Life just couldn’t get worse for Audrey. Her boyfriend left her, she lost her promotion to some idiot and now she was being mugged. It seemed nothing would go her way, until a man saves her. A guy that looked as though he stepped straight out of Lord of the Rings.
Ka’ael longed to explore the Earth plane where there was no magic. His chance came when he landed a much-coveted position in Santa’s factory. But when his contract is over, Ka’ael escapes to America to find a woman who stirs his heart.
“Give me your money.”
Audrey felt the sharp prod of something hard pressed against her back. As if her life could get any worse. Her boyfriend had dumped her a month before Christmas, then promptly moved into her best friend’s apartment...well, make that ex-best friend. The promotion at Wilbur and Chain Accounting she’d been working so hard for went to some other schmuck whose daddy was a good friend of the President of the company. And now this, and only a block away from her apartment. Geez, the neighborhood was going to hell in a hand basket.
“Hey, didn’t you hear me, lady?” The man pressed the knife harder into her spine. “Give me your money.”
“All right, all right. Hold your horses.”
As she reached for her purse, the sound of fast approaching footsteps drew her attention. From the corner of her eye she saw long locks of bleach blond hair flowing in the wind before the person tackled her would-be robber. Unable to believe that a woman had come to her rescue, Audrey hurried to assist, only to find the woman— a very large and muscle bound one at that—pummeling her thief.
The two rolled about on the pavement and a moment later, her attacker broke free and sprinted down the street. Flabbergast, Audrey could only stare at the retreating figure before facing her savior. Her savior was still crouched and judging by the large shoulder span , Audrey began to suspect that her rescuer was actually a guy. It was downright unnatural and wholly unfair for a man to have such beautiful long hair. It was a virtual slap in her face as she fingered her conservative bob cut.
“Hello? Are you okay?” she asked.
The man stood and finally faced her. She drew in a breath. An angel. This man would make angels cry. The most enchanting blue eyes she’d ever seen instantly captured her. They sparkled with innocence and sensuality, an odd mix that made her knees knock together. His face was a mixture of soft and hard planes that gave him a pretty look sprinkled with enough masculinity to keep him from the ‘pretty boy’ category. My God, the man was a long drink of water.
She blinked back the hot lust that watered her eyes and washed over her body. She forced herself to focus on his clothing and managed to stifle a giggle. He wore a dark forest green tunic of sorts. It was too long and hit mid-thigh, completely unfashionable. His legs were encased in black pants, the material tucked into his doeskin boots. He looked like he was just coming from the Medieval Fair in town. Audrey found playing dress up and waving swords while pretending to be a knight a bit on the lame side, but who cared if that was his bag. He was hot enough to be forgiven
“I’m slightly injured, but otherwise I’m fine. I would ask the same of you,” he said.
Lord catch me now. His voice had a soft timbre and the sound of it alone could send her to heaven. “Yes—Yes I’m fine.”
He glanced to the entrance of the alleyway. “I’m sorry I didn’t arrive sooner.”
Audrey blinked. Sooner? She was lucky someone even came along. She opened her mouth to say something, but noticed blood trailed along his hand and dropped off his fingers in a constant flow. “Omigod! You’re bleeding!” She leapt forward, and pulled off her jacket. “Geez, I’m so sorry I didn’t hear you...I mean, I did, but I was distracted by all that...oh gosh, blood.”
She wrapped her jacket around the wound on his hand, and swallowed back the bile that rose to her throat. The world spun slightly and she gripped onto the jacket he held over his hand, lest she fall and make an ass of herself.
The man hissed in pain, his blond brows drawing low.
“Sorry! Oh,” she released him, stumbled slightly, and would’ve fallen if he hadn’t gripped her elbow with his good hand.
He tilted his head to the side, his blue eyes glittering. “Are you all right?”
Audrey nodded. “You’d think I was the one that was injured,” she said on a hollow chuckle. “We have to get you to the hospital.”
He stiffened at her words and shook his head.
“Don’t have insurance, huh?”
He didn’t answer but merely passed her a perplexed frown. “Insurance?”
Yep, he was definitely uninsured. “Look, I won’t be able to live with myself if I let you bleed to death. I only live around the corner.”
He seemed to hesitate as she stepped ahead. Aubrey turned back, her hand dropping on her hip. “It’s the least I can do. Please, let me do this for you.”
Apparently that was all he needed to hear and he fell into step beside her. On the journey to her apartment block, she noticed his subtle woodsy scent. The image the smell brought caused another wave of lust to course through her. What could it hurt? Take off that tunic, get him a loincloth and he could play Tarzan to her Jane.
She shook her head to dislodge the fantasy and drew out a relieved breath as she stopped before the familiar door of her apartment building. Reaching into her bag she pulled out her keys and unlocked the gate. The hacienda themed block had an open community courtyard at the center with lines of apartments coming off it. She had recently moved into number thirteen. That should’ve been a clear indication of worse things to come.
But the location and price were just too good to pass up, and she’d never thought of herself as superstitious. She was actually quite factual. To a fault. Of course if she’d faced facts she should’ve realized her ex was a lying cheating dog long before he dropped the bomb on her. Then she would’ve been the dumper not the dumpee.
