Read an Excerpt
One Eye Open
By Karen Whiddon
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.Copyright © 2004 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.
Chapter One"I never pay for sex."
It took a minute for the tall man's words to register. When they did, Brenna suppressed a smile. "That's good, because I'm not selling it." She couldn't blame him for thinking she worked the seedy bar. Apart from two waitresses, she was the only female in the place. And the snug fit of her worn jeans with the black leather vest didn't help, either. Maybe that explained why she felt as if she was being watched.
"I want to talk to you."
The corners of his mouth twisted. "Sure you do."
She took a deep breath. "I heard you're looking for The Wolf."
Icy contempt flashed dark in his eyes. "Maybe."
"I have information," she lied. "I know him well."
From his skeptical expression, she could tell he didn't believe her.
"We need to talk." Though insistent, she kept her voice low, showing none of her rising impatience.
"Outside. That is -" his gaze slid over her, dismissing her too-suggestive apparel with a frown
"- if you can stand the cold."
She'd worn the biker clothing to fit in. Gritting her teeth, she nodded once. Her heavy parka lay on the bar stool next to her. She picked it up and slid her arms into the sleeves without answering.
Outside, the full moon shone bright and silver through the threadbare tangle of trees that fringed the small parking lot. If she'd been a Hollywood-style werewolf, this man would be dead, his throat ripped out in seconds.
"Look, before we start -"
"I seldom pay for information, either," the man drawled. "And then only from known sources."
His words barely registered. There was something else ... She sensed a threat in the frozen night breeze. Carefully she let her gaze drift past him to the dark and shadowy underbrush that surrounded them. Though she couldn't put her finger on it, there was wrongness to the night.
Someone was watching them.
Every nerve on edge, she forced her attention back to the stranger. "I don't want money. I want an even exchange. My info for yours."
His dark brows lifted. "What makes The Wolf your business?"
She would tell him her name, in case he knew of her. "I'm Brenna."
"So?" He made a dismissive motion with one gloved hand.
So he didn't know. Time, then, to play her trump card. "The Wolf is my brother."
Nothing on his rugged face indicated she'd shocked him. Instead, his insolent gaze again raked over her, making her shiver despite the warmth of her parka and relative anonymity of her hood.
"Sure he is."
Hounds help me, she thought, and clenched her jaw. "I'm telling the truth."
"Alex doesn't have a sister." His voice sounded flatly certain.
The use of her brother's first name jarred her. But only for a second. "You talk like you know him."
"I do - or did."
She cocked her head, considering. "He never mentioned you. Are you a friend?"
Instead of answering, he took a step closer. "Alex always said he had no family."
That stung. But only for a moment. Most likely Alex had tried to protect her.
Since she couldn't speak her thoughts out loud until she determined this man's intent, Brenna contented herself with a small smile and a shrug.
"Maybe you didn't know him as well as you thought."
He conceded her point with a dip of his head. "So you're a biker babe, huh? You don't look it now."
She dismissed the inconsequential remark with a shrug. "How I look doesn't matter. Your purpose for hunting my brother does. Why do you want him?"
His jaw tightened. "Personal reasons."
"Not an answer. Friend or foe?"
He laughed then, his breath a plume of white frost in front of his face. "Look, lady, it's ten below. I don't have the time or the inclination to stand here all night. Do you have information or not?"
Her sense of wrongness increased. The back of her neck tingled. Every sense urged her to change, which meant the danger was great indeed. She needed to stall this man until she could assess the risk, take care of it and then somehow get the information she needed.
But how? Ever since this stranger had appeared in the same places she'd haunted, asking questions about her brother, the same questions she herself had asked, she'd planned this confrontation. While normally her kind avoided conflict, retreating into the shadows, she'd known if she wanted to find Alex she had no choice but to deal with the threat, face-to-face.
"My information for yours." Lifting her chin, she tried to scent the night air unobtrusively. "You go first."
Harsh lines in his face belied his anger. "I could run a check on you. One phone call and I'll know everything about you."
She stared. "Are you threatening me?" Humans usually had sharper instincts.
"If you have reason to feel threatened."
If he looked for arrest information on her, he would find nothing. She'd never broken a law in her life. Since blending in with humans was one of her people's first and most important rules, she, like most others of her kind, lived an exemplary life. She worked as the sole librarian in the tiny upstate New York town where she lived. A librarian on leave.
Having no fears of a police record, Brenna studied the human. His dark eyes carried many shadows; his rugged features bore an unmistakable stamp of pain.
She needed to find out what this man knew about her brother. Without causing him harm, if possible.
Though patience had never been her strongest virtue, she took a deep breath. "Please. I need to know. Why do you want to find Alex?"
He took a step closer, his long shadow menacing, though he kept his hands jammed in his coat pockets. "Do you know what your brother is?"
His words slipped like icicles down the back of her parka. "I do," she retorted, though she knew they were speaking of different things. "The question is, do you?"
Excerpted from One Eye Open by Karen Whiddon Copyright © 2004 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.