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Things We Left Behind: Chapter 27


Special Delivery Electrosexolytes

Sloane

Valentine’s Day rolled into Knockemout with four inches of snow and a wind chill that was best not mentioned. The library staff and I had decked the stacks with a variety of Valentine’s Day decorations from handmade pink and red hearts with handwritten affirmations in the children’s section to book displays of romance novels and the St. Valentine’s Day massacre on the second floor complete with a tape outline of a body on the floor. We’d covered our bases for our patrons, both the romantic and the grumbly.

Things were pretty damn good. We were all set up for the evening’s special event. My interview with the local paper about Mary Louise had been posted and had seen a positive reaction, which had led immediately to a second interview with the bigger, more important Arlington Gazette. And I had a sex date with Lucian Freaking Rollins.

“Just…one…more…inch,” I groaned as I stretched as far as my muscles would allow.

“Get your ass down here right now, Sloaney Baloney,” a familiar authority figure ordered.

I stopped what I was doing and glared down at Chief Nash Morgan. “Don’t make me shush you. You’re on my home turf, buddy,” I shot back from the top rung of the ladder.

“Your turf is about to be splattered with your pretty face when you fall,” he admonished.

I climbed down the ladder and slapped a purple, glittery heart to the man’s chest. “Since you’re so manly, you finish hanging the heart garland.”

Nash mounted the ladder in a warning-­sticker-­abiding kind of way and made quick work of the garland. I felt no shame in joining the rest of the female patrons in admiring his superior posterior.

“Did you come in here just to show up my decorating skills?” I asked when he climbed back down.

“I might have an ulterior motive,” he said, scanning the folding chairs we’d arranged facing a podium. “What’s going on here?”

“We’ve got a guest author coming in tonight. Cecelia Blatch. She writes dark and dirty paranormal romance. The book club has been obsessed with her since we picked up her series. We’re hosting her for a book wining.”

“A book whining?”

I grinned. “It’s like a book signing but with wine.”

“Nice. But shouldn’t you have a Valentine’s date?”

“Me? Why? What did you hear?” Did he know about Lucian? Had Lucian told him? Of course not. Lucian never told anyone anything.

Nash’s gaze sharpened. “Now that’s an odd reaction to me askin’ you how your dating life is going. With all those dates you’ve been goin’ on, I figured you’d have a hot date tonight.”

Oh, those dates. Not the secret kind that involved my downtown being invaded by Lucian Rollins. Great. Now I was thinking about Lucian’s penis. That wasn’t good. Had I waited too long to respond to Nash? He was looking at me strangely. Was I being weird? Was Lucian’s penis making me make things weird? Did every woman who ever slept with Lucian act like this?

I imagined a legion of penis-­hypnotized women wandering like a herd of zombies behind Lucian as he went about his day.

“Ah. Yes. Well. I’ve had this event on the calendar for a while, and I didn’t want to miss it, so no date for me,” I said, sounding like I was being strangled.

Nash peered down at me. “You okay? You’re turning red.”

“It’s, uh, hot in here.” To illustrate my point, I whipped off my cardigan, accidentally dropping it on Ezra Abbott, the cherub-­cheeked four-­year-­old ladies’ man.

“Look! I’m a thuperhero,” Ezra announced, lisping adorably through the space where his front teeth once had been. He zoomed off with my sweater flying behind him like a cape.

“I’ll get that back later,” I said, watching him disappear into the cushion fort. “Let’s get back to talking about you. What are your plans for tonight?”

“That’s one of the reasons why I’m here,” Nash said, looking sheepish. “I got Lina a present, and I wanted to run it by someone first. It’s our first Valentine’s Day, and you know Angelina.”

“She’s not a candy and flowers kind of girl,” I said.

He grinned. “Exactly.”

If it was possible for a man to have cartoon hearts in his eyes, Nash Morgan looked as if he’d been struck by Cupid himself.

“I’m honored that you came to me,” I said.

Nash got that funny, sheepish look on his handsome face again.

I planted my hands on my hips. “What?”

He winced. “I tried to get Stef, but Knox got to him first. No offense.”

