The Christmas Clue [Secure]
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by Delores Fossen
Description: This Christmas he'd have to play Santa in disguise Federal agent Matt Christensen hadn't planned on spending Christmas Eve dodging bullets. He hadn't planned on fatherhood, either. But when he discovered he had a daughter, Matt vowed he'd do anything to find her--including cozying up to a beautiful murder suspect with dangerous connections. To get inside the isolated West Texas compound of a known criminal, Matt needed Cassandra Harrison's contacts. But could he ignore the other needs Cass brought to mind? She was vulnerable and soft...almost innocent. With an arsenal of gunmen intent on crushing his Christmas mission, he'd have to protect them both if they wanted to survive the cold, cold night and bring his baby home for the holidays.
eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Intrigue,
eBookwise Release Date: November 2007
7 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats [Secure - What's this?]: OEBFF Format (IMP) [310 KB]
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Cass Harrison tightened her grip on the tranquilizer gun and waited.
Her heartbeat pounded in her ears, and she could feel every nerve in her body. She wanted to get out of there fast. But she couldn't. Because this confrontation was the first step.
And because Agent Matt Christensen could save her life.
If he didn't kill her first, that is.
After all, she'd broken into the home of a federal agent. Not the safest thing she had ever done. Hopefully, it would be worth the risk.
Standing at the window of his dining room, Cass made another check of the massive backyard so she could reassure herself one more time that she hadn't been followed. It seemed clear. She prayed it would stay that way.
Outside, she could hear the icy December wind assault the trees. No traffic noise, though. Agent Christensen's house was only twenty minutes from San Antonio, but there were no signs of the city here. His white limestone lodge-style house was nestled in the center of five heavily wooded acres, a location that had been a blessing and a curse. The seclusion had allowed her to leave her car a mile away on a nearly deserted side street and sneak into the house sight unseen. But the semi-isolation meant there'd be no one to help if something went wrong.
She was literally on her own.
Of course, it'd been that way for months now.
"Thank you," Cass mumbled when she finally heard the cue that she'd been waiting for—the metallic grind of the garage door opening, then the sound of Agent Christensen entering through his mudroom.
There was a rustle of movement, and Cass listened as he made his way to the other side of the house. To his bedroom, where he would hopefully take off his standard-issue semiautomatic so it wouldn't be readily available for him to try to use on her. He turned on some music. Not loud. But maybe loud enough to muffle her footsteps on the hardwood floors.
Before she could change her mind, Cass slipped out of the dining room and into the tiny kitchen. Keeping close to the wall, she went into the hall and toward his bedroom. She tried not to think of what might happen once she confronted him.
Maybe he would listen to her. Maybe.
And if he didn't…well, Cass had studied what she could access of his official records, and at six-foot-two and one-hundred-and-ninety pounds, Agent Matt Christensen could easily pulverize her.
Forcing that unsettling thought aside, Cass inched toward his bedroom. The only sounds were the steady pulsing rhythm of a bluesy saxophonist whining a familiar Christmas carol. Sax music and Dean Koontz paperbacks scattered all over the house. Under different circumstances, she might have wondered what else Matt Christensen and she had in common.
After a mumbled prayer, she eased open the door. Just a fraction.
And came face-to-face with Matt Christensen.
Or rather with the gun he stuck right in her face.
Cass nearly screamed from the surprise, but she tamped down any startled response and kept a firm grip on her own weapon, such that it was. Not easy to manage with her suddenly trembling hands. And, mercy, her knees were shaking.
Despite all her trembling and shaking, she had no trouble seeing the man behind that gun. Matt Christensen wore black pants and a white shirt that he'd unbuttoned.
He looked one hundred percent lethal.
His bio had been dead-on. He was formidable, and his pretty-boy looks didn't diminish that. He was blond-haired, blue-eyed, toned and naturally tanned. And because his shirt was open, she could also see that he had muscled pecs and abs.
Even though he was a prime specimen of a man, Cass didn't dare let that distract her. Not a chance. This situation could easily get out of hand even more than it already was.
"Well?" he said.
Definitely not a greeting but more like a challenge. It also had a tinge of a Texas drawl and more than a bit of dismissal to it. If he were even remotely concerned about having an armed intruder walk in on him, he didn't show it.
"I need to talk to you," Cass managed to say.
He lifted his left eyebrow. "And you thought aiming a tranquilizer gun at me was the easiest way to do that?"
"The safest," she corrected. "I'm not here to hurt you, only to talk. I couldn't meet with you at your office. Not with their security measures. And the office, assignments, your city apartment and this house seem to be the only places you ever go. You really don't have much of a life," she added in a mumble.
"I suppose this is your idea of getting me a life?"
"In a way. Just think of this as an early Christmas present." Cass backed out into the hallway, to put some physical distance between them. It didn't help. Matt Christensen still seemed to be right in her face.
"How did you get into my house?" he asked.
"I picked the lock. It's a little skill that I've unfortunately had to learn to stay alive. It also helped that your security system wasn't on. I guess this isn't a high crime area out here. By the way, I'm Cass Harrison—"
"Even with the dye job and the bad haircut, I know who you are," he interrupted. "Cassandra Leeann Harrison. Age twenty-eight. Last known residence, San Antonio. I've seen your pictures at least a dozen times in the newspapers and on wanted flyers."
Copyright © 2007 by Delores Fossen.