Read an Excerpt
By Jamie Denton
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
Copyright © 2003
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.
"What's your name, sweetheart?"
She looked up into the clearest, bluest eyes this side of the Rockies and would've sighed with pleasure if her throat
didn't feel so darned ragged. All she could do was blink before her world tilted again, and those sexier-than-sin eyes
swam before her blurred vision. Her head ached, her chest burned and a searing pain gripped her right arm. Someone said
it was because of smoke inhalation, but she couldn't be sure.
She tried to shake her head to clear the haze, but a pair of large, warm hands held her still. Her head rested against
a pair of rock-hard thighs she assumed belonged to the black-haired angel of mercy who'd hefted her over his shoulder
and carried her from the burning building seconds before the explosion.
What she was doing in a paint warehouse, she couldn't say.
"You got a name, honey?" he asked again in a rich, soothing voice that made her think of silly things like white picket
fences, children's laughter and golden retriever puppies.
"Maggie." She tried to shake her head again, but he held her still. Maggie? That wasn't right. Or was it? "I
think," she added with a croak, her throat raw and as hot as the Sahara Desert.
Someone jammed a needle into her left arm and she winced. She hated needles. Her frown deepened. Why did she
She fought down a sense of panic as voices she couldn't decipher rose around her. She looked up at the prime male
specimen again. "What happened?" she asked in the croaky voice only a bullfrog would envy.
"You'll be fine." His lips curved into a smile and those eyes the color of blue topaz filled with a reassurance she
wasn't exactly buying. She didn't feel fine. She felt as if her body was on fire.
"What's your last name, Maggie?" he asked, smoothing her hair away from her face with a tenderness that felt almost
foreign to her. Now why was that? she wondered.
Her vision blurred again until there were two of her angels of mercy gazing down at her with concern banked in their
heavenly eyes. Her world started to fade to a dark murky gray, then quickly to black seconds after she whispered, "I
was hoping you could tell me."
* * *
As he'd done every day for the last six, Cale Perry pulled his Dodge Ram pickup into the visitors' parking lot of the
UCLA Medical Center. He avoided the emergency access where everyone knew him and opted for the anonymity of the main
entrance. Holding a brown paper bag that was giving off the tantalizing aroma of fried foods, he sauntered through the
automatic sliding glass doors, a tuneless whistle on his lips. After a quick scan of the corridor for familiar faces,
he slipped into the elevator, where he pushed the button for the fourth floor.
He hadn't told a soul where he'd been disappearing to once his shift ended, especially not his nosy brothers, Drew and
Ben, or Tilly Jensen, a family friend and E.R. nurse, who happened to be on duty the night of Maggie's accident. They'd
never understand the inexplicable need that drove him to the hospital on a nightly basis, and they most certainly
couldn't possibly understand how Cale felt drawn to Maggie. In fact, about the only thing he did know was that she
needed him, and that alone was reason enough for him.
Where she came from or why she'd been trapped in a burning paint-supply warehouse were as much a mystery to her as they
were to Cale, not to mention to the cops or the arson investigation team. The way he figured it, there were a lot of
blank spaces in Maggie's memory, and he couldn't find a single, solitary reason why he should not be he one to help her
fill in those gaps.
A rueful grin slid across his lips when the doors opened on the fourth floor of the medical center. If his brothers
found out he was acting out yet another knight-in-shining-armor fantasy over a woman he didn't know they'd never let
him hear the end of it.
He turned left when he got off the elevator and nodded to the medical staff huddled around the nurses' station as he
made his way toward the rooms at the end of the long corridor. Without a doubt, his brothers would most definitely
think him crazy, and in all honesty, they were probably right. There wasn't much information on his mystery woman,
except that her eyes were an intriguing combination of blue, green and gold. Her hair, a shimmering shade of cinnamon,
hung halfway down her back in long, soft waves, and she had a serious penchant for junk food. A petite thing, she had
plenty of curves to heighten any man's interest, along with a sweet, lyrical voice that had returned once the effects
of the smoke inhalation had dissipated. She had a disposition to match, as well. Considering her past remained unknown,
he thought her attitude admirable.
For reasons that defied every known source of logic he'd reviewed and subsequently discounted since he'd first found
Maggie With-No-Last-Name surrounded by gallons and gallons of paint cans inside the burning warehouse, he was more than
intrigued by this mysterious stranger who stirred his blood and fired his imagination.
He'd stayed with her in the hospital that first night. His shift had ended, so he'd just ... stayed. At first he'd told
himself it was only because she'd asked him to - a desperate plea that had tugged at his heart. It hadn't been the
first time a victim he'd treated on the scene had wanted him to stay. Until Maggie, he'd always just assured them the
doctors would take good care of them, then left without a backward glance. But something in her voice, something he
couldn't quite define, had pulled at him hard. In the end, he simply couldn't leave her.
The next day his tendency toward heroism faded into worry for one simple reason - he hadn't
been able to get Maggie out of his mind.
Because this one victim out of the thousands he'd treated since becoming a paramedic six years ago had caught him off
guard and touched an emotional chord he'd kept carefully hidden, he'd been more than a little alarmed. Maggie was
sweet, pretty and scared, however, so what guy wouldn't feel like a knight on a white charger?
The next day he brought in a motorcycle rider who'd been involved in a collision and damned if Cale didn't act like a
fool by asking the E.R. doc who had treated Maggie about her condition. Mere curiosity, he'd told himself over and over
once he'd left with his partner, Brady Kent.
Until his shift had ended, and he'd driven straight to the hospital.
Excerpted from Slow Burn
by Jamie Denton
Copyright © 2003 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd..
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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