Devoted to Wicked
Karis Weston paced the cold tile floor of her hotel room, not really seeing the oceanfront paradise that had lured her to Cancún. It had been twelve hours—a whole night—since she’d sent out a cry for help. She hadn’t slept a wink, hadn’t stopped shaking, hadn’t stopped wondering why someone had targeted her.
The phone on the nightstand jangled loudly. She started and gasped, then lunged for the receiver and pressed it to her ear. “Hello?”
“Yeah.” She breathed a sigh of relief at the familiar voice. “Cutter? Thank god. Did Jolie pass you my message? What’s going on? I didn’t hear from her. Are she and the baby—”
“They’re fine. Take a deep breath. Your sister got your message and called me because she and Heath have gone to the hospital to—”
“The hospital?” Alarm pealed through Karis. “So they’re not fine? I told Jolie that all those long hours at the office, even if Betti’s expansion is going well, was bad for her pregnancy and—”
“Hold up. She’s not having a miscarriage. Your mother dropped in unexpectedly after she and Wayne the Pain broke up.”
The sarcasm in Cutter’s voice mirrored Karis’s own opinion. Her mom should never have started dating her soon-to-be ex-husband’s brother.
“Is my mom okay?” Other than not being smart about her love life…
“Apparently Wayne drove to Dallas early this morning so he could tell Diana face to face that he never had any intention of leaving his wife. Your mom got mad and um…swung a garden hoe at him—don’t ask—but caught herself in the leg instead. She’s having an x-ray and stitches now.” He huffed. “Things are handled here, but Jolie can’t come to Mexico, and Heath needs to stay behind to make sure she doesn’t overdo it. That’s why they called me. Tell me what happened with you, little gypsy.”
Karis softened at his nickname for her. Despite getting off to an awkward start, she and Cutter had become fast friends when he’d done his best to bodyguard her through a threat to Jolie and her women’s apparel company, Betti. Too bad she couldn’t have mustered an iota of chemistry with him. He was a great guy.
Unlike his older brother, Cage, who was a raving jackass.
She knew that…and yet, just like her mother, Karis had let her terrible taste in men tell her hormones that it was a fabulous idea to fall for the older Bryant. In fact, she’d taken one look at him, flashed hot all over, and instantly wondered if he could be her soul mate. After too much tequila and an amazing one-night stand, proof of his assholery had soon cured her of that notion.
If she saw him on her deathbed, it would still be too soon.
“You there?” Cutter prodded. “Did you hear me?”
Focus. “Yeah. Just trying to collect my thoughts. I’m rattled. I haven’t slept. I don’t feel safe and—”
“You’ve been through a lot. I’m tied up here in Dallas but don’t worry. I sent the cavalry. He should arrive any moment. You’re going to be all right.”
She froze. “Who did you send?”
A pounding on the door interrupted the conversation, startling Karis. She pressed a hand to her chest.
“That’s him now,” Cutter said. “You two can call me later.”
Oh, he better not have done what she suspected, not if he wanted to keep his balls. “Who did you freaking send?”
Cutter didn’t answer right away. “Relax. You’re in good hands. I’ll hold down the fort here. I’m sure your sister will update you about your mom when she has news. See you when you get home, little gypsy. Take care.”
“Don’t you even think—”
But Cutter did more than think about hanging up. She’d only finished half her sentence when he actually did. Damn it. Grumbling, she slammed the phone down.
Maybe she was wrong. Maybe Cage wasn’t on the other side of the door, waiting to needle and poke and irritate her with his disreputable good looks and signature tomcat smile. But when she stomped across the room and wrenched the door open, all her wishful thinking went out the window.
“Hi, cupcake.” He gave her a wink and a teasing smile.
She knew exactly what sort of man he was and yet he still made her belly flutter. What is wrong with me?
The muss of his golden hair hung low on his forehead, flirting with his eyes. He clearly hadn’t shaved in a couple of days, and the stubble dusting his jaw made it look even sharper. He’d abandoned his winter coat and draped it over the duffel dangling from his right hand in favor of a faded blue tank top that read Tequila and Tacos.
Karis gritted her teeth and did her best to ignore the broad, bulging muscles of his shoulders, now filling her doorframe. She didn’t like Cage here because she didn’t like him, period. She didn’t want to feel anything for him. Been there, done that. She’d burned the T-shirt. He was the kind of man who would never be faithful. After a lifetime of watching her mother fall for that kind of guy repeatedly only to wind up brokenhearted every time, she refused to follow suit.
Sure, she could slam the door in his face or play dumb and ask why he’d come. But her sister and brother-in-law couldn’t help her out of this scrape. Neither could Cutter. She’d already tried to solve her problem alone, to no avail. If she wanted to go home, she had to rely on Cage. Spend time with him. Talk to him. No doubt she would have to resist him, too.
She sighed. “Come in.”
Cage strolled inside her hotel room, his tall, rangy body crowding her against the doorway. He peered at her with dark, hungry eyes as he dropped his bag. “You look good.”
She glanced down at herself. Her entire vacation wardrobe had consisted of bikinis, cover-ups, an occasional pair of short-shorts, and high-heeled sandals. This morning after tossing and turning sleeplessly, she’d rushed through a shower, wondering if whoever had scared the hell out of her intended to come back and finish the job. Absently, she’d tossed on an off-white, almost-too-small bikini with a rose-and-swirl pattern over her breasts. The contraption was held together by thin, sunny yellow straps. Cage’s stare walked all over her top before straying to the lone flower barely covering her down there. Sure, she’d tossed on a lacy cover-up but it was entirely transparent, there for decoration more than actual protection from the sun or prying eyes.