Merinus waited, but there was no other information forthcoming.

“What about Callan Lyons? Could you tell me where I can reach him?” she asked sweetly, allowing a shade of mockery to infect her tone.

There was a long pause as the man reached into the motor and adjusted wires, then thumped at the metal.

“Did you hear me?” she asked him with false sweetness. “Callan Lyons? Do you know where I could find him?”

Those broad shoulders shrugged again, and Merinus gritted her teeth in anger.

“Who knows where Lyons is,” he finally said. “He comes and goes.”

Merinus rolled her eyes. Wasn’t that the truth? And he looked damned fine coming, too.

“Fine,” she muttered. “I’ll just check back later.”

“You do that, sweet thing,” he muttered, glancing back up at her with a tight smile. Merinus narrowed her eyes. He laid the wrench he was using on the inside frame carefully as he watched her as well. She could feel that gaze, starting at her white sneakers and moving slowly up her bare, tanned legs to the hem of her shorts, then up. He paused at the small streak of bare, tanned abdomen, then over her breasts until he reached her face.

Merinus stared back at him, her eyes narrowed at the insolence she read in his body and expression.


“Anything else?” A single, burnished brow arched above the lenses of his glasses.

“Nothing else,” she muttered, turning and walking quickly to the diner instead.

Callan watched her go, hiding his smile as she glanced back at him. Damn, she looked fine, he thought. And she was definitely on the hunt. A flare of regret rose in him as he admitted he would have definitely enjoyed the chase if circumstances were different. If he wasn’t who he was, if his own life wasn’t hanging by luck alone, then he could have enjoyed a game or two. And he’d be damned if that woman didn’t look good enough to play with. It made his mouth water, looking at all the smooth, sexy skin, just faintly tanned and as tempting as sin itself.

But it was, and he was determined that Miss Merinus Tyler would neither become embroiled in his life, nor add to the danger. He could watch her, but he’d be damned if he would let her get any closer. But hell, watching her was damned near as enjoyable as anything he’d ever done in his life. Dangerous woman, he thought. A damned dangerous woman. And her scent. It was all he could do to keep his hands off her, his mouth from tasting her. It was heat and wanting, spice and cream. She could be addicting.

“Damn, she don’t give up easy, does she Cal?” Tanner, his younger brother strode slowly from the inside of the garage as Merinus disappeared into the small restaurant.

“No, Tanner, she doesn’t give up easy.” Callan grinned.

“She’s pretty. All that thick brown hair and those big brown eyes.” Tanner grinned as he shook his head.

“I bet Taber will be real sorry he missed her today.”

They both knew better than that. Taber was all for Callan meeting up with the little journalist. Callan wasn’t so certain how Taber would feel now that Ms. Tyler was searching for him, though.

“Help me get this truck running, Tanner. I need to head home to sleep so I can patrol tonight. And this motor is refusing to cooperate.” Callan twisted at a wire, but still nothing.

“Ahh, you just don’t know how to talk to ‘em right,” Tanner laughed, pushing Callan out of the way as he moved in to look at the motor. “These older motors are like women, man. You have to know how to stroke ‘em, and how to speak real soft and sweet to ‘em.” He ended his words with a slight twist of his wrist.

The motor sang to life with the movement, chugging weakly, but willingly.

“Show off,” Callan laughed.

“Bring her in later and I’ll tune her up for you.” Tanner pulled a stained rag from his back pocket with a grin and wiped his hands.

“Tell Taber to leave the keys to his truck and I’ll do that.” Callan nodded as he headed for the driver’s

side door.

“I’ll do that.” Tanner nodded with a broad grin. “And if you need any help with that pretty thing later, you just let me know.”

“I’ll be sure to,” Callan laughed again, amused by Tanner’s less than obvious ploy. “Keep your jeans zipped, Tanner, and we might keep you alive yet.” More than one father was ready to take a shotgun to the hot-blooded youth.

Callan didn’t wait for an answer. He gunned the motor, then slid the truck into reverse, backing quickly away from the garage before sliding it in gear and heading home.

It was late that afternoon when Merinus left the diner and headed back to her motel room, armed with dinner. She was tired, sweaty and cranky. After spending the better part of the day watching over Callan’s house and trying to find the road into it, she was more than a little frustrated. She had seen his truck leave and return to the large cabin, but she had yet to find a road in. How do you hide a road? And she couldn’t get in close enough to follow the graveled track that she could see leading away from the house. To do so meant entering the small clearing in front of it. Not a good idea, as several other people seemed to always inhabit the place.

She had hiked for miles that day in several different directions, and followed more than one wide path through the forest. Still, nothing.

She pulled into the parking lot of her motel and breathed a weary sigh. Dinner, then a shower. Tomorrow, she would try again. There had to be a road up there, she was just missing it. That was all. She was beginning to feel more than a little stupid in doing so. Her questions around town were getting her nowhere. Those who admitted to knowing Callan only scratched their heads when she asked for directions to his home. The rest just scratched their heads period and played dumb. Small towns weren’t her thing evidently, because the people just made no sense at all.

