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Onyx Dragons: Kyanite

Onyx Dragons: Kyanite

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Scarred Kyanite “Kyan” Onyx is used to working in the shadows, so he finds nursing intern Laura's sunny smiles confusing as well as blinding. But when an unknown enemy turns her into a target, he has no choice but to take her into his bulging arms and fly her into a very different kind of danger...

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Delightful. What a charming story. Kyan and Laura are quite the interesting couple 💑. Laura is a nurse and literally wears her feelings on her heart ❤ and Kyan is reserved and a soldier. This is the third brother and novel in the series but is a standalone novel. The plot will hold and keep the reader's attention and interest. The characters are well developed and written. Laura 's openness is refreshing. When Kyan finally understand, it is a rare treat. A very good read. 👍

Main Tropes

  • Wounded Hero
  • Virgin Heroine
  • Alien Abductions
  • Grumpy Sunshine Vibes
  • Curvy Woman
  • Heat Level: 3 out of 5

Synopsis

Scarred dragon shifter Kyanite “Kyan” Onyx is the Security officer of the Onyx Corporation. Used to working in the shadows, this former mercenary is the only one who can safeguard his family’s company from growing dangers. He has no time for an unwanted marriage to the empress of his home planet, Draconis. But what choice does he have? No female will ever look on his battered body with desire or redeem his blackened soul.

Nursing intern Laura took an oath to heal whoever comes into her emergency room, even the gruff male who looks like he could stop a car accident with his iron abdomen. When an unknown enemy turns her into a target, she naturally runs for shelter in his bulging arms. Laura may be exactly Kyan needs to begin a new age of dragon-human harmony—or she may plunge Earth into war!

This is a complete novel with a happy ending. It features steamy dragon shifter love scenes and a cheery nurse who wants to heal this wounded warrior. Must love dragons!

Intro Into Chapter One

Prologue

“You are in danger. Here, you will be safe.”

Her savior walked out. The door closed behind him, sealing Laura into his fortress.

“Wait! Where are you going?” She pounded on the stone door. “You can’t keep me here. The hospital is expecting me back at work. I still have half a shift!”

In the eerie silence of the crackling fire, alone and hidden in the cliff of a glacier, she had to face the terrifying truth.

The dragon had carried her to his lair.

And now she was his prisoner.

 

Chapter 1

Four days earlier…

Laura ran into a wall of male.

She’d been crumpling her granola bar wrapper into her scrubs pocket and racing through the busy patient waiting room of the downtown Portland emergency department. She never even saw what she’d rammed into—except it was a hard, masculine chest, and her full force didn’t move it a millimeter.

“Excuse me!” She stumbled back. “I’m so sorry.”

Two bulging arms steadied her. Giant palms spanned her elbows.

She looked up—and up and up and up—into the face of the male who had caught her.

Her mouth went dry.

His face told a story. Not handsome, he had been ravaged by disaster.

Within the scarred wreckage, steely blue eyes pierced her like twin blades. They were clear and capable, like those of an ambulance driver or police officer fresh on his shift, ready to deal with anything.

Capability, in her line of work, was the most seductive.

He released her because she had regained her balance, and she was sorry again—this time, to be out of his deliciously masculine arms.

“You work here.” His voice was quiet, rough as gravel, but threaded with steel, and his gaze flicked to the badge clipped to the waist of her scrubs. “Take me to your medkits.”

She blinked. The order echoed in her brain.

Medkit wasn’t a common term in the ER; it was a sci-fi term from TV. Did he mean…

Wait, no, he was asking for a sci-fi medkit, and in fact, this hospital did have three of them because Saint General Restoration was the only hospital in all of Oregon treating dragon shifter aliens.

Which meant the huge, scarred, capable male in front of her wasn’t human. Or, he wasn’t entirely human.

Her ordinary night—no codes yet, the possible heart patient had turned out to be anxiety, and the out-of-control diabetic’s sugar was coming down—tilted into the surreal.

“Just a moment.” She moved around him, through the rest of the crowded waiting room, to the front desk.

Both clerks were assessing new patients for triage, and the charge nurse was busy delegating assignments.

