There are times when it's best to allow your heart to overrule your head.
Being diagnosed with depression not only messed up Melanie Manning's life, but her marriage as well. Her husband made it very clear that he considered her "damaged goods" and he didn't have time to coddle a mentally ill wife. After his sudden death, Melanie knew she was destined to be alone. Loneliness sounded a hell of a lot better than exposing her illness to another man. Her self-esteem couldn't survive another blow.
When state trooper Jack Horan meets Melanie, the attraction is immediate. Her deep blue eyes make him weak in the knees, but those eyes also hold a hint of sadness. Jack is determined to wipe away her pain, but how can he do that when Melanie refuses to let him get close to her?
Can Melanie learn to face her fears and trust her heart in the hands of another man?
Content Warning: some strong language, spanking, and sex play with a piece of fruit wielded by a hot guy in uniform.
Melanie poked her head under the table piled high with Kaiser rolls, paper plates, and plastic utensils. She swept the candy into a neat pile. There. That should be the last of them. She rested on her heels and arched her back. Geez, I'm getting too old for this.
A low hiss sounded from above and she twisted at the waist. The first thing she saw was a pair of black shoes spit-polished to a shine. Dark, charcoal gray slacks covered a pair of long legs. Her gaze continued upward and a gun came into view. Great, a state trooper. It would be her luck to meet one in this undignified position. If the poor guy had been standing there the entire time the upper half of her body was underneath the table then he sure as hell didn't get a view of her best side. Not that she had one.
Melanie recognized a flashlight and radio tucked in the utility belt hugging his lean waist. Other unfamiliar items were strapped to it too. The belt looked heavy enough to weigh a pound or more. How in the world did his pants stay in place if he had to hit the ground at a run? Her cheeks warmed. Of all the things that could've popped into her head, why did she always think of the most inane?
She purposely avoided looking at the impressive bulge peeking between his fingers. Oh, and what a bulge it was. Stop it, Mel. You're here to work and get your mind off your problems.
She tilted her head. Her heart skipped a beat. The man was gorgeous. Square jaw, firm lips, hawk-like nose, and forest green eyes framed by ridiculously long lashes mixed well with his short, black hair. A touch of gray at his temples sexed him up all the more. Powerful shoulders stretched the seams of a meticulously pressed light gray uniform shirt. The name tag pinned to the right of his broad chest read Horan. Her eyes rested on his face. Stone face. The noise she heard hadn't come from this guy.
Embarrassed to be caught in such an awkward position, and by a state trooper no less, Melanie scrambled to her feet. She hurried to the sink and washed her hands. She did her best to act the professional employee, but the pulse hammering at the base of her throat threatened to cut off her air supply. Her lips trembled and the palms of her hands grew moist with sweat.
"W-what can I get you, officer?" Way to go, now you're stuttering.
A dark brow arched, but he remained silent. She bit her bottom lip in consternation. Okay, not a talker. But how was she supposed to know what he wanted?
After a second or two had passed he said, "I'd like something hot."
Melanie blinked and her breath hitched. She wouldn't have minded being on the menu. He means food, you dolt. No way can you be considered hot. She tossed a dish towel over her shoulder and gestured toward the two crockpots on the table behind her. "Um, we have homemade chili and pulled pork barbecue, plus hoagies made to order." Her voice rose to a nervous pitch. Her first impulse was to run, but she stood there and waited for him to decide.
She shuffled her feet. Men in uniform always made her pulse leap. A leaping pulse she could deal with, but the throbbing between her legs threw her for a loop. As far as she was concerned that pulse just didn't…pulse anymore.