CONTESTS & FUN
USA TODAY Bestselling Author
Entry Deadline February 24th
Congratulations to Elaine Seymour of Canada! She won my
January Book GiveAway Contest, and will receive a copy of
one of my backlist titles for her Kindle. Like many of you,
she knew that Charlotte wielded a sword against SWAT cop
Trip when she thought she was being attacked.
This month, I’m giving away any available title from my
backlist in print or digital format. Something suspenseful?
Something sexy? Something with a paranormal twist? Winner’s
choice (as long as title is available).
To enter, read the excerpt from PROTECTING THE PREGNANT
WITNESS, the second of two S.W.A.T. cop stories in my
February release, HARLEQUIN INTRIGUE CLASSICS. This is a
special reissue of two reader favorites featuring 2 of my
S.W.A.T. cop heroes—at a bargain price! To enter
read the excerpt,
answer the question at the end of the excerpt and
your answer, along with your contact
information. My dog, Maggie, will put her nose to work and
select a winner from among all the correct entries. Deadline
to enter is February 24th.
Rules for Julie's Contests
- One entry per person.
- By entering, entrants grant
permission for their name to be posted on the Julie Miller web site at
in Julie's newsletter.
- Winners will be chosen by random
drawing from among all entries.
- The odds of winning depend upon the
number of participants.
Void where prohibited.
RT Book Lovers
Julie in New York City at the 2015 RWA National
The awesome sign
made by Julie's roommates at the RWA 2015
Conference in NYC. Yes, I'm a RITA finalist!
Julie at the RWA
Julie with fellow
USA TODAY Bestselling Author
Delores Fossen at the Harlequin VIP Party.
Julie at the
Broadway production of WICKED
Yes, I'm a RITA
Julie ready to
attend the RITA Awards Ceremony
Julie's local writing group, the Prairieland
Romance Writers, celebrates 20 years of
excellence in romance fiction at an
anniversary Open House in Grand Island,
||Prairieland Romance Writers celebrates 20
years of excellence in romance fiction!
Kearney, NE Booksigning, The Sequel Bookshop
Julie Miller, and Scott & Julie Miller
It was a bone-deep
instinct to shut down his emotions and simply survive that allowed
Rafe Delgado to tune out the world and squeeze the trigger.
Aaron was down.
The car had plowed right through him, tossing him into the air and
speeding past as he landed with an ominous thud on the pavement of
the busy Kansas City street.
And then the world
rushed in and the fear welled up as snapshot images and jarring
noises etched themselves indelibly on his battered soul. Shouts.
Curses. Lights flashing. Sirens wailing. Radio static. Screams.
The squealing, grating crunch of a car spinning on its blown-out
tire and slamming into the bricks of a building down the block from
the bank the driver and passengers had just robbed.
“Aaron?” No. Hell
no. Rafe holstered his weapon and ran. He put out one hand to stop
a truck turning the corner in front of him and radioed in the call
for an ambulance. They’d been the first cops on the scene to answer
the bank’s silent alarm. Rafe’s partner--veteran cop, friend,
mentor--had said they needed to stop the getaway car. It was harder
to catch a gang of thieves once they were on the run than to stop
them before they escaped. They’d stopped them, all right. “Aaron!”
happening. It couldn’t be happening. Rafe Delgado was finally
making something of himself. Learning to be a cop, learning to
trust. Learning from the best. Sergeant Aaron Nichols was friend
and father confessor as much as he was his partner. The perps had
ignored Aaron’s warning, had ignored his gun. Rafe had stopped
them, but not soon enough.
Barely aware of the
other uniformed cops swarming the neighborhood--stopping traffic,
herding bystanders off the street, pulling the three dazed and
injured criminals out of the car and handcuffing them on the
sidewalk--Rafe ran to his fallen partner where he lay bent and
broken in the middle of the intersection. Ignoring the pool of
blood staining his knees, he knelt down beside Aaron.
deep blue eyes, set between lines of laughter and wisdom, struggled
to focus. Rafe scooped up his partner’s beefy hand and squeezed it,
drawing Aaron’s attention. “I got ya, Sarge. Hang in there. The
ambulance is on its way.”
boxer’s paw tightened weakly around Rafe’s fingers. A breathy hint
of his Americanized brogue whispered. “Did we get ‘em?”
