I snatched it up and ran on tiptoes to the opposite wall where I pressed my shoulder against the wall and stared at the door.

My heart was beating so fast I could hear it in my ears, my entire body was alive and I could feel every inch of it. I was terrified out of my ever-lovin’ mind.


Someone was out there. I couldn’t hear them but I could sense them.

Then I heard them, footfalls in the hall.

Ohmigod, ohmigod, ohmigod.

I tried to remember what the response time was supposed to be for cops. Seven minutes popped into my head even though I didn’t know if that was the right number or the wrong number.

I didn’t have seven minutes. He was close.

I silently inched up the wall toward my door staring at it. It was mostly closed. I’d started doing this in an effort to hear when The Great MM arrived. I didn’t close it all the way, I left it open an inch. It wasn’t a noisy door but it did have a creak.

The Great MM never made it creak.

The first thing I saw was the flashlight, not bright, an LED. Then I saw a shadowed hand, a man’s hand, fingers out, fingertips touching my door, slowly the hand pushed it open.

I stopped breathing. I didn’t want him to hear me breathing. If I damaged my Wachtmeister snow globe bonking him on the head with it I wanted to make it count.

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I lifted the snow globe and the door kept opening.

Then I heard sirens.

Thank you, God.

The hand stilled then it disappeared. The footfalls were faster and I heard them hit the stairs, thudding down.

Then I heard nothing.

Then I turned my back to the wall, slid down and cradled my happy kitty snow globe.

I was sitting in my kitchen staring into my living room.

I had both heels to the seat of my chair, my cheek pressed to one of my knees, my arms tight around my calves and my nightgown wrapped around my legs.

I was pretty pleased I’d worn my kickass, mocha colored, soft-knit, short bat-sleeved caftan to bed. Caftans weren’t known to be hot but that one was, mainly because it was uber-clingy in all the right places. That caftan rocked and it was the chosen nightwear for when you suddenly found your home filled with macho cops.

This was what I was staring at. The fact that my home was filled with macho cops. They were moving around in my living room looking at stuff while dipping with spoons into the bowl of chocolate chip cookie dough that I unearthed from the fridge for them.

My window by the door was smashed, something I didn’t hear, a lamp in the living room that was under a dust cover was also smashed, what I heard.

Other than that, no damage and the officer who took me through the house was told by me, an authority on the subject, that nothing was missing.

But they didn’t take my statement. Two officers became four, four became six and now there were eight and they told me I had to wait until the detective arrived.

I was not hip on police procedure and I couldn’t say I wasn’t grateful (considering the fact that I was super, double, extra, way freaked out) that they seemed to be taking this seriously and sending a large cadre of officers to stand guard in my living room eating cookie batter and a full-blown detective to talk to me. However, nothing was stolen and although my caller headed straight to the bedroom, and I doubted he was after my Wachtmeister snow globe, it seemed a garden variety break-in that the uniformed officers could cover.

So I figured something was up and I figured that something was named Ginger Kidd.

Suddenly there seemed something interesting happening in the living room, someone had arrived and five seconds later, there he was.

I stared at him.

Seriously, was this a cosmic joke?

In my doorway stood a man, a tall man and there was nothing “ish” about how tall he was. He was just, plain tall. He also had dark brown hair, dark brown eyes and a square jaw. His hair was thick and curled a little around his neck and the collar of his leather jacket. His eyes were soulful. His jaw was strong. He was wearing a chocolate brown turtleneck under his dark brown leather jacket, jeans, a great belt, boots and a badge hung on that great belt. I had no doubt he was on the cover of the Men of the Denver Police Department calendar and I was going out first thing tomorrow to buy one.

Why was this happening? Why? What did I do? Not even a day and three hot guys, all three I couldn’t have. One was scary and was the head honcho of a possibly felonious but definitely antisocial motorcycle club, so he was out. One was scary and mysterious and a jerk, so he was out. And this one was not scary, he was gorgeous but he was also the detective assigned to my case which meant he was probably not allowed to fraternize with a victim, namely me, and therefore he was out.

I didn’t lift my cheek from my knee and he didn’t tear his eyes from me as he walked into the kitchen, grabbed a chair, twisted it around to face me, not too close, not too far away, and sat down. With his eyes still on me, he leaned forward, elbows to knees.

“Gwendolyn Kidd?” he asked in a nice, smooth, deep voice.

I nodded against my knee.

“I’m Detective Mitch Lawson.”

Detective Mitch Lawson. Yowza. Great name.

I kept my cheek to my knee when I told him quietly, “That’s the perfect name for a cop.”

His brows went up slightly. This was not what he was expecting. He was probably expecting a “Hi”, or a “Thank you for coming” or a “God, you’re hot”.

“It is?” he asked.

“Mitch,” I whispered. “Strong, the last three consonants that is, but not in a harsh way, in a soft way. And when you’re with someone you care about and you’re close and they say something you can’t hear, you don’t say, ‘What?’ you say, ‘Mm?’ real soft. Put that and the last together, soft and strong, things a cop needs to be… Mitch.”

He stared at me.

I kept babbling. “And Lawson, goes without saying, Law… son. Son of the law.” I pulled in a breath through my nose and then whispered, “Perfect.”

He stared at me some more.

Then he said, “Gwendolyn sounds like a song.”

Uh… nice.

I so totally loved my name.

“A short one,” I replied.

“But a pretty one,” he returned.

Uh… nice.

I smiled at him and Detective Mitch Lawson smiled back at me.


Then suddenly his neck twisted so he could look over his shoulder, his torso went straight and he stood, still looking behind him.

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