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          Anne Pierson was a top-notch Washington journalist until a liaison with the wrong man implicated her in scandal. Years later, she’s hiding out in backwoods Turkey, working as a translator near the ancient Hittite site of Karakuyu, determined to keep her past a secret and avoiding personal relationships. But her quiet little world is turned upside down when she meets American archaeologist Renaud Townsend.


          Renaud knows little about this foreign country or the project he’s been sent to manage after the former boss disappeared. Anne’s refusal to be his translator troubles him, but instinct tells him he can rely on her. Or is that only desire speaking? A lusty love affair for the duration of the summer dig would definitely help him adjust.


          When Anne’s reputation links her to stolen artifacts and murder at the site, their budding romance comes skidding to a halt. To clear her name, she must sacrifice her safety and reach out to trust Renaud. But is there enough time to give love a second chance?

  

Publisher:

BOOK

The Turkish Affair

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Chapter One


    Whirlpools of dust rose, shimmered briefly, then vanished. Like phantoms, Anne mused. The ghosts of a forgotten world. Four thousand years ago, this stubborn earth had felt the weight of Hittite warriors, of merchant convoys with their cargoes of fragrant spices. But those days were long gone. Armies no longer clanked over the plain, and there was no tang of cardamom on the scorching air.


    “Lost anyone?”

    The mocking voice sliced into her reverie and snapped her back to the present. Lost? Archaeologist Nick Carlson was coming up the sloped walkway leading out of Karakuyu; behind him, the passageway was perfectly empty. Where were the American tourists she was translating for? Gone. Asım, the Turkish tour guide, must have led them down into the ancient city, while she'd stayed up here on the parapet, daydreaming. That didn't make her look very competent. Even worse, she'd been caught out by Nick, a man who didn't like her much, although she had no idea why.

    Hiding her embarrassment, she managed to smile nonchalantly. “No, not lost, Nick. Just temporarily misplaced.” Then, as casually as possible, she headed down the passage and into a forecourt lined with the booths of souvenir sellers.

    There they were, clumped around the site's entry. Not ghosts, but her group of frazzled-looking tourists in heat-wilted shorts, gaudy shirts, and shapeless sunhats.


    “What a strange place,” someone was muttering disconsolately. “So empty feeling.”

    “Sinister, that's the word for it,” added a more negative voice.

    Sinister? Ridiculous. Anne loved this archaeological site with its unique atmosphere. She forced a breezy note into her voice as she joined them. “Call it desolate, if you want. But not sinister.” She knew how important it was to keep the mood light-hearted, to maintain a cohesive calm when tour guiding. Unfamiliar surroundings, a difficult climate, and culture shock could change nervous folks into rebellious tyrants in a few shattering seconds. When-and if-that happened, the Turkish Tourist Board would hear about it. In this part of the world, jobs weren't easy to come by, particularly for foreigners.

    “There's an ancient Hittite legend that explains Karakuyu's decline.” All turned to her and waited for words that highlighted what was of interest. “One day, right here in this city, the storm god and the great serpent went into mortal combat. Another god, Teleinou, watched their battle, and when he saw the destruction they were wreaking, he abandoned the city and took all that was good with him.”

    “Leaving only dust, emptiness, and terrible heat.” Mrs. Bland, the Connecticut dowager, mopped her sweating face with a much-used, very limp tissue.

    “And definitely no Tastee Freez,” quipped Mr. Forster, who passed himself off as the group wit. A few snickers were heard from those not too hot to react.

    At a wooden hut where an armed guard sat, Asım pushed a wad of money through the opening under the glass window. “Merhaba.”


    “Merhaba,” mumbled the guard, a habitually unfriendly man. He shoved the bills into a drawer and glowered at them all. Ignoring his hostility, Anne and Asım led their group along the outer city's ramparts, bypassing throngs of tourists, circumventing strewn rocks.

    When the crowds were far behind, they turned down an arched passageway and entered a broad space of tumbled pillars and cool dry air. Here, there was much evidence of the ongoing archaeological dig: heaped stones, deep gouges, and several sectioned-off areas.

    “We're now in the inner city, Karakuyu's real heart.” Anne couldn't keep the enthusiasm out of her voice. Enthusiasm? Pure love. Guiding might sometimes be a stressful job, but the surroundings were magnificent. Her eyes swept over shattered stone, the vestiges of glory. “And this was the bustling main square.”

