Series: B Squad #2.75
Release Date: June 27, 2017
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A High School Reunion Like No Other – Trouble: Bad Boy Homecoming
Brains and a badass attitude. That’s all troublemaker Leah Camacho took with her when she left Catfish Creek. She’d promised herself she’d never go back, but when the invite to her tenth high school reunion arrived along with the chance to show everyone who doubted her what a success she’s made of herself, she couldn’t resist. However, when she discovers a 15-carat, stolen diamond in her rental car’s glove box, there’s only one man she can turn to for help—the same sexy, stubborn domineering man who’d smashed her heart all those years ago.
Sheriff Drew Jackson knew a long time ago that Leah Camacho was nothing but trouble and has sworn to never get caught up in her again—no matter how damn sexy she is or how badly he’d failed to forget her. But, when the woman who test drove his heart right into a concrete wall rolls into Catfish Creek with some serious bad guys on her tail, it’s up to him to keep her safe—even if that means guarding her hot bod 24/7 without giving into temptation or losing his mind.
This high school reunion is about to get down and dirty and a whole lot more fun!
It was the boobs. It was always the boobs.
They weren’t like the-plane’s-going-down-emergency-flotation-device big, but they were large enough that Leah Camacho was used to idiots who never looked her in the eyes trying to buy the girls drinks—or, in this case, upgrade her compact rental to a luxury Aston Martin DB9.
“You’re the one hundredth customer today,” the guy behind the car rental counter said. “It’s totally legit.”
Leah looked around. The place was empty. It was ten in the morning. There was no signage saying anything about a luxury upgrade contest. Sarah—according to the guy’s name tag—was the only one working. He had a thick mustache, shaggy blonde hair, and the company shirt he wore was about three sizes too small, barely making the stretch across his broad chest. Her bullshit meter was off the charts. She glanced out the front door, ready to walk back out into the July Fort Worth heat—it wasn’t a dry heat or a humid heat it was just an oppressive, thank-God-someone-invented-air-conditioning face-of-the-sun kind of heat—and Uber her way to another car rental place when the black sports car parked outside snagged her attention.
It was all sleek lines and badass beauty. She’d make the three-hour trip from Fort Worth to Catfish Creek in half the time. Of course, that may not be a plus. It’s not like she was all that excited to return to her small hometown for her ten year high school reunion. If it wasn’t for the opportunity to see the cute cheerleaders who’d made her life hell back then now looking like life had bitch slapped them around, she probably would have ignored the invite. Petty? Absolutely. However, anyone who said that wasn’t at least part of their reasoning for attending a high school reunion when high school had been one of Dante’s lower levels of hell was a big, fat liar. Anyway, there was no denying that this car would make a helluva better impression than a silver compact with zero pickup and a tinny horn. Plus, her best friend Gray would go ape shit. A mechanic and total gear head, he’d probably pet the damn thing and whisper sweet nothings into its intake manifold.
Decision made, Leah turned back to the man behind the counter who had developed a slick sheen of sweat on his forehead. Boyfriend here was nervous.
“And what do you want from me?” She dropped her gaze to his name tag. “Sarah?”
He shoved the printed contract across the counter to her along with a pen. “Just your signature.”
He nodded and pushed the paperwork another two inches toward her.
What the hell? If her boobs were gonna give her a backache and ruin her for strapless dresses unless she wore the mother-of-all-industrial-strength bras, she might as well get something out of them besides catcalls and unsubtle leering. She picked up the pen and signed.
Three minutes later her suitcase was in the tiny trunk, her purse on the passenger seat and she was behind the wheel, the rental contract still in her hand. Reaching across the dashboard, she popped open the glove box and pushed the paperwork inside. One corner didn’t slide in easily. She patted her hand around inside and pulled out a small, hot pink satin bag with a cartoon unicorn stitched onto it. Something hard was in the bag. She tugged open the strings holding it closed and spilled out the contents into her palm. It was a diamond-shaped paperweight or kid’s toy, she couldn’t tell. Obviously, the last people who rented the Aston Martin before her had forgotten it. No doubt, some poor kid was seriously bummed out.
