If Annie Corrigan had played it safe and stayed in New York, no cowboy would have sweet-talked his way into that empty bedroom down the hall. But on the eve of her very first night at her aunt's ramshackle Texas spread, that's exactly what happens.
With a million dollars in rodeo prize money gone missing and a vengeful husband on his tail, Luke McCall needs a place to hide while he clears his name. Lady Luck seems to have deserted him for good when he accidentally picks a female cop from Manhattan as his cover.
It looks like Annie has no choice but to turn him in. That is, until Slow Hand Luke decides to live up to his name...
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February 28, 2007
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Excerpt from Slow Hand Luke by Debbi Rawlins
ANOTHER SUNNY SPRING day in Brooklyn. The
punks would be out in full force. Annie Corrigan sighed as she stared out the small square window from the office she shared with three other cops. One more report to write and then she'd be out there, arguing with her partner over their cruiser's temperature controls.
Her phone rang and she had to stifle a yawn before answering. "Sergeant Corrigan."
"Hey, baby, it's me."
She closed her eyes, her chest tightening. "What do you want?"
"Is that any way to speak to--"
"Don't tell me." Her voice started to rise and she quickly lowered it. "You've been arrested again."
"Look, Annie, I was going to call you last week, maybe buy you some dinner, but I got busy. You know how it is."
Nothing changed. Nothing ever changed. Did he really expect her to believe more of his lies? "I told you not to call me at work." "See, the thing is, baby, I did get in a small scrape. But I swear to you, this time it wasn't my fault."
She shook her head. It never was. "I have to go." "Come on, baby, you aren't going to leave me locked up for the weekend."
"See you around, Pop," she said, and hung up. She stared at the phone for a long time, anger and resentment burning in her gut. The guilt that crept in made her even angrier and she had to force herself to breathe. How many times had she bailed him out? Used her hard-earned money or called in one too many favors? When had he ever been there for her? All he'd done was lie. About Annie's mother. About everything.
"Monday's the deadline and you haven't done squat." Lisa dragged a chair closer to Annie's clut-tered gray metal desk and adjusted her holster and gun before planting herself in Annie's face. "What's up with that?"
"Not now, okay?"
Lisa's blue eyes clouded with concern. "What's wrong?"
Annie started to shake her head although she knew better. She knew Lisa--her best friend, the sis-ter she never had and an incredibly pushy broad. "It was Larry."
"In jail again?"
Annie sighed. "Yep." "Don't you dare feel guilty."
"Me? Hell, no. I'm not the parent. He's the one who screwed up." Except she did feel guilty, because she hated and loved him at the same time. Especially hated him for her longing for family and love that she couldn't quite shake. "Let's talk about something else."
Lisa hesitated, obviously wanting to belabor the moot point, however her face brightened. "Like the detectives exam?"
Annie stared at her friend. Another annoying is-sue. "I haven't decided to take it yet."
"Why not? You'd ace it."
"It's the cool uniform. I don't want to give it up." Lisa laughed. "Yeah, guys think we're hot." Annie smiled wryly. Guys either really got off on the whole uniform thing, or they ran the other way. Not much happened in between. Which left Annie with going to the movies on Friday nights with Lisa and playing softball with the whole gang at the neigh-borhood park on Saturday mornings.
"I like where I am." Comfortable. Familiar. Safe. Everything Annie wanted in life. "What's the big deal, anyway?"
"Ah, gee, let me think about it. Hmm, what sounds better, Sergeant Corrigan, Detective Corrigan? Not to mention a huge pay raise." She gave Annie a flat look and then her trademark nasal, "Hel-lo." Loud enough that the few officers still hanging around the precinct turned to look at them.
"Why aren't you taking the exam?" Annie asked. "And embarrass my father? I barely made ser-geant. I couldn't even pass that the first time."
Old argument. Useless to say anything. Annie had never figured out Lisa's lack of confidence. Sure, her dad was a decorated police captain, but he and Mrs. O'Brien were encouraging and understanding, the kind of great parents every kid dreamed of. Annie knew firsthand, since she'd lived with them for half her teen years.