Authors: Marie Ferrarella
Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Contemporary, #General
Gotten to him with her nails-on-chalkboard-grating cheerfulness and her over-the-top optimism. Because Cavanaugh seemed to care about everything and everyone, she’d somehow managed to get to him. To burrow her way under his skin and take up residence.
He didn’t want to be gotten.
He wanted to continue just as he was, being a dedicated detective working the cases he was assigned. He didn’t need a social life. Just work, just the feeling that somehow, some way he was making the slightest bit of difference by tilting the balance between good and evil to the plus side just a fraction.
That was all he needed.
But now, with this woman—his partner—buzzing around in his life like an annoying hummingbird that wouldn’t fly away, he needed more.
he realized with a shock.
To Jessi and Nik, who grew up much too fast.
A Hero for All Seasons
A Forever Kind of Hero
Hero in the Nick of Time
Hero for Hire
An Uncommon Hero
A Hero in Her Eyes
Heart of a Hero
Caution: Baby Ahead
Mother on the Wing
Baby Times Two
The Baby of the Month Club
Baby’s First Christmas
Happy New Year—Baby!
The 7lb., 2oz. Valentine
Do You Take This Child?
World’s Most Eligible Bachelors
The Once and Future Father
In the Family Way
An Abundance of Babies
Like Mother, Like Daughter
One Plus One Makes Marriage
Never Too Late for Love
The Bachelors of Blair Memorial
In Graywolf’s Hands
M.D. Most Wanted
Mac’s Bedside Manner
Two Halves of a Whole
The Baby Came C.O.D.
Desperately Seeking Twin
Serena McKee’s Back in Town
Holding Out for a Hero
Heroes Great and Small
Christmas Every Day
Caitlin’s Guardian Angel
The Cutlers of the Shady Lady Ranch
(Yours Truly titles)
Fiona and the Sexy Stranger
Cowboys Are for Loving
Will and the Headstrong Female The Law and Ginny Marlow
A Match for Morgan
A Triple Threat to Bachelorhood
McClellans & Marinos
The Taming of the Teen
Babies on His Mind
The Baby beneath the Mistletoe
Wife in the Mail
Found: His Perfect Wife
The M.D. Meets His Match
Lily and the Lawman
The Bride Wore Blue Jeans
Baby in the Middle
Husband: Some Assembly Required
The Mom Squad
A Billionaire and a Baby
A Bachelor and a Baby
The Baby Mission
Beauty and the Baby
Racing Against Time
Crime and Passion
The Strong Silent Type
Award-winning author has written over one hundred and twenty books for Silhouette, some under the name Marie Nicole. Her romances are beloved by fans worldwide.
loves a good conversation, but she loves a challenge even more. Can she get her gruff partner, Jack Hawkins, to warm up to her? Or will this sexy and oh-so-serious man show her a thing or two about his philosophy of less talk and more action?
Retired police chief
loves his children and hides from them his secret quest to find his long-lost love. Fifteen years ago his wife disappeared, and Andrew won’t give up hope that she’ll come home….
Rose “Claire” Cavanaugh
went out for a drive fifteen years ago and found herself with a new identity and no recollection of her past. Can a kindly, handsome man who claims to be her husband bring her back to the fold?
Let’s not forget other members of the Cavanaugh brood:
Racing Against Time,
Crime and Passion,
and Rayne (
here was no recognition in the woman’s eyes.
Try as he might to will it there, Andrew Cavanaugh didn’t see even the slightest hint of acknowledgment that he and she had grown up together, that the teasing and name-calling of two shy adolescents had masked the growing attraction they shared for one another.
There was no indication on her face that she remembered they had gotten married straight out of high school and that soon afterward, while he struggled to make his way up through the ranks of the Aurora police force, they’d been blessed with children. Five in total.
No indication that she even knew who he was or
that he’d spent the past fifteen years of his life searching for her, praying that she’d somehow managed to escape the watery grave that had claimed the vehicle she’d been driving that day.
She was Rose, his Rose, he was sure of it, even though the name tag on her uniform proclaimed her name to be Claire. She didn’t belong in this diner. She belonged home.
With her family.
She was his Rose, even though her hair was a little less blond now than he remembered. Her eyes were still as blue and her shape as supple as the day he first made her his wife.
He could feel his heart aching as the woman walked by him again, then paused and retrace her steps.
“What will it be, mister?” the woman called Claire asked in Rose’s voice.
He desperately wanted to answer, “You,” then demand to know how she could look at him and not feel what he was feeling, not throw her arms around him the way he wanted to throw them around her. All his training as a policeman, as a detective and then as the chief of Aurora’s police force strained to hold him in check. To keep his hands from grasping her shoulders and shaking her until the clouds lifted from her eyes.
“Just a cup of coffee,” he told her.
He watched as “Claire” placed a cup and saucer before him.
She smiled, wrenching his heart further, and asked, “Cream?”
He took his coffee black—he always had. Why didn’t she remember that?
Patient, damn it. You’ve got to be patient,
Andrew silently insisted.
