Jason Gideon fidgeted in the underbrush. After a lifetime of these sorts of things, he knew better, but it did not matter. Once again, someone he cared for was in danger. Danger that he had brought. He was nothing but bad luck to anyone. Any woman he cared for.

“Hey, don’t worry that lady can handle herself,” reassured Hank, the local Sheriff. “Her daddy was as crazy as the day was long, but one thing he made sure of…that his little girl knew how to take care of herself.”

Gideon only nodded as memories of bloody bodies danced through his mind. He could not protect the people he cared about. Not other agents in his charge and certainly not the women he loved.


Three weeks earlier…

“Hello, stranger. What can I get you?” said the petite, red head dressed in jeans and a white t-shirt that said Flo’s Dinner.

Like the profiler he had been Gideon took in the subtleties of her appearance. Long hair was pulled back into a ponytail from her slightly freckled face. She wore little makeup, just a touch of mascara and perhaps some sort of pink lip gloss. If it were not for the faint lines about her green eyes, he would have placed her age in the early twenties, an error of at least a decade.

Although the woman was barely over five feet, she had full, soft curves. Her breasts strained against the t-shirt, clearly more than a handful. But it was the gentle sway of her rounded bottom as she had walked over to his table that had Jason’s throat tight and dry.

Pushing the words past that tightness, he asked, “What’s good?”

The woman laughed. The sound was as sure and swift as a kick to his gut.

“Suga, I’m the chef as well as the bottle washer. And it is all good. The lunch rush is over so how about I make you a blue plate special, a bit of this and that. You look like you could use some good food,” she said as those green eyes surveyed him from head to toe.

The woman had been gone only a couple of minutes as he took in the small dinner that was his latest stop on his journey to…

Almost four years on the roads of North America and Jason Gideon still did not know where he was going. One thing he had discovered. He could not out run the nightmares from his life as a profiler.

Before his mind could travel much further down that dark path, she appeared in the doorway that led to the kitchen. She held a plate in her hands. Once more, Jason watched hypnotized as her hips swung softly back and forth like the pendulum of a clock. It was a rhythm that he could imagine dancing to erotically.

In all his travels, this woman brought forth feelings that he had thought long dead. Feelings he thought he had buried with another woman; a friend and lover killed because of him.

“I hope that frown ain’t for my food, suga,” she said as she put a heaping plate of food on the table. “It’s pretty basic Texas man food round these parts. With the diner being so close to the army base, I try to give the guys food that will stick to their ribs.”

Gideon smiled at the woman as he took in her culinary efforts. Meatloaf, fried chicken and an enchilada were surrounded by mashed potatoes, green beans and corn. The smell rising from the steaming hot food told him that this woman knew her craft. Just as he had once arrogantly thought he knew his…

“Hey, no more frowning around my food, mister,” the woman said as she playfully swatted his arm with a napkin before carefully arranging it and silverware on the table next to the plate.

“The food smells amazing, ma’am.”

“Fancy. Folks round here call me Fancy.”

Gideon frowned again. The word seemed out of touch with this woman. Her jeans and t-shirt might accentuate her every asset, but they were anything but haute couture. Even her food, though it smelled amazing, was definitely not nouve cuisine. No, fancy was not a word that he would use to describe her.

“Fancy?” he asked.

She laughed again and Jason felt his jeans tighten as his cock responded to the smooth melody.

“Small towns have funny senses of humor. I got that name twenty years ago when I showed up here, a beaten and broke run-away with an attitude. The sheriff called me fancy pants, said I was too big for my britches. It just sort of stuck,” she chuckled as she turned around. She stuck out her bottom as she brought her hand down hard on the denim covered flesh. “Guess he was right about one thing, with the middle age spread, I am getting too big for my britches.”

Gideon joined her then in laughter as her green eyes danced with mirth. “Join me, please,” he asked as he lifted his fork. “It has been a long time since I laughed…or enjoyed the company of a beautiful woman while I dined.”

“Well, stranger, how can a girl resist such a sweet offer? Just let me turn down a couple of burners in the back.”


