The Alpha's Search (The Craven Trilogy, #1)(5)By: Natalie Shaw
“The bastard was married.”
“Didn't you spot his ring?”
“He wasn't wearing one. It was in his trouser pocket.”
“How did you find it there?”
She gave me a look which said: how do you think?
“Oh, right—yeah.” The penny had dropped.
“He's only been married for nine months. I hate men! What happened to you? Why did you leave so early?”
“I was knackered. I nearly didn't make it back home though.”
That seemed to wake Alison. “Why? What happened?”
I told her about the incident in the side street, and about my mysterious stalker/rescuer.
“You should tell the police. The club might have CCTV.”
“There aren't any cameras around there. I'd have seen them.”
“Bastards. They should have their balls chopped off.” Alison ran her tongue over her dry lips. “Make us a coffee would you. My gob feels like a cat just shat in it.”
I filled the kettle and found two clean mugs.
“What about the guy who has been stalking you?” Alison said. “What's his deal?”
“I'm not positive he has been stalking me. It might just be a coincidence.”
“How come he followed you out of the club?”
“I don't know.”
“Mind, it's a good job he did.”
“Yeah. I know.”
“Still a bit creepy though.”
“I feel like I know him from somewhere.” I was thinking aloud.
“Any danger of that coffee?” Alison groaned. “A girl could die of thirst.”
Alison kept me talking for so long that I missed my usual bus, and was half an hour late getting into the shop.
“Heavy night?” Sarah grinned.
“Sorry I'm late.”
“I hope it was worth it.”
“Hi, Jackie!” Candice shouted from behind her desk. I was pleased to see her back at work; I didn't want to be left alone in the shop again at lunch time. Why should I be worried? It wasn't as if my mystery man was likely to show up again. And even if he did, I had nothing to worry about. He'd rescued me—hadn't he?
“Jackie, I took a message for you.” Candice held out a yellow post-it note.
As usual, her writing was barely legible.
I could make out '11.30am', but the rest was indecipherable. “What does it say?”
“Cheeky sod.” Candice pouted. “What's wrong with my writing?”
Sarah and I exchanged a knowing look.
“You two must be blind. Here give it back.”
Candice squinted at the note.
“See!” Sarah laughed. “Even you can't read it.”
“Of course I can... it says...”
“You two are really mean. It says 'Mr Craven is coming in to see you at 11.30am'.”
“Mr Craven? Who's he? Should I know him?”
“He gave me the impression you did. He said he spoke to you yesterday lunchtime, but that he'd had to dash away.”
My mystery man? It had to be him.
“That's what he said. Is there a problem? Won't you be here then?”
“No. No, it's okay. Thanks.”
It was much busier than the previous day, so I didn't have time to dwell on my 11.30am appointment. At least both Sarah and Candice would be in the shop this time.
From 11.20am, I couldn't tear my gaze from the door. A few minutes before 11.30am, a young couple approached my desk, but I passed them on to Sarah. At precisely 11.30am, the chime sounded as the door swung open. Craven looked across at me and smiled. My throat was dry, and my pulse began to race. As he made his way across the floor, I glanced left and then right to reassure myself that both Candice and Sarah were still there. They were both busy with other customers. Although I'd seen him on two previous occasions, this was the first chance I'd had to study the man. He was handsome—incredibly handsome. His physique was—how best to describe it? Solid? As he came closer, I felt a strange—what? Connection? There was something about the man that drew me to him like no other man I'd known. His gaze felt as though it could burn into my very soul. What the hell was wrong with me?
“Hello again,” he said.
“Hi there.” I barely managed to get the words out, and was forced to clear my throat. “Thank you for your help last night.”
“I wish you had let me take you home.”
“That wasn't necessary. I was fine. Please, take a seat.”
“Thank you.” He smiled again. What was it about that smile?
“What happened to those two guys last night?” I asked.
“Nothing for you to worry about.”
I had more questions, but bit my lip. The man had rescued me—he didn't deserve the third degree.