He watched her slender fingers spread out on the counter as she waited for his reply. And then he knew what he needed to do.
With a nod of her head, sending her soft dark blond hair bobbing, the waitress placed a small metal container filled with cream beside his full cup. Then, reaching into the freshly cleaned utensils, she plucked out a teaspoon and placed it next to the container.
Leaving him with his coffee and his memories, she went to wait on the family of five who had just taken the booth beside the entrance.
Andrew left forty minutes later, having nursed his coffee and his memories for as long as he could. The coffee was poor to fair, the memories almost too agonizingly sweet to bear. He’d remained because he couldn’t tear himself away.
And because he kept praying he’d see the light of recognition in her eyes.
But he didn’t. He was going to have to arrive at his goal by other, less quick means.
The spoon “Claire” had handled was carefully wrapped up in a paper napkin and tucked into his pocket.
At bottom, Andrew Cavanaugh was an emotional man and unashamed of it. But he’d spent too many years as a cop not to recognize the need for hard evidence.
He had her fingerprints.
Detective Teri Cavanaugh stole a glance at her partner’s heroic-in-a-superhero-sort-of-way profile as they came out of a hairpin turn.
No change of expression, no comment that the car he was driving had all but taken the turn on two wheels and probably come close to turning over. Nothing. It was like being partnered with a sphinx. A very sexy, sensual-looking sphinx, but a sphinx nonetheless.
It had been nine months since they had first been teamed up by some ironic whimsy of fate and her uncle Brian Cavanaugh, the chief of detectives. Nine months and Detective First Class Jack Hawkins had uttered maybe three dozen sentences on his own without having had the words pried out of him with a crowbar.
She sighed and shook her head. You’d think that after spending her childhood in the never-ending company of four brothers and sisters and six cousins, she would have welcomed these quiet moments of
respite with the Aurora Police Department’s version of a mannequin.
But noise was her element—it always had been. She thrived on chaos and confusion, found herself thinking better that way. Detective Jack Hawkins, however, seemed to thrive on silence. The very same atmosphere that was guaranteed to drive her crazy.
Just as it was now.
Silence made her itchy, restless. She would have had trouble sitting still even if he wasn’t racing to a call dispatch had just taken.
Enough, she thought, completely abandoning her plan not to be the first to talk today but to wait him out. There weren’t enough minutes in the year for that.
“Do you realize that you haven’t said ten words since you came on duty this morning?”
Hawk spared her a glance only after enough beats had gone by to convince Teri that he was going deaf and hadn’t heard her.
“Don’t see the need. You’re doing fine on your own,” he answered without even a hint of a smile on his lips.
Annoyance had her shifting again, just before they flew through a yellow light. She blew out a breath. “Damn it, Hawk, I don’t like carrying on monologues. A little input once in a while would be nice.”
His wide, muscular shoulders rose and fell in less than the blink of an eye. “Yeah, well, we can’t always have what we want.”
She frowned. Lately, she thought, she’d done a lot of frowning. And this statue of a partner had a lot to do with that. “You stand a better chance of getting whatever it is you want if you vocalize it.”
Hawk allowed himself one swift glance in her direction before he looked back on the road. What he wanted was for her to stop prodding at him, to accept things the way they were and to maybe shut up for a while, while he still had his sanity. The woman talked more than any three other people he knew. It didn’t help his mood any that lately she seemed to be getting under his skin more and more. Not just because of how much she talked, but just by being. There was an itch growing within him, an itch he didn’t much care for and one he knew he couldn’t scratch. Ever.
His voice was stony, completely devoid of emotion. “Not from where I’m looking.”
And just where is that? she was tempted to ask, not that she figured he would get her an answer. Hawk didn’t do well when it came to give and take. Everything she knew about Jack Hawkins she’d gotten by hacking into his personnel file.
Okay, she had to admit that the man hadn’t had an easy time of it. Orphaned at a young age when a drug dealer killed both of his parents, Hawk had swiftly been incorporated into the system when no relatives came to claim him. In effect he’d been given a one-way ticket into hell, to survive as best he could.
That he’d gone on to become a police detective rather than a drug pusher himself was a credit to the
man, and she would have been the first to praise him. However, as far as she could tell, he hadn’t made the full transition from the dark side to the light even after he’d reached this plateau. And after nine months in his company, she was still utterly committed to the quest of dragging the black-haired, icy-blue-eyed man into that light. Or die trying.
It was on days like today that she was fairly certain it was going to wind up being the latter.
Teri saw another corner coming and she braced herself. “Then maybe you need to take another look, a clearer one this time.”
“Let’s just concentrate on the home invasion in progress,” Hawk advised without the benefit of giving her another glance.
Teri held on as her partner took the next corner sharply. The man might behave like a monk who was determined to observe a vow of silence at all costs, but he certainly didn’t drive like one. She braced both hands against the dashboard as he took another quick right.
