Part 8

Evangeline tried to leave the office at a decent time, but her late start made it impossible. She plopped her chin in the palm of her hand. Who was she kidding? The late start had absolutely nothing to do with her lack of concentration. The passionate repeat in John's arms followed by the vicious confrontation with RJ rendered her a mass of confusion. She couldn't think about one event without getting a flash of the other.

What happened to the woman who had her life together?

A knock sounded loudly at her door. Startled, she jumped a foot. Her gaze cut to her watch. A little after seven. Had most of the office left already? Was she alone?

Damn! She hated the fear that rose to her heart. With her fingers poised over the telephone keypad at 9-1-1, she called out, "Who is it?"

"It's me." The door cracked open. John suddenly filled the doorway. "Are you okay?"

She leaned away from the phone and forced herself to relax. "I've had better days. What are you doing here?"

"To see if you're ready to go."

"You're not spending the night," she blurted the first thought that came to mind.

He laughed softly. "Okay. If you're that serious about it--"

"I'm sorry." She pushed from her chair and came around the desk to stand just inches from him. "That came out wrong. It's just… Of all the days I've had in my life, this wasn't one of my good ones. I apologize for taking it out on you."

He remained silent for a moment. Then he folded his arms across his chest. "You spoke to RJ. What did he say? You should have come by the PD to file a complaint for a restraining order."

"No, it's not him."

"You asked him and that's what he said." He tilted his head to the side and gave her a long look. "He pled innocent and you believed him."

Geez!

She threw her hands in the air and began to pace her office. "He's upset about the way our relationship ended, but when I asked him if he followed me last night, he said no. He looked me straight in the eyes and what I saw there was honesty. So, yes, I believe him."

He nodded. "Okay. Fine. Are you ready to go?"

"I might as well be. I'm not getting anything done here." She sighed and purposely avoided his intense stare. "Just let me get my things."

As she joined him at the door with her briefcase and purse in hand, she said, "I drove my car. I'd rather not leave it here."

"You'll drive mine." He handed her the keys. "And I'll follow you in yours. The windows are tinted enough in both cars to fool anyone who's watching."

*/*

Evangeline tried hard not to enjoy the sensation of safety she felt inside John's car. It was silly, really, and bordered on teenage giddiness the pure pleasure she experienced during the drive over. Usually, she hated to drive someone else's car. Moving the mirrors…adjusting the seat…all of that was too much of a chore. Her car was set to her specifications right down to her favorite radio stations just a touch away.

But riding in John's car…

Despite his few minor quirks, he was truly a gentleman. He made everything perfect for her and she didn't mind the moments when his body was just inches from hers. In fact, lightning rods of pleasure zipped through her. She held a breath, hoping he didn't notice. To his credit, if he was aware of his affect on her, he kept it to himself. But given his nature, she wondered just how long that solicitous gesture would last.

He pulled into her two-car garage first while she waited at the curb. Per his instructions, she had the all clear if he blinked the lights twice. If he didn't, she was under orders to drive to LPD without waiting for him. She agreed because of the determined glint in his blue eyes, but behind her back, she crossed her fingers. Leaving John in danger because of her was not an option. If the need arose, she'd dial 9-1-1 and wait until they arrived.

A tense ten-minutes later, the lights on her car blinked a couple of times. She started his car and pulled in beside her treasured ride. The door leading to her kitchen was already open and the sexy detective stood in the doorway. She paused for a moment to enjoy the view. God, he went beyond all her wildest dreams. They clicked on so many levels. Was wanting more than a couple of wild romps too much to ask?

He used her remote to lower the garage door. After they were safely hidden, he met her as she came around his car. "How was the ride?"

"Nice. I've always wanted a Mustang. All that power!"

His fingers brushed hers as they exchanged keys. A flash of color heightened his cheeks. A smile played at his mouth. "I noticed you resisted the need for speed."

"It was a very strong temptation, I must admit." They moved inside the house. As he locked the door, she said, "How fast have you taken her?"

A full-blown grin claimed him. "Fast enough. Wow. I never would have figured you for the Speed Racer type. Interesting."

"You can't judge a book by its cover." She headed into the living room, pausing to leave her purse and briefcase on an overstuffed easy chair. "How many times must we go through this?"

"Obviously, more than once. I'm a slow learner."

That line could take her places. Places she actually wanted to go but knew better than to venture again. So, she followed her gut instinct and changed the subject.

"So, what's the word for tonight?" She chewed her bottom lip as her bravado faltered. "Were we followed?"

"I didn't see anyone."

She released the breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding. "And the house?"

He shook his head. "Nothing. Everything looks pretty much the way…the way we left it this morning."

Oh, boy. That brought several memories back in a rapid rush. The need. Their lovemaking. His arms around her as she fell asleep. The lack of protection.

She groaned. Talk about stupid. Her father wouldn't be proud of that lack of restraint. Oh, Daddy, I don't understand why my common sense is slipping.

"We should talk about last night," he said quietly. "Look, I know you blame yourself because we didn't use protection, but the truth is, you shouldn't. I was right here with you. I could have stopped us."

She grew still, her entire body a mass of pins and needles. "Why didn't you?"

"I didn't think about it. Losing my head like that is inexcusable. Both times."

"Yeah, but the first time we blamed alcohol." She released a short laugh. "What's our excuse this time? Sleep deprivation?"

He placed his hands on his hips and shook his head. "I think we're all out of excuses."

"What does that mean?"

"I…I don't know."

She laughed again. "Now, that's a cop out if ever I heard one."

"What?" He moved to stand not less than a foot from her. He towered over her, but fear was the last thing she felt. His voice lowered. "What, Evangeline?"

"This." She gestured at the lack of space separating them. "And do you notice I'm not backing away? What is all this, John?"

"Oh, that's easy," he said with a serious expression on his face. "You find me irresistible."

"How can you say that with a straight face?" She burst into giggles as she plopped onto her sofa.

John slid into place beside her. "Maybe because it's true."

"Oh, stop!"

"What?" he asked as she continued to laugh. A teasing light danced in his sapphire eyes. "You're denying that I'm irresistible?"

"As counsel for myself, I've advised not to answer a loaded question like that, Detective."

This time, he burst into laughter. "Oh, Evangeline."

"What?" The tone of his voice heightened her senses, the way he said her name just so.

"We're treading on dangerous ground here." He rubbed his face with both hands. "Are we prepared for the pitfalls?"

"I honestly don't know."

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