The man was a predator. Camille felt like the prey as she led him up the stairs, ever conscious of his gaze moving over her.
She took a breath, willing her pounding heart to slow. It didn't obey, couldn't obey with over six feet of hard, volatile male muscle practically breathing down her neck. Gorgeous and unyielding like the heroes in her books, Ian Spain set her on edge in a most primal way. He would be deadly to her peace of mind. Perhaps deadly, period.
She suppressed the urge to turn and face him. Camille lacked the courage to meet his disturbing gaze head-on for fear of what he might uncover with his penetrating gaze. He might see the fear she tried to bury. He might realize she knew exactly what he was. She wasn't supposed to know anything about the Sentinels, but even they could not keep secrets from a woman with her gifts.
At the top of the narrow steps she moved aside, allowing him enough space in the hall so they didn't have to touch. But he moved closer. His body heat made her pulse spike.
"This will be your room," she said, avoiding his gaze as she gestured toward the closed door at their right.
She could smell the rich spicy aroma of his cologne mingled with the underlying clean of soap. His chest stretched broad and solid beneath the casual coat and white button-down shirt. She tried to look away, but her gaze flowed up his thick, bronzed neck. She could easily imagine nuzzling against the strong column, breathing in his scent and heat until it filled her with warmth. There didn't seem to be a safe place to let her eyes wander.
She lifted her gaze and studied his features for the first time since he'd entered the house. He fit her earlier vision perfectly with his strong jaw, slightly shadowed even at this early hour, high cheekbones and sharp, straight nose. Crinkles about the eyes gave a clue to a more light-hearted side to this hard man.
"Are you afraid of me?" he whispered. His tone evoked reverence for the quiet rather than fear of being overheard.
"Should I be?" she challenged.
His gaze moved over her face before it settled on her lips. He leaned closer. "I'm not sure. Maybe we should both be. Do you feel it?"
If he meant the heat building like a blaze between them, taking with it every ounce of oxygen ... Yes, Camille felt it. Suddenly the hall seemed even more dark and cramped like a tunnel. She swayed toward him while his gaze slowly penetrated her carefully chosen façade.
Dangerous described him as no other word could. Unlike her heroes, she couldn't control his actions, couldn't be sure what he would say from one moment to the next. She didn't know him at all and really couldn't trust him.
Camille blinked. "I-I don't know what you mean." She took a quick breath and stepped back. "There's an attached bath, it's small but comfortable. I'll bring you extra linens. If you need anything else, just let me know."
She turned toward her own room, reacting on instincts that screamed at her to run.
She stopped short but kept her back to him.
"Ignoring it won't make it go away."
"I'm not ignoring anything, Mr. Spain. There's nothing to ignore."
She knew it to be a lie even as she dove into her room and shut the door. Now she had both the nightmares to conquer as well as her confusing attraction to the man sent to protect her. But she could do this. Letting him into her life wouldn't mean giving up control. Her heart, her decisions would still be her own. It would not be like before. No man would ever get too close after she'd been so thoroughly used and abandoned. Never again.
She straightened her shoulders, ignoring the quiet murmur humming between the walls of her rented home. Her bathroom was the only one with extra linens tucked into the tall built-in cabinet. Her bedroom acted as a refuge. She could spend days on end in her sanctuary without ever having to leave. Here were her dearest possessions and comforts including her computer, a small refrigerator, a television and microwave. This was home--or as close to it as she'd ever come.
Run. Hide. Fly, don't fight.
She sighed. It was no way to live. A small part of her demanded justice, cried for what she'd lost. But how could one really live while they jumped at shadows, spoke with the dead and feared a memory that didn't even exist? Damn. Maybe the dreams had already sent her over the edge.
Whatever the cost, she needed to avoid Ian Spain. Something about him frightened her. A powerful essence lurked within the aura of energy surrounding him from head to foot. It pulled at her, weakening her resolve to keep all men at arm's length. She made a fool of herself once, so long ago, and lived to regret every moment of it.
If I hadn't been such a trusting idiot ... No sense going back there. The past couldn't be relived even if she wanted to do so. It seemed distant and foreign, consisting of little more than a few faded memories and one huge blank spot in her mind. Love had done that to her. It made her vulnerable, allowed her to be a victim.
Just like Mom. She cringed at the thought. She had loved her mother despite her faults and sordid past, but to know they were anything alike did not sit well.
With a sigh, she walked to the small bath and shut the door in order to access the cabinet. She hesitated a moment. The big man across the hall might not balk at rose pink towels, but he would look better in blue. A vivid image popped into mind of the Sentinel, wet and glistening, a short bath towel wrapped around his lean hips. She immediately shook away the impression. No, not a good idea to envision him in such a way. It would be all too easy to think of him as she did her heroes--all sex and testosterone, muscle and heated flesh. A shiver coursed down her spine.
Camille slammed the cupboard door, fighting for calm like a swimmer being pulled further and further out with the tide. Struggle and drown. She clasped a stack of navy blue towels and crisp white sheets against her chest. Head bowed, she recited a quiet prayer for strength.
She knew with her abilities and her faith, her belief in one God had to be unique. But it had been faith alone that saved her after the betrayal. Faith combined with obligation kept her going as she fought for her sister's future and took them both away from the horror, memories and gossip.
She looked up to catch her own gaze in the mirror above the vanity. "You should have stayed away."