Read an Excerpt
Every Move You Make
By Tori Carrington
Harlequin Enterprises LimitedCopyright © 2002 Harlequin Enterprises Limited
All right reserved.
Chapter OneWhat was she thinking?
Jennifer Rodriquez Madison balanced the phone between her chin and shoulder while she wildly wrote notes with one hand and stuffed a cracker into her mouth with the other, trying like crazy to do the work of three people. She was afraid she was not only failing, but failing miserably. She eyed the agitated potential new client talking nonstop in front of her desk, then felt her heart squeeze as she glanced at her crying infant in the portable crib next to her.
When both Ralph Budnick and Roy Morales of Budnick and Morales Private Investigations retired, Jennifer saw their departure as an opportunity of a lifetime. Of course she'd taken the fact that she was newly married and about to have a baby completely for granted.
Now that the baby was three months old and Jen was back at the outside office, instead of working in the comfort of her home office, she was terrified that her decision to take on the company alone would be the death of her.
The cowbell on the front door clanged. Jennifer spared the latest visitor enough of a glance to notice he was tall, gorgeous, and about as welcome at that moment as a deadly virus. "If you're here for an ongoing investigation, or looking to hire us for a new one," she told him,"I'm going to have to ask you to come back at another time."
She blindly found Annie's pacifier, where it was attached by a length of yarn to the front of her jumpsuit, and popped it into her mouth. Annie instantly spit it out and continued vying for the "most neglected baby of the year" award.
"So are you going to take my case or not?" the woman in front of her desk asked, tapping red fingernails against an alligator-skin purse Jennifer suspected was real. "A friend of mine recommended your agency to me." She looked around, disdain written on her well made-up face. "But seeing what I have so far, I can't imagine why."
Jennifer bristled and moved the silent receiver to her other ear, hoping the client she had on hold wouldn't hang up as she waited out someone else who had put her on hold. She absently realized that the tall stranger who had entered hadn't left. "You're right, Mrs. McCabe. Maybe we're not equipped to handle cases like you're describing. Have you ever thought of actually asking your husband if he's being unfaithful?"
"What kind of question is that?" Mrs. McCabe asked. Her carefully painted face had turned red.
She shrugged. "I don't know. A commonsense one? And definitely a step up from hiring an attractive, flirty woman to entrap him at a country club."
The woman scoffed. The stranger moved out of Jennifer's eyeshot and almost instantly Annie quieted. Jennifer swiveled to find him hesitantly tickling the fussy infant. He gave Jennifer a sheepish grin that made her blink then began to pull his hand back. With a loud cry, Annie let her thoughts on the matter be known. Jennifer couldn't blame her daughter. She'd much rather have a great-looking guy tickling her, too.
"May I?" the stranger asked, indicating he'd like to pick Annie up.
Let's see, a choice between earsplitting screams and a happy baby? Jennifer gestured for him to go ahead. She watched as he awkwardly lifted her up and held her at arm's length, staring at her as curiously as Annie stared back. Jen opened her mouth to tell him to support her head, then the stranger awkwardly but successfully held Annie to his wide chest. He wore a coffee-colored suit that had Northerner written all over it, and he had the type of handsome good looks that would have turned her head before she had stumbled into Ryan's life for a case she was working on and had her own life turned upside down.
"Who are you and what do you want?" Jennifer asked him, thinking it a pretty good guess that he hadn't popped up out of the blue to help her with her unhappy daughter.
Maybe Ryan was right about what he had said that morning. He'd tried to convince her to keep working out of the house so that they could, um, pursue their personal interests as well as her business interests. He had also said she had bitten off a little more than she could chew. She sat up straighter, merely thinking the words making her feel combative. His overprotective tendencies both endeared him to her and irritated her. And those tendencies had quadrupled with the birth and his adoption of little Annie.
Of course Ryan was easily sidetracked if need be. A scrap of sexy lingerie and he was putty in her hands.
Jennifer's mind began to drift to all things sexy and hot but she forced herself to concentrate on the matter at hand.
"I'm Zach Letterman," the visitor said with a midwestern accent, a smile softening his striking features as he looked into Annie's face.
"Is there another agency you could recommend?" Mrs. McCabe was saying insistently, making no secret that she found the intrusion insulting. "Someone who can handle the type of case I'm proposing?"
Letterman, Letterman, Jennifer thought, trying to place the name.
Another telephone line rang, only adding to the general state of chaos. She sighed and rolled her eyes. "I'm sorry, Mrs. McCabe, but as you can see, I'm very busy right now. If you'd like to leave your card, I'll contact you later with any possibilities I come up with."
Jennifer's gaze was again pulled to the stranger. He quietly cleared his throat. "Lily recommended me to you."
"The job opening?" He grinned at her and she widened her eyes at the megawatt smile. "Looks like you could certainly use a hand around here."
"Oh. Oh!" Jennifer nearly pushed the package of crackers from her desk in her rush to shake his hand. "You're that Mr. Letterman. Lily's cousin from Indiana. I'm sorry. I wasn't expecting you until tomorrow." She checked her calendar. "Oh. Tomorrow is ... well, today, isn't it?"
She recalled the phone conversation she'd had with Lily last week. Lily Garrett Bishop and her brother Dylan Garrett had established Finders Keepers out of San Antonio, Texas, in honor of their great-grandmother Isabella Trueblood. Aside from being a good friend, Lily regularly sent work Jennifer's way, doubling and sometimes tripling her workload. Her first case for Lily was also instrumental in her meeting and marrying her husband, Ryan. Lily had known Budnick and Morales Private Investigation desperately needed new blood and had recommended Zach Letterman to Jennifer.
And here he was now in the flesh ... and what handsome flesh it was.
Mrs. McCabe slapped a postcard-sized piece of stiff paper filled with phone numbers onto the desk in front of Jennifer. "I expect to hear from you promptly with suggestions on who else I might consult."
Jennifer made a face and forced herself to be polite. "Mrs. Madison?"
The voice coming through the receiver nearly startled her, she'd been on hold for so long. Jennifer straightened the phone. "I'm still here."
"Sorry to have taken so long, but someone misplaced your test results and it took some doing to find them."
Jennifer waved her hand as she watched Mrs. McCabe huff through the front door. "And ...?"
"And congratulations," her ob-gyn told her. "You and your husband are going to have a new addition to your family in about eight months."
Jennifer stared sightlessly at the blinking lights on the phone in front of her, and glanced at the man holding her infant baby. She and Ryan had talked of having several children. But so soon?
"Mrs. Madison? Jennifer? Are you still there?" Jennifer was so distracted by the news she hung up the receiver without saying goodbye.
Then she turned toward Zach. "You're hired."
Excerpted from Every Move You Make by Tori Carrington Copyright © 2002 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.