by Diana Palmer


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780373770045
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication date: 08/01/2004
Series: Long, Tall Texans Series
Edition description: Original
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 5.88(w) x 10.04(h) x 0.89(d)

About the Author

The prolific author of more than one hundred books, Diana Palmer got her start as a newspaper reporter. A New York Times bestselling author and voted one of the top ten romance writers in America, she has a gift for telling the most sensual tales with charm and humor. Diana lives with her family in Cornelia, Georgia.

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Chapter One

It was a lazy Monday morning. Not much was going on at the Jacobsville, Texas, Police Department. Three patrol officers were fixing coffee at the small refreshment table in the main lobby. A sheriff's deputy had stopped by to drop off a warrant. A local citizen was writing out a statement against a perpetrator who'd just been brought in by one of the patrol officers. The secretary who usually sat at reception was missing.

"That's it. That is it! I don't have to work here. There are jobs going right now at the Save-A-Lot grocery store, and I am going right over to put in my application!"

Heads turned at the unfamiliar sound of the police chief's secretary yelling at the top of her lungs. There was a quick muffled reply, and then the sound of something metallic hitting the floor. Hard.

A furious, spiky-haired teenaged girl in a short skirt and deep-cut blouse sprinkled with glitter came stalking down the hall, eyes flashing fire, long earrings jangling like alarms. Men in uniforms moved quickly aside. She went to her desk, picked up her overstuffed purse, and started for the front door.

A tall, darkly handsome man in the chief's uniform came down the hall just as she reached the door. His hair and clothes were liberally covered with coffee grounds, pieces of discarded tape, and two sticky Post-it notes, while a tissue was stuck to the top of a big, highly polished black shoe. There was another Post-it clinging to the long black ponytail at his nape.

"Was it something I said?" Cash Grier wondered aloud.

The teenager, whose lipstick was black, like her fingernail polish, groaned under her breath and stalked out the glass door, shutting it furiously behind her.

The uniformed officers tried valiantly not to laugh. Many sounded as if they'd just developed bad coughs. The man filling out the statement almost choked with mirth.

Cash glared at them. "Go ahead. Laugh. I can get another secretary anytime I want one!"

Judd Dunn, his assistant chief, was lounging against the counter, his black eyes twinkling. "That was the second one since you were appointed chief."

"She worked in a grocery store before she came here," Cash muttered, removing sticky things and coffee grounds from his immaculate uniform. "She only got this job because her uncle, Ben Brady, is the acting mayor and he said I'd never get funding for those new bulletproof vests I need if she didn't get hired." He sighed angrily. "He's shady, that man. He wouldn't be the acting mayor if Jack Herman hadn't had a heart attack and stepped down. I have to put up with Brady until next May when we get a special election to choose Herman's successor."

Judd listened without comment as a scowling Cash continued ranting. "The city election won't come too soon to suit me," Cash snapped. "Brady's giving me fits about making drug cases, and he won't listen to any ideas about improvements in our department. They say Eddie Cane's going to run for mayor against him."

"He was the best mayor we ever had and I think he'll win," Judd said.

"More's the pity we have to wait until May to vote Brady out." Cash winced as he pulled the sticky note from his ponytail. "If he suggests a new secretary to replace that last one, I'm resigning."

"You'll have to find somebody to replace her, and quick, before he finds you a new candidate," Judd ventured. "If you can get anybody sane to work for you."

"I'll put an ad in the paper, and women will trample us applying for the opportunity just to be in the same room with me!" Cash said.

"Maybe you should just take some time off and calm down," Judd recommended. "The Christmas holidays are coming up." He stared at Cash intently. "You could take a trip."

Cash lifted an eyebrow. "I took one last month, with you, to that premiere in New York."

"Tippy said you could come back whenever you liked," Judd pointed out with a wicked grin, referring to the model-turned actress Tippy Moore, the "Georgia Firefly" of modeling fame. "Her young brother liked you. He'll probably be home from military school on holiday."

Cash was reluctant to take the trip. The model had really gotten to him once he realized that she wasn't the vain, vampy woman he'd first thought. Her vulnerabilities appealed to him in ways her blatant flirting hadn't.

"I guess I could phone and ask her if she meant the invitation," he said.

"Good man," Judd said, clapping him on the shoulder. "You can get on the next flight out, and I can sit at your desk and be acting chief!" Cash was getting suspicious.

