The vampire's bodyguard was sloppy when he searched Genevieve Drake. He missed at least three places where she could have stashed weapons. Would have stashed weapons, if she hadn't been going to an interview for a job she desperately needed. To add insult to injury, he smirked up at her when he crouched at her feet to pat her down, hands lingering on her thighs and calves.
Genevieve gave serious thought to kneeing him in the jaw.
Finally, after a last knowing leer, the guard ushered her into Hunter's sprawling office, then closed the heavy double doors and left them alone.
"Ms. Drake." Tall, radiating a power that made her Dhampir senses vibrate like harp strings, the vampire stepped around his big rosewood desk to shake Genevieve's hand, his grip careful and warm. His touch sent a flush of magic radiating up her arm. Her mouth went dry, and she felt her nipples peak. "It's a pleasure."
Her body's intense response surprised her. She'd felt dead from the neck down for months. "Please call me Genevieve, Mr. Hunter." Not Genny. Never Genny. Smiling up at him, she used all her years undercover to keep her expression no more than pleasantly professional.
"It's just Hunter," the vampire said in a black velvet purr of a voice. He gave her a slow, white smile, his eyes the sharp and startling blue of an arctic wolf. His features were starkly masculine, with a long swoop of a nose and a broad, square chin. His hair was thick and black, just long enough to touch his collar.
He gestured her away from his desk toward two armchairs that sat facing each other. Just beyond the chairs, a plate glass window ran the length of the room. Sixty stories below, the glittering glory of Atlanta spread across the night.
As Hunter ushered her to the chairs, Genevieve studied him. If anything, the vampire was more impressive than she remembered. Easily six-foot-two, he had a powerful build that made him look like a warrior even camouflaged in black Armani. His tie was a splash of crimson against his white shirt, while cufflinks of onyx and gold adorned his French cuffs.
"It's good to see you again," Hunter said as they sat. The chairs were positioned so close, their knees almost touched. It was not exactly the arrangement she'd have expected for a job interview -- but then, this was not a typical job interview. "You were what -- fifteen? -- when last I saw you."
"Sixteen," Genevieve corrected. And madly infatuated with you. But that was something she had no intention of sharing. And anyway, it had been fourteen years ago.
Before Gary. Before she'd been left bleeding in a dirty alley with the last of her illusions in shreds.
Hunter probably knew about her painfully intense crush. Probably knew about Gary, too, for that matter. As her father always said, you can't hide anything from a vampire, so don't even try. "It was good of you to grant me this interview."
"Not at all. I need an assistant, and you have excellent qualifications." He watched her settle back into the chair's soft wine red leather. His gaze sharpened. "Something concerns you."
Genevieve hesitated, caught between her desire not to offend and her sense of duty. She needed the job, but her family had been Dhampir for sixteen generations.
Duty won. "Your bodyguard was more interested in feeling me up than in making sure I wasn't armed. I could have knocked him cold at least twice. In my opinion, he constitutes a security risk."
Hunter lifted a cool black brow. "He's a former Navy SEAL."
"And a current idiot."
"You are blunt, bordering on rude." Hunter smiled, satisfaction in his eyes. "And every bit as fearless as I would have expected of Tommy Drake's daughter."
She relaxed back into her chair. "Well, that's a relief."
"That I took the criticism well?" His arctic eyes heated to burning blue as he watched her cross her legs. Her knee inadvertently brushed his, and the contact sent magic flaring up her thigh. Straight into her sex.
She tried to ignore the pulse of erotic heat that flared low in her belly. "No, I'm relieved you ordered your man to play the fool to test my honesty. I'd hate to think you'd hire someone that sloppy."
The vampire laughed, a deep, masculine rumble, seductive and warm. "No, I have not survived three hundred and forty years by surrounding myself with sloppy bodyguards. And there've been times even careful ones..." Hunter stopped and rolled his powerful shoulders as if shrugging off a painful memory.
"Sometimes it doesn't matter how careful or well-trained you are." Genevieve's voice dropped to a whisper. "Especially if you're betrayed."
He studied her, going still as a predator. Seeing too much. "The scars from betrayal go to the soul. And they never quite fade, do they?"
"Not so far." Genevieve forced a smile and deliberately sought to turn the conversation back to business. "What are you looking for in a personal assistant?"
You, Hunter thought, though he shrugged and hid his feral interest behind a polite mask. "The usual. Someone to deal with my business correspondence and those daytime errands a vampire cannot easily handle." He dipped his lids to conceal the hunger he knew leaped in his eyes. He'd been making do with human lovers for more than a decade now, and his control was not what good manners demanded. "And then there are the traditional services of a Dhampir."
She nodded. "My father taught me a great deal about handling personal security for a vampire. He's served my mother for one hundred and twenty years."
"Lady Loriel is envied his service, but I'm not looking for another bodyguard. I have ample security." Hunter leaned forward and reached to take one of the hands she'd folded in her lap. Her hands were not as smooth as he'd expected, the tapered fingers rough with a warrior's calluses. He found that pleased him almost as much as the clear green of her level gaze. "I need something more from you."
Genevieve lifted a copper brow. "I would expect nothing else." She traced a circle in his palm with the tip of one nail.