Taming McGruff(6)

By: Laurie LeClair


“Miss Priscilla, nice to see you again.”

The warmth of the car greeted her and she sank onto the backseat. But inside she quivered. “Drat!”

Charlie was there in an instant, settling in beside her. McGruff strode to the low, sleek black car parked in front of them. Priscilla leaned forward, peering out of the windshield. Edward entered and sat behind the steering wheel. She nudged him. “What kinda car is that?”

“Corvette. Latest model. Most people call them Vettes.”

“Hmmm…”

He picked up the pad on the dashboard and showed her. The nearby streetlight revealed his writing. “His name and address. No priors. No tickets.”

She smacked him on his arm. “You ran his license plate!”

Grinning, he said, “Habit. Sometimes you can’t take the cop outta a person.”

“Can I have it?” She nodded to the sheet of paper.

“Sure, but you be careful. You need backup, call me.”

“I owe you,” she said as he handed her Griffin’s address. She folded it, sat back, and tucked it in her tote.

“What was that all about?” Charlie asked, buckling her seatbelt.

“Oh, I’ve just never seen a car like that before.” Or a man like that before either.



***



Priscilla’s tummy rumbled the moment she entered her loft, flicked on the light, and then dumped her tote bag on the nearby chair. “I’m starving,” she said aloud, just to break the silence.

When she and her sister, Francie, left their mother’s months ago, living in this loft felt stuffy and cramped. Now that Francie married Marcus and moved out, Prissy couldn’t get used to having the whole place to herself. A stab of loneliness shot through her.

Shaking it off, she marched to the tiny kitchenette, and then opened the fridge. “Nearly empty.” She groaned, realizing she’d forgotten to go grocery shopping again. The wilted lettuce and carrots did not look appealing in the least. The cupboards revealed the same sad condition. “I should have asked Edward for some snacks, but that dang McGruff made me forget everything but him.” She couldn’t shove aside the man or her unwanted and unexpected reaction to him.

“Takeout,” she muttered, trying to shut down her wayward thoughts. She yanked open the drawer and foraged through the piles of menus until she found the one that would make do tonight.

Grabbing the Chinese menu, she returned to the living area and snatched up her tote bag. Dropping onto the couch, she fished out her new cell phone and punched in the number. It rang half a dozen times, cut off, and then rang some more. She slipped out of her boots as the man on the other end finally answered.

“Derivery or pickup?”

“De—” She stopped herself as her gaze landed on the piece of paper sticking out of the top of her tote. Griffin James’ address. “Pickup,” she said, changing her mind. She ordered for two.





Chapter 3





Now standing on his front step, Prissy questioned her sanity in coming here. The taxi cab waited at the curb for her signal to stay or leave. What would Griffin think of her showing up on his doorstep after eleven at night?

What if he had a woman with him? Her middle dropped.

The door opened.

She didn’t have long to wait to wonder what her reception would be like. His thunderous expression answered a great deal. “What the hell are you doing here?”

Gulping hard, she held up the oversized takeout bag. “Dinner. Remember? I told you I skipped it?”

Behind her, the taxi cab shifted gears and took off. She twisted to see the red taillights disappear down the road. “I told him to wait,” she muttered, turning back to Griffin. “I swear I did.”

Silence descended. The pitter-patter of rain dinged off the overhang just above her. The aroma of the Chinese food wafted to her again. Her stomach growled, loud and long.

“Come in,” he said, reluctance coloring his words. “I’ll take you home.”

“After we eat?” she asked. “I bought enough for you, too.”

His heavy sigh should have filled her with regret, but it didn’t. It had the opposite effect. Her insides tumbled.

Entering his domain, Prissy looked around. The dark, empty rooms poked at the sad, lonely place in her heart. “Did you just move in?” she couldn’t help but ask.

“Months ago.” His clipped, short answer didn’t elicit more comments.

But Prissy pressed on. “Did you forget to decorate?”

“Funny,” he muttered. He led the way down the long hallway and to the back of the house.

Her footsteps echoed while his bare feet whispered across the wood floors. Like her, he’d changed into jeans. But he chose a black T-shirt. Now she didn’t have to imagine what his broad shoulders looked like; the fabric molded to his body. A stab of longing to touch him there sliced through her. “Wow,” she whispered.

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