A Night of Southern Comfort
tea. She watched him, daring him to tell the truth—even if she didn’t want to hear it. Her skin prickled with apprehension.
    Teague gave a short nod, placed his glass down on the table, and blurted out his confession. “My firm does work for your father.”
    Was he going to spread the truth about her identity to everyone in town? Did he want her to curry him favor with her father? She traced a pattern in the condensation on her glass. “What do you want for keeping that little tidbit to yourself?”
    “Nothing. I figure you’ve got your reasons for keeping it on the down-low.” He paused and offered a sympathetic smile. “I’ve met your father and I can guess why you’ve chosen to strike out on your own.”
    Relief washed over her in a warm wave and she loosened the death grip on her mangled napkin. “Sounds like you have personal experience with men like the governor.”
    Teague huffed out a low laugh. “Let’s just say that overbearing fathers with unrealistic expectations aren’t just found in DC and governor’s mansions.” He waved a hand toward the busy Main Street just outside the bank of windows. “This town was founded by my ancestors and I left the minute I could. It’s suffocating to have your life planned out for you before you were born.”
    “Yes, it is.”
    She leaned back in her chair and played with the paper straw wrapper, trying to avoid looking over to where Jackson sat and talked in low tones with his dinner companions. She recognized both men. Detective Landon, his partner, and Dr. Beckett Sutherland, a surgeon at the local hospital.
    “The Boys” were all in attendance tonight.
    As if sensing her attention, Jackson looked up. Concern softened the angles of his face, until he noticed Teague looking at him. In an instant, his expression transformed into a mask of hard warning. Michaela was surprised when Teague waved at him across the diner before turning back to her with a wicked grin on his face.
    The diner tittered with hushed whispers. The other patrons were clearly enjoying tonight’s version of The Dating Game .
    “Jack’s a good guy.” His expression sobered as he cocked his head. “You’re an amazing woman.”
    “And?”
    “You should be sitting here with him and planning that romantic weekend.”
    “No.” Michaela pushed down the urge to agree with him. She couldn’t get involved with Jackson. Her father was up to his old tricks and her future in this town was tenuous. She didn’t need to add Jackson to the list of things that she would miss if she had to leave.
    “Well then, let him help you with whatever trouble you’re in.”
    “What?”
    He rolled his eyes at her question. “The whole town noticed you guys here the other night and that you left together. I don’t know you well, but I know Jack. While his desire to get back in your bed is written all over his face, he’s also worried about you. And if he’s worried, then you’re probably in some kind of trouble.” He spread his hands in a how-am-I-doing gesture and waited her out.
    No. She couldn’t let Jackson help her with this problem. That would bring him too close to her father and she wouldn’t take him down with her.
    Desperately needing to change the subject, she asked, “If Jackson is your friend then why are you acting like this is a date?”
    “Because I knew it would tick him off.” Teague laughed and slapped his hand on the table. “He’ll probably kick my ass but this was so worth it. Getting Jack to show his hand is almost impossible. Growing up he was Mr. Cool—nothing fazed him. Then he went into the Marines and the FBI and they perfected his talent.”
    “So, you wanted to see how far you could push him?” Laughing in spite of herself, Michaela shook her head. Men—sometimes they were just boys in grown-up costumes. “Aren’t you worried this will ruin your friendship?”
    “No. He’s been my best friend for thirty years.” He cast another quick glance over his

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