Do You Take This Cop?

do-you-take-this-cop1Harlequin Superromance – May 2010

Is she safer with him…or without him?

Without the badge, he’d be perfect!

The last thing Faith Lewis needs is a cop poking his nose in her business. Okay, yes, Nick Coletti is gorgeous. And charming. And great with her son. But dating the town’s most popular boy in blue is hardly going to help her keep a low profile. This guy could blow their world apart if he discovers their secret.

Funny thing is, he may also be their only hope. If she had someone like Nick on her side, maybe she could finally be free, and give her son the life he deserves. But trusting Nick means telling the whole truth about her past. He might protect them. Or he might just turn her in…

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Excerpt

They walked back to her house in awkward silence. Austin rode next to them slowly, both wheels firmly on the road, his eyes straight ahead. At the end of their block, he sped up so that by the time she and Nick reached her house, Austin was already on the front porch waiting to be let inside.

Faith hurried up the steps and handed Austin the box of leftover pizza so she could dig through her purse for her house keys. She’d no sooner unlocked the door then he rushed past her.

“Please put the pizza into the fridge,” she called.

“’Kay,” he muttered from inside.

“Night, Austin,” Nick said.

A door slammed.

“I’m so sorry,” she said in a rush. “I’m not sure what’s gotten into that boy.”

“Like you said, he must be over tired.”

“Tired or not, there’s no excuse for being so rude.” Nibbling her cheek, she glanced anxiously inside. When she turned back, Nick had edged closer.

She gasped then tried to cover it by turning it into a fake yawn. “Sorry. I guess I’m…more tired than I realized.”

One corner of his mouth quirked up. “It’s barely nine o’clock.”

“Yes, well, I had to get up early…” She reached behind her, felt the doorknob and almost wilted in relief. Her stomach fluttered, her palms grew damp. For God’s sake, she used to wrap men around her little finger, used to get whatever she wanted by batting her eyelashes. And now, she couldn’t even stand on her own front porch with a man.

It was pathetic.

And after spending a few hours in Nick’s company it was way too easy to forget she wasn’t an ordinary, single mom spending time with her son and a very nice, attractive man. But if Austin’s behavior tonight had proven one thing, it was that she needed to keep her focus. On her son. And their secrets.

“Thanks again for all your help. I guess I’ll see you around sometime.”

In the twilight, his teeth flashed in a quick grin. “I’m sure you will.”

Before she could make it into the safety of her house, Nick reached behind her. Faith froze, her breath trapped in her lungs as he gently pulled the door shut.

“What…what are you doing?”

“Now you see, the thing is, I’ve never walked a pretty woman to her door without kissing her good night.” He seemed amused. “I don’t want to break that tradition.”

Tugging her hand free, she pressed back against the door. “All good things must come to an end.”

“True. But not tonight.”

He leaned down and she slapped both hands against his chest. Felt his heart under her fingers, the pace of it steady and strong. And a far cry from her own erratic beating. “This wasn’t a real date,” she squeaked.

“It doesn’t have to mean anything, Faith,” he said, his breath stirring the loose tendrils of hair by her ear. “It’s just a kiss. Just to keep my streak alive.”

Still smiling, he slowly closed the distance between them. She kept her eyes on his as he brushed his mouth against hers. By God, if she was going to be kissed by a man for the first time in over four years, she was damn well going to do it with her eyes open.

He kept his arms at his sides while he kissed her again, his touch as soft as the evening breeze. When he eased back, his smile was gone. Her knees were weak. Her nerve endings tingled. Longing to lean into him, to just…be held by him, filled her. But only because she hadn’t been with a man in so long. Because she felt so alone sometimes.

He lowered his head toward her again, his eyes dark.

“Night,” she blurted before slipping inside and quietly shutting the door on him.

Her heart pounding, she leaned back, her head hitting the wall with a solid thump. Though that brief encounter could barely even qualify as a kiss, she still tasted him. She pressed her lips together. Hearing his footsteps, she held back the curtain and peeked out in time to watch him walk to his car.

He didn’t look back.

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