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Excerpt: Turn Me Loose

Excerpt: Turn Me Loose

Book 3: Paradise, Idaho

Rochelle waited until Dr. Olsen had gone back into his office, then said to Travis in a voice she was shocked to find she could still control, “You son of a bitch.”

“Whoa.” He had a hand up. “Hang on.”

She’d stood up without realizing it, was hanging onto the edge of her desk and leaning halfway over it. It was all she could do not to charge right around it and punch him in the jaw. Her mama’d done her best to raise her to be a lady. Too bad it hadn’t taken. “Travis? Travis? You give me a fake name, you lie to me, and then you think it’ll be funny not to let me know it’s you I’m talking to, all these weeks? Think you’ll see just how flustered you can make me, showing up here?”

He wasn’t looking quite so cool now. “First off,” he said, “it’s not a fake name. My name’s Travis Wayne Cochran. T. Wayne. My family calls me Travis. And maybe I wanted to be Travis that night.”

“Oh, yeah. Because it was such a special time.”

He started to say something, then seemed to stop himself. “Know what? I’m going to leave that right there. Because the next thing I’m going to say is that I forgot your name, and I lost your number, or I didn’t keep it, but that doesn’t mean I forgot you. Things got a little. . .complicated in my life after that night. I actually didn’t know it was you I’d been emailing with. So, yeah. Son of a bitch? Probably. And one-night stand? Guilty.” He must have seen how she winced at that, because he softened his voice. “But messing with you? No. And glad to see you—yes. Definitely yes. Hell, yes.”

“Well,” she said, “that makes one of us.” She stalked over to her credenza in her heels, pulled out the shiny red folder she’d stashed there, then walked back over, doing her best to breathe along the way, and handed it to him. Time to do her job. She might not be a lady, but she was a professional. “Here you go. I understand you’re paid up on the rent, so all you have to do is call Carol Ritter and pick up the keys on your apartment. Cottage in back of her house, actually. I already checked that it’s stocked for you in terms of linens and all. And you’ll need to check in with your department, of course. The books are ordered for your class. I made sure of that, since the Computer Science department is doing some scrambling at the moment. The reason for your late hire. They’re below us on the third floor, by the way. Otherwise, there’s a list of grocery stores and banks and anything else you might need, and a local calendar of things to do.” Not that you’ll need help finding those. She bit her tongue on the words.

“And those things to do wouldn’t include you.” His brown eyes were steady on hers, his mouth unsmiling.

She straightened her back. And if it shoved her boobs out—well, she’d been faced with that choice since she’d been fourteen. Stand tall and have every guy in eyeball range stare at her chest, or slouch and cower and cover it up. She hadn’t cowered then, and she wasn’t about to start now. She held his gaze, and he kept his eyes high. But then, he’d already seen it all.

“No,” she said evenly. “I’m not a fringe benefit.”

“Not even an orientation lunch?”

“Not even that.”

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