An Excerpt From: MANHUNT
An erotic novella
Set-up: Fugitive former detective Michael shows up in assistant ADA Taryn’s bathroom
Holding his side, he shifted within the small space. The bathroom was too small for him to pace, but he looked like a tiger trapped in a cage. Taryn shifted back until her heels bumped against the wall. There was nowhere for her to go.
Her brain finally kicked into gear as she studied him. He was wet, disheveled, and dirty. A growth of beard covered his chin, and dark circles underlined his eyes. A too-small trench coat strained to span the breadth of his shoulders, but the dull gray material managed to cover most of the bright orange jumpsuit he wore. She didn’t know where he’d gotten the coat, but it had obviously managed to hide him from detection. Her gaze dropped to his feet. His boots were wet. He’d shoved the pant legs of the jumpsuit into them to try to hide more of the jail uniform, but they, too, were wet and muddy.
“What are you doing here?” she asked.
“You got me into this mess; you’re going to help me get out of it.”
Her skin prickled. He’d nearly been out of the state, if the clues the search teams had found were correct. Why turn back? Why return to the scene of the crime? Why break into the home of the attorney leading the prosecution against him?
She sucked in a breath. Oh, God.
She hadn’t really known him at all, had she?
Her gaze flew to the bathroom door. If she lunged for it, could she slip by him?
She fought to stay calm. He was bigger, stronger, and faster than she was. The only area where she matched him was brainpower. She couldn’t allow herself to fall apart, couldn’t let her emotions cripple her. She might not be in control of the situation, but she could keep control of herself.
She focused. Information was power. She needed to approach this situation like she approached a case. Logically, straightforwardly, and observant for any loopholes.
She desperately needed to find a loophole.
“Why are you in my home?” she asked.
“To talk to you. Alone. Just the two of us.”
She watched as he carefully raked a hand through his thick, dark hair, rumpling it even further. There was mud caked into it… and was that blood? His left arm remained locked against his side. He looked around the room, and she got the vague impression that he didn’t know what his next move should be. He was acting on instinct now, a hunted animal trying to avoid its pursuers.
It made him even more dangerous.
She squeaked when he suddenly moved. “What are you doing?”
He looked up from his crouched position. “I’m grungy, wet, and cold to the bone. I’m going to take a shower and see if I can get my head on straight.”
A shower? He’d come all this way for a shower? Her focused mind started sliding down the slippery path toward panic.
Loopholes, she told herself. She needed to keep calm. If he got into the shower, she might have a chance to escape. A slim chance, but a chance nonetheless. In the shower, he’d leave the door unguarded.
A rare smile crossed his lips. He pulled off a boot and dropped it onto the floor with a thud. “Here’s some advice, Swanny. Defense attorneys might not have picked up on it yet, but I can read that angel face of yours. It gives away every single thought that runs through your mind.”
He tugged off the other boot and began to peel off wet socks. “You’re not going to bolt for the door when my back is turned. Know why? Because you’re going to be in that shower with me. I’m not letting your sweet tush out of my sight.”
Frozen, Taryn watched as the trench coat hit the floor. He reached for the zipper of the jumpsuit, and any thought she might have had fled her mind as it slid downward. The bright orange material parted. With unwilling fascination, she watched as he shrugged it off his shoulders.
His chest was enough to make her mouth water. Muscles and sinew wove their way under smooth skin. She remembered his strength when he’d grabbed her, and her knees went a little wobbly. “Please, don’t do this,” she said softly. “If you leave now, I swear I won’t tell anybody you were here.”
“The moment I hit that door, you’d be on the phone.”
She shook her head. “No, I wouldn’t do that.”
He stopped in the act of pushing the jumpsuit over his hips. The expression on his face was cold. “And why am I supposed to believe you’d be that generous? Because you like me?”
Her throat tightened. They both knew their relationship was more complicated than that. The stolen glances, the brushes of skin, the pounding heartbeats. She’d tried to keep things strictly professional between them, but something hot and wild had always lurked just below the surface. It had boiled over once…
She pushed the heated memory from her mind. “I used to,” she said quietly.
“Yeah? Well, I used to like you, too.”
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