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The arrival of Barbie Declan in his town brought up a lot of bad memories
for Adam. A lot.
The calm, controlled cop had Barbie acting like a shrew whenever he was
near her. Talk about guilt. Now she had not only sparks of dislike between
them, but something growing a little hotter. As if that wasn’t disconcerting
…there’s something very wrong with the spooky old house she’s inherited…
The little Ford Laser whipped past the police patrol car to disappear into the distance.
Sitting inside the patrol car, Adam glanced at the speed camera reading. He half expected it to read 200 kms per hour or something equally ridiculous, but no, the current bane of his existence wasn’t speeding.
Gazing after the Laser, he brooded. He wasn’t a brooding man by nature but since she’d come into town, he’d started brooding.
Barbie Declan. Blonde and busty, with a voluptuous hour-glass figure, she wore pretty, lacy, floaty kind of clothes that hugged or skimmed all those lush curves. A full-bodied woman who exuded a confidence that had more than one man giving her a second glance.
Barbie Declan. The dark cloud on his silver lining, the burr under his saddle, the dark spot in his bright world.
The thorn in his side.
Scratching the side of his jaw, he frowned, wondering just how long she intended to stay in Peeron. It was a quiet little country town and certainly didn’t need the likes of Barbie stirring up trouble. That she was trouble, there was no doubt. Always had been, always would be. She’d blown into town, glared at him, given him the cold shoulder, and brought out every old resentment he’d thought long gone.
Resentment or anger? He’d have thought his actions that night so long ago would have gotten it out of his system, that and quite a few years and a whole hell of a lot of experience.
Shaking his head, he straightened in the seat, clipping on the seat belt with a firm movement. That night was in the past where it belonged and he had no intention of dragging it up into the light of day. It certainly wasn’t one of which he was proud, but it wasn’t, he had to be truthful, one of which he was particularly disgusted.
Starting the car, he checked the traffic before pulling put onto the highway. Deliberately pulling his thoughts from a certain blonde, busty babe, he concentrated on the traffic, following the path he’d mapped out earlier in his mind. Not that there was much pathway, being he was on the main highway which led right through town.
Checking some of the more common side roads leading to the river and up Lovers Lane, he waved to Old Man Parker, who was fishing in the river. His dog lay not far away, snoozing happily. Back up the road, onto the main highway, and down some of the roads leading to the farms.
All was quiet, the occupants of the few cars he passed waving to him. He’d grown up in Peeron, leaving it for a number of years before asking for a transfer back home after having had enough of the cities.
Yep, give him the smaller, friendlier towns, especially one in which he knew almost everyone. It was like working from home, in a way.
Smiling, he turned off a farm road onto the highway, and was still smiling until he turned a corner to find a certain Ford Laser parked on the side of the road, a jack near the back wheel, a certain busty blonde struggling to loosen the nuts holding the wheel on tight.
Not a car was in sight or she’d have had help.
The smile disappeared from his face as, with a silent curse, he pulled in behind the Laser. Duty called, however unwelcome.
The relief on her face when she glanced up turned to something a whole lot less welcoming. Her finely arched brows lowered, those lush lips tightened, and her gaze lowered to the tyre again as she recommenced struggling with it.
“Flat tyre?” He came to a stop beside her.
“Nothing I can’t fix,” she replied coldly.
Watching her white-knuckled grip on the tool, he arched a brow. “Really?”
“Yeah, really.” She swiped the back of one hand across her brow, impatiently pushing back the heavy fall of blonde hair that tumbled over her shoulders.
Adam held out his hand. “Let me.”
“I can manage.” Ignoring him, she applied pressure on the bar.
“I can help.”
“I don’t need your help.”
His normally even temper slipped a notch. “Give it here.”
“No.” The bar slipped off the nut, almost making her lose her balance.
Why the hell did she have to be so bloody stubborn? “Barbie, hand it over.”
“I said, I can manage.” Straightening, she glared up at him.
“And I said, hand it over.” Without waiting, he grabbed it from her hand. “Move aside. Please.”
She actually made a grab back for the bar. Unbelievable.
Catching her wrist in a firm hold, Adam looked her right in the eye. “Don’t.”
Those pale blue eyes flashed, the irises startling against the black of her thick lashes. “Adam-”
He pointed at her. “Step back.”
