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Hero Under Cover

$ 356.27
Hero Under Cover Suzanne Brockmann ???? HarperCollins EUR When Pete Taylor first offered his services as a bodyguard, Annie Morgan wanted nothing to do with him. She was sure that the death threats against her weren't serious. While the Native American mask she was working on was valuable, it wasn't worth killing for. One murder attempt later, Annie was glad to have Pete around. She owed him her life. Suddenly she was beginning to believe in heroes?and dreams.But Pete wasn't a fantasy?he was real, and at the moment he was the only person she could allow herself to trust, no matter who he was. Praise for the novels of New York Times bestselling author SUZANNE BROCKMANN ?Zingy dialogue, a great sense of drama, and a pair of lovers who generate enough steam heat to power a whole city.? ?Romantic Times BOOKreviews on Hero Under Cover ?Brockmann deftly delivers another testosterone-drenched, adrenaline-fueled tale of danger and desire that brilliantly combines superbly crafted, realistically complex characters with white-knuckle plotting.? ?Booklist on Force of Nature ?Readers will be on the edge of their seats.? ?Library Journal on Breaking Point ?Another excellently paced, action-filled read. Brockmann delivers yet again!? ?Romantic Times BOOKreviews on Into the Storm ?Funny, sexy, suspenseful, and superb.? ?Booklist on Hot Target ?Sizzling with military intrigue and sexual tension, with characters so vivid they leap right off the page, Gone Too Far is a bold, brassy read with a momentum that just doesn?t quit.? ?New York Times bestselling author Tess Gerritsen ?An unusual and compelling romance.? ?Affaire de Coeur on No Ordinary Man ?Sensational sizzle, powerful emotion and sheer fun.? ?Romantic Times BOOKreviews on Body Language Hero Under Cover Suzanne Brockmann www.millsandboon.co.uk (http://www.millsandboon.co.uk) For those fabulous Kuhlmans? Bill, who?s been trying to teach me simply to be happy, and Jodie, who?s been showing us all how to be happy for years CONTENTS CHAPTER ONE CHAPTER TWO CHAPTER THREE CHAPTER FOUR CHAPTER FIVE CHAPTER SIX CHAPTER SEVEN CHAPTER EIGHT CHAPTER NINE CHAPTER TEN CHAPTER ELEVEN CHAPTER TWELVE CHAPTER THIRTEEN CHAPTER FOURTEEN CHAPTER FIFTEEN CHAPTER SIXTEEN CHAPTER SEVENTEEN CHAPTER EIGHTEEN CHAPTER ONE ?YOU?RE GOING TO DOwhat!? ?A strip search,? the FBI agent said, heading for the door. ?Please follow me.? Dr. Annie Morrow crossed her arms and planted herself firmly. She wasn?t going anywhere, that was for damn sure. ?You?ve gone through my luggage with a fine-tooth comb, you?ve X-rayed the hell out of my purse, and now you want to do a strip search? This is harassment, plain and simple. You?ve held me here for nearly five hours without letting me contact an attorney. My civil rights are being violated, pal, and I?ve had damn near enough.? On the other side of the one-way mirror, CIA operative Kendall ?Pete? Peterson stood silently, watching Dr. Anne?nickname Annie?Morrow, renowned archaeologist and art historian, professional artifact authenticator. According to her file, she was thirty-two years old, and one of the world?s foremost experts on ancient metalworkings?coins, statues, works of art, jewelry. The daughter of two archaeologists, she?d been born on a dig in Egypt. She?d lived in thirteen different countries and participated in nineteen different excavations, and that was before she?d even attended college. What the file didn?t tell him was that she was filled with a seemingly limitless supply of energy. During the course of the five hours he?d been watching her, she had sat still for only a very short time. Mostly she paced; sometimes she stood, she leaned, she tapped her foot, but generally she moved around the small interrogation room like a caged animal. The file also didn?t describe the stubborn tilt to her chin, or the way her blue eyes blazed when she was angry. In fact, the photo included hadn?t managed to capture much of anything out of the ordinary, except maybe her long, shining brown hair, and her almost too-sensuous lips. But in person, in motion, she was beautiful?. ?So that?s our little Dr. Morrow,? came a voice at his shoulder. Peterson turned to look at Whitley Scott, the man in charge of the FBI side of the investigation. Scott smiled at him, his eyes crinkling behind his thick glasses. ?Sorry I?m late, Captain,? he said. ?My flight was delayed.? Peterson didn?t smile back. ?We?ve been holding her for hours,? he said. ?She?s pretty steamed.? Through the speaker system, he could hear Dr. Morrow still arguing with FBI agent Richard Collins. ?I?ve told you nine million times, or is it ten million now? I was in England to pick up an artifact?a gold-cast death mask from the nineteenth century?for a client. I wasn?t out of the U.S. long enough to do whatever illicit crimes you?re trying to accuse me of. The shipping papers for the death mask are all in order?you?ve admitted that much,? she said. ?What I?d like to know is when you intend to let me leave.? ?After the strip search,? Collins said. He was a good man for this job, Peterson thought. Collins could outargue anyone. He was solid, steady and extremely patient. And he was absolutely never fazed. ?She?s just your type, Pete,? Whitley said, with a sideways glance at the taller man. ?Something tells me you?re going to enjoy this job.? Peterson didn?t smile, but his dark brown eyes flashed in Scott?s direction for a microsecond. ?She?s too skinny,? he said. In the interrogation room, Annie Morrow had had enough. She slammed her hand down on the table, pulling herself up and out of the chair she?d recently thrown herself into. ?You want to strip-search me?? she said. ?Fine. Strip-search me and let me get the hell out of here.? She shrugged out of her baggy linen jacket, tossing it onto a chair as she kicked her sneakers off. A quick yank pulled her loose red shirt over her head, and she quickly unbuttoned her pants. ?Umm?? Collins said, rattled. ?Not here?? ?Why not?? Annie asked much too sweetly, her eyes bright with anger as she stood in the middle of the room in her underwear. ?Oh, relax. I have bathing suits that are more revealing than this.? A slow grin spread across Peterson?s face. Man, she?d managed to faze Collins. She knew darn well he had wanted her to follow him to a private room where she?d be searched by a female agent. Yet she?d undressed in front of him, simply to upset him. He felt a flash of something, and realized that he liked her?he liked her spirit, her energy, her nerve. He frowned. She was a suspect, under investigation. He wasn?t supposed to like her. Respect, admire even, but not like. But, man, standing there, looking at her, he found an awful lot to like. Annie turned and gestured toward the mirror, hands on her hips. ?Don?t you think the rest of the boys want to get in on the fun?? She knew they were watching her. She was really something, really sharp. Her file said she?d had a 4.0 average throughout college, graduating with a Ph.D. in half the time it normally took. He liked smart women, particularly when they came wrapped in a package like this one. Her bra and panties were both black and lacy, contrasting the smooth paleness of her fair skin. Her breasts were full, her waist narrow, flaring out to slender hips and long, beautiful legs. ?I take it back,? Pete said to Whitley Scott. ?She?s not too skinny.? She seemed to be looking directly at him. He could see the pulse beating in her neck. Each ragged, angry breath she took made her breasts rise and fall. ?Do you intend to harass me every time I leave and re-enter the country?? she said. Pete glanced at Whitley. The older man shrugged. ?She?s looking right at you,? Whitley said. ?You know she can?t see me,? Pete said, but he motioned for the mike to be turned on. ?The Athens investigation,? he said, raising his voice so the mike would pick him up, ?hasn?t been closed.? Annie threw up her hands and began to pace. ?Well, there we go,? she said. ?We?re finally getting somewhere. You are trying to harass me. You don?t give a damn about this death mask. You still think I have something to do with the jerks that bombed and robbed that museum.? Pete tried to keep his attention on her words instead of her body. But it wasn?t easy. She moved like a cat, the muscles in her legs rippling?. ?How many times do I have to tell you that I am not a thief?? she continued. ?Shoot, I wish I were. It would make this a whole hell of a lot easier. But I?m not about to confess to crimes I didn?t commit.? She stopped pacing, coming back to stare directly up at him again. It was eerie, as if she really could see him through the glass. ?There was an explosion and a robbery at the gallery in England two hours after you left it,? Peterson said, his voice distorted over the cheap speakers. ?This time, people died.? Peterson watched Annie?s face carefully as a range of emotions battled through her. Anger finally won. ?So, naturally, you believe I was involved. That?s great, that?s really great. Innocent people die, and the best you guys can do is to give me a hard time as I get on and off planes. You should be over there chasing the creeps that did the bombing, not playing peekaboo with somebody who gets queasy when she cuts her finger, pal.? ?Doesn?t it seem a little strange that you should go to European art galleries twice in five months, and within hours after you leave, each of them is hit by a bomb and a robbery?? Peterson had been in this business long enough to know that when there was smoke, somebody was trying to hide a fire. He wasn?t buying the indignant act. ?How do you explain the fact that you left the Athens convention hours before anyone else?? ?I don?t!? Annie countered, eyes aflame. ?I?ve already told the FBI, and the CIA, and everyone else who?s asked, that I left because I?d seen everything at the exhibit and I wanted to catch an early flight home.? She was pacing the floor now, clearly upset. ?What ever happened to innocent until proven guilty? Huh? Just what the hell is going on here?? she shouted, right through the glass at Peterson. There was silence. Big fat silence. It disarmed her as Pete knew it would. Dr. Anne Morrow was low on patience, and impatient people didn?t like being made to wait. She turned, gathering her clothes. ?If we?re through?? she said pointedly. ?But we?re not,? Pete said. ?It?s called a strip search for a reason.? What little remained of her patience snapped. ?Oh, give me a break,? she said, throwing down her clothes and striding over to the mirror. She came up really close?close enough for Pete to see the details of her thick, dark lashes and the streaks of lighter color in the deep blue of her eyes. Close enough for him to see that her skin was as smooth and soft as it looked. If the glass of the window hadn?t been between them, he could have lifted his