Numbers Page 95

He grinned. ’’You\ e a feline lover now.’’

’’You got that right.’’

He sobered. ’’Any word on how the investigation is going?’’

She shook her head, watching Candi and Hero eat their cake and flirt with each other. Her heart went out to the couple. They\d endured a hell of a lot and they deserved pure happiness. ’’Garza isn\ chatty and hasn\ shared anything that hit the rumor mill. I know she\s been putting in some heavy hours and pissing people off by sending agents out to places they didn\ want to go. I\m sure that mental hospital was a riot for the agents.’’

’’Sarcasm?’’

’’Their security is usually anal, and the doctors are pricks in most cases. You\ e sitting across from their desks while they are sizing you up like you\ e one of their patients. They hate to be wrong. I had to interview one once who accused me of wanting to be a man. Why, you ask?’’

’’I didn\ . There\s nothing male about you. He was an idiot.’’

’’It was a she, and I agree. It\s because I started playing hardball with her. The bitch cried.’’

’’You sound so proud.’’

’’She was saying my perp was nuts, but he was faking it. I knew, and she should have too. She cracked like an egg. He was a good-looking rich boy who flirted with her, and she fell for it hook, line and sinker. I spelled out exactly what he\d done to other women he\d conned with his bullshit charm, and showed her pictures of the victims. I told her, if he\d scam a lingerie model, what were her chances of him being serious with her? I have confidence, but come on. That model was as hot as they come. I banked on her thinking the same way. She caved.’’

’’I love how tough you are, and I love your body. You have curves.’’

’’Sweet talker. Garza is coming tomorrow morning at ten to give an update to the NSO. I know she requested to speak to Candi. Is she going to agree?’’

He shrugged. ’’Hero was supposed to ask her, but he hasn\ told Security either way. He wasn\ keen on the idea.’’

Kat glanced at the couple. ’’Now isn\ the time to bring it up.’’

’’I\ll ask him if I get him alone for a moment.’’

’’I\ll cancel my class and be there. I\ll grill Garza like a salmon to make sure she checked out everything to my satisfaction.’’

He chuckled. ’’You can\ cook.’’

’’You\ e not much better in the kitchen. That\s why we eat here so much.’’

’’It wasn\ a complaint.’’ He reached over and slid his hand between her thighs. ’’I\m more interested in your other skills.’’

She grabbed his hand. ’’Tease. Hold that thought until after Candi opens her presents and we go home.’’

’’Do you miss your job, Kat?’’

She shook her head. ’’No. There was too much bullshit politics. The badge was cool though.’’ She grinned. ’’It made people sweat when I flashed it. Cops just scare people. FBI terrifies them.’’

He laughed. ’’I\ll get you a badge.’’

’’It\s okay. I\ve got you. You\ e way better at giving me a thrill.’’

Hero watched Candi open another present. The sheer joy on her face assured him he\d done the right thing by having his friends throw her a surprise party. They\d raided some of the online store items for her. She\d been given NSO clothing items, a nice messenger bag to carry her things in, and a few of the adorable stuffed animals wearing NSO shirts that human children enjoyed.

He removed his gift from his pocket, grateful that one of the task force males had gone to a store off Homeland for him. Shane had texted him dozens of photos until he\d found the perfect one. Trisha had helped him by telling him the right size to get when she\d examined Candi earlier that morning before he\d dropped her off at the women\s dorm to start his shift.

’’Candi?’’

She turned to him. ’’Yes?’’

He was nervous, but he\d never believed he\d do something like this. He slid out of his chair and got to his knees. He handed her the gift and turned her chair to face him when she accepted it. She looked at it, and then him.

’’Why are you there?’’

’’Open it.’’

The music died, and the bar grew very silent. He expected it, but she didn\ . Glancing around, she blushed a little. ’’Everyone is watching us.’’

’’I know. They are curious. Open it.’’

Her hands trembled as she tore at the wrapping. The black box almost fell off her lap, but he grabbed it from her and opened it, removing the contents. He held it out.

’’Females wear an engagement ring, and males ask the females to marry them. You are Species, but I don\ want you to give up your heritage by blood. You should have the best of both worlds, Candi. You\ e my mate, but I\d also like you to become my wife. Will you marry me?’’

Tears spilled down her cheeks but she smiled, nodding. He hesitated, forgetting what hand the ring was supposed to go on.

’’Her left,’’ Kat whispered just loud enough for his hearing to pick up, but not Candi\s. ’’The one next to her pinky.’’

He eased the ring onto Candi\s small finger. It fit snugly over her knuckle but easily fit on her finger. He held her gaze. ’’We\ll get married next week. I made arrangements.’’

She slid off her chair and straddled his lap. He sat back, holding her as she clasped his face with both hands. ’’I love you so much. Thank you for this.’’

’’Thank you for surviving and coming back to me.’’ He fought his own tears. ’’I\m never letting you go.’’

’’You couldn\ be rid of me.’’

He chuckled and didn\ care if everyone watched as he kissed his mate. Loud cheers and applause sounded around the room. He pulled away and grinned. ’’Your next party is going to be difficult if I plan to make it better than this one.’’

She leaned in and put her lips against his ear. ’’You could try to have a baby with me.’’

He hugged her tightly, holding her. He nodded. ’’When it\s safe.’’

He helped her off his lap and stood. Their friends gathered around them, sharing hugs and congratulations. Candi showed the females her ring, and moved away from him to talk to Species she hadn\ met yet. Darkness stepped next to him.

’’Nice job.’’

Jinx came to stand on his other side. ’’It was a given that she\d say yes. That female loves you.’’


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