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GUARDIAN
by Nancy Northcott

Genre: Paranormal Romance, Paranormal/Urban Fantasy

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The brrrrp, brrrrp of a phone jolted Mel awake. She grabbed her cell. “Wray. Go ahead.”

The phone rang again, louder and shriller than her cell. Grabbing the receiver, she came to full alertness. This would be Stefan calling to check on her.

Her breath hitched. So not good. “Hello.”

“Sounds like I woke you, but you answered fast. That’s a good sign.”

He sounded extremely chipper for a man who’d rolled out of bed to make a four a.m. phone call.

“Thanks. So can I go back to sleep now?”

“Not yet. I’m outside your door. You want to let me in?”

The mere idea of talking to him in her bedroom was generating eager little quivers deep within her. Her body remembered too well what he could do in bed. She wanted to ignore him, but she’d promised to cooperate. “Okay. Hanging up now.”

With a sigh, she rolled to her feet. The pale blue camisole she wore as a pajama top was too revealing without a bra. Mel grabbed a hoodie from a dresser drawer and tugged it on. The loose, blue drawstring pants qualified as decent.

Despite light from the exterior walkway filtering between the curtains, the room was dark. Snapping on the dresser lamp fixed that but left her blinking against the brightness. She slid the chain off, flipped the bolt, and opened the door.

Stefan smiled at her and stuck his phone in his jeans pocket. A navy blue Atlanta Braves T-shirt stretched across his chest and emphasized the muscles of his shoulders and arms. Barefoot, with his hair rumpled, he reminded her so much of the man she’d known that her heart twisted with longing.

“Not having trouble with the locks is another good sign,” he said in a low voice probably intended to keep from disturbing her neighbors.

His soft tones sent shivers through her belly. Silently, Mel stepped back for Stefan to enter.

Closing the door behind him, she said, “Have a seat.”

“Thanks, but I figure you want to get this done as soon as we can. Tell me today’s date?”

“Thursday, September twenty-seventh.” She jammed her hands in the hoodie pockets. Sleepiness had fled. With him here, she felt alert. Happy.

And that was so completely pointless.

“Good.” Stefan nodded. With his thumbs hooked into his pockets and his stance relaxed, he seemed completely at ease.

That was so not fair when she felt fidgety.