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CONTESTS & FUN

with USA TODAY Bestselling Author 

Julie Miller!

 

April Book GiveAway!
Deadline to enter April 24th.

 

Make Mine a Marine Boxed Set by Julie Miller

Congratulations to Lorre Morris. She won my March Book GiveAway, and selected an e-copy of IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE for her Kindle. Like many of you, she knew that the heroine's dog in PROTECTING PLAIN JANE was named Max. Thanks to everyone who entered!

To celebrate the release of my very first Julie Miller anthology, MAKE MINE A MARINE, which features 3 full-length romantic suspense novels, I picked an excerpt from one of the anthology stories, ALWAYS FAITHFUL. The "Lucky" winner will receive a title from my backlist--print or ebook, winner's choice! Please specify the title you're interested in, and print or ebook when you enter. To enter,
read the new excerpt from ALWAYS FAITHFUL, answer an easy question, and email me your answer, title & format preference and location. Deadline to enter is April 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 www.juliemiller.org and 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.


MEET JULIE!

 April 7th

Intrigue Authors Group Blog

July 23 - 26th

Romance Writers of America Conference, San Antonio, TX (Workshop & Booksigning)

 July 30th

Get Lost In A Story Blog

 

Julie in Atlanta, GA at the 2013 RWA National Conference

Julie with good buddy B.J. Daniels

Delores Fossen, Julie Miller, B.J. Daniels


 

RECENT APPEARANCES

Julie Miller at the PRW 20th Anniversary

 
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, NE
 
Prairieland Romance Writers celebrates 20 years of excellence in romance fiction!

 

Author Julie Miller

Authors Scott and Julie Miller

Kearney, NE Booksigning, The Sequel Bookshop
Julie Miller, and Scott & Julie Miller

 

Independence, MO Booksigning
L-R Saranna DeWylde, Julie Miller, Janette Kenney, Sherri Shackelford, Cheryl St. John
 

Julie in New York City at the 2011 RWA National Conference
 

Julie Miller--Times Square

View of Times Square from Julie's hotel room
 

Julie Miller @ Transformers movie premiere

Julie at the Transformers movie premiere (Hi, Bumblebee!)

Julie Miller--Times Sqaure & Broadway

Times Square and Broadway

Julie Miller--RWA NYC 2011

My roomie, Elle James, Brenda Jackson, and my agent Pattie Steele-Perkins at the RWA booksigning

Julie Miller--RWA NYC 2011

The massive Literacy Autographing at RWA
 

 

 

Julie in Los Angeles, CA, at the 2011 RT BOOKreviews Convention
 

""The Do's & Dont's of Series Romance " workshop with Judy Duarte, Candace Havens, Julie Miller and B.J. Daniels.

"Lights! Camera! Party! the Series Romance Way" Reader Event
Back row: Kira Sinclair, HelenKay Dimon, B.J. Daniels, Lynn Raye Harris
Middle row: Judy Duarte, Crystal Green, Rebecca York, Candace Havens, Janette Kenney, Jan Hambright, Delores Fossen, Brenda Jackson
Front row: Kathleen O'Reilly, Kimberly Lang, Jade Lee/Kathy Lyons, Carol Erickson, Julie Miller

 


At the Booksigning


View from my hotel The Westin Bonaventure  in downtown L.A.


Went to hear Dean Koontz speak. Delightfully witty and educational! (and one of my fave authors!)


Barn View from my hotel, the Hollywood sign in the distance up in the Hollywood Hills.

 

 

Always Faithful by Julie Miller

ALWAYS FAITHFUL
Copyright ©2000, Revised version 2014
by Julie Miller
Permission to reproduce text granted by Ladytech, Inc.

(Excerpt)
 

Make Mine A Marine Boxed Set by Julie Miller

Once at their table, Emma sat straight as a pillar, with her purse in her lap, and darted sidelong glances at the passing patrons and railroad-themed decor. Was the place not classy enough to meet her standards?