“None taken. Stef would have been my first choice too. So what did you get Lina?”

Nash looked over his shoulder. I did the same. In Knockemout, the gossip ran fast and loose. If the wrong set of ears overheard us, Lina would know what her gift was before Nash left the library.

He fished his phone out of his pocket and opened his photos. “These.”

I took the phone from him and enlarged the picture of a pair of very sexy cowboy boots. “Shoes. Nicely done, Chief. You’re definitely getting laid tonight.”

Nash blew out a sigh of relief. “Thank God.”

“Now, what else can I do for you?”

“I’d like to book one of the conference rooms for some trainings over the next couple of weeks.”

“Sure. What kind of trainings?” I asked.

“Autism awareness for first responders. We’re starting off with my cops, then moving to fire, medical, and social workers. Figured the library would be a friendlier setting than the station.”

Nash had been working his well-­defined butt off on this initiative since the fall. The whole town had turned out for his BBQ fundraiser that earned enough to equip every first responder vehicle with noise-­canceling headphones and weighted wearables. “Good for you, Chief. I’m proud of you.”

Nash looked good and embarrassed. “Thanks, Sloaney.”

“Sloane, sorry to interrupt. But I found something in the book drop,” Jamal said, joining us.

I groaned. “Don’t even tell me it’s another squirrel.”

“No, not this time, thank God. My lunch was still intact. It was this.” He handed over a plain, white business envelope. “Probably one of the older folks mistook it for a mailbox.”

My name was written in neat block letters across the back. We had seen our share of interesting items in the book drop. School books with homework stuffed in them, gloves, a retainer, a mangled loaf of bread that was supposed to feed the ducks in the park until little Boo Walkerson decided the book drop looked hungrier.

“Thanks, Jamal,” I said, opening the envelope with my thumb. “Hey, can you let Belinda and her friends know that Cecelia won’t be here for a few more hours? They don’t have to reserve their seats yet.” I nodded to the crew of feisty, elderly readers who were claiming all the seats in the first two rows with whatever they could find in their oversize purses.

“Sure thing,” he said and scampered off.

I unfolded the paper and frowned.

“Love letter?” Nash teased, peering over my shoulder. We both tensed at the same time. “What the hell?” He snatched it out of my hand.

I reached for it. “Excuse me, Chief Grabby Hands. That’s mine.”

Gone was the easygoing, lovestruck man worried about impressing his woman with footwear. In his place was a stone-­faced cop who was definitely going to take this way too seriously.

“Is someone threatening you?” Nash demanded, rereading the note. It was written in the same block script as my name on the envelope.

Stop now before someone gets hurt.

“I’m sure it’s nothing,” I insisted. “Someone probably got their panties in a bunch over late fees.”

“Have you had any issues with anyone lately? Besides Lucian,” Nash asked.

Lucian. What if the note was from one of his former dicknotized lovers?

“Ha. Funny. Nothing out of the ordinary. I’m sure it’s nothing,” I insisted.

Nash held the note out of my reach. “All the same, a lot of my people found themselves in trouble these past few months. I’m not taking any chances. And I’m not letting you either.”

“Nash, it’s a note. A not very threatening one at that. What are you going to do? Fingerprint it and then run a handwriting analysis?”

Knockemout PD didn’t have a big-­city budget.

“I’m gonna at least follow procedure,” he said stubbornly. “When was the book drop bin last emptied?”

I shoved my hands into the back pockets of my jeans. “It’s supposed to be done before closing and midmorning. But we were busy with the setup today, so not since last night.”

“I’ll check the exterior cameras, see if we have a good angle,” Nash said. “In the meantime, give a thought to anyone who might be extra pissed at you lately.”

“Yes, Chief,” I grumbled.

“And I wanna know if you get any other anonymous mail. Duncan Hugo is behind bars and Tate Dilton is in the ground, but that doesn’t mean we should let our guard down.”

“Fine. But can we at least agree not to say anything to anyone else? I don’t want Naomi and Lina worrying about nothing.”

“Nope.”

“Seriously?” Nash had a habit of dropping truth bombs.

