Read Knock Me Off My Feet Online

Authors: Susan Donovan

Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Contemporary

Knock Me Off My Feet

BOOK: Knock Me Off My Feet
12.07Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Chapter 1

^
»

D
etective Stacey Quinn stood in the shadows of the television studio and watched her. She glowed in a proper pink suit jacket that reminded him of frosting on a party cupcake. Her hands were folded primly on the desk in front of her.

That voice, however, came from a full, luscious mouth that was anything but prim and proper, and he listened to the flow of it—honey-smooth, rich, and god-awful sexy.

With those lovely lips, she spoke of the best way to remove water spots from glassware, and the detective felt his pulse quicken.

Could it be that here she was at last—the woman of his fantasies, the woman his brothers claimed could not possibly exist? Could it be that this woman under the studio lights was one part Martha Stewart to one part Carmen Electra?

"Unfortunately, the spots may be tiny pits in the glass itself." She smiled sadly, sharing the heartbreak of scratched stemware with her fans. "So if this trick doesn't work, then I assure you, nothing will."

Detective Quinn swallowed hard.

With a little tilt of her head and a friendly grin, she held the camera's gaze. "And as always, thank you, viewers, for another wonderful week of handy comments and suggestions."

"And thank you, Helen! We'll have more Homey Helen next Monday. Stay with us, Chicago. We'll be right back after the break."

The anchorwoman flashed a smile until they were off the air, then turned to her guest. "Nice segment, Audie. Good luck tonight. Who're you playing?"

"The
Sun-Times,
and we're gonna kick some serious butt, let me tell you." She unclipped the tiny microphone from her lapel. "What time is it?"

"
Five fifty-four
."

"Crap!" She popped up from behind the long curved desk, jumped off the platform, and ran across the studio, shouting good-bye to the news anchor and crew.

The detective watched as she did a header over a cable and landed flat on her face, giving him ample opportunity to notice that Autumn Adams—"Homey Helen" to the rest of the world—wasn't wearing a skirt with that jacket.

She wore a pair of baggy black soccer shorts, shin guards, thick socks, and cleats.

The detective looked down. OK, so maybe she wasn't
exactly
the fantasy, but she'd just skidded to a stop spread-eagled, her nose at the tip of his polished tassel loafer, the soccer shorts riding up her rather extraordinary bottom.

"Watch out for that loose wire," he whispered.

Autumn let her forehead fall to the floor and closed her eyes, pausing to gather her wits and what remained of her pride. She had a feeling she'd need both when she met the owner of that gravelly, smug voice.

"Need a hand?" He reached for her, and Autumn looked up, scanning him from the tips of his fingers, up the long arm, all the way to the green eyes sparkling with suppressed amusement.

The face was just as smug as the voice.

"No thanks." Autumn hoisted herself up and gave an indelicate yank on her shorts. With a huff she began to walk past the man, but he placed a hand on her arm.

"Miss Adams, I'm Chicago Police Violent Crimes Detective Stacey Quinn. I believe you were expecting me."

Autumn's mouth fell open and she snorted. "But that's a woman's name! They said Stacey—I was expecting a woman!"

Detective Quinn was unfazed. "Yeah? And I expected you'd be wearing a skirt. We'll call it even."

She blinked at him, stunned, watching as a corner of the policeman's mouth curled up in delight. It was completely involuntary, but she smiled back.

"OK, Mister Detective Stacey," she said, laughing. "You get twenty minutes, but you have to take a ride with me because I'm late. Can you drive a stick?"

Detective Quinn followed the pink suit jacket through the lobby of the WBBS-TV station, but his eyes were riveted to the woman beneath it. Two parts of her, to be exact: the nape of Autumn Adams's slender neck, where delicate question-mark curls clung to the damp skin under a neat twist of hair, and the identical globes of her butt, swooshing full and firm beneath the soccer shorts.

They walked through the double glass doors, out onto the sidewalk, and into the sweltering parking lot. She suddenly turned to him, and Stacey Quinn got his first real close look at her face.

"Whoa."

"What?"

She looked like she would be nice to touch. Silky. Her hair and her eyes were the exact same shade of rich brown—smooth like milk chocolate or coffee with cream. Her skin was a dark peach, and those lips—Holy God, those lips!—they looked plump and juicy and he bet they tasted like some kind of rich, sweet fruit.

The little pink jacket didn't suit her at all, he decided. She should be in leopard print underwear. In his bed. To hell with spotted stemware.

"Here. Drive." Autumn tossed him the keys while she grabbed a gym bag from the trunk of the Porsche convertible. "
Lakeview
High School
, Irving Park, and—"

"I know where it is." He got behind the wheel. "But why am I driving?"

Autumn plopped down in the passenger side and smiled at him. "Don't you want to drive my Porsche? I was under the impression that all men like Porsches."

He turned the ignition and felt the sports car rip and rumble
to
life beneath him. As he pulled onto
Walton Street
, he retrieved his shades from inside his sport coat and slipped them on one-handed.

"I didn't say I minded driving, Miss Adams. I just asked why."

Autumn shrugged indifferently. "I need to change my shirt in the car."

She began pulling pins from her chic French twist and tossed them one-by-one into the ashtray. She used her fingers to ruffle up her shoulder-length waves.

