Sweet Anger(10)

By: Sandra Brown

She wasn’t wearing her hair as she had on the day of the funeral, but as she did on her television segments. It was a wreath of undisciplined curls left free about her shoulders. There must have been a thousand shades of blond in that riot, varying from the palest white to the richest hue of gold.

The taste-oriented words usually used to describe complexions crowded his mind. Peaches, cream, honey. None by itself was quite adequate. But a delicious combination of them came close. Add to it the tint of apricots that stained her cheeks and mouth, and it was no wonder he wanted to take a bite of her and hold it on his tongue for a long time.

One look at her in the flesh and he knew what he had been afraid of. He had feared it from the time he saw her on television attending her husband’s funeral. His unflagging objectivity had just taken a suicidal leap out the window.

“Mr. McKee?”

The tall athletic-looking man seemed to come out of a trance and then moved toward her. “Thank you for coming. Do I call you Ms. Stewart or Mrs. Wynne?”

She extended her hand. “How about Kari?”

Her hand was swallowed by the warm pressure of his. He had a good handshake, firm and solid, but not crippling. It lasted a bit long while his eyes probed intently into hers. He finally withdrew his hand and, placing it beneath her elbow, guided her to the chair opposite his desk.

“Are you too warm?”


“Too cool?”

“No,” she said, smiling. “I’m fine.”

She was accustomed to such overblown solicitousness. Ever since Thomas’s death, people had walked on eggshells around her. It had begun to grate on her nerves. The photographers who went out to shoot stories with her had taken to treating her like an elderly maiden aunt. One had cursed viciously just the week before, then turned to her abashedly and said, “I’m sorry, Kari.”

“Oh, for God’s sake,” she had cried. “Will you stop being so nice to me? I didn’t become mentally or physically impaired when Thomas died!” Apparently word had gotten around. Everyone had begun to relax around her and return to their old camaraderie.

Now Mr. McKee’s overabundance of politeness amused her. He went to the blinds behind his desk and adjusted them so she wouldn’t be looking into glaring sunlight.

“Would you like some coffee?”

“No, thank you.”

“Ice water?”

“No. I’m comfortable, Mr. McKee. Only curious. Why did you want to see me?”

He disregarded her question and made an observation of his own. “You’re more …” he gestured awkwardly, “slender than you look on television.”

This was a remark she heard frequently. “Television cameras add about fifteen pounds. You’re very young.” His brows shot up. “I mean for the office you hold,” she added quickly. “I expected someone older.”

“Someone more like Silas?”



“Surprised.” She tilted her head to one side. “Where did you come from?”

“My last post was in St. Louis.”

“Why did you leave?”

“Is that important?”

She had the grace to smile self-deprecatingly. “I used to cover city hall as a reporter. I guess it’s natural for me to fire questions at the district attorney.”

He produced a hint of a smile. “Then I’d better answer honestly. In St. Louis I was too far down on the ladder. There was no room to move up.”

She nodded her understanding. “I wonder why we never met before.”

“Should we have?”

“I came to the courthouse frequently. My late husband was on the city council.”

“Yes. I know.”

“You knew him personally?”

“I met him a few times.”

He moved behind the desk, sat in the deep leather chair, and pulled on a pair of eyeglasses. They didn’t diminish his attractiveness. If he wanted to stay in public life, Kari predicted he would go far. His physical appearance certainly wouldn’t be a handicap.

He was over six feet tall. Even under the cover of his immaculately tailored charcoal-gray suit, she could detect a trim body of lithe muscle and graceful coordination. His hair was well cut, but had about it a boyish disorder that most women would find endearing. It was dark brown, threaded with reddish highlights.

His forehead was broad and high and bespoke intelligence. His brows were thick and arched over eyes neither gray nor green, but the mossy, woodsy color in between. An aristocratic nose divided two high cheekbones. His lips were finely shaped, the lower one having a sensual fullness to it. His mouth was wide. She imagined that when he smiled, he would be heart-trippingly sexy.

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