The Bride Hunter

By: Ann Major

Albuquerque, New Mexico

H is large body humming with tension, Connor Storm fixed on his prey. The woman, who went by the alias Anna Barton, had eluded his top investigator. Now she was sipping the coffee she’d just bought at the kiosk behind her. Connor was trying to keep out of her line of vision by standing behind a pillar while they both waited for their plane to be called.

Her face was fine boned, her shiny hair dark blond and shoulder length. He liked long hair. He didn’t like the fact that he was suddenly imagining his big hand grasping her thick mane and pulling her closer.Damn. First time since Linda he’d thought like this about a woman. He must be coming back to the land of the living.

This is a job. For Leo. You owe your big brother. There are a lot of other fish in the sea. Yada, yada.

At five foot seven, his target was slim and athletic—and very pretty.

Don’t think about very pretty.

Their plane was an hour late due to bad weather. He glanced impatiently at his watch and out the large window again. The snow had let up. He could see the end of the runway now.

A woman’s voice came over a loudspeaker and announced their plane would be boarding at Gate 10 instead of Gate 14. The crowd in the Gate 14 waiting area stood up and began gathering briefcases and laptops. Anna Barton jumped away from the kiosk as fast as a bird taking flight and rushed toward their gate.

His cue to pursue and capture.

Planting his Stetson firmly on his blond head, Connor Storm charged after her, his boot heels ringing so loudly on the airport terminal floor that she whirled, her hazel eyes wide with alarm.

Perhaps on the lookout for the creepy boyfriend who’d been stalking her?

“Hey, miss! You’ll need this if you want to board that flight anytime soon!” he yelled.

When the elusive woman he’d been paid so much to find stopped, Connor froze midstride.

Distrust was written all over her. Her gaze traveled the length of him before flitting away. Connor was suddenly glad he’d taken Sam Guerra off this assignment and come himself.

Her tall, slender body fairly shook with tension. Clearly she still didn’t trust strangers, especially if they were broad-shouldered men who could easily overpower her. Her boyfriend, Dwight Crawford, must have been an even worse nutcase than his P.I.’s reports had indicated.

Connor tipped his Stetson back and attempted one of his easy smiles.

She stiffened.

He broadened his grin. Then he flapped the boarding pass he’d removed from her purse while she’d been too busy counting change to buy coffee.

“I was behind you in line when you dropped this,” he lied, feeling only a slight pang of guilt at his easy falsehood.

He was a private investigator. P.I.s had to make stuff up in the line of duty, right? They had a nice word for it, too. Pretext, they called it.

Her face remained pinched, her eyes wary. He’d had his guy on her tail for a while. Every time he had gotten close, she’d run, changing her identity.

Her creamy skin was pale and looked so soft, Connor wanted to touch it. Damn, the pretty factor was becoming a problem.

This was a job. For Leo, he reminded himself.

Her big, slanting eyes seemed so vulnerable and scared, he had half a mind to track the boyfriend down and teach him a lesson. A woman who’d gone through what she had as a child didn’t deserve some slimeball like Crawford scaring her again.

She lifted her nose. She was slim and statuesque. She had class. With her heritage, he’d expected no less. In Texas, anybody connected to the Golden Spurs ranching empire was royalty.

His job was to take her home. Period.

Funny, how she wore her hair down just like Abby did. He’d read separated twins did stuff like that. Still, the startlingly similar hairdo made her look so exactly like his brother Leo’s wife, Connor drew in a sharp breath. Not that he should have been surprised at the resemblance—after all, she was Abby’s long-lost kidnapped twin.

What was strange was his powerful reaction to her. Hell, he’d never felt blistering heat when staring into his sister-in-law’s eyes.

“Becky,” he whispered, gut-sure he’d found the Golden Spurs heiress.

At the name, Anna shivered. Her big, haunted eyes widened.

“Becky? I don’t know who you’re looking for, mister,” she said, “but it’s not me.”

“Sorry,” he said. “Right. For a second you looked like somebody I know.”

Her patrician nose tilted higher.

“You’re Anna Barton, and you’re not going anywhere without your boarding pass.”

Maybe she wasn’t listening, because she turned and marched quickly toward their gate.

“Anna Barton!” he yelled after her.