Thirty minutes later, she stood reaching for a potted vase sitting on the top shelf in the showroom when the bell over the door pealed. Before she could climb off the short stool, hard hands clasped her waist and lifted her down as if she weighed nothing. Flustered, she looked up, gritted her teeth and shifted in uncomfortable awareness when her eyes met Chief Nolan MacGregor’s amused gaze. Okay, she admitted it wasn’t the man’s physical appearance she objected to. What woman wouldn’t look twice at a six foot two, broad shouldered, slim hipped man who wore a Stetson tipped low enough to draw the eyes to the slit of his cobalt blue gaze? No, it was the arrogant dominance he wore like a comfortable coat that put her on edge whenever he entered her place, more so now he was crowding her against the shelves and making her even more aware of that ripped body. She much preferred easy-going, polite
Wishing it was anyone but him, she stated with a huff, “You’re crowding me, Chief.”
Those sensuous lips curved in a slow smile as he stepped back. “I wouldn’t make you so uncomfortable if you’d let yourself cut loose with me.”
Damn. There went that warm flush spreading through her body when he thumbed back his hat far enough for those enigmatic, blue eyes to zero in on her with a long perusal. He made no effort to hide the appreciative trail he took from her braided, dark brown hair to her sneaker-clad feet. How one look from him could make her dormant body sit up and take notice when she didn’t even like the man was beyond her. She sure as heck didn’t like it. She’d never been one to be ruled by baser urges, instead preferring a positive connection with a man or woman before embarking on a friendship, something that was definitely lacking between her and the chief.
Shuffling behind the counter, Mia breathed a sigh of relief once she put the wide, butcher block space between them. She glanced up, way up at the only man who’d been able to get under her skin. There wasn’t one thing she could pinpoint that rubbed her the wrong way; instead, it seemed to be the uneasy combination of arrogance, dominance and male magnetism she objected to, and her betraying body’s response to those undesirable traits. There was no use denying the way her pulse spiked under the slow stroke of his ice-blue eyes that was as potent as a caress, a reaction she should be used to by now since it had been occurring from the moment she first set eyes on him kissing that woman all those years ago.
“Thanks, Chief, but I have enough on my plate right now to keep me from even thinking about being added to your long list of conquests,” she returned primly, ignoring his taunting smirk. “Thank you for your order. Trish has it ready for you.”
She pulled the vase forward.
“I didn’t peg you as the type to listen to small town rumors, Ms. Reynolds.” He nodded at the colorful arrangement. “Nice, thank you. I’m glad I caught you in.” The way he drew out Ms. Reynolds in a slow drawl hinted he knew about the finalization of her divorce. He and every other citizen in Whitetail.
Reaching into his breast pocket, Chief McGregor pulled out two tickets and slid them across the counter toward her. Tilting his hat back even further, he offered her a better view of his rugged face bronzed by sun and wind and capped with coal black hair tinted grey around his forehead. “You haven’t paid these.”
“I’m sorry, I’ve been so busy, I forgot.” Picking up the parking tickets, she winced at the fines. Her habit of pulling over and parking wherever it was convenient to expedite her errands resulted in a parking fine more often than not. That was just one of Pete’s constant complaints that went along with her always being in a hurry. “I can come in later this afternoon and take care of them.”
Leaning on the counter, he replied in that deep voice that never failed to curl her toes. “See that you do. Or, better yet, don’t. Now that you’re officially free, it’ll give me a good excuse to offer you a choice of consequences.”
The corners of his mouth kicked up in another smile, but she couldn’t miss the hint of a threat behind his words that set her heart to hammering with uncertainty. That didn’t concern her near as much as the sudden warm gush between her legs.
She didn’t even like the man, for pity’s sake, and she really didn’t care for his forward insinuations.