She continued without missing a beat. "My friend has decided that if she can find me a husband while I'm here, I'll stay in Alaska after the race." Her voice reflected her irony. "I'm afraid Janey's going to take one look at you and have me off to Anchorage to try on wedding dresses."
Her statement was so outrageous and unexpected Dillon couldn't contain his abrupt laugh. "Should I consider that a compliment?"
He caught her gaze again. The flash of acknowledgment in her eyes, tucked away beneath lowered lashes, sent a bolt of something hot and alive through him. When was the last time a woman had that effect on him?
He released a slow, thoughtful breath.
"Consider it a warning," Claire replied with a dismissing shrug. "Janey's a born matchmaker. And her determination can be indomitable. Why do you think I was sent to pick up the musher from Teller?"
"Because he's single."
"But you're not interested."
"I didn't come to Alaska to get married," she stated. "I just wish I could convince Janey of that."
Dillon knew it was none of his business but couldn't resist asking, "Why did you come to Alaska?"
A slew of emotions skimmed her features before settling on one. Defiance. "To run the Iditarod." She slanted him a direct look. "You're not going to make that a problem, are you?"
Dillon's mind detoured. He could think of a lot of things that might become a problem between them, his gaze drifting to her lips. Whether or not she chose to risk her pretty neck in the world's toughest sled dog race wasn't one of them. "No, ma'am."
Her grin was immediate, his body's reaction to it almost as quick. "Good. I'd hate to have to stop the truck and make you walk. Janey would never forgive me. And please, call me Claire."
"Are you always this tough, Claire?"
"It has its advantages over soft and vulnerable."
He discovered himself looking at her again. He was pretty sure she'd intended the remark to sound off-handed, but he wondered if there wasn't more to it. "At the risk of being kicked out of the truck, most women would use soft and vulnerable to their advantage."
She gave a throaty laugh. "Not if the woman is an attorney."
A dark memory stirred. "You're a lawyer?"
"Criminal defense. I'm on leave of absence from Stanfield, Wood and Keller in Portland, Oregon." She glanced over at him. "Have you ever been to Portland?"
Shit, what were the odds? He hesitated half a heartbeat. "No."
He didn't consider it much of a lie. He'd buried that Dillon Cord when he boarded a plane to Alaska six years ago. The man he'd been, the one from Portland, no longer existed.
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