There were few things in life I hated more than being late. The list looked like this: Being late, baby showers, and subtitles on television shows. In that order. Otherwise, I generally thought of myself as one of the most agreeable people on the planet.
But given that I was not only late but also on my way to a baby shower, well, anyone would understand my frustration. I cursed under my breath while I stared down the stubborn red light. As soon as it switched to green, I floored it.
When my mom had asked me to come to a baby shower she was hosting, I’d reluctantly agreed. But I’d dragged my feet about buying a gift, and as the days passed I pushed it further and further to the back of my mind. So far back, in fact, that I’d managed to forget the event entirely.
This morning, I’d been in my pajamas and had just shuffled into the living room with a plate of Oreos and a large glass of cold 2% milk when my phone had dinged with a text.
I’d planned to ignore it and was already going through the TiVo for the latest Grey’s Anatomy when it dinged again. Glancing down, I saw my mom’s picture along with the words:
Where are you?
My brow furrowing, I’d kept one eye on the TiVo, shuffling through the episodes while I tried to figure out why she was asking.
My phone pinged yet again.
Addy, have you left yet? The shower starts in five minutes.
“Shit!” I’d exclaimed, swinging my arm and proceeding to knock over the glass of milk. I’d been so frustrated and disappointed to see the wonderful, lazy morning I’d planned evaporate into thin air that I almost had cried over spilt milk.
Knowing my mom would kill me if I let the liquid pool on her wooden floor, I’d raced to the kitchen, grabbed a towel, and sprinted back to the mess I’d created. Not willing to leave without my breakfast, I had jammed an entire Oreo in my mouth while I hastily wiped up the milk. Then I’d run to my room, hurriedly throwing a dress over my clothes and trading my slippers for tan wedges.
I was at the front door, grabbing my keys when I remembered. Cursing again, I pulled my pajama pants down and kicked them off.
A litany of words that would have made my mom’s eyes bug out of her head if she’d heard followed as I raced to Target and purchased the first thing I could find. I didn’t have time to browse the registry, and knowing my luck, everything would already be bought anyway.
“Receipt?” the bored teenage cashier asked me in a bleak monotone.
“Yep.” I forced my lips into a bright smile as she held up the assorted washcloths. “She’ll probably return it.”
And as soon as I could, I’d snatched the bag off the counter and began running. It was a good thing that Target didn’t keep security at the door or they would have chased me down, assuming I was robbing the place.
By the time I made it outside, it had begun to rain.
“This fucking day,” I moaned as I headed for my car, legs pumping. “Can it get any worse?”
When I made it inside the warm safety of my beat-up Oldsmobile, my cell was dinging so much that at first I thought it was ringing. A quick perusal showed that Mom had been blowing up my phone. I jammed my key in the ignition and started the car. With one eye on the rearview mirror and the other on the phone, I scanned the texts.
Where are you, Addy?
They’re serving crepes.
Ooh, they’re strawberry. Your favorite. Better hurry.
Are you OK?
I swear, if you’re blowing me off to watch Grey’s, I’ll…
OK, I’m getting worried.
Crepes are gone.
Can you answer me, please?
Wincing, I picked up the phone and threw the car into reverse while my fingers flew across the keypad:
Sorry, Mom. I forgot. Got gift. I’m OT—
Before I could finish typing the message, the blast of a horn made me yank my eyes up. I’d almost hit a car driving through the parking lot. Cringing and throwing up a ‘sorry’ wave, I hit send and set the phone down.
Mom must have gotten the gist of what I was trying to say, because she hadn’t messaged me again. And it had been smooth sailing from there, if you didn’t count the fact that I’d hit every damn red light in the whole city on my way.
“Almost there,” I muttered to myself. “Almost.” The light I was approaching turned yellow, and I tapped my fingers against the steering wheel as I waited for the person in front of me to go. Then I floored it.
My GPS spoke up: “In eight hundred feet the destination is on your left.”
