Authors: Cat Johnson
She smiled. “It’ll do.”
“Good. Get your stuff together. I have to call the bee wrangler, then we can go.” Bobby began flipping through the ring of business cards on his desk. Apparently, he’d had to call the bee wrangler before because his number was in the Rolodex. Once she got over that surreal realization, she started to plan shots and voice-overs in her head.
“You getting this?” she hissed to Fletch.
Small town law enforcement—wrangling bees rather than criminals. Good television indeed. This day was beginning to look up after all.
“Narrate for the camera, Bobby. Tell the viewer what’s happening.” Christy sat in the back seat behind Fletch and instructed him as he drove.
Resisting the urge to groan—he so hated talking to the camera lens as if it were a person—he began to explain the situation.
“The pastor’s wife called the sheriff’s office with an SOS regarding a bee swarm in the rectory. Apparently they’re not sure if the pastor is allergic to bee stings or not. Understandably, she was in quite a panic. I instructed them to remain outside until both myself and the local bee wrangler could arrive and assess the situation.” He kept his eyes on the road in front of the car and pretended he was delivering a report to the sheriff, not the damned camera aimed at his face. It made things a little easier.
On the phone call, the pastor’s wife had asked him to hurry. The moment Bobby pulled his patrol car up to the scene, Fletch and his video camera in the front passenger seat still rolling, he knew why. The pastor, dressed in nothing but a towel, was with his wife outside on the front lawn. The pastor looked so scared he would have been shaking in his boots had he been wearing any.
Bobby stopped the car, grabbed his hat from the dash and got out. The couple came immediately toward him, until they saw the camera, then they stopped dead. Nothing he could do about the TV crew attached to him, so Bobby strode to meet the pastor and his wife where they’d stopped halfway across the yard.
The camera was soon forgotten as they relayed what had happened. From what Bobby could glean from the old couple’s animated ramblings, the bees must have settled in the attic. But being that the rectory was an old building, a good number of them had traveled down the walls and out a crack into the bathroom where the pastor had been getting out of the shower, hence the towel. Bobby had to give Christy credit, she wasn’t laughing at the old man in his tiny towel, but he could tell she was struggling.
“Pastor, why don’t you go into a neighbor’s house for a bit? Until we get the bees cleared out.”
“But…” the old man glanced down at himself, “…I need at least my pants.”
Bobby sighed. The man was right. It was bad enough he’d be on television in his towel, he shouldn’t have to be in his neighbor’s house in it too. “I’ll go in and get you something to wear.”
He headed across the lawn and up onto the front porch. The pastor’s wife was still calling out instructions to him as he was opening the door, something about where the pastor’s pants may be located within the house. He tried his best to listen, even as he saw Christy covering her mouth with her hand to keep from laughing.
Bobby finally gave up waiting for the eternal instructions to be completed and promised the woman he would find her husband’s pants, the ones that fit, not the ones that didn’t, and let the door slam shut behind him. He’d been inside the rectory before. How hard could finding the man’s clothes be?
He dodged a bunch of confused bees that had separated from the swarm and were stuck in the main part of the house, then located not only the pants, but also a shirt and slippers for the pastor. By the time Bobby arrived outside, he found the wrangler he’d called had just pulled his truck up to the curb.
The guy was old as dirt, but he knew his bees. Harry came to the rescue every time Bobby had called him, which was surprisingly often. Old-time beekeepers like him made their living selling honey and catching the occasional errant swarm, but Bobby suspected it was the thrill of the hunt and capture that he liked the best. He lived and breathed beekeeping. Bobby knew enough not to ask any questions or they would talk his ear off telling bee tales.
“Bobby.” The old man shook Bobby’s hand. “What’s going on here?”
“From what I can tell, the swarm is in the attic. Looks like they went in the vent. But there’s a set of those pull-down stairs, so you have access from the second floor.” Bobby laid out the situation for the wrangler. He’d been on enough swarm calls that he knew what Harry needed as far as information.
“Good. Sounds like an easy one. Maybe I’ll let the kid handle it solo.” Harry tilted his head to indicate
For the first time, Bobby noticed a slick young guy, wearing not nearly enough clothing, chatting up Christy off camera. He frowned. “Who’s that? You usually either work alone or bring one of the other guys from the Backyard Beekeepers Association with you.”