"This wouldn't have anything to do with that squad car that you keep trying to talk me into? There's a city council meeting next week . . ."

"They'll postpone it for the holidays," Judd assured him. "I would never try to talk the city council into a squad car you don't really want. Honest."

Cash didn't trust that gleaming smile. Judd was like him. He rarely smiled unless he was up to something or in a temper.

"Much less hire a secretary before you get back," Judd added, not meeting Cash's eyes.

"Oh, that's it," Cash said at once. "That's it. You've got somebody in mind. You're going to stick me with some retired woman colonel from the army or another conspiracy theorist like the secretary we had when my cousin Chet Blake was chief?"

"I don't know any out-of-work mercenaries," Judd said innocently.

"Or any ex-colonels?"

He shrugged. "Maybe one or two. Eb Scott has a cousin . . ."


"You haven't met her . . ."

"I'm not going to meet her! I'm the chief. See this?" He pointed at his badge. "I fight crime. I do not fight old women!"

"She's not old. Exactly."

"If you hire anybody before I get back, I will fire her the minute the plane lands! In fact, I won't leave town!" Cash threatened.

Judd shrugged. "Suit yourself." He studied his clean fingernails. "I hear the sister of the planning commissioner wants a crack at you. She may ask the acting mayor for a recommendation."

Cash felt hunted. The planning commissioner, a delightful and gentle man, had a favorite sister who also had a crush on Cash. She was thirty-six, twice divorced, wore see-through blouses and was a hundred pounds overweight. The planning commissioner doted on her. He was also the best dentist anywhere around. Even an ex-black ops specialist like Cash couldn't handle this kind of heat in a small town.

"When would the colonel like to start?" Cash asked through tight lips. Judd burst out laughing.

"I don't know any colonels who want to work for you, but I'll keep my eyes open . . .!" He moved just in time to avoid a roundhouse kick. "Hey, I'm a police officer! If you hit me, it's a felony!"

"It is not," Cash muttered, turning back toward his office. "It's self-defense."

"My lawyers will be in touch with you," Judd called after him. Cash threw him an insulting gesture over his head.

But once he was safely back in his office, with the trash can refilled and repositioned, and the floor swept, he thought about what Judd had said. Maybe he was a little touchy lately. A few days off might make him less . . .irritable. Judd and Crissy's two babies reminded him painfully of the life he'd lost.

Besides, Tippy Moore had a nine-year-old brother named Rory who idolized Cash. It had been a long time since anyone had looked up to him. He was used to curiosity, awe, even fear. Especially fear. The boy didn't have a man in his life, except for his friends at military school. What would it hurt to spend a little time with him? After all, he didn't have to tell them the story of his life. He winced, thinking of the only time he'd ever come clean about his past.

He sat down behind his desk and pulled a small address book from his pocket. In it was a New York telephone number. He picked up his cell phone and dialed it.

It rang two times. Three times. Four times. He felt bitter disappointment. He started to put the receiver down. Suddenly, a sultry, soft voice came on the line. "This is the Moore residence," it purred. "Sorry I'm not here. Please leave a brief message and a number. I'll get back to you." There was a beep.

"It's Cash Grier," he said.

He started to give his number when a breathless voice came on the line. "Cash!"

He laughed softly to himself. It showed that she'd dived for the phone before he could hang up. He was flattered.

"Yes, it's me. Hello, Tippy." "How are you?" she asked. "Are you still in Jacobsville?"

"Still here. Except I'm chief of police now. Judd left the Texas Rangers and he's working with me as assistant chief," he added reluctantly. Tippy had been smitten with Judd, just as he himself had once been smitten with Judd's wife, Christabel.

"So many changes." She sighed. "And how is Christabel?"

"Very happy," he replied. "She and Judd had twins."

"Yes, I heard from them at Thanksgiving," she confessed. "A girl and a boy, right?"

"Jared and Jessamina," he said, smiling. The twins had captured their godfather's heart the second he laid eyes on them in the hospital. Of course, Jessamina was Cash's favorite and he made no bones about it. "Jessamina's such a little doll. A head full of jetblack hair and her eyes are dark blue. They'll change, of course."

"How about Jared?" she probed, amused at his fascination with the little girl.

"Looks like his dad," he replied. "Jared belongs to them, but Jessamina is mine. I told them so. Repeatedly." He sighed. "It does no good, of course, they won't give her to me."

She laughed. It was like the sound of silver bells on a summer night. Her voice was one of her greatest assets.

