Excerpt: Angel Bait
Book 1: The Angel Assassins
She leaned back and studied him, taking in the casual way his thigh rested against a chair. Her throat closed, smothering her clever retort. Jarrid angled his chiseled face to study items on her desk, and Ionie caught the awed stares of her passing colleagues.
One woman tripped over her own feet.
Another face-planted into a wall.
The half-angel was so handsome it hurt. Jarrid didn’t seem to notice the attention directed at him. Or maybe he didn’t care.
“You’re upset I won’t allow photos, but you still plan to work with me,” he said, his fingers sliding over a shriveled dictionary. “I want to know why.”
“I’m not upset.” Ionie snorted, a sound she hoped made her seem indifferent. “You’ve answered my prayers. I’m used to working obits, or chasing the occasional fire truck.”
He flicked his head at the desk adjoining hers. “You work with someone?”
“I don’t do partners.”
“Yet you will do me.” The simple statement, spoken in his sexy rumble, liquefied the marrow in her bones.
“Uh,” she said. “My work takes on a whole new meaning when you say it.”
He leaned in, a smooth slide of firm muscle and taut flesh. She caught a whiff of his scent; she hadn’t noticed it before. Something nameless, celestial like the man — the being — it belonged to. She inhaled deep, lulled by his nearness. Gorgeous. No other word fit him better.
“Is there a problem?” Jarrid’s lips curved down. His tone held an edge she couldn’t place.
“Problem?” Mario’s smooth voice yanked Ionie from her trance. She shook her head and leaned away from the nephilim. “You okay, kid?”
What the hell was she doing? Ionie strained to smile at Jarrid. The half-angel’s face presented a solid mask, obscuring any hint of his reaction.
“I’m fine,” she said. “Mario, this is Jarrid. He’s with The Bound Ones … and my new story. Jarrid, this is Mario Hernandez. He trained me on the graveyard shift.”
“Story?” The men exchanged handshakes. She could see Mario’s mind working behind his casual expression.
“On Patrick’s say so.” She suppressed some of her excitement. “I’m doing a feature on angel society.”
“Angels don’t seek attention. Why the switch?”
“Times change,” Jarrid said in a tight, controlled voice.
The older reporter narrowed his eyes at the flat tone. She didn’t blame him. “Doesn’t explain why the boys above have sent a nephilim. Aren’t you guys a bit high level for PR?”
The muscles in Jarrid’s arms ticked. “My work is classified.”
“I bet,” Mario said.
Ionie stared at her friend, then Jarrid. The corded line of his neck bulged with thick, throbbing veins. Her source appeared ready to pounce on the curious old coot. She slid off her chair. “We should get going.”
Neither man moved. Ionie reached out and touched Jarrid’s bicep. His arm shifted beneath her hand like she’d branded him. She removed her fingers before he decided to break them off.
No touching. Got it.
Without a word, he marched from the office. With the weird question and answer session over, she grabbed her bag and hauled ass to catch up.
“What happened back there?” She jogged to keep pace with him, his long strides churning yards of polished marble floor in his wake. “Why are you acting like this?”
He turned on her with a scowl. “Your buddy is inquisitive.”
“Newsflash. He’s a reporter, like me. Nosey is what we do.” That didn’t help. Not the way Jarrid stared at her as if she’d sprouted horns. “You’re a big deal in Heaven, huh? If it’s a secret, you shouldn’t be hanging around journalists. We suck up secrets for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.”
“We keep to ourselves.” A tremor of annoyance filtered through the words.
“Not anymore.” The two of them standing in a newspaper lobby made the whole conversation seem ridiculous. Ionie stepped closer to Jarrid and angled her head to see his eyes. “Not many people can say they’ve seen, or met, an angel. Your kind might want to keep on the down low, but when you step out, you’re going to draw attention.”
His steady glare told her he didn’t believe a word. Or maybe he didn’t like what he heard. Or maybe he just liked glaring at her like she’d eventually shut the hell up.
Jerk. Angels weren’t the only ones who preferred seclusion. Try tracking down the Fae. Those bastards were near impossible to get out in the open. She’d tried.
“Angels and nephilim are private. I get the cloak and dagger bull, but you came to me. This covert thing? You want people to answer your questions?”
He gave a microscopic bob of his head.
“First lesson? People are naturally curious, especially humans.” Ionie moistened her bottom lip. She hated the nervous response, but Jarrid held a remote control on her anxiety. “They may have questions for you, too. We’re drawn to the unknown like butter to toast, at least according to my grandma. I’ll help you. You’ll help me. Everybody gets what they need.”
Silver eyes dipped to her lips.
The gap between them sizzled like someone had flipped on a low-voltage current. Every hair on her skin saluted. She stared into his eyes and her heartbeat doubled. By now she should be nervous, but the hint of danger she sensed in him only brought an embarrassing rush of arousal.
Her face must have flushed apple red because Jarrid’s mouth parted. His now wide gaze traced over her features, lingering on her cheeks and lips. She should kiss him. Kiss him right in the middle of her workplace. Kiss him in front of Stan the desk clerk who took classified ads. One kiss on the nephilim’s too-full lips. One hard press … .
She licked her lip again. His gaze tracked her tongue. Before she could lean into his body and act on the impulse, he jerked back and stepped out of reach.
“What are you doing?” His voice was low, dangerous.
What was she doing? She’d almost pounced on a guy at work! She didn’t jump her sources. Another wave of heat seared her face and she stared at her feet. “So … we still have a deal?”
Jarrid didn’t reply. She chanced a peek at him and he looked pissed. His back was ramrod straight and his eyes glowed. Maybe she’d offended his angel sensibilities with her odd human reactions.
Wasn’t he half-Human? Did he feel an attraction to her?
A miserable minute ticked by.
“We still have a deal,” he said. “First, you meet my brothers.”