“Come on. I think I see a break.” I pushed Jim toward the slight opening next to a couple of kids decked out in Goth gear who were sucking the tongues out of each other’s head, jerking the suitcase behind me, apologizing under my breath as I jostled elbows, backs, and sides and squished forward. “Why I thought coming here was such a good idea is beyond me.”
“Makes sense to me,” Jim answered a bit distractedly as it smelled people, luggage, and the litter on the ground with the same unbiased interest. The crowd thinned dramatically as people scattered once they made it past the bottleneck of the exit. “You need training. Budapest is where it’s happening. Hey, when are we going to eat?”
“I could have had a nice vacation in the Bahamas, but oh, no, I had to come--” My feet stopped moving. They simply stopped moving as my eyes bugged out of my head, my heart ceased beating, and my brain, usually a reliable and trustworthy organ, came to an abrupt and grinding halt. With no obstructing crowd remaining, the group of people standing just outside the floor-to-ceiling glass windows on the west side of the train station was perfectly visible to me.
Jim stopped and looked back at me, one furry black eyebrow cocked in question at my abbreviated statement. “You aren’t using crude sexual slang, are you? No, you can’t be, because I know for a fact you haven’t been gettin’ any since we left Paris.”
Slowly, I blinked to make sure I wasn’t seeing things, my stomach turning somersaults, my whole being riveted on the scene just outside the station.
Jim turned to see what held me in such thrall. “Wow. Talk about speaking of the great horned one. I must be psychic or something. What’s he doing in Budapest?”
It hurt to breathe. It hurt to think. It just hurt, period. I felt like someone had used me as a punching bag for a few hours, every atom of my body pulled so tight I thought I was going to explode in a million little pieces.
Outside the window a small clutch of people stood before a long, glistening black limousine, evidently there to welcome the VIPs from the train. They consisted of three men and one woman— all Asian, all dressed in red and black. The men wore black slacks with open-necked shirts in different shades of red, while the woman looked as if she’d just stepped from the cover of Beijing Vogue. She was tall and willowy, had long, straight glossy black hair that reached to her waist, wore a black miniskirt and a red leather bustier, all carried off with an effortless grace that spoke of years spent in expensive Swiss finishing schools.
But it was one of the men greeting the VIPs who caught and held my attention. The wind rippled the dark forest green silk of his shirt so that it outlined the lovely curves of his muscular chest and arms. That same wind was responsible for his dark hair, longer than I had remembered it, ruffling back off a brow graced by two ebony slashes that were his eyebrows. Despite the heat of the August afternoon, he wore leather pants—tight leather pants—the garment glistening in the sun as if it had been painted on his long legs and adorable derrière as he made a courtly bow to the VIPs.
“Drake,” I said on a breath, my body suddenly tingling as if it was coming to life after a long, long sleep. Even his name left my lips sensitized, the sound of that one word strange after its banishment form my life four weeks ago.
Four weeks? It seemed more like a lifetime.
Jim gave me a long, appraising look. “You’re not going to go all Buffy/Angel on me, are you? Mooning around bemoaning the forbidden love that cannot be? Because if you are, I’m finding myself a new demon lord. Love I can take, but mooning is not in my contract.”
I started toward the window, unable to help myself, my body suddenly a mass of erogenous zones that wanted more than anything on this earth to place itself in Drake’s hands. His lovely long-fingered, extremely talented hands.
The sound of my name brought me out of the trance. I swallowed hard and looked around, my mind a muddle of desire and lust and erotic memories that damn near brought me to my knees. Names, as I have had opportunity to point out, have power, and Jim’s invoking my name had the ability to snap me out of something I had spent every night praying for strength against.
“Thanks, Jim.” Slowly I gathered my wits and determination, thankful that in the hustle and bustle of the train station no one had noticed a deranged, lust-crazed woman and her demon in talking-dog form. “I don’t quite know what came over me.”
It raised an expressive eyebrow. “I know.”
I dragged my eyes from the sight of Drake and his men waving the VIPs toward the limo. I hauled my wheeled suitcase forward and out the doors, purposely turning my back to the scene that had held such interest, Jim pacing silently beside me. “I’m OK now. It was just a little aberration. I told you when we left Paris that things between Drake and me were over. It just took me by surprise seeing him here, in Budapest. I had assumed he’d still be in France.” Safe. Several hundreds of miles away. In a completely different country, living out his life without me.
“Uh-huh. Right. Tell it to the tail, Aisling.”