Secrets and Sins:Raphael

By: Naima Simone

She nodded. “I will. Thank you so much for your help.”

Both officers nodded before leaving. She stared at the closed door for a long moment, avoiding the man standing silently in her living room. Swallowing a sigh, she gathered her courage—and pride—and faced Chayot, a strained smile and apology on her lips.

“Listen, I’m sorry about”—she twirled her fingers—“that. Believe me, I’ve been told I have no filter. I didn’t mean to embarrass you.”

Those steady light eyes didn’t waver. They didn’t soften or flirt. If a woman had humiliated herself by blurting out how beautiful he was, her ex, Lorenzo Argiolas, would’ve been preening, his dark eyes smoldering with sensual invitation by now. But not Chayot. He just continued to stare at her, his shuttered gaze and unsmiling mouth revealing none of his thoughts.

“It’s fine,” he assured her. “Don’t worry about it.”

Yeah. Right. She tried another smile and extended her hand. “We haven’t been formally introduced yet. My name is Aslyn Jericho. Chayot Grey, right?”

He enfolded her fingers in his, then quickly released them. “Chay,” he said. “And I know who you are, Ms. Jericho. I’m a fan.”

“Aslyn,” she corrected, ignoring the tingling in her palm and the urge to rub it against her thigh. Another swirl of warmth tickled her at the thought of this man sitting in a chair big enough to fit his large frame, eyes closed, that thick gold hair framing his stunning face as he listened to her CD… She studiously ignored that tickle, too.

He nodded. “Aslyn,” he repeated. She had to imagine how the low rumble of his voice rolled over the syllables of her name as if he physically caressed them…stroked them. “Are you okay?”

Was she…? Damn! Peeping Tom. Perv. Police. “Yes”—hell no—“I’m fine.”

“Is there anyone I can call to come stay with you tonight?” he asked.

“No,” she blurted, then stifled a wince. “No,” she repeated more calmly. “Really, I’m okay. Thank you for…for everything tonight.”

He studied her for a long, unnerving moment where she fought not to squirm. Jesus, he could wet a woman’s panties and make her run for the hills at the same time with that stare. Finally, he nodded again.

“If you’re sure.” He turned, crossed the room, opened the front door. And paused on the threshold. “And by the way,” he murmured, “you’re gorgeous, too.”

With those quiet words, he pulled the door closed behind him.

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