Part of the SWAT Guys Series
Bethany Churchill just quit her lousy job, dumped her lousy boyfriend and moved into a new apartment. She’s not looking for love, but her hot new landlord, SWAT officer Lucius Ryder, aka “Luscious,” is determined to change her mind. Before long, Bethany is tempted to find out if he’s really as delicious as his nickname…
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is Part of the SWAT Guys Series
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The knock on the door startled Bethany Churchill so that she almost fell off the couch. With blurry eyes, she squinted at the kitchen clock on the far wall. Barely seven A.M. ! Another glance at her sister’s bedroom door showed that Marci slept on.
Wrapping herself in the borrowed sheet, Bethany hauled herself off the couch and went to the door. She put one eye to the peephole, and moaned at the sight before her.
Big, tall, sexy male.
No, no, no. She didn’t need this, not today, not right now, not before caffeine.
Without opening the door, she called out, “What do you want, Luscious?” Her teeth snapped down on her tongue and she mentally cursed. “I mean, Lucius.”
At the sound of his deep laugh, her head hit the door with a thump. Damn the other women in the building for giving him that ridiculous nickname. So he was SWAT. And brave. And he looked downright luscious. Luscious Rider, they called him, a name that seemed strangely apropos to her sleepy brain.
Not that Lucius, the egomaniac, ever complained over the endearment. Nope, he soaked in female adoration as if it were his due.
” Bethany , I take it?”
How could he always tell them apart? More than one guy had been confused over time. More than one guy had insisted he didn’t have a preference, as if she and her twin were interchangeable, especially if Marci proved unavailable.
But not Lucius.
He behaved very differently with each of them.
Issuing an obvious challenge, Bethany said, “Yeah, so?”
“Open the damn door.”
His head hit the wood this time. “I need to see Marci. Now open up.”
Of course, he wanted to see Marci. The men always wanted to see Marci. Her twin had a charisma that somehow hadn’t entered Bethany ‘s gene pool. “No. She’s asleep.” And I’m in my underwear, and I haven’t yet recouped enough from a bad week and a long night to face you.
Another couple of hours sleep, at least three cups of coffee, then she might be ready to square off with the hunky landlord.
A hesitation, then, “When did you get in, Bethany ?”
Uh oh. She knew that tone of his, a tone he never used with Marci. ” Midnight . Why?”
“You realize you’re breaking the rent agreement by imposing on your sister so often.”
Go screw yourself, Sergeant, she mimed to herself – but she didn’t dare say the words aloud. After all, he was the landlord, and Marci really liked her apartment. “I’m only here for a few days.” Or weeks. Maybe even forever, if she didn’t find her backbone. “No big deal.”
“It will be a big deal if you don’t open the door.”
“And I have an emergency.”
Now more awake, Bethany put her eye to the peephole again. Lucius looked rumpled and tired, but in a good, cozy and warm way – not panicked. Definitely not injured. Her suspicions rose. “What kind of emergency?”
From behind Bethany , Marci yawned, then said, “What’s going on?”
Well shoot. They’d awakened her sister. “I don’t know.” She glanced over her shoulder at Marci. “It’s Lucius. He wants in for some reason.”
“I have an emergency,” Lucius yelled, proving the paper-thin walls did little to protect privacy.
Also in a T-shirt and underwear, Marci strode forward and edged Bethany aside. As if Lucius Ryder saw her in a state of undress every day, Marci opened the locks, removed the chain, and swung the door wide without a hint of modesty.
It was then that Bethany detected the beastly howling coming from Lucius’s apartment across the hall.
“What is that?” Bethany asked, at the same time Marci said, “Oh my God. That’s a dog, isn’t it?”
“A dog?” Wrapped in the sheet, Bethany joined Marci in the doorway so that they stood side by side.
Lucius started to explain, but his mouth snapped shut. He went on alert. His exhaustion disappeared. From Bethany to Marci and back again, his gaze went up and down one, then the other.
Finally, one brow raised, he said, “Yeah, see, I brought a dog home and -”
Shoving past him, Marci ran to his apartment, yanked open his door, and disappeared inside.
Lucius flicked one more scorching look over Bethany ‘s sheet-covered frame, then started to follow Marci across the hall.
Without thinking it through, she snagged onto his upper arm. “Oh no you don’t.” No way was she leaving “Luscious Lucius” alone with her sis – Wowza. The man had very impressive biceps. She couldn’t even get her fingers around him…
He stared at her hand up to her face, a question – or maybe a suggestion – in his green eyes.
Recalling herself, Bethany scowled. “You,” she said, filling that single word with warning, “are waiting for me to come with you.”
“I’m a gentleman.” He leveled a very hot look on her. “I always wait for the lady to come.”
Her mouth dropped open. Visuals crowded her brain. She started to speak, and squeaked instead.
End of Excerpt
is available in the following editions:
Out of Print Editions
June 1, 2006