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Time is running out…

In this scene Graham Warren and his ex-wife, who was blinded in an accident, are racing across Washington to follow a lead about the hit-and-run driver.

"Do you have to drive so fast?"

Casey was right. Graham always drove fast, but he was setting a record now, especially for rush-hour traffic in D.C. Weaving in and out, he headed for the address Holt [a detective and Graham's friend] had given him.

If nothing more, Graham would see Casey's assailant in jail tonight.

If he got really lucky, they might also break the case on which he'd been working-and if a miracle occurred, find a clue to that [national] security leak. He couldn't shake the feeling now that the two were connected, the terrorist plot and Casey's attacks.

The man she had seen in the elevator at Hearthline [where Graham works undercover] could be the one Graham wanted. A traitor who was selling secrets to Al-Hassan. The thought made him light-headed.

"You're making me dizzy," Casey tried again.

"Sorry. You okay?"

"If I say, 'never better,' will you believe me?"

Graham half smiled. She still had her sense of humor after all. Her spirit. Yet he knew she also had her suspicions. About him.

That was his fault, too.

He could kill Jackie Miles [his partner] for screwing up.

By necessity, he hadn't wanted to risk Casey running into his superiors at Hearthline, having one of them call Graham by the wrong name…When they left the office, Graham had checked the hallway to make sure it was clear. Then, with his heart still thundering in his chest after that explosive kiss he and Casey had shared, he urged her and Willy [her aging guide dog] into the fire exit stairwell. He prayed she wouldn't demand some explanation, but using the steps meant avoiding the reception desk and anyone waiting for, or getting off, the elevators.

Of course maybe it didn't matter now.

Had his cover already been blown? he wondered again.

So far, it didn't seem so but he wasn't sure.

If it wasn't for Jackie whisking Casey into his office and out of sight when she arrived, it would be amazing if it hadn't been blown. If someone had recognized Casey near his office that first day, before her accident, he might well ID her now, too.

Graham wasn't taking any chances.

"Seventeen flights?" Casey had murmured from the step above him on their way down. "Why is it necessary for me to have a heart attack? What good will I be to you then? And poor Willy."

The clasp of her hand in his as he led her down the stairs had set Graham's pulse running harder, faster, than even that fleeting touch [in his office] of her lips to his. Oh, man. He had no right to that one forbidden kiss, but if he died right now, he'd die a happy man.

It was only sexual attraction, he told himself. Being married once only made that worse. He had all those memories of kisses in the dark, the feel of her body, her skin. Graham supposed that, by tonight, even with Casey's attacker in jail, he'd get no sleep. He had a hard enough task putting her out of his mind every other night. Now he had today's kiss to remember. And remember…

Graham cleared his throat. He needed to block out everything except keeping Casey safe and exposing the truth.

"Graham, please. Slow down."

He eased off on the accelerator. Her blindness must play havoc with her sense of balance, and his attempt to turn Wisconsin Avenue into a NASCAR track was probably making her feel a whole lot sicker than she let on.

"I'm a jerk," he said.

"But a very charming jerk."

Only her voice didn't sound judgmental. It sounded soft, husky, laced with humor and full of the same new memory he had. Damn.

"I hope you don't get another ticket," she added.

"We're almost there."

Because it matched his own, he could sense her growing excitement. Which triggered another spurt of anger at her assailants. What would it mean to Casey to have her life back again? To focus her efforts on coping with her blindness and moving again toward some happier place?

A place without him.

So maybe she hadn't felt the same heat from that kiss. Graham ran a hand over his five o'clock stubble. He had given her a bad time, he and his oh-so-important job for the U.S. government.

She deserved happiness. With someone else.

"Hell." Graham pulled up in front of the address Holt had given him. And saw no other cars around. The driveway was empty. The modest frame house and scrubby yard looked deserted. There were no cruisers out front. "The cops are late."

"They don't have your traffic skills."

"Yeah, yeah." But he offered her a smile. A smile Casey couldn't see.

Instead, he took her hand. "Why don't you wait here? I'll take a look, see if I can spot that dark sedan."

"No way. I'm coming, too."

Casey pulled her hand free, opened the passenger door, and got out. She released Willy from his bed on the rear seat and grabbed onto his harness.

Graham sighed as he joined her on the sidewalk.

At his first step he froze.

The air around him took on that heavy, overbearing feel that prickled his neck…

"Casey, I want you to stay here."

She kept going. "It was my accident. I've spent the past few weeks in fear of my own shadow. If the guy who owns that car lives here…I want to hear the cuffs snap into place."

Graham caught her shoulder. "Later. Right now there's something wrong."

She sent him a quizzical look. Willy did, too.

Electricity seemed to zing through the atmosphere into Graham's body, along his nerve endings. Either he needed a vacation, or they were walking into trouble.

At the garage door he peered inside, holding Casey back with one hand on her forearm. He could feel her pulse beat too, under his fingers. Quick and strong.

"Do you see the car?" she asked.


But then, he changed his mind. He saw something.

Something bad. Was he right?

"Please. Wait here."

He left her standing with Willy, looking after Graham with a puzzled expression. Better she should feel confused than get hurt again.

Adrenaline pumping, he slipped into the garage through the side door. Not to his surprise, it had been unlocked.

A second later he was crouching over a woman lying in the interior doorway, half in the garage, half inside the adjoining kitchen.

At a slight sound behind him, Graham automatically reached for his gun, hidden by his sports jacket in his shoulder holster. He drew it out only to find Casey at the side entrance, her head tilted with curiosity in his direction.


"There's a woman here," he told her. When he hunkered down, her hand fell open and he saw something else that made fresh alarm rush through him. "She's dead."

© Leigh Riker    All Rights Reserved