Just One Night

Just One Night
Eve Gaddy

August 2012 $11.95
ISBN: 978-1-61194-169-2

They spent one passionate night together, a night neither could forget...

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But it isn’t until Bomb Unit Detective Alexandra "Alex” Sheridan is assigned to investigate architect Luke Morgan about the bombing of his new building that Alex is forced to face the man–and feelings–she’d run from earlier. Drawn to the charismatic man who'd soothed her grief with their shared passion, she finds herself wanting more from him.

As the case progresses, however, she questions his innocence and his feelings for her. Can she trust him, ignoring his past and the evidence pointing to his guilt? Or will she have to be satisfied with just one night? <

Eve Gaddy is the award-winning author of sixteen novels, with more than a million copies in print. She lives in east Texas with her husband of many years and her incredibly spoiled Golden Retriever, who is convinced he’s her third child. Visit her at www.evegaddy.net.


"Just One Night is sexy, passionate and ends on an explosive note!" -- Angela Amos, GoodReads

"Like a warm bowl of chili on a cool fall day, it has just the right amounts of suspense, drama and romance, to make it satisfying." -- Ashley Shaw, Just My Two Cents

"...quick, romantic and a little hot, with a splash of mystery...excellent!" -- Linda Hinni, (un)Conventional Bookviews



No one had told Alex Sheridan her trip to San Diego would be free. Giving a lecture on bomb awareness to a group of architects seemed a small price to pay—except she’d forgotten that public speaking made her want to chug antacid in massive quantities.

The Hotel Del Coronado, a gorgeous example of Victorian architectural splendor, boasted opulent conference rooms encircling a courtyard filled with wine-colored bougainvillea, fan and date palms, and massed flowers of every conceivable color and variety. A great place to give a lecture if it weren’t so distracting, Alex thought, glancing out the window before she looked back at her notes. She was at the tail end of her speech and she could almost smell the sea breeze calling her to the beach.

The pest in the front row raised his hand for the twelfth time since she’d begun the lecture. Wearily, she nodded at him.

"Detective Sheridan, have you ever been personally involved in a case that used a car as a vehicle for a bomb?”

At the unexpected question, memories exploded in Alex’s mind. The conference room seemed to fade, the people disappearing, as she was catapulted back into the past . . .

Alex stared at the charred car parked outside the elementary school administration building and sucked in a deep breath. Why hadn’t the car exploded when the fire started? She’d find out soon enough. Focus, she told herself, knowing she’d be starting the long walk any second now.

"Heads, it’s mine,” Jenna said, interrupting Alex’s mental preparations.

Alex frowned at her partner, watching her toss blonde hair back from her face. "It’s a bomb, Jenna, not a game. Maybe a hang fire, maybe a booby trap. And you’re not ready.” But seeing the enthusiasm sparkling in Jenna’s green eyes, Alex knew it would be impossible to convince the young woman of that.

And on the face of it, her partner was ready. Jenna had been through the training, put in her time. She should be ready. Only Alex didn’t believe it. There was more to it than being technically prepared. You had to be emotionally ready as well. To Jenna everything was part of some grand game, one she was always sure she’d win.

Unsurprisingly, Jenna ignored her, flipping the quarter easily despite her bulky bomb suit. She looked down at the ground, then back at Alex with a cheeky grin. "Heads it is. You lose. See you in a few.” She put on her helmet, then flipped Alex a two-fingered salute before turning and walking toward the vehicle as briskly as her body armor and sixty pounds of gear allowed.

Alex shook her head, trying to decide if she was simply being overprotective or if she had a good reason for denying her partner this "baptism by fire.” If she was going to be a full member of the bomb unit, Jenna would have to take the same risks everyone else did. She was just so damned young, Alex thought, even though she herself was only a few years older than the other woman.

Had she ever been that young? That arrogant?