She turned the key in the ignition. Then, she pictured a little kid with her eyes all puffy from crying because her parents had forgotten the kid’s prized possession. Damn. It sucked being let down by the people around you—no one knew that better than Leah. There was no way she could hit the road with some kid’s fake diamond. She cut the engine.
Sighing, she got out of the car to turn in the bag so the rental people could contact the previous renters, but the building had gone dark. The open for business sign had been changed to Out For Lunch Back At with the little clock on the sign reading eleven thirty.
She got back in the car and tossed the bag back in the glove compartment and closed it. She’d remember to turn it in on Monday when she returned the car. Unable to delay the inevitable any longer, she turned the key in the engine and let the car purr for a minute before pulling out onto the road and heading to the one place in the world she’d sworn she’d never go back to–funny how fate just loved to laugh at declarations like that.
For the fifth time that week—and hopefully the last in his quickly dwindling tenure, Sheriff Drew Jackson knocked on Beauford Lynch’s front door, standing off to the side just far enough that if the old goat let loose with his shotgun the blast would miss its target but not so far to the side that Beauford’s wife, Betty Sue, would think Drew was being rude. The situation pretty much described life in Catfish Creek: smile and protect your balls.
The door opened, revealing Beauford in a pair of pressed jeans and a God Bless Texas T-shirt. The shotgun was nowhere to be seen. Some of the tension leaked out of Drew’s shoulders.
The other man crossed his arms and narrowed his eyes, taking in Drew’s worn jeans and plain white T-shirt. With only a few days left as Catfish Creek’s sheriff, since he lost the election, he’d become sheriff in name only—except, of course, for paying house calls on the mayor.
“Sheriff,” Beauford said with a curt nod.
No shotgun, but no welcome either. Looked like it was going to be one of those mornings. “Maisy Aucoin filed a complaint this morning, she says you’ve been harassing her cat.”
“The damn thing keeps coming in my yard,” Beauford sputtered. “Am I supposed to just welcome invaders with open arms?”
Drew managed not to laugh. It wasn’t easy. The town’s perpetual mayor for life was acting as if he was fighting terrorists or the East Coast liberal elite. “It’s a tabby cat.”
“It’s my property,” the other man shot back, an ugly red flush starting to climb its way north from his T-shirt collar.
“Does the cat destroy any of your property?”
“Not the point.”
Drew sighed. This was ridiculous. God give him the patience to make it to five p.m. Friday, only four short days away. “Couldn’t you just ignore the cat?”
The other man threw up his hands in frustration. “And this is why you lost the election.”
“My even-handedness?” Drew asked, keeping his tone casual even as his heart rate sped up.
“Because you kowtow to people like Maisy Aucoin instead of listening to the folks who matter,” the mayor said with a sneer. “We expected more of you considering your family name, which is why we appointed you to finish out Ned Finnigan’s term after his heart attack.”
“Mrs. Aucoin is the town librarian, she’s not the criminal underbelly.”
“She’s a rebel rouser.” Beauford’s voice went up to a full shout on the last two words.
“Because she wouldn’t get rid of the romance section of the library?”
“That trash doesn’t need to be within sight of our young people,” he huffed.
The man was delusional. “You mean the young people with full access to the Internet?”
The mayor jabbed a finger in Drew’s direction. “Don’t you backtalk me, boy.”
In a normal place, being thirty-one would eliminate being called boy. Not in Catfish Creek, the town that sanity forgot. Not for the first time in the past two years, he wanted to kick himself for agreeing to come home in return for his mom agreeing to go to rehab. The kick wouldn’t have changed anything, he’d have still come home, but it would at least have been an acknowledgement of the hell he was entering. Drew gave Beauford a tight smile and forced his right hand to unclench before he gave into the urge to punch a seventy-six-year-old man in the face.
“Maisy has agreed to keep her cat indoors during the day and to erect a barrier to the top of the fence between your yards. However, cats being cats, Mr. Darcy is bound to figure a way around the barrier. My request is that if that happens, you not blast the tabby into next week.”
The red flush went all the way up to the roots of his white hair. “I have a right to protect my property.”
“Beauford calm down before you have to take one of your pills.” Betty Sue appeared next to her husband in the doorway, a yellow Tupperware that was probably older than Drew but still looked new in her hand. “I cut you a slice of my pecan pie and wrapped up some biscuits for you. Think of it as a parting thank you gift for your time as sheriff, although I hear you’re only sheriff in name only, what with this being your last week.”
