Excerpt from EVERY BREATH SHE TAKES

Carlie was aware for the first time that his black trench coat was almost duster length and his denim jeans rode narrowly over a pair of black Adidas. The only other staple of his wardrobe was the tie, she realized. This time he wore one made of a material that was as velvety dark as his eyes, and it hung around his neck as if he'd just wrenched it loose.

Did he know? she wondered.

She didn't care about muscles or Tom Cruise grins or even great buns. But give her an unbuttoned shirt and a tie hanging loose—as if the guy wearing it was getting ready to shuck the trappings of civilization and free his soul—and she was in trouble. It was her one weakness.

Who did it?

Who sent her this man?

Someone was responsible.

Carlie discouraged his quizzical expression with a sharp look. He was not going to shuck that shirt and free his soul in her kitchen. He could just get used to the shackles of civilization, like everybody else. "If it's not too much to ask. What are you doing here?"

"The delivery boy let me in. I guess he thought I was the man in your life."

No shame. Of course he didn't have any. Why should that surprise her? If she was going to play games with this one, she would have to cool down, create an emotional air bag and let him bounce off it like a road test dummy.

"I use Chocolate To Go all the time," she said. They know I don't have a man in my life. You bribed him."

That brought a wry look. "Chocoholic, hmm? We all know what that means."

She tweaked her shift, making sure the scoop neckline hadn't dropped too low. "We do not all know what that means. Some of us do not believe chocolate is a substitute for sex."

The mmmmm sound in his throat rippled with nothing but male perversity.

"Some of us think it is sex," she said.

Oh, baby, his rich laughter responded.

Carlie gave him a so-there tick of her head. Time he knew she wasn't born five minutes ago. She had a trick or two in her purse that even the great Rio Walker probably hadn't seen.

"Did we ever determine why you're here?" she asked.

Something about the way he hesitated told her she wasn't going to like the answer. He wandered over to her kitchen window garden for a look around. "Guess you must like flowers."

"Guess I must."

"Any of these going to be snapdragons when they grow up?" he asked, inspecting the pots of violets.

"Snapdragons are outdoor plants."

She was so cool with that one he turned around for a look at her. She gave him a wink. Totally out of character, huh, Rio? Just keep that tie on, copper, and we'll do fine.

She strolled over to the kitchen table, pulled out a chair and sat down. She wasn't budging until he told her why he was there.

Apparently sensing a stand-off, Rio leaned against the counter and tucked his hands in the pocket of his jeans, which made his coat flare out to the sides.

The Marlboro Man, she thought. Who did this to me? Who sent him?