In Seasinger, Shira Wen is a cultural anthropologist who’s done a little too much digging – and it’s made her a target of some very powerful supernatural creatures. On top of that, her new boss at the university is her ex, a lecherous jerk who nearly wrecked her career. Into all this chaos strides Kai Vance – a man with one hell of a secret. . .
A short walk down the hall put her in front of Robert’s door. She didn’t bother knocking.
“This is the last straw,” she fumed, slamming the spreadsheet down on the desk. “You can’t end the Young Anthro program just so you can have some extra PR money.”
“I can, and I did,” he replied smoothly. His smile didn’t falter. “Part of my job is keeping this department fiscally responsible. Your program, while laudable, requires resources that the department can’t afford to float.”
“We’ll have some more fundraisers,” Shira said in exasperation. “Car washes and bake sales! I can -”
“Again, it’s a matter of resources. Every minute you’re sitting at a bake sale table is time you could have spent working lesson plans, speaking at a school, attending a conference, or working at a dig site.”
“So…” she bit her lip, thinking. “I’ll limit our Anthro trips to our working sites.”
“Where you’ll be supervising teens instead of working,” Robert pointed out. “Shira, it’s already done. I’ve finalized the revised budget and it’s been approved. Maybe we can talk about a summer workshop for a few days duration, if we have the residual funding.”
“And you couldn’t have discussed this with me?” she fumed.
“There was nothing to discuss.” Robert got to his feet and walked around the desk, smiling in a very patronizing way. “I realize this club is your baby, but I know you’re better than this, Shira. You’re a scientist, and a good one. We need you doing more important things.”
“I’m putting together a think tank. We’ll meet once a month as a group, but I plan on having some intensive one-on-ones so I can…get to know people better.” He reached out, twirling a lock of her hair around his finger. “We’ve got a lot of catching up to do.”
“You can email me,” Shira sneered, batting his hand away. Then she turned on her heel, yanked the door open and walked straight into Kai Vance.
His hands shot out to grab her shoulders, steadying her, as Robert followed her through the doorway.
Shira looked up in shock, then she broke into a slow, appraising smile.
“Kai!” She looked back over her shoulder at Robert, who was eyeing this new complication with a concerned frown.
“Thanks for coming,” she said, looping her arm through his. “We’ve got some unfinished business. Let’s go to my office – it’s a little more private.”
Kai raised a brow, but decided to go with it. He favored Robert with a cool look, and with the slightest nod.
Robert nodded back, then watched them go, his fingers drumming out his frustration on the door jamb.
“Just keep walking,” Shira said, through her fake, pinned-on smile. “I’ll explain when we get clear.”
“You have my full attention,” Kai said. He slid his hand over hers on his arm in a very familiar way.
“Please tell me I didn’t blow it yesterday and you’re still considering the donation.” This was said out of the corner of her mouth, with her eyes forward and her tone overly-friendly.
“I have the paperwork from my accountant and my lawyer,” he replied. “I was hoping you might like to re-visit the offer, so I decided to stop by.”
“Good.” She looked over her shoulder, and was relieved to see that Robert wasn’t following. She dropped her hand and faced him. “I have a class starting in five minutes, and a lab to teach today. I’m afraid we can’t talk until later.”
“Dinner? Seven o’clock?”
“I –” She opened her mouth, then closed it again. “I hadn’t planned –”
“I know,” he interrupted. “I hadn’t planned on you, either.” He gave her a slight smile. “But I see no reason why we can’t mix business and pleasure.”
Something in the way he said the word sent a shiver down her spine. She heard a door opening and looked back to see Robert exiting his office with a scowl pointed firmly in her direction.
“Sure,” she said brightly. “I think that would be ideal.”
“Text me your address and I’ll pick you up,” he said, digging out a business card and handing it to her. “Until tonight, Miss Wen.”
“Shira,” she managed to push out of her suddenly dry mouth. “You can call me Shira.”
“Shira. I’ll see you tonight.”
He turned and strode away, as Shira rubbed her hand, staring at his backside until a student jarred her back to reality. She flushed a dull red and took a few deep breaths before heading into the classroom.
Kai, meanwhile, pulled his keys out of his jacket pocket and hit the button on the fob to open his car door. He slid behind the wheel, feeling decidedly mixed feelings.
He should have just told her.
He should have told her already and been done with it. That’s what he came here for, after all. Once again, he encountered the elusive Shira Wen and all his plans went awry.
His jaw tightened and he caught a glimpse of his own eyes in the rear-view mirror. They held a wealth of self-recrimination. She was getting to him. And putting off the inevitable wasn’t going help her.
Tonight. He’d tell her at dinner tonight. He’d need to get her someplace quiet, and he had just such a place in mind.
He’d tell her tonight, and then he’d get the hell away from her, because Shira Wen was dangerous on a level he hadn’t encountered before.
And he knew he was more so for her.
Seasinger is book two of my Elemental Destinies series. Book 3 is coming soon!