Prime Target (Target #1)

By: Marquita Valentine

I glance at Everly just in time to see her cheeks turn a rosy pink. So the sleeping angel has a bit of the devil in her. Still, it’s…nice to wake up to a familiar face.

The last time I was put in the hospital, no one came to see me. No one came to check on me, to see if I was alive, or could walk, or eat, or fucking talk. I’d lay in a stark hospital room for days, it seemed, until they discharged me. Then I collected my things and walked out, a stranger in a strange land once more.

“I am very lucky,” I say softly.

Once the nurse finishes checking my vitals and leaves, I count to twenty before calling Everly’s bluff.

“Love, I know you’re awake. No one blushes in their sleep.”

Her eyes pop open, and a chagrined look graces her face. “I woke up when the nurse came in, but when she said all that…there was no way I could face you.”

I sit up in bed, pressing the remote to allow the mattress to help me. “Sometimes falsehoods must be told in order to help others.”

“You would have gotten medical care whether I lied or not,” she admits, turning her pretty face away from me. “But I was afraid to let you out of my sight. I even rode in the ambulance with you.”

She had ridden in the ambulance? The vague memory of a woman weeping softly and holding my hand stirs in my mind, but I’m not sure if it’s my mother or Everly. My mother wept a great many nights after my father left her for the family he always wanted.

I flex all ten fingers, the black tattoos on my hands rippling with the movement.

“Do those have a meaning?” she asks, sitting up and adjusting her dress.

“I liked the look of them.”

Her lips twist a little, as if she doesn’t quite believe me. “That’s too bad. I was hoping for something with a story behind it.”

My story would make you wish you never met me. “You read too many romance novels,” I grumble, looking around for the container of ice or water that always seems to be on hand in hospitals. I reach for the Styrofoam container, but Everly jumps up, gently pushing my arm away.

“Let me help you,” she says. She fills up a cup with water and sticks a straw in before coming back to me. “Here, drink this.”

I’m perfectly able to hold the cup with my uninjured arm and hand, but a selfish part of me wants to be fussed over. Especially by her. I allow her to hold the cup to my mouth, to take the straw between her fingers and gently push it between my parted lips.

The tips of her fingers touch my mouth, and a shudder rocks my body. A sharp inhalation of breath lets me know I’m not the only one affected.

Lifting my eyes, I gaze up at her, sucking on the straw and letting the cool liquid ease the burning path that used to be my throat. A connection forms between us, and she leans closer, so close that I can smell the lingering shampoo and perfume she wears.

My body goes hard, and my dick joins in. The thin sheet tents. Her eyes widen, and the cup shakes. The straw slips from my mouth.

“More,” I demand, and her attention returns to my face. I wrap my hand around her wrist and bring the cup closer, parting my lips and waiting.

She doesn’t hesitate. Her fingers touch my mouth, the straw glides in, and I imagine she’s doing this to me. Her mouth on me, taking me inside…

“You can hold this; I need to go to the restroom to freshen up. I can’t possibly smell good,” she says, hurrying away.

A smile kicks up the corner of my mouth. I haven’t felt like this in years. Haven’t felt like a man instead of just a contract killer. Sure, I’ve been with women. Women wealthy, beautiful, and as deadly as I am with a gun. Innocents like Everly Andrews have no place in my life.

But the part of me she’s awakened doesn’t want to listen to that. That part of me wants her. Wants her smile, her laugh, her touch…her body. It wants to get to know her beyond my bookstore, to know what else she likes to drink besides hot cocoa. What else she likes to eat besides Granny-Smith-apple-flavored jelly beans.

“I feel a bit better now, but I really need a shower,” she announces, walking back into my room from the private bathroom. “Will you be okay if I go home to change?”

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