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He might be the one with burn scars, but she was the one playing with fire. It was just too hard to resist. The only way to get any kind of reaction out of Bartol was to poke sticks at him, and it worked every time.

“I assure you that everything down there is intact.” He looked her up and down. “I would not choose you because you are human…and annoying.”

“You’re not exactly Mister Approachable. If I wasn’t annoying, you wouldn’t talk to me at all,” she pointed out.

Bartol stepped back, allowing the dark shadows of his home to obscure him. “I don’t need your charity. Find someone else to bother.”

At the rate she was going, it would be another six months before he even let her enter his home. “Are you going to live like a monk for the rest of your life?” She cocked her head. “Because for you, that’s going to be a very long time.”

The only way he could die was if an archangel cut off his head since they were the only ones strong enough to do it. Cori had been hanging around the supernatural community for over a year now, and she’d learned quite a lot during that time.

Bartol gripped the door. “If I do change my mind, it will be long after you’re dead.”

She let a slow smile spread across her face, taking a step closer. “Maybe, but I’ll make sure you remember me while you’re doing it.”

His jaw hardened. “I sincerely doubt it.”

Cori jumped when he slammed the door on her—again. One of these days he was going to take that sucker off the hinges. She sighed in resignation, figuring she’d reached her limit with him for this day. It was just long enough that Bartol had been forced to socialize, and he’d have something to think about while he ate. The fact that he didn’t ignore her knocks told her he didn’t hate her visits half as much as he claimed. Though it was probably a good thing she knew how to cook well, or else he might never open the door.

Taking a fortifying breath, she headed back down the road to her own cabin. The sun was beginning to set with the trees casting long shadows across the ground. Unease filled her as she reached her home. There was a red envelope tacked to the wall next to her door that she hadn’t noticed before. This evening was the first time she’d left her cabin all day since her tattoo studio was closed on Sundays, and she’d had no reason to go out before now. The envelope could have been left there any time since last night. But by who and why? Most people called or emailed if they had something to say to her.

She took the envelope and broke the seal, finding a folded white sheet of paper inside. Opening it slowly, she took in the neatly typed message on the page. Her heart began beating harder, and her throat swelled as she scanned the words.

Next time you leave someone for dead, make sure they’re dead.

See you real soon, babe. –G

Cori fell to her knees, the sheet of paper crumpling in her hand as she hit the wooden planks of her porch. He couldn’t be alive—he couldn’t. No one could survive what she’d done to him, and she’d buried him in four feet of snow in the middle of nowhere. Not to mention there’d been no signs of life when she’d dumped him. She was almost positive of that, but niggles of doubt wormed their way into her mind now. Cori hadn’t checked his pulse. She’d been too far out of her mind at the time to think about that.

Even if he hadn’t been dead right then, he couldn’t have survived for long, and no way could he have crawled over a mile to the nearest highway for help. This had to be some kind of cruel joke. Someone—though she didn’t know who or for what reason—had found out what she’d done nearly four years ago, and now the past was coming back to haunt her.

Chapter 2


She had brought him food—again. Bartol could not understand why the crazy woman kept visiting him no matter how he much he tried to push her away. Though he’d implied that she was not good enough for him, it was quite the opposite. Cori was a beautiful woman. She had shiny black hair with a slight wave to it that just brushed her shoulders and a heart-shaped face that if he allowed himself the luxury he could stare at all day. Her nose was small and impertinent, her skin creamy, and she had hazel eyes she used to challenge him at every turn. There was a time when he would not have hesitated to grab that lithe body of hers and take her to his bed right away.

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