishing boats had tied up here, but not anymore. A few rowing boats still bobbed against the harbour wall, alongside a couple of slightly bigger vessels, including Old Tam’s, and another one covered in canvas, the one his father had given him for his sixteenth birthday. It might have been to bribe him to stay. But Aidan had just wanted to sail away in it. He grinned, remembering his fantasies of sailing down to Glasgow, even to London, and across the Channel. In reality, he’d only ever sailed north. He and his friend Dan had gone as far as Orkney, once, and even considered Norway, but Dan had had to go home.
Aidan untied the ropes and threw back the canvas. The boat smelled musty, unused, but it still drew him. He jumped down onto the deck, loving the rocking under his feet, the salty spray on his face. Shit, he could sail it off now, round the headland and back before tea.
And probably drown himself. God knew what condition the old tub was in. He began an inspection, quickly getting lost in the task and making mental notes of obvious repairs. He’d have to haul it right out of the water…
A sudden crash of breaking glass from the shore made him straighten and jerk around. A few yards from one of the parked cars, a woman had fallen in a tangle of limbs and plastic bags. Aidan vaulted over the side of the boat onto the quay and ran across to her.
Patches of black ice slipping under his feet probably explained her accident. The woman on the ground was young and slightly punk, with her black hair backcombed and tied in a haphazard yet stylish way. She wore big, jet earrings, a padded jacket with a fur collar, and black leggings, which right now displayed the full shapeliness of her legs as she tried to right herself.
“You okay?” Aidan said, crouching down beside her.
She paused, clear brown eyes flying to his. She didn’t blink. She had very long, black lashes and wore smoky dark eye shadow. It wasn’t a look he’d ever consciously admired, and yet her beauty stood out like a solitary star in a dark night sky.
It might have been the fine bone structure of her face that struck him like a blow in the chest, or the fiercely independent “Sod off, I can manage” look in her large, brown eyes. Or perhaps it was the oddly vulnerable curve of her mouth, tightened in the pain of her fall. She’d come down with some force.
A frown tugged at his brow as he tried to place her. She was about his own age, surely, or a couple of years younger like Louise. Either way, he should know her.
And with an unpleasant jolt, he did. They hadn’t grown up together, had never met, but he knew who she was.
Christine Lennox, the ex-parole officer who “worked” up at the big house, with the ex-cons. She too had an unsavoury story in her past… But whatever the truth of it, and despite his experience of the more sordid, squalid and plain nasty elements of life, he was oddly reluctant to attach it to her. She seemed too…vital.
“Are you hurt?” he asked, when she didn’t immediately answer him.
From the delicate way she shifted position, she’d bruised her hip when she landed. But at his question, she seemed to deliberately smooth away all signs of pain from her face, which flushed now with embarrassment. She’d rather have gone down without a witness.
“I survived the fall,” she said lightly, “but I doubt the carry-out did.” Her accent was vaguely Glasgow, her voice low and slightly husky—the kind that sent shivers down his spine. Apparently.
“Black ice,” he said. “Gets you every time.”
He rose and stretched down his hand to her. For a moment, even accepting that tiny courtesy seemed to hang in the balance for her. He thought she drew in a sharp breath before she took his bare hand in her gloved one, and clambered warily to her feet. She wore stout-looking boots, although on closer inspection, the soles were somewhat thin and probably smooth. Old boots. If she was rich, she wasn’t flashy with it.
She released his hand immediately, almost flustered, he thought, and began raking through her bags. They all clanked.
“Planning a party?” Aidan enquired.
“I was,” she said wryly. “Ah well, less drink is good for hangovers.”
“That much damage?”
“Nah. Only one bottle. The beer and the whisky are safe, so who cares? Thanks for your help.”
Aidan picked up the clearly leaking bag and gingerly removed the intact whisky and beer before striding over to the wastepaper bin next to the road to deposit the broken glass and soggy bag. As he returned, the girl, moving just a little stiffly, was picking up the other bags. He took one from her.
“That your car?” he asked, jerking his head towards the Land Rover.
“Mind your feet,” he advised.
“Thanks,” she said sardonically, and in spite of himself, he grinned.
She walked without limping to the car and opened the boot. Aidan waited until she’d dropped her own bags in before adding his and the loose items. He watched her shut the boot and glance at him with a rather charming mixture of wariness and awkward friendliness. She wasn’t what he’d expected.
A thrill of sexual interest caught him off guard. He wondered what she looked like under the coat, wanted to spark a similar excitement to his own in those clear, almost defiant eyes. What would it take to melt her bones, to have her breathless and eager in his arms?