Reader Advisory: This book was previously released as a short story. It has been considerably expanded and revised. This book is part of a series because of theme only. It is a fully stand-alone story.

An exclusive excerpt...

It was dark when she next stirred, something intrudinginto her uneasy rest. Then she was being lifted in strong arms and carried. Theunfamiliar movement finally had her opening her eyes in dazed curiosity, evenas she looped her arms around a masculine neck. Nick’s scowl greeted her from afew inches away as he began to easily ascend the stairs, as though he weren’thauling a grown woman.

Maggie knew she should protest. She wondered at hispresence in her house. But the past twenty-four hours had taken their toll and,still exhausted, she pushed all that aside and simply accepted the cosseting asNick lowered her to her bed and covered her with an afghan.

“We’re going to talk about you leaving the blinds openand the door unlocked.” He grumbled his warning close to her ear, then sighed.“But not now. Get some sleep.” He straightened to go and the implications ofhis action finally cut through her lethargy.

She shot out a hand and grabbed his wrist before sheknew what she’d planned. “Will you stay?” His shocked eyes met hers as heturned. “I mean…I didn’t get a chance to say… I want to…” She let go of hiswrist. “Oh, who am I kidding? I just…want you to stay.” She inwardly pleadedfor his understanding, because right then, she had no idea what she wanted orexpected, whatever the outcome might be. Coherency was beyond her and if heasked her for a reason, she’d have no idea what to say.

All she knew was that when his arms had been aroundher, it was the only time she’d felt at peace all day. There was more to itthan that, but that was all she’d allow herself at the moment...