Follow Detective Corey Williams on a fugitive hunt to Mexico with a Harley riding, red-haired, Amazon reporter who is stealing his heart and getting a story for her paper.
Detective Corey Williams finds himself drawn to the woman he escorted down the aisle of his best friend’s wedding. There are only two things wrong with her: she’s a reporter trying to get the inside story of the small town’s biggest criminal case, and he’s sworn off women since his messy divorce.
The prime suspect, Ashlee Anderson, his best friend’s ex-wife, escapes from jail and flees to Mexico with an accomplice she recruited from within the police department ranks. Corey Williams and Riona Byrne follow. Riona threatens to expose the department’s mistake if he doesn’t take her along; besides she speaks the language and he doesn’t.
They follow the trail of used, and tossed aside, men to Mazatlan where Ashlee has fled to meet up with, a lover of many years, a Mexican police officer. She expects not to be extradited and live out her time in Mexico but the lover has too much to lose.
Their journey has shown them both it is time to open their hearts and give love a try.
Corey shifted his bulk from one swollen foot to the other.
"I don't know why I couldn't wear my black cowboy boots," he muttered.
"Because you agreed to wear what everyone else is wearing, Corey Williams, or did you leave your memory at home with your badge?" Justin Anderson, dressed in a cream colored tuxedo punched Corey on the shoulder as he walked past his friend.
"When did I agree to that? I don't remember having a vote," Corey turned to Justin and crossed his arms over the cummerbund restraining his waistline.
"You didn't, neither did I nor anyone else. When I asked Diane to marry me, we all lost our votes about wedding stuff. You know, it's a girl thing. We guys go along because the benefits are so great," Justin winked at his friend and smiled as he watched Corey run a finger around the neckline of his tuxedo shirt pulling it away from his flushed neck.
"This damned thing is choking the life out of me. Why couldn't you guys have waited until winter to get married? Why'd you have to pick the hottest damn day in July? Hell, the birds have stopped singing. By the way, how much longer is this going to take?" he growled. He felt sweat trickling down his back as he stood under the shade of the centurion oak tree that graced the town square. The leaves hung limp in the heat of the day.
"I see the girls coming around the corner now. The tall redhead in the light blue is who you'll be escorting but you'd have known that if you'd shown up at the rehearsal," Justin said.
"Justin, I told you I'd be in your wedding if my workload allowed it. To be here today, I had to agree to work two nights for Bob. Oh, wow!"
Corey and Justin stood, mouths gaping, as Justin's bride, Diane, made her way toward the wedding party gathered inside the band gazebo. Her cream colored sheath dress hugged her trim form and the pikake floral headpiece that had been flown in from Hawaii stood out against Diane's dark hair. The sweet fragrance from the headband haloed around Diane. Corey watched his friend's face soften and take on that funny look he'd been wearing since the first time he'd met his fiance.
'I'd give a months pay to feel that way about somebody.'
Diane held out her hand and Justin, face beaming, led her to the center of the bandstand, wrapping his arms around her tiny waist, and gazing into her eyes.
Briana, Justin's daughter, exploded on to the town square dashing from the church steps over to Corey.
"Uncle Corey! Uncle Corey!"
She ran toward him and jumped, trusting he would catch her.
"Umph!" Corey grunted as the youngster landed in his arms. "You're getting too big for this, young lady." He placed her on the grass where she twirled in front of him, curtsied and fisted her hands on her developing hips.
"I'm not either. I'm thirteen-not a 'young lady'. Besides, Dad says you're stronger than people think and could stop a train if you really wanted. He says you're really, really strong. How'd you like my dress?" Briana twirled in front of Corey again.
"I think you, and your dress, are very beautiful. Look at how tall you are. I'll bet by the end of the year you're taller than me. Then you'll have to catch me." Corey smiled at Briana.
"Hello-o-o-o-o? I need everyone in the wedding party over here, please?" the photographer waved the wedding party to the gazebo where he manipulated everyone, as though they were store mannequins, while he took pictures from several angles.
"You boys have ten minutes," the minister's wife tossed over her shoulder as she herded the women to the church. Briana turned and waved at Corey.
"You're one lucky man, Justin," Corey said.
