Ruth Long’s Picture Choice: 1
Title: Michelins & Mascara
Summer evening. County road. Windows down. Radio up. Gears and pistons humming. Blacktop and rubber in harmony.
Sheriff wasn’t waiting at the bridge. That was unexpected. Even a little disappointing. But he didn’t alter the routine. Soon as he got to the northern juncture, he let the horses out of the barn. The GTO slid through the ‘s’ turns like a white wraith.
Red and blue lights hit his rear view a couple minutes later. Now it was Saturday night. He had license and registration in hand and smile in place before the officer exited the cruiser.
Course that smile went sideways when Deputy Neville’s feet hit the pavement. Although he’d never seen her in anything but the standard issue uniform, he’d imagined her out of uniform a hundred different ways, and not one of those had been anything like what he was looking at right now.
Bare porcelain skin and blonde ponytail were now exquisitely made up and swept up. The khaki uniform shirt had been traded for a snug steel blue sheath dress. Crisp slacks were replaced by shapely legs in sleek silk stockings and sensible shoes exchanged for stacked black heels.
She rapped on the window.
He rolled it down. “Evening, Deputy.”
He eyed the crimson curves of her mouth. “Hard to stick with the script seeing how you’re not dressed the part.”
“Let’s try it anyway, shall we?”
Business as usual. Okay. He grinned and said, “You’ll see my paperwork is in order.”
“What I don’t see, though, is a seatbelt for the passenger seat.”
“Out of uniform and off topic. Everything okay?”
“You want to make those tickets in your glove box disappear?”
He tried to keep his eyes from wandering. “Maybe. What do you have in mind?”
“Get me to Pike’s Valley in an hour and I’ll expunge your record.”
“You pulled me over for speeding and now you’re giving me a free pass to speed? What gives?”
“The PV Country Club before six and your record will be clear come Monday morning.”
“Any reason you can’t get there in your patrol car? I know it’s got the goods under the hood because you keep chasing me down with it.”
“Don’t want to show up to the Awards Banquet in my own unit.”
“Fair enough.” He nodded towards the passenger seat. “You’ll find the seatbelt in working order.”
She got in and buckled up.
The top of his hand brushed her bare knees as he returned the papers to the glovebox.
Turning the key in the ignition, all three hundred and fifty horses fired up and settled into a lovely little rumble.
He waited ten miles before making conversation. “So, you gonna collect any of those awards tonight?”
She nodded. “A few.”
“Don’t you have anybody you want to share that with?”
“No.” She looked out her window. “Well, yes, but it’s complicated.”
He chuckled. “Look, if there’s somebody you want to stop and pick up on the way, I got no objections. Just say the word.”
“Thanks, but that won’t be necessary.”
“Talk to me, Neville. Maybe we don’t hang in the same circles, and maybe we aren’t on the same side of the law, but I know you. There’s nothing you can say or do that will change my mind about you.”
“And that’s the problem.”
He negotiated a sharp turn. “I don’t follow.”
She shifted in the seat. “How many tickets are in that glovebox?”
He shrugged. “I don’t know. Couple dozen. What does that have to do with anything?”
“It shows that you don’t respect me.”
“Okay. You totally lost me on that one.”
“If you respected me, you’d take care of those tickets.”
“You’re kidding, right? The chases and tickets, you don’t take that stuff seriously, do you?”
She laughed but there was no joy in it. “No. No, of course not. Just talking to fill the time.”
“Don’t do that, Neville. Don’t make light of it or lie about it.”
“Fact is, you don’t respect the law, so I can hardly expect you to respect me.”
He hit the brakes, let the tail slide across the road and locked it up on the center line. “Let’s get this straight right now, Abigail Neville. Maybe I don’t have much faith in the law but I got all the faith in the world in you.”
She looked at him, let her eyes skim his strong jaw, sharp cheeks, and tawny eyes. “You always go on and on about how the law fences people in and how you’ll never let that happen to you.”
“Anytime you’ve needed something, anything at all, I’ve come through for you, even when it went against my own way of thinking and living. Isn’t that right?! When it comes to you, Abby, what I say, and what I do, are two different things.”
Her eyes dropped to his soft blue shirt and crisp black slacks. “You look good tonight, Kirkendall.”
“Girl, I look good all the time,” he said, his smile playful. “But let’s stay on the subject, shall we.”
“And that is?”
“Respect.” He leaned over the center console, his unruly black hair spilling over his brow. “You think I can’t outrun your cruiser? This is vintage muscle, Neville. I respect you, your lights, your badge. How can you be sure? I let off the throttle, pull over and submit to your authority every time you chase me down.”
She tucked a lock of hair behind his ear. “Why?
“Why do you chase me down? It’s not as complicated as your think, Neville.”
“Of course it is. You’re lawless and I’m the law.”
He traced her ear with a fingertip. “Right here, right now, off the clock and inside this car, we’re flesh and blood, heart and soul.”
“All that blue, all those badges. You wouldn’t make it past the foyer, let alone through the dinner and awards ceremony.”
She looked at him for several long moments. “Teague Kirkendall, would you - - ”
“Damn straight I would! But not because I want my tickets written off. Don’t you dare touch them, Neville, because come Monday morning, you’ll see just how much I respect you, down to the exact dollar and cent.”
A reader by birth, paper-pusher by trade and novelist by design, story-telling in my passion. If you enjoyed reading today's story, please consider checking out my blog bullishink.com, joining my creative community sweetbananaink.com or participating in the madcap twitter fun @bullishink.