Twisted Roses

Page 73

I’m almost thirty minutes early. I wanted a chance to scope out the area. Lurk and observe any potential clues.
I approach the head curator’s office at the end of the hall. The layout is an office within an office. You enter and walk into a reception area first, where likely the curator’s assistant sits and fields any visitors. The second door leads into the much roomier, dignified larger office.
A sliver of light peeks out from the cracked open door.
No one is inside. But someone wanted me to think there was.
I back off and leave the curator’s office altogether. The situation calls for extra caution. If there’s even the chance this is a trap, I need to be on guard.
“You shouldn’t be up here by yourself,” Salvatore says, appearing at my side the second I walk out of the curator’s office. He slides his hand over mine and picks up his pace, tugging me along in a brisk walk.
I really shouldn’t be surprised. He shows up whenever I’m alone. Whenever I’ve snuck off and I’m doing something I shouldn’t be doing. I knew he was here tonight. Why else would he be if not to keep an eye on me?
Salvatore drags me into another room, locking the door. Shadows fill up the space, making it difficult to see. I bump into a desk, mere footsteps inside. He stands by another table and twists on a lamp.
With his demon mask on, the meager light framing him where he stands among the shadows, Salvatore’s never looked more like the devil trying to tempt me to the depths of hell.
Half a room of space between us and it’s not enough.
I back away a couple more steps and hit the desk a second time. “I should’ve guessed you’d follow me up here.”
“What did I say, Phi? What agreement did we make?”
“I agreed not to track down any more criminals in my off-time.”
His head cocks to the side. The lower half of his face as devoid of emotion as his mask covering the upper portion. “And what were you doing just now?”
“Heasked me to meet him up here. He’s here tonight. I told you he probably would.”
“You really think I was going to let you meet him up here alone?”
“I knew you wouldn’t.”
“Is that so?”
My nod is my only response.
“Because… it’s you we’re talking about. You’re too territorial to ever let me.”
Salvatore doesn’t object.
Instead, his gaze wanders my body without apology. It tracks the length of me, inch by inch, raking over my body adorned in this sparkling black gown of crystals and tulle.
He stops on my almost navel-deep neckline, openly admiring my cleavage that’s on display. I warm up, my brown skin flushing despite how still I’m standing. I can feel the fight in me draining as I try to hold onto my resolve and ignore my pulse quickening in my veins.
I reach behind me, grabbing the desk for leverage. Something to back me up so I don’t fall prey.
Who am I kidding? I’ve never managed before. I’ve always given in.
The chemical makeup of our bodies are too attracted, too inevitable. Salvatore can’t stop chasing me any more than I can stop surrendering to him.
A never-ending loop of forbidden lust and passion that we’re incapable of defeating.
This is who we are. What we’re meant to be—together.
I swallow and breathe out through my painted lips. “I’m supposed to be meeting him in a few minutes. He doesn’t have to know you’re around. I can still lure him.”