Next, Autumn Adams yanked off her pink suit jacket, wadded it into a ball, and shoved it under the car seat.

Quinn laughed as he turned north onto
Lake Shore Drive
. "I hope you got a secret way to get wrinkles out of linen."

"As a matter of fact, I do. It's called the dry cleaner." Autumn leaned her head back and turned her face to the evening sun. "God, I love
Chicago
in the summer. Don't you?" She was in the middle of a long sigh when she suddenly shot him a suspicious glance. "Hey, how did you know it was linen?"

"I notice things."

She'd noticed a few things herself—like how Detective Quinn didn't talk much or fidget at all. She got the feeling he was saving up for later—for what, she had no idea.

Autumn ran her fingers through her hair and let her arms rise above her in the wind, her sleeveless white blouse rippling around her ribs. She always seemed to be rushing somewhere. There was never enough time just to be—like this—the sun on her face and the air on her skin.

She sighed deeply and pulled the blouse up over her head.

It was safe to say that when he woke up that morning, Stacey Quinn never imagined he'd be behind the wheel of a Porsche convertible while a gorgeous, rich, and famous woman stripped to a sports bra in the seat next to him. That's what he liked about this job, Quinn thought—something different every day.

He risked a quick glance at her. "I could arrest you for indecent exposure."

Her face opened up in laughter just as she pulled a soccer jersey down over her head, and her chuckle was muffled by the red mesh fabric.

"Please, Detective. More of me is on display every time I go to
Oak
Street
Beach
." She abruptly thrust out her hips to tuck in the shirt, then reached down to adjust her shin guards. "Go ahead and ask your questions, Mister Stacey. I've only got a couple minutes."

Quinn was wondering how he'd manage to get out to
Oak
Street
Beach
more often when he saw her bend and twist in her seat again. Now what? Didn't the woman sit still for a second?

She surfaced with an elastic band and haphazardly bunched and twirled her thick hair into a heap at the back of her head. Those little damp curls appeared on her neck again, and he had to turn away.

"I read all of the letters you dropped off, Miss Adams. Sixteen notes in all, beginning last summer, right?"

"Unless I got another one today. I haven't been to the office to check my mail." Autumn crossed her arms over her chest and looked out at the calm summer-blue water of
Lake Michigan
.

"All were sent to your office on
Chestnut Street
, is that correct?"

"Right—which I don't make public. I tell readers
to
write in care of the
Banner."
Autumn jolted up again and rooted around in the gym bag at her feet. She produced a little pot of lip balm and dipped her finger inside. With eyes heavy-lidded in concentration, she ran a slick pinkie over lips that formed a perfect
O
of wet, soft flesh.

Quinn couldn't watch. His chest hurt. "And you reported that before the letters there were other incidents? Slashed tires, the delivery of dead flowers?"

"Yep. Dead roses. Creepy. It started right after my mom died last spring."

"And you have no idea who is doing this to you?"

She tossed the lip balm into the gym bag and gave him a sassy shake of her head. "That's your job, isn't it? I tell people about one hundred and one uses for dryer lint. You solve crimes."

The dark cop sunglasses hid his expression, but Autumn could see his face strain to suppress an outright smile.

"You know, Miss Adams, you're not exactly what I expected."

She groaned. She'd heard that one before.

Wrigley Field now loomed over them and Autumn turned in her seat as they drove by, feeling a huge silly grin spread over her face.

The crowds were already milling around Clark and Addison for the night game. She could smell the roasting peanuts. The doors to the neighborhood taverns were flung wide, and raucous music and the sharp tang of draft beer floated out into the streets.

Autumn closed her eyes and breathed it all in, letting herself remember.

The spring afternoons she had spent at Wrigley Field with her father were by far the happiest times of her childhood. Her dad would skip work at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and take her out of school to catch a Cubs game, a forbidden thrill made all the more thrilling because Helen never once found out. They used
to
giggle together the whole way home to
Winnetka
.

Autumn giggled with pleasure now—because the smells and sounds of Wrigley Field still made her happy.

"You can call me Audie," she said, turning back around in her seat as they drove past the ballpark. "And puh-leeze don't tell me you don't know I inherited the column from my mother, the
real
Homey Helen. It's not exactly a secret."

"I knew. I just didn't expect …
well …
you."

"Sorry to disappoint," she snapped.

Detective Quinn didn't respond. How could he? Everything he wanted to say would sound ridiculous, because, Holy God in heaven, she didn't disappoint him at all. She just amazed him.

He wanted to tell her he couldn't remember the last time that fifteen minutes with a woman had left him unhinged. He wanted to tell her he could barely prevent himself from reaching over and letting his fingertips brush the back of her neck. And most of all, he wanted to tell her that he was her biggest fan, that he kept many of her columns in a recipe organizer in his kitchen, sorted by date and topic.

BOOK: Knock Me Off My Feet
12.07Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

The Lost Level by Brian Keene
Unspeakable by Sandra Brown
PAGAN ADVERSARY by Sara Craven, Chieko Hara
Angel Meadow by Audrey Howard
Larceny and Old Lace by Tamar Myers
Flash Bang by Meghan March
Pornland by Gail Dines
La naranja mecánica by Anthony Burgess