"Yeah, I sure am," Justin smiled, "but it almost didn't happen, remember? If you hadn't been so persistent about following the leads on those bombs planted at my house, I could've been pushing up daisies right now instead of marrying my soul mate," Justin turned to Corey and shook his hand, "You are a pain in the tukus, but a hell of a friend, Corey. Thanks."
Corey's face began to redden. He and Justin usually traded jabs back and forth, and he wasn't sure how to handle this compliment.
"Hey, you two, come on! Let's go!"
Tom Manning descended the gazebo steps and herded the two tuxedo clad men toward the church, chattering nervously from the park green to the church entry hall. Somewhere from the choir loft, strains of music wafted over the pews. The groomsmen ushered guests to their seats and, before Corey realized it, the time had come for him to aid his friend Justin in celebrating his wedding day.
Corey was trying hard not to let the green eyed monster overtake him. He and Justin had been friends since high school so he knew what kind of living hell Justin had gone through before he'd met Diane. Justin's parents and brother died in an auto accident, after which, he and his sister had been taken in and raised by their grandmother.
He'd become bewitched with Ashlee Cline against all his friends' advice. Ashlee had nearly killed him but had been captured in the process of trying to flee town. The only positive item of his marriage to Ashlee was his daughter Briana. Corey knew Justin deserved every bit of happiness that was coming his way, but it was hard not to feel envious.
Corey's own life was a shambles after his wife had suddenly decided to
"find herself" and divorced him. He'd learned to handle divorced life, but when she took the kids, disappeared and all his police contacts had dried up without finding his family, Corey had tossed in the towel. He quit dating and withdrew. He really was glad his friend Justin had been able to find someone like Diane.
'Who knows? Maybe I'll find someone to care for me, someday... yeah, right.'
Tom directed Corey to the center of the entry door. At the pressure of a hand slipping through his crooked elbow, he glanced to his side and found himself escorting the tall curvy redhead to the front of the church. They reached the altar, and separated, moving to opposite sides of the minister. Corey kept stealing glances in her direction.
'She's a knockout. Why haven't I noticed her around town before? When and where did Justin meet this woman? Is she a friend of Diane's?' Corey blushed crimson when he found himself looking directly into the beauty's eyes. He averted his attention toward the minister marrying his friends, watching as the couple kissed.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to introduce Justin and Diane Anderson."
The gathered friends and family clapped, smiled, and several women wiped away tears with tissues. Justin and Diane walked down the aisle to the strains of Chopin's Wedding March in the background.
"If I may have your attention," the minister was holding up his hand, "I've been asked to announce that the reception will be held at the new Oakdale Inn on the edge of town. Thank you."
The guests began to gather their belongings.
Corey felt the sweat trickle down his sides. He was going to escort the gorgeous redhead back down the aisle. Licking his lips, he turned, and offered his arm to her. 'She's got dark eyes and she's... stacked. How could I possibly miss this fox in a town this small?'
They stepped into the scorching sunlight stopping, for a moment, to try and catch their breath in the suffocating heat. Corey sensed the hand slip from his arm as he stood blinking in the blinding light. Before his eyes could adjust, the woman had vanished. He ran his finger around his stiffened collar, heat radiating through the opening, and looked around for the statuesque bridesmaid. When he couldn't locate the beauty, he sighed. 'I'd sure like to get out of this monkey suit, but Justin said the photographer wants to take more pictures at the reception.'
He clumped down the half dozen steps and lumbered to his truck. 'If nothing else, the Inn is air-conditioned. Who in their right mind gets married in July?' He watched as Justin and Diane drove off in her black Corvette toward the Inn.
Corey limped to his red pickup, the tight rented shoes pinching his swollen feet, and opened the door. The echo of a large motorcycle rumbled through the square and vibrated the air around the truck. He looked around while the guttural rumbling continued to shatter the peace of the small town square.
'The State Police know better than to gun their motorcycles in the center of town. Who the hell is creating so damn much noise?'
He grabbed the handle of his door and, placing a swollen foot on the step, pulled himself into the cab of his truck. He surveyed the square, filled with more cars today than usual, and looked down the surrounding streets, but still couldn't locate the source of the peace-shattering racket. Shrugging, he turned over the engine of the big red truck, steered it away from the curb, and drove slowly through the streets. Corey peered into his rear view mirror and frowned. A motorcycle roared past his slow moving vehicle, and sped out of the town center. He caught a glimpse of blue chiffon billowing in the breeze and a flash of red hair.