Midnight’s Captive

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Laura Black watched Charon from the offices of the second story window.  She’d rushed to the window when she heard his car pull up.  The instant the tires crunched on the gravel she’d known it was him.

Even as she knew she shouldn’t, she stared.  Through the windshield she could make out his strong jaw and the chocolate colored locks of his hair that fell just past his chin. 

She knew from her many hours of covertly observing him every contour of his face from his razor-sharp cheekbones to his high forehead and square chin.  She knew how his lips could look soft and inviting when he wanted something, but if he was angry, they were hard and thin as he pressed them together.

In two years from working closely with Charon she’d seen all his emotions.  None had made her stomach knot like the one on his face now.

The way he looked at the inn as if he were in another time or place made her skin tingle with some emotion she could neither name, nor explain.

Her mouth went dry when his tall, muscular frame unfolded with liquid grace from the car.  She never tired of looking at him.  He was utterly virile, wonderfully male.

Completely, wickedly gorgeous.

His dark, seductive eyes that she had seen promise other women sin and satisfaction now appeared haunted.  Troubled.

Her gaze raked over his frame that lounged nonchalantly against his car with one ankle crossed over the other.  He wore his jeans low on his hips, as if they had been custom made to show off every wonderful angle of his trim hips, firm butt, and long legs.

Laura bit her lip as her eyes traveled up from his narrow waist to the wide V made by his impressive chest and shoulders.  She might not be able to touch him, but she knew every inch of his upper body from watching him move huge barrels of whiskey. 

In the summer he’d take his shirt off while working, and that’s when it took every ounce of her willpower not to ogle his striking body and honed sinew like some love struck teenager.

As drawn in to his body as she always was, Laura didn’t miss the way his jaw was clenched.  He stood strung tight as a bow, so tense he appeared as if he might crack into a million pieces at any second.

There were many secrets her boss had, and she respected them.  Yet, she found she wanted to go to him and wrap her arms around him.  To give him the comfort it seemed he so desperately needed.

It was silly.  Charon didn’t need anyone.  At least not usually.  This was the first time she’d seen him look so…ravaged…by whatever ate at him.

He was rarely alone.  If one of the men about town wasn’t with him wanting something, there was a beautiful woman on his arm.  Women flocked to him, but then who could resist such confidence and carnal sexuality combined into one man? 

Thankfully, he didn’t bring the women back to his rooms.  It was one of his own rules.  No woman he dated had ever seen his office, much less his home or the inside of his bedroom.

Laura didn’t know why he kept to that rule, only that it saved her from having to see women with that pleasured look on their faces as she came into work.

She was used to the Charon who always had answers, the Charon who fixed any and all problems.  The Charon who nothing seemed to affect.

But he was affected now.  That much was obvious, and it worried her, settling into her chest in a tight knot.

She wished she didn’t care about him – or long for him.  But she did.  At night when she closed her eyes, it was his arms, his eyes…his body that held her captive, his mouth who kissed her into oblivion.

If there had even been a hint he was interested in her, she’d have let him know his interest.  Charon, however, was her employer and friend.  Nothing else would come of the longing, the…need she had for him.

Laura narrowed her eyes and turned her head to try and see what it was he pulled from his pocket.  It was small and he studied it as if it held the answers of the world.

All the while, he rubbed his chest where it appeared his shirt had been cut.  Concern spiked through her that he might be injured.

The only thing that stopped her from rushing down to him was that she didn’t see any blood on his hands.

She put her hand on the window when he turned his head to the woods.  As if hearing some unknown call, Charon pushed away from the car and started toward the forest.

His strides were quick as they ate up the ground.  Long after he disappeared into the thick trees, she stood there thinking of him, wanting him.  She knew that look upon his face.  He always went into the forest when he was unsettled. 

Laura turned away from the window.  He could be out there for hours.  Still, she’d seen the tear in his shirt.  She hurried into his office where he kept spare shirts for when he had to break up fights in the bar.

There had been a time she hadn’t wanted to walk into his office.  It was so very…male.  So Charon.  She loved the dark furniture, the gray walls, and all the wood, but it made her take notice of her handsome employer when she couldn’t afford to.

This time she ignored the desk and large leather chair and pulled open a drawer in the filing cabinet.  She took the shirt on top and draped it over her shoulder as she headed to the small half-kitchen near her desk.

Just a few minutes before she’d put on water for tea which she now poured in a large carafe and added tea bags.  She dunked the bags three times, then added one teaspoon of sugar before screwing on the top.

She unlatched the sliding glass door that opened onto the second floor deck and stepped outside.  Laura positioned Charon’s shirt near the top step on the railing, and then set the carafe on the small table in case he came back sooner than she expected.

Once inside the office, she closed the door and found herself looking through the dense trees for a glimpse of Charon.

It was the ringing of the office phone that took her away.