Key of Light Page 21

At exactly seven, she was sliding into heeled sandals and preparing to wait. In her experience she was the only one who habitually made it a point to be on time.

So it was a surprise, a pleasant one, to hear the knock on her door even as she was checking the contents of her purse.

“You’re prompt,” she said to Flynn when she opened the door.

“Actually, I was here ten minutes ago, but I didn’t want to seem anxious.” He handed her a small bouquet of baby roses, nearly the same color as her jacket. “You look amazing.”

“Thanks.” She eyed him as she sniffed the rosebuds. He was cute, she thought. Dog or no dog. “I’ll put these in water. Very nice touch, by the way.”

“I thought so. Moe wanted to go for candy, but I held out for flowers.”

She stopped. “He’s not out there, is he?”

“No, no, he’s home, making do with kibble and the Bugs Bunny marathon on the Cartoon Network. Moe’s nuts about Bugs.”

“I bet.” She arranged the flowers in a clear glass vase. “Do you want a drink before we go?”

“Depends. Can you walk three blocks in those shoes or would you rather drive it?”

“I can walk three miles in heels. I’m a professional female.”

“Can’t argue with that. And because I can’t, I’d like to do what I’ve been thinking about doing since I landed on top of you.”

He moved in. That’s what Malory would think later, when her brain started to function normally again. He simply moved into her, ran his hands up the sides of her body, over her shoulders, along her throat, then cupped her face in them.

It was all very slow, all very smooth. Then his mouth was on hers, taking its own sweet time. Somehow she was backed against the counter, pressed snugly between it and his body. Somehow her hands were gripping his hips, her fingers digging in.

And somehow she was sliding into the kiss without a single murmur of protest.

His fingers threaded back into her hair, and he nipped, not so playfully, at her bottom lip. When her breath caught, the tone of the kiss changed from flirty warmth to flashing heat.

“Whoa. Wait.” She managed to catch the fading echo of warning bells ringing in her head, but her body stayed plastered against his.

“Okay. In a minute.”

He needed another minute of her, of the taste of her, and the feel of her. There was more here than he’d expected, and he’d expected quite a punch.

There was something erotically sharp about the flavor of her, as if her mouth was a rare delicacy that he’d only just been allowed to sample. And something so soft about her texture, all those clouds of gilded hair, all those lovely curves and dips.

He gave her lips one last rub with his, then eased back.

She stared at him, those blue eyes he’d decided were irresistible, now wide and wary.

“Maybe . . .” She hoped the long, slow breath would level her voice again. “Maybe we should just start walking now.”

“Sure.” He offered a hand, and found himself flattered when she not only evaded it, but skirted around him to get her purse. “I figured if I kissed you now, I wouldn’t be thinking about it all during dinner and lose track of the conversation.”

He went to the door, opened it for her. “The trouble is, now that I have kissed you, I’m probably going to be thinking about kissing you again all during dinner and lose track of the conversation. So if you notice that my mind wanders, you’ll know where and why.”

“You think I don’t know why you just said that.” She walked out into the shimmering evening light with him. “By saying that, you’ll plant the seed in my head so I’ll be thinking about you kissing me all through dinner. Or that’s the plan.”

“Damn, you’re good. If you’re quick enough to unravel the dastardly plots of men regarding sex, the puzzle of the key ought to be child’s play to you.”

“You’d think so, wouldn’t you? But the simple fact is I’ve had more experience with the dastardly plots of men regarding sex than I have with puzzles regarding goddesses and mythological spells.”

“I don’t know why”—he caught her hand in his, grinned at the sidelong look she sent him—“but I find that very exciting. If I ply you with wine at dinner, will you tell me about those experiences? There may be some plots I’ve missed along the way.”

“You’re going to buy me a martini, then we’ll see.”

He’d chosen one of the town’s prettiest restaurants and had arranged for a table on the back terrace with a view of the mountains.

By the time she was sipping her martini, she was relaxed again. “I’d like to discuss the key. If I find your attention wandering, I’ll kick you under the table.”

“So noted. I’d just like to say one thing first.”

“Go ahead.”

He leaned toward her, breathed deep. “You smell terrific.”

She leaned toward him. “I know. Now, would you like to know what I did today?” She waited a beat, then kicked him lightly on the ankle.

“What? Yes. Sorry.”

She lifted her glass for another sip to hide her amusement. “First I went to see Zoe.”

She relayed the gist of their conversation, pausing when the first course was served.

“The little yellow house.” Flynn nodded as he brought the look of it into his mind. “Used to be dog-shit brown. She’s really fixed it up. I’ve seen the kid in the yard, now that I think about it.”

“Simon. He looks just like her. It’s almost spooky.”

“Now that you mention it, I would’ve put that together when I met her if I’d been able to take my eyes off you for two minutes.”

Her lips twitched, and damn it, she was flattered. “You’ve very good at that—both timing and delivery.”

“Yeah, it’s a gift.”

“Then I went to see Dana at her apartment. She was buried in books and brooding.”

“Two of her best things.”

“She hasn’t been able to track down a version of the Daughters of Glass story yet, but she’s working on it. Then I got this idea. Goddesses equal worship. All the reading I’ve been doing indicates that a lot of churches were built on pagan worship sites. Most Christian holy days coincide with the early pagan holy days, which were based on seasons, agriculture, that sort of thing. So I went to church. In fact I went to every church and temple in a twenty-mile radius.”

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