Authors: Cat Johnson
Thinking back to the hissy fit Bobby had thrown over the bee wrangler, Corey, he might possibly be her best bet to get Bobby to finally pull his car out…and park it in her garage. Mouth watering from more than the smell of apple pie baking in Mac’s kitchen, Christy smiled at that thought.
“Hey, beautiful. Fancy seeing you here.”
Between her mind racing with thoughts of Bobby and the image of him filling the viewfinder of the camera, Christy hadn’t even heard anyone approach.
“Hey, Corey. What are you doing here? Don’t you have a few thousand angry bees in a vacuum that need releasing somewhere?”
They were only recording the sound from Bobby’s microphone and the boom mic they’d set up to catch his conversations at his position halfway down the counter, so Christy didn’t worry about talking quietly to Corey while she held the camera. Besides, it was apparently driving Bobby nuts. Through the lens, she saw Bobby react when he saw her speaking to the bee wrangler.
Corey laughed at her bee comment. “We sure did. We dropped them off at the observation hive over at the kid’s nature center. Then Harry asked me to run in and get him something to eat. So…you have a chance to look at that form I signed yet?”
She was deciding exactly what to say when she realized that things were suddenly happening around her. Looking annoyed, Bobby stood and turned toward the door. Fletch grabbed the camera and relieved her of her temporary duty.
Christy turned to Corey. “I’m kind of busy right now. Can I talk to you later?”
Judging by the stiffening of Bobby’s back and the way he shot Corey a deadly glare as he walked by, she’d said it loud enough for Bobby to hear. For an officer of the law, he sure had a temper on him. Better not risk another Cole Ryan incident, although it would make good tape.
She hoped she wasn’t leading Corey on. He was cute enough, but not really her type. Too young. Too flirty. Too aggressive. Too—not Bobby. She almost laughed thinking that Bobby wasn’t nearly aggressive enough in his attentions to her. At the moment, Christy was feeling very much like Goldilocks. Was there no man who was just right? Did
even exist outside of fairytales? That was a question for later, because Bobby was halfway to the diner’s exit.
“Misty, throw this on my tab. Corey, I gotta go.” Christy wanted to rush after Bobby, but she had to deal with everything at the diner first.
Corey smiled and flashed perfect white teeth. “You better call me.”
“Okay.” Shaking her head that it was the wrong man wanting her to call him, she ran to catch up with Bobby before he left her, which it looked like he was about to do.
She flung herself into the back seat and just managed to slam the door shut behind her when he pulled away from the curb. She watched Fletch raise a brow and had to smile. Oh, yeah. She had Bobby right where she wanted him now. Maybe. As long as silent and angry was better than silent and aloof, she definitely was winning him over.
As Bobby forced himself not to floor it as he drove away from the diner, his cell phone vibrated in his pocket. He pulled it out while keeping one hand on the wheel. According to the caller ID readout, it was the sheriff. Good. Exactly what he needed. A nice distraction so he didn’t have to think about good old Corey and Christy giggling at each other.
He flipped his phone open. “Hey, Sherriff. What’s up?”
“Sure. What’ve you got?” Bobby prayed it didn’t involve bees. He’d had more than enough of bee boy for one day.
“Horse loose out on Leap Frog Road.”
“Could it be one of Gordon’s?” That wasn’t too far from Jared’s place.
“Nope. Already called him. He checked. All his are accounted for. He did say if you need any help or a trailer, just call.”
Bobby blew out a breath. “Will do.”
He disconnected the phone and made a U-turn. He was still in just bad enough of a mood over bee boy to withhold where they were going from Christy. It was petty, but it made him feel better. Glancing in the rearview mirror, he could see the suspense was killing her. Good.
He considered the situation, the one with the horse, not the one with Christy and bee boy. He should call Jared for help. It would probably take him and both of the Gordons’ farm hands to catch a spooked loose horse. Although Christy would probably come home with the phone numbers of both of Jared’s employees to add to her collection. Maybe he could handle the horse himself.
“Would you like to tell us where we are going, Deputy?”
He guessed she finally couldn’t take it anymore.
