Tidy. Sensible. Safe. That's how Maggie Taylor wants things. Until she opens the door of her tiny mountain hotel to a tall, dark and very dangerous stranger.Nate Griffith offers a world of pleasure in his strong arms. But the lawman isn't looking for a peaceful retreat--he has a job to do.It scares Maggie that Nate puts himself in the line of fire every day, and so she tries her hardest to resist him. But even a heart as closed off as Maggie's can't stay immune for long....
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August 11, 2008
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Excerpt from Falling for Mr. Dark and Dangerous by Donna Alward
The crunch of tires on snow let Maggie Taylor know he was here. The U.S. marshal. The man who'd thrown a monkey wrench into things before he'd ever even arrived.
She parted the curtains and looked out over the whitecapped yard. A late March storm had dropped several centimeters of snow earlier in the week and then the temperature had plunged. Now it looked more like Christmas than impending spring.
Maggie sighed as the black SUV pulled up beside her truck. She'd almost booked a trip to get away from the late surge of winter. She'd always found an excuse not to travel, but now that Jen was away from home, she'd decided to treat herself for once and go somewhere hot, where she'd be catered to instead of doing the catering. In fact, she'd been taking extra time browsing around the travel agent's on a trip to Red Deer when he had called, requesting a room for a prolonged stay.
Of course, since she'd been out at the time, Jennifer had taken the call and booked him in without even asking. Not only had it spoiled her plans, but it had caused a huge argument between her and Jennifer. She pressed her thumbs against her index fingers, snapping the knuckles. If it hadn't been about that, it would have been something else. They were always arguing, it seemed. They never saw eye to eye on anything anymore.
As if preordained, Jennifer chose that moment to gallop down the stairs. Maggie stared at the pink plaid flannel that covered her daughter's bottom half, topped by a battered gray sweatshirt that had seen far better days. Maggie felt guilty at the relief she knew she'd feel when Jennifer went back to school after her spring break. These days they got along much better when there were several miles between them.
She dropped the curtain back into place, obscuring her view of the man getting out of the vehicle.
"Honestly, Jen. You're still in your pyjamas and our guest is here." She ran her hands down her navy slacks and straightened the hem of the thick gray sweater she'd put on to ward off the chill.
"I haven't done my laundry yet." Jennifer skirted past her and headed straight for the kitchen.
Maggie sighed. Even though Jen complained that there was nothing to do around here, she somehow always left laundry and chores up to Maggie. And Maggie did them rather than frustrate herself with yet another argument. Their relationship was fragile enough.
When Jen had informed her of this particular booking, Maggie had lost her cool instead of thanking her daughter for actually taking some initiative with the business. Instead she'd harped about her ruined vacation plans.
She should just let the resentment go. Mexico wasn't going anywhere. She'd go another time, that was all. And the money from this off-season booking would come in handy come summer, when repairs to the house would need to be undertaken.
The marshal was a guest here and it was her job to make him feel welcome. Even if she had her doubts. A cop, of all people. He was probably rigid and scheduled and had no sense of humor.
Letting out a breath and pasting on her smile, she went to the door and opened it before he had a chance to ring the bell.
"Welcome to Mountain Haven Bed and Breakfast," she got out, but the rest of the words of her rehearsed greeting flew out of her head as she stared a long way up into blue-green eyes.
"Thank you." His lips moved above a gray and black parka that was zipped precisely to the top. "I know it's off-season, and I appreciate your willingness to open for me. I hope it hasn't inconvenienced you."
It was a struggle to keep her mouth from dropping open, to keep the welcome smile curving her lips. His introductory speech had locked her gaze on his face and she was staggered. She'd be spending the next three weeks with this man? In an otherwise empty bed and breakfast? Jennifer would only be here another few days, and then it was back to school. It would be just the two of them.
What had started out as an annoying business necessity was now curled with intimacy. He was, very possibly, the most gorgeous man she'd ever seen. Even bundled in winter gear she sensed his lean, strong build, the way he carried his body. With purpose and intent. His voice was smooth with just a hint of gravel, giving it a rumbling texture; the well-shaped lips unsmiling despite his polite speech. And he had killer eyes...eyes that gleamed brilliantly in contrast to his dark clothing.
"I am in the right place, aren't I?" He turned his head and looked at the truck, then back at her, frowning a bit as she remained stupidly silent.