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       Jacked, p.15

           Tina Reber
 

  I caught Officer Asshole snickering to his partner. Bet it got his little wiener stiff posing me out on my hood like this while his partner, Officer Very Skinny and Ugly, got his eyeful.

  My wallet landed on the hood. What the hell was it with cops dropping shit on my brand new car? I winced, hoping the paint wouldn’t get scratched by their macho asshole routine.

  “That your wallet?”

  No, it’s the missing booster rocket from the space shuttle.

  I figured sarcasm wouldn’t go over very well right now so I answered, “Yes.” I desperately wanted to attend to the hair that was hanging in my eyes but I dared not let go of my bent position.

  I saw the black truck coming down the road, stirring new nervousness through me. It slowed down as it got near the cop car; I didn’t have to look to know exactly who was driving.

  I freed my license and handed it to the round cop.

  He scrutinized the little plastic card. “Name?”

  “Erin. Erin Novak,” I said, purposely looking away from the black truck. No sense making eye contact with him while being embarrassed once again.

  To my surprise, the truck picked up speed. Just when I thought he’d drive off, he made a tire-screeching U-turn at the end of the block and parked directly across the street.

  My breath caught when he slipped out of his truck, all clad in black just the way he was the day I met him. “ATTF” was written in bright lettering across the pocket on his chest, confirming he was a force to be reckoned with.

  I took in his dark, short hair, which was messed perfectly, the shadow of a beard on his face, and the angered glint in his eye as he approached.

  Shit, he’s pissed.

  The other uniformed officer seemed like he knew Adam, too, and was none too happy to see him, either. Both of them looked nervous.

  “Not your jurisdiction anymore, Trent,” Officer Asshole said, puffing out his chest.

  I felt Adam’s dark eyes burrowing holes into mine. He didn’t even acknowledge the two cops. Instead, he came straight over to me, took my hand in his, and tugged me a few feet away. “You okay?”

  I gave him a one-shoulder shrug as I flashed my eyes over at the looming Officer Castoll. “I don’t think so.”

  Adam drew in a leveling breath. I rubbed the spot on my forehead where the pain was starting to throb. “I was trying to get to the notary to get a new plate and then this happened.”

  He glared over at the other two cops, then back down at me. “You just getting home from work?”

  I nodded, thankful that the blue scrubs I was wearing were fresh and clean.

  “You drive this to work?” he asked privately.

  I was glad my truthful answer was “no” or else I surmised I’d be in a whole heap of other sorts of trouble.

  “Good.” His hand softly cupped my cheek. “You look too tired to be driving anywhere, Doc.”

  Great. He’s being all sorts of sweet and I probably have hideous bags under my eyes.

  He leaned over, grabbed my wallet off the hood of my car, laced his hand with mine, and led me to my driver’s door. “Come on, babe.” He opened my door for me, his hand resting on my hip, slightly shocked by his outward actions. I swore I could feel his formidable chest through the back of my jacket. I may have been exhausted but my heart was thumping double-time. “Get in,” he said near my ear. “I’ll take care of this. It’s too cold for you to be standing out here.”

  I slid into my seat.

  “Just wait a second, Trent,” one of the cops argued, stepping around the back of my car.

  Adam closed my door, glaring at the other two. I rolled my window down. “Want to tell me why you pulled her over?”

  “Got no plate on the vehicle,” the skinny officer said.

  Adam wasn’t amused. “And you had her standing out here in the cold for what reason?”

  The rotund Officer Castoll adjusted his utility belt, hiking it up. “Again, not your jurisdiction, Trent.”

  Adam ignored him. “Damn it, Stiles, just answer the question.”

  Officer Asshole seemed to like riling Adam. “Well, we were going to give her a sobriety test until you interrupted.”

  “Sobriety?” Adam said mockingly. “You’re shitting me.”

  “This isn’t your concern, Trent,” Officer Stiles growled from the other side of my car. “Although you may be an expert here.” Something was going down between these three and it sure as hell didn’t appear to be about whether I’d been drinking.