“Thank God,” I answered.
But right at that second, as soon as the words left my lips, I saw bright red and blue flashing lights in my side mirror. Which meant that either God had a weird sense of humor, or he hadn’t heard me correctly.
“Please don’t be me,” I muttered as I maneuvered my car to straddle the curb. “Please don’t be me.”
But the police cruiser pulled up right behind me, lights still flashing.
I let out a stream of curses that I never would have dared outside the car. But it looked like I was trapped here for a while, so what the hell.
I wasn’t the kind of cop that liked to hand out tickets. I took my job very seriously and felt that being an officer of the law was one of the highest callings there was. I was off in fifteen minutes, too, and wasn’t looking to work overtime, but when that baby blue Olds roared past me through a school zone, my blood grew hot.
The driver was going so fast, part of me was mentally prepared for a car chase, but only a few seconds after I’d turned my lights on, the Oldsmobile pulled over. I took a few minutes to collect myself and pull up my computer system before I stepped out of the car. From the second my foot hit the pavement, I was on high alert, aware of every sound, every movement around me.
When I approached the car and saw a worried female face looking back at me, I relaxed ever so slightly.
The window went down and she uttered a timid, quiet, “Hello, Officer.”
I relaxed even further, feeling the tension go out of my shoulders. “Hello, ma’am.” I propped my hands on my hips as I faced her. “Do you know why I pulled you over?”
“Um…” She looked away, then back at me. “No, Sir.”
It was a lie. I knew it the moment the words left her lips. Her face was impassive, which meant she was accustomed to lying, and good at it to boot. The muscles in my jaw tightened. “Is that true?”
Caught off guard by this breach in the usual routine, or perhaps the sternness in my voice, her eyes went wide. “Uh…”
They were the bluest blue I’d ever seen. Nearly violet. There was something familiar in those eyes… “I asked you a question, ma’am.”
Her head dipped, giving me a good view of her strawberry blonde tresses. “No, S-sir.”
I studied her as conflicting emotions warred for dominance within me. On the one hand, she seemed sincere this time. On the other, was it really my place to scold her for lying? I’d pulled her over for a reason, and that was what I needed to focus on. I was tired from a double shift and I longed for a nice cold beer and my bed. I wouldn’t get there any faster entertaining these games with her.
“License and registration, please.”
She fumbled in her wallet and then her glovebox. When she handed me the documents, I noticed her hand was shaking.
I was used to this reaction. Hell, I’d seen it all before, but seeing it from this girl made my heart twist in my chest. I cleared my throat to get her attention and was pleased when those violet eyes flew to look at me. “You were going fifty-one in a school zone.”
This must have been news to her after all because her face drained of color right before my eyes.
“I trust you understand how serious an offense this is,” I said gravely.
She nodded, her strawberry blonde ponytail bobbing. “Yes, Sir. I am so, so sorry. I didn’t realize.”
I frowned. “You flew past two signs.”
She began to wring her hands, her full berry lips quivering. “I am so sorry,” she said again, her tone desperate. “I don’t normally come this way…”
Despite my bed calling my name, I was curious. “Where are you headed?”
Those full lips quirked in distaste. “A baby shower.”
I felt the corners of my mouth twitching. “Not your thing, huh?”
She shrugged a delicate shoulder. “No. Not really. And I was late, so…” She swallowed and looked up at me plaintively. “I really am sorry.”
Clearing my throat, I gave her a stern look. “Be that as it may, you were speeding, and in a school zone. You know you could have hurt someone, don’t you?”
Her teeth were sunk deep into her lower lip and those stunning eyes were misted with tears. “Yes, Sir.”
“I’ll be right back.”
She nodded and uttered a tiny, timid, “Okay.”
I walked back to my patrol car and slid inside, thinking. I ran her info and as I expected, it came back clean. When I made my way back to her car, I held out her documents and she meekly took them back from me.