Gideon waited impatiently as the assault force gathered around the building.

That afternoon had been the best he could remember in years. They had talked. About everything and nothing.

She was the widow of an Army Ranger. She had bought this restaurant and an old farm outside of town with the insurance money from her husband’s death. It allowed her to stay close to the old life that she had once lived as an Army wife. She fed hundreds of soldiers each week…and served as a mother away from home to many of them.

But her greatest joy was not the restaurant or her cooking, but her teenage daughter Jessie. The girl had just started High School and was top of her class. She was also on the softball team and a cheerleader.

Fancy’s green eyes gleamed as she spoke of her child. Gideon wondered what it would be like to have someone glow like that when they thought about him. Wondered what it would be like to be loved by a woman like this.

But that bridge was burned long ago, he thought as he paid the check and thanked the woman for a great meal and wonderful conversation.

Then a middle-aged and round man with thinning blond hair stepped into the diner. “Fancy, I might need your help,” the man in a police uniform said.

There had been an escape from the local prison; a white supremacist group was hiding out in the area. And in addition to being one of the best cooks that Jason knew, Fancy also owned and trained some of the best tracking dogs in the country. Turned out she was also more than a bit of an expert in survivalist skills as well, having been raised by a father that was both a former Navy Seal and one of the most notorious leaders of the movement.

Jason could not leave then. He could not just drive away and leave this intriguing woman to whatever danger the man’s plea might bring. And danger it had brought. So Jason introduced himself to Hank Moore, the sheriff and offered his services. He had been rewarded with one of those thousand watt smiles from Fancy…and the offer to stay at her farm…until this thing was over.

As Jason watched the last of the men surround the small lean-to building where the leader of the white supremacists held Fancy, her daughter and half a dozen other Girl Scouts, Jason wondered if things would ever be over…at least for him.


“Penny for your thoughts,” she whispered from behind him.

Jason turned slowly from where he stood on the wrap around porch. He had been staring off into the darkness counting the stars. But the tiny package of warmth and light that stood in the door way holding two mugs far out shone even the brightest light in night sky.

The past two weeks he had seen so many sides of the woman.

He had taken to helping out a bit in the café. He had always loved to cook and while his rich Italian dishes with fresh herbs and homemade sauces might not be traditional ‘Texas man food’ as Fancy called it, they had proven quite a hit with the soldiers who frequented the diner, especially the group from New York, who said they had not tasted real Italian food like that since their grandmother’s. He was rewarded with yet another of those shining smiles from Fancy for his troubles.

His help in the kitchen had allowed her to spend a bit more time each afternoon with her daughter, who came straight to the restaurant after school. Jessie had been a bit of a surprise. With her light coffee colored skin and tight curls, she was not what one would expect as the grand-daughter for the country’s premier white supremacist. Fancy had laughed as she watched him recover from the initial shock.

But by far the most amazing discovery was the keen mind that hid beneath those flame red curls. As he assisted the sheriff with the case, Jason discovered that Fancy would have made a great profiler. Her understanding of human nature while instinctual was as accurate as many who studied behaviour for decades. Her gut instincts had led to the capture of three of the gang within days. Unfortunately, a fourth had been killed in the capture, the younger brother of the group leader, who remained at large.

Jason had watched as the woman rushed to the young man’s side, applying pressure to the abdominal wound in an attempt to save his life. She has spoken quietly to the man as his life force drained. But it was the soft sheen of tears in those green eyes as she stood over the dead body that rocked Jason to the core. Tears for a man, she did not know. Tears for a convicted killer.

That had been what he pondered as he stood on her front porch and looked out into the darkness of the universe that night.

“Why did you cry today?” he asked as he took the cup of hot chocolate she offered.

Fancy stepped closer to the porch rail, standing so close that he could feel the heat coming off her body in the cool night air.

“He was somebody’s son. Somewhere out there a mother lost her child…and no matter what he might have done in this life time that woman is hurting,” she spoke quietly as moisture gathered once more in her eyes.

