ExcerptLOVERS IN HIDING
"Hide and Seek, Book 3"
Harlequin Intrigue® #644
Mass Market Paperback
Publisher: Harlequin Books
Pub. Date: December 2001
Damn it. I told you to breathe."
Her eyelids fluttered. Maybe she responded to the urgency in his tone. Maybe her lungs needed time to fill with air, but whatever the reason, he couldn't have been more relieved when she coughed.
Her trembling hand rose to her head and she mumbled, "Hurts."
Her eyes opened, and her pupils were very large, surrounded by the creamiest hew of caramel iris he'd ever seen. Dark hair covered her forehead, and when he smoothed back the wet strands, he discovered a lump the size of a golf ball on her forehead.
He held up two fingers. "How many?"
"Great, you're seeing double."
"That's why there's two of you," she muttered, then closed her eyes.
"Oh, no you don't. Melinda, you can't go to sleep. You have a head injury. Maybe a concussion."
Helpless, she lay in his arms, but at least her deadly gray pallor had receded to a much more healthy-looking olive tone. "You need a doctor."
"I need" Her eyes suddenly opened again, and she bolted into a sitting position, wincing at the pain the effort cost her.
"Who are you?" She sounded as suspicious as an operative on his first assignment, and he almost smiled. He supposed many women might be frightened by his appearance, black leather pants and a black t-shirt--all sopping wet. His size alone could intimidate most men, and he hadn't bothered shaving this morning, so his jaw sported more than a five-o'clock shadow. For her to wake up in the arms of a stranger had to be unnerving, especially one as scruffy looking as he probably looked. Of course, she wasn't exactly ready for a beauty pageant either--not with that bump on her head that was starting to turn a wicked shade of purple or with her tight tank top plastered to her breasts and short shorts that outlined her hips and muscular thighs. Instead she appeared a prime candidate for a wet t-shirt competition.
Thank God, a man like him would never be attracted to his charge. He didn't go for petite, curvy brunettes with eyes like melted taffy. He preferred his women, cool, blond and intellectual. Melinda Murphy, with her delicate jaw, and suspicious glare looked precisely like the type of woman who was trouble with a capital T.
She'd nearly died, he reminded himself and she wasn't out of danger, yet. He didn't want to scare her by mentioning the men after her, not while her hands trembled and her eyes reflected confusion.
"I'm Clay Rogan. When I saw your car go under--"
Bewilderment filled her eyes, and she frowned, her full lips forming a lusty pout full of suspicion. "My car? Under water?"
"I'm lucky I got you out. I'm afraid I couldn't do much about the--."
Her head jerked back and forth in denial, her eyes wildly searched the churning waves as if she'd lost a dear friend. Her bottom lip quivered. Oh, hell, she was going to cry. "Don't cry."
He hated when women cried, because then he gave in to their demands and hated himself for it later. Only this half-drowned mermaid wasn't making demands. Yet she was so suspicious of him that he didn't know whether to feel sorry for her. Her eyes brimmed.
"Don't," he repeated, softly but firmly, like he would to an injured child.
She paid absolutely no attention to his demand. Tears overflowed her eyes and rolled down her cheeks.
He bit back a curse and gently lifted her into his lap, cradling her against his chest, tucking her head beneath his chin. Her entire body shook, a sob escaped and instead of offering her additional reassurances, his first thought was how holding her in his arms made him feel like keeping her there for a long time. She had a toned body, teasing curves and a bottom lip he wanted to taste.
What the hell was wrong with him? Forcing his thoughts back to practical matters wasn't easy, usually his focused mind stayed on the subjects he intended it to. But her combination of strength and defenselessness called to him on a level he couldn't quite comprehend. He only knew he had to regain control of himself, before he did something stupid--like kiss her.
"Are you in pain? You need a doctor?"
"Not a doctor. I need a psychiatrist."
A shrink? Was she crazy?
Actually he must be the insane one around here. She wanted a shrink. And he wanted to kiss her. What kind of a secret agent was he anyway? A bad one.
Damn it! This mission would be hard enough with a reasonably sane woman. And Melinda Murphy seemed anything but reasonable. Or sane. In fact she hadn't made much sense since the moment she'd opened those soulful toffee-colored eyes and raised his protective armor.
Perhaps he needed to humor her. "Okay. Why do you need a psychiatrist?"
"Because I have no memory."