Matt was settled behind the wheel and the key in the ignition when Maggie’s soft voice reached him. With a twist he had the powerful truck roaring to life. Releasing a heavy sigh, his eyes searched for hers in the darkness of the cab. “I’m taking you back to your apartment and then I hope to hell I never lay eyes on you again.” He backed the truck up like a mad man, noticing Maggie had to clutch the dashboard to remain on her seat. “You’re nothing but a lying little tramp, sweetheart.” Matt knew he was being unreasonable but anger drove him on. That and the thought of what she’d be doing with the man in the corvette if he hadn’t showed up and ruined their plans. And that was ludicrous! He had no claims on her.
“That’s not so.” Her voice was hardly above a whisper.
“Save your breath.” He squealed out of the parking lot. “I’m not interested.”
“I guess that about says it all,” she breathed quietly before sniffling.
He was aware of her opening her small clutch and digging around for something, assuming it was a tissue to wipe her eyes. Matt reached for the glove box, opened it, and pulled out the handkerchief he kept there for emergencies. “Here.” He thrust it in her face. “I don’t know why you’re crying. I told you I’m not taking you to jail.”
She shook her head negatively at the offered hanky. “I don’t want to contaminate it,” she said huskily, sniffing loudly.
Matt grit his teeth. “Take it.” He didn’t give her a choice, forcing it under her dripping nose. Maybe he’d been a little rough on her but damn it, he’d had enough. From the moment he met her she’d gotten under his skin like no other woman had in a long time. He was damn uncomfortable knowing what she did for a living and still being so strongly attracted to her. In fact, he had a mind to see what five hundred dollars was worth. It would certainly ease his aching flesh.
He glanced at her but couldn’t make out anything but her outline in the dark interior of the truck. She was huddled close to the door, clutching his handkerchief in a tight fist against her mouth. It was probably covered with red lipstick that wouldn’t come out in a hundred washings. He decided the best way to handle the situation was to ignore it. Get her home as soon as possible and out of his life. He sped down the dark, quiet streets, just missing the lights as they turned red and taking corners like they were one-way streets. Several times he noticed Maggie grab the door handle to keep from being thrown on his side of the seat. But it didn’t matter how far away she was, he could still smell the bewitching seduction of her perfume as it attacked his senses and kept him horny.
At last he pulled into her neighborhood. Maggie lived in a bad section of town. He’d never had to come to Harbor Heights twice in one day before, and the only reason he’d come there that morning was to bring a runaway home. He turned the corner leading into her apartment complex sharply, tires squealing as he pulled into a parking spot close to her door. He didn’t bother cutting the engine off; he wasn’t staying. Turning his head, he was able to see Maggie clearly now that he was parked directly under one of the few remaining lights scattered around the buildings.
She remained staring straight a head. “Matt…” Her soft voice ran over his sharpened senses like the hands of an eager lover. “I’m not a prostitute. My mother is a novelist and I really was doing research tonight.”
How far was she willing to go and how come it was so damn important to her that he believes her? Okay, maybe she was what she said she was, but didn’t she know how dangerous her so-called research was? Her naive attitude had almost landed her in jail tonight and could have landed her in a situation a lot more unpredictable and violent.
He let his eyes run over Maggie once again, slowly this time, wanting to give her the benefit of the doubt. If she was playing a part she was dressed for it to the hilt. The little number she had on left nothing to the imagination.
Sighing deeply, he leaned back against the leather seat with his arms draped over the steering wheel. The apartment building loomed in front of him. Even in the dark he could see how old and run down it was. It needed more than just a new paint job; the grounds were unkept to a point of giving the place an abandoned look. And he could see some of the windows were broken out. In fact, he didn’t notice many lights on anywhere with the exception of a couple buildings located there in the front.
If Maggie’s mother was a novelist, why was Maggie living in a dump like this? It didn’t add up. Matt chuckled under his breath as he realized how close he’d come to falling for yet another one of her lies. She was good, damn her. He’d give her credit for that. “How far would you have gone?”
He sensed her turning his way. “I beg your pardon?”
“You say you were gathering information. How accurate can your observations be if you don’t actually go home with any of the Johns?”
“I was never supposed to go home with any of the…ah, clients. Or take their money. I was simply supposed to take down as much verbal information as I could. I have a tape…”
“Then what would you base your research on what really happens between a hooker and her client in bed? Or in the back seat of a car? Or in some back alley?”
“My mother has a very active imagination.”
Matt chuckled deeply in his chest but it had nothing to do with humor. “Imagination? Let me give you a sample to take back to Mom, so she doesn’t have to use her imagination.”
He didn’t understand why he was being so crude. Nothing he’d done that day concerning this woman made any sense to him. He didn’t have time to waste with just two days left to get his affairs in order, so what the hell was he doing? He’d better get a grip on his priorities and forget about her. The only problem was his mind was telling him no, but his body was saying yes.
Well, why not? He could make it with her and finally put out the fire she’d started earlier that day. He had a few extra bucks on him. It might not be enough for her, but the way he was feeling he wouldn’t be taking up much of her time.
“Thanks for the ride.”
Matt heard her hand fumble with the door handle. “The ride’s not over.” He wrapped his hand around her arm and dragged her away from the door before she had the chance to open it.
“You’re a cop!” she reminded him in a desperate tone of voice, trying to pull away from him.
“In between jobs.” She was stronger then she looked and he was exhausted. He’d practically been up forty-eight straight hours with the exception of the catnap he’d grabbed in Bob’s office that afternoon. “Relax…you’ll get paid.”
He heard her inhale sharply. It grew quiet in the cab as they sat staring at each other. Matt relaxed his hand and she snatched her arm free. “For the last time, I am not a hooker!”
Matt saw the slap coming but did nothing to prevent it from reaching his cheek. He figured he deserved it. Maybe it would cool the fire in his loins. Bring him back to reality.
She grappled with the handle to the door until the door flew open. Then exited the truck and hit the ground at a run, stumbling in haste. She didn’t stop until she was inside her apartment and slamming the door behind her. Matt waited until he saw a light through the window before releasing a tired breath and leaning his head back against the seat. He closed his eyes, willing his body under control.
It didn’t help that all he saw was a vixen with taunting green eyes, a luscious mouth, and enough curves to drive a saint mad.