As the small knoll materialized in the ghostly fog, he cut the wheel, switched off the engine and allowed the car to coast across the lawn to halt under an oak tree. The slight roll in the landscape saw the mound overlooking the thatched house, nestled into the odd crook in the land.
“My, what a perfect location for tonight’s bit of work,” he said, his low voice loud in the stillness of the night. “All the better to spy upon you, Little Red Riding Hood.”
Pocketing his keys, he opened the car’s gull wing door, and then paused with foot balanced on the body’s fame while his eyes took in Raven’s home.
The bungalow was two stories, though the second level was likely just a bedroom and bath due to the steep incline of the roof. The only time he’d been in a thatched house was when he was small, in the months after his father had committed suicide. He’d been too young to remember much of that time in Ireland. Des remembered. That period of their lives had left deep scars in his older brother. Trev figured he’d look down his nose at Raven’s humble home. Instead, he was fascinated. An air of warmth and welcoming beckoned him toward the cottage, aglow with its amber lights.
He sat on the hood of the car and studied the bucolic structure, trying to pinpoint Raven. Playing Peeping Tom was easy. The place was constructed of so much glass. A gardener’s cottage once, there were two greenhouses― one on either side of the whitewashed abode. The first had likely been a hothouse, the other for plants that required a more temperate clime. Raven was an artist, a painter. The report Julian Starkadder had compiled about her said she was working toward a one woman show for a local gallery come next spring. The smaller glass room had been turned into a studio. Even from this distance he could see the easel, though it was too far away to tell what she currently painted upon the large canvas.
Aside from the two glassed in spaces, a dining room had been added, also with glass walls. Raven Montgomerie’s life was on display, but he figured she never considered that. Some beautiful women loved to put on a show for anyone looking― even Peeping Toms. Still, for someone as gorgeous as Raven, she didn’t live her life on the stage she created here. He’d be willing to bet the Lamborghini on that. Raven was merely far away from people, nothing even remotely close, so obviously she felt no need to hide behind drapes.
“Where the hell are you, Red?” he asked. “Come out, come out, wherever you are.”
All these walls of glass and he couldn’t spot her! Exasperated, he knew she was at home. She’d been working on the preparation for the gala all day, doing final touches. After supper he’d grown twitchy, so had driven past the banquet hall that her brother, Cian, had rented for Montgomerie Enterprise’s big bash. As he spotted her coming out of the building, he swung into a parking lot down the road and watched while she slid into her ancient MGB. Keeping a distance, he followed her until she took the turn off for the cottage. She was still there. His predator’s sense confirmed that.
Growing impatient, he pushed off the car and trotted toward the cottage. The MGB was parked at the side of the house, attesting to her presence within. Staying to the shadows, he circled around the larger greenhouse and toward the back of the dwelling. As he cornered the far side, he pulled up when he saw Raven. Her face was framed in the kitchen window, an overhead light nearly a spotlight on her. From her movements, he saw she was washing dishes.
Raven’s face was more than beautiful, it was arresting, with a hint of feline ethereality. While her jaw reflected the same Montgomerie stubbornness as her sisters, the thinness of her countenance softened the effect. Trev shuddered. His whole body cramped with longing.
“Longing?” he echoed aloud.
The word caused pause. With any other woman he’d have said lust. Trevelyn Mershan didn’t long for a woman. He simply wanted to screw them. Once he achieved that aim, they lost any fascination for him. Longing required more than animal impulses. It spoke of something much deeper. And that bothered him.
Music floated on the night air, and it took a moment to identify the song coming from the kitchen, Constant Craving ―an oldie by KD Lang. Raven’s mouth moved as she sang along with the words. Though he couldn’t hear her, a shiver slithered up his spine. Yeah, he knew something about constant cravings. Five months of it. Ever since he’d seen her back last May at her grandfather’s funeral.
He recalled sitting with his brothers at the rear of the small church, watching the seven sisters in the pews at the front, then later while they exited the ornate building. That memory haunted him. So peculiar, beyond her beauty, there was little about Raven that would normally attract him. No, Raven Montgomerie was not his taste in women. And yet, he’d known in that breathless instant when their eyes collided, outside the ancient Norman kirk, that in five months’ time he’d be coming for her.
“Though hell should bar the way…” he said under his breath.
She was the key to getting him closer to the Montgomeries, so the Mershans could finally mete out their long-overdue vengeance. His inner voice warned Trev that their objective had damn little to do with his coming here tonight. A ravenous need was rising in him, something dark, dangerous. A force primeval...
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