A Small-Town Homecoming
He narrowed his eyes as a familiar BMW Z4 roadster bumped over the gap in the curb at the entrance to the construction site and edged onto a patch of rough gravel.
Tess Roussel, architect. The nominal head of this project, though they both knew she couldn't make a move without him.
The driver's-side door swung open and one long, slim, short-skirted leg stretched toward the ground. Nice. Too bad it was attached at the hip to a harpy with an agenda.
She rose, slowly, and slammed the door behind her, pausing to glare at him across the ruins. He knew her eyes were the color of bourbon and every bit as seductive, that her scent could make his mouth water and send his system into overdrive. And the fact that he'd wanted her the moment he'd set eyes on her didn't mean spit. He'd been controlling far more serious thirsts for years.
She strode toward him on her ridiculous shoes, risking injury to one of her shapely ankles with every wobble of those skyscaper heels. The breeze off the bay tossed her short black hair across her forehead, and she lifted an elegant, long-fingered hand to brush it back into place. She wore a no-nonsense grey suit, the kind of suit a woman wore when she wanted to look like a man. The kind of suit that clung to lush, womanly curves and accentuated the fact that she was a female.
She halted in front of him and raised one of her perfectly arched brows. "Quinn."
She lowered her gaze to his cigarette and slowly lifted it again to meet his. "Smoking on the job site?" she asked.
He brought the cigarette to his lips just to watch those whiskey-colored eyes darken with displeasure. "Against the rules?"
"Are you asking for a clarification?"
"Figured that's why you're here." He squinted at her through the smoke. "To set things straight," he said.
"Plenty of time for that later." She slipped her hands into her jacket pockets and turned toward the bay. "It's a great site."
"Best in town."
"It will be."
She angled her face in his direction, waiting for him to comment, but he simply met and held her stare.
God, she was a looker. He'd mostly seen her in passing, striding down Main Street as if she owned the strip, or crossing those long legs on a tall stool at one of the waterfront bars. And he'd noticed the way men's gazes trailed her, tracked her, undressed her, coveted her. A real heartbreaker. A real ball-buster, too. The kind of woman who enjoyed the attention, as long as it was on her terms.
He'd never had the chance to study her like this, up close. Right now, with the sun sinking over her shoulder and setting the highlights in her hair aflame, with her sculptured chin tipped up in challenge and those thick, sooty lashes drifting low over her wide-set eyes, she was even more of a looker than he'd realized.
Her gaze settled on the six-pack nestled in a rope coil on the truck bed behind him, and her glossy red lips thinned in disapproval.
Beer for the crew, a small celebration for the big job ahead. She needn't worryhe had no intention of joining them in the drinking part of the festivities. Not that it was any of her business. "Something bothering you?" he asked.
"Yeah." She shifted her stance and narrowed her eyes. "Plenty."
"Oh, I doubt that." Her mouth turned up at the corners in a catlike smile. "I don't think it's the same kind of bother at all."
He slid to the ground and moved in close, close enough to note the slight flutter of her lashes and hear the sharp and sudden intake of her breath. His blood heated with something more than the basic tension between them. In her heels, she was nearly eye-to-eye with him, and he wondered how she'd fit along him if he snaked an arm around her narrow waist and hauled her against him. "No harm in a little creative thinking," he said.
"Is that so?"
He dropped his gaze to her mouth, testing her. Testing himself. He wanted this job, damn it. He'd just signed a contract saying he'd take it on. He wanted to earn a chunk of money so he wouldn't have to worry about his ex's first legal maneuver in the inevitable custody war. He wanted his daughter to be proud of the work he was doing, even if that work was going to mean long hours away from home, away from her. The last thing he needed was another battle on his hands with another woman who could pile on the guilt of his past failures.
A woman who could give him one more thing to crave.
He looked Tess straight in the eye. "Yeah."
"All right, then." She turned to go, tossing a wicked smile over her shoulder. "See you around, Quinn."
He dropped the cigarette and crushed it into the ground. "I'll be here."
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Excerpt from: A SMALL-TOWN HOMECOMING
Copyright ©2009 by Teresa A. McLaughlin
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