Authors: Kaylie Newell
Copyright © 2013, Kaylie Newell
Publisher: Beachwalk Press, Inc.
Electronic Publication: July, 2013
Editor: Leigh Lamb
Cover: Fantasia Frog Designs
eBooks are not transferable. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations in articles and reviews.
This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the author’s imagination and used fictitiously.
Back Cover Copy
He’s got the temperament of a lion, and she’s just the one to tame him.
Police records clerk Emma Beaumont has always played it safe, never taking many risks. Quiet, shy, and a little overweight, she’s convinced herself that she’s comfortable with the way her life is. That is until she lays eyes on incredibly sexy Lieutenant Johnny Street. But she’s never met anyone with such a terrible attitude. He’s a jerk. Everyone thinks so.
Little by little, Emma is forced to uncover a stronger, spunkier part of herself, one that isn’t afraid to stand up to him. As she gets to know him, she starts seeing glimpses of a very different man. A man who has known great heartache, and as it turns out, has good reason for embracing such bitterness. Behind his sharp tongue and harsh demeanor, lies a young man who’s desperately afraid of losing what’s left of himself.
As Emma’s intense desire for Johnny turns to love, she will have to ask herself how far she’ll go to chip away at his frosty heart. And at what cost.
Content Warning: contains sensual sex and strong language
For my girls, Lucy and Clara. I hope you read this someday and realize your mama isn’t so boring after all! I love you with all my heart.
As always, I’d like to thank my family for their undying love and support. They share me with writing and always with a smile. Thank you to my husband for being there during the incredible highs, as well as the lows. I love you so much.
Thank you to my best friend, who’s also my biggest cheerleader. Always ready with a glass of chardonnay and an ear to bend. You’re the best, sister.
To my critique partners, I couldn’t have finished this book without you. You picked me up halfway through, dusted me off, and demanded I finish. Thanks, you guys.
Thank you to my publisher, Beachwalk Press. A class act all the way.
Hats off to my amazing editor, Leigh. I never knew how much I liked the word “which”, until you so patiently pointed it out. You rock.
And finally, to all the police officers who make this world a safer place, Johnny is a culmination of you all. Thank you for your sacrifice, tireless dedication, and brave service to the people who need you most.
Johnny never knew what to buy. He stood staring at the aisle of colorful stuffed animals with his arms crossed over his chest, head down in concentration. They’d be six and eight now, right? That’s right. It’d been just over six years. Carolyn had been a baby.
A female clerk in a bright red polo with a ridiculously happy elephant embossed on the front stopped and smiled. “Can I help you, sir?”
He nodded toward the animals. “If you were six, would you like something like this?”
“I have a six-year-old and she loves stuffed animals. Her bed’s full of them.” The look on her face was unmistakably tender. She thought he was a clueless weekend dad. “I think any of these would be a good choice.”
“What about for a boy. Eight?”
“Oh. Well, I think you might have better luck with something else for an older boy. What does he like to do?”
“I’m not sure. I think he likes video games. I know he’s into sports.”
“How about a football or basketball? Something that would encourage outdoor play?”
Outdoor play. That’s good. Healthy, active.
He was suddenly grateful the clerk had stopped to take pity on him. “Where are those?”
“Aisle four, next to the bicycles. Anything else I can help you with?”
She turned to go.
“Thank you,” he added. “I might have been here all day.”
“I’m sure you would have figured it out.”
She walked off, leaving him alone again in front of the plush animals, each and every one looking at him with their big, dark toy eyes. He reached out and grabbed a pink bunny. The ribbon around its neck was soft, white satin which matched its paws and the inside of its floppy ears. Perfect for a little girl.
Tucking the rabbit carefully under his arm, he headed toward the sports section.
, he thought.
I’m a long way from figuring it out.
The bar was smoky, loud, and full of idiots.
Johnny sat with his back to the wall, listening to his cousins talk about everything under the sun. Baseball and hockey were at the forefront, as usual.
Jake leaned forward, his usually sharp, blue eyes drooping after the third beer. He seemed oblivious to the female attention he’d been receiving all night. But that was Jake. Still so naïve. A good guy though, to the core. And Johnny was glad he’d come to help celebrate his youngest cousin’s birthday. But that didn’t change the fact that he’d been staring at the clock for the last forty-five minutes. He hated crowds.
Eli nodded to a table across the room. “Five-o-clock. Three honeys checking out the Street men.”
Johnny took another drink, not bothering to look.
“Face it, boys,” Eli said, swallowing a belch, “we’ve got what they want. Am I right, or am I right?”
Jake turned around. “Son of a bitch. They are looking over here. Check it out, Johnny.”
“Why the hell not?” Eli was draining the last of his beer and running a hand through his short, blond hair. “Don’t know what you have against women, cuz. Maybe I don’t want to know. But I’m going over there. Jakey, coming with?”
Before Jake could answer, Eli was halfway across the room.
“Anything wrong?” Frowning, Jake set his beer down. He’d always been more of a little brother than anyone else. And he was one of the only people Johnny had ever let close. As much as Johnny didn’t want to be there, as much as his mind was somewhere else completely, he couldn’t bring himself to show it.
“I know you don’t like this kind of thing. But I’m glad you came.”
Eli yelled from across the room and was audible even over the live music thumping its way through the bar. “Get
here, you assholes!”
Jake grinned. “Coming?”