Laura swooped around the counter and cleared her throat. “Sabrina.”

The charge nurse looked up in irritation. She was trying to fit fifty people into ten rooms, and this was the slowest part of the night. They were anticipating a rush. “What?”

Laura pointed over her shoulder. “He needs to see the medkits.”

Sabrina’s eyes went unfocused.

The clerks also paused.

No patient frothed at the mouth or complained of chest pains at this exact moment, so they could all take the second to be shocked.

Sabrina’s eyes cleared. “He have a name?”

“Oh, I—”

“Kyan,” the male said softly behind Laura.

He was closer than she’d realized. Moving swiftly and silently despite his large size.

Smooth. Capable. In control.

A little shiver of awareness tingled through her.

The charge nurse brought up a list on her computer screen. “Kyanite Onyx?”

“Yes.”

Like the rock. The mineral. How very dragon alien-y.

“Head of security for the Onyx Corporation?” Sabrina continued.

He nodded.

“One moment.” She dialed an outside line to the director of the hospital, at home in the middle of the night, and conveyed the request, speaking concisely in respectful tones.

Laura’s excitement increased a notch.

“I understand.” Sabrina hung up, stared at the male, then at Laura, and apparently decided that since Laura had already made first contact, she should continue. “You know where they are.”

She did, but she was mid-shift. “I’ve got tests coming back, and Dr. Richard said I’m not turning my rooms fast—”

“I’ll assign another tech.” Sabrina looked over the male and swallowed. “Check in when you get back.”

Her tone almost suggested if you get back.

The clerks picked up their assessments again.

Laura led Kyan down the hall, away from the moan of the waiting room. She swiped her badge over the elevator controls to activate them and pressed the call button. A moment later, the doors whooshed open. They entered.

The silent male filled the small space like a steel tank. A SWAT captain grown to world-saving size, or the superhero Hulk of legend.

She swept her badge across the inside controls so the floor buttons would activate, then pressed the top floor. The doors closed, and they began to move. Her patients—well, her preceptor’s patients—were left far behind.

In the small space, Kyan’s masculine scent teased her nostrils. Leather, body armor, and his own spice.

Laura breathed deeply, trying not to lean in. There were a lot of smells in the hospital, and most of them weren’t nice.

She visually traced the line of muscle at his neck. There was so much. A male in the tip-top peak of health. He put ripped bodybuilders to shame. The dark T-shirt and collar of his trench coat interrupted the perfect corded strength—

His blue eyes pierced her. “You’re staring.”

“Oh, um…” Yes, she absolutely had been. And drooling, but he didn’t need to know. “You look different from what I expected.”

“Different?”

“You are a dragon, right?”

He held up one massive hand. Iridescent blue scales shimmered beneath his human skin. They were the same piercing color as his eyes.

Wow.

He lowered his hand. “Better?”

That was amazing! Can you just do that? All over your body? was what she wanted to ask, but instead, she tried to match his level of nonchalance. “I guess that’s closer.”

His dark brows twitched into the ghost of a frown.

Oh no.

She rushed to explain herself. “I thought you’d look dragon-y. But you look ordinary.”

“Ordinary,” he repeated.

“You know. Like anybody else. Normal.”

The elevator slowed, and the doors dinged open. She strode onto the private wing.

I look normal,” he repeated, and cut in front of her.

His head swiveled right and left, taking in the long hallway, whisper-soft carpet, and subdued lighting like a secret service officer securing the floor.

How protective. Even on the top floor of the hospital, he was taking care of her, watching for danger.

And she’d just called him “ordinary” and “normal” when it was clear he had military skills no ordinary, normal guy had. No wonder he’d reacted.

She hurried to say, “I hope that’s not an insult.”

“Insult,” he repeated, parroting her word again with a new nuance, and then stopped abruptly. “Laura.”

She jolted. Her name on his commanding lips made her heart thump double-time, pumping hot blood to her heating face.

She was so flustered, she stood on her tiptoes to avoid running into his broad back. Twice in one night would be…well, it would be yummy. And lovely. And also hard to explain.

He whirled to face her, his trench coat flying. The move highlighted muscle bunching in his iron-hard thighs, flexing in his tapered sixty-pack, and rippling across his pectorals.

