Rocked by Love (Gargoyles Series)

By: Christine Warren

Chapter One

Tsores zaynen far dem mentshn vi zhaver far ayzn.

Troubles are to man what rust is to iron.

Eleven fifty-eight P.M. Two minutes since the last time she’d looked.

Kylie gave in to the impulse to stick her tongue out at her phone while her foot jiggled relentlessly under the table. She had to beat back her impatience with a mental stick, but the specter of disappointment had started to polish a weapon of its own, one more the size of a cricket bat. As much as she would prefer to continue her lovely sail down Denial, after an hour and twenty-eight minutes, even she might be forced to admit defeat.

She’d been stood up.

Sort of.

“Stood up” was the most convenient term. She had arranged to meet a person of the opposite sex in a social setting at a designated time and place, but said person had failed to honor this agreement and had not shown up. In most cases, this would count as being stood up. However, in Kylie’s case, she had no romantic interest in her missing acquaintance, and she felt more disappointment and curiosity than embarrassment at the situation.

Besides, at least she’d gotten a really good slice of pie out of her time spent waiting. Cherry streusel. Yum.

So she didn’t feel the same way she would have if an actual date had failed to show, even though she’d had more riding on this meeting than the possibility of sexual attraction. She’d worked for months to create this opportunity, and she couldn’t deny her disappointment in seeing it come to nothing, whatever it should have been called.

What term did you use to describe a covert meeting with a complete stranger that had nothing to do with sex or romance and everything to do with the exchange of secret information? And just to be clear, a “deep throating” was so off the table.

She set her phone down and reached for her cola. By now, the glass held nearly as much water as soda. The melted ice smothered the effervescent carbonation until she was left with little more than sweet, flavorless syrup. Maybe she should try making herself drink coffee again, though that would have been just as disgusting by now. Cold or watered down didn’t really lean heavily to one side or the other. Tonight just didn’t seem to be her night.

Kylie brushed off the negative thoughts. She’d never been the kind of girl to indulge in melancholy. She considered herself what her paternal grandmother had called a vilde chaya, a wild child. She was the kind of girl who saw what she wanted and went after it, doing whatever it took, even fighting dirty—or, especially fighting dirty—until she achieved her goal. Her goal now was to find a new way to track down her “date” and make sure that this time he couldn’t ignore her.

Kylie hated being ignored.

Not that it happened often. Even her parents, who found her surprising, unpredictable, and wholly indecipherable, had trouble ignoring her. Of course, she’d made it easier for them when she’d moved to another state, but still. If Abraham Kramer and Constance Harding-Kramer couldn’t manage to put Kylie completely out of their heads, some schlub with the vainglorious online handle of DrkMsgr sure as shudden wasn’t going to do it either.

It had taken her months to find the stranger in the infinite space of the Internet, and she’d invested weeks more in grooming the connection. She’d chatted and swapped stories, offered advice and told jokes, slowly building their cyber connection behind her own mask as Wile E. Koyote. She’d felt perfectly comfortable in doing whatever she could to make that faceless presence trust her, because the information he had was just that important. He could change everything for her; she knew it.

Kylie felt a little bad about drawing in the stranger while harboring an ulterior motive, but not enough to shrug off the missed meeting. Yes, she had every intention of using this other person for her own purposes, but it wasn’t like she was some kind of modern ax murderer, relying on the Internet to lure her victims to their doom. The person she was meeting would have walked away from their encounter unharmed, unhit-on, and perfectly safe. All Kylie wanted from him was information.

All she wanted was the truth about Bran.

The rhythmic jiggling of her foot stuttered, pausing for a moment before resuming its hummingbirdlike flutter. The thought of him still hit her every time.

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