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Lily Morrisette paudsed with her water glass suspended halfway to her lips as she stared in fascination at the big man letting himself in through the kitchen door. The granite tiles beneath her feet were smooth, and around her, the huge Laguna Beach oceanfront house was silent, the only sound the distant ticking of the antique mission clock in the living room. Cool, salt breezes with an underlying hint of April flowers blew in on the man's wake. But cool wasn't the first word to pop to Lily's mind. He had to be about the hottest thing she'd ever clapped eyes on.
She knew who he was, of course, from the photographs Glynnis Taylor had shown her. But none of those came close to doing him justice, and Lily was caught flatfooted by the sheer impact of his physical presence. He was six feet of dark and dangerous -- you could tell the latter just by the way he held himself.As for the rest -- the midnight-black hair and dark jaw stubble, the long legs, and those wide shoulders straining the navy material of his T-shirt -- well, heck, it was overkill, pure and simple.
Lily considered pouring her glass of water where it would do the most good to cool her down. She didn't, naturally, but holy petunia. She'd finally met her fantasy man in the flesh.
Then he opened his mouth and wrecked the illusion. "Who the hell are you?" he demanded, swinging an olive-drab duffle bag off his shoulder and down to the tiled floor. "And what are you doing in my kitchen? Where's Glynnis?"
His eyes were a clear, pale gray, the irises ringed in charcoal. Intense and unflinching, they narrowed between thick, dark lashes to rake over her, taking in her thin cotton, peppermint ice creamâcolored drawstring pajama bottoms and tank top. The scrutiny served to remind Lily of every one of the extra ten pounds she could never seem to shed, no matter what. She set her glass down on the countertop with a sharp click, but refrained from responding in kind to his rudeness.
"You must be Zach." She stepped forward, extending her hand to Glynnis's brother. "She's away right now, but I'm Lily -- Lily Morrisette. I've heard a lot about you since I started renting a room here."
"The hell you say," he growled, ignoring her proffered hand. His voice was so deep she could practically feel its vibration through the soles of her feet, the way she always registered the bass thumping from the car of the teenage boy who lived down the block whenever he drove past. It was also nearly as frigid as those iceberg eyes of his when he continued, "Glynnis has always been a sucker for every con artist with a sad story to tell, but I didn't think she'd go so far as to actually install one in our house while I was gone."
"I hope you got whatever you were angling for while the opportunity was ripe, lady." His gaze was so scornful it took all Lily's starch not to recoil. "But don't let that shapely little ass get too comfortable, because the free ride is officially over. Go pack your bags."
He thought her bottom was shapely? And little? Then she gave herself a sharp mental shake. Good God, what was the matter with her? His opinion of her butt was hardly the point. Straightening her shoulders, she tipped up her chin. "No," she said firmly, and crossed her arms over her breasts.
"What?" He went very still, as if no one ever contradicted him.
Perhaps no one ever did, Lily surmised, recalling that he was some hotshot Marine who specialized in reconnaissance missions. Then his mouth went hard, and part of her attention got distracted by the thin white scar that bisected his upper lip.
Funny the difference a few minutes and an insulting attitude could make. What she undoubtedly would have considered sexy as all...
Getting LuckyBy: Susan Andersen