closer, enjoying the feel of her soft curves brushing the hard planes of his chest. "I honestly thought you were trying to make me laugh. I didn't think anyone could cause that many disasters accidentally." "That does it." Mac lifted her and tossed her lightly over his shoulder. "I'm going to have to resort to drastic measures." He strode out of the house and across the back lawn, ignoring her muffled pleas and apologies. The apologies lost much of their effect by being choked with laughter. He stopped next to the pool and shifted her so that she lay in his arms. Holly took one look at the water and threw her arms around his neck, clinging desperately to him. "I'm sorry, Mac. I didn't mean to laugh. I'll never laugh again. Honest." He let her dip slightly over the water and she shrieked and tightened her hold, a reaction that didn't displease him in the least. "Your apologies would be a lot more effective if you weren't laughing so hard while you're making them." Holly tried to swallow the laughter but couldn't. "It's hunger," she offered anxiously. "I always laugh when I'm hungry." Mac tilted his head to look down at her. In the soft darkness that blanketed the yard, she could just make out the gleam of his eyes. She tried to make her expression as innocent as possible, biting fiercely on her lip to hold in the laughter. "Hungry, huh?" He appeared to consider the idea and then nodded. "Okay, I'll buy that. I'll order a pizza and feed you." He turned and headed back to the house. "But don't think you're getting away scot-free. Sooner or later, you're going to have to pay a forfeit."
A n hour and a half later, Mac lifted the empty pizza box from the floor between them and set it out of the way on a side table. Holly leaned back against the sofa and lifted her glass of wine and clinked it gently against Mac's. In front of them, the fire hissed and popped a soft accompaniment to their conversation. "I told you Dominic's had the greatest pizza in town." He nodded, stretching his legs out in front of him and pulling a pillow off the sofa to tuck behind his back. "It was a great pizza, all right." A comfortable silence settled between them. Holly couldn't remember the last time she had felt so utterly content with life. She wanted to freeze this moment in a time capsule so that she could take it out and look at it later. She looked around the restful room before letting her eyes settle on her host. He looked as relaxed as she felt. Thick dark lashes shielded his eyes. His long body looked completely free of tension. "I really like your house." "Thanks." His lashes lifted and his eyes skimmed the room. "Ken says it puts him to sleep the minute he walks in, but his place is decorated in modern eclectic in every color and style he can lay his hands on. I wanted something a little more solid-looking." "It suits you." His mustache quirked upward. "Solid and dull?" "No. Warm, stable, honest, straightforward." Mac seemed to wince. He lifted his glass and drained the wine from it in one swallow. "Honest. Straightforward. I don't think those are terms that apply to someone who tells lies for a living." There was an underlying bitterness in his voice that she had never heard before. "Sometimes you have to tell lies to do something good. I don't think it has any bearing on the kind of person you are. It's your job." His eyes pinned her, an oddly intent expression in them. "My job. Is that really how you think of it?" "Yes. I don't think you'd ever do something you thought was truly wrong. I trust you to do what's right, Mac." His mouth twisted. "You trust me," he murmured almost inaudibly. "I wish I had your confidence." Holly stared at him uncertainly. It was obvious that something was bothering him. Should she ask questions or just leave it alone? Maybe it was something he couldn't talk about. Before she came to a decision, he shook off the brooding atmosphere that had threatened to envelop them and