Hot-shot criminal profiler Daniel Hartman was looking for a man called Orion. Leading a manhunt through Birmingham for the killer, Daniel was trying to put old ghosts to rest. But this time Orion's target was Rose Browning, a matchmaking wedding planner with a gift for predicting true love. Tempted by secrets she couldn't reveal, Daniel insisted on offering some very personal protection. He would get her to open up, but at a price. Would he be able to safeguard this raven-haired beauty before his desires for revenge became an obsession?
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June 11, 2007
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Excerpt from Forbidden Temptation by Paula Graves
The woman sat alone at a table near the narrow stage at the front of the bar, nursing a strawberry daiquiri and feigning interest in the alt-rock cover band currently grinding its way through an old Pearl Jam classic. Now and then she took a sip of her drink but mainly watched the crowd, her eyes alert.
Daniel Hartman studied her from his seat at the bar, curiosity distracting him from his own agenda. There was an odd stillness about her, a composure that set her apart from the rest of the restless liquor-soaked crowd in the small club in the heart of Birmingham's Five Points South.
Who was she? What was she looking for? The door opened and a man in a striped shirt and leather jacket entered, pausing in the doorway. Daniel dragged his attention away from the woman to give the newcomer a quick once-over. He was pushing forty, a little paunchy though his clothes hid it well. The wedding ring on his left hand quickly went into his pocket.
Daniel looked away, losing interest. This place was a bust. He took another sip of Coke and considered moving on to another club a few doors down. But his gaze drifted back to the woman with the daiquiri, and he stayed put, watching her through narrowed eyes as she took another dainty sip of her drink and clapped politely as the cover band crashed its way to the end of the song.
The paunchy man in the leather jacket approached her table, on the prowl. Of course he'd choose her--a pretty woman all alone in the middle of a bar was too much temptation. Daniel sat forward, curious to see how she'd handle being hit on. Would she notice the imprint on his left ring finger where the wedding band had been? Would it matter?
She looked up at the man, her brow furrowing as he spoke to her. Her gaze drifted to the hand resting on the back of her chair and the furrowed brow smoothed, replaced by a cool, neutral mask. She murmured to the man, who stepped away with a frown. Muttering something that made the woman's lips tighten, he moved on to the bar and ordered a bourbon neat.
Daniel looked back at the woman and found her watching him. When she didn't immediately look away, he lifted his glass and nodded.
Her frown returning, she looked down at her glass, stirring the red slush with slow, deliberate strokes. Her chin lifted, followed by her eyes. She locked gazes with him, her expression impossible to read. An electric shock zigzagged through him as he took the full brunt of her attention.