Ignoring the half-insult because his mouth was watering in a sort of Pavlov’s dog response, he reached out and accepted the container. “Thank you, ma’am.”
Betty Sue gave him a big smile that said you’re welcome and I’m done with you two idiots at the same time. “Now, my program is about to start so I’m gonna help you two end this conversation. Beauford, you’re not shooting at that cat anymore.” She turned to Drew. “And you tell Maisy Aucoin that if her cat bothers my Catfish Creek County Fair-winning prized yellow roses again, I will light up the durned feline like the Alamo on the Fourth of July.”
Knowing this was about as good as it was going to get in the war of neighbors, he tipped his hat. “Yes, ma’am.”
Making his way back to his truck—his patrol car had already gone to Sheriff-elect Paul Airman—he popped the Tupperware lid and inhaled the heaven that was Betty Sue Lynch’s homemade butter biscuits and secret recipe pecan pie. He had a biscuit halfway to his mouth when the screech of someone taking the corner at a high rate of speed tore through the quiet street, followed by a soft pop. Then, a black sports car that looked like something James Bond would drive flew past, sparks flying from the driver’s side back wheel which had popped its tire somewhere along the line. Stuffing the biscuit in his mouth, Drew rushed to his truck, yanked open the door, tossed the Tupperware onto the passenger seat, grabbed the cherry top that suction cupped to the roof, and started the engine for pursuit. Adrenaline coursed through his veins, he pulled out and slammed his foot down on the gas. It was almost like being back on the force in Fort Worth.
But just his luck, the car jerked to a stop half a block down.
Spinning the wheel as he hit the brakes, he came to a stop behind the sports car at an angle that blocked it from reversing. Mrs. Yancy’s huge Cottonwood tree cut off any forward motion. Drew got out of his truck, keeping the open door between him and the other car and flicked open the leather strap on his hip holster that kept his sheriff’s office-issued 9mm locked in place.
“Get out of the vehicle,” he hollered.
The car’s driver’s side door opened wide. The first part of the driver to appear was one shapely leg wearing skin-tight denim punctuated with scuffed up black Doc Martens. Some sort of danger alarm sounded in Drew’s head, but not the kind that warned of bullets or other bodily danger. A woman got out, facing away from him, her hands up and her dark hair a long silky curtain that led his attention straight down her back to the high curve of her ass poured into those jeans. Parts of him that had no place in police business sat up and noticed. Her ass was a testament to the reason why society required women to wear full dresses for so long—because men were weak, lust-addled idiots when it came to asses like the one that looked more than a little familiar to Drew. His gaze snapped back up as his internal alarm went from quiet buzz to all-out blare. He knew that ass, that hair, and those damn boots.
“Turn around,” he ordered.
She did. Her lush mouth—one he knew far too well—was compressed into a tight line, her attention focused on something behind him. Leah Camacho was back and with her always came trouble—for him, for his sanity, and for the part of him that still thought of her at opportune moments in the shower when his soapy hand was wrapped around his hard cock.
“Drew,” she said, making his name sound like a curse and a promise. “Get on the other side of the door.”
Listening to Leah Camacho was the last thing he should be doing, but he did it anyway for reasons he didn’t understand. Just as he rounded the door, an extended cab pickup truck turned the corner. The tires were big, the windows dark, and the speed was slow. As it puttered by, Drew looked it over and mentally confirmed it didn’t belong to any of the usual suspects in Catfish Creek. Of course, the high school reunion was bringing in lots of folks who hadn’t been here in a while. At the corner, the truck sped up, peeling away from the stop sign and taking a hard right back toward the highway.
“Who was that?” he asked, the smell of burnt rubber drifting back toward them.
“No fucking clue but they’ve been on my ass for the past hour,” she said, reaching up and winding her long hair into a knot on the top of her head—the move emphasizing her amazing tits and making Drew’s mouth go dry. “When they pulled off the highway and followed me to Catfish Creek I listened to that little voice that said they were up to no good. I didn’t realize I’d be stopping on your turf.”