“I shot the tire
and they spun out. Save your energy. Don’t talk.” His hand was
cold. There was too much blood. Rafe lifted his head and shouted
wildly. “Medic! I need a medic!”
The thick fingers
convulsed around Rafe’s. “This one’s bad, sonny. No doctor can
bull. You stop bleedin’. You hear me?”
trembling lips curved in a familiar grin. “Givin’ me orders. Who
“Just trying to
keep you around, old man.” He wanted to apply pressure to the wound
bleeding so profusely at the back of his head. But that meant
rolling him over, and Rafe was certain from each shallow wheeze for
breath that there were internal injuries and that moving him could
make things worse. Rafe’s eyes filled with tears and he swiped away
the useless evidence of emotion to keep his partner’s face in
focus. “Jesus, Aaron, tell me what to do.”
Aaron’s eyes grew
distant. He knew he was dying. He knew. “You’re a good cop. I
knew you would be. I’m proud of you, son.”
The faint trill of
his native Irish accent was evident even with each gasp. He’d
brought his son to this country when his first wife had died. His
second wife had given him a daughter and divorced him. He was the
best KCPD had to offer. He’d been through too much. He didn’t
deserve to die like this.
Fluid gurgled in
Aaron’s throat. “Rafe?”
“I’m right here.
What do you need?”
He summoned his
strength and squeezed Rafe’s hand one last time. “You take care of
my Josie. Patrick, too. This’ll be hard on them. They need
someone to depend on.”
Rafe nodded. “I’ll
be the big brother they never had. Until you get better.”
“You’re my family.
Now shut up. Save your strength.”
“Got to say this...
A father worries...” Rafe wouldn’t know. The man who’d sired him
hadn’t worried about anything but his booze and keeping child
services out of his hair. Years of practice shut down the memories
of pain and anger and betrayal that tried to rear their ugly head.
Aaron needed him. His bloody fingers were scratching blindly across
his belt. “Where’s my badge?”
plucked the scuffed up badge off the pavement and put it into his
hand before pulling them both onto Aaron’s chest. “Your badge is
right with you, Sarge. Feel it?” The blue eyes drifted shut.
“Sarge! Stay with me!”
They opened again.
“Take care of my girl. Such a good heart. She has... crush... on
“I know. With you
watching over my shoulder, nothing will ever happen.”
“No, I... damn.” A
shallow rale stuttered through his chest.
he’ll fight ya.”
“I can handle him.”
His eyes opened and
closed in lieu of a nod. “I love them. Tell ‘em that.”
man... you think.”
The tears chafed
beneath his eyelids. “Quit talking like you’re--”
And then Aaron’s
scrappy boxer’s fist went slack. His eyes glazed over and he was
November--Ten Years Later
Rafael Delgado wore
jeans, a badge and black leather well.
As he uncrossed his
long legs and pulled away from the black heavy duty pickup he’d been
leaning against in the nearly deserted parking lot behind Kansas
City’s Shamrock Bar, Josie Nichols got a glimpse of the gun he wore
on his belt, too. She smiled, unafraid, her pulse doing its
customary flutter at the broad shoulders and fluid stride of the man
who’d waited in the dark to walk her to her car nearly every night
since she’d taken the job tending bar at her uncle’s tavern four
But then Rafe had
been looking out for her almost ten years now, ever since he’d made
a promise to her father--his first partner at KCPD--on the night
Aaron Nichols had died.
Josie locked the
Shamrock’s back door and shook off the sadness that tightened her
shoulders at the memory of her father’s senseless slaughter in the
line of duty. She could hear the assurance of booted footsteps
crunching on the asphalt behind her. The shadows wouldn’t be so
scary tonight. The loneliness she lived with wouldn’t prick so
sharply. Chivalry was not dead. At least not in Rafe’s book. She
tucked the keys into her backpack and fixed a teasing smile on her
face before turning to meet him.
“You know, Uncle
Robbie installed a security camera back here. And the city put in
an extra light. You don’t have to wait and walk me to my car after
closing every night.” It was hard to miss the lack of an answering
smile on his ruggedly sculpted features. “Especially when you’ve
put in a long day like this one.”