“You’ve got twenty-­four hours to tell them your own way. You don’t, then I will. It’s better for everyone to be in the know. I don’t want anyone taking any chances.”

“Okay. Now you’re starting to freak me out. It’s been months since Lina got abducted. You caught all the bad guys.”

“Not all of them,” he said evenly.

“Why would Anthony Hugo march into Knockemout to finish what his son started? And why focus on me? I had nothing to do with any of that. It doesn’t make any sense.” A creepy-­crawly sensation prickled in my intestines as library life cheerfully bustled on around us.

“Until Anthony Hugo is behind bars, we can’t afford to rest easy.”

“Great. I’m definitely going to sleep like a baby tonight,” I said dryly.

“I’m just saying, I want you to be careful. Be vigilant. If anything strikes you as off, I want to know about it.”

“Fine. But that goes both ways. If something doesn’t smell right to you, I want to know.”

He studied me for a beat, then gave me a curt nod.

“Someone has a secret admirer,” Naomi announced. She marched up to us, lugging a case of sports drinks with a gigantic red bow.

I snatched the card out of her hand, my cheeks warming.

For later.

“Who’s that from?” Nash asked nosily.

“The card wasn’t signed,” Naomi said.

My face was the temperature of the surface of the sun as I stuffed the note in my pocket and grabbed the case. “Between the two of you, I’m starting to worry about my right to privacy,” I complained.

“She’s tomato red and deflecting,” Nash observed.

Naomi eyed me shrewdly. “My guess is it’s an inside joke gift from her date last week that she’s been annoyingly tight-­lipped about.”

“Don’t you both have work to do?” I asked them.

“What’s this guy’s name and home address? What kind of car does he drive?” Nash demanded.

“Oh my God. You’re the worst. We went out. We had a nice time. It’s nothing serious. Thank you and good day.” I tried to dismiss them by taking my drinks and leaving.

But Naomi and Nash followed me.

“Are you going to see him again?” Naomi asked as we passed the reference section.

“Could he be the one who sent you the threat?” Nash added.

Naomi yelped. “Threat? What threat?”

I spun around and glared at him. “You said I had twenty-­four hours!”

Nash grinned. “No time like the present. And you better update Angelina ASAP or she’ll be pissed.”

“You’re the worst.”

“Someone better tell me what’s going on immediately,” Naomi said, using her mom voice.

“Just for that, you’re carrying these upstairs to my office,” I said, shoving the case at Nash.

While the chief of police hauled my electrosexolytes upstairs, I filled Naomi in on the completely innocuous note.

“I’m sure it’s nothing to worry about. I get complaints all the time, and there’s always weird stuff in the book drop. But Nash wants us to be on guard given everything that’s happened in the past few months,” I explained.

“If Nash says we should be careful, that’s exactly what we should do,” Naomi insisted dutifully.

I glanced over my shoulder to make sure Studly Do-­Right wasn’t within earshot. “Him being worried makes me worry,” I confessed. “I’m concerned that he knows something he’s not sharing. Maybe something about Lucian and the FBI’s case.”

Naomi pursed her lips. “I’ll see what I can get out of Knox.”

“Good idea. I’ll talk to Lina and see if she can sexily wheedle anything out of Nash.”

Naomi cleared her throat pointedly.

“Fine! I’ll talk to her about sexy wheedling when I tell her about the dumb, not-­very-­threatening note,” I agreed. “Even though I’ve had more creative and specific threats from the lady behind the deli counter at Grover’s.”

“Isn’t it nice when we’re all on the same page?” Naomi asked brightly.

“Yeah, yeah.”

“Mith Thloane! Mith Thloane!” Ezra was back, still wearing my cardigan and now waving what looked like a scroll.

“Hey, buddy,” I greeted.

“I made thith for you.” He shoved the paper at me. It was tied in the middle with a red string.

Behind me, Naomi made an “aww” noise.

“For me? Wow, thanks, Ezra. That is so sweet of you,” I said, carefully untying the string before unrolling the parchment paper.

“Thath you and thath me. We’re piraths just like that book we read. And thath the library on our pirate thip. See all the bookth? And hereth the X for the treathure!” He pointed out each element of the three-­foot-­long crayon and marker drawing. Stick figure Ezra had one arm and four feet. My ponytail was green to match the hearts he’d sketched above and below the books.

