step back as he got nearer.
    He wore snug jeans and a gray cotton work shirt; both were
dusty, greasy and torn in places. His hands could do with a good wash too.
Worse, they were scratched and bleeding. What had he been up to? The dragon
inside stretched and shook.Lynn folded her
arms in front of her and firmed her stance.
    He tipped his hat at her, pushing it up somewhat at the end
of the greeting to reveal more of his face. Jack.
    Her skin tingled with awareness of him. She tightened the
grip on her arms.
    “Well, hello there, darlin’. Need a hand?” His voice
resonated, deep and smooth. A late-night radio voice. His gaze traced over her
body. Made her insides somersault.
    On hearing about her tire dilemma, he nodded. His lips
twitched with a hint of amusement. “I’d be happy to give you a ride.”
    A startling image of her on top and him underneath flashed
through Lynn’s mind, leaving her throat parched.“Um,
I wouldn’t want to trouble you.”
    She glanced at his pickup, checking for the stereotypical
gun rack or tell-tale stickers supporting some crazy cause. No gun rack and
only one sticker urging people to drink more wine to conserve water, but Lynn
wasn’t entirely reassured. The man made her dragon fidgety. Could he be the
fire starter or just plain trouble?
    “It’s no trouble and you don’t seem to have too many
choices,” he said. “I’m going into town, you can ride along. We can pump up
your spare and pick up the parts I need.”
    She gave him a slow once-over. “What happened to you? You
look worse than the last time I saw you.”
    He flashed her that smile again, boyish, charming and rueful.
    Lynn sucked in a quick breath. Her present situation called
for a clear head and sharp reflexes, not emotional turmoil and confusion. She
didn’t need or want pins and needles.
    “Excuse my appearance, but I was having some trouble with
the stripper.”
    Her mouth fell open. Oh. My. God. What had she got herself
into now? “What did you do to the poor woman?” She shifted her feet, allowed
her hands to fall free at her side, loose and ready.
    “What woman?”
    “The stripper.”
    He looked confused. Then a blush edged across his sharp
cheekbones. “The cotton stripper.” He shook his head. “That’s a machine. It
strips cotton from the plants. It’s been breaking down on me. That’s what I’m
going to get parts for.”
    “Oh,” Lynn said, not quite sure if she believed him.
    Jack stuffed his hands in the pockets of his jeans. He
cleared his throat. “So are you riding with me? Or you can stay with your car,
and I’ll take your spare and be back.”
    Neither option appealed to Lynn. But the uneasy dragon
trawling inside her, probing and scratching against her skin, told her Jack Callaghan
merited a closer look.“Let me grab some
things, and I’ll go with you.”
    Lynn ducked into her car and grabbed her purse. She eyed the
gift-wrapped wine intended for Jen. While she could probably take him,
self-defense 101 advised to use anything and everything at hand. Of course, she
could always incinerate him. “Not so fast, Miss Trigger-Happy Dragon,” she
whispered. “Better stick to human tactics.”
    Lynn grabbed the bottle and felt reassured by the weight. If
push came to shove, she’d break it on Mr. Callaghan’s so-very-charming head.
Then she’d kick his ass to the nearest jail.
    Jack glanced sideways at his passenger. Lynn sat at the edge
of the seat, pushed up against the door and stared straight ahead, clutching
her things close. He understood grabbing the purse, but why would anyone grab a
wine bottle to go pump up a tire? Women.
    Her nostrils flared, and then scrunched up like she smelled
something bad. He was all sweaty and dusty. Maybe that’s why she sat as far as
    The back of his neck burned when she caught him gawking. He
cleared his throat. “So, how long were you stranded?”
    “Not too long. Thanks for the rescue though.”
    “My pleasure,

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