Book Excerpt: Cover Lessons by Mari Carr
Ellora’s Cave Publishing
Kelly narrowed her eyes, angrily glaring at Mac. “Are you implying that I’m arrogant, overbearing and opinionated?”
Meg snorted back a laugh before walking toward the door. “That sounds like my cue to leave.”
“Freeze! What are you implying, Meg?”
“Not a thing. I really need to go to class.”
“You think I’m arrogant and opinionated?” She was unwilling to let Meg off the hook. This was news to her.
“Listen—” Mac started. He must have sensed the tense undercurrent and was clearly hoping to break up the fight he’d started.
“Butt out.” She turned back to Meg. “Do you?”
“I think you’re an extremely self-confident, self-assured woman with a strong sense of right and wrong.”
“Good God.” She thought perhaps Mac’s comments were closer to the mark than she’d realized. “You think I’m a bitch!”
“Kelly,” Meg laughed. “Sweetheart, I think you’re the bee’s knees and you know it. You are just what I said.”
“Yeah, but all those words you used are synonyms for arrogant and opinionated and bitchy.” She frowned.
“Lord save me from English teachers,” Meg joked. “Tell you what, Mr. McNally—sorry, Mac. You started this so I’m going to let you finish it. Have a nice first day. You couldn’t ask for a better cooperating teacher than Kelly, by the way.” Meg walked out of the room. From the hallway, they could clearly hear her add the words, “Even if she is arrogant and opinionated!” Her jest was followed by her own loud, pleased laughter.
Kelly rolled her eyes, accustomed to Meg’s teasing manner. Turning around, she found Mac studying her closely, no doubt expecting her to blow up at her friend’s words.
“Meg has a rather twisted sense of humor.” She grinned despite the fact she was once again alone with the man who seemed capable of tying her insides in knots simply by entering a room.
“I don’t know.” He leaned back against the counter, drawing her attention once again to his muscular thighs. She couldn’t help but wonder what he looked like in swim trunks, or better yet a Speedo. Not that she’d ever find out, of course. After all, it was the middle of January in Virginia. He waited until her eyes returned to his face. The cocky look in his gaze let her know she’d been busted again and she shook her head for being so transparent. Damn man was reading her attraction to him like a book. “Meg seems to be an extremely intelligent and astute woman.”
“Such big words, Lieutenant.”
The immediate disappearance of his smile clued her in to her mistake. Glancing around quickly to make sure they were alone, she held up her hand to ward off the chastisement she read on his lips.
“Sorry. Slip of the tongue. It won’t happen again, I promise.”
He stalked toward her and she found herself backing up involuntarily at the anger she saw in his face. In four steps, she found herself cornered in the book room off the office, backed up against the wall and watching him kick the door shut with his foot. The room was tiny at best and finding herself in such close proximity to him left her struggling to take a deep breath.
“I said I was sorry.” However, he simply continued to glare at her.
“Sorry isn’t really enough, Kelly,” he said sternly. “If Meg or anyone else had been in that room, my cover would have been blown in an instant. Not only would you have ruined my chances of working here covertly, you would have made it next to impossible to sneak someone else in without raising suspicion.”
“I understand all of that.” She was unhappy with being treated like a child by this infuriating man.
“Do you?” he asked hotly. “Do you really? Because from where I’m standing it seems to me you’d be very happy to see this investigation fail.”
“That’s not true,” she retorted. “I don’t like the underhanded way you’re going about it, but I do realize the need for change. I don’t like my students being in danger and I’m perfectly aware of the fact that gangs are dangerous. Hell, I broke up two fights just last week outside my classroom door! I’m not an idiot.”
At his deepening scowl, she feared her words weren’t soothing his temper at all. “What do you mean you broke up two fights?”
She was taken aback by the quick change of topic. “Verbal altercations and a little shoving. Not fights, really.”
“Well, you won’t be doing that again.”
She was appalled by the man’s conceit. Surely he didn’t think he could solve all the school’s problems in one day? “Well excuse me, Mighty Miracle Worker, but I hardly think you can claim there won’t be any more fights simply because you’re in the building.”
“Oh there are bound to be more fights, but you won’t be breaking them up. Good God, woman, what were you thinking? Tiny thing like you? You could have been hurt.”
She was confused by his immediate about-face. One minute he was yelling at her for nearly blowing his cover and the next he was yelling at her for endangering herself. Infuriating, frustrating man. Anxious to recover the upper hand, she dismissed his words with a shrug of her shoulder. “It’s part of the job. Besides, as I recall, you were brought here to put an end to gangs taking over the hallways, not to act as my personal bodyguard. If trouble starts up again, I’ll step in.”
He leaned toward her as a smile she immediately distrusted claimed his handsome face. “Perhaps it’s time for us to establish some ground rules.”
“Rules?” His lips hovered mere inches from hers. The temperature in the small book room shot up and she fought the impulse to fan herself.
“You’re a teacher.” He moved even closer, although she wasn’t sure how that was possible given the fact that it already felt as if he were taking up every available square inch of the room. “No doubt you have rules in your classroom and consequences if those rules are broken. That might be a good idea for us as well.”
“Fine,” she choked out. “Rule one, you can’t keep—!”
He interrupted her. “Oh no, sweetheart. You misunderstand. I make the rules.”
Fury rippled through her at the thought of Mac attempting to impose a bunch of rules on her. Did the pompous male chauvinist pig actually think she would consent to such foolishness?
“You can kiss my ass if you think—”
“Careful, Kelly, you might not want to give me that particular permission. You see, there’s nothing I’d like so much as to kiss your…” He reached back to envelop her rear end in his strong hands, letting his fingers fill in the blanks.