Most Wanted Woman. Maggie Price
SGT. NATE MCCALL, OCPD
Badge No. 1197: Joshua McCall
Rank: Sergeant, Sex Crimes Division, OCPD
Skill/Expertise: A maverick with a passion for seeing justice done, known to bend the rules to get what—or who—he wants.
What We Know: Currently ending a leave of absence, the cop in McCall is intrigued by the gorgeous newcomer working at his favorite watering hole. And the man in him won’t be able to ignore the allure of her dangerous beauty….
Subject: Regan Ford
Current Profession: Bartender, Person of Interest
What We Know: This sexy newcomer is tight-lipped about her past, and jittery as hell around cops. Whatever she’s hiding, McCall is jeopardizing his already-endangered career—and his heart—by getting closer to the enigmatic bartender.
Most Wanted Woman
is no stranger to law enforcement. While on the job as a civilian crime analyst for the Oklahoma City Police Department, she analyzed robberies and sex crimes, and snagged numerous special assignments to homicide task-forces.
While at OCPD, Maggie stored up enough tales of intrigue, murder and mayhem to keep her at the keyboard for years. The first of those tales won the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart Award for Romantic Suspense. Maggie is also the recipient of Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in series romantic suspense.
Maggie invites her readers to contact her at 416 N.W. 8th St., Oklahoma City, OK 73102-2604, or on the Web at www.maggieprice.net.
For Debbie Cowan, my esteemed pal and “mediator,” for bucking me up and bailing me out more times than I can count.
The instant the stranger stepped through the tavern’s front door, a weight dropped on Regan Ford’s chest, pressing against her heart so hard she could hear the panicked beat of it in her ears.
In his denim work shirt and worn jeans he looked tall, tough and sinewy. He stood with his feet wide, chest a bit forward for balance. His right leg was slightly back, as if keeping an invisible holster out of reach.
Cop! her senses warned.
The quick, instinctive fear of cornered prey had her swiveling toward the cash register. Fear barreling in like a locomotive, she rang up the pitcher of beer she’d just served to the pair of grizzled regulars gossiping about the day’s catch. Keeping her back to the man, she focused her gaze on the mirror that spanned the length of the bar. Her breathing grew shallow as she studied him through the gray haze of smoky air.
His thick, black hair brushed the wrinkled collar of the shirt that was rolled up at the sleeves to reveal muscled, sun-bronzed forearms. The faded jeans molded powerful legs. Dark stubble shadowed his jaw. There was a ruggedness about his tanned face that reached all the way to his eyes. Eyes that looked as sharp as a stiletto while he studied his surroundings.
Was he here for her? Had her flight from the law—which had begun exactly one year ago today—come to an end?
While a country song about the misery of lost love crooned from the jukebox, Regan did a quick survey of the patrons who sat shoulder to shoulder at every table and overflowed the booths. Except for a few stools at the bar, the only vacant seats belonged to the people crowded onto the dance floor. The panic sizzling through her made her want to cut and run, try to lose herself in the crowd, then slip out the back door where her car was parked. But if the cop was here for her, he’d be armed with more than just an arrest warrant. He would have a gun, and be within his legal rights to pull it while pursuing a wanted murderer. Her trying to make a break right now could get an innocent person hurt. Killed.
Regan reminded herself that people in this cozy, out-of-the-way town wouldn’t just stand by and watch him drag her away. She thought of Howie Lyons, the night shift cook working in the kitchen. Mindful of trouble that sometimes broke out when alcohol mixed with rowdy customers, Howie kept a Louisville Slugger stashed beneath the grill. Then there was Deni Graham.
Regan swept her gaze around the tavern’s dim interior until she spotted the blond waitress. Dressed in a snug red tank top and tight jeans, Deni stood at a table, laughing and flirting with six men while she jotted their orders on her pad.
Regan conceded she didn’t know her coworkers all that well. Wouldn’t let them get to know her. But she felt sure they would help her if the cop slapped a pair of cuffs on her. She would demand they call Sundown’s police chief, remind him it was within her rights to be locked up in his jail while she fought extradition to New Orleans. During that time, she could maybe figure out a way to escape and run. Again. For the rest of her life, she had to run.
Hands unsteady, she tidied the liquor bottles lining the bar’s mirrored shelf while she watched the cop through her lashes. A not-so-subtle masculine power drifted with him as he strode toward her across the peanut-shell-scattered wooden floor.
A faint, liquid tug in her belly had Regan blinking. For a year she had been dead inside. No laughter, no warmth, no feeling. That some sort of primitive awareness of this man, this cop, could spark something inside her had her spine going as stiff as a blade.
“Josh McCall!” Deni squealed then engulfed the stranger in a hug and gave him a smacking kiss on the mouth. “It’s about time you came back to Sundown.”
Regan eased out a breath. The waitress’s familiarity with the man went far toward assuring her he wasn’t there at the devil’s bidding.
Still, she was positive he carried a badge. Knowing that kept the prickles of fear at the back of her neck. She knew better than anyone there was no one more capable of treachery than a cop.
With the jukebox now between selections, the crack and clatter of pool balls drifted from the back room. Regan rolled her shoulders, attempting to ease her tension and turned in time to see the man send Deni a grin that was all charm.
“Long time no see, angel face.” They stood close enough to the bar for Regan to hear his voice, which was as smooth as the move he made to extract himself from Deni’s embrace.
“I swear, Josh, it seems like an eternity since you’ve been here.” She tugged him the few remaining steps to the bar while giving him the once-over. “You look as good as always.”
“So do you.”
Deni slid a palm up and down his arm. “When’d you get to town?”
“Just now. I wasn’t sure what I’d find in the cabin’s pantry so I decided to stop here first.”
She fluttered her lashes. “Maybe you’ll stay in Sundown long enough this time