"Hide and Seek, Book 2"
Harlequin Intrigue® #640
Mass Market Paperback
ISBN: 0373226403
Publisher: Harlequin Books
Pub. Date: November 2001

Alexandra didn't want to take him on again.  Kicking his shin had hurt her foot. Slapping his ear had stung her hand. He'd been one giant slab of solid muscle.

Looking wildly for a hiding space, she eyed the garbage Dumpster.  Yanking open the lid, she ignored the awful smell, tossed her purse and her brother's envelope inside and she scrambled over. She landed softly on her feet, making little noise.  Her pursuer pounded around the corner just as she ducked out of sight.

She had no time to close the top. But if she had, the smell might have suffocated her. While the Dumpster had been emptied recently, except for a few tidy plastic garbage bags in one corner a few rotting onions, rotten banana peels and maybe some decayed meat. She tried to convince herself that the odor wasn't so bad. The foul smell helped her control her ragged breathing as she tried to remain still, quiet.

If only she hadn't come home from work, but she'd needed a shower after inspecting the dusty job site. And then she'd gone over the plans again . . .   Now she really needed a shower.

She held her breath as her pursuer walked past. She didn't dare peer over the side to see which man still pursued her. She didn't dare call out for help.  In the middle of May, at the beginning of the week, the kids were still at school, their parents at work, the complex mostly empty.

And she'd left her cell phone in her car.

She heard the footsteps retreat and let out a quiet sigh of relief.  But then the steps returned, steady, measured steps.  He was heading straight for the Dumpster, and her heart raced so hard, she thought it might burst through her ribs.

She crouched low next to the filthy side, ignoring the grease, old dirt and who knew how many billions of germs. When the big man peered inside and his eyes found hers, she expected to see anger or annoyance. She expected him to grab her.  Shoot her.

But he chuckled.


It was a deep chuckle without the least hint of malice.  She didn't care how nice a chuckle he had, she backed until her feet tripped up against the plastic bags.

Alexandra tried not to stare but couldn't help herself.   When she'd been struggling in his grasp, she hadn't really looked at him.  But at five feet away, it would been impossible not to see this man's flaws—if he had any.   But she saw no blemishes.  No moles.  Not even a chipped tooth.  He was absolutely stunningly gorgeous, a fact she'd missed in her battle with him on her terrace.  Terror alone could have made her unaware of his movie star attractiveness as she'd fled from him earlier.  This guy's face was the kind women fantasized over, and naturally, the extraordinary face came packaged with a body worth dying for.

  He smiled at her and of course he had perfect teeth, too.   And he knew it.  His smile seemed to say come-out, come-out, I'm really one of the good guys.

"You can come out now."

Imagine that.  He'd just told her she was safe—so naturally he expected her to believe it.  If she wasn't frightened half to death and partly mesmerized by his gorgeous good looks, she would have laughed as he actually put her thoughts into words.  Naturally he had a deep, melodic knock-your-socks-off baritone to go with the rest of his perfection.  Not once did she take her gaze from his face.   Besides the bluest of blue eyes she'd ever seen, he had swarthy-toned skin, the kind that didn't require hours in the sun to tan, a straight aristocratic nose and gleaming white teeth.  His black hair was cut short, neat and tidy over the ears.   And he wore clothes as if he was born to model.  A navy sports jacket emphasized broad shoulders, a white shirt accentuated his acre-sized chest, and khaki slacks, none the least bit rumpled from his fight, flaunted slender hips.  The only thing menacing about him besides his huge size was the five-o'clock shadow that underscored his tough-guy jaw.

"Look, I'm Roarke Stone.  Didn't your brother tell you to expect me?"