Tyler Davis comes from a long line of cops, and he's learned the hard way that police work and families don't mix. But his solitary life is about to be called into question with the return of Megan Garvey, the woman he once loved...and lost.
Now, Megan is determined to keep her emotional distance--though it's clear that she and the rugged lawman still share something special. But a predator has come to Lake Hubbard for Christmas. And when Megan's young son disappears, there's only one cop to believe in. This holiday, Ty has been given a second chance to be the hero Megan needs...if he can bring her boy home alive.
Try as he might, Tyler Davis was not what anyone would call an expert gift shopper. And if anyone on this snow-covered earth needed proof, here it was, wrapped up in Christmas paper and tied with a big-ass bow.
He tried to tune out the jangle of department store Christmas music and warring scents from the army of perfume pushers and focus on the pair of oversized slippers that resembled a dog's paws clutched in the three-year-old's hands. Even with his deep-seated shopping deficiency, Ty had doubts whether this was the way to go. "You're sure she's going to like those?"
Connor nodded, his tousled red hair flopping over one side of his forehead.
Ty raked his hand through his own cropped, spiky hair. If this was any other kid he'd taken Christmas shopping as part of his small city police department's Shop with a Cop program, he'd find the choice funny. He might even encourage the kid, just for a chuckle. But Megan had been through a lot. And the whole reason he insisted on taking Connor out shopping--secretly on his own dime, since the department's official Shop with a Cop program was already over--was to give Megan a good experience for a change. "I don't know, Connor. Moms usually like things that make them look...I don't know...pretty. Not like a dog."
The inside corners of Connor's eyes reddened. His lips pulled together into what was fast becoming a pout and could any minute cross the line into crying.
He must be out of his mind to take his old flame's son shopping. And when he thought about the world of hurt he'd be in if the chief found out he had misrepresented this as an official department program, he knew he'd crossed to the far side of crazy. It was just that when he'd heard how Meg's ex had dragged her through the shredder and seen the dumpy apartment the smartest girl in his high school class was now living in, he'd wanted to do something for her. She couldn't afford a nice Christmas for herself and her young son, but he could. And she never had to know where the money came from.
And besides, it gave him an excuse to see her again.
Of course, he hadn't considered that the success of his brilliant plan all hinged on a three-year-old's taste.
He pulled in a deep breath of patience and let it out slowly. The last thing he wanted was to make the kid cry. Now that would really impress Megan, returning with a tear-sodden little boy who could tell her all about what a jerk Officer Ty was. Not that she didn't know that already.
He picked up the slippers and pretended to examine them, turning them over in his hands. "Oh, look here. They're slippers. I didn't realize that. Well, that changes everything. You're right, man. Your mom will love these." He eyed the kid, hoping Connor wouldn't pick up a false note in his voice.
Big green eyes flicked up to his face. A twitch settled over the little lips, not exactly a smile, but something less than a pout.
Ty handed the fuzzy things back to Connor along with a grin. So Megan would be wearing dog paw slippers this winter. Interesting. "What next? Can you think of something else your mom might like?"
Connor shook his head.
"Should we look around?" His arms were already weighed down with Legos, books and a Hot Wheels set for the kid. But he couldn't leave the mall with nothing but a pair of dog slippers for Megan. He had to find something nice.
He did a 360,...