Excerpt: Trove

It all starts here!

Alec MacGowan watched the woman and the interplay with the red-haired male, appreciating the genuine warmth he detected in their greeting. The affection between them suggested more than friends. Lovers perhaps? She was exactly as Robert had described her: petite, about five feet tall without the killer heels, chestnut hair, sparkling eyes that were noticeable even behind her glasses or maybe because of them. His appreciation of her grew as he noted that she had curves in all the right places, though Robert neglected to mention that. She had a woman’s figure, something to hold onto, sink his fingers into. He hated the way modern women tried to deny the luscious curves that nature endowed them with.

He noted that she was not a staid academic as most PhDs he’d dealt with seemed to be. She was not one to hide behind the academic uniform of dark man-tailored suits. She was wearing a red dress that accented her figure, hugging and folding against her body suggestively, while the other females were dressed in variations of their unspoken dress code. Most researchers were rather bookish or totally obnoxious and angry at the world, though he had to concede that the research profession was very cutthroat. Competent people were forced to fight each other to grab their piece of a finite amount of financing. But she… she seemed alive. Robert was right, though. She didn’t look like a pushover. She was definitely in charge of the huge man with her, or was it more that he was protective of her, indulging her, but protecting her?

He watched her as she headed toward the bar and him. As she neared, he started towards them and then froze. No, it can’t be her. It couldn’t be KitKat, the woman with whom he spent the night five years ago.

His anonymous lover had a name and her name was Dr. Katie Walsh. Damn, this makes everything more complicated.

He exhaled, steadied himself, and stepped in front of her, effectively and totally blocking her path as she neared the bar with the red-headed male in her wake.

“Excuse me, but aren’t you Dr. Katie Walsh of the Nordstrom Institute?”

She halted, forced to stop abruptly. She teetered in her high heels, grabbing the red-haired man’s arm to avoid ending up in a heap on the floor. She raised her head and scowled. He watched her closely as she scanned his face for recognition. He mused that it may have been difficult since her glasses had slid down from the bridge of her little nose and were now resting on the tip of it, clearly in danger of continuing their downward path.

“Yes, I am. I’m sorry, but do I know you? You look somewhat familiar, but I can’t seem to recall your name.”

“We have a mutual acquaintance, Robert Baines.”

“Really?” she said, tilting her head slightly, releasing her scowl at the mention of Robert. “How do you know Robert?”

“Actually, he’s my half-brother.” He added, “My older half-brother by three years. I’m Dr. Alec MacGowan, archaeologist.” He reached over, and with his forefinger, he gently pushed her glasses up to the bridge of her nose then nodded his head slightly. “At your service.”

****

Stepping back, Katie studied his face. What incredible grey eyes, she thought before she continued the perusal. Smoky grey eyes, almost black, silky straight hair touched with grey at the temples, high cheekbones, and a body that exuded masculinity… My God, she wanted to scream, it can’t be him. She swallowed, trying to maintain her control as visions of his long body draped over hers flashed before her. Concentrate, Katie, concentrate. He was dressed in a navy suit and a pale blue oxford shirt, his tie loose at the neck. He looked every bit the sexy “love ‘em and leave ‘em type,” straight out of a Hollywood film. Yet that’s exactly what she did five years ago. She’d picked him up, loved him and left him in the pre-dawn light after that wickedly delicious night. Oh my God, it is him, she moaned inwardly as she forced herself to listen to what he was saying while her heart raced and her breath tried to keep time.

She reached up and tucked her hair behind her right ear as she subconsciously licked her lips. “I can see a physical resemblance around the mouth and I think you have the same nose.”

But Robert didn’t have a brother, did he? He’d never mentioned it in the almost seven years they’d been friends. Surely he would’ve mentioned a brother, even if it was only a half-brother. “So, Dr. MacGowan, how is Bobby?”

“He’s fine. He asked me to remind you that he still owes you a dinner. Oh, and by the way, Dr. Walsh, you know as well as I do that no one, and I mean no one, calls him Bobby. If you want to call him and verify my identity be my guest. Actually…” He reached into his jacket and pulled out his cell phone, giving Katie a glimpse of the muscled chest straining against the confining material, the chest she had explored, caressed, kissed for one night of unbridled, decadent passion. Her fingers itched to wind themselves in the dark hair she knew was hidden under the shirt, to revel in its silkiness. “Allow me.”

The heat spread across her face like wildfire. Was it because he was calling her out for testing him, or was it because she was remembering how his body felt pressed intimately against hers? Hopefully, in the subdued lighting he wouldn’t notice. She reached for his cell phone, the call already connecting. “Hello, Robert?”

“Katie. So he’s found you.”

Her free hand rested on her hip. “Yes. I’m standing here with this guy, and he claims to be your brother. Dark hair, grey eyes, about six-three I’m guessing.”

“Half-brother,” Alec corrected, his elbow propped casually against the high, free-standing cocktail table.

“Excuse me, your half-brother. Who is he?”

“He’s my half-brother Alec MacGowan. He’s an archaeologist.”

“Mm, a digger,” she murmured. “So he’s safe to be around? You know how I feel about diggers. I mean, he’s not a modern day Jack the Ripper-type is he?” Why, oh why, did he have to be a digger?

Robert’s laugh was clearly audible as her eyes swept from Eric to Alec. Eric looked uncomfortable, shifting his weight from his left to his right foot. Alec wore a smug grin.

“No, Katie, he’s safe to be around. You have my word on that.”

She wished she could believe him. She wanted to ask him why he neglected to tell her, his very close friend, that he had a brother. But this wasn’t the time or place. She sighed. “Thanks. I’ll see you when I get back to Boston.” She ended the call and thrust the phone at him, letting her other hand drop from her hip. “Seems like you’re legit.”

He winked. “Yep, got all my papers in order and I’m housebroken too.”