Life handed Michael Lawrence a cruel legacy,
but in Erika St. James he finds redemption.
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By Shirley Hailstock
The clock chimed midnight in the distance before Erika climbed the stairs that night. At the landing that separated her wing of the house from the one Michael used, she stopped and turned back. She hadn't really looked at the house in years. Tonight she turned before the stain glass window and surveyed the bottom floor. Life had been different since Michael had come, but she'd become used to his presence, his habits, even his bouts with nightmares.
Tomorrow they would add different elements to the household. Even though they wouldn't have a bodyguard immediately, it was only a matter of time if Frank Mason really wanted Michael dead. She, too, stairs dressed in a silk robe. Erika opened her mouth to speak, but her throat went so dry she couldn't. The hallway behind Michael was dark and she couldn't see his face. She wanted to move, run, but something wouldn't let her, wouldn't let her breathe.
The memory of another night came back to her. She knew the robe. She'd seen it before lying at the foot of his bed during one of his nightmares. Yet she'd never seen him wearing it. It was the dream, her dream or what she thought was a dream. Had it been?
"You were in my room," she stated it as fact as if he'd been part of her private thoughts.
Michael started down the stairs. Erika took a step back when he reached the bottom rung.
"Yes," he said softly. "I needed to know you were safe."
"Safe from what?" she whispered, feeling anything but safe at the moment.
His hands slipped around her waist. Erika didn't think to protest. Indeed it was the most natural thing that had ever happened to her. Heat swept through her blouse where his hands touched her and instantly her entire body became an incinerator. She didn't know what kept her from dissolving into a puddle of chocolate syrup at Michael's feet.
Michael took a step closer to her. Erika's eyes were fastened to his collar-bone. She swallowed and looked up. Light filtering through the stain glass crossed his face with planes of blue and yellow. The garish light turned his features into harsh lines giving him a sinister look. The dimension increased Erika's excitement. She'd never felt so hungry for a man. His eyes were dark with passion. The heat of his body mingled with hers, cocooning them in a world only they could create. His arms slid around her, pulling her length into contact with his. Every part of them touched, arms to arms, breasts to breasts, thigh to thigh. Everything made contact except their lips.
"If you don't kiss me, I'm going to die."