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Blue Jeans and a Badge

Blue Jeans and a Badge
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the hero, Luce Montgomery

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Blue Jeans and a Badge
Silhouette Intimate Moments (SIM) #1361
ISBN-10: 0373274319
ISBN-13: 978-0373274314
April 2005

The Warrior’s Trilogy, book 3

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The bounty hunter gets her man…
Just not the one she thought!

Always searching…
Bounty hunter Luce Montgomery has been searching for something all her life. Just what, she doesn’t know… But it’s definitely not love. Men are fun to date, but lassos and picket fences? No way. She’d much rather be chasing bad guys than running around with bad boys.

Live for today…
That’s New Mexico bad boy Chief of Police Philip O’Donnaugh’s new motto. Eat, be merry, and don’t let stuff from the past rule your life. But when he’s thrown into a high-action fatal attraction with a whirlwind bounty hunter determined to hunt down her man, he’s suddenly thinking only about the future, and just as determined that the man she ends up with will be him.

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From Chapter One

This was almost too easy.

Peering through the chilly April New Mexico darkness, Luce Montgomery watched with satisfaction as the silhouette of a man emerged from the Tafota Salvage and Engine Repair Shop office and glanced around before closing the door quietly behind him.

“Gotcha,” she whispered, flipped her ponytail behind her shoulder and fingered the Walther holstered at her hip. Why did they always go home? “Clyde, my man, you’re toast.”

It was all good. She pushed off the carcass of the burned-out ’79 Chevy she’d been leaning against and prepared to confront her quarry. Their stupidity made her job easier.

Clyde Tafota had been a very bad boy. He’d jumped bail. Though no one could figure out exactly why. He’d been involved in a cousin’s drug buy while on a visit to St. Louis during which two dealers were killed, but SLPD forensics had recently nailed down who did it—-and it wasn’t Clyde. He was sure to be exonerated for the murders. So why had he run?

Luce didn’t care. Her job was to bring him back to St. Louis, period, for which she would be paid a nice chunk of change. Twenty percent of thirty-five grand, to be exact.

The man turned from the silent repair shop and quickly walked toward the front of the salvage yard where a black Jeep was parked in the driveway. Illuminated by the bare bulb burning over the office door, she could see there was something in his hand, but it looked like paper, not a weapon.

Luce stepped out from the shadows, drawing her semi-automatic. “Stop right there, Clyde. You’re—-“

Tafota looked up in surprise and the paper flew out of his hand, skittering away on a breeze.

“Damn it!” he exclaimed, and took off after it, completely ignoring her.

With a single, succinct curse, she holstered the Walther and started to sprint, launching herself at him in a running dive just as he caught the paper.

They hit the dirt in a tangle of limbs, him with a loud “oof” and she with an expert roll so she landed sitting on his back, her gun once more out and pointed at his neck.

“I wouldn’t recommend trying that again, sport,” she drawled.

She really hated it when they ran.

“What the hell–?” Clyde sounded mad.

Tough. “Like I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted—“ She moved her knee off a sharp rock and shifted back a few inches so she ended up straddling his butt. And was momentarily distracted by how nice he felt under her. His backside was firm, his thighs hard and muscular. She frowned. Tafota’s file had said he was an older guy, sixty-ish, and in his mug shot he appeared downright skinny.

Her musings were interrupted when Clyde tried to turn over.

“Don’t move. You’re under arrest.”

“Really,” he said as she grabbed his arms and twisted them behind his neck.

“Yeah, really. And I’ll take that.” She plucked the paper he was holding and stuck it in her windbreaker pocket, then snapped her handcuffs onto his wrists below his jeans jacket sleeves.

“Don’t lose that,” he admonished, but didn’t resist being restrained. They usually didn’t. Fleeing justice was an act of desperation an offender rarely thought would actually keep him out of jail. As a rule they came pretty quietly in the end.

“I won’t, Mr. Tafota. Now, if you’ll just—-“

A low, rumbling chuckle interrupted her. “Tafota? I’m not Clyde. I’m—“

“Sure you’re not,” she went along good-humoredly. “That’s why you were sneaking out of Clyde’s office in the middle of the night. Because you’re not Clyde.”

“Check my ID,” he calmly suggested.

“I intend to.” That was always one of her first moves after cuffing a suspect. Wouldn’t do to get the wrong guy. But so far she’d never been wrong; she did her homework.

She pulled Clyde’s arrest sheet and a flashlight from her windbreaker and illuminated his mug shot. He looked just like she remembered. Unfortunately, this guy’s face was still in the dirt, impossible to see in the dark.

“It’s in my pocket.”

“What is?” She shone the flashlight at the side of his face that showed. Short-ish black hair and a well-shaped ear. Inconclusive.

“My ID. It’s in my pocket.”

That might be easier than having him turn over. “All right. Hold still.”

She scooted back a smidgen and ran a hand over his jeans pockets, feeling for his wallet. But the only thing she felt was his tight male derriere. She felt again for good measure—-for the wallet–trying not to enjoy it.

After a moment he cleared his throat. “Um, my front pocket.”

She lifted her hand and squeezed her eyes shut for a second. “Very funny, Clyde. I’m going to lift up and I want you to turn over. Slowly. Remember I have a gun.”

“So do I,” he said, and she swore she saw a flash of white teeth as he followed her instructions.

She almost groaned out loud. Hell. What was she thinking? Not searching first thing for weapons was a real rookie mistake. And she’d been in the bounty hunting business for eight years, more than long enough to know better. This guy’s butt must really have scrambled her brains.

She shook her head to clear it, and ordered herself to focus. She found his weapon tucked in a shoulder holster under his jacket. A Beretta .38. Which struck her as vaguely odd, since that was the kind of gun cops carried, not druggies or engine repair shop owners. She relieved him of it.

“Do I get a receipt for that?”

“A real comedian,” she muttered, and reached for his front pants pocket. “I’m getting your ID.”

That pocket was empty, so she switched hands and stuck her fingers into the other one.

He squirmed. And her fingers brushed against something that was definitely not a wallet. Something hard.

Her mouth dropped open. “Are you enjoying yourself, sport?” she asked dryly.

She felt him shrug. “It’s not every day a man gets to lie on his back with a beautiful woman sitting on his lap.” His voice was strong and smooth, like a shot of good bourbon.

An involuntary shiver sifted through her body at the sound of it. She scowled. Attraction to a voice? That had never happened before. Especially with a skip.

“I am not beautiful,” she snapped. “And if this turns you on, you are one sick puppy.”

“Hey, I’m the one in handcuffs here, and you’re the one with your hand in my pocket,” the soft, gravelly voice pointed out.