At least someone is on my side.
“Kennedy, do you have your gun on you?” she asks as she pulls her purse off her shoulder and starts digging through it.
“Uh, yeah. Why?”
Paige finds her wallet and counts out thirty dollars, slapping it down on the kitchen table.
“Because, McFadden is outside flipping burgers three houses down.”
Griffin pushes away from the counter and his arms fall to his sides. We look at each other in silence for five seconds before we both take off at a dead run out of the kitchen, shoving Paige and my father out of the way.
“You could have led with that, you know!” I yell at Paige as I race to the front door.
“This was more fun!” she shouts back as Griffin and I fight over the door handle, pushing and shoving each other out of the way. Griffin slams his hip into mine and I stumble backward as he flings open the front door, sprinting outside into the sunshine. I take off after him while I curse Paige. She could have pulled me aside and told me about McFadden quietly.
GD lack of loyalty.
I race down the front porch just in time to see Griffin standing in the middle of the yard looking left to right, trying to decide which direction to run. My dad’s house is right smack in the middle of the cul-de-sac. There are seven houses on either side of his house, each one filled with people getting ready to root on Notre Dame. I need to pick the right direction. WHICH ONE IS THE RIGHT DIRECTION?!
Looking to my left, I see that Lorelei just arrived. And she’s wearing a maroon-and-gold silk blouse with matching maroon dress pants: Arizona Sun Devils’ colors, the team that Notre Dame is playing today. She’s going to be killed!
I see her lift her arm and point in the opposite direction that Griffin is currently looking and send her a thumbs-up before sprinting away. She’s on her own; I can’t save her from crazy Notre Dame fans now.
Running at top speed and yelling for people to get out of my way, I make it to the Andersons’ house, three houses down, in record time.
“Where’s the grill?” I ask the first person I come to through gasps of air.
“The burgers aren’t done yet,” a guy with a giant navy-blue foam finger tells me as he uses the foam finger to scratch his nose.
“WHERE’S THE FUCKING GRILL?!” I scream at him, pulling my gun out of the holster under the back of my shirt.
He doesn’t even bat an eye when he sees the 9mm in my hand. Half of the people on this street carry guns. Football season is serious business. Plus, most of the people here know that my family all works in some sort of law enforcement.
“If you’re that hungry, I heard someone brought Buffalo Wing Dip a few houses down.” He points his foam finger back in the direction I came.
“There’s a criminal cooking burgers on your grill. Where is the grill?” I ask again as I check the safety on my gun.
“Bob Anderson is a criminal? Damn, it’s always the quiet ones,” foam-finger guy states with a sad shake of his head.
I’m going to take his foam finger and shove it up his ass in three seconds.
“No, not Bob Anderson. His name is Martin, he skipped bail, and rumor has it he’s manning the grill at this house,” I tell him through clenched teeth.
“You mean McFadden? I just met him. Nice guy. And he has a cute dog.”
Sweet mother of God…
“The grill’s around back,” he tells me with another point of his finger. “Don’t shoot the dog!”
Looking over my shoulder to make sure Griffin isn’t anywhere in sight, I take off running again, keeping myself pressed to the side of the house as I move quickly with my gun in front of me. Peeking around the back corner, I see the grill about ten yards away from the house. And I see McFadden with his back to me, all alone with Tinkerdoodle sitting by his feet staring up at him, hoping one of the burgers he’s flipping drops on the ground.
Edging out from around the side of the house, I hold my gun out in front of me and creep closer, careful not to make a sound. When I’m within three feet of him, I check my back pocket to make sure the zip ties I usually carry are still back there, ready to be used when I tackle him and secure his hands behind his back.
“Hey, McFadden! Are those burgers almost done?”
I jump when I hear the yell from foam-finger asshole behind me and McFadden turns around from the grill with a giant spatula in his hand and a smile on his face. The smile dies when he sees me standing here with my gun pointed right at his chest.
“You can have the first burger. Just don’t shoot me!” he says nervously.