He bet not. After what happened last time they were together, she’d made avoiding him into an art form. The fact that even now half his brain was playing back dirty movies—the kind where she was spread out and naked before him or her red lips were wrapped around his dick or a close-up view of her slick, swollen pussy so hungry for his cock, his tongue or his fingers—showed just how much better it would be for him if she kept avoiding him. However, the fact that he was the law in town, however temporarily, meant avoiding her was an impossibility because wherever Leah Camacho went, trouble was sure to follow. He glanced down at exhibit A.
“What happened to your tire?” he asked.
“No clue,” she said, her voice tight with a lie. “I must have run over something.”
Drew squatted down and took a closer look at the tire. It didn’t have a tear, it was just gone as if it had been a blow out. If Leah had run over something big enough to do that, she would have realized it.
“What in the hell is going on, Leah?”
If Leah had an answer to that question she’d be telling it to Drew as fast as she could, just so she could get the hell away from him before her panties combusted. Last she’d heard Drew was a cop in Fort Worth. What in the hell was he doing here with a sheriff’s badge on a chain around his neck, a police light on his truck, and a few biscuit crumbs on the front of his white T-shirt? That little detail should have made him less hot. Sadly, it did not.
He must have caught her staring because he glanced down and brushed away the crumbs. She inhaled a deep breath and tried to force a moment of Zen to happen so she’d stop thinking about just what he liked to do with those strong hands when they were both naked, sweaty, and desperate for release. Of course, because she was trying to do the opposite that meant all she could picture was the wicked look on his face when he wrapped a silk tie around her ankle and secured one leg to the footboard before turning his attention to her other ankle.
Her nipples tightened to hard buds as she ground her back molars together and did mental inventory of her most demanding customers’ annoying quirks to banish the memory from her mind. It worked. Sort of. Well, at least enough for her brain to start forming words again.
“I thought you were in Fort Worth,” she said, sounding almost like she wasn’t about to jump his bones in the middle of Sam Houston Avenue.
“Not anymore. For the next few days I’m still the Catfish Creek Sheriff, but don’t change the subject,” he said in the low, rumbly thing his voice did when he was pissed. “What kind of trouble are you in now?”
Ah. Yes. She’d forgotten. She was back in Catfish Creek where nothing ever changed and people were always the same as they’d been the day they’d peaked—or plateaued—in high school. That meant that she couldn’t possibly be anything other than the girl who dressed in all black and hung out with all the pot heads behind the football stadium and took advanced calc with the nerds. Never mind the fact that she owned one of the most successful marijuana shops in the state of Colorado, was on the board of her local small business association in Denver, and contributed to local charities because in Catfish Creek she’d always be Leah Camacho, bad girl with a big brain.
Decade-old resentment started to float to the surface and she planted a hand on one of her hips. “Why would I be in trouble?”
Drew raised an eyebrow and snorted. “You pull into town like a rocket in a fancy car that you’re driving into the ground like money doesn’t mean a thing to you.”
“I own a successful business.” Not successful enough for an Aston Martin in the garage, but what did she care?
“You run a pot shop,” he retorted.
“Yeah, one that’s totally legal in Denver.” She should have expected the judgment she heard in Mr. By the Book’s tone, but like an asshole, she hadn’t. That stung. “Why, do you want to search the car?” Unable to stop herself from tormenting the both of them, she took a step closer to him and looked up at him through her thick eyelashes knowing just how much he liked to feel in charge—he never took that domineering attitude off, not even when he took off the badge. “You wanna search me?”
His body stiffened. “I don’t think that’s necessary.”
For a second, she teetered on the edge of reaching out and touching him—letting her fingers skim down the length of his broad shoulders, across the solid wall of muscle he called a chest, and over the hard plane of abs in a journey that led straight to his belt buckle and all the hard goodness that was tucked away inside his pants—but she pulled back just in time, snapped out of the coquette imitation and back to her normal self. “Good, then how about helping me change the tire?”
He let out a half groan, half sigh and started to roll up his sleeves. “Give me the jack.”
She could change the tire. It wasn’t that she didn’t know how, but some things were too good to miss. Seeing Drew Jackson’s forearms flex as he went to work on her flat tire was one of them, especially when he’d be so focused on the job at hand that he wouldn’t know she was watching.
