This Preview Friday, I’ve got a sneak peek at the next Billy Jo McCabe mystery, ABOVE THE LAW, for you! This upcoming release is due out at the end of June, but you can pre-order your copy AND read the first chapter here today. There’s also a new audio box set release (be sure to grab a free Audible code while supplies last) plus a few titles now offered in print. Enjoy, and cheers to a wonderful weekend!
“You ready to go?” Mark called out the minute he stepped into her place.
No “Hi.” No “How are you?” It was always “Hurry up, already.”
Billy Jo stared at the makeup she’d been about to put on, then tossed it back in her makeup bag, untouched. What had she been thinking, forking over her hard-earned cash on a whim for something she never wore?
“Seriously, Billy Jo, what are you doing?” she said to her reflection in the mirror as she flicked her hands through her plain and boring shoulder-length brown hair, noting the freckles that dotted her nose.
She’d never be the supermodel type. So, again, why was she doing this?
“Hey, didn’t you hear me? What are you doing in here?” Mark said as he strolled in.
She stared up at the tall, rugged, arrogant cowboy. His new jean jacket didn’t quite match his faded blue jeans, and his wavy red hair was short and appeared freshly cut. The way he talked to her, it was always as if he didn’t have a clue what she was thinking. He rested his hand on the doorframe and took in her small bathroom.
“I’m doing what a girl does: getting ready,” she said. “You said dinner at that new Mexican place. You made a reservation?”
He stepped back from the doorway, dragging his gaze down, taking in her new sleeveless black blouse and dressy capris, a gift from her mom. He had her feeling both uncomfortable and awkward.
“What?” She knew it came out quite sharply.
There was the pull of his lips, the smile that wasn’t really a smile but rather a sign of his amusement at her expense. Maybe that was why she could feel the frown knitting her brow.
“Didn’t say anything,” he said. “And no, didn’t get around to making a reservation. We don’t need it.”
She wondered at times what it was about him that had her wanting to pull her hair out. “It’s new and it’s busy. We need a reservation or it’s going to be fish tacos at the stand again—and I’d rather not, if it’s all the same to you.”
He only angled his head, those blue eyes flickering, too good to look at. She knew he would rather argue than just go along with what he was supposed to do. But that seemed to be who they were and how this thing, whatever this was between them, worked.
“You worry too much,” he said.
At the jab, she felt her hands fisting at her sides. “And you seem to think we can just walk right in there and…what, we’ll be given a table?”
He flicked his jacket back as if trying to make a point, resting his hand right beside his badge, tucked into the waistband of his jeans. He said nothing.
“You seriously think you can just show your badge and they’ll bump us right to the front of the line?” she said.
He made a rude noise, one she’d heard from him too many times when she just didn’t go along with his way of thinking. “You make it sound like a bad thing. Everyone knows who I am…”
She could tell exactly what he’d been thinking by the way he trailed off. “And you don’t think there’s anything wrong with that? Walking right in, past all the people who actually thought ahead to make reservations, past anyone else waiting their turn on the list? You seriously think
that just because you’re a cop here, you get priority?” She flicked off the light in the bathroom and stepped out.
He suddenly seemed at a loss for words. “Now, wait a second. That wasn’t what I meant.”
She angled her head. He stepped back, and she walked around him to the island, where her cell phone was plugged in and charging. She took a second to check that it was in the green, at one hundred percent. As she looked over, she thought he dropped an F-bomb under his breath before pulling his cell phone from his pocket and dialing.
“Yeah, this is Detective Mark Friessen. This is probably short notice, but do you have a table available for dinner for two? I was planning on coming now and just showing up, but it was pointed out to me that you’re likely busy, and…”
She could hear someone talking on the other end.
“Uh-huh,” was all Mark said. As he flicked his gaze over to her, his blue eyes seemed to simmer with something. “Sounds great. We’re on our way,” he said, then hung up and tucked his phone in his pocket.
She stared at what seemed to be smugness in his expression.
“Apparently there’s always a table available for me,” he said. Then he shrugged. “I called like you said. You should be happy now.” He gestured as if she’d made a big deal out of nothing.
“Yet you just couldn’t help yourself from using your detective title before asking for a table,” she said. “Mark, it’s the same as if you’d walked in there and flashed your badge. Ever heard of abuse of authority? There shouldn’t always be a table for you. That is very much someone giving you something for a favor.” She tucked her phone in her bag.
He narrowed his gaze. “I am the last person to use my position to get something. Seriously, I don’t work that way. I can’t be bought and don’t give out special favors. You’re making it sound as if I’m taking a kickback or something. I pay my own way. I don’t take gifts or bribes.”
She pulled her arms over her chest, taking in how defensive he suddenly sounded. “I hate to tell you this, but a table in a crowded restaurant is a kickback, whatever you want to call it, if you got it using your position in the community.”
“Do you want me to cancel? Is that what this is?”
She realized in that second that he didn’t get it. He stared at her with what she thought was the usual frustration that happened in their discussions, where she had one idea and he seemed to pull counterarguments from his ass.
“No, I’m hungry,” she said. “Let’s go.”
He stood there for a second as if he didn’t believe her. “There’s a test in here, right?”
She didn’t smile. She didn’t say anything. She simply took in her three-legged cat, Harley, as he hopped up onto the sofa. Mark looked down at her with the same kind of apprehension with which he might have looked at a ticking timebomb.
“Don’t look so worried,” she finally said. “Let’s go. But hear me on this: If we get there and there’s a crowd waiting, and, sure enough, they’ve bumped you to the front of the line because of your phone call, you say no to the table and ask them to put us in the queue, where we should have been to begin with.”
He lifted his hands as if surrendering. “Fine. Point made,” he said, then gestured to the door.
Billy Jo had to remind herself that it wasn’t healthy to enjoy this butting of heads that seemed to come naturally between her and Mark.
New Audio Release
Narrated by Leo Jones
Follow the social worker and the cop, an unlikely couple drawn together on a small, secluded Pacific Northwest island where nothing is as it seems.
Includes Nothing as it Seems, Hiding in Plain Sight and The Cold Case.
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“Riveting…gave me chills and many questions to ponder.” ★★★★★ Rebmay, Amazon Canada Reviewer
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