"How are you?"

"Working on a new film," she told him. "We've just stopped shooting so that we can all have Christmas at home. I'm glad. It's got a lot of physical stuff in it, and I'm out of shape. I'll have to work out more if I'm going to have to be athletic."

"What sort of physical stuff?" he wanted to know.

"Tucks and rolls, bouncing off trampolines, falls from high places, martial arts, that sort of thing," she said, sounding tired. "I'm bruised all over. Rory's going to pass out when he sees me. He says I've got no business doing rough stuff like this at my age."

"At your age?" he asked, because he knew she was only twenty-six.

"I'm old," she said. "Didn't you know? From his perspective, I should be walking with a cane!"

"That puts me in my place," he chuckled, mentally noting that he was twelve years her senior. "Is he coming home for Christmas?"

"Sure. He comes home every holiday. I have a nice little place here, near Fifth Street in the lower East Village, near a bookstore and a coffee shop. It's very pleasant, for a big city."

"I like a little more room."

"Youwould." She hesitated. "Are you in trouble or anything?"

He felt odd. "What do you mean?"

"Do you need me to do something for you?" she persisted.

He'd never had anyone offer. He didn't know how to handle such a statement.

"I'm fine," he bit off.

"Then why did you call . . .?"

"Not because I want anything," he said, more harshly than he meant to. "You don't think I might have called just because I wanted to know how you were?"

"Not really," she confessed. "I didn't make a great impression on people around Jacobsville while we were filming down there. Especially on you."

"That was before Christabel got shot," he reminded her. "You changed my mind in a split second when you stripped off that expensive sweater you were wearing without a second thought and used it to put pressure on her gunshot wound. You made a lot of friends that day."

"Thanks," she said, sounding shy.

"Listen, I thought I might come up to New York for a few days before Christmas," he said. "Did you mean what you said, about the rain check? I could take you and Rory out on the town."

He could hear the excitement in her voice. "Wow. That would make Rory's day."

"Is he there?"

"No. I have to take the train down to Maryland and pick him up at the academy. They won't release him unless I sign him out. We had to arrange it that way to keep my mother from taking him to extort money from me." She sounded bitter. "She knows how much money I'm making and she wants some. She and her boyfriend would do anything to get their hands on money for drugs."

"Suppose I pick him up and bring him to New York for you?" She hesitated. "You'd . . .do that?"

"Sure. I'll photocopy my ID and fax it to the school. You can call them and verify who I am. Rory will recognize me."

"It would be the thrill of his life," she confessed. "He's talked about nothing except you since you met at the premiere of my film last month."

"I liked him, too. He's honest."

"I taught him that honesty was the most important part of character," she said. "I've been lied to so much in my life that I value nothing more," she added quietly.

"I know how you feel. Well, I'd planned to leave here on the nineteenth. Tell me how to get to the military academy," he added, "and the address of your apartment and what time you want us there. And I'll do the rest!"

Judd was highly amused at Cash's animation and changed mood after the older man spoke with Tippy.

"You don't smile much these days," Judd said. "Nice to see that you remembered how."

"Tippy's brother's at military school," Cash said. "I'm going to pick him up on the way and drive him there."

"Will your truck make it all the way to New York?" Judd chided, recalling the big black pickup that Cash drove around town. It was a nice one -- but inexpensive -- and it had some wear on it. Cash looked oddly hesitant.

"I have a car," he said. "It's garaged in Houston. I don't drive it a lot, but I maintain it. It was for emergencies."

"Now you've got me curious," Judd said. "What sort of car?"

"It's just a car," Cash said, shrugging, too embarrassed to tell Judd what sort of car it really was. He never talked about his finances. "Nothing fancy. Listen, are you sure you can handle the work here while I'm gone?"

"I was a Texas Ranger." Cash grinned. "Yeah, but this is a hard job . . .!"

He moved out of the way just in time to avoid retribution.

"You wait," Judd threatened with dancing eyes. "I'll hire you the ugliest secretary east of the Brazos River!"

"You would," Cash sighed. "Well, at least get me somebody who isn't so skittish, would you?"

"Why exactly did she quit?"

Cash sighed. "The punk rocker was upset about not being allowed into my filing cabinet. I didn't want to tell her about my baby python being in there temporarily, so I told her I kept top secret flying-saucer material in there."

"That's when she upended the trash can over your head," Judd guessed.