“You are really pissing me off, Martin. Put the spatula down and let’s do this calmly, without making a scene.”
I can hear people talking behind me and roll my eyes when I realize the backyard is filling up with onlookers, wanting to see what’s going on.
“Just because she brings a gun, she gets the first burger? I’ve been waiting for twenty minutes,” someone whispers.
Michelle Anderson, Bob’s wife, comes outside. “It’s okay, everyone. That’s Buddy’s daughter, Kennedy. She’s like that. Did Martin forget to bring a covered dish? I don’t think you need to shoot him for that.”
Can I just catch a break here? Seriously.
“Michelle, this man is a criminal. Can you please get everyone inside and out of danger?” I plead with her.
“This is so exciting. It’s like an episode of Cops. Is someone filming this?” Michelle asks, completely ignoring my request as I move closer to McFadden.
Tinkerdoodle lets out a yippy bark and growls at me.
“It’s okay, princess. She isn’t going to shoot Daddy,” McFadden tells the dog. “She’s one of us. She believes in the ‘others’ and even bought one of Daddy’s special hats.”
While McFadden soothes the dog, I take another slow step in his direction and stop when the dog growls at me again.
“Put the spatula down and walk toward me slowly,” I demand.
“Can’t we just talk about this? I’ll give you a signed copy of my book,” he pleads.
Raising the gun higher, so it’s aimed right at his face, I watch him swallow nervously and turn slowly to set the spatula down on the card table next to the grill, filled with buns and a huge cookie sheet of uncooked hamburger meat.
“Just so you know, I don’t have any hard feelings toward you. We can still be friends after this is over,” he states with his back still to me.
I take a deep breath and another cautious step in his direction, ignoring the growling dog by my feet with her teeth bared—her tiny little two-pound-dog teeth. I sort of want to laugh at the fact that this dog thinks she’s some kind of badass guard dog.
When I’m within arm’s reach, McFadden suddenly lets out a yell.
The dog launches itself at my leg in a blur of activity and clamps down on my ankle. I let out a yelp as McFadden whirls around with the cookie sheet of meat in his hand and throws it in my direction. Raw meat rains down on my head while I try to keep the gun on McFadden and shake the stupid dog loose from my pant leg.
“Son of a bitch, that ground meat was $3.95 a pound!” Bob Anderson complains from somewhere in the yard.
Tinkerdoodle finally lets go of my ankle and races back to McFadden, who scoops her up in his arms and takes off running. I turn to go after him and my boot slips right through a slippery pile of ground meat. My feet fly out from under me and I land flat on my back, knocking the wind right out of me as I gasp for breath.
“SSSSSSSSSS—ssstoooop,” I say through coughs as I turn my head to the side and see McFadden run right by the crowd of people who stand there. He stops and turns to look at me, holding his pinkie and thumb up to the side of his head and shouts, “Call me!” before taking off again.
“You’ve got meat in your hair,” Bob Anderson tells me as he walks up next to me while I struggle to roll over, get up, and breathe at the same time.
Putting my hand to my chest, I try to take a deep breath and wind up coughing from the exertion. “Criminal. Stop. Can’t. Breathe.”
Bob looks down at me in confusion as I hack and try to breathe while moving as fast as I can to try to get up off the ground and chase after McFadden. Bob is retired from the police force and if anyone can understand what the hell is going on here, it will be Bob.
“McFadden? Nice guy. I just met him this morning. The missus met him at the grocery store and invited him.”
“Bail. Jumper,” I mumble between deep, heaving breaths that my lungs finally let me have and my hand squishes down into a pile of raw meat as I push myself up onto my knees.
“Really? Huh. He didn’t look like a bail jumper,” Bob states.
I am surrounded by idiots.
“What’s with all the commotion? I heard the burgers are ruined,” my dad says as he pushes through the crowd of onlookers and walks next to Bob, who finally gives me a hand and helps me up off the ground. I see McFadden’s Honda go soaring down the street. With a sigh, I turn to my dad in irritation and see him standing there with a Styrofoam plate in his hand filled with my dip and tortilla chips.
