Hitched [Faerily Imperfect]
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by Mia Watts, Katie Blu
Category: Erotica/Menage Erotica/Fantasy
Description: Half-faery, Willow Harper is the youngest of the Harper siblings. Just like them, she has no control when her gift will manifest, turning her into an inanimate wooden object. Fortunately, she has Bruce, a full faery male who has the ability to subdue her gifts. Though she hides her heart, Bruce has been assigned to work by her side on every Harper Security case. It was only a matter of time before Willow and Bruce hooked up after hours. Agreeing to a no-strings relationship, they know that commitment just isn't for them. Agent Kane Wilcox has been tracking the identity of an arts smuggler for over a year. He's reached a dead end, but Willow Harper moves on and around the target's property easily since she befriended the target's daughter months ago. What isn't convenient is the way Willow makes him feel, or the unprecedented attraction Kane has for black-eyed Bruce. As the case progresses, one thing becomes clear--Bruce and Willow want him. But how can they juggle a three person relationship and still catch the thief? Kane is in it for keeps. When the case is over, will Willow and Bruce walk away, leaving Kane standing alone?
eBook Publisher: Resplendence Publishing, LLC, 2011 June
eBookwise Release Date: December 2011
6 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [138 KB]
Reading time: 82-115 min.
Kane Wilcox recorded the time in his notebook as Willow Harper waved and walked away from Austyn Felix, her companion. He'd been trying to get to Dr. Felix, and it looked like the best way would be through his daughter, Austyn. For that, he'd need Willow's help. Trying to get Willow alone had been virtually impossible without giving away his identity. But the case had reached a dead end, and it was either convince Harper Security to work with the FBI, or flounder in failure.
Kane had met the owner of Harper Security, and Sage Harper wasn't a guy to give up his sources. Kane had no doubt that if he flashed his badge, Sage would relent, but getting to the case through Willow sounded so much sweeter.
He watched the easy flirtation of her hips sashaying with each step. A lot sweeter. Kane glanced down at his notebook. When he looked up again, Willow was nowhere in sight. His gaze took in the perimeter of the parking lot, edged with trees and shrubs. Her car remained where it had been, nose to a slender apple tree in full blossom, Kane hadn't noticed before.
He blinked. "You're losing it, Wilcox." As the kind of agent who could close his eyes and tell you every detail of his surroundings, it was a horrific discovery to have missed such an impressive--
Kane returned his attention to the car. Willow darted a look around, and bent to dig through her purse. The thin arms of the apple tree no longer shaded the hood of her car.
"Jesus. I need to get more sleep."
He grabbed his keys from the ignition and raced across the lot to reach Willow before she got in her car and drove away.
"Ms. Harper," he called, still several feet away.
Willow froze then resumed digging in her purse.
"Ms. Harper." Now beside her, she couldn't help but hear him.
She glanced up, her bright, leaf green eyes wide behind a veil of black hair. "Um, you have the wrong person."
Jogging steps reached his ears. "Hey, what's up?" the newcomer asked, looping an arm around Willow's waist.
Kane turned. He should have known. Part of the problem with getting to Willow was her ever constant companion, Bruce. Kane's gaze flicked over him. Bruce's messed hair, his bottomless black gaze, the calm confidence of a surfer without all the posturing. But Kane wasn't there to talk to Bruce.
Kane held up his badge, and stepped closer to Willow. "Do I still have the wrong person?"
Willow made a sound of disgust. She shot a look at Bruce then narrowed her eyes on Kane. "Do you mind not blowing my cover, Agent--" She peered at the I.D. "Kane Wilcox? Here, on campus, I'm Willow Harley."
He cocked an eyebrow. "I'd like you to come with me, please. Just you."
"Not likely," she scoffed.
Bruce grinned, tightening his hold on Willow.
"You don't exactly have a choice," Kane countered.
"Sure, I do. I can get in my car, and drive away. Unless you have some kind of FBI warrant?"
"Unless you really want me to call Austyn Felix and tell her who you really are?" he countered.