    “The main square?” Mrs. Bland stared at the crumbled remains and shook her head. “Pretty hard to imagine.”

    “Rocks,” stocky Mr. Topp muttered. “All I can see is rocks, rocks, and more rocks.”

    Anne smiled. “Now, yes. But three thousand years ago, Karakuyu was the most important city in the Hittite Empire. The Hittites are mentioned in both the Old Testament and Egyptian inscriptions, so close your eyes; try to picture the chariots, the costumed traders, and the warriors who once thronged here. Imagine the different odors, the terrible noise.”


    Near-perfect silence seemed to mock her words. “What happened to the Hittite Empire?”

    “No superpower lasts forever. The Hittites were attacked by Assyrians who took over some of their lands, then by Aegean Sea Peoples who cut off trade routes. In the second century BCE, all written records ceased, and Hittites became ghosts on the historical scene. They were forgotten for thousands of years, but their descendants are part of today's population in Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and throughout the Levant.”

    Anne took a deep breath of the dry air. There weren't many places left on earth as tranquil as this. Karakuyu was a paradise of sorts. One that knocked life's tedious banalities right back into proportion and-

    “You shouldn't be in this area.”

    The voice, clipped, imperative, came from somewhere on the left. A figure detached itself from the shade of a vaulted doorway. A man. Skirting the strewn rocks and smashed pillars, he approached languidly, as if all the time in the world were his for the taking. Did she know him? No, she'd never seen him before-if she had, she wouldn't have forgotten him so easily. He was tall, broad-shouldered. His long, muscular legs were encased in faded jeans; a blue T-shirt stretched, pinch tight, over his chest. And, despite his unhurried advance, he carried himself with authority. He stopped when he was directly in front of her.

    Who was he? A volunteer participating in the summer dig? No, they were usually much younger. Not someone from the Turkish police-they had weapons hanging all over their bodies and confident sneers on

their faces. They didn't address people in English either. So this man, whoever he was, had either recognized her, or he had been watching her, had heard her talking to the group.


    Anne curved her mouth into a polite smile, an attempt at courtesy that collapsed in the face of the man's unrelenting expression. He looked like he was about to make trouble: she needed trouble as much as she needed furry hands.

    “What are you doing here?”

    “I beg your pardon?” she asked lazily, almost insolently.

    “What are you doing in this part of the site?”

    She fought down an annoyed sigh. She and Asım had been bringing tourists through Karakuyu for years now, and no one had ever challenged their right to do just that. What was going on? She couldn't lose face in front of her clients, and she didn't like his attitude. Tilting her head back, she looked up with feigned naïveté.

    “Good question. What am I doing here? What do visitors usually do in an archaeological site? They look at it, perhaps?”

    “Visitors are restricted to the outer city near the ramparts. The inner city isn't open to the public until two in the afternoon.”

    The words, coolly stated, conclusive, were nonetheless softened by a warm, lingering drawl. Another American? From some place near the south. Missouri? Kentucky? There was a faint suggestion of British, too. It was the very mixed mid -Atlantic accent of a man who'd been away from home for a long time. Stop musing about accents!

    “Two o'clock? Since when? I always bring people in here in the morning, before the roads sizzle in the heat.”


    The blue eyes examined her more closely, skimming over her hair pulled back into its high ponytail, progressing across her cheeks, lingering on her mouth. He was appraising her. As if I'm a horse he's thinking of buying. In another minute, he'll start examining my teeth. Yet, she felt her annoyance dissipating, vanquished by the weight of another sensation: an awareness of his deep scent, the heady appealing mixture of skin, sweat, and soap. Focus on his rudeness.

    “Didn't you bother reading the notice we posted on the gate?”

    A notice? She hadn't even seen one. So, what was she supposed to do now? Kill time by forcing everyone to join the mass of other tourists? Trudge around the outer walls under that merciless sun? Admit defeat, load everyone onto the bus and go back to town? No way. Behind her, the group was silent, waiting like a bloodthirsty crowd in a Roman coliseum, wondering which gladiator would knock the other off.

    She tried being conciliatory. “I'm sorry. I had no idea the hours were changed. But even so, it doesn't matter. Go ask Mike Benton, the archaeologist in charge, if I can stay. My name is Anne Pierson, and Mike will vouch for me. He lets me bring tourists into the inner city wherever I want.”

    “Mike Benton's permission no longer counts.” The man's voice was flat.

