Part 11

RJ called in a couple of favors. His old business associates had no objections. It was understood that a given courtesy beget another. Any time, day or night. Using a couple of his buddies' best men, he divided their efforts. Neither knew what the other was assigned. This protected RJ's identity, his end goal and left RJ with a spare should the need arise.

The word came through the grapevine that McBain busted the younger of RJ's two 'helpers'. Rolling in a 1979 Lincoln, the kid stood out like a sore thumb. It didn't come as a surprise that the detective would spot him. What surprised RJ was that McBain had installed himself as Evangeline's driver.

Yet, she refused to answer RJ's questions about her cop friend. Yes, I'm screwing the pig. No, I'm not. Either or. Admitting the truth should have been easy, especially when her actions spoke volumes.

Damn woman.

He locked his office door and pulled out his cell. "Yeah," he barked into the telephone. "What's her present location?"

"She's at her office. The cop dropped her off."

"McBain." RJ's stomach boiled just to say the name. In his mind's eye, he saw Evangeline on her back with her legs spread. McBain hovered above her, taking what once belonged to RJ. A series of curses rested on the tip of his tongue. He used a bare minimum of restraint to keep the words from coming out. "Is he there now?"

"No, but squad cars have been patrolling the block and the parking garage. An extra security detail has been added to the building. What do you want me to do?"

"Send her a gift. Leave the card blank."

"Will do."

"And, Lopez?"

The man didn't hesitate. "Yeah?"

"Don't play into the pig's hands."

Lopez chuckled. "Only kids do that."

*/*

"So, this is where John McBain resides."

John cocked an eyebrow. He didn't like her tone. Evangeline smiled as he fixed her with a playful glare. The newspapers were stacked by the door. The trash left with the morning crew. And only a light film of dust covered the furniture. His chest puffed out. "Yes, it is."

She held up her hands as she investigated his humble abode. "No need to get defensive."

He watched her disappear into the kitchenette. Resisting the urge to follow, he called out, "I'm not!"

Her laughter drifted toward him, stunning him with its pure beauty. He missed hearing a woman's laughter, and hers seemed to flow freely. Well, with him it did. He couldn't imagine Evangeline bursting into a fit of giggles with RJ. In fact, he couldn't imagine her with RJ Gannon. Period. Evangeline was too self-confident for a man like him.

But John liked confident women. He found them incredibly sexy. Evangeline, with her wit and sparkling personality, exuded sex appeal even with the walls she had around her. From the first, he tried to ignore her effect on him. Yet moments arose, when he couldn't help but test the limits. He lived for the shocked expression on her face and whatever comeback she threw his way.

Then, she planted that kiss on him.

He hadn't been kissed like that in a long time. For weeks, he played with the idea in the back of his mind. Maybe that's why he goaded her that night, interrogating her about bouts of spontaneity. A certain sparkle twinkled in her eyes. He should have known then that he'd challenged the wrong woman…or was she the right one? His heart warned him not to go there, yet.

Finally she returned to the main room. "Your fridge is practically bare. What's the problem, detective? You don't know how to cook?"

"Of course, I can cook."

"Yeah, right." She bit her bottom lip. Her shoulders shook as if she rocked with laughter.

Of all the nerve! "I'm a good cook."

"Talk is cheap." She sat on his favorite chair, the one with the good view, and she crossed one gorgeous leg over the other.

Instantly, he was reminded of the satin softness of her skin and the slender curves of her ankles. His manhood stirred with purpose. He headed for the bathroom in a desperate hope to cool the igniting fire within.

"Oh, great!" she called, not bothering to mask her amusement. "Run off."

"I'm getting my stuff," he yelled back. "That's why we came. Not for you to raid my fridge and insult my culinary skills."

With shaking hands, he turned the faucet. Cold water flowed into the palms of his hands. He splashed his face and counted to ten. Once he had himself together, he packed the barest essentials and returned to his waiting charge. As luck would have it, her eyes continued to dance, shooting his equilibrium to hell.

"What?"

"You have culinary skills?"

He rolled his eyes. "Are you back on that? Look, I can prove it."

She stood and joined him at the door. "Oh, yeah? When?"

"Tonight." A dare? Did she think he'd pass one up? "At your place."

"You don't know what I have in the fridge," she said.

"Probably nothing, but I bet there's a bunch of take-out magnets on the fridge. We're stopping at the market. Do you have any other errands you need to run?"

She shook her head.

"Okay, let's go."

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