Series: Friends First # 3
Author: Laura Drewry
Release Date: June 16, 2015
Buy Links: Amazon - B&N - iTunes - Kobo
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Fans of Jill Shalvis and Susan Mallery will love Laura Drewry’s warm and humorous new Friends First romance, a sexy romp about a good cop and a bad girl playing hard to get.
Ellie Palmer and cops don’t mix, and getting pulled over by Officer Brett Hale—again—doesn’t help. Neither does being forced to take a safe-driving course with him. Brett’s by-the-book attitude leaves Ellie ice-cold, and his rock-hard body won’t change that. Still, the more time she spends with the guy, the more she finds herself warming up to his unexpected charms.
Even though Brett comes off like a boy scout, Ellie has sparked something he wants badly enough to get him to rethink his past mistakes. But when her ex shows up, Brett makes it his mission to keep Ellie safe in the here and now. His gut tells him the guy’s trouble, and Ellie must agree, because she doesn’t complain when Brett pulls her close. To keep her safe, though, he’ll have to choose between breaking her heart . . . and breaking the rules.
Carter took the mound and tossed a slow looping pitch a good six inches outside.
“What’s the problem, Sparky?” Regan taunted. “Did I wear you out back there behind the dugout?”
Catcalls followed from both the field and the rest of the players waiting to bat until Carter laughed and tossed another pitch, this one a perfect shot over the top corner of the plate. Stepping into it,
Regan cracked a hard fast grounder between Brett and second base. Diving left, and with more luck than he cared to admit, he managed to get his glove on it, but had to spin before he could fire it to first.
His throw was off, too low and too short, yet somehow, Ellie managed to stretch impossibly far and snapped it up just before Regan’s foot hit the base.
While the rest of the team cheered, Brett waited for Ellie to look at him so he could give her a nod of both appreciation and apology, only she never even glanced his way. In fact, she didn’t acknowledge any of the cheering, just laughed at whatever Regan said on her way back to the dugout.
They rotated positions until everyone got time at the plate and as Nick cranked a liner to left field, the rain finally started and sent everyone running for the dugout. Everyone except Brett and Ellie, who remained at their positions watching the rest of the team take cover.
“Oh, come on,” Ellie cried from out in right field. “It’s just a little rain!”
With a sigh Brett could hear across the diamond, she shook her head and started off the field, heading straight past where he stood near the on-deck circle.
She took another couple of steps before stopping and turning to face him.
A thick smudge of dirt ran from the side of her nose down her cheek, and it only got worse when she scraped her forearm across her mouth. Brett punched his free hand in the pocket of his glove and cleared his throat.
“Since we’re going to be playing together, I hope we can keep what happened today off the field so it doesn’t make things difficult for the rest of the team.”
“What happened . . .” A moment’s confusion made her frown before she released some kind of guttural sound that was part choke, part chuckle. “Right. That. Least of my problems right now.”
“It’s nothing, forget it.” She started to turn away, until Brett spoke again.
“That was a hell of a catch you made earlier,” he said. “Too bad the dumbass playing short didn’t have his shit together.”
Ugh—he’d meant it as a joke, but as usual, he probably sounded clipped or cranky. He started to say as much until Ellie spoke over him.
“Whoa,” she mocked, her left eyebrow lifted in surprise. “I’d heard rumors that the cop had a sense of humor, but who knew it was true?”
Her response caught him so off guard he didn’t know how to respond and thankfully, he didn’t have to because she kept talking.
“Look, Ponch, to hear Jayne talk, you’re like the Derek Jeter of slo-pitch, so hopefully you’ll understand this. Beer league or not, when I play, I play to win, because I don’t know how to play any other way. I also believe in the idea that we win as a team and we lose as a team, so no matter what happens off the field . . .”
She hesitated long enough to give him a pointed look, then continued: “When we’re here, we need to work together, not against each other. We’re all going to make mistakes, but dogging each other isn’t going to do anyone any good. Now, if that’s going to be some kind of problem for you—”
“What? No!” A problem? Was she crazy? She’d just voiced his exact philosophy, and if it had been any other woman standing there, looking that good and saying those things to him, he might have fallen a little bit in love right there in the on-deck circle. Shaking the crazy thought from his mind, Brett forced a swallow. “Not a problem. That’s, uh . . . good. Yeah.”
“Okay. Next time, though, get your arm behind the throw; I can’t save your ass on every play.” She started for the dugout again, then glanced back over her shoulder and smiled.
If the rest of the team weren’t already in the dugout, he’d have looked behind himself to see who the smile was really aimed at; since he was the only idiot left out there in the rain, it must have been for him.
Ellie smiled at him.
Not a smirk, sneer, or jeer—a real honest-to-God smile. Warm, easy and natural, like a small burst of sunlight through the raindrops, like the spark of a lit match in a dark cave, like a flash of . . .
Holy shit, man, get a grip. Brett stayed right where he was, watching her weave her way through the crowded dugout and out the other side to her bike. It wasn’t until Nick gave him a soft shove that he actually blinked, and by that time she was already riding away.
“What’s the matter with you?”
“What?” Even looking straight back at Nick, it took a second for Brett to see him. “Nothing. I’m, um, I’m good.”
“Then don’t just stand there—help me grab the bases.”
Another blink, this one a little longer, then Brett blew out a breath, shook his head, and hustled over to grab third which he tossed into the back of Nick’s truck with the rest of the equipment.
“Thought you said most of the team had never played before.”
“No,” Nick laughed. “I said most hadn’t played together before. Everyone’s played some kind of ball before. Hell, Ellie played . . .”
He paused, then called over to Jayne. “Babe—what level ball did you tell me Ellie played?”
Before answering, Jayne reached inside the front seat of the truck and came back with a covered dish, which she held out to Brett. Then she tucked herself up next to Nick, who opened the side of his jacket and wrapped it around her.
“She was on the women’s national team for a couple years.”
Wow. Well, that explained not only her ability but her attitude toward the team.
“What?” Nick closed the glass door of the truck cap and grinned at Brett. “D’you really think I’d be stupid enough to ask you to play on a team that had no chance at winning?”
Honestly, Brett hadn’t thought about it at all. Nick was his friend, he’d told Brett he needed him on the team, so he’d agreed. Simple as that. Not including the other cops at the detachment, Nick was the first person Brett had met when he’d moved here, and he liked to think he’d helped get Nick and Jayne together. Okay, “help” might be a bit of a stretch, since his actions almost blew their relationship apart, but to look at them now you’d never know it.
Had Brett ever been that happy? He thought he’d been happy with Kerri, but that happy? No. And ever since she’d left, it was like he’d been walking around on automatic pilot.
Until today. Until that exact moment when Ellie looked back and smiled at him.
Ellie smiled at him.
Laura Drewry had been scribbling things for years before she decided to seriously sit down and write. After spending eight years in the Canadian north, Laura now lives back home in southwestern British Columbia with her husband, three sons, a turtle named Sheldon, and an extremely energetic German shepherd. She loves old tattered books, good movies, country music, and the New York Yankees.