Copyright © 2012 Amie Louellen
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication
“Are you serious?” Kaylee Stephens looked down at her speedometer. Sixty-three miles an hour.
She eased her foot off the gas pedal. Whirling red and blue lights flashed behind her. Unreal. She was going to get a ticket for driving three miles over the speed limit.
Maybe not. Maybe he was after someone else. And maybe—just maybe—if she eased off the gas a little more he would go around her.
The unmarked car slowed to match her speed.
“Dang! Dang! Dang!”
With any luck, he’d be in a good mood or in a hurry to go home. Maybe he’d let her off with a warning. With a sigh, she pulled her battered blue Nissan onto the shoulder of I-40.
Please let it be a warning. Please let it be a warning. Please, please, please let it be a warning.
She couldn’t afford a ticket. She could barely afford insurance for this heap of junk. Kaylee killed the engine, then rested her forehead against the steering wheel.
To top it off, her tag had expired last month. That might be okay with the DMV, who allowed for a thirty-day grace period on renewals, but it wasn’t with the APD, who was coming up behind her.
This was just what she needed to make her day complete. Her week. Maybe even her entire month.
“Afternoon, ma’am,” the smooth voice greeted her with only a trace of a West Texas drawl. “May I see your registration and driver’s license, please?”
She revived herself enough to retrieve her purse from the cluttered floorboard. It took only a couple of minutes of digging around before she found her wallet and handed him the requested items. All she had to do was cooperate, and everything would be fine. Worst case scenario, he would write her a ticket, tell her to get her new tag pronto, and she would be back on the road again in no time.
As he scanned the documents, she ran her fingertips around the edge of the steering wheel, pretending not to be embarrassed and late. But she was embarrassed. And she was late. Still she might make it if he would hurry.
“Kaylee? Kaylee Stephens?”
Kaylee stopped her mindless tracing and poked her head out the window to get a better look at the man. Something about him seemed vaguely familiar. Yet she knew that if she had seen him before she would have remembered. Bronze skin, jet black hair and slashing dimples on either side of his almost-too-feminine-to-be-on-such-a-masculine-guy mouth. Aviator glasses hid his eyes, but she knew him. From somewhere. And then she remembered, ”Luc?”
Hot dang, she might not get a ticket after all. Lucas Blackfox had been a friend of her brothers’ so many years ago. Good friends. Good enough that Luc had practically lived at their house. But there wasn’t a trace of the sullen teenager to be seen in the confident man who stood outside her car.
“Sorry for the delay,” he said. “Can I get you to step from the car, please?” He had gone from friendly recognition to full out cop mode in 1.5 seconds.
He moved back a half step, then opened her door. “I’d like for you to exit the vehicle.”
“Listen, officer…uh, Luc. I’m late for work so…”
“I understand. But I still need you to get out of the car.”
“Why?” Kaylee kept her seat and resisted the urge to make a grab for the car door. Cooperating was one thing, but she couldn’t get out and stand on the side of the highway. She lightly touched the lapel of her raincoat. She was late and well…she just couldn’t, that was all.
“Are you refusing to get out of the car?”
“Well, no, but—” Kaylee stopped. She knew how this was supposed to go, and this was not standard procedure for a traffic ticket. But the unyielding set of his jaw said he meant business.
And the longer she argued with him, the longer it would be before she could get out of there. She growled low and under her breath, then slid one leg from the car, pulling the panels of her black vinyl raincoat to cover herself as she stood.
Adolescent growth had abandoned her at five foot two, and even with the four-inch heels she wore, Luc towered above her. A small, disturbing shudder rocked her and made her all the more anxious to be on her way.
With as much pluck as she could muster, Kaylee craned her head back and squarely met…her own eyes in the mirrored lenses of his sunglasses.
Great, her lipstick was smeared and her blusher crooked. But if she remembered correctly, his eyes were as dark as the rest of him.
“Is everything here current?” He held up her driver’s license.
Kaylee nodded as he opened his ticket book.
The normally faithful West Texas wind was still, leaving her no reprieve from the sweltering confines of her coat. There wasn’t even a gentle breeze to cool her face or dry the sticky perspiration that seemed to cover her from head to toe. Or stir the blue-black strands of his hair.
He wore it short. At least shorter than she remembered. He had been half hooligan back then, a wild child that everyone wanted to save even though they suspected he’d be in jail most of his life.
And he had filled out—she unwillingly admitted. He had been tall and lanky with feet too big for the rest of his body. Now his maroon-colored polo shirt molded to the solid planes of his chest. He had the strong jaw of a Calvin Klein model, and those firm, full lips still held the insolent sneer from his teenage years. He looked cool and relaxed—and handsome, she conceded—as he wrote her citation.
His pen met paper in slow, measured strokes. He flipped the first ticket over and began another, not bothering to look at her as he spoke.
“Are you aware you were speeding?”
“Did you know your tag has expired?”
“And your passenger’s side brake light is inoperable?”
“But what?” He lifted his head, his voice as cool and professional as his manner.
She had forgotten about that back light. And she was going to get her tag…really. And what happened to the five mile an hour over rule? Or maybe even a little professional courtesy. After all, her father and both brothers were in law enforcement. But the words would sound too tacky if she actually had to say them. Not that it mattered. Something gave her the feeling that Lucas Blackfox, bad boy of Pampa High, did everything by the book.
“Nothing.” It was the best she could do with him staring at her through those mirrored lenses. All of his attention was centered on her, and it was unnerving.
She looked away.
He turned back to his ticket book.
“Is this going to take much longer? I’m late for work.” Her words came out, sharper than she intended, but it was a long drive to the mayor’s house, and she was already behind schedule.
Kaylee tried to camouflage her irritation, beaming him her most brilliant smile.
Though his eyes were hidden, she felt his gaze slide over her unseasonable coat. She hadn’t thought it possible, but she grew even warmer under his concealed scrutiny.
“I believe you’ve already said that. Wait right here.”
Kaylee watched the broad expanse of his shoulders as he made his way along the short distance of highway separating the unmarked car from her own battered transportation. Her jaw dropped at the sight of what he was driving, now clear for her to see and unaltered by a cracked rearview mirror. She couldn’t believe the taxpayers—herself among them—had to pay for such an extravagance. A BMW!
Just her luck—late for work and pulled over by the Yuppie Cop From Hell.