She stopped before the lemon yellow door and drew in a steady breath. She never pondered…or tried not to ponder overly long on her ex, but sometimes those random morose thoughts would enter her mind. Drawing back her shoulders, she peered at the man beside her, who cast her a curious stare. Well, here’s to you uptight, responsible Audrey, she thought, throwing caution to the wind. Clearing her throat, she unlocked the door and flicked on the light switch just inside. She indicated for the man to step inside. “Please, come in...” Ugh, she hadn’t asked for his name. Nice one, Audrey. He stepped inside and stopped in the living room.
“This is your place?” he asked, awe in his voice.
Audrey’s lips twisted in a wry line. “Yeah.”
She glanced over the mahogany polished floors, black leather lounge and matching black coffee table and entertainment unit. The walls were the same lemon yellow as the door, but she broke it up with soothing plants and fake orchids in large vases. Some said fake flowers were bad feng shui, but she really didn’t believe in that. Hell, the foot of her bed faced the bedroom door and she was in no panic of dying.
“You have no Christmas decorations,” he commented.
Audrey frowned. The man was virtually bleeding to death and he was concerned about her lack of Christmas enthusiasm. He must’ve lost more blood then she initially thought. She hurried into the bathroom and pulled her first aid kit from under the sink.
Her kit was big enough to put a paramedic to shame. Her and her need to be prepared at all times. When she’d purchased it, her then boyfriend had griped for days at the cost. She’d known one day it would come in handy. She just hadn’t thought it would be a knife wound that would put her tending skills to the test.
She entered the living room to find the man flicking through her CD collection and she paused. He wasn’t a junkie, was he? Nah, his face was just too damned clean and pretty for that. As she stepped around the lounge, he looked up and smiled. He may as well have hit her with a sledgehammer. It had the same effect.
“Please sit down.” She indicated to the lounge.
As he slid into the seat, she placed the kit on the coffee table before sitting beside him. She contemplated the bloody black jacket. Expelling a breath, she drew on her courage and with her carefully manicured nails— with blood red nail polish no less— she eased the fabric apart.
She turned away the moment she spotted the angry gash along his palm. “Uck. I’m sorry, I just don’t deal well with blood.”
“That’s all right. I can tend this myself.”
Without looking at him, Audrey waved her hands. “No, no. Just give me a minute.”
She focused her attention of the black weave vase with a ponytail palm. Come on, you can do this. It’s not that bad. Rallying her nerves, she flicked open the metal case and stared at the various medical supplies inside. Finally deciding on some swabs and bandages, she faced him.
She pressed the tip of her finger on the pad of his middle finger, encouraging him to open his palm wider. A zing of electricity ran up her arm and she pulled back. Rubbing her thumb and index finger together to get rid of the strange buzz, she glanced up to find him regarding her intensely. Her mouth went dry and she swallowed.
In order to distract herself from the inviting look in his eyes, she turned her attention to the gash and instantly wished she hadn’t done that. Her stomach lurched and roiled as she stared at the split skin that folded back to reveal soft tissue. It wasn’t a scratch. She pulled a swab from the table and ran it over the wound with trembling hands.
He didn’t do anything as she tended him. Not a jerk of his hand or a hiss of pain. He remained still and she was glad for it. She didn’t know if she could handle causing him more pain. Once satisfied the wound was clean, she wrapped the bandage around it.
“Not too tight?” she asked, glancing at him.
He shook his head.
She turned her attention back to his hand, and clipped the bandage shut with a claw clip. Satisfied with her handy work, she placed his hand on his lap. With a smile she looked at him. “All done. It might leave a scar though.”
His lips quirked in a lopsided grin. Oh, Lord help her, heat flash. It really wouldn’t be a good idea to jump his bones. She sighed and glanced back at the front door. There was really no reason for him to stay, but Audrey was reluctant to drag him to the door and boot him out. She’d rather drag him to her bedroom.
“So, I have to know the name of my savior,” she said, stalling.
He inclined his head ever so slightly. “Ka’ael Siridarnith.”
“Wow, that’s...an interesting name. I’m Audrey Dreyer.”
“Audrey. That is a strong name.”
What did she expect? Audrey, what a beautiful name, much like you. She huffed at the fantasy. Get a grip.
Clearing her throat, she peered at him. “So, I take it you went to the Medieval Fair?”
He frowned. “Fair?”
Audrey blinked. “Well, I mean, you look like you stepped straight from the set of Robin Hood. I could only assume you went to the fair.”
He glanced down at his clothes as though she’d told him his fly was undone. “This is what I usually wear.”
Audrey laughed. “Well, where are your bow and arrows?”
“I left them at home. I thought there would be no use for my enchanted arrows here.”
Audrey’s stomach dropped. Great, a Dungeons and Dragons fanatic. “Ookay.” She brushed a lock of hair from her face and reconsidered her initial thoughts. Savior or not, he was a regular nut case. Enchanted arrows? Really.
She stood and he did so also. “Well, I guess you better head home then.”
His features twisted in a look of pure reluctance. “I’d much rather stay with you.”
Audrey blinked as her heart slammed against her chest. “You can’t stay with me! I don’t even know you. I can call you cab, I’ll even pay for the fare if you don’t have money.”
He eyed her as though her near hysterics were nothing. “It would be expensive to pay for a cab.”
“Oh, come on, it can’t be that bad. Where do you live?”
“At the moment?”
“Yes, and please don’t say here, because you don’t.”
“The North Pole.”
Her mind went blank. Blazing white blank. “You live at the North Pole?”
He shrugged. “Not really. It’s only temporary. I work there.”
“Work there? What are you? Some type of Christmas Elf?”
“Yes,” he said in all seriousness.