Pacing toward the long bar that was set near the leather sectional couch, Bas grimly poured himself a scotch. Tomorrow he would have the suite cleaned from top to bottom. Maybe that would get rid of the lingering scent of honeysuckle.
He was on his second drink when he heard the sound of approaching footsteps and he whirled to study the woman who came to a hesitant halt in the center of the room.
His brows snapped together. He told himself it was be-cause she was an unwelcome interloper and not because she looked as delicate and ethereal as a moonbeam.
A very sexy moonbeam.
She wrapped her arms around her slender waist, making a visible effort to meet his gaze.
“There’s no need to glare at me,” she chided.
He set aside his empty glass, smoothing his face to an unreadable mask.
It was something that should have come easily. He was a cold, ruthless assassin, wasn’t he? Unfortunately, this woman had a unique talent of getting under his skin.
In more ways than one.
“You’ve been screwing with my daughter’s mind,” he said between clenched teeth, still unnerved by the revelation that this woman had been speaking with Molly without his knowledge.
Her chin jutted to a defensive angle. “I’ll admit that I’ve often communicated with Molly, but I was hardly screwing with her mind. We talked like any other mother and daughter.”
He narrowed his gaze. “You knew very well that I was unaware of your telepathic powers. You deliberately used that lack of awareness to take advantage.”
“Molly was the one to reach out to me.”
His scowl deepened. “How? You’re not trying to claim she’s a telepath?”
“No, but I could sense her,” Myst muttered. “She needed to know that her mother loved her.”
“A mother who loves her child doesn’t abandon her.”
She flinched at his deliberate attack. “I didn’t . . .”
“Didn’t what?” “Nothing.”
He studied her pale face.
She was hiding something. But what?
“Why are you here?”
“You know why.” She hunched a shoulder. “I’m here to see my daughter.”
“Why?” he pressed again. “Four years ago you left her on my bed and walked away without looking back. Surely you can understand my confusion why you were struck
with a burning need to see her now.”
Her lovely face, which looked far too young to be a mother, flushed at his accusation.
“Molly was traumatized when she was kidnapped.” His breath hissed between his teeth.
The memory of Molly’s kidnapping was still a raw wound that made him think about killing things.
“You don’t have to remind me,” he snapped. “We were all traumatized when she was taken.”
The velvet-brown eyes widened with something that might have been confusion. “I’m not blaming you.”
“Then what are you doing?” he asked.
“Trying to explain that after Molly was taken she reached out to me in terror,” she said, her voice trembling as if she’d been as tormented as he’d been by her abduction. “She couldn’t tell me where she was, or who’d taken her, so all I could do was try to give her comfort and swear to her that I would come and visit if she would be a good girl and do everything they told her to do until you could come for her.”
Her soft words should have infuriated him. What right did she have to make promises to his daughter?
Instead, he went hunter-still. “You were so certain I would find her?”
“Yes,” she said without hesitation.
He struggled to keep his face devoid of emotion at the insane flare of pleasure that raced through him at her absolute confidence in his skills.
What the hell was wrong with him?
It wasn’t as if this woman’s opinion mattered, did it?
“Is that why it took you a week to get here?” he snapped, angered by his ridiculous reaction to this female. “Or were you just too busy to care that your daughter was in danger?”
Her head snapped back, an unexpected fury tightening her delicate features.
“Don’t ever say I don’t care about Molly,” she spit out, her hands clenched into tiny balls. “I left the second I knew she’d been taken. If I hadn’t had to make sure I wasn’t being followed I would have—”
She bit off her impulsive words, stiffly turning to walk toward the bank of windows.
“Followed?” he instantly pounced. Was this a trick? A lame excuse for not rushing to help in the search for Molly?
“It doesn’t matter.”
Bas kept his gaze locked on the fragile profile reflected in the window.
“It does if you’re in danger.”
She hunched her shoulders, a visible shiver shaking her body.
“All I’m asking is a few days to spend with my daughter,” she said in low tones.
Bas was moving before he could halt his forward progress, grabbing her shoulders so he could turn her to meet his searching gaze.
“I want to know why you think you’re being followed,” he insisted.
Her ridiculously thick lashes lowered to hide her expressive eyes. A sure sign she was about to lie.
“You’re always in hiding,” she muttered. “I didn’t want to accidentally give away your location.”
Her jaw tightened, but her gaze stayed lowered. “Can I stay?”
His grip eased on her shoulders, his fingers compulsively stroking the satin-soft skin of her back.
“For how long?” he demanded.
“A few days.”
“And then you intend to disappear into the ether once again?”
Some undefinable emotion clenched his stomach at her blunt admission that she couldn’t be bothered to spend more than a handful of hours with her child.
His hand moved from her shoulder to grasp her chin, tilting back her head so he could study her delicate features.
The face of an angel.
How the hell could she be so cruel toward her only child?
Unless . . .
“Do you have another family?” he abruptly demanded.
She blinked, as if confused by his question. “Do you mean parents or siblings?”
His lips thinned. “I’m asking if you have a husband and pack of kids. Is that why you treat Molly like a dirty secret?”
“Of course not,” she breathed, a genuine outrage darkening her eyes. “And I don’t treat Molly like a dirty secret.”
Dropping his hands as if he’d been scalded, Bas took a step back.
He didn’t want to feel a sharp-edged relief that he’d been wrong in his suspicion that Myst was already claimed by another male.
He didn’t want to feel anything for this woman.
“No,” he said abruptly.
“No what?” she asked in bewilderment.
“No, you can’t stay,” he informed, retreating behind his icy composure. “It isn’t fair to Molly.”
She sucked in a sharp breath, her expression stricken. “A visit from her mother isn’t fair?”
“You can’t just appear and disappear from her life when-ever you want.” He shrugged. “It’s too confusing.”
“All I’m asking is a few days.”
“Bas . . .” She held out a slender hand. “Please.”
Her soft, pleading expression didn’t touch him, he fiercely assured himself.
He was turning away and heading out of the room because he needed to check on Molly, not because he was trying to avoid the blatant yearning on her beautiful face.
And the strange emotion that was currently twisting his gut into tight knots wasn’t guilt.
“Lock the door on your way out,” he commanded, refusing to glance at her.
“I’ll return in the morning,” she said, the words soft but stubborn.
His steps never faltered. “You’re wasting your time.”
“It’s my time to waste,” she muttered. “I’ll be back.”
Bas had reached the end of the short hallway when he heard the sound of Myst’s retreating footsteps, followed by the closing of the door.