Entering the kitchen, she went over to the sink.

“Dammit, we’re not done.”

“Oh, we’re done all right,” she said without turning around, starting to rinse a glass. “Done, over, finished.”

He laughed derisively. “If you believe that, petunia, then leprechauns live at the end of the rainbow.”

“What I believe, Rafferty,” she said, turning around, “is that you need to cool off!”

A spray of cold water hit him square in the face before he could react. “What the—!” Raising his arms to shield his face, he stalked toward her.

They wrestled with the hose from the sink, water dousing them both, until he was able to yank the nozzle out of her hand.

He was about to let her know exactly what he thought but then his gaze dropped a notch, connecting with the front of her white shirt, which was plastered to her, her nipples clearly visible through the clingy fabric of her wet bra and shirt.

His blood heated.

She raised her arms to shield herself.

“Don’t,” he muttered.

She went still. “Damn you, Rafferty,” she whispered. “I don’t want this.”

He raised his gaze, meeting her eyes. “Whether we want it or not seems almost beside the point,” he said in a bemused voice. “It’s there between us and always has been.”

She tossed her head, wet strands of hair sending droplets onto them both. “I don’t know what you mean.”

“Liar,” he chided softly, moving before her.

They were practically toe-to-toe now. He let his eyes drop down to her mouth, which parted on a soft breath.

“That’s right, darling,” he taunted. “Let me see how you feel.”

Her eyes sparked fire. “Go to—”

His head swooped down then and he swallowed the end of her sentence in a kiss that was searing and desperate—as searing and desperate and hot as his need for her.

He was still running on the remnants of the adrenaline that had started earlier in the parking lot, except that now the reality of their near brush with death, mixed with relief, was channeling that energy into a need for sexual release. Even understanding what was provoking him, however, was not enough for his intellect to overcome his baser instincts.

She moaned in his arms, meeting him kiss for desperate kiss, her hands tangling in his hair, anchoring him.

He lifted her up onto the kitchen counter, sandwiching himself between her legs as her skirt rode high on her thighs.

The need to affirm life, to stamp her as his, was overwhelming.

Hot mouth met hot mouth in desperate, soul-stirring kisses. He hungered to be inside her, to give vent to his frustration by seeking the release he knew awaited him there.

He lifted his head and yanked her shirt out of the waistband of her skirt, popping the buttons on the front of the garment in his haste to rid her of it.

When he’d peeled the shirt off of her, he bent his head to close his mouth over the peak of one breast through the fabric of her bra.

She made a sound that came out as half laugh, half gasp. “Connor!”

He shifted his mouth to her other breast, his hand at her back to urge her forward toward his mouth.

He felt her fingers threading through his hair, her breath coming rapidly. “Please,” she gasped.

Her need inflamed him.

Raising his head, he let her tug him back to her as she pulled at the bottom of his shirt to loosen it from his jeans.

Their movements were jerky and desperate as they both attempted to rid him of his wet shirt.

As the shirt dropped to the floor, he realized they weren’t going to be able to wait much longer. “Hang on,” he said roughly, unsnapping his jeans and tugging the zipper downward.

“Yes,” she said breathlessly.

He fumbled with a foil packet from his wallet. Then his fingers pushed aside her underwear. Testing and finding her warm and wet, he groaned.

“Connor,” she said, her voice cloudy with passion.

He shifted, pulling her forward to the edge of the counter, and then over, sliding her down on him even as he pushed upward.

She gasped. “Please, yes.”

He took up a rhythm then, abandoning himself to turbulent sensation and fiery passion as she clung to him, her legs wrapped around him, her head nestled in the curve of his shoulder and her breathing rapid.

His muscles strained, and his breathing grew more labored as the tension mounted. She moaned, and arched in his arms.

Their mutual release when it came was quick and powerful. He felt her tense, gasp, call his name, seconds before he lost himself in oblivion.

Tap, tap, tap. Realizing she’d again been lost in thought, Allison put down the pencil she’d been tapping against the desk that she sometimes called hers in the District Attorney’s Office.The events of Saturday night replayed themselves in her mind.

