Part 1

Cool, collected attorney, Evangeline Williamson left the coffee shop anything but. The unexpected conversation with RJ Gannon left her shaken. Lately, the man unnerved her. His sudden appearances, like the one today, prompted her to accuse him on stalking. Of course, she didn't mean the harsh accusation, but still… He didn't own her and she didn't appreciate his assumption that he did.

She marched the short distance from the quaint diner to her office building in record time. All the while, her mind replayed the most recent current events of her life.

Detective John McBain.

Her entire body trembled at the mere thought of him. The explosive encounter in the basement was totally unplanned. Sure, they flirted. She always considered the interaction as innocent, a fun diversion between two attractive people who liked each other.

Boy, had she been dead wrong about that one.

Come on, Williamson, she silently chided herself as she waited in the lobby for the elevator. Like a moth to a dangerous, highly charged flame she'd been drawn to the handsome, stoic detective. And quite obviously, the appeal wasn't one sided. With a sexy little grin playing on his lips, she knew the attraction was indeed mutual.

The elevator arrived and she stepped inside. With her thoughts in turmoil, she thanked God she had the car alone. Personal conflict chipped away at the mask that hid her true persona from the world. And now, with succumbing to passion with John and RJ asking questions…the struggle within no doubt revealed itself on her face.

Upon returning to her office, she listened to her messages and set about working on cases. By the end of the day, she hadn't accomplished a damn thing. And only one thought took precedence, the overpowering need to talk to John.

She had to warn him about RJ.

*/*

"Thanks for meeting me," she said as John joined her at the University Law Library.

"You said it was urgent." He lifted his eyebrows in a quizzical frown. "What is it? You look as nervous as an alley cat."

She laughed despite the coil of tension that bound her insides. John's quirky, teasing sense of humor always had a way of making her relax. Who was she kidding? His voice, his presence had the same effect. Whether she liked it or not, he was under her skin.

"I…um…" She drew in a quick breath. "RJ asked me about you."

"About me?" His blue eyes lit up with something akin to pleasure. "What did he want to know about me?"

"Actually, he wanted to know about…us." She swallowed hard. "He flat out asked me if you and I were having an affair."

A smile matched the light in his eyes. "He did?" He leaned forward across the table and asked in a low voice, "What did you tell him?"

His reaction surprised her. She didn't know what she expected, but certainly not this macho thing of perverse pleasure. And why did his reaction intrigue her? She wrapped her trembling hands around the thick reference book she'd been reviewing for case law. "What do you think?"

He shrugged. "I don't know. You said you wanted us to be discreet and that you didn't want to hurt him--"

"I don't," she cut in. "That's the last thing I want to do."

"Well, what do you want me to do? If he comes to me…do you want me to deny it?"

Her jaw dropped. "We're not having an affair!" she exclaimed in an agitated whisper.

An unreadable expression claimed his face, effectively hiding his thoughts. He leaned back against his chair and looked around at the shelves of books that surrounded them. Then, a slight frown marred his brow and he sat up straight, his gaze searching.

She stiffened. "What is it?"

His silence increased her dread. Finally, he directed his attention to her. "Nothing. I thought I heard something." He scooted his chair close to hers. "Evangeline, I don't regret what happened the other night. Okay? But if you'd rather RJ or anyone doesn't know, I won't tell." He glanced at his watch. "It's getting late. Let me walk you to your car."

"That's okay. I'm parked at the garage. It's well-lit and campus security is pretty good."

He looked as if he wanted to protest. Then, he gave her a faint smile. "As long as you're sure."

"I am," she said, nodding. "I'll be fine. Thanks, though."

"No problem." He stood and moved behind her chair. As he walked by, he paused a moment to squeeze her shoulder. "No worries, okay. Everything will be fine. You and RJ will work things out."

What!

Before she could protest, he stormed away. She didn't know how long she sat at the table, staring after his retreating figure. Security doing a rounds check broke her from her reverie. The young guard's presence alerted her to her surroundings and the time.

She gathered her things and headed to the garage. Just as she told the detective, light flooded the parking area. Students milled around, offering a disconnected sense of safety. A few times, she thought she heard footsteps behind her.

It's just your imagination, girlfriend.

Yet, she picked up the pace. Her high heels clacked on the cement floor as she hurried to her car. The heavy footsteps seemed to quicken, too. Using her car alarm, she unlocked the doors from a short distance and quickly slid inside.

In a flurry of movement, she started the ignition and raced from the University. Home was like a carrot dangled in front of a running rabbit. By the time she pulled into the driveway, her heart was pounding a crazy, erratic beat. For a moment, ice cold fear claimed her body and soul. Evangeline didn't like that feeling one damn bit.

After the shaking stopped, she pushed herself from the car and went inside. That night, she made sure to double check the locks on all the windows and bolt the door.

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