Sweet SurrenderBy: Liliana Hart
Because we get to do life together. And we’re a heck of a team. Thank you always for your unwavering support and love.
Acknowledgments from the Author
A huge thank you to MJ Rose and Liz Berry at Evil Eye Publishing for being the most awesome publishers ever, Jillian Stein for being a social media genius, and all the other 1001 Dark Nights authors who make this so much fun.
A brisk March wind blew through Surrender.
“Being a cop doesn’t mean I crave donuts.” Grant Boone glared out the window toward the bakery across the street.
Cooper MacKenzie snorted, “You were a cop.”
Grant’s hands fisted in his lap and his gaze dropped to stare at them as the familiar anger raged through his body. His light brown hair, which was long overdue for a cut, hung down to hide his expression. He knew Cooper hadn’t meant anything by it, but damn, the words still pierced him like a knife to the gut.
“My mistake,” he said. “I was a cop.”
“Come on, Grant. You know I didn’t mean it that way. Hell, you’re still the best there is. Your chief will wake up and realize his screw-up before long. Though I’ve always thought you and the city would clash before too long. Hell, look at you. You look like you walked out of one of those Marlboro commercials. What the hell is a country boy like you doing in Detroit anyway?”
Cooper wasn’t the first person to tell him he didn’t belong in the Motor City. But he’d served the city with a purpose. He’d worked undercover, and he’d been an asset to the force. It wasn’t often they came across a six-foot-five, two-hundred-and-forty-five pound bruiser to work the biker bars and clubs.
“There’s no going back, Coop. I gave that shithole city the best years of my life. And for what? A forced retirement under a cloud of an internal affairs investigation.” Grant set his coffee on the desk and knuckled his eyes. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d slept a full night through. God, was he tired.
A bright red BMW SUV sped down Main Street, kicking up leaves as it turned with a squeal of tires and parked illegally at the side of the little bakery across the street.
“Holy shit,” Grant said, bringing his boots down to the floor with a thump. “Who is that maniac?”
“Damn,” Cooper said, whistling through his teeth. “I’m going to have to give her a ticket this time. We’ve warned her about the speed three times already. But you’re going to want to steer clear of that mess.” Cooper brought his own feet down and pushed back his chair. “She’s nothing but trouble.”
Grant forgot his own problems back in Detroit as he watched the woman with fascination. The driver’s side door opened, and a pair of fancy cowboy boots touched the cobbled street. By the time she stood to her full height his mouth was already watering. Pure lust rolled deep in his belly. She looked like a modern-day Xena Warrior Princess with black hair and the body of an Amazon. He couldn’t see her eye color from that distance, but in his mind they had to be blue.
She unloaded a large stack of white boxes from the back of the Beemer, and he watched her mouth move in what could only be curses as she fought to keep hold of them in the wind.
He could tell by looking the woman was an absolute hellcat. He’d tussled with them before, and he had a knack for attracting them. He’d worked most of his career undercover, but he always seemed to connect with dangerous women who added an extra element of risk to his drug enforcement days.
Grant grinned and shook his head. “Damn, Coop. You shouldn’t have said that. You know I love a good warning.”
“Her name’s Liza Carmichael,” Cooper said. “Her great aunt passed not long ago. She ran that bakery for fifty years. Mrs. Baker never missed a morning’s opening. Though I seem to recall her coming in late once after she buried her husband in the early nineties.”
“The old lady who owned the bakery was named Mrs. Baker?” Grant asked.
“So Surrender has a new pastry chef,” Grant said. “Maybe I’ll take up donut eating after all. Once a cop, always a cop.”
Cooper laughed and shook his head. “You always were a glutton for punishment.”
“I miss the adrenaline rush.”
“Hey, I know what you mean. And I’m not saying you should swear off donuts, but honestly, I’d stay away from her. She’s made it crystal clear that her intentions are to lease the space or sell it outright. Whichever brings her the greatest profit. She has no desire to stay in Surrender.”
“Perfect,” he said. “Neither do I.”