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Excerpt for THE McCAFFERTYS: MATT

Harlequin
May 2006, ISBN: 0373771118

Genre: Contemporary Suspense

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“Coming!” Kelly yelled, as she stepped out of the tub, threw on her bathrobe and cinched the belt tightly around her waist.  She hurried downstairs to the door, where she peeked through the peephole.

Matt McCafferty, larger than life through the fish-eye lens, was staring back at her.

Her silly heart skipped a beat.  She threw the bolt and swung open the door before she realized she was wearing nothing – not one solitary stitch—beneath the yellow, terry robe.

His eyes widened just a fraction and for a second he actually seemed tongue-tied as he gazed down at her.

 “I didn’t realize it was so late,” he said, and she swallowed a smile.  Obviously he was expecting Detective Kelly Dillinger to answer the door, that he would be face-to-face with a no-nonsense officer of the law, dressed in full uniform and probably packing heat.

“Is there something I can do for you?”

He nodded, his eyebrows knitting into one dark line.  “I was in town and I thought I’d…..well, I guess I should have called.”  His lips compressed and his glance shifted to one side.  “I thought maybe you’d like to go out for a drink or a cup of coffee or something.”

“Or something?” she prodded, amused and flattered.

“I should have called.”

“That’s usually the way it’s done, yes,” she said, not giving him an inch.  Her pulse fluttered ridiculously, and her heartbeat cranked up a notch as she stood in the doorway.

God, she was gorgeous, Matt thought, wondering what had compelled him to her doorstep.  He told himself it was because he was keeping an eye on the sheriff department’s investigation, that it was all business, but deep inside, he knew there was more to it, more than he cared to admit.  He’d argued with himself as he’d driven to her row house, tried to convince himself to turn back to the ranch, but here he was, the victim of his own sexual drive, for that’s what it was; he wanted to see her because she was an intriguing, sassy, beautiful woman.  He’d expected to find a slim, all-business police woman dressed in her uniform….but this….this fascinating woman was even more irresistible.  Kelly appeared smaller, more vulnerable, incredibly feminine and damned sexy in that yellow robe.  Her hair was piled onto her head, some strands escaping to curl in damp ringlets around a flushed face with incredible cheekbones, dark-fringed mocking eyes, and a saucy mouth curved into an amused smile.

“I suppose it’s too late.”

“For a date?  Tonight?” she asked, folding her arms under her chest and allowing him just a peek of cleavage where the lapels of her robe overlapped.  “I think so.”

He felt like a schoolboy as he worked the brim of his hat between his fingers.  “Maybe tomorrow.”

“I’ll be out of town.  It’s a working vacation.  I’ll be back in a couple of days…”

“Maybe we can get together then.”

“I don’t think that would be a good idea.”

“No?”  He couldn’t help himself.  Something in the defiant tilt of her chin challenged him.

“Well, you know, it might not be the proper thing to do.”

“You’re worried about propriety?”  He didn’t believe it.

“I wouldn’t want to do anything where my professionalism or objectivity might be questioned.”

Was it his imagination or did her eyes twinkle with a dare?  The scent of jasmine reached his nostrils and he suddenly couldn’t help himself.  “The hell with professionalism,” he growled.  His arms surrounded her.

She gasped.  “Now, wait a second!”

They stared at each other a moment.  Then Matt bent his mouth to hers and whispered, “And damn objectivitiy…..”