Cash shook his head. "No, that was afterward. I told her the filing cabinet was locked for a purpose, and that she'd better stay out of it. I went out to talk to one of the patrol officers. While I was gone, she got a nail file and forced the lock. Mikey, the python, had squeezed out of the cage and was sitting up on top of the file folders when she pulled out the drawer. She screamed like a banshee and when I went running back to see what was the matter, she threw a pair of handcuffs at me! She accused me of booby-trapping the cabinet to upset her."

"That explains the scream I heard," Judd agreed. "I told you it wasn't a good idea to keep Mikey's cage in the filing cabinet."

"It was just for today. Bill Harris only gave him to me this morning and I didn't have time to take him home. I put him in there until I got off work, so he wouldn't frighten anybody who came into the office and saw him. I'm certainly taking him home this afternoon," he said indignantly, "to make sure he doesn't get traumatized any more than he already is!"

"The acting mayor's niece is afraid of snakes. Imagine that," Judd mused.

"It does strain the imagination," Cash had to agree.

"You didn't give her a reason to sue us, I hope?" his friend persisted.

Cash shook his head. "I just mentioned that I had Mikey's dad in the other filing cabinet and asked if she'd like to meet him. That's when she quit." He smiled pleasantly.

"If you fire people, the city has to pay them unemployment. If they quit voluntarily, you don't. So I helped her quit voluntarily," he added with a grin.

"You villain," Judd said, trying not to laugh.

"It's not my fault. She had a king-sized crush on me. She thought if her uncle got her this job, she could hike up her skirt and throw out her chest and seduce me," he said irritably. He frowned. "Maybe I should have filed a sexual harassment suit."

"Oh, that would go over well with Ben Brady," Judd said tongue in cheek.

"I'm tired of being chased around my desk by secretaries."

"They're called administrative assistants," Judd said helpfully. "Not secretaries."

"Give me a break!"

"That's why I want you to go to New York."

"I've got a pet to take care of," Cash protested.

"You can take Mikey back over to Bill Harris before you leave town. He won't mind taking care of your baby while you're gone. You need a break. Honest."

Cash sighed and slid his big hands into his pockets. "For once, I agree with you." He hesitated. "If her uncle calls and asks why she left . . ."

"I won't say a word about the snake. I'll just tell him that you were having mental problems from being followed around by aliens all day," Judd said complacently.

Cash gave him a dirty look and went back to work.

Late the next day, Cash presented himself in the commandant's office at the Cannae Military Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. The name of the school was amusing to him, denoting as it did the monstrous defeat of mighty Rome at the hands of the Carthaginian guerilla, Hannibal.

The commandant, Gareth Marist, was known to him. He'd served with the man years before during Operation Desert Storm in Iraq.

They shook hands like brothers, which they were, under the skin. Few men had ever had to endure what these two had when they'd gone in behind enemy lines. Marist had escaped. Cash had not.

"Rory told me all about you," Gareth said, "before I realized who you were. Sit down, sit down! It's good to see you again. You're working in law enforcement now, I believe?"

Cash nodded, dropping gracefully into a chair across the desk from the uniformed man, who was about his age, but taller and with a receding hairline. "I'm police chief of a small town in Texas."

"It's hard to give up the military life," Gareth told him. "I couldn't. So I got this appointment, which was great for me. I love helping mold the soldiers of the future. Young Rory has a lot of potential, by the way," he added. "He's very intelligent, and not rattled by boys twice his size. Even the bullies leave him alone," he chuckled.

Cash grinned. "He's not afraid to speak his mind, that's for sure."

Copyright © 2004 Diana Palmer

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Renegade 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 60 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Cash and Tippy have been through so much in their lives. Trust and love does not come easy to either one of them. Before you read this book to know what is going on you need to read Lawless by DP and then Read Renegade. You will love every minute of this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good fast reading, great story!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would read Lawless 1st then Renegade.... Tippy n Cash go from one extreme to another It's totally awesome
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Of her stories! He is an alpha male and she is the definition of tragedy. When the two meet in the middle there are explosions,, rather than mere fireworks. Love it!
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ajfbrat More than 1 year ago
Another great book by Diana Palmer. Tippy and Cash are one of my favorite couples!!! Everything about their story engages you - my favorite being Tippy and her skillet!!! Great Fun.
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tupperlake53 More than 1 year ago
I loved it.not as mushy but fylly keeps u enthralled. I COULDT PUT IT DOWN?
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