Her mouth watered.

She’d love to peel off his black tactical shirt and see the real muscle instead of shadowy hints. The heart-pounding sensation descended from her chest to her feminine regions, and she came awake as a woman.

He looked down on her imperiously. “Did you get a good look?”

“Oh.” Yikes, he’d caught her again. She put her hand up in surrender. “I didn’t mean—it’s because you’re like a celebrity and I couldn’t help myself. You are actually very normal and ordinary, and I’ll only keep my eyes on the appropriate areas from now on.”

“Appropriate? No.” He shook his head as though encountering a strange sound. Reaching out, he grasped her hand. “Did you get a good look at my face?”

Hadn’t she?

His gaze bore into her like two blue gemstone lasers, melting her body and adding fire. His spicy scent flooded her nostrils, hitting her veins like the first warning signs of a new addiction.

She licked her suddenly dry lips.

His mouth was much more approachable only a few inches from hers.

“Do I look ordinary?” he demanded.

She tore her gaze from his commanding mouth. Firm jaw, high cheekbones, stern forehead. He was used to being obeyed.

Atop these features lay his scars.

His nose had been broken multiple times, and the skin stretched and twisted in rubbery paths as if he’d once been held down and scrubbed with thorns.

But although his scars dominated at first glance, they faded from her consciousness and she was intimately aware of everything else—his scent, his piercing eyes, and the dynamic energy that was Kyan.

His visage was fringed by brown hair tempered with lighter sandy threads.

Her fingers twitched to stroke them.

“Do I?”

Her mouth was too dry to form words. She shook her head.

No, he did not look ordinary.

He looked like a god of war incarnate. A male who had seen the blackest pits of hell and emerged scathed but triumphant.

And he held her hand. His broad thumb and powerful digits held her safe.

She wanted to melt into him, rub her pearled nipples against his hard chest, and taste the spice that teased her nose.

Heat soaked her lower regions.

His nostrils flared. A predator scenting his prey.

She ought to be afraid. After all, she was still a virgin. The last man she’d tried to trust with her body had turned into a real monster after she’d opened her bedroom door.

But she’d worked very hard to become the optimistic, hopeful, passionate woman still anticipating her dreamy first time.

Suddenly, maybe, it seemed like all her therapy had worked.

Kyan overflowed with patience, self-denial, control—and honesty. She did not fear him.

Maybe, just maybe, she could let a male—let Kyan—in to unleash her dreams.

He released her, stepped back to a respectable distance, and whirled away.

She sucked in a deep breath. Arousal tingled all over her body, which was not something she ever felt in her ciel-blue scrubs.

The sensation was a little terrifying, a lot exhilarating, and most of all, reassuring. This was progress. This was recovery. She was almost whole.

He reached the room and tried the door. The handle didn’t move.

She caught up with him and swiped her badge. The lock changed from red to green, and the latch clicked.

She’d been shown this room on her welcome tour of the hospital six months earlier when she’d been assigned her final round of clinicals. Laura flicked on the lights of the lush “Dragon” suite.

It was outfitted like all the other rooms on this top-level VIP floor. The shiniest bed with the highest thread-count hospital sheets, polished oak tables, gold brocade-upholstered chairs, and a giant glass vase filled with mounds of fresh roses, chrysanthemums, and spider orchids.

Kyan strode to a wall cabinet, pulled down a large metal case, and opened it. The contents gleamed. Slender implements mixed with short, fat tools. The foreign trays resembled an automobile toolbox more than a first aid kit.

He sorted the devices as though checking off a list in his mind.

Thinking about it, calling him ordinary probably had been an insult. Maybe he’d gotten his wounds while serving his Dragon Empire. Like a Purple Heart. Or maybe dragons scarred themselves on purpose. She didn’t know much about their culture. Her odds of meeting a rock star or Oscar-winning actor were much higher than her odds of meeting one of the few hundred dragons living on Earth.

But now she had met one. He’d called so much attention to his scars, he must want to talk about them.

“What’s the story?” she asked. “What happened?”

He closed the case. His frown deepened.