Jenna approached the vehicle slowly, carefully examining the surrounding area before lying on the ground to inspect the undercarriage with mirrors. After what seemed to Alex like hours, Jenna rose and glanced back at her colleagues, waiting a considerable distance away. She made no sign, indicating she hadn’t seen anything suspicious yet.

Watching Jenna inspect the interior of the car without touching anything, Alex tried to still her pounding nerves, licking her lips to camouflage a mouth gone dry with tension. As Jenna rounded the right rear bumper she stretched out her hand to open the car door. The right rear door, just as they’d all been taught. The door least likely to initiate a bomb.

Except . . .

Experience and gut instinct pierced Alex with a sharp sense of doom. "No! Jenna, no!” The words ripped out of her throat at the same time as the bomb exploded, a torrent of red, yellow, and orange flames erupting from the vehicle, black smoke billowing outward in malicious plumes of destruction, metal flying in deadly arcs.

Her senses shot into overload. The stench of burning rubber, and worse, imprinted in her nostrils. The wholesale annihilation of everything within a hundred-foot radius of the blast burned its way into her mind with the same abandon as the scorching flames leaping from the wrecked vehicle. The wail of sirens, shrill screams from the bystanders, cursing and orders from the rest of the unit jumbled together in an awful cacophony of devastation.

"Detective Sheridan?”

A man’s voice repeated her name, jerking Alex back to the present as quickly as she’d been tossed into the past. She blinked and stared at him. "I’m sorry . . . I—” Unnerved, she shook her head and drew in a breath while her tormentor plowed on.

"I asked if you had ever been involved in a case that used a car as—”

"Let’s get back to the topic at hand,” she interrupted, pulling herself together and giving the questioner the haughtiest, frostiest glare she could manage. "Bomb awareness, particularly as it pertains to security in buildings under construction.”

Somehow, she finished the lecture, thankful she’d been nearing the end before the question had thrown her into a tumult. She had thought three years would be enough time to put aside that particular piece of her past. She’d been wrong.

Jenna, she thought, the pain, as always, settling around her heart in an icy casing. Smart. Cocky. Irreverent.


Sometime later, alone and nursing a drink in the darkly intimate lobby bar of the Hotel Del Coronado, Alex tried to decide why a simple question had disturbed her so. She’d given lectures before, been asked similar questions, and had never reacted so strongly. It wasn’t as if she never thought about the past, never thought about her partner’s death. She’d been over it a thousand times and more, until finally, she’d dealt with the trauma and gone on with her life.

Or thought she had.

Maybe it had shaken her so much because that particular bombing—the worst of her career—had taken place three years ago this week. The question during her lecture that afternoon had brought it all back. Pain, anger, regret. Guilt.

Would Jenna’s death always haunt her? The case was closed, the culprit brought to justice. Jenna was dead and nothing would ever bring her back. Why, Alex wondered, couldn’t she find peace with what had happened?

Closing her eyes, she rubbed at her temples, attempting to push back the grim memories of the past. She didn’t want to think about Jenna. Didn’t want to think about work. Didn’t want to think, period.

"I enjoyed your lecture this afternoon,” a deep male voice said.

Alex glanced up at the man standing beside her table. Even with the dim lighting obscuring his face, a jolt of recognition, of intense feminine awareness, shot through her. She’d noticed him the first day of the conference—and every day since. And the more she saw of him, the more fascinating she found him.

Why, she couldn’t say. Something about him spoke to her of danger. Excitement. The last things a bomb-unit investigator needed. She got plenty of both on the job.

Lord, he was tall, she thought, forced to tilt her head back to look at him. And as broad-shouldered as a football player. He wore a short-sleeved dusty blue knit shirt that stretched enticingly across a wide chest, and tan cotton slacks that looked expensive yet comfortable.

Black hair, worn a little too long to be conservative, brushed his collar. Piercing gray eyes dominated a rugged face with a straight, strong nose. Whoa, she thought. Better watch out or she’d start salivating.