She'd chosen to wear casual gray slacks and a sweater instead of something more formal. Even dressed-down, she carried herself with an understated elegance that garnered intrigued glances. Drew had hoped to keep things low-key so they could talk. He didn't want to worry about using the right fork or whether his black sweater passed a certain dress code.

Maybe he wasn't up to her standards. He'd been touched by her concern over the phone that morning.  Paying visits to ratty neighborhoods wasn't a new thing for him, but having someone worry about getting in late was. A four-hour nap had left him feeling refreshed enough to be able to match wits with Emma. Bantering or business-themed, time spent in her company was quickly becoming an addictive thing.

He liked the challenge of her shrewd mind, and was fascinated by the duality of her character. She was at once killer corporate executive and caring, compassionate nurturer. Her appearance even reflected that contrast, with her tall, strong body and those incredible legs. He closed his eyes for a moment to picture the long, sexy curves hidden beneath the tailored wool flannel she wore. He opened his eyes and looked across the table into the gentle sweetness of her freckled face. She could get a man hotter than an August afternoon, or bring out every primal, protective urge he possessed, depending on which personality she emphasized.

Drew had hoped for the sweet-faced mother tonight. Instead, he realized a tad late, Ms. Tall-Dark-and-Dangerous-to-His-Libido had climbed into the car at six-thirty on the dot.

Fine. He could do cool and impersonal, too. He opened his menu and pretended an interest in the memorized list of items. The first words at the table came from the forty-something waitress with bleached blond hair.

"Gallagher!" She punched his shoulder and cheered him with a smile. "Haven't seen you in ages. How are you gettin' along?"

He folded his menu and smiled. "Fine, thanks, Jody."

She picked up his hand and pinched the skin between his thumb and forefinger. The clicking of her tongue carried to the next table, but he didn't mind. "I don't think so. You get leaner and meaner every time I see you. You eatin' enough red meat?"

He twisted his mouth to keep the grin from spreading. "I'm counting on you to fatten me up."

Jody saluted him with two fingers to her brow, and Drew knew an unexpected satisfaction in seeing her accept the good-hearted mission. People should have a purpose, he thought. They always felt better about themselves and did better work if they understood their purpose.

Every man has his job. And every job is important.

He heard the words in his mind. Heard them in his own voice. No, another man's voice. But he spoke the words. He glimpsed a snapshot memory of another place and another time. Papers, maps spread before him.

Drew flattened his palms on the table and leaned forward, snatching at the papers, snatching at the dream.

He opened his eyes and saw the gold napkin clutched in his fist. He didn't understand where he was, or what it meant.

"Drew?" Emma's cool fingers touched his fisted hand. "Is something wrong?"

He blinked and looked up. Tiny lines grooved beside her eyes as she frowned. Drew captured her hand in his, grounding himself in the reality of her touch, focusing on the careworn hints of time and caring and sadness in her beautiful face.

"Don't be sad, lady," he reassured her. He hated when she looked so sad. He never wanted to be one of the things that deepened the lines beside her eyes.

"What?" Emma jerked her hand away, and the temporary warmth that had shaded her eyes vanished in a cold snap. "What did you say?"

Drew shook his head, stymied by his own confusion. He was a man without a memory, wasn’t he? So how the hell did the past and present get so screwed up in his mind?

He settled back in his chair and seized the first logical excuse that popped into his head. "Guess I'm more tired than I thought."

Although Emma had seemed to express genuine concern a moment earlier, the way she now squirmed in her seat without taking her wary gaze off him didn't bode well for a relaxing dinner.

"You sure you're all right, Mr. Gallagher?" Consumed with his fractured memory and easing Emma's trepidation, he'd forgotten Jody's presence at the table.

"Yeah." He shrugged off her concern and ordered a beer. "Whatever you have on tap."

"Right." He'd ruined her exuberance with his inexplicable behavior, but she seemed to take it in stride better than Emma. "How about you, ma'am?"