He all but stole her breath away. The thought evoked an unconscious smile. There were days he did that when he wasn’t driving at all. But that was something she couldn’t allow to surface. It would throw the partnership right out the window.
They were on their way to a home invasion that was still in progress, having been alerted to it thanks to a call made by one of the victims, a brave little
ten-year-old girl who, as far as Teri was concerned, had more on the ball than most adults.
It was the fifth such home invasion in Aurora in less than a month. This time, the robbery was taking place in an upscale apartment complex on the west side. Dispatch had the little girl, who was hiding with her cordless telephone receiver in a closet, on the line, allowing them to get a heads-up on what was happening as it took place.
Dispatch had just narrowed down the perimeter and confirmed the address less than two minutes ago. It was enough to make Hawk press down on the accelerator the rest of the way.
As cars frantically scrambled out of the path of the oncoming vehicle and its siren, Teri tried not to wonder if they were going to arrive in one piece.
“Think it’s the same ones who pulled the past four jobs?” she asked, slamming her hands back on the dashboard as Hawk made a razor-sharp left.
Horns blared at them from all directions, the sound blending in with the screeching of brakes.
He didn’t even appear to think about the question. For once, his answer was fired out. “Probably.”
Most people knew enough to quit while they were ahead, but those on the other side of the law were a special breed. The brains they were issued at birth weren’t the garden variety that enabled them to exercise restraint, to consider consequences instead of gains.
She shook her head as she saw scenery whiz by.
Not a single red light had caught them. “I guess success makes you bold.”
Hawk was tempted to ask just what it was that had made
so bold and brassy, but he knew he’d probably get an answer several paragraphs longer than he was willing to bargain for. So he kept the question to himself, letting it die a natural death.
He wondered if she knew that he’d be willing to talk more if she talked less. Maybe it was just as well things went on this way. Talking led to places he wasn’t willing to go.
For the life of him, Hawk had no idea what the chief had been thinking, teaming them up like this. The man was her uncle, for God’s sake, he had to have a clue as to what she was like. For his part, Hawk came home every night, thinking about headache tablets and missing his old partner, a man who knew the value of silence and didn’t speak until he was spoken to. In three years he and Edmunds hadn’t exchanged as many words as were wont to fly out of Cavanaugh’s mouth in three hours.
He damned Edmunds for getting in harm’s way and then deciding the gunshot wound had been an omen that he’d used up his share of luck. Edmunds was now behind a desk, pushing a pen, which he found preferable to pushing up daisies, he said. The request for a desk job coincided with Cavanaugh’s partner retiring. From what he’d heard, it was her second retiree. Hell, he would have retired, too, if it meant finally
getting a little peace and quiet—and putting a lid on this damn restlessness he felt inside.
Reaching his destination, Hawk abruptly brought the unmarked squad car to a halt in front of the building in question. They had beaten the uniforms getting here, but then he’d expected nothing less. That had been his intent all along.
The Wongs’ apartment, according to the terrified daughter who placed the call, was located on the second floor—2E. Hawk lost no time, jumping out of the vehicle and slamming the door in his wake. He didn’t bother to look over his shoulder to see if the blond, blue-eyed bane of his existence was behind him. There was no need. If he’d learned nothing else in the past nine months, it was that the woman stuck like glue.
Probably had something to do with the fact that the rest of her family was in law enforcement, he reasoned. She’d been raised teething on a night stick and obviously felt she had something to prove.
Well, not to him. The one thing he would have liked her to prove was that she had the brains most people were born with. That meant not rushing into the heart of danger every time it reared its ugly head.
That he did was another matter. After all, he was a man. Men were supposed to do this kind of thing. Besides, he hadn’t anything to lose. The way she talked, Cavanaugh loved life. That meant she had everything to lose.
He, on the other hand, had never loved life. He
tolerated it, just as it tolerated him. As far as he was concerned, he and life were nothing more than less than friendly adversaries.
Ignoring the startled inquiry of the doorman, Hawk tore into the building and quickly took the stairs to the second floor. The echo of footsteps told him she was right behind him.
His eyes took in everything in one swift, sweeping glance. The stately hallway before apartment 2E looked ready for photographing. Peaceful, elegant, it seemed an unlikely setting for a home invasion. Which was just what made it ripe for one.
Motioning Teri to the left side of the wide door while he took the right, Hawk strained to hear the sounds of discord coming from inside the apartment. Just the faintest of whimpers seeped into the air. His eyes met Teri’s. She nodded, indicating that she’d heard it, as well.
Holding his fingers up, Hawk did a silent count to three, then spun and kicked open the door, his service revolver poised to fire at anything that moved. He yelled out, “Police!”
His voice swiftly drowned in the onslaught of screams, curses and confusion.
In a split second, Teri saw six people, two elderly, two middle-aged and two children, in various stages of terror, frozen in place. Their arms were raised above their heads and they were obviously the victims rather than perpetrators.
Two others were fleeing to the end of the apart
ment—toward the apartment’s fire escape, if she didn’t miss her guess.
“Freeze!” Hawk shouted, but neither of the two men did.