"Can I buy you a drink?” he asked when she didn’t reply, gesturing at her nearly empty glass.

Despite the attraction, or perhaps because of it, the word no rose automatically to her lips. His smile, along with the wicked gleam in his eyes, issued a challenge, as if he knew what she was thinking and dared her to do the unexpected. And why not? she suddenly thought. What was the big deal in having a drink with a man in a public place? Anything would be better than dealing with the memories plaguing her now.

He took the chair she nodded at, snaring the waitress immediately with a hand signal. Alex eyed him with grudging respect. She’d been trying to catch the waitress’s eye for the last ten minutes with a distinct lack of success.

"Margarita. Rocks, with lots of salt,” she told the waitress.

Dark eyebrows rose above the man’s eyes. "Two,” he said, and turned back to Alex. "Are you celebrating or forgetting?”

"Who says it has to be either?” she asked, taken aback by his perceptiveness. Or maybe it was a lucky guess.

A smile tilted his mouth. "Isn’t it? I’d say”—he paused and looked her over, sending a tingle of awareness to the pit of her stomach—"forgetting.” His voice held a hint of gravel and steel that made the blood throb in her veins.

He gave an impression of strength and virility, exuding an almost animal-magnetism she wasn’t accustomed to dealing with. Not what she’d have expected in an architect. He seemed the type of man to have a more physical profession, rather than the thoughtful one she imagined architecture to be.

The waitress returned with their drinks. Alex took a fortifying sip before answering him. "Forgetting,” she said at last, wondering why she’d told him the truth. "How did you know?”

He tapped her glass. "Tip-off number one. A beautiful woman drinking tequila alone.”

Alex had been called beautiful before. She attributed it mostly to her hair. A lot of men seemed fascinated by red hair, especially when it was worn long, like hers. But the way he said it, in that deep bass voice, did strange things to her insides. Still, she wasn’t about to let him know that.

"Besides,” he added, swallowing some of his own drink, "I heard your lecture today.”

"So you said.” She tilted her head, considering him. "It was that obvious?”

Muscles rippled across his chest and arms when he shrugged, noticeable even beneath the material of his shirt. "To me it was. I don’t know about anyone else. I’ve seen that look before.”

"What look?”

For a moment he didn’t speak, seeming to consider her question. "A kind of blankness that means you’re not there,” he said at length. "You’ve gone someplace else, someplace you don’t want to be.”

"Like the expression in your eyes right now?” she asked quietly.

He remained silent, contemplating her, but somehow she knew she’d been right. Uneasy from his steady regard, she dropped her gaze to the table. His hand caressed his glass and she fought a sudden image of what those long, tanned fingers would look like against pale skin. Her skin.

Good Lord, what was the matter with her? She didn’t even know his name.

Raising her gaze to his face again didn’t help. Staring at his mouth brought on even more inappropriate visions. "You have the advantage of me.” He lifted an eyebrow, and she continued.

"You know who I am, but I don’t know who you are.”

"Luke Morgan,” he said, extending a hand.

A little hesitantly, she placed her hand in his. "Alex Sheridan.” Touching him had been a mistake, she realized. His clasp was firm, his palm dry, and for reasons she couldn’t fathom, a swell of sensation zinged up her arm. Maybe she didn’t need any more tequila.

"So, you’re an architect.” Oh, that’s witty, Alex.

A smile tugged at one corner of his mouth as he nodded.

"And you’re an investigator with the Dallas Bomb Unit.”

She frowned. "I’ve got an idea. Why don’t we not talk about work.”

"Fine with me. Shall we talk about forgetting? And ways to accomplish it?”

"Such as?” she asked, curious to hear his answer.

"A walk in the moonlight. A dance on the terrace.” His smile broadened. "Sex on the beach. Ever had it?”

Barely restraining her jaw from dropping, Alex stared at him. If she had any sense she’d slap him, or at the least tell him to leave. But he was smiling at her as if sharing a joke.

