True romance is always an adventure...
Tanner watched Bethany walk away for the second time that day, too dumbfounded to speak. She wasn’t the first person to ask about his law enforcement gear, yet her asking it had actually aroused him.
Get a grip, Montgomery.
Bethany crossed the yard to one of the empty picnic tables beneath a giant oak. The same sprawling oak they used to climb as children. But she wasn’t a child any longer. She was a woman.
"Close your mouth, honey, before you swallow a fly," his mother warned with a grin as she stepped up to the food table beside him.
He managed to do that much, but couldn’t take his eyes from Bethany Warner’s long, honey blonde curls and shapely curves. Man o’ man.
"Stop ogling, Tanner."
He turned to his mother with a scowl. "I wasn’t ogling anyone."
"Oh, is that so?" His mother crossed her arms and arched a thin, dark brow. "Is that why half the food from your plate is lying on my brand new checkered tablecloth?"
He looked down. Sure enough, all the food on his plate had slid to one side, half of it lying in a pile on the covered picnic table in front of him.
"Cheap plates," Tanner muttered and began cleaning up the mess he’d made while ‘ogling’ Bethany.
His mother looked toward her guest of honor. "Can’t say as though I blame you for being a little distracted. Bethany’s really filled out since we saw her last." She leaned over to whisper in his ear. "And in all the right places, too. Don’t you think?"
"Have I entered the Twilight Zone?" he snapped as he scooped the food back onto his plate. "First, Bethany returns in someone else’s body and starts asking me about my handcuffs, and then you-"
"She asked about your handcuffs?" his mother exclaimed, cutting him off.
"Forget I said that."
His mother clapped her hands together. "Ooh, she’s still got a thing for you, honey! I knew it. How could she not? I mean look at you. Although, I wouldn’t have expected her to be a handcuff kind of girl. Not that that’s a bad thing, mind you−"
"Momma," Tanner groaned with a roll of his eyes. "This is not something you and I should be standing here discussing."
He wiped the mess off the table onto his plate and then tossed it into the makeshift garbage can that sat a few feet away.
"If your father were here-"
"Well, he’s not," he snapped, his jaw tensing.
Even after so many years, anger surged inside of him at the injustice of it all. Shot by some two-bit crook he’d pulled over for running a red light, one who had just finished serving time in a Dallas prison for auto theft, his father’s death had nearly devastated Tanner’s family, both financially and emotionally.
"I’ve gotta get going." He grabbed another napkin and wiped his hands off.
"But you haven’t even eaten. Fix yourself another plate."
"I’m not hungry."
"What about Bethany?"
"What about her?"
"You can’t leave yet. The two of you haven’t even had a chance to visit yet."
"We’ll catch up some other time." He dug his keys from his pants pocket and clutched them in his hand. "I’m still on duty. I have work to do."
She gave him the look. "But what will I tell her when she asks why you left?"
"Tell her I got a call." He needed to get out of there. Away from Bethany and the powerful effect she was having on his senses. Away from the yard filled with people.
Away from the memories.
"But that would be a lie."
"Then tell her I’m going home to take a cold shower in her honor!"
The busy chatter around him ceased. Tanner muttered a curse. Now he’d done it. Slowly, he lifted his gaze to find everyone staring at him, Bethany included. Only Bethany didn’t appear confused by his sudden outburst, she looked pleased. Then came the straw that broke the camel’s back...she winked at him.
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