Burns Like Fire (Dangerous Creatures #1)




A scarred hunter seeking revenge...


Jack Marilla is out to avenge the deaths of his family, and get his revenge for the burn scars that cover his body. His house was burned down with himself and his family locked inside of it two years ago, and he barely survived.


His prime suspect is Cindy Chase, the paranormal fire starter who captured his heart, and then set his house ablaze before vanishing.


...and the woman he used to love as his prime suspect...


When he finally catches her, Jack faces his biggest challenge yet. To not believe her when she claims to be innocent, or fall for her tempting seduction.


Chapter One


There she was.

Jack Marilla's heart sped up, like some kid crushing on an older chick who was so far out of his league she might as well have come from a different planet. The result of which was that his blood pumped faster and hotter, zooming straight down to his cock, practically racing to get there. The stupid thing stiffened uncomfortably behind the metal zipper of his pants, clearly remembering the last time he'd been between those shapely thighs.

Fuck him. Cindy Chase. He hated her so damned much that it hurt, but she was still something to look at.

And wasn't that twisted? He watched her from the shrubs on the edge of the parking lot, lusting after her, thinking about fucking her, and yet all the while he imagined what it would feel like to toss her into a metal box, to hurt her, to get back at her.
, Christ, that was the sort of fantasy typical of a serial killer. Good thing he had a badge.

Jack had a hard time believing it was her at all. He wasn’t sure what he’d been expecting, but the almost normal look of a murderer, dressed in the sort of high heels that showed off her calves, and a short skirt that revealed just the right amount of leg—like she was getting ready for a night on the town—was definitely not it.

Two years didn't change how insanely gorgeous she was. Cindy's thick fiery red hair was an explosion of curls that framed her heart shaped face. She had pale skin and a naturally slender frame with the longest legs Jack had ever had the pleasure of having wrapped around his waist.

Jack clenched his teeth as he fought against the intensifying throb in his stupid dick. He'd hoped the years had been rough on her. He'd hoped she'd suffered as much as he had, that she would've at least had bags under her eyes from lost sleep, or been living in a shitty apartment.

Nope. She looked like every other twenty-something who had enough time and money to take herself to the spa every other day. It looked as though she'd been getting along just fine, and it pissed him the fuck off.

In fact, she looked exactly the same sweet, innocent looking girl he'd met back when he'd been a fool in love. And yes, he could use the word innocent on her even with the clothes she was wearing. She just gave off that kind of vibe. No wonder he'd been tricked. Seeing her again was one giant reminder of how he'd been taken in.

Jack curled his hands into fists. It was hard for him to look at her and see a murderer who could summon flames from her body as bright as the thick hair that tumbled down her back. A murderer who'd locked him and his family inside of his house before burning it down around them.

The scars on his back seared just thinking about it.

He didn't want to think about his scars. He wanted to think about his family: his father, Sean, and older brothers, Liam and Aidan. They'd burned alive because of her. The screaming and coughing and yelling as everyone clawed at the locked exits was the absolute worst memory he had.

Thoughts like that were always just what he needed to make his stupid his dick behave.

He could take her later.
, he told himself. After he'd brought her in. He could do whatever the fuck he wanted to her, perfectly within his rights, until the collectors came and picked her up.

She was smiling softly, and she even laughed a little, speaking into her cell phone on her way to her car. It was the same blue hatchback she'd had back then, too. It was like nothing had changed at all, except now she lived in the city.

Jack rubbed his jaw. He needed to shave, but as he drew closer to the end of the hunt, the less time he'd spent on personal hygiene. Choosing to ignore his own flaws for the time being, he focused on her clothing some more.

The heels were exactly the kind Jack liked on a woman, and a matching dress that hugged her hourglass body wasn't the sort of thing a respectable woman wore to a job interview. Though she wasn't wearing much jewelry, she had obviously done her makeup. Where was she going? A date, maybe? The peach lipstick and eye shadow all but confirmed it in Jack's mind. He recalled how Cindy had once told him she didn't like getting dressed up unless she was going somewhere important.

After that, she'd made sure to dress up a lot for him, clearly in an attempt to impress, and he'd fallen for it hook, line and sinker.

Christ, he felt like such a creeper hiding out in the bushes like this. He had a warrant for her capture, but he hated the hiding bit. There was always the chance a normal person might see and confront him, or the cops called. That always blew his cover, and aside from being fucking annoying, it allowed the paranormals he was hunting to escape while he showed his ID to the police. It was enough to make him feel like he was the one doing something wrong.

Jack shifted on his heels from his spot behind the bushes. He'd been in this position for so long that he could barely feel his damned legs. Fuck, he wanted to yell at her to get off the damned phone. There was no way in hell he could take her while she was speaking with someone. What if she was talking to another paranormal? Someone with mind control powers, like a vampire? Or something worse?

He felt ready to concede that he might have to come back for her later.

Okay, just relax
. He knew where she lived now and she clearly had no idea that a hunter was on her trail, otherwise she wouldn't be getting all dressed up to head out. She didn't know, so she had no reason to run, and Jack had no reason to think this might be his only shot to get her.

Get off the fucking phone!

Then, like a gift being presented, she suddenly hung up and put the cell inside her ridiculously tiny purse.

. Thank Christ.

He needed to get this over with and quick. Real quick and real quiet.

