Can the man of Lauren’s dreams save her from the man in her nightmares?
Wes Dunlop was a hot commodity in high school and the ruin of good reputations, so it was easy to criticize the guy when his sister did it too. Then Lauren McKay actually met her best friend’s brother, and she was intrigued. When he came to her rescue, she was doomed. Afraid to admit her change of heart, Lauren hid her secret from both of them.
Fifteen years later Wes is back. Now a dedicated cop, he’s determined to win Lauren—the girl he can’t forget and the only one his sister demanded he leave alone. But he finds that Lauren’s life is a lot more complicated than he imagined.
Personal tragedy made Lauren a fierce defender of battered women. However, when a dangerous gunman tracks his wife to Lauren’s shelter, the protector becomes the target. Her life suddenly in the balance, nothing will stop Wes from doing everything in his power to rescue her.
Lauren sighed in defeat. Wes wore his maturity well, damn him. How was she supposed to get over him now, when he looked even more fantastic? Gone was the boy and in his place stood a man, taller perhaps, his masculine body still lean but more substantial, muscular in a way he never was before. His youthful frame now carried the promise of what it once only hinted at. Lauren was lost all over again, this time with a woman’s experience, a woman’s knowledge, a woman’s appreciation, and it made her familiar response to Wes even more powerful.
Her body felt alive again, her circulatory system a veritable superhighway firing her champagne-like blood to every extremity. She couldn’t sit still and she couldn’t walk it off because there was work to do. Unfortunately, she was incapable of concentrating on anything but Wes. Long ago he’d aroused her body and stirred her girlish emotions, but after seeing him today she simply wasn’t equipped to handle the system overload. Without even trying he’d turned her into a basket case all over again. She couldn’t rein her reaction in. She couldn’t even scream or run away and hide from her turbulent emotions. What she needed was a good cleansing cry. Then, maybe she could find her way back to calm.
Jackie poked her head in the door, her long black curls swinging. “Are you still here? I thought you’d be gone two hours ago.”
Lauren looked at the clock and rubbed her eyes. “I guess I lost track of time.”
Jackie plopped into the chair across the desk and drooped back, letting her hands hang limp over the arms of the chair. “So what’s wrong? You’ve been off all day.”
Lauren glanced evasively out the window and Jackie burst out, “No way. That was him?”
“Him who?" She snorted. “Give me a break. Him! The guy you’ve been carrying a silent suffering torch for all these years.”
Lauren clunked her forehead onto her desk and covered the back of her head with her arms. “Yes,” she groaned.
“So that’s it. I can see how he got you all twisted up years ago. He’s smoking hot. What are you gonna do about him?”
Lauren looked up, supporting her face on her hands. “Who says I have to do anything?”
“Well, aren’t you a little chicken shit?”
Lauren scowled. “Just what do you expect me to do, march up to him and say, ‘oh, by the way, did you know you’ve had a starring role in my fantasy life for fifteen years’? He’d call in the padded truck, or maybe take out a restraining order against me.”
“Only if you start following him around with binoculars.” Jackie laughed. “Honey, honestly, Hot Shot looked pretty jazzed to see you. Trust me on this one. He was checking you out so hard he should’ve strained something.”
“Wes has never looked at me like that. Ever.”
“You’re blind or in denial, or…I don’t know what.”
Lauren chanced a hopeful peek at Jackie. “You think?”
“I’ve got eyes, and so does he from what I could see, and they were fixed on you—big time. Although, it probably would have been better if you weren’t standing there looking like you’d just swallowed your gum or something.”
“Cut me some slack. I wasn’t prepared. I never expected to see Wes again, so I was in shock, not to mention the timing totally sucked. We had a family to welcome.”
Jackie leaned forward, her plump half smile and endearing dimple making an appearance. “So has he changed much?”
Lauren moaned. “Oh God, he’s even better. This is so unfair! As if the Wes in my head weren’t enough to contend with, now I have to try and cope with the new and improved version?”
“You should call him up and invite him out for a drink or something.”
“Oh sure, let’s just see what I blurt out after I’ve had a glass of wine—and that’s the best scenario. The one that really scares the hell out of me is where I launch myself at the guy and give him his own personal lap dance.”
Jackie burst out laughing and slapped the arm of her chair. “You? Miss prim and proper? Girl, I’d pay good money to see that!” She was laughing so hard she had to dab her eyes to save her makeup. “Honey, I’m just glad to hear you have a fantasy life. It helps somehow.”
“Well, you are kind of dull.”
Lauren hit her with wounded eyes, and Jackie held up a pacifying hand. “In a nice way, but you know what I mean.”