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“The hurt anger in her eyes was irresistible and drew his fingers to touch the warm flesh of her cheek. She jerked away and he shook his head slowly. “Don’t think you can hold yourself away from me, Lissette.” His eyes glittered with their otherworldly magic as he said it.

Sleight of Hand

“Don’t you pull out your vampire mojo! I told you, we’re over.” Her back was to the bar, the scent of his skin wafted into her face. She adored the way he smelled—that combination of man and his cologne and soap. It was extremely difficult not to fall under his spell.

“We are not over, Lissie. You and I have had a misunderstanding but we will work it out. And you know there is nothing between Cherry and me. There hasn’t been since the first moment I laid my eyes on you. And it may amuse you to know she claims that you have grown on her. She even gave me a lecture for making you upset.”

Closing her eyes a moment against his appeal, she stomped her boot frustratedly. “Why are you doing this? Damn it, Stryker! Get out of here. You are no longer welcome in my bar or my life.”

He pressed his body against hers more fully, putting his face in her hair a moment, feeling that silk against his cheek before he pulled back and looked into her eyes. Lips just barely shy of hers he murmured, “Don’t be stupid, Lissie. You’re angry and hurt. I get that and I’m sorry. I should have asked you myself. But that doesn’t mean we’re over.”

“You can come over and visit Alex when I’m here at the bar. I’ll work with Henry to make sure he gets in school and is taken care of during the day. Don’t come in here again, Stryker, or I’ll ban your entire tribe.”

The worry that he couldn’t get her back began to eat away at him and he didn’t care for the feeling at all. He had to pull out his big guns. Moving back from her a bit, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a coin.

Twirling it between his fingers he gave her a predator’s grin. “Do you remember the first time we were together?”

She closed her eyes and he watched a shiver work through her. The tension holding his stomach loosened a bit. He still affected her, all wasn’t lost.

“What about it?” she whispered. The memories of that night swept through her. His hands on her, his lips and the way she’d felt as his teeth had slid over the tender flesh at the place where thigh met leg. He’d filled her up. Body and soul. From that moment, she’d felt as if her body was made for his and he’d held her heart. She was a damned fool but oh how she loved him.

Continuing to twirl the quarter he went on, seeing in her eyes that she did remember it and as fondly as he did. “Come on then. Heads or tails, Lissie? Let’s leave this up to chance because you know I won’t give up. You’re mine.”

“If I win the toss you’ll leave me alone?” she asked, skeptical.

“Of course not. I told you, you’re mine. If you win the toss, I’ll leave you alone until the Alex situation is resolved and then we can work things out.”

She narrowed her eyes. “And if you win?”

“Oh ho. Much better than if you win. If I win, I get to fuck you right here, against your bar. Then we go back to your house and I fuck you in your bedroom and any other place I that takes my fancy and you let me feed. This whole `we’re over’ thing goes away. We can work out the rest but you can’t dump me without trying to work things out.”

Looking into her eyes, watching the flecks of color there, he did his own remembering of that first time they’d been together. He’d been coming to the bar nightly for months and had pursued her relentlessly. She’d continually deflected his advances much to his great frustration. So, he’d watched her, learned her. He took note of her love of games of chance and of taking risks and he used it. Daring to lay it on the line, he challenged her to trust fate and let the coin decide. As he knew he would, he won the toss and they’d gone back to her Victorian in Queen Anne and he’d watched her disrobe in the golden light of the candles she’d lit all around the room. Her hair had flowed over her shoulders like liquid flame and he was sure at that moment that he’d never seen a more beautiful sight. And for the last six months, he’d been with her as often as he could, in and out of her bed but always in her life every moment he could steal. He had immense greed for her.

Sleight of Hand

“Well? What do you say, beautiful?”

Chewing on her bottom lip she considered what to do. The truth of it settled into her in a way she could no longer deny. She loved Xander Stryker to distraction. The fact that he’d sent Henry to strong arm her into taking Alex in instead of coming to her himself—the way he’s instructed Henry to use her owing him a favor based on something she’d thought he’d done out of affection hurt her more than just about anything she’d ever experienced. All because she loved him.

Nodding, she decided to trust fate another time. To let her know whether she should move on and kick this ass out of her life, or give him another chance.

“Okay, I call tails.”

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