“It’s no trouble.”
The flat response was a recitation of duty. Her heart squeezed at
the exhaustion she heard in his gravelly tone, and she simply fell
into step beside him when he took her elbow and walked her toward
the beat-up Ford compact parked beside his shiny, super-sized
truck. “You warm enough in this?”
“I can buy you a
new winter coat if you need one.”
“No, you won’t.
And I don’t.”
“Damn it, Jose--are
you going to argue every little thing I say to you tonight?”
planted her feet, forcing him to halt. What the heck? She tipped
her chin to try to decipher the sharp bite to his tone. “What’s
A white cloud of
breath formed in the chilly November air at his chest-deep sigh.
“Sorry. I’ve got too many things running through my mind to be
civil, I guess.”
She might have
imagined the slight tremble she’d felt in his long fingers before
they wound around the sleeve of her insulated jacket and resumed
their pace across the parking lot. But she wasn’t as concerned with
the thinness of her thrift store jacket as she was with her friend’s
cryptic remark. Rafe looked tired. It was that bone deep kind of
weariness that seeped into the soul and indicated a man who had seen
and endured more than he should.
Although his stern
face remained a mask just above her line of sight, Josie could see
the signs. She was the kind of woman who noticed subtle details and
read others the way most folks read a book. That talent came in
handy working nights as a bartender, and she hoped to put those same
skills to work once she completed her nursing degree next summer.
Her senses were even more finely tuned when she cared about that
And Josie Nichols
had cared about Rafe through a teenaged crush, the loss of her
father--a man they’d both loved, and the bond of adult friendship.
In some ways, she was closer to Rafe Delgado than she was to any
other person on the planet. But he’d made it clear his heart was
off limits to her, and so she’d buried those feelings of infatuation
that had matured into something much more profound now that she was
a twenty-five year old woman.
Except for times
like this--when the hour was late and the night separated them from
the rest of the world. When they were alone. When Rafe was hurting
and the self-avowed loner needed someone and she knew she could
Josie could guess
at the pain shading his amber brown eyes. She’d seen the tragic
story played on the news over and over that evening. She’d listened
to the sketchy details he and his friends on KCPD’s SWAT Team 1 had
shared when they’d come in to drink a beer after this afternoon’s
deadly, heartbreaking standoff against one of Kansas City’s most
violent gangs. And then, before they’d had any real opportunity to
decompress from the stress of the day, his SWAT team had been called
away to the scene of a bomb threat to help calm a restless crowd who
feared a serial killer had struck again.
Rafe had every
reason to be in a mood. An innocent boy had died today. And while
Rafe and his team had saved dozens of lives, it was the one life
he’d lost that stayed with him. She’d heard the speech before. The
first time was the night ten years ago when Rafe, little more than a
rookie patrol cop himself, had come to the house to tell Josie and
her half-brother, Patrick, that their father had been mowed down in
the street by a group of bank robbers in their getaway car. He’d
glossed over the fact that he and her father had stopped the armed
thieves, protecting bystanders on the street and recovering hundreds
of thousands of dollars in stolen money. Instead, he’d sat on the
couch between her and Patrick, with barely a tear leaking from the
corner of his red-rimmed eyes, even though she knew he felt as
though he’d lost a father, too.
thirty-four years old now, but little had changed. Saving lives was
doing his job--losing a life was personal. But that damn pride and
noble code of honor he lived by kept him from grieving properly.
Kept him from dealing with the rage and frustration and guilt that
must be eating him up inside.
“Rafe, stop.” She
halted beside his truck. She couldn’t keep her hands to herself
when she saw the muscle twitching beneath the stony frown of his
expression. Reaching up, Josie cupped his jaw, soothing the tension
she felt in him. “That boy didn’t die because of you.”
“No. He died in
spite of me.” The sensitive skin of Josie’s palm prickled at the
rasp of late-night beard stubble that abraded her skin as he snagged
her wrist and pulled her hand away. “His name was Calvin Chambers.
And I can’t get his blood off my fingers.”
She twisted her
grip to capture his hands between both of hers, angling them up
toward the street lamp, turning them over. “I don’t see any blood.”