    “Oh? How so?”

    “Because Mike Benton left for England. I'm the new site director, and I'm the one who sets the rules. My rulesstipulate there will be no visitors to this section outside of official hours.”


    Anne blinked with surprise. “Mike's gone back to England?”

    The man nodded. Watched her, as if trying to gauge her reaction.

    “For how long? When is he coming back?” “He won't be.”

    “Mike won't be coming back?” Silly parrot. But what was going on? Mike had never told her he was leaving Karakuyu. Why do a thing like that? He loved this site. Each new discovery, even something as small as a decorated shard, made him glow with enthusiasm. Still, this was hardly the time for musing.

    “Why? Why isn't he coming back?” “There was an illness in his family.”

    “I see,” she said. But a subtle change in the man's features, fleeting and uncomfortable, told her he was lying. Ruining her day, her expedition, her image, and lying to her. So why were her eyes drawn to the fine blond hairs dusting his forearms as he folded them across an amazing chest? To his strong-looking hands with their long, tense fingers? Concentrate on essentials.

    “It must have been a very sudden sort of illness. Otherwise, Mike would have said something to me the last time I saw him.”

    “And when was that?” His mouth tightened mirthlessly.

    It was a nice mouth, or it had been a few seconds before. No, it still was a nice mouth. But humorless. Golden sun-bleached hair, bronzed skin, unwavering blue eyes, and a chiseled explorer's face: yes, the physique really was good, whether or not you liked the personality. “Is this an interrogation?”


    He rejected her mocking question and waited for an answer. Might as well give the man the information he wanted. There was nothing to hide. “Okay. I last saw Mike around ten days ago. Not out here. In town.”

    “I see.” There was innuendo in those two words. What did he see? It was anybody's guess. She could hear the tourists behind her shuffling their feet, muttering to each other.

    “Who are these people with you?”

    “American tourists on a five-day visit to the area. Asım is the official Turkish tour guide. We work together. I'm his translator and assistant.”

    “That's the last thing I need. Tourists, guides, and translators creeping around the site whenever they want. We don't have the proper security here, especially when the volunteers and workers are busy elsewhere. Accidents could happen. Important artifacts could be damaged.”

    Anne's hackles rose. “You can hardly say I'm creeping. I'm simply walking around Karakuyu in the same way I've been doing for years now.”

    He almost looked chastised. Almost. Was that a faint smile on his lips? “Sorry. Point taken.”

    “I'm well aware of the risks. And of damage that could be done.”

    He didn't answer. His unwavering blue eyes had never left hers, but she sensed his thoughts were elsewhere. Wandering. But before she could interpret what was happening, another voice cut into the air.

    “Do you mean we have to go all the way back to

town without seeing this part of the site? Climb back into that smelly bus in this heat?” Elderly Mrs. Bland had pushed herself forward, her jaw set in irritated bulldog position. “The condition of those roads would make a cat sick.”


    The man's face relaxed. His eyes flicked back to Anne. “Since you're here now, I'll let you look around.”

    Anne felt relief wash over her, although she didn't like the word “let” either. It put her in the begging position. He'd “let” them “creep” around. The guy had a put-down vocabulary.

    “And the next time you bring tourists, adhere to opening hours.”

    Just the sort of man who insists on having the last word. Even though she'd won the battle-in a way- the confrontation had taken the fun out of the morning. This new director wouldn't find it easy to win her over, although he'd try. She knew he would. Eventually. If he stayed here long enough, he'd learn that foreigners stick together in out-of-the-way places, particularly in politically unstable, potentially dangerous parts of Turkey.

    “Then, we'd better get on with our visit,” she said briskly. She didn't feel like thanking him.


****

    As Renaud Townsend watched the group disappear down the lane, the last of his evil mood trickled away. He hadn't meant to be so brusque, not at all. He was just stressed out. This was his first time on a Turkish archaeological site, he didn't speak the language, and he found the dusty, hot climate hard to endure. He'd been parachuted in as site director, bypassing Nick Carlson, a far more obvious candidate. He had wondered why. Now he knew.


    “They wanted an outsider to come in and take charge,” Nick had explained. “We've all been coming to Karakuyu for years. They don't trust us.”

    Now that was his own problem, too: knowing whom he could trust. And his employers expected him to be a detective as well as a scientist.

