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The Defender [Secure eReader]
eBook by Cara Summers

eBook Category: Romance
eBook Description: Theo Angelis definitely puts the "hot" in "hotshot lawyer." Or at least, that's attorney Sadie Oliver's opinion. Even a simple handshake has her weak in the knees. If only there was time to explore the barely contained chemistry simmering between them.... But there isn't. Because Sadie desperately needs Theo's help. Her brother lies in hospital facing a murder charge, and their sister is missing. And even Sadie herself is being followed by unsavory looking characters. But Sadie's not about to take it lying down (unless Theo asks, of course). Her solution? To play an active role in the case, disguised as a law student. To anyone looking, Sadie will simply be another of Theo's male interns. But the heat in Theo's eyes never lets her forget she's all woman....

eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Blaze
Fictionwise Release Date: August 2007

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Friday, August 28th—Evening

ST. PETER'S CHURCH looked deserted. When Sadie Oliver had driven by a few seconds ago, there'd been no one on the steps. Her sister Juliana's note had said to come at seven, but the only indication that there was anything going on was a dark van she'd spotted blocking the entrance to the little parking area behind the church.

There'd been something vaguely familiar about the man behind the wheel but she hadn't been able to draw up the memory. Sadie was debating whether or not to swing back and ask him to move so that she could park behind the church when she finally spotted a space just big enough to squeeze her Miata into.

She hated being late, but a glance at her watch told her she'd slipped into the tardy zone by almost ten minutes. Grabbing her purse, Sadie scrambled out of her car, locked the door and slipped her key into her pocket. She also hated feeling guilty. Maybe if she wasn't so obsessive-compulsive, she'd have been willing to leave some unfinished work on her desk over the weekend. But she was obsessive-compulsive and late and feeling guilty.

Spotting her reflection in the driver's window of her car, she added dowdy to her list. Just the cherry she needed to top off a very depressing sundae.

Sadie narrowed her eyes as she studied her image in the glass. Her long, dark hair was pulled back in a braid because she didn't like to fuss with it. Her earrings and suit were definitely conservative and work oriented. She'd taken great care in the selection because she wanted to represent her family well. But the ensemble reflected in the glass didn't make the transition to after-five easily. Not that she was an after-five kind of girl, or had been, well, ever. It wasn't until she'd begun to work at Oliver Enterprises that she'd bought a couple of basic black dresses appropriate for the social functions that she was expected to attend as part of the Oliver family.

Finally, she glanced down at her shoes and winced. They were…well…serviceable was the best word she could come up with. Dowdy repeated the little voice in the back of her mind.

Annoyed, she turned and hurried up the street. A few months ago, she wouldn't have given a second thought to the way she looked. Her baby sister Juliana, who'd taken after their mother, had always been the girlie-girl. Since Sadie had tried to do everything her older brother Roman could do, she'd become a bit of a tomboy. Being a woman, fussing with her clothes and her hair had always made her…uncomfortable. But she'd been satisfied with herself. Hadn't she?

Sadie frowned. It had only been since Theo Angelis had stopped to talk to her in the courthouse two months ago that she'd caught herself glancing in the mirror more frequently and…what? Seeing herself the way Theo would see her? Dowdy, insisted the little voice.

"Stop being ridiculous," she scolded herself as she picked up her pace. Theo Angelis didn't see her as a woman. He saw her as a colleague. He'd sought her out to congratulate her on the way she'd handled a case, a case that she'd been surprised to learn he'd sent her way. Sandra Linton, the woman she'd defended that day, had stalked him and pulled a gun on him in his family's restaurant. And Theo had actually been pleased that she'd gotten the woman psychiatric treatment instead of jail time. He'd said that he'd admired her work, a great compliment since she felt the same way about his work.

Just thinking about the encounter shouldn't have her recalling his scent…soap and something a little earthier. She was tall, but he'd been taller so that she'd had to look up to meet his eyes. Dark eyes with just a hint of danger in them. Just talking to him shouldn't have made her knees grow weak. And shaking his hand—she could still recall the way her mind had fuzzed over, as if her brain had been replaced by a vat of cotton candy. It had been hot in the courtroom. That was why she'd felt heat shoot right down to her toes; that was why her throat had gone dry.

What she'd experienced in that moment of contact had to have been some kind of aberration, no doubt due to that rush of adrenaline she experienced at the end of every trial. And that was probably the reason she'd developed a sort of schoolgirl crush on Theo Angelis—totally one-sided and very self-indulgent.

And safe, nagged the little voice. Ignoring the voice, Sadie lifted her chin. It was just a handshake, for heaven's sake. She'd better get over it. She knew from experience that she didn't have the…know-how or the…equipment to attract a man like Theo Angelis. The kind of man she evidently appealed to was the practical, steady kind. Someone like Michael Dano, who headed up the legal department at Oliver Enterprises. The kind of man she thought of as a mentor and a friend. Michael had waited almost six months to make a move on her…and then she'd felt nothing. Theo had made her feel more with one look. It was just her fate to only be able to feel things with a man who could have any woman he wanted.

And she'd do well to put him out of her mind. The whole San Francisco legal community was buzzing with the fact that Jason Sangerfeld, defense attorney to the stars, had offered him a job in Los Angeles.

Glancing at her watch again, Sadie broke into a run. Her sister Juliana hadn't given her much notice. The invitation hadn't arrived until shortly after four o'clock, and she hadn't had time to go home and change. Not that she knew what she was changing for. Her younger sister's note hadn't been very specific. All it had said was: Come to St. Peter's Church at seven tonight. Please. Juliana. And she hadn't been able to reach her cell.

As Sadie reached the foot of the steps, she felt another wave of guilt wash over her. Juliana and she weren't close. Part of that was due to the fact that her sister was eighteen and she was twenty-six. The eight-year difference in their ages had seemed even greater when they were kids. Juliana had still been playing with Barbie dolls when Sadie had gone East for college and law school. And when Sadie had come back home to work in the legal department at Oliver Enterprises a year ago, Juliana had been away at boarding school.

When her sister had come home three months ago, Sadie's goal had been to get to know Juliana better. But she'd let her work and perhaps her current frustration with it interfere.

Frowning, Sadie hurried up the last steps. For the last five months, ever since the kiss, Michael Dano had seemed intent on keeping her buried in busywork—real estate deed and title searches. And when she wasn't doing that, her father and brother were insisting on her presence at various social functions.

No, Sadie gave herself a mental shake. She was not going to blame Michael Dano or her father or brother for the fact that she hadn't taken the time to get closer to her sister. There was no one to blame for that except herself.

Pulling the door open, she stepped into the gloom of the vestibule and felt the silence of the church envelop her. Then she heard two gunshots in rapid succession.

Copyright \\a169 2007 by Carolyn Hanlon

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