What A Girl Wants (Harlequin Blaze)(9)

By: Jamie Sobrato

“I protect you from the bad guys.”

“What does that mean?”

“It depends. Maybe you don’t need anything more in-depth than a new phone number and a varied routine, or maybe you need something as drastic as twenty-four-hour bodyguard duty and a motion-sensing home security system.”

“That’s exactly what I don’t want.” A black cat came peeking out from under the sofa, and Jane bent over and scratched his chin. “This is Homer,” she said.

“As in The Iliad?” Luke asked, pegging her for a fan of the classics.

“As in The Simpsons,” she said, grinning. “He loves doughnuts.”

She’d managed to defy his expectations again, and she intrigued him. It was hard to imagine this seemingly mild-mannered writer being the same woman who doled out smart-aleck advice in Excess magazine, and who had the entire country in an uproar over a little sex book she’d written. Luke’s reckless side wanted to peel back her layers, discover who she really was.

His business side knew better than to get emotionally involved.

And his competitive side—which hated getting dumped—wanted to prove Jane wrong about sex and relationships.

They both watched the cat saunter out of the room.

“I don’t think I’m the best guy to help you out with your security issues. My last girlfriend dumped me after reading your book.” He tried to look offended, but Jane’s surprised laugh caught him off-guard.

“I’m afraid every guy I call is going to have a personal grudge. Do you know any female security specialists in Dallas?”

“No,” Luke answered without thinking twice. Maybe there was one, but he suddenly didn’t want to give this client away.

“I guess I’ll just forego all this security stuff then.”

“That wouldn’t be wise,” he said, thinking of the last caller on the radio that morning.

Out of nowhere, Jax’s challenge to Jane popped into his head. He’d basically dared her to apply the faulty principles of her book to a relationship with a guy she was really hot for. Luke had the sudden urge to be that guy, and it wasn’t only because he wanted to protect her from creeps like the one on the radio.

This was getting too weird. Jane Langston was a potential client, and she had a lot of dumb ideas about sex.

She was the woman who’d ruined his perfectly good relationship, who’d left him high and dry for the last few months, without a warm body in sight. The smart thing to do would be to turn down this case, refer her to another security specialist and walk out of Jane’s house for good.

But Luke made the mistake of glancing down at the lush weight of her breasts straining against her red sweater, and before he could stop himself, he’d opened his mouth. “If you want me to take the case, I’m yours.”

LUKE NICOLETTI, dressed all in black from his combat boots to his leather jacket, looked like the kind of guy who associated with the criminal element. Yet he was clean-cut in a roguish sort of way. His shoulder-length dark brown hair brought to mind calendar hunks and daytime soap-opera stars, especially with the way it had a tendency to fall over one eye.

And his eyes were intense, dark, brooding. Jane got the feeling that he saw through her to all her goofy insecurities.

She didn’t like that one bit.

He looked to be around her age, had a dark olive complexion that suggested Mediterranean or Hispanic blood—perhaps a mix of the two—and a body that suggested he wouldn’t have a moment’s trouble pounding bad guys into submission. He was larger than life, outrageously handsome and completely intimidating.

Jane wasn’t at all sure she wanted to spend another minute with him, let alone hire him as her glorified bodyguard. But he’d already inspected her town house, listened to the crank messages she had left on her answering machine and read a sampling of the angry letters she’d received in the past month.

“What exactly do you charge?” she asked him when he looked up from the last letter.

Jane wasn’t exactly a starving artist anymore, since getting the advance and first royalty check for The Sex Factor, but she still had to watch her budget.

“Probably more than you can afford, but I’ll adjust my fees.” He put down the letter and went to the living-room window, pushed aside the curtains, and looked at the lock. He poked at the window frame, then turned back to her.

“So I’ll be a charity case?”

Luke smiled. “Something like that.”

“No, that’s not fair to you. Do you know someone who’s more in my price range?”

He studied her for several moments without speaking. When he finally spoke, his dark brown eyes flashed with a secret amusement that Jane found even more unnerving than his brooding look. “I’m sure we can work out some kind of deal.”

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