Nick Warden watched until the vehicle turned out of sight. It wasn’t the first time a car had bumped his pulse up a couple of beats. A BMW Z4 convertible would do that to any guy. But a woman jump-starting his heart the way that brunette just had? Too long to remember.
He had to admire a woman who didn’t mind getting her hair a little messy. The wind had been on the mild side, but strong enough to toss those dark curls into a disarray he wouldn’t mind seeing some early morning. Too far away to tell the color of her eyes. Not that he could have anyway with those oversized sunglasses she wore, but he figured they had to be brown. He hoped so. There was something gut-punching about a brown-eyed woman.
He walked to the back of the garage and set the near-empty coffee cup on the desk. The move to PI eighteen months ago along with the outlay for the garage had been more expensive than expected. He’d made up for it by converting the second floor to an apartment. The convenient location on Ocean helped build business faster than he’d expected, and a year-long contract with the sheriff’s department for emergency call-outs added an additional tidy sum to the bottom line.
A contract due for renewal today.
Nick picked up the contract from the wire bin on the desk, then folded and tucked it into his back pocket. Slight bump in rates, nothing to boast about, but a solid income he could count on for the next year. More so if several of the other garages continued to opt out of their turns at rotation.
He’d planned to run it over to the sheriff’s office at lunchtime. With only a few jobs on the day’s schedule, no reason he couldn’t take care of it now.
And see if the hot brunette is anywhere in sight?
He locked up the shop and cut through the back lot to the alley. The buildings on either side of the alley were high enough to block the wind off the ocean, but the brisk tang of salt drifted around him. Another plus for the garage’s location. With both bay doors open, he had access to fresh air and a view of the water while he worked.
He rounded the corner onto Federal and came to a dead halt. The hot brunette was standing at the crosswalk a bare half-block ahead.
She was taller than he’d expected, slender but nicely curved. His mouth eased into a smile as the hem of her dress fluttered in the wind, teasing him with a glimpse of shapely thigh. She shifted a large tote—What did women carry to need something that big?—to her other shoulder and pressed her free hand against her dress to prevent a second exposure.
Traffic cleared with the exception of Abe Clancy’s truck idling a half-block away. Strange to see the old guy in this part of town. His usual hangouts were in lower PI.
“Hey, Warden!” Sam Wallace’s voice hailed him from the entrance to the Providence Island Sheriff’s Department building. The lawman stood in the doorway, a wide grin on his face. “You gonna stand there all day soaking up the sunshine?”
Nick lifted one hand in response as he walked toward the entrance to the station. He drew even behind the woman, favoring her with one last glance as she stepped off the curb.
The rough cough of an out-of-tune engine shattered the stillness. Nick pivoted, glaring back at Clancy’s truck.
What’s that crazy fool…?
His breath caught as the vehicle leaped forward. The truck wasn’t out of control. The increase in speed was too deliberate.
Behind him, he heard a similar oath from Wallace.
Nick bolted forward and grabbed the woman’s flailing arm as she tumbled into the path of the oncoming truck. He swung her into his arms and, with a slight stagger, backpedaled onto the sidewalk. The odor of burnt fuel polluted the air as the truck raced past them. The pickup shot through the next intersection, horns blaring in its wake.
A cry of distress dragged his attention back to the woman. Soft breath brushed the curve of his neck, and dark curls tickled the side of his face. The racing of her heartbeat matched the frantic pace of his own. Despite the fear that he could have been too slow, too late, he couldn’t ignore she felt good—damn good—in his arms.
He lowered his brow onto those soft dark curls. “It’s okay. You’re safe.”
Her trembling subsided, and her grip on his shoulders loosened. She stiffened, shifting enough to put a miniscule amount of space between their bodies. When she lifted her head, a faint blush feathered across her cheeks, and her eyes widened in what he suspected was recognition.
Brown eyes. He’d called that one right. Deep, dark brown eyes holding a myriad of mysteries he wouldn’t mind exploring. Reluctantly, he broke their shared gaze as the sheriff joined them.
“Called out an BOLO on the truck. Crazy thing. Clancy reported it stolen about twenty minutes ago.” His gaze shifted to the woman. “Mrs. Canfield, are you hurt? Do I need to call an EMT?”
Nick glanced down as the woman pressed a palm against his shoulder. No ring on her left hand.
That same hand—without the ring—tapped his shoulder.
“You can put me down now.”
If her eyes hadn’t already hooked him, that caramel sweet voice surely would have. He shifted his weight, just enough to make her wrap her arms back around his neck, then met her startled gaze with a grin. “I’ll hold on at least until we find your other shoe.”
Excerpted from Main Street by Dianna Wilkes. Copyright © 2017. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reprinted or reproduced without permission in writingReturn to Main Street