Bad, Bad Girlfriend
On Sale: November 29, 2016
Jolene Ledbetter is a big, beautiful woman with an even bigger heart. But she’s figured out that she’s become her studly, police officer boyfriend’s favorite doormat. Having put off the conversation she knows has to happen after his partner was shot, she’s ready now to tell him to “pee or get off the pot”—after a bout of really great sex.
Gabriel Devine has seen what his profession does to marriages. He’s not willing to risk that kind of heartbreak—not for himself or a wife who might have to face the possibility of getting that dreadful visit from the police chief. Besides, he likes what he has with Jolene. She’s pretty, funny, likes to cook the occasional meal, is ready at the drop of a hat for a little hot loving—but she’s sensible and knows he can’t give her anything more than that. So when Jolie tells him she won’t see him any more if he’s not willing to marry her, he’s shocked and angry.
With a girlfriend’s encouragement, Jolene arranges a special show at a strip club to prove to Gabe once and for all that she’s more woman than any man can handle, and if he’s not careful she’ll walk her pretty new Louboutins right out of his life.
Note: This book has previously been published elsewhere.
Note for Readers: You must be of legal age in your country of origin to read this excerpt.
Gabriel Devine watched as his partner’s girlfriend rushed into the hospital room.
Lexie had arrived moments ago, stripping off her raincoat, her face pale, her eyes wild and tear-filled.
The corridor swelled with more uniforms as well as off-duty cops. Tyler’s injury wasn’t life-threatening, but every cop felt shaken to the core when one of their own fell. And they all showed up.
He’d been with Tyler at the convenience store, watched the robber raise his gun and fire—feeling as if it all happened in slow motion. When everything fast-forwarded, he felt torn, wanting to pursue the assailant and beat the crap out of him. Instead, he knelt beside his partner and applied pressure to the wound riding low on his abdomen until the ambulance arrived.
Standing helpless, he watched EMS load Tyler on a gurney and shove fluids into his veins while a warm summer rain soaked his hair and shoulders. He hadn’t moved until one of them looked up and said, “You coming?”
At the hospital, while the emergency room team worked on Tyler, Gabe washed his hands, but the knees of his pants and the cuffs of his shirt were still soaked in drying blood. His stomach clenched at the sight.
A hand touched his arm, bringing him back to the present.
“Hey, buddy. Is he up to visitors?” Wally Kinzie stood beside him with two more of their friends. They’d been the first at the scene, taking over tightening down the crime scene while he’d ridden the ambulance to the San Francisco trauma center with his partner.
“Yeah, but his girl’s inside with him.”
“It’s not like we’re gonna interrupt anything. Damn, that bastard almost had Tyler singin’ soprano.” Wally pushed through the door.
Lexie came out a moment later, taking deep breaths as color refilled her cheeks.
When the elevator chimed and the doors slid open, Gabe looked sideways.
Jolie stepped out, a vase of yellow flowers in her hands. Her face was ashen, her dark eyes wide and frightened. She gave Gabe a small, tight smile then hurried toward Lexie. The women took two seats the officers lined up along the wall offered.
“I’ll get you some coffee,” he muttered, and turned on his heels to hurry away.
At the first bathroom he saw, he slammed open the door and headed to the nearest stall. He emptied his guts into the toilet then walked on shaking legs to the sink. He rinsed out his mouth, clinging to the porcelain while he stared at his own reflection. His face looked haggard and pale, his eyes red-rimmed and glassy.
He scooped water into his hands and splashed it over his face before straightening, and tried to get a grip.
Today hadn’t turned out so bad. Tyler’s gunshot wound wouldn’t kill him. He’d recover. Still, the women were shaken. He still shook in his boots.
He closed his eyes and remembered another shooting, one he hadn’t witnessed but that had marked his life forever. The chief of police pulling into their driveway. His mother falling back a step on the porch, her knees crumpling and her hand clutching her chest. The chief and the chaplain filing up the stairs, taking her arms and escorting her inside. There they settled her into a chair while they hovered over her and delivered the news his father had been shot and killed.
That day was burned into his brain. He’d learned a hard lesson, watching his mother’s grief consume her. A cop lived on the edge. He expected the worst, prepared for it, but the women suffered the longest.
He thought of Jolie’s pale, pinched face and hardened his resolve. They’d been drifting closer. Now was the time to put the skids on their relationship. He could only offer her so much.
Never his heart. Never marriage.
He would keep it light. Enjoy the comfort of her body and give her the best sex she’d ever have. But that was as far as their relationship could go.
It was for her own good.
Five months later…
Jolie’s apartment door swung open and Gabe’s gaze slid down her body in a slow, hungry crawl. She wore a silky robe in a bronzy orange, which hugged her curves like his hands were itching to do.
However, her hand was still on the knob, and she hadn’t backed up to let him in.
He leaned against the doorframe. “Am I too late?”
“Are you too late?” she said slowly.
Jolie’s tone was always like warm honey when she expected sex—soft and oozing down his spine—but right now, a sarcastic edge tightened her voice. And he didn’t like the militant gleam in her dark chocolate eyes.
What had put her into a bad mood? Could she be mad at him? He hadn’t done anything out of the ordinary. “If this is a bad time…”
Her soft jaw tightened, but she took a step back and waved him inside.
He breathed a sigh of relief and stepped across the threshold, his hands going to the buttons at the front of his dark uniform shirt as soon as the door closed behind him.
A soft huff of breath halted him, and he looked up to find a scowl sinking a line between her dark brows. “What?”
She slowly shook her head. For a fleeting moment, her eyes filled but she blinked away the moisture. “Nothing.”
“I’m sorry. Should I step out the door and come back in? Something’s bothering you.”
Her eyes narrowed. “So you think you need to step outside while I get over it?”
Her scowl deepened.
Her shoulders slumped and she shook her head. “Nothing. Nothing at all.” She turned on her heel and headed to the bedroom.
For the second time in five minutes, he sighed his relief. He’d thought, for just a moment there, that she would ask him to leave. That had never happened.
But then, she’d been acting a little funny lately. Quiet and brooding. With another woman he might have thought it was just her time of month, but Jolie wasn’t moody. One of the many things he appreciated about her.
As he followed her down the hallway while she flicked off lights heading to the bedroom, he mulled it over and thought he might have found the answer.
She’d finally decided dating a cop was too harrowing.
After his partner had gotten shot last summer, she’d been a gem, bringing food to the hospital for the men who waited in the halls, calling the wives, babysitting their kids while they took turns waiting with Lexie, Tyler’s girl.
Now that Tyler was back at work and everything had returned to normal, she’d had time to think about what happened. She couldn’t handle it.
Gabe tamped down the searing disappointment. He’d miss her.
He’d always known this day would come. Deep inside, he’d held part of himself back from her because he knew better than anyone that living with a cop was hard. Too stressful for most marriages to survive.
His own mother had stuck it out, soldiering on as friends were lost along the way, until she’d crumpled on the porch when the chief of police and chaplain climbed the steps to deliver the terrible news. From that moment, she’d never pulled herself away from the dark place she’d entered.
Jolie was smart. She’d gotten a taste and decided to protect herself from a grim future.
Still, he was here. Maybe for the last time. He’d make it special, let her know he held no grudges. He’d tell her to move on and not feel guilty that she wasn’t strong enough for the life.
He’d be gentle. And if his chest felt a little tight, well, he’d get over it. This was how it had to end. He stepped into her bedroom.