“Thank you.” she whispered. “Um… Officer?”
“Are you going to give me a ticket?”
Despite the wideness of her worried eyes, I nodded my head in the affirmative. “I really don’t have much choice.”
“Oh, please!” she exclaimed, desperation coloring every syllable. “I really can’t get a ticket. My mom will kill me, and she has health problems and… and… I’ll do anything!” The words tumbled out in a rush and she looked at me, her expression plaintive. “Please,” she added again. “I will never, ever do it again!”
“That’s not really the point. Ensuring you won’t do it again is only part of what punishment is for. You have to pay the fine for your actions, and that is what keeps you from doing it again.”
“But I’ll do anything! Anything else!” she begged, watching me anxiously.
I considered her and wondered why she was so desperate to avoid a ticket. Was it money? Or something more?
She took my silence as further chance to plead her case, because she continued. “My mother is very sick. We’re having a hard time making the bills. But it’s not just that,” she added hurriedly as though I’d asked my inner questions aloud. “She’s been having more good days than bad days lately and I just…” She licked her lips nervously. “I don’t want this to give her a setback, you know? I can take a driving class, or… I don’t know, but really, I’ll do anything you want.”
Her impassioned plea, not to mention those innocent-looking beautiful eyes made me take pity on her. “You really could have hurt someone.”
“I understand, Officer.”
“Well, I want to make sure you do.” My tone turned severe. “Driving is a very serious responsibility, and it only takes a second for disaster to strike.” I’d already decided I would propose an alternate punishment and let her choose, but I needed to send this point home. “You think a ticket is bad? What would it do to your mother if you hurt a child? Heck, you don’t look much older than a kidlet yourself.”
As the officer’s words made it past my racing thoughts, my mouth dropped open. Had he just called me… a kidlet? My eyes searched his face, and this time I paid attention to every feature. The harder I looked, the more my mouth fell. How had I not seen it before? There was only one person I’d ever heard use the word kidlet and I’d lived next to him for the last fourteen years. Well, my mom and I had, anyway. I’d moved away to college after high school, and I only came home on the weekends now.
“Mr.… Mr. K-Kavanagh?” I squeaked, hardly able to believe it.
The grin that followed my question was quick and easy, and the familiar sight made me even more incredulous that I hadn’t realized before. “I thought that was you. It’s been awhile.”
My mouth dried. I ran my tongue over my lips for moisture, then blushed as I realized how erotic it probably looked.
He spoke up, kindly ignoring my flushed cheeks—which was pure Mr. K. He always did whatever he could to put whoever he was around at ease. “You home for the holidays?”
My mind searched blindly and I finally came up with the holiday he meant: Easter. “Um… something like that.”
He leaned against my car door, managing to look casual and still in charge all at once. God, he was a specimen worth drooling over. “Care to share?”
My eyes were currently assessing his broad, manly shoulders and it took a moment for my brain to catch up. “Um… well… you know… with everything with my mom… I took some time off.”
He frowned, those plump, berry-colored lips turning down.
Was it possible for a mouth to be both beautiful and manly? Because Mr. K’s definitely fit that description.
“I’m really sorry to hear that, Addy. I had no idea.”
I shrugged and forced a smile. “Mom didn’t want anyone making a fuss. You know how she is.”
He gave a single nod, and my eyes were drawn to a lock of thick black hair that fell across his forehead. Though fourteen years had passed since I’d known him, his hair was just the same. In fact, as my eyes perused his face, I hardly found a single trace of aging. If anything, he was more handsome than I’d remembered. His eyes were a piercing shade of gray. They managed to be kind and stern all at once. His eyes were very emotive, and yet, I never could tell exactly what Mr. K was thinking.
Which was why as he gazed down at me, I was squirming in my seat.
Like his hair, his lashes were black and thick. His skin was a deep tan that was nearly olive. It only made him look exotic and even more attractive. And when he smiled, it was my undoing.
