“I’m sorry, officer,” she said automatically, fanning her hand in front of her face. “I was having a bit of trouble taking off my jacket around the seatbelt. I’ll be more careful.”
“License and registration, ma’am.”
The rumbly voice gave her pause and she sat back, glancing up into the face of a man who could have been the direct descendent of some Wild West lawman. The firm set of his jaw and rugged good looks seemed like a throw back to the era of John Wayne, although he wore a modern law enforcement uniform of a beige button down and black tie, khaki pants and a gun clearly tucked into the holster at his waist.
The button clipped above his shirt pocket read ‘sheriff’. Okay then, the real deal.
And not feeling all that friendly if the tight line of his mouth was any indication. She couldn’t see his eyes behind the mirrored aviator sunglasses but imagined he was glaring at her.
“Of course,” she said and pulled her wallet out of the Louis Vuitton purse on the passenger seat.
“You know texting and driving is against the law,” he said as she handed him her driver’s license.
“I was having some sort of bizarre hot flash,” she blurted. “Not texting.” Even now she could feel the silk tank top clinging to her skin. “Anger induced, not hormonal,” she felt compelled to add, her cheeks flaming.
One thick brow lifted above the frame of his sunglasses, and Sienna resisted the urge to fidget.
“You were also driving twenty miles above the speed limit.”
“I certainly was not.” Sienna rolled her eyes. “I’d never drive that fast.”
She pointed a finger at him. “I don’t like your tone when you call me ma’am.”
“I clocked you at eighty-five and it’s a sixty-five mile an hour zone that drops to forty-five as you come into town.” He paused then added, “Ma’am.”
Sparks raced across Sienna’s skin. Somehow his tone had gone from patronizing to sexy-as-hell in one word. She had no idea what had possessed her to try to goad this small-town sheriff into a reaction, but her body’s response to him was totally unexpected.
“I’m sorry,” she repeated. “This isn’t my car so I’m not used to how it drives.” The truth was she’d been too preoccupied with mentally trash talking her cheating ex-boyfriend to realize she was driving recklessly. Kevin’s fault as well.
“Who does the car belong to?”
“I don’t know.” She flipped open the glove compartment. “I assume it’s a rental. I took it from my ex-boyfriend.”
The sheriff leaned forward, his hands resting above the driver’s side window. The fabric of his shirt pulled tight across his arms, revealing the outline of corded muscles. “As in you stole it?”
“No,” she answered immediately. “I…it wasn’t quite like that.” She closed her eyes and drew in a breath. In fact, it was exactly like that.
She’d taken a private shuttle from the Aspen airport to the upscale hotel where Kevin had made a reservation. She’d originally been scheduled to come on this trip with him, three days in the mountains of Colorado with a few meetings thrown in to make it a legitimate business expense. Sienna hadn’t been back to Colorado in almost two decades, and to make a trip so soon after her estranged brother’s visit to Chicago last year…well, it had been too much to even consider.
Yet in the end she couldn’t stay away. Kevin had acted so disappointed she wasn’t coming, dropping subtle hints that he’d planned to pop the question in Aspen. So she’d taken a red-eye into Denver then a commuter plane to Aspen, thinking how fun it would be to surprise him.
She’d surprised him all right, in bed with another woman.
Could it get more cliche than that? Her life had been reduced to a cliche.
“How about we start with the registration?” the sheriff asked, his voice gentling as if somehow he could sense what a mess she was on the inside.
That infuriated her even more. Sienna didn’t do vulnerable. People around her saw what she wanted them to see, and the thought that this mountain-town Mayberry lawman could see beyond her mask made her want to lash out at someone. Anyone. Sheriff Hot Pants, for one.
She dipped her chin and looked up at him through her lashes, flashing a small, knowing smile. “How about I write a healthy size check to the police foundation or your favorite charity…” She winked. “Or you for that matter and we both go on our merry way?”
“Are you offering me a bribe?”
She widened her smile. “Call it an incentive.”
The sheriff took off his sunglasses, shoving them into his front shirt pocket. His eyes were brown, the color of warm honey, but his gaze was frigid. “How’s the thought of being arrested as an incentive for you to hand me the registration?”
He smiled as he asked the question. His full lips revealed a set of perfectly straight teeth in a way that made him look like some sort of predator. “Or perhaps you’d like to step out of the car and I’ll handcuff you? Another viable option, ma’am.”