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“Insatiable is absolute magic! Fabulous banter, volcanic level heat and a hero so sexy and swoon worthy he kicks all other book boyfriends off their pedestals.”Helena Hunting
New York Times bestselling author
It had to be, right?
Because Noah McCormick and I have never been anything more than friends. In all the years I’ve known him, he’s never once laid a finger on me. And even though he was a cute lifeguard at 16 and a hotter-than-hell sheriff’s deputy at 34, he's always been that protective guy I could trust to keep his hands to himself. I never wanted to mess with that.
Until I walked in on him getting out of the shower and saw his hard, muscular body totally bare and dripping wet. At that moment I never wanted to mess with anything so badly in my entire life.
I should have covered my eyes. Said I was sorry. At the very least, I could have handed him a towel.
After all, I was only in town for a few days, and he was just doing me a favor by escorting me to my sister’s wedding. It wasn’t a real date.
But I didn’t apologize. And he didn’t cover up.
(Talk about a hot mess.)
After all those years of being just friends, suddenly we’re insatiable.
He’s made it clear he’s not interested in romance. Which is fine with me because
I’ve got a plane ticket back to my real life at the end of the week.
It’s all in fun...or is it?
Release date: November 11, 2019
Publisher: MH Publishing, LLC
Print pages: 313
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Listen to a sample
Her name was Dottie, her age was somewhere north of ninety, and she was what we at the sheriff’s department called a “frequent flyer.”
It was nearly seven P.M. on Friday night as I pulled up in front of her house. It had been a slow shift so far, mostly routine traffic stops and a few non-emergency calls, but in a small town like Hadley Harbor, that was the norm.
Dottie was definitely a non-emergency.
She’d called 911—this time—because she was positive someone had broken into her home this afternoon while she was grocery shopping, and while the intruder hadn’t stolen anything, he had switched her living room furniture around. I hadn’t even bothered with the lights on my vehicle.
“Be right back, Renzo.” Leaving my faithful Belgian Malinois in the back of the Explorer—and the expression on his face told me he wasn’t happy about that—I got out from behind the wheel and headed up the walk. From the window, Renzo watched me like a hawk, as he always did, but there was nothing dangerous about this call.
Still, it was good to know he had my back, no matter what.
I knocked on the front door of the traditional, two-story brick home, and less than ten seconds later, Dottie Jensen opened it and beamed at me, her dentures on full display. She’d probably been peeking out the window. “Oh, hello, Deputy McCormick. I was hoping it would be you.”
“Hello, Mrs. Jensen. It’s me.”
She looked over my shoulder toward the street, where my K-9 unit was parked. “Didn’t you bring your doggy with you?”
The same questions every time. I took a breath for patience and answered them. Again. “Yes, he’s always with me. But he’s in the car.”
“Won’t it be too warm for him in the car?”
“It’s a cool evening, and we have temperature control in the unit.”
“Wouldn’t he like to come inside?”
“Why don’t I come in and look around, and then once you’ve told me what happened and I have all the info, I’ll let him out so you can say hello.”
“That sounds lovely,” she said eagerly. “Please come in.”
She pulled the door open wider and stood aside as I entered the front hallway. The house was silent and smelled like a combination of furniture polish and whatever she’d made for dinner.
“Can I get you anything?” she asked. “A lemonade? Some cookies? Or how about dinner? I got some beautiful pork chops at the butcher this afternoon and fried them up for supper. Do you like them with applesauce?”
“No thank you, ma’am.” Although hunger was gnawing at my belly, I had to stick to routine. Lonely old Mrs. Jensen would keep me here for hours if I let her. I felt sorry for her—her husband of sixty-plus years had died only a few months ago—and I always gave her a little extra time if I could, but I was off duty in about twenty minutes and wanted to get home in time to watch game three of the World Series.
From the front entryway, I glanced into the living room on my right, then the dining room on my left. Each room looked exactly the same as it had the last time I’d been there. “I understand you believe someone broke in?”
“Oh, yes. I’m just sure of it.” Mrs. Jensen clasped her gnarled fingers together and opened her eyes wide. Her forehead wrinkles multiplied.
“Want to tell me what happened?”
She nodded and smiled as if I’d just crowned her Queen of England. “Yes. You see, I was in town shopping for groceries—I was picking up a roast because my son George is coming to visit, and his wife, Sue, never did learn to cook a pot roast like I taught her, but Sue was one of those career girls, you know, and I don’t think she cared much about what sort of meals she put on the table at night.” She lowered her voice and spoke conspiratorially behind the back of one hand. “Sue wasn’t much of a housekeeper either, truth be told, but there isn’t much we can do about the people our children choose. Do you have children, dear?”
“No, ma’am.” I braced myself for the inevitable follow-up.
“Why not? Doesn’t your wife want any?”
“I don’t have a wife, either, Mrs. Jensen.” Which I’d told her at least fifty times, and every single time, she reacted the same way.
“No wife?” She recoiled. “Why, you must be close to thirty already, Deputy McCormick.”
