Even against herself.


But he didn’t get a chance to dwell on the matter because she pulled him down to her, and then they were kissing in a frenzy, hot kisses, liquid and steaming and damp, and erotic beyond measure. He began to move against her, laving her breasts, adoring her flesh, breathing her in. Then he moved lower, fingers stroking down her thighs as he kissed her abdomen, her hips, the tip of his tongue a burning ember that sent her writhing against him, her fingers kneading his shoulders, and the softest, sweetest, most erotic sounds escaping her lips.

With no logic left, no thought, he made love to her intimately with his touch and his tongue. She was transformed into a being of liquid, ever-changing sensuality beneath him, moving wildly, sending him into a spiral of desire. She rocked against him, arched and whispered, and drew him up until their mouths met again. He sank against her then, parting her thighs, sliding smoothly into her with a shudder of soaring sexual pleasure at being enclosed within her tight hot flesh. Her arms locked around him, followed by her thighs, and their mouths fused frenetically once more, as they began to move….

He felt the climactic explosion of her body and allowed himself his own release, leaving him to shudder slowly as he sank back down to a place where he was aware of flesh and bone and the beating of their hearts once again. He rolled to his side, carrying her with him, gasping for one good breath and then holding her tightly as their heartbeats slowed.

He smoothed her hair, kissed the top of her head. The sensation that he had felt before, that he cared for her far too deeply, that he knew her laughter, knew her soul, swept over him. But it would be insane to say anything about how he felt. He would sound like an idiot if he suddenly whispered, “I love you.”

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So he fought the temptation and only said gently, “My God, I’m glad you barged in on me this morning. And that you found that photograph.”

She went still for a moment, then rose, her hands on his chest and a smile on her lips as she replied, “Call it fate, because as much as I might have wanted it—” she blushed “—I’m not sure I would have dared to do anything about it. I’m not exactly accustomed to picking up men.”

She eased back to his side, and he looked down at her, grinning. “No? I don’t suppose you have to. I imagine men spend a great deal of time and effort wracking their brains trying to think of a way to bring you home.”

She laughed. “Thank you. I think. I mean, that was a compliment, right?”

“Oh, yeah.” He was silent for a minute, then said, “So tell me about your love life.”

“Nonexistent,” she told him. She was staring reflectively at the ceiling, and she looked at him. “I was engaged. He was in the service, and he was killed in the line of duty.”

“I’m so sorry.”

“He was a great guy. I still miss him.”

“I’m sure you do,” he said sincerely. If you loved this guy, he had to be great, Caleb added silently.

“It was three years ago now,” she said.

He frowned. “You haven’t…gone out with anyone since then? Even for dinner?”

“No. I haven’t given up on life or anything. I just never met anyone I wanted to…I just never met anyone.”

“Now I’m really flattered,” he said, picking up her hand and kissing her fingertips. He loved her hands, he thought. Delicate, clean, manicured but not ostentatiously. They were well-tended but not fussed over. Like her hair. Clean and silky, but not cut in some hip, high-maintenance style, not highlighted, just…

Just beautiful.

She turned to him. “What about you?”

“I was engaged once, too.”

“Oh…?” she asked in a tone that said she wanted to know more.

“Nothing dramatic. We just went our separate ways. She didn’t like my job or my hours. Or my occasional moodiness.”

“Are you moody? You always seem to be watching. You listen to people. You see what’s going on. You…you wear a mask,” she told him. “You never seem to reveal how you’re really feeling.”

He stroked the skin of her face, amazed again at the breathtaking beauty of it. “It goes with the territory of what I do, I guess. And we broke up a long time ago.”

“And since then? I would have thought that—well, quite frankly, I’d be surprised if women weren’t throwing themselves at your feet.”

“I suspect they can tell I wouldn’t be interested. I haven’t felt like this in ages. Maybe not even in this lifetime,” he admitted.

She caught her breath, staring at him, but she didn’t accuse him of overdoing the flattery—or of being insane.


“Hmm, what?”

“This morning…well, the thought was in my mind. About tonight. Except I didn’t plan on barging into your room again. But I was thinking—” she blushed “—about sex. With you.”

