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Vamps and the City (Love at Stake 2) - Page 42


"I'm afraid it gets worse." Connor rotated the folder so it would be facing her. He turned Garrett's photo over. "There's another one."

A chill ran up Darcy's spine. "No," she whispered. "No." Please, don't let it be him.

She stepped closer to the coffee table and read the name of the last profile. Austin Olaf Erickson.

Olaf. Psychic power: 10. The room swirled around her head.

Connor turned the page to reveal the last photo.

Adam.

Chapter 17

Darcy's legs gave out. She plopped onto her rear, still staring at the photo on the coffee table.

"Are ye all right, lass?" Connor stood.

She shook her head, still staring at the photo. Adam.

Shanna leaned forward. "Are you involved with him?"

"I - I don't even know his real name." Darcy lowered her head into her hands.

"You are involved with him," Shanna whispered.

Why bother to deny it? One look at his picture, and she'd collapsed on the floor. Darcy raised her head and gazed at Adam's photo. No, not Adam. Her chest contracted, squeezing the air from her lungs and crushing her heart. She'd spent so much time thinking about Adam when he wasn't Adam. Longing for Adam when he wasn't Adam. He'd been the first thought in her mind when she awoke, her last thought when she fell into her death sleep. And her thoughts had always centered on the futile hope that somehow, in spite of all her fears and doubts, he could still love her and they could be together.

It was all a lie. A useless, hopeless dream that turned to dust in the light of the truth, just like she would in the sun. Adam was gone. No, Adam had never existed. But her dream had been real. And it nearly killed her to lose it. The loss tore at her heart, then slowly twisted into something more sinister.

Betrayal.

He'd lied to her. Hell, he probably didn't care about her at all. He was simply working undercover. Now his conversation with Lady Pamela made sense. He'd talked about the different lengths of nighttime because he knew he was talking to a vampire. He'd wanted the judges to think he was a vampire. He was fooling them, fooling her. And his remark about being an international spy? Lady Pamela had laughed at his silliness, but he was the one laughing at them all.

"Oh my God," Darcy gasped. She looked at Shanna in horror. "I told him about your wedding. It was my fault. Oh, no." She covered her mouth. "I'm so sorry."

Shanna's eyes widened. "What did you say?"

"He asked me to go out that Saturday, and I said I had a wedding to go to. I mentioned your names, but that was all."

Connor nodded. "That's how Sean Whelan knew the date of the wedding."

"I didn't say where," Darcy assured them. But now, she remembered how Adam had pressed her for more information. He'd wanted to know where Shanna was taking her honeymoon.

"It's all right." Shanna smiled. "We still had our wedding."

Darcy gritted her teeth. "It's not all right." Anger flared inside her, but it wasn't hot. She'd thought she was cold the last four years, but it was nothing compared to the icy rage that shuddered through her now. Adam had used her, and she'd been so desperate for warmth and attention, she'd fallen for him. She'd come close to destroying Shanna's wedding because of him. Damn him for treating her like a pathetic, lonely woman.

She motioned toward the plastic DVD case. "What is that?"

"Surveillance on Austin Erickson." Connor opened the case and removed the disk. "We've been studying the Stake-Out team. We plan to visit them all on the same night and erase their memories."

Connor inserted the DVD into Shanna's recorder and turned on the TV. "I did surveillance on Erickson to get an idea of his schedule. We doona want to miss him on the appointed night."

Darcy slowly stood. On the TV screen, she saw a dimly-lit garage. Someone parked a dark sedan and climbed out. Adam. No, make that Austin. No, make that Lying Scumbag. He walked toward an elevator. The screen went black momentarily, then showed the living room of an apartment. Austin was inside, moving about.

"I levitated to the fourth floor and shot this through the window," Connor said.

"I hope no one noticed you hanging around in midair," Shanna commented dryly.

The corner of the Scotsman's mouth quirked. "I wasna seen." His smile faded as he regarded Darcy. "This Erickson is a dangerous one. We've never seen a mortal with that much psychic power."

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Shanna's eyes widened. "More than me?"

"Ye're strong," Connor conceded. "But ye havena been trained for it." He motioned to Austin on the screen. "This man has."

Darcy clenched her hands. They felt brittle and cold enough to crack like a sheet of ice. "What kind of psychic power? Does he control people?" Had he manipulated her mind to make her fall for him? No, that couldn't be right. Her feelings involved more than her brain. And he couldn't have manipulated her heart.

"I'm no' certain how much he can do," Connor replied. "But surely ye would have noticed if he tried to read yer mind."

"Right." Darcy exhaled with relief. She could always tell when someone tried to enter her mind. "I would have felt cold."

Shanna winced. "It doesn't work that way for a mortal. When my father tried to read my mind, it was very warm."

"Aye. 'Tis cold as death from a Vamp, but hot from a mortal," Connor agreed.

Hot? Darcy sank into a wingback chair. Good God. All those times she'd flushed with heat, she'd attributed it to attraction, even lust. And all along, it had been him, invading her mind. Without her knowledge and against her will.

Connor's eyes narrowed. "He has read yer mind, hasn't he?"

That manipulating bastard. Her eye twitched. "I - I don't think he learned anything valuable from me."

"Probably not." Connor crossed his arms. "They never knew where the wedding was to take place."

Darcy nodded. All Austin could have learned from her was her most private fears and desires. And that was bad enough. He might even know she'd fallen in love with him. Empathic, ha! She'd thought he was exaggerating, but no, it was a gross understatement. Another lie.

She snatched his profile from the folder. "Can I keep this?"

"Aye. We have it all on computer." Connor turned off the television. "What are ye planning to do?"

"Get even." Darcy noted Austin's address on the profile.

"I doona think it's a good idea for ye to see him right now. Ye're too upset. Let me talk to him."

"He's my problem. I'll deal with it."

Connor hesitated, frowning.

"You made decisions for me in the past," Darcy added quietly. "Don't do it again."

A hint of pain crossed his face. "Verra well. I will leave this to you. But be careful. We doona know how he will react."

"I only spent a short time with him," Shanna said as she stood. "But he seemed like a nice guy."

"He seemed like a lot of things," Darcy muttered as she folded his profile and slipped it into her trouser pocket.

"I thought he had a more open mind than the others," Shanna continued. "This could be a good thing, you know. If you can convince him that some vampires are good, he could tell the others on the team."

Darcy balled her hands into fists. She didn't feel like being a diplomat tonight. "I want to go now."

"All right." Connor gathered together the DVD and folder. "I'll take ye to Roman's townhouse. Then, Ian can drive ye to the apartment."

This time, Darcy didn't object when Connor draped an arm around her shoulders and teleported away. Thirty minutes later, Ian double-parked on a narrow side street in Greenwich Village. It was only a few blocks from the alley where her life had changed forever.

"I'll find a place to park," Ian said. "How much time do ye need?"

Darcy glanced at the clock on the dashboard. "I think thirty minutes should be enough." She'd known Ian for four years now, yet it still rattled her that he looked like a teenager but was over four hundred years old.

"I'll be waiting for you outside his apartment at two-forty-five." Ian left the lights flashing on Roman's BMW and dashed around to open Darcy's door. "Come." He led her to the front door of the apartment building.

"The mortal is verra strong, both physically and psychically, so be careful." Ian removed some tools from his sporran. In less than a minute, he had the door unlocked.

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