“The. Cutest. I’m dying,” Naomi whisper squealed.

“Do you like it?” Ezra asked hopefully.

“I love it,” I said, unable to resist the urge to boop his nose. “It’s amazing and so are you.”

He flashed me a coy, tooth-­deficient grin. “You could hang it up if you wanted.”

“I’m going to hang it up in my office so I can see it every day,” I promised.

“Awethome. Happy Valentineth Day!”

“Happy Valentine’s Day, Ezra.”

He launched himself into my arms for the kind of hard, sticky, heart-­melting hug that only kids under the age of six gave, then made a beeline for the pillow fort again.

“My heart,” Naomi said. “He’s Gael and Isaac’s new foster son, isn’t he?”

“He is. I watched him here for half an hour when Gael had to leave for a pet store emergency the other day. We read two pirate books, and he drew pictures for his new big sister.”

“It looks like you made quite the impression,” Naomi said, tapping the drawing.

“Me or the pirates.”

“You’re going to be a great mom,” she said.

Her words punched me right in the heart. “Thanks,” I said. “You already are.”

She leaned in and caught me in the kind of soft, spontaneous hug sisters exchanged. “We’re going to raise our families together,” she whispered in my ear.

“I was gone three minutes. What the hell has you two ready to bawl your eyes out?” Nash demanded, looking around the first floor of the library for obvious threats.

“Girl stuff,” I insisted.

“Sloane’s a pirate,” Naomi said with a sniffle.

“I don’t want to know,” Nash decided.

Naomi released me with a watery smile. “I’m going to go do something library related.” She gave Nash a peck on the cheek and headed for the stairs.

Nash pulled out his phone.

“What are you doing?” I asked nosily.

“Telling my brother that whatever he’s buying Naomi, he’d better double it.”

I chuckled.

Nash stowed his phone. “I better get back to work.”

“Have a happy Valentine’s Day,” I told him.

His grin was a heartbreaker. “Will do.”

He made it all of four feet toward the door.

“Oops. I seem to have dropped my necklace,” announced Belinda, an elderly, busty patron who preferred her books steamy. She pointed at the huge crucifix that she’d just unfastened from her neck and tossed on the floor. “Be a dear and fetch it for me, Chief Morgan?”

Nash heaved a sigh and glanced my way.

I shrugged. “If you don’t pick it up, they’re just going to keep throwing things on the floor.”

“I’m ordering new uniforms with tunics,” he grumbled.

“The citizens who appreciate the male specimen would be devastated,” I warned.

He bent at the waist and hastily plucked the necklace off the floor.

“You just made this old lady’s day,” Belinda said, smugly returning the crucifix to her more than ample bosom.

“Might want to get that clasp checked, Ms. Belinda, seein’ as how it fell off in the grocery store last week and in the park the week before that.”

“I’ll do that,” she lied glibly.

Shaking my head, I pulled out my phone.

Me: Did you send me a case of sports drinks or do I have a stalker who’s concerned with my hydration?

Lucian: I thought it would be more appropriate than flowers and candy seeing as how I’m only using you for your body.

Me: You better be stretched and warmed up for go time. I’m not slowing down if you pull a hamstring.


The author event was a rousing success. Or “arousing” success, which was absolutely the pun I was going to make in the library newsletter for the week. The readers were excited, the author sold out of all the books she brought, and we ran out of wine before anyone got too tipsy.

“Go on home, Sloane. You’ve been here since opening. We’ll handle the clean up,” Blaze offered. As board members, she and her wife, Agatha, spent almost as much time here as the employees.

“Are you sure? I don’t mind.” I had another hour before Lucian would arrive to delight me with his penis.

“Positive. I’m sure you’ve got a handsome someone waiting for you.”

She was fishing for information, and I wasn’t biting. “What about you and Agatha?”

“We had our celebratory Valentine’s brunch this morning, then changed the oil in the bikes.”

“And they say romance is dead.”

“Go on. Get out of here. We’ll lock up,” she said, shooing me away.

