Kartinka slid the key into the lock. Having the Hellhounds after the Raptus made her job more difficult. Once they got onto a scent Hellhounds were relentless.
An unexpected rush of cool air, blaring car horns and wailing sirens alerted her. She'd secured the balcony doors of her apartment before leaving to meet Masters.
Kartinka pulled her handgun out of her purse and chambered a round before stepping inside. Her gaze swept her living room, the kitchen and dining area, then focused on the open balcony doors. Her heart leapt into her throat. A man stood in the shadows, his tall frame outlined by the lighted city skyline beyond.
Her footsteps silenced by the thick carpet, Kartinka crossed the room.
The intruder was dressed in a long-sleeved white shirt and dark pants. The width of his shoulders and the long, black hair hanging halfway down his back was a dead giveaway. Only one thing would bring her most fierce competitor, the only man capable of turning her heart inside out, into her home tonight. Haydn North was after the vials of Raptus. It wasn't the first time they'd both pursued the same prize.
He turned and leaned against the solid wall of the balcony. "Tinka."
Whenever he called her Tinka, she felt vulnerable and wanting, a woman needing the solace of a man's arms, instead of Kartinka Kruse, acquirer extraordinaire.
He stared down the barrel of her weapon. "Aren't you glad to see me?"
Even though she deliberately kept her business and travel plans private, Haydn had a habit of showing up in the same city. She'd accepted his invitations to dinner and joined him for moonlight strolls. He'd pick her up at her hotel room, flowers and gifts in hand.
Kartinka was attracted to his looks and rugged masculinity, but he was a Hellhound. Alpha males like to lead, and Kartinka wasn't a great follower. Hellhounds demanded loyalty, and she'd been on her own far too long.
So far she'd resisted his seductive overtures, but the man was wearing her down a kiss and a present at a time. This was the first time he'd shown up at her apartment.
Kartinka lowered her weapon. "What are you doing here?"
"I missed you, Tinka."
Rich and compelling, his voice enticed her. She stepped onto the balcony.
"How did you get in?"
"You should rethink your choice of locks."
"You picked the lock. Perhaps you should have waited for an invitation."
"Perhaps. Hellhounds by nature are more persistent than patient."
She'd ignored him and rebuffed him, but his relentless pursuit of her had intrigued Kartinka.
"I've been thinking about you," he said. "About us."
"What about us?"
"You're mine, Tinka."
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