Book 2 in the Sweet Love Series – Gina’s story – Releasing from Entangled Lovestruck July 18, 2016
When Officer Rick Boyd answers a call about a peeping Tom, he doesn’t expect to find a gorgeous woman holding the binoculars. But Gina Silvano’s no peeping Tom, and she can catch her cupcake truck’s kinky vandals herself, thank you very much. No sexy cops required.
No matter how hot their stakeouts, by-the-book Officer Boyd can’t see a future with a dangerous, rule-breaking wild-child who despises the law. He’s never felt more alive, though, and expunging her from his heart might be impossible.
But loving each other might cost them more than they are able to give.
Gina Silvano raised the binoculars to her eyes once again, though they did little good. It was night and they weren’t night-vision goggles. This created a problem. But the cupcake truck she was scoping out was parked in the small driveway of the Street Treats bakery under a streetlamp. So she could kind of see it. Enough to know when a person walked up to it, which was all she really needed. Someone had broken into the truck twice now over the last month and a half, and she wasn’t leaving her perch on the fire escape outside old Mrs. Bogetti’s apartment until she found out who it was.
Mrs. Bogetti, unfortunately, wasn’t exactly on board with the whole game plan. She stuck her gray head full of rollers out the window for the third time in the fifteen minutes Gina had been there.
“Gina Silvano, I’m not going to tell you again. You get off my fire escape right this minute with those things!”
Gina waved her away. “Shh! Keep it down. I won’t be out here long. And it’s not your fire escape anyway. It’s attached to the building. I have every right to be on it.”
“Not with those binoculars you don’t, young lady. Spying on who knows who. You should be ashamed of yourself. And right in front of my window, too. What’ll people think?”
Gina rolled her eyes and went back to watching the truck. “No one can see, Mrs. Bogetti. That’s kind of the point. Pretend I’m not here,” she said. “As soon as I find out who’s breaking into my truck I’ll stay away from your window, I promise.”
“I don’t see why you have to be in front of my window. You can see across the street perfectly fine from one floor up. Or the roof.”
Gina shook her head. “You are the only one with a nice big potted plant to hide behind. And we’re at the perfect height to see everything clearly without being too far away. Besides, the roof is filthy.”
Mrs. Bogetti folded her arms and glared at Gina. “If someone is breaking into your truck, you should call the police. Let them handle it.”
“The police won’t bother with this. Nothing’s ever been stolen. They’d think it was a waste of their time.”
“If nothing’s ever been stolen, then how do you know it’s been broken into?”
Gina sighed, wishing the old lady would go back to her Law & Order marathon and leave Gina to her spying. “Because the truck was left a mess. Things knocked off shelves and enough frosting, flour, and sprinkles strewn around to suggest somebody had a very good time. And since it wasn’t me, then someone else must be breaking in to screw around in my truck. And I’m going to catch them doing it.”
Mrs. Bogetti gasped and slapped a hand to her ample bosom. “Who would do such a thing?”
Gina blew her breath out. “My guess is my ex, Tony. I found his high school ring under one of the cabinets after the first break-in.”
“Well, there you go! Proof! Call the cops and let them take care of it so you can get off my fire escape before you get yourself arrested for being a Peeping Tom.”
“I told you, they won’t do anything. Besides, Tony’ll deny it. But I know it’s his. He’s the only thirty-year-old idiot I know who still wears his high school ring.”
Granted, it was possible he’d lost it during one of their own romps in the truck. But Gina didn’t feel the need to share that bit of info with Mrs. Bogetti. Anyway, it was much more likely the jack-hole had been bringing some bimbo around in a sick attempt to get back at Gina for dumping his pathetic ass.
“Well, if someone is doing that in your truck that’s just…unsanitary. You serve food out of that!” Trust Mrs. Bogetti to focus on the food rather than the fact that her truck was being broken into.
“I sanitize the truck every morning, Mrs. Bogetti, and I did that even before this happened. Everything is perfectly okay to serve, I promise.”
Mrs. Bogetti humphed. “I still say you should call the police and let them handle it.”