"It’s a drink,” he said, nodding toward the bar. "What did you think I meant?”

Alex started laughing. She couldn’t help it. "I’m sure you know exactly what I thought.”

"You have to admit, it’s an icebreaker.”

"You’re lucky it hasn’t gotten your jaw broken.”

"I like to live dangerously,” he murmured, his eyes glinting with devilment.

The waitress miraculously reappeared, allowing Alex a chance to collect her thoughts. A good thing, too, she thought.

It had been a long time since a man had pursued her so blatantly. She liked it, even if she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do about it. Feeling reckless, she didn’t protest when he ordered another round.

"You’re direct, aren’t you?” she said.

"When the situation calls for it.”

Okay, she could be direct, too. "Are you married?”

"No.” He let that hang for a moment, then added, "Does it matter?”

Only if she decided . . . no, she wasn’t quite that reckless.

Was she? "I don’t know. I have a feeling it might.”

She thought he’d jump on that comment, but he only said,

"Have a lot of married men hit on you?”

"Some. Is that what you’re doing? Hitting on me?”

"I’m not married, remember? And I prefer to think of it as appreciating beauty.”

She laughed, the admiring gleam in his eyes giving her a rush of pleasure. "That certainly sounds better.”

"Maybe because it’s true.”

She arched an eyebrow in challenge. "Most women like to at least pretend that a man is interested in something besides her looks.”

"I haven’t talked to you enough to know much more about you.” His fingers feathered a touch on the back of her hand as their gazes met. "But I’d like to. Very much.”

Alex let out a breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding.

Oh, he was good. Dangerously so.

So they talked. About art and music. About books, movies, and sports. They discussed everything, except, thank God, her work, as if they’d known each other for months instead of minutes. Strange, she thought, how easily he drew her out when she wasn’t ordinarily a chatty person. Usually, she was the expert on getting information from people.

Much later, she noticed they’d both finished their drinks.

He must have realized it, too. Instead of ordering another, he stood and held out his hand to her. "Let’s take a walk.”

"Where to?” she asked, suddenly wary. His room, she bet, wishing he wouldn’t say it.

He smiled wickedly, like he knew what she was thinking.

"The beach. Have you been out there at night?”

Along with relief came a swift stab of disappointment. She told herself she was crazy even to consider . . . what she was considering. Her cautious side knew what she should do. The side that sought oblivion from the past wasn’t so sure.

"I went out there last night,” she said. "I love the beach at night. During the day, too, but”—she grimaced at the fair skin of her arms, revealed by her short-sleeved forest-green suit jacket—"I’ve got the redhead’s curse. I don’t tan, I burn.”

She allowed him to help her to her feet, realizing when she stood beside him just how big he was. Though at five-foot-nine she’d never considered herself a small woman, she felt positively tiny next to Luke Morgan.

Tracing his fingers along her forearm, he looked into her eyes and said, "It would be a crime to burn skin like yours.”

Her heart rate jumped in anticipation. No use denying the attraction. Every time he touched her, casually or not so casually, as he was doing now, sexual tension arced between them. Still, that didn’t mean she had to do anything about it. He’d only asked for a moonlight stroll.

If she was going to walk on the beach, Alex decided, she’d do it right. Heels weren’t made for walking in sand. Excusing herself, she went in search of the ladies’ room.

Luke had been half-afraid he’d seen the last of her when she disappeared. Normally, he’d have shrugged it off, but Alex Sheridan wasn’t the type of woman he usually took up with. For one thing, she was far too classy. Sexy. A subtle sexy instead of in-your-face. In fact, she was a knockout. And she sure as hell didn’t look, or dress, like any cop he’d ever known.

She returned with a smile on her face, her purse in one hand, her shoes dangling from the other. His gaze dropped to dynamite legs beneath a short dark green skirt. Bare legs. God have mercy, he thought, wondering what those creamy-skinned legs would feel like beneath his palms and hoping he’d get the chance to find out.

