My head hit the dirt, and stars exploded. I. Could. Not. Breathe.
Trent’s weight vanished. Struggling, I managed to get up on an elbow. I got a slip of air, gasping as I staggered to my feet, hunched and hurting. Not five feet away, Trent fought with a man slimmer than him, faster. Vampire? But vampires generally didn’t do assassin work. The moonlight glinted on a knife, and not in Trent’s hand.
Seeing me up, the second assassin feigned a thrust, then turned and ran at me.
A growl came from Trent, low and primitive, shaking me to my core. He launched himself at him, landing on his back and forcing him to the ground inches away. My ankle gave way, and I was down again. I tossed my hair from my eyes. Trent made three quick, decisive moves—and I heard the sickening snap of bone and the man’s muffled cry of pain. The knife was suddenly in Trent’s hand, held at the man’s neck.
“Trent! No!” I cried out, and the two stopped.
Panting, Trent froze. It would be easy for him to prick his neck and bleed him out in five seconds. But he didn’t. Thoughts Trent wouldn’t share spun behind his eyes, his expression wild, and unpredictable.
“Please. There has to be another way,” I said, not knowing why I cared if he killed him, other than I knew this wasn’t who Trent wanted to be.
The man jerked when Trent pulled the knife from him, scuttling back out of his reach when Trent backed off. “Tell your sender that I will not tolerate another attack like this again,” Trent said. “Next time, I kill you twice. Understand?”
The man nodded, clearly shocked Trent let him live, much less bested him. He turned to go, and I stiffened when Trent pulled heavily on the ley line.
Wincing, I did nothing when Trent muttered a phrase that wasn’t quite Latin. His hands glowed, lighting the anger in his expression. Face twisted in anger, he said a final word.
I didn’t even see the charm, but the fleeing man cried out, stumbling into the fence where he fell, groaning. There’d be magical residue, but I doubt very much anyone would bother to come out and try to link it to anyone, much less Trent—not if it was a professional hit sanctioned by one of the masters.
But that’s not why my heart pounded. The assassins hadn’t been going for Trent. They had been going for me. Vampires don’t do assassination work. Shit. Cormel. That’s why Trent wanted me to call Ivy. My God. This was my fault. All of it.
Trent was a hunched shadow in the moonlight, and as I watched, he stooped to pick up my phone. Above us, a car drove past. “Let’s go,” he said, handing it to me “I have to get back to my office.”
His hand landed on my shoulder and I jumped, pliant with a sudden realization. I was the one who was supposed to have been driving. The tag should have hit me, not Trent. Cormel was tired of waiting for his soul and had upped the pressure from talk to action. But why? I wasn’t seeing anyone. Unless Cormel thought that Trent and I were, ah . . .
Hand on my stomach, I slid a look over to Trent. He was angry, preoccupied with his thoughts as he helped me forward up the last of the incline. Trent? Trent and I lovers?
Oh God. Trent was a big no-no. It was not happening.
But I’d never seen him this angry before.
His words jerked through me, and I looked hard at his extended hand, thinking twice about it before taking it so he could help me up the last lurch to the road. His fingers were firm in mine, and I stifled a thought of him running them over my body. That grace between my sheets . . . that strength mine to enjoy. . . .
“I’m fine,” I said, stumbling as he drew me up. But I wasn’t. Trent had been ready to kill that man to protect me. I had seen it in his eyes. I was damn sure I wasn’t comfortable with that—not when I knew how badly he wanted to differentiate himself from his father.
But it wasn’t good. This was bad. Very bad. “Thank you,” I whispered as I hid my hand behind my back and looked down the road to place were we were.
His hand touched the small of my back, and we started down the road to Cincinnati. “Anytime.”
But that was exactly what I was afraid of.