“Thirty-three! Mr. Jensen and I had already been married twelve years by the time he was thirty-three. And had four children. We had six altogether, you know.”
“I know.” I thought about the cold beer waiting in my fridge and fought the urge to look at my watch.
“And we were married sixty-seven years before he passed. He died last spring. April ninth.”
I knew that too, because that’s when her calls to the dispatcher had started, with her “emergencies.”
Sometimes she heard noises and thought someone was in her house. Sometimes an item was missing that turned up once an officer arrived and helped her find it. Twice, she’d claimed to have fallen and asked for help getting up, but on both occasions, she’d righted herself and answered the door when the officers knocked. On every occasion, she did anything she could to keep the responders in her house as long as possible, which usually involved offering food, telling her life story, nosing into their personal lives, and giving unsolicited advice.
She was a nonagenarian pain in the ass, and I already had a mother around to give me shit about being a perpetual bachelor—and she gave plenty—but I never much minded coming here and making sure everything was okay, even if it was just to make her feel less lonely. It was part of the job. It was what my dad would have done, and he’d been the most beloved sheriff this county ever had. He understood there was more to serve and protect than making arrests or preventing crime.
“Yes, ma’am, I was lucky enough to meet Mr. Jensen several times. All of us at the sheriff’s office liked him a lot.”
She smiled happily. “He was a dear. And so handsome. All the girls were always trying to catch his eye. Now, isn’t there anyone who catches yours?”
“Not at the moment, ma’am.”
“But don’t you want a family?”
“I’ve got a family. I think you know my mom, Carol McCormick. She’s a nurse over at Harbor Family Practice.”
“Oh, of course.” Mrs. Jensen nodded. “Carol is just lovely. I knew your father too. We just loved Sheriff McCormick. Both Mr. Jensen and I were so sorry when he passed.”
“Thank you. I’ve also got a twin brother, a sister and brother-in-law, two nephews and a niece, and Renzo. Plenty of family around.” I smiled at her and tried to move things along. “So when you came home from town, was your door open? Or unlocked?”
She looked confused for a moment. “Why would I leave the door unlocked?” Then she remembered, snapping her fingers. “Oh! Oh, yes. The front door was open just a hair, but I know I closed and locked it before I left. I’m all alone here, and even though it’s a small town, you can never be too careful.”
I nodded. “But the house was empty when you came in?”
“Yes. The rascal must have left after he rearranged the furniture.”
“But nothing is missing?”
“Not that I can tell,” she said, almost regretfully, twisting her hands together as she glanced over her shoulder toward the room in question, as if she was sort of bummed the family silver wasn’t gone.
“Mind if I take a look around anyway?”
She looked happy at the suggestion and patted my arm. “Of course not. You go right ahead. Take as long as you want. And while you do that, I’ll fix you a nice snack. Mr. Jensen always liked a snack about this time of night.”
Rather than argue with her, I said okay and moved into the living room while she went in the opposite direction toward the kitchen. She moved slowly, her steps the cautious shuffling of a little old lady, but she hummed a tune as she went, and I knew I’d given her what she wanted—time and attention.
In the living room, there was no sign any furniture had been moved around. But in case my memory was faulty, I picked up one end of the sofa. The deep indentations the feet had left in the carpet told me it had been resting in this spot for quite some time. Possibly since 1951, which was, I’d been told several times, when the newly wedded Jensens had moved in.
It was a nice house on a quiet street in a peaceful town, the perfect place to raise a family. I glanced at all the framed photos crowded on the fireplace mantel, standing in rows on bookshelves, and clustered on end tables. A room-sized shrine to an entire century’s worth of one family’s life. A black-and-white wedding photo from the 1920s. Another from the fifties. Babies at christenings. Family pictures showcasing five generations of holidays and weddings and birthdays and anniversaries gone by. Children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
I thought of my mother’s house, also full of family photos. But much to her eternal woe, there were only two wedding photos—her own and my sister Nina’s. She did have three grandchildren and one more on the way, courtesy of Nina and my best friend Chris, who’d gotten married right after our first stint in the Army. Despite the fact that we both signed on for four more years after that and did two additional combat tours apiece, he still managed to knock her up twice during that time and twice more since we’d come home.
I didn’t much like thinking about the logistics of that, but I did love being an uncle to their kids, eight-year-old Harrison, six-year-old Violet, and fourteen-month-old Ethan. Any day now they’d add that fourth to their brood, and my mother was constantly pestering me about catching up, as if we were in some kind of reproductive race.
In fact, she kept one section on her mantel purposefully empty, and she claimed she was waiting for me to get married and have kids so she could put something there. Every so often when I’m at her place, she’ll find a moment to stare at it and sigh longingly, or dust it off with a rag. Last Christmas, I gave her a framed photo of Renzo and me and told her that was as good as it was going to get. She harrumphed, but she kept the photo on proud display. She loved that dog almost as much as I did.
“Yoohoo, Deputy McCormick, your snack is ready!” Mrs. Jensen called.
