This Heart of Mine (Chicago Stars #5)(7)


by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

He didn't need the evidence of all those scattered books to tell him she was the kind of woman he least liked—brainy and way too serious. She was probably going to be a talker, too, an even bigger strike against her. In the spirit of fairness, though, he had to give Little Sis high marks for eye power. They were an unusual color, somewhere between blue and gray, and they had a sexy slant to them, just like her eyebrows, which he realized were almost meeting in the middle as she scowled at him. Damn it. Phoebe's sister! And he'd thought this week couldn't get any worse.

"Are you all right?" he asked.

Those blue-gray irises turned the exact color of an Illinois summer afternoon right before the tornado siren went off. He'd now managed to piss off every member of the Stars' ruling family, except maybe the kids. It was a gift.

He'd better mend his fences, and since charm was his long suit, he flashed a smile. "I didn't mean to scare you. I thought you were a burglar."

"What are you doing here?"

Even before her screech, he could see that the charm thing wasn't working.

He kept an eye on that kung fu leg of hers. "Dan suggested I come up here for a few days, to think things over…" He paused. "Which I didn't need to do."

She slapped the switch, and two sets of rustic iron wall sconces came on, filling the far corners with light.

The house was built of logs, but with six bedrooms and ceilings that soared up two stories to the exposed roof beams, the place didn't bear any resemblance to a frontier log cabin. Big windows made the woods seem part of the interior, and the huge stone fireplace that dominated one end of the room could have roasted a buffalo. All the furniture was big, overstuffed, and comfortable, designed to take the abuse of a large family. Off to the side a wide staircase led to a second floor complete with a small loft at one end.

Kevin bent over to pick up her things. He examined the rabbit slippers. "Don't you get nervous wearing these during hunting season?"

She snatched them from his hand. "Give them to me."

"I wasn't planning on wearing them. It'd be a little hard to keep the guys' respect."

She didn't smile as he handed them over. "There's a lodge not too far from here," she said. "I'm sure you can find a room for the night."

"It's too late to throw me out. Besides, I was invited."

"It's my house. You're uninvited." She tossed her coat on one of the couches and headed for the kitchen. The pit bull curled his lip, then stuck his pompon straight up, just as if he were giving Kevin the finger. Only when the dog was certain his message had been delivered did he trot after her.

Kevin followed them. The kitchen was roomy and comfortable, with Craftsman cabinets and a daylight view of Lake Michigan through every window. She dropped her packages on a pentagon-shaped center island surrounded by six stools.

She had an eye for fashion, he'd give her that. She wore close-fitting charcoal pants and a funky, oversize metallic-gray sweater that put him in mind of a suit of armor. With that short flaming hair, she could be Joan of Arc right after the match had been struck. Her clothes looked expensive but not new, which was odd, since he remembered hearing that she'd inherited Bert Somerville's fortune. Even though Kevin was wealthy himself, he'd come into his money long after his character had been formed. In his experience, people who'd grown up wealthy didn't understand hard work, and he hadn't met many of them he liked. This snobby rich girl was no exception.

"Uh, Miss Somerville? Before you kick me out… I'll bet you didn't let the Calebows know you were coming up here, or they'd have told you the place was already occupied."

"I have dibs. It's understood." She threw the cookies in a drawer and slammed it shut. Then she studied him, all uptight and mad as hell. "You don't remember my name, do you?"

"Sure I know your name." He searched his mind and couldn't come up with a thing.

"We've been introduced at least three times."

"Which was totally unnecessary, since I've got a great memory for names."

"Not mine. You've forgotten."

"Of course I haven't."

She stared at him for a long moment, but he was used to operating under pressure, and he didn't have any trouble waiting her out.

"It's Daphne," she said.

"Why are you telling me something I already know? Are you this paranoid with everyone, Daphne?"

She pursed her lips and muttered something under her breath. He could swear he heard the word "badger" again.

Kevin Tucker didn't even know her name! Let this be a lesson, Molly thought as she gazed at all that dangerous gorgeousness.

Right then she knew she had to find a way to protect herself from him. Okay, so he was drop-dead good-looking. So were a lot of men. Granted, not many of them had that particular combination of dark blond hair and brilliant green eyes. And not many had a body like his, which was trim and sculpted rather than bulky. Still, she wasn't stupid enough to be taken in by a man who was nothing more than a great body, a pretty face, and an on/off charm switch.

Well, she was stupid enough—witness her late, unlamented crush on him—but at least she'd known she was being stupid.

One thing she wouldn't do was come across as a fawning groupie. He was going to see her at her absolute snottiest! She conjured up Goldie Hawn in Overboard for inspiration. "You're going to have to leave, Ken. Oh, excuse me, I mean Kevin. It is Kevin, right?"

She must have gone too far because the corner of his mouth kicked up. "We've been introduced at least three times. I'd think you'd remember."

"There are just so many football players, and you all look alike."

One of his eyebrows arched.

She'd made her point, and it was late, so she could afford to be generous, but only in the most condescending way. "You can stay tonight, but I came here to work, so you'll have to vacate tomorrow morning." A glance out the back windows showed his Ferrari parked by the garage, which was why she hadn't seen it when she'd pulled up in front.

He deliberately settled on a stool, as if to show her he wasn't going anywhere. "What kind of work do you do?" He sounded patronizing, which told her he didn't believe it was anything too arduous.

"Je suis auteur."