Phillip Denham already had one strike against him. He was too good-looking with his not-quite-narrow nose, almost lush lips and glossy cap of hair that bordered on being bristly. And those eyes of his—now black as obsidian and deep as a well—matched the dark swirls in his dress shirt.
Corra had never seen eyes that color in a nut-brown face. She got lost in them every time she stared at him. She could not say how she knew, but he saw behind her mask to where she hid her insecurity. Fear still stalked her after yesterday’s assault. Somehow, he knew that.
Worst of all, she found him dangerously attractive.
She smoothed the napkin on her lap, still unsure why she agreed to have dinner with him. She let her thoughts roam to their surroundings. The sculptures and wall hangings reflected Indian themes, and the colorful assortment of half-eaten dishes before her had not disappointed her taste buds.
Phillip’s earlier discussion with their waiter confirmed his familiarity with Indian food, which said something about him. How did a Jamaican policeman become an expert on Indian dishes?
From their discussion, she discovered his intelligence soared far above average, which made her wonder about his rank. She followed his hand, which lifted a forkful of Tandoori fish to his mouth. With a shift of his eyebrow, he questioned her close study.
A tiny smile dismissed his concern.
Since her last relationship ended ten months ago, she decided to avoid any entanglement. Men couldn’t be trusted, plain and simple. If she changed her mind any time soon, an ordinary man would do just fine. Phillip probably had women buzzing around by the dozen.
By her standards, he was too tall and bulky, but women found those qualities irresistible. Phillip reminded her of her father and a bit of Bradleigh, whom she hadn’t thought about in a few days.
Good. It was time she got over him.
In a minute, Phillip would have two strikes against him, for she suspected he belonged to the constabulary force. He had the look of Babylon—as they called policemen in Jamaica—clean shaven, no-nonsense, and something intangible that whispered law enforcement.
“Tell me something,” she said, “are you a policeman?”
He glanced around the room before he replied. “Yes.”
Disappointment soured the corners of her mouth, and she sighed. Strike two. “What rank?”
“Detective Inspector.” He propped the cutlery on the plate. “Is something wrong?”
Bradleigh was two ranks below that at Detective Corporal.
“No, nothing at all,” she mumbled.
“You look terribly let down for it to be nothing at all.”
She picked at a loose thread on her dress and sighed again, knowing her next statement would sound foolish. “If you must know, it’s because you’re a policeman. I don’t like police.”
He did that slight lifting thing with his eyebrow. “Somehow I thought you would have been different from the average Jamaican. Distrustful of the police, half the time for no
“Oh really? You live in the same country that I do? Every few days in the news we hear about police shooting people willy-nilly.”
“Yeah, and you know what we’re up against. Criminals with more fire power than we
She fixed her gaze on a marble elephant, disturbed by the thought that the gunshots fired by the police didn’t bother her all that much. The ballooning crime rate helped to desensitize her to the unlawful action of rogue police officers. Sad, but it was part of the reality of living in Jamaica.
However, the other things policemen did in their personal lives disgusted her beyond measure. But she was no longer involved with a cop, so had nothing to be upset about. “Look, I’m sorry if that sounded like an accusation. It wasn’t personal.”
“If that was an apology, I accept it,” Phillip said, softening his words with a smile.
It made her stomach do a little flip-flop. Nevertheless, he still had two marks against him.