Harry pulled his navy ball cap lower over his brow. “My apprentice. I’m getting too old to be crawling in attics and climbing up on roofs, Bobby. ’Bout time I started training someone to do the dirty work for me.”
Bobby continued to watch Christy and the dirt bag—uh, apprentice wrangler—talking. “Think you better get him moving, Harry. The pastor and his wife are real anxious to get back into the house.”
Brow raised, Harry glanced at Christy, his apprentice and then back to Bobby. He laughed. “Gotcha.”
Damn old man was too observant for his liking. So Bobby didn’t like some strange guy bothering Christy. She was his responsibility for the moment and he didn’t know this kid from Adam. It was no big deal.
With a scowl, Bobby watched tank-top boy grab the equipment and follow Harry into the house. Serve him right if he got stung, wearing those clothes to wrangle a swarm.
He was still steaming when Christy came up to stand beside him. Fletch had been a brave city boy and followed the wranglers in. “What was the shop vacuum for?”
Oh, cutoff-shorts boy hadn’t explained that to her? “They try to get the queen and the majority of the bees into a box, but they vacuum up the rest.”
She turned to stare at him. “No.”
Bobby had to laugh at her reaction. “Yup.”
“And they don’t mind?”
Bobby shrugged. “Don’t seem to. ’Course, I’m not there when they get them out of the vacuum, so I don’t really know.”
She shook her head and stared at the house. “Wow.”
Since she was so impressed with the bees, he wished he’d listened closer to all of Harry’s lectures so he could dazzle her with more of his bee knowledge. But he’d gone through his entire bee repertoire with the vacuum question.
It wasn’t very long at all before Harry and his assistant came out, carrying the closed cardboard box and the vacuum. Bobby noticed a few raised, red welts on tank-top boy’s exposed arms and smiled to himself. The satisfaction was short lived, however, when Christy ran over to bee boy and started interviewing him.
By the time Bobby strode over to join them, bee boy was saying to both the camera and Christy, “They’ll pretty much follow the queen anywhere.”
Christy got an evil look on her face. “Oh, so they’re all males then.”
Was she flirting with this kid?
Boy toy laughed. “You’d think so, but no. All the worker bees are females. They’re the ones who rear the young, gather the pollen and defend the hive. You really learn to respect females when you understand the workings in a hive.”
He ran a hand through his long locks of blond hair. The bastard was definitely flirting with Christy—and men should have short hair, in Bobby’s opinion.
The kid was still talking. Why was he still talking? They should be done by now. “Actually, there are a low percentage of males in a swarm. They’re called drones. Their only function is to impregnate a new virgin queen.”
Oh, ho. And now he’d found a way to bring up the subject of sex. That figured.
Bobby watched Christy raise an amused and flirtatious brow. “So they are like studs then.”
He watched bee boy smile at his producer, eating up the attention. “Yup, but it’s not as satisfying as it sounds. You see, the minute they um…mate with the queen, it rips their uh…man parts off. Then they die.”
Was sex boy actually blushing?
. Bobby could have talked about bee sex on camera without blushing. Any real man could. Jeez.
Christy opened her eyes wide in horror at what sex boy had just told her. “Oh. Ow.”
“Exactly.” He laughed down at her. Why was he standing so damn close to Christy anyway? She giggled and Bobby nearly vomited.
He finally couldn’t stand it anymore and stepped forward. “Can we wrap this up here so I can get back to work?”
Christy turned to him hopefully. “Did another call come in?”
Bobby scowled. “No.”
“Then can’t we stay? This is great stuff.” She looked at him with those pleading eyes and he gave in, taking a step back again to observe from afar.
He heard Harry chuckling beside him. “That little girlie giving you some grief?”
Bobby rolled his eyes. “You don’t know the half of it.”
Finally, after what seemed like forever, Christy ran back to the car to get two release forms, Harry and pretty boy signed them, and then the three of them were finally back in the patrol car.
In the back seat, Christy shuffled papers as she filed her precious releases.
