All Ridge Alder wanted to do was live a quiet existence, but that changed when a vampire knocks on his door claiming Ridge has the power to save an innocent soul. That’s insane, and Ridge does the only thing he can think of, slamming the door in the man’s face.
Giovanni Morreti didn’t realize when he agreed to fly across the country in search of a witch that he’d be coming face to face with his soul mate. All that would have been nice if the sweet, enticing witch didn’t break his nose upon meeting him. Nothing in life has ever come easy for Giovanni and this is just another example of life kicking him when he’s down.
Getting Ridge to agree to help him was easy, but getting him to admit they belong together is a different story all together. Can a vampire and a witch make a lifetime together work, or are they doomed from the start?
“If you don’t take a breath, you’re going to pass out, Bello,” the man whispered against Ridge’s ear.
The sound of his voice was like warm honey being poured over his tingling flesh. Ridge tightened his grip on the railing and held his body still, refusing to sink back into the warm, solid heat this man’s body offered.
Ridge took a deep breath, then another. The smell of burning wood surrounded him. The smell and heat coming from the stranger was sinking into every pore on Ridge’s body. It was if he was drowning in a sizzling fire.
“Relax, Ridge.” The man lifted his hand to place against Ridge’s stomach. The damn thing covered his whole abdomen.
“How do you know my name?” Ridge’s voice shook as he spoke. Something wasn’t right. Ridge didn’t know this man because he sure as hell would have remembered that knee-weakening scent that clung to the stranger’s skin and that sultry accent.
“Who are you?” Ridge asked as he spun around to face the man.
“Oh, shit,” Ridge groaned. He instantly recognized the man. It was Giovanni Merroti. Giovanni’s dark eyes bore into Ridge’s, and his heart thumped loudly in his ears.
A smile curled the man’s lips, but Ridge wasn’t buying it. Ridge didn’t know Giovanni personally, but he’d heard enough about the man to know he didn’t want to be caught alone in a dark alley with him. If Asher hadn’t been such a good friend, he would have never helped Asher find this vampire.
“Hello, Bello. Have you missed me?” Giovanni caressed the back of his hand down the side of Ridge’s cheek.
The sexual excitement at having this man so close evaporated in an instant. Giovanni played for the wrong side, and getting caught in his grasp could only mean bad things for Ridge. He had to get away.
Ridge didn’t like physical confrontations. Growing up, his father had taught him how to fight and protect himself, but Ridge was a laid back kind of guy, and he hated having to use his fists to get his point across. He was a pacifist like his mother, but right now it was fight or flight, and Ridge thought he better incorporate a little of both in order to get away.
“Oh, come now, my sweet.” Giovanni rubbed his thumb over Ridge’s bottom lip. “Don’t be afraid.”
Don’t be afraid? Is this guy for real? Ridge was shaking in his boots. It was weird he was scared shitless but also really turned on. It was a weird combination, one he could decipher later, but now he needed to get away.
The music picked up and someone bumped into Giovanni’s back as they walked by. It was the momentary distraction he needed. Giovanni took a small step back to regain his balance, and that’s when Ridge moved. Ridge jerked his head back then flung it forward, catching Giovanni in the chin. The adrenaline pumping through his veins numbed the pain, but Ridge was positive he’d feel it later.
Giovanni spat out a curse and reached up to grab his chin. When he did that, Ridge stomped on his foot, which caused Giovanni to shout in pain and reach down toward his foot, and that’s when Ridge raised up his knee to connect with Giovanni’s nose. He felt the crunch against his kneecap. Giovanni stumbled a few steps, and Ridge shoved him hard in the side, knocking the larger man over.
Ridge didn’t stop to see if he was being followed, he just ran. The fight had caused people to stop and gather around them, and Ridge was able to slip past them as he darted toward the door. He pushed his way outside into the cool, evening air. His chest was heaving as he took off running. He didn’t stop until he was a few blocks away and was able to hale down a cab.
The whole drive home he kept looking over his shoulder to see if Giovanni was behind him, but it was too dark to see much. His heart pounded in his chest, and his hands trembled from fear. He wasn’t sure why Giovanni was here or why he was looking for him, but Ridge didn’t want to stay and find out.
The cab pulled up along the curb to his apartment, and Ridge handed him a couple of twenties and quickly got out. He punched in his code and took the elevator up to his floor. He ran toward his door, and it took a couple of tries to get the damn thing unlocked. Ridge got the door opened and rushed inside, slamming the door behind him. He stood with his back pressed against the hard wood.
Tears burned at the back of Ridge’s eyes. He was going to have to leave. Staying in San Francisco was no longer an option. Giovanni knew he was here and that made staying in the town he’d called home for the past thirteen years no longer safe for him.
The sadness filling Ridge’s chest overcame him. He slid down the door, sobbing into his hands. He didn’t want to move away, but he couldn’t stay either, not knowing why Giovanni was searching for him. Ridge tried to convince himself it was an accident that he saw Giovanni tonight, a coincidence, but Ridge was only fooling himself.
One good deed to help a friend has forever changed his life. If Giovanni knew about Ridge, that meant that something terrible had to have happened to Asher. Ridge wept for his friend and for himself.
Ridge wasn’t sure how long he sat on the ground crying into his hands when a knock startled him. He climbed to his feet and, without thinking about it, opened the door. Standing before him, with dried blood down the front of his shirt, was Giovanni.
“Oh, my god,” Ridge whispered. Panic flared to life deep in his gut. His grip tightened on the door knob, but he couldn’t move. He was frozen in fear.
“Now that wasn’t very nice.” Giovanni swiped his hand under his nose, glaring down at Ridge.
Ridge forced himself to take a deep breath. He wasn’t sure what he was going to do now, but the look on Giovanni’s face didn’t ease the terror he was feeling. Ridge was completely and utterly screwed.