He’d been wrong. She was definitely his type.

When they reached the beach, she halted. "You’re not going to walk in the sand wearing shoes?”

Luke heard the laughter underlying her words and smiled.

"That would be pointless, wouldn’t it?” He took off his shoes and socks, carrying them as they walked down to the waterline, just out of reach of the tide. Once there, he dropped them in the sand, then took her shoes and dropped them beside his. "I don’t think anyone will bother a couple of pairs of shoes.” And he had other things he’d rather hold than shoes. Like a redhead named Alex. For now, though, he contented himself with holding her hand. He was a patient man when necessary.

For the first time in months—hell, make that years—he was enjoying talking to a woman. He wasn’t big on conversation anyway, and when he was with a woman, talk was usually the last thing on his mind. But Alex interested him. He must be losing it, he decided. Here he was, on a deserted beach at night with a gorgeous redhead and he was thinking about her mind?

They walked in companionable silence for a while before she spoke. "Earlier you said you’d seen the look before. When I was speaking and . . .” Her voice trailed off.

It hadn’t been difficult to recognize, he thought. Her eyes had gone from blank to anguished. She had turned inward, seeing some gut-wrenching event in her past. He’d done it too many times himself not to know what was happening to her.

"You covered it up well, but I’ve been there myself.”

Understatement. His time with the navy SEALs had given him nightmares for years afterward. Thank God he’d finally quit having them.

"I thought that’s what you meant.” She stopped and looked up at him. "So tell me, Luke, what do you do to forget?”

The smell of salt water tinged the night breeze, taunting his senses with memories. He smiled down at her, wondering what she’d do if he told her his preferred cure. Instead he said,

"Drinking works. Sometimes. Except it gives you a hangover which can be nearly as bad as the memories. And after a while it quits working.”

"It’s been three years,” she said, almost wistfully. "I thought I’d gotten past it.”

"Some things never go away. They fade, but they’re always there.” Luke could still remember the sick feeling he’d had when he found out the truth about his old man. And that had been over twenty years ago.

Alex was staring, not at him but out to sea. At some window to the past, he suspected. Cupping her face in his hands, he brought her startled gaze to meet his. "But the best way I’ve found”—he rubbed his thumb over her soft, tempting lips—"is this.” Slowly, he lowered his mouth to hers, waiting for her to pull back. When she didn’t, he captured her mouth, tracing her lips with the tip of his tongue until she opened and invited him inside.

He sank his hands into her hair, wanting to know what she looked like wearing nothing but that thick, rich mass flowing over her like a flame. Luke had kissed a lot of women in the past and enjoyed them all, but Alex was the stuff dreams were made of. His tongue swept her mouth thoroughly, enticing hers until she began making teasing forays of her own.

Her purse dropped to the sand beside them, then her arms encircled his neck, her body pressing close to his. Their tongues touched, retreated, touched again in a potent, sexy-as-hell rhythm. She moaned throatily as his arms tightened around her, as the kiss deepened and desire flashed hot between them. He knew for a fact that if he didn’t stop soon, sex on the beach wouldn’t be just a drink.

When Alex Sheridan kissed a man, he thought, she didn’t do it halfway.

Still holding her in his arms, Luke drew back and smiled at her. Her eyes had gone dreamy. "So, Alex, what do you think?”

"I think I’ll have to reserve judgment.”


"Until you kiss me again.”


With a muttered curse, Luke shoved his chair back from his desk and rose to pace the length of his office. Frustrated by his recent lack of productivity, he slapped his pen against his hand in disgust. Red ink squirted out, staining his palm. Red, dammit, he thought. It would be.

In the three weeks that had passed since his return from San Diego, he’d thought about Alex Sheridan every day. It was driving him crazy. Why would a one-night fling with a woman, however beautiful and sexy he’d found her, stay with him like it had?

