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A Perfect Storm

By:Lori Foster
A Perfect Storm
Lori Foster


ARIZONA STORM SAT QUIETLY on the overstuffed chair, her chin resting on  her drawn-up knees, her fingers laced together around her shins.


In the quiet, shadowed room, she breathed in the unique aroma of  aftershave and gun oil, and the headier scent of warm male. On the back  of the chair behind her he'd tossed his jeans and a rumpled T-shirt.  Close at hand on the nightstand, he'd placed his freshly cleaned gun and  his deadly switchblade.

His discarded boxers lay on the floor.

He fascinated her.

After breaking into his house, she'd removed her sneakers and put them  next to his boots by the front door. The air-conditioning, set on high,  left her toes cold, but he'd covered himself with no more than a thin  sheet.

Again and again, her gaze tracked over him, from one big foot sticking  out over the side of the bed, up and over his flat, solid abs covered by  the snowy-white sheet, to his chest-not covered by anything except  enticing body hair.

With one arm behind his head, his underarm and the dark tuft of hair  there were visible. Seeing that almost made him look vulnerable-except  that, despite his relaxed pose, the positioning of his long arm made a  thick biceps bulge.

At nearly six and a half feet tall, solidly built and finely sculpted,  Spencer Lark was one of the biggest, strongest, most impressive men  she'd ever met.

And she knew some really prime specimens.

His long lashes shadowed his high cheekbones, but that didn't detract  from the bruising beneath one eye. A recent fight? She smiled while  picturing it, sure that Spencer had come out ahead. His skill at  fighting intrigued her even more than his big bod.

Amazing, but even his slightly crooked nose held her rapt. When and how had he broken it?

She inhaled a deep breath and let it out in a quiet sigh that, given the  silence in his home and Spencer's acute instincts, disturbed his  slumber.

Arizona admitted to herself that maybe she'd wanted to wake him. After all, she'd been watching him-and waiting-for a while now.

His head turned on the pillow, his legs shifted.

Holding herself perfectly still, she waited to see if he'd awaken, what  he'd do, what he'd say. She didn't know him all that well, and yet … she  did.

Sort of.

They'd met nearly a month ago while they were both on a sting.  Immediately, they'd butted heads, and he'd infuriated her by interfering  with her life.

But worse, he'd robbed her of the revenge she desperately craved.

Sure, he had his own need for revenge, so she understood his motives. She didn't forgive him. Not yet, anyway.

But she did understand.

At least, she thought she did. Once they talked it over, then she'd decide for sure.

He made a soft, gravelly sound as he stretched that long, strong body. His chin tucked in. Muscles flexed.

The sheet tented.

Eyes widening, Arizona stared, not really alarmed, but no longer so at  ease, either. She had a very dark history with aroused men, so she  doubted she'd ever be unaffected by them. But she didn't let it get in  her way, not when she wanted something, not when she had a goal in mind.

She knew she should have taken Spencer's gun, at the very least moved it  out of his reach. But instead she'd found him in the bed, and before  she'd even thought it through, she'd taken the empty seat and settled in  to study him while he slept.

Since that fateful day when her destiny had been stolen from her, she'd  seen him only a handful of times. She'd tried to stay away. She'd tried  to forget about him.

She hadn't been successful.

Stretching, he brought his hand out from behind his head, around to rub over his hair, across his face, down his chest.

As he gave a sleepy, growling groan, that hand disappeared under the sheet.

Arizona's lips parted, and her heartbeat tripped up. She cleared her throat. "Spence?"

Freezing, without moving any other body part, he opened his eyes and met her gaze.

She frowned at him.

He didn't look super-startled, and he said nothing. He just stared at her.

With his hand still under there.

"Yeah … " Semi-satisfied with his frozen reaction, she nodded at his lap.  "You weren't going for a little tug, were you? Because as your  spectator, I'd just as soon not see it."

He brought his hand out and put it back behind his head, still silent, still watching her. Almost … relaxed.

His gaze was so dark, so compelling, she felt like squirming, damn it.  "I mean, I guess I could wait in the other room if it's really  necessary. That is, if you don't take too long."