"That's low, even for the FBI," Bruce cracked.
Willow looked troubled. "Can Bruce please come?"
"No, ma'am, but he can follow you to the office and wait outside."
"Why can't I ride with him?" she asked.
Kane sighed. "Because, Ms. Harper, I need you two separated and there's less of a chance you'll drive off together if you're with me."
Willow's bottom lip tucked under her front teeth. Finally, she nodded. "Okay, but I need to call my brother and let him know we'll be late."
Kane wasn't thrilled about that. Putting himself and his activities on any of the male Harpers' watch-list wasn't something he relished. Those boys would have him background searched and followed before the day was over. They were good at their jobs, and having the tables turned on him, didn't feel like a picnic.
Kane lightly caught her upper arm, escorting her to his car. Willow found her cell phone faster than during her previous purse search and was informing whoever picked up that the FBI had her in custody. When she got to the part about Kane possibly blowing her cover, he could hear the angry rush of words on the other end as a muffled blast of testosterone.
Willow winced. "He wants to talk to you."
"No. Not until we've concluded the interview. I have some questions for you, Ms. Harper. You aren't actually being taken into custody."
Willow relayed the information. It didn't sound like Sage was appeased. Kane took the phone from her, and depressed the end call button. Then he held down the power key until the screen blinked off. Handing the phone back to her, he smiled tightly.
"It won't take long. I need your help." Kane opened the passenger door of his car.
She slipped inside. He breathed relief as he shut the door behind her. Circling the front of the car, he got in, and started the engine.
"You know, they make fake badges now days," she said.
He tossed his onto her lap. "Feel free to check it out. Write down the number if you want. I need some information, and you're the one who can give it to me."
Kane shifted into gear, but his foot stayed on the brake. He looked at her, hoping she could read the sincerity in his eyes. Willow pursed her lips thoughtfully. The tight pink moue only plumped the already soft flesh into a teasing kiss. Unfortunately, her eyes said, "stay away."
That wasn't an easy request. Willow Harper was just as beautiful as her sisters. Younger by a few years, but with all the attitude and entitlement of a youngest sibling, Kane expected her to stomp her cute little feet and call in the big dogs. Okay, so she'd called the big dogs, but not to come help. And instead of stomping a perfectly arched foot, encased in black high heels, she crossed her long, slim legs. Willow's loose hemline slid backwards, revealing yet more trim thigh, and Kane momentarily forgot what he was waiting for.
He turned the key in the ignition and heard the protesting grind of an already engaged engine. Willow's gaze darted to the steering column, then back at him. While it was clear she hadn't missed the engine-abuse, she wasn't distracted by it.
"Since you were willing to ruin my cover, I'm guessing this has something to do with Austyn?"
Right, he wanted her to answer questions. "Let's get back to my office and discuss it there. Unless you want someone to see you with me?" he asked.
She shook her head, her long hair sifting over itself in a loose ebony tumble. Kane cleared his throat, shifted in his seat, and faced forward. He'd counted on Harper family resistance to his case. He hadn't counted on controlling his libido.
I'm a professional. She's a woman with information. Get to the office, pick her brain, get her cooperation, and be done with it.
"Bruce might have information too. You should talk to him while you're talking to me," she said quietly.
"You're the one I'm interested in." A hot flush rose up his neck. "For the case."
He could feel her eyes on him. "Really?" She drew the word out with a hint of amusement.
I'm thirty six goddamn years old. I will not let this kid, ten years younger than me, get under my skin.
"You're the closest one to her," he clarified.
Except she was getting under his skin. He felt like a randy teenager. Bruce was more her age. He was the kind of boy Willow could wrap around her finger. Bruce wore his hair shaggy, every brown lock in a deliberate swag or spike, adhering to the mis-fashion of his generation. Bruce's black eyes were so dark, there was no difference between his iris and his pupil. It was creepy. Kane could also see why Willow worked so closely with him. Because as creepy as that gaze was, it was magnetic. The one time Kane had caught it, he'd been sure his cover was blown.