And then the
floodgates of emotions opened. He spun away, raking his fingers
through his hair, leaving a mess of short, tobacco brown spikes in
their wake. He paced into the shadows beyond the circle of light
illuminating them. “It’s stuck in my head. The blood was so warm
and he was so cold. He had bullet holes in his leg and chest. I
tried to stop the bleeding. I had to pitch my gloves and uniform,
there was so much of it.”
“Oh, my God. The
news never said it was that bad.” Josie squeezed her fingers around
the strap of her backpack, seeking a little comfort herself. “That
“He was so young.
Ten years old. Ten freaking years old.” Rafe stepped back into the
light, startling her. “What the hell was I doing--sittin’ there
while Calvin bled out?”
“Rafe.” She’d seen
him decked out in his SWAT gear--black uniform, flak vest, helmet, a
hand gun, a rifle and gear she didn’t know the name for. “Horrible
people who didn’t give a damn about that little boy were shooting
guns at cops. You broke up a gang, a drug ring. His killer was
arrested. You weren’t sitting there doing nothing. You were
looking out for that boy.”
“All I could do was
hold him. I know what it feels like to be that young and that
hurt. Nothing makes sense. All you know is fear and pain, and all
you worry about is if it can possibly hurt any worse.”
She watched his
face contort as the grief welled up and he fought it back inside
him. The anger, the self-recriminations, rolled off him in waves.
Josie knew that not one whit of it was directed at her. He needed
to vent, and listening was another skill in her survivor’s
repertoire. Instinctively, she drifted closer, slipping her hand
beneath his jacket to rest it over his thumping heart. “I know you
did everything you could to save him.”
He covered her hand
with his, squeezing almost too tightly as he held it against the
stuttering expansion and contraction of his chest. “I’m trained to
take action, Josie. I’m not supposed to sit still and tell a child
lies like he’s going to see his mama soon and everything will be all
right.” He slid his warm hand along her jaw, tipping her face to
trace the tears that spilled over her cheek with the pad of his
thumb, as if touching the evidence of her compassion and sorrow was
the only way to acknowledge the anguish he felt. “I couldn’t get to
a proper med kit. I couldn’t get an ambulance to him.”
She turned to press
a kiss into his palm. “Your captain said there was a lot of
gunfire. You were pinned down.”
wasn’t in that alley with me. I was lucky to pull Calvin out of
that back yard at all.” He stroked his thumb across her cheek
again, wiping away another tear. “And damn it--” Rafe’s voice
shook, “--he kept trying to thank me for protecting him. He was
scared to death, yet he was foolish enough or brave enough to try to
make me feel better.” He stroked his fingers across her
temple, tucking a long strand of hair behind her ear and smoothing
it back into the ponytail at her nape. “He died in an alley. In a
stranger’s arms. Walking home from school. That’s not right for
Over the years
she’d known Rafe, he’d occasionally hinted at the horrors of his own
childhood. Something about today’s tragic events must be resonating
deep inside him, waking feelings he normally barricaded behind an
internal layer of armor. “No. It’s not.”
He stroked his
thumb across her bottom lip and paused, as if he’d felt the same
electric shock she had. “Somebody else should gone after him.
Somebody else could have saved him.”
“Rafe...” His need
was waking something vital and primal and feminine deep inside her.
“He couldn’t have been in better hands.”
Damn rules. I should have blasted my way out of that alley--”
“Others might have
“--and gotten him
to the hospital.”
“Stop it, Rafe.”
Josie let her backpack slide off her shoulder and plop at her feet.
She moved a step closer, framing his face between her hands. “Just
He pulled his
fingers through her long, dark ponytail, then flipped it behind her
back. He smoothed his hands across her shoulders, touched his
finger to the rip she’d mended in the sleeve of her jacket. She
wondered at the tiny frissons of heat that followed his every
touch. Josie no longer felt the nip of November dampness in the
air. She no longer heard the whispers of traffic on the street at
the front side of the bar, no longer knew the hour of night or the
fatigue in her own body as Rafe leaned in and touched his forehead
to hers. “When your dad taught me about being a cop, he didn’t
teach me how to... how to lose a child. I feel so damn helpless.”