"Coffee." Her pinched look eased for the waitress's benefit. "And ice water, please."

"Coming right up."

With Jody's departure, Emma caught her bottom lip between her teeth again. Drew recognized the subtle habit. A clear sign of distress.

"Is it all right if I have a drink?" he asked. "I may be on your payroll now, but dinner's on me."

"I'm not worried about the money."

He clasped his hands together on the tabletop. "What are you worried about?"

Her hot gaze snapped to his, then just as quickly froze over. "I don't drink."

"Does it bother you that I do?"

"Your habits are no concern of mine. But if you have more than that one beer before we're done, I'm driving."

He wasn't sure how to explain his opinion about drinking. He'd forgotten enough of his life already; it made no sense to indulge a behavior that might make him forget more. "I don't plan to get drunk."

"I'm glad to hear it."

"You gonna tell me why?"

"Are you going to tell me why you called me lady?"

Drew backed off, wondering if maybe she was as addled in the head as he. "Isn't it obvious? You've got a lot of class. Of course I'm going to call you a lady."

She clutched her purse like a shield and leaned forward. "Not a lady. Lady. A nickname. You called me lady."

"You want me to call you Legs or Honey?"

"My husband called me Lady."

A long swallow of that cold beer sounded pretty damn good right about now. Maybe he'd just dive in head first. But the desire to make a hasty apology faded with the return of her defensive posture.

"Em, you've been on edge since I pulled into the parking lot. I understand you may not want to socialize with me. But this is a respectable enough place to conduct business. Your nose was out of joint long before I let the lady thing slip. Why?"

Glints of light shimmered in her hair at the quick shake of her head. "Why did you choose this place? Did you talk to Jas or BJ?"

"No. I discovered it a couple years back. Driving around town. I just ended up here. It felt . . . comfortable, when I walked in. I eat here once or twice a month now. The food's good. Simple. Plenty of it." He refused to justify himself further. "Do you always answer personal questions with another question?"

"Jonathan proposed to me here."

Her statement hung in the air like the final count of a boxing match.

Drew's shoulders sank with the depth of his sigh. He raked his fingers through his hair, shaking loose the tension from his scalp. "Why didn't you say something? There are hundreds of places to eat in Kansas City."

"I didn't think it would matter. But it does. I don't think I should be here with you." Her words tumbled all together. "I'm sorry. I know that sounds terribly rude. All the memories—I thought I could handle it, but . . . I can't."

In a flash of insight, Drew realized that the sadness that hung about her was a perpetual thing. For a brief moment, he'd been a cause of it. But his confusion passed and left him with a clear-minded purpose. He could do something to ease the load of worry and responsibility she carried so nobly. He didn't have the background to offer compassion.  He didn't have the trust to offer a friendly ear. But he did have the ability to take action, the means to provide information, and the instincts to protect her and the things she cared about.

Drew pulled two bills from his wallet and tossed them on the table. Issuing a silent invitation, he grabbed his jacket and escorted her out the door.

A blast of wind hit them, and Drew shifted to Emma's right side. He placed a guiding hand at the small of her back and shielded her from the force of the frigid air. In silent agreement, they quickened their pace along the sidewalk, then cut across an open lane to reach his black pickup truck.

With the best of P. I. Gallagher's habits ingrained in him, Drew scanned the parking lot for oncoming cars, unwelcome guests, and anything else that might look suspicious. He unlocked the passenger door first and held it open for Emma.

Before he could shut the door, she reached out and clasped his forearm. "I'm sorry. Please don't take this personally."

Her soft touch sensitized his skin through layers of leather and wool. Her gentle voice eased his guilt. Deep inside, her simple gesture took away the harm of his unintentional mistake. The raw, empty wound inside him ached with the need to be healed by this woman.

But he looked past her through the driver-side window without acknowledging the effect she had on him.

Two cars down. Tweed coat. Brown sedan. Dark, beady eyes looked away when Stan Begosian realized that Drew had him in his sights.

