Chapter One

Jake Taggert dragged his eyes away from her front door for at least the fifth time in as many minutes. With a muttered curse, he forced his attention back to the unrolled plans spread across the hood of his truck.

Three days. Three days since he’d begun this job, and three days he’d been drawn to that woman with the gorgeous curly hair. And legs that reached the sky. She must work nearby—she walked past him every day. Or maybe she took the bus or train? Had she already left before he arrived today?

Do not look at her house again.

With his coffee mug held away from the drawings, he squinted at the blue lines. One of the construction workers called out a greeting and he glanced up, raising his free hand in response. He noticed the trailer pulling onto the verge opposite him, piled high with sections of metal storm drains. Good. He’d called in a couple of favors and the company had come through with the delivery.

The crisp autumn breeze sent gold oak leaves scurrying along the sidewalk. It blew his hair over his eyes, reminding him he needed to get it cut. Shoving the too-long strands off his forehead, he kept his wavering focus on the intricacies of sewer pipe designs, trying to make sense of the land gradient and the lay of the new drains.

He scrunched his eyes. Lord, he was tired. If Cam would stop waking up at three in the morning, he’d be more functional. Of course, then the kid then fell asleep on the way to the sitter’s.

He stepped back from the truck and knocked into a body. A soft female body. By pure reflex, he half-turned and caught her around the waist before she fell.

“Oh, damn.” Her husky tone brought forth instant images of silk sheets and king-sized beds. Some exotic, flowery scent wafted over him.

“I’m sorry, ma’am. I didn’t realize you were there.”

He stared. It was her. The woman he’d watched for three days. The sun shone down on her just a little brighter, the grass on the verge behind her just a little greener.

“It was my fault.” Her full lips curved into an apologetic smile. “I wasn’t paying attention.”

Her hair was curlier than he realized from those short glimpses of her. She smiled again, flashing pearly white teeth at him.

When the hell did I started noticing women’s teeth?

She looked down at his arm still holding her waist.

Er… sorry.” He let go, wishing he could think of something witty to say. Something that would keep her there, talking. But that had about as much chance of happening as the Bears winning the Super Bowl this year. He wanted—no, needed—to hear that bedroom voice again.

Her eyes widened for an instant as she gazed at him. Beautiful, and grass-green. Thank God her lids swept down, hiding those eyes behind thick, curling lashes. He could have drowned in all that green.

Great, now I’m mooning over her eyes.

“Thanks for not letting me fall.” She nodded at him and walked on, heading away from the construction. He couldn’t help following the line of those long, long legs under her red skirt. The same light wind blew again, and flirted with its edges, teasing him with half glimpses of the backs of her thighs.

Head bent, bag slung over her shoulder, she must have walked about fifty feet before she stopped. She swung around on one heel and ran back toward him and grabbed his bicep. “Quick! You have to move.”

What the hell? “Excuse me?”

Even startled, Jake still registered the softness of her fingers on his arm and the tingle of awareness that shot through his skin.

“Please, just get away from the truck.” Her voice rose, urgent, strange. Had she flipped her lid?

“Look… ” he began.

She caught his arm with both hands and tugged, and he took an involuntary step in her direction.

Hell, when a gorgeous woman pulled him toward her, who was he to say no?

Still hanging on, she towed him away from the vehicle. He followed, more curious than alarmed. “Miss, what’s going on?”

“I… can’t explain. Please just… just get away from the damn thing.”

“Hey, I don’t know what you want. What’s wrong with my truck?”

“Just a feeling.”

A feeling? She’d super-glued her hand to his arm because of a feeling? They stood about a hundred feet from the truck now. Enough was enough. He dug in his heels and shook loose from her grasp. “Miss, you want to tell me what’s going on?”

“It’s just that… oh, how do I explain this?” She raked a hand through her hair, her bewildered tone touching a chord inside him.

“Explain what?” he asked, softening his tone. He glanced back at his vehicle. Maybe this was a scam and someone planned to carjack him.

The shout caught his attention. He looked in the direction of the noise, and stiffened in shock. The trailer, filled with sectional storm pipes, slid off the pavement, the tubes clanging as they knocked against each other. Tires spun as gravity took over.

“Oh. My. God.” Jake breathed the words and watched in horror as the trailer slammed into his truck. The side where he had  stood not a minute ago.

The resounding crunch of metal against metal echoed above the sounds of cars and machines. He flinched. People shouted, the words barely penetrating the haze over his mind. Unable to tear his eyes from his mangled truck, he stared, stunned.

Something sharp dug into his arm. He moved his head slowly, like swimming upstream in swamp water, and looked down at the hand still curled around his bicep. She had nice nails, painted a pale pink.

Jesus, she had saved his life. But how the hell had she known?