“There’s a loose horse over on Leap Frog Road.” Purposely not giving away too many details, he stated it as simply as he could.
Fletch snorted softly, whether it was over the loose horse or Leap Frog Road, he didn’t know. Bobby didn’t get city folks and what amused them.
“And…? What are you going to do about it?”
She was trying to get him to elaborate for the viewers, as she was always saying. Well, he wasn’t in the mood for elaboration at the moment.
“Catch him,” he said.
It was the truth and it said all he needed to say. He caught her scowl in the mirror and smirked. She wanted to play around with bee boy?
. He’d show her how to play games.
The good news was that by the time they arrived at the scene, it appeared the horse’s owner was already there. The bad news was that the horse was good and truly spooked.
Thinking that the last thing the horse needed was his patrol car frightening him more, Bobby parked far away. Before going over to talk to the owner, he set up flares in the road. The other thing the horse didn’t need was to get hit by a driver unaware of the danger.
He walked up to the young girl standing in the road looking very flustered. “He yours?”
She nodded. “I don’t know how he got out.”
“We’ll figure that out later. Let’s just worry about getting him back in for now.”
Bobby saw the girl looking over his shoulder and realized his ever-present shadows must be back there. He hooked a thumb in their direction. “Ignore them.”
She went from staring at them, to him. If he wasn’t mistaken, she actually batted her eyelashes. “Sure, Deputy. Whatever you say.”
Great, now she was flirting with him. Just what he needed with the camera rolling.
“You got a bucket of feed and a lead rope?” Bobby brought them back to the task at hand. She nodded but didn’t make a move. He raised a brow. “You wanna go get ’em?”
“Sure.” She smiled wider. Finally turning, she swayed her narrow hips all the way across the road and headed for a barn not too far away.
Bobby shook his head. He didn’t even own a horse and it seemed he knew better what to do than this girl. An old farmer lived here. Bobby knew the man, he just hadn’t realized how old his daughter had gotten. Poor guy had his hands full with this one, but that wasn’t Bobby’s problem. Although this loose horse sure as hell was.
He glanced back to the horse. The animal was big. Real big. It looked like a draft horse breed. Guessing it weighed close to a ton with no exaggeration, he was just considering what damage two thousand pounds of scared horse could do when Christy appeared next to him.
“Get back in the car,” he said flatly.
She planted her hands on her hips and glared. “No. Why? So you can flirt with the proverbial farmer’s daughter in her cut-off shorts that leave her ass cheeks hanging out?”
He raised a brow at Christy. This, he really didn’t need right now. And who was she to accuse anyone of flirting? Clenching his jaw, he repeated, “Get back in the car.”
“If you want to be mad at me, fine. But you can’t stop me from doing my job.”
“And you can’t stop me from doing mine. It’s not safe out here. Get back in the car or you’ll never ride with me again.”
It seemed to Bobby that Christy was never one to do what she was told. She let out an annoyed huff of breath but didn’t move. She had just opened her mouth, most likely to fight with him some more, when the horse decided he didn’t like it on that side of the road any longer. Spooked or something, he came galloping straight at them.
Thank God, Fletch was out of the horse’s path shooting the scene from the side of the road, because Bobby had barely enough time to save himself and Christy. They were both about to be trampled. Wide-eyed and frozen in place, Christy showed no sign of moving. Bobby didn’t take the time to think about it, he simply picked her up, flung her over his shoulder and ran. The horse passed them so closely he felt its tail hit his shoulder.
Bobby watched the horse run directly to the girl and the bucket of feed. That had been what spurred the gallop. The damn food he’d asked her to get.
Since they seemed to be safe, he dumped Christy back on her feet. He left his hands around her waist when he felt how unsteady she was, which put his fingers against the warm, bare skin at her waist.
Their eyes met and for a moment insanity must have overtaken him because he nearly lowered his head toward her mouth… Then he spotted the red light on the camera and dropped his hands immediately. She swayed on her feet after he released her.
He took one giant step back. “You okay?”
“Good.” He nodded back and strode across the road. He needed to check on that horse and discover how he’d gotten out in the first place.