hand and touched her. Peterson felt Whitley watching him, and somehow he managed to remain expressionless. But, man, it had been a long time since he?d looked at a woman and wanted her this badly. It had been a real long time. ?I assure you that everything I?m hiding in my underwear is attached, pal,? she said. ?No removable parts.? ?Sorry,? he said. ?I?m being paid a lot of money not to trust you.? ?What exactly are you looking for?? she asked. ?Maybe if you tell me, I can check and see if I?ve got it on me somewhere.? ?You ever hear of mules?? Pete asked. She froze. He?d managed to shock her, but somehow he didn?t feel triumphant about it. ?Mules are people who smuggle illegal substances into the country inside their bodies,? he said. ?I know what a mule is,? she said. ?Tell me honestly, do you really think I?ve swallowed the crown jewels? Whole?? ?Not swallowed,? he said, and then was silent, letting her figure it out for herself. ?Oh, Christmas,? she said. Her face paled slightly beneath her tan, and her freckles stood out. ?We?re really trying to go for total humiliation here, aren?t we?? ?Just going by the book,? Pete said. ?And the book says that you?ll be searched?completely. We have a physician waiting in another room.? ?Oh, you mean you don?t want to do it right here?? Annie said. She was furious. He could almost see her pulse accelerating as he watched the vein in her neck. ?You sure you trust this doctor to do it right, pal? I would?ve thought you?d want to watch.? ?I?d love to watch,? he said, his voice coming out low and intimate, even through the tinny speakers. ?And by the way, the name?s not pal.? ?I prefer to personalize the disembodied voices that talk to me,? she said. ?It helps me feel more human. But you wouldn?t know about that, would you?? She turned away from the window suddenly, but not before he saw the glint of tears in her eyes. Pete felt ashamed of himself. What was wrong with him? Why did he have to be so rough on her? He was rough on her because he felt for her, because he found himself believing her. And he had absolutely no facts to back him up, just gut instinct. Gut, thought Pete, yeah, right. Aim a little lower?. He couldn?t let himself forget that Dr. Anne Morrow was a suspect, quite possibly a thief, connected to people who wouldn?t think twice about killing to satisfy their greed. He watched her pull on her pants and then her shirt as the female agent led her from the room. With a nod, he ordered the microphone connection cut. Whitley Scott was watching him. ?She?s gutsy,? Pete said to him. ?You?ve got to give her that much.? ?I think she?s hiding something,? Scott said. ?We?ve got to find a way to get closer to her. But how?? ?Good question.? Pete leaned against the back wall of the room, crossing his arms in front of him. ?I?m not exactly qualified to work in her laboratory. Or even on one of her digs.? ?Client?? Whitley asked. ?You could bring her some rare artifact to authenticate. One thing leads to another?a little dinner, a little who knows what, and she?s telling you her deepest, darkest secrets.? ?Perfect,? Pete said expressionlessly. ?Except she never dates her clients as a rule. No exception.? ?Next-door neighbor?? ?She lives over her lab in a restored Victorian house up in Westchester County,? Pete said. ?Expensive neighborhood. Way out of our budget. It would cost us close to half a million to buy one of the houses next door?provided someone was even willing to sell. And I?ve already checked?no one wants to rent.? Whitley nodded, turning toward the door. ?Well, keep thinking,? he said. ?We?ll come up with something sooner or later.? CHAPTER TWO ANNIE PULLED HER LITTLE HONDA into the driveway and turned the engine off. Damn, she was tired. Damn the CIA and damn the FBI and damn everyone who was working so hard to make her life so miserable. Five months. The harassment had been going on almost nonstop for five months. And now, after the bombing in England, it was only going to get worse. Already everyone in town knew that she was the subject of an FBI investigation. The agents had talked with everyone she knew, and probably a lot of people she didn?t know. Her college roommate had called last month to say that even she?d been questioned about Annie. And it had been five years since they?d last gotten together?. Damn, damn, damn, she thought. And particularly damn that horrible man who?d spoken to her from behind the one-way window. Somebody had referred to him as Captain Peterson. If she ever ran into him, she?d let him have a good swift kick where it counted. Except she didn?t have a clue what he looked like. She wouldn?t even be able to recognize him from his voice, not from hearing it over those awful interrogation room speakers. She stepped out of the car and went around to the other side to pull the package from England from the passenger seat. Damn these gold artifacts, too, she thought, as she barely lifted the crate. They always weigh a ton. Her assistant?s car was still in the driveway, so instead of going up to her apartment on the top floors of the house, Annie went into the lab. She could hear the sound of the computer keyboard clacking and followed it to the back room, where the office was set up. Cara MacLeish was inputting data at her usual breakneck speed. She didn?t even stop as she looked up and grinned. ?Welcome back,? she said. Her short brown curls stood straight up in their usual tangle, and her eyes were warm behind her horn-rimmed glasses. ?I thought you?d be here sooner. Like six hours ago.? Annie lowered the crate holding the gold death mask onto her desk top, then brushed some strands of hair back from her face. ?I was detained,? she said simply. Cara stopped typing, giving her boss her full, sympathetic attention, swearing imaginatively. ?Took the words right out of my mouth,? Annie said, smiling ruefully. ?FBI again?? Cara asked. ?FBI, CIA.? Annie shrugged. ?They all want a piece of me.? ?Well, look on the bright side,? Cara suggested. They both fell silent, trying to find one. ?They haven?t been able to make any charges stick,? Cara finally said. Annie pulled a rocking chair closer to the computer console and sat down. ?And you haven?t lost any business because of this,? Cara said, warming up to it now. She stretched her thin arms over her head, then yawned, standing up to get the kinks out of her long legs. ?In fact, I think business has picked up. We had a ton of calls while you were away.? Annie watched her assistant cross to the telephone answering machine. Next to it, a stack of little pink message slips were held by a bright red wooden duck with a clothespin for a mouth. ?Jerry Tillit called,? Cara said. ?He?s back from South America, and he?s got some Mayan stuff for you to look at.? ?Did you talk to him, or get the message off the machine?? Annie asked. Cara blushed. ?I spoke to him.? ?Did he ask you out again?? Annie grinned. ?Yes.? ?And??? ?We don?t date clients, remember?? Cara said. Annie corrected her. ?Jerry?s not a client, he?s a friend.? ?He?s also a client.? ?So he?s also a client,? Annie admitted. ?But just because I don?t want to date clients doesn?t mean you can?t, MacLeish. Will you please give the man a break?? ?I did.? ?You?What?? The taller woman grinned, pushing her hair back from her face and sitting down on top of the desk. ?I told him I?d go out with him. He?s coming up to drop his finds off this Saturday. We?re going out after that.? Annie glanced around the cozy office. The room was really quite large, but with two desks, two computers, a fax machine, a copier and all sorts of chairs and bookshelves, there wasn?t much room even to walk. But Cara MacLeish was an essential fixture here. ?Don?t you be going and getting married, MacLeish,? she said sternly. ?No running off to South America with Jerry Tillit.? Cara grinned. ?I?m only going to the movies with him,? she said. ?The next logical step might be a dinner date. Not marriage.? ?You don?t know Tillet as well as I do,? Annie muttered. ?And that man has a definite thing for you?.? ?Speaking of marriage,? Cara said, flipping through the phone message slips. ?Nick York called?five different times. Something about a party down at the Museum of Modern Art sometime this month.? Annie released her hair from its ponytail, letting it swing free in a gleaming brown sheet. She leaned back in the rocking chair, resting her feet on top of the computer desk. ?Shame on you, MacLeish. You know the words marriage and York cannot be uttered in the same sentence,? she said. ?York wants only two things from me. One of them is free lab work. And the other has nothing to do with marriage. Who else called?? ?The freight guy at Westchester Airport said a package from France will be in Saturday.? ?Great.? Annie sighed. ?Like I?ve got any chance of getting to work on it in the next decade.? She closed her eyes. ?Okay, so I pick it up on Saturday. What else?? ?A guy named Benjamin Sullivan called,? Cara said. ?Ring any bells?? Annie?s eyes popped open. ?Yeah, of course. He?s the owner of the piece I just picked up. What did he want?? ?He left a message on the machine, saying that we should ignore Alistair Golden if he calls,? Cara said. She laughed. ?I didn?t recognize Sullivan?s name, but it seemed kind of mystically, cosmically correct to get a message from a stranger telling us to ignore Golden. I always ignore Alistair Golden. Ignoring Golden is one of the things I do best.? Golden was Annie?s chief competitor, and he usually handled all the U.S.