Too bad he wasn’t smiling now.
“How long will you stay?”
I let out a sigh that revealed more than I wanted to. I could see interest light Mr. K’s eyes, though I knew he was a perfect gentleman and would never ask me about it. “Um… I decided to stay indefinitely, actually. I’ll finish out the year here.”
His brows shot up. “Really? That’s very thoughtful of you, Addy. I bet your mom is touched that you came home to be with her.”
“Yeah, I mean, I guess.”
“So modest,” he remarked in a masculine baritone that made my pussy clench.
I felt my cheeks warm in an embarrassing flush and I couldn’t help but squirm again. It had been a long time since I’d seen Mr. Kavanagh, but it seemed he hadn’t outgrown his penchant for teasing me, and there was something about him that for the past couple of years made me want to blush on the rare occasions I was in his company.
Okay, not something. Several somethings. His strong, Superman-esque shoulders, for one. His tanned, muscled back, which I’d seen many a time from my bedroom window while I’d watched him mow the grass. His toned legs and just hairy enough chest. Then, of course, there was that smile, so nice it deserved to be counted twice.
Great, I was doing it again. The heat in my face burned. I gave my head a little shake to clear the mental image of my half-naked neighbor and forced myself to look him in the eye. “I’m sorry to ask you this… I’m not normally a fan of nepotism, but… do you think you could cut me a break, Mr. Kavanagh? Just this once?”
“It’s Officer Kavanagh while I’m in uniform.”
His tone was brisk and no-nonsense, causing me to do a double-take. Uh-oh. Maybe asking him to look the other way had been a mistake. “Y-yes, Sir.”
“I’m real sorry to hear about your mom, but that is a separate issue that has nothing to do with this situation.”
His eyes bored into me, and I looked away, swallowing hard. “I know… Sir.” I didn’t normally use the title. Never had, in fact, except with Mr. K. There was just something about him that demanded respect, and I bowed to that nameless attribute.
“I meant what I said. What you did requires you to face the consequences, Addy. Look at me, please.”
I forced myself to meet his gaze, and my eyes began to burn with tears.
“I think we can work something out.”
I blinked the tears back, suddenly hopeful. “You… you do?”
“We’ll see. Why don’t we go somewhere to talk about it?”
Suddenly remembering where I was supposed to be, I looked at my phone and considered. “Um… I’m…” I shifted nervously in my seat. Once I told him, he’d give me the ticket for sure. I took a deep breath and forced the words out. “I sorta told my mom I would go to this baby shower.”
He considered me, his gray eyes beguiling, capturing my own, and then becoming a steel cage that locked in my gaze. A muscle ticked along his jaw.
Something about the sight of it made edginess whisper across my skin.
“That’ll have to wait. We have things to settle here first.”
I desperately wanted to look away, but I couldn’t. I felt as trapped as if he had me by the throat. “Wh-what did you have in m-mind? Sir?” As soon as the words left my mouth, I pinned the traitorous, trembling lip beneath my teeth.
The first hint of a smile I’d seen twitched at the corners of his mouth. “I’m going to put you across my knee and teach you to obey the law, little girl. Now, get out of the car.”
My hands on my hips, I watched as the emotions played across the delicate lines of her face. Confusion, horror, refusal—they all flashed over her features in rapid succession, then her expression cleared, only for it to begin all over again.
Addy had the most expressive face I’d ever laid eyes on. I could practically read the thoughts as soon as they entered her brain.
She better never play poker, or she’ll lose her shirt.
Without thinking, my eyes drifted momentarily to her ample chest.
On second thought…
Giving my head a little shake, I forced my focus on the situation at hand. Giving her my firmest, most authoritative stare, I cleared my throat.
Her eyes, so large in her suddenly peaked face, flashed up at me. More blue than violet now, I couldn’t help but notice. “Y-yes, Sir?” she near-whispered.
