Title: Moon in Mazatlan
Author: C. L. Kraemer
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 4
Follow Detective Corey Williams on a fugitive hunt to Mexico with a Harley riding, red-haired, tall reporter who is stealing his heart while getting the news story of the year.
Detective Corey Williams is content with his small town Virginia home. Normally, his busiest night is Saturday, but when his best friend’s ex-wife attempts to have him killed, Corey gives his promise to ensure justice is served. Meeting a red-haired, Harley riding goddess has thrown a wrench in his quiet staid life. Only one hiccup in this situation; the goddess is a reporter. When the ex-wife of his friend flees the country, the reporter makes sure she is right behind Detective Williams. He is oath bound to bring the fugitive ex-wife back for trial. What he hadn’t counted on was falling for the Harley riding reporter.
Corey turned to the goddess residing next to him. "Hello, I'm Corey." He'd stuck out his hand. The redhead surveyed him head to toe. She took his hand in hers and firmly shook it.
The husky alto reply sent shivers up his back. He opened his mouth to ask a question.
"Attention! Can I have everyone's attention?" Someone at the head table was speaking into a handheld microphone. The room quieted and Tom Manning stood up. "Hello, everyone. Most of you know me but for those who don't, I'm Tom Manning. I've been Justin's best friend since we were kids in grade school."
Everyone shouted, "Hi, Tom," then erupted into laughter.
"To continue..." Tom grinned. "It wasn't too long ago things looked pretty bleak around here. But thankfully, we've all made it through and are here today to celebrate the wedding of Justin and Diane Anderson, two people who, this time last year, were determined not to get married again. Aren't we glad they changed their minds?"
Guests whistled and clapped.
"If you'll all raise your glasses, please." Tom lifted his champagne glass to the newlyweds. "To Justin and Diane… I wish you a lifetime of happiness and whatever success you desire. May you never go to bed angry and may you always find laughter in your lives. Cheers!"
The room was filled with the sound of clinking glasses and applause. Corey turned to the enchantress he'd just met and found himself facing an empty seat. He sighed. Today is just not my day.
The call went out for all unmarried men to assemble in the center of the room. Corey struggled out of his chair to join a small group of young boys and grandfathers in the center of the reception room. The wedding garter was removed and tossed to the rowdy group. Absently, he put his hand up and choked when the garter landed in his palm. Great. Just what I need… the threat of marriage, again.
He looked to the head table to find Riona smirking at him. The unmarried women were commanded to appear on the floor, and Corey watched closely to see if the enchantress would respond. He smiled to himself. She was easy to spot standing head and shoulders taller than the other women. He easily related to her slightly bored expression. She doesn't want to spoil this for Justin and Diane any more than I do.
The center of the room began to bubble with giggles and jostling for position, except for the tall redhead who stood at the back of the group, tightly crossed arms supporting her impressive bust line. The bride turned her back to the rowdy group, and on the shouted count of three threw the bouquet over her head. The crowd rushed forward to capture the prize but it sailed over everyone's head and landed in Riona's folded arms. Corey exploded in laughter at the shocked expression on her face. A camera flash caught the moment. Straightening to her full five foot eleven inches of height, she bowed from the waist and proceeded back to the head table.
"Who the hell came up with these archaic traditions anyway?" she growled as she plopped into the chair.
"I have no clue, but I don't think they're going away anytime soon," Corey said.
"I could live without everyone giving me flak about being single," she said.
"I know what you mean. Everybody has a cousin they're sure you need to meet. Not all of us have a desire to be married," Corey said.
"Boy, have you got that right! I've done damn well without a husband so far, and it doesn't look like I'll be having too many problems in the future requiring one," Riona responded.
"Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention please," the DJ announced. "The bride and groom will start this dance alone. On my signal I'd like the wedding party to join them on the floor then the rest of you can come out and dance. Justin? Diane? If you please?"
The newlyweds floated to the center of the floor and began gliding when the music started. They had danced for a few minutes when the DJ asked the rest of the wedding party to join them on the floor.
"I guess that means us." Corey turned to Riona, saying hopefully, "I'll understand if you say no. I haven't danced in nearly ten years. I could do some major damage on your feet."
"No, that's fine. Let's not spoil the day for our friends. Shall we?" Riona nodded to the dance floor.
Corey rose from his chair and moved to help her. He offered his arm and, with Corey limping, they walked on to the dance floor. Tom Manning had taken Justin's daughter as his partner and was twirling her around the floor. Corey turned to Riona and froze. He stood eye to eye with the elegant beauty. Oh, Lord! I've forgotten how to do this!
Riona moved into him and, placing one hand on his shoulder, the other in his hand, began to move him around the floor.
"I can't believe I've forgotten how this is done," Corey moaned.
"Don't worry. It's like a bike. You crawl on, kick start the engine, and it will all come back to you," she smiled at him for the first time.
He caught his breath at the difference the smile made on her features. She is so gorgeous. I'd never stand a chance with her. Those dark eyes and luscious lips are so—so captivating. If I don't stop staring at her, I'll do something stupid like kiss her.
She turned her head and he noticed the dangling silver earring touching against her shoulders. "Your earrings are very beautiful—unicorns with an emerald?"
"You have a good eye for jewelry. Yes, I had the necklace," she touched her hand to her neck, "and Diane made me a gift of the earrings as thanks for helping her with the wedding."
"They're really beautiful," he said. The emerald Harley with unicorn tank, unicorn earrings with emerald eyes; I really hope I'm wrong.
"Thank you. By the way, is there a reason for the limp?" she asked.
"My feet are killing me. My best friend decided to marry on the hottest day of the year and force me to wear these wretched shoes, which don't breathe; hence, my feet are swelling. I don't have any problem when I wear my cowboy boots. Right now, I can't feel my feet. Please tell me I haven't stepped on your toes," he said.
"Nah, you haven't gotten me yet. Listen, I hope you don't mind but I've an early morning appointment and I need to get some beauty sleep. Can we continue this another time?" she asked; the low sexy tones of her voice barely audible over the music.
"Oh, sure. I've a long day tomorrow and should probably think about my own beauty sleep. Shall we?" Corey motioned for her to lead them back to their chairs.
"Finally. I can change to some comfortable clothes," she smiled and moved toward the exit door.
Man, I'm an idiot. I should have asked if she wanted to have coffee sometime. Boy, did I blow my chances. Corey grabbed the coffee container on the table and poured himself a cup. I should go home and get some rest, but I can sleep anytime. It's so great to see Justin and Diane happy. They deserve this.
He watched his friend dance with his wife. The couple stared dreamily at each other, oblivious to the crowd around them. The music stopped and a comfortable silence settled on the room. Corey watched a tall figure stride cross the empty dance floor. Clad in black leather from boots to headscarf, the figure leaned over and grabbed the microphone from the DJ.
Corey's stomach lurched.
"I need someone to give me a ride to the police station. My Harley's been stolen," the figure removed the glasses and scarf.
Corey groaned when he saw the flash of red hair. I wish my instincts hadn't been right this time.
It was Riona Byrne.