Naughty All Night
Kate Robinson has had a talent for trouble since she was a young teen in Lost Harbor, Alaska, during summertime visits to her grandmother’s peony farm. It’s the only true home she’s ever known, so it’s where she retreats when REAL trouble chases her out of California, her legal career in ruins. Upon arriving, Kate finds her eccentric grandma has rented out her home! First order of business—eviction. So what if it’s a move that could get her shunned by the locals? She’s not known as Naughty Kate for nothing.
Fire Chief Darius Boone doesn’t need to add landlady troubles to his already busy plate, despite how fun it is to battle with C. Robinson, Attorney-at-Law. A series of small fires have been breaking out around Lost Harbor. Nothing harmful. Yet. But the number of blazes is steadily growing. The only thing taking his mind off this latest town drama is gorgeous Kate, who makes Darius want to be naughty with her…in all the best ways.
Trouble is one thing, but nothing has prepared Kate for the likes of “hottie fire chief” Darius Boone. Why not have some harmless naughty fun while she figures out her next move? But she never expected the heat the two of them would generate—or to fall so hard. The next time trouble strikes, everything she loves is on the line.
Release date: June 30, 2020
Print pages: 304
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Naughty All Night
Exactly one minute ago, Kate Robinson had been speeding merrily toward town; one curve in the rutted road later, she was stuck in the mud with her wheels spinning uselessly.
And if that wasn’t a perfect metaphor for her entire life, she didn’t know what was.
She was supposed to be in Los Angeles right now, winning over juries and having brunch with friends—not fetching fertilizer for her grandmother’s peony farm in tiny Lost Harbor, Alaska.
Movement at the side of the road caught her attention. A porcupine trundled toward the trees, half its quills raised in defense mode. She must have startled it with her muddy disaster.
With a sigh, she pressed the accelerator again, just in case something had changed in the past ten seconds. Whir. Spin.
Nope. If anything, the car had sunk deeper into the mud.
Maybe she shouldn’t have been dictating an email as she drove. It was a bad habit from her LA life. When you spent that much time stuck in traffic, you learned ways to use the time productively. Which was better, gridlock or a mud bath? At least with traffic, you knew you’d get moving eventually. On the other hand, the view from this particular mud bath was definitely better than a zillion brake lights.
Spruce trees loomed on one side of the road, and a view of Misty Bay on the other. Against the backdrop of a slate-gray April sky, snowy peaks shone like jagged white teeth. Even though the mountains across the bay still had plenty of snow, at this elevation things were starting to edge toward spring.
This was “break-up” season in Alaska, when the snow melted and the ground thawed, and mud swallowed up everything. Including the old Saab her grandmother Emma was letting her use.
Kate’s phone beeped with an incoming text.
ARE YOU BACK?? How come I had to find out from Jess that you were in town?
The text came from Maya Badger, one of her closest friends. Even though they’d only spent time together during the summers, when Kate’s parents had sent her to stay with her grandmother, they’d bonded immediately and been best friends ever since.
I’m in denial. Sorry. Can’t wait to see you.
Lies. Why the denial?
Also, it wasn’t really a story she was ready to tell Maya, who was now the police chief of Lost Harbor, Alaska. She’d have to fudge it, a fact that depressed her. Her and Maya’s friendship had lasted so long because they could tell each other things they didn’t share with other people.
But not this.
Come out with me and Jess tonight. We’re getting out of LH and seeing some live music at the Moose Is Loose.
I’ll try. That did sound fun. Really fun. But she’d have to get airlifted out at this point. Quick question. How do you get a car out of the mud?
How stuck are you?
You know those dinosaurs who got stuck in the tar pits? Like that, except if they had cars.
But apparently she didn’t have quite enough service here for a call to go through. And in the next second, the words “no service” appeared where there had been a measly one bar.
Great. Maybe with her vast police powers, Maya could figure out her location from the signal that had just dropped. She could send help—a tow truck or something.
Or maybe she should see if there was anything she could do herself. Maybe she could push the car out of the mud. She put her hand on the door handle, then remembered that she’d left her mud boots back at the farm. She’d been so excited about a drive to town that she’d put on her cute purple suede half-boots with the chunky heel.
Suede didn’t like mud.
If she was going to free the car by pushing it, she’d have to do it barefoot.
She picked her phone up again.
Might as well complete that email she’d been dictating while she still remembered the point she was trying to make.
Subject. Your refusal to be reasonable.
Mr. Boone, my grandmother has unfortunately misled you. I am the owner of the property on Fairview Court. She signed it over to me two years ago when she thought she was at death’s door. I mentioned the requirement about her chickens, and that I take care of them, only as a colorful and amusing detail. The fact that she’s alive and I’m not taking care of her chickens doesn’t change the fact that I am the legal owner of the property. It has no bearing on my right to ask you to vacate the premises.
Was she being too legalistic in her approach? That was an obvious occupational hazard. That was why she’d mentioned the chickens to begin with. But her efforts to be charming had fallen flat—at least for Mr. D. Boone.
She scanned the last email D. Boone sent, the one she was now responding to.
I have an agreement with Emma. I know her well, and I know for damn sure she wouldn’t go back on her word. A deal is a deal. On that note, are you holding up your end of your deal? When’s the last time you fed Emma’s chickens?
