Oh, my God!” Kara put her hand above her eyes, as if blocking out the morning’s bright early June sun. “I think I’ve just been blinded for life by the dazzle that would be a Navy SEAL in dress whites.”
“Very funny,” Sax drawled as he sauntered into her office on a sexy, easy-hipped stride that would have any woman with blood still running in her veins wanting to scoop him up with a chip. “And putting on these choker whites I never intended to wear again wasn’t exactly my idea.”
Kara reached into her top drawer and took out her shades—partly to play along with the blinding metaphor, but also to keep him from seeing the out-and-out lust that had to be flashing in her eyes like the light bar at the top of her patrol car.
“Funny. I have a problem envisioning anyone forcing you to do anything you don’t want to.”
“It was the parade committee’s idea.” He threw his body into a wooden chair on the visitor’s side of the desk. “When I reluctantly agreed to go along with this cockamamie parade, I’d planned to wear my cammies. But then the whole thing escalated into a big deal and the damn committee and, God help me, my mother started pushing for the whites.”
“The town wants a hero.”
“I’m no hero.”
“So you keep saying. But nevertheless, to paraphrase a certain politician, you’ve got to hold a parade with the hero you’ve got. Who would be you. So you’ve got to expect them to go full-out. Besides, during tough times, something like this celebration gives everyone something to smile about.”
“Everyone but the guy stuck in the damn convertible waving to the crowd and feeling like a fool.” He ran his finger around the high, tight collar, which, perversely, had her wanting to lick his tanned neck. “I even tried to get the guys down at the VFW hall to back me up.”
“I take it from your scowl and the fact that you’re not wearing cammies, they backed the parade committee instead.”
“Got it in one.”
He looked surly and hot. Kara reminded herself that she’d never been attracted to bad boys. But that didn’t prevent the flutter behind her sternum.
“You’re still the grand marshal,” she reminded him. “The reason for the parade in the first place. So I’d imagine that if you decided to show up in a Hawaiian shirt and flip-flops, looking like an escapee from Margaritaville, no one would do anything about it.”
“That’s probably true enough.” He sighed heavily.
“So? If you’ve already got an excuse not to wear it, why, then, are you decked out in that Harm Rabb JAG uniform?”
“Did you not hear me when I said my mother wanted me to look like the Good Humor man?”
“Oh.” The flutter behind her sternum warmed dangerously. “You’re making the grand sacrifice for your mom. That’s sweet.”
He dragged both hands down his face. “It is what it is,” he muttered. Then he sighed again in a way that lifted his chest, which bore an impressive display of ribbons and medals.
“You’ve been busy since you left town,” she said.
Sax glanced down at the colorful military fruit salad. “Yeah. I even won best of show.” Humor burst like sunshine through the stormy irritation in his eyes.
Kara laughed, grateful for the change in mood while at the same time unsettled that she found him even more dangerous when he was smiling.
“They say,” she said, feeling at ease with him again, in much the same way she had when Jared had essentially handed her over to him for safekeeping, “that a woman can always tell how a man’s going to treat his wife by watching how he treats his mother.”
A dark brow arched as he looked at her, the intensity in his eyes not just due to their color, but frankly sexual interest. “You thinking about asking me to marry you?”
“Of course not.” She felt the color burning in her cheeks. Which was ridiculous. The one thing she’d inherited from her mother was her absolute inability to blush. “It was merely a statement.”
Channeling her cool-as-a-cucumber mother, she took off the dark glasses, leaned back in her chair, and crossed her legs. Even though he couldn’t see them behind the desk, for some insane reason she was wishing she were wearing something other than these ugly khaki pants.
“Since apparently you didn’t come here this morning to bring me a Fudgsicle, I take it you’re here about the discovery on your beach.”
“It’s a public beach,” he reminded her. “But yeah.” He reached into a pocket and pulled out a piece of paper. “Cait McKade’s interested. And she figured that, rather than talk to me, then have me talk to you, then go back around again, it would be more efficient if you just called her directly. So here’s her number.”
He leaned forward, invading her space to hand it to her. When she took the paper, their fingers brushed, causing a spark of electricity that had her nearly pulling her hand away.
“Thanks. I really appreciate this.” Had he noticed? Or had the reaction been solely on her part?
Sax had noticed. And damned if it hadn’t felt like someone had touched a bare, hot wire to his fingers. The way her eyes had widened—just for a brief second, but long enough to give her away—Sax realized she felt it, too.
“No problem,” he said. “I hear you’re looking at some cold cases.”
She angled her chin. Narrowed those expressive eyes. He wouldn’t have guessed a cop would allow her feelings to show so easily. Then again, maybe he’d just gotten around her shields.
Sax liked that idea. A lot.
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