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Prize Pupil

When Detective Morgan Evans goes undercover in Thomas Jefferson Junior High to catch a trio of juveniles responsible for several large burglaries, his biggest problem is counselor Kate Duncan. Student conduct philosophy will never be the same. Though they are forced to work together, Kate is certain Morgans presence in the school will destroy the trust of the students. Morgan is just as positive that if he doesn't find the culprits soon, someone will be killed.

A Hard Shell Word Factory Release


Micky Osburn

Micky Osburn is married to one terrific ex-cop and has retired with him to the plains of Kansas after thirty years in the Seattle area. Always a voracious reader, she turned her hobby into a professional career in the staunch belief that there has to be a "happy ever after!"

Reviews

"Prize Pupil reads like one of the better written Silhouette Intimate Moments books. It has a nice mystery sub-plot, but the main focus is the romance between Morgan and Kate. This was a great love story with complex characters. Morgan, who at first appeared to be a harsh cop, was revealed to be a kind and caring man. I found myself falling a little in love with this great character. If you enjoy the Intimate Moments series, give Prize Pupil a try."

Marlene Breakfield -- Escape to Romance
Excerpt

Chapter 1

THE DEAFENING roar of a thousand teenagers echoed off the walls of the old school building, assaulting Detective Morgan Evan's ears. The pandemonium was criminal, a clear violation of Seattle's noise abatement laws. A full platoon of marksmen on the firing range would have been quiet in comparison.

Noise wasn't his only problem, Morgan realized as he sidestepped a boy swinging a huge book bag, barely escaping emasculation only to be confronted by the whirling dervish of a pint-sized Madonna-look alike.

Geeze Louise! Schools were supposed to be quiet like libraries. Weren't they? Damn. This was not how he wanted to spend a nice spring morning. Undercover was never easy, but playing vice-principal in Thomas Jefferson Junior High School had to be above and beyond the call of duty. He should get a medal of valor for just showing up.

Like a salmon swimming up stream, he managed to push his way through the swarming mass of incoming students and exit the building. He stood at the top of a short flight of steps and took a deep, cleansing breath.This was a good spot. Every teenager in the place had to pass him to get into the building. He stood watching as the colorful parade of students passed in front of him. Somewhere in this haven of rabid hormones commonly referred to as a school was a ring of thieves and it was his job to find them. Unfortunately, the only information he had was the street names of three suspects.

A blood-curdling battle cry suddenly erupted from the shouts on the sidewalk and Morgan stiffened, ready for action. Two small students squared off, slinging fists and profanity at each other to the chants and catcalls of the spectators.

He glanced around, for a school official, anyone with the authority to intervene. There was no one in sight.

Just like cops. Never around when you need someone. Get involved, his boss had ordered.

Was this what DeShane had in mind? Morgan forced his way through the crowd, pushed two students aside and leaned over the top of two others in an effort to restrain the fighters. Stretching to grab the shoulder of the first boy, he caught a flash of white out of the corner of his eye. A girl, smaller than the two fighting students, appeared from nowhere and jumped into the fray.

Great. Another one, he thought.

Bulldozing his way the last few feet, he grabbed the girl and one of the boys by the scruffs of their necks and ordered the third teen to "Cool it!"

At the booming sound of his voice, the boys instantly froze. The girl, however, suspended several inches from the ground, came up swinging.

"Put me down, you idiot!" she screamed, her arms and legs flailing. Her foot connected sharply with his left kneecap.

Pain and profanity broke from his lips in a hushed scramble of words, while his mind plotted revenge. He hoisted her higher, then released her just as she requested.

She landed hard on her bottom.

Seconds ticked off as she sat there, legs straight in front of her, her hands braced at her hips. The near rioting crowd of teenagers went totally silent.

He glanced around. The oddly speechless students raised the hairs on the back of his neck. How, he wondered, had he managed to accomplish silence? Maybe it was his voice. He did have a commanding presence.

As he set the other boy on his feet, the stunned faces of the students warned him something had taken place. His glance fell to the girl still sitting on the sidewalk. She twisted at the waist, flinging shoulder-length auburn hair out of her eyes and his mouth went dry. A sinking feeling gripped the pit of his stomach as she glared up at him. That was no girl on the ground. That was a full-grown woman and she was not happy!

He swallowed against the dryness in his throat and stiffened against the sudden weakness in his knees. Play it cool, he reminded himself. Never show you're vulnerable. Trouble was, he wasn't sure who he was trying to fool. Himself, the kids or the lady who looked like she wanted his head on a solid gold platter.

Through a wisp of tangled curls, Kate Duncan stared at the man who had so suddenly and effectively stopped the fight. She'd expected to see a familiar face, one of Thomas Jefferson's teachers. Instead, her eyes encountered a wide chest, covered by a starched white shirt, dark tie and collegiate-looking tweed jacket. She tipped her head further back and looked into eyes as clear and blue as the morning sky.

She clenched her teeth. Who cared what color his eyes were? When she got through with him he'd pray for a slow, painful death. She blew at bothersome lock of hair dangling in front of her eyes.

"Are you all right, Ms. Duncan?" sweet, timid Jenny Sutton asked.

"Of course. I'm fine," Kate said, enunciating each syllable. "I'm just ducky."

"Ms. Duncan?" The big man's voice held a hint of shock.

Kate knew a moment of pleasure as a gray pallor replaced the healthy tan of his cheeks. Ha. That'd teach him!

"Hey, Homer," Rick Ferris yelled to his friend on the stairs. "You shoulda seen it! It was the sweetest! This lame-o knocked Ms. D. on her--"

"Rick!" Kate interrupted, forestalling the inevitable obscenity.

"Butt," Rick finished in a softer tone, with a wide grin.

Kate reached for Rick's offered hand.

The man stepped in front of the boy offering his assistance instead. "I'm really sorry," he said pulling her to her feet. "I didn't realize you were a teacher."

She stared at the huge hand still holding hers, then jerked loose. Wincing, she rubbed her sore seat and tilted her head back to get a better look at the man who had humiliated her in front of half the student body. It was a long way up to scowl at someone. She was fuming by the time her glared locked with sparkling blues eyes, made brighter by a sudden mischievous grin.

"Do you always go around assaulting people before you know who they are?" she asked, watching as one dark brow rose in surprise. His grin widened into a smile. His smile was absolutely infuriating.

"No," he said, running his hand along his jaw line, covering that smile. "I can't say I do. But if you're injured, I am qualified in first aid. I'd be more than happy to take a look at any, uh, injuries."

Male chauvinist lech, Kate fumed, noticing his gaze lingering on the abused part of her anatomy. "That's quite all right. I'm sure the damage isn't life threatening." She gave him her best scolding look. It was the same look she'd given Rick with the same result. None.