The safe house was incredible.
They were in the penthouse of a low-rise building, overlooking Battery Park. Jersey was visible just across the Hudson River, and if she squinted, Nayome could just make out the Statue of Liberty across the bay. They had the whole top floor of the building, and the entire rooftop. The rooftop had been turned into an incredible green-space, cobblestone pathways lined with garden beds that were spilling out with flowers and exotic greenery. A large fountain in the center of the garden created pleasant white noise that drowned out some of the traffic and bustle of the city. The resulting atmosphere was serene, and natural—an unexpected gem in Manhattan.
Taking a deep breath, Nayome felt as if she was breathing in the clean, forest air she remembered from her time in Scotland. Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad, after all. There was enough space here she could keep distance from the boys, and she felt instantly calmer being in this garden space.
“I heard this space was beautiful, but I haven’t had a chance to travel to America much.” Bal had wandered close to the railing with the view overlooking the Hudson River. The breeze was uninterrupted off the water, sending his hair back in rippling waves off his forehead. Bal turned, catching her staring at him. Leaning back against the railing, his eyes darkened as he watched her. Nayome could feel the impact of his stare like a caress as it raked from the top of her head down to her toes, taking her all in.
Breath coming a bit quicker, she steeled herself against her body’s response as he approached. He was moving slowly, eyes smoldering. Bal stopped so that he was standing just a little bit too close for comfort, Nayome had to tilt her head back to maintain eye contact.
“Gabe will be working with our IT guy to get into the Agency’s records, we won’t see much of him until it’s done. I’ve been assigned as your personal bodyguard.”
Nayome’s eyebrows rose. “Bodyguard. Is that necessary?”
“We can’t be too careful with these situations.”
“So this type of thing has happened before?”
Bal nodded, and somehow seemed to have inched his way even closer, even though she hadn’t seen him move. “Occasionally, one group or another—human, other factions of fae, will try to infiltrate our home base, or come for one of our own.” Bal’s voice was deep and quiet, sending a shiver of pleasure down her body. He was close enough that he didn’t need to raise his voice above a whisper.One of our own.
“I thought you were a healer, not a bodyguard?” Nayome’s voice had quieted as well, making the moment feel more intimate than it should.
Bal flashed his teeth in a smile “Anything you need, I’m here to provide.”
“Anything?” Nayome breathed, cursing her body as it swayed towards him.
Nodding, Bal leaned in closer. Their breath mingling, Nayome battled with herself as she felt the natural electricity between them thicken the air. She needed to stop this, she couldn’t trust this man. But on the other side, the wild, uninhibited woman she had discovered within herself in Scotland was tossing her hair back and parting her lips in anticipation. Nayome knew Bal was teasing her when his lips barely brushed hers, then he tilted his head, soft breath whispering against the side of her neck.
Giving into it, Nayome moaned in frustration, arching towards him, at the feel of his lips, always a whisper away from where she wanted them, driving her mad. As she swayed forward, his arms came around behind her, gripping her waist and stroking slowly up the length of her back, until his hands were tangled in her hair.
“I love your hair,” Bal growled, mouth pressed up against her ear.
Nayome could only sink into another moan as she felt him nibble gently on her earlobe. God, why did that feel so good?
The sound of a throat clearing had Nayome springing backwards. Bal frowned at her, blinking slowly as he was brought more slowly out of his haze of passion. He gave Gabe a withering look, clearly not pleased with the interruption. Nayome was glad for it though, she was kicking herself and her complete lack of willpower. She couldn’t get emotionally involved here, she needed to keep her head straight if she was going to come out the other side of this with her life intact.
“You off?” Bal asked Gabe.
“Yes. I don’t know if I will return this evening, it may be a few days to get everything…cleaned up.”
“Say hi to Felix for me.”
“I will pass along your regards.” Gabe turned to Nayome before he continued. “Balfor will remain here with you. I encourage you to explore the library while you remain here, there may be records of interest to you to explore some of your history and abilities.”
Nayome couldn’t keep the interest from lighting up her eyes. Gabe bowed, and took his leave. Bal frowned at her, as she took another step back from him towards the door that would lead her back inside, but thankfully he decided not to call her out on it as she left him on the roof.
Did she feel like she was running away from him like a coward? Yes. But it was the right decision. The last thing she needed was to get her libido or emotions any more involved than they already were. She needed to keep a clear head. As she reached the stairs back inside, she heard Bal pick up the phone, giving a status update to someone on the other line.Right. The others probably know about me now too. Even Wynn.
Peeking into the different rooms as she made her way down the hall, she couldn’t keep a small shriek from escaping her lips as she pushed through a couple of large double doors. A tiny, wrinkled old woman was busy at work in the kitchen. She looked just like Fitz, only her long gray braid and dress distinguishing her, but otherwise her small wrinkled face would have been a spitting image of the butler.
“Oh dear!” The tiny woman exclaimed, clearly just as surprised as Nayome by the sudden interruption. “I didn’t mean to startle you, dear. You must be Miss Nayome.”
“Oh, ah…yes, just Nayome is fine. Sorry, I just didn’t realize anyone else was here.”
“You can call me Flay, dear. And I’m here at your service,” Flay beamed, shiny bright teeth looking out of place in such an ancient face.
“Right, um, thanks Flay.”