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It's release day for IN THE CHARM, Book 12 in The Friessens series! And for ONE WEEK ONLY, you can pick up this latest release at the special price of $2.99!
Chris is used to having whatever he wants—but this time, the irresistible could come at a high price.
When stubbornly independent Chris Friessen decides to pack up and travel the country on the back of his Harley, he doesn’t expect that his decision to see the “real USA” will cost him in ways he can’t imagine. He soon finds himself face down on some backroad, cuffed by small-town cops. To make matters worse, he’s told to keep moving, but when he meets the incredibly sexy daughter of the sheriff, Chris can’t resist doing exactly the opposite—even after realizing that the sheriff’s deputy is head over heels in love with her.
JD is the daughter of a South Dakota small-town sheriff, teased by locals that if she were ever to consider marrying, she’d have a line of suitors around the block. But she’s not interested, as the only man she’s ever loved up and left, and her father was behind it. When she drives up on her father and his deputy toying with the extremely attractive redheaded Chris Friessen, she can’t resist tossing him an invitation to dinner, and she never expects that he’ll take her up on it.
Now, Chris may find that the irresistible JD comes with a lot more than he’s bargained for.
“So let’s have it,” JD said, lifting her hands with emphasis as she took a seat on the old-fashioned settee, which was covered in vibrant green velvet. At least her feet were thanking her, and she hoped her face didn’t betray the relief she felt.
“Not saying anything, JD. You’re a grown woman who’s entitled to make her own decisions,” Ray said. His blue eyes were more of a steely gray that lacked the brilliance of Chris’s, but at the same time, Ray had been the one there on the sidelines when it seemed her life had fallen apart. He’d listened, sympathized, and provided a much needed shoulder to cry on. He’d been the best friend she’d ever had. “But what exactly do you know about him?” he finally said. His expression appeared cross, annoyed, and for a minute she was at a loss for words.
What was she supposed to say? “I know he hasn’t let you and Daddy run him off, scare him away, that he hasn’t caved under all the intimidation you’ve heaped on him since he hit the county line.” She crossed her arms and saw the moment her words had impact.
“Point taken. So he’s made of stronger stuff—although there is a point for every man, and every man gets there. It’s just a matter of finding it,” he stated as he stepped around the desk and over to her. He stopped just in front of her, and she was forced to look up. Ray’s dark hair was wavy, a little on the messy side, and his build was a fine thing to look at. She’d been pulled into those strong arms and held a few times as she’d cried into his chest. She’d been comforted there and knew how good a place it was, how it felt. She had to blink away the memory, reminding herself he was a friend.
“I seriously hope that isn’t your way of saying you’re about to pull out all the stops with him and maybe take things a little further with the intimidation, bullying. I don’t think I want to know what else you’re willing to stoop to,” she stated, and Ray had the grace to glance away as if thinking of what to say, or maybe he was running a little thin on excuses and was deciding whether to keep his plans from her or share them. Well, considering what he’d done already, both him and her father, the law seemed to do what it wanted for the good of the community.
“I’m going to say it again, JD: He’s not for you. You know nothing about him, just a no-good drifter who’ll be gone tomorrow, and then what?” He reached out and slid his hand over her chin, then tilted it up so she had to look at him and see the caring he had for her.
“Oh, for Pete’s sake. Would you and everyone stop this? Chris just asked me out. You’re all acting as if this was a marriage proposal.” She shook her head and moved back enough that he dropped his hand and placed both over his belt, where his gun was holstered along with the pouch where he kept his cuffs—a cop who was always ready.
“Well, that’s the thing, JD. I remember not so long ago that you were sweet talked into that very thing, and if I recall, it didn’t work out so well for you. If you need a reminder of how low you were and who was there for you…” he said, but she didn’t need a reminder of the moment she’d seen the papers with Matt’s signature and the note that he was gone.
“Of course I remember.” She pulled her arms closer, crossing them under her breasts, feeling the giant ache that had taken a chunk out of her heart. She knew that Ray had been there, letting her cry it out away from everyone’s prying eyes. He’d been a shield from everyone and the world when she’d needed it.
There was a creak, and Ray turned and stepped back. Chris stepped off the last step in blue jeans and a dark blue T-shirt, his hair a little damp as if he’d taken a second to clean up. Then he was looking from her to Ray, his expression telling her he’d heard something, but at the same time he seemed questioning, confused. He said nothing as he stood there, staring at Ray, and the look in his eyes let her know he would push at Ray until he either snapped or pushed back. They were two alphas who weren’t about to be pushed around, the kind of guys who won or ended things badly.
JD slapped her hands on her thighs and stood. “Well, I see you’re ready and had time to change. That’s great. We should go.”
Maybe that was all Chris needed, because he pulled his gaze from Ray with no smile, just a hard and unforgiving expression, but it softened as he took in JD and stepped over to her. He slid his hand over her shoulder and down her back as he turned her and pulled open the door.
She froze, feeling Chris’s hand on her shoulder now as she turned back to Ray but said nothing.
The look on his face said everything. “You need me for anything, I’m just a call away.”
She turned and stepped out onto the front porch, hearing the door close behind her, and she stopped when Chris pulled his hand away. She glanced up to him.
“Seems as if I’ve walked into the middle of something, and I’m now wondering if maybe this is more than I bargained for,” he said.
