Mission: Cavanaugh Baby

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Authors: Marie Ferrarella
flashed through his green eyes as he thought of the woman who’d broken the engagement and, from the look of it, his brother’s heart, as well.
    “Don’t call her that,” Shane said defensively. “It wasn’t her fault.”
    “Well, it sure as hell wasn’t yours,” Declan said heatedly. “You weren’t pretending to be a circus clown and then sprang your secret identity on her. She knew what you were from the start, knew exactly what she was getting into when she agreed to marry you. Aurora’s relatively safe when you compare it to other cities of the same population, but things can happen in the best of places.
    “To act surprised when they do,” he went on, “well, that just means she wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer, and you’re better off without her. I know, I know,” he said, raising his hands to fend off Shane’s protests, or worse, some kind of defense of the woman he’d come to actively dislike, a defense that for some reason Shane felt honor bound to make. “People say that all the time to someone getting over a breakup, but in this case, I mean it because it really is true,” Declan insisted.
    Declan paused for a moment before leaving. “Why don’t you come with me?”
    “Like I’d fit right into your date,” Shane said, deadpan.
    “You would,” Declan assured him, warming to his subject. “She’s got a sister. From what I hear, a very accommodating sister. Think about it,” he coaxed. “She might be just what you need.”
    There was no way he was up for that. “What I need is to have the rest of this beer and enjoy a little peace and quiet,” Shane responded.
    Declan looked around at their surroundings. “Well then, you picked the wrong place to go, Shane. No peace and quiet here,” he assured his brother.
    About to say goodbye, Declan saw his brother’s expression change from indifferent to alert. Curious, he turned and saw a petite young redhead wearing an officer’s uniform entering the tavern. She was looking around the room, even as her expression seemed to indicate that she wasn’t sure why she’d come in the first place.
    Glancing back at Shane, Declan realized that his brother had gotten off the bar stool and was now waving to get the pretty redhead’s attention.
    “On second thought, I see you’ve already taken care of your needs for the night.” He nodded his approval. “My compliments, Shane.”
    Shane cut him off before Declan could say another word. “Nothing to compliment. We worked on a case together today, and I told her to come share a drink with me if she felt like it.”
    Declan weighed the merits of the comment his brother had tendered to the redhead. “Not exactly smooth,” he said in critique. “But I guess it’s better than nothing. At least it’s a start.”
    “Aren’t you going to be late?” Shane prompted, trying to get his brother moving and out the door. “You’ve got a date, remember?”
    “And apparently, so do you,” Declan said with a laugh. “See you around, Shane,” he promised, taking his leave. “We’ll compare notes.”
    “There’ll be no notes to compare,” Shane informed his brother tersely.
    “So it’s like that, is it? Want to keep it all a secret, do you?” It was a rhetorical question, and Declan looked exceedingly pleased. “They’re right what they say about still waters.” He clapped his brother on the back. “You just keep on paddling, Shane. No matter what, just keep on paddling.”
    As he made his way to the door, Declan kept one eye on the woman walking toward his brother. Shane was going to be just fine, he thought, pleased about the turn of events. He nodded his approval at the redhead as he passed her.
    “Be gentle with him,” he said glibly to the woman as he walked by.
    Puzzled, Ashley turned to look at the man who’d just made the strange comment, and she frowned to herself. What was that all about?
    “Did he say something to you?” Shane asked, waiting for Ashley to take a

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