    Important treasures-statuary, clay cuneiform tablets dating back to the Hittite period-had vanished from Karakuyu, and there was no chance of finding them again, not in this century. They were smuggled out of the country and on to private collectors within hours. That didn't please a Turkish government intent on protecting priceless objects highlighting the country's glorious past-the frequent appearances of insolent, cocky-looking police officers testified to that. But for an archaeologist, most important was the fact that, when taken out of their context, artifacts lost their historical value.

    “More problems?” Bob Williams, field assistant and Mike's right-hand man, strolled into the square.

    Renaud nodded. “We have to be careful, Bob. We can't have the place crawling with visitors outside regular hours, especially with the police watching our every move.” He looked down the lane thoughtfully. “Although those people look fairly harmless.”

    “And what does a harmful person look like?” Bob's eyes behind the lenses of his wire-rimmed John Lennon glasses were mocking.

    “Sorry,” said Renaud quietly. “I'm being stupid.” Incredibly stupid. He'd let shining hair and high-arching brows fog his judgment. “You know who the are?”


    “I've never seen those particular tourists before, but I do know the two guides. Asım Kaya lives in town, in Gülkale, with his family. The woman, Anne Pierson, is an American.”

    “What do you know about her?”

    Bob frowned. “Not a lot. Nobody does. And that makes some people suspicious.”

    “Suspicious? How so?” Renaud was well aware his interest in the woman went a bit further than the problem of missing artifacts. “She's a translator. Or so she told me.”

    “Been out here for years. Speaks Turkish fluently, lives in town with Asım and his family-wife, children, sister, parents-the usual, crowded, family set-up. I suppose you could say she leads a pretty quiet life.”

    Not the sort of life an expert antiques smuggler would lead, Renaud thought. Then chided himself. He couldn't allow himself to think like that. If the thefts continued, this site might be closed to international archaeological research, and an important study in early human civilization would be terminated. It also meant that, untended, Karakuyu would become a playground for pillagers. And he, Renaud Townsend, would end up with a lousy reputation-just as lousy as Mike Benton's. He might have to go into hiding like Mike, too.

    Where the hell was the man? Because the truth was, Mike Benton hadn't gone home to England. Just like the vanished artifacts, he'd simply, and mysteriously, disappeared. A disappearance that didn't make sense-unless he were implicated in the thefts. But Mike was an excellent archaeologist, a friend, and a man with integrity. Renaud couldn't believe he was guilty. Or, perhaps, he was just refusing to believe it. If Mike really were innocent, why vanish so suddenly?


    But Bob hadn't finished. “Fact is, Anne Pierson knows a lot of local people, and she mixes with everyone-except the police, of course. People keep running into her in the strangest places: in outlying villages, on abandoned historical sites. One of the student diggers told me he'd even seen her in a rough part of Ankara, a place where strangers-women in particular-wouldn't normally venture. In Gülkale, she often goes to a little coffeehouse in town, a place called Necmettin's. She stands out, of course, because women don't normally go to Turkish coffeehouses. Especially not to seedy places like that one.”

    She'd stand out wherever she was, Renaud mused. With her soft dreamer's mouth, those slightly upward-slanting, unflinching brown eyes, that almost sassy way of moving.

    “The night Mike disappeared, he was in Necmettin's coffeehouse with Anne. After that, no one saw him again. Still…” Bob raised a cautioning hand. “I'm not suggesting she knows where Mike is. I'm just putting facts together. Necmettin is a pretty odd character, too. How does he make a living selling glasses of tea? He only has a few clients.”

    Thank goodness, Bob had been out here for the duration of several digs, and he hadn't vanished with Mike. Renaud needed to depend on someone in this utterly foreign, problem-ridden atmosphere, and Bob seemed to know his way around, how to tie people together.

    “Where's Anne Pierson from originally?”

“No idea. But this is a pretty good place for rumors. According to local rumor, she ran away from something-or someone-in the States. Came here to hide out.”


    “No facts, though?” Renaud hoped he didn't sound too curious.

    “Facts? She doesn't give out information about herself, about her past, about anything. Nick Carlson thinks that's pretty strange. I can't tell you how many times he's mentioned it. But that didn't seem to bother Mike.”

    “She and Mike are friends?”

    Bob looked uncomfortable. “Yes, some people say they're very, very friendly.”

    “Meaning?” Renaud prompted, although the insinuation was clear.

