Protecting What's His Page 2

From his vantage point at the window, Derek caught sight of a teenage girl pulling a lava lamp from the bed of a rusty, flatbed pickup truck. Her thick black hair hung down well past her shoulders, obscuring his view of her face. Black knee-high combat boots were laced up over purple fishnet stockings.

Judging by the furniture and household items lining the sidewalk, these girls who could curse a blue streak were moving in. The one female he could see certainly did not fit the building demographic. Most of the residents worked in town and kept reliable hours. No loud music or parties. He wondered how these two managed to slip through the cracks.

Unable to connect the second voice to its owner, he started to turn back into the apartment—

The black-haired menace leaned on the truck’s horn, startling a scream out of the second girl and causing Derek to smack his head against the window frame. The ice pick in his skull twisted and he literally saw stars winking behind his eyelids.

Before he could stop himself, Derek opened the window and barked in his sternest lieutenant voice, “Hey! Not everyone needs to be in on your moving day adventure!”

All chatter ceased from below. With a satisfied grunt, he slammed the window, scooped up his hat and keys, and headed for the door. His apartment was located on the second floor, down at the end of a long hallway, and as he locked his door, he noticed the apartment across the hall from his stood empty. The door had been propped open by a giant porcelain statue of a blond woman with massive br**sts.

Dear God, please don’t tell me…

“Move to your other left, you crackhead!”

“Ow. Ow! Put it down. My hand is falling off.”

He turned to find the horn-wailing, black-haired menace staggering down the hall under the weight of what appeared to be a dining room table, looking half-perturbed, half-amused.

Derek’s attention swung to the girl carrying the other end of the table, walking backward toward him. He couldn’t see her face, but he was immediately riveted by the most beautiful ass he’d ever seen.

Wearing jeans so low-cut they should be illegal, the girl had long, perfectly formed legs that were stuffed into brown leather cowboy boots, immediately searing the image of her riding him like a mechanical horse onto his brain.

Please, please don’t let me be getting a hard-on for a teenage girl. Be legal, at least, so I can sleep tonight knowing I’m not a raging pervert.

Derek very nearly had a coronary as she bent over to set down the table and purple lace peeked out over the waistband of her painted-on jeans. His mouth went dry, his vision blurred, and both his hat and keys dropped to the floor.

Surprised by the sudden noise, the girls jumped and yelped, the girl in cowboy boots spinning to face him. And holy hell, if Derek thought he’d been in trouble seeing her from behind, he’d just blasted past the Danger: Road Ends Ahead sign and was hurtling over the cliff.

At least I’ll die happy.

Her cloud of chestnut-colored hair flipped over her shoulder as she turned to face him and he was lost. Bright hazel eyes, almost golden in color, landed on him and narrowed over high cheekbones. Pouty lips pursed in displeasure. A sprinkling of freckles dusted her nose, making her a cross between sex goddess and girl next door.

An apparently dangerous combination if Derek’s reaction to her counted as any indication.

Against his better judgment, he allowed his gaze to dip for exactly three seconds to her flat stomach and tease of cle**age above the tight white tank top she wore. An inch of skin lay exposed above her waistband and in that brief moment, he wanted to drop to his knees and open-mouth kiss that spot below her belly button with an intensity that rattled him.

She was sex incarnate and moving into the apartment across the hall. The situation felt suspicious, like someone was playing a joke on the poor, hungover cop, and if he could manage to look away from her for long enough to check, certainly he’d find a camera crew waiting to let him in on the prank.

He knew in that moment that his peaceful existence had been shattered. With her living across the hall from his formerly quiet respite from work, he’d be forced to walk past her door each day, knowing exactly what lay on the other side.

His eyes landed once more on easily the most striking face he’d ever seen. She arched a single eyebrow at his blatant ogling. Derek decided it had been worth it.

“Did that ass**le upstairs actually call the cops on us?”

As he watched those fantasy lips move, revealing a hot little country twang, he drew a blank. Then the situation came back into sharp focus. He stood there in full police department regalia because he’d be attending a funeral this afternoon. And she thought he was there for a noise complaint.

Guilt and irritation swept through him. She’d distracted him at a time when he should be thinking about his fallen officer. How selfish could he be? A man lay dead and all he could think about was dragging Ms. Low-Rider Jeans inside his apartment to assuage the growing ache in his pants.

Pull yourself together, Tyler.

“I am that ass**le from upstairs.”

Chapter Three

Well, dang. They’d gone and moved in right across the hall from a cop. A hot cop, if you liked the whole uptight, sexually repressed vibe he had going on. And she’d just called him an ass**le. Perfect.

Personally, she didn’t care for the belligerence on his freshly shaven face or the way he stripped her bare in one sweep of his dark green eyes. Someone should clue him in that a smile never hurt when you were looking at someone like you wanted them for dinner.

Sorry, but I’m not looking to lend you this particular cup of sugar, neighbor.

Still, she could certainly do much worse if she was so inclined. His uniform jacket did nothing to hide his broad chest and powerful build. This was the kind of man who could pick you up and throw you over his shoulder with very little effort, although the sensual tilt of his upper lip contradicted his overall ruggedness. With that steady gaze of his, he practically radiated physical awareness, as if conscious of his obvious appeal, but disinclined to use it.

Should she be worried about living next door to a cop? A young, stand-too-close-and-you-might-get-burned cop at that? No, Ginger decided right away. Despite the circumstances surrounding their departure from Nashville, she knew alerting the cops would be the last course of action Valerie would consider. If she knew her mother, that money hadn’t been come by legally, and explaining where it came from to the police would definitely cramp her style. Valerie’s relationship with the boys in blue tended to be hostile, at best.

No, she had nothing to worry about from this man. Unless she counted the way his heated inspection of her belly button made her toes curl in her boots.

Ginger put a little steel in her spine, refusing the urge to shield herself from his interested gaze, then frowned, wondering why Officer Needs-a-Nap elicited such an odd reaction from her. She’d never shied away from being checked out before, having accepted at a young age that men liked the look and shape of her face and body. A fat lot of good it had ever done her.

But then his eyes snapped up to hers. And determinedly stayed there.


She flashed him her best smile. “Sorry to disturb you, Officer. We didn’t think there’d be anyone at home, being that it’s the middle of the day and all.”

“Well, here I am. And it’s Lieutenant.”

Ouch. She shoots, she misses. Ginger could practically feel Willa’s sarcastic oh, you don’t say! expression aimed squarely at the lieutenant even though her back was turned to her sister. Ginger was having a difficult time keeping the same expression off her own face. If her teeth were slightly clenched behind her smile, surely Lieutenant Cranky Pants didn’t notice.

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