“Really, Dad? You were just in the kitchen with me when Paige told us McFadden was here. You thought it was wise to stop for a snack instead of rushing to my aid?”
Dad shrugs as he shovels a chip full of dip into his mouth.
“I figured you had it under control. You know you have meat in your hair?”
“GOD DAMMIT!” I shout, with a stomp of my foot.
My dad’s hand flashes out like lightening and smacks me on the back of the head, a chunk of meat coming loose and dropping down on the front of my shirt.
“T-minus five minutes until kickoff!” one of the neighbors shouts from a few feet away. Everyone in the yard, my father included, lets out a huge yell and they all disperse to head over to his yard where the TV is. The fact that they just witnessed a wanted man escape from a woman with a gun is of no concern to them now that it’s game time.
With a scowl, I brush the globs of meat off my shirt and see Griffin pushing through the horde of people until he makes it to my side and tries to smother a laugh with his hand.
“Not a word. Not ONE word,” I threaten him as I walk around him and shove my gun back in its holster.
“You have meat on your ass,” he shouts to my back with a laugh.
GD meat-flinging McFadden.
After rinsing all of the raw meat out of my hair and off my skin in my dad’s shower, I step out, wrapping a towel securely around myself. I wipe the steam off the mirror with my hand and run a comb through my hair, pausing when there’s a knock at the door. Figuring it’s either Paige or Lorelei, I begin my tirade as I turn to open it.
“You know, a little help from my partners would have been nice when—”
The words die on my lips when I see Griffin standing there.
“I thought you didn’t want to be partners. If you’ve changed your mind, just let me know,” he says with a smile, as he looks me up and down. A shiver runs down my spine and it has nothing to do with all the heat from my shower rushing out the open door and everything to do with the way he’s looking at me. Like he wants to lick all of the water off my skin.
“If you came up here to gloat, save your breath,” I warn him, securing the towel tighter between my breasts, so it doesn’t fall off.
Griffin doesn’t say a word as he moves his large body into the small bathroom, forcing me to back up a few steps. With his eyes still locked on mine, I swallow thickly as he shuts the door behind him and turns the lock.
“I didn’t come up here to gloat, I came up here to talk,” he replies softly.
“I don’t want to talk.”
He shrugs nonchalantly, snaking one arm around my waist and pulling my towel-clad body roughly up against him. “That’s an even better idea.”
Before I can utter a protest, his mouth is on mine.
What is with this man? In the span of just a few days, he can’t get enough of me.
One of his hands moves down to my ass and squeezes as his tongue slides past my lips and I forget all about the bet and the meat bath I just rolled in outside and kiss him back. He turns me and pushes my back up against the wall, his hand sliding down to my bare leg, pulling it up around his hip.
He’s right; we really need to talk. About what he did to Alex, about the bet, about what the hell this thing is going on between us…
His palm slides up the back of my thigh until he’s clutching my bare ass.
Okay, talking can wait.
“Keep your leg there,” he demands softly against my lips.
I nod in acceptance, knowing full well that at this point, if he asked me to light my hair on fire, I would do it. My body is screaming for him to touch me, I don’t care if there are a hundred people outside the house right now, I just want his fingers on me.
Shit! There are a hundred people outside right now and his hand is sliding off my ass and over my hip, heading right for the promised land, while he licks some droplets of water off my shoulder.
“Griffin, there are people outside,” I moan as his fingers skim the inside of my thigh, inching closer and closer to where I want him.
“They’re busy,” he mumbles against the side of my neck as he kisses his way back up to my lips.
As if to punctuate his statement, I hear the crowd cheer outside right at the exact moment that the tips of his fingers graze between my legs with a featherlight touch.
First and ten.
I was wet for him as soon as he walked through the door and his fingers easily slide through my wetness and up to my clit, circling around it as the crowd goes wild again.