Second in a new contemporary romance series featuring hunky everyday heroes, from award-winning author Sara Humphreys
He could be the man to rescue her
Big city K-9 cop Ronan McGuire loves women, loves his dog, loves his job—but when old flame Maddy Morgan moves into his jurisdiction, he can’t think about anyone else. Ronan knows she’s way out of his league, but he’s determined to help Maddy live life to the fullest.
In more ways than one
With tragedy in her past, Maddy has immersed herself in work and swiftly made a name for herself in the hot New York City real estate market. She’s looking for safety, not love, but Ronan McGuire is as persistent as he is sexy, and his crooked smile is hard to resist. But all other concerns are wiped away when Maddy goes missing and Ronan and his bloodhound K-9 partner are tasked with finding her and bringing her home.
Maddy stood on the corner and stuffed her hands into the roomy pockets of her coat. She paused long enough to suck in a deep, cleansing breath of cold air. Being around Ronan was quickly becoming a real-life roller coaster ride. One minute it was easy and fun, the next, awkward and fumbling. Through it all, however, no matter what part of the ride she was on, she had no desire to stop. Maddy was intensely attracted to Ronan. It was carnal and primal and made her feel completely out of control.
She wanted him, but she didn’t want to want him.
Ugh. She was a hot mess.
“I’m sorry about before.” She forced herself to look him in the face. Curiosity and a touch of humor lingered there. “I didn’t mean it the way you think I did.”
“I thought we were past that.” Ronan tilted his head and flashed her that devastating smile. “Didn’t you get my charming text message?”
“Yes.” She couldn’t stop the laugh that bubbled up. “But I want to be clear that I wasn’t implying you couldn’t afford to pay for dinner. In all honesty, I’m feeling really nervous about this date and sorely out of practice.”
“Oh! We’re being honest?” Ronan’s lips tilted. “Well, in the spirit of honesty, I should fess up about something too.” He gathered both of her hands in his. “My male ego took a hit when I saw your building, and then when I saw your actual apartment…I guess I was feeling a little inadequate.”
“Why?” Her brow furrowed. “Your parents’ house is one of the largest in Old Brookfield, and it’s no secret how wealthy they are. It’s not like you grew up without money. Didn’t your great-grandfather invent the shoelace or something?”
“The seat belt, among other things.” He laughed. “And yes, my family is wealthy, but I’m not. I’m a cop, Maddy. I make a cop’s salary. Let’s just say that my entire place could fit in the lobby of your building. Twice.” He shrugged. “Hell, I was worried Bowser wouldn’t want to come home with me after seeing it. He might be a dog, but he has expensive tastes.”
“Very funny.” Maddy rolled her eyes.
“I am sorry for jumping to a stupid conclusion, but I won’t apologize for being old-fashioned or for insisting that this is a real date.” He tugged her closer and lowered his voice, a wicked glint in eyes. “Speaking of which, we aren’t finished.”
“Ronan,” she said in a warning tone. “What are you up to?”
He raised his arm and tried to flag an oncoming cab that scurried by.
“Do you plan on telling me where we’re going?” Maddy tugged her coat tighter against the bitter gust of wind. “Because I’m obviously not going home.”
“Nope.” Ronan took her hand in his and hailed another cab. “You aren’t the boss tonight, Mads. I know you love being in control and calling the shots, but let it go for now. I told you I was gonna take you out on a real New York City date, and I meant it.”
“Fine,” she said, feigning annoyance.
By some small miracle, a cab barreling down the street toward them pulled over. Ronan opened the door, and Maddy scooted in quickly. Ronan slipped in behind her and whispered to the driver.
“You got it, man.” The cabbie hit the meter and pulled away.
“I have a love-hate relationship with surprises.” Maddy shivered and adjusted the scarf around her neck. “I don’t even get a hint?”
“Nope.” Ronan sat on his side of the backseat with a smug smile on his face and his hands folded in his lap. “No hints.”
Maddy adjusted her position and pressed her body into the corner, a move meant to keep distance between them but also to allow her to study him. Except that her coat fell open when she did, and since the hem of her skirt had ridden up to precarious heights, it offered a generous view of her legs. She went to cover them but quickly recalled the way she’d caught him staring at them back at her apartment.