Rafe, but nobody’s that tough.” She gave him a little shake,
worried at the raw loss shading his eyes. “Dad would be proud of
the man you’ve become. He’d be proud of the cop you are.”
His hands finally
settled at her waist, his fingers biting into the flare of her hips
as he pulled her close enough for their jeans to rustle together and
new pressure points beneath her skin to awaken at the needy
contact. “Your dad would have saved him.”
Josie wound her
arms around Rafe’s neck, sliding her fingers beneath the soft collar
of his leather jacket to find the smooth warmth of his skin to
anchor herself to. “This isn’t Dad all over again. You were the
best chance Calvin Chambers had. If anyone could have saved him, it
was you. At least he had someone strong and caring with him at the
end. He wasn’t alone.” Tears burned in her throat and reduced her
voice to a whisper. “How wonderful that you made him smile.”
“If someone’s going
to die, I’m the go-to guy to have around, huh?”
“No, damn it,
Rafe.” Words weren’t working. He couldn’t hear her. He wouldn’t
hear. Rafe Delgado needed to feel the truth. “I’m so sorry you’re
hurting like this. Don’t keep it in. It’s okay to hurt.”
She followed her
instincts, doing the most natural, right thing she could think of,
and kissed him. How many times, since she was fifteen years old,
had she wanted to press her lips against Rafe’s? How many lonely
nights had she dreamed about turning their friendship into something
more? But she’d always held back, settling for a peck on the cheek,
treasuring a hug. But his emotions were too far off the chart
tonight to settle for anything less than complete honesty between
“Shh.” She kissed
him again, lightly brushing her lips across his, testing the will of
this coiled panther of a man, cooing sounds of desire and comfort in
Josie’s lips parted
as shock made him go still. His fingers aligned her hips with his.
The heat of his body surrounded hers. Had she just broken some
unspoken rule? Or did he understand she was giving him permission
to kiss her back? Josie waited. Wanted. Dreamed.
Then, as if some
understanding had snapped into place inside his head, Rafe inhaled a
groaning breath and took over. He drove one thigh between hers and
backed Josie against the truck. He slipped his tongue between her
lips and deepened the kiss. She tasted the tang of beer on his
tongue and the salty notes of tears from her own mouth.
With an impatient,
throaty sigh, he unzipped her jacket and slipped his hand inside to
squeeze her breast. The tender skin ignited beneath his touch and
lit an ember deep in her core. Josie held on to his strong
shoulders, her toes leaving the pavement as his knee wedged tighter,
sparking flames that licked through her blood until they met up with
his hands and mouth and consumed her in heat.
gasps matched her own. She was vaguely aware of one hand reaching
beside her to open the truck door, while she was blatantly, eagerly
aware of the other hand tugging at the buttons of her blouse until
it could find its way inside to torment the aching nub of her breast
through the lace of her bra.
The loneliness of
Josie’s solitary life--no mother, no father--a poor excuse for a
brother--too much work and too much stress--evaporated beneath the
greedy assault of Rafe’s hands and mouth on her skin. He needed
her. He needed her. The connection between them was
irrefutable and intense.
As her top veed
open to the night air, and the chilly dampness bathed her in goose
bumps, Rafe left her. “No. Don’t stop.”
But Rafe wasn’t
leaving, he was looking for a little more privacy. He tossed her
bag inside and before Josie could follow his lead, he lifted her
onto the seat, shutting the door behind him and following her across
to the passenger side. With little heed for long legs and cramped
quarters and layers of clothing, Rafe maneuvered her onto his lap.
He tugged off his belt and placed his gun safely in the glove
compartment as Josie’s fingers tested the contrasts between his
short, silky hair and the rougher texture of his stubbled jaw. And
then she had his full attention again. Rafe slid his arms beneath
her jacket and blouse and pulled her hard against him, his hands
roaming at will against her skin, his mouth claiming hers. The
urgency of every touch, every kiss, conveyed the depth of emotion
that Rafe had been unable to speak.
Josie cracked open
a little more of her battered heart and answered. This wasn’t about
slow seduction. It wasn’t about finesse. It was about needing and
caring, giving and taking.
“I don’t ever want
to have a child look at me that way again,” Rafe rasped against her
lips. “I don’t want to hurt like this. I don’t want to feel...”
