''Will you do it for one million dollars?"
Any other time Tanner Wolfe would have balked at being hired by a woman. But the price was just high enough to gain his interest--the lady's beauty definitely strong enough to keep it. Yet he wasn't about to allow her to tag along on his mission. This maverick bounty hunter worked alone. Always had. Always would. However, he'd never confronted a more determined client than Brianna. She wasn't taking no for an answer. Not about anything.
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October 09, 2007
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Excerpt from Maverick by Joan Hohl
All things considered, she was a traffic stopper.
Tanner raised a questioning eyebrow at the breathtaking woman standing beyond the threshold of the apartment door he had just opened at the buzz of the doorbell.
A tingle attacked the base of Tanner's spine. Her voice had the effect of warm honey trickling down the length of his back. Her eyes were the color of brandy, her hair a rich, deep, glossy burgundy wine. Combined, they warmed him as if he'd imbibed the drinks themselves.
"Yes." He was rather proud of the steady, almost bored sound of his voice, when bored was the last thing he was feeling. Hot, yes. Bored, no. He lifted one brow. She stood there, all five foot nine or so, slim and classically beautiful, dressed casually but expensively.
One deep, dark eyebrow arched, mirroring his action, as she asked, "May I come in?"
The tingle he felt grew into a sizzle. Damn, it had been a long time since a woman had had such a strong effect on him at first meeting. Come to think about it, no woman had ever had this strong an effect on him.
"Do you have a name?" He injected a droll note into his voice.
"Brianna Stewart," she answered, extending a slim-fingered hand to him. "Now, may I come in?"
Curious--about the woman's courage in entering the apartment of a stranger and about several other things--he took her hand, repressed a shiver, then nodded and stepped back, swinging the door wide as he did so.
"Thank you." Head high, spine straight as an arrow, she walked past him into the neat-as-a-pin living room, her stride relaxed, easy. The late-morning sun's rays slanting through the wide window struck fiery lights off her slightly-redder-than-auburn hair.
"What can I do for you, Ms. Stewart?" he asked. Other than sweep you up and carry you to my bedroom. Telling himself to grow up, he repressed the errant thought.
"May I sit down?" She made a graceful move of one hand to indicate his favorite plush leather recliner. "Yeah, sure." What else could he say? "Would you like a cup of coffee?" He wasn't about to impart the information that it was the first pot he'd brewed since rolling out of the sack a half hour before she rang his chimes, so to speak. Hell, his hair was still damp from his shower.
"I'd like that, yes, thank you." She smiled.
He suppressed a groan. As slight and polite as her smile had been, it dazzled his senses. What in blazes was wrong with him? he chided himself. She was just another woman. Okay, another gorgeous woman. Wasn't she?
"You're welcome. It'll only take a minute." Avoiding his mental question and telling himself to pull it together, Tanner escaped into the kitchen. Well, he had hoped to escape.
She followed him into the room. "I hope you don't mind, but we can talk in here just as well."
That's easy for you to say. Keeping the thought to himself, where it belonged, Tanner said, "No, I don't mind. Have a seat." He flicked a hand at the retro yellow-and-white chrome-and-Formica kitchen set. "Would you like something with your coffee...some cookies, a muffin, a scone?" Me?
Knock it off, Wolfe.
Sliding onto a plastic-covered chair, she started to shake her head but hesitated, saying, "What kind of scones do you have?"
"Blueberry," he said, removing two diner-type mugs from a wall cabinet. "Yes, I would. Thank you again." She smiled as if amused at herself. "Blueberry is my favorite."
Damned if her full-blast smile didn't cause a ripple along his nervous system. Lord, the woman was lethal. There was no way he'd admit to her that blueberry was his favorite, too. Even though it was likely obvious, as that was what he had to offer. "Want it warmed?"
"Yes, please." She dazzled him with another smile. Tanner grabbed two scones into paper napkins, shoved them into the micro and pressed the buttons for twelve seconds. He set the steaming mugs on the table while the micro hummed. The timer beeped while he was setting a carton of milk, a sugar bowl and two spoons on the table.
"Want butter or jam on that?" he asked, going to retrieve the pastries.
She shook her head, swirling the smooth red mass around her shoulders. On the spot, Tanner decided he loved red hair. It was a bit of a surprise, as he had always thought he preferred blondes...even though he didn't consider himself much of a gentleman.
Settling his six foot four inch frame opposite her, he bluntly got to the point. "Okay, now, what brings you to Durango, and what can I do for you?" he said, certain she wanted something from him. The question was, what?