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A Randall Returns
By Judy Christenberry
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.Copyright © 2003 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneMike Davis stood outside the Sheriff's Office on Main Street in Rawhide. The cold, frosty morning was quite different from those he'd known back in Chicago. Not the temperature, but the clean air, the lack of traffic, the friendly waves from passersby. Yes, he thought, Rawhide, Wyoming, was light-years away from the big city.
A few weeks ago he'd made a momentous change in his life when his uncle had called him. Bill Metzger had been Rawhide's sheriff for two decades, until sidelined by a sudden heart attack. Though he'd survived, it kick-started his retirement, and he was moving to Arizona, looking for lots of warmth and no stress.
But he wanted to leave the town of Rawhide safe. So he'd called Mike. A former army M.P. and then a Chicago policeman, Mike was Bill's choice of successor based on ability, not nepotism. Uncle Bill - actually he was Mike's second cousin - had told him he had a year before the next election. By then, the citizenry would love him and he'd be a shoo-in to win the position.
Mike drew another deep, icy breath and looked around the town he'd sworn to protect. Compared to Chicago, this little town in the middle of Wyoming was downright peaceful. He walked down Main Street, looking at the two-story structures, many with wooden porches, and greeted the townsfolk who ventured out this early on a December morning.
He noticed an SUV parked at a snug house on the next street. It had Illinois plates.
That house had been pointed out to him specifically. Jake Randall, one of Bill's old friends, had asked Mike to keep an eye on it. He'd bought the place for his daughter, who was due home soon.
Though Jake hadn't said where she was living, Mike assumed she was coming home from college - probably from the University of Wyoming in Laramie. Most of the local kids went there. Besides, Mike couldn't imagine anyone from Wyoming moving to Illinois. And he wouldn't expect some college girl to drive a big SUV.
With a frown, he stepped off the wooden porch of the sandwich shop and crossed to the back street. He found the door of the house ajar. Drawing his gun, he stepped quietly into the living room. He couldn't help but notice the house was fully furnished and very attractive. If he hadn't known the Randalls had money, he'd know it now.
A sound from the next room had him stepping quietly behind the open door. A slim woman with long dark hair and beautiful skin came into view. This was no college coed, Mike thought. In fact, she looked to be around thirty. Not Jake's daughter, obviously, so why was she in Randall's house?
"Stop right there and put your hands up!" He waited for her to comply, but she didn't. Glaring at him, she walked forward calmly and confidently.
"Who are you?"
"Sheriff Davis. Who are you?"
"Where is Sheriff Metzger?"
"Lady, I'm arresting you for breaking and entering. Put your hands behind your back." Again he waited for her to do as he asked.
"You've got to be kidding!"
"Do you have any ID?"
"No, I don't. Want to frisk me?"
Her flippant response irritated Mike. He took his work seriously, and she was thumbing her nose at him.
He grabbed her arm and whirled her around. Before she knew what was happening, he had her in cuffs. Then, as she'd suggested, he briskly frisked her.
"Don't touch me!" she shouted.
"Lady, I have to do my job. Let's take a little walk to the jail. You can make your one phone call there."
She gave him an icy stare. "Oh, yeah. I can't wait."
Mike normally would have questioned her first, but her attitude annoyed him. If she wanted to play hardball, disrespect his badge, she'd have to pay the price.
At the office, only one deputy was in yet. Mike waved at him and took the angry young woman to his office. "Give me the number and I'll dial it for you."
She lifted her chin. "For your sake, I'll call Jon Wilson, but I don't know his number."
Mike frowned. "For my sake?"
"Yes. Do you know the number?"
"Yeah, I do." He dialed it and asked for Dr. Wilson. "Jon? It's Mike Davis. I arrested a woman in that house Jake Randall owns. She wanted me to call you for her one phone call.
"Here she is," he said, after Jon agreed to speak to her.
"Hi, Jon," the woman said softly. "I'm here."
After a moment, she stepped away from the phone.
"He's coming right over."
Mike frowned again. "Why would he do that?"
She gave him a superior smile. "You can ask him when he gets here."
"Fine. Can I trust you to sit quietly until he comes, or do I need to put you in a cell?"
"Suit yourself." Instead of waiting for him to make a decision, she sank down in the chair beside his desk like a model, showing off her slim legs below a suede skirt.
Mike had a niggling feeling he'd been set up.
The door to the office flew open and Tori Wilson, a Randall and now Jon's wife, screamed, "Caroline!" She hugged the woman in handcuffs. "What happened?"
"You'll have to ask this Mickey Mouse sheriff. What happened to Sheriff Metzger?"
Mike stiffened, gritting his teeth. To respond to her taunts would do no good.
"Caroline! Why are you acting like this? Sheriff Metzger retired because of a heart attack. This is his cousin, Sheriff Davis."
Anger colored Caroline's face. "Why do you think I'm acting like this? I'm in cuffs!"
"Didn't you tell him who you are?" Jon asked from the doorway.
"I didn't see the need." She turned and stared at Mike again.
"Sheriff, I'll clear this up. There's no need -" Jon began, but a noise outside the office stopped him. "Uh-oh."
"What's wrong?" Mike asked, taking a step forward.
When he saw the big man who entered into the office, he didn't need Jon's answer. Jake Randall. From the look on Jake's face as he took in the scene and turned hard eyes on him, Mike knew the woman in cuffs was none other than Jake's beloved daughter, who was going to live in that house. Mike figured his career as sheriff of Rawhide was going to be shortlived.
Excerpted from A Randall Returns by Judy Christenberry Copyright © 2003 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
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