Can be read as a standalone, but may leave questions about secondary characters who will become the protagonists in upcoming books.
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“Cassie, is it?”
“Cassie to my friends. It’ll be Ms. Reed to you.”
“Is it short for Cassandra?”
She stepped back and lowered her shotgun, giving Trent a full view of her angelic face that hid the heart of a she-devil.
“Well, Cassandra, as far as I’m concerned, Misty Grove is a part of Buckland County and, as such, is under my protection.”
“We don’t need protection.” She looked past Trent to his deputy, and that just irritated him. “Danny, did you explain—?”
“Eyes on me, Cassandra, not Brooks. I’m your sheriff.”
“You were appointed.” Her nostrils flared.
“Until you elect a new sheriff, I’m afraid you’re stuck with me.”
Her hands tightened around the shotgun.
“I wouldn’t aim that at me again if I were you,” Trent warned. “I may not be as tolerant the second time. Besides, I don’t think you ever planned to shoot me anyway. All bluster, no bite.”
“Uh, Sheriff—” Brooks started saying.
Cassie huffed a derisive sound. “I wouldn’t be too sure. Next time there won’t be a witness.” She nodded at Brooks.
That’s it. Trent had had enough.
He stepped toward her. She wasn’t a tiny woman, probably five seven. But Trent, at six foot four, towered over her, and he used his height advantage to drive home a point.
Lowering his head to her upturned and mulish face, he said in a low voice, “Fun’s over, sweetheart. There’s a new sheriff in town, and if you think you’re going to get another opportunity to point that shotgun at me, think again. I went easy on you that first time, so don’t think you can run circles around me. Next time, you’ll find yourself handcuffed, and you can be sure I’m hauling that pretty little ass of yours to jail. Got me?”
As soon as the words left his mouth, he felt a stirring in his groin. He inhaled sharply to ward off his damned erection. Jesus. What was wrong with him?
A mischievous smile curved Cassie’s pillowy red lips. Lips Trent had no business imagining very inappropriate thoughts about.
“That sounded dirty, Sheriff,” she whispered conspiratorially. Stepping back from him, she tilted her head to the side and eyed him from head to toe. “You’ll do.”
“What?” Trent asked dazedly, fighting off the desire to yank her back to him.
“You faced down a shotgun calmly. You’ll do.”
What the fuck?
“You were testing me?”
Cassie shrugged nonchalantly as she headed back to the ranch house. She had the sexiest mass of wavy chestnut hair. Streaks of gold curls glinted briefly before the roof of the front porch dimmed them. Holding the door open, she said, “You have big shoes to fill. I wanted to be sure. Please close the gate when you leave.” She disappeared into the house, letting the door swing close decisively.
About Victoria Paige: I work as a freelance database administrator, and when I’m not geeking out, I write romantic suspense novels. I live in Richmond, Va—less than two hours away from Washington DC—so most of the settings of my books are in the nation’s capital—of course, I’m not averse to creating fictional towns and cities. When I’m not arguing with the alpha male characters in my head, I love to watch high-octane action movies. I think Jack Bauer is the shit, which is why most of my characters are such badasses bent on saving the world from evil doers. I love reading adult contemporary, paranormal, urban fantasy, historical, romantic suspense, and a few new adult fiction as well as military non-fiction.
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