-bound artworks and artifacts from the English Gallery. ?And sure enough,? Cara said, snickering, ?the little weasel called. He was in a real snit, whining about something?I?m not sure exactly what, because I was working very hard to ignore him.? Annie laughed. ?I think I know what the bug up his pants was,? she said. ?When I got to the gallery, Sullivan?s package was already crated and sealed. Golden had assumed he?d be doing the authentication job, so he?d already done the packing work.? ?Golden packed the crate for you?? Cara said with great pleasure. ?No wondering his whine was set on stun. He wanted you to call him back, but unless you want to subject yourself to a solid forty-five minutes of complaining, I wouldn?t. I give you my permission to use the ?scatterbrained employee didn?t give me the message? excuse for the next time he catches up with you.? Annie smiled. ?Thanks. Did Ben Sullivan want me to call him back?? ?He said something about going out of town,? Cara said, glancing back at the phone message slip. ?Who is he? How do you know him? Come on, fill me in. Height, weight, marital status?? ?As far as I know, he?s single,? Annie said, then smiled. ?But he?s also seventy-five years old, so get that matchmaking gleam out of your eyes.? Cara made a face in disappointment. ?Ben?s an old friend of my parents.? Annie leaned back in her chair, breathing deeply. ?I don?t think I?ve seen him since, wow, since I was about fifteen. Apparently, he was talking to Mom and Dad recently, and they told him about me?you know, that I opened this lab a few years ago. When the offer to buy came in on this death mask, he requested that I do the necessary authentication.? ?Instead of Golden,? Cara said. Annie grinned. ?Instead of Golden.? She sat forward, stretching her arms over her head. ?Anyone else call?? Cara nodded. ?Yeah. I saved the best message for last. It came in on the answering machine. Let me play it for you.? Cara slid off the table, handing Annie the message slips, then pushed the message button on the machine. The tape rewound quickly, then a voice spoke. It was odd, all whispery and strange, as if the caller had deliberately tried to disguise his voice. ?The mask you have gained possession of does not belong to the world of the living. It is the property of Stands Against the Storm. Deliver it at once to his people, or be prepared to face his evil spirit?s rage. The doors to the twilight world are opened wide, and Stands Against the Storm will take you back with him.? There was a click as the line was disconnected. Cara punched one of the buttons on the machine and the tape stopped running. ?So, okay.? She grinned. ?Which one of your weirdo friends left that message? And who the heck is Stands Against the Storm?? But Annie wasn?t laughing. Swearing softly under her breath, she stood up, hoisted the crate containing the death mask off her desk and went down the hall toward the lab. Cara followed, her grin fading. ?What?? Cara asked, watching as Annie locked the front door. ?What?s the matter?? ?We?ve got to put this in the safe,? Annie said, gesturing to the package in her arms. ?Annie, who was that on the tape?? Cara asked, eyes narrowing. ?Some crackpot,? Annie said, heading back to the sturdy vault that sat directly in the middle of the house, surrounded by the lab in the front and the office in the rear. It was secure, impenetrable. She would feel a lot better after she locked the gold death mask inside. ?If it was just some crackpot,? Cara demanded, ?why did you rush across the room and lock the door?? Annie opened the innocuous-looking closet door to reveal the combination lock of the big safe. She spun the red dial several times before entering the numbers. ?Because it would be foolish not to take precautions, crackpot or not.? She looked up at her assistant. ?You must not have had a chance to read the background info I left you on this project.? Cara shrugged expansively. ?I cannot tell a lie. I had about an hour of free time last night, and I spent it watching ?Quantum Leap? instead of reading about nineteenth-century Indian chiefs.? Setting the package on the top shelf of the vault, Annie swung the door shut, locking it securely. ?Native Americans, not Indians,? she corrected Cara. ?In a nutshell, the artifact we?re testing for authenticity is supposedly a gold casting of a death mask of a Navaho named Stands Against the Storm. He was one of the greatest Native American leaders. He was a brilliant man who truly understood Western culture. He tried to help the white leaders understand his own people as thoroughly.? Cara followed her back into the office. ?How come I?ve never heard of him?? she asked. ?I mean, everyone knows Sitting Bull and Geronimo. Why not this guy?? Annie sat down behind her desk, frowning at the chaos on its surface. Why was it that paperwork seemed to multiply whenever she went away for a few days? ?Sitting Bull and Geronimo were warriors,? she said. ?Stands Against the Storm was a man of peace. He didn?t get as much press as the war party leaders, but not from lack of trying. In fact, he was in England, trying to drum up support for his people among the British, when he died.? She shook her head. ?His death was a major blow to the Navaho cause.? ?If Stands Against the Storm was such a peaceful guy,? Cara said, ?then why would he have an evil spirit?? ?The Navaho believe that when people die, they become ghosts or spirits,? Annie said. ?It doesn?t matter how nice or kind a person was during his life. When he dies, he becomes malevolent and he gets back at all the people who did him wrong during his lifetime. Chances are, the nicer the guy was, the more evil his spirit would be?the more he?d have to avenge. You know, nice guys finish last and all that.? ?But if Stands Against the Storm died in England,? Cara said, ?then how could his spirit come after you? Assuming for the sake of this discussion that the Navaho are right about this spirit stuff,? she added. ?Death is a major problem for the Navaho,? Annie said. She smiled. ?Actually, I can?t think of too many cultures that look forward to death, but the Navaho really don?t like it. In fact, if someone dies inside a house, even today, that house will sometimes be abandoned. See, the Navaho believe that the place a person dies in, and the things he touches before dying or even after he?s dead, can contain his bad spirit. Making a death mask would be a real invitation to disaster. The Navaho would never make something like a death mask. But it was the custom at the time in England, you know, to make a mold of the dead person?s face and then cast a mask from it to get a likeness. I guess Stands Against the Storm was something of a celebrity?and certainly a curiosity, a Red Indian from the Wild West?so when he died, they made a death mask.? Annie looked over at the answering machine. What she couldn?t figure out was how it had become public knowledge that she was working on authenticating Stands Against the Storm?s death mask. Unless Ben Sullivan, or Steven Marshall, the purchaser, had leaked something?. ?Hey, Annie?? She met Cara?s worried brown eyes. ?It just occurred to me,? the taller woman said. ?That message on the answering machine is basically a?Well, it?s a death threat.? ?It was just some nut.? Annie shrugged it off. ?Besides, I don?t believe in ghosts.? ?You gotta admit, it?s creepy,? Cara said. ?Maybe we should, I don?t know?Call the police?? Annie groaned, dropping her head onto her arms on the desk top. ?No more police, no more FBI, no way. I?d much rather be haunted by the spirit of Stands Against the Storm.? ANNIE SAT UP IN BED, WIDE-EYED in the darkness as the burglar alarm shrieked. Her heart pounded from being awakened so suddenly. She clicked on the light and grabbed her robe. Oh, Christmas! This damned alarm was going to raise the entire neighborhood. She ran down the stairs two at a time and turned on the lights in the foyer as she crossed toward the alarm-system control panel. Oh my God, thought Annie. It wasn?t a malfunction! The alarm schematic showed a breach in the system on the first floor. A window in the lab was marked as the intruder?s point of entry. Suddenly she was very glad for the shrieking alarm. Across the street, she could see the neighbors? lights go on, and she knew they?d call the police?they always did. She ran back up to her room and opened the drawer on her bedside table. Oh, damn, damn, damn, where was it? She pulled the drawer out of the table and emptied it onto her bed. There it was. She grabbed the toy gun, unwinding a stray piece of string from the barrel, and headed toward the stairs. She ran down and kicked open the door to the lab. She flicked on the light switch with her elbow and the bright fluorescent bulbs illuminated the room. No one was there?either human or inhuman. But the window had been broken. Feeling just a little silly, she put the plastic gun down on the lab counter and stepped carefully toward the large rock that had been thrown through the window. There was a piece of paper attached to it with a rubber band. Spinning lights from two police cars caught her eye as they pulled into her driveway. She went to the front door and keyed into the control panel the code to cancel the alarm. The shrill noise stopped instantly. Taking a deep breath, she opened the door to the town police officers. They came inside and looked at the broken window. One of them made a quick survey of the house, checking to make sure all the windows and doors were still locked, while the other radioed in to the station. Big doings in a small town. Annie sighed. She went into the kitchen and put on a pot of coffee. Something told her this was going to be a long night. PETERSON WOKE UP INSTANTLY and answered the phone after only one ring. ?Yeah,? he said, looking at the glowing numbers of his clock: 3:47. He ran one hand across his face. ?This better be good.? ?It?s Scott. Can you talk?? Whitley Scott said in his flat New Jersey accent. ?Yeah, I?m awake,? Pete said, sitting up and turning on his light. ?No, I mean?are you alone?? ?Yeah, I?m alone.? Pete rubbed his eyes. ?If you check my file, you?ll see that I haven?t been involved with anyone since last March.? ?I?ve already checked your file,? the FBI agent said easily. ?And it says you?ve got something of a reputation as a tomcat.? Pete was silent, thinking about that new administrative assistant in the New York City office. Carolyn something. She had curly brown hair and legs a mile long. And eyes that made it more than clear that she was interested in him, no-strings-attached. She?d invited him out for a drink last night. If he had gone with her, she?d probably be lying here right now, next to him. But he?d turned her down. Why? Maybe because, regardless of the fact that he?d be using her the exact same way, he was tired of being the flavor of the month for ambitious, upwardly mobile women. Even though he wasn?t overly tall, he knew that with his black hair and his dark brown eyes, he had the dark and handsome part down cold. For years, he?d used his good looks to his advantage, but recently it had been rubbing him the wrong way. His relationships, which usually lasted a month or two, were getting shorter and shorter. And when he?d looked at that administrative assistant last night, he hadn?t felt the usual heat from knowing that she wanted him. If he?d felt anything at all, it had been disdain. More than once over the past few months, the thought of retiring from the agency had crossed his mind. The closer he got to his fortieth birthday, the more aware he seemed to become of an emptiness in his life. He couldn?t figure out what he was looking for. He was far too jaded to believe in true love?hell, he was too jaded to believe in any kind of love. And if he stopped having relationships based on animal attraction, on sex, he was in for a whole lot of cold, lonely nights?. ?You still there?? Whitley Scott asked. ?Yeah.? ?We?ve found a way for you to get close to Anne Morrow,? Scott said. ?She practically handed it to us on a platter.? Pete listened intently as Scott explained. It would work. It would definitely work. After he hung up the phone and turned the light off, Pete stared up at the dark ceiling, feeling a wave of anticipation