Beware Of Me

By: Cynthia Eden

Chapter One


Carly Shay hurried up the subway steps, her high heels making the climb feel far more difficult than it should. People jostled around her, moving quickly, but she kept pace with them. After all, she’d been living in New York for years. She knew this town. Knew this place inside and out.

The crowds—the wonderful energy—she could disappear in this city. Blend in easily. And no one gave her a second glance.

That was why she’d first come to New York. To vanish in the crowd. To stop attracting attention. The way Carly figured it, she’d done a damn good job of vanishing.

One hand kept a firm grip on her bag as she marched forward and across the street. A few more minutes, and she’d be home free.

“Carly.”

She almost slammed into him. She’d been focused on the crowd. On the guy in the fancy suit who was yelling into his phone. On the mother trying to comfort her crying toddler.

She hadn’t even seen him.

But now, she couldn’t look anywhere else.

Because in the middle of the sidewalk, standing less than three feet from her, was the man who haunted far too many of her dreams. Well, her nightmares really.

Ethan Barclay.

Tall, dark, and far too dangerous to know…Ethan Barclay.

The dying sunlight fell on his dark hair. Hair that was a little too long. Dark stubble covered his jaw and his golden eyes—tiger eyes—were locked on her with the full intensity of a predator who’d just found the perfect prey.

I won’t be his prey. Not this time.

“You left D.C. without saying good-bye,” Ethan told her. His hands were shoved deeply into the pockets of his coat, and that coat stretched across his broad shoulders. Powerful. Yes, she knew Ethan was incredibly strong. He wasn’t the twenty-one-year-old boy she’d known so long ago.

He was a man now. A stranger. One who was reputed to be far more dangerous than Quincy Atkins had ever been.

When Quincy vanished, Ethan took over D.C.

And…

Carly had tried to pick up the pieces of her life.

Even though it was warm for New York at that time of the year, a shiver slid over Carly. “I…I was only back in D.C. to check on my step-sister.”

“Um…” His voice was a low, deep rumble and he was closing in on her. Eliminating that space between them as he stalked closer. Someone jostled her from behind, but before Carly could stumble, Ethan’s hands—big, strong, but oddly gentle as they held her—curled around her shoulders. “Back in D.C. long enough to save Julianna’s life…and get shot.”

She’d been shot twice, actually. But it had been worth it. Julianna had been put at risk because she’d been trying to protect Carly—and the crimes from Carly’s past. Quincy’s murder. “I wasn’t going to let Julianna be hurt again because of me.”

His eyelashes flickered. Long eyelashes. They should have looked ridiculous on a man like him, but they didn’t. They just made his intense eyes appear all the…sexier. Dammit. She shouldn’t find him sexy. Not at all. She should have moved way, way beyond him by this point.

The way he’d moved beyond her.

“I thought you were going to die.” His voice was rough as he made that confession. Ragged around the edges. Very much not Ethan.

You don’t know him any longer. You probably never knew him—not the real guy.

“You were bleeding out on the floor of that apartment,” Ethan said, as his hold tightened on her. “And during the ambulance ride to the hospital, shit, you left me.”

She stilled. “I didn’t know you were in the ambulance with me.” And I left him? What does that mean? No one had said anything about her paying some visit to the afterlife. Maybe the EMTs didn’t share that info with her though because they might have realized…it freaks me out.

“I was in the ambulance,” he told her grimly. “And at your hospital bedside, until I realized that I was a threat to you.”

Carly had to swallow to ease the growing lump in her throat. You’re always a threat to me.

“But I left too late, and now others know…”

“Okay, Ethan, I really don’t get why you’re in New York, but we don’t have anything to discuss.” Did her voice sound cool? Dismissive? Probably not, but she’d really been aiming for that tone. “Now let me go because I want to get home.” It had been her first day back at her job since she’d been shot and she was exhausted. It took all of her strength not to show that weakness to him, but she knew that if he realized how close to trembling she was…the guy would pounce.

“You know why I’m in New York.” He didn’t let her go. In fact, he seemed to inch even closer. Because Ethan was a big guy, well over six feet, she had to tip back her head as she gazed up at him. Even in heels, she didn’t come close to his height. “I’m here for you.”

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