Exhaling heavily, I retraced my steps and headed through the dining room and back to the kitchen. Mrs. Jensen had set out a plate with a sandwich, some potato chips, and a pickle slice on it. Next to the plate was a glass of milk, and she’d pulled out the chair for me.
“It’s a BLT on toasted bread, just like Mr. Jensen used to eat.” She laughed and shook her head. “God forbid I ever forgot to toast the bread!”
“Thank you so much, ma’am, but I really can’t stay. My shift is about to end, and I need to get back to the station and do some paperwork before I take Renzo home for the night.” And you’re cutting in to my baseball time, lady.
“Oh.” She looked crestfallen. “Can you come back when you’re through?”
Smiling, I shook my head. “I’m afraid not.”
“Well, why don’t you let me pack this up for you? No sense in letting it go to waste, is there?”
I thought for a moment. “I guess not.”
“Wonderful.” The smile was back on her face. “You just give me a minute to put everything in a lunch sack for you, and then you can be on your way.”
“Thank you. I looked around the living room, but I didn’t see anything out of order. However, if something turns up missing, you just let us know.”
“Oh, I will,” she said, pulling a brown paper bag from a drawer. “I always call the sheriff when I have an emergency.”
And when you don’t, I thought to myself. But I couldn’t bring myself to be angry about it. I knew what it was like to miss somebody. It got to you sometimes.
A few minutes later, I had the lunch sack in my hand and she was following me down the front walk toward my car. Through the window, I could see Renzo’s tail wagging in anticipation. I opened the door, and he hopped onto the grass where we stood, excited and happy. He wore a collar that said K-9 Unit, complete with a sheriff’s badge.
“Sit,” I told him, and he obeyed. “Good boy.”
“May I pet him?” asked Mrs. Jensen.
She patted him on the head a few times. “How old is he again?”
“My, such a big dog for only five. He must weigh a hundred pounds!”
“He’s about eighty pounds, which is average.”
“He seems very sweet.”
“He can be.” Off-duty, Renzo was energetic and high-spirited and just wanted to play all the time, but when he was working, he was a well-trained, badass machine—fast, agile, aggressive, vicious if necessary, and loyal to me beyond comprehension. I sometimes felt like I had two sides to me as well, so we were a good match. He’d been at my side every day for three years.
“Can he have a little snack?” Mrs. Jensen asked brightly. “I don’t have any dog treats, but maybe a cookie? For being so good?”
I shook my head. “Thanks, but working dogs shouldn’t be rewarded with food.”
“Well, we often encounter food items during searches and we don’t want him to be distracted by wanting to eat instead of wanting to perform.”
“Oh, I see.” She sighed wistfully. “I suppose I’ll say goodnight, then, Deputy McCormick. Thank you very much for coming.”
“Goodnight, Mrs. Jensen. Thanks for the sandwich.” I held up the bag as Renzo jumped back into the car.
“You’re welcome. I put a treat in there for you, too, dear. It’s not homemade, but my little grandkids always used to love them, and even though they’re mostly grown now and don’t come around as much, I can’t seem to stop buying them. Silly of me, isn’t it?”
“I understand.” I still talked to my dad during ball games, as if he was sitting in the recliner just a few feet away instead of buried in the Catholic cemetery up the road.
“You’re such a dear.” She smiled, as if inspiration just struck her. “You know what? I have a granddaughter almost your age that I think would be perfect for you. Why don’t I—”
“Bye, Mrs. Jensen.” Cutting her off, I went around the Explorer and got into the driver’s seat. The last thing I wanted was to suffer yet another one of this town’s wanna-be matchmakers. Seemed like every busybody within fifty miles of here was convinced she had “the perfect girl” for me to “settle down” with. No matter how many times I said I wasn’t looking, it never seemed to sink in.
“Aren’t you lonely?” they’d ask.
“Not at all,” I’d reply, and it was mostly true. There were times when I missed female company, a sympathetic smile at the end of a hard day. A soft, sexy body at night, somebody to please and play with. But my last breakup had soured me for good on relationships, and the few dates I’d gone on with “perfect” girls had only shown me how well some people could hide their crazy. My sex life was a bit depressing, but nobody ever said, Hey, Noah, I know this completely sane girl with a killer smile and a rockin’ bod just passing through town for a night. Can she come over and blow you?
Until that day, I’d have to deal with a dry spell here and there.
I entered a few notes about the call on my laptop, and then pulled away from the curb. On the road again, I dug out the sandwich and took a bite as I headed for the station. I hadn’t had a BLT in forever, and actually, it tasted pretty fucking good.
“She’s not so bad, is she?” I asked Renzo. “A little off her rocker, maybe, but I guess she’s earned it.”
By the time I pulled into the parking lot behind the sheriff’s department, I’d finished the sandwich, the chips, and the pickle. I remembered what she’d said about the little extra treat, and I dug around in the bag with my free hand.
I pulled out a Twinkie and laughed.
It reminded me of someone.
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