Drew pushed Emma into the truck and slammed the door. A car engine turned over as he raced around the hood and climbed in.

"What are you doing?" Emma gasped at his rudeness.

"Buckle your seat belt." He turned the key in the ignition. Begosian's brown sedan lurched out of its parking space.

"I always do."

Drew crunched the truck into gear. "Buckle it now!"

* * *

Emma obeyed the steel in his command without immediately understanding the urgency. The squeal of tires grabbing for traction on the wet pavement caught her attention an instant before Drew stomped his foot on the accelerator and she slammed back into the seat.

The black vinyl headrest saved her from a nasty case of whiplash. "What. . . ?"

A faded brown Chrysler sped out of the parking lot, cut in front of another car and skipped into the second lane of traffic. Drew spun his truck in two opposite ninety-degree angles, tossing her first into his shoulder, then back against the door. He ignored the clear path of the exit ramp and jumped his truck over the decorative berm that surrounded the restaurant's grounds.

"Hold on."

"Drew!" She gripped the dashboard and shoved her hand above her head to brace herself against the teeth-jarring ride.

"That little weasel," Drew muttered to himself.

Ignoring the whining echo of numerous car horns, he, too, cut across traffic and fell in behind the brown car at a climbing speed already well beyond the thirty-five m.p.h. limit.

He wove in and out of the two northbound lanes of traffic, bounced over an alley curb and closed in on his prey. Since Drew came up with no answer to her unspoken question, Emma tried to put herself into his position. She traced the line of his unblinking gaze and zeroed in on the object of his pursuit.

What she saw shifted her bewilderment from Drew to the driver of the Chrysler. "I saw that car this morning. Behind me in traffic."

"Figures."

She dropped her grip on the ceiling, her body adjusting to the pitch and roll of the wild ride. "Who is it? Why are you chasing him?"

"Our friend Begosian. We're being spied on, lady." She snapped her attention to the thin slash of his mouth. The endearment sounded foreign in his voice. But the shock of hearing it stabbed a little less painfully this time. He clenched his face in a disgusted frown and cursed. "Sorry. Emma."

That he would correct himself to spare her pain eased a hurtful place inside. It was a tiny gesture, but its sheltering concern penetrated her defensive reserve, warming her like a hug. It was a silly coincidence to hold against him, anyway. How could he possibly know what Jonathan had called her?

"It's all right." She climbed out of her righteous shell and joined the chase. She untucked her shoulder from its harness and reached across his lap to find his seat belt. With her cheek pressed to his side, she felt the rapid intake of breath that expanded his rib cage. She inhaled the rich scent of leather and Drew, and knew a sudden strength, an energizing rightness to working side by side with this man. She sat up straight and pulled the belt across his legs and chest and buckled him in. "Don't lose him."

He threw her a quick, questioning look, and she spread her lips into a wry grin. "Can't help it. I'm a mom."

His answering smile gleamed with pride. "You're a trooper." All at once he jerked the steering wheel to the left. Emma leaned to the right to counterbalance the sensation of spinning on two wheels. "Whoa. Hold on!" he warned.

"Where's he going?"

Drew glanced to the side. "Ritzy part of town." Emma clutched her armrest and squeezed nervously. "There are a lot of pedestrians here."

"And even more places to hide." Drew jammed on the brake and cursed. His arm shot out, catching her in the stomach and saving her from crashing into the dashboard. "Move it!" he yelled through the windshield.

A red sports car sat perpendicular in front of the truck, having screeched to a halt inches away from a horrible wreck. The driver traded mute insults with Drew through his closed window. Emma sent up a quick prayer of thanks that no one had been hurt, then followed with an equally brief request for Begosian to run out of gas or drop a carburetor as she watched his sedan turn a corner and disappear from sight.

"Don't panic yet." Drew's voice returned to its low-pitched rasp. "That's a dead-end street. He's got to turn into a parking garage or pull into a nightclub at the end of the block."

"You're sure?"