Or maybe he didn’t want to talk. That was fine too. She’d only thought—

“Someone committed great harm using a stolen medkit.”

Huh? Oh. That was why he was here. “You’re checking that ours weren’t stolen.”

He opened the second case and silently sorted through the implements.

Hospitals did fight inventory loss. Drugs were the obvious black market good, but some thefts were accidental. Laura herself had carried out pockets full of syringes, bandages, cold packs, and other items she’d grabbed for patients and forgotten to return. Someone could probably perform minor surgery in the back seat of her sedan with all the things she’d accidentally stolen in the last six months.

It would be harder to make off with a large glowing alien case. Kyan’s frown only deepened the more implements he examined.

“Was someone hurt?” she asked.

“He reached medical facilities in time.”

In time? Yikes. “I hope it wasn’t too bad.”

Kyan pulled a small device from inside his trench coat. Thin and rectangular, like a phone, it was no brand she recognized.

A holographic image of a man with a badly charred chest—fourth degree burns?—filled the screen.

She sucked in a breath. Burns were always breathtaking, and not in a good way. “So extensive. And he survived?”

“A dragon would not succumb without a fight.”

So, the man on the screen was a dragon like Kyan, and he’d lived through what would kill most humans. Dragon alien medical technology must be so advanced.

It required minerals and resources Earth didn’t possess, which was one reason their small planet on the farthest edge of the Dragon Empire had been ignored for centuries.

Only five years ago, dragons had landed their spaceships on the White House front lawn, shattering the belief humans were alone in the universe. The dragons were like a massively advanced colonial group barging into an isolated, primitive jungle village. But, unlike colonists of Earth’s darker past, they came for the sole purpose of exporting “colorful human clothes” back to the rest of the Empire. Not for conquest.

Earth didn’t have anything they wanted to conquer, honestly.

And, although they were each multibillionaires in comparison to a regular person, not too many dragons were interested in “roughing it” on Earth. Nothing had changed much since the first arrival.

Until now.

Kyan put away his device and closed the second medkit. “The perpetrator received the medkit implements through the mail. I must locate the source before additional parts cause more damage.”

“Got it.” Her heart ached for his injured friend. “I hope your patient has an easy recovery.”

“He will heal in a few days.”

Days? “His chest cavity was burned open!”

“He received proper care.” Kyan returned the second kit to the cabinet. “Pyro’s injury will heal quickly with little scarring.”

They’d cycled back to another opening for her to ask about his scars and why he’d wanted her to stare at them. She tried again. “Are scars attractive to dragons?”

“Attractive?” He snorted. “No.”

“Then why…”

Why hadn’t he used his superior no-scarring medical technology on his face?

He answered her unspoken question while staring at the open cabinet with a frown. “It is easier to heal new injuries than old. Mine are very, very old.”

“Why weren’t they healed when they were new?”

His rough voice dropped to a murmur she almost missed. “There is great evil in the universe.”

She held her breath.

Without taking his eyes off the cabinet, he spoke quietly. “Homes for orphaned dragonlets have limited resources. One ‘prank’ is a waste to heal. The next day, another ‘prank’ is also a waste. And then, eventually, there are so many ‘pranks’ that healing anything is a waste.”

“By ‘prank’ you mean the other residents of the home bullied you?”

“No. Others in my city objected to my face. They attempted to burn it off.”

Oh God. “And the adults didn’t stop it? They said healing you was a waste?”

“A low-caste dragon has no need for an unblemished appearance. He will never catch the attention of a female—unless her attention is disgust.”

Her eyes watered.

Since taking up clinical rotations, Laura was around when they broke tragic diagnoses to lovely people every night. And she’d gotten pretty good at burying her real feelings beneath the professional mask her patients needed—the mask that focused on symptoms and solutions and being a professional rock in a sudden, horrible storm.

But she wasn’t treating Kyan, and she hadn’t expected a story so sad. Imagining a cute little boy all alone in the world hurt and ignored by the adults who were supposed to care for him made her want to go into the past and hug him close, rock him, and tell him it would all be okay.

A lump formed in her throat, and her eyes watered so hard, she had to sniff furiously.