  Adam stiffened. “Well, seeing as you’ve pulled my girlfriend over and falsely accused her of driving under the influence after she just pulled another night shift in the ER, I’d say it is my concern.”

  Girlfriend? What? Why the hell would he say that to them? We were anything but!

  Adam walked to the back of my car with commanding grace. He tilted his head as if he were inspecting where my plate had been removed.

  “You smell alcohol on her?” he asked, knowing that they didn’t. When the other two didn’t answer, he continued, “Was she driving erratically? Hmm?”

  Again, no reply.

  “Just as I thought; you got nothing. Have anything else you want to say to me, Castoll? Might as well get it off your fucking chest now while you got the chance.”

  Oh shit. Now he’s really mad.

  I didn’t hear the words they exchanged as they were growled and heated and were at the opposite corner of my car, but the second I saw the skinny cop dive in between them, holding them apart, I threw my door open and sprang out of my seat. This situation was about to explode. I needed to keep him from getting into a tussle because of me. I clutched his arm. “Adam, don’t.”

  Adam grabbed my driver’s license out of the round cop’s meaty paw and handed it to me, glaring daggers at the gloating asshole.

  I gave his arm a tug. “It’s not worth it.”

  Adam didn’t budge. “Just get back in your car.”

  “Not without you.”

  I was afraid to move so Adam did it for me.

  “I’m sorry,” I whispered up at him as he guided me back to my driver’s door, his hand almost resting on my ass.

  I barely knew the man but I sure as hell knew what that glare meant. A soft growl rolled up his throat. Angry Adam was scary but sexy as hell.

  “Get in, Erin. Put your seatbelt on.” He leaned in and nipped my chin with his fingers, playing the doting boyfriend well, putting on a convincing show for the two gaping cops.

  The smell of his light cologne combined with something that was one hundred percent Adam Trent instantly woke me up.

  “Wait for me to turn my truck around. I’ll follow you home.” He didn’t need to say the word “again” aloud; it was obvious. I watched his fine ass in my side mirror as he spoke to the two patrolmen. Hand on his hip and one definitely resting on his own gun, he was getting me out of another mess. “We’re done here. You’re letting her go with a warning. I’m taking care of the missing plate so there’s no need to intervene.”

  He didn’t wait for a rebuttal. His word was final.

  I drove with exceptional cautiousness the mile back to my house, even putting my turn signal on to pull into my driveway.

  Adam pulled his stark black Avalanche with the nice chrome wheels in right behind me.

  I knew I was in trouble the moment he sidled up to my car door. “I know you’re pissed…”

  His silence was unnerving. So was the little tick straining his jaw.

  I was so tired I was running on fumes and now I had a pissed-off, gorgeous cop who was heavily armed in my driveway. I tried a different tactic. “Look, I know it was stupid to drive without the plate but I didn’t have much of a choice.”

  His eyebrow arched.

  “Sarah’s off tonight and Jen is already at work and I…” I was rambling. “Doctor Mason offered but that comes with a whole host of strings attached to it and… Damn it, Adam, I need my car. I drive from here,” I pointed at my spot in the drive,
“to the hospital and back again. That’s it. Without it, I’m screwed.”

  He made that gruff sigh he does when he’s sympathizing with me. “I’m not pissed at you Erin, okay? I know you need your car. Did you get a copy of the police report for the stolen plate?”

  Shit. One more detail I’d overlooked.

  I had been at the hospital so much, I’d lost count, and I’d made several stupid mistakes being so distracted. Fortunately they weren’t critical errors, but they were errors I normally didn’t make. My uncle was steadily deteriorating and my parents were barely holding it together. And this man… this man just does too many things to me. Just when I think I’ve seen the last of him, he appears out of thin air, confusing me further.

  I couldn’t think straight anymore.

  “Come on.” He opened my car door and held out his hand.

  Come on where?

  “You’re exhausted, Erin. Let me have your keys.” He waited until I handed them over.

