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Love At Your Own Risk
Blair Bancroft
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Following a tough trial, all defense attorney Vicki Kent wants is a few days of peace and quiet at her parents’ cottage on Cape Cod. Instead, she finds a man challenging her with a 9mm in his hand. John Paolillo is an angry burned-out homicide detective from New Haven, exiled by his boss to an enforced vacation on the Cape.

Conflicts abound - from a clash of professional viewpoints to the odiferous retaliations of a family of skunks - as Vicki and John reluctantly share the cottage, exploring the Cape and each other, and in the end discovering that opposites really do attract.

Vicki stared at herself in the bathroom mirror. Surely she couldn’t, absolutely couldn’t, look that bad. She rolled out a long swath of toilet tissue, blew her nose with vigor. Wiped at her cheeks. Puffy eyes, a nose that rivaled Rudolph. Hair that would have made Medusa recoil in horror. Even if she wanted to--which of course she didn’t--she couldn’t go upstairs to supper.

She’d just stay right here and starve.

There was movement in the mirror. Horrified, Vicki stared at the image of John Paolillo standing in the middle of the small room behind her.

He’d come for her.

Oh, dear God, she couldn’t turn around. Couldn’t let him see her like this.

Vicki hung her head and stood still. He was directly behind her, filling the tiny bathroom. Overwhelming her senses. She stopped breathing.

“Vic, I’m sorry,” John rumbled. “I was running scared. So damned afraid of getting hurt I turned my back on the best thing to come into my life in years. I was wrong. I’d like... I was hoping you’d be willing to explore what’s going on between us. Vic...?”

He didn’t touch her. Just stood there, inches away, blotting out the world. Vicki swayed, gasped for breath. John’s arms shot out to steady her. Stayed to enfold her from behind, his chin coming to rest on the top of her head. They stood that way for a long time, bodies not quite meshed, each making one last effort to find an excuse to break away. Each failing.

“Is it okay?”

John’s baritone was so husky Vicki barely recognized it. Or was that because the world had gone hazy around her?

“Am I forgiven?”

Vicki straightened her shoulders, opened her eyes. There they were in the bathroom mirror; she, bedraggled with red-rimmed eyes, John towering above her. The intimidating detective turned supplicant. She didn’t think his mood would last for long. Now was definitely the time for her to play cool, calm, and collected, no matter what was going on inside. Truth to tell, she was numb. Gratified, but numb. She’d taken one too many blows lately. If John cared, great. If he didn’t, so what?

“How can I blame you,” Vicki managed without a quiver, “when I’m so confused myself?”

They stared at each other in the mirror. Vicki thought John looked as if he might switch to interrogator mode at any moment. Loverly was not a word that fit his agenda. Admittedly, his hair looked like he’d tried to pull it out by the roots, but, otherwise, he was immaculate. Ruggedly gorgeous. Cold as an ice storm. What would it take to make him look haggard, Vicki wondered with an inward sigh.

“What about the guy in Boston?” he inquired through thin lips, the movement of his chin barely rippling her hair.

Low blow. Vicki was not thrilled to discover she’d been right about John’s fall into interrogator mode.

“It’s not going to happen,” Vicki told him. “We’re over.” And it probably meant her job as well. Which wasn’t as horrifying as it had seemed four days ago when she’d run to the Cape as if the devil were on her heels.

“Have you told him?”

“I tried.” Or had she put him off? Evaded the issue? As clever attorneys did when they weren’t quite ready to burn their bridges.

“Okay, so what about you?” John persisted. “Are you sure?”

“I’m sure.” Just not about losing her job. But Lowell? Oh, yes, she was nearly sure when she left Boston. And then she’d been overcome by a deep wave of astonished conviction, stemming from the moment John Paolillo, gun in hand, had excited considerably more than her sense of fear.

“And what about you?” Vicki challenged. “I... I don’t want to be a substitute... for a ghost.” She shouldn’t have said that. She really shouldn’t. No matter how much it needed to be said.

Blair Bancroft recalls receiving odd looks from adults as she walked home from school at age six, her lips moving as she told herself stories. But it was only after a variety of other careers that she turned to serious writing. Blair has been a music teacher, professional singer, non-fiction editor, costume designer, and real estate agent. She has traveled from Bratsk, Siberia, to Machu Picchu, Peru, and made numerous visits to Britain. Her most recent research trip took her through Portugal and Spain. She enjoys incorporating these varied experiences into her writing.

Blair’s first book, Tarleton’s Wife, won RWA’s Golden Heart for Long Historical in 1999 and First in Romance at the 2002 Florida Writers’ Association Awards. Her contemporary suspense novel, Shadowed Paradise, was a finalist in both the Golden Heart and the EPPIE, the “Oscar” of the e-book industry. Blair’s Signet Regency, The Indifferent Earl, was chosen Best Regency of 2003 by Romantic Times magazine and was a finalist for RWA’s RITA award. Five more Regencies followed in quick succession. Roses in the Mist, a medieval Young Adult, was published by Wings e-Press in January 2004. For Love at Your Own Risk (Wings, August 2005) Blair drew on her family’s long association with Cape Cod and her experiences living in both Boston and New Haven.

Now a long-time resident of Florida’s Gulf Coast, Blair fondly recalls growing up in Connecticut, which still has a piece of her heart. Blair may be contacted at P O Box 21, Venice, Florida 34284 or at blairbancroft@aol.com.

Fiction Books :: Romance Books :: Contemporary Books

ISBN: 159088597X
ISBN(13-digit): 9781590885970
Copyright: 2008
Book Publisher: Wings e Press
Binding: Perfect
No. of Pages: 212

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