    “Well…” Bob sighed. Shook his head. “Look, I don't know anything definite, but according to Nick and a few other people up here, Mike and Anne are…intimate. That doesn't please everyone either.”

    “Go on.”

    “Because it means she always has a good excuse for coming out here and poking around, with or without tourists. That's all I can tell you. Nick can give you more details. Or Lisa Tree.”


    “Sure.” Renaud said. “I'll go talk to them.” Lisa Tree, pottery expert, was an old friend of Mike's, and she deeply admired him. If Anne and Mike really were having an affair, Lisa would know about it; women seemed to have a second sense about that sort of thing. But the news was surprising, nonetheless. Mike with a mistress? A mistress who spent a lot of time out here on the site, who had access to information about important artifacts, who spoke the local language, who knew people, who got around?


    She'd looked nice enough, though. Not just nice. Tough, and gutsy. And intelligent. That's what was confusing him. Anne Pierson had a very compelling aura. She was the sort of person he'd like to get to know, and not just because of the softness of her throat, or because of the way the faint breeze had molded the thin fabric of her dress to her body.

    Renaud pulled himself up short. What a jerk he was. Hadn't he always prided himself on his ability to correctly judge a person's character? As Bob had pointed out, any guilty person could look harmless, any devil could appear in angel's clothing. Anne Pierson was a woman who knew how to use her attributes. Without so much as flirting, she was already seducing him. That beautiful mouth of hers promised the sort of passion that would send a man wild. All men, even men like Mike Benton who had a wonderful wife back in England and two great kids. He turned back to Bob.

    “You don't like her very much.”

    “Wrong.” Bob's smile was resigned. “I do like her. I always have, although I don't think she even sees me. She's good -looking, and she's bright, but she's always asking too many questions. And because she's so distant, so secretive, she makes enemies. Believe it or not, I'm the one who defends her. Not that she knows or cares.”

    Renaud nodded. “In that case, it wouldn't hurt to get some reliable information about the woman.”

    “No, it wouldn't. I'll do what I can. I never did like the idea of outsiders knowing too much about what we find up here. I told Mike that around a thousand times, but he never listened.”


    However, Renaud did listen. It was a warning, and he couldn't afford to make a mistake like Mike had. He shouldn't have let himself admire the suggestion of soft curves, the tight swoop of a slender waist, the natural warmth, and the hint of humor. Of course, Mata Hari had looked wonderful too, and look what she'd gotten up to.

    Yet, the more he thought about Anne Pierson, her faintly triangular face, the way the light had kissed her high cheekbones as she'd angled her head toward him, the more his investigation took on appeal. Every one of her gestures had tugged at his gut. Unconsciously feminine movements, subtle suggestions.

    There was something familiar about her face, too, although he couldn't quite put his finger on what it was. Did he know her from somewhere? No, he was certain they'd never met. So why did he have the niggling feeling he'd seen her before?


****

    He was there an hour later, waiting in the shadows of the main alley. Just sitting, sending small stones sliding across the cobbled surface, the soft dull pings echoing through the empty passageway. Anne had expected to run into him again, although she couldn't say why. There he was, perched on a rock, his back propped lazily against a crumbling wall, the long, muscular legs stretched out in front of him and crossed at the ankle. Just as though he had nothing better to do in life than flick stones.

    Was he waiting for her? Probably. Why? A million fanciful reasons raced through her head, were followed by a million objections. Calm down. More than likely,

he was just checking up on her, making certain she wasn't hacking stone pillars to bits, or kicking down ten-foot walls. Yes, that was more his style.


    The penetrating blue eyes were examining her again as she approached with the group. Perhaps if she just ignored him, walked past, she could avoid any further confrontation.

    No such luck. When they were only yards away, he rose to his feet and languidly, surely, strolled over. Anne forced her eyes away from the length of the sinewy torso and tried to squash the sharp little thrill rippling under her skin, or to minimize its intensity.

    “Visit finished?” He came to a halt.

    It was impossible to avoid eye contact. He was so near, mere inches, a breath away…one of those people who stood too close. Was that his playboy body language coming into play? She took in the broad forehead, square jaw, and sculptured cheekbones. He wasn't conventionally good-looking-his features were too uneven, too rugged-but, strangely enough, he was one of the handsomest men she'd ever seen. And the way he moved warned her he knew his appeal.

