Not Without Her Family

not without her familyHarlequin Superromance – June 2008

ISBN: 978-0-373-71496-4

Everyone deserves a second chance.

She claims she has to make things right…

It’s nothing but trouble for Jack Martin, chief of police, when Kelsey Reagan blows into town. Her ex-con brother just became the prime suspect in a murder, and this “reformed” bad girl vows to prove he’s innocent. Even blames herself for her brother’s jail record—for her brother’s convicted crime.

And now Jack’s precocious young daughter is beginning to idolize Kelsey.

But an error in judgment nearly cost the widowed cop his career once; he’s never going to let that happen again. Not even for a gorgeous troublemaker like Kelsey.

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Heart pounding in anticipation, Kelsey kept her eyes open and on Jack’s as he closed the distance separating them. He brushed his lips against her mouth. Once. Twice. Three times. Her eyes fluttered shut when he settled his mouth on hers.

She sighed softly. Yes. This is what she’d wanted.

Contrary to the hunger that practically emanated from him, he didn’t devour her, didn’t overwhelm her. Despite his hand on her head and his arm around her waist, he kept the kiss gentle. Soft. Controlled.

He raised his head, breaking contact. “That was a mistake.”

Kelsey lifted her heavy lids and blinked away the thick haze of desire. That was it?

Jack stared down at her, his expression hot with want, his mouth tight with tension. He began to pull back, removing his hand from under her shirt.

Oh, no. No way. She tightened her grip on him. He wasn’t going to back away now. She wouldn’t allow him to pretend that meager excuse for a kiss had been enough for him.

Dammit, she wanted satisfaction.

“Yeah, that probably was a mistake,” she agreed. And she pulled his mouth back to hers.

His deep groan reverberated against her lips. He slanted his warm mouth over hers as he took command of the kiss, deepening it until her limbs grew heavy and her head light. She was drowning in sensations, the rasp of his tongue against hers, the scrape of his whiskers on her face, the strength of his hands as they cupped her rear and held her tight to him.

She ran her hands over his shoulders and down his arms. Her need to get closer was so intense, she wanted to climb on top of him. Wanted to wrap herself around him, to absorb him through her skin.

The sound of music and voices floated over to them and Jack sprung away from her. Kelsey collapsed back against her car as a middle-aged couple left the bar. She watched them get into their car and pull out of the parking lot.

She glanced up to find Jack staring at her. She couldn’t have moved even if she’d wanted to. And she didn’t want to. She wanted to reach for him, or better yet, for him to reach for her. The last thing she wanted was for this moment to end.

Still trying to catch her breath, she ran her tongue over her lips. He squeezed his eyes shut. She didn’t miss the way his chest rose and fell rapidly or how his hands were clenched into fists.

She waited until his eyes were open before speaking. “Too bad I’m leaving tomorrow. Imagine how much fun we could have if I stay.”

“That’s what I’m worried about,” he muttered and took another step back. “Goodbye, Kelsey.”

Frustrated, and–if she was being honest with herself–relieved, she straightened. She’d managed to crack Jack’s rigid control–and had the added bonus of the best kiss of her life–but he obviously didn’t want to pursue this.

Which was for the best really. Even if she couldn’t help but wonder how good they’d be together.

Well, at least she hadn’t begged him to take her home. Which meant she still had her pride. And while pride wouldn’t keep her warm tonight, wouldn’t keep the loneliness at bay, it would help make her exit a bit more dignified.

“Goodbye, Jack.”

She got into her car, turned on the ignition and did the smartest thing she’d ever done in her life.

She drove away.