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Eliza May Brown

He still had my hand. When he started walking I had a choice of going with him quietly or having him tug me along like a child. A tantrum wouldn’t be very dignified, but I was sorely tempted.

John Thomas Delainey was everything the Senator could have wanted for me. He was movie-star handsome and from a political family with old money. Without a doubt he’d gone to the right schools and had the right job. He would drive the right car, probably something sleek but discretely elegant, a BMW or a Mercedes, I guessed, and probably black.

So I was shocked when he steered me to a lime green Volkswagon Beetle convertible.

Never, not in a million years, not if I had a million chances, would I have guessed that this was the car he’d own.

He saw my surprise. “I can explain the car,” he said.

“It’s okay.” I felt a smile, a real, genuine smile, spread across my face. “I love it.”

It was his turn to look surprised. “You like this car?”

“I lovethis car. Can we put the top down?”

“It’s a little cold.” He shrugged out of his suit coat and slung it around me, letting his hands linger on my shoulders. This time I didn’t shake him off. It was as hard as chewing glass, but I had to admit to myself that I’d misjudged him. A guy who drove a car like this—regardless of who his father was, regardless of his career choices, regardless of his willingness to commit criminal acts and his possible lack of morals, conscience, or scruples—a man like this would make little wrinkles appear around the Senator’s eyes. The Senator would not like this car.

“I’m sorry,” I said.

Tom looked confused. “About what?”

“About a lot of things,” I admitted, “but mostly I’m sorry that I was so abrupt with you.”

His smile was dazzling. He leaned forward. “I’m willing to let you make it up to me.”

The male scent of him unnerved me. I’d already been more honest with him than I’d been with anyone in recent memory. And certainly not with any other eligible bachelor. They were only interested in my name, my family, and what I could do for them.

I didn’t kid myself. Tom was exactly the same as every other man in my world.

Except for the lime green Beetle.

He held the door for me and then slid behind the wheel. The car was small and his arm brushed mine. His jacket was still warm from his body and smelled as good as he did.

I hadn’t been enveloped by a man in this way for a long time. I didn’t want to think about how long it had been. I didn’t want to think about Harlan, not when I was sitting next to John Thomas Delainey. Harlan would have despised him, and probably with good reason.

Tom flashed me a charming, practiced smile and pushed a button. The top of the convertible lifted and folded itself away, leaving me exposed and unprotected. It didn’t seem like fun any more.I dug out a pair of sunglasses.

Tom’s hand closed over mine. “Don’t cover up those beautiful eyes,” he said.

I felt another sudden, irresistible urge to be honest with him. It was a foreign feeling and one I’d better get under control, fast.

“Tom, I’m not going on a date with you. Right now I can’t handle even the possibility of a relationship.”

He leaned back in his seat, his eyes narrowed. “Aren’t you jumping the gun a little? What makes you think I want a relationship?”

“I thought I knew what you wanted from me.” Probably not sex. Or, rather, not justsex. He was ambitious and I had assumed that he’d want the whole package: the big wedding with lots of press, the Senator’s blessing and endorsement to launch his own political career, the trophy wife with all the right contacts and friends.

“Now I’m not sure what you want from me.” I faced him squarely. “But I do know that, whatever it is, I can’t give it to you. Not right now, and probably not ever.”