It’s not every day you see a woman on the side of the road beating the ground with a tire tool. By the time he stopped his truck and opened the door, she had sent the tire rolling down the road right past him. Kameron wore a bemused look on his face as he watched it pass by.
“Damn it all to hell.” Now she was kicking at anything in sight. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”
As he walked closer, he noticed the teenager lying on a blanket, a little away from the road. She was wearing dark sunglasses and looked as if she was enjoying the hot day sunbathing. She didn’t seem at all worried about the woman throwing a fit in the middle of the blacktop, not concerned that they seemed to be stranded far from anywhere.
“Can I help you?”
He didn’t think she heard because she just continued to kick at the flat tire still on the car.
“Mom! Hottie to save the day.”
Light brown eyes swung back to the girl who for all the world looked as if she was now taking a nap, but for all he knew her eyes could be directly on him. He turned back to the lady as she raised her head and blew the hair out of her eyes. As quickly as you can say boo, her angry face turned all sweet and nice. She smiled.
“Hi. Thanks for stopping.”
Her black hair was soaked with sweat. Her face flushed, red and hot. Long, black eyelashes framed the bluest eyes he’s ever seen. This woman had killer eyes. Short, black pixie hair and a nice petite body to accompany the combination. She barely reached his shoulders. He would guess her age to be in the twenties if not for the teen over there that had just called her mom.
“We haven’t seen a car in hours.”
“There’s a bottle of water in the cab ___”
She waved away his concern. “We had plenty of water thanks to Jo. Even a nice lunch. This morning when I found about all this, I made sure we had a spare and all the necessary tools. I even called a mechanic to make sure I knew all the basics of tire changing. I just never counted on the malefactor. Those dang blasted things are on so damn.... dang tight I can’t get them to budge. Some man with an overactive hero complex obviously tightened them. He figured he would put them on as tight as possible, knowing no woman could get them off so that some man would have to come and rescue her. I really resent that.” She held out her hand. “I’m Roy Hassett and that’s my daughter Jo. You’re a cop, right? Duh, you have a police truck. What’s my hero’s name?”
“You’re right, Jo. He is a hottie.” She swung her killer eyes back on him. “If you would just loosen those nuts up, I can do the rest. I really appreciate this. And hey, I better get that tire.” She went running down the road in pursuit.
“You’ll get used to her.”
Not likely. He had to go across the street to retrieve the tire tool, then he skirted down next to the car. No wonder the babe had trouble. It really wouldn’t look good for him if he had to admit he couldn’t get them off either. After getting a better grip and throwing his back into it, he was rewarded.
“Hey, that’s great. I found the tire.”
He smiled in her direction but couldn’t offer more than that. Every muscle he had strained in his effort to get the job done. Already he looked as sweat-soaked as the lady.
“Mom, guess where our sheriff hails from.”
“Glendale? Well, believe that. You’re from Glendale?”
“Um.... yeah. That’s right.”
“Well, you’re meeting two of its newest residents.”
He paused and glanced up at her. “Is that so?”
“Yep. I found a nice little house on the Internet. All the papers are signed, sealed and delivered.”
“Have any family in Glendale?”
“Nope, we’re from New York. So howdy, Texan.”
He went back to work. New York. That explained it.
“We decided we’d had enough of the big apple.”
“If you’re looking for a peaceful town, you’ve found it.”
Kameron finished up just in time to see the mother give the girl a thumbs up.
“Why don’t you let me have that tire and I can ____”
“No thanks. But hey, maybe you could stick around just in case there are any more setbacks. You’re a doll.”
“I’d feel better if you would let me ____.”
“Jo, why don’t you grab him a clean towel and some water to wash his hands with. Care for a sandwich? We have plenty.”
The teenager didn’t have to be told twice. She jumped to her feet.
Embarrassed, he looked away. A small bikini was the only thing that covered the child, and even as he stood there she was shimming into a pair of shorts.
Silently, he thanked God he’d been blessed with all boys. He wouldn’t let any daughter of his out of the house dressed like that.
“Here you go. You can wash up with this one and the other is cold. You look thirsty. You will love my mom’s chicken salad sandwiches. They’re great.” Everything was thrust at him.
“I wish you would let me….”
She already had the tire on and was tightening the lugs as tight as she could. The woman was small, but she got the job done.
When she caught him staring, she winked.
Lord, she was a fine-looking lady. Too bad she was as nutty as they came.
“Did you say your name was Roy?”
“For sure. Well, technically it’s Royanna, but no one calls me that.”
Roy stood and automatically caught the towel thrown at her. “Except for my husband, he.... Hey Jo, send some water this way.”
Easily, she caught that too.
For just a moment he stood there stunned. For just a brief second he’d saw the most tender look in her eyes. Tender. Loving. Overwhelmingly sad. Maybe he recognized that sadness because he knew right away of her loss. “I’m sorry.”
Blue eyes regarded him before she nodded. “Thanks. And for the help, we appreciate it. Maybe we’ll see you around town. In fact, seeing on how you’re the sheriff I’m sure we’ll be seeing you again.”
“Ya’ll take it easy. The first thing you’ll see when you enter town is a tire shop. You should get that fix before you’re caught without one.”
Her smile was bright and cheerful. “We’re never caught unprepared. Thanks again.”
He finished up with the water and towel as she put up her tools. “Thanks for the sandwich.”
“The least I could do. Enjoy.”
Before he turned away, Roy took her first good look at him. His name was right there on his breast pocket. His badge was hooked on his belt buckle, a gun rested on his hip. Cowboy boots donned his feet and a cowboy hat covered wheat color hair. Glorious hair that curled a little at the ends. He had soft, friendly eyes that looked confused and unsettled at the moment.
A complete hottie. A cross between the regular guy next door who you see as a good friend and the sexy hot guy you spend the night with even though you know you’ll have to sneak away come morning. The combination was earth-shattering.
He gave a little wave then headed back for his truck.
She was not the least bit embarrassed to watch his backside as he walked away. Who knew she would find cowboys so attractive? She hasn’t seen one yet who didn’t look like a million bucks in a pair of jeans.
When she caught her daughter looking, she chuckled. “You are too young for that, my child.”
“Never too young to look, mom.”
“Get in the car. He’ll not leave until we do.”
They were well on their way before Roy asked her daughter about the sheriff. “You didn’t tell me about him.”
“I didn’t really have a clear picture. Just knew help would come.”
“Anything else you forgot to mention?”
Jo frowned. “Maybe. To tell the truth, nothing has been clear for days. The move, I think. Everything has been confusing.”
“But we’re doing the right thing, right? You were so sure before.”
“I’m sure, mom. It was getting too much for both of us.”
“I hope you didn’t do this for me. You know I’ll stand ____”
“I did it for both of us, and I have no doubt we did the right thing.”
“Then I don’t have any doubt either.”
“Everything’s great so far. I’ll settle in. Anyway, I had to get you away from there before Detective Kimble proposed marriage.”
How true. He’d been close, and she had worried about it day and night. How do you tell someone that spending the night with him had only made you feel guilty and had shown you it wasn’t meant to be?
“What did you think of our sheriff?”
Roy looked in her rear a view mirror. He followed at a safe distance. He worried her. The sheriff definitely didn’t seem the open-minded kind of person, but then again, no one ever was at first.
“He’s a handsome one, I give you that.” He’d also caught onto that one moment when she had allowed her grief to show. Very insightful for a man. “How fast do you think we can go before he gives us a ticket?”