|Adrenaline pumping, I hit the bar of the stairway's door hard with my backside to push it open. I didn't want to engage the minions, but I reached for my trusty whip, curled around my left arm like a bracelet anyway.
I'd just turned to run down the stairs when I smacked into a solid wall.
Where did that come from, my brain screamed as the impact sent me backwards on my butt, back hitting the cold concrete wall and knocking the wind out of me. A guitar landed at my feet, making a funny twanging noise as if someone had run unskilled fingers over the strings.
A vaguely familiar, surprised sounding voice said, "Kali?" and I looked up to see my daily nightmare standing there in the flesh.
Radison Beaumont, in too-worn jeans and a too-tight black T-shirt, gave me a slow once-over with his beautiful gold-colored eyes before his lips quirked to one side in a smile that sent my already hammering heart into overdrive. Beating like a battering ram inside my chest, it rang in my ears and drowned out the bass drum echoing in the stairwell.
My skirt had flipped up to reveal an expanse of skin between the top of my boots and my underwear and Rad's gaze lingered between my legs a second too long before lifting to meet mine. Dozens of warnings went off in my head, but damn if I could find my voice or my extensive repertoire of Italian curse words. I couldn't even find my breath. He looked a little older than the last time I'd seen him, but still perfect to me in every way. Thick black hair, a little too long and mussed, those gorgeous eyes, flawless skin and teeth. Not to mention faultless proportions. Like they'd done every other time I was in the near vicinity of him, my body, mind and heart staged a coup. Traitors.
While it seemed like an eternity before he spoke, it was in reality only another beat of my heart. He held out one long, perfect hand and in his eyes I saw it was more than just an offer to help me to my feet. It was an olive branch. A peace treaty. "I can't believe you're here. Did you come to see m -- " He caught himself, thought better of it. "Did you come for the concert?"
It would have been easy, so easy, to slip my hand into his. To forget the past under the spell of those mesmerizing eyes and allow him to help me up. Instead, I pushed myself off the ground, keeping my back against the wall and shoved my skirt back into place.
Before I could answer, Nudra's minions barreled through the door and nearly knocked Rad and me both down the stairs. As the first one reached for me, Rad snapped his fingers and the guitar on the ground jerked upward, tripping the demon and sending him flying face first onto the top stair. Being half-chaos demon, causing trouble was as easy as breathing to Rad.
He turned on the second bodyguard and the demon held up his hands and stepped back. Smart. He must have known Rad could bring the entire building down on him if he wanted to. The demon disappeared through the door, a soft clicking sound resonating in the now silent stairwell as the latch snapped into place. My breathing sounded too loud in my ears. The demon at my feet moaned, but didn't move.
As if nothing had happened, Rad turned to me, a smile tugging the skin over the fine bones of his cheeks. Two dimples sprang to life. "Your hair. It's…different."
"Seriously?" I righted my cape, which had twisted to the left when I fell. I kicked the demon on the stairs out of the way. "That's the best you've got after standing me up at the altar three-hundred years ago? My hair is different?"
"It was two-hundred eighty-five years and three days ago." His golden eyes darkened and he grabbed me around the waist, jerking me up against his rock-hard body. His gaze dropped to my lips and I was suddenly seventeen again. "And this is the best way I can think of to say I'm sorry."
Before I understood what he was about to do, il pistolino lowered his half-demon, half-human lips to mine and kissed me.
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