Jason could not stop himself. He took the small step that brought him close enough to envelop her in his arms. He had sworn years ago to never get close to another person, but he could not help himself. Somehow over the past couple of weeks, this tiny dynamo had gotten under his skin, had snuck past his every defence. And now all he wanted was to wipe away those tears…to make everything right in her world.

Looking back he was never quite sure how it happened. Had he bent low enough to brush those sweet pink lips? Had she stood on tippy toes, her arms about his shoulders? More than likely both had answered some primal call that bid them towards their destiny that dark night.

The first taste of her lips had been unlike anything that Jason had ever known. A sensual man, he had taken solace at times in the carnal pleasures of life. He had been honest with the women in his life; friends, women who like him knew the score, casual coming togethers that were about satisfying the flesh and releasing powerful endorphins.

But this was nothing like that. There was nothing casual about the taste of chocolate and honey and pure woman as Fancy’s tongue parried with his own. Nothing casual about the feel of those soft, round curves pressed tightly against his hard frame. And definitely nothing casual about the low purr that she breathed against his lips as she whispered, “Take me to bed, Gideon.”

Jason had lifted her into his arms and kicked the screen door open with his boot. He prayed that the soft slamming would not wake Jessie; he was not certain that he could stop, not this night. The need to hold this woman, the need to make love to Fancy burned in his mind and body.

Make love…Jason played the words over and over in his mind as he carried her down the hall to the guest room where he was staying. They were foreign to him…to his nature. On a purely intellectual level he had always considered love a commodity beneath him. Physical pleasures such as sex and food. Intellectual challenges such as matching wits against killers or playing chess with Spencer. These he understood, but not love.

But something inside of him, told Jason that this night was different. This woman was different. And she had proven him right…over and over again throughout the night.

When they reached the bedroom, Jason had laid her gently on top of the quilt that he knew she had made herself. Her red hair spread out across the kaleidoscope of colors like waves rolling out from the center as a stone skipped across the surface of a still pond. She smiled at him and his gut tightened into a thousand knots, each tighter than the last.

Her small hands roamed his shoulders, drawing him closer. Until her lips once more captured his. There was nothing tentative or shy about this kiss. The woman took what she wanted, as bold and sure as her name. She captured far more than his tongue as she kissed him senseless. She captured a heart he did not think he had.

Playfully she rolled them until she sat astride his hips. Her smile lighting the tiny room as she tore at his shirt, she chuckled, “For a brilliant man, you sure are slow on the uptake, suga.” She tugged his shirt from the waistband of his jeans and pushed at it.

Jason shook his head as the last of his reserves deserted him. “We’ll see who’s slow.” He rolled them over again, pinning her beneath him. He kicked off his boots even as he captured her mouth once more in a battle of wills.

Clothes flew about the room. His. Hers. As four hands raced about stripping them from bodies even as they toyed and teased. He found that his first estimate had been correct; her breasts more than filled his large hands. She moaned as he played with her sensitive nipples; the sound that escaped those softly parted pink lips was guttural, primitive and all woman.

It urged him on as he pushed and pawed at the tight jeans that seemed her constant uniform. She assisted the battle with the offensive intruders by kicking her boots off just as he pushed them past her knees.

Jason rose up to stare at his lover. Clad only in the laciest of sheer white panties, the matching bra was pushed back baring one breast to his gaze, she was breath-taking. Her hair was tangled about her from their struggles and where he had bunched his fingers through it as they kissed, using it to pin her to the bed beneath him, captive for his explorations.

The site of her vulnerable and exposed twisted in his gut. A need to possess and ravish rose up inside of him, out of character though it was. His fingers slipped beneath the edge of silk and elastic. “I hope these weren’t your favorites,” he grunted as he ripped the material, capturing and bruising her soft lips as he repeated the action on the other side.

Fancy whimpered softly into his mouth, but it was not the sound of protest. Jason recognized it, the sound of need. Need that matched his own. He was past the point of reason. His own jeans the only barrier between them, a barrier he could no longer stand. His fingers tore at the button and zipper. Her hands joined his as together they pushed the cool cotton down his heated skin.

