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My eyes went there and I kept my cheek to my knee even as my heart skipped a beat.

The Great MM was standing there.

He wasn’t in a fabulous chocolate brown turtleneck, leather jacket and jeans. He was wearing what he was wearing earlier, a skintight, navy, long-sleeved t-shirt that delineated every carved muscle in his chest, shoulders and arms; army green cargo pants and boots. He was also wearing an unhappy expression and his eyes were locked on Detective Mitch Lawson.

Then his eyes moved to me and about a nanosecond later he moved to me, all masculine grace, a big cat on the prowl, fascinating.

My eyes moved with him but my cheek didn’t leave my knee as he got close then bent over me, lifting his hand. I didn’t know what to expect so I braced until I felt his fingers at my temple. They trailed lightly along my hairline, down, behind my ear and I closed my eyes as he slid the hair off my neck. Then his warm hand curled there.

Then I heard him ask softly, “You okay, baby?”

Baby?

My eyes opened and slid to see him bent close to my face.

“Fine,” I told him.

“You don’t look fine,” he noted.

“Well, I am,” I returned.

“Then why are you curled into a protective ball?” he asked.

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This was a good question.

I shrugged.

“Heard she was yours,” Lawson noted, MM straightened and turned to him and I was so surprised at this comment, for a variety of reasons, that my head came up so I could put my chin to the space between my knees.

“She’s mine,” MM confirmed decisively.

“I’m not his,” I denied probably not decisively.

Lawson was looking at MM but when I spoke his eyes cut to me. He stared at me what seemed intently for a few beats then one side of his mouth twitched and he looked to the floor a second before he looked back at me.

“I need to ask you a few questions,” he said quietly. “You up for that?”

MM moved to my side, right to my side, in a way where his lower side pressed down my upper side and his hand didn’t leave my neck but it slid to the back.

“Ask,” he ordered shortly, answering for me, Lawson looked at him then sat again.

I lifted my chin from my knees but MM’s hand on my neck didn’t move. His position seemed to be possessive, an indication to Lawson he was claiming me. But that hand… that hand seemed to be supportive, an indication he was worried about my state of mind and, furthermore, he cared.

Now, what did I do with that?

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I focused on Lawson and not MM and saw he was leaning forward on his knees again.

“Tell me what happened,” he said gently.

I sucked in breath. Then I said, “I heard a crash, it woke me up and I knew, I knew like you know when you have a bad dream and you jerk awake and your body is all tingly and you just know, you know someone is in the room to hack you up and you can’t get rid of that feeling, you know what I mean?” I paused and he nodded. “I knew like that someone was in my house but I knew it was for real.” He nodded again and I kept talking. “So, I called 911 but not before I thought I needed a baseball bat. But, while I was waiting for you, I decided I didn’t want a baseball bat, I want a crowbar. A baseball bat has more surface area so the force of the blow would be disbursed. A crowbar would work better. What do you think?”

MM’s fingers tightened on my neck but Lawson, clearly not following my ramblings, asked, “What do I think?”

“Baseball bat or crowbar? Which one would you want if you were in a scary situation?”

He paused a second, his eyes holding mine, before he answered softly, “Gwendolyn, I own a gun.”

Jeez. Of course. He owned a gun. He could shoot a bad guy. He didn’t need a baseball bat.

A gun would be handy but I wasn’t sure I was ready for a gun.

“Oh yeah,” I whispered, “right.”

He smiled a small smile and prompted, “So you called 911…”

“Yes, then I grabbed my snow globe because that was all I had,” I told him and his brows drew together.

“The one in the living room?”

I had carried my happy kitty down when I went to greet the police. The officer who took me on a tour of my house eventually had to pry it from my hands and set it aside.

“The one in the living room,” I answered.

“It’s normally on Gwen’s nightstand,” MM added and Lawson’s eyes lifted to him even though he didn’t move his head but I twisted my neck to look up at him.

There it was. Proof. He could totally see in the dark.

“You noticed that?” I asked and MM’s black eyes tipped down to me as his fingers gave my neck another squeeze.

“Don’t miss much, babe.”

Hmm. I suspected as much but, even so, I didn’t think this was good news.

“Unh-hunh,” I muttered.

“Gwendolyn,” Lawson called and I looked back at him. “What happened after you grabbed the snow globe?”

“I walked to the wall and pressed against it, stared at the door and waited. I saw the flashlight first then I saw the hand pushing open my door really slowly.” I stopped because MM’s fingers tightened, this wasn’t a squeeze, this was something else and his fingers didn’t loosen. I had to admit even though I didn’t want to that that strong pressure felt good. “He got it open a foot, maybe more and then there were sirens and he took off. I heard him running down the stairs.”

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“Him?” Lawson asked.

“It was a man’s hand,” I told him. “White, um… Caucasian.” I used television show cop speak.

“A man’s hand,” Lawson repeated.

“Um… yeah,” I confirmed.

“You’re sure it was a man’s hand?” Lawson asked and I locked eyes with him.

Then I said softly, “It wasn’t Ginger.”

Another squeeze of the fingers from MM but this time they relaxed.

Lawson sat back and studied me.

“Your sister?” he asked.

“I know she’s in trouble. Bad trouble. And I know that’s why you’re here and eight uniform cops are here for what is normally not likely a priority, all hands on deck call.”

I heard a noise come from MM that sounded like a manly, amused, deep but short chuckle and I looked up at him to see he was grinning. No teeth but he was grinning enough that both dimples had popped out.

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