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The Cowboy and the Thief

By Mychael Black


What do a jewel thief, a stain glass artist cowboy, pink elephants, and a Nostradamus-believing faith healer all have in common?

Not a damn thing--unless you're Adrian Williams, jewel thief extraordinaire--or Jamie Holland, the stain glass artist who stumbles into Adrian's world.

From pink elephants to diamonds--and traipsing in a park fountain to making out wherever they can, Jamie and Adrian have their hands full. Ands omehow, somewhere along the way, they manage to fall in love.



Jamie grunted and kept his teeth tight on the pencil as he moved carefully across the scaffolding, measuring the width of the window. This definitely had to be the biggest job he'd ever gotten, and certainly the most lucrative. Eric DeSalvo was one of the most well-known--and the richest--private collector of art and 'treasures' in New Brunswick, and he'd paid Jamie a substantial figure to work for him.

Five feet wide. Damn. Jamie shook his head and leaned down carefully, fumbling blindly for the small pad where he kept his notes. Soon as he had it, and he jotted down the dimensions for one of the stained glass windows he had to make: five feet wide by six feet tall. Good Lord Almighty. There were nine more windows Eric wanted as well.

Setting his Stetson back a bit, a lock of black hair fell forward, almost covering his right eye as he watched the few people milling about--five feet below.

As a man entered the house, he looked around. The butler approached him and bowed his head to him.

"Is Eric anywhere nearby, Smith?"

"Mr. DeSalvo is in conference right now, but he wants you to wait for him, Mr. Williams."

"No problem, I guess." Shrugging, the man turned away from the butler and moved to the one of the chairs against the wall.

Jamie turned and watched as the new arrival sat down. Damn fine. Jamie wondered what such a young man would be doing at Eric DeSalvo's private estate. Turning slowly so as not to shake the scaffolding too much, Jamie finally managed to climb down, almost jumping to his feet right in front of ... Oh. Very pretty.

"Sorry if I startled you," he said. Tucking the tape measure into his shirt pocket, he tipped his hat at the man.

The young man jumped slightly, surprised to see Jamie.

"Nah, it's okay." After eyeing the scaffolding, his gaze turned back to the cowboy. "Out of curiosity, what's going on? Or is it a top secret project?"

Looking up, Jamie chuckled. "Name's Jamie Holland. Mr. DeSalvo commissioned me to do several windows--stained glass." He took in the young man's features, trying not to look like he was doing it. Lord, the man was sweet lookin'. Eyes the color of the finest sherry, sweet lips just beggin' for a kiss. Oh yeah, he looks fine. Mighty fine.

"Seems like we're both here on business. I'm Adrian Williams." As he stood up, he held out his hand, offering it to Jamie. "Pleasure to meet you."

Jamie resisted the temptation to lick his lips. Or, better yet, lick Adrian's lips. Lord, what he could imagine. He shook his head quickly as he took Adrian's hand. "Pleasure's mine," he said, tipping his hat again. "So what're you here for? Or is that secret?" He gave Adrian a quick wink, his voice a smooth Texas drawl.

"I find things Eric wants and get them for him." A casual shrug accompanied the words, and after a moment he let go of Jamie's hand.

A loud voice reverberated from one of the halls. "Damn pink elephants. Get the hell out of my house."

Rolling his eyes, Adrian lowered his voice, "I'm guessing Uncle Albert had a bit too much brandy again."

Jamie blinked. "Uncle--Albert? Lord, Lord. What have I left Texas for?"

Before Adrian could say another, a workman suddenly careened around the corner, seeming to flee from something. The sound of shouted curses added to the confusion before an old man rounded the corner, madly waving a cane as he chased the workman.

Adrian grabbed Jamie's arm and pulled him back closer to the wall. "You'll want to get out of the way. That damn cane hurts."

Jamie tried to focus on the bizarre fiasco playing out in front of them, and not on the hand on his arm. He certainly wasn't paying attention to the way Adrian moved--sleek like a cat, graceful and easy. He ignored the way every stitch of clothing seemed to slide across that slender, muscular frame.

Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck.

Licking his lips, he forced himself to absolutely not look at Adrian's mouth. "Dare I even ask what's going on?"

Pointing in the general direction of the wildly raving Albert, Adrian said as low as could, "That's Eric's Uncle Albert. Rather senile and even more so when he sneaks into Eric's brandy. For some reason, he thinks the poor guy is a pink elephant. Pink elephants are the bane of Uncle Albert's brandy habits."

The room became quiet again when the workman fled outside and the old man followed him.

"Uh-huh." Jamie just nodded, a bit too stunned to move. "Well, that was certainly worth a beer or ten." He flipped through his notepad briefly, color prints of previous jobs taped to some of the pages.

Adrian didn't seem at all phased by what had just happened. Glancing down at the pad, he looked over what he could see. Before Jamie could turn it, he held out his hand to the page. "Damn, that's some nice work."

"Huh? Oh!" Jamie laughed. "Thanks. These are nothin' compared to my portfolio." He gave a long, low whistle. "You should see some of those."

"Probably cost an arm and leg, too." Withdrawing the hand, it fell back to Adrian's side.

Jamie shrugged. "Depends, really. I've done a variety of pieces, for a variety of prices. Just depends on what the customer wants." He looked over his notes, then slipped the notepad into the front pocket of his shirt. He opened his mouth to say something more, but DeSalvo's butler appeared at the top of the stairs.

"Mr. Williams, Mr. DeSalvo will see you now."

"Damn," Jamie muttered under breath.

When Adrian stepped forward, a loud crash came from upstairs near the second floor landing. A second later, a large red parrot flew down the stairs, chased by a small red-headed boy.

"I believe Alto and Jeremy have escaped their cages yet again, Smith."

With a harried look, the poor butler chased down the stairs after the two as he yelled, "Nanny Jenkins!"

Turning to look at Jamie, he murmured, "You get used to it around here."

With a bit of a smile and a wink, Adrian turned on his heel to head towards Eric's office.