He had a feeling he knew. She’d touched something in him besides his libido. His . . . sense of compassion? That was an emotion he thought he’d lost long ago. But when he’d seen her face for that brief, unguarded moment during her lecture, he’d wanted to help her. He’d thought his days as a white knight long over, the desire killed by his disillusionment with his naval career, but her vulnerability had gotten to him. He’d bet she was ordinarily very good at covering that vulnerability. And that was probably why she’d hightailed it out of his room the next morning before he awakened.

He should have expected her to leave. Should have been relieved that she had. No messy morning-after scene when they avoided each other’s eyes and both said things they didn’t mean.

But he hadn’t been relieved. He’d been angry.

From her bio in the conference brochure, Luke knew Alex lived in Dallas, or at least in the surrounding area. He hadn’t told her he did too. And she hadn’t asked. The lady hadn’t been looking for a commitment, she’d been looking to forget.

God knew he wasn’t a man to tie himself up with a woman.

But it rankled that she’d been able to forget him, apparently, when he couldn’t forget her. Given her profession, he knew she’d be able to track him down. If she wanted to.

Luke wasn’t sure what he thought about that night with Alex. About making love with her. Obviously, it had been about sex—lust and physical attraction, especially the first time. But even that first time he’d felt something more than sex between them. And the second time . . .

He’d awakened in the predawn hours to find her in the grips of a nightmare. After he’d awakened her, he offered to talk about it. She refused, and instead they’d made love again. And like the first time, it had been fantastic, and yet they had related on a level deeper than the physical. An emotional level, he supposed, frowning. Why it had happened with Alex when he hadn’t connected, really connected, with any woman in the preceding thirty-six years of his life, he couldn’t say. It made no sense to him.

Luke liked to keep his private life simple. Unentangled. So why couldn’t he accept that her leaving the next morning was the best thing that could have happened to him? Especially given his reaction to her. She must have felt it too. Maybe that was why she had left.

Oh, hell, what difference did it make? Alex Sheridan would bore him in time, or demand more than he had to give, just like every other woman he’d known.

But he was tempted, extremely tempted, to try to see her again. If only to prove to himself that their night together had been a fluke and all his imaginings of some deeper connection had been just that. Imagination.

His secretary came in just then with the blueprints for the Alsobrook project. Kathy was in her mid-fifties, practical and unflappable, with improbably dyed bright orange hair that seemed at odds with her no-nonsense manner. Since she was the best secretary Luke had ever had, he didn’t give a flip if she came to work sporting a purple Mohawk and a nose ring.

"You’ve got an appointment at the site at five-thirty with Waylon Black,” she reminded him as she laid the rolled-up paper on his desk. "That’s fifteen minutes from now.”

"Damn,” he said, glancing at his watch to discover she was right. He had too much to do to waste time thinking about a woman. Even a woman like Alex Sheridan.

On his way to the site, he considered the Alsobrook building. He’d busted his butt for months to secure the contract for the project, and it was turning out to be everything he’d hoped for. With any luck, and a lot of hard work, it should pull his career out of the nose dive it had suffered in the last couple of years.

He found his general contractor in the temporary building set up as his on-site office. As usual, Waylon had his feet propped on the desk, a phone receiver to one ear and a cup of coffee—probably his thirtieth of the day—in hand. "Right, tomorrow,” he was saying. "And if you don’t deliver tomorrow, then you can kiss the contract good-bye.”

Swearing without heat, he slammed down the receiver and grinned at Luke. His short brown hair stuck straight up, testimony to his habit of raking his hands through it when something frustrated him. "You know the old saying, give ’em an inch . . .”

"Problems?” Luke asked, his hands in his pockets as he rocked back on his heels.

"Nah. Nothing I can’t handle.” Swinging his legs down, Waylon added, "He just needs to know he can’t jerk us around on delivery times. Coffee?”

