Deputy Sheriff James Darcy has been chasing after Jude since high school, when she showed up out of nowhere and gave him a black eye for picking on a freshman. For just as long, Jude has been running away from James and all the things he makes her feel. As Johnson County begins to burn around them in the midst of scandal, they will have to sideline their chase and work together to save The Stables, their friends, and the entire county from the fires of corruption. The corruption in Johnson County runs deep and old, though, and it will force Jude and James to dredge up unwanted memories and face misunderstood pasts if they have any hope of building a future together. Set in Texas, The Stables is a Contemporary Romance series with light BDSM elements and mature themes.
The first thought that crosses my mind as my boot heels clack against the old wooden porch is that I really shouldn’t be here. In fact, I should probably be anywhere but here. God have mercy, I’ve finally lost my damn mind.
Fisting my shaking hand, I knock three times on the door. A heavy sigh exhales as the hand falls back to my side, and my heart races against my chest. So many times, I’ve thought about this moment. About being here where I shouldn’t be. About giving in to what I’ve wanted for so long.
And before this house, this porch and this quaint neighborhood, it was the five trailers over from my mom’s, in Alvarado’s only official trailer park. Back then, we’d both been dirt poor and fighting to raise our heads above our circumstances. Back then, Jude still didn’t give me the time of day unless she was beating my ass for being an idiot.
Back then, I’d sneak out at night to stare at the light in her bedroom window, wondering how we’d both gotten stuck in that park; both with single mothers, only hers was a-
The door opens and Jude’s looking at me like I’m completely lost, and maybe a bit crazy. I’m pretty damn sure I’m both right now. I try and smile to cover all the uncertainties.
Just seeing her in daylight, outside the club’s red lights or without her courtroom pants-suit armor on, has my heartstrings twitching... and other things. Damn. Her cinnamon eyes are glowing in the dusk’s muted orange sunlight, those full lips of hers are slightly pursed, and her short, compact body with all its glorious curves has me at attention.
And so does my realization that she’s dressed up a bit. Like she’s going out. On a date?
Well, ain’t that just peachy.
“Hey, Jude.” As always, that song starts singing in my head.
“Is everything okay?” she asks, stepping onto the porch and closing the door behind her. “I filed the restraining order on behalf of Sarah, but Bruce can’t officially order it until Monday.”
Damn. I definitely should have called first. Not even two words out of my mouth, and she’s gone into lawyer mode – as if our jobs and our mutual friends would be the only reason I should ever have my boots on her front porch.
“They found Kylie, and she’s okay.”
“I know.” Her words to me are stiff, as they always seem to be when we aren’t at The Stables. “Everyone sent me a text last night, letting me know.”
Disappointment sours my gut when she stops there, failing to mention the text I sent her. Did Brandon pull another joke on me and give me some stranger’s number? Hell, I’d been so shocked when he handed it over, telling me to call her, that I hadn’t had the mind to be as suspicious as I should’ve been.
Years now, I’ve been dropping hints at The Stables to try and coax the number from her. I tried using work as an excuse, too, but she’d always give me her office number at the courthouse. Maybe she had good reason not to give it to me, and this morning I’d crossed a line.
Dammit. But, it ain’t like she doesn’t drop hints of her own. I swear, she’s fighting me for reasons that neither one of us understands.
Clearing my throat, I take off my grey, badge-pinned Stetson and hold it in my hands to try and keep them still. “Sorry, I wasn’t sure if you’d heard,” or got my message... “And I just got off shift, so I thought I’d stop by.”
“Surprised you remember where I live.”
“Yeah, it’s been a while.”
Technically, I haven’t been here since delivering the bad news about Matias, but, off the record, I drive by the place on a regular basis. She wants her space, and I’ve tried my damnedest to respect that, but maybe after all the crazy that’s happened with everyone in the past few months... I don’t know, maybe I’m tired of the space.
One of her small, deceptively delicate-looking hands raises to her ample hips, and I know I’m in trouble. “Was there anything else, officer?”
Why is it on Fridays I can play the Dom as easy as second nature, but the rest of the time I’m dancing to the crack of her whip? I’m a bit of a Switch, I know, but I’m no pure submissive. Except when it comes to Judith, and it’s so damn confusing.
Rabbit, I get. Mostly.
Judith keeps me so far up on my toes it’s a wonder I ain’t auditioned for the Dallas ballet.
But, I have to admit that I kinda like the dance, even though it’s wearing me out. Maybe she’s waiting on me to change the tune? Maybe she wants me to stop being a Switch and to take the lead in the daylight? Maybe she- Maybe she wants me to say something, because now her foot is tapping against the porch.
Yup. I’ve lost my head to this woman as much as my heart.
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