Author note: This novella was originally published elsewhere and is an updated and lightly re-edited version.
Melina Rodriguez locked the door to the administrative office behind the welcome desk at her veterinary clinic. She’d already secured the kennel area in the back since one of the techs would be staying overnight. Surprisingly they only had a few dogs and two cats being boarded tonight.
As she grabbed her purse off the front desk, the bell to the front door jingled. Even though it was the end of the day and she had no more scheduled appointments, she knew who it was. Knew before she’d fully turned around because she could scent him.
The tall, annoyingly sexy vampire who just wouldn’t leave her alone had a distinctively earthy smell, but not like her kind. Kiernan Doyle smelled like the ocean, fresh and wild, and he made her crave things she had no business wanting. It didn’t seem to matter to him that they were natural born enemies; he was damn persistent. She had a plan to cut his advances short tonight.
She might have made a mistake by sleeping with him almost a year ago, but it was something she’d decided to finally rectify now that he wouldn’t take no for an answer. “We’re closed,” she snapped without turning around.
He made a tsking sound. “If that’s how you talk to your patients it’s a wonder you’re still in business.”
“You are not a patient.” She turned to face him, then wished she hadn’t. Willing her heart rate and breathing to stay normal, she gave him what she hoped was a bored look. It was a little hard considering she’d seen every inch of that hard body naked. Seen it, kissed it, licked it . . . Damn him for being so sexy.
“I could be. If I hurt myself would you patch me up, doctor?” His voice dropped a few octaves.
The way he said “doctor” made her lower abdomen clench with a need that scared her. She gritted her teeth and tried to ignore what his presence did to her. Much taller than her, around six foot four, with dark hair that had flashes of auburn visible in the sunlight, and incredibly muscular without being bulky, the vamp turned her on like no one ever had. “Why are you here?” Not that she expected anything from him, but she was surprised he didn’t have a gift with him today. Every other time that he’d come to see her he’d brought something for the staff. Last week it had been a gift basket full of muffins, chocolates, cookies, and a bunch of other foodstuff. The week before that he’d brought Starbucks gift cards for everyone, even her part-time administrative assistant. So of course he’d completely charmed everyone she worked with. The man was a menace to her sanity.
Kiernan placed a hand over his heart, and those dark eyes that reminded her of melted chocolate chips glinted wickedly. “All these rejections have me thinking you don’t care.”
She sighed and placed a hand on her hip. She’d had three surgeries today and had lost a dog that had been hit by a car. Too much swelling to the brain. It had broken her heart to lose an animal, and the pain she’d sensed from the owners had been almost unbearable. Not to mention she’d drained a lot of energy using her natural healing powers. All she wanted was to go home, soak in a hot bath, and get some sleep. “I don’t care and I wish you’d leave me alone.” Why don’t even I believe it? One night of hot sex should have been easy enough to forget, but she couldn’t get the images of their intertwined, naked bodies or his intoxicating scent out of her head.
Instead of teasing her further, concern filled his face. She’d been short with him each time he came in to see her, but it seemed like he sensed she was hurting. “You have a bad day?” he asked quietly.
She nodded, part of her wanting to tell him what had happened. She resisted the urge to open up to him. “What do you want?”
For a moment it looked as if he might push her, but he just stepped back, giving her space. “One dinner. That’s all I’m asking for.”
The first time they’d met he sure hadn’t wanted dinner. He’d just wanted her flat on her back, up against the wall of her hotel room, in the shower. . . . She mentally shook herself. Thinking about that did nothing but distract her. “Fine.”
His dark eyebrows rose for a fraction of an instant, then he smiled, all male arrogance. For a moment she thought she’d made a mistake.
Returning his smile, she took a step forward. “You can pick me up tonight. At my parents’ house. My brothers, parents, and probably a few other pack members will be there.” Let’s see what he thinks of that.
She blinked at his question. This wasn’t how it was supposed to go. He was supposed to back off. No one wanted to tangle with the Rodriguez pack, the only wolf shifters in Miami and the toughest along the entire East Coast. Especially not Kiernan, member of the Doyle vampire coven, her family’s mortal freaking enemies. “Wait, what?”
His dark eyes held a knowing look. “What time should I be there?”
“I . . .” No, no, no. He wasn’t going to take control from her like this.
“Cat got your tongue?” he practically purred.
That snapped her out of her stupor. “Two hours from now. If you’re late, don’t bother showing up. Now if you don’t mind, I need to lock up.” Without waiting for his response, she brushed past him, vividly aware of his scent and his gaze on her as she moved toward the front door. She shrugged out of her white coat and hooked it through her purse. Even though her jeans and sweater were perfectly respectable, for some reason she felt practically naked in front of him and knew he was staring at her butt. Part of her wanted to be offended, but deep down she enjoyed his awareness and desire for her.
“Like what you see?” she asked, keeping her voice low as she grabbed her leather jacket from the rack by the front door.
All she received was a low growl from Kiernan—one that sounded a lot more animalistic than human. Shivers spiraled through her and she didn’t even bother trying to hide it. Not giving into her temptation to turn around, she fished her keys out of her coat pocket and walked outside. He was right on her heels as she locked the front door.
“Aren’t you going to set the alarm system?” He frowned down at her as they headed across the parking lot toward her car.
She shrugged. “One of my techs is staying the night. They’ll set it. Besides, it’s pretty common knowledge I’m the owner. No one’s going to risk my family coming after them.” She didn’t explain further because she didn’t need to.
While she might not be one of the physically toughest of her pack, her father was the Alpha and her three brothers were all in law enforcement. No one in their right mind was going to mess with her veterinary clinic. Whether right or wrong, there was a hierarchy in every city or town with shifters or vampires living there. Witches, fae, and demons pretty much kept to themselves, but not shifters and vamps. There was also a hell of a lot less crime in vamp or shifter-run cities. Humans didn’t screw around with the supernaturals because the punishment was swift and often brutal.
“Wear your hair down tonight.” His voice was low, seductive, and twined around her with a subtleness that had her nipples tightening despite his high-handed attitude.
She was very thankful her coat covered up her reaction. “I’ll wear my hair any damn way I please.” Instead of coming out harsh, her words were breathy even to her own ears.
He reached out and fingered a loose tendril that had escaped the long braid plaited down her back. Her eyelids grew heavy for a moment as she remembered what it had been like when he’d run his fingers through her hair, gripped her head in that dominating way as he’d claimed her mouth. She fought to breathe as they stood there, practically frozen.
Instead of responding, he just stared at her for a long moment, then turned and headed to his vehicle. A motorcycle of all things. Even though she wanted to watch him climb onto it—to straddle it with those muscular legs she’d had so many fantasies about since their one night together—she forced herself to slide into the front seat of her car and not look back.
Only then did she allow herself to breathe. Her heart raced and her palms slipped against the steering wheel as she drove out of the parking lot.
What the hell had she gotten herself into?