Gabriel set her on the edge of the tub before turning to the cupboards lining one of the walls. He began to rummaging through their contents, searching for something.
Steam rose from the water and Jordan couldn’t resist dipping her fingers into the warmth. Bad idea. She tumbled and fully anticipated to meet the water. A large hand gripped her shoulder and pulled her upright. “Can’t leave you for a second.” Though Gabriel’s tone was sharp, his eyes sparkled with amusement.
“Sorry, I haven’t recovered my balance yet.”
He shrugged then tossed two pink discs in the water. They instantly began to fizz and the room filled with the scent of midnight blooming jasmine. The water foamed over, billowing clouds of bubbles took shape.
Gabriel reached over and turned the faucet off. “I should give you some privacy, but I’m afraid of leaving you alone.”
She smiled. “I promise to stay in the shallow end.”
That earned her a chuckle. “See that you do. I’ll be right back. Try not to slip or drown in my absence. I’d hate to have spent so much energy saving you only to have you perish from an accident in my home.”
How is a girl supposed to respond to that? She shrugged. He’s a sweetheart.
Jordan’s fingers trembled as she unsuccessfully worked the buttons of the shirt. This was going to take forever. After another futile moment ticked by, frustration got the best of her. Gripping the material with both hands, Jordan tore it apart. Buttons flew like tiny missiles, some binged off the mirror over the double sinks while others bounced and rolled across the floor.
Once free of the shirt, she scooted her bottom back and gingerly slipped into the welcoming heat of the water. “Oh, yes,” she sighed, her eyes closing. This was exactly what she needed. She sank further under the bubbles and rested her head on the rim. The warmth eased her aches and twinges and chased away the cold that permanently settled in her bones.
“Good. You survived while I was gone.”
Jordan’s eyelids snapped open. “Y-your back already.” Did she just squeak like a mouse?
The edge of his lips twitched, but he didn’t smile.
She cleared her throat and eased into a sitting position. Stretching her arms wide, she drew a mass of bubbles to her chest to conceal her breasts. “Not going to lie, it was touch and go there for a minute.”
Again he resisted a smile. Why? He’d be beyond gorgeous if he smiled.
Gabriel set a way too large black robe on the counter then headed back to the wall of cupboards to pull out a stack of fluffy white towels. After placing the pile beside the tub, he said, “That should be everything you need. I’ll remain in the room to grant you privacy.”
“No.” The force of her tone even caught her off guard and the panic that had laced that one word struck her like a blow to the gut.
“Sorry.” She flashed her best I’m-fine smile. “For the last few days…weeks? Damn, it could’ve been months, I’ve been locked away. Isolated. I missed having someone to talk to.”
Anger flashed in Gabriel’s eyes but vanished as quickly as it appeared. He gave her a tight nod then crossed to the counter. Leaning against the granite edge, he folded his arms over his wide chest.
“You’re staying?” she asked, trying her hardest to hold back her surprise.
“Warning, I’m not one for chatting.”
“A man of few words, uh? I like that.” Jordan smiled then dipped below the water’s surface. Slicking her matted hair back, she reached for the bottle of shampoo. Her fingers still trembled. She cursed when the bottle slipped from her grip and banged to the floor. Gabriel abandoned his post to retrieve it.
Studying her hands, she curled and uncurled her fingers. Was it the shock of the night’s experiences, the remnants of adrenaline? Or was it withdrawals? How long ago was her last dose?
“What time is it?”
“A little past eight.”
Her eyes went wide. “In the morning?”
He answered with a nod.
“Shouldn’t you be dreaming of nocturnal rainbows and blood fountains right now?”
Gabriel arched a single golden brow. “Nocturnal rainbows?”
“Yeah, or…whatever vampires like.”
“Such as unicorns.”
Jordan gaped. Had the rough and gruff vampire made a joke?
“The sun doesn’t rule us all,” he added.
“In other words, you’re old and very strong.”
Again, a silent nod was her answer. How interesting, she thought. Her aunt had explained that powerful vampires could resist the call of the sun. Rumor was some could even walk under its rays without becoming as crispy and chard as burnt fried chicken. Could he chill on the beach and not burst into flame?
Gabriel offered her the shampoo. This time, Jordan reach for it with both hands, but still couldn’t hold on to it. The bottle dropped into the tub and water splashed across Gabriel’s shirt. “Sorry. My hands won’t stop shaking.”
He dipped his arm into the water and retrieved the bottle. “Would you like me to help you?”
Heat stung her cheeks. His hands in her hair? Oh, yes. Lord, please! A simple touch could lead to so much more. Did she want more? Was she ready for more? Never had she been so completely attracted to a man. Her interest in the opposite sex normally rated next her love for oral surgery—seriously low. But Gabriel Erhard, the Chief of the misfit Outcast Society, was no ordinary guy a girl would meet walking in the mall. He was a warrior to the bone: lethal, powerful, and sexy as sin. His dangerous aura and I’ll-protect-you-from-everything-but-me gaze called to her wild, base instincts. She wanted him with a ferocity she never knew existed inside of her. Since the night they’d met at the bar, she’d been infatuated with him and while she languished away in Hell, her desire to see him, to hear his voice, to feel his touch one more time was torturous. Gabriel Erhard, the enemy of her enemy, the male who dared to break the laws of his society to save the humans and bring peace to the realm of darkness, was a man she’d fight to possess.
Jordan mentally shook herself. She’d never been the brazen type and short of throwing her naked body at him, she wasn’t sure how to seduce the big, bad vampire. Was he single? Did he find her attractive? She’d felt his erection earlier—hadn’t she?—while she drank his blood.
Whoa. I didn’t drink his blood. That had been a dream. Jordan’s brows pinched into a frown and she began nibbling on her bottom lip. That hadn’t happened. Right? Her hopes dwindled as she realized she’d likely imagined his reaction to her when he placed her on the bed.
At the sound of his forceful voice, she violently flinched, sending water cascading over the side.
“Are you feeling well?”
She met his gaze and the concern she saw there made her heart melt. “I just got lost in here,” she tapped her temple, “and I’m not used to having company.”
Gabriel’s eyes flickered black with rage then return to their serene, normal green. “You’re here now and you’ll never experience that again.” He went to his knees beside the tube. “Turn around. I’ll wash your hair.”
Mouth suddenly dry, Jordan gave a silent nod of her own. She turned in the water and dunked her head under again. When she came back up, Gabriel was ready. His large hands worked the shampoo into her matted hair. His touch was so light, so gentle, and welcome. Her eyes drifted closed and she swore she heard purring, from him or her?