* AMAZON * BARNES & NOBLE *
Silence. Had she expected something else? He's not there. It was the same inner demon that delighted in tugging at her insecurities before auditions…and long ago, had heckled her each visitor's day at the orphanage. A voice she fought now with shaking fists. The heckler persisted. He told you to go away once. He meant it. You didn't listen. He's not there. "No." She secured her stance tighter. Blast it, she knew what she felt, despite the dark theatre answering her desperate gaze. Freezing fingers of sensation claimed her skin more boldly than they'd dared this morning. Her heartbeat pounded like a triple timpani with each passing second into the night. Worst of all, she couldn't shed this breath-catching awareness…this super real sensation that he still watched her, followed her, haunted her. She moved to the edge of the stage. Stopped when her toes jutted out into the dark—and tried not to liken the view to the unreadable abyss of her senses. "Coward!" she accused into the chasm. "Backing down from the challenge, now that I've figured out a little more than I should? Hiding in your precious shadows, Sir High and Mighty Theatre Owner? Enjoying the drama of the hopeless actress, going slowly insane?" As she backed off the edge, she shook her head in slow-burning fury. "I hope you like tonight's repertoire, Marcus. It's the last you'll get. I don't play to ghosts." She pivoted toward the wings. "Or thieves." As she marched across the stage, she refused to let the dry heat behind her eyes liquidate. She refused to let her shoulders sag or her step falter. She'd give in to her humiliation only after escaping those all-seeing silver eyes. Wherever the bloody hell they were. Two steps from the stage left wings, she gasped and skidded to a halt. Two black-clad, black-booted legs stepped into her path. Her journal and reticule hit the floorboards between those boots with a forceful thwack. They were tossed there from a long-fingered hand. Gabriela's stare connected that hand to an arm, the arm to an endlessly broad shoulder, encased in billowy black silk. Her sights continued up the cords of a taut neck, to the spiritual intensity of Marcus's face. If it were possible, the otherworldly force of him radiated even more potent impact tonight. He looked hewn of dark gold granite under the gas lights, his hair swept around his high forehead like onyx turned to velvet. But most of all, he looked furious. He glared at the purse and the journal, then back to her. "I am not a thief." Gaby didn't pick up the items. Not yet. She nudged one foot forward, her reticule on one side, his boot on the other. She raised her stare, issuing the same challenge to his eyes. "You took them without my permission. You stole them." "I borrowed them." "Borrowed?" She sliced out an incredulous laugh. "Oh, this is a new way to play the scene." "Gabriela—" "You mean to tell me you decided to borrow my reticule—" "Aye.” "Planning a big evening out and didn't have one of your own?" "Gabriela." "And my journal. That’s the worst of it, Marcus. Did you stop to think what you took from me—the record of my deepest thoughts and feelings? Did you consider asking before you violated my privacy, my life?" For a long moment, he issued no reply. But with the slightest motion, he’d pressed his boot against her foot—beckoning her sights up to his again. She cursed the thousand butterflies in her belly that lifted wing along with her gaze. "If I asked…where would your answer have lie?" Gaby compressed her lips, letting silence stretch again. "I rest my case." He dropped his gaze. But not before Gabriela glimpsed a flash of silver light beneath his dark lashes—his surrender to a moment of such intense pain, his eyes looked as if they really did glow… She shook her head. This was no time for such hallucinations. Blast it, he'd wronged her, not the other way around. She snatched her pity back from him, recognizing it for the dangerous emotion it was. But she held on to the anger. "Well?" She locked her arms across her chest. Marcus didn't look up. "Well what?" She slid her foot away from his. Suddenly, her voice didn't come so strongly. "Well…did you read it?" He considered her question for what felt like hours. Finally, he looked up again. Slowly leaned toward her, appearing like a great beast used to watching every step for fear it would crush something. "Aye." Damn him. Damn him for saying it with such meaning, for looking penitent yet proud as he did. Again, as if he'd experienced every fear and feeling, every triumph and sorrow she'd expressed on those pages. "Bastard." "That will not procure you an apology." He towered closer. So mesmerizing. A fine wine in human form, dominating her senses, whether she liked it or not. "I am not sorry I did it." "Yes." She snorted. "I know." "Your words are beautiful." "Stop it." "I memorized them." "You think that's going to redeem you?" "Sweeting, nothing can redeem me." The night held its breath around them.Hi there. I'm Angel: book lover, writing addict, hopeless romantic, pop culture geek and avid shoe lover. A bit about me... I've been hooked on books since I was a kid but it got worse in my twenties, when I discovered romances--the hotter, the better. Growing up in Southern California, with lots of surfer manliness surrounded me, was certainly a good boost for reading about delicious alpha guys and the women who adore them. When I learned I had a knack for telling these stories too, I guess you could say I was doomed--though my path toward romance novelist took a few detours via a concert-reviewing gig for my college newspaper (free show tickets...backstage passes...that was a no-brainer), artist interviews for a Beverly Hills dance music mag, personal assistant work for a record producer, dance club disc jockey, and a lot of fun in the hospitality industry. These days, I still live in California, and have found an amazing alpha guy of my own who was brave enough to marry me. We live on a street that looks like Brigadoon, with our beautiful daughter. I have the best life ever, and never forget to thank the Big Guy Upstairs for it, either.