Luke held up a hand. "No, thanks.” Besides being addicted to caffeine, Waylon was notoriously unpicky about what his coffee tasted like. Fresh, burned, weak, strong, as long as it had caffeine in it, Waylon didn’t care.

"Glad you’re here, Luke.” He hitched his jeans up in a vain attempt to hide the spare tire around his middle. "I’ve got some things to show you that you’ll want to check out. But I’ve got to tell you, things are going so smoothly here, it’s damn near spooky.”

"About time, don’t you think?”

"Damn straight,” Waylon said.

Their gazes met, and Luke knew they were each remembering the last two years and the struggle it had been to keep afloat, much less prosper. Waylon Black was one of the few men Luke trusted. As much as he was capable of trusting anyone, which at this point wasn’t a lot. Still, Luke reminded himself that the contractor had proved his loyalty.

And not many contractors had been willing to take a chance on Luke Morgan after the debacle, courtesy of James Bennett, involving Morgan & Bennett Architectural Associates. Even changing the name of his company to ADTomorrow—Architectural Designs for Tomorrow—hadn’t done much good. Too many people knew Luke owned it. Guilt by association was a powerful force, particularly in the business world.

A good thing James was dead, Luke thought, or he would have been tempted to kill him himself.

As Luke toured the partially completed building with Waylon, he saw the finished product in his mind. He wanted to create an impression of glass and air, and he believed he could do it. The conference in San Diego had been surprisingly useful.

Luke had returned with some great ideas for final touches to this project, as well as plans for new ones.

The structure before him was as good, maybe even better, than anything he’d yet created. A true design for the future.

Furthermore, he had every hope that it would come in on budget, especially with Waylon Black in charge. Waylon could cut more corners than anyone Luke knew without compromising quality. Functional as well as beautiful, the Alsobrook Investments Building would fit perfectly with the sleek, mirrored skyscrapers gleaming on the Dallas horizon.

"It’s good, Luke,” Waylon said, picking up on his thoughts, as he had a knack for doing. "The best work you’ve done yet.”

Luke couldn’t help smiling. It was gratifying to know that someone whose opinion he respected agreed with him.

After surveying the construction site, dealing with a few glitches, discussing potential problems, and setting up a time for another meeting the following week, Luke and Waylon walkedto their cars.

"Ready to get rid of that ‘Vette yet?” Waylon asked.

Grinning, Luke shook his head. "In your dreams, Black. But you’ll be the first to know if I change my mind.” The chances of Luke’s selling the classic ’66 white Corvette he’d bought as a junker and lovingly restored were between slim and none, and Waylon knew it. They still played out this scene every time the contractor caught sight of it.

Parked beside Waylon’s rusted black pickup, Luke opened his car door and paused, staring at the building. "Did you think two years ago that we’d ever work together on a project like this again?” he asked, turning to the other man.

Waylon shook his head. "Luke, with you I never doubted it. The only thing that surprised me was how fast you made it happen.”

A sudden, explosive roar blew away Luke’s reply. He spun around, staring in disbelief as the entire left side of the building they’d left only minutes before began to crumple. Flames leaped upward, smoke steamed above it. Steel beams and girders, concrete and sheetrock, tumbled down like a house of cards in a strong wind.

"Holy hell,” Luke swore as he pulled Waylon to the ground with him.

One more time his dreams had blown up in his face.

The first sight of a possible bombing scene always hit Alex hard. The Alsobrook Investments Building was no exception.

The main portion appeared undamaged, and from that she could see the promise of the uncompleted building. Several fire crews were battling to bring the blaze under control, but it looked as though the fire was contained to one wing.

Picking her way through a crowd of onlookers, firemen, police, and members of the Dallas County Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, she eventually found the first officer on the scene, a beat cop who patrolled the area.

"Senior Corporal Alex Sheridan, bomb unit,” she said to him, identifying herself. "Can you fill me in, Officer Crandall? Briefly, for now.”