His gaze whipped to her in confusion. “Are you injured?”

“Not physically.” She scrubbed her cheeks. “Just…wishing I could…kiss it and make it better.”

“Kiss it?”

“It’s a…a childhood thing.” She waved her hand, sniffing. “Kids stub a toe, and their parents can kiss it and make it better.”

That was clearly something he’d never experienced. His parents had, for whatever reasons, failed to be there for him, and the orphan care adults had obviously had hearts made of stone—if they’d had hearts at all.

“I wish I could kiss them and make them better.”

“My dragon form is worse.”

Oh. Right, he had a whole other form. She regained her control. “Can I see?”

“No.” His jaw flexed. He finally closed the cabinet. “The scars no longer hurt.”

But actually, she thought maybe they still did. Otherwise, why would he draw her attention to them right after she tried to tell him he looked normal?

“You were so little and helpless.”

“I was never small.” He opened and closed the rest of the room’s cabinets, searching for the third medkit. “They targeted me because I was large. My soft attitude prolonged the attacks.” He looked at her sideways. “I hardened.”

He must have. Because now, he was as hard as a diamond. A fully capable head of security who had seen the evil in the world and fought to protect innocents.

He closed the final cabinet with a decisive click. “Where is the third medkit?”

Uh-oh.

They searched the floor, all the storage cabinets, and then they returned to the main floor and she ran the problem past Sabrina.

“Can this wait?” Sabrina clenched her pen and clearly wanted Laura back on duty. “The day shift will know where to find it.”

Or it would be another charge nurse’s problem.

“Someone attempted murder with a stolen medkit,” Laura explained. “Fourth degree burns into the chest cavity. One of ours is missing. It doesn’t look good.”

Sabrina swore under her breath and picked up the phone. Another hushed call to the director later, she motioned for Laura to give Kyan access to any part of the hospital he wanted. “The ambulance bay. Helicopter pad. Basement storage. Anywhere.”

They searched.

Laura hoped her workplace wasn’t at fault for the injuries, and she also used the time to try to think of something helpful to say. Something that wasn’t, Can I give you a hug? Or, the more adult version, Can I kiss you even though it’s too late to make it all better?

Kissing would make her feel better. Too much better in places that craved but didn’t have much experience with a man’s touch.

Kyan’s touch would be good.

Every time they entered a new hall, Kyan strode through the doorway first, his head pivoting and his trench coat flaring as he cased the space. The control in his movements held the grace of a dancer, but any performance would be lethal to a criminal.

Their search was mostly silent. Perhaps he rarely spoke and his extended conversation earlier had been out of character.

Laura didn’t mind peaceful silence. Everything about Kyan exuded serene capability and lethal confidence.

Only in the basement did he startle her.

“That’s all the light switches,” she said in response to his request for more visibility. “Sorry.”

“The lighting for these shelves is inadequate.” His voice echoed above her.

She glanced his way in the cramped aisle.

He was floating! Off the ground!

His black steel-toed boots hovered approximately one additional foot above the cement. His head brushed the cobwebbed ceiling.

She gasped.

He looked down at her. “Problem?”

It was too late to school her surprise.

Of course Kyan could fly. All dragons could.

Activating a rare mineral in his blood let him transform, ripping his shirt and jeans to shreds as he morphed into a scaled dragon straight out of a medieval herald. The dragon aliens had first surveyed Earth during the Middle Ages, and their impression had lingered in Earth’s cultural memory even though the history had been lost.

Or he could fly without transforming. That mineral, stellarium, reversed gravity in either form. Just now, Kyan hovered above the shelves like a special ops version of Superman.

Most of the universe had a genetic ability to shift into animals or fly. Only sad, backward Earth was populated by humans with a recessive gene that prevented them from changing form or taking flight.

Something about Kyan caused her emotions to vault to the surface.

“I forgot you can do that.” Laura tried to laugh off her reaction, but the sound warbled. “How convenient! Nothing is ever out of your reach.”

“Nothing…” His gaze narrowed. “Is that what you think?”

Hmm. He was not talking about physical objects. His words from earlier returned to her mind.

He will never catch the attention of a female—unless her attention is disgust.