The red car zipped into the flow of cars and Drew followed at a much safer speed. "Watch on your side," he directed, pulling into the parking garage to search for Stan's car.

"I don't see him."

When they exited back onto the street, Drew pulled into a parking space beside a gambling club with a garish neon sign that said Lucky’s. "Stay put," Drew commanded, setting the parking brake but leaving the engine running. He unzipped his jacket and reached inside. Despite the heater, Emma shivered when she glimpsed the shiny silver color of his gun.

"What are you going to do?"

He turned to her and squeezed her hand, kneading warmth into her fingers with his and dispelling the chill in her heart with the rasp of his voice "Since I don't see him climbing any rooftops, I'm assuming he went in there."

She looked at the crowd of people standing in line outside the spotlighted double doors, waiting to get in. "How will you find him in that mess?"

He brushed a tendril of hair from her face and tucked it behind her ear. The soft fingertips of his leather glove caressed her cheek, calmed her, and left a trail of unexpected warmth in their wake. "He thinks like a cockroach. I can think the same way.”

"What if he sees you first?"

"He won't."

A blast of cold air broke the spell that had her believing his confident words. But he was gone before she could voice her resurging doubts. She watched as his distinctive golden head merged with the line of patrons. Since he was a bit taller than most of them, she could still see him when he passed through to the other side. She watched his fluid progress until he disappeared around the corner of the building. A side door? she wondered. Think like a cockroach. Avoid the light and slink into the darkness.

She half praised him, half worried when she decided he must have a set of lock-picking tools on him. He'd be just fine, she told herself. She'd read that cockroaches had the survival skills necessary to survive a nuclear holocaust. Drew could survive this.

She gasped aloud when she saw one of the big, beefy bouncers leave his position at the front door and trail along the brick wall, following Drew's path. Her eyes widened to a painful circumference. Did roaches know when a trap had been set? How could she warn him? What should she do?

"Make it up as I go," she chided herself. She hid her purse beneath the seat, turned off the engine, and pocketed Drew's keys. She locked the truck behind her, draped her scarf over her ears, and plunged into the crowd.

Flying by the seat of her pants was not her style. She liked to plan. Even better, she liked to make a backup plan. She needed predictability. She craved security.

She peeked around the corner and saw nothing but darkness. The streetlight illuminated just the top floors of the building back here, enough to reveal that the brass lamp above the side door had burned out. She squinted into the dim shadows, searching for a sign of Drew or the bouncer.

"Hey!" The gruff voice came from the side, not ahead of her. Emma took advantage of the darkness and ducked into the shadows as the brawny security man shouted, not at her but at a cherubic-faced teenage girl trying not to be noticed from her place in line. The bouncer grabbed the girl by the arm and walked her to the curb. "Does your mama know where you are?" She shook her head. He whistled for a cab. "You gotta be twenty-one to get in here, babe. Go home."

A gloved hand clamped onto Emma's shoulder and dragged her back into the alley. A second hand muffled her startled yelp. She quickly recognized Drew's familiar scent and ceased to struggle, but his grip held firm. He half dragged, half carried her back through the propped side doorway.

Inside, a cacophony of music and the louder drone of conversation assaulted her ears. Her eyes adjusted to the light, and she could see they were in a storage area sectioned off by plywood walls and black curtains.

Drew kicked out the doorstop, pushed open the door, and pulled her into a partitioned cubby filled with crated bottles of liquor. He released her to pull the curtain shut behind them.

"Did you see the bouncer?" she whispered, giving voice to her concern. "I thought he spotted you. I thought I could distract him. That girl did instead. I hope she's okay."

Drew wrapped his hands around her shoulders and flattened her against the wall. His eyes glowed with an unearthly light through the lenses of his glasses, and she fell silent. The energy of his rage quaked through her bones.

"Damn it, Em. When I tell you to stay put, stay put."

 

Question:  What is the name of the gambling club Drew and Emma follow the bad guy to?

