The man had been five feet from her heels since she broke away from the pack in the second mile. Forty-five minutes ago. His heavy breaths and the light slap of his shoes on the asphalt were her constant companion. Why didn't he just pass her?
She'd entered the half-marathon to get a time check–make sure she wasn't losing ground. It wasn't like she needed a race to motivate her to run. When she ran, she was powerful and in control. The hours she spent eating up the trails around her condo made up for the rest of her existence. She'd run all day if she could.
Maybe one day she wouldn't stop.
As they rounded the curve into the last mile, cheering crowds and race volunteers packed the tree-lined road. She wiped errant beads of sweat from her forehead, picked up her pace, and focused on the tiny red FINISH banner in the distance.
Lindsey jumped at the deep voice of her unwanted running partner. He gave her a slow, sexy smile and took off. No way. No way was he going to follow her for ten miles and then beat her in the end.
For a few seconds she had a view of his broad shoulders and powerful thighs. He was lean and muscular, more like a fighter than a runner. She might have enjoyed his company if he'd been in front of her the whole time.
Too bad. She poured on the speed and flew past him, surprised to feel a grin on her face.
She crossed the finish line and gradually slowed to a walk, dipping her head as a volunteer draped a finisher's medal around her neck. Hands on hips, she made a beeline for the bananas and water bottles, thankful for the cool breeze that hinted at fall.
“Hey,” the hottie who'd stuck to her like glue said. “Nice run.”
“Thanks, you too.” She turned away with a polite smile. Trolling for men at a race–or anywhere else, for that matter–was not her style.
He touched her shoulder and she yanked away, hoping he hadn't noticed the uncontrollable expression of terror she knew had crossed her face.
“Sorry,” he said, his hands up in apology. “I just–”
“Look. I'm not interested, okay?” She retreated and changed course toward the parking lot.
She froze–her blood turned to ice–and spun to face him. “How the hell do you know my name?”
With a rueful look, he pulled a rumpled business card from his shorts pocket. “Colonel Stark sent me.”