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  • Copyright: 2004-05-04
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publications
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In her latest novel, the "USA Today" bestselling author of "Opposites Attract" delivers a romantic comedy of a straight-laced librarian suspected of counterfeiting money and the undercover cop who both investigates her and desires her. Original.


Love: Undercover

Chapter One

Everyone in Doolittle, Arkansas, knew Jenifer JaneyWright didn't need a man.

She'd raised her twins on her own, having sent theirfather, her college freshman sweetheart, packing whenhe suggested her pregnancy fell into the category of anobstacle to their career success that could be "dealtwith." After all, she planned to be a lawyer and he adoctor. To him, a baby at nineteen was worse than a Cin Organic Chemistry.

No, Jenifer didn't need a man.

She'd earned her college degree by correspondencecourse, completing her homework in between teachingAutumn and Adam to read and hurrying to her jobat the Doolittle Public Library. She'd worked theresummers during high school, and the aging Mrs. Millionwas more than happy to have her help. Theydidn't pay much more than minimum wage, but Jenifereagerly chose being surrounded by books over waiting tables at the Verandah Restaurant or standing behindthe counter at Harolene's Hobby and Crafts. Heruncle Pete, not really her uncle but her parents' nextdoor neighbor and best friend, held the post of Chiefof Police of Doolittle. He'd taught her to handle gunsand to shoot the heart out of a target at close, mid-,and long range, and he almost succeeded in recruitingher to become the town's first female policeman, butJenifer declined.

Her son and daughter needed her, safe and in onepiece.

Not that anything ever happened in Doolittle.

There'd been a flurry of excitement a few years agowhen a handsome young veterinarian had moved totown. Jenifer's friends, particularly her best pal Pamela,had urged her to wangle a date with Dr. Mike Halliday.She declined. Dr. Mike, as everyone soon called him,was into rescuing people, and Jenifer, as capable as shewas, assumed they'd never mesh. Butt heads maybe.

Besides, she didn't need a man. By then she'd earnedher Master's in Library Science, organized Mrs. Million'sretirement party, and taken charge of the library.

No, she didn't need a man.

But that didn't mean, Jenifer thought wistfully, nowand then when no well-meaning friends or family werewithin sight, that once in a while she didn't want one.

Especially now that her twins had left for college.

Twenty-nine days ago they'd left for Fayetteville;Autumn's scholarship courtesy of the track team,Adam's based on academic merit.

Jenifer sighed and pushed a long strand of hair backfrom her cheek. She didn't recommend experiencing empty nest syndrome all alone. Surely she'd settledown, get used to the quiet in the house.

Even now, perched behind the checkout counter atthe Doolittle Public Library, where she'd spent countlesscontented hours, she felt the restless stirring withinthat had been stealing over her more and more lately.

She flipped the pages of the Library Journal, not focusingon one little word.

Not that she wanted a man to keep. Jenifer was fartoo used to running her own life to let anyone interfere.But only last night when Pamela, sharing some of thesecrets of her life with her third husband, went off on atangent about experimenting with Kama Sutra oils andGravitron boots and Velcro restraints, Jenifer's mouthhad fallen open. People did stuff like that?

No, she wasn't shocked, she assured her friend. Morelike pea-green envious. She wished -- no, she didn't.Yes, she did. She wished she could meet a man who'dbe willing to explore the naughty and the unknown withher -- the sensible, capable, practical Jenifer JaneyWright -- and not insist on putting a ring on her finger.

But where in Doolittle would she meet such a paragonof lasciviousness? Pamela had picked up her latest "eligible"man -- if you could call him that -- on a trip to LittleRock. Jenifer knew she had picky tastes, butPamela's number three fell way below her standards.

No, she knew she wouldn't accept just any man tofulfill her fantasies. He'd have to be tall, dark, andhandsome, just for starters. He'd possess a worldly air,be rather mysterious, yet able to walk in the rain withoutfussing about his expensive clothing. He'd havelips that smiled knowingly, making her blush just remembering where those lips had kissed her sated body.He'd be --

What was wrong with her? The town of Doolittledidn't pay her to daydream. Jenifer slammed shut theLibrary Journal and pushed back the high-backedstool. She had books to reshelve.

Only then did she glance up and realize a man stoodin front of the checkout counter, gazing at her with anamused expression on his face.

His rather handsome, expressive, chiseled chin,deep-set dark eyes, strong nose, full lips sort of face. Aface she'd never seen before.

Jenifer swallowed hard, wondering if it were possibleto conjure reality from wishes. Tipping her head toone side, she considered the notion, and the man.

And the rather wicked gleam in his eyes. She feltnaked, suddenly, as if he could both read her mind andsee through her sensible white blouse. Which was impossible,of course, and even if he could, all he wouldcatch a glimpse of was her sensible white bra.

A bra she would throw away the minute she got home.

She'd been sensible enough for years of her life.

"May I help you?" she said to the man, keeping hervoice pleasant and professional.

He nodded, and leaned a hand on the counter. Hehad a tan -- not surprising toward the end of summer -- and his shoulders moved beneath his polo shirt with agrace that spoke of either lots of time in the gym or outof doors.

Jenifer smiled. She liked a man who didn't staycooped up inside all day.

He fixed her with a dark-eyed gaze that made her feel as if no matter what he asked for, she could provideit. Even if the library didn't carry it, she'd orderthe request ...

Love: Undercover. Copyright © by Hailey North. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Excerpted from Love: Undercover by Hailey North
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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