He disappointed her by not reacting. As if he often woke to an uninvited  woman playing voyeur in his bedroom, he looked her over, from her bare  toes up to her long, wind-tangled hair.                       


"Been here long?"

"Maybe half an hour or so." Curiosity prompted her to ask, "Were you going to … you know?" She nodded at his lap.

"Most men say hi to the boys first thing."

"Say hi?"

With no sign of discomfort, he shrugged one shoulder. "You broke in."

A statement, not a question. She gave her own casual shrug. "Since  you're not dumb enough to leave the place unlocked, yeah, I had to."

He turned his head, but not to check on the time. He saw the gun still  on the nightstand where he'd left it and brought his gaze back to hers  again. "You know how to make coffee?"

One eyebrow lifted high. "Trying to get me out of the room so you can  leave the bed? I'm not squeamish, you know. I mean, with my background,  I've seen plenty of-"

He threw off the sheet and sat up, effectively shutting down her snide retort.

Ho boy.

"If you don't know how to make coffee, just say so." Spencer stretched  again, harder, longer this time. Sitting on the side of the bed, he  snagged up his boxers and stepped into them. As he stood, he pulled them  up.

They fit like a glove.

He still had a tent going.

And she still stared.

He picked up the gun and, betraying some trust issues, checked to make  sure she hadn't unloaded it. Discovering she hadn't touched it at all,  he nodded in satisfaction.

As he passed her, he chucked her under the chin. "It's called morning  wood, little girl. No reason for alarm." Gun in hand, he went on past  her into the bathroom. The door closed quietly behind him.

Belatedly, Arizona shut her mouth. Oh, how she hated when he called her  "little girl." As of today, she wasn't quite as young as he thought, and  given her experiences, well, she hadn't felt like a kid in a very long  time.

Her brows snapped down, and her spine stiffened. She would not let him get to her. Huh-uh. No way.

This was her game. She would call the shots, and if anyone had to be tongue-tied, it'd be him.

She shoved to her feet, but didn't stomp. Excesses of emotion gave away  too much. She didn't want him to know how he affected her.

At the bathroom door, voice cold and collected, she stated, "I'll be the kitchen."

Minutes later, just to prove a point, she went about making coffee.

* * *

SPENCER STOOD WITH HIS HANDS braced on the porcelain sink, his head hanging, his muscles twitchy.

What the hell?

Sure, he knew Arizona Storm was a reckless, impetuous, headstrong girl.  He'd figured that out in the first few seconds of making her  acquaintance.

But breaking and entering?

Why the hell had she sat there watching him sleep?

He felt … violated. Angry.

He felt extreme pity. For her.

Damn, but he didn't want her, not in his house, not in his head. He could control the first.

Hadn't had much luck controlling the second.

Not trusting her to respect his privacy, knowing damn good and well she  would snoop without remorse, he gave up the idea of a shower and shave  and instead rushed through brushing his teeth, splashing his face and  finger-combing his hair.

Since she wasn't in his bedroom anymore, he took the time to pull on his  jeans, but rather than mess with the holster, he just stuck the gun in  his waistband. He grabbed up his knife, opened it, closed it again and  slid it into his pocket.

Barefoot and shirtless, he went in search of Arizona-and he had to  admit, anticipation chased away the cobwebs of old memories and lack of  sleep.

Seeing her slumped in a kitchen chair, arms crossed, one foot hooked behind a chair leg, jolted his senses even more.

God Almighty, she was a beauty.

Slim, long-legged and generously stacked, with a face like a wet dream,  Arizona would turn heads wherever she went. Dark, wavy hair hung down  her back, usually in disarray. Honey-colored skin seemed in direct  contrast with light blue, heavily lashed eyes. A full mouth, a strong  chin, high cheekbones …

He wondered at the mixed heritage that had produced such a dream.

As he stood unnoticed in the doorway, she chewed at a thumbnail. Arizona  didn't wear makeup, or polish her nails, or do much of anything to  enhance her looks-and she didn't need to. She could wear burlap and men  would burn for her.


She went still before affecting a bored expression and swiveling her head to face him. "Do you always sleep 'til noon?"