A dedicated cop in the Special Victims Bureau, Ryan Mercedes has a trusted friend in lawyer-advocate Audrey Lincoln. Her compassion is the perfect counterpoint to his hard-driving fight for justice. And this good relationship only gets better the night they cross the line from friends to lovers.But they're up against seemingly insurmountable obstacles that could divide them for good. Worse-- now she and Ryan are on opposite sides of a controversial case. Can they trust enough to resolve their differences and find their way back to each other?
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July 07, 2008
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Excerpt from Trusting Ryan by Tara Taylor Quinn
The woman was too damned gorgeous for his good. When he was with her, he couldn't focus on anything else. Including the reasons why he, Columbus Police Detective Ryan Mercedes--one of the city's youngest and newest special victim detectives--was not going to get romantically involved with anyone anytime in the near future.
Most particularly, he was mesmerized by her laughter-- had been since he'd first met her six months before at the adoption of an incest victim he'd rescued. The young girl had been Audrey's client.
"What?" Audrey Lincoln asked, glancing over at him in the small living room of his one-bedroom loft condominium.
On the TV Bruce--Jim Carrey--had just been endowed with God's powers and had single-handedly taken on the gang of thugs who'd earlier beaten him up. The scene involved a birth-worthy monkey and cracked Ryan up every time he saw it.
"Nothing," he said, maintaining eye contact with the woman sitting next to him. They'd started hanging out a few months ago. Catching an occasional movie or meeting for a cup of coffee.
"I thought you liked this movie."
Bruce Almighty. He'd seen it so many times the lines randomly popped into his head. "I do."
"You said it was your favorite."
"Then why aren't you watching it?"
Her brown eyes narrowed in a way that made him hungry. She stared at him a second longer, then turned back to the large screen television across from them.
They weren't dating. Weren't on a date. They were just friends. Watching a movie on a Saturday night.
So what if, the week before, they'd moved their watching from a generic theater to his home?
This was where the old movies were.
They'd watched her favorite movie, The Mirror Has Two Faces, the previous week. She'd said she related to the main character, Barbra Streisand's version of a university sociology professor. The woman had struggled with being ugly. Undesirable.
Audrey Lincoln had no such worries.
"What?" She was looking at him again.
Sorry, Jim, Ryan silently apologized to the actor who'd given him more hours of hilarious entertainment mixed with just a bit of life lesson than he could count. "You thirsty?" he asked his guest.
He stood. Delilah, the cat, opened one eye from her perch on the back of the recliner. "Wine, beer or diet soda?"
"A glass of wine would be great."
He thought so, too. It meant she'd have to stay around a while. Or he'd be forced to arrest her for DUI, and they certainly couldn't have that.
Audrey couldn't remember ever laughing so hard. And she'd seen most of Jim Carrey's movies more than once. Was familiar with his brand of humor. Enjoyed it. Just never this much.
Or perhaps--she glanced over at the handsome detective sitting on the other end of the couch finishing off his glass of wine--it was the company?
Credits rolled. She didn't want the evening to end. Tomorrow it was back to work--no matter that the calendar read Sunday. Audrey hadn't had a day off in longer than she could remember.
She didn't really want one.
Days off led to introspection, which led to...
Nothing that she needed to be concerned about tonight.
"Okay, so tell me why that's your favorite movie," she said, smiling at her companion.
He shrugged, leaving the remote on the table beside him, the DVD flashing its welcome screen. "It's funny."
"How do you know there's more?" His glance was intense again--just as it had been during the movie. Her stomach tightened, whether from reaction or dread, she wasn't sure.
For a thirty-five-year-old woman who spent her days trying to protect the hearts of damaged children, she was embarrassingly inexperienced when it came to matters of her own heart.
"I may have known you only a few months, Mercedes, but for a cop who's been around long enough to make detective, you're surprisingly empathetic. That's an amazing feat. One that only a man with some depth could manage. So, show me the depth. Why's that your favorite movie?"
The wine was talking. Ordinarily, Audrey would never be so bold. Especially not with a man she actually liked. More than as just an acquaintance. A peer.
Were they actually becoming friends?
She couldn't remember the last time she'd had a personal friend.
"I don't know." Ryan didn't look away as many men would have when faced with a touchy-feely question. "Maybe because I'm a control freak and the idea of having God's power is so compelling I have to keep coming back for more?"
She studied him. Thought about what he said. Shook her head. "I don't think so."
"Because you aren't power-hungry."
"How do you know?"
"You let me handle the Markovich kid."
"You're his guardian ad litem. He knows you. Trusts you."
"And you were the arresting officer. Jurisdiction was yours. Most cops I know would not have stepped back."
"I still arrested him."
"You took him to the station to keep him safe."