Jack pulled the rag he kept from the deep pocket of his trench coat, along with the small bottle that was standard for this sort of thing. The shackles with the enchanted symbols carved in so she couldn't fry his ass would have to come first before he put her under.

There was no way she didn't hear him coming behind her. The parking lot wasn't exactly well lit, which he was counting on, but a lone woman, especially a wanted paranormal, trying to get into her car during the night had to be wary of things she couldn't see in the dark.

She did get the door open, however, and she did get inside without noticing him.

He grabbed the door before she could slam it on his fingers and lock it. He held it open as she stared at him.

"Hi, Cindy."

Cindy stared at him. Her bright amethyst eyes widened so he could see the whites all around. Her glossy peach lips dropped open as her facial expression changed from scared to all hell to just plain confused. He got a real dumb sense of satisfaction over that. Yeah, she'd thought he was good and dead.

" she practically shrieked his name.

She was so focused on his face, probably wondering why it wasn't melted, or why he was even alive, that she didn't look down and see the rag or the shackles hanging in his free hand until it was too late.

She tried jump to the passenger side, to get away, but Jack lunged. He grabbed her by her frail shoulders and pushed her down across the seats. He pushed the rag hard over her mouth and nose before she could shriek for help.

He had the shackle in his other hand and he almost got it down on her wrist before she punched him good and hard in the nose. Her thin, tiny knuckles didn't look like much, but they hurt like a bitch on impact. He thought he even heard a crunch.

, fuck!" He reared back and dropped the cuffs to the floor of her car, but he didn't take the cloth off of her nose as he cursed and yelled.

That fucking
! Blood dripped from his nose and onto her pale collarbone and dress in the struggle. She got him good that time. He wasn't about to let her do it to him again.

Her sharp manicured nails scratched at his hands, drawing even more blood. Jack grabbed both of her wrists and yanked them above her head, holding them down with one hand while he kept up the pressure of the cloth with the other. She kicked and struggled as she breathed in the chemical, but she didn't have the strength to buck him off and he avoided her knees when she tried to get him in the balls.

Don't summon fire. Don't summon fire
, he chanted in his head over and over again. She had it in her eyes, he could see it building up around her as the temperature of her body increased.

If she burned him, he wouldn't be able to handle it. He'd fly right off her and she'd be as good as gone. She'd get away and he might never find her again.

Cindy's struggles beneath him started to let up. There wasn't much physical strength to begin with, but now it was almost nonexistent as the hint of flames left her eyes, and her body went limp.

Jack released her hands. He panted for breath as if he was the one who'd just lost the fight. The car stank of sweat mixed with the sweet scent of the chloroform. He was careful to keep the rag away from his own face, already starting to feel sort of dizzy himself.

"I finally got you," he said.

Then Cindy's eyes widened as she came alive again. She clawed at his hands and arms with her manicured nails, scratching deep.

! Stop that!" Jack roared, grabbing onto her wrists and yanking them above her head again.

Holy shit, she'd just faked that. Smart. It pissed him the hell off, but he had to admit it was smart.

When blood beaded up from the scratches on his hand, Jack growled, and he forgot all about being impressed. Was she ever going to pass out? Had he used enough of the chemical? If she didn't go under soon then that fire would come and light him up like his father and brothers.

No fire came. Cindy's struggles weakened, for real this time as he held the rag to her face, for longer this time.

Her bright, fearful eyes slid shut as she gave one last jerk before going under.

Jack sighed, relaxing his tense muscles as the only sound in the car was his own heavy breathing. He wiped the sweat off his brow. Not the worst paranormal he'd put under by far, but she hadn't given in easily.

Adrenaline rushed through him as he stared down at her unconscious form. Cindy's hair was all over the damned place, her arms up high as her breasts rose and fell in sleep. She could have just dozed off for how innocent she looked. The only thing that gave away the struggle was her flushed skin.

He pulled the damp cloth away from her mouth and nose. He hadn't even realized his heart was beating so fast, and he lifted himself off of her.

Being on top of an unconscious woman was creepy, regardless of who she was and why they were both there.

"Holy Christ," he sighed, letting himself drop to the cool and dirty pavement of the parking lot. He sucked in a breath of clean, fresh air, and carded his fingers through his hair.

Though he hated having to touch her again, even for the capture, he'd still noticed how smooth her skin felt when he'd grabbed her arms. Her body beneath his had been exactly the same. It was like muscle memory had taken over when he'd straddled her, and as she'd bucked her hips up to try and push him off, his body had responded.

It wasn't his fault his dick didn't know the difference between fighting and fucking, that it didn't realize she'd been trying to get him off of her, not gyrating against his heavy prick for friction.

Jack shook his head. That was too weird, especially considering she'd burned down the house he and his family had been sleeping in..

Fuck that and fuck her. He wasn't going to feel guilty because he was a healthy male who was reacting to a beautiful woman. She was the one with something to answer for, not him.

All because Jack had been the one guy in the whole history of time stupid enough to tell a pyro that his family made their profession out of hunting paranormals for the government.

Really, what had he expected her to do? Be happy about it?

"I got you," he said again, and then he laughed as he stared up at the night sky. The stars were bright. "I got you."

Jack took in another breath and got to his feet before climbing back into the pungent car. He grabbed the shackles off the floor on the passenger side, and neatly cuffed her wrists.

She wouldn't be lighting a match with those things on her, and she'd be out long enough for him to do a search of her apartment. He had to make sure she wasn't hiding anyone else like herself in there, after all.

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