EIGHTEEN

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Virginia pulled into Mark's driveway and came to a stop by the gate. Bruce and Steve were there, expecting the worst judging by the assault rifles they were both cradling. She wasn't about to get into the discussion of the legality of civilians owning fully-automatic firearms.

Mark leaned out of his window to talk to Steve. Virginia sat stiff in her seat, focused on the house looming in front of her, finding it hard to believe that she was there, again.

Bruce kept his distance, and she suspected it was because he was not too happy about her showing up at their door again. But when she glanced over, he nodded with a look of . . . Was that gratitude? Well, duh, probably because you saved his boss's ass. After he saved yours, of course.

Turning to the conversation going on beside her, she wondered what all this meant for him now. Running to her rescue wasn't going to make him employee of the month.

"Heard you had a little trouble today."

Virginia jumped and spun her head around at Bruce's voice in her ear. His forearm rested on her roofline as he leaned down, wide shoulders filling the open window, the rifle now flung over his shoulder. The too-long bangs fell forward, shadowing his dark eyes, but she could still tell when they swept across her face to settle on the tear in her shirt that exposed her sports bra—and everything she owned above it.

"You okay?" he said, lifting his gaze back to where it should be.

Shocked by the concern in his voice, she drew her chin down to her chest and arched away from him. "Are you?"

He smiled, revealing perfectly even white teeth. It all seemed so foreign, making her realize she had never seen him smile before. He truly was a handsome man when he wasn't being such a prick.

Caught up in the out-of-character moment, she couldn't stop staring at his mouth. "You have a nice smile."

The smile slid away as a frown creased his brow.

"Is there a problem, Bruce?" Mark's voice had an icy edge to it.

Bruce straightened, looking awkward and rigid as he pushed the hair from his face and answered, "Nope, no problem, boss." He turned away and headed to the gatehouse to seal them in.

She drove up the driveway to the front door and stopped.

"Will you come in?" Mark asked.

"I need to get to the station."

He sat silent for a bit before pleading his case. "I'd really like you to come in. I'll make some calls. We can try to figure out what to do about Gus."

It wasn't an unreasonable argument—uniting against Gus. Damn it, I really should get out of here . . . "Okay, let me call in and talk to Cap first."

There was a hint of relief in the smile he gave her before getting out of the car and giving her privacy. He entered the house, leaving the front door ajar. While on the phone, she couldn't peel her eyes away from it. It gave off a thrilling, beckoning challenge as though displaying a USE AT YOUR OWN RISK warning.

With DANGEROUS stamped all over it.

Skull and crossbones too.

Once inside the house, she stood frozen in the hallway near the front foyer. She didn't want to be there. It was all too painful.

"Can I get you something?" Mark called to her from behind the bar while pouring himself a drink.

I could sure use one of those. Not happening.

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