Succubus Lost Page 24


Sadness crisscrossed his features, but hope was there, too just under the surface. It broke my heart. I closed the distance between us and wrapped my arms around him, pulling him into a hug.


He stepped closer and buried his face in my hair, his arms so tight around me I squeaked. He loosened his hold and looked at me, then moved a bit of my hair from my face, tucking it behind my ear. I smiled at him, and the tension drained from his features and the muscles under my hands. It felt so good to be in his arms again.


’’I missed you,’’ he said.


’’Me, too,’’ I whispered. He lowered his mouth to mine and kissed me gently, and I pressed myself against him, my body suddenly soft and in great need. Only the knowledge that Elaine was probably listening to us upstairs allowed me to break our kiss. When I pulled back, his intense expression almost made me decide I didn\ care what Elaine did or did not hear. But I gave him a small smile and stepped back.


’’I\m sure you know, but Koslov didn\ make it,’’ he said, and I nodded, still unsure exactly how I felt about that.


’’Leon?’’


’’They\ e saying he died in there, too. The whole warehouse went up, you know.’’


’’You don\ sound convinced.’’


’’I\m not sure fire could kill a salamander, even at those temperatures. Well, not most salamanders anyway.


The OWEA also interviewed some of Leon\s family.’’


’’And?’’


’’Apparently he and Koslov were in a relationship for nearly a year. It ended right around the time Koslov started his succubi experiments.’’


I shuddered. ’’So Koslov decided to siphon a succubus\s power for himself, to get back at Leon.’’ I knew it was true;it fit Leon\s mixture of emotions and the brief flashes of memory I\d gotten from him while thrilling the salamander.


Costa didn\ ask how I knew that, but worry creased his brow. ’’Seems like it. And from what we could gather from his staff, Koslov has been growing seriously unstable the last couple of years. Not that the man could have ever been totally right, being willing to do what he did, but it\d been starting to show.’’


’’Maybe because he took the power? A power his mind and body weren\ built to handle.’’


’’Maybe.’’ He paused. ’’How are you doing?’’


I shrugged. ’’I\m okay.’’


’’You drained some energy from Leon, didn\ you?’’


I stiffened and headed for the kitchen. Costa trailed behind me. ’’Yes, but not enough to make a lasting connection. I\ll be fine.’’ That wasn\ entirely true;I could still feel a bit of Leon, and that would never go away. But the presence was small, and so unformed it wasn\ worth mentioning. I knew it would fade if not disappear in time. ’’Want some tea?’’ I asked.


He gave me a disgusted look. ’’Coffee?’’


I smiled. ’’I guess I could dust off the coffeemaker.’’


He sat down at the kitchen table while I looked for the old tin of coffee I knew I had somewhere. ’’How is Elaine?’’


’’She\s better than I expected her to be.’’ There. An old tin of coffee hid behind a bag of flour. I turned to face Costa and waved the coffee at him. ’’She\s already talking about going back to class. I think she\s handling this better than I am, to be honest.’’


’’So there are no lingering magical effects?’’


’’Not that Natalie could find. She doesn\ think Koslov had long enough to complete the spells.’’ I looked away from Costa\s intense gaze and focused on my kitchen window. The sun was out, sparkling against the grass. The first sunny day I\d seen in a while. ’’I talked to Natalie about Koslov.’’


’’What did she say?’’


’’Apparently he\s always had a bit of an issue with women. Natalie said that no one realized how deeply disturbed he was. He took Natalie when she started looking into that list of potential suspects for us. Guess he got nervous.’’


I heard footsteps against the tile, and the next thing I knew, Costa stood next to me. ’’Where does this leave us, Mari?’’


I turned to face him, and his expression was open, full of emotions I couldn\ name, and something in my heart twisted. But I didn\ know what to say. I cared about him far too much considering our short time together and the mobile nature of his job but there it was.


He leaned in, and murmured against my ear, ’’I\m falling in love with you, bella. I\m afraid I\ll crash and burn without you.’’


I grinned. ’’Well, I certainly wouldn\ want you to burn.’’


This time, when he kissed me, I had a hard time letting him go.



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