woke slowly, the memories of parents she didn’t know and the life she never had
a chance to live fading to intangible presences at the back of her mind until
they were half-forgotten dreams. Her eyelids were heavy and her tongue felt
like sandpaper. She blinked slowly as the leaden feel of her limbs dissipated
and the fog in her head lightened. She sat up, a thick blanket of white fur
dropping down to her waist.
Fur? She stared around at the master
bedroom she was in.
“Oh my . .
.” The tall four-poster bed was made of dark black wood, a midnight blue
bedspread beneath her and a mountain of feather-soft pillows behind her. She
caught her reflection in a large mirror on a dresser table. Her face was ashen
and her lips pale as she sat in a mountain of expensive white furs. Her hair
was in wild disarray. She threaded her fingers through the messy mane and took
a few steadying breaths. Where was she? She struggled to remember anything
before she’d woken up here.
elevator, the man following her, and then Grigori . . . in her hotel room.
God. I’ve been kidnapped.
her arms around her chest for several seconds, just trying to calm her panicked
breathing. They had kidnapped her and brought her here. A thousand horrible
scenarios ran through her head of what they might to do with her . . . human
trafficking being the worst. The thought of it brought bile up to her throat
and she swallowed, gagging.
calm down. Just
calm down . . .
froze, and her heart stopped for a painful second before it jolted back into a
steady beat. She summoned the scholarly side of herself to analyze her
surroundings again. She needed to figure out where she was and what they wanted
from her. Then she could plan her escape. Beside her on the table, was a
leather bound book she was all too familiar with. James’s Barrow’s journal.
pounding, she pushed the furs down and slid off the bed. Her sock-covered feet
sank into a creamy white carpet. Madelyn grabbed the nearest bedpost, her
fingers gripping the spindle carved wood as she walked around the king-size
bed. She moved through the room and caught a teasing sense of something dark,
pine and masculine. A scent she’d recognized when she’d been standing close to
the man in the suit who’d looked just like Grigori from the journal. He
couldn’t be Grigori. She didn’t know his name, so she might as well call him
that until she figured out who he really was.
Grigori. He was everywhere in this room,
from the elegant furnishings to the clothes hanging in the closet. Madelyn
wasn’t sure how she knew it was his room aside from the lingering scent, but it
just felt like this was part of his world. She couldn’t explain it. She’d never
been in a man’s bedroom before and it was exciting and scary.
Why had he
brought her here? How had they knocked her out? And why did he want to know why
she’d been interested in James Barrow’s book? She had a thousand questions and
no answers. The smart thing would be to find her shoes and coat and get out of
here . . . no matter how intrigued she was with the mystery of Grigori Barinov.
down and looked in the closet and under the bed for her boots but couldn’t find
them. She had a sneaking suspicion he had hidden them to keep her from
escaping. She approached the beautifully carved bedroom door, gripping the
antique glass doorknob. Would it be locked? Was she a prisoner? She turned the
knob and it gave beneath the pressure.
opened and she entered a small corridor, passing a lavish master bathroom with
a large tub and an oversized glass shower. Whoa. The next room she
entered opened into a huge library and an office. Then the apartment gave way
to a large living room with the kitchen at the back and a dining room. A
roaring fire in a square pit in the center of the living room sparkled over
crystal stones. A wing backed chair facing the fire creaked slightly and a
masculine hand extended past the arm of the chair as it swirled a glass of
sitting there . . .
held her breath, listening to every sound from the antique grandfather clock in
the hall ticking away to the sounds of the man in the chair turning the pages
of his book. The hand holding the glass suddenly disappeared and the chair
creaked again as the occupant stood and turned to face her.
Grigori. He looked too damn sexy, and intimidating, in that expensive suit. His
light hair fell across his blue eyes and he gazed at her with an unreadable
expression. Her heart was racing again, and blood roared in her ears as she
watched him, afraid of what he might do.
awake,” he noted. He moved slowly, setting the wine glass on the table beside
“Why am I
here?” She was careful to keep a safe distance between them. They were facing
each other, like two animals measuring each other up before they decided to
fight or not. She wouldn’t hesitate to throw anything at him within her reach
here because you checked out a book.”
reply made her bristle. The last thing she should be was argumentative, but she
suddenly wanted to be brave in front of him.
against the law?” she asked, tilting her chin. She may have been scared out of
her mind, but she was not going to let him see it.
lips twitched. “No, but that book belongs to me.”
stiffened. “Then why did you leave it in a public library? You do understand
that’s how libraries work, right?” How she had the nerve to be snarky, she’d
one hand on the back of the leather chair, his finger slowly tapping a pattern
as though he was channeling all of his energy into the movement.
creature,” he murmured. “I like that.” This was uttered so softly she thought
she’d imagined it.
have the book back, you can let me go. I can leave, can’t I?” Her eyes
darted around the room, seeking out the front door. She inwardly groaned when
she realized the only way out was behind him. She’d have to get past brooding,
sexy, and scary Grigori.
afraid you cannot leave. I have questions that require answers.” He took two
steps toward her. It took everything inside Madelyn not to retreat. She sensed
that any sign of weakness would trigger his animal instincts. He was an
aggressive predator who looked too intense to be in this lush apartment.
questions and then let me go.” She wanted to curl her arms around herself, but
instead planted hands on her hips.
arched one eyebrow, calmly removed his coat and laid it on the back of the
chair. His gray wool vest showed off his muscular chest and his tapered waist.
She licked her lips, nervous and all too aware of him and in way she shouldn’t
be given that he had kidnapped her. The image of his face in the journal, the
sketch dated 1821, haunted her. It couldn’t be the same man. That was
impossible. But the likeness . . .
you after the book?” Grigori asked as he rolled up the sleeves of his crisp
white shirt. It revealed muscular forearms, which were also sun-kissed. Her
skin prickled and she tried to swallow the lump of fear in her throat.
sent me. I came here on my own.”
nodded to himself, smiling a little as he walked over to the kitchen and opened
care for some wine? It’s a fine vintage.” He held up a bottle and a glass.
seriously just offer me a drink? You’ve kidnapped me! For god knows what
reason. You’d better let me leave right now or—”
Grigori was studying her through hooded eyes. “Ms. Haynes, I understand you are
frightened, but I’m not planning on harming you. We’r