Detective Mike Sterling walked away from his dream job telling himself it was to honor the promise he’d made his mother, while lying in a Chicago emergency room. A year later, he’s still fighting the demons that followed him back to his boyhood town.
Taryn Watts is an award-winning designer, going from project to project, living from a suitcase. Her plan for Renlend Kansas was the same as always. Go in, get the job done and get out, just the way she likes it. Growing up as a cop’s daughter, her every move was controlled. When she escaped to college she vowed to never fall in love with a cop –ever. Until she found herself sitting across from the ruggedly handsome stranger. Looking into Mike’s ice blue eyes they pulled her, called to her, but there was a haunting in them she knew too well.
Mike is drawn to Taryn, her passion for her work and her stunning beauty left him breathless, but what surprises him most is the peace he feels when he’s near her. Maybe it’s because Taryn is a temporary addition to his town and his secret is safe, or maybe it’s because she makes him feel safe. Mike knows he can’t keep up this charade and when Taryn moves to Renlend for an extended stay he can’t hide the truth any longer.
Can Taryn forget he’s a cop and give him her heart, or will his demons drive them apart?
He blinked, finally succeeding with his battle over his contacts. The last minute call from his co-worker left him with little time to get ready. Pulling up his gray dress pants, he slipped into his black loafers while tucking in the crisp white dress shirt. Continuing his multitasking skills, he started his black belt through the first loop while walking to the closet to grab his burgundy print tie. It was a habit he continued even though he was the only one in the department, except for the chief, who wore a tie. Not that it was particularly comfortable, but it had helped achieve an air of authority when he worked in the city. Now he was just so used to it he felt naked at work without it.
Looking longingly at his empty coffee pot, he made his way through the kitchen to the back door quickly. He pulled it shut behind him thinking if he was quick about it, he could grab a coffee at the shop on the square. There was no way he was going to subject himself to the tar the police chief drank at the station.
After starting the truck he took a deep breath. Rushing like he had this morning put him on edge. Normally he was in control of his emotions, but to have his schedule change on a dime just didn’t set well with him today. The lack of sleep was catching up with him. Stopping at a red light, he caught himself looking into the empty building on the square where he knew the cooking store would be.
He started to face forward, his focus on his driving like it should be, but movement in the vacant building caught his attention. The light turned green, without processing his thoughts, he found himself pulling up to the curb in front of the store. The black cloud following him vanished, replaced by a silly school-boy smile. There she was, the reason his pulse was suddenly spiking, standing in a crisp pair of black pants, a pale blue silk shirt, and another pair of amazing heels.
Mike checked his watched and took three long strides to the door. “What a nice surprise!”
Dropping the clipboard she was holding, Taryn screamed as she turned. “Son of a bitch. Damn it Michael, you scared the crap out of me.” Putting one hand on her hip, she laid the other across her heart. “What are you trying to do, give me a heart attack?”
He didn’t even have time to step all the way into the building for a decent conversation…or proper invite. “I’ll walk over at noon and pick you up—let me take you to lunch. What do you say?”
“I’d say you have a damn screw loose.”
“Ah sugar, I’m sorry. I really didn’t mean to startle you. Please…have lunch with me?”
Bending down in her heels to pick up her papers, Taryn maintained her professionalism, not bending over at the waist to give him the view of her ass he’d really like to have seen. Instead she quirked her brow at him as if he had three heads. Delaying her answer turned into torture as the seconds ticked by. Finally she gave in, rolling her eyes as she gracefully stood back up. “Fine. But I don’t have a lot of time today. I’m sorry.”
Pulling the glass door open wider, Mike rapidly made his way across the wood floor. His brain had lost all sense of reasoning and his dick took over. Inhaling a deep pull of the perfume she was wearing, Mike placed a lingering kiss on her cheek and squeezed her wrist. “I’ll take whatever time you’ve got. I’m glad you’re back in town.”
Turning on his heel, he glanced back at the speechless beauty with her eyes wide and mouth open. “You’re going to catch some flies like that. See you at noon.” With a wink, he pulled opened the door and headed to his truck whistling in the bright sunshine. He’d be a few minutes late, but unlike Chicago, it wouldn’t be life or death. Glancing at his wrist and the watch his grandfather had given him when he graduated college, he decided he’d still take a few minutes to grab a coffee anyway. After all, he was doing them a favor by always being the go-to they could call when someone needed to switch shifts.
Michael. He snickered. She was feisty when she got riled up. No one called him Michael anymore—except for his mother on rare occasions, and well…Molly. It was always under the same type of circumstance. She was trying to over-power him but it never worked. She’d always be the little sister he never had. But Taryn…he grinned. She could call him by his full name any time she wanted.
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