   

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FREE BONUS READ
 
 
TACTICAL ADVANTAGE
(Excerpt)
By
Julie Miller
©2013
 
 

 

 
 

Epilogue

 
 
1 1/2 months later
 
            “Reitzie.”  Annie lifted the lazy Siamese from the domino tumble of picture frames on the mantel where he was lounging while Nick carried up their overnight bags from their weekend getaway to St. Louis.  She set the cat on the floor and shooed him off to find where his counterpart, G.B., was hiding.
            In between unbuttoning her coat and untying the pink scarf that Grandma Connie had knit for her, she straightened one beloved picture after another.  When she reached the mutilated photo from the Baseball Hall of Fame, she smiled.  Without feeling one pang of regret, she opened up her paisley messenger bag and pulled out one of the souvenir post cards she’d bought on their trip and quickly swapped out the old picture for the new one.  She crumpled the memory of her ex-fiancé in her fist and tossed it into the trash.
            “There.”  Annie was admiring the new picture of Busch Stadium in St. Louis, and the new memory it represented, when Nick came in.  He locked the door behind him and hung up their coats.  She pulled the new picture on the mantel to a more prominent position.  “That’s better.”
            Nick came up behind her to wind an arm around her waist and doff a salute to the statue of Stan ‘the Man’ Musial.  “Much better.  Maybe Stan and your dad are up in heaven playing some catch right now.”
            Feeling a pang of melancholy, Annie leaned back against his solid warmth, and found even more comfort when he slipped the other arm around her as well, and pressed a kiss against her cheek.  The sadness quickly passed and she folded her hands over his, soaking in all the miraculous changes in her life since that fateful New Year’s Eve.
            She had a reason to celebrate the holidays now.
            She had a family--one that was bigger, crazier, more accepting and loving than any she could have imagined for herself.
            She wasn’t alone anymore.
            She had Nick.
            On New Year’s Day, Nick Fensom had promised her seventy-two hours of personal protection and free chauffeur’s service.  Now, he’d promised her a lifetime together.
            Annie held up her left hand and marveled at the beauty and symbolism of the simple diamond solitaire he’d given her on Valentine’s Day.
            He cupped her outstretch hand in his, angling it to catch the light in each facet.  “Happy?”
            She nodded.  “More than I have been in...”  She laced her fingers with his and pulled his arm back to complete the snug warmth of the embrace.  “...I don’t know how long.  You gave me a family, Nick.  You make me feel like I belong somewhere, like I belong to someone, like I’m never going to feel alone again. 
            “Yeah, but do you love me?”
            “Of course, I do.”
            “Well, a guy wonders, you know, because, um... technically, you never said yes.”
            Annie spun around in his arms, mortified.  “I didn’t?”
            Despite the grin, he was shaking his head as he twirled a lock of her hair between his index finger and thumb.  “As I recall, you burst into tears, blubbered some stuff about how happy your dad would be that I asked you to marry me in front of Musial’s statue, and then you started kissing me.”  Annie arched a skeptical brow as his handsome blue eyes met hers and the Irish bluster continued.  “Now, while I’m not opposed to that sort of activity, sometimes you’re hard to read--and it can be a little tricky on a man’s ego not to be entirely sure.”
            Annie caught his face between her hands.  “Do you really have any doubts about how much I love you?  What was it you once told me?  You’ll know when I make a promise to you.”
            “Pretty pithy stuff, huh?”
            She pulled his face closer to hers and stroked her thumb across his mouth.  “Then let me make this promise to you, Nicholas Fensom--I love you.  I need you in my life.  I want to be your wife.”  She stretched up to press a kiss to his lips before standing back to raise her right hand and lay her left over his heart.  “In front of Mom, Dad, Stan and the cats... my answer is yes.”
            Nick’s grin was devilish as he wound his arms around her and pulled her hips up against his.  “I liked all the kissing better.”
            “You...”  She smacked his shoulder, taking care to avoid the newly healed wound that could have killed him when he saved her life.  The crime lab building was under repair as well, and both the detective and the lab were back at work.  “You’re terrib--”
