This Heart of Mine (Chicago Stars #5)(12)

by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

He smiled. "Night, Daphne."

She watched him mount the stairs, the denim tightening around those lean legs, molding his narrow hips, muscles rippling beneath his T-shirt.

Oh, God, she was drooling! And she was Phi Beta Kappa!

She was also aching and restless, blazingly dissatisfied with everything in her life.

"Damn it!" She knocked her sketch pad to the floor, jumped to her feet, and made a beeline for the bathroom to stare at her hair. She was going to shave it off!

No! She didn't want to be bald, and this time she wouldn't let herself act crazy.

She moved purposefully to the video center and pulled out the remake of The Parent Trap. Her inner child loved watching the twins get their parents back together, and her outer child loved Dennis Quaid's smile.

Kevin had that same crooked smile.

Resolutely, she took his game film from the VCR, put in The Parent Trap, and settled back to watch.

By two o'clock in the morning, Hallie and Annie had reunited their parents, but Molly was more restless than ever. She began surfing through old movies and infomercials, only to pause as she heard the familiar theme song of the old show, Lace, Inc.

"Lace is on the case, oh yeah… Lace can solve the case, oh yeah…" Two beautiful women ran across the screen, the sexy detectives Sable Drake and Ginger Hill.

Lace, Inc. had been one of Molly's favorite shows as a child. She'd wanted to be Sable, the smart brunette, played by actress Mallory McCoy. Ginger was the redheaded sexpot karate expert. Lace, Inc. had been a jiggle show, but Molly hadn't cared about that. She'd simply enjoyed watching women beat up the bad guys for a change.

The opening credits showed Mallory McCoy first, then Lilly Sherman, who'd played Ginger Hill. Molly sat up straighter as she remembered a fragment of conversation she'd once overheard at Stars headquarters indicating that Lilly Sherman had some sort of connection with Kevin. She hadn't wanted anyone to know she was interested, so she didn't ask any questions. She studied the actress more carefully.

She wore her trademark tight pants, tube top, and high heels. Her long red hair curled around her shoulders, and her eyes batted seductively at the camera. Even with a dated hairstyle and big gold hoop earrings, she was a knockout.

Sherman must be in her forties by now, surely a little old to be one of Kevin's women, so what was their connection? A photograph she'd seen of the actress a few years ago showed that she'd gained weight since the television show. She was still a beautiful woman, though, so it was possible they'd had a fling.

Molly stabbed the remote, and a cosmetics commercial came on. Maybe that's what she needed. A complete makeover.

She flipped off the TV and headed upstairs. Somehow she didn't think a makeover would fix what was wrong with her.

After a hot shower she slipped into one of the Irish linen nightgowns she'd bought when she was rich. It still made her feel like a heroine in a Georgette Heyer novel. She carried her notepad to bed so she could think more about Daphne, but the surge of creativity she'd experienced that afternoon had vanished.

Roo snored softly at the foot of the bed. Molly told herself she was getting sleepy. She wasn't.

Maybe she could finish polishing her article, but as she made her way to the loft to get her laptop, she glanced into the guest bathroom. It had two doors—the one she was standing in and a second one across from it that led directly into the bedroom where he slept. That door was ajar.

Her restless, twitchy legs carried her onto the tile.

She saw a Louis Vuitton shaving kit sitting on the counter. She couldn't imagine Kevin buying it for himself, so it must have been a gift from one of his international beauties. She moved closer and saw a red toothbrush with crisp white bristles. He'd put the cap back on the tube of Aquafresh.

She brushed her fingertip over the lid of a column of deodorant, then reached for a frosted glass bottle of very expensive aftershave. She unscrewed the stopper and drew it to her nose. Did it smell like Kevin? He wasn't one of those men who drowned himself in cologne, and she hadn't gotten close enough to know for sure, but something familiar about the scent made her close her eyes and inhale more deeply. She shivered and set it down, then glanced into the open shaving kit.

Lying next to a bottle of ibuprofen and a tube of Neosporin was Kevin's Super Bowl ring. She knew he'd earned it in the early days of his career as Cal Bonner's backup. It surprised her to see a championship ring tossed so carelessly in the bottom of a shaving kit, but then everything she knew about Kevin said he wouldn't want to wear a ring that had been earned when someone else was in charge.

She began to move away, only to pause as she saw what else lay in the shaving kit.

A condom.

No big deal. Of course he'd carry condoms with him. He probably had a whole crate of them. She picked it up and studied it. It seemed to be an ordinary condom. So why was she staring at it?

This was insane! All day she'd been acting like a woman obsessed. If she didn't pull herself together, she'd be boiling a bunny just like crazy Glenn Close.

She winced. Sorry, Daphne.

One peek. That was it. She'd just take one peek at him sleeping and then she'd leave.

She moved toward the bedroom door and slowly pushed it open.

Chapter 3

Late that night Daphne sneaked into Benny's badger den with the scary Halloween mask fastened around her head…

Daphne Plants a Pumpkin Patch

A dim wedge of light from the hallway fell across the carpet. Molly could make out a large shape beneath the bedcovers. Her heart hammered with the excitement of the forbidden. She took a tentative step inside.

The same dangerous energy shot through her that she'd felt when she was seventeen, right before she'd pulled the fire alarm. She moved closer. Just one look and then she'd leave.

He lay on his side, turned away from her. The sound of his breathing was deep and slow. She remembered old Westerns where the gunslinger woke up at the slightest sound, and she envisioned a rumple-haired Kevin pointing a Colt .45 at her belly.

She'd pretend she was sleepwalking.

He'd left his shoes on the floor, and she pushed one of them aside with her foot. It made a slight rustle as it brushed over the carpet, but he didn't move. She pushed aside its mate, but he didn't react to that either. So much for the Colt .45.

Her palms grew damp. She rubbed them on her gown. Then she bumped ever so gently against the end of the bed.