“Shh. It’s okay.
Let it go.”
With Josie’s knees
splayed on either side of Rafe’s thighs, and the hard bulge of his
zipper pulsing against the seam of her jeans, he left no doubt about
what he was asking of her. “We never... I shouldn’t...”
His face was buried
against her neck, and he was shaking so hard with the effort to
restrain himself that her body vibrated right along with his. But
she could also feel the heat and moisture of the tears he blinked
against her skin. She pulled away just far enough to hold his face
and turn his golden-brown eyes to the dim moonlight. The tears she
saw pooling there made the decision for her. Her heart couldn’t say
“You know I’ve
wanted this. Wanted to be more than friends.” Josie reached down
to unzip her jeans, to assure him of his welcome and her own desire.
He studied her
face, looking as surprised as she by the unexpected passion and
soul-deep empathy burning between them.
“It’s okay, Rafe.”
She leaned in and kissed him. “We’re okay.”
And then Rafe began
to move with the urgent efficiency with which he defused bombs and
took down bad guys. It was all fast and furious--a physical
expression of every powerful emotion surging between them. Zippers
crunched. His billfold came out. Clothes were pushed aside.
“I need you, Jose.
I need you. I need...” Molding hands and desperate kisses made her
blood drum through her veins. The heat rising inside her was almost
unbearable. She could only hold on to his sturdy shoulders as he
slid inside her, moving and rocking until they were both mindless
with this physical, sensual outpouring of emotion.
“I love you, Rafe,”
she whispered as he crushed her in his arms and plunged inside her
one last time, groaning with the release that she freely and
willingly gave him.
# # #
He should be
feeling better than this.
Rafe drew his
fingers through the condensation forming on the side window of his
truck and brushed the cool moisture across his feverish cheek. Oh,
his body was well and truly satisfied--too spent and content to want
one more thing. And those hated emotions that had raged through his
system had dissipated under Josie’s patient insistence and
She was snuggled up
against his side in the truck now, her rumpled clothes refastened,
her breathing slow and even. When he felt her stirring, he leaned
over and pressed a kiss to the crown of her sable-dark hair. When
she tilted her chin and smiled at him, he knew what he was feeling.
He’d taken slaps
across the face and a belt across his backside that didn’t hurt as
bad as this. He’d betrayed a friend tonight. Two of them. On the
day Aaron had died, he’d made him a promise. Visiting his son in
jail and boinking his daughter weren’t exactly how he’d intended to
honor Aaron’s memory.
Some damn fine
protector he turned out to be.
Josie’s soft smile
turned into a quizzical frown. “What are you thinking about?”
“Your dad.” He
shifted a little space between them, so that his thigh was no longer
touching the tempting warmth of hers. “This wasn’t my finest
moment. I took advantage of that big heart of yours. I needed...”
His deep sigh of remorse echoed in the truck. “I just needed.”
“You needed to
connect with someone who cared. Someone who would listen and let
you feel what you needed to.” She zipped her jacket and folded her
arms across her middle. Was she cold? Rafe slid over to the
steering wheel and pulled out his keys to start the truck and turn
on the heater.
“Yeah, well I
should have stopped at talking.”
“Not your strong
suit,” she teased. “You’ve always been a more physical being.”
“I told Aaron I
would always take care of you. Tonight, I just used you.”
“Hey, I’m not a
naive girl anymore. You’re not my first, Rafe, so I knew what I was
doing. It’s not like you forced me.”
He found her
crystal blue eyes across the cab, saw them blanch wide and then
darken. She turned in her seat, turning the argument back on him.
“You would have stopped if I’d asked. But I didn’t want you to
stop. Sometimes a relationship works that way. One partner needs
more than the other at a given time. It’s a mutual give and take.”
“We don’t have a
relationship like that.”
“Would that be such
a bad thing?”
Oh, yeah. He was
not relationship material. Definitely not with his former partner’s
daughter. After tonight, he might not even be friend material. “My
emotions were out of control. That was a mistake.”
She sat up ramrod
straight, her Irish temper coloring her cheeks. “Making love was a
mistake? Or feeling something was a mistake?”
