Home > The Thief Who Loved Me (Wilde Ways #17)

The Thief Who Loved Me (Wilde Ways #17)
Author: Cynthia Eden

 

Chapter One

 

 

He hated being bored. When Remy Stuart felt bored, he had the tendency to do rash things like…steal million-dollar necklaces. Screw over the CIA team that mistakenly thought he was some sort of reformed bad guy who they had on a leash. Or maybe, just for the hell of it…being bored made him want to forge a few new pieces of artwork that he could then sell to unfortunate fools who needed to be parted with their wealth.

Remy sat in the corner of the rundown bar, not touching his beer. He’d made the mistake of sipping it earlier and was pretty sure the beer had to be modeled after battery acid. The beer bottle—and beer inside said bottle—grew warmer, his mood took a sour turn, and Remy decided that being on the right side of the law just was not for him. Being good was simply too boring.

The bar’s door opened with a creak. He’d picked his spot deliberately so that he would be able to see every single person who entered and left the bar. A personality quirk, he liked to look at faces. He actually never forgot a face. A talent Remy possessed. As soon as he saw someone, he did a mental sketch in his mind. The image stayed with him.

So as the door opened, he tilted his head and…

Wrong bar, sweetness. Wrong man. Wrong night.

The woman who peeked inside didn’t belong in the bar. Her face was all angelic grace and ethereal beauty, with dark, arched brows over the deepest, greenest eyes he’d ever seen. Even across the room, her eyes were stunning. Her lips were unpainted, a pale pink, but lush. And her hair was a tangled tumble of darkness.

His eyes narrowed. Was that a leaf in the darkness of her hair?

No music played in the bar. Not exactly that kind of place. The floors were dusty, the service was nonexistent, and a flickering light bounced over the one pool table in the joint. Remy had spent plenty of time in places one hell of a lot better.

He’d also spent too much time in places that were worse.

The lost angel stood in the doorway, one delicate hand gripping the edge of the door far too tightly. Probably trying to decide if she should come fully inside or turn away and run.

Turn away and run. That would be the smart choice.

Instead, her emerald eyes locked on him. She swallowed. Her whole body trembled, as if the woman was utterly terrified. But she let go of the door and stepped toward him.

Such a poor life choice. But Remy arched a brow. His gaze also slid down her body. She wore a white dress. Long and flowing, it hid entirely too much of her body. The bottom of her dress was dark and spattered with what appeared to be mud. The dress was spattered and so were her bare feet.

Remy straightened. She had cute toes. Red toenail polish adorned them. So did a great deal of dirt, as if the angel had just walked—or run—through the muddy woods in order to reach the bar at the edge of town.

Halfway, Georgia, wasn’t exactly a tourist mecca. Sure, it was nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the views were phenomenal, but this town wasn’t like the others in the area. It was more of a pitstop—thus, the name. The few locals in the area liked to joke that when you reached the town, you were halfway to one of the more entertaining cities.

No one ever stayed in Halfway. Nothing ever happened in the small speck of a town. So, yes, it had seemed like the perfect hiding place for Remy.

The woman in white had almost reached his table. He could feel a frown pulling at his brows. He would have turned to look around the bar to see if maybe she’d confused him with someone else, but, other than the bartender, he was the only other person in the bar. Well, he had been. Now she was there so—

She stopped right at the edge of his wobbly, wooden table. “I need your help.”

Remy smiled at her. “Sweetness, you obviously have me confused with someone else.”

“No, I-I understand that you don’t know me…”

He leaned forward. Studied her. Did the usual mental sketch in his mind. Oh, how I could paint the hell out of her. “Your eyes are quite spectacular. A very strong, vivid shade of green.” He’d seen a meadow in Ireland that shade once.

“What?” Even as she asked the confused question, she darted a look back toward the bar’s entrance. Her thick hair trailed over her shoulder.

He saw a second leaf. His lips pursed. Someone had definitely spent time in the woods. And that white dress of hers—though dirty—was certainly interesting. If he didn’t know better, Remy might think he was staring at a runaway bride.

But I don’t know better, do I? His night had certainly perked up.

Her head jerked back toward him.

He studied her face. The angles. The softness. The slopes. In his mind, Remy continued his sketch. “Great nose. Very elegant. Heart-shaped face. Bow lips. And your skin has a golden tint. I’m thinking…Italian? Maybe Italian on one side of the family and either Irish or English on the other?”

Her bow lips parted. She blinked.

Remy shrugged. “It’s okay to say I’m right. I’m really good at things like this.”

She slapped her hands down on the table. At the sudden movement, his bottle of beer shook and began to topple. Casually, Remy reached out his hand and caught it before the beer could do anything fortunate like shatter and spill all over the floor.

“Please.” Her voice was nice. Husky. Warm. “I need your help.”

Again with the H-word. Tragic. Remy released the beer and rose. He tossed a twenty onto the table. The bartender was staring at a football game on a miniscule TV, not paying them any attention. “This is where I think the confusion originates. You seem to believe I am someone who helps. I’m not.” But, well, he could give her helpful advice. He edged around the table toward her.

The angel backed up a quick step and sucked in a breath.

Average height. Maybe five-foot-six or so. She tilted her head back to look up at him.

“Rodney over there follows the rules of most local establishments.” Remy pointed to the bartender.

Her gaze flew toward the back of Rodney’s gleaming head. Rodney made a habit of shaving his head clean every three days. Like clockwork.

“What rules?” she whispered.

“No shirt, no shoes, no service.” Remy pointed downward at her adorable, though dirty, toes. “Don’t know if you’ve noticed, but you appear to have lost something.”

She grabbed his shirtfront. Fisted the fabric beneath her hands. “I need to get out of here!”

Remy raised his hand and plucked a leaf from her hair. “Did you run through the woods?”

“Yes.” She shivered. Clutched his shirt even tighter. “I saw the big, black truck outside. Tell me it’s yours.”

Technically, it wasn’t, but he lied all the time so… “It’s mine.”

“Take me away in it.”

Now Remy realized that he was going to say words that he never, ever had thought he would say, especially given his previous type of work. “You seem to be having some sort of incident.”

“What?” Her glorious eyes doubled in size.

“Your clothes are muddy. You have leaves in your hair. You’ve lost your shoes.” He shrugged. “And you’re approaching a complete stranger for help. I’m assuming all of this means you’re in some sort of danger.”

“Yes.”

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