Despite my best intentions, her timid warble was like electricity to my cock. Ignoring my erection, I stared her down until she was slouching her short frame in the driver’s seat. “I seem to recall giving you an order.” My tone was silken, but far from soothing.
I could see that she’d noticed from the way her knuckles whitened on the steering wheel. “Um…yes, b-but…”
Both of my brows arched—a silent warning. Though Addy was doing her damnedest to avoid looking at me, I could feel her body warring against her. From where I watched, she began to quiver. First, her lips, but as the seconds ticked by it became full-bodied trembling, from the slope of her shoulder down to her back. Even her breasts seemed to sway as she fought her urge.
An urge she ultimately surrendered to as she lifted her eyes to my face. As soon as she did, her entire body swiveled toward me like a magnet finding its polar axis.
A smile tugged at my lips, but I squelched it. So, she can be obedient. Good.
“I… I… do-don’t…”
“Out with it,” I barked.
She flinched, color staining her cheeks. But she did not avert her eyes this time. “I don’t think I can… Sir.”
After a sharp nod, I turned to walk back to my car.
“Wait! Where are you going?” Her desperate cry compelled me to face her once more.
“To get the ticket.”
She blanched, looking for all the world as though my words had caused physical pain. “But… but I can’t…”
“So you said. But I think I was pretty clear that this isn’t something I can look the other way on.”
Her bottom lip was trembling once more as she faced off against me. She was blinking rapidly, and I knew she was trying to fend off tears.
I had seen plenty of crying women. More than enough to last anyone a lifetime. This was the only time in recent memory that I wanted to cut one of them a break. Ha. And here I’d thought I’d become immune to the waterworks ploy after all this time.
“Please,” she whispered, her voice strangled.
“I gave you a choice, little girl.”
Something changed in her face when I said that. Some of the strain slipped away, and her eyes began to shimmer, color surging to her face to replace her peaked cheeks with a deep rose hue.
“B-but you’re not really going to… I mean, you couldn’t…” Her teeth sank into her bottom lip and I became fascinated as she worked that tender flesh between her sharp pearly whites. “Could you?”
Glancing to my right, then my left, I realized we needed to get out of there. If we were going to have this conversation, whether she was going to accept my punishment or not, we needed to get away from the possibility of prying eyes.
“Do you trust me?”
Something about the question made her eyes widen. What I wouldn’t give to be inside that pretty little head and know what she was thinking. She considered me, tilting her head and letting her strawberry blonde ponytail fall over her shoulder. Her beautiful elfin face was thoughtful.
“Yes.” Though the word was little more than a whisper, the conviction in it was strong. “I trust you, Officer Kavanagh.”
Her words and the velvet-soft lilt in her voice sent a surge of lust that reawakened my cock and made it feel like a steel rod inside my pants. “All right. Here’s what is going to happen. You’re going to get into my patrol car with me and we’re going to ride to the police station. Then we’ll finish having this discussion.”
“But I’m already late! I—”
“Then I’d suggest you not delay any longer with more arguing.” I lifted a brow, daring her to contradict me.
I could see in her wide, anime-like eyes that she wanted to. But for all the worry that lurked behind her violet-blue depths, all the protests that must have risen past her throat, she pressed those full, enchanting lips into a thin line and nodded.
When I turned away to head back to my patrol car, I allowed my smile to come out of hiding. I’d been tired, but it was amazing what a shot of adrenaline—the good kind—could do for the body. I was even humming as I waited for Addy at the passenger door. From where I stood, I could see her dragging her feet, her head ducked. It wasn’t hard to imagine the regretful expression I’d see if she looked up.
I opened the door for her and watched as she strapped herself in. “Good girl,” I praised. “I’m proud of you.”
And when her eyes flashed to my face, scouring it for any sign that I was teasing her, I saw the exact moment she believed me. A pretty pink hue colored her cheeks and the anxiety in her face softened.
I knew then they were the exact words she needed to hear.