Special Agent David Devereau crushed Joani's heart with a simple bouquet of roses and a farewell note nearly seven years ago and she hasn't seen him since? But, when she finds her estranged husband murdered, David's the one she turns to. Will this man, sworn to uphold the law, turn her over to the local sheriff or help prove her innocence?
Romance Author, Irene Estep
David sat across from her, tilted his chair back, and stretched out his long, denim-clad legs. He watched her from beneath half-lowered eyelids as he sipped from his coffee mug.
He hadn't changed a bit, Joani thought. The same unruly strands of blond hair flipped defiantly over his forehead. The same woodsy scent emanated from his muscular body. The same quixotic gray eyes gleamed as if harboring an amusing secret. Cocky, flirtatious eyes, Joani had always judged them. She took a large gulp of the brew, which had been reduced to lukewarm by the generous portion of cold milk.
"I'm surprised you called me, June Bug," David said.
"I wouldn't have bothered you, but Marleen and Dad took the boys camping in North Carolina. I had no way of reaching them. I guess, I could have called my mother, but . . ." She shrugged. She really didn't want to go into her reasons for not calling Laura.
David sat down his cup."All right, Joani. What's going on? Your eyes are bloodshot and your clothes look like you slept in them. Why are you riding around in an ice cream truck, for Christ's sake? Can't that husband of yours afford to furnish you with transportation?"
I have a car, a Mercedes," she stated, then realized how pretentious that might sound to someone like David. "It's just that . . ." How could she break the news about her husband without sounding incompetent and foolish? She should have called the police. Now David would be caught in the awkward position of having to turn her in. "I used to buy treats from the ice cream truck for the children in the cul-de-sac beside Miguel's estate. Jimmy, the driver, lives in the neighborhood. He let me hitch a ride on his way into town to pick up supplies."
"You'd rather hitch a ride on a vending truck than drive in luxury?" He smiled.
Another thing that was the same about David, Joani thought, was his ability to catch her off guard. He could play good-cop bad-cop all by himself. Being as unpredictable as the Central Florida weather was probably what made him so good at his job. The teasing light in his eyes still held, but his voice sounded angry, critical, too much like the time he'd come home and found her naked in his bed.
A thin veil of tears clouded her vision. She didn't know if she felt more like crying for her dead husband, or for the unrequited feelings she still harbored for the man sitting across from her. Seeing him again was like coming home after a long absence. One felt warmed by the familiar sights, sounds, smells, but one's old room was now occupied by another.
She remembered the woman who'd left earlier: beautiful, sophisticated. Rena Colter struck her as being a clever, assertive personality, as well. Assertiveness wasn't something that came easily for Joani. How ridiculous to be filled with self-pity at a time like this, she thought, and suddenly blurted out, "Miguel's dead."
David's chair bounced to the floor with a hard thud. He reached across the table and clasped her hands in his. The whimsical glitter had vanished from his eyes. "I mean I'm sorry, honey. Who, er, what happened? Was he in an accident?"
Blinking back tears, Joani looked down. David's fingers were long and slender, but one of his palms was almost broad enough to completely envelop both her hands. So strong, yet his touch was gentle. As contradictory as the rest of the things she remembered about him; macho and brusque one minute, tender and affectionate the next. "He was shot, David. I found him in the swimming pool with a bullet hole in his back."
" Murdered," he asked quietly, as if a bullet in the back could indicate anything less brutal.
She noted the reflective look in his eyes as if he hadn't realized he'd voiced the question aloud. She nodded anyway.
"Did you see who did it? Is that why you're hiding out?"
"I-I . . .Oh, David, what if I did it?"
"How, David? Would you have thought of a better way to tell me you found me unattractive?" Her voice trembled. For the first time David realized just how badly he'd handled the incident.