Bulletproof Hearts. Brenda Harlen
Dylan’s kiss had heightened her desire, fueled her passion, until she thought she might spontaneously combust.
Natalie couldn’t remember ever feeling so overwhelmed, so out of control. But she was embarrassed, and terrified by how close she’d come to forgetting the difficult lessons of her past. She owed Dylan an explanation but wasn’t sure she had one to give. “I’m sorry for letting things get out of hand. We have to work together, Lieutenant.”
Dylan held her gaze. “Is that really what’s holding you back?”
“No.” She smiled wryly. “I don’t like to make mistakes.”
“What makes you so sure we’d be a mistake?”
“Because I like you, Lieutenant, and I have notoriously bad taste in men.”
grew up in a small town surrounded by books and imaginary friends. Although she always dreamed of being a writer, she chose to follow a more traditional career path first. After two years of practicing as an attorney (including an appearance in front of the Supreme Court of Canada), she gave up her “real” job to be a mom and to try her hand at writing books. Three years, five manuscripts and another baby later, she sold her first book—an RWA Golden Heart Winner—to Silhouette.
Brenda lives in southern Ontario with her real-life husband/hero, two heroes-in-training and two neurotic dogs. She is still surrounded by books (“too many books,” according to her children) and imaginary friends, but she also enjoys communicating with “real” people. Readers can contact Brenda by e-mail at [email protected] or by snail mail c/o Silhouette Books, 233 Broadway, Suite 1001, New York, NY 10279.
To Stephanie Currie, thanks for sharing your expertise on martinis and medical matters—both of which played an important role in the creation of this story.
To Kevin McCarragher, an artist of a different genre, thanks for your continued encouragement and support over the years.
This book is dedicated to both of you with love and fondest wishes for your very own happily-ever-after.
A cop shouldn’t have dimples.
That was assistant district attorney Natalie Vaughn’s first thought when she set eyes on Lieutenant Dylan Creighton in the reception area. She wasn’t sure what she’d expected, but it certainly wasn’t the more than six feet of trim, hard muscle towering over Molly’s desk.
Older, she thought inanely. She’d definitely expected someone older. A grizzled, potbellied cop whose years on the job had made him hard and cynical. It was ridiculous, of course, to make assumptions about anyone. She’d learned long ago that people were rarely who or what they appeared to be.
Dylan Creighton was neither grizzled nor potbellied. And when he smiled at Molly, the D.A.’s secretary, dimples flashed.
Natalie had never been particularly susceptible to dimples. She’d always thought they were boyish, a likely sign of immaturity. But on Lieutenant Creighton, as part of a whole package that could be described as nothing less than mouth-watering, those dimples were devastating.
Thankfully, she wasn’t susceptible to dimples or men. Not anymore. She’d made enough mistakes in her life as far as the male gender was concerned, and she’d learned her lessons the hard way. She wouldn’t forget them just because this man’s mere appearance sent her hormones into overdrive.
Still, she’d been so caught up in her perusal she jolted when the phone on her desk buzzed. She forced herself to take a deep calming breath before she picked up the receiver.
“Lieutenant Creighton’s here to see you,” Molly said.
“Send him in.” Natalie was pleased that her voice sounded level, coolly professional. She had no intention of letting the man—or anyone else—know that she was flustered.
She replaced the receiver in the cradle and turned to dig the Merrick file out of the neat stack on the corner of her desk.
The sharp rap of knuckles on glass preceded his entry into her office. Natalie glanced up, a cool but pleasant smile on her lips as she prepared to greet him. She opened her mouth to speak, but her breath caught in her throat.
He filled the small space, his presence overwhelming her. The clean lines of his dark suit couldn’t disguise the raw power of his broad shoulders, wide chest and long, lean legs. Mid- to late-thirties, she estimated, with dark—almost black—hair, cut short. His nose was straight, his chin square, his cheekbones chiseled. A real man’s man, and every female part of Natalie instinctively responded.
“Dylan Creighton,” he said, offering his hand across the scarred wooden desktop.
For a moment, she was too mesmerized by his eyes to respond. She had never before seen such an incredible shade of blue—so deep and dark any woman would gladly drown in them.
Any other woman, she amended, and accepted his proffered hand. “Natalie Vaughn.”
Still, she could tell that he’d sensed her hesitation. “I’m here to brief you on the Merrick case. I thought you were expecting me.”
“Yes. Of course. I just—” wasn’t expecting so much of you. “I was working on another file. Preparing for court tomorrow.”
“Shouldn’t Merrick be your priority?” He was frowning as he folded his arms over his chest. The flex of his biceps—impressive, she had to admit—was evident in the way the material of his jacket stretched tautly over the muscles.
Natalie pushed her hair away from her face and met his gaze evenly. She refused to be intimidated, but she couldn’t deny that her heart had skipped a beat. Not because she was afraid, but because she’d wondered—for just half a second—how it might feel to have those arms wrapped around her. And the pang of longing that accompanied the fleeting thought annoyed as much as it surprised her.
“Thanks for your interest in my workload,” she said coolly. “But I have four trials next week and Merrick isn’t one of them. We don’t even pick the jury for his trial until the end of the month.”
“If you don’t plan on giving this case the attention it deserves, I’m wasting my time here.”
“My time’s as valuable as yours, Lieutenant, and if you want Mr. Merrick put behind bars—where I fully intend to put him—you’ll sit down so we can discuss the case.”
Creighton sat, but the scowl on his face only darkened. No sign of those dimples anywhere.
Natalie wasn’t sure if she was relieved or disappointed.
“I didn’t mean to offend you,” he said stiffly. “But the last time we nabbed Merrick, your boss let him walk on a technicality. I don’t want to see that happen again.”