She ground her teeth together. How dare this complete stranger lay some kind of chicken guilt trip on her? How could she feed the chickens when she lived three thousand miles away? Besides, Emma liked feeding her own chickens. She was a stubbornly self-reliant pain in the ass.
Kate hadn’t mentioned Project Kick Boone Out to her grandmother because she feared that Boone was right. Emma would throw a fit about breaking an agreement. Her hope was that she could coax him to leave.
Or her. She didn’t actually know D. Boone’s first name. But the emails were so brusque and uncooperative that she’d jumped to the conclusion that they had to come from a man.
An extremely aggravating man.
But then again, weren’t they all?
A sound caught her attention, the low rumble of a vehicle coming from behind her.
Potential rescue? Possible kidnapper? Since this was Lost Harbor, odds were on rescue, but she was taking no chances. She rummaged in her bag for the bear spray Emma had made her bring.
The vehicle slowed to a stop behind her. It was a large crew cab truck with so much clearance it could probably drive right over her little Saab. The man who jumped out of it was equally large. His long legs came first—clad in work pants and mud boots.
AKA what she should have been wearing.
Then came the rest of him—broad and tall and muscular and a little intimidating, considering that she was alone in this forgotten spot on the side of a remote Alaskan road. He wore a weathered work jacket unzipped over a gray Henley.
With easy strides, he made his way through the mud to her car. She kept her hand on the can of bear spray next to her on the seat. He noticed that move, and his lips quirked. They were very appealing lips, she noted. Firm and full, with a sensual curve to them.
“If I help you un-muck your car, will you promise not to mace me?” His deep voice fit the general oversize nature of his physique.
She relaxed enough to allow herself to smile at the stranger. “Do you think you can get me out of this? It’s a mess. I swear, that mud came out of nowhere, Officer.”
One corner of his mouth lifted, indicating that he’d gotten her joke. But he maintained his serious expression. “You have to pay attention this time of year. No cell phones while driving.”
Ah, so he’d spotted her phone on the seat next to her bear spray. “Are you planning to help me or lecture me?”
“Maybe a lecture would help you.” His reasonable tone made her teeth clench.
“I can guarantee that it wouldn’t. No one likes to be lectured.”
“I said it might help you, not please you.” The word “please” in his deep, rumbling voice sparked a surprising little thrill deep in her belly.
Oh no. None of that now.
“If you want to please me, you could tell me what you recommend here. Do I need to call a tow truck?”
He took a step back and surveyed the muddy ruts that had claimed her tires. “What have you tried so far?”
“Not much. Just a little cursing and whining and regretting the fact that I didn’t bring my mud boots. I tried powering out of it, but that made it worse.”
“Yes, that would make it worse. The tires can’t get any purchase on the mud, so they just dig the tracks deeper and deeper the more they spin. They need something solid to grip onto. I’m surprised you haven’t encountered this situation before. It is break-up, after all.”
“I’m not from here.” She bit off each word as she spoke it. This was sounding suspiciously like that lecture she’d told him she didn’t want. “I’ve never seen break-up before. Not this kind, anyway. But I’m sure you don’t want to hear about my love life.” She could practically hear the “ba-da-bum” after that lame joke.
He was watching her closely as she spoke. His eyes were two shades of blue south of gray, a surprisingly soft color in the midst of all that masculinity. They looked almost silvery in the misty light.
Heat came to her cheeks under his scrutiny. “Sorry, dumb joke.”
“Eh, it was all right.” He shrugged one massive shoulder. “A little obvious, but not bad.”
For a murderous moment, she wondered how bad it would be if she used her bear spray on him right now. Surely someone else would come along to rescue her. “Can we get ba
ck to the main event here? Car. Mud. Stuck.” “Sure. As I was saying, you need something under the tires.”
Then came a pause. A long pause, like he wasn’t going to say anything more than that.
“And?” she said impatiently. “Has winter frozen your brain?”
“Oh sorry. I thought you didn’t want a lecture. But I’m happy to explain the physics of it. It has to do with the force of friction and fluid dynamics, not to mention momentum. You see, when you hit a muddy patch, the last thing you want to do is slow down. Momentum will overpower the force of the friction—”
Oh my God. He wasn’t lecturing her, he was teasing her. And honestly, she completely deserved it. She hadn’t exactly been polite to this stranger. Sure, she was having a hell of a few months, but that didn’t mean she had to take it out on him.
“Can we start over?” she interrupted in her sweetest possible voice. Witnesses melted when she used this tone. Juries fell in love. Judges ruled her way. “I would dearly love to hear everything you know about mud. Who wouldn’t, really? I could listen to you all day long. But I hate to keep you from whatever you were doing before this. So for your sake, perhaps we could shift to the action part of the lesson?”
She gave the word “action” just a bit of flirtatious edge. She loved a good double-entendre.
He definitely picked up on it. She could see it in the gleam in his eyes and the ever-so-slight quirk of his lips. But he had impressive control. Clearly he had no intention of letting her get the upper hand.
“Yes, ma’am, I’ll get right on that.” he said. She detected a bit of a drawl. Maybe he wasn’t from here either. “I’ll be sure to write up my notes on driving in the mud for you. They could save a life. Possibly even yours, but most likely someone else’s.”
“That’s a low blow. I’m a very skilled driver, I’ll have you know.”
“I’ll have to take your word on that.” He turned away to head for his truck. “I have some blocks in my truck. Lesson number one. This time of year, always bring blocks.”
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