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He slouched on the sofa, relaxed and yet keenly attuned to her every movement and the micro-expressions flitting across her face. Annoyance. Curiosity. Confusion. As if she thought he was playing games, but that was the furthest thing from his mind.
"Why aren't you in a relationship?"
"If you must know. He cheated. Our relationship ended."
"How long ago?"
She stared across the room and then said, "None of your business."
Knowing he had to give something to get a little something back, he said, "I'm not with anyone because work eats up most of my time."
"Nearly a year. Ten months to be exact."
It took him a moment to process the answer to his earlier question. So it was selfish to be happy over the fact that she wasn't seeing anybody, but he smiled anyway. To hell with how it looked. A man was free to express himself. Looking deep into her eyes, he said, "That's a long time to be mourning the loss of a lover."
One of her brows lifted. "You?"
Without asking for any further explanation, he knew what she wanted to find out. "Eight months."
Opening his hands, he added, "My work."
She curled a lock of hair around her finger in a sensuous motion that had him swallowing hard.
"So you, Phillip Denham, are a workaholic."
"My job is demanding."
A smiled captured her lips and tugged at something in his chest. "And you want me to be crazy enough to take a chance on you?"
He could have asked her why she believed he was asking any such thing, but didn't think it wise to insult her intelligence. This woman had somehow read more into his words than he was saying and it made him uncomfortable. Yet, without a doubt, he was ready to explore the attraction between them.
"What would stop you?" he asked.
Counting on her fingers, she made a list. "One. I've told you I don't like police. Two. You lied to me and three, you're just too ... "
He let his confusion show by wrinkling his forehead. "What did I lie about and I'm too what?"
"You told me you were on Xantrope for vacation and that wasn't true."
"Yes, it was. I had other business, but half my reason for visiting was that I needed time off."
"Okay, I give you that, but ... " She shook her head, subjecting him to a full-body scan. "You're too attractive."
"What? Now this is a first. There are penalties for not looking like Frankenstein?"
Corra put a hand to her chest. "Don't get me wrong. It's just that in my experience, men like you spread themselves around too much."
He tried, but couldn't hold back laughter. "Are you serious? I don't have a chance with you because of my job and the fact that I'm not ugly?"
"When you put it like that, it sounds bad, but I know what I'm talking about."
He shook his head. "No, Corra, you don't. That is just a bunch of crap you've been feeding yourself to soothe your hurt and avoid being in another relationship."
"It is not."
"Then how would you explain what sounds like flimsy excuses?"
"Your job is risky. You can't tell me that isn't a real concern."
"I give you that, but looks, Corra? That is so shallow, it makes no sense to me."
"Whatever, but I choose not to be romantically involved with any police officer.
Knowing she'd probably find his next statement outrageous, he waited until she folded her arms with a 'deal-with-that' attitude.
"Well, Miss Coretta, despite your objections, I choose you.
Coming December 22, 2014