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by Sharon DeVita
Description: Knights in shining armor are all well and good, but real men are even better. It's time for Annie Milano to start living again. Having been widowed longer than she was married, she's ready to take the plunge and re-enter the dating scene. While she appreciates the support and protection her late husband's best friend, Sal Giordano, has given her the last few years, Annie knows she can't expect him to be there forever. Sal was devastated when his best friend and partner was killed in the line of duty. Wracked with guilt over his less than brotherly feelings for his best friend's wife, Sal is determined to prove his loyalty to them both by being her devoted friend. But when he learns Annie is ready to date again, all Sal can think of is claiming her for himself. But before Sal can make his move, both he and Annie will have to put their pasts behind them, and realize that they were meant to be more than just friends. This is a Retro Romance Reprint and was originally published in November 1988 by Silhouette Romance.
eBook Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd., 2012 2012
eBookwise Release Date: July 2012
1 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [213 KB]
Reading time: 136-191 min.
"Sal?" Annie called, bumping the front door open with her hip as she juggled two bags of groceries. "Is that you?"
"Shh," he hissed, reaching one long arm out to slam the door shut behind her.
"Sal!" Annie cried as he yanked the bags out of her arms and pulled her down on the floor beside him. "What are you doing?"
"Hiding," he whispered, leaning up to peek out the window again.
"I can see that," Annie complained. Craning her neck, she tried to follow his line of vision, but Sal pushed her back down and hunkered his six-foot frame closer to the floor. It was hard to squish a six-foot frame under a window ledge that was three feet high, but he was trying.
"Who are we hiding from?" Annie whispered, wondering what kind of mischief he'd gotten himself into now.
"Oh, no!" Sal groaned. "Here she comes."
"Here who comes?" Exasperated, Annie struggled to sit up, but Sal held her down.
"Mrs. Altero," he whispered. He was checking out the street as if he were on surveillance. "Her granddaughter's visiting from Italy, and Mrs. Altero wants me to come to dinner to meet her." Sal groaned softly. "I love Mrs. Altero dearly, but, Annie, I don't think I can take any more of her cooking."
Annie laughed softly. Mrs. Altero was the neighborhood matchmaker. She was a wonderful woman with a kind heart and a loving spirit, but she was also the world's worst cook. No one in the neighborhood had the heart to tell her, so they just endured her gastronomic oddities in silence.
"Poor Sal." Shaking her head, Annie clucked her tongue sympathetically. "It's your own fault," she teased. "Haven't I been telling you, if you're not careful one of those ladies who're always chasing you is going to catch you?"
"Not me," Sal quipped, his dark eyes twinkling with mischief. "The only woman I'm ever going to have a serious relationship with is Sara Lee. I'm as slippery as greased lightning, and just as quick." He eased himself up and peeked through the window again. "Thank God. She's gone." Heaving a sigh of relief, Sal relaxed against the wall and wiped an imaginary bead of sweat off his forehead.
Annie couldn't help it, she grinned.
"What's so funny?" he asked, the barest hint of a smile curling his lips.
"Nothing," she lied, her smile going wider. Poor Sal. Ruggedly handsome with a head of thick, curly black hair and piercing dark eyes, he had a lazy, knock-'em-dead smile and an easygoing personality that had women everywhere throwing themselves at his feet. His rough-hewn elegance only added to his allure. No wonder little old ladies tried to feed him dinner--and their granddaughters.
"Can I get up now?" she asked, leaning on his shoulder for balance. "I'd love to play hide-and-seek with you, Detective Giordiano, but I'm in a hurry."
"In a hurry?" Scooping up her groceries Sal rolled to his feet. "My God, Annie!" He leaned down to peer into her startled face. "What on earth did you do to your hair?"
"I got it cut," she said dryly, wondering what the devil Sal was frowning about.
"What did you do that for?" He'd known Annie for years, but he had never really noticed how beautiful she was until this very moment. Her hair had been her crowning glory, a curtain of black velvet that cascaded down her back, nearly reaching her waist. Now it framed her delicate face in a curly halo, making her eyes look larger and more luminous than ever.
"Don't you like it?" she asked hesitantly, arching her neck to meet his gaze. Sal's frown deepened.
"Well...I guess so. It's...I...I'm just not used to it. And what's your hurry?" he asked, arching one dark brow suspiciously.
Annie grinned. "I've got a date."
"A date!" Sal's brows drew together. "What do you mean you have a date? What kind of date?"
"The usual kind," she assured him, trying to banish a smile at the stunned look on his face. "With a man." She tried to retrieve her groceries, but he wouldn't let go. Annie sighed in exasperation.
"Sal?" Deliberately she softened her voice. "It's been nearly two years since Tony died. Don't you think it's time for me to get on with the business of living?"