  He unlocked my front door and held it open. The feel of his hand on my lower back, guiding me inside, was strange and elating all at the same time. Could fate be giving us another chance?

  He followed me into the dining room where I normally stow my purse. His attention then veered to looking at his watch while he started messing with my keys. He took the key fob off the ring and pocketed it.

  “I’m keeping this for now. Just so you’re not tempted.”

  I groaned. I wanted to protest but something told me it would be a losing battle.

  He glanced around, zeroing in on my kitchen. “When was the last time you ate?”

  I stared at the small section of wall by the refrigerator, trying to remember.

  That tendon in his jaw flexed again. “You need me to make you something?”

  I glanced up at him. “Why, do you cook?”

  He gave me his silent nod.

  Visions of him wearing nothing but his skin and just-fucked hair while cooking in my kitchen flitted through my mind. Pity, I doubted I had any food worth making. I shook my head, knowing that would never transpire anyway. “I ate at work.”

  He sighed again. “Do I need to tuck your tired butt into bed or are you going to go on your own?”

  For a split second Sarcastic Erin wanted to take him up on the challenge just to see if he would follow through on his threat, but then I clamped down on her. Just the thought of being able to drop onto my soft mattress was blissfully tempting, but the notion of having him join me was almost too much to deal with. Considering the room was slowly starting to swirl, I held my hands up in surrender. “I’ll go willingly.”

  He seemed to like that answer.

  “You work tonight?”

  I nodded. “I have to be there by seven thirty.”

  “Got plans before?”

  “Beyond sleep?”

  I tiny laugh escaped him. “Set your alarm. Be ready by three thirty.”

  Again with the hands on hips bossy tone. “For what?”

  He smiled at me, sauntered over to where I stood, and softly caressed my jaw with his thumb. “Go get some sleep, Doc. I’ll be back.”

  I stared up into those warm, chocolate eyes of his, liking the way they looked back at me. “Do you ever say please?”

  He smirked, and then with the most sensual of snarky comebacks, asked, “Do you ever say thank you?”

  “Thank you.” I truly meant it.

  “Then please be ready at three thirty.”

  “I’m sorry… about the other day.” I didn’t know why I was apologizing. It just seemed like the right thing to do.

  “I am too. It’s not how I wanted things to go. At all.”

  “Truce?”

  His smile was warm as he stood in my air space. The tips of his fingers captured mine. “I’d rather call it a do-over. That okay by you?”

  A do-over sounded perfect to me.

  I watched his fine ass walk out of my house, pausing long enough to make absolutely sure my front door was securely locked. Then I watched him through my front window as he climbed up into his black truck and backed out of my driveway, feeling very alone from seeing him go.

  I set my alarm, wondering what was going to happen at three thirty. I snuggled into my pillow, picturing his crooked smile. That was the last thought I had.

  THE BLACK AVALANCHE pulled into my driveway at three thirty on the dot. Damn, he was prompt.

  And holy hell he was gorgeous, too: blue jeans made to make mouths water, black motorcycle jacket that hugged him as if the two were longtime faithful friends, his spiky hair still looking fresh and wet from a recent shower.

  My heart stuttered a bit.

  “Hey,” he said, squinting at me when he stepped into my foyer. I felt his eyes brush up and down my body.

  “Hey,” I said, just as breathily.

  He cleared his throat. “You look really nice.”

  The timbre of his voice reverberated right into my elevated pulse. I let my eyes drink in his tall, muscular frame, not caring that our time after our breakfast date ended so horribly wrong. You look completely sexy and totally fuckable. “So do you.”

  He seemed nervous, which was a surprise. “You’re wearing makeup.”

  I immediately became self-conscious. “You don’t like it?”

  “No, no. I do. You… you look very pretty. I haven’t seen you with your eyes done. It’s… I like it. A lot.”

  I felt my face warm, marveling that I was able to get Officer Hottie to blush, too. “Thanks.”