The emotional roller coaster had Maddy feeling more adventurous and alive than she had in a good, long while. She could blame it on the wine, but that would have been a lie. It wasn’t booze or loneliness. It was the man in the cab next to her that had her head spinning and her body burning.
He was spot-on. She did love being in control. If she had to be at the mercy of her overheated libido, then she would grab the wheel.
“That’s a damn shame.” Maddy sighed. “I do love a good…hint.”
Ronan, who had been looking out the window, turned—to argue with her, no doubt. But when he caught sight of her bare legs, Maddy shivered beneath the weight of his heated stare. His eyes, which had seemed greener in the restaurant’s lighting, now gleamed smoky gray as they drifted slowly over her. She couldn’t move. He pinned her there with his gaze, and in that instant, there was nowhere else on earth Maddy would rather have been.
“Something wrong, Ronan?” Maddy lifted her knee, gently adjusting her legs and doing nothing to cover them. “You look a little pale. Are you feeling alright?”
“I’m feeling a few things”—his voice was gruff and strained—“but none of them would be classified as alright.”
His heavy-lidded stare slammed into her, and the force of it drove all the air from her lungs. Maddy couldn’t move. A hungry, almost feral look was carved into his features. The lights of the city outside flickered over him and highlighted the sharp angles of his well-chiseled jaw, wide cheekbones, and firm, full lips. But what stood out were those intense, glittering eyes peering intently from beneath jet-black brows.
“That so?” Maddy’s tongue flicked out and moistened her lower lip. “Then how would you classify them? What words would you choose?”
Ronan’s hand shot out with the same lightning-fast reflexes he’d used to catch her in the park, but this time his touch carried a far different purpose. It wasn’t safe or comforting. It was hot and demanding.
His wide palm seared along the exposed flesh of her bare calf, and his fingers fluttered lightly beneath the crook of her knee. She gasped and bit her lower lip when he leaned closer and rested his arm along the top of the seat, closing in on her. He studied her intently, and Maddy fought the urge to moan when his thumb brushed over her kneecap. Ronan lifted her leg ever so slightly and ran his hand along the inside of her lower thigh.
She was cornered. Trapped between him and the door of the cab. Her breath came in short jags, and her hands were clamped around the small evening bag in her lap. Maddy was afraid that if she moved even one inch, the exquisite sexual tension between them—the rising, burning swell of lust and need—would shatter her into a million pieces.
“I’ve never been great with words,” Ronan murmured. “I’ll have to show you instead.”
His hand moved higher up her thigh, and his hot breath, infused with a hint of wine, fanned over her cheek and made her dizzy. His fingers pressed into the sensitive flesh of her leg, gently but insistently, and Maddy moaned. When he brushed his firm lips across the corner of her mouth, the dam broke.
On a groan filled with desperate carnal need, Maddy grabbed his face and kissed him. His arm slipped behind her and held her close as his tongue sought to possess hers. The kiss was rough and edged with passionate desperation, as though neither of them could get close enough. She tangled her fingers in his dark hair and uncrossed her legs as he deepened the kiss, his hard, muscular body pressing her deeper into the seat. She reveled in the weight and feel of him. All she wanted to do was get lost in the all-consuming force that was Ronan McGuire.
Neither of them realized the cab had stopped.
“Yo, lovebirds,” the cabbie shouted. “You want I should keep the meter running or what?”
Both of them were breathing heavily when Ronan broke the kiss. He didn’t let her go. One hand remained curled possessively around the top of her inner thigh, and the other was pinned behind Maddy’s back.
“Where are we?” Maddy said in a shaky voice. She slid her hands down to his chest and grabbed the lapels of his coat before looking past him to the window. “You planned on taking me to the Plaza Hotel?”
“Not the hotel! I was going to take you on a carriage ride,” he said between heavy breaths. “But—”
“Driver?” Maddy’s lips curved into a smile. She was going to do exactly what she’d told herself she wouldn’t. “Change of plans. Take us to 115 Central Park West.”
“You got it, lady.”
Ronan pressed a kiss to her lips as the cab pulled away from the curb. Then he sat up and adjusted her coat to cover her legs.
“I guess I do like being in control,” she whispered.
“I just discovered something, Mads.” Ronan curled his arm over her shoulders and pulled her against him. “There’s only one thing I enjoy more than surprising you.”
“What’s that?” She snuggled into his embrace and rested her head on his chest. “Living up to your nickname?”