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Police officer Jim Brook knows he isn’t being professional, or wise. But when Lora McDaniel absolutely refuses to press charges against her abusive ex-boyfriend, Jim does the only thing he can think of – he spirits her away to what he believes will be a safe place at a cottage near an old and forgotten lakeside resort. Unfortunately, he’s just exchanged one form of “danger” for another.
"Ma’am?" Ignoring a sudden twisting in the pit of his stomach, Jim Brook leaned forward to peer into the car. "Are you all right, Ma’am?"
"Ine... ah... eeeehh." She slumped forward over the steering wheel of the rust-bucket white Chevette, her forehead pressed against the cracked plastic, her shoulders shaking with the effort to contain her sobs.
"I’m sorry, Ma’am. I can’t underst--"
"Ine... oh... ite!" Her words were more forceful this time, hopelessly garbled, and lost somewhere next to the floorboards.
"Could you just..." Clearing his throat, Jim squared his shoulders and tried to get a grip on himself.
He’d never felt so helpless.
Christ. His second day on the job. His second traffic stop ever, and he’d had to find himself face to face with this.
He wanted to reach out and brush back the curtain of silky-shiny chestnut hair that hid her face. Wanted more than anything to scoop her up in his arms and make everything all right.
"If you could just..."
Sickness rolled in his gut again, harder than before. Only one thing seemed certain here. If he didn’t do something, and do it soon, he was going to be in tears himself. And how would that look? Six foot four, two hundred and ten pounds of Forrest City, Ohio, motorcycle cop, down on the pavement and blubbering like a baby?
"If you could just, please..." Desperation crept into his voice.
Where the hell had he got the insane idea that he could be good at this, anyway? Just because his old man had insisted, just because some deluded idiot had seen fit to give him a gun and a badge, why had he been crazy enough to believe he could ever be a cop?
"I sa... said I’m ok... kay."
She lurched upright in her seat so suddenly that he jumped back. His hand reached automatically for his gun, but she didn’t do anything else. She just sat there, her cheeks wet with tears, looking up at him with anguished eyes as misty and emerald as a tropical rainforest at daybreak.
Oh, Christ. He felt like he’d taken a good, hard karate chop to the gut. Like the time he’d fallen off the roof of his father’s garage, and done a championship belly-flop right onto his mother’s prized cement garden elf.
The pain and dizziness had damn near killed him then.
For sure, they were going to kill him now.
She was gorgeous. No two ways about it. The most gorgeous woman he’d ever seen. Those eyes--the way they just kept on getting greener and greener, deeper and wetter with tears that flowed like they’d never stop. Or maybe it was the way the color shimmered up through the bottomless pool of tears she hadn’t shed yet, but he could have sworn her eyes were made of liquid crystal.
"Ma’am, your..." His voice cracked, and he had to stop again for a minute, to clear his throat. "Your driving was a little erratic back there."
"Err..." She hiccupped.
So did his heart. "You were weaving back and forth. All over the place."
Just when he’d been about to heave a sigh of relief, thinking the worst of it was over for both of them, she started to cry again. Ducking her head, she looked down at the hands she’d begun to run back and forth, back and forth, almost compulsively, around the steering wheel.
"Have you been drinking, Ma’am?" Even without that jungle-green gaze to distract him, he could barely think--barely keep his voice impassive and arrange his mouth in the straight, grim slash that was supposed to show he meant business.
"N... no!" Her horror seemed genuine. Hiccupping again, she raised her head and wiped the back of a shaky hand beneath her nose. "I’ve had a t... terr... I’m t... tired. That’s all."
Jim chewed the inside of his lip.
Tired, hell. Her eyes were red and raw, the translucent skin around them all bruised-looking and puffy. As if she’d been crying for about a year. As if someone had torn her heart out and stomped it flat.
"I’m sorry. I’m going to need to see your license and registration. Please."
Born and raised in the northwestern corner of Pennsylvania, Kay LeGrand always felt she belonged somewhere else. Following a family vacation to Colorado at the age of ten, she knew that place was the American west. Today, she and her husband live in a condo overlooking the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, from which she draws her inspiration.
A writer from the age when she was first able to hold a pen, Kay wrote for newspapers in high school and college, and ultimately received a degree in journalism and communications. Among the many jobs she’s held, Kay has enjoyed working as a late-night radio disk jockey, a waitress at an amusement park cafeteria, an airborne traffic reporter, and a telephone operator. A second-generation pilot, she worked as a commercial pilot and flight instructor for several years, and is now happily making hotel reservations for several national parks.
Book Publisher: Wings e Press
No. of Pages: 314
Paper Weight (lb): 13.2
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