There it was, the challenge. The muscle in his clenched jaw ticked, but he turned his back to her instead of replying. Nope, he was more in control now, had a lot more experience in people trying to pick a fight.
Squatting down, he fitted the bar to the nut and exerting a little effort, loosened the nut.
He could almost feel the annoyance rolling off her in steaming waves. From the corner of his eye he could see the floaty material of her dress, the pale peach colour shot through with pastel pink, the breeze fluttering the hem just below her knees. A soft, flowery scent blew right into his nose.
Barbie’s scent. Once she’d preferred harder scents, sharper, but like her clothes sense it seemed her choice of perfume had improved. Her rudeness, however, left a lot to be desired. Regardless, he had been brought up to help damsels in distress, even ones whom he’d – Stop right there!
Focussing on the wheel, he changed it, deliberately avoiding looking at her, trying to breath in the scent of rubber instead of flowers. Moving closer to the wheel, he succeeded.
Thankfully, she maintained a chilly silence while he changed the wheel. It wasn’t as if they had much to say to each other anyway.
He’d almost finished tightening the nuts on the new wheel when the sound of a vehicle pulling up had him glancing around to see the ambulance parked beside them, the local paramedic leaning one elbow on the doorframe as he smiled at Barbie.
“G’day,” Matt greeted. “Flat tyre?”
“Afraid so,” Barbie replied.
Adam turned back to the wheel.
“Good thing Adam came along,” Matt said cheerfully.
“Apparently,” she replied, a little less sweetly.
“Need a hand, Adam?”
“Nah, I’m done.” Straightening, he twirled the bar in one hand before dropping it into the black tool bag lying beside the car.
Barbie looked at Matt. “Thanks for offering.”
“My pleasure. Can’t leave a lady stuck on the side of the road. Right, Adam?”
Adam cast him a narrow-eyed look. Yep, his friend had a glint of amusement in his eyes. Bastard. “That’s what my mother always taught me.”
“And mother always knows best,” Matt returned blithely.
“Hmmm.” Adam couldn’t help but cast Barbie a side-long glance.
Her arms were folded beneath her breasts, making the generous mounds rise high against the low neckline of her dress. Jesus, any lower and he’d have to arrest her for indecent exposure.
Catching the direction of his glance, her cheeks flushed pink as she dropped her arms. In a purposeful movement, she gave Adam the shoulder as she turned more towards the ambulance. “Thanks anyway, Matt.”
“No worries.” Matt grinned, his twinkling eyes switching to Adam. “Still coming over for the footy Sunday?”
“Yeah. See you there.”
The ambulance pulled back onto the highway and drove off, leaving Adam alone with Barbie. Turning around, she moved to the car, kneeling down and reaching for the jack.
Grabbing it before she could, he dropped it into the black tool bag, straightening with it in one hand. “Boot?”
Without a word she opened the door of the Laser and reached in to pull the lever, popping the hatchback open.
Adam dropped it into the back before heaving the flat tyre in beside it, careful not to squash several boxes that sat on one side. He’d have liked to check the contents more but she suddenly appeared beside him, reaching up to close the hatchback. It was either step back or get brained.
He stepped back.
Once the hatchback was shut, Barbie drew a deep breath, staring at the back window for several seconds before turning to him. “Thanks.”
He arched one brow. As gratitude went, it was grudging.
“For changing the tyre,” she continued through clenched teeth.
He gave a small nod, taking a step away.
“Even though I never asked for it.”
That made him pause. He gazed directly at her, the familiar annoyance seeping through him. The woman was impossible. But he maintained his poise, his role of a law officer and decent man.
Or tried to. Unfortunately, she chose that second to lift her chin, her nose going into the air as she eyed him like some unsavoury insect that had appeared in her presence.
Before he knew it, he’d opened his mouth and the words just fell out. “Oh, you ask for it all right. Keep up this pissy attitude, Barbie, and you’ll get it. Again.”
Her breath sucked in, those apple cheeks blooming with colour, her eyes flashing a mixture of mortification and fury. “You wouldn’t dare!”
“Oh lady, just keep daring me.” Before he could say anything more incriminating, Adam swung around, strode to the car and got in, picking up the sun glasses sitting on the dashboard and sliding them on. Then he just sat there, staring at her.
copyright 2013 Angela Verdenius