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Authors: Alicia Scott

Maggie's Man

BOOK: Maggie's Man
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Contents:

 

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13

Epilogue

MAGGIE FERRINGER WAS NOT HAVING A GOOD
DAY...

It was bad enough being called for jury
duty—but being taken hostage...! Ok, maybe her captor appealed to her on a
primitive level, but getting involved with a convicted murderer was hardly a
sensible move. And Maggie was always sensible...right?

AND CAIN CANNON WAS THE REASON.

This was Cain's last chance to prove his
innocence—and he needed Maggie along for the ride. She was the angel he had
always despaired of finding. But how could he offer her a future, when he
wasn't sure he had one himself?

Chapter 1

^
»

"
D
on't move."

Maggie Ferringer looked up blankly from her seat
on the wooden bench outside the second-floor courtroom. Eight-fifty a.m. and
she hadn't had coffee yet. She was tired, disgruntled at being called for jury
duty and still preoccupied with how she was going to rearrange all her
appointments for the next five days. Plus, one of her cats was sick. She was
thinking she'd better take him to the vet.

"Don't move," the prison guard
repeated, and this time his voice was very hard.

She blinked rapidly, looking at the man with
mild confusion. Strangers were always approaching her. There could be one
hundred people on the street and the tourist would stop and ask Maggie for
directions. She supposed it was because she was so unassuming. At five feet,
she had a slight build and pale skin that only burned, never tanned. Her
clothes ran toward the admittedly conservative—she had a weakness for
low-slung, hopelessly sensible pumps. Today, she'd matched her favorite pair of
beige pumps with a brown plaid wool skirt and simple pink blouse that declared,
I am an intelligent, professional woman with really boring taste in clothes.

Last week, her mother—one of those tall, wildly
beautiful women who could actually wear leopard-print jumpsuits—had flown into
town, greeted Maggie with two fofooey cheek kisses and dramatically exclaimed,
"My God, Maggie darling! How did I ever give birth to a creature who will
probably marry an accountant?"

And Maggie, who felt the same sting she always
felt when trying to understand her exotic, temperamental artist mother, had the
sudden urge to toss back her red hair and retort fiercely, "At least an
accountant would come home every night for dinner, which was more than I could
ever say about you!" She hadn't said any such thing, of course. She was
still slightly surprised she'd bothered to think it. After twenty-seven years,
she'd come to the realization that Stephanie would always be Stephanie. Getting
angry with her immature, self-centered, extremely un-Mom-like behavior was as
productive as hating the sun for shining.

"Lady," the guard was now growling
tensely, "I said move!"

"Move where?" she asked him politely.
As far as she could tell, the second floor of the old courthouse was still
deserted. Space should not be a problem for him.

Then Maggie noticed the gun. The big gun. The
big black gun pointed right at her, here, in the middle of the vast gray marble
hallway of the Multnomah County Courthouse. The hallway was dead quiet, hushed
as a courthouse should be hushed—particularly one that had opened its door just
five minutes before. But this was only the second story of the building. Just
one floor beneath them, she could hear the reassuring hum of people beginning
to enter and the parrotlike chirp of the metal detectors as brass business-card
holders, chunky gold earrings, key chains and pocket change occasionally
triggered the systems guarding the door.

She stared at the gun still held unwaveringly
in front of her, blinked several times, then stared at it again.

The prison guard abruptly jabbed her in the ribs
with the cold, metal barrel. Oh God, it was real. She was being attacked by a
prison guard!

Maggie quietly stopped breathing.

Hello,
her mind whispered.
Somebody come up here and do something. Somebody jump
out and tell me I'm on "Candid Camera."

The only person who moved was the prison guard.

"Do exactly what I say," the
light-haired man said steadily, his green eyes boring into her. He shifted,
positioning his solid body between her and the top of the stairs where the
first smartly dressed morning commuter was now appearing. That man was followed
by a woman in a paisley-print dress, then another man in a suit.

The guard in front of her shifted again and she
lost her view of the top of the stairs completely. One moment she was admiring
the grand gray marble staircase with its cast-iron and brass railing, the next
her universe was reduced to bulging biceps, a granite chest and a pair of
chilling green eyes that told her he was bigger, better and badder than she
would ever be in her whole entire life.

She would grant him that. She was one of those
people who could never even get the lid off the pickle jar.
C.J., Brandon …
help!

"Listen up and don't make a sound,"
the "prison guard" murmured. His voice didn't waver, the gun didn't
waver, his gaze didn't waver. He exuded one-hundred-percent-focused, honed
control. She was a dead woman.