            With a laugh, Nick’s mouth covered hers, ending the teasing, demanding that she prove with her heart and body what her words had already confessed.  And Annie willingly accepted the challenge.  Nick slid his deliciously warm hands beneath her sweater and dipped his tongue into her mouth.  Annie’s fingers went to the hem of Nick’s shirt, untucking it from his jeans, taking the same liberties to stroke and touch and grab that he took with her.
            His thighs crowded against her, driving her back into the arm of the sofa.  Annie wrapped her arms around his neck and turned, steering him around the couch.  He pulled her along with him a couple of steps, drawing his tongue along that sensitive bundle of nerves beneath her ear.  “I love the way your mind thinks.”
            “I love the way your--”  He gently nipped the spot and Annie gasped, shuddering with desire.
            She tugged on his belt buckle as Nick’s seductive assault backed her into the wall.  His hands were under her sweater again, making it difficult to recall the rest of her sentence.  But the power of his kiss, the need of his hands, the hardness of his body made her realize that words were no longer necessary.  The tension that had simmered between them from their very first meeting blazed into white-hot passion.  They were yin and yang.  Opposites attracting and completing each other.  Perfectly in sync.  Perfect together.
            Nick pulled her away from the wall to sweep the sweater off over her head, exposing her torso to the chilly air of her apartment.  But he palmed her bottom and lifted her up against him, singeing her body with the solid heat of his.  Annie wrapped her legs around his hips as he reclaimed her mouth and stumbled to the bedroom.  There, in a flurry of dropping clothes and stolen kisses, they fell onto the bed together.
            There was no more teasing, no more debate, no more doubt about the unexpected love they’d found together.  Nick sheathed himself and settled between her legs as Annie impatiently drew him down on top of her.  There was nothing wounded about his compact, beautifully toned body beyond the scar on his shoulder.  He was fit and fine and sexier than than the box score of a perfect game as he began to move inside her.
            His fingers tangled into her hair as he thrust himself in to the hilt and whispered against her ear.  “I love you, Annie.  I love you.”
            Believing that promise with all her heart, she let go and flew over the edge into pure bliss with him.
                                                                        #
            The cats had joined them in bed, anchoring the quilt around Annie’s toasty feet, when stereo pagers went off sometime later.  She startled awake, pushing aside cats and covers to reach for her phone on the bedside table while Nick rolled to sit up on his side to retrieve his phone from his jeans on the floor.
            “It’s work.”  They announced in unison.
            “I’ll call in.”  Nick pulled on his shorts and jeans and tossed her the pants she’d worn earlier.  “You get some clothes on before you distract me again.”
            As alert and worried as she’d been replete and content moments earlier, she quickly dressed.  A call from Dispatch before the sun was up could never be a good thing.  The grim look on Nick’s face echoed as much as he called his partner’s number.
            “Spence?  It’s Nick.”  Annie tiptoed around the bed and Nick circled his arm around her, drawing her close.  “Yeah, we’re both here.”
            Annie caught most of the conversation with the task force commander, and was glad she’d packed her spare kit in the back of Nick’s Jeep.  The men the Cleaner had blackmailed into killing Annie and destroying evidence were either dead or jailed.  The only one who’d survived the assault on the crime lab had been unable to give them a usable description of the woman who’d recruited him because all the arrangements, from impersonating police officers to infiltrating the lab, had gone through Raj Kapoor.  But, thanks to her and Nick, they had a trace sample to identify the rapist’s blood type, and a fingerprint they could match to the Cleaner--once they got the right suspect in custody.  It was evidence that could help put them both away in prison for a very, very long time.
            But the grim report from Spencer Montgomery reminded them both that there was more work to be done.  Nick ended the call and pressed a kiss to Annie’s temple.
            “Time to go to work, slugger.”  He strapped on his gun and his badge.  “The Rose Red Rapist has struck again.  We’ve got another crime scene.”

 


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