“If you’re sure. I’ll just run up and get my stuff.”

I’d have time for a quick shower and another run at my legs with the razor before Lucian showed up. I could also spend some time overthinking the lingerie I’d picked out.

I was so deep in my head that I was halfway into my office before I realized there was someone sitting behind my desk.

“Cheese and crackers!”

Lucian Rollins, in disguise in a ball cap and a black hoodie, looked perfectly relaxed sitting behind my desk reading a book.

He raised an eyebrow at me. “Exactly what kind of defense is that?”

I looked down and realized I was holding my hands up in a cartoonish Karate Kid posture.

“What are you doing here? If someone sees you, the entire town is going to know that we’re doing the horizontal mambo before we even get started! I’ve already had to deal with a Knockemout inquisition for the past week with everyone and their brother asking me who I’m sleeping with,” I hissed.

“I got bored waiting. I thought this might speed things along.”

From any other man, it would be a compliment, a statement about how much he missed me. But Lucian Rollins was accustomed to getting what he wanted when he wanted it. And he was using me for sex. Lucky for him I wasn’t about to take the time required to teach him a lesson in delayed gratification, because I was also using him for sex.

“Blaze and Agatha are locking up. So we can leave as long as you stick to lurking in the shadows, because I do not want to deal with questions about whatever depraved thing this is between us,” I explained.

“Get your things,” he said, rising from my chair. He closed my copy of The Midnight Library. I noticed my bookmark was still in place…and he was several chapters beyond it.

“Are you actually reading that?” I asked.

“I do know how to read, Sloane,” he said dryly. The amused yet dismissive way his voice caressed my name made me want to smack him in the face with the book. Conversely, it also made me want to take his pants off and use his cock until I couldn’t walk.

I was still debating between the options when he rounded my desk, fisted a hand in my sweater, pulled me to my toes, and kissed the ever-­living hell out of me.

There was nothing romantic or sweet about the way his tongue invaded my mouth. The way it conquered me, forcing me to follow its lead. My nipples budded, and my sex actually trembled. I lost the ability to breathe.

It was a kiss filled with carnal promises that I couldn’t wait for him to fulfill.

He released me just as suddenly. “Let’s go.”

“Yeah. Let’s do that.”


It took us twenty minutes to make it to the parking lot. There were far too many patrons still lurking behind after the event. After I was stopped for the fourth time on the first floor, Lucian managed to slip behind the circulation desk and duck out the side door without being spotted. “Sorry,” I said when I found him leaning against my Jeep.

“You’re inconveniently popular,” he said.

“Where’s your car?” I asked.

“I had my driver drop me off.”

I reached around him to unlock the passenger door. “That’s awfully cocky of you to assume my blind hatred of you didn’t overtake my need for you naked.”

“I liked my odds.” With that, he took the keys from my hand, opened the door, and tossed my tote inside. “I’m driving.”

He had to push the seat the whole way back to accommodate his long legs, but he still managed to look comfortable, confident as he drove us back to my place. He asked me about the event and the author, and I did my best to answer, even though every sense seemed to be preoccupied with him. That full-­body tingly awareness was even worse now that I knew what his body was capable of doing to mine. It felt like an electrical current charging my blood.

He pulled into my driveway, and I leaned over to punch the garage door opener. When we were officially alone and the door slid shut behind us, we exploded.

I released my seat belt half a second before he hooked me under the arms and dragged me over the console. I landed in his lap.

One inferno of a kiss and some dry humping later, he pulled back. “Go pack.”

“What? Why?”

“We’re not staying here.”

I thought of the can of whipped cream in my refrigerator. The two new lingerie sets I’d bought. “Why the hell not?”

“Because if we stay here, someone is going to knock on your door or look through your windows or see me naked when they deliver dinner. You have off tomorrow. We’re going to my place, where my neighbors know enough to mind their own business.”

“Your place?” There were six million things that could and would go wrong with that. First, I couldn’t kick him out of his own place when he inevitably pissed me off.

He didn’t answer me. At least not with words. Instead he yanked the neckline of my sweater down and buried his face between my breasts.

“A very convincing argument. I’ll pack.”


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