so charged that it was almost sexual. In a sudden flash of memory, he saw black lace against pale skin, and a pair of wide, blue eyes?. ?THE NOTE SAID WHAT?? Cara?s voice rose sharply. ?It was stupid,? Annie said, clearing some of the clutter off her desk. ?I can?t believe the police took it seriously.? ?When someone bothers to send a message via a rock through a window,? Cara said tartly, ?it should probably be taken seriously.? ?But, God, did they have to notify the FBI?? Annie said. ?You know, the Federal agents got over here really quickly. I?m wondering if they weren?t somehow responsible. I mean, they?ve been hassling me every other way imaginable. Why not a rock through a window?? ?With a note saying ?Prepare to die??? Cara asked. ?I doubt it, Annie.? ?And I seriously doubt that a Native American group, no matter how radical or fringe, would resort to this kind of petty threat,? Annie said. ?The FBI can go ahead and investigate, but they?re just wasting their time.? She sat back in her chair, her normally clear blue eyes shadowed with fatigue. ?I just don?t need the FBI?s garbage on top of everything else. You know, they wanted to provide me with round-the-clock protection. Surveillance is more like it. I told them I could protect myself perfectly well, thank you very much.? ?I don?t suppose you told them that the likeliest suspect is a ghost called Stands Against the Storm,? Cara said. ?Maybe we should?ve called Ghostbusters instead of the police.? She sang the familiar horn riff to the original movie theme. Annie laughed, searching for something on her desk to throw at her friend. She settled for an unsharpened pencil. Cara dodged the pencil and grinned. ?Of course, if a ghost isn?t a freaky enough suspect, there are always Navaho witches.? Annie tiredly closed her eyes. ?I see you finally read the background information I gave you.? ??Quantum Leap? reruns weren?t on last night,? Cara said. ?So I had some free time. Fascinating stuff. I particularly liked the part that said the Navaho believe some people?who appear to be normal during the day?are really witches. And if plain old witches who can cast spells and wreak havoc aren?t bad enough, these witches can transform themselves into giant wolves at night and roam the countryside. Very pleasant.? ?Most cultures have some version of bogeymen that stalk the night,? Annie said. ?Werewolves are nothing new.? ?Yeah, but these werewolves are neighbors, relatives even,? Cara said. ?And they start doing their witchy business when they get jealous of another person?s wealth or good luck or?Hey, that?s it.? Cara grinned. ?Call the FBI off. I?ve figured it out. Alistair Golden is really one of these witches, and he?s cast horrible bad-luck spells on you because you?re starting to steal away some of his business. Although, actually he?d make a better weasel man than a wolf man.? ?There?s a big hole in your theory,? Annie said. ?Golden?s not Navaho.? ?Good point.? Cara?s eyes narrowed, taking in the pale, almost grayish cast to her friend?s face. ?The guy fixing the window won?t be done for another hour or so,? she said. ?Why don?t you go upstairs and take a nap? I can hold down the fort.? The phone rang. ?That?s got to be my call from Dallas,? Annie said. ?I called Ben Sullivan but he?s out of touch for a while. He?s on a dig in Turkey, so my contact for the death mask is the buyer, Steve Marshall.? Cara picked up the phone. ?Dr. Morrow?s office. MacLeish speaking.? She listened for a moment, her eyebrows disappearing under her bangs. ?One moment, please,? she said. She covered the speaker with her hand as she gave the handset to Annie. ?What, are you clairvoyant, now, too? It?s Steven Marshall. Calling from Dallas.? Annie smiled wanly as she took the phone. ?Hello?? ?Dr. Morrow,? came the thick Texas drawl. ?My secretary tells me you?ve been trying to reach me?? ?Yes, Mr. Marshall,? Annie said. ?Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. We?re having a little problem.? Briefly she described both the threatening phone call and the follow-up note that had come through her window. ?I don?t think there?s any real danger,? Annie said. ?But I felt I had to notify you and give you the opportunity to have the artifact authenticated by an establishment with higher security.? There was a moment of silence. Then Marshall said, ?But?you?re the best, aren?t you, darlin??? ?Well, yes, I like to think so,? Annie said. ?I?m more concerned with your personal safety,? he said. ?Are you frightened? Do you want to get out of this contract?? ?Not at all. It?s just that I may not be set up to provide security at the level necessary to protect the piece,? she explained. ?Oh, that?s just a little bitty problem,? Marshall said with the easy nonchalance of the very wealthy. ?We can solve that, no sweat. I?ll provide the security, darlin?. I?ll send a man over later this afternoon. He?ll be responsible for the safety of the death mask. He?ll also act as your bodyguard.? Oh, great, just what she needed. A pair of biceps following her around. She took a deep, calming breath. ?Mr. Marshall, that?s not necessary?? ?No, no, darlin?, I insist.? ?But I?m backlogged,? Annie protested. ?It?s going to be weeks before I even get a chance to look at the artifact. And the tests I need to perform will take that much time again. My contract states an estimated completion date of mid-December. That?s over two months?? ?I?ll tell the guy to be prepared to stay for a while.? ?But?? ?I gotta get back to work now,? Marshall said. ?Nice talking to you, darlin?. I?ll be in touch.? ?But?? He hung up. ?But I don?t want a bodyguard!? Annie wailed to the buzz of the disconnected line. ?A what?? Cara asked. Annie hung up the phone with a muttered curse. ?I?m going to take a nap,? she said, stalking toward the door. ?Maybe when I wake up, this nightmare will be over.? ?Did you say bodyguard?? Cara?s voice trailed after her. Annie didn?t answer. Cara?s face broke into a wide grin. A bodyguard. For Annie. This was going to be an awful lot of fun to watch. CHAPTER THREE ANNIE STRETCHED, LUXURIATING, enjoying having spent the day in bed. It was a real self-indulgence, particularly since she had so much to do in the lab. But she wouldn?t have gotten a whole heck of a lot done if she?d tried to work. Her concentration would?ve been way off because of her fatigue, and she would have ended up having to do everything over again. So instead she?d slept hard, and now felt much better. And hungry. Boy, was she hungry. She pushed back the covers and went into her bathroom to wash her face, deciding against a shower. Why bother? Cara would be leaving for home in an hour or so. And the artifacts Annie had to run tests on didn?t care if she worked in her pajamas. She brushed the tangles out of her hair and put some moisturizer on her face. The sky outside the window was dark, she realized suddenly. It must be later than she thought. She went down the stairs barefoot, calling, ?MacLeish! Are you still here?? ?No, she went home.? Annie stopped short at the sight of the stranger standing in the shadows of the foyer. How did he get in? What was he doing here? Fear released adrenaline into her system and, heart pounding, she stood on the stairs, poised to turn and run back up and slam the door behind her. He must have realized that he had frightened her, because he spoke quickly and stepped into the light. ?Steven Marshall sent me,? he said, his voice a rich baritone with a slight west-of-the-Mississippi cowboy drawl. ?My name?s Pete Taylor. I?m a security specialist. Your assistant let me in. She didn?t want to wake you?.? He was not quite six feet tall, with the tough, wiry build of a long-distance runner. His hair was black, and cut almost military short. His face was exotically handsome, with wide, angular cheekbones that seemed to accentuate his dark eyes?eyes of such deep brown, it was impossible to tell where the iris ended and the pupil began. His lips were exquisitely shaped, despite the fact that he wasn?t smiling. Somehow Annie knew that this was not a man who smiled often. He held out his wallet to her, opened to reveal an ID card encased in plastic. Annie couldn?t keep her hand from shaking as she took the smooth leather folder from him, and she saw a flash of amusement in his dark eyes. He thought it was funny that he scared her. What a jerk. She sat down on the steps as she looked at the ID. Peter Taylor. Age 38. Licensed private investigator and security specialist. The card gave him a New York City address, in a rather pricey section of Greenwich Village. Across from the ID card was a New York State driver?s license. She lifted the plastic flaps and found an American Express Gold Card for Peter Taylor, member since 1980, a MasterCard, a Visa and a Sears credit card. He was carrying over five hundred dollars cash in the main compartment, along with several of his own business cards. She tossed the wallet back to him and, as their eyes met, she saw another glint of humor on his otherwise stern face. ?Do I pass?? he said. As he tucked the wallet into the inside left pocket of his tweed jacket, she caught a glimpse of a handgun in a shoulder holster. Annie nodded. ?For now,? she said, working hard to keep her tone formal, polite. ?But just so that it?s out in the open, I think you should know that I don?t want you here. I consider your presence an imposition, and I intend to speak to Marshall about it tomorrow. So don?t bother unpacking?you?ll be leaving in the morning.? ?When I spoke to Mr. Marshall this afternoon, he was adamant that I remain,? he said. ?Apparently he?s concerned for your safety. Somehow I don?t see him changing his mind so quickly.? Annie stared at him. His feet were planted on the tile floor, legs slightly spread, arms crossed in front of his chest. His jeans were tight across the big muscles in his thighs. His belt buckle was large and silver and obviously Navaho in origin. Annie couldn?t see it clearly, but there was a silver ring on his right hand that also looked Navaho. He wore a necklace, but it was tucked into his shirt. She would bet big money that he was at least half Native American, and probably Navaho. ?Where did you grow up?? she asked. He blinked at the sudden change in subject. ?Colorado,? he said. ?Mostly.? His shoulders stiffened slightly. So very slightly, he probably didn?t even realize it. But Annie noticed. Something about the question had made him feel defensive, wary. Was it that she?d asked a personal question, or did his wariness have something to do specifically with Colorado, or the ?mostly? that followed it? She was instantly fascinated. It wasn?t because he was outrageously handsome, she tried to convince herself. Her attraction toward him?and she was attracted, she couldn?t deny that?was more a result of his quiet watchfulness, spiced with a little mystery. He had something to be defensive