Public relations expert Lauren Richmond believes her family has been jinxed in the love department. To avoid the chaos she suffered as a child, she has built a grammatically-perfect, passion-free life, which crumbles shortly after she rescues a man from muggers. The victim, Luis Hernandez, is an archeology professor on a quest to locate an ancient Mayan document that survived the Spanish Inquisition. Convinced that the Codex exists, Luis is determined to protect his ancestors’ priceless artifacts. When strangers ransack Luis’s home and office and then threaten Lauren, sweet and seductive Luis insists the mysterious map he inherited from his grandfather has nothing to do with the incidents. Deep in the Mexican rain forest at a Mayan dig site, Luis and Lauren must outsmart ruthless grave robbers and battle phantoms from their past to rescue a treasure that could destroy their love.
She felt her cheeks flush. "I couldn't remember where I parked. I was wandering around furious at myself for being an airhead. I'm surprised you didn't hear me swearing."
"I thought you were drunk. Wait a minute. Who were you talking to?"
"Nobody. I pretended there was a whole crowd of us to scare off those ruffians. Shoot! I almost went through the stoplight." She braked and the car lurched.
"Ruffians?" He turned to look at her, and his crooked smile showed off his full lips and his white teeth. "It worked," he said as the smile spread. "I never would have thought of it."
"When I was a kid I used to imagine I could save someone. I can't believe I actually did it. It was horrible watching them beat you up. God, my hands are still shaking."
He touched her shoulder. "You should have run. You risked getting beaten up too, or worse."
His kind words distracted her, and she nearly missed his street.
"Whoa, turn here! This is my building. You can let me off at the corner."
She stopped the car in front of a fire hydrant.
"Thanks," he said as his huge hand engulfed hers. His thick fingers were surprisingly warm. "I'm extremely glad you showed up." His eyes sparkled in the glow from the streetlights.
"I hope to find a way to show my appreciation," he said, still cradling her hand.
The smile was intimate, as if he had been saving it just for her. Before she could react, he touched his lips to hers. Astonished, she didn't think to push him away, and the kiss went on, sweet and soft like summertime on the beach. No pressure, simply a waft of pleasure radiating from her lips all the way through her body. Stopping her breath. Stopping time.
"Merry Christmas, Lauren," he whispered to her cheek. "Thanks for scaring off the bad guys."