Kane pulled up in front of the sector office. He and Willow entered the building and rode up the elevator in silence. She shot him small sidelong glances, and he felt his confidence boost with each one. The elevator dinged, letting them out on the twelfth floor. Motioning for her to walk ahead of him, he directed her to the small interviewing office at the rear of the building.
Kane pulled out a chair for her and suggested she take a seat.
"Do I need a lawyer?" she snarked.
"No. Unless you think doing your civic duty to help the government requires someone with a degree to lie."
Willow frowned and folded her arms across her chest.
"Please take a seat, Ms. Harper. I'm not grilling you, and you're not in trouble. We need your help."
Willow sat, but kept a suspicious gaze on him.
"Would you like some coffee?" he asked, hoping to relax her with hospitality.
"Water would be great. I feel a little dry."
He nodded his head once, turned, and headed for the door. "Don't leave the room, please. I'll be right back and we can get through this quickly." He smiled, though it felt forced.
Her return smile appeared just as wooden.
Kane filled a Styrofoam cup with ice water, careful not to spill it on the research file, as he returned. He'd picked up a couple of break-room cookies, too. She didn't look like a cookie eater, but he was going for ambiance. If she felt like a guest, theoretically she'd behave like one, and this would go pleasantly. Psych 101.
When he got to the room and opened the door, though, she wasn't there. It looked the way he'd left it. Three chairs, a table, and a...coat tree? Kane put the offerings on the table then jogged back through the doorway.
"Hey, Torrez," he called to the nearest stationed agent. "Did you see a good-looking brunette leave?"
Torrez shook his head distractedly, as he continued to argue with the phone.
"Great. Just great," Kane muttered.
He turned the opposite direction out of the room. He'd have passed her if she'd gone the other way. It was a prank. It had to be. He could see her leaving when he asked her to stay, but putting a coat tree in the room? That smacked of a lame-assed joke.
A circuit around the small office proved Kane none the wiser. "Shit."
Kane returned to the room, to clean up for the next agent who needed the space. When he got back, he found Willow sitting and sipping water. The coat rack had been removed.
With a sigh of annoyance, he shut the door behind him. "You took off."
"I had to do something," she said calmly.
"I had a female agent check the bathroom. You weren't there."
"I didn't say I had to go to the bathroom. I said, I had to do something."
"And the coat tree? What was that about?" he asked, dropping into the opposite chair. He leaned back, tucking his chin as he eyed her.
"What coat tree?" She blinked at him as though she were trying not to upset the crazy man.
"Agent Wilcox, I don't know what this delay tactic is for. I mean, I'm not an FBI agent who would have studied up on trying to confuse a possible ally and its benefits, but I have somewhere I need to be."
Kane fought the urge to grind his teeth. "I'm sorry. Let's begin."
"Can we make this quick? I'm not feeling quite myself today."
"I'll do what I can."
Kane plopped the case file on the table between them. He opened it and flipped to a blank page already hole-punched and added. It was one of his quirks to have plain paper in a file like that, even though it wasn't the norm. Depressing the top of the ballpoint pen, it clicked dutifully and he scrawled the date, time, and Willow's name on the empty page.
He clicked it closed again and laid it on the file, choosing to lean back in the chair in a demonstration that he had all day to wait for her cooperation if she chose not to give it right away.
"Wow. You really have your whole shtick down, don't you?" she murmured.
She leaned across the table, her berry-shaded lips twisted in sarcasm. She picked up his pen, clicked the ballpoint down, then retracted it, before putting it back where he'd left it. She mirrored his position in the chair and cocked an eyebrow.
"Sage does that sometimes too. Not with the same FBI-institutional flare. He likes to finish with a menacing frown to show his displeasure."
The corner of his lips quirked. "Does it work?"
"Usually. Like he's a mind reader," she said smiling. Her eyes glittered with humor. "Can we move this interview along, Agent Wilcox?"