But she didn’t want to jump to a conclusion. “We’ll find the missing medkit, and you’ll stop the bad guys.”

“You are strangely confident.”

“It will happen.”

“You know how?”

Because they’d been searching for hours, and he didn’t seem remotely tired. “You’ve survived. You won’t let the bad guys who scarred you harm others.”

“I am not involved in orphan care.”

“Evil,” she clarified. “You’ve seen evil, and you won’t stop until it’s vanquished.”

He blinked and then descended until his weight rested once more on his boots. A little too close. She stepped back to give him room. He stepped forward, hemming her against the basement column.

Her throat went dry.

“You pretend to know me,” he growled, low and rough. The sound nipped at her like sweet teeth teasing her peaked nipples. “Why do you play this game?”

She licked her lips, daring to challenge him. “Am I wrong?”

He focused on the quick movement of her tongue.

The heat, never really banked, flared between her legs. She squeezed her thighs together.

He smelled of Kevlar and male. Spicy. And also severe. Like his eyes, the blue of the underside of a glacier. So beautiful. So cold.

But right now, his irises seemed to crackle with a blue heat.

He’d backed her against the nearest basement support column. Would he bury his mouth in her kiss? Or grip her hips, undress her with his teeth, and thrust his cock into her while she held his rippling shoulders and gasped in ecstasy?

It wouldn’t happen. He had too much control, and his control was the aphrodisiac that allowed her to feel safe and enjoy the fantasy.

A girl could dream.

She started to turn away and bumped a light switch with her elbow. The aisle behind him went dark.

Something buried in the aisle glowed.

“Ah,” she said.

He followed her gaze over his shoulder. Spinning on his heels, he released her—unfortunately—and they converged on the missing third medkit.

It was jammed in with a bunch of old organ transportation cases, even though it was larger and more glowy. He operated the locks and opened it. Inspecting the contents, he frowned and slowly closed it again.

“Is everything there?” she asked.

“Yes.”

Oh, thank goodness. Their hospital was not the culprit. But that meant he had to start over with no leads.

They returned the medkit to the top-floor Dragon Suite cabinet with the others. But it didn’t fit, which was probably why it had ended up in the basement storage. Laura reorganized the cabinets so the doors could be closed again. Now all the medkits were reunited in the luxurious Dragon Suite where they belonged.

Laura led Kyan out, making sure the suite locked behind them, and down the hushed hallway to the elevator. After swiping the controls to call it, she checked her wristwatch. “What are you doing now?”

“Continuing the search for the contraband medkit.”

“Did you want to…?”

Oh, the words had popped out before she realized what she was doing. Asking a male out for the first time since her great mistake? Wow.

And now he was staring at her.

She heated.

Better to finish even though it might be too soon.

“Uh, did you want to go for coffee? I got off twenty minutes ago. There’s a really cute café next to my apartment.”

The elevator dinged, and the doors opened.

He didn’t enter, and neither did she.

“Why?” he asked.

“Because we could go, talk, drink coffee. You know.”

“Talk about what?”

“Anything.”

The doors of the elevator closed again, leaving them alone in the plush VIP hallway.

“Like this,” she said. “Just talk.”

He stepped into her space, backing her against the smooth, subdued wall. His masculine presence overwhelmed her. His muscular thighs radiated heat, and her fingers twitched to grip the loops of his black jeans and draw him hard against her, rub until she could feel the hard length of his cock.

His gaze searched her face. “You are not afraid of me.”

“Should I be?”

“It is an anomaly.”

“Why?”

“Again, you ask that question. Don’t you see…?” He changed the sentence, his gaze narrowed. “I do not like anomalies.”

Was it possible she unsettled him? Him, the giant, scarred dragon warrior?

She leaned forward, daring him to step back. “Then get coffee and figure me out.”

His jaw flexed. “I cannot.”

No, of course not. Her stomach dipped.

They didn’t know each other. Her attraction was sudden and weird. Just because she felt a connection didn’t mean he shared it. And he was like a celebrity. A billionaire at that.

She strove for a careless tone so she wouldn’t sound even more pathetic. “Too busy fighting crime, huh?”

