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(Note: This is an unedited excerpt. Final version may vary slightly.)
Someone waited on her porch.
Megan froze in the middle of the walkway, her fast-food bag still clutched in her hand, and lowered her shields. Better to have some idea what was in store. Her free hand twisted the little cap on her pepper spray keychain. If he planned to slit her throat and run, at least she’d have a fighting chance.
She opened the shields more. Surely something would come through. Tired as she was, she almost always managed to get some glimpse of the other person’s character or motives.
Still nothing. Perhaps she was more drained than she thought.
The figure in the shadows moved. “Hello, Miss Chase.” A man’s voice, smooth as glass against silk. “I enjoyed your show very much.”
Megan took a cautious step forward. This was her home. It was just past 9:30 on a bright September night, and she would stand her ground.
“Thank you,” she said. “Who are you, please?”
The man stepped off her porch. Moonlight made the sharp, aristocratic bones of his face stand out like bas-relief under a shock of thick dark hair. He was tall—of course, to someone as short as Megan most people were tall, but she thought he was a few inches over six feet. She’d remember that if the police asked her about it in the emergency room later.
He could send her there without breaking a sweat, too. Broad shoulders hinted at a muscular body, and were encased in a suit even she could tell was tailor-made. A businessman.
Businessmen could be rapists just as easily as anyone else.
“My name is Greyson Dante,” he said, reaching into the interior pocket of his suit coat and pulling out a card so white it glowed. He held it out to her. She didn’t step forward.
“And what are you doing here?”
He lowered his hand to his side without a trace of embarrassment. Was he a lawyer? She’d never met anyone in a different profession who enjoyed being rebuffed as much as attorneys seemed to. “I came to speak to you about your show. I have a client who is very interested in your concept.”
“If it’s about the show, your client should call the station.”
“It’s not an offer for the station. It’s for you, personally.”
She sighed. “Then he or she should call me at my office, not send a lawyer to lie in wait at my home.”
“Did I say I was a lawyer?”
He waited for her to continue, smiling when she remained silent. The more she looked at his face the more she wanted to look, and she couldn’t imagine she was alone among women in that reaction.
And she bet he knew it. She concentrated very hard on seeming unimpressed.
“Dante.” His voice was a perfect blank. It wasn’t just a bland accent, it was accentless, as if he’d been to broadcaster’s school and spent years removing any identifying trace from his speech.
“Yes. This is all very pleasant, but it’s late and I’m hungry and tired. You can leave a message at my office tomorrow if there’s something you need to discuss. I may even have time to call you back.”
He kept smiling. Megan reached out to him with her mind. Maybe he just wasn’t much of a transmitter. Some people weren’t. If she could have a little feel-around in his head, though, she might get a better idea of what he wanted.
It was no use. Not only could she not get into his head, but the grin on his face made her think he knew—or at least suspected—what she was doing. Which wasn’t possible, was it?
“Miss Chase.” She could almost see him switch gears from “slick and sophisticated” to “your good friend who wants to help you” mode. “I don’t think I’m making myself very clear. My client wants only to aid you and possibly come to a mutually beneficial arrangement. If you would just give me ten minutes of your time, I could explain—”
“I’m sorry, but I have a lot to do this evening. I don’t have time to sit here and talk.”
“I don’t have time to sit or stand with you.” She crossed her arms over her chest. The paper bag full of fries flopped against her stomach.
He studied her for a minute, his head tilted to one side. “I’ll be in touch,” he said. “Meanwhile, I’d appreciate it if you could do me a favor.”
“You want me to do you a favor?”
“Don’t accept any new offers until you’ve heard what my client has to say.”
“Fine.” What difference did it make? It wasn’t a legally binding agreement or anything. Or as if any offers of any kind were likely to come her way soon. If it got him to leave it was worth it.
“Thank you.” He turned to go, then stopped and held out his hand. “My card.”
He didn’t move as she took it from him. The heavy, thick card stock whispered against her skin as her finger slipped over the raised lettering.
Megan watched him go, crossing the street and stopping next to a sleek black Jaguar, which unlocked with a discreet click. “Oh, and Miss Chase?”
He opened his mouth, closed it, then opened it again. Megan was ready to give up and go inside when he finally spoke.