The Reunited - By Shiloh Walker


HE knew her face.

Joss Crawford wasn’t prone to melodrama, he wasn’t prone to wishful thinking, and he didn’t much believe in fairy tales. He didn’t buy into those crazy stories of love at first sight.

But he knew there was a woman for him—he’d been searching for her his entire life, had dreamed about her always. He looked for her in every face he saw, waited for the moment he’d find her again.

And here she was, striding down the pavement, her face grim, her eyes dark . . . the sight of her was a punch, straight to his heart. She didn’t look like she should, part of his brain insisted. The rest of him didn’t care. He knew her, in his gut, in his heart, in his soul.

Standing rigid, barely able to breathe, much less move, he waited for her to look at him, to see him . . . to know him. But it didn’t happen.

In fact, she was so busy staring at the pavement and making a concentrated effort to ignore everything around her, she didn’t even seem to notice him. She went to go around him and he just couldn’t stop himself—he stepped right into her path so that she crashed straight into his chest, all lean limbs and long muscles and golden, sun-kissed skin, a nice, solid weight that he figured would fit his body just about perfectly. She stumbled and he reached up, closed his hands around her upper arms, where the cotton of her shirt kept him from touching bare flesh.

He wanted to touch bare flesh . . . after all this time, he figured he just about needed to. But not now.

Right now, she was watching him with dazed, distrustful eyes—wariness flashed through her gaze and he felt her tense.

“You . . .” He didn’t even know what to say. A total stranger, and that’s what he’d seem like to her, he knew. How could he tell her he’d been dreaming of her for always? Waiting. Searching. Absently, without realizing it, he stroked his thumb across her arm, and it rubbed across the bare skin just below the sleeve of her shirt.

As bare skin touched bare skin, he felt something . . . a buzz in his brain.

And more . . . he felt the echo of it in her brain. Followed by a blinding rush of knowledge.

Her pupils flared. She sucked in a breath. “You . . .”

“. . . three . . . !”

* * *

I am too late, she thought, running even as she heard the gunshots echo. She ran. She ran so hard. So fast. This could not be happening.

She burst through the cover of the trees just in time to see him stagger. See him fall.

“No!” She lunged for him.

But hard, cruel hands caught her arms.

Whirling around, she swung out, her hand striking that perfect, chiseled face.

She was on the ground a moment later, her eyes tearing from the blow. Her cheek didn’t hurt, not yet. It was numb, but already the numbness was starting to fade.

“You would dare strike me?”

Blinking the tears away, she stared up at the man she had once thought she could love. Such a mistake . . . such a horrid, awful mistake. “I know what you did.” She tasted blood now, and realized she’d cut the inside of her mouth when he’d struck her.

He smiled down at her. “Do you?”

“Yes.” She turned her head, staring at the fallen man. She lifted her hand. “Please . . .”


Three weeks earlier

"NOW . . . if you’ll just put your hand . . . right about there . . .”

Special Agent Joss Crawford stood to the back of the group, his craggy face stoic, mouth unsmiling, eyes unblinking. It took all of his willpower not to laugh. Keeping a straight face through this joke was a rough gig, but he did it.

He wasn’t sure why he kept coming back here. He could get where he needed to go without this moron’s help.

There was a reason he kept doing the tour, though. He’d figure it out sooner or later. For the sake of his sanity and his patience, he kind of hoped it would be sooner. The idiot irritated the hell out of him.

“Do you feel it . . .”

Bored, he stared at the area the tour guide had indicated. Nope. He didn’t feel a damn thing.

“Yes, you feel it, don’t you? Most of you can just sense it . . .” the guide murmured, his skinny,