    “Visit finished,” she confirmed and waited for him to step to one side. He'd put himself directly in her path. If she walked around him, she'd look downright silly. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Asım and the tourists continuing on without her, heading toward the exit. First line of defense down. Or was it the second?

    He studied her, and she controlled the muscles of her face, kept it calm-looking, confident, as though she weren't in the least bit flustered, although a tumult of emotions was struggling with her self-control. This man in front of her evidently wasn't having the same problem. He was merely impassive, and that irked her beyond all logic. She had a wild urge to throw him off his guard, provoke him, but didn't know how to begin.


    He was the one who continued the conversation. “Bob Williams confirmed what you said. You often come up here with tourists. Or to visit Mike Benton.”

    She only nodded. He'd been talking to Bob about her? So what? There was something else in his gaze now. This man was warm, so sensuous, and so alive. And he had waited for her because she interested him. Very much. Still, she had to remain aloof, because she sensed hostility-or was it suspicion?

    His eyes skimmed her hair and her skin. “He said you and Mike are very close.”

    “Yes, Mike and I are friends,” she said cautiously. “That other people think you're very intimate friends.”

    “Do they?” Lovers? That's what he was implying, wasn't it? Had Bob really told him that? Her mind whirled, and a little knot of fear formed, tightened in her chest.

    “Just to keep the record straight, Mike is a friend of mine.” His voice was neutral, flat. “Mike's wife, Daisy, is also a friend. You do know he's married? That he has two children?”

    He was expecting a reaction, but she wasn't quite sure what. Who did he think he was? Someone with the right to lecture her about right and wrong? He wasn't. He was only a man who had listened to gossip and taken it as fact. She knew all about people like that; she'd been dogged by them before. What was the point in protesting now? When you denied rumors, they twisted themselves and became powerful truths. Rumors had once destroyed her life. Let him think what he wanted: she wouldn't let his suspicions touch her.


    “I see you're a man of morals, and you insist on sharing them.” The sarcasm was bell clear. “What you obviously don't know, and Bob didn't bother telling you, is that Mike needed my help as a translator. And, by the way, I know Daisy. I met her when she came out to Turkey to visit Mike.”

    “You translated for Mike?” Her acerbity had obviously hit home, and he wasn't sounding quite so high and mighty.

    “As I mentioned earlier, translating is what I do for a living: French, English, German, Italian, Turkish. Mike also needed to keep in touch with the Turkish authorities-site directors do.” She paused long enough for a saccharine-sweet smile. “I helped him with official papers, lists of finds, and contacts. In exchange, Mike allowed me to bring tourists to the site whenever I wanted.”

    “You speak French, German, Italian, and Turkish?” He nodded with something akin to admiration, then shifted gears. His movements eased, his face relaxed. “Look, I'm sorry. I'm acting like a complete jackass and going about this in the wrong way. Could we take things right from the beginning? My name's Renaud Townsend.”

    It threw her off her guard, the sudden friendliness. She could react to coldness with polite disinterest, but friendliness invited the same. That was risky, because she knew she wasn't indifferent to him. Far from it. Confused, she hesitated. Saw he'd noticed.

    Amusement teased the corners of his eyes. “You're American?”


    Warily, she nodded. He looked like a man determined to pry. No, she wouldn't make this conversation easy for him. Wouldn't give him an opening.

    “You're interested in archaeology?”

    Neutral territory. She could answer a question like that. “Strictly as an amateur.” She failed to bite back a little smile. “I'd never have the patience to participate on an excavation. Fluff away centuries of dirt with a tiny brush? No way. I'd grab the first pick and shovel I could get my hands on and dig in.”

    “A disaster.” He grinned openly now and shook his head.

    An awkwardness fell between them. Unspoken thoughts, unanswered questions, and too much intensity all hovered on the heavy, dusty air. A soft, sensual haze was weaving them together in its subtle way, and she had to put an end to it. Close herself against it. Too much was at stake. She forced her lips to stop smiling and tried to sound brisk, efficient.

    “I'd better be on my way now, Mr. Townsend. My group is waiting for me.”

    “Renaud, please. Not Mr. Townsend.” He hesitated, as if wanting to detain her, but knowing he couldn't.

    She nodded briefly, then continued down along the ancient way, keeping her stride smooth and casual, not allowing herself to look back, although she sensed his eyes on her, watching the movement of her hips, lingering on her legs.

    And, once more, had the feeling she'd be seeing him again before too long.

  

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