She had pondered many disguises for this night, disguises ranging anywhere from that of a frumpy homeless lady, to a streetwalker. Somehow, she couldn’t imagine herself making a convincing hooker. She was slight of build and her body had never quite…bloomed, as she’d always hoped for. She did, however, think she made an adequate transient.

She cleared her throat. Stiffening her spine, which already felt close to snapping, she said again, “I can't go with you”

“Your little trio of drunks didn’t scare you enough?”

“No. They didn’t. And It’s not like I come here all the time. I just wanted to….”

His brows lifted. “You wanted to?”

Bonnie stared at him for a while and decided that she couldn’t discuss her feelings and activities with a total stranger. She shook her head. “It doesn’t matter” she said. “But I can't go with you. My father can’t just tell you to bring me home. I am an adult and I sure as hell can do whatever I want to do.”

He closed his eyes, his mouth twisting in an ironic smirk. “And this is your disguise? God, lady, do you have any idea how easy it was to spot you?” He took a step closer, reaching out his hand to flip a piece of her hair. “I don’t know who you thought you’d fool, but you walk like money, talk like money…hell, you even smell like money. What is it? The thrill of going slumming that has you traipsing around here dressed in that getup?”

Bonnie sucked in her breath at his vulgar question and felt her temper rise. “You claim to be a private investigator. The least you can do is behave in a civilized, polite manner.”

“Wrong.” He stepped even closer, the dark, sweat-damp hair on the exposed part of his chest nearly brushing against the tip of her nose. He had to bend low to look her in the eyes, but he managed. “The least I can do is steer your fancy little tail back where you belong. Let me take you back home, little girl. Get your thrills somewhere else, somewhere where it’s safe.”

Suffused with heat at both his nearness and his derisive attitude, it was all Bonnie could do to keep from cowering. She clicked her teeth together, then swallowed hard. “Don't call me little, that’s your opinion. I have been out here on my own for almost two weeks…almost three and I have been fine ever since.”

ined to stand her ground, she said over her shoulder, “Please tell my father

or and almost had it open, when his large hand landed on the wood with a loud crack, slamming it shut again. His warm, hard chest pressed to her back, pinning her

le. He was deliberately trying to frighten her—she did

onnie faced him, her chin held high. “Would you mind

” Came h

and shook her head. “You have a rather na

en thankfully, he took two steps back. He look

know a lot about me since my father sent you to spy on me, and I’m sorry I wasn’

e enfolded her small hand in his much larger one, pumping it twice be

od to know

“Look, princess, you can’t just come to this part of town. You’ll get y

raped in a dark alley, but she didn’t bother asking him. She fel

his face. She liked to think so. Things still didn’t fit. He didn’t seem any more suited

to stay in front of the stores and in plain sight at all times. If mischief had started, someone

h, and pointed an accusing fin

ly understand how things should be done. Although I’m a bit familiar with the neighborhood, since I decided to work in the soup kitchen twice a week. I started this week and it’s not

said her name in a l

during the day, I’m still trying to find my way around and I want to get used to a normal life without all that royalty and princess stuff.