or at least wary about. What was it? ?You ride horses, don?t you, Taylor?? she asked, head tilted slightly to one side as she looked at him, hooked into trying to solve the puzzle, hoping for another clue from his reaction. She was watching him, Pete realized, studying him as if he were an artifact, memorizing every little detail, searching for his flaws and weaknesses. Her hair was down around her shoulders, parted on the side and swept back off her face. It gleamed in the light. She wore a too-large pair of men?s pajamas, with the legs cuffed and the sleeves rolled up. There was no makeup on her face, and instead of giving her that naked, vulnerable look most women have without cosmetics, she looked clean, scrubbed and fresh. Her eyes were a brilliant blue, and she met his gaze steadily, as if she were trying to get inside his head. ?Yeah,? he finally said. ?I figured it was either horses or a bike,? she said. ?Don?t you feel odd, carrying around a gun?? ?No.? ?What do you know about death masks?? she asked. ?Not much.? She was firing off questions as if this were some kind of interview. He decided to play it her way. It might make her start to trust him. It certainly couldn?t hurt?he wasn?t going to tell her anything he didn?t want her to know. ?How about art authentication?? ?Ditto.? ?A Navaho leader from the nineteenth century named Stands Against the Storm?? ?Only the information that Marshall faxed me this morning,? he said. ?Have you read it?? ?Of course.? She watched him thoughtfully. ?Where did you go to school?? He shifted his weight. While most people would have been loath to admit their ignorance, it hadn?t bothered him one little bit to tell her he knew next to nothing about death masks and art authentication. But this question about himself, about his background, made him uncomfortable, Annie thought. Now, why was that? ?NYU,? he said. The bio the agency had created for Peter Taylor had him attending New York University from 1973 to 1977. Truth was, he hadn?t even set foot in New York until 1980. But he?d been Pete Taylor so many times, on so many different assignments, he almost had memories of the imaginary classes?. ?Are you aware that I?m currently under investigation by the FBI and the CIA?? she asked, her blue eyes still watching him. He was caught off guard by the directness of her question and had to look away, momentarily thrown. ?They think I?m involved in some kind of international art-theft conspiracy,? she said. He glanced up at her and saw that her lips were curved in a small smile. ?Are you?? he asked. He made a good recovery, Annie thought. He had known about the investigation. She was willing to bet he had done a full background sweep on her before coming up from New York City. It didn?t surprise her one bit. Marshall wouldn?t have hired anyone who was less than outstanding. ?Are you hungry?? she said, standing and stretching, arms pulled up over her head, ignoring his question. ?I haven?t eaten all day, and if I don?t have something soon, I?m gonna die.? Pete found his eyes drawn to the gap that appeared between her pajama top and the loose bottoms that rode low on her slender hips. ?I ate already, thanks,? he said. ?Besides, I have an expense account that Mr. Marshall is covering. It?s not fair that I should cost you money. After all, you don?t even want me here.? ?It?s nothing personal,? Annie said, climbing up the stairs, heading for the kitchen. ?I know,? he said, following her. She turned on the light in the kitchen and opened the refrigerator. She pulled an apple from the crisper drawer and took it to the sink, where she washed it quickly, then dried it with a towel. The kitchen was a small room, just barely large enough to hold a table in one corner and a counter with a sink, stove, refrigerator and dishwasher in the other. It was decorated in black and white, with a tile floor that reminded Pete of a chessboard. ?I?d like to do a complete walk-through of the building,? Pete said, watching her take a healthy bite of the apple. ?I checked out the first floor and the basement while you were asleep. Your safe location is good. It would take a significant explosive charge to blow it open. But your general security is?? He broke off, shaking his head. ?Bush-league?? Annie supplied, leaning back against the counter, ankles and arms crossed, watching him as she ate her apple. It didn?t rate a smile, but there was a flicker of amusement in his dark eyes. ?Definitely. A professional could get into this house without triggering the alarm system?no problem. Don?t you read Consumer Reports? The system you have is known for malfunctions. It?s unreliable. It?s easily bypassed, and it goes off spontaneously.? Annie shaved the last bit of fruit from the core of the apple with her teeth, licking her lips as she looked up at him. ?I?ve noticed.? She opened the cabinet door beneath the sink and tossed the apple core into a compost container, then rinsed her hands. His expression changed slightly. Most people might not have picked it up?it was just a very small contraction of his dark eyebrows. But Annie was trained to pay attention to details, and on a face as expressionless as he kept his, the movement stood out. ?What?? she asked. He blinked. ?Excuse me?? ?Something?s bugging you. What is it?? She was standing only a few feet away from him, and he breathed in her natural fragrance. She smelled sweet and warm, with a little bit of baby shampoo, some rich-smelling skin lotion and tart apple thrown in for good measure. Although her pajamas were boxy and made of thick flannel, he was well aware of the soft, feminine body underneath. He felt his desire for her sparking, and he tightened his stomach muscles. Man, his entire office believed that she was a thief?. ?I was wondering if that?s all you?re going to eat,? he said levelly. Through sheer force of will he stopped his desire for her from growing. He forced it back, down, deep inside of him, willing it to stay hidden. For now, anyway. ?It doesn?t seem like very much, considering that you were so hungry. You should eat something more filling.? Annie laughed, her white teeth flashing. ?This is great,? she said. ?A bodyguard who gives nutritional advice. How appropriate.? He smiled. It was actually little more than the sides of his mouth twitching upward, but Annie decided it counted as a smile. Shoot, with a full grin, he?d be as handsome as the devil. More handsome? ?Sorry,? he said. ?But you asked.? ?You?re right,? she said, leading the way onto the landing, ?I did. Look, I?ve got to get some work done.? She flipped her long hair back out of her face in a well-practiced motion, and hiked up her pajama bottoms. Pete wished almost desperately that she would put on some other clothes. It wasn?t like him to be so easily distracted, but every time she moved, he had to work hard to keep from wanting her. For a long time now, he?d gone without sex. Not because it wasn?t available, but because he simply hadn?t wanted it. Didn?t it figure that his libido should suddenly come to life again out here, in the middle of nowhere, while he was alone in this big house with this beautiful woman? Man, as soon as he got back to the New York office, he?d have to look up Carolyn what?s-her-name, the administrative assistant with the long legs?. ?It would help if I could take a look at the top floors of the house,? Pete said. Annie shook her head. ?Taylor, I don?t mean to be rude,? she said, ?but I?m already two days behind in my work schedule. Frankly, there?s no point in my showing you around, because after I talk to Marshall tomorrow, you?re going to be catching the next train back into the city.? ?I drove up,? he said expressionlessly. ?I was speaking figuratively,? she said. ?It?s going to be hard for me to do my job without your cooperation,? Pete pointed out. She started down the stairs to the lab. ?Why don?t you use my phone to call your answering machine,? she said, not unsympathetically. ?Maybe someone called with a different job for you. You can work for them and get all the cooperation you could possibly want.? Annie stayed in the lab until shortly after two-thirty in the morning. She finished all but the last set of purity tests on a copper bowl that had been found at a southwestern archaeological dig site, believed to have been left by early Spanish conquistadors. That last test would take another two hours, and the thought of spending that much more time under Peter Taylor?s unwavering gaze was far too exhausting. Besides, even if she finished the testing, she wouldn?t have any conclusive evidence until the sample results came back from the carbon-dating lab. She switched off the equipment and put the bowl back in the safe, turning to find Taylor still watching her. He was sitting in a chair by the door. He didn?t look tired despite the late hour. He didn?t look uncomfortable or put upon or?anything. Christmas, he was making her nervous. She thought about just breezing past him, out the door and up the stairs, but her conscience made her stop. ?There?s a spare bedroom upstairs,? she said. ?You can sleep?? But he was shaking his head. ?No.? ?Oh,? she said. ?I suppose you want to stay down here, to be near the safe?? ?The safe?s secure,? he said, pulling himself out of the chair in one graceful, fluid motion. ?You?d need a crane to move it, and a ton of dynamite to get into it. If I sleep at all, it?s going to be in your bedroom.? Annie stared at him, shocked. In her bedroom?But his words had been said matter of factly, expressionlessly, without any hint of sexual overtones. Either he had no idea of his physical appeal, or he was so confident, he didn?t doubt that any woman would be grateful to share her bed with him. ?I don?t think so,? she said. He raised one eyebrow, as if he knew exactly what she?d been thinking. ?I meant, on the floor.? Annie willed herself not to blush. ?You?d be much more comfortable in the guest room,? she said. ?But you would be much less safe,? he countered. ?Your alarm system is nearly worthless?? ?I?ll be fine,? Annie protested. This was starting to get tiring. Why wouldn?t he just accept his defeat and sleep in the guest room? He was blocking her way up the stairs, his arms crossed stubbornly in front of his chest. ?Will you please let me do my job?? ?By all means,? she said. ?Do your job. Just do it in the guest room tonight.? He wasn?t going to move, so Annie pushed past him, starting toward the stairs. But he caught her arm, stopping her. His fingers were long and strong, easily encircling her wrist. The heat from his hand penetrated the flannel of her pajamas. Her heart was pounding from annoyance, Annie tried to convince herself, not from his touch. She tried to pull away, but his grip tightened. ?I am going to protect you,? he said. His face remained expressionless, but his eyes were like twin chips of volcanic glass. He had pulled her in so