For a second, she felt her heart dip.
“There’s only one thing I want to know,” he added as she forced herself to swallow past the dryness in her throat.
“And that is?” she said, then waited.
He nodded and glanced into the distance, then pulled his gaze back to her. “Is there anything I should know about going on between you and the deputy?” He jammed his thumb to the door.
She could see it then: His charm and chemistry had been neatly pulled back and tucked away as if he indeed had something to protect. “Ray and I are not involved. We’re friends, that’s all. I’m not involved with anyone or seeing anyone, and if I was, I wouldn’t have accepted your invite to go out. Now, if that’s it for the questions…or maybe I should ask you if you’re still interested in going out?” Please say yes, she thought, but she feared he’d come to his senses and shake his head and decide to get on his bike and leave town.
He looked up the street and then over to her. “Since I’m not familiar with this place and what there is to do around here, I suppose you could show me around.”
There was her answer, followed by the smile that eased back into his expression.
“Come on,” he said, his hand skimming over her lower back as they went down the stairs, and she took in his bike and the street that went east and west.
“Well, how about we walk and I show you all the finer points of Martin?” she said. The lodge was at the center of town, and she started down the sidewalk, Chris right beside her, so close his arm was brushing hers. “So, Chris, since this has been kind of an unusual start, maybe you could tell me where you’re from. You said you’re traveling. I’d like to hear about it.” She was dying to hear about it, actually—an adventure, something she’d only dreamed of and couldn’t imagine.
“Actually on my way home now. I’m from a place outside North Lakewood in Washington. Grew up on a ranch, my dad’s place, but I always had this bug, as my mom called it, to travel—and not just any travel. I wanted to see places no one else does, so I worked my butt off after getting out of school, socked money away, bought my bike, and then made a plan. I left home, went through Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, and crossed over into New Mexico. Made my way across the country for the past three months. Some places have been unforgettable, and I’d go back, but there are others I hope to never see again.”
She watched him. The way he said it, she could see there was an experience or something else there, a memory that would likely haunt him, or so it seemed. “But mostly good?” she said.
He glanced down to her, forced a smile, and nodded. “Mostly good.”
“And you don’t want to share the bad?” She wondered whether he meant what had happened that day, what she’d driven up on.
Whatever it was, he shook his head. “No, some things aren’t worth sharing. That’s the problem with this world, I think. Everyone keeps stirring up what’s not working and talking it to death, keeping it alive in everyone’s minds when it’s best to let it go. So no.” He was being cryptic, and this was the first time she’d ever heard someone not willing to share a problem.
“So is today one of those things? I mean, when I drove up on you…” She let her words fall away as his expression darkened and his gaze fell heavy on her.
He shook his head. “No, that was more an annoyance than anything, but I have to ask, is that a regular occurrence around here?”
What could she say? She suspected it happened more often than not, considering the town didn’t see many troublemakers, but she didn’t think she’d share that last part. Seeing a lone biker on a backroad stretch of highway, her dad and Ray would’ve been wondering what he was up to. She tensed her jaw and felt his hand slide over her lower back and rub before he pulled it away.
“It’s okay,” he said. “I think you just answered my question.”
“Well, wait.” She stopped and stepped in front of him, pressing her hand to his chest, feeling the ripple of muscle, and she instantly responded to him. Damn! She pulled her hand away, needing to make her point. “My father isn’t a bad man, and neither is Ray. In fact, they care about everyone in this town. They want to see that everyone is safe. Maybe in some of those places you stopped, whatever those experiences were, they wouldn’t have happened if those places had people like my father and Ray seeing that everyone was safe and protected.”
And sheltered, she thought. Martin was a place where nothing overly exciting happened, but there hadn’t been a murder in the county in over ten years.
The way he was looking down at her, she wondered what he was thinking. “That’s too simplistic an answer, JD. I can see you feel you need to make your dad’s case, and the deputy’s, but it’s not necessary.”
She had a feeling he was blowing her off, or rather, he wasn’t willing to hear any of her dad’s or Ray’s good points. “I think it is necessary,” she said. “My father wouldn’t hurt a fly, and while I’m sure you may have been inconvenienced unnecessarily, I can assure you that was all that would’ve happened. My father has done so many things to help this community. He was the first one to set up and sponsor meals for the shut-ins, all the elderly, so they can stay in their homes longer instead of going to nursing homes where they’d be stuffed in a corner, waiting to die. He’s on the council of three community organizations that provide food, shelter, and aid to those who need it here. He cares, and so does Ray,” she added, wanting him to see her father and Ray the way she did, through the eyes of everyone in Martin.
“I get it, JD, I do. Seriously, it’s not a problem,” he said, reaching out and pressing his hand to her shoulder, running it over the edge, and squeezing. Then he gestured behind her. “So how about I take you for a drink?”
She turned and saw the flashing sign of the Moose bar and grill. Not much of a place, but at least they could sit and talk, and she could get off her aching feet.
“Sounds like a plan.”
Join me each week for a new book giveaway!
Join me each week for a new book giveaway! This week I'm giving away an eBook copy of THE WEDDING (The Outsider Series, Book 8) to five lucky winners. To enter, simply leave a comment below. Drawing held 4/9/18. Good luck and happy reading!