Her eyes flicked over his shoulder, through the glass windows and immediately, she relaxed. She smiled and though he couldn't put his finger on what changed, she'd somehow become more present. Kane turned to see what she'd looked at. Bruce, her partner, strode toward them.
"This is a closed interview, Ms. Harper," he told her, turning around to face her again.
"He's working the case with me. You really should get his input."
"Are you afraid we're going to lie to you? If you need our help, we'll help, so long as you don't get involved and mess up the job."
The door behind him opened.
"Take a seat outside, Mr.--what is your last name anyway? And why isn't it listed on any document I can find?" That had been another lingering question. A guy without a full name smacked of subterfuge. Did the Harpers know this guy's past? Kane had yet to produce so much as a social security card or an address on the guy. Bruce abounded with mystery.
"Just Bruce. You doing all right, Will?" Bruce asked.
"She's fine," Kane snapped. "Step outside."
"I'm fine," she agreed. It wasn't until Willow acknowledged it that Kane heard the answering click from the door behind him, leaving them alone again.
"Ms. Harper, how deep are you in with Austyn Felix?"
"Before I answer any questions, I need to know why the information collected by a private company is of any concern to you."
"Are you trying to thwart a governmental investigation?" he pressed.
"Are you trying to be cryptic and difficult? If working together is what you really want, then I think a level of honesty will be required by both parties. Don't you?"
Willow was too close to the table for him to see her cross her legs, but the shift and settle of her body gave away her changed position. He remembered what that looked like on her, and it was enough to distract him. And damn if that didn't transfer the power he'd been cultivating, squarely onto her feminine shoulders.
Kane pinched the bridge of his nose, talking himself back into the role of interviewer. "We'll get to that point. Assuming you can humor me for a few minutes."
Willow seemed to relent. "I'm in. I made contact with her three months ago on campus. We hit it off right away, thanks to some stellar background research."
"Has she invited you back to the mansion?"
"Every week. Sometimes I stay over the weekend."
Kane frowned. They'd been tailing Austyn only briefly. The agency had needed a new angle since they hadn't found a chink in Dr. Felix's armor yet. Once Kane had discovered that Harper Security was somehow involved, it had given him the idea on a way to break the case. He hoped.
But he hadn't remembered seeing Willow exit the mansion more than a handful of times since they'd been documenting the comings and goings of Mr. Felix's daughter and her guests.
"You don't seem pleased," Willow noted.
He studied her. She seemed genuine enough, and he sensed that he'd get a lot further if he just told her the problem and asked for her help.
Kane closed the file. "More with myself than from what you've told me. We've been surveying the Felix residence for several months now and while we have records of the people coming and going, I personally only know of a few instances where you left the property. It sounds like we missed several other times."
Her eyes darted off to the side. She was concealing something.
"I'm starting to doubt my powers of observation." He smiled self-depreciatingly. "Do you know, I thought you were parked under an apple tree, but when I looked up, the tree was gone."
Willow smiled uncomfortably. "That's just crazy."
He laughed and shook his head. "It is. I used to be able to close my eyes and give every detail of a room with only five seconds to view it."
"Maybe it's too many long hours?" she offered. Though she'd lifted her eyes to his, they quickly dropped away again.
"So, I know why I'm on the case. Why is Harper involved?"
"It's a gift."
Willow cracked her first real smile. Wide and sweet with a small dimple appearing high in her cheek, it shot straight to his gut like a sucker punch. She really ought to have a license for that thing.
"We were hired by an outside source," she explained.
"Why? Remember Uncle Sam is asking."
"I know you're legit, Agent Wilcox. You don't need to convince me."
"Excellent." He smiled widely.
Willow pushed her hair out of her face and leaned in earnestly. "Harper was hired by an art insurer. They believe there's a pattern between Dr. Felix and missing artifacts as they travel from the field to the museum."
Kane nodded. "We've noticed the same thing. However he's doing it, he's very good."
Willow licked her lips, as though she were preparing to say something else. Kane's gaze traveled with the tip of her pink tongue, along the seam of her full lower lip. He had the stomach diving urge to lean across the table and catch that bottom lip between his teeth to see if it was even half as pliant as it looked.