Fancy moved beneath him. Lifting her hips, she moved them in slow circles, intimations of the act that they both wanted and needed. Jason moaned at the first feel of her warm wetness brushing against his enflamed cock. It was too much. It was not enough.

Not caring that his jeans were still bunched about his knees, he answered her call. Positioning the head of his cock between the welcoming wet folds, he thrust forward. He sank deep inside her tight sheath. Deeper and deeper until he swore that he would be lost forever in her depths just as the stars seemed lost in the dark night sky.

But Fancy had different ideas. She arched beneath him, drawing him impossibly deeper. Then her body began an erotic dance of its own. Thrusting and retreating, taming and teasing, capturing and captivating. Jason wound his fingers through the long lengths of wavy red silk once more. He held her beneath him, willing her to slow the pace. Begging her to make this moment last. She would not be deterred. No matter how tightly he tugged, no matter how deeply he kissed her lips, she continued to move.

With a sigh of regret breathed into her mouth, Jason gave into her body’s unspoken demands. He thrust forward, joining her in the dance, moving in time to the beat of the primal drums that pounded inside their souls. Their bodies’ rhythm matched perfectly as they thrust upward, slamming soft feminine flesh against hard maleness.

But the dance was over much too quickly. Their cries captured and held between them as their kisses absorbed the earth shattering force of their releases. They lay sweaty and semi-conscious as the night enveloped them.


Jason reached for his gun as the last of the sheriff’s men got into position. Just as the man raised his hand to give the single, the door of the shack swung open violently. Jason held his breath, fearful of a barrage of bullets that might not bode well for a successful ending to the siege.

Instead a young girl rushed out, followed by another and another and another. Jason recognized Jessie as the last to run from the building. Reaching out, he grabbed her. “Where’s your mother?” he pleaded, feeling as wild inside as the young girl’s brown-green eyes looked at that moment.

She pointed towards the cabin, “She charged him. They were fighting for the gun. She told us to run. I didn’t want to…honest I didn’t, but she told me to.” The girl broke into huge sobs as Jason wrapped his arms about her.

He was torn apart inside. He watched as the others rushed the small building. He wanted desperately to join them. To race like a hero inside to save the woman that he admired.

But two things kept him frozen to the spot. First of all, Jessie needed him. The girl was hysterical from the two day siege that had seen her and the other girls held captive by the escaped killer, used as leverage to draw out those he believed responsible for little brother’s death. Jason knew that the girl needed to cry, to purge her young soul of the ugliness. Crying and tears…release that he had never allowed himself. He knew too that Fancy would have his hide if he abandoned the girl to those tears alone.

But something else held him there too. Fear. Fear of what he might see inside that build. Blood and bodies. The bloodied body of another woman, another lover. This one far more precious than he had ever imagined possible. It was more than he could manage.

So he stood there and held the girl. Held her and listened as the sobs turned to hiccups. Held her and wished with all his heart that he could release matching torrents that would wash away the ugliness of a lifetime. A lifetime wasted hunted killers, matching wits with villains. But tears did not come that easily for Jason Gideon.

Then it happened…as if in slow motion from some bad Hollywood movie. The sheriff emerged. The escaped killer was with him. Hands cuffed behind his back as the man pushed him towards the waiting police car.

And they waited. Jessie and Jason stood silently watching that door. Waiting. Waiting for her to emerge. Waiting…and praying. It seemed like years although it could have only been minutes. Finally just as Jason pushed Jessie aside, ready to demand answers from the sheriff, she appeared in the door way.

Those glorious red flames were falling in tangled waves about her shoulders. It was a look that had greeted Jason most mornings for the past week…although he knew the tussle that must have occurred in the shack was far different from the one that they usually shared. But the resulting crown of tangles was the same.

And she was smiling. That thousand watt smile which chased the darkness from his soul and made him for a moment believe again in the goodness of man…or at least the goodness of this woman. This amazing, wonderful miracle that was Fancy.