Just when she'd sworn off exciting men...Dani Madison was determined to make a fresh start. To cast off her princess persona forever. To be independent fromanyman.Too bad Teague McCauley lived down the hall.Enigmatic FBI agent Teague's closest relationships were with the cases he toiled on day and night. After ending up on the wrong end of an arrest gone awry, the last thing Teague expected was for Dani to nurse him back to health--or awaken feelings in him that he could swear were long gone. But something about his beautiful but distant "friend" was cause for further investigation...perhaps even into love?
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May 31, 2008
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Excerpt from The Man Next Door by Gina Wilkins
Teague McCauley was so tired his steps dragged as he made his way from the parking lot to his apartment. It was actually an effort to place one foot in front of the other. He could feel his shoulders drooping. Even his dark hair felt limp around his face.
Though he usually took the stairs, he rode the elevator up to his third-floor apartment. He was the only occupant, since most of the other residents had already left for their jobs at eight-forty-five on this Tuesday morning. It would probably be quiet during the day as he got some sleep for the first time in more than forty-eight hours. Not that it would matter. He felt as though he could sleep in a blasting zone right now.
The elevator stopped and he pushed himself away from the wall he'd been leaning against. A few more steps, he reminded himself as the doors began to slide open, and then he could...
At the sight of the woman waiting for the elevator, he snapped instinctively to attention. He pulled his shoulders back, lifted his head and tightened his face into what he hoped was a pleasantly bland expression, nodding as he moved out of her way. "Good morning."
She looked as fresh as a fall chrysanthemum in a bright orange top and crisp brown slacks, her long, glossy brown hair shining around her pretty oval face, her navy-blue eyes cool when she returned the greeting perfunctorily. "Good morning."
"Have a nice day," he said over his shoulder as he strolled away, his steps brisk.
"You, too," she murmured, her reply as meaningless as the clich�d phrase that was all that had popped into his exhaustion-hazed mind.
He heard the elevator doors swish closed behind him, and his back sagged again, his feet almost stumbling the rest of the way to his apartment door. Yeah, he thought, fumbling with the key, you really wowed her with your witty conversation, McCauley.
Not that it would have mattered if he had come up with even the most clever line. His down-the-hall neighbor had made it very clear during the past few months that she wasn't interested in getting to know him better. Something about the way she practically glowered at him every time she saw him, not to mention the ice that dripped from her tone every time he manipulated her into speaking to him, as he had just then, had given him a clue.
As an FBI agent, he liked to think he was pretty good at reading between the lines that way.
It was a shame, really, he thought, already stripping out of his black T-shirt as he headed straight toward his bedroom without even bothering to turn on lights in the spartanly furnished living room. She certainly was a looker. Face of an angel, body of a goddess. And all the warmth of a snow queen.
Totally out of clich�s, he kicked his jeans into a corner, stripped off his socks and fell facedown onto his bed, wearing nothing but navy boxers. He didn't have time for a relationship, anyway, he thought as consciousness began to fade.
Still a shame, though...
Dani Madison waited until she was certain the elevator doors were closed before she released the long breath she'd been holding. It was the same every time she ran into the man who lived in the apartment down the hall. Her breath caught, her pulse tripped, little nerve endings all over her body woke up and started tingling. Very annoying.
Fortunately, she rarely saw him. Maybe a half dozen times total, in the approximately four months since he'd moved in. He wasn't home much, being gone sometimes for more than a week at a time, from what she'd observed. When he was home, it was at strange hours. Like today, just coming in when most people were leaving for work. Looking so tired she'd thought it was a wonder he was standing upright, even though he'd made an obvious, macho effort to hide his exhaustion.
He worked for the FBI. She knew that because he occasionally wore T-shirts with the letters stenciled across his chest. Sometimes he wore suits, and she thought she'd caught a glimpse of a holster beneath his jacket. Maybe that was part of the reason she found him so intriguing.
Well, that and the fact that he was absolutely, positively, heart-stoppingly attractive. Black hair worn a bit shaggy. Gray eyes that looked almost silver at times. Straight, dark eyebrows, neat, midlength sideburns, a jawline that could have been chiseled from granite, but with just a hint of a dimple in his right cheek to add a touch of softness. When he was unshaven, as he had been this morning, he had the look of a pirate or an Old West lawman. A little wild, a little danger-ous--a whole boatload of sexy.
All added together, those things were enough to make her feel the need to run very hard in the opposite direction every time she saw him.