Making love? She
thought that wham-bam-thank you, ma’am, was how it was supposed to
be between a man and a woman? Just what kind of jerks had she been
dating, who hadn’t shown her how good it could be if a man took his
time and... Ah, hell. Put on the brakes. Don’t go there.
He squeezed his
hands around the steering wheel. “I’m sorry, Jose. I made a
promise to your dad to take care of you. I’m sorry.”
I always figured it would be intense with you. That’s kind of
exciting. And you know I... care about you.”
And he cared about
her. But he couldn’t keep trouble away or screen those jerks or
even make sure she got safely to her car when she worked too late if
his senses were blurred by his emotions and his focus was distracted
by long legs and lush lips and that gorgeous fall of dark hair. He
could hardly do right by her if he was the trouble. “Look, I
already failed Patrick. I couldn’t keep him off drugs and out of
jail. I don’t want to mess up what we have.”
“Rafe, what about
what I want?”
He opened his door
and stepped out into the night. The bracing night air filled his
lungs and cleared his head of her lingering scent. “You’ve got
class in the morning and you need to get home. I need to get back
to the Precinct garage and get the SWAT van cleaned up and refitted
for our next call.”
She grabbed her
backpack and climbed out her side of the truck. “You have to do
Oh, yeah. He
needed to get his hands busy doing something besides itching to
reach for Josie again. He needed to busy his mind with a task where
he didn’t have to second-guess his every move. “I’m a jerk, okay?”
“Please stop. It
hurts me to hear you talk like this.”
“I never wanted to
hurt you. I don’t want things to change between us. I want you to
be able to trust me. I need you to trust me. Nothing like
that will ever happen again. I promise.” After she unlocked her
car, he opened the door for her and waited while she slid behind the
wheel. Man, he wished she’d let him pick out something more
reliable than this rattletrap for her. At least she let him change
the oil and keep the motor tuned up and running as well as a beater
car like this one could. “Go on, I’ll wait to make sure your car
starts. I’ll see you next time you work at the Shamrock.”
She turned the
key. Once the engine growled to life, he started to leave. But
Josie put out her arm to keep him from shutting the door. “Just for
the record? You weren’t a jerk for making love to me. Now
you’re being a jerk.”
Of that he had no
He jumped back as
she slammed the door, knowing he deserved worse. Once inside his
truck, he followed her out of the parking lot but turned in the
opposite direction toward his condo. He’d better be keeping a lot
more than a few miles of physical distance between them. What the
hell was he thinking? That was the problem--he hadn’t been
Josie’s skin was
cool and pale in the frosty moonlight. Her touch was so gentle, so
certain. He’d gotten more drunk on her lips than the beer she’d
served him earlier that night. And her body--her tall, lithe, sweet
body with those long legs snugged around him...
“Son of a bitch.”
He was breaking out in a sweat that had nothing to do with the
heater in his truck.
Nichols was his friend. His unofficial ward. His penance for
letting his friend and mentor die ten years ago.
She was pretty and
kind and sexy and funny, and strictly off-limits. And yet, for
several mindless minutes tonight, she’d been everything he needed.
Exactly what he needed.
He’d been a rutting
bull who’d taken advantage of her friendship and compassionate
nature. Hell, he’d barely gotten a condom on and hadn’t even asked
if she was on the pill. In his saner days before this one he hadn’t
wanted to know if his sweet, hardworking buddy was sleeping with
anyone. She was either working one of several part-time jobs,
studying or going to school, so he knew she didn’t have much time to
date. He hadn’t even had the presence of mind to make sure that
she’d found the completion he had.
He was a jerk. A
lonesome, selfish, let-friends-and-children-die-on-his-watch jerk.
He’d been on his own since high-school for a reason. And it wasn’t
just because he’d severed all ties with his worthless parents, he’d
become obsessed with his job and the sweetheart he’d been engaged to
had left him. He was alone because he couldn’t make a relationship
with a woman work.
But he could find
solace in her beautiful, willing body.
Rafe picked up
speed and merged into the late night traffic that was mostly big
rigs at this time of night on Interstate 435, and waited for the
lightning bolt of her late father’s spirit, or his own troubled
conscience, to strike him dead.
What is the name of the bar where Josie works?
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PROTECTING THE PREGNANT WITNESS
2011, 2015 by
reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A.
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