close that she had to crane her neck to look up at him. ?Maybe so,? she said, and to her chagrin, her voice shook very slightly. ?But who?s going to protect me from you?? Pete dropped her arm immediately. ?I don?t know you from Adam,? Annie said, stepping back, away from him, rubbing her arm. ?For all I know, you?re really the guy who?s been making the death threats. For all I know, you?ve done in the real Peter Taylor.? ?My picture?s on my ID, and my driver?s license.? ?Everyone knows picture IDs are easy to fake?? She broke off, staring in fascination at his necklace. She?d noticed earlier that he wore silver beads around his neck, but until now she hadn?t caught a glimpse of the necklace. It was clearly Navaho, with small coin-silver hollow beads, and five squash blossoms decorating the bottom half, along with a three-quarter circle design pendant, known as a naja. Ignoring her trepidation, she took a step toward him, lifting the naja in her hand. ?This is beautiful,? she said, glancing up at him before studying it more closely. Two tiny hands decorated the ends of the naja. ?Navaho. It?s quite old, too, isn?t it?? All of her anger, all of her uneasiness was instantly forgotten as she was caught up, examining the carefully worked silver. She looked at the necklace with real interest, real excitement sparking in her eyes. Pete laughed, and Annie looked up at him in surprise. It was a rich, deep laugh complete with a grin that transformed his face. She had been right?with his face unfrozen, he was exceptionally handsome. ?Yeah,? he said. ?It?s Navaho.? She was standing so close to him, mere inches away, holding the naja, but looking up at him. As he gazed into her wide blue eyes, he could feel the heat rising in him. What was it about her that made his body react so powerfully? He wanted to pull her into his arms, feel her body against his. He could imagine the way her lips would taste. Warm and sweet. Man, it would take so little effort?. Pete shoved his hands deep into the pockets of his jeans to keep from touching her. ?Your belt buckle is Navaho, too,? she said. ?And the ring on your hand, I think?I didn?t really get a good look at it.? He pulled his right hand free from his pocket, glancing down at the thick silver-and-turquoise ring he wore on his third finger. ?Do you mind?? Annie asked, letting go of the pendant and taking his hand. She looked closely at the worn silver of the ring, at the delicate ornamentation. ?This isn?t quite as old as the necklace,? she said. ?But it?s beautiful.? Her slender fingers were cool against the heat of his. She kept her nails cut short but well-groomed, and wore no jewelry on her hands. ?I thought you were a specialist in European metalworks,? he said. ?How come you know so much about Native American jewelry?? She turned his hand over, looking at the other side of the ring. ?When I was a kid, I spent about six years at sites in Utah and Arizona, one year in Colorado. Out of all the places we ever lived, my favorite was the American Southwest. When I went to college, I even considered specializing in Native American archaeology.? ?Why didn?t you?? ?I don?t know,? she said. ?I mean, there were a lot of different reasons.? She looked down at his ring again. His hand was so big, it seemed to engulf both of hers. He had calluses on his palm, and two of his fingers had healing abrasions on the knuckles?as if he?d slammed his fist into a wall. Or a person, she realized. In his line of work, it could very well have been a person. He was looking down at her, making no attempt to take his hand away. Their eyes met, and for the briefest of instants, Annie saw the deep heat of desire in his eyes. Fire seemed to slice through her as her body responded, and she dropped his hand, noticing with rather horrified amusement that he had let go of her with as much haste. What had he seen in her eyes, she wondered. Was her own attraction for him as apparent? She looked away, taking a step back from him, once again heading for the stairs. ?Good night,? she said, her voice sounding strange and breathless. But he was in front of her, leading the way up to the second floor. ?At the very least, I want to check out your room,? he said. ?Make sure all the windows are locked?? ?I can do that,? Annie protested. ?Yeah, I know,? he said as he went into her bedroom. ?But I have to see it for myself.? The bed was still unmade from Annie?s afternoon nap, and she saw him glance at her bright blue and green patterned sheets before crossing to the bay windows on the other side of the big room. He pulled back the curtains and looked at each window carefully, checking to see that the locks were secure and the alarm system was working. Annie stood in the middle of the room, arms crossed in front of her as she watched his broad, strong back. With his conservatively short black hair, she wouldn?t have expected him to be wearing jeans with his tweed jacket, but somehow it didn?t look out of place. The jacket was well tailored, fitting his broad shoulders like a glove. His jeans were loose enough to be comfortable, yet managed to show off the long, muscular lengths of his legs. Legs that went all the way up to? She pulled her eyes away, not wanting to be caught staring at Taylor?s butt. It was exceptional though, she thought, grinning, glancing back at him. Even with his hair cut so short, Taylor would have no trouble qualifying for one of those hunk-of-the-month calendars?. ?What?s so funny?? he asked, pulling the last of the curtains closed again and walking toward her. ?Nothing,? Annie said, backing away. ?Look,? Pete said. ?I?d really feel a whole lot better if I could sleep in here tonight.? He paused for a moment. ?You won?t even know I?m here,? he added. Oh, sure, Annie thought. And they?re expecting heavy snow this year in the Sahara desert. She forced herself to stay in control of what was rapidly becoming a ludicrous situation. ?No,? she said. ?Maybe I?d feel different if I thought I was in any kind of real danger. But I just don?t buy it.? She walked him to the door. He hesitated before stepping out of the room, but finally he did. ?Feel free to use the spare room,? Annie said. ?It?s across the hall. The bed?s already made up.? He didn?t say anything. He just watched her from behind his expressionless mask. ?See you in the morning,? she finally said, closing and locking the door. Pete stood out in the hall, listening as Annie got ready for bed. The water ran for a while in the bathroom, the toilet flushed and finally the lamp clicked off. And still he stood there, just listening and waiting. CHAPTER FOUR ANNIE WOKE UP AT NINE O?CLOCK, before her alarm went off. Regardless of the fact that it was Saturday morning, she had work to do down in the lab. And wasn?t today the day that Jerry Tillit was bringing in his latest finds from South America? That meant that Cara would be downstairs, despite it being a weekend. And there was that pickup she had to make at the airport?. She closed her eyes briefly. Damn, damn, damn. Six hours of sleep used to be enough. Five, really?she hadn?t been able to fall asleep right away last night. She?d been thinking about?work. Yeah, right. Work. She was so far behind schedule, she had absolutely no time to spend thinking about anything or anyone else. So why did Pete Taylor?s dark eyes seem to penetrate her dreams? Because his presence was a pain in the butt, Annie decided. And as soon as the sun came up in Texas, she?d give Steven Marshall a call and get this bodyguard business straightened out once and for all. Rolling out of bed, Annie tiredly pulled her pajama shirt over her head, then pushed her hair out of her face as she walked toward the bathroom. Oh, Christmas, Taylor was sleeping on her floor. She quickly covered herself with her flannel top, holding it against her body, slipping the fabric under her arms. He was fast asleep, on some kind of thin sleeping bag with a blanket over him. He?d taken off his jacket and shirt, and even in repose, the hard muscles in his arms and shoulders stood out underneath his tanned skin. His face looked younger, softer, less fiercely controlled as he slept. Annie stared in fascination at the way his long dark eyelashes lay against his smooth cheeks. He was a very good-looking man. And he was leaving this morning, Annie reminded herself. So why the heck was she admiring his eyelashes? She should be angry with him?God, he?d broken into her room while she was sleeping. She wondered how long he?d stood watching her sleep. He had no right?. She reached out a toe to nudge him awake. It happened so quickly. One moment she was standing up?the next she was on the floor, on her back, with Pete Taylor?s heavy body on top of her, his arm pressed up, hard, against her windpipe, cutting off her air. Her first instinct was to fight, but he had her so thoroughly pinned down, she could do little more than wiggle against him. He was breathing hard, as if prepared to fight as he pulled his arm away from her throat. Gratefully, she sucked in a breath of air as he stared down at her. ?Don?t ever do that again,? he said sternly, his eyes hard, his face harsh. ?Me?? Annie sputtered. ?What did I do? I only woke you up. You?re the one who tackled me and nearly choked me to death. You?re the one who was asleep on my floor after I specifically told you I didn?t want you in here, pal.? She glared up at him, straining against him, trying to get free. Although he had taken off his shirt while he slept, he had kept his necklace on. Now it hung down between them, the pendant brushing her neck and shoulders and? Oh, God, she?d dropped her pajama top. Annie saw from the sudden flicker in his eyes that he realized it the same moment she did. His bare chest was against hers, skin against skin, hard against soft. They both froze. She could feel his heart beating against her. Or was it her own heart? Whoever?s heart it was, it was starting to beat faster. ?I think you?d better get off of me,? Annie whispered. Silently Pete pulled back, sliding away from her. Man, she was beautiful, he thought, watching her grab for her pajama top and pull it over her head. Her breasts were soft and full, with large dark pink nipples that had hardened into firm buds at the tips. Pete sat on his bedroll, leaning back against the wall, glad that he was wearing his jeans, that she couldn?t see how badly he wanted her. Man, what a way to start the morning. ?I?m going to take a shower,? she said, her cheeks faintly pink. ?If that?s all right with you.? ?Yeah,? he said. ?Sure you don?t want to check the bathroom out first?? she asked, standing up and looking down at him, hands on her hips. ?You never know?maybe there?s a bad guy hiding in the toilet tank.? Pete stood up gracefully and walked past Annie into the bathroom. ?I was kidding,? Annie said, following him, trying not to stare at the rippling muscles in his back. The