“You are…” He shook his head. “An unusually tenderhearted female.”

What, because she’d teared up during his story of child abuse? “I’ve heard worse. You surprised me. I’m not that tenderhearted.”

“To swallow back your disgust for so long in my presence shows you are not an ordinary female.”

Disgust? “I’m not swallowing back anything.”

His disbelief remained.

Her anger flared.

Those orphan care employees had damaged him even worse than the bullies. How dare he continue to believe their harsh words? He was an adult now. Gorgeous, sexy, commanding. It was time for him to break free.

She reached a hand around the back of his broad neck and tugged his face down to her level.

After a slight, confused resistance, he lowered.

She cupped his scarred jaw.

His eyes flew wide.

“Those people lied to you. No female automatically looks at you with disgust.”

He nodded slowly in recognition. “You look with anger.”

“Can’t you guess why?”

Silence.

“You must read a lot of people in your line of work.” She stroked her thumb over his lower lip. Dry from the hospital air, and rough like the rest of him, but also tender. “When you read me, what do you see?”

“Anger.”

“And?”

His gaze flicked over her face and centered on her parted lips.

If she burned any hotter with desire, she’d burst into flames.

And then she’d hunt down and chastise all those people who’d said such terrible things to him. And she’d smother him in healing kisses and make certain he knew he was not so alone.

But really, as soon as he got her feelings, she’d let him go.

With their faces millimeters apart, her hot breath reflecting off his cheek, he’d have to realize it.

He almost looked like he understood…and then he shook his head. “You do not make sense.”

What?

He didn’t refuse her feelings. He hadn’t pushed her hand off or backed away. He seemed confused.

Her patience snapped. “Then let me be more clear.”

Their lips hovered millimeters apart. She closed the distance.

His lips lay lax against hers—with shock.

She pleased herself, tracing their firm shape and commanding presence. This was the mouth that growled orders. She teased him, nibbled softly, tasted.

He held his breath.

His spice filled her like a drug. She would never get tired of his taste. His glossy hair tickled her fingers. She stroked the locks.

He still held his breath.

Uh-oh. Was he going to pass out?

She pulled back.

He stared at her, as startled at the end as when she’d initiated the kiss.

She wiped his glistening lips with her hand and wiped her own mouth also.

He blinked and slowly straightened. Not pulling back in horror. Not rejecting her. Genuinely flummoxed and adorably off-balance. His hair flopped askew from her strokes. It was funny. Although she would have preferred him yanking her into his arms and passionately kissing her back.

“Did you figure it out?” she asked.

He blinked rapidly.

Every nerve in her body hummed. Her face flamed at her unusual bravery.

She hit the elevator call button.

Honestly, she wasn’t sure he had figured it out, but she was about to die of embarrassment for overstepping her natural boundaries and kissing a virtual stranger—even though he was really hot—only a few hours after meeting him. And at work, no less.

Although, the VIP floor was more like a fancy hotel than a hospital.

The elevator dinged, giving her an escape.

She tugged her scrubs to straighten them. “If you want another hint, I get off at the same time tomorrow. The offer for coffee is still open. You know where to find me.”

He seemed like the kind of person who could find her anyway, but she wanted no doubt.

The elevator doors started to close.

She darted inside.

Sensing her entry, the doors opened again.

She jammed the ground-floor button.

Kyan should know. Even if he wasn’t attracted to her, hopefully, he’d be complimented by her interest and gain more confidence in pursuing a “female” he did like. Her kiss might counteract the awful things he believed about himself. Just a little was okay.

He remained frozen in the middle of the VIP hall.

As the elevator doors closed a second time, his blue gaze nailed her. Sharp, as though he’d finally broken free of his stupor.

“You are not disgusted.”

She shook her head.

He frowned again, directing his gaze at the plush carpet. He’d worn the same frown when they’d opened the third medkit and known for certain nothing had been stolen.

He found something in her he wasn’t expecting. And he didn’t know how to proceed.

The doors shut out the last sliver of the hallway.

On an impulse, she hit the button to force the elevator open again.

It whooshed to reveal an empty hallway. The window at the far end of the hall hung open to the starry night.

Kyan was already gone.

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