"Okay," she whispered weakly. Her
eyes flew from his face to his brown uniform, to the badge on his chest. Then
her eyes fell lower and she realized the shirt was too tight across his chest,
the pants unbuttoned at his waist, the hems ending a good two inches above his
ankles. His feet were squashed awkwardly in the shiny black boots, as if he was
forced to walk tiptoe by the constraining leather.

"You're not a prison guard!" she
exclaimed softly.

The left corner of his lips twisted up.
"Very good, you win the double-jeopardy question. Next time, give your
answer in the form of a question. Now stand up and do exactly as I say."

The gun dug into her ribs with clear authority
and she jumped to her feet as if it had been a cattle prod. Her oversize beige
purse promptly fell off her lap and vomited onto the floor.

"Damn!" her prison guard/captor
swore. With a harsh impatient gesture, he planted one broad palm on her thin
shoulder and shoved her down. "Grab it and let's go."

"Okay," she said again, her fingers
trembling so hard she scrambled three lipstick tubes, a set of house keys, a
metal nail file, four throat lozenges, a pocket calculator, two cat rabies tags
and her checkbook all over the floor.

"Lady!" he warned.

"I don't know what I'm doing!" she
cried out perilously loud. The ringing footsteps of one man's dress heels
against the marble floor came to a suspicious halt.

The guard hunched down immediately, the gun
sharp against her ribs and his shoulder hard against her body. One sweep of his
broad hand and everything was back in her oversize leather purse. He leaned so
close she could feel his breath on her lips, smell soap and sweat, and see the
burning-green determination of his eyes.

"One more stunt like that," he told
her quietly, "and you're dead."

His fingers wrapped around her thin arm.
Effortlessly he dragged her to her feet, her body pressed against him as if she
were weightless. And all she could think was that her tax dollars had probably
paid for the prison barbells that had made him so strong.

Ha, ha. Reform doesn't work. She was going to
break into hysterical laughter any time now.

Her tour guide didn't seem to care. With quick,
breathless steps he dragged her boldly right to the stairs. Maggie caught the
gaze of a startled man in a deep gray suit still watching her.
Run, yell, do
something,
she thought. Fingers dug into her upper arm and she smiled at
the halted man instead. He politely nodded at her, she nodded back. And he
walked away as Attila the Hun dragged her bodily down the rapidly flooding
stairs.

They were going against the flow of traffic,
but nobody seemed to mind. The stream of humanity split around them without a
second glance. Executives in their suits passed so close she could touch them
with her fingertips. One judge already in his black robe walked up the broad
steps just two feet away. Court clerks in professional, but not
too
professional
clothes sipped coffee and chatted about the beautiful spring weather as they
moved to one side so an escaped felon could drag her down to the front doors.

Say something, do something,
her mind whispered.
Lydia always said your hair marked
you as one of the legendary Hathaway Reds, and all the Hathaway Reds were women
of great courage and passion. So do something! Just this once, actually do
something!

As if reading her thoughts, the Terminator's
fingers dug into her skin, clamping her arm tightly and effectively. She had to
half jog to keep up with his long, lean strides, which cut through the stairs
like butter. Obviously, the man not only lifted weights but ran on the prison
treadmill machine. Did they give convicts StairMasters, as well, so they could
climb skyscrapers as modern-day versions of King Kong? She was definitely
writing a letter to her state congressman after this. Definitely, definitely,
definitely.

They made the turn of the sweeping staircase.
The huge bay of glass doors loomed before them, guarded by the standing metal
detectors everyone had to walk through. For a minute, Maggie felt the hope soar
in her chest. The minute he dragged her through the detectors, his gun would
set them off and she'd be home free!

Then she realized the detectors were only for
the people walking in. There were no such protective devices for the people
walking out.

His footsteps quickened and she was helpless to
stop the momentum.

The security desk was to her left. Three men
sat there in uniform.
Look over here, darn it! Hey, hey, someone set down your
jelly doughnut and look at me!

But they only watched the people entering the
building.

Maggie rolled her eyes frantically to the
right. Phones, the bank of phones. If she could twist away, if she could make
it to the phones. Her brother would help her. C.J. had joined the Marines when
he'd turned eighteen and taken to it like a seal to water. He even had more
medals than their grandpa had gotten in World War II and Korea combined; no one
messed with C.J. Or Brandon. Where was he these days? He just hadn't been the
same since burying his young wife two years ago, taking off and traveling the
world in a manner frighteningly similar to their late, departed father.

BOOK: Maggie's Man
5.71Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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