The Vampire Shrink

Lynda Hilburn
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I met with a few more clients that afternoon and early evening and had just kicked off my shoes when I heard the door to the reception area open. I quickly scanned my appointment book to make sure I hadn't forgotten anyone. Finding I hadn't, I put my shoes back on and opened my office door.

Sitting in one of the chairs in the waiting room was the very same gorgeous, blond-haired, leather-clad man I'd seen outside my building and in Midnight's drawing.

My stomach lurched and I think I gasped out loud.

He stood when I opened the door and it was fluid motion, as if he had simply willed himself vertical. His body was all lean muscle radiating some kind of primal power. He moved elegantly over to me and gave a slight bow of his head. He offered the kind of smile that made my Inner Nerd want to fan herself and hide in the closet.

Dressed in black, his snug leather pants, form-fitting silk T-shirt, and long leather duster gave the impression of high fashion rather than Harley-Davidsons.

I froze in the doorway with my mouth hanging open, speechless, staring into the most amazing pair of turquoise eyes I'd ever seen.

He picked up my hand gently and kissed the back, his lips soft and silky. "I am Devereux. Is this a good time for an appointment?"

So many emotions slammed against each other inside me that I didn't know which one to act on first. Fear decided to step to the front of the line and my mind began to weigh options in case the man physically attacked me. He didn't seem menacing at the moment, but he was much bigger and stronger than me, and I hadn't spent nearly enough time in the gym. Hell, I hadn't spent any. Obviously, he had.

My heart raced and I still hadn't formed a coherent sentence or done anything beyond stare at him like a zombie. What was happening to me? My eyelids felt as though they were coated with cement, my jaw sagged open, the air suddenly became thick, and a sumo wrestler was pounding on my chest. The normal background white noise acquired a sharp edge and turned into a persistent buzz, vibrating in my ears. I felt as if I was in some kind of trance.

"I am very sorry." He took a step back from me and released my hand. "I have frightened you. That was never my intention ? sometimes I forget how intense we can be. You must be a keenly sensitive individual. I will endeavor to control myself. Please accept my sincere apologies."

You will endeavor to control yourself? I'm the one having the meltdown here.

He lowered his gaze for a moment, and when he met my eyes again, the tension drained from my muscles and I could breathe. It felt as though a switch had been thrown and I was once again in charge of my bodily functions. I could still hear the hum in my ears, but it had diminished in volume. I ran my tongue over my very dry lips.

"You did startle me. I wasn't expecting anyone this evening."

"Again, my sincere apologies."

Both times I'd seen this man, he'd caused my anxiety levels to blast through the roof. I wanted to scream at him that it was absolutely not acceptable he'd come unannounced to my office, and that his habit of lurking around me was going to earn him a trip to the police station. He was altogether too sure of himself. I wanted him to know he couldn't just stroll in and expect me to drop everything and attend to him. No matter how gorgeous he was.

Instead, I swallowed the irritation, opted for whatever remnants of professional demeanor I could summon, and said, "Well, Mr. Devereux, why are you here?"

"Just Devereux." He cocked his head and flashed that godlike smile again. "As I mentioned a moment ago, I had hoped this would be a good time for our appointment. I trust Midnight told you I wished to meet with you?"

His voice was unusually pleasant. The timbre of it flowed through me like a favorite song, as if I were listening to him with my entire body. He had a lilting European accent, sounding almost old-fashioned, like he'd stepped out of another century. Strange how a voice could be so enticing.

I closed my eyes and sniffed the air. What was that wonderful aroma? It seemed to hover around him like an olfactory aura. Maybe he used a special kind of soap or shampoo, something spicy and masculine and unusual.

He brushed a finger lightly along my arm. "Dr. Knight?"

My eyes flew open and I realized I'd been standing there, blatantly reveling in his scent, making sniffing noises. How embarrassing. What the hell is wrong with me? Come on, Kismet. Talking has always been your strong suit. Just one word at a time. Concentrate.

"Yes." I cleared my throat. "She did mention that you might call to set up an appointment. Would you care to schedule one for later this week?" I inhaled a deep breath and tried to remain professional.

I was so nervous my stomach contracted, my hands were sweating, and my knee twitched. I'd always had a fear of small spaces, and something about this situation gave me that same closed-in panicky feeling. He had done nothing obvious to make me afraid, but my entire body felt as if it was waiting for some other shoe to drop. He radiated danger. Almost raw power.

"Would it be terribly inconvenient for us to meet now, since I am here?"

That voice. Maybe he was a hypnotist and he knew how to use it to put people under. It was so soothing, I could stand there and listen to it all night.

I felt myself sliding down that slippery slope again and rallied. I needed to get this guy out of my office before I made a complete fool of myself.

If I'd known I was going to have a mental breakdown today, I'd have penciled it into my appointment book.

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