“Don’t think so. You go ahead.”
Standing, Jake gave him one last look. “You know where we’ll be.”
Johnny watched as his cousin approached the table full of girls. Eli was right. The Street men did have what women seemed to want. Correction: Eli and Jake had what women seemed to want. For the most part, they left Johnny alone. He didn’t exactly put out welcoming vibes.
Glancing away from the petite brunette who was still giving him the eye, Johnny drained the last of his beer and scanned the bar. All part of being a cop; couldn’t stop looking in every corner.
A few tables away, a big, beefy guy in baggy pants sat with his hat on sideways. Your basic idiot. But it was the girl he was with that made Johnny look twice. Something about her looked familiar. Something about the long, blonde hair, the way her generous curves were rounded just so, made him lean forward and squint into the dim, smoky light. When she smiled at the guy across from her, it was with a sweetness that made Johnny forget where he was for a second. And before he could look away, Emma Beaumont turned and locked those baby blues with his.
* * * *
“And that’s why I got the twenty-inch rims. They’re kick ass. Seriously.”
Emma hadn’t heard a word her date just said. In fact, she’d been dying to go home since the minute he’d pulled up in his obnoxiously huge truck. This was absolutely the last time Sally was setting her up.
“Uh-huh.” She nodded politely and scanned the bar which was infinitely more interesting than hearing him talk about the size of his wheels all night. When she saw the lieutenant, her heart tripped over itself. And her mouth must have fallen open too, because her date noticed.
“Who’s that?” Leaning on the table with his gigantic elbows, Chris followed her gaze across the room.
“Oh, um…he’s my boss. At the department.”
“Ahh, the jerk?”
“Who says he’s a jerk?”
“Sally. Says the guy’s a real a-hole.”
Suppressing a smile, Emma took another sip of wine.
was a term she hadn’t heard since high school. Maturity wise, this guy was about ten years too young.
“He’s not an…a-hole. Sally doesn’t like him, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have redeeming qualities.”
Chris stared as if she’d just read aloud from a chemistry book.
“He’s nice sometimes,” she tried again, and he nodded.
The lieutenant was looking at her intently, which wasn’t a surprise. He was usually intense, his blue eyes arresting in a way that unnerved her on a daily basis. He did look more relaxed than she’d ever seen him at the department, probably thanks to a few beers. And he also looked incredible. Faded gray t-shirt, loose fitting jeans, light blond hair, messy and just a little too long for a cop. She’d never seen him out of uniform before. He hadn’t come to the Christmas party last year and had skipped the department picnic this spring. When she asked the chief where he was, he just shrugged and said, “That’s Street. Never comes to any of this stuff.” No one seemed to care. But she had. She’d bought a new dress in the hope that she’d see him there. No such luck.
And now, there he was. In a bar. Looking for the most part like he’d caught her when she was supposed to be at work, typing quietly away on her computer behind the front desk. Wasn’t that where she always was? She had no life. That wasn’t a secret. It was why Sally had felt compelled to set her up on this horrific blind date in the first place.
No offense, Big Wheel Chris.
She felt her cheeks warm under the lieutenant’s gaze and gave him an awkward smile.
He rolled his eyes and looked away. Now, that was bad. Even for him.
“What were you saying about redeeming qualities?” Chris said, smirking.
Emma glowered and took another drink.
Monday mornings had always been crappy for Emma. More often than not, she’d stand in front of her closet, sporting a rumpled Longhorns t-shirt, jacked up hair, and a bad attitude, searching for the next outfit that might catch her cantankerous boss’s eye.
Today, she didn’t give a rip. With bad attitude and jacked up hair intact, she grabbed the first thing she saw and tossed it on her bed, then marched toward the shower while coffee percolated in the kitchen.
Friday night had been miserable. Poor Chris didn’t seem to have a vocabulary beyond
, and before the evening was over, she knew altogether too much about how the engine worked in a ’76 Chevy. That, paired with the fact that the lieutenant, who was looking devastating, as usual, had so rudely snubbed her, was enough to put her in a funk all weekend. She hadn’t done anything other than munch on ice cream and watch Lifetime marathons for forty-eight hours straight. And if she kept this up, the twenty extra pounds she’d been carrying around since junior high would become twenty-five in a hurry.
Sally had called Saturday morning to get the run down and it had been all Emma could do not to bite her head off.
“It was all right.”
” Sally was incensed. “Chris is gorgeous. At least you could have slept with him. That would have been a start.”
“A start to what? My downward spiral as a slutty police clerk?”
“No, miss smarty pants. A start to leaving your feelings for our asshole boss in the dust.”
“What feelings? I don’t have any feelings.”
“Come on, Emma. It’s written all over your face. Everyone knows it.”
Emma sagged against her bedroom wall. “Really?”
What I don’t understand is why.”
“I just…” Emma stared out the window to the street below. A lady was walking by with a wiggly black lab that kept jumping up and grabbing the leash in his teeth. “I just think there’s more to him than meets the eye, that’s all.”
“Like what? Maybe he’s a serial killer?”
Plopping down on the bed, Emma switched the phone to her other ear. “
Like maybe he’s a different guy. A nicer guy, deep down.”
“You had a nice guy, remember? He’s still sending letters.” Sally paused, but Emma could practically hear her frustration on the other end of the line. “Okay,” she finally said. “But don’t say I didn’t try.”