bathroom was decorated in sea greens and blues. There was a claw-footed tub in one corner. Another corner held a large shower stall. The sink had a marble countertop, and it was cluttered with Annie?s makeup, lotions, soaps and shampoos. There was a small window in the room, with frosted glass in the panes. Pete glanced at it, then tried the lock. It was secure. He opened the door to the shower stall and looked inside. ?Oh, come on,? Annie scoffed. ?The window was locked. How could someone have gotten into my shower?? Pete looked at her levelly. ?Last night the door to your bedroom was locked. That didn?t keep me from getting in. Hasn?t it occurred to you that if I could do it, someone else could, too?? She stared at him. Well, actually, no, it hadn?t?. He went back into the bedroom. Annie followed him to the bathroom door and watched him roll up his blanket and sleeping bag. ?If that?s the case,? she said, ?why should I bother locking the door at all?? Pete used a piece of string to tie the sleeping bag up. ?Locks on doors and windows will keep most people out,? he said. He stood up then, folding his arms across his broad chest. ?And as for the people determined to get in?That?s what I?m here for.? ?That?s very good,? Annie said. ?You should write that down and use it on your business cards. Just the right amount of macho with a little superhero thrown in. I think it?ll sell. Unfortunately, I?m not interested in buying.? She went back into the bathroom, not bothering to lock the door behind her. THE WATER IN THE TEAKETTLE had just begun to boil when Pete came into the kitchen. His hair was still wet from his shower, and he?d changed into a plain black turtleneck that hugged his muscular chest and was tucked neatly into his jeans. Annie poured steaming water on top of the tea bag in her mug. ?I don?t have much to offer you in the way of breakfast,? she said apologetically. ?I usually don?t do much more than eat some fruit myself, and even that?s running low?? ?I?m eating on Mr. Marshall?s expense account, remember?? Pete said, sitting down at the kitchen table. ?But if it?s not any trouble, would you mind if I kept some supplies in your refrigerator?? Annie leaned against the counter, holding her mug in both hands. ?In theory, I don?t object,? she said. ?But remember? After I talk to Marshall this morning, you?re going to be leaving.? ?No, I don?t think so,? he said. ?Well, I do think so,? she said. ?Sorry, you?re wrong,? Pete said, unperturbed. ?Mr. Marshall is very anxious to avoid bad publicity. Did you know that he?s facing racketeering charges out in Dallas?? ?Steven Marshall?? Pete nodded. ?Call him if you want,? he said. ?But I know he?s going to insist that I stay. If something happened to you, it would be very bad publicity for him.? ?But what about me?? Annie said, putting her mug on the counter. Her bangs were pulled back from her face with an Alice in Wonderland-like headband. She wore a bright white sweatshirt over her jeans, and a pair of black lace-up boots. She sat down at the table, across from Pete. ?I don?t want a bodyguard. No offense, but?I like being alone.? ?I?ll try to stay out of your way,? he said. ?You won?t even know I?m around.? ?Yes, I noticed how well you stayed out of my way this morning, particularly when you pinned me to the floor,? Annie said. ?I can?t wait to see what the rest of the day brings. Maybe a little kick-boxing?? She noticed that he didn?t even have the grace to look embarrassed as she left the room. She had to talk to Steven Marshall. ANNIE HUNG UP THE PHONE with a crash and an oath, making Cara look up. ?Old Steven M. didn?t go for your ?I can take care of myself? routine, huh?? Cara said unsympathetically. ?He is such a jerk!? ?Things could be worse,? Cara said. ?Yeah,? Annie muttered. ?You could start telling me exactly how they could be worse.? Cara ignored the comment. ?You could have been stuck with one of those no-brain, mountain-of-muscles-type bodyguards with a shaved head and equally shaved intellect. If someone told me that I?d have to spend the next few weeks with a guy as gorgeous as Peter Taylor watching my every move, you wouldn?t hear me complaining.? ?But I like my privacy,? Annie said, sitting down at her desk for about four seconds before popping up and pacing again. ?Hey,? Cara asked, ?did you catch sight of his necklace?? ?Navaho,? Annie said. ?Looks like it dates around 1860, maybe even earlier. You see his ring?? ?And the belt buckle? Yeah. You?re gonna try to buy ?em, aren?t you?? Cara finished clearing the files off her desk, uncovering a paperweight made of petrified wood, three framed pictures of her nephews and nieces and a plastic Homer Simpson doll with his head attached by a spring. She looked up at her friend. ?Aren?t you?? Annie shook her head. ?You?re kidding. Why not?? ?Because it?s none of your business,? Annie said crossly, throwing herself down into her chair again. ?Since when do I have to justify myself to you? You work for me, remember?? ?You?re not going to try to buy it off him because you like the man,? Cara said triumphantly, making Homer?s head bob wildly. ?You like him, I knew it. You don?t want to take advantage of him.? Annie put her head down on her desk. ?Oh, MacLeish, he?s going to be here for weeks and weeks and weeks. What am I going to do?? ?At least he?s handsome,? Cara said. ?Imagine if you had to stare at some guy with no neck all day and night?? Annie stared up at her. ?Yeah, terrific. Great. Wonderful. He?s handsome. He?s gorgeous. To tell you the truth, I?d prefer staring at some guy with no neck. Taylor?s so good-looking, it?s distracting as hell, and he?s?standing in the door, listening to me say this,? Annie said, looking over at Pete, who was leaning against the door frame, amusement in his dark eyes. ?We were talking about you,? Cara said unnecessarily. She smiled happily. ?How embarrassing for us.? ?It?s not embarrassing,? Annie said to Cara. ?I mean, the fact that he?s gorgeous shouldn?t come as big news to him. He knows what he looks like. And the fact that we were discussing him also shouldn?t put him into shock. He?s invading my life, and I deserve a chance to bitch and moan about it?about him.? Annie gestured toward Pete. Still smiling happily, Cara said, ?Annie just spoke to Marshall?? ?The bastard,? Annie interjected. ??on the phone,? Cara finished. ?Looks like you might want to get your suitcase in from the car and put it someplace a little more permanent.? ?Oh,? Pete said. ?Don?t gloat,? Annie snapped. His eyebrows moved a millimeter. ?All I said was?? ?I?m so annoyed,? Annie said. ?Marshall?? ?The bastard,? Cara supplied. ??doesn?t think a woman can take care of herself,? Annie sputtered. ?I asked him to hire a female bodyguard?no offense, Taylor?? ?None taken,? he said. ??and Marshall?? ?The bastard.? This time Pete interjected, his lips twitching up into a smile. ??laughed that obnoxious wheezing laugh of his.? Annie demonstrated it, sounding an awful lot like a circus seal in mortal terror. ?And he said that he?d still have to pay Taylor?to protect the female bodyguard! He said being a bodyguard is a man?s job! Of all the stupid, chauvinistic things to say! And he topped it off by calling me ?little lady?! As if ?darlin? weren?t bad enough. So I told him I quit. I told him he could take the stupid artifact and have it authenticated by a stupid man.? ?And?? Cara asked, grinning in anticipation. ?Marshall?? ?The bastard?? Cara and Pete said in unison. ?Laughed again and said?? Annie imitated Marshall?s heavy Texan accent ???It?s typical of a woman to try to break a written, binding contract.? Then he suggested we talk again when it was a better time of month! I wanted to reach through the phone, grab his nose and twist it?hard!? ?So?? Cara asked. ?So nothing. I?ve still got a contract and a bodyguard,? Annie muttered, with a black look in Pete?s direction. ?You know?? Pete started to say. ?You might not want to be talking right now,? Annie interrupted him. ?I?m starting to feel the urge to vent some of my hostilities, and you?re looking like an extremely attractive target.? ?Extremely attractive, eh?? Cara smiled, leaning back in her chair and putting her feet up on the desk. ?That?s not what I meant,? Annie said dangerously. ?You?re fired, MacLeish. Go make some copies or do whatever else it is that I pay you to do.? The phone rang, and Annie swooped toward it. ?Maybe it?s Marshall,? she said. ?Maybe he changed his mind?.? She picked up the receiver hopefully. ?Hello?? She?d pulled her headband out while she was pacing, and now she pushed her hair back from her face with one hand as she used the other to hold the receiver to her ear. As Pete watched, she stared into the distance, her eyes temporarily unfocused as she concentrated on the call. He saw surprise, then shock flash across her face. Then her blue eyes narrowed. ?Who is this?? she demanded. ?You want to do those things to me? I dare you to try. Why don?t you show yourself? Come here in person, instead of hiding behind threatening phone calls and rocks thrown through windows?? Pete leapt toward her, grabbing the telephone out of her hand, trying to activate the tape recorder the FBI had left behind. But the connection had been broken, and the line buzzed with a dial tone. ?Damn it,? he swore, hanging up the phone. ?What the hell is wrong with you? Why didn?t you record that call? And what the hell possessed you to say those things? You really want this guy to come out here?? She was shaking. ?Don?t you shout at me!? she said, her eyes blazing. ?I just listened to some crackpot describe some incredibly sick fantasy of his in detail, and I happened to have a major role. You can?t expect me not to tell him off?? ?I expect you not to goad him on,? Pete said, his own eyes glittering chips of obsidian. He stood with his hands on his hips, effectively pinning Annie in against her desk. She wanted to move, but in order to do that she?d have to push past him, or climb over her desk. So she stayed where she was and tried to hide her shaking hands by sticking them into the back pockets of her jeans. Pete picked up a pad and a pen from her desk. ?You have to tell me what he said to you,? he said brusquely. ?Word for word.? Annie shook her head. ?Sorry, I can?t.? ?If you don?t remember exactly?? ?That?s not it,? she said. ?I can remember. I just?can?t repeat what he said. It was too awful.? She tried to meet his gaze challengingly, but her eyes suddenly welled with tears. She swore softly and blinked them back. ?I?m having a really bad day,? she said. Pete turned away, shocked at his emotional response to the tears in her eyes. He wanted to pull her into his arms, tell her everything was going to be okay and kiss her until her hands shook for an entirely different reason. He wanted to tell her he?d take care of her, protect her. But he couldn?t tell her that, and he certainly couldn?t protect her without her cooperation. Annie took the opportunity to move around to the other side of her desk and sit down. She wished that Taylor would leave her alone. God, wasn?t it bad enough that she?d been subjected to that obscene phone call? She wanted to forget about it. The thought of having to tell him exactly what that creep had said to her made her cheeks burn. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Taylor pull up a chair across from her desk. He sat down, then looked over her head, across the room to where Cara sat. Annie glanced at her friend, who was watching them both with unabashed interest. ?Would you mind??? Pete said to Cara. Cara stood up uncertainly. ?Set up the final test for that copper bowl, please, MacLeish,? Annie said. ?I?ll be out in the lab in a minute.? Cara hated being left out of anything, but she went out of the office. Pete stood up and closed the office door behind her. Annie looked up at him as he sat back down across from her. To her surprise, his eyes were soft, kind even. ?The reason I wanted to record this call,? he said quietly, ?was to help us track the caller. And I?m not just talking about locating him?most of these people call from public telephones, so that doesn?t do much good. But the FBI can use their computers and try to match phrasing or word choice or even sentence structure, in the event that this is a repeat pattern offender.? He pushed the pad and pen toward her. ?And that?s why I need to know what he said to you. As exactly as you can remember. Maybe it would be easier for you to write it down.? For a long time she didn?t move. She just stared at him. Then, suddenly, she picked up the pen and paper and began to write. Pete sat back in his chair, watching her. Sunlight was streaming in the window, and it lit her from behind, creating an auralike glow around her. Pete remembered the words he had overheard her saying to Cara. He distracted her. He distracted her? Not half as much as she distracted him, he was willing to bet. He was carrying around this tight feeling of need all the time now, Pete realized. It no longer was triggered only by her quick smile, or her walk, or her low, sexy laugh. All he had to do was see her?. Man, all he had to do was think about her and, whammo, he wanted her. And when he wasn?t with her, he sure as hell was thinking about her?. This could turn out to be one hell of an uncomfortable two months. Annie finished writing, put the pen down on top of the paper and stood up. ?I?ll be in the lab,? she said shortly and left the room. ?Thanks,? Pete called after her. She didn?t respond. He reached across the desk and picked up the pad she?d written on. As he read the words that the phone caller had said to her, his jaw tightened. The threats had a horrific, nightmarish quality to them. They were all violently sexual and graphically explicit. He read it over and over, each time his sense of uneasiness growing. It was entirely possible that these were not idle threats meant only to frighten Annie. It was entirely possible that her life really was in danger. He reached for the telephone and dialed Whitley Scott?s number. ?ONE OF US HAS TO RUN OUT to the airport,? Cara said to Annie as they finished up the test on the copper bowl. ?We?ve got that package from France coming in.? Annie looked at her blankly. ?Remember, the package coming in to Westchester Airport?? Cara said. ?The job you aren?t going to get to for a decade? Subject of a conversation we had two days ago?? ?Right, right,? Annie said. She had put her hair back into a ponytail while they were working, but now she pulled it free, and it swung down around her shoulders. She sat down on one of the wooden stools that were scattered throughout the lab. ?MacLeish, when?s the last time we took a vacation?? Cara pushed her glasses up higher on her nose and frowned. ?You mean, like a trip to Easter Island and two weeks of crashing through the underbrush and staring at giant rock heads from some distant, ancient culture? Or are you talking about Thanksgiving at the parents? house? Or do you mean Club Med?lying on the beach in bikinis while handsome men bring us daiquiris and margaritas?? ?I mean Club Med. I definitely mean Club Med.? Cara chewed her lip as she thought hard. ?I?ve worked for you for?how long now?? ?Forever,? Annie answered. ?Right. And the last time we took a vacation was?Never?? ?That decides it,? Annie said. ?We need a vacation. When we?re through with what we?ve got?when?s that gonna be?? Cara shrugged. ?End of December, beginning of January?? ?We?re taking January off,? Annie said. ?Don?t accept any more work unless the clients can wait until February for us to start the project.? ?Thank you, Lord,? Cara said to the ceiling. ?Club Med, here we come! Bless you, master!? Annie stood up. ?Back to work, slave,? she said. ?I?m heading for the airport.? She quickly ran upstairs and grabbed her jacket and car keys. ?See you later,? she called out to Cara as she ran lightly down the stairs. Outside, the air was crisp and cold, and she buttoned her jacket, thinking it was time to dig her scarf out of her closet? Pete Taylor was standing next to her car. ?Ready to go?? he asked. She looked at him blankly. ?I?m your bodyguard,? he said patiently. ?That means when you go someplace, I go, too.? Annie closed her eyes. Please, God, she thought, when I open my eyes, make him be gone. Make this all just be a bad dream?. He was still there. Damn, damn, damn. ?I?ll drive if you want,? he said. ?I like to drive,? Annie said. But her car was piled high with books and papers and empty seltzer cans. And his car was a sporty little Mazda Miata?. Her eyes slid toward his shiny black car. ?We can take mine if you want,? Pete said, as if he could read her mind. He held out the keys. ?You can drive.? Slowly she reached for them. ?What?s the deal? Is it rented?? He shook his head. ?No,? he said with one of his rare smiles. ?You?d trust me??? Annie asked. ?You?re trusting me with your life,? Pete said. ?I?ll trust you with my car.? Annie got in behind the steering wheel and adjusted the mirrors. She didn?t realize just how little the car was until Pete got in and nearly sat down on top of her. He was so close, they were practically touching. Maybe they should?ve taken her car instead?. She turned the key and the engine hummed. ?I faxed the FBI your transcript of that phone call,? he said. ?Oh, great,? Annie said sourly. ?I?ll bet they get a good laugh out of that.? She eased the sports car out of the driveway, feeling the power in the engine. ?They?re checking a number of different leads,? Pete said, ignoring her sarcastic comment. ?There are a couple of radical groups who have already lodged ownership claims to Stands Against the Storm?s death mask. And another group has sent a formal complaint, claiming it should be returned to the Navaho people in New Mexico.? ?Don?t tell me. None of those groups is actually connected to the Navaho,? Annie said, glancing at him, already knowing the answer. ?You?re right.? A white flash of teeth made her turn quickly back to the road. His smile was a killer. It was a good thing he didn?t do it more often. ?The Navaho don?t want anything to do with the death mask. As far as they?re concerned, they were happier with Stands Against the Storm?s bad spirit safely across the Atlantic Ocean in England.? ?How do you feel about it?? Annie asked. ?Having the death mask in the house?? She risked another look at him. He wasn?t smiling, but his eyes were lit with humor. ?You don?t really think it would bother me, do you?? he said. ?You are at least part Navaho,? Annie said. ?Aren?t you?? ?Yeah,? he said. ?Half. Is it that obvious?? ?Actually, no. But your necklace gave you away. It?s so valuable. I figured it must have sentimental value to it, that it must be an heirloom and that?s why you wear it. Because if you were just a collector, you?d keep it locked in a case.? ?My grandfather gave it to me,? Pete said. ?His grandfather made it. My great-grandfather made the ring and the belt buckle. They were all made to be worn?not locked away.? She glanced at him again. When she met his gaze, she felt a jolt of warmth that was different from the attraction that always seemed to simmer between them. This was friendly and comfortable. Oh, brother, she was actually starting to like this guy. She pushed the Miata up to seventy. ?So what do you think?? she asked. ?Who?s really after this death mask? If it?s not the Navaho?? Pete shrugged. ?Maybe the FBI?s right and it?s one of these radical Friends of the Native Americans groups.? ?But you don?t think so.? She glanced over at him. He was watching her, his eyes warm. What would he do, she wondered suddenly, if she reached over and took his hand? He?d assume she?d fallen for him?the way every woman who?d ever crossed his path had no doubt done. But she didn?t want to be just another notch on his belt. No way. If she was going to be stupid enough to fall in love with this man, she was going to make damn sure he fell in love with her, too. Something told her she?d better work fast. She already liked him, and Lord knows she was attracted to him. Her heart was ready for some bungee jumping. It had been a long time since she?d met a man she wanted to get to know better, a man she could imagine becoming involved with. And she could imagine being involved with Pete Taylor. Oh, baby, could she imagine it. With very little work at all, she could imagine the way his strong, hard-muscled body would feel against hers. She could imagine his mouth curling up into one of his rare, beautiful smiles before he kissed her. She could imagine him in her bed, his hair damp with perspiration, his naked body slick and locked together with hers. She could imagine his dark eyes watching, always watching, learning all of her secrets, giving away none of his own. She glanced at him again, then quickly looked away, afraid if he gazed into her eyes too long, he might somehow read her mind. But he managed to anyway. When she looked up at him again, there was a moment when she could see deep hunger in his intense, dark eyes. But he turned away before she did, as if he, too, were fighting the attraction. Annie cleared her throat, focusing all her attention on the exit ramp that led to the local airport. Pete tried to wipe his damp palms inconspicuously on his jeans. Man, this woman disturbed him. One of these days, he was going to lose the last bit of his control. Annie was following the signs leading to the main terminal parking lot. She slid the car into an empty parking space and shut off the engine. She turned in her seat and looked at him. ??? ???????? ?????. ??? ?????? ?? ?????. ????? ?? ??? ????, ??? ??? ????? ??? (https://www.litres.ru/pages/biblio_book/?art=39925938&lfrom=390579938) ? ???. ????? ???? ??? ??? ????? ??? 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