She must have noticed, because eyes sparkled with amusement. "Why did you pull me in for questioning, and not Bruce?" Her words were low and playful.
Shit. She was flirting with him. Goddamn it, he'd let his guard slip.
"You've had closer contact with the family than Bruce. Since we're being honest, Bruce doesn't seem to do much more than hang out in your car and follow you everywhere."
Her smile faltered. "He's invaluable."
"Quite possibly, but not to my investigation."
"I don't work without him," she countered folding her arms across her chest.
"Well, that's not true, is it? I've seen you coming out of class without him tagging along."
"You're close enough to Austyn to wander the family home without her?" he asked.
"Yes. What is it you're asking me to do?"
"Look for missing artifacts. I have a file of the ones which never arrived at the museums. I want you to go searching for them. When you find them, you'll take a picture with a small camera we'll give you."
"Oh, is that all?"
"No. You'll also wear a wire. Try to get yourself invited to dinner. Dr. Felix is a single man. Maybe come on to him a little. Get him to open up and brag to you about the thefts."
"Seriously? You think he's just going to spill his guts to a virtual stranger?"
"A pretty face can make a lonely man talk," Kane said.
"If it were that easy, this case would be over and written up already. Besides, it's not that simple, and you know it. Finds in the field are documented and photographed, they're also input into computers, which makes theft a lot harder, but not impossible. How do you know you have a complete file of missing artifacts?"
"We don't. Catch him on the few, and we'll have a case. Catch him confessing, and it's in the bag."
Willow harrumphed. "I've got an idea. Why don't you go in, seduce Austyn, marry her, and get your new daddy to confess as a wedding gift? Or, better yet. Why don't you just jump to the point, seduce lonely Dr. Felix, and have pillow talk confessions? He can tell you he's a dirty, dirty thief, and you can tell him you're a naughty, naughty, FBI agent."
Kane tried not to smile.
"Hey," she continued. "You said he's lonely. Maybe he's not picky about who eases that loneliness."
Willow stood abruptly. Her chair pushed out roughly behind her.
Kane stood too. "We're not done with this interview, Ms. Harper."
"Oh, yes we are, Agent Wilcox. I'm not seducing anyone. Not for Harper and not for Uncle Sam."
"You didn't seem opposed to flirting with me. That's all I'm asking you to do with Dr. Felix."
Willow's eyes widened and her sweet little mouth popped open. "Excuse me?" Her bright green irises flashed with irritation.
"Which part?" He asked calmly.
"I was not flirting with you."
"Yeah, you were, and if I were ten years younger, it would have been effective."
"I wasn't--wait, it would have?"
Kane cocked an eyebrow, charmed and flattered by her surprise.
"Why ten years younger? Do you have a girlfriend?"
He found himself chuckling. Kane ran a hand through his hair, "No, Ms. Harper. No girlfriend. Just too old for games."
She gave him a funny look, her head tilting to one side. Suddenly she shook her head as though to clear the confusion. "Okay, I'm going to let that drop for now. I'm going to help you, because you're government and the Harpers aren't interested in standing in the way of justice. But I'm also not going to jeopardize my case. You'll have to talk to Sage or Dill if you want information on our client."
"I understand your reluctance, and I appreciate your honesty. I'll call Harper Security and arrange the equipment you'll need to use. I will be expecting notes on your progress as you gain information."
"Are you going to be sharing information with us?" she asked pointedly.
Kane tucked his chin. "That's not how it works."
"No, of course not. Mutual cooperation and information sharing is mutually one-sided."
Kane smiled. "You're getting the picture."
Willow sighed with disgust, yanked her purse off the table, and headed for the door. She paused with her hand on the knob, but didn't turn around. "Are we finished now, Agent Wilcox?"
"For the moment."
She hauled the door open harder than necessary and walked out. Bruce jumped to his feet and followed her to the elevator banks where Kane lost sight of her.
"Goddamn, that's one great looking lady," he murmured to himself.