Damn, it was dark. He headed toward the scratching sound, and just as he reached it, heard the click of the latch. The door began to open.

He felt that adrenaline rush he loved, and in one smooth motion he shoved the door against the wall and grabbed the person on the other side.

The guy was a lightweight, and he came flying.

He was a pansy, too, from the sound of that scream as he hit the floor.

Unfortunately, he had a dog. A big dog.

The hair stood on the back of Kevin's neck as he heard the low, bloodcurdling growl of an attack dog. He had no time to brace himself before the animal clamped down on his ankle.

With the reflexes that were making him a legend, he lunged toward the switch, at the same time steeling himself for the crunch of his anklebones. Light flooded the foyer, and he realized two things.

He wasn't being attacked by a rottweiler. And those panicked sounds weren't coming from a guy.

'Aw, shit…'

Lying on the slate floor at his feet was a small, screaming woman with hair the color of a 49ers jersey. And clamped to his ankle, ripping holes in his favorite jeans, was a small, gray…

His brain skidded away from the word.

The stuff she'd been carrying when he'd grabbed her lay strewn all around. As he tried to shake off the dog, he spotted lots of books, drawing supplies, two boxes of Nutter Butter cookies, and bedroom slippers with big pink rabbits' heads on the toes.

He finally shook off the snarling dog. The woman scrambled to her feet and assumed some kind of martial arts pose. He opened his mouth to explain, only to have her foot come up and catch him behind the knee. The next thing he knew, he'd been sacked.

'Damn… It took the Giants a good three quarters to do that.'

She'd been wearing a coat when she hit the floor, but the only thing between him and the slate was a layer of denim. He winced and rolled to his back. The animal pounced on his chest, barking dog breath into his face and slapping him in the nose with the tails of the blue bandanna fastened around his neck.

'You tried to kill me!' she screamed, the fiery little wisps of 49er hair flashing around her face.

'Not on purpose.' He knew he'd met her before, but he couldn't for the life of him remember who she was. 'Could you call off your pit bull?'

Her panicked look was giving way to fury, and she bared her teeth just like the dog. 'Come here, Roo.'

The animal snarled and crawled off Kevin's chest. It finally hit him. Oh, shit… 'You're, uh, Phoebe's sister. Are you okay'-he searched for a name-'Miss Somerville?' Since he was the one lying on the slate floor with a bruised hip and puncture wounds in his ankle, he considered the question something of a courtesy.

'This is the second time in two days!' she exclaimed.

'I don't remember-'

'The second time! Are you demented, you stupid badger? Is that your problem? Or are you just an idiot!'

'As to that, I-Did you just call me a badger?'

She blinked. 'A bastard. I called you a bastard.'

'That's all right then.' Unfortunately, his lame attempt at humor didn't make her smile.

The pit bull retreated to his mistress's side. Kevin pushed himself up off the slate and rubbed his ankle, trying to recall what he knew about his employer's sister, but he remembered only that she was an egghead. He'd seen her a few times at Stars headquarters with her head buried in a book, but her hair sure hadn't been this color.

It was hard to believe that she and Phoebe were related, because she wasn't even close to being a fox. Not that she was a dog either. She was just sort of ordinary-flat where Phoebe was curvy, small where Phoebe was large. Unlike her sister's, this one's mouth didn't look as if it had been designed to whisper dirty words under the sheets. Instead, Little Sis's mouth looked as if it spent its days shushing people in the library.

He didn't need the evidence of all those scattered books to tell him she was the kind of woman he least liked- brainy and way too serious. She was probably going to be a talker, too, an even bigger strike against her. In the spirit of fairness, though, he had to give Little Sis high marks for eye power. They were an unusual color, somewhere between blue and gray, and they had a sexy slant to them, just like her eyebrows, which he realized were almost meeting in the middle as she scowled at him. Damn it. Phoebe's sister! And he'd thought this week couldn't get any worse.

'Are you all right?' he asked.

Those blue-gray irises turned the exact color of an Illinois summer afternoon right before the tornado siren went off. He'd now managed to piss off every member of the Stars' ruling family, except maybe the kids. It was a gift.

He'd better mend his fences, and since charm was his long suit, he flashed a smile. 'I didn't mean to scare you. I thought you were a burglar.'

'What are you doing here?'

Even before her screech, he could see that the charm thing wasn't working.

He kept an eye on that kung fu leg of hers. 'Dan suggested I come up here for a few days, to think things over…' He paused. 'Which I didn't need to do.'

She slapped the switch, and two sets of rustic iron wall sconces came on, filling the far corners with light.

The house was built of logs, but with six bedrooms and ceilings that soared up two stories to the exposed roof beams, the place didn't bear any resemblance to a frontier log cabin. Big windows made the woods seem part of the interior, and the huge stone fireplace that dominated one end of the room could have roasted a buffalo. All the furniture was big, overstuffed, and comfortable, designed to take the abuse of a large family. Off to the side a wide staircase led to a second floor complete with a small loft at one end.

Kevin bent over to pick up her things. He examined the rabbit slippers. 'Don't you get nervous wearing these during hunting season?'

She snatched them from his hand. 'Give them to me.'

'I wasn't planning on wearing them. It'd be a little hard to keep the guys' respect.'

She didn't smile as he handed them over. 'There's a lodge not too far from here,' she said. 'I'm sure you can find a room for the night.'

'It's too late to throw me out. Besides, I was invited.'

'It's my house. You're uninvited.' She tossed her coat on one of the couches and headed for the kitchen. The pit bull curled his lip, then stuck his pompon straight up, just as if he were giving Kevin the finger. Only when the dog was certain his message had been delivered did he trot after her.

Kevin followed them. The kitchen was roomy and comfortable, with Craftsman cabinets and a daylight view of Lake Michigan through every window. She dropped her packages on a pentagon-shaped center island surrounded by six stools.

She had an eye for fashion, he'd give her that. She wore close-fitting charcoal pants and a funky, oversize metallic-gray sweater that put him in mind of a suit of armor. With that short flaming hair, she could be Joan of Arc right after the match had been struck. Her clothes looked expensive but not new, which was odd, since he remembered hearing that she'd inherited Bert Somerville's fortune. Even though Kevin was wealthy himself, he'd come into his money long after his character had been formed. In his experience, people who'd grown up wealthy didn't understand hard work, and he hadn't met many of them he liked. This snobby rich girl was no exception.

'Uh, Miss Somerville? Before you kick me out… I'll bet you didn't let the Calebows know you were coming up here, or they'd have told you the place was already occupied.'

'I have dibs. It's understood.' She threw the cookies in a drawer and slammed it shut. Then she studied him, all uptight and mad as hell. 'You don't remember my name, do you?'

'Sure I know your name.' He searched his mind and couldn't come up with a thing.

'We've been introduced at least three times.'

'Which was totally unnecessary, since I've got a great memory for names.'

'Not mine. You've forgotten.'

'Of course I haven't.'

She stared at him for a long moment, but he was used to operating under pressure, and he didn't have any

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