Carly Phillips

Hot Number

The second book in the Hot Zone series, 2005

This book is dedicated to the most important people in my life.

My husband, Phil, MY number 22 and the sexiest guy in a baseball uniform. Didn't you know that's what kept me coming back for more?

My mother for raising me to be independent and to believe in myself and for renewing my love of baseball-even if she is a Yankee fan, I'm a Met fan and my husband, from Boston, is a Red Sox fan. At least our family life is interesting and fun!

My father who has no interest in sports but survives the bickering with a smile and who is my most loyal fan.

And as always my girls, Jackie and Jennifer, for just being you!

And an extra-special thank-you to Janelle Denison, who saved me midway through yet again.

Where would I be without you?

I love you all.


THANKS TO A FATAL plane crash in the Andes, Yank Morgan had been raising his sister's children for the past two years, and as a result, even his chest hair had turned prematurely gray. Ages fourteen, twelve and ten, the girls were independent little scrappers and didn't hesitate to tell him exactly what they thought. Which was why Annabelle, the oldest, stood before him, hands on her hips, her breasts pushing against the cotton of her too-tight shirt. When the hell had she developed boobs? he wondered and ran a hand through his wiry hair.

At the moment though, his niece's face concerned him more than her chest. Black eyeliner was smudged around her bright blue eyes and though normally he didn't mind letting the girls make their own mistakes, her raccoon-like appearance was too humiliating to allow, so he'd decided to step in.

Keeping Lola's words in mind, he opted to tread gently with the girl. 'Dang it, Annie, you look like Jim McMahon getting, ready to throw a pass.'

Her blue eyes filled with tears and she ran from the room. He raised his gaze toward the ceiling. 'What the hell did I do wrong now?'

'Way to go, Uncle Yack.' He glanced over to see the youngest, Micki, standing in the doorway glaring at him.

'It's Yank,' he muttered, though they both knew that the nickname she'd started to use the day she'd come to live with him gave them a special bond.

'You insulted Annie,' said Sophie, the middle one, joining them.

Figures they'd gang up on him. 'You think so?'

He turned toward them for the first time and his gaze immediately zeroed in on ten-year-old Micki. Or rather his gaze zeroed in on her tits.

'What the hell are those?' he asked, pointing to the overly round, out of proportion, different-size melons poking from beneath her shirt.

'Like 'em?' She squared her shoulders.

Yank winced.

Lola, his assistant at the agency and one-time lover, strode into the room. She showed up on weekends to do the girls' laundry along with her own. Although having her around aroused him and forced him to remember their short-lived affair, Yank was grateful for her help and couldn't imagine life without her. Not that he'd ever admit as much. The woman and his feelings for her scared him worse than raising the girls.

'Who's been stealing things out of the laundry basket?' Lola asked.

Sophie snickered. 'Ask Micki.'

'Michelle?” Lola strode over and glanced down at Micki's protruding chest. 'Do you have my bra?'

Yank groaned.

'Nope. No bra.' Micki chewed on her lower lip, a sure sign the kid was lying.

'Yes you do too have it! You see?' Sophie reached a hand down the front of her sister's shirt, pulling out the padding. Then she glanced down at her hand and frowned. 'Hey, those are my socks you stuffed your boobies with!'

'Are not!' Micki said, crossing her arms over her now flat chest.

'Are too!' Sophie retorted.

Yank felt a headache coming on.

'Well, you gave them to me,' Micki shouted, tears filling her eyes.

'Did not!'

'Did too!'

'Did not!'

'You know the rules. Once you give, you can't take back!' Micki cried and darted out of the room, following Annabelle's earlier lead.

Sophie took off after her.

Yank met Lola's amused gaze and desire flared between them. A strong yearning flickered in her deep-set eyes, an echo of the spark he'd spent the past two years working hard to suppress. Though they'd once had a hot affair going between them, the girls' arrival had put everything on hold. Now, knowing he was a father for life scared the pants off him. No way would he add a wife, as well.

'Micki's something else,' he said and gestured to the doorway his nieces had stormed through.

'All three girls are something else. They need guidance.'

What she meant was a woman's guidance. But Yank had no problem deliberately misinterpreting her words if it helped him put distance between them. 'I think you got a point Micki does need guidance. So maybe you'd better go give the young one a few pointers on being one of the guys. You'd probably be good at that.' He let that sink in. 'She's obviously trying way too hard to be a woman.'

She scowled at him and stormed out of the room, probably ticked off that he'd insulted her feminity. He let out a groan. Well, she'd steer clear of him for a while, which was exactly what he wanted.

And with those words, Yank sealed both Micki's upbringing and his own fate for the next sixteen years.


PUBLICIST MICKI JORDAN strode into the locker room of the New York Renegades, the sports world's best prospects to win the World Series, and looked for her client. In her hand, she held a copy of today's New York Post, which she'd foldedopen to the headline Nails, Nails, Nails. Will John Roper's Manicure Interfere with his Willingness to Catch Fly Balls?

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