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Lindsay stared at Jack, shock dulling comprehension. “I wasn’t expecting you back so soon,” she blurted.
One black brow winged up in derision. “Obviously.”
Reason filtered in belatedly and she tried to tug free. He still didn’t let go of her arms. “I thought. . .while you were gone I figured I’d drop off a bag of stuff I promised to Dora Jenkins. My landlord,” she improvised rapidly. “She’s taking a load to Goodwill.”
He eyed her bag. “Now that’s interesting. Because lousy detective that I am, I figured you were running out on me. I’d also hazard a guess that the bag is full of every blessed thing you had in that apartment.” There was a little smile playing around the corners of his mouth that owed nothing to amusement. “Should we see how far off base I am?” He released her to reach for the bag.
Lindsay tightened her grip on it. And for the first time noticed that his hands were empty. “You never went to Ming’s!” So her outrage was hypocritical. There was an urgency building that made niceties a luxury.
“Because your sudden hunger didn’t appear until after I’d told you about the publicity.” With hard hands he forcibly turned her and gave her a little nudge in the direction of the steps to her apartment. And although she tried to stand her ground, she was no match for him when he placed an implacable palm at the base of her back and propelled her forward.
“So I thought I’d stick around a few minutes,” he continued, voice terse. “Actually started to think I’d overreacted. Been too suspicious. But here you are, hurrying toward the bus stop like your ass is on fire. So you’ll have to excuse me if I’m not inclined to believe it’s due to a sudden burst of generosity. Although I know from recent experience just how generous you can be.”
That earned him a hard elbow jab to the gut, which, if he hadn’t been crowding her so closely wouldn’t have hit its mark. As it was, he made a satisfying sound of pain, but it didn’t slow him appreciably.
“Stop pushing me around,” she ordered, seething. When they got to the stairs he grabbed one of her arms and practically hauled her up the steps, which only infuriated her further. “I said. . .”
“Yeah, I know what you said. It’s what you didn’t say that I’m interested in. So you’re not going anywhere until you tell me what the hell has you so spooked. Who you’re running from.” They were on the landing now, outside her apartment. But when he guided her toward the door, she managed to break free and dodge around him. Only to be caught, when he turned, between the railing and a wall of pulsing angry male.
“It’s none of your business. . .” she began.
He shoved his face close to hers, his dark eyes shooting enough sparks to singe her with his fury. “The hell with that. I’m not going to stand here and debate it with you. It is my business. We’re connected, you and me, no matter how much you want to deny it.”
She desperately wanted to. But the denial when it came to her lips refused to be uttered. She could only stare at him, a wistful sort of sadness twisting inside her. Because it had been along time since she’d wanted to be tied to any man. And despite her better judgment, Jack Langley had called to long dormant feelings in her from the first.
His expression, fixed on hers, softened marginally. “You’re in trouble. Think I can’t see that? But you have to trust someone, some time. I think that someone should be me.” He reached up to cup her face in his palm. “Now.”
One of her hands rose to cover his as she fought the surge of longing that swept over her. How did he do that? she wondered wildly. So deftly smash through logic and good sense to elicit a response based solely on emotion? Because give the man another few minutes and he’d have her spilling everything and that would be all too familiar territory.
A cop had been told the story once before. Disaster had followed.
Swallowing, she battled to wall off feeling, fought to summon reason. “I can’t do that. It’s not your. . .”
She felt the wood splinter near her hand at the same time she heard the muffled shot. Jack shoved her down behind him and drew his gun, crouching in front of her. “Get inside!”
The second shot sounded then and he didn’t have to tell her again. She’d left the door unlocked, and practically dove inside, landing on her knees with enough force to snap her head back, increasing the hammering in her temples.
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