Gina tried to keep her temper in check, but if Mrs. Bogetti didn’t clam up, all this talking was going to alert Tony that something was up. “I have no proof. Yet. He’ll deny it, and then it’s his word against mine. But I never had a lick of trouble with my truck until we broke up. The coincidence is a little too convenient for me. So. I’m going to park my ass right here on this fire escape until I find out exactly who is kinking up my truck. I’ll call the cops once I’ve caught him with his pants down and he can’t deny it. After I junk-punch him a few times, of course.”
“Well, I want no part of this,” Mrs. Bogetti said, planting her fists on her hips.
“Never invited you along. Now hush and I’ll be out of your hair in no time.”
Mrs. Bogetti spun on her heels and marched off, her slippers slapping on her linoleum floors.
“Finally,” Gina muttered. She had no way of knowing for sure when Tony and his latest flavor of the month would show up, but the weekend right after payday was always a good bet. The other two break-ins had occurred when Tony usually got his paycheck. Making her more certain it was him. Payday was about the only time the man had cash to take a date out. He wasn’t the type to put money aside for a rainy day. If he wanted to go out, he did it when he got paid, because by the time the next payday rolled around, he was broke.
Which meant tonight was a great night for him to try it again.
A cop car pulled up beside the apartment building, and Gina swore under her breath. She leaned over and poked her head into Mrs. Bogetti’s open window. “You seriously called the cops on me?”
“For you, dear. Not on you,” the woman said with an angelic smile. “Well, maybe it’s more like a killing-two-birds kind of thing. I don’t want no Peeping Toms hanging around my fire escape. And you need help catching your pervert.”
A knock sounded at the door and Mrs. Bogetti said, “Look at that. Here already. I bought their calendar last year, so I must be on the fast-response list.”
Gina scowled and rolled her eyes but got back to watching for Tony. “There’s no such thing as a fast-response list. And I’m not leaving.”
Mrs. Bogetti shrugged. “Says you. Let’s see what the nice officers have to say. You should have called them in the first place, you know.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Gina muttered. The cops couldn’t make her leave. She wasn’t doing anything wrong. She didn’t think. Until then she was going to wait for… And speak of the devil…
Gina sat up straighter and aimed the binoculars at the corner near the bakery.
“Son of a bitch.”
Tony strolled down the street, his arm wrapped around some bleached blonde with hooker heels and a dress that looked painted on.
“Gotcha, douche bag.”
“Ma’am, I’m going to have to ask you to come inside.”
Gina jumped, startled at the deep voice behind her. Her gaze met a pair of incredible eyes belonging to an insanely gorgeous man. His eyes looked blue, but that might have been because of what he was wearing. When he leaned out the window a little farther so she could see his face without his clothing being in her eyesight, they appeared grayer. His thick brown hair was cropped close to his scalp on the sides, a little longer at the top. His full lips were moving, but she wasn’t registering what he said. A tiny scar trailed down from the corner of his mouth. What had caused that?
She had a vague recollection of someone who looked like him only with a whole lot more skin showing. A lot of seriously chiseled, orgasm-inducing, rock-hard, mouthwatering skin showing. Where had she seen him before?
“Ma’am?” he asked.
His eyes looked blue again. The dark blue of his uniform must be…wait, uniform?
Shit, he was a cop.
She jerked away, but before she could scuttle off, his hand shot out and grabbed her ankle.
“I’m going to have to ask you to stay put, ma’am,” he said, not squeezing her ankle but holding on tightly enough that she wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
That didn’t mean she was going to stop trying. She tugged on his grip. “It’s miss, not ma’am.”
“Her name is Gina Silvano. She lives a few blocks down but she works right across the street. She’s trying to catch a pervert and I don’t want no part of that!” Mrs. Bogetti helpfully supplied.
The cop’s mouth quirked up. “Out here trying to catch perverts, huh? Seems like a strange hobby for a nice young lady like yourself.”
Gina frowned at him. “You have no idea what kind of woman I am, though I think it’s pretty obvious I’m not all that young. And you don’t look much older than me, so it’d be great if you stop talking at me like you’re some geriatric rent-a-cop. And yeah, I am trying to catch a pervert. He’s standing right down there and if you don’t let go of my foot he’s going to get away. So. Let. Go!” she said, kicking out with each word. Didn’t help, though. The man had a viselike grip on her leg.
