Book 7 in the Honeybun Heat series
She’s fighting to protect everything she cares about. He can’t resist a damsel in distress. But he has no idea how high the cost will be if they fail.
Clovis Honeybun is working undercover to catch an assassin targeting his uncle, Senator Brick Honeybun. But his search is waylaid when he spots a pretty woman being mistreated by a guy who looks a lot like his target. Going rogue on a dangerous hunch, Clovis plunges down a trail that might be the right direction but the wrong bad guy.
Ultimately, Clovis discovers he could have to choose between saving the woman burrowing her way into his heart, or a man he’s loved and respected since he was old enough to crawl.
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She was looking out over his wide, badly mown lawn, her hands shoved into the pockets of her jeans. She turned as the door swung open. Her pretty brown eyes filled with uncertainty. “Hello, Clovis.”
“Emma. You look good.”
She grimaced when she saw the discoloration around the bridge of his nose. “I’m really sorry about hitting you. Again.”
His smile was tentative. “You pack a mean punch.”
She shook her head, avoiding his gaze.
Looking at her for the first time since she’d told him she hated him, his pulse sped and his body tightened. She was every bit as gorgeous as he remembered.
He leaned against the door frame, crossing his arms over his chest. “How’s Cilla?”
“She’s good.” Emma’s gaze slipped past him. “Is this a bad time?”
Clovis wasn’t sure how to answer that. “Bad time for what?” If she was going to tell him she hated him again and to keep his damn family away from her and Cilla…well…yeah…it was a very bad time.
Emma frowned slightly, her shoulders squaring with temper. “Can I come in for a minute, Clovis? I promise I won’t be long. I just have something I need to tell you.”
His chest hurt and his stomach roiled with tension, but Clovis inclined his chin and stepped back, letting her pass before closing the door behind her.
Emma looked around the dark hallway and her gaze slid to the empty living and dining rooms. “A little light on furniture.” She turned and smiled at him.
Clovis’s chest loosened a little and he was able to breathe. “Yeah. I haven’t had much time to go shopping…” His voice trailed off as her smile slipped away. He hated to see it go.
“I know, I’m sorry about Brick. Actually, that’s why I’m here.”
He cocked his head as she hesitated. Then he realized how rude he was being. “I’m sorry. I’m afraid I’m functioning at barely above a savage level right now. Can I get you a beer or something?”
To his amazement she nodded. “I’d like that.”
He motioned toward the kitchen. “I’m afraid the only chairs on this level are in here.”
Clovis followed her into the kitchen, his gaze moving unerringly to her fine backside in the tight jeans. Oh how he’d missed those jeans.
He pulled two cold bottles of beer from the ancient, green refrigerator and handed her one.
She grinned at the fridge. “I think my parents had one just like that.”
Clovis patted the scratched and dented monstrosity. “I’ve grown kind of fond of it. Retro is cool, right?”
Emma laughed and the sound sent a wave of warmth skittering through Clovis. He found himself grinning too. “Sit.” He eyed the mess of papers on the table, realizing his mistake when Emma’s gaze fell on the photos Alf had brought. He lunged for them, scooping them up as her expression fell. “Let me just clean this mess up.”
Emma looked down at the table, her beer untouched on the table in front of her. “I’m so sorry, Clovis. I know saving Cilla cost you your uncle.”
He shook his head. “I’d do it all over again, Emma.” As he said the words he realized they were true and it surprised him. But deep down he knew he’d done what Brick expected and wanted him to do.
Emma’s eyes were bright with unshed tears. She sniffled and nodded, her hand wrapping around the bottle of beer. “I wanted to thank you for saving her. And to tell you I…” She took a deep breath, turning the bottle with her fingertips. “I realize you had to do what you did. I was…well…I was out of line. Out of my mind. I might have cost my baby her life.” She averted her gaze, looking everywhere but at him.
Clovis couldn’t stand to see her so upset. He walked over and crouched down beside her chair, lifting a hand to caress her cheek. Emma closed her eyes at his touch and shivered slightly. “You would never have let Cilla get hurt, Emma. I know that. But you were so upset. I didn’t know how to calm you down.” He pulled her closer. “It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do…”
She touched his lips with her finger, stopping him. “I know. You did the right thing, Clovis.”
They stared at each other for a long moment, something electric snapping between them. Clovis looked at her lush mouth, his body tightening with need. Emma started to pull her finger away and he reached up, stopping her. “I’ve missed you so much.” The words emerged husky and soft from between his lips.