  He tucked his fingers into his jeans pockets and stared at his feet for a moment. “Ready?”

  For what? To jump you? To kiss you? To go to the store for milk? “I guess so. Can you tell me where we’re going first?”

  He gave me the look. “Get a new tag for your car, Doc. I don’t want you to worry about that anymore. And then I’m going to take you to dinner.”

  I stood there for a second, not completely sure I heard him correctly.

  “Something wrong?”

  That’s when I remembered to breathe. “You’re taking me to dinner?”

  Adam crowded my space. “Yeah. Why? You have some other place you need to be?”

  I didn’t want to lie, but I couldn’t help but wonder where his sudden change of heart came from. “No.”

  “Okay, then good. Why don’t you get your coat on and we’ll get going.”

  I sorted through my front closet, looking for a nice jacket to go along with the new hope swirling about in my chest. That part of me that had felt empty and alone was being resuscitated back to life. My black mood had definitely been tied to that feeling of loss when our breakfast date ended so horribly wrong, compounded exponentially by the family stress of my uncle’s continued deterioration.

  And here Adam was, standing in my living room, breathing new life into me by giving us a second chance, too.

  I had hoped he’d been thinking about me, but the niggling sliver of doubt that plagues all women had me convinced that he drove off that morning and never gave me another thought.

  I pulled my tan suede coat with the fluffy cream liner off the hanger, relieved that he was proving me wrong.

  Adam reached for my coat. “Here, let me.”

  I froze, wondering if he was for real, until he started to help me put my coat on. The subconscious version of my mother that lives inside my brain started cheering and doing a most annoying and very age-inappropriate jig at his act of chivalry. I knew the moment Christine Novak would witness any of his gallantry, she’d be rushing off to organize my wedding.

  I paused on my front stoop while he made sure my front door was securely locked, spending a few seconds giving the knob a twist and the door a light shove to make sure it wouldn’t open back up. The cynic in me wondered if all this was an act but these things seemed to come quite naturally for him.

  I followed him to the passenger side of his truck in silence and felt another heart spike when he held the door open for me. He waited until I was set
and then closed my door.

  As soon as he climbed into the driver’s seat, he pulled a piece of paper free from the visor. “Here, you’ll need this.”

  I unfolded the paper. My heart skipped again. He had gotten a copy of the police report for me. I looked over at him, wanting to hug him for being so damn thoughtful. “Thank you.”

  He nodded once, winked, then backed his truck out of my driveway.

  We made it three blocks before I had to kill the awkward silence. I figured since he wasn’t talking there must be something still bothering him. Why he was taking care of my problems was beyond me. “Thank you for coming to my rescue this morning. I just want you to know that I’m really sorry.”

  He gave me a real quick, quizzical glance. “For?”

  I took a deep breath. “You—having to intervene. I shouldn’t have tried to drive myself to the title place. I’m guessing you’re still mad at me, but I was a little desperate.”

  “I’m not mad at you, Erin, all right?”

  Even though he said it, I wasn’t completely convinced. “You almost got into a fight because of me.”

  Adam sighed heavily. “That had nothing to do with you. Trust me.”

  Again with the patronization. I’d rather he be honest with me.

  “Hey. I’m serious,” he stressed, gazing at me a few extra seconds to accentuate his point. “Assholes from my old unit… well, that’s another subject. Nothing for you to feel responsible for. I’ll just feel a hell of a lot better once we get a new plate on your car.”

  I nodded, wondering if I should ask about the strained relationship he briskly brushed over. “Thanks for taking me. I appreciate it.” More than you know.

  “Well, I can’t have you breaking the law around me now, can I?”

  I fought my private smile at his innuendo and the sultry sound of his voice as he delivered it. “I suppose not. So I guess knocking over a convenience store is out of the question then, huh?”

  “Depends,” he drawled, leaning up on the steering wheel to eye oncoming traffic.

  “On?”

  He slowed his truck behind an older brown minivan before stopping fully at the red light. “On how badly you want to wear my cuffs again.”

 
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