With a gasp, she remembered the front door was unlocked. She sprinted to the door and locked it. As she dashed through the clinic to the back door, she grabbed her cell phone from her lab coat pocket and punched the number of her assigned U.S. marshal.
First ring. "Come on, Bob. Pick up." She reached the back door. All the deadbolts were secure. Second ring.
Oh no! What a stupid waste of time. The entire front of the clinic was glass. Locking the door wouldn't keep anyone out. They'd simply shoot through the glass. Then they'd shoot her. She needed to think better than this. She needed to get the hell out of here.
The third ring was followed by a click. "Bob, I need help!"
She was interrupted by a bored voice. "I'm away from my desk at the moment, but leave your name and number and I'll get back to you as soon as possible."
Beep. "This is bullshit, Bob!" She ran back to the office for her purse. "You said you'd always be there. They know where I am, and they're coming for me." She jabbed the END button and dropped the phone back into her pocket. That damned Bob! So much for his saccharine assurances that the government could protect her. She'd show him. Why, she'd.. she'd stop paying her taxes. Of course, if she was murdered, that would no longer be a problem.
Focus! she reprimanded herself. This sort of jumbled-up thinking would get her killed. She skidded to a stop at the desk and grabbed her purse. She'd escape out the back and run till she found a taxi. Then, she'd go.. where? If they knew where she worked, they probably also knew where she lived. Oh God, she was so screwed.
"Good evening," a deep voice rumbled across the room.
With a squeal, Shanna jumped. A gorgeous man was standing by the front door. Gorgeous? She was really losing it, if she was checking out a hit man. He held something white against his mouth, but she hardly noticed it, for his eyes caught her attention and didn't let go. His gaze swept over her, his eyes a golden brown and tinged with hunger.
A spurt of frigid air jabbed at her head, so sudden and intense, she pressed a hand against her temple. "How.. how did you get in?"
He continued to stare at her, but with a slight movement of one hand, he motioned toward the door.
"That's not possible," she whispered. The locked door and windows were intact. Had he managed to sneak in earlier? No, she would have noticed this man. Every cell in her body was aware of this man. Was it her imagination, or were his eyes growing more golden, more intense?
His shoulder-length black hair curled slightly on the ends. A black sweater accentuated broad shoulders, and black jeans hugged his hips and long legs. He was a tall, dark, and handsome.. hit man. My God. He could probably kill a woman just by giving her wildly erratic heart palpitations. In fact, that was probably what he did. He wasn't carrying a weapon of any kind. Of course, those large hands of his -
Cold pain pierced her head once more, reminding her of the times she'd slurped down a frozen Slushee too fast.
"I have not come to harm you." His voice was low, almost hypnotic.
That was it. He lured his victims into a trance with his golden eyes and honeyed voice, then before you knew it - she shook her head. No, she could fight this. She would not give in.
He frowned, dark brows drawing closer together. "You are being difficult."
"You better believe it." She fumbled in her purse and whipped out her .32-caliber Beretta Tomcat. "Surprise, sucker."
No shock or fear registered on his rugged face, only a slight hint of irritation. "Madam, the weapon is unnecessary."
Oh, the safety catch. With trembling fingers, she switched it off, then pointed the gun back at his broad chest. Hopefully, he hadn't noticed her lack of expertise. She widened her stance and used both hands like she'd seen on cop shows. "I've got a full clip with your name on it, scumbag. You're going down."
Something sparked in his eyes. It should have been fear, but she could have sworn it was amusement. He stepped toward her. "Drop the gun, please. And the dramatics."
"No!" She gave him her best and meanest glare. "I'll shoot. I'll kill you."
"Easier said than done." He took another step toward her.
She raised the gun an inch. "I mean it. I don't care how incredibly handsome you are. I'll splatter you all over the room."
His dark brows rose. Now he looked surprised. Slowly, he inspected her once more, his eyes darkening to the color of hot, molten gold.
"Stop looking at me like that." Her hands trembled.
He stepped toward her again. "I will not harm you. I need your help." He lowered the handkerchief from his mouth. Red splotches stained the white cotton. Blood.
Shanna gasped. Her hands lowered. Her stomach lurched. "You.. you're bleeding."
"Put the gun down before you shoot yourself in the foot."
"No." She raised the Beretta again, and tried not to think about blood. After all, if she shot him, there'd be plenty more.
"I need your help. I lost a tooth."
"You - you're a customer?"
"Yes. Can you help me?"
"Oh, Sheesh." She dropped her gun into her purse. "Sorry about this."
"You don't normally greet your customers at gunpoint?" His eyes twinkled with more amusement.
Oh, God, he was gorgeous. Just her luck that the perfect man would waltz into her life two minutes before her death. "Look, they'll be here any second. You'd better get out of here. Fast."
His eyes narrowed. "You're in trouble?"
"Yes. And if they catch you here, they'll kill you, too. Come on." She grabbed her purse. "Let's go out the back."
"You are concerned for me?"
She glanced back. He was still hovering by the desk. "Of course. I hate to see innocent people killed."
"I am not what you would call innocent."
She snorted. "Did you come here to kill me?"
"Innocent enough for me. Come on." She headed across the examining room.
"Is there another clinic where you can help me with my tooth?"
She turned and caught her breath. He was right behind her, though she hadn't heard him move. "How did you - "
He opened his hand, palm up. "This is my tooth."
She flinched. A few drops of blood had pooled in his palm, but with effort, she managed to focus on the tooth. "What? Is this some sort of sick joke? That's not a human tooth."
His mouth tightened. "It is my tooth. I need you to put it back in."
"No way am I implanting an animal tooth in your mouth. That's just sick. That.. that thing's from a dog. Or a wolf."
His nostrils flared, and he seemed to grow three inches. His fingers curled around the tooth, forming a fist. "How dare you, madam. I am not a werewolf."
She blinked. Okay, he was weird. A little psycho, maybe. Unless.. "Oh, I get it. Tommy put you up to this."
"I don't know a Tommy."
"Then who - " Shanna was interrupted by the sound of cars screeching to a halt outside the clinic. Was it the police? Please, God, let it be the police. She edged toward the office door and peeked out. No siren, no flashing lights. Heavy footsteps pounded on the sidewalk.
Her skin crept with cold sweat. She hugged her purse to her chest. "They're here."
The psycho customer wrapped his wolf tooth in the white handkerchief and stuffed it into a pocket. "Who are they?"
"People who want to kill me." She ran through the examining room to the back door.
"Are you that bad of a dentist?"
"No." She flipped the deadbolt locks with trembling fingers.
"Did you do something wrong?"
"No, I saw something I shouldn't have. And so will you, if you don't get out of here." She grabbed his arm to push him out the back door. A trickle of blood oozed from the corner of his mouth. He quickly wiped it with his hand, but it left a red smudge along his chiseled jaw.
There had been so much blood. So many lifeless faces, coated with blood. And poor Karen. The blood had pooled in her mouth, choking her last words.
"Oh God." Shanna's knees wobbled. Her vision blurred. Not now. Not when she needed to run.
The psycho customer grabbed her. "Are you all right?"
She looked at his hand, firmly gripping her upper arm. A red smear stained her white lab coat. Blood. Her eyes flickered shut as she sagged against him. Her purse tumbled to the floor.