Mrs. Bogetti pushed the cop’s shoulder. “Well go on, get her off my fire escape. I don’t want no pervert-watchers hanging around my window. She’s a nice girl deep down. She needs help, she just doesn’t want to ask for it.”
The cop looked like he was barely containing his laughter, but he dutifully climbed out the window onto the fire escape and gently hauled Gina to her feet. He peered down at the street.
“You’re stalking the guy with the blonde down there? He doesn’t look like a pervert.”
“Shows how much you know. And I’m not stalking him. Now let go!” she said again.
His partner stood near the window, watching and not even bothering to hide his amusement. The guy was full-on laughing his ass off in Mrs. Bogetti’s living room.
“Ah, thanks for calling us in on this one, Mrs. B. We always get the boring calls. About time we got a fun one.”
Gina tried to glare at Officer Laughs-a-Lot while shoving his gorgeous partner. Without actually shoving him, of course. The last thing she needed was an assault against an officer charge. But damn it, Tony was right below her, and the cop was blowing her shot at catching him.
“Miss, you really need to come back inside now. Give me the binoculars…”
Gina ignored him and looked back across the street to see Tony and his date looking in their direction. She ducked behind the plant, though from Tony’s angle it would be hard to get a good look at their section of the fire escape. Which is why she had chosen this spot.
She tried to ignore Officer Annoying, Sir Chuckles, and Mrs. B yelling, laughing, and/or trying to coax her inside, and peered around the plant. Tony wasn’t trying to break into her truck. He was trying to get a look at the fiasco on the fire escape. And he’d certainly noticed the cop car parked in front of the building. Damn it all to hell. He was going to bolt for sure.
Not even two seconds later, he grabbed his date and took off down the street as fast as her heels would carry her.
“Great!” Gina said, rounding on the cop. “Now he’s taking off. He might have been planning to break into my truck again and you guys had to go and scare him off.”
“Miss, you need to step back inside. You are disturbing the peace—”
“I’m not disturbing anything. You’re the one disturbing me. I’m not doing anything wrong,” she said, folding her arms and glaring up at him. “I’m not trespassing, I’m not hurting anyone, and I’m spying on my own truck. It’s not like I’m being a perv or anything. Somebody has been breaking into my truck and I’m trying to find out who is doing it and the prime suspect just took off down the street, thanks to you!”
“If someone is breaking into your truck, then you should file a report and we’ll—”
“You’ll do nothing! No offense, but cops are completely worthless unless they are harassing people—”
“Seems to me you are the one harassing people, miss. Now if you’d…”
“Stop calling me miss. It’s condescending.”
The cop frowned at her, his jaw popping. “I didn’t intend it to be. But I meant it. You can’t go climbing fire escapes and spying on people. It’s borderline trespassing and depending on how far you encroach on your neighbors and their property, they have cause to file reports against you.”
“How far I encroach? What century were you born in? I’m not encroaching on anyone or anything. If Mrs. Bogetti didn’t insist on sticking her nose into everyone’s business she wouldn’t have even noticed me out here. I wasn’t bothering her or anyone else.”
“That’s not quite the case, since she was obviously bothered enough to call us.”
“Oh whatever. Mrs. B calls you guys if someone sneezes too loud, and you know it.”
He laughed and shook his head. “Be that as it may, she made the complaint, and I’m not leaving you out here.”
Gina’s annoyance ran out of steam as the cop stared down at her. He folded his arms across his chest, and the bulge of his biceps looked like it was testing the cheap fabric of his uniform. That niggling feeling she’d had finally clicked.
“You’re Mr. June. From the policemen’s calendar.” She pointed at the calendar hanging on the wall near the window.
His eyes widened a bit—his expression changing from vague amazement that some woman was berating him (though come on, this was New Jersey, it couldn’t be the first time it had happened) to…was that embarrassment? His lips pulled into a smile that had her belly clenching in all kinds of delicious ways. The kind of smile a man gave a woman after a night of marathon sex. When he knew he’d done something very, very right and was proud of it.
And he wasn’t wrong. It was August, and Mrs. B’s calendar was still on his picture. Gina wasn’t a particular fan of cops, but she might have to start making an exception for a calendar of half-naked men. At least if he was in it.