“So what’s the deal with those guys following you?” he said in mid-tire change.
Leah had noticed the ginormous truck in her rearview mirror about thirty miles outside of Fort Worth. It hadn’t gotten weird until she noticed the truck mirroring every one of her moves as she switched lanes, passed cars and did an almost stop at a gas station. By the time she’d gotten to Catfish Creek, adrenaline was slingshotting through her body hitting every nerve.
“I really don’t know.” She wished like hell she was lying, but she had no frickin’ clue who those assholes were.
Drew grunted in answer and finished putting on the donut tire he’d gotten out of the trunk. “This should get you to the service station. They’ll probably have to order the tire you need. I doubt that Vasquez’s Auto Care carries Aston Martin-approved tires.”
Oh, she was so not forking over that kind of cash. “It’s a rental.”
“That’s one way to treat yourself.”
Pride pricked at his disapproving tone, she doubled down on his obvious belief that she was some sort of drug queen pin. “At least I know how to have a good time.”
He stood up, eyeballing her from head to foot and back up again as he wiped his hands on the small mechanic’s towel that had been in the trunk next to the jack. The look made her flush in all the best ways as warm desire slid across her skin as tangible as a lover’s touch. Judging by the knowing smirk on his face, he noticed.
“As I recall,” he said, tossing the towel in the small compartment where he’d already put the jack, “you know how to do a lot of things—most of which don’t exactly fit in the good category.”
Not when it came to them. “Are you flirting with me, Drew Jackson?”
His jaw tightened. “Of course not.”
Bam. Direct hit. The quick way he’d answered in the negative was a solid smack to her ego—and picked the Drew-sized scab on her heart.
“It just wouldn’t do for the sheriff to flirt with the big bad pot store owner in combat boots, now would it?” Their time together had only lasted for the summer after graduate school and had been totally covert, but it had been hot, intense and the marker by which she judged all affairs. Obviously, it hadn’t had the same effect on perfect Drew Jackson, first-born son to one of the most powerful families in town and older brother to the bitchy queen bee of Catfish Creek High School who’d been Leah’s best friend and, later, total nemesis. Well, fuck him and his better-than-you attitude.
“Still playing by the rules and doing what Mommy and Daddy tell you, Drew?”
He slammed the Aston Martin’s trunk down and glowered at her—all heat and danger and dominance as he stalked toward her, his tall, muscular frame moving with a predatory grace that made her pulse spike and her core clench. She knew that look. Even more, she knew what happened after that look. It usually involved ties, orgasms, and promises that would never be kept. For most of her life, her body and her brain had battled it out over Drew Jackson and today was no different. But unlike that summer, her brain won this time and she scurried into the car, shutting the door behind her and locking it for good measure.
The cocky bastard strolled right up to her door and rapped a knuckle on the window. While there was nothing she’d like better at the moment than to drive off, that wasn’t going to happen thanks to the tree blocking her in from the front and Drew’s truck cutting her escape off from behind. Surrendering to the moment, she rolled down the window.
He rested an arm on the roof of the car and leaned casually against it, his lazy grin not fooling her for a single, solitary second. “I know it’ll be hard, Sweets, but try to stay out of trouble while you’re in Catfish Creek.”
He thought he had the upper hand.
Not today, buddy.
“Whatever you say, Sheriff.” With her hands on the wheel, she squeezed her upper arms closer to her body—a move that brought her boobs closer together as it lifted them. It wasn’t subtle. It wasn’t meant to be. In her experience, subtle went right over most men’s heads and she wanted—needed—Drew to remember that he’d been much more than a passive partner that summer. Hey, girls had egos to maintain too. “I’d hate for you to have to handcuff me…again.”
Drew’s eyes went dark with lust and his nostrils flared before her sanity returned and she rolled up her window, then turned the key in the ignition. He got the hint, stalking off to his truck. Her sideview mirror provided the perfect shot of his smackable ass as he did so and she wasn’t woman enough to look away. Half a minute later he yanked the police light off the roof of his truck and pulled out onto the street. She made a three-point turn and headed in the opposite direction toward the service station, wondering how in the world she’d ever thought such an insufferable prick like Drew Jackson could be her one and only.