Dark Knight: A Loveswept Romance Classic
a dozen demands would have. Without another word, she retrieved the keys along with a small first-aid kit, then crossed back over and squatted down in front of him.
    “Ankle chains have to come off first,” she said. She didn’t look at him as she carefully lifted the chain and unlooped it from his handcuffs. When he lifted his wrists for her to unlock the cuffs she saw they were more scraped than cut, nothing serious, but she hated it anyway. Visions of him lying sprawled across the white linen sheets in all his leonine perfection flooded her mind.
    Ridiculous as it was, she felt as if she’d desecrated a valuable piece of art, but the real wound was far worse than a superficial scrape. Avoiding his gaze, not daring to risk just what he’d see in her eyes, she very carefully sprung the lock. The metal bracelets loosened immediately. He pulled his hands back and let the handcuffs drop to the floor.
    He didn’t move right away or say anything. The silence deepened, becoming awkward. Scottie opened the first-aid kit, then she raised her gaze to his face.
    He was angled away from her, massaging his thighs and calves. For all the war games that had gone on between them during his brief captivity, this quiet resolution should have felt somewhat anticlimactic. It didn’t.
    Tension simmered and hummed just below the surface. She imagined she could feel it bubbling along inside her veins, stirring things up, pushing her, prodding her, until she—
    “Turn around so I can clean those up,” she said, a bit more crisply than intended.
    “It’s nothing that won’t clean up in the sink. Trust me, I’ve been much worse off.”
    He was right. She knew that, knew he’d been a street cop, knew he’d probably been scarred more than once in his past line of work. “Not by my hand you haven’t.”
    He turned then. “You’re in the wrong profession if drawing a little blood bothers you, Detective.”
    “Trust me, I’ve done far worse.”
    He nodded, conceding the point.
    Maybe it was because he’d accepted it as fact too readily, but she felt compelled to clarify, though heaven knew why his opinion was so important to her. After all, she had drugged, shot at, and chained the man within twenty-four hours of meeting him. Why the hell shouldn’t he believe her capable of worse?
    “I’m more than willing to do what I have to in order to get the job done,” she said, “but never without due cause or provocation.” Her tone turned dry. “Not that you didn’t do your best to provoke me.” The remembered sight of him hunched over, untangling his chains, blood running down his wrists made her dip her chin. “But then, in your position, who wouldn’t have?”
    “Boy, are you always so conflicted over your work?”
    She looked up, surprised at the return of the mocking note in his voice. It was the first hint of the “old” Logan Blackstone she’d heard in what felt like hours. It was alarming how deep the rush of relief went. Even more alarming was the unique sense of camaraderie she felt with him. She’d never had more than a surface sense of teamwork with her fellow Dirty Dozen agents. They’d have given up their lives for one another, but only in order to get the job done, not as a personal, buddy-for-a-buddy sacrifice.
    She’d certainly never felt this … kinship of spirit. Not with any of her fellow cops when she’d been on the force. Certainly not with her father or her husband.
    Confused, she forced her honest smile into a polite one. Business, she told herself, he was business. She’d sort the rest out later.
    “I get the job done,” she said with equanimity. “The ends always justify the means, but that doesn’t mean I always have to like it.”
    The light sparked again in his eyes. She hadn’t realized just how flat they’d become until now. Until she’d said something to regain his full attention. She turned
full attention to the first-aid kit. She’d wanted the kidding, teasing Logan back.

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