What had he called her? A rash, headstrong princess.

How dare he! He’d spoken and acted as if he thought she hadn’t changed much, as if she were—still—a naive, wayward teenager. Even now, having a deeper appreciation for how his protective instincts had developed, she couldn’t excuse how he’d dismissively labeld her

His words and actions rankled all the more because this time, instead of merely visiting a bar because she harbored a secret crush on him, she’d actually slept with him. She’d let him strip her bare both physically and emotionally. The betrayal this time was oh so much worse.

She’d begun to think they had a new understanding, one based on mutual respect. Instead, he’d apparently been thinking of her as nothing more than a spoiled little heiress, albeit one with whom he enjoyed amazing chemistry.

In fact, after the shooting, he’d acted just like her family with his overprotectiveness. He’d lit into her as if she were still an underage teenager lacking judgment.

Her lips tightened reflexively.

Their relationship—however short-lived—had been a mistake. Of that, she was now certain. There was no way they could have a real relationship—one based on mutual trust and respect—when he’d made it clear he saw her as nothing more than a sheltered and pampered princess.

She’d been insane to have been planning to welcome him home with a romantic dinner. Ironically, thanks to their argument, she now agreed with him about going out for ingredients for dessert.

She should have nuked some macaroni and cheese, slid a bowl at him, and told him that he was dining in style. Or, better yet, handed him a spoon and invited him to enjoy the stuff directly from a can.

Men were such animals.

Speaking of which…her face burned as she recalled the frenzied interlude on the kitchen counter that had followed their argument.

She should have kneed him and walked away. Instead, a combustible combination of relief at having escaped unharmed and anger at him had led to sizzling sex—as if Connor needed any further evidence that, if nothing else, they were great lovers.

She wondered at the reference he’d made to the attraction that had always been between them. Could he have known about her teenaged infatuation with him? Did he know she’d been in the bar that night in the hope of seeing him?

At least she hadn’t admitted her teenaged infatuation to him. That would have made her humiliation complete.

Her phone rang, startling her out of her thoughts. Picking up the receiver, she said, “Hello?”

“Allison!”

“Hello, Quentin.” She made her voice cool. Her brother was still on her less-than-wonderful persons list.

“Thank God you’re okay!”

Someone had obviously spilled the beans to Quentin about Saturday’s incident—the details of which had miraculously stayed out of the newspapers— and she had a good idea who that someone was. She sighed. “Yes, I’m fine. No need to worry.”

“No need to worry?” Quentin said, sounding uncharacteristically agitated. “Are you crazy? You could have been killed and that’s all you have to say?”

“Well, as you can tell, I wasn’t. So, sorry to say, your younger sister is still here to torment you.”

“Quit it with the glibness, Ally,” her brother said impatiently. “You’re just lucky Mom and Dad are in Europe on vacation at the moment and Noah and Matt are on business trips. Otherwise, they’d all be descending on you.”

“Don’t I know it,” she muttered.

“What?”

“Nothing.”

“Heck, I’d have been there myself if I didn’t have some VIPs coming into the office this morning,” Quentin said. “Anyway, Connor assured me that he has everything under control.”

Her hand tightened on the receiver. “Oh, he did, did he?”

She heard Quentin sigh. “Allison, for the love of God, would you just try listening to Connor for a change? I know you two can barely stand each other—”

She wondered what Quentin’s reaction would have been if he’d known she and Connor had recently found one area where they could deal with each other.

“—but he’s there to protect you,” Quentin continued, “and he’s one of the best in the business. So would you quit trying to make the guy’s job harder than it has to be?”

“And I still have a job to do, Quentin,” she said, her tone clipped, “and that’s putting the baddies behind bars. Unfortunately, that may involve some risks.”

“Right and that’s another thing.” Quentin paused and cleared his throat, seeming to choose his words carefully. “Have you thought about what you’re going to do after the DA’s Office? You’ve been there, what? Four or five years?”

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