The Patriot by Lynn Michaels
Originally published by Harlequin Temptation
Kindle Edition by Lynn Michaels November 2010
This scene is the first thing that came to me about the book. I described it to my editor on the phone. When I finished she said, "Send me that book!" I did, and she bought it. That's what I call easy-peasy.
Back Cover Blurb
Hallie Stockton -- Tough Girl
Ellison Quade -- Tough Guy
Six years ago Hallie's grandfather the Admiral double-crossed Quade and had him court-martialed. Now the Admiral needs him to bring Hallie home. Hallie has no intention of cooperating. Quade had no intention of losing his pardon or his life. He's already lost his heart to Hallie.
A lifetime of living with the Admiral had given Hallie sonar as sensitive as any of the navy's high-tech equipment. Still, he manged to find a table -- no easy feat in The Covey's Thursday Nite Is Ladies Nite crowd, order a drink -- Scotch and water, no ice -- and down about a third of it before her internal radar beeped.
Not a good sign. It meant the Admiral had sent in a big gun a lot sooner than she'd expected. Had her postcard really pissed him off? Or was he still working that tired old you're-in-danger-come-home-at-once ploy? Probably both, she decided, as she picked up a tray of drinks.
While she waited on her customers, Hallie kept an eye on the guy in the gray silk Italian suit. He stayed about an hour, had one drink, smoked two cigarettes and left. All the way home she looked for a tail that never materialized.
Friday morning she went shopping, lay on the beach behind her rented house and read for a while. In the afternoon she went to a Tupperware party thrown by one of the waitresses at The Covey. Hallie had never been to one before, had an absolute ball and spent $237.12.
There was no tail, no shadow, but he was at the club again that night, sitting at one of Gwen's tables, flirting with her, pumping her. He never once glanced in Hallie's direction. Smart cookie.
When Gwen took a break she asked Hallie to cover for her and be extra nice to the gorgeous guy at table six. The Employees Only door had no sooner swung shut behind Gwen when he signaled to Hallie and pointed at his empty glass. She nodded, went to the bar for a Scotch and water, no ice, and walked it to his table.
He sat with his chair facing the bandstand, turning one of The Covey's gold-on-black matchbooks end over end on the table edge in time to the rock music screaming out of the man-sized speakers. Good sense of rhythm, great hand-eye coordination. Nice gray eyes, Hallie thought, as she put his drink down in front of him and he nodded. Nice but cold.
"Tell my grandfather," she said, leaning forward on her hands so he could hear her, "to go fornicate with the farm animals."
Then she went back to the bar to talk to Jesus. He planned to visit a distant cousin in Rio de Janeiro so she was teaching him Portuguese in her spare time. When she next glanced at table six, the gorgeous guy with the cold gray eyes was gone. Gwen was not a happy camper.
Neither was Hallie when she got home, turned on her bedside lamp and saw The Covey matchbook lying on her pillow. The security system was on -- it had beeped at her when she'd let herself in -- but she raced to the walk-in closet in the living room to check it, anyway. It was still on. Damn smart cookie. Hallie doubled her fist on the wall beside the control panel and leaned her forehead against it. She was shaking.
"Tough guy, huh?" the smart cookie said from behind her.
"Tough girl." Hallie snapped her head around and saw him standing in the closet doorway. "It's hard to tell, I know, but take my word for it."
"Not that hard," he replied, leaning one shoulder against the doorframe. "Your system isn't worth beans. Take my word for it."
"It's top of the line, state of the art."
He folded his arms and smiled at her with all the warmth of a glacier. "So am I."
"Is this where you throw a pillowcase over my head and lock me in the trunk of your car?"
"No." He straightened away from the doorframe. "This is where we talk about how to avoid that."