He certainly didn’t need to know that, though.
“You have the policemen’s calendar?” he asked.
Her eyes narrowed. “I was talking about Mrs. B’s in there.”
“Oh? You don’t have one?”
“A friend of mine gave one to me once. I used it for dart practice.”
He laughed, a husky, throaty sound that resonated deep in her gut. She cleared her throat and almost dropped her gaze. But there was no way she was going to let some cop intimidate her. For any reason. She stuck her chin up.
He sighed and took hold of her arm. “If you’ll step inside, please.”
The warmth from his skin soaked into hers, and she pulled away. The man was a cop. Who’d ruined what was probably the perfect chance to catch Tony in the act. No warm and fuzzies were allowed.
“I don’t see why I need to go inside. I came from down there,” she said, pointing to the street below. “I’m sure Mrs. B doesn’t want me in her apartment. She called the cops on me, after all, and—”
“Don’t mind at all, dear,” Mrs. Bogetti said, popping her head out the window. “I just didn’t want you on the fire escape spying on who-knows-who with those goggles of yours.”
The cop gestured toward the window.
Gina sighed. “Fine, Officer…” She squinted at his name badge. “Boyd. Whatever you say.”
She gathered up her spy gear and shoved it all in a backpack before ducking into Mrs. Bogetti’s apartment. Nat was going to give her so much shit for this. The cops had been busting Gina’s balls for months because of her parking, driving, jaywalking…pretty much anything she had done, they’d seemed to find fault with. And now, she finally had an opportunity to really let a pain-in-the-ass cop have it and she only got a few words out, before the fact that the officer was the most gorgeous specimen of hunked-up manhood she’d ever seen made her go soft in the head.
This day so needed to be over. Unfortunately, Officer Boyd looked like he was gearing up for a world-class lecture. Perfect. Exactly what she needed after the craptastic end to her almost-successful stakeout. He droned on and on about the rights and wrongs of spying and trespassing to the point that even he looked bored with it.
Gina was so done. He’d said she must go inside. And she had. But he hadn’t said she had to stay there. She turned on her heel in the middle of a quote of some statute or law and marched through Mrs. Bogetti’s living room to the front door. Gina had her hand on the knob when he stopped her.
“We’re not quite through, Miss…?”
“Silvano,” Mrs. Bogetti supplied helpfully. “Gina Silvano.”
“I’m cutting you off, Mrs. B. No more free cupcakes,” Gina said, scowling at her neighbor.
The old woman just smiled at her and went to get the officers a glass of iced tea.
Gina turned around to grasp the doorknob again, but stopped in her tracks when Officer Boyd’s finger touched the back of her neck.
“Did that hurt?” he asked, lightly running his finger over the tattoo on the sensitive skin beneath her hairline.
She turned back around, breaking the contact, though a large part of her wanted to lean back into his touch, not move away from it. What the hell? She really needed to get a grip.
“Yeah,” she said.
“Why do it then?”
She frowned at him, trying to figure out his game. Why in the world did he care? “I liked the sentiment.”
“‘Always’? With a lightning bolt?” he asked with a small grin.
Her lips stretched into an answering smile before she could stop herself. “I like Harry Potter, too. Sue me.”
He laughed. “Seems like ‘I solemnly swear I’m up to no good’ would be more appropriate for you.”
She turned and blinked innocently at him. “Who says I don’t have that on some other part of my body?”
His eyes widened. There. She’d let him chew on that thought for a while. Served him right.
Officer Boyd cleared his throat, all business again. “Miss Silvano, I meant what I said. If your truck gets vandalized again, call us. Don’t try to find or confront the culprits yourself. It could be dangerous.”
“I know who the culprit is. I just can’t prove it yet. I can handle Tony. Are we done?”
The officer looked her over, his forehead creasing in a frown. “I think it’s best if I escort you home. Make sure you don’t get in any more trouble on the way.”
“Are you going to cuff me, too?” She held up her wrists, making sure her tone was as sarcastically sweet as she could make it.
His gaze burned into hers, heating up until she could feel an answering warmth spreading through her. He leaned closer so only she could hear. “Only if you want me to.”