The rest of the day was uneventful in comparison. Fishing at sunrise. Bee swarms. Nearly getting trampled by the King Kong of all horses. Getting whisked into the safety of Bobby’s arms. It had been one a hell of a shift.
By bedtime late that night, Christy could honestly say she had never been happier to see her lumpy mattress at The Hideaway. Her only complaint was that it seemed like she’d just closed her eyes for a moment before a pounding on her door awakened her.
“Christy! Rise and shine.” Mandy’s voice accompanied the loud knocking.
Morning had come much too soon and worse, it was heralded by her boss at the crack of dawn.
Christy shuffled to the door, flung it open and then crawled back into bed, not bothering to close the door behind her uninvited guest. She frowned at how awake, not to mention chipper, Mandy appeared at this ungodly hour. Dressed for the day right down to the clipboard shoved under her arm, Mandy looked ready for a board meeting when Christy was barely ready for a shower.
She nearly groaned as a to-go cup of coffee was thrust at her. Mandy had already been to town and back? Whatever. As long as she brought her coffee, Christy didn’t care if she’d been to Mexico and back already.
“So you’ve been busy, I see. Fletch dropped off the tapes from yesterday at my room last night.”
Christy did her best to assess whether Mandy was actually pleased or being sarcastic. It was a tough call, so she simply nodded and waited.
“I have an idea…” Mandy began.
Uh, oh. Mandy’s ideas usually meant more work for Christy, but wasn’t that always the way? When the boss got a vision, the assistant usually had the dubious pleasure of making it reality.
Mandy continued. “You have the night off tonight.”
Christy raised her eyebrow. There was definitely a catch somewhere. “And…”
Mandy smiled. “You know me too well. And you will be going on a date with this Corey character.”
Christy nearly dropped her precious coffee at that. “Wha…but…huh?”
Mandy plopped her butt, clad in designer business-casual trousers, on the edge of the mattress. “Here’s my plan. While you are on your date with the studly bee wrangler, I’ve arranged for a guys’ night out over at Jared’s. He’s inviting Bobby and a few others from town. Fletch will go solo to tape that. I’m guessing the men will speak more freely in a room with no women present, and Fletch is good at blending into the background.”
Christy felt a bit silly complaining about a night off after the crazy hours she’d been putting in lately, but she really didn’t want to go on a date with Corey. She told Mandy exactly that which earned her a sigh in response.
“Look, it’s obvious that you and Bobby are hot for each other.” Mandy’s assessment opened Christy’s eyes, even more than the strong coffee had.
Mandy laughed. “No use denying it. The chemistry between you two is practically palpable on tape. The way he saved you from that big horse yesterday and how he gets angry just seeing you speaking to that wrangler… Whew, women will be fanning themselves all over the country. It’s great TV. Like it or not, you are now one of the characters on
next big reality show to hit the small screen.”
Christy’s mouth dropped open. “But isn’t crew being part of the show frowned upon?”
“Sometimes things have to change. Especially when
gives away our best piece of tape and we have to come up with another angle for one of the town’s main characters.” Mandy raised a brow pointedly.
Was she never going to let Christy live down that Cole Ryan incident? This was blackmail, no doubt about it.
“So if you want to play up the angle with me and Bobby, why am I going on a date with Corey?”
Mandy frowned at her. “The date is to make Bobby jealous, of course. You really have no clue about men, do you?”
Christy scowled. “I do too.”
Mandy wasn’t so smart. Christy had thought of making Bobby jealous over Corey herself. She just hadn’t planned on actually going on the date to do it.
“When was your last serious boyfriend? No, forget that. When was your last casual date even?” Mandy cocked a brow and waited for an answer.
When Christy couldn’t come up with one in recent memory, Mandy threw her hands in the air. “Exactly. Trust me on this one. I’ll have you and Bobby rolling in the hay before the week is out.”
Rolling in the hay
? Christy was sure that phrase had never left Mandy’s mouth before her association with Jared. Gordon Equine did have that giant hay room. Christy had a gruesome vision of her boss rolling around naked in it with the handsome horseman and cringed. Too much information.
She sighed. Back to the problem at hand. “All right. I’ll go, but no cameras on my date.”
Mandy smiled. “I guess I can live with that.”