“It was the boxers, right?” he said, and laughed.

“Actually, maybe,” she replied, her own tone light. But her smoky silver eyes seemed to hold a serious message meant just for him, and she added, “I think this is more than sex. No pressure intended, plus I’ve been known to be wrong. On occasion.”

“This is much more than sex,” he agreed, then kissed her lips, lightly and tenderly. “Though the sex…was awfully damned amazing.”

She chuckled, a deep and throaty sound that aroused him again all by itself.

“I hope I’m not looking at a one-hit wonder.”

“Oh, Lord, is that a challenge?”

“I’m not sure,” she said honestly and a little breathlessly. “It’s been a very long time.”

“In that case…”

And then he made love to her again.

And she made love to him.

As they strove together for the peak, the bizarre thought came to him that he was meant to be here. With her. That he had somehow loved her, looked for her, forever.

Then the thought faded, and he lost himself again in pure, primal pleasure.

Afterward, when they were exhausted, sated, he stayed. He didn’t suggest leaving, and she didn’t say anything about it, either, just lay curled against him, quiet.

He reveled in her warmth, still amazed by the way he felt.

Finally, as the night deepened, they slept.


It was good. No, it was wonderful. It changed the world. It was magic.

How the hell had she forgotten? How had she managed to stay dormant for so long, not just physically but emotionally?

She woke slowly, feeling ridiculously giddy, even though she knew she might be setting herself up for a long and painful fall.

They hadn’t made any promises or anything. This wasn’t the kind of slow, steadily building relationship she had known before. This was instant passion and need, and it might end up going nowhere.

Even so, it felt somehow right to have him sleeping at her side.

She stretched out an arm as she turned, seeking the warmth he had offered.

And the excitement.

But what she discovered was emptiness.

Then she heard him say “Hey,” and she quickly sat up. He was already dressed, just slipping into his shoes.

“I have to get going.” He walked back to the bed, leaned down and kissed her. He looked as good as ever by morning light. Damn good. Better than damn good. She felt elated after the night she’d shared with him and knew she should have been content with that, but she wasn’t. She wanted more. It was as if she still hadn’t learned enough about him, as if she hadn’t touched him enough, melted deeply enough into his being.

She told herself that she was desperate and pathetic, and her inner voice warned her to act like a rational human being.

He had showered, and she couldn’t believe the sound of the running water hadn’t awakened her. His hair was damp, and he smelled clean, like soap and shampoo, and there was just a hint of five o’clock shadow on his face. She hoped she wasn’t staring at him with too much hunger.

“Okay,” she said, trying not to reveal how let down she felt.

He winced. “I have to go see Floby, and then some kids who were at that party on the beach when Winona Hart disappeared,” he explained.

“Oh,” she said, her tone changing to one of understanding. He wasn’t trying to get away from her, he just had obligations he couldn’t ignore.

“Be careful,” he told her.

“I’m not a blonde,” she pointed out.

“Neither was the woman I found yesterday. Anyway, I’ll keep in touch during the day. Will I see you at Hunky Harry’s tonight?” he asked.

“I’ll head over when they kick me out of the library. And I’ll wait for you. I mean, if that’s what you’re thinking.”

“It’s exactly what I’m thinking. Just keep your door locked and don’t go anywhere alone—please. Especially after dark.”

“Don’t worry—I’ll hang with the whole crew,” she promised him.

“See you later,” he said, but didn’t make a move to leave, just stood there smiling at her.

“Okay.” She looked at him curiously when he still didn’t leave.

“You have to lock the door behind me,” he reminded her.

“Oh, of course.” She jumped up, feeling suddenly shy and dragging the covers along with her, and walked to the door with him. As he opened it, she was startled to hear a car coming up the driveway, wheels crunching on the stones. “Who is it?” she asked him.

“Nice-looking guy around our age—in a van with ladders on the side,” he said. “Looks like the construction guy who found the bones,” Caleb replied.

“Oh, good. They must have cleared him to start working again,” she said, pleased. “Tell him I’ll be right out.”

“All right.”

He was studying her in the bright sun that poured in through the open door. She prayed that she didn’t look like the complete mess she felt like, but she was certain that she did.

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