“What?” He glanced at her in the rearview mirror.
“Um, nothing.” She glanced at his reflection and looked like a deer caught in headlights. She was a terrible liar.
“Really, it’s nothing.”
“Fine, it’s just that when Corey signed his release, he, um, wrote something on it.”
Corey? Was that the boy toy’s name? That figured.
Bobby parked in a spot on Main Street and turned in his seat to look at her, face to face. “What exactly did
“Um, his phone number, and call me next to it…with a smiley face.”
A smiley face? Well, wasn’t that just perfect. Bobby’s relief at being rid of bee boy was short lived in light of that information. “And?”
“And what?” Christy was staring.
“Are you going to call him?”
“I don’t know. Maybe.” She shrugged.
Was she being coy? Did he even know exactly what being coy was? Bobby frowned.
What kind of answer was that?
“Why? Do you care?” She’d turned the questioning back around on him.
“Yes. I care, because for better or worse while you’re in this town you are my responsibility. You don’t know anything about that guy.”
“I know he works for a friend of yours. Isn’t that enough?”
“No. There are scam artists all over the world.” Just because Harry knew bees didn’t convince Bobby he was a fine judge of character when it came to dates for his producer.
“Yeah, like a scam artist would pretend to be a bee wrangler in Pigeon Hollow.” She rolled her eyes.
Bobby let out a frustrated huff. “You can date whoever you want when you go back to L.A., but when you’re in Pigeon Hollow, you’re mine. You got that?”
Christy’s eyes opened wide, causing Bobby to review what he’d just said and decide it hadn’t come out exactly the way he’d wanted.
Not knowing quite how to fix the situation, he turned back to face forward and noticed the red light blinking on the camera braced on Fletch’s shoulder. “What the hell are you doing?”
“My job. And stop talking to me on camera. I’m invisible, remember?”
Bobby had no answer for that, so he just scowled and slammed his way out of the car, wondering exactly when he’d lost control of his life.
Bobby was jealous. Christy wouldn’t have let herself believe it, but the proof was there. He’d nearly had a meltdown over Corey giving her his phone number.
She hadn’t even seriously entertained calling Corey. That is, until she saw Bobby’s jealousy over even the remote possibility she might. Who knew all it took was a little competition to pique his interest in her? Hmm. Well, now that she had his interest, she better figure out what the hell to do with it.
Christy was just considering if she had any hot outfits in her suitcase when Bobby parked at the diner. She hadn’t even noticed it was nearly lunchtime, but her stomach grumbled at just the thought of food. She could definitely eat, especially one of Mac’s famous burgers with onion rings. That was not a problem.
The problem was finding a place to situate Fletch so he could get a clear shot of Bobby in the packed diner. She finally charmed Mac into letting Fletch stand behind the counter, with the understanding that there was a penalty of death for them both if they got in the waitress’s way. Christy felt an instant sympathy for the camera crew that had been assigned to Mac fulltime. That must be a real joy for them.
She managed to wolf down her burger, then held the video camera so Fletch could do the same, all within the time it took Bobby to finish his own sandwich, pie and coffee. How did he keep that hard body eating pie at every meal? Jared did it too. She was convinced that southern men had different metabolisms than the rest of the world.
However, not all Southern women were so blessed in the revved-up metabolism department. She watched a chubby waitress refill Bobby’s mug and frowned as he smiled. Misty, the waitress, blushed at the attention, and Christy got to see it all through the viewfinder of the camera.
Hmm. Was she a bit jealous herself? She really shouldn’t be. Besides the fact that she had no claim on Bobby, she hadn’t seen nor heard a word breathed about him being involved with anyone in town. Or out of town, for that matter. The man apparently lived like a monk, or at least left that public impression. Who knew, maybe he was some wild swinger or internet porn mogul. Yeah, sure. Mr. Morality. Not a chance.
That was probably going to be the bigger challenge now that she’d decided to make a play for Bobby. Christy wouldn’t be competing against other women, but battling Bobby’s high morals, or perhaps just lack of interest in sex. But how could a man who looked like he did not be interested in sex? That would be like having a race car and leaving it parked in the garage.