"Sure thing, Detective.” Handing her his report, he drew in a breath and plunged into a recitation of the facts. "I arrived on the scene at six thirty-seven P.M. after an eyewitness, the architect as it happens, called nine-one-one reporting an explosion. Seems he and the general contractor were leaving the site just as the blast occurred. The architect called it in on his cell. No deaths reported so far.”

"None at all?”

He shook his head. "None. And there’s one minor injury not caused by the blast.” Succumbing to the heat, which was exacerbated by the still-burning fire, he wiped his shirtsleeve across his perspiring face.

Alex tucked the report under her arm, intending to interview the witnesses herself before she read Crandall’s more detailed account. No deaths, she thought, relieved. Given the time of day, that wasn’t too surprising, but it certainly made the job more pleasant. "So, no workmen. But isn’t there a night watchman?”

"Yes, ma’am, he’s the injury. We found him knocked out, tied up and dumped in a temporary building. Got a bump on his head, is all.”

Her eyebrows climbed at that news. So, it hadn’t been an accident, she thought. Coupled with the time of day, the removal of the night watchman from danger was a sure sign that the explosion had been deliberate. The exact method of destruction was still anybody’s guess. Alex’s team would start to work on that as soon as the fire chief allowed them access to the building.

"Neither of the witnesses saw anyone entering or leaving the area,” Crandall continued. "You’ve got my initial interviews with them right there.” He gestured at the papers under her arm.

It looked like whoever did it took care not to kill anyone,

Alex mused. Not unheard of, but still, interesting. "What about the building’s owner? Has he been notified?”

"Yes. He hasn’t arrived yet. Lives out of town, according to reports.”

She nodded, figuring she’d catch up with him in the morning. A nearby sign read: ALSOBROOK INVESTMENTS.

ARCHITECTURAL DESIGNS FOR TOMORROW. She’d seen Alsobrook’s name in the business section of the papers, but she wasn’t familiar with many architectural firms. "The architect and the contractor are the eyewitnesses, you say? Can you point me toward them?” she asked Crandall.

"Right over there,” he said, motioning at a couple of men several yards away.

"Thanks, Officer Crandall. I’ll get back with you later.”

One of the men stood with his back to her, staring at the ruined building and the activities of the fire crews, she assumed.

The man beside him was cussing a blue streak, until he caught sight of Alex walking toward him and stopped in mid-sentence with his mouth hanging open. It wasn’t an uncommon reaction, and it never failed to amuse her.

Alex knew that her canary-yellow suit with its slim, short skirt set her apart from the sea of navy and khaki uniforms surrounding her. She didn’t look like a cop, and she took full advantage of that effect when questioning people at a crime scene.

People, especially men, were often more candid with a woman—especially one they didn’t perceive as a threat. They often let drop a good bit of information they wouldn’t have ordinarily given a law officer. At least until they realized Alex was as professional as any cop, or they learned of her reputation within the police community.

"Wow,” she heard the man staring at her say, almost reverently. "Who’s the babe?”

The other man shrugged his shoulders, his powerful physique not a bit disguised by a baby-blue dress shirt with rolled-up sleeves or the beige cotton slacks he wore. An uncannily familiar build, she thought, also taking note of the thick black hair brushing his collar. A flutter of awareness tickled her senses.

"Thrill seeker,” he said, still staring at the wreckage. "They’re all over the place.”

A deep voice. Gravel with a hint of steel. The voice she’d last heard speaking in seductive murmurs during a still California night. A night of unremitting passion. Nerves beat a drumroll of apprehension in her stomach. Oh, God, it couldn’t be.

"Doesn’t look like it,” the other man said. "I think I saw her flash a badge a few minutes ago.”

Her steps faltered before she regained control. Imagination, she told herself. She’d been thinking of him recently, after all.

Daily, to be honest. But the man standing with his back to her couldn’t possibly be—

Luke Morgan turned his head.


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