Eli Jones watched as Kevin, one of the day shift cops, peered in Meaghan’s open window and chatted with her for a few minutes before taking her license and registration. Eli wondered if she recognized him, but he doubted it. Hell, and why would she? He’d moved from Spring Grove before he’d even graduated, and it wasn’t as if they’d been friends while they were in high school. She’d been a theater kid; he’d been a math geek. Sure, he’d been her Algebra tutor for a semester, but she’d been decidedly uninterested in math. And he’d never managed to work up the nerve to talk to her about anything other than equations. Back then, he’d always thought she was the most beautiful girl he’d ever seen. The last ten years hadn’t done a thing to change that. If anything, he found her more attractive than ever.
At first, he’d been so annoyed by the accident that he hadn’t recognized her, but as soon as she’d snapped at him, he’d known exactly who she was. Her glossy dark hair had been pulled into a loose ponytail and her dark eyes had flashed in irritation as she’d glared at him. He’d stared at her waiting for her to recognize him, but he was fairly certain she hadn’t. It had been impossible to keep his gaze from running over her body, though he’d tried. He didn’t want to be a complete letch or make her feel threatened while they were on a deserted stretch of road.
As Kevin walked back to his cruiser to run Meaghan’s information, he smirked at Eli, and Eli discreetly flipped off his friend then slumped back in his seat. He was ninety-nine percent sure Kevin would give him the ticket. Hell, it’s what he’d do if the situation was reversed. And by the time Eli got to work tonight, the chief would already know about it, and he’d be pissed—one of the joys of working for a small-town police department. Eli had already gotten a speeding ticket last month. Too many more points and he’d be stuck on desk detail instead of out on patrol.
As expected, Kevin reappeared at his window with a ticket pad. “Sorry, man,” he said as he passed the slip to Eli. “I’d like to let it slide, but I can’t.”
Eli shrugged. “No worries.”
As soon as Kevin had returned Meaghan’s information and walked back to his cruiser, she was out of her vehicle and headed in Eli’s direction. She stopped and stared up at him. For a moment, her teeth worried her full lower lip, and she watched him somewhat warily. Her large, deep brown eyes slightly narrowed as she shifted her weight and cocked her generously curved hip to the side. He dragged his gaze back to her face. She stared at him, one eyebrow arched and the wariness gone from her expression.
She cleared her throat. “I just wanted to suggest that we split the ticket since technically we’re both at fault.”
Of all the things he might have thought she was about to say, that hadn’t even occurred to him. “What?”
“I think we should split the ticket. Halvesies. You and me. Sharing and stuff.”
“I have a better idea,” he heard himself say. “How about if instead, you let me take you out to dinner?” He’d surprised himself as it was coming out of his mouth, but once the words were hanging in the air between them, he was glad he’d spoken. There was something about her. Something that intrigued him, and he couldn’t help but want to spend a little more time with her.
Her brow furrowed as she stared at him. Her mouth opened then closed again. He suspected she was as startled by the invitation as he’d been at first. Her gaze darted from his eyes to the door to the steering wheel before settling back on his face. It was as if she wasn’t sure where to look.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea.” Her voice seemed less sure than it had a moment ago.
He leaned toward the open window. Toward her. “Why not?”
“I just don’t think it is.”
Her hesitation vanished as if it had never been there, and a smile curved her soft, pink lips—lips he found himself desperately wanting to kiss.
“Look, you seem like a really nice guy.”
“I am.” He stared at her, waiting for the rest. “But…” he prompted.
“But I’m not looking for a nice guy,” she finished breezily.
There were a million things he wanted to say, but he managed to stifle all of them. Suggesting that what she needed was a good spanking was probably not the best way to convince her to go out with him. “What are you looking for?”
She opened her mouth but closed it just as quickly. “Last chance to split the ticket, Boy Scout.”
“Nope. But thanks.”
A slight scowl creased her brow.
“Sure you won’t reconsider dinner?” he asked.
Uncertainty flashed in her dark eyes then vanished as her scowl deepened. “Nope. But thanks,” she echoed. Her frown faded, and she stared at him for a moment more before shaking her head. “See you around, Boy Scout.”
Eli watched the gentle sway of her hips as she walked away. He wasn’t a huge proponent of premonitions or even faith, but as sure as he knew that the chief was going would bitch him out, he knew he’d see Meaghan again. And next time she wouldn’t be walking away. Not if he could help it.