Publication Date: September 19, 2014
Also in this series: Officer Next Door
Book 2 in the Lock and Key Series.The only thing better than a man in uniform is a man out of uniform. Sasha has never been more certain of anything in her life, and she’s never wanted anyone more than she wants Officer Henry Dryden. Tall, tough and battle-scarred, he’s the first man to capture not just her eye, but her heart. With curves and the confidence to use them, it’s not hard to attract his attention, or get him to break out those cuffs and keys. But for the first time, getting exactly what she wants feels dangerously like risking it all.
There’s no question about the one thing Henry wants most when it comes to Sasha: to protect her. After their coastal North Carolina community is sent a message via the brutal murder of the prison warden, no one is safe. Henry can’t afford to be distracted by things like the all-consuming desire Sasha inspires. There’ll be time for that later … if he can keep her from getting caught in the crossfire of a killer’s revenge scheme. Haunted by the ghosts of his past, he’ll do anything to avoid being the only one to walk out of a war zone alive again. The way forward is clear: stop the convict who’s hunting officers in Riley County, and keep Sasha safe … or die trying.
Sasha was glued to the TV when someone knocked on the door, nearly sending her into cardiac arrest.
In a move straight from some sort of slapstick comedy, she slipped right off the edge of her seat and flopped onto the carpet, as graceful as a fish out of water.
Oh, God. Who could possibly be knocking?
She glanced frantically toward the nearest window and the dusky evening beyond its pane. It was late in the day and she had no plans. After restraining herself from rushing to Henry’s and talking to her mom, she’d settled in for a little TV.
Which had turned into watching the news, which had scared the hell out of her.
What if there was a murderer at her door? Sure, it might be a dramatic conclusion to jump to, but then again… Cypress was a small town, and one thing was for sure: a murderer was out there somewhere. As much as she’d like to think she was just being paranoid, she knew Kerry or Alicia would’ve called before coming over.
Sasha rolled, her gaze darting toward the kitchen as she pushed herself up. When she stood, her heart was speeding and her legs were a little shaky. When another knock came at the door, she wanted to throw herself down on the floor again, where it would be harder for anyone to peek in at her through the windows.
Why, God why, had she ever rented a first floor apartment?
Shaking her head, she took a deep breath and darted out of the living room. Luckily for her – and unfortunately for any serial killers – she knew her way around a kitchen. In fact, she’d be willing to bet that few people in Riley County were more skilled with a knife than she was.
Without skipping a beat, she grabbed her Shun Premier chef’s knife. It was so sharp, you could practically cut yourself by just glancing at it. Great for use on both meat and vegetables – even ripe ones – it was without a doubt the most dangerous item in her home. She gripped it with her right hand and grabbed her favorite 12” stainless steel skillet with her left, just in case. She could use it as a bludgeon, or a shield if needed.
Armed with some of her most treasured tools, she approached the front door and rocked up onto her tiptoes, peeking through the peep hole. What she saw took her breath away, and she nearly dropped the knife onto her vulnerable bare toes.
“Henry!” she breathed a moment later, tucking the skillet under her arm and wrenching the door open. “It’s just you!”
He stood on her doorstep with a dozen red roses. His grey eyes widened. “You were expecting someone else? I hope…”
She became conscious once again of her death-grip on the Shun’s handle. “I was worried you might be a serial killer. Have you seen the news?”
He frowned and cast a quick glance over his shoulder. “Can I come in?”
He stepped inside quickly, closing and locking her door before she could even blink. A little of the tension seemed to go out of his shoulders once he had the locked door at his back, but not much. He laid the roses down on the counter, but not before Sasha saw that his knuckles were white against the florist’s cellophane wrapper.
“If you saw the news, why did you answer the door?” he asked.
“Because it was you, of course. I looked through the peep hole.”
He nodded toward her hands. “The fact that you picked up weapons makes it look like you were considering opening the door even if it wasn’t someone you knew.”
“Well… Maybe. I wasn’t going to just ignore it. It would be rude not to at least see who was there.”
Henry frowned. “Being a nice person can get you killed. In a situation like this, politeness is just stupidity.” He was in full-on Grumpy Bear mode now, growling and frowning like he had his own personal storm cloud hanging over his head. “What’s worse – someone’s feelings getting hurt, or you actually getting hurt?”
Apparently it was a rhetorical question. He strode purposefully across the room, to the windows. The muscles in his arms rippled as he yanked the kitchen curtains shut, then moved on to the living room, where he did the same. He seemed to have forgotten all about the bouquet of red roses he’d brought with him.
“Uh, Henry?” She laid her weapons down on the counter.
He turned to face her. “Where’s your bedroom? The curtains shouldn’t be open in there either.”
Sasha tipped her head toward the short hallway. “On the left.”
He made a beeline for her room, and she followed him. “Are you going to fill me in on why you’re closing all my curtains?”
“So no one can see inside.”
He sounded serious, but she wriggled her eyebrows anyway. “I take it this means you have something really wild planned for us.”