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“I’m sorry. I’ll get out of your w—Marlon?”
Despite his common sense not to touch her, he tucked some loose strands of hair behind her ear. Sizzles went straight to his groin. Dear God, what if they really did become lovers? He’d never survive, and yet he liked the odds. Dying in her arms sounded rather pleasant. Satisfying.
When she licked her bottom lip, he came close to coming unglued. Her eyes widened. “What are you doing here?”
“Getting my boss’s order. I should be angry since you avoided me, but I can deal.” When her gaze raked over his body, he fisted his hand to keep from wrapping her in an embrace. “I see you’re checking out the want-ads. Which flyer caught your attention?”
She held her palm open. Three slips of paper lay crumpled in her hand. “One’s for a babysitter, one’s for a dog walker and the third is for a companion.”
Companion? His throat constricted. “Which one?”
“Which one what?”
“Who wants a companion?”
She pointed to a pink flyer. Elder in the community seeks companion. Must be able to lift a hundred pounds and willing to work nights and weekends. 555-0089 Ask for Dan. Dan Denoon, local businessman and suspected pimp. Hell, no. She didn’t know his story, but she wasn’t going to fall into his trap. Having a former celebrity would boost his popularity and get Jaden into a world she could probably handle but didn’t deserve.
“You don’t want to be his companion. He’s not looking for someone to care for his Gramma.” Despite his trust in her decisions, he sighed. “He wants an escort-slash-plaything. It’s bad news.”
Shrinking away from him, she handed him the paper. “Oh. Sorry.”
Her sweet nature would be the death of his sanity, but shit if she wasn’t cute when she was out of her element. Wriggling in his polo shirt, he shifted. When did the air get so damned hot in the little foyer? It was late October for crying out loud. “You didn’t know. Which one is for the dog walker?”
“Maybe I shouldn’t tell you. You shot my other option down.” The hint of a frown marred her coral lips. “Oh, what the hell? You’re a cop. I should trust you.” She pointed to a simple handwritten flyer. “This one. For a lady named Judi Pennywood. Know her? Does she run some sort of prostitution ring, too?” She put her hands up. “I can see it now. Granny’s Girlie Show. Come one, come all...or don’t come at all. No refunds.”
Gritting his teeth, he groaned and chuckled. “Jaden, honey, I didn’t mean that. I just—”
Before he could finish his answer, she clamped a hand over his mouth. “I’m giving you grief. I know how to do that without any training.” She scrunched her nose and winked. “So what’s the skinny on this Pennywood character?”
Wrapping his fingers around hers, he removed her hand from his mouth. Being with her felt so natural, so right. He wanted to do it some more—every day. If she’d let him. “I work with her great niece, Carol Ann. She’s a nice lady. Around eighty-six-ish. I believe she still owns a Basset hound.”
Jaden cringed. “Do they drool? I hear they make a mess.”
Rubbing his thumb over her knuckles, he considered her questions. As far as he knew, Saint Bernards drooled. Did Bassets? “I guess you’ll have to call her and find out. Carol Ann loves to tell me stories. I’d say you, Judi, and Carol Ann would get along great.”
Slowly, her gaze met his. Eyes the colour of sea glass with twinges of azure mixed in for good measure, framed by dark lashes. A man could lose himself in those eyes. “You really think this is a good deal? I don’t want taken for a ride, but I can do this, Marlon.”
“Never said you couldn’t.” He nodded to the diner. “Although I’d love to stay here and talk, I need to take the order back to the department. Want to come along?”