They directed her to the Gass Up station every time she asked about Callan. He was there a lot. She had staked it out first thing. And the very people who swore they didn’t know him acted pretty damned familiar with him when they pulled in.

Damn him, he knew she was there. She unlocked the door to her room, flipping the light on as she entered. He knew who she was and he probably had a good idea what she wanted, but he still ignored her. Which was likely a good thing. After that little scene this morning, she didn’t know if she could trust herself to keep her hands off him or not.

Merinus ate quickly, staring absently at the television as she considered that damned driveway into Callan’s property. It had to be there somewhere. Roads didn’t just disappear. Did they?

The problem plagued her through her dinner and her shower. As she stepped out of the bathroom, wrapped in a terry cloth robe, the phone on the nightstand jangled loudly. Frowning, she picked the

receiver up cautiously.

“Hello?” She kept her voice pitched low, wondering who could be on the other side.

“Is this Merinus Tyler?” It was a man’s voice, rough and cold.

“Who’s asking?”

There was a brief silence.

“If you want to find Callan Lyons, get something to write the directions on. You’re missing the right turn.”

Merinus felt elation fill her. Finally, someone was willing to talk.

“Do you know Callan?” she asked as she slapped a pad of paper on the small bed table and tugged a pencil from the drawer.

“Do you have something to write on? Here’s how you get there.”

Merinus wrote down the directions hastily, concentrating as she tried to remember the landmarks he was giving her. She admitted she hadn’t yet tried that route, but it appeared to go nowhere.

“Do you have it?” The voice asked her.

“Yes, but—” The line disconnected.

Merinus took a deep breath, staring down at the paper. Could she get there in the dark? It wasn’t too late. There was still at least a good hour left of light. And it wasn’t like she could sneak up on the house anyway.

Throwing off her robe, she dressed quickly in jeans and a sleeveless blouse before slinging her purse over her shoulder and rushing out to the jeep. The turnoff she was given was only a few miles up the road. Cold Springs, he had said. She remembered seeing the little green sign on her excursions to the neighboring county.

She had him now. She contained her whoop of joy as she jumped into the jeep and started the ignition. He could run, but if she could find that road to his home, there was no way he could hide from her any longer.


Nearly an hour later, she was clenching her teeth in sheer desperation as she made yet another turn along one of the country back roads she had taken in her search for Callan’s home. The written directions beside her were giving her few clues to where she actually was as her jeep bumped and nudged itself along a pitted dirt road that seemed to lead to nowhere.

Applying the brake, Merinus sat and looked around in confusion. How had she done it? She could have sworn she had taken the right road a few turns back.

“Lord, save me from simple minded directions,” she groused. Pushing her hair back from her forehead, she put the jeep in reverse and turned around in the wide grassy shoulder that bordered the track. Surely it couldn’t be this difficult, she thought. Hell, she had never gotten lost in any big city she had ever been in, and now this little hick county was getting the best of her. It couldn’t be happening, her brothers would laugh her out of the nation if they found out.

“Dammit.” She pulled off the road again several miles later, looked around and admitted defeat. She was lost. Well and truly and irrevocably lost, and she had no one to blame but herself. Heaving a sigh, she looked around wearily. There had to be a way out of here. Something she had missed somewhere. Getting out of the SUV, she stretched her tired muscles, then paced over to the edge of the road, looking into the valley below for some sign of civilization. There wasn’t a sign to be found. All she could see was the same thing around her, trees and thick brush, and not even the roof of a house or a barn. Not that a barn meant anything around here, she had seen many of them, ransacked and falling down from neglect, nowhere near a house. After looking around for a moment longer, she walked to the other side of the road and began to climb the forested rise there. Maybe, if she could get further up, she could see something. There had to be a house somewhere. It wasn’t like she was in the desert or the rainforest, dammit. People lived here. That farmer had assured her earlier that if there was a road, then it led somewhere. So something or someone had to be out here. And she was going to have to find them soon. It was getting dark, and she sure as hell didn’t want to be stuck out here alone after dark.

As she entered the thicker part of the forest, she turned around to make certain she could still see the SUV. As she did, a noise behind her startled her, causing her to turn in fear. The man stood several feet in front of her, his eyes dark beneath the camouflage brim of his hat as he watched her. Merinus felt her heart begin to race rapidly in fear as his eyes traveled over her body, sparkling with a deadly intent.

“Well, what do we have here?” The man was tall, his camouflage hat pulled low over black smudged eyes, his face hard and menacing in the shadows of the forest. Merinus felt fear skate through her body. Her heart pumped quickly in her fear, the blood thundering in

her ears as she took in the cold, harsh expression of the man’s face.

“I’m lost.” Merinus backed up as the man loomed over her, a leer spreading across his face. “I was just looking for a way off the mountain.”

“Lost are you?” he sneered, his gaze stripping her. “Poor little thing. You need some help, do you?”

He sounded suspiciously like the guy who called with the stupid directions.

“I’m sure I can manage.” Merinus backed away slowly, fighting the panic spreading through her body. As she tried to back away, her arms were grabbed from behind and fear shot through her with the force of a tidal wave. She felt her system clog with hysteria as she felt the hard grip, felt the harder body behind her.

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